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