Category Archives: Faith

For All the Hope in the World

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I pray over my children all the time. Sometimes verbally and quite deliberately, other times just by breathing. Every time my daughters enter a new space or leave me, I look into their eyes and think, “God, please let them bless others and be safe.” I’m not alone in this. You do it too, don’t you? All of my friends pray for their kids, of this I’m sure. Mothers around the world pray for their children, whether it’s to the God of Israel, Allah, Buddha, or the universe. We pray from our deepest souls because our children are our hearts.

Today is September 11, more than a decade after attacks on United States forever altered our way of thinking. People who carried out the attacks are known to us as terrorist, monsters, cowards. Their use of violence, death, and destruction to make a point was a low point for humanity. We don’t want to see images of their faces or even hear their names. They represent to us all that is evil.

But on days like today I can’t help but think of their mothers. People who carry out deeds of hatred, like the 9/11 attacks, the massacre at Virginia Tech, the Cleveland kidnappings were once children. Children with mothers who loved them, hoped the best for them. How these women’s hearts must be broken!

I cannot ask you to forgive the deeds. If you’re able to forgive to doers, that’s between you and God. But, I encourage you… Pray for the mothers. Our sisters in motherhood. Women who, by and large, did what they could to raise compassionate, responsible, caring adults. Somewhere, something went awry. The children made choices that would ruin their own lives and kill others. Perhaps the mothers themselves failed their children. One cannot fathom the burden of guilt they are left to carry.

If we believe God is the God of forgiveness, that He sent His Son to die in our place, that He is able to redeem even at the moment of death, we can pray for these women. May they find in their hearts a yearning to seek God’s face. May they be filled with His peace. May they fall on their knees in reverence to the One who can banish that guilt and bring their hearts home to Him.

“We will never forget.” Never forget the cowardess and hatred that spawned these acts. Never forget the heroism that saved hundreds. Never forget the sacrifice of many in the name of rescue. Never forget the patriotism and pride in our nation and unity. Never forget the forgiveness given to us that we may forgive others.

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We (He) did it!

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We did it!! With the generous commitment of some amazing friends and family, we raised every single dollar for my trip to Honduras!!

Deposit $200 Paid
Flight $540 Paid
Participation $950 Paid
Immunizations $300 Paid

Well, by “we” I really mean He. Because, as excited as I am about ME having the courage to go and YOU offering your love, support, and prayers, none of this – not one tiny molecule of an idea of this – would be possible without God setting the stage, choosing the participants, and making it happen.

A huge THANK YOU to every who contributed, both prayerfully and financially. It has been a treat to hear from friends far and wide, offering loving support and sharing how this opportunity is blessing them as well. I can’t wait to see the next step in this adventure!

DCA to SAP

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One non-refundable ticket purchased. Washington Reagan (DCA) to San Pedro Sula (SAP).
I’m going. I’m going! I AM GOING!!!

This fall, I am traveling to Honduras with a small group from my church! We will serve at Heart to Heart Children’s Village (www.h2hcv.org), a home and school to about 90 children and youth, ages 2-20. The children come from the streets, undernourished, abused, and unloved; H2H changes their lives by raising them in a Christ-centered family atmosphere. It is my heart’s desire to spend time with these children, serve them tirelessly, and pour love upon them, though I have been warned it will be me who receives from their abundant goodness.

Christ called us to go into the world and share His love. I believe that when we serve and care for the “fatherless and the widow” as He commanded us, He is able to minister to us in our own brokenness. You already know I feel called to go. I want you, also, to be present and active in this work if you desire, so I plan to share the journey here, on my blog.

Please join my friends and me in praying for our group as we prepare for and embark on this trip. Let me know if you want to join my prayer team so I can count on you and pray for you, also.

Current/ongoing prayer needs:
– complete healing for my shoulder and knee to be prepared for the physical demands.
– that I am able to raise the balance of the $1,600 financial requirement for the trip. (If you want to participate financially, let me know. It would help tremendously!)
– for one more person to feel called and empowered to join our group. (Is it you?)

I am thankful to all those who will take this journey with me. I truly believe that through this experience of blessing others, God will bless us in ways we never expected!

Prayer, Faith, and Fissures

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I have been given the humbling opportunity to pray for a dear friend. She is in her mid-thirties, raising two adorably spunky toddlers, and fighting stage IV melanoma. A stupid mole on her leg got out of control and is trying to steal her life. She is a fighter and so incredibly brave. When she writes about life, her condition, her adoring husband, she is honest, witty, and full of a richness of faith I wish I had.

Last week, I recieved a late night text from our friend-in-common, asking me to pray NOW. Our cancer-fighter was going into an MRI, again, to determine if the disease had infiltrated her brain. The claustrophobia-inducing procedure itself was enough to strike fear into this young woman. But to go in, knowing the results would dictate her life, was beyond what a mother should bear.

Of course I would pray! Pour peace and calm over her. Claim healing. Praise God for His presence. Lift up her husband and family for comfort and renewed faith. Beg God to be merciful and save her life. Down on my knees, I pleaded with the God of the universe to save her, to spare her children the loss of their mother, to rescue this family from death. There was no doubt in my mind He is able. And that night, He did.

“Clean brain scan!!” was the message we recieved an hour later. He did it! He answered the prayers of hundreds of righteous souls, prayer warriors around the world who claimed healing for one woman.

But … Why was I so surprised? What was this doubt creeping in when I should be celebrating answered prayer? What is it about faith that leaves room for doubt?

faith [noun]: complete trust or confidence in someone or something

Complete? Mine is not. I want it to be. I want to banish that tiny seed of doubt, the whisper of lies that say my prayers are not enough. Not enough to call down the power of the Almighty.

I believe Jesus walked on this earth, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and conquered death. I have faith He still heals and performs miracles today, even though we don’t pay much attention. I believe He told us, “…if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.” (Matthew 17:20). He wants us to bravely perform miracles, too. Through faith in Him. Complete faith.

Yes, I have faith larger than a mustard seed, but I’m afraid there is a crack in it, a fissure as wide as a canyon. How dare I pray for this friend, for others who ask or need it, or even for myself if there is doubt in my faith?? Can I confidently pray for my own cracked faith to be made complete? Can I humbly kneel before God, lay down my imperfections, and ask Him to prove me and my doubts wrong? Despite the fissures, I honestly believe I can and He will. And when He fills that canyon with Truth, it’ll be a mountain of a move.

My Sermon

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I preached it, Sister! I brought it! Okay, really, I just shared the message at my church’s services while our pastoral staff was away. This was no fire-and-brimstone, but a responsibility to share with my church family what was on my heart. Given the spirit-filled pastors I have known in my life, this was a big role to fill. What I shared is far more humble. The opportunity was a treat for me, combining two things I love: writing and public speaking. (Kudos to my high school English and Speech teachers for the gift of both.)

Since preparing for the sermons consumed most of my recent blog-writing time, it seems only fair for me to post it here. My sermon notes, if you will. (Heeheehee – I still can’t believe I got to be the preacher.) Although this was initially for my church family, I humbly submit it to you, my blog family…

Sincerity of Faith

Good morning! My name is Leslie Vorndran. I am one of your lay leaders. I’m a mother of two, a wife. I’m currently a stay-at-home-mother. I’m an avid book reader, an art lover, an amateur cook, a dog owner, a terrible gardener, a blogger. Oh yeah … I’m a Christian.

Recently, I was making plans with a friend of many years. We met long ago during college, ended up on beach vacations and at late night parties together. As life moved on, we celebrated at one another’s weddings, baby showers, and housewarmings. But on a recent weekend, she mentioned our plans might be interrupted because she would be at church. Church? All these years, we have been “friends” through life’s biggest events, never suspecting we shared the same faith, the same core values, the same belief in our redeeming Savior. But why didn’t we know this crucial detail about one another? I suspect that’s because neither of us had been brave enough to name-drop the very Name of God. Without realizing, we had not been sincere to our friendship or ourselves.

Looking around, and in the mirror, I see people who are very, very blessed. We live in beautiful homes in close-knit communities. We cheer loudly for our local sports icons, from the Little League to the professional baseball team.
Don’t even get us started on our favored political groups. Left vs. right, red states vs. blue states, the elephant vs. a donkey (?). We love to speak out, argue vehemently, and cast votes for our sides.
We are so passionate about our careers that discussing what we “do” becomes what we talk about, how we introduce ourselves. If someone asks a prodding question, we happily delve deep, talking on and on about the work we do and who we know.
Talk and talk and talk. We create opportunities for talking: get togethers for coffee, girls’ night out, book clubs, conference calls, networking events. When the spoken word fails us, we email, text, tweet, status-update and, in the all too rare case, write letters. We love to communicate, to talk about issues, resolve conflicts, catch up, encourage one another, complain.

I’m right there with you. But what are we talking about? How much of ourselves are we actually sharing with one another?

This blog is just another opportunity to “talk” more if you will, though I started it to get some thoughts out of my head and challenge myself to be more forthright. One of my blog posts ended up touching a chord with a lot of folks. I shared a personal story of a new friend I met at the pool. She and I have spent the past few summers exchanging pleasantries, chatting without ever really talking. This year, when I was stuck in a sling following shoulder surgery, she shared the truth behind some health issues she was facing. It wasn’t until she and I broke down the nice-to-meet-you barrier of our homes, jobs, and children’s activities that we found a deeper connection. A sincerity of friendship.

The response to that posting got me thinking more about it. I have found that what we don’t usually talk about in our community is our faith. The very part of us that brings us hope, that which carries us through the hardest times and binds us together in the good. Like the old children’s song, we hide our little light under a bush. Those who enter our homes, who have a place in our hearts, may get to learn about our spiritual selves, but how many of our neighbors know upon Whom we built our faith? They see us leaving the house Sunday mornings, so we assume they know where we’re headed. We certainly don’t discuss God at work, where we might lose hard-earned respect, position, even the opportunity for upward mobility. Then there’s the social networking. Do we use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the blog-osphere, even Email to promote the Kingdom of God? For me, Facebook is a tool for connecting with others, be it my family, friends from grade school, or even the new friend I met last week. I used it to plan my high school reunion, announce the birth of our daughter, and RSVP to a wedding. I share pictures of my kids via Instagram; my husband filters his news through Twitter. Social networking. More talking. And another place to talk about everything, except our faith.

A couple of years ago, I went out on a limb and mentioned on Facebook something about my faith. This was a big deal to me, since many of my “friends” were work colleagues from whom I hid my faith, connections from a time of my life I had very little faith, and new friends who I knew held very different views from me. I risked ruining a lot of relationships in making myself known. But the opposite happened. Once I shared a little, I was encouraged by others holding the same beliefs, other followers of Christ. With this new confidence, I shared a little more and more over time. Here’s what happened. I didn’t lose out on any relationships, but rather I was given new relationships, deeper relationships. People I had known for years now felt comfortable expressing their faith with me. I have been blessed to watch their faith journeys, to grow along with them, to be challenged by their walks with Christ. Built on the sincerity of our faith, on our unity in Christ, my relationships have grown from acquaintances and social connections to friendships of the heart, a family with whom I pray.

In Galatians 3:23-28, Paul talks about this unity in Christ, calling us “children of God.” We no longer need to identify that which separates us from one another: religious background, social status, or gender. We are one in our faith. We need only to reach out and talk about it. But here’s the cool part. It wasn’t only Paul who spoke of our unity. The night before His crucifixion, Jesus actually prayed for us, for all believers, that we would be unified. And through that unity, that the world would know His Love.

Paraphrasing John 17:20-23 a bit, we are told Jesus said, “My prayer is not for the disciples alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in me and I am in You … so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent me and have loved them even as You have loved me.”

So, let me ask you a question: How do you define your community? In and around our town, across the country, on social networks, at work, in Honduras or Ethiopia, in your own home, or is your community in this church sanctuary? When you are surrounded by your community, do you catch yourself being reserved, hiding your faith “under a bush,” or do you speak out, share with others what God has done in your life, offer encouragement or prayer, and share His love so that others might see Christ in you? I am the first to say, I do not do this enough. Not even in my own family. I privately pray for extended family members, that they may come to know Christ, that He will soften their hearts to the freedom and joy that comes from knowing Him, but I choke with fear and timidity before I can talk of spiritual matters with them. And these are people I love; imagine how terrified I am of sharing my heart with colleagues or strangers!

But how can we ever be unified if we don’t know one another, truly know one another?

I challenge you, me, all of us in this together. Let’s speak out. Be unified in God’s love, His amazing grace. Let’s call on His strength and boldness to share His love, His name with our community: our town, our mission field (wherever that may be), our families, and one another right here in this church. Let’s pray with one another, encourage each other in Christ, and live our faith so others might see and believe the gift we have already recieved. My guess is that as you – as we – begin to live faith more boldly, more sincerely, we will find our relationships are unified in a Love deeper than we ever imagined.

Celebration on the Horizon

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Some folks turn forty without a second thought. My husband will likely try to get away with such craziness. Not one for public acknowledgement or parties in his honor, he’d rather allow his day to pass quietly, like any other day. I learned years ago that if I want my day celebrated, I need to “manage up” and give him ideas. Which begs the question… What DO I want for my fortieth birthday? How do I want this next year to go down in my personal history?

I’ve thought about the usual suspects: a weekend getaway with my mom and sisters, a cruise with my family, maybe even a return trip to Paris. I’ve explored options outside of my comfort zone like inviting my mom and sisters on a three-day walk for breast cancer. Noble, yes, but not quite “me.” In fact, for all the fun celebrations I dreamed up, none of the ideas felt inspired.

When my oldest sister first tipped “over the hill,” we girls celebrated together with a weekend of shopping, wine, and pampering at the Ritz. It was a time to honor the coming of age for all the women in our family: the birthday girl, our sister and myself, as well as our beloved mother who raised us so gracefully. We four take every opportunity to weave our bond as tightly as possible; being together for this milestone was no exception.

My middle sister marked the occasion more solemnly. She had recently faced a health scare and was as thrilled to celebrate life itself as the four decades behind her. The four of us gathered at a friend’s vacation home for time together, a few tears, and a lot of laughter. The birthday girl then returned home and hosted a joy-filled autumn harvest party with dozens of her family’s closest friends.

Just before my 39th birthday, my mind was preoccupied with what I would do during the coming year to make it special. Something to make me feel more mature, like I found my place in this world, like I was finally a grown-up. That’s when God spoke to me, directly to my heart.

Missions. Go.

At the age of 16, I heard God ask me to serve Him through missions. I felt a tug (pull, yank) on my heart and I answered Him. Yes, I’ll go. When the time is right. But first I needed to finish high school and start college. Then I didn’t want to miss a semester, so my commitment would have to wait. After I graduated from college, I was too busy proving myself to the world to bother with God, much less missionary work. When I finally settled down and found a church home with my new husband, the topic of international missions seemed as foreign to our relationship as the languages I had never learned.

For twenty years, I watched friends go on short- and long-term trips all over the world. Surely they were better prepared than me, holier and more righteous. And perhaps I was mistaken all along. Maybe I had been a sappy, heartsick teenager who just imagined the “still, small voice.”

This time there is no mistaking. Missions. Go.

For my fortieth birthday, I will ask my family to give me the gift of the opportunity, to care for my children, to support my husband as I go. I’ll ask my friends for the gift of prayer as I seek God’s direction for the place and time (please, Lord, not much longer than a week away from my daughters). I will finally fulfill the commitment I made decades ago and admit that forty-year-old me will never feel like a grown-up, I’ll never find my place in this world until I take that first step: Go.