Love Your Neighbor

August 26, 2012 2 comments

Friday night we had another Love Your Neighbor event at an apartment complex.  In the weeks leading up to Friday night, I had prayed for the residents there-especially the kids.   I prayed for God to put a hunger in their hearts that we could offer them someone to fill it that night-Jesus.  Once again, the church family from FUMC Hillsville/Fulcher and Out of the Box Worship Center really opened their hearts and donated their time, food, school-kit materials, and books for the kids.

Lorri Huff worked through Smart Beginnings to get some new books to give out to the kids, and had hula hoops, bubbles, and different toys.  Amanda Thompson had also donated books.  We had stuffed animals and “prayer bears” that Pam Sutherland had put together, along with Ina Horton’s homemade chili and slaw (and chopped onions!)  So many people from both sites donated school kit supplies and food items.  It was a very busy week leading up to Friday night.  To be honest, I was completely drained.  Once again, I didnt know how it was going to all come together.

Once again, God showed me how He brings everything together.  I love my church family.

I left work Friday evening at 4:30.  On Thursday night Kerry and I had finished getting the school kits together.  I changed and threw everything out of the Rodeo, laid the seats down and began loading the kits, food stuff, and all the incidentals.  I was going in a dead run almost when Kerry got home, I helped him load the grill along with more stuff and off we went towards Fulcher St. to get tables and ice.  Kerry stopped and got the kids since I had nowhere to put them 🙂 and dropped them off at Mom’s until we got things set up.

I’m going to be honest.  The skies towards Hillsville were dark-the closer I got, the raindrops started to fall.  So did the tears.  For many reasons.  We were going to have to cancel.  I don’t know if it was the songs on the radio (Born Again by Third Day followed by Does Anybody Hear Her by Casting Crowns)  I thought about the kids again, prayed for them, and was worrying over the skies.  I was tired.  Kaput.

Then I thought about this book I’ve been reading which basically is helping me to look at obstacles in a different light.  What we see as problems are actually opportunities for God to be glorified.  We just have to push through.  God is bigger than any problem we face.  Not only that, but He has known those raindrops were going to be falling and making provisions.  Normally, it’s almost impossible to cook-out in the rain.  Nothing is impossible with God.  Just put one foot in front of the other and watch what God does.  I felt like God was winking at me and asking if I was going to chase that lion.

Ronnie and Misty met us at Fulcher.  I got out in the by then pretty good rain and headed inside.  “Looks like it might rain…”  Ronnie said.  This is why I love our church.  He helped us load the tables, we threw some ice in the cooler, and off we went.  We get to the apartments, and the rain is falling steady.  But as I pull in, I see faces I know–the OOTBWC family, who also had some food that some of the Fulcher St. Family had dropped off.  Immediately, they went into action, grabbing tables, the grill, the supplies, (the canopy, THANK YOU Tammy and David for bringing this!)  Judy and Stephen ran out and grabbed some plates, napkins, forks, and aluminum trays.  David took over the grilling while Kerry ran to get our kids.  Everyone was positioning, organizing, and setting up.  It was a little hectic, but still just absolutely wonderful.

The rain was keeping some folks away, but eventually it slowed, then stopped.  Several kids showed up for the fun, and later some parents came by too.  A young man who initially would not speak to anyone, and actually sat in the tree for a while-Judy and Misty both tried talking with him-later Misty pointed out to me that he was playing with the other kids, and even came over for some of the free stuff.  I helped one little girl put some paper in her binder.  She was being so careful…more people began to show up, I played with the kids for a few mintues, and I watched everyone socializing together.  I went back to the Rodeo for something, and saw a beautiful sunset with the fog beginning to settle.  I had to stop for a minute.

As we were packing up, someone stopped by with their friend, who was expecting.  She asked if we could keep her in our prayers, because she had a miscarriage during her last pregnancy.  I asked if we could pray with her then, and she agreed-so we gathered together and prayed with her for her little girl and for her.

I saw God in the smiles and laughter of the children, in the people who initially kept their distance, but then later joined into conversations, in a young man who seemed almost fearful at first but later was playing football with the boys.  We plant the seeds, and God will help them to grow.

Can a hot dog or a book or a glue stick really change a life?  No.  Alone those things do nothing.  But in the hands of God, I don’t even presume to BEGIN to understand or say what He can do.  That’s between the person who receives it, and the Holy Spirit working in the heart.    The heart that was prayed for.  We just have to be willing to put ourselves out there as God calls us to do-whatever situation, with whatever tools He wants us to use.  Love people, and be ready to meet them where they are.  Be ready to share Jesus.  Stay tuned into Him.  He’s always speaking, we just have to listen.  Today in our Seeds of Faith class we and the kids read about how Paul and Barnabas back-tracked to talk again with people they had told about Jesus before.  We need to do that, too.  Keep encouraging, keep supporting, keep loving.

So… we have a lot of school kits and supplies left–if anyone has ideas on the best places these could go, just let me know!  We’re holding onto the plates, napkins, and condiments for the next time 🙂  Again, Thank You to everyone who gave of their time, and who donated items, their time, and their hearts.  And all glory to God for moving in ways we can’t understand.  I stand in amazement for what I saw and excited about the seeds.

Categories: Uncategorized

Prayer and Couches-God is Amazing!

February 5, 2012 1 comment

Church this morning!  I love love LOVE going to Out of the Box on Sundays.  So many things going on and it truly feels like a family.  Holy Spirit was dancing in that place this morning!  Our message this morning was about prayer.  I have a lot to say on this, but specifically for this S.O.H.O. post I wanted to focus on one special story from this morning.

This morning, I had walked down the street with Donna Cato after the first service-we were talking about how God puts people into places at the point of His timing.  While outside, Kerry came outside looking for me and said there was someone I needed to meet.  I went back inside, and Kerry introduced me to a woman and her son.  Ronnie had mentioned to Kerry that maybe there was a need that S.O.H.O. could help this family with.  I started talking to the woman, her son standing nearby.  They were in the process of moving, and while she said she thought they could take care of the moving, she was needing some household items.  Specifically, a full size bedframe, some living room furniture, and some other household items.  I took her name and information, and I told her that I would be praying for them.  She said that God had been answering their prayers and then something happened.

It’s hard to explain.  I’ve been reading this book called “Organic Outreach” in which Kevin Harney talks about prayer.  I just read that chapter yesterday, actually.  He talks about how, even at a restaurant, he may ask the servers if there is a special need he can pray for them about-and said we would be surprised at how many servers come back to him with a need.  He said this has opened up opportunities to witness and forged some lasting friendships with people over the years.  While this woman, was telling me her needs, I have to admit something-I was feeling overwhelmed.  I was thinking “God, how am I going to get these things together for her?”  Here I was, talking to a woman I had never met before, and she was openly telling me what she needs to make a home for her and her son.  All of a sudden, I felt God pulling me to ask her if I could pray with her.  You have to understand-I have never had boldness in this area of my life.  To be honest, I have never felt “good enough” to pray for/with someone–does that make any sense?  I sometimes even struggle to pray on my own.  That’s going to be a separate blog, though.  But here I was, and all of a sudden, I heard the words coming out of my mouth.  I was actually surprised when she said “yes!”  I remembered what Harney said about “being aware of volume and location”, so we moved a little out of the flow of traffic and went into the stairwell.  We held hands and prayed.  I thanked God for this family and for bringing us together, I laid the needs of this family out before God and thanked Him for how He was moving to meet the needs, and I asked God to bless this family in a special way that God knows they need the most.  We left the stairwell and went into worship.

Ronnie’s sermon this morning was on prayer.  Ronnie started with a quote about how prayer “catapults us to the frontier of spiritual life”, and “ushers us into perpetual communion with God.”  He was talking about how, no matter what is on our calendars, the most important thing we can do is to make daily time with God.  Through the worship music, I had noticed the woman I had spent time with over near the corner.  During the music, I had prayed for her again, for God to be with her in a special way.

And then as Ronnie was talking, I don’t know how to explain it.  Something surged through me-to the point that I sort of caught my breath, and Kerry looked at me and said “Are you okay?”  I just started crying-and laughing.  All at once I realized that the day before, my sister had called me out of the blue, talking about how my Mom had bought new living room furniture.  She had talked about how the store takes the used furniture and donates it.  Not only that, but about two weeks ago, while going through my kitchen cabinets, I have a whole set of dishes that we never use.  I had thought at that time about giving those to someone who could use them, but didn’t really have anyone in mind.  I was laughing, because I realized that long before I met this family, God was preparing the way for their needs to be met.   I’m convinced that our prayer together opened my mind for God to show me how He had been working all along.  That may sound crazy to some, but very little surprises me anymore!

This is one of the parts of S.O.H.O. that God keeps driving home to me.  If we stopped to think about all the needs that are all around us, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed.  I admit it-was getting overwhelmed even talking to this family.  It would have been easy to hear the needs and say “Whew-that’s a lot of stuff-I would love to help you but I just don’t know if I can.  But I’m praying for you!”–and move on.  But No.

Over and over and over again, God is showing me that I’m not doing anything, and I just need to basically get out of His way.  That it’s Him.  HE is meeting the needs.  S.O.H.O. is just a central location where people can come with a need, or let it be known that they have a gift or talent to share, and that they want to be available to be of service to others.  The people that have been involved with all these projects–the moving of furniture, getting a bed for a little boy to sleep in, providing food to people, getting firewood, cutting down trees blown over in a storm, to cleaning an apartment–all of these times, God has moved in HIS way to bring the people together at the right time to meet the need.  There was NO way I could have went by myself to cut those trees down when I received that need.  I assure you a horrible accident would have happened if I had tried.  But God brought some special people together that morning, who are familiar with chainsaws and cutting wood, or who weren’t afraid of getting a little pine rosin on them to help a neighbor, and by noon two trees worth of wood had been moved.  That was totally God and He gets all the glory!

It’s so important, like Ronnie said, that we stay in “perpetual communion with God”.  Spending uninterrupted time with Him every day.  To be aware that as things happen throughout our days, God brings them together in His own special way to provide for us and others-maybe not how we want, but how we need.  Either we are having our needs met, or we are being used by God to meet a need.  We have to stay constantly aware of that.  Has God laid something on your heart?  Even as a passing thought?  Maybe something you weren’t even sure why you started thinking about it.  Or met up with someone that you weren’t expecting to?  God is in every detail of our lives, whether we stop to acknowledge Him or not.  But if we DO acknowledge Him, ask Him to guide us, and then be watchful for where He is working–hang onto your seats cause you’re going to be amazed!  So I have posted the need for this family to S.O.H.O.’s facebook page:

HOUSEHOLD ITEMS AND FULL SIZE BED FRAME NEEDED!!  Hello Everyone!  I met a family this morning at church-they are in the process of moving.  Because of some special circumstances, they are in need of some household items, specifically, a full size bed frame (she has the mattress and box spring).  They are moving from near Baywood into Hillsville, but at this time, need more help getting the household items.  I would  like to “shower” them with the things that will make their new place a special home.  If you have any kitchen items, pictures, sheet sets, bath items, please let me know.  The items don’t have to be new, but I am feeling led to also ask that if you do donate an item, that if you would like to, please also enclose a card with a special message to the family-let them know you’re praying for them.  I just feel like they may need to feel the love of their church family.  As we get the items gathered, I’ll call and arrange a day to deliever them.  Please pray for them for healing for the family and for God to bless them in the ways He knows they need most.  Thank You in Advance for being a blessing to this family!

If you have time to give, a service to offer, or a special talent or gift that could be used in service to others, please let me know.  Contact me at backharmon4@yahoo.com.  But even more than S.O.H.O., Ask God to guide you through your day and show you how you can show someone God’s love.  It could be the cashier at the grocery store, the person in line behind you at the gas station, or someone in your own house.  It could be as simple as sitting with someone who is sick and holding their hand.  It might be as awesome a task as sawing trees in half!  Whatever it is, God wants people to know that He loves them-that He wants to have a relationship with them.  He will use whatever he has to to reach someone.  Something God is leading us to do could be what He uses to open the door to that relationship.  Something to think about!

Categories: Uncategorized

Roanoke Rescue Mission

January 28, 2012 2 comments

Yesterday, I got a chance to do something I’ve never done before.  I have always wanted to do something like this, but I admit-I’ve never been brave enough to step out alone.  I can’t really explain why.  But when I heard that Joe Stilwell was organizing a trip to the Roanoke Rescue Mission, I was very interested.  Initially I said I couldn’t go, because I had to work.  But God was being persistent and it kept coming into my mind, and I decided to request the day off-God prepared a way for me to go, and I had my day.

We set off from FUMC Hillsville around 8:30 and wound our way toward Roanoke on what my Dad used to always call “the back way”.  I shared the journey with some wonderful people that I had never had the opportunity to talk to before.  Katie, Shirley, Roger, Carl, Janie, and I talked about anything and everything while our driver and navigator got us there.  We talked a little about S.O.H.O., and a couple of people gave me their information and said they wanted to offer services!  Katie, Shirley, and Carl talked a lot about their own past mission work and experiences.  I felt sort of like a sponge, just soaking it all in.  They were amazing to listen to, and I quickly saw their love of Christ and hunger to share Him.

We arrived at the Roanoke Rescue Mission and met Leslie Littlefield.  She gave us a quick tour of the area we were in, and gave us some information about the Mission.  It was founded in 1948 by a couple named Gus and Lois Johnson (their story is AMAZING, and you can read it on the link I’ll post below) who had made their life in mission-work and living in Chicago.  Their daughter is now CEO of the Mission.  This operation is complete and covers so many services-a health clinic was down the street.  There was a thrift store across the street, and Leslie also said they have an “upscale” thrift store and art gallery also down the street, both of which serve to bring funding back into the Mission.  The Roanoke Rescue Mission gets no government funding.  They rely completely on funding from the stores and gallery, fund-raising, private donations and volunteer services.  I love that Lesley used the term “guests”.  The people who use the mission’s services are guests.  I got the sense that helping restore their guests with dignity is paramount to the workers here.  And the volunteers are there to truly serve-I quickly learned that the Roanoke Rescue Mission is very Christ centered.  The mission opens every night at 4:30-guests attend Chapel services prior to meal-time.  They have a 16 month recovery program for those who want to break free from addictions-they have education programs, case-management–and offer SO many services.

At one point, Leslie led us past the laundry services.  Each guest has the opportunity to have their clothing washed while they sleep.  Clothing is placed into a numbered mesh bag and washed for them during the night, and returned to them in the morning.  Guests are given a night shirt to sleep in.  This service knocked my socks off.  I imagined what a relief that would be if you had no home and no money to wash your own clothing.  Can you imagine if you had been living on the streets for days what someone offering to wash your clothing would mean to you?  Next Leslie led us into the sleeping area where the men sleep.  There are separate sleeping quarters for men, women, and families, as well as a different area for those going through the Recovery Program.

Entering the room made my heart pause for a minute.  Row after row of beds, each one neatly made with a handmade quilt folded neatly at the foot of each bed.  The quilts are all donated (service project idea!!), and give each bed a sense of individuality.  How important that is.  Imagine for a minute that you are struggling with an addiction, or have lost your job, fallen behind on bills, lost your home, and have arrived at the shelter-maybe alone or with your family, after living on the streets-your belongings consisting of only what you can carry.  You are exhausted, hungry, and more than likely having some medical issues.  Your “personal space” now consists of an area the size of a twin mattress.  Imagine what seeing a handmade quilt to cover yourself with would do for your heart.  Leslie said they want to have a bed for every person, but there are some nights when they have to also put mats on the floor.  There are lockers for personal items.

Next, Leslie took us to the kitchen, where we would be working.  We washed up, and were taken out to a corner of the dining area to peel potatoes.  This is where we met Gene and Mary Wilson.  A FANTASTIC couple now in my heart forever who come usually every Friday to volunteer at the Mission.  He is an Army veteran, and they have lived many places-including Alaska.  Mary talked about their experiences-she became very excited when she talked about how, at the Mission, everyone is on the same level-you are above no one-and  no one is above you.  I was reminded of the Scripture from that morning.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”  James 4:10

And God is first.  Gene talked about how amazing it is when someone comes to know Christ here.  We sat with them in the corner of the empty dining room working on peeling 150 lbs of potatoes for that night’s dinner.  Learning about each other, the Mission, and talking about God.  Again, I felt like a sponge and just quietly took everything in.  I felt like I was home on the porch listening to the swapping of stories.  I also met Thurston, who is currently in the Recovery Program-very soft-spoken, but he sat and talked with us for a while and would come back every so often to check on our progress on the potatoes.  I pray that with God’s help Thurston can stay on track and get the victory over his addictions.

Then, the guests started arriving for lunch.  I didn’t get an opportunity to serve the meal-another church was there volunteering to serve, and a couple of our group were asked to help.  But it gave me an opportunity to look around me.  The faces of each person as they came to their table with their meal.  Each face…each soul, being fed in more ways than one.  I looked up at the huge window-the light streaming in past the cross in the window down onto each of us.  I could feel God pouring His love out and wrapping His arms around each of us.

This felt right.  This felt complete.  I have a service-oriented heart and even right now am in a service-profession.  I am a social worker.  I can’t put it into words right now, but for the first time in my life, sitting in that room with those people and looking up at this window-I felt so close to God.  I wanted to burst into tears.  But I kept peeling and listening to Gene, Shirley, Katie, and Mary and looking at this little boy about my daughter’s age that had electric blue eyes sitting with his Dad a few tables away.  He was looking back at me.  I smiled.  He then turned his attention back to his food.  Elderly, people my age, young people, and small children.  Some smiling, some eyes down-cast.  Please, lift your head up.  Look into His eyes and see His love for you–I kept thinking that.  I thought about each story that could be told, and I wanted to go and sit down and talk with them. Maybe one day I will get an opportunity to do that.

After the potatoes were peeled, I wandered back into the kitchen.  I met Webb, a volunteer, and asked what I could do next.  I was put to washing more potatoes and putting them into the steamer to cook for mashed potatoes.  I finished that job and went back to him again.  “You work fast!” he said.  “I’m here to work!” I said.  So he took me around the corner to this industrial meat slicer.  Uh-oh.  Me and large blades may not be such a good idea….

“Have you ever used one of these?”

“Um-no.”  “What do I do?”

“Keep your thumb here.”……..followed by more instructions.

“OK”

So I set off–watching those around me, while also watching that blade as I sliced.  I was alone and could observe some more-those in the Recovery Program working with the volunteers-all joking and laughing-I just felt surrounded by love.  Opening the hams, cutting them in half, slicing, and putting the ham into pans for cooking-I was trying to work as fast as I could while also keeping all my fingers.  Luckily, Shirley and Roger happened by, and Webb put them to helping slice veggies and ham.  We were having a ball!  Our time ended all too quickly and we had to leave.  I made a point to find Thurston, shake his hand, and Thank him.  Thurston, you are in my prayers.

Back in the van, I was thinking so much about what I had seen, so thankful that I had asked for the day off.  I wished that our entire church had been there.  I wanted to call some people so badly and talk about what I had seen.  About how this place was one of respect, and dignity, and God’s love.  It’s about building and restoration, not devastation.  Hope lives here.  Hope is thriving here.  Hope is being fed back to each heart that is starving for it.  One meal at a time, one blanket at a time.  Gene had even talked about a play the Mission did–“Soup, Soap, and Salvation”.  Now-where had I heard that before….Oh yes!!!  Ronnie Collins-World Changers-William Booth.  I remembered.  God, what are you up to?!  I wished there was a way we could start something like that in our area.   I had been in one of several Missions in one city in our great country.  How great the need is when you stop to really think about it.  And God is ready to meet every need, but He needs some hands and feet.

Is there a way?

I am praying about it.

To Joe Stilwell, Thank You so so SO much for organizing this trip.  My heart has been opened and my eyes.  It could be any of us, at any moment.  Life happens, and any of us could find ourselves without a place to sleep.  This is why there are none better than anyone else on this earth-we’re just all at different places on our walks.  This is why my heart was broken yesterday into a million pieces that I am asking God to put back together as He wants them to be-built and equipped for service.  These are my brothers and sisters.  If it were us in these situations-no job-no hope-bound in the chains of addiction-we would be praying for someone to reach out to us.  THAT is why we need to do it-it’s why as the church we are called to do it.  You cannot do it sitting in a chair or pew one morning each week.  We have GOT to get out there and meet them where they are.  That’s how God met us, and we are called to be His hands and feet.

Show me, Lord.  I heard your voice clearly yesterday speaking to my heart.  Keep pulling me, please.  I am thinking of feeding sheep.  If we love you, this is what you want us to do.  John 21:15

Please check out the Roanoke Rescue Mission’s website–Read about their history and their work.  Explore this site.  Listen to the testimonies and read the stories-see how God is still at work:

http://rescuemission.net/

I am praising God that I spent time peeling potatoes yesterday.  Potatoes and Grace.  We have to peel that grace back too, to reveal the fullness of it.  I want to go to work.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Paying Visits and Learning Lessons

September 7, 2011 4 comments

Today Casey and I went back to visit with two ladies I recently met during some Saturday morning outings with the Get Outta Your Seat Ministry.

Casey was very excited to visit with some people, and even made some cards to give them.  She kept saying we were going to visit “the people who love us”.  I kept reminding her that we were going to visit people we love because God loves us all and we want to help people and show them how much God loves them.

Casey Ready to Step Out and Help Out! She was SO excited to go visit the "people who love us" Haha

I’m writing this to show you how God works.  We were getting ready to go, and I was prompted to stop and get a few grocery items to offer them.  So off Casey and I went to the grocery store.So we get to the grocery store, and I buy things like bread, bananas, peanut butter, canned veggies, mac-n-cheese, some Spam (I really had no idea of what to buy, so I just grabbed things)  We sorted the items into bags, and off we went.

Our first stop was to visit the lady we’ll call….Mary.  Mary met us at the door and remembered my name, which actually surprised me.  She welcomed us in, and I just beamed at Casey and talked with her.  She asked me how Alex was doing-it actually floored me that she remembered his name from our first meeting.  We talked a little bit, and then she told me she had fallen, and gotten some injuries, and was receiving therapy at home.  I asked her if she had been able to go and get her groceries, and she said she had not been able to get groceries this month yet.

So….the Saturday morning trip with Get Outta Your Seat Ministry and meeting Mary the first time…..all these days recently I’ve had Mary on my mind–she had been injured.  The prompting to buy groceries….she had not been able to get out and buy any.   God had been putting these tugs in my heart to move, and I had hesitated, or felt too busy…..I understood now.  Lesson learned.  God just wants us to be willing to move.

All things work together for the GOOD of those who love the Lord and are called according to HIS purpose.  Romans 8:28

 All the things I just mentioned and been put together by God in order for us to be there today to help Mary.  Casey and I went out to the car and returned with her groceries.  She was so thankful and said this would help her so much.  She had already put our cards to her up on her cabinet, she said so she would be able to look at them and remember us.  She told Casey the yellow paper was like a sunshine on this cloudy day.  Casey just grinned.

Mary’s family doesn’t live locally, so it’s hard for her to be able to get around and do the things she needs, even something like get her prescriptions.  She is lucky in that her pharmacy actually delivers her medicines to her.  She showed us a picture that her two year old grandchild had colored for her-I think she enjoyed having Casey there to talk to!

So before we left I asked Mary if we could have prayer with her before we left.  She, Casey and I held hands and talked with our Father.

I turned to Mary and hugged her-she hugged me tight and said she would continue to remember us, and Alex too-that she thought of us every day, and now she would remember Casey too.  I offered her a ride to church on Sunday-I hope she feels up to going!  I left there feeling completely humbled and I ask God to make me more sensitive to when He is pricking my heart to move.

We also went to visit another friend we had recently met and took her some groceries as well–but she wasn’t at home.  We’ll keep trying!  God’s timing is perfect and after today I have no doubt that He is in the details-in those little feelings we get, or when we say “I don’t know what came over me”…..I do.  It’s called the Holy Spirit moving in us and prompting us to do God’s work that He designed us specifically to do.  I will listen more closely now.  Make me mindful, Lord…..Sweet Casey had an awesome morning…..

So awesome that she was worn out! (That's strawberry jam on her chin!)

Come and join us at Out of the Box Worship Center this Sunday and watch God work.

9 and 1030 services, Main St. Hillsville, Next to Dana’s

Second Location of FUMC Hillsville/Fulcher St. location–both sites would love for you to join us!

Categories: Uncategorized

Catch Up and Step Out Ideas

August 31, 2011 2 comments

Hello All,

I would like to apologize to all of you, it’s been too long since I last posted.  The beginning of a new school year, nightly homework, Scout meetings resuming, sickness, and the beginning of dance classes have been taking up a lot of time at our house lately.

So what have each of you been up to?  I would love to hear!  I hope that all are well and also getting back into the groove.  For some reason the past few weeks have been difficult for me-lots of changes where I work, and changes at home with new routines as well-I have felt a little off balance.  OK a lot off balance.  I hope you have all read my recent blog about our last project called  “8/20 Project: How God Moves”.  That still is very much in my mind and heart, and we have been blessed to have this family join us last Sunday at Out of the Box Worship Center and FUMC Hillsville!  God continues to work in this situation and I ask all of you to keep this family in your prayers.  Please also read Donna Godwin’s blog post about this project as well.  AMAZING!

Here’s The Link to Donna’s Blog:  (Subscribe to it!)  :    http://godw1nz.wordpress.com/2011/08/21/indy-plugged-in/

After some anxiety, a lot of questions and conversations with God, and replacement of ink cartridges in my printer, I now have letters and flyers ready to be mailed.  I know I’ve talked and talked about this, and while I talked with God’s help I’ve fought through some personal doubts and questions.   The letters will go out in the morning to area agencies (Area Social Services, District III Senior Services, Rooftop, Tri-Area Pregnancy Center, for example)  to let the agencies know that we are here and want to help in some way.  Please join me in prayer over these letters, that they will reach the right people, and that God will work out His will through them to enable us to reach out to those with a need.  Let’s keep our eyes and hearts open and be ready to join God where He is working.

In my past few weeks’ experiences, with getting back in the school year, I’ve been a little overwhelmed at times.  I know that all our lives are very busy.   There are so many needs all around us here in our own community.  When I stop and think about it or witness it firsthand, I get completely overwhelmed.  I have found myself lately wishing that I could devote all my time to organizing and reaching out to others, and I’ve actually prayed about it.  When God gave me the idea of Step Out/Help Out, I envisioned various groups of people organizing and doing things, as well as individual members doing things on their own.  I wanted a place for everyone to post their stories of how God was working and also a centralized location where if a need was received, it could be broadcast and volunteers organized.  The facebook page has been a great tool for that.  Tonya has posted for Get Outta Your Seat, and that ministry is truly getting out of their seats and out in the community to tell others about Christ and inviting them to church.  I know that each of us has been in the mindset of stepping outside our comfort zones and being of service to others.  I want to encourage you that if you have done something for someone, there are no small gestures when God is in them.  I would love to hear your story, and I’m sure everyone in the group would too.  No names are necessary, but your story may inspire us to act individually, or inspire a group of us to organize together.   If you wish to remain anonymous, you can email me at backharmon4@yahoo.com and I’ll post the story for you.  I am also really wanting to hear from those involved in the group projects, such as the recent moving project we did on 8/20 and get your perspectives and the messages you received during that time.  The possibilities are endless as to what God can do with individuals who are willing to go where He sends them.  But on the other side of that–I also understand that sometimes things may be done that no one knows about–and that is completely wonderful.   I fully understand that sometimes things may need to be between you, the person you are helping, and God.   Please know that I’m in prayer for the known and the unknown.  The point is that God knows, is working, people are being helped and seeing God’s love in action.   But please know that your stepping out could inspire others to do the same, and God can reach even more people.  That’s what this ministry is all about.

With that being said:  There are a few things on my heart and things that have been laying on my heart:

The days will be getting shorter, the nights a little colder, and I’ve had kids, coats, and the elderly in particular on my heart.  Also warm meals for those who may not be able to afford them.  I have thought about a coat drive,  winterizing homes/cleaning gutters, and either a community meal or maybe even delivered meals to those who can’t get out.  I have kept hitting the wall of the continued need about the food, and how it would need to maybe be more than a one time event.  So I’m putting this out there.  Have you had any similar thoughts?  If so, maybe we need to put our heads together in prayer and see what God is up to.  Any and all ideas/thoughts/prayers are welcome!

Something as simple as a warm coat and warm meal could mean everything to someone…..

Categories: Uncategorized

A Few Things….

August 22, 2011 Leave a comment

I am so excited about what God is doing through S.O.H.O.  Our Group is now 26 members!  Imagine what God can do with 26 people who are willing to step out of themselves and be His hands and feet to provide help and minister to hearts!  A few things:
1.  If you haven’t filled out one of the volunteer forms please see me Sunday, or you can send me a message on here with your email, phone #, times you’re available, and areas you’re interested in helping.
Some of our members are not on facebook.  One thing I forgot to do on Saturday’s project is send out the group email and I’m so sorry about that.  I will try to remember that next time!
2.  Please be in prayer-for Get Outta Your Seat, for the Children’s Ministry, for S.O.H.O.–I believe God is breaking the walls down of FUMC Hillsville/Out of the Box Worship Center to be able to reach a lot of people for Christ and BE THE CHURCH out in our community.  This Saturday, Get Outta Your Seat will again be going door to door and offering clothing to those who have a need and inviting them to church.  If you haven’t been involved with this on Saturday mornings, I urge you to go-you will not regret it!  God is working through Tonya and Get Outta Your Seat, and we all have one goal-to Win Some to Christ.  I pray that God will first open our eyes to see the needs around us, then open our hearts to His promptings and calls to action and make us willing vessels for Him to work through. I am also praying for God to just open the gates on his provisions to meet the needs.  It can be overwhelming to sit and think about–but God will ALWAYS make a way.  They will come in ways you least expect it–just like Saturday.  I’m also excited to hear about what Patti Lineberry Holderfield’s Dream Time revealed yesterday for our Children’s Ministry!
3.  Donna Cato had a very exciting idea this weekend.  For church members to “adopt” families that we come in contact with who don’t have transportation to get to church but live near us.  That way it will cut down on fuel costs for those who volunteer, and people will still be getting to church while we also work towards a van.  If you’re interested in helping out in this area, please let me know.  As we get general locations of those in need and #s in the families, I may put some on here and ask for volunteers.
4.  I have not forgotten planning visits to the nursing facilities-I desperately want to get that set!
5.  I have been having computer trouble with my word documents, but I think I can now print my letters to send out to area agencies.  That will get done this week!  (And if anyone knows anything about a “product code” to put in my computer to use my word program again, please let me know!!
There’s so much more I want to say, but I’m out of time for now–time to get ready for work and school!  I pray you all have a blessed day-keep your eyes and hearts open!  Be thinking about how summer is winding down, the temperatures will be falling….and how that will be impacting some in our area.  Also….the Thanksgiving/Christmas Season is coming…what are some ideas you have?

Categories: Uncategorized

8/20 Project: How God Moves

August 21, 2011 8 comments

Where do I start?  First of all, with Praises to Our Father for allowing each of us involved in today’s project to receive and be a part of the blessings that He was pouring out today during our project.  I mean I have never.  Just the way things happened–there’s no explanation for it.  That’s how I know that it was God moving today.  He wasn’t moving, He was dancing…

I’m going to try and replay this day for you because the details and how God moved astound me now that I’m sitting here thinking it over.  It all started on Wednesday.  Our Pastor Ronnie Collins messaged me to let me know he’d received a call from someone at our FUMC/Hillsville site about a family that was needing some help moving.  The family didn’t own a vehicle and so they needed help to move their stuff to their new home.

I asked Ronnie if he could post it to the S.O.H.O. Wall on Facebook, and he did.  My hubby said he was in, and Donna Godwin said she was in, then Tammy and David Payne, then Carl Ayers.  (Cort Godwin and Donna Cato were involved a little later–boy were they ever!)  We were organizing a moving team!  We just didn’t realize that we would be the ones being so moved.

I was a little nervous this morning-you never know how people will respond-in talking with the mother on the phone, she was so appreciative, but she wasn’t going to be there this morning.  I thought about this family-forced to pick up everything they own and move, and now strangers were coming to see their lives in boxes…..I prayed this morning and asked God to please be with us today as we went outside of ourselves and helped this family.  I asked God to move in any way He needed and to make us mindful to see it so we could join Him.  When we pulled up to the home, the man came out to meet us–I shook his hand, and he was shaking his head.  “You guys are so awesome”, he said.  We all introduced ourselves to him and his son, and immediately set to grabbing boxes, pillowcases stuffed with clothes, furniture…..and loading them onto one of the three trucks.  The man said they hadn’t known how they were going to get moved before we offered to help.  He was actually thinking of walking the belongings the approximate mile to their new home.

The little boy immediately tugged at my heart.  Four years older than my son, and smaller than my son-but with the strength of four grown men as he carried a duffle bag with his clothes that I could barely lift out of his bedroom, and helped me carry a heavy nightstand.  I immediately gave him the nickname in my mind of “Lion Heart”.  He truly has the heart of a lion.  I can’t recall who asked him the question, but someone asked him what he likes to do.  Without skipping a beat, he answered “I’ll do anything, mow yards, anything you need”.   I realized that I wasn’t talking to a child.  He may have never had a chance to be a child.  His immediate answer wasn’t games he likes, or “riding my bike”.  It was ways to earn money.  He didn’t have huge boxes of toys.  To be honest, I saw no “toys” except some toy cars.  He has more of a work ethic than most people I know.  He held doors open for us, offered us drinks, and showed off the bike that he had sanded down by hand (no tools) and repainted himself.  Dad said he is a straight A student.

We got all the things moved, and stood and talked with the Dad while the little boy went and joined his friends to play at their new home.  It was nice to see him zooming down the hill on his bike.  That was the first kid-type thing I’d seen him do all day.

As the Dad talked, I realized it was a story that could hit any of us.  A natural disaster, home destroyed by the storm, nothing left.  No way to find work–a series of bad decisions, and move to where your best friend lives, knowing no one.  No belongings (lost in the storm), no work to be found, and no way to get to a job if you found one because you don’t have a car.  As I stood there listening to the Dad talking, I put myself in his shoes.  In a breath it could be me.  Or you.  That’s why I posted earlier:  Be very thankful for every blessing you have.

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’    Matthew 25:40

This family is not to be looked past.  Or down upon.  Or ignored.  They just need a break.  They need to know someone cares.  To feel respected.  They are down the road from you.  Donna Godwin and I had been making mental notes of needs–clothing, maybe food….batteries for a hearing device….and a bed.   Even a job-a mode of transportation.  You see, the bed the little boy had been sleeping in had to stay with the previously rented home.  They family had no way to get a new bed, so the little boy was going to sleep on the couch.  And he wasn’t complaining.

What would you do if your child didn’t have a bed?

Phone calls started.  Donna Godwin called, I called, Donna Cato posted-then Donna Cato started driving–and shopping.  Hitting stores and yard sales–she was about to go with the cheapest store deal she could find, then by sharing the story,  she heard about a Captain’s bed for sale at a yard sale.  Donna C. raised her arms, thanking Jesus in the middle of Wal-Mart.  Priceless.  So off we went.  She bought it, Cort Godwin helped Kerry load it, we took it back to Lion Heart, and Tammy and David got some new bedding for him.  The little boy was tickled.  He also has two new tire tubes for his bike coming to him, he just doesn’t know it yet.

So now is when I talk about how I saw God working today.  In the eyes of a little boy.  In the thankfulness of a man who asked if we could possibly get him and his family to church.  (We’ll find a way-by the way, would you be interested in driving the van on Sundays?  🙂  ).  In seeing people step out of themselves and into new territory to join God where He was working and be moved-fires sparked!  In a circle of prayers in the driveway.  In how our attitudes about our own lives have changed.  In talking to a mother of six who said her family was lovingly nicknamed “The Brady Bunch” by the Landlord (blended family of 3 daughters and 3 sons!)  and inviting her and her family to church.  In standing in the aisles of Wal-Mart still making calls, asking God to please make a bed materialize and then “finding” a bargain on a Captain’s Bed.  In someone stepping in and moving and working to locate a bed for a little boy who desperately needs to be able to get a good night’s sleep.  In being made able by God to help a woman hear better for at least a month by buying batteries for her hearing device.  Talking and ministering to the woman we bought the bed off of (who had to sell the bed to make room for her new Grandbaby) and inviting her to church.   The fact that we had a Director of Social Services in our midst that talked with the Dad about employment and help for his son.   The man said if we were ever helping someone else to move, to call him and he would help.  If you have a need of a carpenter or mechanic, I have a potential employee for you!

I commented this on what a friend posted on my wall earlier:

This is what we’re here for–to build each other up and set the world on fire with the love of Christ.  There ain’t no tellin’ what could happen if we all just realized that Jesus came to turn this world upside down–this world tells us to get what’s ours, look out for ourselves cause no one else will, get all we can when we can while we can.  Jesus said win all you can for me, give all you have away and follow Me, and that He would “look after us” and never leave us or forsake us.  We have to be a living breathing billboard of God’s Radical L~O~V~E  to the world.  We look wierd, we act wierd, but it’s so backwards to how the world is now that it actually gets people’s attention!  We saw that at work today!  God has begun a great work and I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Open your cabinets.  If there’s any food in them at all, even that stale bag of Cheetos, you’re blessed.  If you’re sitting on your couch watching TV-you’re blessed.  If you’re playing on facebook, you’re blessed-you have electricity AND a computer.  If you will soon put your head on a pillow, you’re blessed.  God was hammering to me afterward of just how much we in this country take for granted–especially given the fact that there are people down the street who have nothing.  I talked with my son about how blessed we are today.  I hope to take him on some S.O.H.O. missions soon.

I think as God has blessed us, we are called to be a blessing to others.

“…in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  Philippians 2:3-4

We ask why people are hurting, and we ask why God would allow it.  I agree with what I think I heard Ronnie say a while back:  I think God has the question for us of why we are sitting around allowing it to happen.  The needs are great right now–that was one home–and the needs are only going to get greater.  It’s time to throw off all those things that bind us and get to work getting out, reaching out, stepping out, helping out, and being God’s light in this world!    If we step out, we will see God move.

I was so blessed by our team today.  Donna and Cort Godwin, Donna Cato, Tammy and David Payne, Kerry Harmon (my sweet hubby!), Carl Ayers–I was blessed in so many ways today.  I’m very tired right now, and I may post some more on this later-but please know that God is working!

My prayer is that somehow, God will guide this man in finding work-and transportation–a means to support his family(again-if you need a mechanic or carpenter, etc.–let me know!)  -that they will join us one Sunday and grow in their relationship with Christ.  That God will use us again in a special way to be His hands touching someone’s heart.  And that in every person’s heart who helped today a little fire was lit.  🙂

Here are some immediate needs that we need to be in prayer about:

1.  A van to get people who don’t have transportation to church on Sunday.   (And a Driver!)

2.  A job for this gentleman.  If you know someone who is needing carpentry or automotive work done, please respond–this man is in need of work and he’s willing to do just about anything.

3.  A mode of transportation to get to the job.

4.  This little boy–for nutrition, for proper medical care-clothing for the winter-he let me look at his shirt-it was a 10/12 but was big on him-not sure of pant or shoe size.  Maybe through the Get Outta Your Seat Ministry we could get him some warm clothes and a coat for winter.

5.  For the Mom–for new hearing aids

6.  Food.  We told them about our pantry-the man said they were “doing okay” on food.

7.  The needs we don’t see we need to be in prayer about-we never know someone’s entire situation, but God does.  Make us mindful, Lord.

If you could help with any of these needs, message me on facebook or comment below!  God is moving–He wants us to be His hands and feet to reach out to those in need and share His love.  Even the smallest act could lead to radical, life changing things for someone.  This family’s lives were touched today–our lives were touched today.   As we prayed with the Dad, the little boy started yelling to get his attention-when we finished our prayer, I looked up and the little boy had walked up to our circle, removed his hat, and bowed his head.  I caught a glimpse of him as he said “Amen”.  His Dad hugged us all.  This was a beginning.  I have a feeling we will be staying in touch with this family and God is going to continue to move.  Please be in prayer about ways you could help.

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’    Matth 25:40

Praising God for how He moves…..

Love to All in Christ!!

Brenda

Categories: Uncategorized