Category Archives: Prayer

That Time I Said No to God

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My heart resides in an orphanage in Honduras. Lush green forests, smooth rich coffee, insufferable poverty, broken homes, happy children. I went, I fell in love, I returned to my family, forever changed. And now everyday, I seek ways to better the lives of the children in Honduras or others like them.

The opportunity was handed to me like a jewel on a silver platter. A team was ready to go to Honduras this summer, but they needed a leader. The church offered to pay all my costs. Will you go, they asked? Would I ever! It’s perfect. God must want me to go, I believed.

Everything called me to the trip. Everything, except my extended family. The trip was scheduled in the middle of our family vacation, a trip to celebrate my father’s pending retirement. If I missed half of the family time for a mission trip back to Honduras, surely my dad would understand. He knows my heart. My husband and I prayed, believing it was obvious God wanted me there. We worked the schedule this way and that, juggled flight times and childcare, and finally came up with an agenda that made sense. Only, to my parents, it didn’t.

Every so respectfully, they tried to explain why No, they didn’t think I should go. This was a time for our family to be together at the beach. Oh how I argued, in my mind, if not directly to them. How would I be able to sit in the sand, play in the ocean, and relax while my heart and soul were with a hundred rescued orphans? And so I prayed some more. My heart was screaming “Say yes to the trip!” but my family was quietly asking me to stay home.

Eventually, probably out of exhaustion, I relented and listened to that still small voice. Instead of insisting on “Missions or Bust!”, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the other calling to “Respect thy father and mother.” In my selfishness to fill my own heart at the orphanage, I was neglecting the love that raised me, taught me about Jesus, and fostered my heart for others. In my bitterness at their disapproval, I had lost sight of the incredible gift my parents are to me. My supportive, adoring, wise parents.

And so I said No to God. No to the call and opportunity to return to Honduras (this time, at least). My heartache was replaced with an abundance of gratitude, healing, and forgiveness as God responded to my faithfulness.

Three months later, I sit on the porch overlooking the beautiful Carolina beaches. My children laugh with their pack of cousins. My sister sits, quietly reading the Bible in the warmth of the sun. My mother takes a few of her beloved grandchildren for a sparkling sunrise walk along the coast. My family and I sang and danced the night away to the music of our childhood. And my dad? I steal glances at him, soaking it all in. Three grown daughters, three sons who treasure his girls, and nine grandchildren to fill every corner of his bottomless heart. Yes, God, this place of unstoppable love is exactly where You wanted me to be. Thank You for waiting for me to say No.

To the team who traveled to Honduras without me, I am praying for you, for your precious hearts of love, and for your safety. Come home and tell me all about the children who changed your life! 

To learn more about the Worldwide Heart 2 Heart ministry, please reach out to me or visit http://www.h2hcv.org. The children’s village is an unforgettable slice of heaven!

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Early Morning Alarm

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At about 4:30 this morning I was awakened by what I could only describe as gun shots. Two of them. Several minutes later, as I laid in bed praying, someone (police?) drove through the streets with a loudspeaker. My shaken nerves and poor translation attempts picked up the words Christ and children. My roommate, Sharon, quickly sat up and hopped in bed with me. With shaking hands, we prayed. For the protection of anyone who was injured, for God’s protection over us and this town, for children who may be frightened or in danger, for the work we are still called to complete. While we prayed, we heard two more “pops,” these not quite so close. Then quiet. As we laid down, both curled up with MY blanket, the roosters began to crow. We waited, recited Psalm 23 together, and chatted about our families until about 5:30 when we sneaked from our room for some fresh Honduran coffee.

While I poured my cup, I chatted with the hotel security guard, a kind local man who speaks only Spanish. We did our best to communicate. Julio assured me nothing sinister had happened and I did not need to be afraid. Political propaganda for the upcoming presidential election using middle-of-the-night gun shots and threats of God’s wrath on the children. And we think campaigning in the US is ugly?

Whether the actions this morning were to be feared or not, Sharon and I started our morning, our very early morning, together in prayer. God called us awake to pray over our group, the local children, and those at the orphanage. We claim His protection and His blessing over our work.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23

Learning to be Flexible

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Frisbee, athletics. Not my usual thing. Sweat. Not so much either. Watching a mother drop off her children at an orphanage. Definitely not.

Our group of 14 started our morning early with a devotional lead by Sharon, a brave, loving woman who is a long time missionary-friend of Dan and Chris. As she encouraged us to seek God’s strength to carry us through the heat-exhausting day and thank Him for the blessings we would receive, she also reminded us this is not our only mission field. There are as many, or more, opportunities to share God’s love and grace back home as here in areas of physical poverty.

Once at the Village, everyone jumped into their work for the day. Chris and Sharon played with the youngest children, colored with the tween girls, and made S’mores for all the kids (minus the fire since everything was melting in the 100* heat). Dan, Bill, and Chris replaced broken fans throughout the buildings. The tireless aquaponics team from Washington state spent many log hours digging, building, sawing, and pouring their sweat into the repairs at the fishhouse. I worked alongside two of the housemothers, chopping veggies and chicken to serve arroz con pollo for lunch. Later, I played a mean game of frisbee with a couple of boys who might go home in my suitcase!

Everyone who visits Honduras quickly learns to be flexible and ready for anything. As we played with the children today, a pickup truck entered the yard with a mother, her five children, and two workers from IHNFA (a kind of Honduran child welfare). The children, all under the age of 8, were overwhelmed and frightened. The toddler, a girl about the age of my youngest daughter, wailed every time her mother put her down. The group was ushered into a community room where I was watching Narnia with a group of 20 boys, giving me the opportunity to help serve lunch to the mother and her babies. I could not help but notice she completed the required paperwork in a businesslike manner and seemed almost detached from her errand. In short order, she left her son at the boys’ home and set off to deliver her daughters to the girls’ home. No fanfare, no long goodbyes.

My heart grieves for this mother tonight, and the countless others being forced to make wretched choices like this. This mother has watched her children abused by their father and set out to find a better place for them, a children’s home. Our team has been praying for her and for her babies as they transition to their new home tonight. Please join us in lifting these precious children whom God loves as deeply as all of His children, and thank Him for caring that not even one should perish.

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”
Matthew 18:12-13

Standing at Attention

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I’m a Navy kid, through and through. Remember Top Gun? Yep, that’s my dad (minus the volleyball scene). The daughter of a fighter pilot, a Naval Aviator, my childhood memories overflow with F4’s, jet noise, call names (Lurch for my dad), aircraft carriers, and the homey smell of diesel fuel.

Most of us love the proverbial ‘man in uniform,’ but for me, the Navy dress whites ignite a special sense of pride and respect. My eyes get teary when I see a sailor, soldier, pilot, or officer, since I know first-hand the sacrifices the man or woman within is making for my freedom. Willing to fight to the death for the causes of truth and justice. (Thank you!)

Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”

The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Joshua 5:13-15

Until my Bible study class assigned us to read this passage, I knew nothing of this interaction between Joshua and his visitor. To be honest, I don’t know much about Joshua, the man chosen by God to follow the leadership of Moses and bring the nation of Israel to the Promised Land. Turns out, this is an incredible story just waiting to be explored.

As Joshua prepared to lead his people, he found himself alone with a stranger, an armed soldier. The passage initially lead me to believe Joshua met an angel, as did many others who are called into God’s service. But, the term “commander” stuck with me. Scholars suggest this interaction was a theophany, defined as a pre-incarnate visit from the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus, in the Old Testament? Commander. Not a soldier, not an angel, not a servant of the Lord. Commander. Leader. Stepping down from heaven to fulfill a promise, “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) Apparently, He meant that literally! “I have now come” Immanuel, God with us.

As I think about my friend battling stage IV melanoma, praying over her with pretty much every intake of breath, it occurred to me, her Commander is present in her space. Holding up His sword, standing guard, ready to fight to the death He has already conquered. He promised to be there, not only as a comforter, but as the Commander of the army of the Lord, never leaving, never forsaking. Immanuel, God with us.

Mareeka, remove your sandals (or slippers). The Lord your God is with you. You are on Holy ground and we are standing at attention ready to fight alongside our Commander!

Travel Insurance

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You people are amazing!! Thank you for all the messages, Facebook posts, texts, phone calls, cards, hugs, and smiles across the room and miles. I have heard you loud and clear and I am encouraged! Through your varied experiences, you have opened my eyes to sights unseen. Through your strengthening words, you have girded my confidence. Through the verses you’ve shared, you have sent God’s word with me. Through your offers to support my family, you have reassured me. Through your prayers, I am covered.

I will take these words, and the many others you’ve sent, with me!

We are praying for your heart, which will never be the same.

He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, so this trip cost is chump change to Him! Keep trusting Him to provide!

High five to your supportive husband and to you both for giving your daughters this fantastic lesson and for giving these children a chance.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last.” John 15:16

“I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.'” Isaiah 41:13

No need for our eyes to be on the other stuff, the Lord’s got that!! “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

!Vaya con Dios!

!Vaya con Dios, indeed! I will go with God, my thanks to YOU!

The Burden of Prayer

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Like most, I experience times when I struggle to sleep, be it from the full moon, hormones, too much daytime caffeine, or just an overly stimulated mind. The insomnia will last a couple or several nights, then pass until the next season.

The most reliable antidote to my stress-induced sleeplessness is spending the time praying for others. When I set aside the things that trouble me and instead lift others’ burdens to God, I find my own peace and, eventually, some rest. Many difficult nights have ended in a few hours of blissful sleep after I have prayed for those who are hurting, fighting health concerns, or struggling with financial troubles. My midnight lamentations have included friends who are recently widowed, facing a life-changing move, dealing with a difficult pregnancy, or battling infertility. Without knowing it, you, too, have probably been visited during my nighttime ritual. Although I cherish a good, deep sleep, I am grateful for these lunar retreats. In a world filled with noise and distraction, what a blessing it is to have some quiet time alone with the author of our days.

These last few months have provided me some extra prayer time. With many of my own concerns pressing in, stress is indeed inducing wakefulness. But, for the first time, I find myself unable to think of others; my own burdens feel so heavy, I cannot lay them aside. The worry both distracts and consumes me. I need release. In the same way I have lifted the burdens of others, I am asking you, my friends and partners, to lift mine.

Will you share my burden and pray with me? Then, help me turn my focus away from myself by telling me how I may pray for you…

Envelope of Kisses

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“I don’t want you to leave, but I really want you to go to Honduras.”

Thus sums up my 6-year old’s sound reasoning about her mother’s departure. And I completely understand. I don’t want to leave my family, but I really want to be where God is sending me.

Preparations are in full force and the reality of leaving these girls is hitting pretty hard. Meredith is facing it with her usual practicality, but even she is starting to show signs of weakness. Audrey, at almost one-and-a-half, is blissfully ignorant of the facts, but I see her watching the rising stress levels in our home. She very bravely and happily enters the nursery rooms at Bible study, MOPs, and church, and remains cheerful throughout my various meetings. I pray her usual confidence isn’t disturbed after our separation.

And then I realize I’m probably overthinking this whole situation. When Meredith was this age, I traveled regularly for business. Granted, the trips were shorter (usually 3-6 nights) and domestic, but far more frequent. Plenty of mothers leave their very little ones to travel for any number of reasons. As with all transitions, success (or failure) depends on how we face it. So, rather than dwell on the loneliness of leaving my family or on thoughts of them missing me, I will pray God makes the time move quickly for them, keeps me too busy to notice, and fills all of us with an abundance of peace.

A kind friend offered a suggestion her children loved when they were young, long before she became a grandmother and mentor to younger women: leave an envelope for each day of the trip. My family can decide what time to open each (though, given the hectic nature of their schedules, I can predict when said opening will occur!) and discover messages and items from Mommy. Stickers and pencils, money for that coveted lollipop after ballet, hearts under pillows for good sleep, notes of encouragement, a Bible verse we can all memorize during the week … 10 days, 10 envelopes, and less than a week to prepare. I just need to find a way to fill an envelope with kisses!

If you were leaving, what would fill envelopes for your loved ones?
What would be in the envelopes to brighten your days if you were the one staying behind?

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.

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!