When God Nudges … Numerous Times

It’s late October, and many of you are thinking of pumpkins, candy corn, and, well, maybe even dead people. If you’re not, I encourage you to, although my version of dead might surprise you. 😉 Come see what I mean by clicking here.

Today, I’m thrilled to share a story my sister, Jesseca Randall, shared with me. You might remember her. In 2011 she visited my blog and talked about something that is and will forever be very close to my heart--hurting children.  Fast forward two years, and this sweet Christian woman began feeling an increasingly persistent nudge to put action to her words. But how? And when? Her days were jam packed as it was!

Jessandfamily

She’s in grad school.

Raising two young children.

Jessandkiddos

JessandfriendsTrains for and runs in half marathons. Has a soldier for a spouse, one that recently returned from a one year deployment in Afghanistan.

Honestly, there are days when making it through the day is enough to do her in. How could she possibly add one mort task–or, more accurately, one more heart to care for, in the mix?

But that nudge wouldn’t go away. In fact, the more she tried to deny it, ignore it, the stronger it became.

Here’s her (and a young boy named William’s*) story:

Running yesterday morning I heard a message about how the definition of faith is to step out and do something impossible expecting God to show up.  You know me and my brain so I start to think of ways to do this. “Okay, so I’m going to contact the church about a teen mom group, and maybe I’ll revisit the juvenile detention ministry…yada yada yada.”  I do, and then proceed to drive to class. During my drive I turn off my radio and just pray about these possible ministries.  In the middle of prayer my phone rings. It’s the call asking us to take in a young boy named William*.
Here’s the deal – this is the fourth time God has put this little guy in front of us since the end of summer.  We said no THREE different times.  I tell the lady on the phone that we’d love to but we don’t have childcare, and I am 9 weeks from graduating so “I can’t quit now”.  She thanks me anyway and we hang up.
Now I’m in tears because I know that God has placed this same little boy in front of us now four times, and we have said no every time.  I do not believe in coincidences! So,  sick to my stomach (you know the feeling when you know God is telling you to do something but you don’t), I continue through my classes at school.
But then my husband, Rob, and I talk. We decide we will step out in faith and take this child in and expect God to show up with childcare or some other way.  That was Tuesday.  By the next day, we have childcare from two unknown families for Friday and Monday (unknown to us but not the agency).
Having said all that, I clearly see God all through this but holy smokes this is one of the hardest thing I have ever done.  It is hard to see him suffer,  and it’s hard to see my kids struggle. He seems to have a love/hate relationship with with my youngest child, and I can’t leave the room because he hits her.  He is the most active child ever, and again, you can’t leave the room.  He is also the sweetest thing (especially for what he’s been through).
Those who know me know I am a control freak and love my comfort – this is very trying.  God is stretching me.  There is also a large part of me that just wants to adopt this little guy and take him away from his chaos. But he is not even up for adoption as his mom says she still wants to have him.  Turns out though she has used our state’s programs as well so I’m afraid this little guy has clear attachment issues.
I could use prayers and the constant reminder that this is not about me but about him and God’s overall plan.
*Name changed for privacy reasons.
Jesseca Randall is Air Force wife and mother of two who has a God-given passion for helping troubled youth.  While stationed overseas, Jesseca completed her Master’s degree in Criminal Justice with a focus on youth at risk.  Once she and her husband returned to the United States, she worked for the State of Oklahoma investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect and as a Foster Care Specialist.  After the birth of their first child, Jesseca became an independent contractor, certifying homes for foster care and adoption.  Wanting to work in a more therapeutic role, Jesseca is now working on her Masters Degree in Social work and has recently completed her practicum at a child advocacy center.  If you have questions about foster care ministry, would like to be come involved, would like more information, or would like to be added to Jesseca’s email loop, contact her at Jesseca.Randall(at)gmail(dot)com
livingbygracepic.jpLet’s Talk About This! What has God placed on your heart? Does it feel impossible? Maybe too hard or too scary? If so, then my guess is that ministry is exactly where you need to be, because it is when we are weak that God’s power is most seen. 🙂 And like Jesseca said, taking in Isaiah wasn’t about her–her abilities, strength, or comfort. It was about saying yes to a mighty God and allowing Him to work in and through her. The same applies to you. 🙂 Will  you say yes? Will you humbly and without hesitation offer up to Him all you are and all you have? Chances are, it won’t be easy, but I can gaurantee you, it will be so worth it.
Join the conversation here, in the comments below, or at Living by Grace on Facebook.
Another post you might enjoy: How Big is Your God?

Support Sisters

This morning, I’m honored to share a touching story from my sweet sister, Jennifer Hallmark. Parenting is tough. Parenting alone is even harder. There are so many days when faced with a situation I don’t know how to handle, I wait anxiously for my husband to return home so we can prayerfully determine a solution together. And when our daughter was young, I’d wait for my husband to return home so I could have a moment of respite or someone to communicate–on an adult level–with. As you read Jennifer’s story, pause to consider the men and women you know. Might any of them be lonely? In need of support, an encouraging word, or a moment of pampering?

Support Sisters by Jennifer Hallmark

Christmas presents, plates of hotdogs with all the fixings, and children playing and laughing abounded through the small cul-de-sac of a sub-division. Adults and children alike opened presents, excited at newly found treasure. Our church celebrated Christmas with this lane of two-apartment brick homes, occupied mostly with single mothers and their children, and widows. The ladies and their children found a place in our hearts after the initial visit, so our women’s ministry group brainstormed on ways to further help. How could we connect with these ladies to extend the outreach past New Years and the lifespan of the gifts?

Support Sisters. In the past, our church ladies participated in Secret Sisters, where we would draw each other’s names and secretly send cards and gifts for an extended period of time. Support Sisters was a play on this concept. This time we would reach outside the church walls. Our sisters would be the precious ladies in the sub-division.

Our first step was to garner support from the ladies in the church, then go door-to-door within the cul-de-sac and find who was interested. If a lady showed interest, she filled out an informational sheet so her Support Sister from church could send cards, pay a visit, or phone to see how she was doing. We invited all the Support Sisters to church functions and especially to all women’s events. Ten ladies from the complex signed up and we paired ladies, considering their age and common interests. An initial visit ensued where the new friends took time to meet, which led to visits, calls, and several of these special ladies attending women’s events and even regular church services. We found several women to be Christians who’d lost connection with any church and needed a friend who wouldn’t judge them.

A favorite event that many of our new friends attended was a day spa specifically for single women we offered one Saturday. The women in the women’s ministry provided haircuts, [my daughter and a fellow cosmetologist volunteered their services], manicures, and pedicures. It took the concept of “foot washing” to a new level! We offered snacks and ended the day with makeovers and pictures.

We continued the outreach for a year. Apartments like these have a large turnover as ladies married or were able to move to better housing. Still, lives were affected for the good in the short time, not only for our new friends, but ourselves. We learned to push past our comfort zone and share the love of Christ with others.

Can a year make a difference? Women’s lives were changed by a group of ladies willing to push past the limits of a normal outreach activity…

Jennifer Hallmark is a writer of southern fiction and women’s ministry consultant. She has a website, http://www.jenniferhallmark.com and shares a writer’s reference blog, http://writingpromptsthoughtsideas.blogspot.com. Her first novel in the trilogy, Journey of Grace: A New Beginning is currently searching for a good home. Jennifer resides with husband Danny in Alabama and loves her family, dog Max and coffee shops, in no particular order.

You can read her previous post on revolutionizing our world with the love of Christ here.

Stretched to Overflowing

Once again, as I post today’s Reach Out story, tears sting my eyes. Oh, the beauty of love and grace poured out through God’s children to those in need. Obedience isn’t always easy or comfortable, but I have a feeling Julie Arduini would tell you, it is always, always so worth it.

But before you run to grab your tissue, I wanted to announce last month’s winners. Diana Brandmeyer won September’s Reach Out gift basket with her touching story, Silver Streets. And Judy Burgi won a copy of Tapestry of Trust by Mary Annslee Urban. (Ladies, I’ll be contacting you shortly to get your gift/s to you.)

Stretched to Overflowing by Julie Arduini

You’ve heard the saying, “Be careful what you ask for, because you’re going to get it?”

Well, it took God less than 48 hours after I asked Him to grow me for Him to act on it. A mentor challenged me to step out of my comfort zone where I pray and encourage people I already know. She asked me to pray and believe God would orchestrate opportunities for me to serve Him to a stranger.

As soon as I heard the woman behind me in the grocery line, I knew it was time to step up.

“I’m sorry, kids. I only have $40, and that’s for these groceries and the medicine we have to get. There isn’t money for extras.” The mom counted her single bills and glanced every few seconds at her items.

“Not even for this?” A girl who looked to be about my daughter’s age at the time, about six, waved a chocolate bar.

Lord, do you want me to buy the child a candy bar? I can do that.

“I’m sorry, sweetie. We can’t get anything more, not even that.” The mom kept sizing up her items as they moved forward on the conveyor belt.

The child didn’t even pout. She put the candy back and stayed at her mom’s side.

No, my child. I want you to pay for all her groceries.

I scanned the entire conveyor belt. How much would my things plus hers cost? This was a little trip for things we didn’t find during our weekly trip. We were near the budget, and my husband kept a good handle on finances. I didn’t want to disrespect him.

But I knew by ignoring God’s offer to grow me through paying for her groceries would disrespect my Heavenly Father.

The mom thought aloud as the cashier started ringing up my order. “I know last time we got that prescription it was $15. I think with these things plus tax, I’m spending $24…”

I pivoted enough to see her items. There was nothing frivolous. She had grocery staples, the basics to keep a family fed.

“That’s $16.35.” The cashier smiled.

I slid my check card out of my wallet and started the electronic transaction. As I waited on financial approval, I closed my eyes and prayed for strength. I could speak in front of a thousand without fear. Yet trying to find the courage to pay for someone’s groceries was inciting sweat throughout my body in the dead of winter.

“Thank you. Have a great day.” The cashier handed me my slip, but I stood still.

“Wait.” I turned toward the woman next to me.  “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I’d like to pay for your groceries.”

Her eyes widened. “Oh, no. You don’t have to. I have enough.”

“I know you do. I don’t have to, I want to. Really.”

Tears spilled over and fell on the belt. “Thank you. This is such a surprise. A gift. Bless you.”

I looked at the little girl. “If it is okay with your mom, you can get the candy bar, too.”

The mom nodded.

The cashier started ringing her out. “I’ve never seen anyone do that before.”

I smiled. “I’ve never done it before, either. It feels good. Really good.”

My fear returned on the drive home, fearful that I went over the weekly grocery budget. I confessed what happened to my husband, who broke into a grin.

“Honey, I know spontaneous things are not natural for you, and that you fear spending money. You’ve never been reckless; I probably put too much pressure on you when you shop. Of all the wonderful things you’ve done to encourage others, this is my favorite one of all.”

Julie Aduini is a writer and speaker. Her passion is to encourage audiences to find freedom through surrender. Whether you read her blog on the front page of her website, check out her writingspeakingbookshelvesinterests, or the free gifts she has for you, you will find a surrender theme. One of my surrender stories is M&M’s for breakfast so you know I also have a love for chocolate.

Visit her online. She invites you to grab a piece of chocolate, sit down with a mocha, and stay as long as you like.

And before you go, I leave you with a verse and a thought. It’s often said you can never out-give God. Our family has found this true again and again. When we give–whether of our plenty or our few, God takes care of our needs. This doesn’t mean He’ll gift us a mansion on a hill, but it does mean He’ll provide for us. This enables us to serve and obey God fully, without fear.

“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” Luke 6:38 NLT

I’d love to hear from you. Has God ever asked you to give to someone when your own finances were tight? What happened? Or maybe you are the one in need. Can you share a time when God used someone else to provide for you financially? I think the giving is easier than the receiving, but receiving God’s gifts and provisions come easier when we remember they are just that–gifts and provisions from God. He owns everything, and He can distribute His abundance as He wills. If you ever find yourself on the receiving end, before your spurn your gift consider how receiving it could bless the giver by allowing them to experience God working and loving through them.

And the next time you see someone in need, don’t let your pocket book overshadow your view of God’s power and blessings.

Seeing God’s Hand

I’ve often wondered, if we could see all that God does on our behalf, how many seemingly random instances would turn out to be miracles. That detour that avoided a crash, or a stop light that placed us in the right place at the right time for a hidden blessing. Every once in a while, we catch glimpses of God’s hand, but I believe He does so much more–each moment in each day–then we’ll ever realize, until maybe we get to heaven.

Today, Gail Pallotta, fellow Clash of the Titles’ hostess and author of Love Turns the Tide, reminds us of how God works behind the scenes, often through His children, to provide for our needs. As you read it, ask God to show you His love and mercy, sprinkled throughout your day. And then, when He does, make sure to thank Him, turning each moment into an act of praise. (Gail is also a Reach Out donor this month.)

God’s Constance Care by Gail Pallotta

Each year members of my Georgia Sunday school class chip in with other churches to provide bagged lunches for homeless children in the community. This year we planned to make our sandwiches one day in mid July. When the Sunday school teacher called to get us on the schedule, the coordinator told him they had plenty of food that week. They didn’t have enough the week after July fourth. The teacher told our class, “I agreed to supply them when they needed them.”

Years ago someone asked us to make the lunches. Sure. We could do that. It meant spending a few bucks each then putting cheese and turkey on bread and cookies in bags.

That’s only part of it. It means the children who come in every day during the summer trusting there will be something for them to eat, find it. In my mind’s eye I saw the youngsters running in hot and sweaty from playing, talking and chattering, teasing each other and giving one another friendly jabs as they sat down and ate their treats.

Then I thought of all the times God works behind the scenes in our lives to meet our needs.

Gail and Rick Pallotta picked up one hundred bagged lunches this July at their church in Georgia to deliver to their community’s homeless children.

The night before, they joined their Sunday school class to make the meals in the church’s large, commercial kitchen. Each bag holds a turkey and cheese sandwich, vanilla wafers, peanut butter cookies, applesauce packets and boxed drinks.

Love Turns the Tide:

In Love Turns the Tide Cammie O’Shea faces a traumatic split-up with her fiancé and has to leave her family and friends to take a new job in Destin, Florida. Heartbroken and alone, she needs God more now than she ever has. But for some reason she can’t explain she feels more estranged from him.

A feature writer, she dreads meeting her new boss, the editor of The Sun Dial, a newnewspaper. However, her real source of angst turns out to be Vic Deleona, the influential real estate tycoon she must write about to help get the paper off its feet. While she refuses to open herself to another painful relationship he attempts to court her. Trying to get over her heartache, she continues to read her Bible and say her prayers. Then break-ins at her and her friend’s condos make her doubt the wisdom of living in Destin even more.

Vic comes to their rescue. He even launches his own investigation into the crimes. Just when Cammie sees a different side of him she gets an offer to return home to her old job. Will Vic solve the crimes and win Cammie’s heart or will she leave?

But it here!

I’d love to hear from you. Has there been an event or encounter that seemed random at the time but later, you realized it was a divine appointment or open door? Or perhaps God has provided for you in an unexpected way. Tell us about it! And may we all be alert to God’s daily provisions and care.

As I close out the month of September, I want to give a shout-out to September’s Reach Out Donors:

Simple Faith by Eddie Snipesthe Road to Mercy by Kathy HarrisThe Other Side of Darkness by Linda Rondeau, and Love Turns the Tide by Gail Pallotta. Kathy Harris, is also donating Karyn Williams’ musical CD entitled Only You.

Silver Streets

What a beautiful, glorious way to start a Monday morning. Today’s Reach Out story by Diana Brandmeyer brought tears to my eyes and tugged at my momma’s heart. Yesterday at church our pastor asked: What’s God asking you to risk?

Following Christ won’t always be easy. It won’t always be comfortable, and at times, it might not be safe. But oh, it will be glorious! And I think Diana would agree, when we say yes to God’s call, whatever it is, our hearts expand a few notches and our eyes open to see the beautiful men, women, and children all around us. And when we encounter those precious individuals, our perspectives begin to change. I also believe each time we say yes to God, we catch a fresh glimpse of His ever-reaching love. Priceless.

Silver Streets by Diana Brandmeyer

“Conner is restarting Silver Streets for his Eagle Scout Project. Want to sign up with me?”

My husband’s question jabs me with a finger of guilt and fear.

“I need to know so they’ll have a t-shirt for you.”

Bribery. Will it work? “No, I need to think about it.”

Of course I needed to think about it. Going to East St. Louis –not on my bucket list. Every newscast is broadcasting about someone murdered there, crying mothers, sisters and aunts all with the same message, “This has to stop. We can’t keep having our children killed.” My fear increased every time he asked me to go.

I came up with excuses, “I know they are providing a meal, and I won’t be able to eat there.” I’m gluten free. That should work.

“You could bring your own. The school has a fridge you could put it in or we can take a cooler.”

He’s always so logical.

“They need people to paint.”

Paint? I love to paint. “I can’t paint unless I have my ladder.”

“I’ll toss it on the truck.”

Foiled again. I’ve been asked to Silver Streets for many years and every time I find a reason not to. This time it wasn’t working. “I’ll go.”

“You will? You can have my t-shirt since you didn’t sign up on time.”

He’s a great husband.

Saturday came, as we drove through the city everywhere I looked there were houses in disrepair, people sitting on porches, and lots of trash. Everyone stared as we drove through. I was sure any minute we would get shot.

At the school I met a few other friends from church that wanted to paint. We started and as the day progressed people came and went. Funny thing, not everyone likes to paint. Others were cleaning the brush and building a front entrance garden. Ninety three people came to serve.

As I was painting one eighth grader came to help. She chose to follow behind a group of messy painters cleaning the floor. Not a glamorous job being the only one to volunteer it was a solitary chore. I asked her why she chose it.

“Because it’s my school, and I want don’t want to be embarrassed to come here.”

That’s when I knew why I was there. By putting my skills to work with others God used us to prepare the school for children living in an undeclared war zone. After five hours of outdoor clean-up, additions and hallway painting that day as God’s volunteers, we showed God’s love through our gifts.

If I hadn’t gone would it have made a difference? I’m sure God would have found a replacement but I would have missed out on giving my time. My heart is now open to going back next year.

And they had a shirt for me after all.

***

Christian author, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, writes historical and contemporary romances. Her historical, A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee is now available.

She’s also written We’re Not Blended-We’re Pureed, A Survivor’s Guide to Blended Families.

Once widowed and now remarried she writes with humor and experience on the difficulty of joining two families be it fictional or real life.

Visit her online at:

http://www.dianabrandmeyer.com

http://www.pencildancer.com (blog)

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/dianalesirebrandmeyerauthor

Twitter @dianabrandmeyer

A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee:

Heaven’s Stolen His Heart

After witnessing the ravages of the Civil War, Travis Logan vowed to give up doctoring. But when fellow steamboat passenger Caleb Wharton collapses at his feet, Travis knows he must lend his aid. As the old man lies dying, he makes Travis promise to take care of his land and find Heaven. Travis can’t help but wonder what Heaven has to do with a real place, so he heads to Caleb’s farm to fulfill his promise.

Weeks of facing marauders and caring for her father’s home have finally taken their toll on Heaven Wharton. When an unknown young man charges the house, Heaven attempts to fire a warning shot but ends up shooting the man instead. Shocked, she and her sister, Angel, drag a semi-conscious Travis into the house and nurse him back to health.

As Travis and Heaven both struggle to control their destinies, will they learn that only a heart that follows God can ever find peace on earth?

After the Civil War, Travis Logan vowed to give up doctoring. But when fellow steamboat passenger Caleb Wharton collapses at his feet, Travis lends his aid. As the old man lies dying, he makes Travis promise to take care of his land and find Heaven. Travis can’t help but wonder what Heaven has to do with a real place.

When an unknown young man charges the house, Heaven Wharton attempts to fire a warning shot but ends up shooting the man. Shocked, she and her sister, Angel, drag a semi-conscious Travis into the house and nurse him back to health.

As Travis and Heaven both struggle to control their destinies, will they learn that only a heart that follows God can ever find peace on earth?

Diana didn’t want to go. It scared her. It cost her something. But she went anyway, trusting the God who called her had a reason for sending her. The results? I believe she’d tell you what she gained in return by far outweighed the cost, and I imagine this experience–and the memory of that sweet girl, will remain with her for some time. Perhaps one day she will even meet that girl in heaven. A glorious thought indeed!

I am greatly enjoying each of these Reach Out posts. Reading these stories, it is easy to focus on the individual reaching out, but may we never forget, it is God who moves us to act. Each story revealed here is a retelling of God’s immense love and grace.

I want to give a shout-out to September’s Reach Out Donors:

Simple Faith by Eddie Snipesthe Road to Mercy by Kathy HarrisThe Other Side of Darkness by Linda Rondeau, and Love Turns the Tide by Gail Pallotta. Kathy Harris, is also donating Karyn Williams’ musical CD entitled Only You.

Here’s a question for you. When was the last time you paused to chat with a child from the inner city? A single mom? A lonely Alzheimer’s patient or orphaned child? A homeless man? Remember, God spent time with “the least of these,” and He wants us to do the same. Chances are, they won’t come to you. But God’s love–agape love–is an initiating love. So let’s get initiating. 🙂

Do you have a Reach Out story to share? We’d love to read about it! Shoot me an email at jenniferaslattery(at)gmail.com.

Finally, I leave you with one question–a repeat of the one my pastor asked my church family: What is God asking you to risk? Life is too short to play it safe, my friend.

A Cry for Help

Today we start a new Reach Out month with a great post by Ada Brownell. As I read her story, I was reminded of all the ways God cares for us. Sending someone to help just when we need it, prompting someone to call or send us a card. And I imagine for most of us, there’s been many times when we’ve been on the other end–sensing God’s nudging, telling us to reach out to one of His children. Sometimes that may mean sending a letter or offering a hug. Other times, the moment might be a bit more serious.

A CRY FOR HELP By Ada Brownell

The phone rang.

When I answered, a woman’s voice explained the elderly widower, John, who lives across the street, punched the emergency gadget around his neck to summon help. Since we signed up to take calls, she phoned us.

“Could you please check on him and see if he is O.K.?” she asked.

Quickly I phoned my husband, who had gone to the store, and then ran over to the tri-level where John lives. The garage door was upon, so I barreled through, side-stepping a crimson pool about the size of a cake plate. There sat the old white-haired man on a white plastic lawn chair in the back of the garage, his face covered with blood.

“The emergency service called,” I explained. “What happened?”

“I fell. Passed out. So I called an ambulance.”

Stepping closer, I listened for sirens and heard none. I talked to him about the event, explaining that my husband, Les, was on his way to help.

“Would you like me to pray for you while they’re coming?” I asked. I had prayed with him before.

“Yes,” he said, his bloodshot eyes looking up at me. And then with slightly slurred speech he added, “I need all the prayer I can get.”

I prayed, and he seemed comforted.

Still no sirens. We live close to the hospital, so I have heard them by now, but nothing. He leaned forward. His eyes closed, and then he slipped down and started to tumble to the floor. I grabbed him, but the weight to keep him from dropping to the concrete was almost too much for me.

Then the old man roused, and seemed all right for a few minutes. Les arrived just in time to help when the gentleman passed out again. Les helped me hold the man in the chair.

“Go inside and get a cold rag to put on his head,” Les said.

I’m not one to barge into someone’s home uninvited, but I went, all the time wishing I had grabbed plastic gloves before I left home. Working as a medical reporter and after being in and around hospitals often I knew exposing yourself to blood is risky. I worried most about hepatitis.

After opening several cabinets in the utility room, I found some rags, chose one, wet it in the nearby sink and ran back out and held the cool cloth to our neighbor’s forehead.

“Thank you,” he said, seeming to be more alert.

The cloth warmed next to his skin as I held it. He seemed aware of the blood all over his face, apparently from a bloody nose. I thought of who he was in his prime, a former air traffic controller, probably quite dignified and different from the frail, shuffling man with the bulbous nose we knew now.

I turned the cloth and then used it to wipe the blood off his face. The white fabric was red now against my bare hand, but as I prayed for him it was as if I were doing the deed as an extension of the arm of Jesus, but also as a “cup of water in His name.” After all, I am a Christian and carry His name.

Les had called our neighbor’s son at work and he arrived soon and took his dad to the hospital, because the ambulance never came. The old man had misunderstood and thought when he pressed the emergency caller around his neck that he’d called an ambulance.

A few days later, he had a pacemaker surgically inserted into his heart and now is doing better.

God gave me peace about using my bare hands to wipe away blood, although I imagine if it occurred again, I’d grab plastic gloves we keep around and use when we paint.

I’ve said over and over during my life that I’m not the “nurse” type of individual, except with family. Yet, it seems the Lord doesn’t worry too much about our specialties when he needs someone.

That’s the way it seems my work for the Lord goes. Although many people are more qualified, God needs somebody at the moment, and I’m available.

Most days there is no crisis, but John is lonely. When we have dessert or I cook too much food, I share with John. When I go outside and he’s out, I visit with him a while. It’s really not much, but I’m rewarded with his and the Lord’s gratitude.

Ada Brownell is the author of Swallowed by LIFE Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal

A retired medical journalist asks, “Do you know evidence shows we’re more than a physical body?” The book speaks about this mystery and the evidence; the wonder of life with all its electrical systems; the awesome truth about cell death and regeneration; brain death; mysteries surrounding the change from mortal to immortal; where we go when our body dies; resurrection; and a glimpse at what we will do in heaven. Questions and answers make this a great book for group study.

Ada Brownell spent 17 years as a daily newspaper reporter and has written for Christian publications since age 16. Her published writing includes two books, Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal http://amzn.to/Jnc1rW, and Confessions of a Pentecostal, out of print but now available for Kindle http://buff.ly/KmLPMi

Ada still writes op-ed pieces for newspapers; has more than 275 articles and stories in Christian publications; chapters in several books, including “50 Tough Questions” (Gospel Publishing House). Website/blog: www.inkfromanearthenvessel.blogspot.com.

               ***

I want to give a shout-out to September’s Reach Out Donors:

Simple Faith by Eddie Snipesthe Road to Mercy by Kathy HarrisThe Other Side of Darkness by Linda Rondeau, and Love Turns the Tide by Gail Pallotta. Kathy Harris, is also donating Karyn Williams’ musical CD entitled Only You.

There’s a song I love that says, “I will go.” I often pray that God helps me live those words out because honestly, I recognize my frequent tendency to stay. This post reminded me never to take God’s nudges lightly because truly, we don’t know what He’s calling us to until we get there.

What about you? When have you felt God nudge you to do something and later found out it the event was a bigger deal than you’d expected? Or when has God sent someone to you at that perfect time? Tell us about it.

Reach Out Recap–Five Months of Love

Today I close the fifth month of Reach Out stories–of reading how God’s children across the nation are actively sharing the love of Christ. You’re at park benches, on subways, reaching out to the homeless, the orphan, and the felon. With each encounter, each authentic display of love, you are revealing the nature of Christ. In today’s world with so many political battle lines and carelessly spoken words, Christ’s image often gets tainted. But life by life, as each one of us reaches out to someone else and allows God to love them through us, we help others see Christ as He truly is–filled with a passionate, initiating love–a love that drew Him to the cross.

I loved this month’s reach out stories, each one for different reasons.

I loved Vona Elkins Bankson’s story because it demonstrated an important truth–one we must not only remember but actively live out. Our church is our family. We’re a unit. When one member hurts, every member hurts. It is important that we reach out to one another within our church body as much, if not more, than we reach out to those outside it. When we sit in the pews and watch the others sit around us, may we always remember they are our sisters, our brothers, fathers and mothers.

Here’s a snippet of her story, Lives Intertwined.

“Recently the Young Adult men’s Sunday school class led by Rodger Nix, heard of a young couple with many needs who had moved into the community. The father was battling cancer; the mother was working alongside him in a tree grinding business trying to eke out a living for them and their four-year old daughter. …” (Read more here.)

I loved Jennifer Hallmark’s story for two reasons. First, it reminded me that the church body exists beyond our church walls as well and includes all who love Jesus Christ. It also reminded me we can serve where ever we are. Often we think we have to wait until our church starts a program or ministry, but if God’s laid something on your heart, follow through. There are countless ways to serve each day. Find one and jump in! And like Jennifer says, become a revolutionary–someone who inspires others to love and greatness.

Here’s a portion of her story, Be a Revolutionary:

“Are you a revolutionary? Encarta Dictionary has two definitions I like: “causing, supporting, or advocating revolution” and “so new and different as to cause a major change in something.” We can start a “revolution” in our circle of influence through outreach.” (Read the rest here.)

Sandra Robbin’s testimony of a time when she reached out to a broken woman on the subway touched me deeply because I’ve been that woman. I’ve never feared losing a child, but I’ve had times where I’ve been broken, longing for support or comfort. (I suspect we all have at some point.) I’ve also been on the other end. I’ve been in a crowded area–the airport, the grocery store, a restaurant–and have seen others distraught. Most often, I’ve walked away, not knowing what to do. Sandra reminded me sometimes the best thing we can do is offer to pray with that person.

Here’s a portion of her story, Reaching Out to the Broken:

“I was excited that day as I arrived at the airport to fly to Texas for a visit with my daughter’s family. But I wasn’t as excited as were the men on the packed shuttle bus that picked me up in parking lot. Since this was during March Madness, I knew right away from their clothing and their boisterous voices that they were on their way to a basketball game. I squeezed past the ones standing in the aisle and reached a bench that ran along the side of the bus. I sat down, my knees almost touching a woman sitting on the bench facing me. …” (Read more here.)

I’d love to hear from you. What did God say to you through these posts? Which one impacted you most, and why? Tell us about it in the comments. Would you like to read more Reach Out stories? Or is there perhaps another topic you’d like to see addressed? Let me know. 🙂

And again, I want to give a huge shout out of thanks to all my August Reach Out donors:

Eddie Snipes with I Called Him Dancera novel quite fitting for this campaignJoAnn Durgin with Second Time AroundEileen Rife with Second Chanceanother novel with an outreach focus; Sandra Robbins with Fatal Disclosureand Ann Lee Miller with Kicking Eternity.