Spreading Christmas Cheer

Thursday, December 22, 2011  ::   11 important comments

Merry Christmas from my fun family to yours! 

We hope the coming year is full of laughter, love, and joy for you and your family! 

Linking up with Emily to spread more Christmas cheer. 

Crafty McCrafterson

Tuesday, December 20, 2011  ::   14 important comments

Those of you who know me know that I am not crafty. At all. But, I do love to give unique gifts, and even though some people may think otherwise because of this post, we keep it pretty simple in terms of gift giving at Christmas. I usually bake...a lot. This year I wanted to do something different, and I got a wonderful idea from my friend Emily via this Pin on Pinterest. (Anybody else actually making stuff they see on Pinterest? Not to brag, but I'm pretty much awesome when it comes to actually using ideas I find on the wonderful free magazine type website.)

Personalized etched mugs for my brothers, sisters-in-law, and nephews turned out to be a great gift idea!

I bought these great mugs at the 99 Cent Store. Chad and I (yes, Chad enjoys helping with projects like this) used stickers for the names and taped off a rectangle to make it clean. 

The goo we used is called Glass Etching Cream. On the link it says that she spent $40 for her bottle. My suggestion to her is to shop around a little better.  I got my bottle at Michaels. It was only $12 and thanks to Emily's great suggestion,  I printed a 40% off coupon. 

 And here is the finished product:  
This is actually reason number 67 why I shouldn't be a craft blogger. I never took a final picture. I could lie and say I didn't want to post a final picture of their gifts before Christmas. But, the honest answer is my un-craftiness extends all the way to not taking the final pictures. Now that's funny. But you can get the gist with this example. Maybe I can stretch my crafting capacity and make fancy etched glasses like this one. Or maybe I should just stick with sticker letters to make words. 
But do you want to know who is crafty in my house? 

These two beauties: 

They asked if they could make giant snowflakes. Being the amazing mom that I am, I replied, "Yeah, whatever, knock yourself out." 

They had a great system. Carah did something. 

And then Morgan did something. 

When they showed me the final result I was entirely impressed! I had no idea they were going to make such cool snowflakes. They ended up making five (at my request) and I hung them on the wall in our dining room. I'm so thankful they love to create! 

I will definitely keep making gifts, but will never call myself crafty. It's just too much pressure. 

What about you? What have you made, baked, or created for gifts this year? 

Unholy but Honest

Sunday, December 18, 2011  ::   13 important comments

The Christian blog world and Facebook are abuzz with moms and dads who are super holy. Starting a few weeks ago, I began to read all kinds of posts and status updates about scaling back, kids who were willing to give up receiving any gifts, and using all the money to build wells or buy goats for villages. Turns out, I don't fit in as much. I'm just not as holy as the rest.

This is the paragraph that I want to use to justify myself by listing the ways my family has given this year. But I'm not going to do it. It's between my family and God. So, I'll fight the urge to try to prove to you that I really am holy and move right along.

The thing is I like to buy gifts for my kids. It literally makes me giddy. Christmas giving in our house isn't marked with extravagance, but we do stretch ourselves to give to good causes AND to give to our kids.

Filling their stockings excites me. I love finding little unique treasures for each child. Completely stuffing them until they are overflowing is always my goal. I love to watch them take it all in on Christmas morning. Their joy fills me up!

And the unholiest thing of all? We do Santa! This summer Morgan and Carah finally started asking questions about whether or not Santa was real. They are in fourth grade. Kyle and Esther figured out that Santa wasn't real earlier than their sisters, but Kyle and Esther are mathematicians and scientists. Morgan and Carah are artists and dreamers. But let me tell you, the deep love each one of my four precious kids have for Jesus often blows me away. In no way at all do I think telling my kids that Santa came into our house while they were sleeping, ate a plate of cookies, and left gifts for them betrayed them or made them think we were liars. In fact, I think it enhanced their imaginations, and allowed them to dream and get excited about something completely magical.  We've told our kids that Santa will still visit as long as they don't start saying that Mom and Dad are Santa. Are you shuddering at my unholiness?

This week when I was practically skipping through stores shopping for stocking stuffers for my kids, I was hit with the delight that God must enjoy in giving gifts to us. If my joy can be made so profound in blessing my own kids, wouldn't God's joy be so much more? As my kids light up with the new pajamas or perfect little ornament Chad and I have picked out for them, my heart fills up. When I realize what God is giving me and enjoy His gifts like a child, doesn't He also love it?

Maybe it isn't ok in a wacky Christian sub-culture to say that I like to make, buy, and give gifts to my kids. Honestly, I'm totally ok with not fitting into that mold. This Christmas we will read the story of Jesus' birth many times. We will sing carols. We will read The Night Before Christmas. When the kids go to bed, Chad and I will put our Santa hats on and stuff stockings and lay out gifts for each child. When they wake up (waaay too early) we will watch them excitedly enjoy their gifts. And with love for our kids and worship towards our God we will enjoy giving good gifts to each of them!

Matthew 7:11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to you?   

Celebrating Jesus through Cord of Hope

Sunday, December 18, 2011  ::   4 important comments

Many people have asked for details about the Cord of Hope outreach that took place a week ago. My apologies for the delayed response. To be honest, this last week left little time to write for all sorts of reasons, not to mention it is difficult to sit down and try to explain what took place. Life circumstances, as well as needed concentration to communicate some of what God did through the outreach led to procrastination. Again, my apologies.

But rest assured, He moved.

Over one hundred women received a beautiful gift full of chocolate, cute socks, jewelry, cute trinkets, and a beautiful booklet with Luke 2 in the Message translation. As always, some of the women spoke with gratitude that it would be the only gift they received this Christmas. Some just looked at us in shock or hesitation. And, some wanted to dig through the bags and trade out for something more to their tastes.

M asked us who we were and why we did this. When one of my teammates briefly explained Cord of Hope, M shook her head and replied, "I can dig it." She talked about how she got into dancing and that her sister also dances in the same club. Over the last week, she has been in my daydreams and night dreams. She is a treasure. Jesus loves her with an unfailing love. Will you please pray for M and her sister to know the God who saves?

We met A during a coffee drop during the summer. She looks so, so young. She has a sweet disposition and a beautiful smile. Despite her employment choices, she still has an innocence about her which could be because she has a young daughter. She was delighted to receive a Christmas gift and even more happy that one of my teammates remembered her name and asked about her daughter. Please pray that our love and memory of the small details of her life will lead her to an inescapable curiosity to search for God. Will you pray that she will come to know Jesus that will restore her sweet innocence?

J knew about what we were doing right away because while working in Phoenix she received a gift from a group similar to ours. In Phoenix she received Harmony Dust's book and had already read it. I was so happy to be able to tell her that I knew Harmony and that she is legit and her book is true. Please pray for J. Ask God to continue to put people in her path in the most unexpected ways to show her He is pursuing her. Will you please pray for J to know the God who has not forgotten her?

The managers of Ten's, Eden, Venom, and Turbulence were all very open to us this outreach. No one even hesitated. B at Venom was very talkative with us. J at Eden is interested in having coffee with Chad and me. J, R, and D at Ten's continue to be open to whatever we want to do in their club. To be honest, they all seem so closed off to spiritual things, but I know that it is only my small human brain and heart underestimating the God who can do whatever He wants whenever He wants. Please pray for these men. Ask God to continue to give us favor with them. Ask God to remove their hearts of stone and give them hearts of flesh. Will you please pray that these men will know true freedom and redemption through Jesus?

Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart. I will put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Psalm 130 O Israel {dancers, mangers, people of Tucson, me, YOU} put your hope in the Lord for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption. He Himself will redeem Israel {and us} from all their sin.

Thank you for praying.

Glory to God alone!

Moxie Memorizers 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011  ::   9 important comments

Wow oh wow oh wow!! WE DID IT! We are about to complete our first year of memorizing together! 
Are you excited? Are you proud of yourself? Did you meet your goal? 
How have you seen your life changing because of the living active word of God penetrating your mind and heart? 
Did you stay the course throughout the year? Was it more difficult to learn new verses or review the ones you had already taken in? 
What about those of you who didn't stick with it? Do you have regrets? Are you hopeful for the coming months? Is there repentance that needs to happen or have you already talked with God about spiritual disciplines in your life? 
Whatever the case may be, this is our last post for 2011. My heart is so full. I'm thankful for each of that have at one time or another through this year posted scripture that you committed to take into your heart. 
"How can a young man (or young woman) keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart. Do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:9-11 
I know He is working powerfully in our hearts through His word.
And, friends, this is only just the beginning of Moxie Memorizers. This isn't something that we cross off our bucket list and say, "Oh man, I'm so awesome. I memorized verses for a whole year. Good thing that's finished and I can move on!" Nope. This is discipline. A lifetime of learning. Allowing His word to make us more and more like Jesus. Staying the course and not looking back. 
Just imagine: This year you took in 24 verses, give or take a few. What will your life and heart be like in ten years when you have 240 verses memorized? But in ten years most of you will still be young whippersnappers. So let's think about what your heart will be like in 20 years...FOUR HUNDRED AND EIGHTY VERSES! The thought of that makes me absolutely giddy! And let's just be honest, most of you have much longer than just 20 short years to continue taking in His word, so the possibilities are incredible. 
Giddiness leads to celebration. We are going to celebrate memorizing through 2011 in January. (For those of you who do not live in Tucson, I hope you will find some way to celebrate what God has done in your life through His word. Recruit a local friend to join you this coming year. Share with her/him what God has done in your life and influence them towards participating in the spiritual discipline with you.) Depending on the size of the crowd will determine the location of our memorizing party. Details will come on the January 1st, 2012 post...when we continue taking His wonderful, precious, life-changing words into our hearts. Let me know if you are planning to attend.
For the last two weeks of this year, I'm finishing off Romans 12. When I started this passage, I didn't realize how much in would penetrate my heart and mind. So, so good. 
Romans 12:20-21
On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
I've been searching and praying about how to start of 2012. 2011 started with Is 43:19 about God doing new things and this year was full of all kinds of new beginnings. There are a few stirrings, but I still haven't narrowed it down. I'll let you know in a couple of weeks. 
Thank you, friends. It has been a joy to lead you in this process. I'm looking forward to reading the verses you post and praying for you each by name. May the God of all grace continue to work to make you more like His son through the power of His word! 

I Waited to do This for Years!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011  ::   3 important comments

Do you have any idea how long I've wanted to have a Christmas Open House? Of course not, because I probably never told anyone except Chad!

When I was a kid my mom decorated our house for Christmas like crazy. She even wrapped our front door like a big giant present. When I was old enough, I got the job of spreading out the fake snow/angel hair. (Remember that slick, shiny, white hair stuff you could buy in the 80s?) I would then carefully put out all the little trinkets that I so loved. As a child, I would think about someday inviting people over to come enjoy Christmas in my home.

Since moving to Tucson, I've had in my mind opening our home during the Christmas season would be a great way to show our church family and friends we love them. Doesn't it sound like a very pastoral thing to do?

But, each year has been filled with stuff...mostly good stuff, so my open house always got pushed to the side. Even this year I contemplated skipping it, but my wise, hospitality loving husband said if people wanted to come they would come. So we did it.

Oh how I enjoyed myself! It gave me so much joy to have people I love in my home, eating my food, talking together.

Hot Chocolate Bar

Wassail from a recipe I found was a hit! 

1 gallon apple cider
1 quart pineapple juice
1 can orange juice concentrate
30 whole cloves
8 cinnamon sticks

Simmer for a couple of hours. Add 1 sliced orange before serving. 
It was gone so fast. We should have made a double batch, but now we know! 

I have a problem. I buy creamer. I don't even like coffee! 

Yummy snacks

Eggnog pound cake and my M&M pecan cookies. 

Spicy Chex mix. I've worked hard on this recipe for years. It's good. 
Do you want it? I can post it if anyone is interested. 

Veggies because I wanted everyone to feel better about the cookies, cake, and wassail. 

The helpfulness of Pinterest can't be spoken of enough.
 Raspberries stuffed with chocolate anyone? 

Thanks to everyone who came! If you missed it this year, I'm pretty sure this will 
become a tradition in the Haynes household. 

Second Mile family, we do love you! 
Thank you for allowing us to serve you and for loving our family! 

Come and Worship

Tuesday, December 06, 2011  ::   13 important comments

The God of the Universe confined Himself to skin and came to earth.
 He lived and died to pay the redemption price for humanity. 

Try to wrap your brain around the reality of God as a human baby

Worship Him. 

John 1:14
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and true

Glory to God. 

Cord of Hope Guest Blog

Friday, December 02, 2011  ::   5 important comments

I started this blog as a way to communicate on a regular basis with the women of my church that I'm privileged to lead. There was no way I could have anticipated the other unique people I would meet through blog writing and reading. Hannah at Happy Days is one of the super awesome women I've "met" in this incredibly strange and fun blog world. I'm very picky about committing to "follow" a blog because of the connotations of following someone. Where are they leading me? What do they believe? What do they promote? Some people would say that I'm over-thinking following a blog. Maybe I am. But that's pretty much the story of my life. The point is Hannah directs people to Jesus consistently. She writes about her love for Him, the healing he's brought into her life, and she even uses her creativity to point to Jesus. I love that about her.

Today marks a first for me in the blog world and I'm excited and a bit nervous. Hannah asked me to guest post on her blog! She is "sharing Christmas" on her blog and asked if I would share about a ministry I'm blessed to be part of called Cord of Hope.

If you have come over from Hannah's place to read more, thank you for coming. I appreciate you stopping by and because of the reasons I stated above concerning where I may lead people, I do not take your visit lightly.

If you have three minutes and eighteen seconds to spare, watch the video below to gain a more thorough glimpse, and hopefully, understand the heart of a ministry to dancers in men's clubs a little more clearly. If you would like to read how Cord of Hope began, go here.

Cord of Hope - Second Mile, Tucson, AZ from Second Mile on Vimeo.

Our ministry team feels passionate about taking Jesus to these precious women. It is our honor to represent him to these souls. We understand that we need people to give of their resources and pray fervently.

Would you be willing to give? Money? Or supplies? Or something really beautiful from your Etsy shop? If yes, you can send your tax deductible donation to P.O. Box 57417, Tucson, AZ, 85732. I understand that many people give to many wonderful opportunities throughout the Christmas season. If you would like to give, but would like to participate in a few months, please don't hesitate because this is a year round ministry.  

More importantly, would you be willing to pray? Prayer is foundational to Cord of Hope. The enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. I don't know if you've noticed this, but he's pretty effective in his schemes in our culture through sexualizing everything. The team of women that take gifts into the clubs are prayed up, but also need the prayers of others. The women who dance in the clubs need our petitions to the Father on their behalf. Will you pray for us this coming week? Our Christmas outreach is one week from tonight on December 9th starting around 9:30pm.

In order for one person to more tangibly understand this ministry, I'm giving away one of our Christmas gift bags to one of you. If you are interested in receiving one of our gifts, please leave a comment. Let me know if you are following my blog, follow Hannah's, want to pray, or are just intrigued. There is no requirement to enter the give away other than a simple comment.

We will give about 125 gifts next Friday night. Every gift is unique, filled with lotions, handmade jewelry, scarves, make-up, candles...anything a woman may enjoy.  Each gift also includes a beautiful designed booklet of Jesus' birth out of Luke 2 in the Message. We believe that the word of God is living and active, and does not return void, and is powerful to change lives.

As we give the bags, there is no preaching, no judging, no pushing...only love.

Just love. Just gifts. Just Jesus. 

Please enter the give away. It will be my joy to mail you a beautiful gift for your pleasure, to remind you to pray, and to experience a tangible example of the gifts we give.

Thanks again to all of you first time visitors! I hope in some way you've been blessed, challenged, or surprised in reading about Cord of Hope!

These are some of the gifts we gave last Easter. 

Moxie Memorizers

Thursday, December 01, 2011  ::   12 important comments

Happy December! Can you believe this is our next to last post for our first year of Moxie Memorizers? I can't express to you how full my heart it over those of you that have stuck it out with us throughout the year, as well as those of you who have recently joined us. All of these women taking in the word of God fills me up for sure! Thank you for your faithfulness. I know He is transforming our lives through His word.

I will be finishing up Romans 12 this month. Verse 20 is my focus for the next two weeks.

Romans 12:20 
On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

When I was a kid I always thought this was a funny verse. I'm pretty sure I didn't understand the intent because in my heart for revenge towards those who hurt me, I would actually picture red hot coals on their heads. My motives were for pain and not restoration from Jesus...so glad he didn't light anyone's head on fire on my behalf! 

Just to let all of you know, I've had to change the way comments appear because of the apparent button I pushed with the I'm Pretty Sure She Didn't Say That post.  Man, that really got under some people's skin! I got the f-bomp dropped on the comments a couple of times yesterday. Pretty funny if you ask me! So for now, comments will be posted "after blog owner approval." That's me. So I'll post your awesome verses as they come through. But, keep it clean, people.

Post away!

I'm Pretty Sure She Didn't Say That

Monday, November 28, 2011  ::   27 important comments

Do you ever stop and think about what is coming out of your mouth?

Do you have good treasure stored up in your heart that produces good?

Or do you have evil treasure stored up in your heart that produces evil?

Did you know that out of the abundance of your heart your mouth speaks?

Do you ever ponder that one of the simplest ways you can display you live a Spirit-filled life is your language?

How do you joke? Are "mild" innuendos funny? Is "that's what she said" really funny and honestly, would she really say such things?

I'm frustrated. Can you tell?

My frustration stems from the fact that it has become "cool" for some followers of Jesus to cuss. I haven't researched it, but I bet Stuff Christians Like has a blog post about how awesome a Christian feels in their so-called freedom to use whatever language they desire.

Well, here's the thing. It ain't so cool. It's actually mocking Him. Freedom in Christ does not equal license to act, say, and do things that bring him no pleasure. Freedom in Christ allows us to live the way Jesus lived and not be constrained by the condemnation of our sin.

For those of you that God has given the responsibility to lead others...watch out. I don't know about you, but I don't want a millstone around my neck because I couldn't control my language. That would be ridiculous. Just because you feel like it is permissible does not mean that it is beneficial to those you lead.

**Disclaimer #1

I've been thinking about this blog for awhile. My kids are at the age that they listen intently even when they shouldn't. They hear how kids talk at school. They hear how Chad and I talk to each other. They hear how our friends talk. They hear how the people who have wanted to lead them talk.

And then they come talk to me about it all. And it makes me sad.  

**Disclaimer #2

I know the intent of We Encourage is encouragement, but the Bible asks us to encourage and admonish one another. My spiritual gift is prophecy, so sometimes stuff like this just comes out of me. I hope this does encourage you to stop and worship Jesus for a minute. Ask Him to show you ways you can clean up your mouth from basic words to crass jokes all the way to gossip. Be bold in admonishing fellow believers to choose to praise Jesus with their lips and not curse. Be encouraged that He is in the business of making us more like Jesus and He takes pleasure in us when we ask Him to bring His refinement to our lives! 

Moxie Memorizers

Tuesday, November 15, 2011  ::   10 important comments

I'm sure some of you have been wondering what is taking me so long to get this post up today! I know you are all chomping at the bit (that means ready to go for you non country people) to post your verses! I'm excited to watch as the memory verse comments pour in over the next few days! 

There are only three more Moxie Memorizer posts for 2011. I'm so proud of all of you who have stuck it out over this entire year AND I'm excited about the new participants who have joined us in the last couple of months. Taking scripture into our heart is an invaluable discipline that will sharpen your heart, mind, and life and allow Him to speak directly into your life with His very own words. 

On some days, reviewing old verses and learning new ones comes easy. On some days, I cannot remember a word of a new verse to save my life. But, keeping my hand to the plow and not giving up is one of the keys to success in this endeavor. THE key is memorizing scripture for the glory of God alone. This isn't a competition, or a way to show off vast biblical knowledge, or to have verses ready to rebuke an unsuspecting soul. Taking His word into our hearts is to allow him to shape our hearts into the likeness of Christ. Let's continue to surrender our motives to Him! 

As you know, I'm working through Romans 12. Verse 19 will be my focus for the next two weeks. 

Romans 12:19
Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: 
“It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

Romans 12 is so rich. If you've never memorized an entire section or whole chapter of scripture, please consider the challenge for 2012. 

Now it's time. Post away, my friends! Feel free to share any extra thoughts you have concerning your memorizing journey. I so love to hear from you all! 

A Drag? No Way

Monday, November 14, 2011  ::   7 important comments

Sometimes I receive emails or Facebook messages from old friends telling me that they read my blog. So far, every message I've gotten from past relationships concerning my blog have been extremely positive. The messages are unexpected and encouraging.  
This weekend I got a message from someone that helped bring a youth group to Tucson for a mission trip when we were young church plant. This was how she ended the message to me:  "You do a great job of speaking truth but at the same time not making your walk with God look like a total drag." Thanks, Rita! 
I don't say any of this stuff to toot my own horn. Pride is gross. False humility is also gross. 
The reason I'm sharing this is to encourage all of us to be bold! Speak truth! But, don't be annoying and lame.  
Is that harsh? 
How many times have I heard people talk about being persecuted in work or school situations for their faith only to find out that they are super self-righteous and unrelatable? Sometimes we aren't actually being persecuted for our faith, but being shunned because we forgot to have social skills, and then blame it on our faith.  
Here are a few of my favorite passages concerning speaking truth, but not making your walk with Christ look like a total drag: 
2 Corinthians 4:1-2 (The Living Bible)
It is God himself, in his mercy, who has given us this wonderful work of telling his good news to others, and so we never give up. We do not try to trick people into believing - we are not interested in fooling anyone. We never try to get anyone to believe the Bible teaches what it doesn’t. All such shameful methods we forego. We stand in presence of God as we speak and so we tell the truth, as all who know us will agree. 
Colossians 4:6-7 (NIV)
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so you may know how to answer everyone. 
1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.  
Every passage speaks so clearly about the importance of being bold in sharing your relationship with Jesus with others. Also, every passage speaks so clearly about the need to show that through your relationship with Jesus you know how to love people...not being a trickster, full of grace and mercy, hope, gentleness, respect. 
I want to boldly speak truth, show people that I love Jesus, that following Him is joyful. Sometimes it is fun, adventurous, very difficult, but never a drag. 
What about you? How would you describe your walk with Jesus right now? What are you doing to keep it from becoming a drag?    

Heaviness Paired with Hope

Sunday, November 13, 2011  ::   2 important comments

The heaviness in my heart concerning recent events feels like a wet hot blanket. Because of God's great love, I'm not consumed, but I am certainly aware of the devastation of sin in our world.

I cannot watch any stories concerning Penn State about what is happening or has been happening for so many years without crying. My heart aches for all the kids whose lives were ravaged by a crazed, sinful, perverted man and system. What kind of world did they live in that allowed these things to happen? Who would choose a man and supposed friendship over saving the life of a child? How could it not occur to them to call the police? How could they go on day after day standing on the sidelines with someone they had suspicions could be hurting a child in one of the very worst ways?

When the university students first began protesting about Joe Paterno keeping his job my heart ached and my stomach turned. I get the mob mentality that comes with their age and lack of wisdom, but they so definitely missed it. Why were there no vehicles turned over or shouts and cries over the victimization of innocent children? Is football really the idol of all idols in our country? Is the firing of an old man whose lived a long, "successful", extremely lucrative life such a horrible thing? Did they not stop and realize their heroes did nothing to protect boys and understand that they could have been the victims?

Obviously, the devastation and tragedy of all of this is truly settling over their community and we are reading and hearing stories of great leaders advocating for the victims. I'm thankful for voices of rage and mourning for each child and his family. I'm glad people are humbly speaking of the hope of repentance, restoration, and the future. I'm praying that even through the horror of all of this, God will work His wonders and draw people to Himself. The sick and twisted sin of this story gives off a distinct heaviness that is extremely uncomfortable which leads to extreme gratitude for Jesus' sacrifice and his plan to redeem the world unto Himself.

I've also been contemplating another story that has made my heart heavy and hopeful.

Many of you know that through a ministry in Waco, Texas I first heard about taking gift bags into strip clubs.  If you want to read more about our ministry called Cord of Hope, you can do that here. 

The ministry in Waco is called Jesus Said Love. Through the years I've read about much of their work. They've shared several stories of a woman named Dixie who was a dancer. This week I read that Dixie had given her life to Christ, was engaged to a man who was also a new follower of Jesus, and was going to be baptized today.  I shared the story with my good friend Regan who helps me lead Cord of Hope and expressed to her how I was really overwhelmed with Dixie's story. Often I dream about how amazing it will be if/when God allows us to build lasting relationships with women in and out of the business. To hear how God was redeeming this woman's life was incredible. I prayed for her several times over the last week.

On Friday one of the founders of Jesus Said Love shared that Dixie had been killed in a car accident. Please, please take time to read this post about her life and death.

To be honest, I've wept over this story. It has touched me so deeply for so many reasons. I'm so thankful that God revealed himself to Dixie and she gave her life to him. I'm thankful that she was engaged to a man who wanted her for her, not for what she could sell to him, but because they loved each other and loved Jesus. Obviously I never talked to Dixie, but I'm sure she began to experience healing and freedom that only God can bring. I've cried over a life by human perspective seems gone way too soon.

But, I've also cried over the unbelievable freedom and healing Dixie now has in Christ. It is complete and fulfilled. She is in the overwhelming presence of Christ. The pain and wounds from her past burden her no more.

I've also cried through what God's plan could be in all of this. Could it be that more people will come to know Him through her death? Will her children give their lives to him? Will her friends? Will Jesus Said Love be able to share with more and more and more people because of the life and death of Dixie?

I know that He has a plan. I know that He loves Dixie and is enjoying having her in His presence. I know that He owes us no explanation and we may never know His plan in this. However, I'm praying that the breadth and depth of change in people's lives because of Dixie will expand His kingdom in profound ways.

Jesus has a way of taking the heaviness of my heart and reminding me that He is my hope. Without Him, this world is horrific. With Him, hope abounds more and more and more and more...

Watch Closely

Monday, November 07, 2011  ::   1 important comment

Or you'll miss it... 

Morgan* trying her hardest to do a clap pushup. Five Seconds of Awesomeness. Did you hear the landing??

*Used with Morgan's permission

Fall Frenzy

Friday, November 04, 2011  ::   3 important comments

The Mastermind 

Preparing Team Flags. 

Morgan displaying her team purple strength.

Team Orange roaring out their battle cry.

Kyle performed all of his tasks on Carah. 
All of them.

Nicky leading her cute noodle train members

Tyala leading her cute noodle train. 

Yemi's best pumpkin face.

Esther joyfully receiving a shaving cream mohawk.

Owen wishing he wasn't stuck. Jen enjoying torturing Abby. Abby reluctantly brushing her teeth.  
Serious family fun. 

Team Orange Crushing Tigers!

Purple People Fighters!

Yellow Lightening! 

Thank you, team leaders, for giving up your Saturday to play with the kids of Second Mile. You bless our families more than you know! You're such a vital part of our church! Maybe God has given you the gift of getting messy with kids??

Tori, you led and served beautifully! Thanks for loving kids and coming up with creative ways to get so messy!