Friday, December 22, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Still looking for the perfect last minute gift?

It's just a small white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas -- oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it -- the overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma -- the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties, and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended.

Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team
sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And, as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn't acknowledge defeat. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, "I wish just one of them could have won," he said. "They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them." Mike loved kids -- all kids -- and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball, and lacrosse.

That's when the idea for his present came.

That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church.
On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.

For each Christmas, I followed the tradition -- one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure.

The story doesn't end there.

You see, we lost Mike last year due to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our
grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope.

You know, I don't care if this whole thing is just a hoax and there never was any "Mike", it's a powerful idea, that is so anti-mall-materialism-creditcard-Christmas that it deserved some space on this blog.

So, still looking for a meaningful last minute gift for someone you love? I know some kids who could use pillows to lay their heads me at: to follow up on this, or more gift-giving ideas...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


We had Church on Saturday, or at least our version of it. I think Jesus likes our version of Church; anyway it was really amazing to sit back and look at 1 years work. It looked like 73 people, kids and parents, playing, eating and worshiping together.

We have been here in Charlotte for one whole year, our #1 objective was to learn everybody's name in our neighborhood and to let Jesus do whatever else he wanted. He wanted to connect a community together using his hands, feet and heart.

61 kids have confessed his name as saviour this year and several of their parents are renewing their commitments through them.

I do not know what God has in store for us next year, but I know that if I keep learning everybodies names he will invite them to write them in his book of life.

Thank-you God for letting me join you in your plan to win the world; one person at a time.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

I've been reading a book by John Maxwell about growing in leadership, setting priorities and creating and fulfilling goals. What I read today hit me like a ton of bricks:

"Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent. Be careful that you do not let others spend it for you."
Carl Sandberg

How are you spending your last days before Christmas Eve?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Good morning friends - if you're a Salvo in the South, then the name Phil Laeger is familiar to you - or if his name doesn't ring a bell, his music surely will. If you haven't heard of the man, then you're in for a treat.

Phil's back with a new cd - and it's free. For real free. Rob and I have already downloaded it, and I'm listening to it right now.

Downloading it won't mess up your computer, and it's not complicated, it's just all the sweetness both musically and lyrically that we're used to from Phil.

He had chosen to give it for free for anyone who chooses to receive - sound like a familiar concept?!

Check out his reason for the price below, and then click to download.

It’s not an original idea, © 2006 Phil Laeger. com giving away your music for nothing - and I’m not just talking Keith Green, or even Derek Webb for that matter. As much as those two guys are heroes of mine, the concept of giving music away is nothing new.

That said, most of the things we get for “free” nowadays aren’t really free at all.

“Buy one, get one free!” - What? Wait a second.. “Free with your purchase of...” Ok, hold on...
Taking it one step further, most things in this life we think we’re getting free end up costing us more than we thought.

I think that’s why we have a hard time when we’re confronted with the words, “the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Ok, wait, what’s the catch?

Someone will say that the catch is that you have to give up things like lying, sex before marriage, drugs... But those things are all actually outcomes of truly receiving the free gift, rather than pre-requisites. There is a difference, and it’s more than just semantic.

And so, this album is free, not because I just couldn’t possibly use the money, or because I’m a anti-capitalist, or because I don’t think the songs are that great (actually I’m very pleased with the overall feel of the album and the songs are some of my favorites I’ve done)...

it’s free because I hope that, in some small way, you’ll be reminded that God is not a bait-and-switch salesman that promises good things for you but has ulterior motives in mind.
He is a good God.
If you really feel like giving, then take the money you would have spent on the album and donate it to a trustworthy charitable organization or send some money to help out in Darfur. You don’t even have to buy a red iPod nano. :)

If you’ve already given to a relief organization and you feel specifically called to support my ministry, use the contact info below to find out what the current needs are.
If you’d like to donate securely online, click on one of the links below.

Grace to you. Enjoy the album. It is called Pride and Glory, Truth and Beauty.

----Phil Laeger

Saturday, December 09, 2006


You hear it all the time:

"Why do people want to have kids
in a world like


"Who would want to bring a child into a world so
messed up?"

Umm, I do !!

Seriously, the more messed up the world gets, the more kids I want to have.

I think it's the ultimate counter-measure to a fallen world; to raise up zealous, loving, Jesus-filled freedom fighters.

Psalm 127
Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

Go be fruitful then...


Monday, December 04, 2006

This morning I awoke to the ringing of the phone:

"hi miss heather, my kids missed the school bus, and you know our power's been shut off so they can't stay at home, it's just too cold in the house, so could you please drive them to school?"

When I got home from taking the kids, and hearing that it was one of the boy's 10th birthday, and he had to spend the night with no electricity, there will be no cake, no presents, and no general 'fuss' over him from his mom, I poured myself glumly onto the couch and just sat there. I think that just stinks.

Rob came out and seeing me, said:
"are you okay? what are you doing?"

To which I responded:
"I'm not very happy about all this, so I'm telling the Lord how I feel."

As I was doing so, The Lord brought to mind a snippet from one of the Salvation Army Songbooks, so I went in search of it. This is what it said:

"I bring to Thee my heart to fill;I feel how weak I am, but still, to Thee for help I call."

"I've little strength to call my own, And what I've done, before Thy throne I here confess, is small. But on Thy strength, O God, I lean, And through the Blood that makes me clean, Thou art my all in all."

And where I cannot see, I'll trust, For then I
know Thou surely must be still my all in all."

Where I cannot see I'll trust - isn't that the 'deal' with this entire spiritual journey?

In this case, I have to trust that God loves this family a billion times more than I do and He wants the best for them, and is already moving and working on their behalf.

So even if I can't see Him working in the heart of my little birthday boy in the van on the way to school, if any of what we're doing here means anything, I simply must trust that He is.

Moments like these - which are frequent - remind me of my human-ness and inability. I must lean on Strong Arms if I want to love like He does.

I must pause for "fill-'er-up" heart moments throughout the day, and continually be mindful, that He doesn't need me or else it will all fall apart.
Oh no, it's not like that at all.
The King of Kings has invited me in to this great mystery of love, both vertically and horizontally - up to God and out to Man.

Bottom line for me - is that even though my heart is broken. Broken. Loving 'round here, and it's painful and confusing for me to see the reality of the lives of my wee friends and their families, my truth is that I'd rather have my eyes open to it all and be a part of it, not matter the inconvenience and personal discomfort, than to have never set firsthand eyes on any of this suffering, and be less of a woman - and less of a Christian - for it.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Good Morning friends.

It's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood, a beautiful day for a neighbour...

Yesterday, it was like 76 degrees down here (25 ish Celsius) and it was lovely. As a matter of fact, there was more about yesterday that was lovely than just the weather. I had so many God-moments, I woulda thought that Christmas came early.

Speaking of Christmas, I'm sitting in the quiet of my empty house this morning, preparing for cell group in a couple of hours, and the kids that will soon be runnin' around all energetic. I thought about taking them to the mall to see all the lights and the decorations and Santa Claus, but apparently down here, it costs a lot of money to do the whole 'see Santa' thing at the mall.

Too bad. I remember being overwhelmed by lights and trees and people and gift wrap and snowbanks and Christmas music at the mall as a child - and peering over the second floor bannister down to the Santa scene below, listening to him ho ho ho and all that.

I was drawn in by it, entranced, because it was something I was a part of that was way bigger than me - At age 7 or 8 or 9 my imagination wasn't deep enough to have fathomed how everything could be made so perfect, so extra-large sized but intricately detailed and then suspended impossibly from the ceiling, or how snow could be so sparkly and white and magical looking...(cuz if you've seen snow in Ontario by December, usually it's looking more than a little dirty). It was a feast for the senses, and gave me something to lay in bed at night and visualize, and get excited about.

Something in it all sparks the imagination of a child towards creativity and belief - a belief in something greater than myself and my little world of day to day life and understanding. I want the kids I know to have the same opportunities to be invited into something greater than themselves, that fills them with wonder and surprise and delight and is stunning compared to the drab reality of their day to day life.

To allow them to be kids instead of expecting them to think like adults, and grow up before they should.

I don't want to just introduce them to the half real/half man-made Christmas experience of middle/upper class America - although that's part of it - but I want to introduce them to a homeless, penniless, beaten-down-got- up-again, full of wonder and miracles, change-your-situation-through-faith-and-prayer, 100% real Christ

He's around longer than Santa...and you don't have to pay no $30 to get to Him...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Selah this on a Friday Morning...

"If you are finding Christianity to be boring, then you are probably doing it wrong."

Aaron White, Corps Sargeant Major
@ 614 Vancouver Salvation Army

What is Selah? ( Hebrew: סלה)
Meaning "stop and listen", within the context of a prayer or psalms.
It is similar in purpose to Amen in that it stresses the importance of the preceding passage.
In this way, Selah is thought to imply that one should pause and reflect on what has been said.

Monday, November 27, 2006

An Addendum...

Right before I posted the blog below, I heard a rustling at the door.

Then the doorbell rang.

I admit, I was hestitant to open it. What if it was harm? Fear itself? Someone with a gun ready to shoot me? A crazy person who wants to wrestle me to the ground and invade my home?

Sheesh. My imagination, when given an inch runs a mile.

So I open the door. It's a lady. Okay, so fair enough, she is pretty crazy looking, and she's making some really intense eye contact. She's high and she's looking for "Virginia", but I'm pretty sure she isn't on a mission of death and dismemberment towards white Salvationist missionary pastors...

Oh for crying out loud. I can be such a turkey!

The Lord wasted no time in giving me an opportunity to strengthen my faith muscle...and to put my money where my mouth was!

(Just between you and me, all the way from my desk to my door, I was reminding myself of what I had typed seconds before - I will not be afraid of the trouble at night, it will not come near my home...I will not be afraid of the trouble at night, it will not come near my home!)

Let faith arise...

I've been thinking this evening about what makes me angry. I had a run-in with one of my neighbours this evening. That didn't make me angry, more like frustrated.

What makes me angry, is that as I'm typing this, in my office in my little house on Statesville Ave., I'm sensing fear.

"Sensing fear?" you might say, "What do you mean by that Heather?"

What I mean is that I'm here alone, it's dark, and I'm hearing funny noises that sound like people creeping around, lurking outside my windows. It's making me jumpy and a little nervous. And THAT makes me mad.

You see, when I was a kid, I was petrified of the basement. Now, my parents will testify that my brother and I played down there all the time, and we did. And it was ok. The issue came when the basement was dark, and I had to walk up the stairs.

We have these really creaky wooden stairs at my parent's house, and there's a lot of them. I used to be fine till I got to the foot of the stairs, but as soon as I began to ascend, I would get this awful panicky feeling like something was chasing me and about to grab my foot and drag me into the darkness of the basement. So I'd race up the stairs as fast as I could, into the safety of the kitchen, where I could be assured of the presence of Mom or Dad, the familiarity of the washer and dryer humming along, and the reassuring sounds of the radio. No fear there. But there was just something about that basement.

Even when I was a teenager, and, as all Canadian teenagers do, I moved into the basement, I was afraid. I was afraid of the sounds down there. The shadows. That a hidden person, or a ghost was going to grab me on my way to the bathroom - which made for some long, bladder-filled nights.

It was fear that had a grip on my mind. And it was such a tight grip, that all it would take is for me to hear one noise and I was so far gone into fear, that I could convince myself that it was an intruder, or a ghost (I only had to watch one of those reality shows about haunted houses and the memory of it haunted me for years) and if I moved and drew attention to myself, it would reveal itself to me and 'get me' somehow.

Rationally, this make no sense. But feelings are rarely rational.

Now, not everyone falls prey to this kind of fear, some people actually relish it, but I was different - I was paralyzed by it. Even after I came into the Kingdom of God this continued. In fact, I didn't have any freedom from it until about a year ago, when I was again, living in the basement, hearing funny sounds.

Alone in the basement at night, at 28 years old, I would succomb and be afraid over and over again exactly as I had when I was a little girl, over 20 years earlier. Unable to shake this eerie feeling like there was an unseen presence in the room with me, I got into the habit of leaving all the lights on and the TV on too, I coping mechanism I learned in my teenage years, because nothing can get me in the light, right? Just the dark. Just what goes 'bump' in the night. Except it really was not funny at all. It went on and on.

That is, until one night, I just got angry. I HATED feeling afraid and nervous and freaked out and unsafe. Hated it. That was not God's destiny for me, to live under fear's thumb. So, one night, I just started speaking out the truth -

God loves me.
He's here for me.
He's got my back.
I'm totally under His protection.
Nothing bad will happen to me.
I don't have to feel afraid.

Wait a sec, what? I don't have to feel afraid?
What a concept!
I'm a very 'feelings' sort of person, and since I'd always been so used to getting caught up and swept away by what I feel (sortof like a rubber duckie caught in a tidal wave) the concept that I don't have to get dragged off by every feeling that comes into my head was like an epiphany.

So I began to pay those 'fear feelings' very little attention. When my radar started to pick up something scary, I'd just tell those fearful thoughts to go away, that I'm not choosing to feel afraid right now. It's nonsense and I won't let it control me.
And it worked.
And I did a victory dance!

So tonight, I'm home alone. I'm hearing noises. I'm beginning to feel uneasy. To feel nervous. I even started to imagine it's my distraught neighbour outside my house coming to 'get me', or some high homeless people plotting outside my window to break in and steal all my money. (haha)

But you know what? Right now, I don't choose to feel afraid. My feelings don't get to be the boss of me, so instead of letting fear grow in me, I'm going to let faith rise up, because the truth is that I have the Lord's angels camped around me and they've got me covered (Psalm 34:7) and that God is my Refuge and my Strength, and not only that, but He's an ever-present Help to me in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1).

"I will say to the Lord, "You are my safe and strong place, my God, in Whom I trust...I will not be afraid of trouble at night...Because I have made the Lord my safe place...nothing will hurt me. No trouble will come near my home. For God will tell His angels to care for me and keep me in all my ways, and they will hold you up in their hands." Psalm 91

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Another Saturday come and gone

Around here, Saturdays are jam-packed with action. I love it. I pickup a couple of vanloads of kids in the morning, have a cell group of 8-10 kids at my house for lunch and prayer and then another family of kids who used to be our neighbours but have since moved away, stay through the afternoon and we have dinner together. By 7:30, if all goes well, the kids are home, dishes are done and the rug is vacuumed.

The one thing though, that is done first first first, before all else, is the meticulous cleaning of the bathroom. Especially around - you guessed it - the toilet.

Rob and I don't have any children that we've birthed ourselves, so my experience with little boys and girls coming into this ministry here in Charlotte was negligible. I learned right quick about the bathroom.

I've learned that little boys have poor aim.

Little girls aren't much better.

A bottle of hand soap that started out full this morning will inevitably be mostly gone by tonight, with globs in the sink, on the sink, around the sink and on the wall, and if you wait too long, they harden into hygienic cement, that you have to pry off with your husband's toothbrush. haha.

Any little rugs around the toilet and all bath mats should be put up for the duration of children's time over, because if they can miss the toilet and hit the linoleum, who's to say they won't ricochet onto the rug? The difference is, you can tell when someone's hit the linoleum, because you may unexpectedly hit a wet spot and slide across it. With the rug, something may (just as unexpectedly) soak into your sock, but in those moments, you fervently hope that it's just water...

Any hair products, skin care and beauty products located in the bathroom are fair game, and will be sprayed, smoothed and lathered...

At this tender age, apparently flushing is optional...and once you get three or four little folks in a row sans flush, you know you got to go for the plunger. How does so much come out of such little bodies? Yikes.

If, by the end of the evening, I happen to notice that the toilet tissue roll (that I put on fresh this morning) has been ravaged, and all that remains are mere wisps of useful material, I know, without a doubt, that I will need to throw every towel/facecloth/scrap of material that is within an arm's reach of the the toilet into the washing machine with a dollop of bleach - better to be safe then sorry. And man, I'd be really, really sorry...

Always disinfect the doorknob. I shudder to think of what a scientific sampling would find growing on that thing.

Inevitably, all of the 3-5 year old children will have to go all at the same time
"IT'S AN EMERGENCY!" they'll all try to go at once, no one will 'make it' and you'll have to rustle up at least three pairs of alternate pants out of the donation bin. Although good for comic relief, 3 year old boys in 18month old pants is a sad, sorry, silly sight, and it makes them a little testy...

THEN, you'll forget about the state of the bathroom, because you're so focused on getting these little kids out of fouled-up clothes, and your husband will enter into the restroom for some 'quiet time' and flee in horror, because not only has he slid on something wet on the linoleum, he soaked his socks on the rug and then the smell...the indescribable smell...well, even a grown man cannot endure it.

In all seriousness though, there are things that I'm learning here that mean a lot to me. And they're worth it, even though it's hard to be away from family and home. Tonight I looked at pictures online of my cousin's first baby, Ava. I wept, because she is so lovely, because I miss my cousin, because life back home continues whether I am there or not, and it's hard to be geographically absent in the lives of those that I love. My promise from God about all that is

"Jesus said, "Mark my words, no one who sacrifices house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, land—whatever—because of me and the Message will lose out. They'll get it all back, but multiplied many times in homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land—but also in troubles." Mark 10:29-30

So when I do return home, I will have wee cousins running around that love me and want to be picked up and twirled around, houses full of family that would love to have me in, church family who have been praying for me for years and a brother who would sit and watch a movie with his older sister...yup, I'll have it all in London. In Toronto, in Vancouver and in Charlotte...and houses, family, brothers, sisters and children wherever else the Lord chooses to whisk us away's a multiplication of blessings, and that's the kind of math that I can totally understand!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Pie Anyone ?

Jesus is so faithful and amazing, we received a phone call from a lady we met at a Church, like nine months ago, and she shared that the Lord had led her to spend the day baking a pie for every family in our neighborhood. Her only question was " how many ? "

I tallied up every family we minister to and so last night 30 pies showed up at The War College residence, complete with a tub of Cool Whip for every pie.

Then we all grabbed some pies and just began heading out to deliver them. There were attempts at organizing the whole endevour but everyone was so blessed up by these pies we couldn't help ourselves but to keep grabbing more and running out to pass them around.

What a blessing to see the body working together, one family baking all day, another family passing out the pies, and another one eating the pies knowing with every bite that Jesus is the kind of guy who wants to be part of the little things, that he simply desires to be a part of this years thanksgiving meal; and he'll use a pie to get there !

One thing that I know is that the real big eternal difference we are making here does not come through the sermons and apologetics, they come through a cup of cold water given in Jesus name.
(Matthew 25)

We have one family of five kids here, 10, 10, 13, 14, 17. Their Mother left two weeks ago and just never came back. I felt very humbled when bringing them their pies because they were truly thankful. The two little guys hugged me so hard I thought that I would drop the pies.

What did I ever do to deserve such a blessing of being loved by orphans and the forgotten. I am truly thankful that I am not burdened with the nice things, the pretty things, the useless things of Man's striving, but am surrounded by Jesus' most precious treasures; children with no hope at all but him.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Need some encouragement to press in and keep going?

Isaiah 41:10 says

"Fear not, there's nothing to fear."

"For I am with you. Do not look around you in terror and be dismayed."

We need to keep our eyes more on God and less on our problems.
"For I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties."

You know what it means when you get hardened to difficulties? It means that some things that are just wiping you out now, if you hang in there with Jesus, five years from now those same things won't even affect you at all.

I mean, they won't even phase you.

You won't even miss a step.

And you know what? There's things that you may not even notice anymore, that three or four or five years ago, you wondered how you'd ever get through.

There's a great progressive work that's going on in our life. God changes us from glory to glory.
"I will harden you to difficulties. Yes I will help you. Yes I will hold you up and retain you with my victorious right hand of rightness and justice."

C'mon now, that's worth a good Holy Ghost shout!"
~Joyce Meyer

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Lord learned me something today…something about calming m'self.

I was in the middle of some paperwork, when I heard a pounding on the door – accompanied by multiple doorbell rings – a sure sign of a pack of little boys at my door.

Well, upon opening the door, I was faced with panicked faces “Pooh is choking, Pooh is choking…” The boys were freaking out. Little Pooh stumbled into my kitchen, crying and convulsing. The fact that he was crying tipped me off that he wasn’t actually choking, but obviously, the guy needed some help.

So I bring him in, and he’s flailing all over the place, sobbing, just generally freaking right out. The other boys were very concerned for Pooh, but as soon as they got into the kitchen, they couldn't help but start looking around for potential snacks...and after being distracted by

"Can I have a banana?"
in the midst of all the chaos, I sent the other boys back outside. (!)

Calming Pooh down was the hardest part of the process, but until he sat down on a chair and stilled himself, I couldn’t do much to help him.

The story goes that he was outside playing football, talking and sucking on a hard candy, all at the same time. He went to swallow some candy flavoured spit and tackle somebody at the same time,and shockingly, swallowed this hard candy, which ended up getting stuck halfway down.

When he couldn’t get it to go down, and couldn’t get it to come up, little Pooh lost it. His friends helped him along the freakout process by alternately pounding him on the back and then on the chest and ultimately dragging him towards my house, with ominous prognoses of death, or at least paralysis all along the way.


Anyways, to sum it all up, once Pooh had a seat in a comfy chair, a lukewarm glass of water (sipped slowly) and a little massaging of the throat, the hard candy went down, the tears slowed and stopped and he quieted himself. Everything was OK. Big sigh of relief.

Then off he went to play, popping another piece of candy in his mouth on the way out the door…

So, what did God manage to teach me in that?

Well, it fits what I’ve been hearing from God lately, about not jumping to conclusions on my own, and then riding the freak out train, looking like a fool all along the way.
Instead, when I’m faced with disturbing news, impending doom, or just a problem that feels too big for me, I can choose to not have a fit, but instead just sit down in a comfy chair, slowly sip some water (or hot chai tea) and allow Holy Spirit to be a calming influence on my mind, quieting myself and things will turn out all right.
Why? Because I’m not so focused on the problem and how it makes me feel. There’s room for God to bring reason, understanding and solutions, and ultimately, spiritual maturity.

“My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.” Psalm 131

“The child is cross and fretful while in the weaning; but in a day or two it cares no longer for milk, and it can bear stronger food. Thus does converted soul quiet itself under the loss of what it loved, and disappointments in what it hoped for, and is easy whatever happens. And thus the psalmist recommends confidence in God, to all the Israel of God, from his own experience. It is good to hope, and quietly to wait for the salvation of the Lord under every trial.” Matthew Henry Commentary Ps. 131


Friday, November 17, 2006

More on perspective, as promised

One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people live.

They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.
On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?"

"It was great, Dad"

"Did you see how poor people live?" the father asked.

"Oh yes." said the son.

"So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father.

The son answered:
"I saw that we have one dog and they had four.

We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a river that has no end.

We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.

Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.

We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs.

We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them."

The boy's father was speechless. Then his son added,
"Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are."

A pastor's note to his congregation...

Christmas Shopping! OK, I don't really like to manage other people's behaviour, but really .... $700. for the new playstation 3? ... there's got to be a better way to spend money ...

One of my children brought home a math problem yesterday that went like this - a new playstation costs $700. and the tax is 14% - the family has $750. - do they have enough?? OK, here's what I wanted to tell my child to give for an answer - first of all, since GST reduction to 6% - the tax on this purchase is only 13% - and before we know if this family 'has enough' don't we need to know if they've bought groceries for the month, supported their local church, paid for their child sponsorship, paid all their bills, given to those in need, etc. - you get the point. (Instead, we just gave the simple answer - no, they don't have enough!).

Here's an alternate for spending - this season we have the opportunity to help people in Zimbabwe - you can pay $20. for a goat, $30. for a sheep, or $50. for annual school fees for one orphan in Zimbabwe.
Just make your donation to CHT and mark what its for - we'll get you a card you can send to someone indicating that instead of the usual gift you're giving to Zimbabwe on their behalf. Let me know if you need more details or you have questions. Also, instead of individual Christmas cards to everyone in our church - don't forget about the option of supporting our annual Sunday School Christmas card project - proceeds go to purchasing curriculum lesson materials.

Now, this is from a church up in Canada (which accounts for the whole GST thing)who has set up options for the soldiers/members in terms of Christmas, I don't want to be all bossy about how you all spend your money, but it is a perspective shift...

More on perspective tomorrow...
By the way, Rob, you can get me a goat...

Friday, November 10, 2006

Extreme CRACKHOUSE Makeover

When we first started webloging.

( I think Websters will be forced into this one )
SIDEBAR: Did you know that "walkman" added to the dictionary in the 80's was very controversial ?

We seemed to have many more drama filled action stories, they were all true and we still have our share of excitement but I suppose some of them have just become the par for course. This is a danger in incarnational ministry, allowing the shocking and sublime to become the mundane.

In Vancouver some of us started a protocol of saying to one another " that's Not Normal," specifically in situations that were, and yes there is situations that are, NOT NORMAL. My brother and braveheart Aaron White started bloging on " You will not see that in Orageville, Ontario. (armybarmy annals)

One initiative we have started here in Charlotte is the
EXTREME CRACKHOUSE MAKEOVER, we have several active Crackhouses within yards of our homes, drop-in and neighbourhood, and they have become not only a haven for drug use, prostitution and gambling but also playgrounds for our YP congregation. So we decided to "Open Fire" on these Crack Houses. We started by going to Wal-mart, our silent partner in the fight on sin, and picking up supplies ...

Shovels, buckets, gloves, latex gloves to go in the gloves, industrial strength garbage bags, tongs, and filter masks ( if you have any allergies to mold or dust you wouldn't last without the masks.)

Then we just went in and started to clean up, it took days just to make a dent in the human waste and garbage, we pray everytime we go in for God's protection and grace (highly recommended for Extreme Crackhouse Makeovers.) Then we ripped up all the carpeting and underpadding and began to bord up all the windows. Soon this one den of iniquity will be sealed off.

The cool thing though, I called the owners to explain what we were doing and they came over to check it out. They were totally blessed and now that they can see the potential are beginning further restorations to fix up this house for a family to live in.

I love it. That's REbuilding, REnewing and REstoring.

The question.
How much of that was physical and how much of that was spiritual ?
The answer.
There was no delineation to Jesus !

See, Jesus walked in this perfect balance between change in the spiritual and physical, He linked them with his hands, feet and heart. He turned the table, touched the untouchable and practiced the spiritual presence of God through it all.

The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus Rev 19:10

Can we prophecy with soup and soap ?

I do !

Sergeant Robbie Dolby

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Thanks for all you who have been praying for my health...I'm feeling heaps better today. By the way, for anyone who may have gotten the slightly wrong idea, it's just a cold/sinusitis. I'm not pregnant.

Still, taking the day to 'rest' yesterday, I sure was able to get a lot of work done. (!) That's always something that I feel really good about, when I can cross something off of my to-do list and have a sense of satisfaction and completion. I think that's why when I have a major project to complete, I'll often procrastinate by doing random housework, because at least then, I can have a sense of 'doneness' from something mundane like washing dishes, or folding laundry that doesn't always come with the more large scale, like planning an event. We always know when those days are rolling around, because I'm dusting like a madwoman.

Last night, I went to pick up a couple of the boys, Jimmie and MarJuan for cellgroup. As we're driving back to my place, one of them pipes up,

"Hey, my best friend lives over here."
The other boy chimes in
"Mine too!"
So naturally, I said
"Who is your best friend?"
In unison, they declared

Ronald?I don't know no Ronald...and I said so too.
"No!!" They cried, "Robert!"
Robert? Hmm.
"Wait, do you mean my husband Robert?"

"Yeah," they said, "He's our best friend."

well, that's weird, I thought! How is it that some 30yr old white guy with a big belly laugh is their best friend?
Jimmie answered my question,
"I remember when we was at the pool (this summer) and Robert said 'Do you guys want to come and hang out with us?' And we said yes, and so he started to come and pick us up, and he never stopped. And then one day, he said 'Do you know where Jesus is?' and I said 'yeah, he's in my heart, but I see Him in you too, Robert."

So, basically here's what we do. We show up regularly, and we talk about Jesus. And somehow, on a Monday night, it all seems to work, kids feel loved, we feel blessed and Jesus smiles.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I've been rather under the weather the last day or so, and my husband has been encouraging me to stay in bed and sleep...makes sense enough. But my dilemma is, that if I sleep, then I miss out on time that I could be relaxing...does that make sense? Haha, likely not.
Anyways, I can't sleep, so I thought I'd fill you all in on some of the goings on lately down here in JT Williams.

Psalm 15:5 (MSG) Keep your word, even when it costs you.

We make a point of telling the kids, that if they ever need help, they can come and ask us and we'll do our best to help them. Last week, one of our cellmates came to the door and said "Can you give my Auntie a ride somewhere? It's really important and it'll only take a few minutes."
At this point, it was late in the evening, we were 15 minutes away from going somewhere ourselves, and rarely does driving somebody somewhere take only 10 minutes...but, I said yes. A very reluctant yes. THe kind of yes that is 99% Jesus and 1% Heather.
I went down and spoke with the Auntie and it turns out that she left her purse at her work, which was just up the road.
No problem. I asked them to meet me around front at the van. As I walked back into the house to get the keys, I heard my little friend (by now doing a victory dance) declare "See Auntie? I told you that they'd help us, that's what these folks do, they help people."
Wow. Humble my boat...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

things are not always as they seem.

Being Canadian, Rob and I don't have the political inroads built here in the US like American citizens do, obviously. However, we haven't been ignorant to the ardent support versus open hostility towards the president, from citizens of all different walks of life.
Normally, when this subject comes up, I plead ignorance (which is virtually the truth anyways)but after reading this update from a brother in Christ, I felt really touched.

"Today MaKenna, Jacob, and I had the opportunity to personally see the most powerful man on the face of this planet, President George W. Bush. He came
to Statesboro to participate in a rally for Congressman Max Burns. It was an
incredible experience which was topped off when I got to speak with him,
shake his hand, and have my picture taken with him.

When I spoke to him I told him that I was praying for him. His response, " Thank you. I need it as feeble as I am".
You can judge his response based on your individual politics, but for me I could only keep thinking that here was the most powerful man in the world and yet he verbally expressed to me in front of others that he was a feeble man.

It certainly was a reminder that no matter what we have achieved in life we still are feeble and in need of God. I can only believe that understanding this reality is how God has used him to achieve great things. It certainly fortified my respect for my President."

"I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.

For as in one physical body we have many parts (organs, members) and all of these parts do not have the same function or use,

So we, numerous as we are, are one body in Christ (the Messiah) and individually we are parts one of another [mutually dependent on one another]...Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family]." Romans 12:3-5,10 Amplified Bible

Sunday, October 29, 2006

what a DAY!

I am SOOOO tired at the moment, but I just want to let all you avid readers know that I plan on blogging at some point tomorrow about the events of the weekend, so if any of y'all need a good laugh, be sure to come back and check it out...


Friday, October 27, 2006

An oldie, but a goodie...

The following are excerpts from a preach back in February of this year given by Pastor John Chacha

The Year of the Breakthrough -
How to Breakthrough into God's Will for Your Life

Myths and False Mindsets
Running the mile in under 4 minutes used to be a barrier, until someone broke through that barrier. At one time, no one thought it could be done, and now even kids in high school are running it.
As long as your mindset and mentality is programmed wrong, then it stands between you and your achievement, and the fullness of God's plan for your life.

Fear and the Chicken
When fear (especially fear of change) and intimidation ensnare us, we start acting like chickens.
If you're going to be a chicken, at least decide that you're not going to be a pie - that instead you're going to fly.
Try challenging your own ways of thinking and decision making. Rock your boat. Change things up. You've been timid, all tied up in yourself far too long and you will never be what you were born to be as long as you are pecking around on the ground, eyes always looking down in the dirt, with that itty bitty chicken perspective. Kick that chicken out of you! If you hold on to the chicken mentality you will end up in the oven.
Did you ever eat an eagle for Sunday dinner? No.
Have you ever had chicken?

Put your past behind you...
Allowing the past to contaminate your future is just bad programming. Reboot! Our backgrounds are designed to equip us for His calling, to bring experience in particular areas and to push us through difficult, 'tight' spots, so that when we pop out on the other side trials, we emerge with victory and authority in that area. God wants US to be the stronghold, so that when the devil looks at us he thinks; "I can't break through that."

Lack of knowledge
My people perish for lack of knowledge. What part of the newspaper do you read? What books are on your shelf? What channels do you watch on TV?
Educating yourself is key in today's world, so that you aren't brainwashed, led astray or just left behind.
In the same way, spiritually educate yourself by seeking out the will of God for your life, discovering who you are in Christ, and asking Him what He thinks about you. Have knowledge of these things, then, when anything contrary comes to you, then you can brush it off, readily disagreeing and dismissing it, because you'll know that it's not the heavenly truth about you.

Breakthrough the stronghold of ignorance. When we are ignorant of the truth about ourselves, we are poor, because the devil will come and steal what is rightfully ours, but we won't see it because we don't know what is ours.

Elisha was bound by lack of knowledge - he was a farmer and thought that was his destiny until Elijah stopped by and Elisha had a revelation - he stopped short and said 'what am I doing behind these cows?'
Immediately he began changing things in his life, because he had knowledge of his true destiny.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A New Addition

Check out the links that we've added at the bottom left of our page. Now you are just one click away from accessing the blogsites of our entire 614 Charlotte Ministry Team, as well as a couple other sites that may be of interest.

We update regularly y'all, so keep comin' back now, y'hear?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Come for the purple kool-aid...

You know, I think that I could blog for weeks on quotes and events of weekly cell group...the young
people are so eager just to be together and have fun, it both energizes and encourages me!

Last night, Jesse and I had cell with 5 boys, aged 6-10. We ate pancakes and pudding, played games and had paper airplane launchings off the front porch. We laughed, we talked, we drank crazy, sugary, purple kool-aid.
We had a great time - which is good, because church should be a good time!

My highlight spiritually though, came out of the mouth (and heart) of Jimmie, right before we ate dinner. We were talking about why we would say 'grace' before we ate. The answers ranged from:

~God just likes it when we do that
~If we didn't it would just be rude
~We are saying thank you for the food we get to eat
~We are happy to be together
~To bless the food

But Jimmie topped them all with:

~I think that when we pray we are meeting with God and with Jesus, and they like that.

Sounds about right to me.


Monday, October 23, 2006

A Boy and His Cat

At cell group on Saturday, while we were drawing pictures, one of the boys drew this (above).
He drew it because he was impacted by an event.
You see, earlier on in the afternoon, after we had shared lunch together he had been distracted by a stray cat laying outside our door in the grass. Since he loves cats, he wanted to check it out. So he and I crept carefully out the door, towards the cat.
He was the first to notice that the cat had blood coming out of its eyes, and as a sensitive little boy, he was greatly disturbed by this.
It was obvious that the cat had been in a fight with another cat, and that's where the bloody scratches had come from.
Now, to be honest, I don't love cats, (don't blame me, it's a generational thing!) but the poor little boy was distraught. Could we bring him in? Could we give him a band-aid? Could I pet him?

Yikes. Umm no, no and definetely (shudder - pet a bloody outside cat?) no.

We settled on bringing the cat a dish of milk so that it wouldn't be hungry. It was SOO funny/cute, because the little boy just would not leave that cat alone, in fact he dragged a lawn chair over so that he could sit right next to the cat and watch it eat, chatting to it in a high-pitched little boy voice.
The cat was SO not into it, and soon fled, little boy running close behind, his chubby little legs pumping as fast as they could go.

Needless to say, the cat got away.

The boy came inside to draw a picture of it all. He drew the cat. He drew the blood and he drew the dish. All self-explanatory.
Then he drew the cross.
I also noticed that he put Rob's name at the top of the paper.

"Great picture," I said, "but what does it mean?"

"That's the cross and it means love, and I love this cat and want it to get better, and I love Rob too, he's my best friend."

Theology from a 6 year old (thanks Rob)...sounds bang-on to me.

Friday, October 20, 2006

First off, props to Fiona M for being the first to comment on her chosen fast from yesterday's post...check the comments section and then why not leave your own input as well...

This morning my husband called me a grace-monger.
He meant it in a good way, so I'm pretty sure it was a compliment.
I have to admit, that the more I think about it, the more the title grows on me.
I might just put it on my business card.

grace - noun; the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God; the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them; moral strength as in, the grace to perform a duty.

monger - noun; Chiefly British; a dealer in or trader of a commodity

GraceMonger signing off...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

a different sort of fast...

There are a lot of jokes in the Army about the fact that we are definetely an 'eating' the idea of fasting can be a bit foreign for us on some fronts.
Except, the deal with fasting is that it's not just about not eating, it's about denying ourselves in other ways as well.

I came across this excerpt from a sermon from St. John Crysostom that challenged me, so naturally I thought I'd share it.

Read through, and hey, just for the fun of it, why not pick one (eyes, ears, hands, feet and so on) and just give it a go and fast for a day? You never know what you're capable of until you try...then drop us a comment and let us know how it went.

Do you fast?
Give me proof of it by your works.
If you see a poor man, take pity on him.

If you see a friend being honoured, do not envy her.
Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye and the ear
and the feet and the hands
and all the members of our bodies.

Let the hands fast, by being
free of avarice (definition - insatiable greed for riches; inordinate, miserly desire to gain and hoard wealth)

Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin.

Let the eyes fast, by discipling them not to glare at that
which is sinful.

Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and

Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism.
For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes,
but bite and devour our brothers
and sisters?

May He who came to the world to save sinners,
strengthen us to complete the fast with humility,
have mercy on us and save us."

St. John Crysostom

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

from the heart of a missionary...

You don't witness pain and not share the cure

You don't behold poverty and not become poor

You don't say 'I'll pray for you' and not cry out each day
You don't say 'be a hero' without showing the way

You don't see injustice and not fight to defeat
You don't preach 'love your neighbour' without compassion on the street

You don't proclaim spiritual war and neglect the front row
You don't ask 'Whom shall He send' without saying 'I will go'

You don't exhort humility and not wash another's feet

You don't move as His body without a heart to His beat

You see their tears, you shed your own, for four full years, You've shown us Home...thank you Jesus


Monday, October 09, 2006

If I were never born ...

My friend Mia, not her real name, was writing in her journal on my porch and I asked her what she liked to write about. She told me it was her journal and that she liked to write about her life. She is a recruit in one of our cell groups and one of the most talented teen-agers I have met. Her journal entry was about how she is now homeless 'cause her Mom smoked too much crack and could not pay the rent-man. She told me she keeps asking her Mom why she chooses Crack over her kids, but never gets an answer. She told me it would just be easier if she was never born, then she wouldn't be homeless and unloved. Mia is 15 and in grade 10, a straight A student and in love with animals, her dream is to be a Vet. Today when she went to her Mothers boyfriends house she just got yelled at, she was told that she was a s--t and that she was pregnant, that she was going to end up just like her Mom. She sat there crying saying, Im not, I do not do those things, Im even a virgin, but no one will believe me.

Mia has been staying partly with her Aunt and partly at our girls War College dorm, where she is being discipled and loved, and I know that's enough, that Jesus is enough, but what scars are put there by a mother who curses her daughter with death. Mia is saved, she is in love with Godly community and worship and Jesus. And that is amazing.

The hard part is that Mia may only be around for a short time, weeks or months. Can there be enough seeds planted in 6 months to carry her through the next 6 years ?
Yes God can, he has imperishable seeds, ones that last forever ! It still hurts watching them grow through thorns of death. I hate what God hates more and more.

Come LORD Jesus come.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Lord have mercy, I am so blessed...

This has been a great week for me, I have been able to hang out with folks from all different facets of The Salvation Army in Charlotte - DHQ, Area Command, the Corps and our 'hood and it's been great. We're all building the Kingdom together - we're winning the world for Jesus starting in Charlotte, NC.

We've also had many opportunities around our community to help others and encourage them. It's not rocket science, trust me. You can do stuff like this wherever you're at, too. It's like Mother Teresa said:

"If you cannot feed 100 people, then feed just one."

This whole thing started out by taking 4 of our neighbors to a rather impressive buffet back in January in a borrowed van and then following up by inviting people in for tea, offering rides to the grocery store, a loaf of bread to tide folks over until food stamps came around and it has all just evolved from there.

This week, we've had some great experiences. I wish that you could be here to get a taste for how something that really takes such a minor effort on our part makes such an IMPACT on the lives of those around us...

  • Visitation to one of our former neighbours (the first person we met!) with her newborn baby
  • ride to children's emergency for a mom and her kids after one of them busted his front teeth out doing tricks on his bike
  • having a spontaneous ice cream party Sunday afternoon with some kids that were just hanging out over at our house
  • homebaking a humongous cake for our birthday ministry and celebrating a young man's life
  • opening our cupboards and tightening our belts so that our neighbour and her family could eat this week
  • trips to Wal-mart. Many trips to Wal-mart. Still in a borrowed van. haha.
  • opening up the Community House (or the 'funhouse' as it is locally known) so that kids can come and laugh and play and read and talk about their day
  • buying gel shoe inserts for a neighbour who just got a job on an assembly line where she's on her feet on concrete for ten hours a day
  • getting our behinds whipped playing basketball with the kids (!)
  • making a way for one of the kids to use his gift of singing as worship at the corps on Sunday
  • remembering someones name is Nathaniel instead of calling them Fatboy like everyone else
  • visiting lonely people, and bringing homebaked muffins
  • cleaning refuse (human and otherwise) out of the local crackhouses
  • killing bugs found in the shower. oh wait. that's just what I do for Rob. (!)
  • picking kids up. hugging them. using our words to bless them and build them up and give them hope and comfort them in their distress

So for real, it's not rocket science. It's an overflow. This whole love in action thing is pretty easy to do once you get started and then, before you know it, you're looking for opportunities to give your stuff away, and share whatever's left with the people around you.
It's ministry, but there's more to it - we're captivated. We're preoccupied with loving others. We're committed to praying for them and being active in their lives, even when it's messy.

"I will rise now, and go about the city; In the streets and in the squares,I will seek the one I love.” Song of Songs 3:2 KJV

We're searching for Jesus in the face of every snotty-nosed,dirty faced, potty-mouthed, hungry, hurting little kid and adult.
He's here. Come and see for yourself...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Last night we had a bunch of folks over at our house to study the Word, hang out and share about how our day went. We were just getting into the groove of things when we heard three shots fired outside. It's been a while since we'd heard any gunfire action, so it caused a bit of a stir among us. Even more so when we realized that Jaime was out there by herself so Travis and I walked over to the cluster of houses to locate Jaime and make sure that she was safe. It was an eerie atmosphere, with people creeping about all over the place, sticking to the shadows or predatorily moving across lawns, passing under the streetlights. Something was going on, somebody was settling up with someone else about who knows what.

I stopped when we got to Jaime and Jesse's house, Travis crossed the road to the community house, to check for Jaime there. When no one answered my knock, I turned around to survey the situation. Next door, the neighbors had had their car windows shot out. The owner of the vehicle was pretty ticked off, he didn't live at the house, his sister and her son did. I heard his sister's voice from within the house, yelling at her son to hurry up and get his shoes on before 'they' come back around. I sat down on the porch to see what would happen next. Four people came bustin' out of the house at a frantic pace. the little boy was hurrying to keep up with his mom and aunties. They were leaving quick, off to find a safer place to pass the night. I asked the woman, Is there anything we can do? Do you need us to take him (the boy) for the night? She said no, that he was fine with his auntie, and that there was nothing we could was a helpless feeling for me indeed.
At that point, Travis returned from the community house where Jaime was - she had assumed that the shots were firecrackers and hadn't paid them no mind.
As Travis and I were standing there, assessing the damage, we heard sirens, and before we could disappear ourselves, two patrol cars came screeching onto the court. One slowed down and began a steady search with the searchlight through the bushes while the other sped to the end of the court to begin his search there. We felt that was a good time to take off, lest we be stopped for questioning...

This morning, on my way to class at the community house, I stopped to get a good look at the shot-out car. Bullets had passed through the side and rear windows of the vehicle. Anyone who had been in the driver's seat or rear of the vehicle would have been hit, likely fatally. I could see where the bullet exited the rear of the vehicle, and, I'm sure if I'd had the time I could've poked around on the ground and found the casings, or maybe even the bullets.

Now, none of this is news to me. I get that bullets are fired, stuff gets hit, damage is done. And yet, for some reason, the reality of the situation hit home to me. The gunman had to have been standing in the shadows between the two houses because of the bullet's angles of entry and exit through the vehicle. He wouldn't have hit anyone in the house, but he could've hit either of the neighbor's houses.
We have all sorts of kids wandering around in little packs throughout the neighborhood after dark - anywhere from age 8-15. He could've hit kids. I've often heard of kids being victims of drive-by shootings, gang warfare, etc. but never really understood how a kid would get in the way of live gunfire. After giving the events of last night some thought, I realized that the kid doesn't even have to be IN the way, because people shoot guns off in all sorts of random directions.
It makes me really really angry. One of my little friends shot at,injured, killed over drugs, territory, cheating spouses, less little face at the corps on Sunday. One less little face asking for a freezie or jumping up for a hug.
Not only that, but when I think about the little boy, 8 years old, in his pyjamas hurrying away from his house at 8:30 at night, fleeing in the dark because someone is shooting at them, i could go right off the chain - because that same little boy should be in bed. He should feel safe. He should be getting rested up for school tomorrow. But he's not. Yet this morning he was still expected to be at school like the other kids, focused like the other kids, prepared like the other kids. But how can he?
How does he stand a chance at having a normal, healthy life when he's never experienced anything remotely like that?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Yesterday at church the Lord gave me a very special gift.

You see, we've had the opportunity to bring young people (2yrs-15yrs) to one of the corps here for youth church every Sunday morning. Yesterday we arrived a bit early, and the kids got to play outside on the practically brand new superduper playground next to building. This was a really big deal, because in our neighborhood, there are no parks, no climbers, no swings or anywhere that's designed just for kids to play safely.

ANYways, the most popular playground piece was the monkeybar climber, and there was a long line of kids wating for their turn to swing from rung to rung. It's fun to watch each one maneouvre across, but the blessing was in Geoffrey. He started at the far end, but, obviously only a novice to monkeybar climber immediately committed monkeybar climber suicide - he stopped on his second rung in and just hung there. Now, anyone who has ever attempted this gymnastic feat KNOWS that as soon as you stop, all the strength seeps from your arms, your body feels like it weighs a ton and your hands get all sweaty and threaten to let go. The probability of starting up again from that point and completing the event sways devastatingly low. Geoffrey hung in the balance.
All of his peers were watching him, ready to judge his coolness and acceptance based on this performance.

His face fell.

Then, someone from the crowd yelled out

"c'mon Geoffrey! You can do it!"
Others followed with similar cheers, and before I knew it, Geoffrey, buoyed by the cries from his friends kicked back into gear. He made it two rings further when his endurance began to flag. His inital standstill had taken its toll and his face showed the strain and the anguish. Travis came up behind him and began to speak words of confidence and perspective
"You're almost there! You're so close, keep going Geoffrey!"
His face was actually contorted now. Travis had two arms around his legs absorbing some of his body weight, sharing his burden in order that he might attain his goal. The crowd was absolutely frenetic at this point - was he going to make it? Would he give up and let go?

He didn't let go. He made it. There was wild laughter, and much rejoicing as Geoffrey's cheerleaders celebrated his victory.
As for Geoffrey, the face that had worn discouragement, dejection, exertion and hopefullness all within two minutes now shone with euphoria. You would've thought he'd won the lottery - or better yet, a gold medal the way he was beaming. He had done it. He had made it across the monkey bars. All was right with the world in that perfect moment.

As for me? I was overcome by it all. I wept with joy, because Geoffrey had made it to the end. He had a drive to succeed and desire to win, but realized pretty quick that he couldn't do it on his own strength or will alone. To achieve his goal, he relied heavily on the encouragement of others, the wisdom of those who had a greater perspective than him, and the strength and presence of one who could lift him up and whom he could depend on, even if he couldn't see him.

Is there a moral to this story? I believe there is...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Who is this Christ?

Teach Us To Build Your Kingdom...
Born of a Hebrew Mother
Exiled to live with the Egyptians
Rejoicing in the faith of a Syrian Woman
And a Roman Soldier
Calling both a Greek and Jew to discipleship
Allowing an African to carry your cross
A Roman woman to bathe your face
A stranger-thief to join You in heaven
Christ of all, teach us to build the Kingdom for
All Your people.

~Barbara D'arcy

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Check out

They are focusing on The invisible Children this month. They are a group of young people from around the Salvation Army world who have resolved to push against injustice, lets push with them.

In recent days we are seeing peace and reconciliation prevail more than ever in North Uganda and Sudan. We must press in and pray. God surely does not require our prayers but he will use them. In Uganda the LRA ( Lords Resistance Army ) has kidnapped 20,000 children who face an initiation of murdering their parents and then going to war. Their sisters are brought along as sex slaves and when they are considered undesirable then they are given guns to fight too. It is not possible to be there in the physical right now but if you pray for the children of Uganda every day some will be saved from death and rape.

Go to and do something.

Check out this link from BBCWorldservice on Night Commuters,

who the Church calls invisable Children

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Why The War College Charlotte

Our first two War College students have arrived and are acclamating well. Many ask, " what is The War College about? "

You may have heard of The Salvation Army's bold foray into radical battle schooling. The War College has been created to train this generation's warriors to win the world for Jesus. Why should you invest a year of your life at The War College, in Charlotte, North Carolina? Reasons abound:

Teaching. You will learn from some of the best leaders in The Salvation Army. People like General Eva Burrows, Michael Collins, Captain Danielle Strickland, Colonel Earl Robinson and Major Jamie Braund bring proven expertise to Salvation Army warfare.

Content. You will be immersed in essential subjects for warfare success, such as extreme holiness, warfare operations, spiritual disciplines, extreme prophetic, spiritual accountability, social justice, and apostolic leadership. You will receive the course content required for success in the future wars to which God appoints you.

Training. You will be trained by successful Salvation Army leaders in evangelism, discipleship, intercession, the prophetic and other spiritual gifts, servanthood, cell multiplication, preaching, warfare worship and more. You will find yourself in the thick of the fight, right on front lines. You will also be deployed for four months to another Salvation Army unit for further experience.

Community. You will live in close quarters with other slum brothers and sisters (the noble calling of many early Salvationists), manifesting a righteous standard and authentic Christian community to a hungry neighbourhood. This experience will prove to be a sanctifying process.

Location. Charlotte, is one of the world's most liveable cities. North Carolina's beauty is renowned.But that's not all. You will live in Charlotte's poorest zip code, right in the thick of the fight. This is our best answer to General Booth's dream of hanging cadets over hell for a fortnight.

Win The World. God is raising up The War College to train this generation's warriors to win the world for Jesus. The spiritual synergy of the experience will spin off dynamic ministries and warfare on fronts around the world. Warfare that will transform cities and people groups and nations. Compare that to your alternative of post-bachelor degree, entry-level office work or your fourth year undergrad.

Wagner Affiliation. The War College is affiliated with the Wagner Leadership Institute (WLI) and phase 2 students can qualify for post-secondary diplomas. This is a bonus to students wanting to continue their study beyond The War College toward associate, bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees.

Calling. God's call on your life is the best reason. Maybe you hear Him specifically calling you to come. Maybe you're not sure but you figure that you'll need some of this stuff for the calling you know He has given you. Check out pages for more information and an online application.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

On Sunday we brought back some kids to find that their Mother was not in yet so decided to take them for the drive to return a 15 passenger van that we use on Sundays. On our way home we decided to stop at our local Pilot truck stop for a slurpee. I went in with two young kids and we grabbed our treats and went to cash out. While we were paying the cashier asked if I had adopted these little kids, obviously I wasn't their natural father due to skin colour, and one of the little boys said " nope, he's The Salvation Army, you know our pastor." The lady responded by mentioning how nice it was that I came and spent time with these kids here in this neighborhood. I did not respond with the whole explanation of incarnational ministry and how my wife and I actually live next door to these kids ect. I had my own personal blessing though, knowing that I was not going to just go drop off these kids, San Quan, Aleah and Cameron and go home but we were going home together.

Back in the 80's it was real popular to do " Parachute Ministry " where you would go drop in on a poor part of town and hang out for a little while, there just was not a big emphasis on staying. Jesus clearly models the "no ditch" rule, in fact he models the " ditch the rich " rule. He had no problem going for diner at a rich guys house, or sitting next to the Jones' at church, but he had it right see he would parachute in on the well off and then go home to his friends. Often he would recruit there, or teach and love, but we all know his explanation on how he did not come for those who were well etcetera.

Moral of the story. Kids love slurpie's.
Oh and don't sell everything you own and give the money to the poor; pack it up and move in with them.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Justice and Emotion

Doing Justice don't always feel good.

The Judges that God appointed to rule over the Israelites really were protectors and shepherds with a great deal of responsibility. They took their job personally, they did not separate themselves from their mission. Seriously think of Deborah going to war or Gideon deciding to take on the Midianites after receiving confirmation through a dream. God actually commanded Gideon to cut back his troops to 300 (Judges 7) imagine 300 guys against an army of thousands. God told Gideon he did not want the men to take credit for the victory, God wanted the Glory. Hallelujah !

I wonder if we can apply this to our current situations, maybe God is asking us to take on the enemy even though we seemingly don't have enough resources to win. Maybe he wants it that way so that when victory comes we can only point to him as the reason for our accomplishments.

It is so easy to hold back with so many reasons ...

Not enough money.
Not enough soldiers.
Not enough volunteers.

But I wonder what God could do if we just stepped out even when it seems hopeless in the physical relying totally on the supernatural.

Now there is a key here. IM not saying to just run into everything ill prepared, the key is listening and discerning Gods timing. See Gideons victory was not just in stepping out in faith but doing so in the fullness of Gods timing. If he had of went too soon or too late he may have suffered a grave defeat. Gideon had ears to hear what " The Spirit " was saying. The other key was that he acted on it. He did not put the decision to a committee vote, he acted on Gods charge.

How do we hear God in these days ?
Are we open to hearing God through dreams and visions ?
Will you act on Gods charge even against natural opposition ?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Where are you LORD

I have been broken lately.

I am having trouble trying to find God at church. I see him everyday in the dark places, he crys out to me from behind hungry eyes, he sings to me through the crys of the dying and forgotten; but in searching for him upon the decorated platforms and padded pews I have found only traces and memories. There are people there, they know him, they love him, they say they want him there, but I don't know how to believe them anymore. Christ has become offensive to them and Father religion gives them security and posterity. There is more of a concern that someone may lean on a mercy seat than there is for their soul.

I was saved in filth

I was discipled in the filth

I have tried to bring others from the filth ... But no one wants them, at church.

I will return to the filth were Jesus sits waiting. He isn't welcome in the buildings of man I have recently visited, he isn't really wanted. The cost of welcoming him in is too great, too risky.

God is not dead, are you ?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I attended a conference months ago, and took scrupulous notes. Those of you who know me will be shocked, I'm sure.

Funny thing about my note-taking though, is that I go to such lengths to get it all down, and then I close my notebook and forget to look at it again. Haha. So, in order to remind myself of what the Lord has been teaching me over these last months, I've been digging back into the HeatherWrighteous gold mine. Enough drama. Here's what I came up with:

"One of the most effective lies of the enemy towards the leaders of the Church today is this, that you, as you are right now you are really not acceptable, Jesus is only really tolerating you because somewhere along the way you might change but in His heart of hearts He is profoundly disappointed in you.

Lord, we need to feel Your Holy Spirit bring upon us the reality of Your affection for us - despite immaturity, weakness and sin. Let us feel Your affection for us, Just As We Are."

~Jack Deere

Worth writing down, eh?


Friday, August 18, 2006

God is good. Indeed.

The last few days have been a time of sabbath for those of us kickin' around here. We farewelled our summer service corps missioners at the end of July, and our Australian comrades flew back to finish the home stretch at The War College in Vancouver on Monday. So at the moment, it's Travis, Jaime, Rob and me.

Fr me it has definetely been a season of schooling. Not only is God teaching me stuff, but I am learning from those around me as well. Particularly, that God can soften any hard place in my heart. Guaranteed, if He wants too.

So here's the deal - there's a blog back in early March where I alluded to an incident of us calling 911 because one of our neighbourhood boys was being beaten by his stepfather. It was really traumatic for me, because these kids are all really dear and I feel very protective over them, especially since they're usually the ones getting a raw deal.

Anyways, there was a bit of a showdown, we've spent a lot of time with these kids and I have developed very strong opinions of this 'stepfather'. Violent. Crack-smoking. Prostite-employing. Stealing. Intimidating. Lying. Cheating. Aaargh.

Has anything about this guy's behaviour changed in the past 6 months?


So what's the difference? Relationship. Due to a strange twist of circumstances, we ended up taking care of this guy's dog. She's a great dog, don't get me wrong, but this is definetely not how I saw this whole story panning out. This guy comes to visit the dog. Helps me out any way he can. Calls me Miss Heather. If anyone in the neighbourhood gives me a hard time - even looks at me sideways, and this guy will 'take care of it'. He often speaks with tears and regret over his life and his circumstances. Homeless. Broke. Full-on AIDS. Estranged family. No dog. Today, through tears, he called Rob and I his brother and his sister - the only family that he's got.

That all made me very uncomfortable. I had already figured this guy out. I had decided that I didn't like him, and due to his actions (especially towards my little friends) and didn't have to like him.

Yet, look what God has gone and done...He has made relationship.

"...WHOSOEVER will, let him take the water of life freely." Rev. 22:17b

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Do you want a REVOLUTION?

The War College - Revolution session begins September 2006. Consider handing over twelve months of your life to the Living God, serving his closest friends, the poor, deep in the ghetto...

Applications are available online for the 2006/07 session of The War College and I challenge you to apply NOW while you have the chance.

In Charlotte, the trappings of luxury are eerily juxtaposed with homelessness, cycles of social poverty, victimhood and violence. What an excellent location to invest a year of your life in training and fighting the Holy War!

You'll spend nine months in the class room and on the street, before a three month deployment elsewhere in North America.

check it out -, apply today!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A friend of ours was surfing the net and came across this interesting tool, check it out at:

Basically, it compares crime rates in America's cities.

Did you know that Charlotte outranks New York city for crimes per capita?



Monday, July 31, 2006

We were taking a group of neighbourhood kids on an outing recently and when we piled onto the bus I (Anthony) sat next to a pair of sisters who I met the day before. As I was talking with them the young boy in front of me turned around and asked me if the girls were my cousins. I stopped, thought for a moment and answered in the negative. These girls were black. I was white. I kept my eye on the boy to see if it was a joke. It wasn’t.

After a few moments of confusion and amusement, I realized something wonderful had just happened. Maybe it was due to the familiarity I shared with the girls, who knows, but for whatever reason this little boy hadn’t realized, or had at least briefly forgotten, that I was white.

Over the past few months the children have been both entertained and frustrated by the differences they perceive between my wife and I and themselves. We wear flip-flops, they wear sneakers. We like rock n’ roll, they like hip-hop. We can choose to leave this ghetto any time, they cannot. There are minute and tragically significant divides that at least refer to the cultural difference, if not define it.

Charlotte 614 is currently a predominantly white outpost ministering in a predominantly black neighbourhood. We are endeavouring to realise Godly relationship and Christian community amidst, and despite, racial and cultural barriers. And for a few moments at least, as far as this young boy was concerned, these little girls and I were family.

Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11

Anthony Castle

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Koinonia Community

I have been studding community a lot lately and thought Id share some of my revelations. Biblically we use the Acts community a lot, so do I, but I wanted to look at other sources too; namely John ( the gospel John guy )

The very make-up of this Epistle is messy, there is not a normal form. The author does not properly refer to himself, but calls the readers his " little children " and constantly weaves in the pronouns " I " and " you. " This shows a unique relationship, one much deeper than a traveling preacher would have with a nieghbourhood, this is a relationship based in (Greek) Koinonia !

Koinonia is simply Greek for fellowship, but in its application means so much more that simply spending time together. John shares the idea that Salvation is developed through fellowship, community, with others.

1 John 1:3-4
3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4We write this to make our[a] joy complete.

1 John 1:6-7

6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

These scriptures reveal so much about the miracle of Salvation, to me. I am firm in my definition of Salvation, Romans 10:10, but what if we shifted our strategy from ...

A. Getting someone to repeat a prayer of confession ... To ...

B. Getting someone to come join in fellowship where we share our lives together in Koinonia.

Is it inevitable that if we have right relationship with Holy Spirit and an alive powerful relationship with Jesus and our Father that those around us will be naturally be drawn into a Salvation experience ?

Yes !! Jesus never prayed the " sinners prayer " with anybody, he invited them into fellowship, into community. True converts are ones that join a body of believers and experience love, freedom, safety, discipline, joy, mourning, dancing and Jesus uncut from religion.

The next part of this Chapter is one used to water down Holiness, but as we search this Chapter through the lens of community we see that Holiness in and of itself exists, in fullness, only amongst each other. I pose that Community and Holiness are tied together being that they both are movements that lead to complete freedom from sin and blame. Look at the scripture, if we live like Jesus in right relationship with our Father and each other there is a cleansing from ALL unrighteousness.

I think we have messed up holiness by keeping it in the closet, it is meant to happen in the light through fellowship and community. I bet if someone totally isolated themselves that they could stop outwardly sinning, but HOLINESS IS NOT BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION ! Holiness is freedom from sin and shame, it is an inward purity which leads to an outward example of perfect love.

I am totaly coming out of the closet, I am not ashamed, I am hungry for Holiness. I want complete freedom from everything of the world, I want to stand before the throne of God completely free and pure, totaly holy. I do not think I am there today, right now, but it is my aim, to be just like Jesus.

Above all else, Jesus was a friend, a friend of Gods and a friend of sinners, inviting them to hang-out, watch, and follow if they want to.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Today was an eventful day, marked by unusual experiences. I slept badly due to a poor skittles choice late last night and so my fuel tank was starting with a deficiency.
Tempress Boone (summer service corps missioner and full-on slum sister) invited me out to do a round of visitation on her normal Wednesday route, and so we knocked on the brittle screen door of Miss Shirley and Mr. Taft. We entered into their wee 2 bedroom house. There was no air conditioner, and only one fan that the league of mercy had provided on an earlier visit. I chose a seat that was directly across from the fan, anticipating the cool breeze such a position would bring.
Unfortunately, I did not consider the fact that both Miss Shirley and Mr. Taft are heavy chain smokers, and the fan blew all that second hand smoke my way.
My eyes were swelling, my nose was expressing a strong unwillingness to inhale and I didn't want to open my mouth. Which is kinda of a problem when it comes to making polite chitchat.

So I sat there for a while, initially irritated and affronted by the way the situation had played itself out. I was grumpy. I felt ill.
Then, I stopped.
I decided to just suck it up (not literally) and get over it.
Once I stopped being so preoccupied with myself, I was able to engage my surroundings, listen in on what the folks had to say, and enjoy a good ole' down home visit. I had learned my lesson, I had pressed through and I had overcome. YeeHa!

However, the Lord saw fit to learn me extra good today, for upon my arrival at home, my husband met me with concerns about our air conditioner. Our rentman had installed a central air unit to our home, but since that day, the house temp. sits anywhere from 80-90 degrees, with the A/C running all the time. Rob did some investigating, and noticed that one of the duct joints had separated, and the glorious cool air was drifting off into the neverneverland of our crawl space.
So, he proposed a plan.
He would go under the house and reposition the duct, and it was my job to hammer it back into place. I figured he would be better at the whole hammering it into place thing (plus, I didn't want to be the one to flub it up) so I offered to go under the house.
Now, let it be known, that I made this decision based on past comments I'd heard from my husband about how clean it was down there, and how you can actually stand straight up, because our house was built on a hill and whatnot. So I guess I was expecting the Hilton down there or something, but man, was I off.
So Rob comes down with me, opens the padlock (if we don't lock it, folks be holin' up down there and gettin' all hopped up) and leads me in.

At first glance, I probably should've ditched my flip flops for proper closed toe shoes, but all common sense left me at that moment. Only sheer bravado kept me from turnin' tail back upstairs. But seriously, let my husband think I'm a chicken? under I went.

First, I was mad that it was dirty and dark and the ground was covered with questionable crunchy things. Then I was mad at Rob for painting the crawl space in such a positive light. I recoiled at the thought of bugs crawling on me, or getting nasty old cobwebs filled with bug crusties caught in my hair.
I stood there, paralyzed by my distaste at the task at hand and the level of personal involvement it would require of me...especially when I realized that the vent I had to go to was about 20 feet away and I'd have to get there on my hands and knees.

Then, I stopped.
I decided to just get down to business and enter in. Literally.
Once I stopped being so preoccupied with myself and my personal distaste, I was able to engage my surroundings, get to the duct (a la navy seal on my belly, rolling under obstacles, dodging broken glass) diagnose the problem, make the necessary repairs and seal the leak.
OH yeah baby...I had pressed through, I had overcome.
I was really really dirty, but I felt like a million bucks. I was like Arnold Schwarzenegger comin' out of that hole. The neighbourhood kids called me cool and my husband thinks I'm a superstar.

So, two long accounts. What's the point? Here's the point. Where are you at right now with God? In ministry? In your marriage? At your job? With your family? With your church?

Are you stuck in ickypoo land where you are focused on how everything is affecting you and making you feel uncomfortable, and forcing you to get down and dirty?

Take the tip-off from the smoky sister under the stairs- just get over yourself.
Press in.
Push through.
You may end up filthy dirty with old, dead bugs in your hair, but you'll have accomplished something and you'll feel really great about pushing your limits of comfortability.

Trust me!

P.S. For the sake of my sanity, no photos were taken of this incident. (!)