Wednesday, July 15, 2009

El Salvador Mission Trip

She holds her arms up, her hair in pigtails, long lashes batting. How could I refuse her? I see her sweet face, and I would bring her home with me in a heartbeat if El Salvador allowed adoptions.

My mission trip to El Salvador was an amazing trip. It's a beautiful country with similar foliage and trees as Hawaii. Three ladies and I went on a Women's Ministry Mission trip to El Salvador and stayed with our Faith Missionaries Dr. Bob and Angelique Kendrick. I have to tell you I have not laughed as much, as hard and as often as I did on this trip. It's amazing how Christians can travel to another county and make an instant connection with another believer -- that is how God created us to be. He made us all different but made fellowship with other believers easy to attain because of the love we have for Christ.

We spoke at the University in El Salvador at a Women's Conference. Dr. Bob said he didn't put out a lot of publicity because they wouldn't have the room. As it was, the room we had was packed with 150 plus women. Women who were there needing encouragement and a word from God. I went to be a blessing, but was blessed more than I can explain. The University is a Christian University for medical and dental students. Dr. Bob hopes to add the only accredited Theological Seminary in all of Central America in the next few years at this location.

Women in El Salvador are oppressed. If they are beaten by a man, nothing is done about it. We saw women walking with baskets on their heads. Dr. Bob said he's seen women carry car batteries, live chickens, and many other things in those baskets. These women are hard working and precious.

The second day we went to the orphanage. This broke my heart because over half of the children were in the sick ward with a flu, and when we left they were testing them for the Swine Flu (H1N1). Praise the Lord, they didn't have it. It just broke my heart that there were sick children in there with no momma to love on them, hold their hair back when they were sick, wipe their foreheads or change the bed linens. I looked at all the little boys with their dark hair and dark eyes, and I thought, "Wow, this could very easily have been my son." So, while I fought back the tears, I loved on as many little kids as I could.

Our third day we had a women's conference at Chinemeca. Some of the women had been at the church cooking since 7 PM the night before! The conference started at 9 AM, and there were some vans packed with women who drove 2 hours just to attend this conference. Over 300 women attended the conference. That was humbling to me. To know that all these women took so much care and time to come, and I was responsible for speaking. I spoke on being a woman of Godly influence. It was something God laid on my heart when we chose the title of the conference, "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made -- A Women's Conference." Ms Sally and Angelique sang an amazing duet in Spanish. Ms Sally spoke on what it means to really trust God. Susan and Mrs. Lupe' gave their testimonies. It was an awesome day of fellowship and worship. One of the women who was at the first women's conference had brought her dad along with a van load of women from 2 hours away. This young lady had won a door prize that I had made. I had made some hand-beaded, hand-mirrors with a cross on it. She had that mirror in her purse and pulled it out and showed it to me with such pride. I was so relieved to see her again because God had laid something on my heart to tell her but hadn't had a chance. Now was my opportunity with the interpreter. I told her every time she looked into the mirror I wanted her see a daughter of the King of Kings, a beautiful daughter of the King of Kings, and she started crying. I just loved on her. I didn't know what else to do.
At this Chinemeca location, there is a Bible college of sorts where men can come on Friday and Saturdays and take classes for three years. Afterwards, they go and start churches. It's nationals reaching nationals.

Sunday morning, we worshipped in Chinemeca, and then we went to Achichilco, a very poor community. Dr. Bob said the first pastor at this church met with his brother and wife for three years and prayed and no one came. When people started coming, his brother stepped out of the sanctuary was killed. The pastor had been their intended target. The pastor fled the country in fear of his life. Now, Pastor Tito and his new wife Veronica are leading the church now, and it's growing. We were all so amazed at how clean all the children were for them to live in such impoverished conditions. Mrs. Lupe's church has a beans and rice ministry, and with the funds she brought from that ministry, we were able to provide rice, beans, coffee, milk, lard and a couple of other items for the 10 families in the church. They were so extremely grateful.
We left El Salvador the next day, but my memories of the children and the women will be with me for a lifetime.
Thank you, Merciful Father, for allowing me this opportunity to minister.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Saturday before Mother's Day is Birth Mother's Day

It has been forever and a day since I blogged on this site. For the spring my mom and I blogged our Bible study that we were leading at our church, and we truly enjoyed it.

But today is the Saturday before Mother's Day. Do you know what day it is? It is birth mother's day. For all those women who exercised one of the most sacrificial forms of love by choosing to give your baby life, then choosing a better life for your baby through adoption -- THANK YOU! Without birth mothers, women like me wouldn't not be able to be a mom. I have two remarkable birth moms to thank.

My daughter's birth mom who even though she knows she made the right decision still faces guilty emotions on a regular basis. She was so brave and bold and allowed me to be in the delivery room when my daughter was born. This was my only, first-hand experience with live child birth, and I treasure it to this day. We are blessed to have an open adoption, and even though we were in contact with Erin's birth parents a lot more early on, I still make attempts to send them things to let them know how she is doing and what she is doing. For those who don't know about open adoptions or understand them, they are not anything to be afraid of. If you are interested in adoption, you should educate yourself on a matter before you make a decision about it or make any judgment on it. Erin was a very sick little girl. She was in the hospital 6 times before the age of 3. I cannot express how comforting it was to know that I could pick up the phone, call her birth parents and ask about issues that might be hereditary. It was to my daughter's benefit that we were able to have this kind of relationship. I look forward to the day when Erin and her birth mother can meet. It is a day I eagerly anticipate. I want Erin to meet the woman whom she looks so much like, the woman who first loved her, the woman who made a sacrificial decision and made me a mom which I will celebrate tomorrow.

My other birth mother I've never met. I never got to meet. She is the birth mother of my son who we got when he was exactly one week old. She chose to have a closed adoption. Does that mean she doesn't love him, didn't love him because she doesn't want contact? Absolutely not. It's just that this might be the only way she could possibly heal most of her heart. I hope that at some point she will contact the adoption agency and reach out to us when and if she is ever ready because I have so much to thank her for. I have so much to tell her about this beautiful boy that she gave birth to. I have so many things I want to ask her and I want to get to know her as a person, an individual. She has enlarged my circle of influence by choosing us to adopt her Hispanic baby boy, and I want to thank her for that.

For those who have never gone through fertility treatments, miscarriages, failed adoptions, etc., count yourself blessed. For those who have endured and have become mothers despite it all, I know how you cherish those little cherubs entrusted to your care, and we may be told that our children are fortunate to have us, but we know that we are the fortunate ones.

Both of my children know their adoption stories. When they ask me to tell them a story, their story is the one I tell first because both are miracles and their stories need to be told.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Where the Spirit of the Lord Is...

there is freedom -- that is very true. Our pastor is teaching on prophesy and the end signs, and it has been so rich and so good and educational, but it has provoked Satan as I knew it would. He seeks whom he may devour. He has been roaming throughout our church for the past couple of weeks reeking havoc and mayhem. Pastor Rick has a 90 days focus for those who lead in Sunday school or other areas where we are going to be reaching out and ministering more than ever before, and we have missions conference during that time too. We have the Beth Moore Bible study on Esther. There are so many rich, growth opportunities in the next several months, and it is guaranteed to stir the embers of spiritual warfare.

My prayer is that everything will encourage Christians to entrench themselves in the Word, be diligent and on their guard, to reach out when the Spirit leads, and to forgive as the Bible instructs.

We had 40 women show for the Monday night Esther Bible study and 25 for the Tuesday morning. Great turnout, and we had a group from the church out of town, so there will be more next week.

I pray that God will remove any doubts any might have about participating. I pray that God will remove any and all obstacles to their attendance and to their doing their daily Bible study. I pray that God will move mightily among the members of our church and spark a revival. I pray that God will put a hedge of protection around our church leadership and their families along with protection of my family as well. For we fight against principalities and He has already overcome.
Thank you, Lord for being the Victor, our champion. Amen.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A 2*4 to the head

A meeting arranged solely by God happened today, and I was allowed to take part. Isn't it awesome when two or more are gathered in His name there He will be also? It doesn't matter whether you are in church, some one's home, a restroom, a restaurant, anyplace you can have a conversation...there He can show up. Today, it happened in Chilli's. A most enchanting lady met me to talk about a program that God had laid on my heart for young girls. She had a similar program she had created herself because of her heart for children. We began with this common thread, and we began revealing the blessings that God has poured out on each of us. We couldn't help but tear up when we spoke of how God had been faithful when we hadn't always felt like it. We noted how there had been times when we had been angry with God and yet He was closer still. It was comforting and encouraging to talk to a sister in Christ and hear of how God brought her through a very difficult time in her life. Like me, she wondered why we are so surprised how perfectly God's timing is and how He knows what is needed or required before we do. Why is that? He has proven Himself over and over again, and yet we are surprised.

As I said at first, God arranged this meeting. He wanted me to meet this lady, but not for the reason I thought. I believe a beautiful friendship has begun, and I believe God put her in my path because she is suppose to play a part in our Beth Moore's Bible study on Esther. I think she has a testimony that the women need to hear. Sometimes God hits me with a 2*4 like today, but sometimes He's more subtle. I'm thankful for the 2*4s. It's refreshing when God puts something so obvious it can't be denied. So often we search for "signs"and hints from God but often times we miss the most blatant of communication. There is no such thing as coincidence. God is not a God of accidents waiting to happen. He is God on purpose and a God who's always on time.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008 to 2009

Flashes of light, eruptions of noise rattling myself to the core, glitter falling from the sky, sparks of silver, green and red explode in perfectly timed sequences. With each dynamic display of color we say goodbye to 2008 and hello to 2009.

Now, safely into 2009, many look forward and make resolutions of how this year will be different and what they hope to change in the upcoming year. Some look in the rear view mirror thankful that 2008 is over, never to be repeated again. Some living in regret and with regret. Some remembering those who they lost in 2008 and mourning still.

As for me, I'm recovering from staying up till 1 AM, but feel blessed by God in 2008 and am eagerly awaiting what He has in store for me and my family and friends in 2009. In 2008, I went on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Italy with a girlfriend. It still seems like a dream. It is my goal one day to return to that beautiful country. God worked on my marriage, on my husband, and on myself to unite and make us stronger, more unified. He still has work to do on us in 2009, though. He continues to prepare me for "such a time as this," and I am getting closer and closer to confidently claiming His destiny for me. In 2009, I want Him to use me to effectively minister to my family, to teach my children about His love and His will. I pray that He will use me and my mom as we teach Beth Moore's Esther, and I pray that the growth from this Bible study will spur growth into the birth of a women's ministry at my church. I want to fulfill my destiny in Christ, to live to the potential He has given me. I pray for wisdom and insight and guidance, and I pray that God will bless me and my family and friends.

Thank you, Lord for the privilege of living in the USA. I pray for our government, my church leaders and those who have influence that you will work mightily in their hearts and will control their paths. I lift up my family to you and thank you for blessing me so richly with Patrick, Erin and Pearce and our beautiful home. Thank you, Lord for your grace and mercies that are ever new each and every day and free for me to claim. Open my eyes and my heart to Your will and your way. I love you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Conclusion of Swindoll's Esther

Pg 186 "Her strength is revealed as much in her restraints as in her responses, and her dignity as much in her humility as in her integrity." Like the Proverbs 31 woman, Esther gives us a high standard to strive towards as women.

She's not in the first chapter nor the last yet her influence continues to this day. After I'm gone, who will I have influenced while living that will continue on.

Her story should give us all hope, triumphant hope in God.

Pg 188 "Vashti is no longer queen; Esther is queen. And she is a queen who has won her husband's overwhelming respect and loyalty."

Pg 189 3 Principles found
1. "When God wins, the people He uses are often unexpected." Humility is "an attitude of the heart." Phil 2:3-4
2. "When God wins, the qualities He upholds are usually unpretentious."
3. "When God wins, the message He honors is a universal message."

It kind of makes me sad that this is the end of the story. It doesn't go on to tell us if she had children and other ways she was effective. It's like the story has been cut short, but God told the part of her story that needed to be told and retold. Her story serves as a reminder to the Jews of how a Jewess living in exile rose to become queen and allowed an unseen God to move her and the people in her life in order to make a way for His people. This story is like when I read Emilie Richards books or Sue Grafton's books -- I feel like I've gotten to the know the characters personally and will miss them once I close the book. I know that I will glean even more in Beth Moore's Bible study which will start on 1/18, so I won't mourn for long.

Dear Father,

I truly want to be a vessel you can use. I pray that I have the humility, dignity and strength of Esther. Mold me and make me into the godly woman you would have me become. Lord, I want to teach these ladies and do things in this class that they will remember long past the last class. I want to encourage these women where they are, and I know I can only successfully do that through you. Please use me. I pray for each woman who will make it her goal to be there every week. I pray that this Bible study will be food for her soul. Lord, I also pray that we will be allowed to have the Sunday morning kick-off and that we can use this time to edify you and entice the women to come and participate. Please speak through me and my mom. Give us wisdom and discernment. Lord, thank you for answering prayers and being in control even when we can't see you, feel you or hear you. Thank you.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

More notes on Swindoll's Esther

Pg 147 "This is life, as relevant today as when it was first recorded. This is written to people who face intimidating, stubborn souls. Perhaps they live with them, are married to them, or have grown children like that. This is written to people whose lives have been scarred by documents and lawsuits, bad reports, or rumors. This is written to people whose lives are lived within the thick, stone walls of depression and doom...There is home!" Ps 30:5

Pg 148 "God is in the business of breaking down walls. The wall may be your own stubborn will." Ouch! Can he walk on my toes or what?

Pg. 150 " 'And many among the peoples of the land became Jews...' The gladness of their hearts, the joy on their faces, the delight in their dancing, the overall unrestrained fun among them attracted others to their Lord."

Chapter 10 talks about self-control -- The Jews had been given permission to protect themselves and then take the things belonging to those who they slayed. The Jews refrained. How easy is it to get carried away at getting back at someone, to enjoy it, to see them suffer like you suffered? Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. When we fail to exercise self-control, we are allowing Satan to control us.

The way I have started looking at this is like this. When someone tries to attack me or make something my problem or my business when it is not, it's like one of those yellow stickies I use at work. I imagine them writing whatever it is on the paper and then sticking it on me. Do you know how easy it is to knock those off? It requires very little effort. I just have to do it. So I flick them off one by one and they fall to the floor. IF SOMETHING ISN'T YOUR BABY TO ROCK, THEN BY ALL MEANS DON'T ROCK IT! Just because someone tries to make a situation or problem yours doesn't mean you have to take possession of it. If you feel you need to do something with it, put it in God's lap and leave it. Walk away. It's when we take possession and hold onto things longer than we should that anger and retaliation and vengeance is birthed. The Jews planned to defend themselves, utilized self-control, and left the rest to God.

Then there is celebrating. The enemy is defeated. God's favor has been seen again on the Jews. His timing was perfect as usual. People were converted to Judaism due to the rejoicing of the Jews. People are still looking for excitement and joy and enthusiasm. People are drawn to those people. Have you ever been around someone who has been miraculously healed, someone who had one foot in the grave just for God to kick it out? I know of a man like that. As a matter of fact, in the middle of one night while he lay in the hospital I was awakened with this impression that there were angels all around him. No faces. No solid form to touch but rather to be seen. My chest was so heavy and tears flowed like streams. He had been placed on my heart at 3 AM in the morning. I got up and prayed. I was disturbed by what else had been laid on my heart....he was not going to make it and I knew he still had 2 kids in the house to raise. So I prayed. I prayed how the Spirit led because I really didn't know the man. I wrote him a letter about what had been put on my heart, but I refused to write down that he wouldn't make it. Early the next morning on the way to work, I took the letter and dropped it off in his room without signing it. I wasn't suppose to. It wasn't for several more months when I was led to tell him I wrote the letter. We both wept. He said he had kept that letter by his bedside ever since. He brought it to church for me to sign, and I did as he requested. I told him I didn't sign it originally because it wasn't about me, it was about the message, and he completely got it. His doctors had said he won't make it (a death sentence) just like the Jews, but God had other plans. He is now a walking, dynamic miracle of God and when he worships and rejoices you see the purity in it and people are drawn to him. It gives him such opportunities to tell about what God has done for him. It opens doors that would never have been opened. This is what celebrating God's victories in our lives will do.

My mom fought Stage 3 breast cancer in 2007. Every time she had a chemo treatment, Lori and I would plan for something to happen or someone to surprise her. We wanted to offset the dread and fear with something to look forward to. We didn't get permission from the chemo lab, we just did it. The last treatment though was different, I asked if we could have a quartet come sing. They said it would be great. Well, it turned out to be about 12 people instead with a CD player, scripted verses, and word sheets. We sang praise and worship songs while she got her last treatment. Nurses joined in. Family members and patients joined in. People had their cell phones on holding it in our direction letting their loved ones hear. The machine started beeping as we sung about the works of His hand. It was an awesome time of praise and worship. They are still talking about it to this day in the chemo lab. In January 2008 after she had completed her chemo and radiation treatment, we held a victory party. We were claiming she was healed even though she hadn't gotten a bone scan or PET scan to confirm it. My sister and I planned the party. We had cakes, punch, door prizes, testimonies, singing, and a table showing the journey. We gave the glory to God Almighty and testified as to what He had done in each of our lives individually during 2007. It was amazing the people who showed up that cold day.

People are drawn to those who are joyful and and rejoicing. And anyone who has been given a death sentence or a scare like that rejoices like no one else can. In the old testament people would build altars when God had done something that way those who came behind would hear the story of how God provided and how He was faithful. Celebrating is a way to build an altar. We need to tell our children, talk to our children and tell them how God has been faithful in our lives. What stronger testimony is there?