Same/Different . . . Trinidad

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Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7 NIV

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I just returned from an amazing trip to Trinidad. I had the opportunity to lead the women of Grace Church in a 3-day retreat. It was such a blessing to be able to encourage them to grow closer to Him through His word and prayer so His whisper becomes more audible in this noisy chaotic world. These are two of my newest friends ~ Leah & Shevita (above). I think one of the things that stood out to me the most was how similar we all. No matter where you are in the world . . . no matter what your skin or hair color. . . .

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No matter what kind of home you live in . . . shoes you wear . . . type of desserts you cook (here Patsy and I are mixing up the batter for a Two Egg cake in her living room). . . . how much you have or don’t have . . . as Christians . . .

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we are all part of God’s family. All welcome at His table. All sisters in Christ. Striving to seek Him daily, hear His whisper, acknowledge and accept His forgiveness and let go of past mistakes. So, we may look different, talk different, seem different in many ways . . . . but really we are all weary, sinful servants trying to navigate the waters of this life until we reach our eternal home with our Heavenly Father.

Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 NIV

Thank you ladies of Grace Church for making me feel so welcome, so loved and so appreciated. You are a blessing to me and I’m so grateful God has woven our lives together. See you soon!

Same Different

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Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7 NIV

Africa - Trinidad 093

I just returned from an amazing trip to Trinidad. I had the opportunity to lead the women of Grace Church in a 3-day retreat. It was such a blessing to be able to encourage them to grow closer to Him through His word and prayer so His whisper becomes more audible in this noisy chaotic world. These are two of my newest friends ~ Leah & Shevita (above). I think one of the things that stood out to me the most was how similar we all. No matter where you are in the world . . . no matter what your skin or hair color. . . .

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No matter what kind of home you live in . . . shoes you wear . . . type of desserts you cook (here Patsy and I are mixing up the batter for a Two Egg cake in her living room). . . . how much you have or don’t have . . . as Christians . . .

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we are all part of God’s family. All welcome at His table. All sisters in Christ. Striving to seek Him daily, hear His whisper, acknowledge and accept His forgiveness and let go of past mistakes. So, we may look different, talk different, seem different in many ways . . . . but really we are all weary, sinful servants trying to navigate the waters of this life until we reach our eternal home with our Heavenly Father.

Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 NIV

Thank you ladies of Grace Church for making me feel so welcome, so loved and so appreciated. You are a blessing to me and I’m so grateful God has woven our lives together. See you soon!

Guest Blogger – Matt Cain ~ Finding Family you didn’t know you had – half a world away!

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Over the past two weeks, my husband has had the distinct privilege of fulfilling one of his dreams ~ traveling to Africa on a mission trip.We knew it would impact his life and the life of our family in many ways, but I wanted to share what he wrote about one of the best parts of his trip . . . meet Ivan

Finding Family you didn’t know you had – half a world away! by Matt Cain 

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Last year my wife and I decided to sponsor one of the children from the Watoto Church in Uganda.  At the time we were moved by the story of the orphaned children and wanted to help.  The child we picked to sponsor was named Ivan.  He melted our hearts with his wide smile and charisma.  Little did we know that almost a year later I would be standing in the Gulu village and meet him face to face.

Our construction team finished work early yesterday and we had time to walk through the homes in the village.  As we walked I took an opportunity to show one of the children my picture of Ivan and asked if he knew him.  Watoto has 3000 orphans in their care spread across three villages and Gulu is the smallest.   The chances were not in my favor that he would be at the Gulu village where we were working.  But as God would have it he instantly grabbed my hand and away we went across the village.

As we opened the door to the home I met Ivan for the very first time.  No longer was he just a picture of an orphaned child in Africa but he was a precious six year old little boy who wanted to be loved.  He showed me his room and the pictures we had sent him of our family that he proudly had hanging on his wall.   We sat together and talked for a while and I told him I would be back the next day.

This afternoon I walked through the village after our work day and small children were gathered all around me but one in particular grabbed my hand and said in a soft voice of broken English, “Uncle Matthew, come to my house”.  I looked down and found Ivan.  With his hand tightly grasped around mine he pulled me to his house.  Inside we sat at the kitchen table as he showed me his report card from school and pictures he had colored in his coloring book.

We knew sponsoring Ivan was the right thing to do…  My family had the financial means to do it but if I am honest I didn’t always think about Ivan.  Our lives are busy and we find other things to occupy our thoughts.    Our family would mention him from time to time but it was as if he were a distant cousin that we didn’t really know.    Today, that all changed for me.  He is not a distant cousin but a member of our family.  I look forward to writing letters to him as we encourage him in the months and years to come.  It may very well be that the encouragement and love we send will change his life forever.  What an opportunity God has given me and my family to make Ivan a part of our lives and impact his from half a world away.

To read more about the trip and experiences of others who went on the trip you can visit http://blog.gethope.net/globalhope.

Also, I would appreciate prayers as I travel April 20-27 to Trinidad. I’ll be leading a group of women at a three-day conference and sharing the message God has placed on my heart about finding Him in the ordinary and putting Him in the middle of all we think, do and say. Please pray God prepares the hearts of these women to receive His word and that He will use me in a mighty way to deliver it. Thank you!

R U Following Me?

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“If you are following me, you are lost too!”

This was the bumper sticker I saw on a car as I made my way to a meeting. It struck me funny at first, but as I looked at things through “God” lenses I thought about these nine words over and over. It is so sad and yet so true to realize how many people walk around everyday who live this way. Following everyone around them. Those of this world instead of God. Looking only to the person beside them at work, a neighbor, friend, spouse or mentor.

Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Matthew 10:38 NIV

The reason we get lost is because we follow the crowd. Seeking wisdom from the world instead of the Creator of all we see. Stuck in the herd of life we loss sight of the cross ~ of God’s light in this dark world. As John Bunyan describes (in book The Pilgrim’s Progress), a pilgrim on a journey to the celestial city (God’s kingdom) who passed through many trials and temptations strove daily to keep his eyes towards the light of the celestial city. Sometimes along his journey he would forget and be tempted to take an easier path, but when discovering the path that had looked easier only led to destruction and deadly giants he would find his way back to God’s highway and keep his eyes focused once again on the light of God’s city.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 NIV

Truly, when we follow others we will end up lost. We should look to God first, then to those He has placed around us who are of like mind and seek wisdom through our Father and His word. As we celebrated Easter and a risen Lord we focused on Him, but let us remember that although He no longer walks this earth ~ He lives in each of us. He desires for us to seek Him,  know Him and trust Him. Follow God FIRST ~ and the rest will fall into place and He will never lead you astray.