Cornerstones

As I gaze out the kitchen window and fix my eyes on a beautiful Japanese blueberry tree in the distance, I feel summer’s end nearby.  I don’t know about you, but my heart is eagerly anticipating the change of season, bringing with it cooler temps and lively conversations around a circular fire pit out back.   Over the course of 8 weeks this summer, I had the unique opportunity to witness the incredible transformation of our back yard by a team of hard-working landscapers and talented masons.   Not only did they endure sweltering hours of oppressive desert heat removing overgrown Mesquite and African Sumac trees,  they skillfully and artfully arranged combinations of decorative flagstone into functional architectural features to be enjoyed by friends and family this fall.

The unanticipated gift from this experience was contemplating the importance of cornerstones and how their selection and level placement during the construction process affects the overall design and stability.

What is a Cornerstone?

Webster’s Dictionary defines a cornerstone as: (noun) a basic element : foundation. Digging a little further, ( yes, I admit freely I have a bit of an uncanny obsession with language and vocabulary)  I found this definition and enjoyed the depth of explanation:

cornerstonethe fundamental assumptions from which something is begun or developed or calculated or explained; “the whole argument rested on a basis of conjecture” . Synonyms:  fundament, groundwork, basis, foundation, base. 

It’s as though I had discovered this word, cornerstone, for the very first time.  It is likely I have uttered it without fully understanding or assimilating its meaning.   Sometimes it takes an experience to bring a word to light in our lives, and I just love the illuminating feeling that rises up within when that happens.

Who or What is Your Cornerstone?

Cornerstones are used ceremoniously to commemorate people or moments in time we would rather not forget.    They represent firm foundations and solid ground.   The level, the steady, the shaping element, the framework, and the fundamental, whose underlying base of support is perhaps taken inadvertently for granted.

What comes up for you when you think about the word cornerstone?  Is it a particular person or value?  Faith or spirituality?  In what are you placing your hope, your joy, and your trust?  Who is your cornerstone?  Who is your rock,  keeping you on solid ground, providing for you a firm foundation on which to build your hopes and dreams?

Take a moment to think about these cornerstones and appreciate them.   Allow your heart to swell with gladness and overflow into all you do, think, and say.

“Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.”

                                                                                                            – Wayne Dyer

What do you truly LOVE in this life?  What are you certain brings you joy, happiness, and a reason to get up and begin a fresh, new day?   What is that ONE thing that you just can’t bear to live without?  Are you feeling it? Living it? Doing it? If the answer is not a resounding YES, ask yourself why?

 

Jennifer Miller is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer, speaker, and marketing consultant.  She works as a  Community Partner volunteer for global nonprofit BeadforLife, whose mission is to provide entrepreneurial training to 1 million women globally by 2027.   Click here for a listing of upcoming events, or Follow her on instagram or Facebook @standinlovejen .  To host your own BeadforLife marketplace or essential oil party this fall, email deboughjl@gmail.com

 

 

 

Strength in Surrender

What comes to your mind when you hear the word surrender?  Do you equate surrender with weakness, giving up, capitulation, or renunciation?  Maybe you envision white flags raised high by weary arms calling for peace.  Perhaps you recall a historic surrender like that fateful day,  April 9th, 1865,   Robert E. Lee met face to face with opposing leader General Grant accepting his call for surrender ending the bloodshed of the Civil War.  Or maybe you see surrender as a tender notion, expressed below by the gentle words of author Marianne Williamson,

“Something amazing happens when we surrender and just love.  We melt into another world, a realm of power already with us.  The world changes when we change, the world softens when we soften.  The world loves us when we choose to love the world.”

There is beauty in surrender.   In a world that urges us to believe we control every outcome,  convinces us to try harder to accomplish every goal, I surrender to the belief that what we need most is to lay our burdens down.  What relief is found when we give up control, willingly, and lay our troubles, our uncertainties, our pain and grief, and our quest for clarity at the foot of the Cross.

Spiritual Surrender

When I think of surrender, I think of an inimitable spiritual warrior named Dennis Robinson, with whom I shared a cup of coffee and conversation in the small Crossroads Church kitchen one Sunday morning while serving on a Samaritan’s Purse deployment last month.  Imagine a remarkably tall, lean and mean Santa Claus type machine in his 60’s riding a Harley instead of driving a sleigh, donning a black, sleeveless t-shirt with a Harley Davidson logo that reads live to serve in lieu of live to ride.  Snow-white beard and mustache hiding his broad smile, eyes that draw you inside the depths of his soul, arms outstretched wide, Dennis is an undeniable master of embrace.

Now a 9-year Samaritan’s Purse volunteer veteran serving as team leader, Dennis’s journey to surrender didn’t come without a fight.  As record-breaking hurricanes Dennis, Floyd, and Irene hit the East Coast in September 1999 causing unprecedented damage, Dennis was enduring an inundation of a mental kind.    Struggling with an 8-year depression, a time period that included daily alcohol and substance abuse, withdrawal, and stonewalling, Dennis recalled what he described as, “being completely checked out emotionally. ”  

In 2006, four years after leaving his full-time contracting career and well into the depths of his depression, he recalled receiving a postcard invitation to a local church in his hometown of Durham, North Carolina, a place he called home since 1989.  Struggling in his marriage with all the turmoil at the time, they decided to give it a try.

  “Going to church made me feel worse.” Dennis said, ” I felt I didn’t belong at all and didn’t want to go back.”  Dennis told me he was far from God and reminisced about his parochial school upbringing in the Bronx.    I asked Dennis what kind of work he was involved in from 2002-2007 for work, to which he replied:

Beer drinker, pot smoker, and occasional handyman.

On August 1st of 2007, after hitting rock bottom, Dennis unloaded his personal items from his pick-up truck and headed towards a tree he had premeditated would end his seemingly purposeless life of pain and suffering.

I knew I could get up to 100 mph before hitting that tree head on.

As he drove down that familiar North Carolinian road prepared to end his life, a voice broke through the antagonizing noise of his disempowered, completely discouraged mind prompting him, “Go past the tree! Go past the tree!”

Dennis drove past the tree, past the luring temptation to end his life,  and steered his pick-up truck by the grace of God into a nearby rehabilitation center.  On the second night of a six-day stay in the psych ward, Dennis  wandered the hallways at 2 am while others were sedated into deep sleep.

“What are you doing here?… what are you doing here?”

……. questioned a voice he said he could hear clearly.  That night after hours of tiresome contemplation, Dennis  enjoyed what he called, the best night of sleep in years”.  The following morning, the 3rd day, he woke up and called pastor Benji Kelly of New Hope Church in Durham, North Carolina and asked him to come with his Bible and pray with him.   It was time to surrender, or in Dennis’ words, “When you are that low, where do you have to go but to your knees?”   

On the other side of surrender

Dennis celebrates his surrender annually, on August 3rd, or  ,”Call Day”, as he refers to it, commemorating his call to his pastor, his call to a Higher Power begging for a new beginning.  Approximately 4 months later on November 17th, 2007,  Dennis decided it was time to surrender a life of brokenness and uncertainty, a life of mistakes, and a life that deserved a second chance, by inviting Christ into his life forever.    By  August 10, 2010,   nearly 3 years after accepting God into his life, Dennis deepened his surrender, accepting a calling to full-time volunteer ministry with Samaritan’s Purse .  This work takes his gift of surrender, combines it with his spiritual gifts of encouragement and service and impacts the lives of those suffering from the devastating effects of natural disasters around the US.

I asked Dennis how surrender impacted his life. His response,

“The greatest thing in my life about TOTAL surrender is the overwhelming sense of freedom! Knowing that God is in total control of my life, as long as I listen to and submit to His will, what more can one ask for in this life?”

Like this gorgeous song from Casting Crowns reminds us, Dennis traded in his old chains and took up his new name.

I am so thankful he did, because I cannot imagine a world without Dennis’ formidable helping hands or that incredible embrace.  Dennis has survived personal turmoil and disaster, making him a compassionate servant in his relief work, connecting easily to the broken hearted vicitims.   “I DO understand your pain,” he says to the broken-hearted upon arriving at their homes in complete disarray.

Disasters into designs.  Like Dennis, we are created on purpose, with a purpose, for a purpose.  Surrender to that call.  What beauty is found in a new identity. You don’t have to be your old self. There is power and redemption in a new name.  I received mine in 1999.

Are there areas in your life you think you may need to surrender, counter-intuitively trusting the notion that letting go is better than holding on?

Please enjoy some photos of my friend Dennis and please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Thank you Dennis, for Standing in Love daily as Ephesians 6:10-20 reminds us! What a blessing you are to so many!  

Jennifer

 

 

 

Many parts, one body.

 “To love is to be vulnerable.  Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will become untreatable, impenetrable, irredeemable.  To love is to be vulnerable.”                      – C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves 

At 7:40 am on Tuesday morning, I felt my own heart’s vulnerability as I clasped hands for the last pray out time with Suzanne, a Billy Graham chaplain from California, and Julietta, a beautiful, young, traveling nurse turned full-time office manager volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse, in a tightly knit circle of prayer.  Tears streamed down my face as I encountered the heartbreak that comes with leaving new friends behind and the joy of new beginnings unfolding amidst times of uncertainty.  I have never been great at goodbyes. Goodbyes are like litmus tests gauging the quality of an experience.  The deeper the connections and the more profound the interaction with others,  the harder the goodbye.  This was no easy goodbye.

I landed overwhelmed with gratitude, quieted by exhaustion, and spiritually renewed as I returned to life back home, life before witnessing the daily routines in an ongoing disaster area affecting over 100,000 southern Louisiana residents.  Undoubtedly, the experience varies from person to person; however, I believe one thing remains the same for each of us involved, and it is best summarized by the concise, poignant words of C.S. Lewis:

“You have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another.”

Wow, let that marinate for a minute.

After several hours in my favorite local coffee shop this morning unpacking my thoughts and fond memories, I returned home and retreated to the comfort and safety of my bedroom, shades pulled, bulldog and pug snoring on the dry floor beside me, with spiral notebooks, hard covered journals, colored index cards, an open student Bible given to me during a spiritually life-changing experience in France 17 years ago, highlighters, and all sorts of writing tools with which I attempt to catch passing thoughts and release to paper,  I paused to give praise, by way of tears of gladness, to the One who authored this experience.   I humbly realized that I did not decide to go to Louisiana, rather, God chose Louisiana to be a healing ground for me and for all the others who joined in the relief efforts.  God’s plans are immensely wider and His love runs profoundly deeper than our human minds will ever comprehend.  He chose this experience for each of us, knowing how to satisfy the longings of our souls.  This distinction keeps me in awe and wonder of our Maker.

Spiritual Gifts

Having spent several days a passenger in the backseat of Drew and Pat Alexander’s Subaru Outback to and from work sites each day, I gained a unique vantage point for witnessing their genuine love for each other as well as their deeply rooted passion for serving people in disaster situations.  Drew currently serves as pastor of Folcroft Union Church in addition to his volunteer work as chaplain of the local police and fire departments in Folcroft, Pennsylvania.  He and Pat, his amazingly strong and inspiring wife of 26 years, respond to both Red Cross and Samaritan’s Purse deployments, and in the late nineties, they spent two years overseeing boarding school children of missionaries in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.  I asked them both what drives their volunteerism on a ride home from Abbeville, La. that Saturday afternoon.

“I believe we were given the gift of service“, he replied from behind the steering wheel in a low-toned voice likened to Tony Dungee’s by one fellow SP volunteer.   Drew went on to share the importance of using spiritual gifts, and emphasized the distinction between spiritual gifts and talents.  “Talents can frustrate“, said Drew, “but [using] gifts is refilling.  When we are not using our gifts, we feel stifled, stuck, and tend to stagnate.” 

As we returned back to our home-away-from- home, Crossroads Church– the welcoming  lighthouse location providing long-term shelter and much appreciated provisions for several dozens of overnight volunteers, I contemplated the masterful design of this Samaritan’s Purse (SP) team and all the gifts it had to offer to the residents of Louisiana, and to each other.

There were no coincidences on this trip.

God masterfully and purposefully painted the smallest details into this Lafayette team canvas with variegated brush strokes, each volunteer a vivid prism of color combined to form a rainbow palette of spiritual gifts to share.  As the apostle Paul states in his analogy of the church to a human body in 1 Corinthians 12:12 :

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.” 

I likened the rest of this passage (vv 12-27) to the joint effort of volunteers with Samaritan’s Purse and Crossroads Church.   Today I jotted down a list of all the extraordinarily talented volunteers who made the experience possible, as well as the number of things that happened behind the scenes to keep such a large, long-term disaster relief operation running  smoothly.  I cannot say enough about the incredible stories of those with whom I had the privilege of serving.

While this list isn’t exhaustive, it allows the formation of a mental picture to accompany the “many parts, all one body” illustration.  Furthermore, it is intended to thank all of those who shared, knowingly or unknowingly, their spiritual gifts for the benefit the entire group.

Number of blessings

There’s a sales adage that goes, “the proof’s in the numbers“.

Let us, therefore, consider the numbers:

# of miles flown, # of miles driven , # of prayers lifted, # of circles gathered.  # of Bibles signed and gifted, # meals prepared, served, and shared, # of dishes washed, trips to the grocery store, and # of alarms going off at 3am.

# smiles, hugs, greetings to one another and to homeowners, # tools used, # hands hammering, pulling, lifting, # of sweat beads and tears shed, # dirty orange t-shirts washed each day, # devotions, chaplain prayers, and nightly debriefings. # of welcome visits, new orientation videos, and facilities tours, # squeegeed shower stall walls, lights out at 10, and after hours conversations in the hallways outside the sleeping quarters.

The # of times your body wanted you to rest, but your heart begged you to join one more conversation, stay up just one more hour.

# soaked drywall fragments removed, corners meticulously brushed and scraped, mold infested areas sprayed, and the # of personal effects carried to the curb.  # of lives intersected, laughs shared,  and songs sung.  # of stories told, pasts untold, hurts brought into the light, lives redeemed.  # false beliefs shattered, emotional and physical walls surrendered, # times mere strangers became close friends, and the # of encouragements that helped you make it through another day after difficult night of sleep. # of opportunities to share, to help, to give, and to learn, # of times we had to love our neighbor as ourselves and stand as living testimonies, and the # of times we had the chance to respond to the Gospel’s call to action.

Above all this, the # of times we humbly, without merit, received God’s grace and mercy, and felt his unending love fill our lungs with every breath. 

Thank you God, for providing this gift to us all.

Click here for serving opportunities in Lafayette, Baton Rouge, or Gonzales, Louisiana.  Samaritan’s Purse will be on the ground through the end of October at the earliest, serving the flood victims and their families until the need no longer remains.

Please enjoy this video tribute of my experience with this highly organized, thoughtful, and incredibly nurturing group of volunteers, leaders, and staff of Samaritan’s Purse.  I look forward to the next deployment, and throwing on my favorite orange t-shirt.

Stand in Love,

Jen

 

 

 

 

 Using Talents for Great Purpose: Reflections from the Heart of Cajun Country.

What a great way to start a new week here in Lafayette, Louisiana: learning what it means to be a “bringer“.

Inspired by his love for golden retrievers, natural bringers, local Crossroads Church lead pastor Pastor Jeff Ables delivered the final part of a compelling series on “Bringers” to his congregation yesterday.

What is a bringer?

Someone who uses their God-given gifts and talents in service to others.   In a nutshell: being a Bringer is being useful.

In a crowded church auditorium, the air heavy with silent prayers and unanswered questions, the local Lafayette congregation shared seats and smiles with Samaritan’s Purse volunteers joining in joyful singing and praise.

Singing the chorus , “God is on the move, on the move, hallelujah!  God is on the move is many mighty ways..” folks raised their hands in joint surrender with grateful hearts, remembering that their mighty maker has not forgotten their needs.

We are asked to bring not only  our offerings to God, but also our praises.  We are created to praise.  In good times and bad.  And our praise, reminded Pastor Jeff,  is to “be sincere, sacrificial, and sanctioned”. 

It’s day 8 on the ground and I have seen people “bringing it” to southern Louisiana.

Welcome Alert Academy Volunteers

To date, over 200 dedicated volunteers from all over the US have passed through Crossroads Church to serve with Samaritan’s Purse, accumulating over 3,000 volunteer hours in the Lafayette community. Yesterday, I spoke with a young man part of  a 14-member team from Alert Academy– an organization started by a home school father in 1994.  A cross between a military boot camp and Christian diaster response training,  ALERT (Air, Land, Emergency Response Team) young men arrived ready to bring it.  He shared his passion for serving and wants to model behaviors he hopes others will want to emulate.

7 members of the 14 person A.L.E.R.T team serving in Lafayette, La.

 

Redemption Bringers

Krystal McKee, a 31 year old daughter of Lafayette residents Kathy and Greg McKee, decided to bring it after she discovered her parents home flooded the weekend of August 13th.  Greg, an active lineman for the electric company, traveled to Missouri to work on downed power lines from severe storms in the area.  Wanting to surprise him on his birthday, the family piled into a car and drove north the morning the rains began to fall.

Krystal and her husband were the first responders to the single story home inundated Saturday by the rising flood waters.  Now program directors for Teen Challenge, an 18 month program ministering to teens with life interrupting  addictions, they bear witness to the power of redemption and recovery.

In 2013, the young couple had hit their lowest point. Rampant drug and alcohol abuse ripped their marriage apart and resulted in the custody loss of their two children. Mom Kathy, after Krystal’s 6th arrest and incarceration for prescription drug use and possession, heard about Teen Challenge on the local SOS radio station and pleaded with her daughter to enroll.

Fast forward to December 2015, the couple reunites as graduates of the program and regain custody of their two children in addition to restoring their broken marriage.  Most impressively, Krystal and her husband featured below now head programs for troubled teens at the local Lafayette branch of Teen Challenge.

In efforts to quickly respond to her parent’s devastated home, Krystal rounded up a team of  Teen Challenge volunteers to help salvage belongings from the home,  paying forward the kindness and unconditional parental love she received for so many years during her years of addiction .

As Mom Kathy proudly shared this powerful testimony, her two boxers remained by her side .  Trixie, 6, and Zeke, 4.  A week before the flood hit Zeke was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It has taken over his lymph nodes- giving him 6 months to live.

Trixie on the left, and Zeke on the right watch as Samaritan’s Purse volunteers join for prayer in the garage after work completed.

Family members Kari, Kyler, and Kaleb joined mom Kathy and the volunteers in a customary prayer circle that concludes each and every  clean up mission with Samaritan’s Purse.


Hope was brought to the McKee family, and Kathy hopes her story will bring hope to those suffering with family members with addictions.

What do you have to bring?

Have you identified your spiritual Gifts? How may these gifts be used in conjunction with your talents to bring hope into your community and personal spheres of influence?

Join us in today’s prayer circle:


Stand in Love,

Ephesians 6:10-20

Jennifer ❤️❤️❤️

From Kibiri to Mbuya

Greetings on a cloudy cool day of rest in Kampala!  Yesterday’s boda boda expedition was loads of fun! Riding sideways on the back of a motorcycle in a skirt while squeezing in between cars, matatus, and other boda drivers making their way through congested, uncontrolled streets proved nothing short of an amusement park ride!   What a blast!  For approximately 1.50$,  I made my way through town, sun hat blowing in the wind, backpack in tow.   I had planned to visit the two local malls in the downtown area, however after a quick walk through one, I craved a bit of a “local connection”.  I saw the Kibuli – pronounced chibuli – mosque atop of one of the many hills in Kampala.  As locals are very friendly, I asked how I could walk there for a visit.  They suggested I take another boda- as it was quite far and up a series of steep hills.  Perfect, I thought to myself, just what I love! A long walk! Ask my husband- he will tell you I will walk all day every day from morning till night!

I started up the winding red path past many beautiful locals gathering groceries from small fruit and vegetable stands.   The sights and smells of Kampala were all around me….. Women washing up laundry in small plastic basins bent over in front of their humble homes.  Young girls ages 7-9 with babies strapped to their backs helping out while mom was tending to cooking or fetching water.   I inhaled the comforting smell of matoke ( local plantains) steaming in banana leaves and water in a pot over charcoals.   As houses are so small and confined families are outside all day!  Kibuli village was bustling with people heading to and fro.  It is so lovely to see communities outside talking to each other every day!

After a visit to Kibuli mosque, and a climb up one of the minarets for a birds eye view of Kampala, I made my way back down the hill through town.  To my left was the most beautiful market where women were selling large bundles of matoke- as well as chickens and heaping piles of coal.  I hesitated to enter, knowing it was not my intention to buy 25lbs of the freshly chopped tree.   I followed my gut and entered into this little space to have a look and met the loveliest woman named Zaina, with her mother Naigaga.   They had just purchased a bundle for less than the price of .80$ – this would feed her family of 5 for four days if consumed for lunch and supper.  We exchanged pleasantries, and Zaina insisted I walk back up the hill to her home.  “It’s just across from Shell Kibuli”, she said.   See, in Uganda, as there are no street signs, people use landmarks like a petrol station or food stall to mark a location.  Hesitant to accept her offer, I politely declined.  She continued to insist, “please come to my home for just a short visit! “. I remembered my pre- departure promise to say “yes” to any reasonable invitation before me while on this journey.   Zaina and I walked hand in hand around the bend past roaming goats and pecking chickens with chicklets in tow.   The matoke was strapped to a bicycle seat and a man pushed the bicycle up the hill to her home to complete the purchase.

Upon arrival, she welcomed me on her front step, pulled out a chair and said “you are most welcome here!”  Soon, I was joined by her sister Namaganda- Amina, her daughter Sarah, as well as Zaina’s son Mosa.  Both children were nibbling on a pancake made from simple mashed matoke and maize flour- fried with the most inexpensive oil available.   Our experience was deeply engaged, and I promised I would return to share a meal with her at her home one day soon.    I left feeling so refreshed, and renewed, making this new connection in the Muslim quarter that is called Kibuli.  What a blessing it was to have this experience!  God is so amazing!

…… Today I celebrated in a mass in a neighborhood called Mbuya.   The service was in English, and I praised and worshipped with such a full and grateful heart!  I was the only Muzungu in the parish with the exception of a couple of nuns.  I loved how the choir was integrated into the congregation- all facing same direction as the focus was not to be on them, but rather on God- as reminded by the  priest.   We sang jubilantly in English and at times in Luganda.  We clapped after the gospel, and clapped again after one prayer- so thankful! I can’t wait to visit in other churches while I am here.  It’s such a raw, truly heartfelt experience to sit inside of this place, steaming hot, and see people dressed in their finest attire.  I noticed a young girl aged 4-5 walking in her mothers high heeled shoes, or maybe they were just hers- and the only shoes available at the market for her mother to buy for her.  She teetered in those oversized shoes, but was presenting her very best to God that day.   The need is so great everywhere, all you have to do is be present and look around.  I am asked daily when walking around where I am working and if I am able to find him or her a job.  Last night on the way to dinner, I was asked by a young woman if she could wash my clothes or clean my house in exchange for a little money as she has two children and her husband has just left her.    There are too many more stories to share on this subject and my experience in the past 4 days since I’ve been here.

Attached is a photo of me with Zaina (left), Mosa her son on my lap, and Namaganda Amina- her sister on my right.  This was taken on her front step.

Muslim quarter to Catholic Church —Kibuli to Mbuya— God has shown great love and acceptance!

Tomorrow is Bead sale #1 at the office! Will share the happenings soon!

To help ignite 1 million women out of extreme poverty, please donate to my goal at vegas.ignite1million.org

The funds will help scale BeadforLife’s Street Business School program here in Uganda and will be multiplied in countries worldwide!

With love and gratitude,  Jennifer

 

What is StandinLove?

There are no coincidences.

My mom and I began the morning with mass at St. Joseph’s on W. Sahara.  It’s a Sunday morning ritual we have grown to enjoy together.  We were welcomed by a new priest, Father Adam- a 30 year old native of Poland whose family immigrated to America and found their home in Chicago.  I felt as though the Lord was speaking through Adam today in a voice so loud and clear it made my hair stand up on my arms.  Todays 3 readings, which I will share were all about being sent out and heeding the calling in our lives.  These callings don’t begin and end with us, they begin and end with God.  He’s the creator of all things good, and creates us with distinct holes in our hearts that only He can help fill according to His purpose for our lives.  I praise God that he gave me a hole in my heart that is shaped like Uganda, the pearl of Africa.

Amos 7: 12-16

Mark 6:7-11

Ephesians 1:3-14

Ephesians 1:3-14 asks the questions,

Do I know  who I am ?

Do I know how deeply loved I am?

Do I understand that I am created ON purpose and FOR a purpose?

 Do I fully accept that I have been promised the covering of the Holy Spirit- to guide and protect me?

I marveled at this great mystery of faith today, and connected the dots from all readings to my journey ahead of me.   The powerful, bold, and slightly accented voice of Father Adam spoke to me today and to the congregation as he repeated with great certainty, “Do you know there are NO coincidences in life?  Do you know you are here today listening to this message  because you are supposed to be here?

One of my favorite scriptures is Ephesians 6 and the Armor of God… we are reminded to put on the armor daily, and to stand firm, stand against, and stand our ground… and this, I decided, was to be the theme of this journey…. to stand in love.   I am so excited to have you join me.  It gives me great strength, and encouragement, and for that I am so grateful.

Good night and God Bless you.