Saturday, March 28, 2015

There is a Dream

There is a dream in Haiti.
It is dream that there will be food on our tables and clothes on our backs.

There is a dream in Haiti.
It is a dream that I will be able to find work, and perhaps work with dignity.

There is a dream in Haiti.
It is a dream that because I have been helped I will be able to help my community.

There is a dream in Haiti.
It is a dream that the young people who are falling through the cracks will be able to go to school.

There is a dream in Haiti.
It is a dream that those without hope will find hope.

There is a dream in Haiti.
It is a dream that our youth will be disciples, young men and women of love and leadership.

We see this dream in the eyes of our friends and partners TiCarme, and Arnold and Rodrique.

We see this dream in the eyes of the 40 students who were the first ones rescued from the cracks;
who a year ago were desperate to get back in school;
who today are back in school!

15 months ago one of these students came to TiCarme and said, “TiCarme, you can help us!” And he was absolutely right. TiCarme is a leader in her community, they call her “Mayor.” TiCarme knows the needs, she knows the families and their stories, she knows the schools and the teachers. TiCarme knows what it takes for students to not simply survive, but to thrive. She also has Arnold and Rodrique who share her dream. But TiCarme was missing the financial resources to make the dream come to life.

14 months ago TiCarme called us. We were in Haiti for 8 months in 2001 and had remained friends ever since. TiCarme said, “I can't lay this on your heart, but God can. You can help us.” TiCarme's call came about a month after Al said to me, “I think God is calling us back to Haiti.” God was busy laying it on our hearts! We returned to Haiti in May to explore.

We were in Haiti again in February and met with the first 40 students of Mission: Help the Youth Get an Education. Four of them gave a speech. Each of them began with these words, “We thank God, first of all, for laying it on your hearts to help us, so that someday we can help others.”

Now it is our turn to say, “We can't lay it on your hearts, but God can...You can help us.” Like TiCarme we can't do it alone. We need partners here in the United States...people with resources to share in the dream. You may not think you have much to offer, but together...we can help.

Do you want to be part of making the dream come true? Is God laying it on your heart?

Perhaps you need a trip to explore, like we did. We invite you to join us on a trip with a mission. We are planning trips for May, July and November to build friendship and partnership bridges. You will be able to see for yourself what God is accomplishing in the country of Haiti, in a village called Neply.  Contact us if you want more information at  

I wonder what God will lay on your heart.

Seasoning at work

Truthfully...I don't often think about being "old."  My mantra is, "I could live to be 90 or beyond,(My mom is 91) and I don't plan to be "old" for 30 years!  How about you?

However...I do feel like just maybe I am entering another season of aging.

This past Sunday through Tuesday I was at a wonderful retreat for pastor's wives in Freeport, IL. It was provided by Deer Ridge Ministries, and all of you ministry type families need to check out the support they offer to pastors and their families.  It is wonderful!

As I am enjoying the retreat I suddenly realize, "I think I am the oldest person in the room!"  A new first for me...being the oldest person at an event like this.  WOW!  I admit it was a bit of a shock. Pam Farrel, author of numerous books, was the speaker and talked of those in midlife as being "seasoned sisters."  I guess I was the most "seasoned" among them.

Monday morning found me and perhaps the second oldest woman there sitting with two younger pastor's wives; listening to their stories, sharing in their pain, lifting them up in prayer.  What a blessing it was to be able to encourage and support them.  God bonded our hearts over breakfast.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with an Australian pastor about the age of my son who told me he really believed his generation needed, "older women" to support, encourage and counsel pastors and their families.

I know the support isn't just needed by ministry folks.  I believe our generation is called to be the Elizabeths (Mary's cousin) and the Mordecais (Queen Esther's cousin) to the next generation.  We are the ones who can share our stories, but perhaps more importantly listen to theirs.  We can come along side them to encourage, empower and believe in what God is doing in and through them.

Mary was given the gift of Elizabeth to be able to fulfill her role in God's great story.  Three months of living and listening to this wise woman of God, prepared Mary for the overwhelming task to which God had called her.

Could young Queen Esther possibly have accomplished her God-given task of saving her people without Mordecai standing beside her, believing in her and encouraging her to do what seemed like the impossible; but which was, in fact, exactly what she had been born to do?

Who are the young people God has placed in your life, your family, your world, who need your support.  Maybe it looks like God has called them to an impossible situation or opportunity.  Maybe nobody else will say, "Go for it!  You can do it.  I see the Spirit of God at work in you!  You have been born for this!"

Maybe what they are doing doesn't make sense by the world's standards and so there is lots of opposition.  Maybe it is just plain long and hard.  Relish the opportunity to walk with them, pray for them, believe in God at work in them!

EMBRACE this time, this season.  Smile when people refer to you as the "Older Woman."  It is a place of privilege and opportunity.

Luke 1:45  Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Dream Big, Pray Hard, Think Long

The words in that title come from Mark Batterson's book, The Circle Maker.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

"Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."  I wonder what we expect when we pray that Jesus-given prayer.

I wonder if God has been frustrated with my expectations when I pray that prayer.
I'm guessing, "Yes, he is."

But God is working on me.  He hasn't given up.  So I am in a huge new season of growth in my relationship with God and prayer.  That is both exciting and very scary!

Part of my growth is fueled by Mark's book, The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears.  Another piece of the puzzle is, everything I seem to learn from Mark I see lived out in TiCarme, our friend in Haiti.  She is my teacher!

In a sense God seems to be saying to me, "Dream big and pray hard or you end up watching from the sidelines. Dream big and pray hard or be satisfied to only do what you think you can do without my help.  Dream big and pray hard or play it safe, which doesn't bring me the glory I desire."

The other option is "Dream big and pray hard and be blown away by God's glory, power and provision.

The last part of the title for this blog says "Think long."  Because God's ways are not our ways, and God's timing is not our timing, and we can't claim to understand all that God is up to.  And sometimes it gets really, really hard to keep praying and believing. So when your prayer doesn't seem to be answered when you want, or how you want, remember... God knows!  God knows and sees the big picture.  And his promises never fail, because God's love never fails!

Numbers 6:24-26New International Version (NIV)

24 “‘“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”’

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Lord provides on the Mountain

God knows.  This is our Haitian friend TiCarme's response to our questions of How?  When?  With what?  How Many?  God knows. And she believes, God cares, God works, God provides, all according to his wisdom and compassion.  GOD KNOW!

Last night as I headed to bed I read a few pages from "The Story," which is the Bible set in a chronological novel form.  The story I was up to was Abraham and Isaac. I read about his birth and God's challenge to Abraham to offer Isaac up as a sacrifice. Do you remember the story?  God speaks to Abraham and tells him to go to the mountain and sacrifice his son, his only son, the son of promise.  This was the son who was supposed to lead to generations of descendants too numerous to count.  But here was God asking Abraham to give him up...sacrifice him on an altar.

They get up the mountain and Abraham has Isaac tied down on the altar before God intervenes and says, "Stop Abraham.  Now I know you won't even withold your son from me."  And in the bushes God provides a ram for the sacrifice.

This morning I decided to check out what was happening at Western seminary for chapel and read that the drama team from Northwestern college, which is always wonderful, was doing chapel.  So I went over.  Guess what story they dramatized.  Yup, Abraham and Isaac on the mountain of sacrifice, and on the mountain of God's provision.

Genesis 22:14  So Abraham called this place, "The Lord will provide." And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided."

Last week we were in Haiti (which literally means Mountains).  We listened to our Haitian parnters share their dreams of what they believed God was calling them to do and be in their community and country.  It was awesome, but also scary.  Last year they helped 40 students who wouldn't have been able to go to school without a scholarship.  They are excited!  They see hundreds more. They have the heart, the knowledge, the connections in their community.  They know the people, the needs, the schools, the teachers, but they need resources, and that is where we come in.  We have made a commitment to HELP find God's resources to fulfill their dreams.

As we were flying back Friday evening I began to have a panic attack as I thought about those dreams and plans.  My thoughts went like this:  "I'm not a good fund raiser!  This is way over my head!  I'll never get a good nights sleep again!  Every time I close my eyes I see Haiti."

Then God whispered to me, "You are right; you are not a very good fund raiser...but the funds are mine.  You are in over your head...but I called you to this, so you don't have to do it alone.  Go to sleep.  Trust me!  I see Haiti.

This morning God reminded me again...On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Haiti, Chickens and God at work!

Perhaps many of you remember that last fall I invited you to participate in sending Christmas gifts down to 40 students we are providing scholarships for in Haiti.  Your response was so encouraging!

This past week Al and I and three friends from Silver Creek Ministries here in German Valley, Illinois went down to Haiti to learn more about our students and the program, "Help the Youth Get an Education"  What a JOY!

When I suggested to TiCarme that we would like to provide chickens for their Christmas meal
in addition to the French Bible she was planning to give them, she responded with enthusiasm.  In my mind she would go to the market and buy a frozen chicken for each family...silly me :)  Instead, TiCarme purshased a live chicken and presented it to each family. Thursday we met with our students and heard over and over again, "Thank you for the Christmas gifts.  Thank you for the chicken."  The young woman sitting next to me said, "Mine is still alive.  We are saving it for my birthday meal in March."    Think about that a little.  To have meat on her birthday was so special she saved her chicken for 3 months.

It is little stories like this that help us understand the situation of these amazing brothers and sisters in Christ.

As we gathered with the students last Thursday afternoon Al and I compared the faces we were looking at with the faces we had seen last May.  In May these students were not in school.  They had no financial resources to make it happen.  They desperately wanted to continue their education.  They were solemn.  Thursday it was like meeting a new group of students.  They were smiling, engaging, excited about what was happening.  You could tell that they knew they were a part of something God was doing in their midst.  They were a family of students.

This was an answer to the prayers uttered last May.  The adults working with them, TiCarme, Rodrique and Arnold told them, "You are not just a part of a are a family."  Now they could testify to it!  Several of the students greeted us, and all started out the same, "First of all we thank God, because God laid it on your hearts to help us, so that one day we can help others."  They are already helping others!  They are helping me to see God in the lives of these young men and women.

My thoughts as I listened to them were, "How very sad it would be if these young people could not finish their education.  They exuded leadership, poise and promise.  God made a way, because he knows the potential in their lives...and we get to be cut in on the action!!"  Praise be to God for the wonderful deeds he has done.

And now begins the next step in the journey.  The dreams and faith of TiCarme, Rodrique and Arnold are bigger than our minds can comprehend. Their response to our questions of When?  How?  Where? is "GOD KNOWS."

Guide us, O Thou Great Jehovah, pilgrims in this barren land;
We are weak, but Thoug art mighty; hold us with Thy powerful hand;
Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven feed us 'til we want no more,
Feed us 'til we want no more.

Stay tuned for updates on when we will be making our next trip to Haiti.  We would love to introduce you to some amazing people, in an amazing place.  We guarantee, if you come looking for God you will find Him there.