Walmart lovin’

Walmart evangelismI was a little sneaky taking this picture.  It is a rare occasion that we get to take photos of the people we pray for and get to love on.  But I just couldn’t resist.

We decided to invade the Walmart parking lot with Jesus yesterday.  We set up a table and chairs with Gatorade, ice and cookies as a means to pray and be a witness for Jesus to the local Floridians.

Ed and Elizabeth (the folks in this truck above) actually thought we were a homeless family trying to earn a buck on selling Gatorade.  I think he took pity on us.  I guess he doesn’t see too many families handing out free Gatorade and cookies just because.  And then the question that we are always eager to hear and answer…..”Why are you doing this?”

“Because we love Jesus and we want you to know He loves you too.”  This is what we say.  Often it leads to more, sometimes they just smile and nod.

We were actually kicked out of the Walmart parking lot after 3 managers came out to observe what we were doing.  We just smiled at them and asked if they would like a drink and some cookies.  All of them said “no”.  The last one came as the bad guy who came to deliver the news to us.  His reasoning:  we were taking up too many parking spaces.  I think most of you have seen a Walmart parking lot, right?  They are all huge, and half of these parking spaces were empty.  He seemed a little flustered and didn’t really have much more to say to us.

We were bummed at how little time we had there.  But we were also reminded of the verse in 2 Corinthians 8:12:

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.

This is a good one for all of us.  Willingness is key, without it, the Spirit cannot move and work through us.  If we were there just for Ed and Elizabeth, so be it and praise the Lord!

seren

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Palm tree Christmas

our Christmas tree

For a while I had a hard time thinking about spending Christmas without family.  Before we got to Florida, we had no clue where we would be for the big day.  Thoughts of being parked in a Walmart parking lot were not terribly enticing but I was trying to keep a good attitude.  I would make myself imagine what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph, in a cave, celebrating Jesus’ birth with stinky animals.  Thinking about Jesus ALWAYS put it into perspective.

I was ecstatic when we found a church to be connected with over the holiday and even more so when one of the pastors (actually 3 of them, we had to turn 2 of them down) invited us to have Christmas dinner with them and their family.  For most, Christmas day is a precious family time, full of traditions- making it hard to invite strangers into the mix.  Hard to imagine having to go through getting-to-know-you conversations, etc.

Praise the Lord for people who are willing to entertain strangers, even on days that are full of tradition and comfortable routine.  We were more than blessed to join Mike and Lara Kelly along with their family for Christmas dinner.  The kids had a GREAT time playing with their kids and the adults all had a beautiful and easy time talking and getting to know one another.

God continues to provide in more ways than one.  Not just financially, but relationally, emotionally and spiritually.  On His day of celebration, He provided us with fellowship, entertainment, and a warm place to rest our souls.

“Keep on loving each other as brothers.  Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”  Hebrews 13:1-2

Being bold and desiring change

We’ve been encouraged by what is happening at New Day Christian Church.  The pastor, Jamie, along with the elders of the church, have made some “risky” moves in the desire and passion to see this body of believers to get out of the four walls of the building.  Jamie knows, as we all do deep down inside, that the Church should be going TO the needy, rather than waiting for them to come to the building to find Jesus.

He announced a little while ago that they were NOT going to have a Christmas Eve service.  (What??!!!!)  Jamie expressed his ideas of branching out a bit and serving the community as a way to celebrate.  He encouraged the New Day congregation to brainstorm some ideas of ways to serve on their own, with family, or friends instead of attending a Christmas service.  This, of course, stirred the pot, people were thrown off from their routine.  Some reacted harshly and negatively and some went for it and took the opportunity to step up.

We were excited to take part in one of the serving ideas on Christmas Eve.  A banquet was held for the homeless at the church after they had the opportunity to take showers and given toiletry items.  Andy and I took the opportunity to prayer for the volunteers and the homeless who were going to be loved on.  We helped set up, we ate with some of the homeless (Barry, Phillip, Steve and Sam) and assisted in handing out some new underwear, towels, etc.

We praised the Lord for the hearts being changed and the desire to step into the path of Jesus.  It takes a boldness to do this.  Often it means people leave and friction occurs but as New Day continues to push through, they see a fresh Spirit flowing through the Body and waking up souls that have been asleep for a while.

Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.  Ephesians 5:14

Seren

We are truly blessed

Many people have said that this is a good time to be on the road ministering to the poor, I usually respond with “now is always the best time to respond to the call of God.”  I think what they are getting at is that with economic recession, many people are losing their jobs, more homeless are walking the streets, and many people who never thought they would be in rough times financially are trying to find ways to make ends meet.  I was in a conversation with a guy just the other day, an elder at the church we are staying, who brought up this very topic, I said to him that I like to see the economy slump, hopefully people will stop putting their faith in the economy,  in mammon, and will look to the all powerful, all loving and sovereign Lord for their provision and fulfillment.  I could tell he was ruffled, and I knew what he was thinking, probably what some of you are thinking as you read this: how could he “like” to see people down on their luck and in financial trouble.  That is not what I am saying.  I would however, rather see someone in financial trouble, on the brink of poverty, than go through their entire life praising and worshiping his own possessions, completely blind to the fact that it is building a wall between himself and the only one who can save him, Jesus Christ.

We have been going through some economic difficulties of our own the past few weeks.  Jokingly, knowing that the kids had a few gifts for them sent from the grandparents, I have been telling the kids that Santa wouldn’t be coming this Christmas because he couldn’t track our RV (they would all laugh and knew I was joking, Avery responded one time by saying, “how would Santa not know where we are if he knows what every boy and girl in the entire world wants for Christmas” – good point.)  Up until a few days ago, I wasn’t sure if we would be able to get any presents from us to them.  Then the Lord began to bless us.  Last week a family randomly wrote a check for $150.  One lady who we have never met emailed and said she had been reading our blog and watched our video and was moved.  She also felt the Lord was asking her to give us some money.  Then just yesterday, a guy walked up to me and handed me an envelop with $60 and said someone in the church wanted us to have it, a “Christmas Blessing.”  We were able to get two small gifts for each of the kids (the rest was a gift to Big Buster).  As the kids woke up this morning rubbing their eyes, I saw them light up with smiles when they saw the gifts Jesus gave us sitting around our palm Christmas tree.  My prayer is that we never look to the economy, to stocks and bonds, or to other people to provide our security, but to our Lord Jesus.

“What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.” (Luke 12:29-32 The Message translation)

The impact of a child

Miss Debbie and Avery

We have said many times that our kids are a huge part of our ministry.  They often warm up a room (or liven a room, more accurately) and break down walls with as much as their presence.

But there are those times when I am blown away at how the Lord speaks through them and they communicate something Andy and I could barely brush the surface of.

We spent this last weekend with some friends at their beach house.  Their little neighborhood had quite a unique feel to it-  they actually knew each other, liked each other and spent time together!  Miss Debbie was one of the kids’ favorites, she was a lot of fun, had cool glasses and painted on their faces with makeup- how could you NOT like her??

Even before the face-painting or gift-giving Avery had developed a connection with Miss Debbie.  One day he had picked out a shell just for her (mind you, this is all on his own- Andy and I had no idea he did this until yesterday) and went with Linda to give it to Miss Debbie.  Avery said “I just want you to know you are important to me, so I picked out a shell for you to remember me by.”  He normally has a sensitive heart and has often made an impact on quite a few folks as we have traveled.  But for some reason, this time made me realize what an important part of our little Body he is.  Our ministry would not be the same without him.

When I heard about this I realized, after thanking God for my sweet little boy, that He had answered my prayer for Debbie through Avery.  I had asked the Lord for an opportunity to tell Debbie she was important and that she had a significant purpose in this world.  I am blessed to know that my big God continues to speak through the mouths of babes.

Once again, I was humbled to see my prayer answered not by me, but by my sweet Father through my child.  I hope Miss Debbie heard Jesus speaking to her that day……

“You are important to me Miss Debbie, so I picked a shell out just for you to remember Me by.”

Seren

Blessed Appointment

Spofford beach house in Englewood, FL

Englewood, FL beach house

All I can say is, “wow”.
With tears in my eyes, I sat out on the porch that overlooked the ocean and watched pelicans diving for their food. This place is beautiful! And better yet, the family that we are staying with are GREAT!   Thank you Barry and Lynda, Mallary and Ansley!
We arrived here yesterday afternoon, spent the afternoon at the beach and relaxed. Dinner was great as their girls took care of the kids while we actually ate with other adults and had adult conversations. We were given a big bedroom, king bed, with our own big bathroom, wake up to coffee and ocean views in the morning. The weather is beautiful, 80 degrees with a soft breeze…. It couldn’t be more perfect.

God is so good. We have relaxed and have been welcomed to make ourselves at home here for a couple days.  And the Spoffords have already set us up with an RV pad in Port Charlotte, just west of here with some more of their family for after this weekend.  We will be able to stay and have Christmas there so we’re not in a random Walmart parking lot.  Love it.

I just can’t get over how amazing our Father truly is.  We were wondering what we were going to do for Christmas and for this “slow down” time, and lo and behold, God had it all up His sleeve.

May you all have “blessed appointments” during this season of celebration!

Fellow agents

Just found another traveling ministry that has already been a great encouragment.  Perfect timing!

Check them out!

Agents for Christ