Tag Archive | Love

OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD

OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD

 I have had the wonderful blessing of participating in Operation Christmas Child’s shoebox campaign for the past couple of years and I truly wish I had been doing it for many more! From the first time I filled a shoebox to be sent to a needy child, I just felt something very special! It’s very hard to describe, but it’s like I could instantly feel a connection with the child who would receive my shoebox! I am so thankful to my Heavenly Father for allowing me the privilege of filling, collecting, and packing in cartons, these simple shoebox gifts that will go to children all over the world who may not otherwise ever receive a gift of any kind.

Let me tell you a little about Operation Christmas Child and the shoebox ministry.

Operation Christmas Child is just one of the ministries created by Samaritan’s Purse, an organization founded by Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham.

     “The story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) gives a clear picture of God’s desire for us to help those in desperate need wherever we find them. After describing how the Samaritan rescued a hurting man whom others had passed by, Jesus told His hearers, “Go and do likewise.” For over 40 years, Samaritan’s Purse has done our utmost to follow Christ’s command by going to the aid of the world’s poor, sick, and suffering. We are an effective means of reaching hurting people in countries around the world with food, medicine, and other assistance in the Name of Jesus Christ. This, in turn, earns us a hearing for the Gospel, the Good News of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

As our teams work in crisis areas of the world, people often ask, “Why did you come?” The answer is always the same: “We have come to help you in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Our ministry is all about Jesus—first, last, and always. As the Apostle Paul said, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5, NIV).

MISSION STATEMENT
Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.

The organization serves the Church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”   http://www.samaritanspurse.org/our-ministry/about-us/

The ministry projects of Samaritan’s Purse include:  

               International Crisis Response

                    Operation Christmas Child

                    The Greatest Journey

                    US Disaster Relief

                    World Medical Mission

                    Greta Home and Academy

                    Children’s Heart Project

                    Operation Heal Our Patriots

It is Operation Christmas Child that has grabbed my heart and ran away with it!

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According to SP’s website, More than 100 MILLION children in over 130 different countries have “experienced God’s love through the power of simple shoebox gifts from Operation Christmas Child. Samaritan’s Purse works with local churches and ministry partners to deliver the gifts and share the life-changing Good News of Jesus Christ.”

Think about that for just a minute. We lead such spoiled and selfish lives, we can’t even begin to imagine that many children being so poor that their families cannot EVER give them a gift of any kind!! Sadly, that is reality for so many!! But the great thing is that for practically nothing to us, we can send a gift to a child half way around the world, brighten their lives through a toy, book, or underwear, and introduce them to Jesus Christ and the love He has for each one of us!!

If you don’t believe you have it extremely well, take a look at how some of these children must live.

 

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 Do you see his feet? He has no shoes to wear! That’s not a skylight in the roof of his house! Seeing this breaks my heart and really makes me look at what all I have, while thinking I have so little, and give thanks for the many blessings I have! I have numerous pairs of shoes to choose from on a given day. I may not have a skylight, but I do have a roof! I think it’s probably safe to say that I throw away more food in a week than this child sees in a year! Does that not stir your heart? Doesn’t it make you want to DO SOMETHING?? I know it does me!

That’s why I fill shoeboxes. To try to make a difference in the life of a child. Won’t you please consider doing the same? Go to http://www.samaritanspurse.org/ or http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/ and learn about this ministry as well as the other ministries of Samaritan’s Purse. Learn how you can help! Then, pray about it, and finally, DO SOMETHING!! 

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Why does God allow suffering?

These days it seems there are so many tragic stories, so much pain. Between school and mall shootings, children and babies suffering and dying, and currently the flu epidemic and the fear that goes with it. There’s illness, abuse, broken relationships, betrayal, sorrow, injuries, disappointment, heartache, crime and death. All of these leave many people asking the question, “Why? Why does God allow this?”

Just last night, a tiny, newborn baby girl, beautiful and precious, left the loving arms of her mother and father and went to be with Jesus. This little girl being so close to my family that she may as well of been. She is the daughter of my son-in-law’s cousin, a young man we have had to our house often, eaten many a meal with and shared holidays and family celebrations with. I’m sure there are several members of this family currently asking those questions, “Why? Why me? Why, God?”

That “why” question goes back thousands of years. It was asked in the Old Testament by Job and the writers of the Psalms, and it was especially relevant during the 20th century, where we witnessed two World Wars, the Holocaust, genocides in the Soviet Union and China, devastating famines in Africa, the killing fields of Cambodia, the emergence of AIDS, the genocide in Rwanda and the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo.
Things didn’t get any better in the 21st century. There was 9/11 and now the Syrian slaughters, and on and on. Why is all of this happening if there’s a loving and powerful God? Why do bad things happen to good people?

Several years ago, a national survey asked people what question they’d ask if they could only ask God one thing. The Number One response? “Why is there suffering in the world?” Interestingly, married people were much more likely to want to know why there’s so much suffering.

But if you’ve never asked why our world is infected with pain and suffering, you will when you or someone you love is struck. And Jesus warned us those times would come. Unlike some other religious leaders who wrote off pain and suffering as just being imagined, Jesus was honest. He told us the truth. He said in John 16:33, “You will have suffering in this world.” He didn’t say you might – he assured us it would happen.

But, why? If you ask me point-blank, “Why did God allow that precious baby, and now her parents to suffer?”, the only answer I can honestly give consists of four words – “I do not know.”

I cannot stand in the shoes of God and give a complete answer to that question. I don’t have God’s mind. I don’t see with God’s eyes. 1st Corinthians 13:12 says, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”

So when you ask about specific individual events and want to know why this particular thing happened, we won’t get the full answer in this world. Someday, we’ll see with clarity, but for now things are foggy. We can’t understand everything from our finite perspective. And honestly, I don’t think any attempt at theological explanation is going to do anyone any good right now; any intellectual response is just going to seem rehearsed. What is desperately needed now is the very real and comforting presence of Jesus Christ in their lives. And I’m so grateful that this young family has a loving church and family helping them through this difficult time.

But for us, let’s focus on the big, overarching issue of why God generally allows suffering in our lives – your life and mine. People, this is important: even though we can’t understand everything about it, we can understand some things. So let’s try.

Imagine driving along a highway in the dark, when it starts to rain heavily and suddenly you hit dense fog. You can barely see the white stripe on the edge of the road and that is what you are using to attempt to stay on the road! You can’t stop because then someone might come along and rear-end you. Talk about scary!

Just as suddenly a truck appears in front of you. You can just make out his taillights through the fog. You guess he must have fog lamps in front, because he is traveling at a confident and deliberate pace, and somehow, you know if you can just follow those taillights, you’ll be okay, heading in the right direction.

I think the same is true in understanding why there is tragedy and suffering in our lives and in our world. We may not be able to make out all the peripheral details of why — they may be obscured from our view — but there are some key Biblical truths that can illuminate some points of light for us. And if we follow those lights, they will lead us in the right direction, toward some conclusions that I believe can help satisfy our hearts and souls.

What are those points of light? Let’s take a look at some that people have found helpful whenever they have felt prompted to ask the question, “Why?”
The first point would be that God is not the creator of evil and suffering.

This answers the question you hear so often: “Why didn’t God merely create a world where tragedy and suffering didn’t exist?” The answer is: He did! Genesis 1:31 says: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

But if God is not the author of tragedy or evil or death, where did those things come from? Well, God has existed from eternity past as the Father, Son and Spirit, together in a relationship of perfect love. So, I think we can agree love is the highest value in the universe. And when God decided to create human beings, he wanted us to experience love. But to give us the ability to love, God had to give us free will to choose whether to love or not. Why? Well, because love always involves a choice.

If we were programmed to say, “I love you,” it wouldn’t really be love. Think of those dolls with a string in the back, and when you pull that string the doll says, “I love you.” Does that doll love the string puller? Of course not. It is programmed to say those words. To really experience love, that doll would need to be able to choose to love or not to love. Again – real love always involves a choice.

So in order for us to experience love, God bestowed on us free will. But unfortunately, we humans have abused our free will by rejecting God and walking away from Him. And that has resulted in the introduction of two kinds of evil into the world: moral evil and natural evil.

Moral evil is the immorality and pain and suffering and tragedy that come because we choose to be selfish, arrogant, uncaring, hateful and abusive. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

So much of the world’s suffering results from the sinful action or inaction of ourselves and others. For example, people look at a famine and wonder where God is. When in reality the world produces enough food for each person to have 3,000 calories a day. It’s our own irresponsibility and self-centeredness that prevents people from getting fed.

In other words: look at your hand. You can choose to use that hand to hold a gun and shoot someone, or you can use it to feed hungry people. It’s your choice. But it’s unfair to shoot someone and then blame God for the existence of evil and suffering. Like that old saying, “We have seen the enemy, and he is us.”

The second kind of evil is called natural evil. These are things like wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes that cause suffering for people. But these, too, are the indirect result of sin being allowed into the world. As one author explained: “When we humans told God to shove off, He partially honored our request. Nature began to revolt. The earth was cursed. Genetic breakdown and disease began. Pain and death became part of the human experience.”

The Bible says it’s because of sin that nature was corrupted and “thorns and thistles” entered the world. Romans 8:22 says, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” In other words, nature longs for redemption to come and for things to be set right. That’s the source of disorder and chaos.

To be perfectly clear, God did not create evil and suffering. However, He did create the potential for evil to enter the world, because that was the only way to create the potential for genuine goodness and love. But it was us, human beings, in our free will, who brought that potential evil into reality.

Some people may ask, “Doesn’t God have a plan? Couldn’t He have foreseen all of this?” And I have no doubt He did. But look at it this way: many of you are parents. Even before you had children, couldn’t you foresee that there was the very real possibility they may suffer disappointment or pain or heartache in life, or that they might even hurt you and walk away from you? Of course — but you still had kids. Why? Because you knew there was also the potential for tremendous joy and deep love and great meaning.

God undoubtedly knew we’d rebel against Him, but He also knew many people would choose to follow Him and have a relationship with Him and spend eternity in heaven with Him. He must have thought it was all worth it for that, even though it would cost His own Son great pain and suffering to achieve their redemption.

In my next post, I’ll look at another ‘point of light’, the fact that God can use suffering to accomplish good.

WHERE IS GOD WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN?

I wrote this post a few days ago, when I learned that this precious 9  month old child had been granted all the necessary approvals and would finally be place on the waiting list. I was both happy and sad at the thought of her finally receiving the necessary treatment and preparations in anticipation off the chance for Baby Parson to receive her transplant. Meanwhile, another family is faced with losing their precious angel and answering questions about how they feel about organ donation, something they have probably never even though about. Don’t take anything for granted and remember, God IS always there.  Even when you feel like there is no way He is anywhere around, He is there.

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FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2013

As I sit outside on this gorgeous day, looking over my meditation garden I am reminded of just how fragile life is. Whether you are talking about human life, the life of a beloved pet or farm animal, or the life of a beautiful plant, they were all created by THE one and only, The alpha and omega, THE GOD of all. Isn’t that kind of cool? To think th the same God who created me, created the little lizard I am currently watching run across the ground hoping to escape my dog!! I’m listening to birds sing, bees buzz, the breeze blowing through the trees. Talk about peace and tranquility  This spot has it. With a few more blooming flowers, it will be almost perfect!
I am reminded though, just how fragile and unpredictable life is. You wake up each morning ready to get your day going, as you normally do. You get your coffee drank, everyone dressed and sent off to wherever their day may take them, and then you start your day. Everything in our perfect lives is, well, perfect. We have no major ordeals to overcome, no obstacles in our way. Yet we take all that we have for granted. It could be gone in an instant. Reminds me of an old hymn, “I know who holds tomorrow”.
“Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand. But I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand.”
We all go throughout our lives and moan and groan about our aches and pains, about the fact that something didn’t go the way WE wanted it to, or the fact that we are having a bad hair day. But stop for a minute and think about those who don’t know if they even have a tomorrow, or if someone they love dearly has a tomorrow. Oh, we all claim to have faith that God will get us through whatever trials He sends our way, but do we really? How would you handle it if you got a phone call telling you that your spouse has been in a terrible accident, your mother/sister/cousin/best friend has just been told they have cancer, or your child is ill with what you think is a really bad cold so you go to your pediatrician to get it taken care of and get your baby to feeling better.
But at that doctor appointment things don’t go as you had planned. The doctor doesn’t like something so he runs numerous tests and you wait, and wait, and wait for the results. Finally, the doctor comes in the room with a nurse, social worker, and who knows who else with him. Instantly you know something serious is going on.
As he begins to speak, telling you that he has no clue what is going on with your baby and he doesn’t know how to help her feel better, so he is referring you elsewhere. But the referral is not a typical referral. He’s not sending you to a larger city to a more specialized physician. No. You are being referred to THE children’s facility, the best in the country, and to one of the best physicians in the country, to treat YOUR child for whatever ailment she has. Now is when your faith really begins to be tested. What is your response?
I know what mine would be. Tears, anger, confusion would be some of the emotions I would freely express. The first thing I would do? Call my husband, of course. After all the confusion of the day somewhat settles down, then, and only then, I would finally remember to talk to my Father. Finally, at the end of one of the worst days of my life I would remember to pray. Is that true faith? If I wait to talk to God about what has me so upset until the end of the day. Am I really trusting that He is going to help me get through this? I don’t think so.
I should have stopped as soon as the doctor finished telling me his wonderful news,  got down on my knees right there in that doctor office, and thanked God for giving me the beautiful child that I have had for a few years, few months, few days. We should be thankful ALWAYS for the wonderful gifts God gives us, but are we? No. We are too busy being selfish, wanting to feel better, wanting everything to be fixed and we believe it is up to us to fix it, so we trust only in ourselves.
That is not the case for a young couple in my community. I don’t know the details of that first fateful doctor visit. I don’t know how they were told or how they reacted immediately following the relaying of the news. But I do know what I have seen since the beginning of a rather horrendous journey this family has had to endure. And it’s not over yet.
As is the norm for our Sunday school class, and I’m sure many others as well, we start our class time off with a prayer list. Everyone has an opportunity to place someone’s name on the prayer list and this typically involves a brief explanation of the reason for the prayer request. When Ms. Emily spoke up and began to tell our class about little Parson, an infant barely three months old, if that, it became very difficult for anyone to keep the tears from falling.
We heard of breathing difficulties, lung infections, abnormalities, doctors being baffled, and the fact that there have only been 5 other children with this disorder treated at Texas Children’s Hospital. We also were told of the possibility of this tiny baby needing a lung transplant. There was not a dry eye in our classroom.
Then something amazing happened. We began hearing of the faith of this young family. Even in what some would consider the darkest hour of their lives, this young couple turned their eyes up. I’m sure there were tears, but through those tears, they thanked God for the gift of Parson in their lives. The thanked God for the doctors they had been sent to. They told anyone who asked about their situation that God was going to get them through it. They shared their faith every chance they had. They gained strength through their faith in Jesus Christ.
Through all of the sorrow and heartache, fear and uncertainty, this couple is still maintaining strength through their faith in Jesus Christ, the Great Physician. Because of the faith this family has shown, many more people in our community have had their faith strengthened. Even through times when they have to watch their young infant struggle to breathe, or be placed on a ventilator to breathe for her, through surgery for placement of a feeding tube or IV lines, they maintain their faith. They continue to thank God, even through the hard times.
Most of us are grateful to God for all the good things He give us, all the wonderful gifts He gives us, our family, our children, our homes, cars, etc. But how many times do we stop and thank God for the difficulties He allows us to endure? More likely, we are blaming God for our difficult times. We accuse Him of turning His back on us, leaving us alone to deal with whatever we are going through. We are always asking where is God or where was God when tragedy strikes. When 9/11 happened there were people everywhere asking why God wasn’t on those planes, or where was He when the few attempted to regain control of their plane.
Questions were asked recently after the horrible school shooting in Newtown, CT where numerous children lost their lives and even more witnessed the evil as it happened.
Where was God? He was right there. God has a plan for everything. We have no clue what that plan is, and if we knew the plan, we would never be able to understand it. Consider the complexity of mapping out a plan for billions of people, all at one time!! I’m going crazy just trying to plan a vacation for two people, for five days! God has mapped out a plan for every man, woman, and child, for their entire lives!! Think about that!! If that doesn’t make your jaw drop in awe of His amazing power, I don’t know what will.
Today, a small, precious, always smiling infant was placed on a waiting list to receive a double lung transplant. Thank God for that, but at the same time, I am saddened by it. For this precious child to receive her lungs which will enable her to prayerfully be able to live a little more normal life, for her to be able to do that, another child has to die. Another family, probably totally unsuspecting at this moment, will face the most horrendous of trials in their lives. They will be asked to say goodbye to their precious child, and then they will be asked about donating organs. They will be horrified at first, but after a few moments of serious thought, they will agree, and Parson’s new lungs will be on the way to her.
It’s not really that simple, but I think you get the idea. While one family rejoices at the fact that their child will be receiving a chance at life, another will be grieving the loss of their child.
It is my prayer that the donor family will have even a small portion of the faith that Jennifer and Rodney have, to help them through the most difficult task of their lives. As you consider the pain that family is going to feel, imagine the pain God feels when we turn our back on Him, or we fail to thank Him for our lives, for the very air we breathe, for everything! Imagine the pain God feels when one of His children takes His name in vain, or worships some silly idol. Imagine the pain and disappointment God feels each and every day when we climb out of our comfortable bed and head to the coffee pot, because we don’t function well without our coffee each morning. But then, one thing leads to another and before you know it you are climbing back into that bed for a night of rest before you do it all again the next day. Only we left out the most important part of our day, the most important task we left undone. We got the laundry done, we made dinner. We made phone calls or attended a church service. But we forgot to include God in any of it. Imagine how that hurts Him when we do that each and every day, numerous times each day.
I have been so guilty of this myself but at this time I am making myself a promise to do my very best to speak to God before I ever climb out of that bed, and then to sit and have coffee WITH God as we plan out my day. I am going to do my very best to be sure to spend much, much more time with God and thank Him for all the things in my life, good or bad. Because I know He has a reason for sending me the trials as well as the triumphs.
Stop right now and pray for Parson and her family. Pray for the family that will become her lung donors. Pray for the medical personnel involved in every aspect of the donation process and the care of Parson and her family as well as the donors family. Pray for all those people that we come into contact with each and every day that do not know Jesus as their personal savior. Pray for yourself to have the courage and the words to speak when you speak to a non-believer. Pray for opportunities to speak to someone about Jesus.
Most importantly, live your life in such a way that everyone who sees you knows you are a child of God and there is something special about you. Make them want to know what is so special and to have the desire to be special as well.
I know this post has been all over the place but I had a lot on my mind and I felt it needed to be said. I felt God leading me to write at least 75% or more of this.
God bless you all and kiss your children and grandchildren. Thank God for them. Remember, we are not promised tomorrow, or even 10 minutes from now. A very smart man told me not long ago that every time he tells someone goodbye, he does it as if it is the last chance he will have to do so. He makes sure that those he is telling goodbye know that he loves them, EVERY TIME! Let’s all make a conscious effort to do just that.
Go visit the blog of Jennifer Herrington and learn about the mountain her family is climbing. See for yourself how strong their faith is. You will be glad that you did.

FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 2013

What if tomorrow never comes

This morning I am sitting out in my garden, enjoying the cool breeze, listening to a rooster crow, and just thinking about some things. Sitting here enjoying the peace of a pre-dawn morning, when no one else is awake but me, gives me time to do some serious thinking. Unfortunately, I have some serious things to think about right now. 

This morning, two young adults will wake up to deal with the loss of their parents. In a pretty closely knit family, both parents were tragically taken home to be with God yesterday afternoon in a horrific traffic accident. They were on a motorcycle, struck by an SUV. I don’t know who hit who, but the end result is that two people with many close friends, loving children and grandchildren, are no longer on this earth. When you hear of something like that, it makes you stop and think about your own life, your own relationship with God as well as with family and friends, or at least it should!

I have a good relationship with my God. Jesus Christ died on a cross, rose again on the third day, taking on all of the punishment that was due to me, you, and everyone else, just so that we could live with Him in eternity one day! Could you do that? 

Could you agree to the torture that Jesus was put through if you knew it would save one of your children, two of them, all of YOUR children? What about if it wasn’t for your own children, but the neighbors, if the child you were saving was the child of someone who had hurt you in the past and never apologized for it? What if the child you were saving was an 18 year old kid who had been driving the vehicle in which your child was a passenger when the vehicle swerved off the road, flipped a few times an your child was ejected from the vehicle, dying instantly? Could you do it then? Could you allow yourself to suffer horrible pain, just so the very person that caused your child to no longer be with you, could live? I don’t think I could. I would be way too angry I’m afraid. Could I be that forgiving? God tells me to, but can I do it?

Every day we are asked to do something that makes us uncomfortable, something that we just don’t believe we can do. Sometimes we manage it, most of the time we don’t. Every day you pass someone, somewhere, that does not know Jesus. Do you take the time to tell them about Him, about our Lord and Savior? Do you take the time to let that person know that you care about them and their eternal soul? Do you spend the extra few minutes praying for them, with them? Typically the answer for all those questions is no. 

We decide we just don’t have the time, or we believe it is inappropriate, wrong time, wrong place. Often times we feel like it’s not our place to talk to this person because perhaps they are older than us and we feel like we should be soaking in their wisdom rather than trying to “convert” them. 

Perhaps the individual is a friend of your child’s. Whether 6 or 16 we should be taking the time to talk about Jesus to everyone, especially the children. 

When you do, make sure you are being truthful and accurate about what you are telling them. Be sure you are sticking with what the Bible, God’s own word, says. Tell them how God so loved his one and only Son, who had been born of a virgin and lived a sinless life, to be tortured and killed on a cross, to take on the sins of man, not just one man, but ALL mankind, and not just men but women as well!! Tell them how Jesus taught us all to love God with all our heart, and soul, and mind. Tell them how wonderful things will be when we all, those of us who have accepted Jesus as our savior, meet again in heaven. 

Then tell them about Jesus’ death. How He was beaten and flogged. If they are old enough to understand, explain flogging to them. Explain that He wasn’t just beaten with a whip, but that whip had several ‘tails’ to it, and at the end of each ‘tail’ was an additional weapon designed to inflict more pain, more injury, more suffering. Tell them how this flogging would rip the flesh right off Jesus’ back, or wherever it happened to hit Him

Be sure to also tell them about how Jesus had to carry the very cross that He was to be hung on, a pretty long distance, after the beating and flogging. Jesus barely had the energy or strength to breathe, yet He was  what was happening to the man who claimed to be the Son of God. Don’t leave out the fact that the public had been given a choice of prisoner to be released as was the custom on the Passover.  Explain how the public chose a man who was a convicted murderer, a very bad man, over Jesus. Tell how Jesus was being hung between two thieves on their respective crosses, and how one of the thieves mocked Jesus, telling Him that if He was indeed the Son of God, the Holy One, that He should save himself and get down from that cross. Meanwhile, the second thief, believed in Jesus, and begged forgiveness even as He hung on the cross, dying. Tell them how Jesus assured this man that he would be with Jesus in heaven before the end of the day!

Then continue with your story explaining how Jesus died, and was placed in a tomb, sealed closed. Yet on the third day after His crucifixion, Jesus was found to not be in the tomb! He had arisen!! Don’t let your story stop there.

Explain how, as Jesus hung on that cross, as He was being beaten, He was taking on the sins of ALL mankind, including those that had already been born, as well as those yet to be born, like you and I. 

Be sure to take every opportunity that you are given, even if only for a couple minutes, to talk to someone about Jesus. You never know. You may be the last person that individual has a conversation with and wouldn’t it be comforting to know that the last conversation you had with someone, was a conversation about Jesus? 

Folks, we are not promised tomorrow. We are not promised today. We don’t know what our future holds, but we can know WHO holds our future. I know who holds mine. Do you? Image

Extended Family

So often when someone talks of extended family they are referring to cousins, aunts, uncles, in-laws, etc. We tend not to consider friends as extended family, but in so many cases they are just that. When you have known someone for 30 years, been friends with them, been to dinners, prayed with them, had them preach at relatives funerals, had them marry your children, then I think you become extended family.

Last week we lost a very dear member of our extended family. You see, my husband and I met Thomas Brown and his wife Jean on our wedding day! From that day on, they were members of our family, and I always have felt that they were members of our family. I had the special priviledge of becoming friends with both of their daughters, Vicki and Liz, and later son Paul. As the time passed I met other members of their family and each and every one always treated me as if I had been a member of their family my entire life. I never had anyone in that family treat me with anything less than love, grace, and compassion.

I have learned so much about love and grace and compassion from each and every member of the Brown family. Anytime that you see any of them, be ready because they have a hug ready for you! They are always ready and willing to pray with you, or for you. If you ever had a need in your life, whether for you or a family member, or even just someone you knew, whether it was a physical, mental, or financial need, they were ready to do whatever they could to help.

As owners of the Christian Book & Supply Store in Jasper, I can’t begin to tell you how many Bibles I saw Bro. or Sis. Brown give to whomever the customer might be. Or in many cases, they would hear a story of someone in need, someone struggling and their first response would be to give…whether it was a Bible they would give or some other material item, or even a financial gift, they gave. They gave because they knew that God had already given them so much and they delighted in sharing their blessings. They truly enjoyed helping someone in need and it didn’t matter to them what color someone’s skin was, or where they grew up. It didn’t matter to them what someone’s address was. All that mattered to them was if the person had a need and God led them to help.

You see, unlike so many of us, this family listened to the Holy Spirit. In each and every thing that they did, every decision they made, every gift they gave, they listened to what God told them. They would always pray and listen. So many of us fail to do that and then we wonder why our decisions or our actions don’t go the way we think they should.

We pray, oh BOY do we pray! We ask God to give us this or do that for us. We rarely ask what we can do for someone else or how we can do something for someone else. If we would simply pray with our hearts and ears open, pray humbly, and pray seeking God’s will, we would see that things would turn around and be so much better for all around us.

That is what the Brown family does. When they pray, they trust that God is going to answer. They don’t know if God’s answer is going to be yes, no, or not right now, but they knew WITHOUT A DOUBT that God was going to answer. And they knew that He was going to answer in His own time, not in our time. The faith that family has is so inspiring and encouraging to me.

Oh, they have had their difficulties, their downs and disappointments, but through them all they maintained their faith. They always KNEW that God was going to take care of things. They KNEW that He was going to supply what was needed, open the hearts that they encountered, and they had no doubt that “All things are possible with God.”

And, because of the beautiful and wonderful Brown family, I also know that “With God, all things are possible.” I will always, always love each and every member of that beautiful family, and I am so eternally grateful that God introduced us almost 30 years ago.

Brother Thomas Edgar Brown, Jr., I will always love you and miss you. You now know what a profound affect you have had on my life, on the lives of all my family members, and on the lives of all those you have touched in one way or another. You have had a hand in leading so many to come to know and accept Jesus, too many to count! But God knows, and that is what is important. You are now there in Heaven walking the streets of gold, enjoying reunions with family and friends that have gone before you, but most importantly, you are in the presence of Jesus! I am so thrilled for you! Yes, we miss you here on this cold, hard-hearted earth, but we look forward to the day when we can celebrate with you there with Jesus. Until that time, thank you for being a guardian angel for me, and the many others that you are. We love you so very much!

PLEASE SHARE THIS POST!!

I would be so appreciative if you would share this post on your blogs, twitter, facebook, anywhere!! This is a very important project to me and I desperately want it to be successful for these young mothers! Your help in any and every way is greatly appreciated!! THANK YOU!!!

You can donate very easily by following this link to fundrazr!!

http://fnd.us/c/6Ja06

Hi folks! I am a volunteer with the East Texas Pregnancy Help Center and many of you know just how much I love it! This is an awesome ministry, helping so many young women, as well as young men, in making critical decisions about their lives. Yes, one of our goals is to save lives, which we do by educating young pregnant women about their options and everything involved in any of their options. We believe that many times decisions are made with either no information, or false information. That is why we educate on the TRUE FACTS of abortion, adoption, and parenting. We do NOT offer, nor refer for abortion services. We simply tell them straight, honest, truth about procedures, risks, and effects- immediate and long term, of any decision they make. It is because of this, and our strong faith in God, that this ministry has been so successful in the short time it has been in place! Because we share the love of God with everyone who comes through our doors, they are blessed! WE are blessed! God blesses us each and every day by allowing us to continue in this ministry!

Yes, we have some very difficult days or cases, but in all things we trust God. We listen to our Father, and we follow His guidance. Prayer is a MAJOR part of our ministry, either through our constant prayers, or the prayers of those warriors we have praying for us and the ministry. Without these prayers, we could not do this! Without the wonderful support of so many, this ministry would not work. Thank you to all who support ETPHC in one way or another!

It is for your continued support that I am making this request. Our clients, mostly young women who have found themselves unexpectedly pregnant and frightened about what is to come, make many sacrifices for their unborn children. These young women give up fun evenings out with friends to come to our center for educational classes and Bible studies! They come to the center for parenting classes, life skill classes, labor and delivery class, cooking, financial management and other classes, as well as Bible study. Currently we have “Sheparding a Child’s Heart” going on and the participants are enthusiastically participating!

We are seeing lives changed! These young people are seeing the true love of God through the staff and volunteers of ETPHC, which often, sadly, they have not seen even from their home churches! It is this that is turning these young people BACK toward God! Many have felt that their church, pastors, family, friends, etc., have turned their backs on them or scorned them because of a mistake that they made. But then, by the wonderful grace of God, they come through our doors! From the very first contact they make with ETPHC they feel the love of God. Why? Because everyone who works with this ministry has been directly affected in a very personal manner by some aspect of an unplanned pregnancy. Maybe it is personally, maybe it is a family member, or maybe it is a friend who had an unplanned pregnancy. Everyone there has a story to share. God has called each member of this ministry in a special way, either to share their story, to help someone in a situation similar to what they have been through, or just to support those in difficult situations.

We have many supporters who do not directly work at the center, but their support is just as important! Without them, this ministry would not succeed. These supporters consist of prayer warriors, financial donors, donors of baby items, and those who donate in different ways and with different projects. Our prayer warriors are some of the most powerful prayer warriors I have ever seen!!

It is more of these ‘extra curricular’ supporters that I am seeking just now.

I have been given the privilege of hosting a class this summer for our young mothers. This class is one in which they will create a very special memory album, or scrapbook, of their new baby! Most of these new mothers have very limited resources and a class like this is a luxury to them! But, they deserve this very special treat! Donations received or promised thus far have not even begun to scratch the surface of the need. So, please, continue to read about this class. Help if you can. Definitely pray for us, our clients, this class, and our center.

Please, please, please…..prayerfully consider this.

You can donate very easily by following this link to fundrazr!!

http://fnd.us/c/6Ja06

Hey folks! I have an awesome opportunity for you to be a tremendous blessing to a new mother! The East Texas Pregnancy Help Center will be hosting a class this summer for new mothers to create a scrapbook of their new babies. You can help by sponsoring one or more mothers. For just $50 your sponsorship will provide all the necessary supplies for a mother to create a beautiful album filled with decorated pages and photos of her baby. Won’t you share the love of Jesus with these young ladies and help make this class a success? Here is the info:

WHAT:     Scrapbooking Class for East Texas Pregnancy Help Center Clients

WHEN:    June 12-July 26, 2012

WHY:       Mothers who have limited resources deserve the opportunity to showcase their memories. The clients of ETPHC work very hard to earn points to obtain necessities for their new babies. I would like to provide them with something fun to do, that costs them nothing. This will also be a wonderful opportunity to share the love of Jesus with them in such a way that they are not being pressured to make a decision right at that moment. I believe that if someone sees and feels the love of Jesus Christ through something as simple as the gift of a memory album in which they are also taught how to create such an album on a shoestring budget, they will see that Jesus, nor His followers, is not something or someone to be frightened of, or resistant to. When presented in a loving, non-judgmental manner, the Good News of Jesus Christ is much more readily accepted!

You can help me to share Christ and His love with these young mothers by helping with the expense of supplies. This initial class will be offered for 10-15 participants at an estimated cost of $50-$75 per person, for a total cost of $500+. I realize that sounds expensive, but the cost includes an album and all supplies to complete a minimum of 20 pages in that album. Also, if donations exceed total cost of materials for this class, anything extra will be donated directly to ETPHC for other programs.

SCRAPBOOK SUPPLIES CAN BE DONATED AS WELL, IF YOU SO CHOOSE. ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING WILL BE GREATLY APPRECIATED!

You can donate very easily by following this link to fundrazr!!

http://fnd.us/c/6Ja06

If you, or someone you know, would like to assist with the cost of this class, please contact myself, Judy Hall @ 409-382-2775 – jlhall1107@gmail.com – Facebook @ scrappinmama2533; OR you can contact East Texas Pregnancy Help Center @ 409-381-8600.

Donation of scrapbook items or supplies can be either dropped off at ETPHC Mon-Thurs, between 9-4, or if you choose to mail them, you may send them to me at:

Judy Hall, 2533 County Road 101, Jasper, TX 75951; OR, you may send them directly to ETPHC @ 157 Milam St., Jasper, TX 75951

If you cannot assist with the cost of the class, please keep myself and the clients and staff of ETPHC in your prayers.

Thank you so much for considering this request!

You can donate very easily by following this link to fundrazr!!

http://fnd.us/c/6Ja06

How would you like to be a very special blessing to a new mother?

Hey folks! I have an awesome opportunity for you to be a tremendous blessing to a new mother! The East Texas Pregnancy Help Center will be hosting a class this summer for new mothers to create a scrapbook of their new babies. You can help by sponsoring one or more mothers. For just $50 your sponsorship will provide all the necessary supplies for a mother to create a beautiful album filled with decorated pages and photos of her baby. Won’t you share the love of Jesus with these young ladies and help make this class a success?
Here is the info:
WHAT:     Scrapbooking Class for East Texas Pregnancy Help Center Clients
WHEN:    June 14-July 26, 2012
WHY:       Mothers who have limited resources deserve the opportunity to showcase their memories. The clients of ETPHC work very hard to earn points to obtain necessities for their new babies. I would like to provide them with something fun to do, that costs them nothing. This will also be a wonderful opportunity to share the love of Jesus with them in such a way that they are not being pressured to make a decision right at that moment. I believe that if someone sees and feels the love of Jesus Christ through something as simple as the gift of a memory album in which they are also taught how to create such an album on a shoestring budget, they will see that Jesus, nor His followers, is not something or someone to be frightened of, or resistant to. When presented in a loving, non-judgmental manner, the Good News of Jesus Christ is much more readily accepted! You can help me to share Christ and His love with these young mothers by helping with the expense of supplies. This initial class will be offered for 10 participants at an estimated cost of $50-$75 per person, for a total cost of $500-$750. I realize that sounds expensive, but the cost includes an album and all supplies to complete a minimum of 20 pages in that album. Also, if donations exceed total cost of materials for this class, anything extra will be donated directly to ETPHC for other programs.
SCRAPBOOK SUPPLIES CAN BE DONATED AS WELL, IF YOU SO CHOOSE. ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING WILL BE GREATLY APPRECIATED!
If you, or someone you know, would like to assist with the cost of this class, please contact myself, Judy Hall @ 409-382-2775 – jlhall1107@gmail.com – Facebook @ scrappinmama2533; OR you can contact East Texas Pregnancy Help Center @ 409-381-8600. If you cannot assist with the cost of the class, please keep myself and the clients and staff of ETPHC in your prayers. Thank you so much for considering this request! PLEASE!!! GET YOUR CHURCH INVOLVED!!! LET’S SPONSOR 15 GIRLS!!! I CHALLENGE YOU!