Wednesday, September 28, 2011


This past weekend I was honored to be a part of my church's mission trip to West Virginia.  Our team went to McDowell County, WV - one of the poorest in the nation - to help clean, weatherize, and sort clothes at a small Methodist church.  While there, we also put on a mini "Crazy Love Family Day" for the community (a free event where we passed out free food & clothes, as well as did face painting, caricatures, and temporary tattoos.)

Beyond serving the church and community, our goal was to really get to know the folks of McDowell County.  To spend time listening to their stories and to invest what little bit of time we had into their lives.  To extend grace & love to the "least of these."

My assignment on the trip was to help clean the church, but in reality, I spent much of that time sharing conversation with some members of the church community that came to help our team.  I listened to them share about their families, their health, their livelihood, their passions.  My heart broke as I heard story after story of tragedy, heartache, and devastation.  Life in McDowell County is anything but easy for these folks.

Yet, even through all the hardships that each person I spoke to faced, there was no hint of the "woe is me" attitude that would have been understandable.  Instead, they said they were "blessed."  Blessed is not the word I would have chosen had I been in their situation.  The church has taught for so long that being blessed has something to do with material possessions, having a good job, the right set of circumstances.  And, if I'm being honest, for the most part, I've bought into that lie.  If I don't have enough money, or things aren't going right in my life, I wouldn't say I'm blessed.  I'd question God and wonder "why?" 

I posted a YouTube video on my Facebook page yesterday called "Blessings" by Laura Story.  I have a love-hate relationship with the song because it irks me.  It goes against what I've been taught.  If you've never heard the song, take a few minutes and listen to it.  Let it sink it.  Really sink in.  Meditate on these lyrics....

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

What if my greatest disappointments,
Or the aching of this life,
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy.
What if trials of this life,
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise?
There's so much more I could share about the WV outreach.  But this eye-opening moment was perhaps one of the most profound for me.  It's something that has popped up again and again this past week, whether through Facebook statuses, blog posts, songs, or conversations with friends.  My hope is that this profound realization will not be fleeting, but will become a life-changing moment.
What do you think it means to be blessed?  Would you consider yourself blessed?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

hope for the homeless

Most of you know that I've been a part of an organization called Homes of Hope since February.  Homes of Hope is a relational ministry of Love INC which provides transitional housing for homeless families (check out their blog here).  This program has been around for a while nationally, but has only been in Ross County for the last year.

As Administrative Assistant, I spend most of my time in the office, answering phones and other stuff.  Today I happened to spend a lot of time on the phone, specifically with two homeless families, trying to figure out how Homes of Hope could help them.  Both families have unique stories.  One is a family of four that is homeless due to drug addiction & job loss.  Another is homeless, living temporarily in a run-down hotel, because they lost their home to black mold.  Both of their situations are bleak.

But there is still hope.  My heart may be overwhelmed at their need, but God is not.  God sees both of these families.  In fact, He knew them before they were born. 

          You saw me before I was born.

               Every day of my life was recorded in your book.

                    Every moment was laid out

                         before a single day had passed.
                              Psalm 139:16
My heart is still broken for these families, but hope is rising as Scripture reminds me that God sees these families!  He's not forgotten them even though they may feel God has abandoned them.  And though statistics say that homeless and poverty is on the rise, there is still HOPE.
Hope in a God who sees.
Hope in a God who is not surprised by our circumstances.
Hope in a God who has a plan for our lives.
           For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
               “plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
                      plans to give you hope and a future.
                            Jeremiah 29:11
Pray for these families today, my friends.  Pray for families that are like them.  And when you pray, ask God how He might want you to be the Hope that these families need.
Have you ever been so overwhelmed by life's circumstances that life seemed hopeless?  How did you find Hope in the midst of your circumstances?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Forget: 10th Anniversary of 9/11

On that fateful day I was housesitting for my brother and his new bride as they were on their honeymoon in Jamaica. The constant ringing of the phone eventually woke me up and the voice on the other end instructed me to turn on the TV. That voice was my mother calling to inform me that an airplane had just flown into one of the World Trade Center towers.

Stunned by the news, I flicked on the TV to see what was going on in New York. As the reporting was repeating the information for the viewers, another plane flew into another tower.

Life changed at that moment. War became a reality not just a possibility. The United States of America had been attacked and was at war, something my generation had never really experienced. True, there was the Gulf War, but this was on our turf not in some far away land.

Eventually the news would report two more attacks that morning. One plane targeted the Pentagon while another went down in Pennsylvania. The plot would unravel to reveal these attacks to be the work of terrorists seeking to declare jihad on America. These men died as martyrs to all who support the idea of Islamic holy war.

But for Americans, life wouldn't be the same. As the towers crumbled and fell, children lost parents and spouses lost each other. Families were torn apart. As the Pentagon experienced a break in the wall, so Americans lost their sense of security. American life was now filled with fear and uncertainty. And, for a while, life once again became sacred. Family values and morals became a centerpoint of discussion. Even God was sought after once again.

Ten years later a lot has changed. Security has gotten tighter and our defense strategies have gotten tougher. Men and women have boldly stepped forth to volunteer to fight the war on terror that still rages in the world today. On the other hand, airports are emptier, the value of the dollar is at an all-time low, and people seem to care about the lastest Hollywood star more than anything else.

Despite it all, there is a generation that has been forever impacted by 9/11. This generation has lost its innocence but has risen to the challenge to be different, stronger. Above all, this generation sees hope and desires a love that is everlasting.