Stepping Stones

Learning to follow God in all that I do was definitely a work in progress. I never knew what to expect, all of what was happening was so far beyond anything I could have expected. I was seeing signs more and more that he was always with me, divinely moving through my steps, every little step. I remember attempting to pull in a cart of sale items from out in front of the store one day; and thinking to myself are any kids good anymore? I was posing this question to God, just seeing horrible things happening in the world you wonder have they all gone mad. So, trying out this faith thing, I ask, Lord if there is good, show me. Just then a teenager walking down the sidewalk from the dollar store towards my store is walking straight for me, and says ” Can I help you get that cart in?” he continues to hold the door for me as I push it in. It was such a small act, did he know that small act was actually answering my prayer that minute that I had just said in my head. I’m sure not. Although, I know God does not always answer when we are asking him for “PROOF”, but that moment felt pretty good and it was just another little stepping stone to a greater faith that was still awaiting me, and a faith that I believe will continue to grow as long as I shall live. Just remember he uses us in every way, every little way.

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C. S. Lewis on love

Here is a wonderful follow up to Facets of Love

Stray Thoughts

From Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis:

Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also many things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called “being in love” usually does not last. If the old fairy-tale ending “They lived happily ever after” is taken to mean “They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,” then it says what probably was never was or ever could be true, and…

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The Facets of Love

The Facets of Love

Love is more than our minds perceive. Here are some definitions of Biblical Love. Agape: In the New Testament, agapē is charitable, selfless, altruistic, and unconditional. It is parental love, seen as creating goodness in the world; it is the … Continue reading

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The Flesh vs. The Spirit

The Flood changed me greatly. I knew from then on that I was now operating my life with divine help, and that this was only the beginning of things he would do through me.

Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

This is a great scripture for this “NEW” life I was embarking on. I was excited and couldn’t wait to see what God was going to do next. I was hungry, thirsty,  for all things God. I wanted to know every nook and cranny and I was and am so impatient. So, I sincerely delved into the Bible, other people’s experiences, the life of the saints etc. The thing that I did not foresee in my search for truth was that the evil adversary and God of this present world, Satan, would try everything to trip me up. At first I was still operating in such a naïve state, a newborn. I was going to do the work of the Lord, and nothing would stop me, I hadn’t considered my own flaws and sins would be the thing to hinder me the most. Still longing for acceptance, insecurity and mulling over past sins. The outpouring of kind words to me on my facebook page, following the flood relief was overwhelming, they were talking about me in such a positive way. I was nominated for an award from the Chamber of Commerce for Community Pride and won. It was all I ever wanted and it felt great, yet I was wrestling with the feeling of being important, was I worthy of things that were happening to me? And in the moments of feeling pride I would bat it away, I didn’t want to be tempted to become haughty. It’s definitely a paradox but nonetheless it was a serious battle that was being waged against me.

I kept reminding myself, that God did all these things through a heart that was willing. I prayed about it and asked God to please help me fight those feelings. Something, that I always wanted, was I unable to handle it?  What did I want? It was a position that I was never in before. I DECIDED that I would not let my emotions rule me. That I was going to overcome this just like all the other things thus far in my life. To not satisfy the flesh but the spirit. 

Matthew 6:20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

 

The Flood that brought Hope

The Women’s group took place once a month for about 9 months. We learned so much about each other and from each other. We had ages ranging from 25 to 56 which was GREAT! Relationships were formed there that would prove to be lasting. We had cultivated ideas about reaching out to our community. We were looking for causes we could help. I was telling them we could do anything, we just had to put our minds to it.

September 2011 a BIG OPPURTUNITY arose. Our small area had a huge flood when Hurricane Lee’s power was unleashed, whole neighborhoods were devastated and sadly in the poorest areas. It was heart wrenching to see. At this point I had seen things on TV like Hurricane Katrina, but it still doesn’t hit you like it does when it is in your own backyard. My mom had called me like she always does in the morning the day after the storm. We were talking about how unbelievable this all was, it was surreal.  We wished we could help in some way it was a helpless feeling. She said, you have a business now, there’s an outlet for you to collect supplies. I thought that’s a great idea. We talked about it and then I went right to my Facebook page and sent out a message. If anyone would like to drop off cleaning supplies (Mops, bleach, towels, brooms, buckets) at GiGi’s My family will then go door to door and hand them out to the affected areas. Like my request for the Women’s group I thought I’ll get a few responses. Well, within 20 minutes of posting that request I already had donations. It was great that people were so willing to help, and they kept coming and kept coming. Until the one aisle of our small gift shop was full of supplies of all kinds.  We set out that evening the family, my girls included and went door to door giving supplies out, we listened to all the accounts of what they were experiencing, it was so sad to see and hear what was being endured. Some houses had water come in from the basement all the way up to the first floor. We finished up and the next day which was Sunday the day GiGi’s is closed. So I put out a message that I would continue to collect supplies from my home and that people could drop off on my porch, and they did. We delivered again for hours on Sunday. That night I crawled in bed, and thanked the Lord that I had a warm, dry bed to sleep in after seeing so many without.

Monday morning came and I pulled into the parking lot of our plaza and there were people waiting for me with their supplies in hand. The whole day was just overwhelming, the donations had doubled from  Saturday and it was too much for just us to deliver. I went back to my Facebook page and requested runners that could help deliver the supplies in the areas we had not gotten to yet. Again, there was an overwhelming response people were at the door ready, families and even fire departments, they just wanted to know where to go.

I fell into bed that night feeling exhausted mentally and physically, yet feeling so thankful that I lived in a place where there was an over abundance of generosity from so many. At this point it had spread further than merely my Facebook page and everyone in the community was a buzz, the newspaper even came out and did an article and took pictures. Tuesday morning I woke, I laid in bed and wondered what this day would hold. I prayed and felt such a presence of the Lord’s hand in all that was happening. I thought back to my prayer several months before, when I had asked God to use me If I could be of service to him and all at once I realized that HE was answering that prayer. That God had actually heard me, and that he was working miracles through a willing heart, I sobbed, literally uncontrollably cried for a half an hour. I called my girlfriend Deb that had let me use the building for my meetings, she was a very knowledgeable, and spiritual woman who had been walking with the Lord for many years. I said to her did God actually hear me???? He is doing all of this!!!! I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it. My next question is does he think I can handle this? Because at this moment in my crying my eyes out, I didn’t feel equip, but she assured me that he would not give me anything I could not handle and to just pray and ask for his guidance. I went to the store and this day was just as unbelievable, I received a call from the Local hospital they wanted to donate at least 1,000 pairsof plastic gloves for the flood victims, They delivered them to the store a short time later, then I got a call from an Italian restaurant that wanted to give me vouchers to hand out for  a free pizza, they donated 500 pizzas. Next the ambulance company sent $500 worth of supplies. As I was fielding these phone calls people from the area were coming in and giving me money, and saying we know, you will know who to give it too. I was thinking again like with my friend Joanne, what have I done to give all of these people so much confidence in me. My eyes were slowly opening to the fact that  God had his hand in this all along, that I was who I was for a reason, that all I had gone through in my life insecurity, rejection, re inventing myself at every new school, having the drive to make people like me. It was all for this time in my life, not only this situation but for things to come, although I couldn’t imagine anything bigger than this. I was going to shine his glory and that all of these things were the tools that I would need to make it a success! 

I prayed, and said Lord all of this money is coming in; I have no idea who to give it to, who needs it the most, please Lord bring the people to me that need it. I did not want the responsibility, what if I was wrong. So, from that moment on I knew I would just trust him for decision making and to lead the ones to me that needed it and he did just that. I got 2 separate calls about the same elderly couple, the calls were both inquiring that if there was anything extra I could do for the couple that they surely deserved a good deed. I headed to the bank as my mom watched over the store to cash some checks I had received and I was going to drop off a couple hundred dollars and some grocery store gift certificates that people had donated to me. I got to the house and to my disappointment no one was there. I left and started to drive back to the store, as I did my cell phone rang a number I didn’t recognize, I answered and there was a woman on the other end, she told me that her son and daughter in law had volunteered a couple of days earlier with delivering some of the supplies and that she wanted to donate some money towards whatever I was doing, I immediately thanked her and she said I want to donate $10,000 dollars, I thought for sure I had heard her wrong, I said come again and she said $10,000 dollars. I started to cry again like a nut…lol…I told her I was not any type of organization and that I would tell her who needed it, but that I would feel better if she gave it, she obliged and I told her about the couple that I had 2 phone calls about. I knew they needed a new water heater and had an estimate from a local oil company. She asked me if I would call the oil company and find out what the estimate was. I did and they said it was $8500. I called her back and told her the amount and she said she was on her way there. She went to the Oil company and paid the entire amount and had it delivered to their home. What a good God we have. She then went to another area that was badly hit some houses were even off the foundation. She went door to door handing out $1500 dollar checks. It was a true miracle and blessing what this woman was doing! People also continued to come to the store telling me about people they knew and what they were going through. I knew that these were the people I needed to give the money to. He was leading them to me, just like I prayed for. This event was another defining moment in my life, I knew and know without a shadow of a doubt, that when we pray, he listens, and if it is in his will, it shall be given.

Psalm 34:4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

* I will post some video footage from the flood and some newspaper articles*

The Holy Spirit begins to whisper to my Heart

The whole situation with my friend Joanne really changed me. At that point that I knelt down and said the prayer to God to  use me, I felt a change in my spirit. I wasn’t quite sure what it was at the time but, I felt very empowered, strong, and bold. I was sitting at GiGi’s one afternoon, and it wasn’t busy and all at once I got this feeling come over me, I should start a Women’s group. I can send out a mass facebook message to my friends and family that were female and set a place to get together so that we could talk. Talk about where we were at in our lives, how we felt spiritually and how we could rise up women to outpour our nurturing maternal instincts to our communities through volunteering, community service projects etc. But, most of all to know that we can do nothing without the God, that we could be empowered by him to do good things. Yes, this all came to me at once..lol.. I was excited immediately and had butterflies in my stomach. In my usual fashion, I jumped right in. I sent a message out with all this information in my head and tried not to pre judge anyone on whether they would be interested or not. I was pretty sure of who would come and who wouldn’t but I wanted to extend the invitation to all. In all I believe I sent the invite to like 60 women. Once, I sent it, I immediately got the butterflies again and thought what did I just do? Some of these women are going to think I am nuts but, at this point there was no turning back. I waited anxiously for responses. As the day wore on a few trickled in and from the people I least expected, and the ones I thought would respond didn’t. I took it in stride and still felt really excited about it. Because, ultimately did it really matter what everyone thought? Or was I doing this because I felt the passion to do it?

 After a few hours I thought to myself where am I going to have this meeting at? I didn’t want to have it at home, I knew that I would be distracted. Then 2 women that shopped at GiGi’s popped into my head. They had come in a month or so ago and were telling me they lived in a neighboring town and owned an old church. In that church they were feeding people, letting people sleep there that were homeless, clothing them, counseling young mothers. I remember being very impressed with what they were doing. So, because I am bold, I looked up one of the ladies names that I could remember in the phone book and called her. I asked her if she remembered me and she did. I went on to tell her of my bright idea and wanted to know if I could hold my meetings there. I explained to her that the spirit of what I wanted to convey was exactly what they were already doing, and that it would be a perfect spot. I also asked her if she and her sister in law (The other woman) would be interested in being a part of it. She obliged and now I had a place to have the meetings! I was thrilled. About 2 weeks later we had our first meeting. As, I was getting ready to leave the store to head over I was gathering my notes I had written to speak about. I was almost at the door to leave and I thought I should give them something. So, I went to the back room and I had a box of prayer coins that had sayings on them. For example, God Loves you, Serenity Prayer etc. I stuffed them in my purse and rushed out the door. I was a nervous wreck. It went surprisingly well and all the women in attendance about 8, seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. I didn’t talk to much about Faith until the end, then I said before we go I would just like to say that God gives us the power to do all things, and that this statement shouldn’t be intimidating because it doesn’t mean we have to perfect it just means that we trust him. After that ending I handed each person a prayer coin all were different and I didn’t look I just handed them out. I said let this just be a reminder of how he is the basis of all we do.

I was very happy with how it went and was excited to get feedback from the women individually to see what they thought. The next morning I checked my email on Facebook and I had a message from one of the attendees, she said that she really enjoyed the meeting and that it was just what she needed. She went on to say that she had been wrestling with making a decision for 6 months a decision she was afraid to make  and she said she felt inspired but what I had talked about. But, she said when you gave me that coin it was a sign, an answer to my prayers, the coin had the message on it that read  “Do not be afraid” . I immediately got  a stirring in my spirit, that God had given me this idea and that through this group woman would be touched. At this point I did not know exactly how God worked, I had never read the Bible, nor did I attend any Bible studies etc. I was a taken a back, but this led me to be more aware of when God was prompting me to do something, when he was leading me in to obedience

Romans 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God