Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Whole Weeks Wages...

One of the most incredible moments of our mission trip to Mexico was when the family whom we were building a house for chose to make our team lunch on the last day we were on the work site.  There were 17 people in our church group and this family chose to feed all of us!  It took all morning for Leticia and her sister-in-law to prepare and cook the meal.  They actually cooked the food by an outdoor fire on what I would call an open wok or large metal bowl.  They fixed enough food for two complete woks!!!  And, they chose to rent plastic tables and chairs so that all of us could sit down and eat a meal with them.  Leticia and her sister-in-law prepared a wonderful meal for us!  They served spaghetti noodles with some sort of non-spicy sauce on it plus a stir fry mixture of chicken, potatoes, onions, hot dogs, and red peppers.  It was certainly tasty after all the hard work we did to build the house.  

Here is the most incredible part:  Leticia and Cornado spent their entire weeks wages on one meal for us!!! Everything that Cornado worked so hard for each day at his job that week went to feed was truly humbling to accept this meal.  Also, they joined us so that we could enjoy the meal with themselves and their extended family, as well as the Pastor and his family.  There were probably 35 or more people who shared this meal.

Can you imagine spending YOUR whole weeks wages on a meal for someone who helped you?  Yes, I know our wages in the United States are probably more than what this family in Mexico makes in a week, but think about the concept of offering everything you have to someone you did not even know at the beginning of the week.  Before we started building their house, they had no idea who any of us were except that the Pastor recommended us through Casas Por Cristo (Houses for Christ).  Think about that.  Let that soak entire weeks wages!!  What would you do if someone offered to help you in such an extravagant way???

I have been the recipient of such an extravagant gift!  In 2008, the men's prayer group at my church had it laid on their hearts to help this single mom whose house needed painting desperately.  They meticulously scraped and sanded down spots on the exterior walls of the house, carefully fixed several spots of wood rot around the windows, primed it and painted the entire house at NO cost!!!  That's right - even the paint was donated!!!  Can you imagine how my heart felt that summer?  It was overflowing with gratitude every day and still is today!!!  I fixed them muffins and offered them lunch and wanted to have an after-the-painting BBQ, but they would not let me pay for anything.  Nothing.  This "Band of Angels" came together from a prayer meeting where 2 of these men from our Home Fellowship group who knew me personally were trying to figure out how to help me paint the house. These two angels dressed in jeans and T-shirts gathered approximately 10-12 other men from the prayer group and volunteered to come several Saturdays in a row to prime and paint my house!!!  They came faithfully each weekend until the project was done.  My cup was (and still is) overflowing!!!  WOW!!!  I was overwhelmed with their dedication and ability to take care of every detail for me.  It was incredible.  So, in some ways, I know how Leticia and Cornado feel....their life in Mexico is very different than mine here in America, but my heart swells with gratitude each time I think about these men and remember what a gift they gave me that summer!!!  I will never forget their kindness.  Never.

I still have the sign I put in my yard with 1-800-Band of Angels on it in my garage.  Many neighbors and people who saw them working weekend after weekend, stopped to see if they could give them a quote on their house!!!  It was too funny to see how many people wanted this group of men to paint their house.  They thought they were professional house painters - only 2 men were really painters!!!

It is really funny how God works, isn't it?  No, it is actually not funny, but INCREDIBLE!!!
God places people in our path with abilities and capabilities that we may not have an expertise in and brings them side by side a single mom, a neighbor, or friend who has a need. He places you and me in the path of other people to be a vessel for good.  God loves it when we serve others in unexpected ways!  God loves it when we offer a helping hand to someone in need.  And, the great part is, we grow from the experience!!!  

Consider what God has done for you through friends, relatives, and neighbors....consider putting yourself in someone else's shoes for a day.  Would you be willing to give your whole weeks wages to offer gratitude for something someone has done for you?  I would!  

We serve an awesome God!!!  Why don't you consider going out of your comfort zone and offering a helping hand somewhere this week???  God delights in YOU and loves it when we come together to show His love!!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sonrisas in Mexico...

As many of you know, I always end my emails, texts, etc. with "Smiles" which is "Sonrisas" in Spanish.  Thanks to my friend, Rosa Elida, who taught me the word in Spanish for smiles, I will now sign my emails, Sonrisas.  I started saying "smiles" several years ago.  I know it is annoying to some people, but I also have had many people who tell me how much that helps them remember to smile and be grateful for each day, so I have continued to sign my correspondence that way.  Tonight I am smiling galore because I had the privilege of helping to be a part of God's incredible plan to share His love all over the globe!!!
Here's the story so far.........

We just got back from a Mission Trip to Mexico with our church (Crossroads Christian Church) after driving to Abilene, TX on Saturday.  We spent the night and then drove to Del Rio, TX on Sunday night. (We drove approximately 1,000 miles one way to get there from Kansas.)  We crossed the border into Mexico on Monday morning.  There, we met up with our representative for the mission trip and learned about our project for the week.  We built a house for a family in Acuna, Mexico.  Yes, an entire house! Granted, it was only 11' x 22', but to this family, it was a grand mansion!!! Our church joined up with another church just outside Wichita called Valley Center Christian Church, so there were a total of 17 people working side by side this week, including our wonderful Casas por Cristo missionary, Nik Wille.  Nik may only be in his 20's, but his impact on our group was profound!!!  (Watch for pictures on Facebook in the next couple of weeks as we share our trip through photographs of the workers and the family!)

As part of our devotions one evening, we learned why Nik's work is so important to him.
Nik's story began in Korea where he was born and then, dumped on the street because he had a cleft pallet.  His mom could not afford to take care of him, so she left him on the street. In Korea, a child like this is usually left to die unattended.  But, a police man found him and took him to the hospital.  Three years after being in an orphanage in Korea, an American family from St. Louis adopted him.  God had a plan all along to use this "disability" for good! Nik has had many surgeries to correct his pallet since he was a child.  At first when I met Nik, I could not even tell he had had one!  But, after hearing his testimony as to how he got to the USA and how God has orchestrated his entire life for good through this disability, I believe that his cleft pallet has had an incredible impact on many people!!!  

And, this young man is now helping families in Mexico with an organization called "Casas Por Cristo" which means "Houses for Christ."  This is an awesome organization and the witness for Christ's love is powerful to the people of Mexico, Guatemala and soon, the Dominican Republic.  I don't know all the statistics, but they have built many, many houses for families who would never live in a house built like the homes we are so privileged to have in the USA.  
Can you imagine living in a dwelling that is eleven feet by twenty two feet?  Two rooms - that's it!  That is what the Martinez family had when we got there this week.  No separate bedrooms for their three children.  The kitchen WAS their bedroom!  Now, thanks to Casas Por Cristo, they have four rooms!!!  The look on the mom and dad's faces when we finished was one of the most beautiful memories I will ever hold in my heart.  We worked hard for 2 and 1/2 days and completed the project for them.  Electricity and all!  Two rooms, two doors, two windows, and two ceiling fans.  Their oldest son, Brayant is 12 years old gets his OWN bedroom now for the very first time!  Their two darling daughters, Evelyn, 8 years old and Betsi, 4 years old will have their own bedroom now as well.  The "Sonrisas" on their faces were priceless....

The impact on my life and heart is forever changed.  Smiles and sonrisas will forever reign in my mind as I remember the look on the family's faces as we gave them the keys to their new house, nailed a Casas Por Cristo sign on the outside of the house, and gave them a Spanish Bible.  The foundation of this house is built on the Rock of Jesus Christ and that love will go on into Eternity.  Sonrisas galore.....

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Journey without End....

Once again, I want to share a devotion I have in an old book from the Upper Room for the season of Lent.
Beth A. Richardson wrote it way back in 1993 for a magazine called: "Alive Now!"  It is no longer available in print, so I want to share it with's pretty profound if you let the words sink into your soul....

Journey Without End
"I grew up thinking that I could and would attain perfection if only I tried hard enough and was very good.  (In fact, I had lived a perfect life until I went to college!)
But, I discovered that I was not perfect and never would be.
The journey toward perfection was a stark road, full of "don'ts" and "shoulds"...full of hairshirts and punishments.
Now that I am grown, I read about things like singleness of purpose and purity of heart.  My tendency is to place these virtues in the same category as perfection --unattainable fantasies.
But in some special moments, I feel a sense of the Holy One:  a sense of the divine presence, and I have a glimpse of what it means to walk with God on the path of holiness.
When I am quiet enough inside to notice a sunset, to hear the early morning sounds, to know when a friend needs someone to listen, I am for a moment participating in God's journey.  I think that this is singleness of purpose -- being with God on God's journey.
The journey of holiness is not a journey with a beginning or an end.  It is a path which winds alongside our own roads.  And when we are in tune with God and ourselves, we sometimes find ourselves on that path.  It is a richly beautiful road of oneness with God."

(I have NO idea what a "hairshirt" is, so if any of you reading this, please share the meaning....It is not listed in my 1973 dictionary from college!  Ha! ha!)

The book I got this beautiful devotion from is called Readings for Lent and Easter, compiled by the Upper Room ministries.  I have read this book every Lenten season since 1993 and each year the devotions speak to my heart.  I pray that these words and thoughts will touch yours as well.

Blessings abound, if only we have eyes to look up and Praise God for them!!!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Linger Longer....

I want to share a devotion from the Upper Room Devotional Magazine from June 6, 2010 that I came upon in my Grandfather's Bible is amazing to read again and allow these wise words to sink into my soul....I hope they do the same for you!  Thank you Dawn Mooring for writing them and UPper Room for publishing this devotion!!!

Linger Longer Devotion by Dawn Mooring (Georgia)
(with permission from the Editor to share this devotion)

Read Psalm 63:5-6 (NRSV) which says:
"The psalmist wrote, "My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips when I think of you on m bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night."

"I have a friend who lives on Linger Longer Road.  Doesn't that name sound inviting?  The drive between my home and my friend's takes over an hour.  Upon arrival, I feel compelled to stay a while.  The address, Linger Longer Road, prompts me to kick off my shoes and relax.
Maybe I should engrave the words "Linger Longer" on my Bible.  On some days, I open the scripture and spend hours reading and savoring a passage.  I enjoy God's words as if they were rich food set on a banquet table before me.  But I have to admit that on other days, I grab a light snack from the scripture and keep walking.  I tell the Lord, "Tomorrow."
Suppose I invite guests for dinner and fellowship. If they came and asked immediately for a to-go box, I would be insulted.  I wonder if God feels the same way about the way we come to the Bible.  God wants us to hunger for the love, wisdom, and instruction found in the Bible.  Do we treat God's word like a fast-food drive-through?  Perhaps engraving "Linger Longer" on the front of our Bibles would entice us to stay a while."

Prayer:  Dear God, lead us to savor your word.  Amen.

Quite a devotion, don't you think?  I want to live on Linger Longer Road someday....and if I never find what part of the country has a road named that, I pray that I will linger with God a little more each day........He is amazing!!!