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Posts tagged ‘christmas shoebox ministry’

Better late than never!

Christmas Shoeboxes. A Missions Fair. The Flu. Putting together the spring and summer schedule. A mission to Oregon. What do all these things have in common? My failure to report on any of them! My apologies to everyone for taking so long to update this blog.

Let’s start with the Christmas Shoeboxes.  Once again, many of you helped make this ministry a success. There were 291 boxes sent to three different reservations…the Choctaw Reservation in Mississippi, the Colville Reservation in Washington State and the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota.

There were nine churches and four individuals/families who participated in this ministry and I appreciate all of you!

John Phillips, youth minister at Twin Bridges Baptist Church in Alexandria and some of his youth group preparing boxes for the Cheyenne River Reservation.

John Phillips, youth minister at Twin Bridges Baptist Church in Alexandria and some of his youth group preparing boxes for the Cheyenne River Reservation.

Will & Bethany Butterfield, youth ministers at The Gathering Place Church in Pineville joined the youth at Corinth Baptist Church on the Choctaw Reservation in Mississippi.  Both groups went on a hayride and delivered gifts to many of the children on the reservation.

Will & Bethany Butterfield, youth ministers at The Gathering Place Church in Pineville joined the youth at Corinth Baptist Church on the Choctaw Reservation in Mississippi. Both groups went on a hayride and delivered gifts to many of the children on the reservation.

 

The children of the Colville Reservation in Washington State were some who received gifts from all of you!

Now, about that Missions Fair.  This fair was a great experience thanks to everyone involved.  Randy Hales, the DOM for the Webster-Claiborne and Bienville associations sponsors a very successful missions fair every five years.  I was invited to attend this three day event after Randy Carruth was asked and unable to attend. I had no idea what I was in for and God used this event in a mighty way in my life.  I arrived in Minden on Friday and was amazed at the red carpet treatment Randy and his staff provided for the missionaries.

Mike & Susan Sanders

Mike & Susan Sanders

Then I met Mike and Susan Sanders.  Mike is the pastor of Old Saline Baptist Church and he and Susan were my sponsors.  I stayed with them in their home for the weekend and I can safely say I have made some forever friends in those two…and their dog. 🙂 They made me feel at home with their hospitality and easy manner and they are a big part of what made the weekend so special. (It didn’t hurt that they liked the A/C on as much as I do.)

On Saturday we all attended the fair where hundreds of people came through. On Sunday I spoke at two churches, Old Saline Baptist Church and Pine Grove Baptist. Both churches showed such generosity and I appreciate them so much.  After another day of red carpet treatment with dinner on the grounds and visitation with some wonderful people we ended the night with another meal at the New Ebenezer Baptist Church and a panel discussion with a packed house.

I came away with a love for the people and a new group to go with me to the Hoopa Reservation in California! There’s a lesson in everything and my lesson here was that nothing happens by chance…God always has a purpose and will reveal that purpose in His perfect timing.

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And then there was the flu. I came home from Shreveport happy, tired and…sick.  I spent the next month on medication for Strain A Flu and then a sinus infection. No, I did not get my flu shot. You have my word, I will next year though. :/ Nuff said. I only mention it because that is why I took so long to update you all!

The month of February was spent finalizing all of the ministry plans for the spring and summer.  Check out the page titled “Schedule” on this blog for an updated schedule.

BAAD smallerBeing B.A.A.D in Oregon. That’s Basketball Against Alcohol and Drugs. This is a tournament that has taken place every year during Spring Break on the Umatilla Reservation near Pendleton, Oregon for the past 28 years.

As usual I am always amazed at how God opens doors.  And I’m pretty sure that every time He opens these particular doors for me He is laughing under His breath.  I have finally come to just accept that this girl who cares nothing for and has no experience with sports is living proof that God chooses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. I am a missions mobilizer for Basketball Camps, Sports Camps and now a full blown Basketball Tournament attended by Indian Reservations from all over the Northwest. It’s obviously what I do. And every group I have spoken to about a potential ministry in the future have requested, you guessed it, a Sports Camp. All Biblically based but all involving sports in some way.

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Weston, Walker, Kim, Kelsi, Shane & Will Cheek

So when this opportunity arose I embraced it and put out the call for a group to participate with me. Enter my good friends Shane and Kim Cheek and their children, Will, Weston, Walker and Kelsi. They homeschool and can participate in ministries like this that come up during the school year.  I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect family to do this with me. They show tremendous grace under pressure, calm spirits, welcoming natures and a willingness to do anything required. In other words, they are nothing like me and I love them for it!

This mission was unlike any other I have done. We weren’t going in to provide the activities. We were going in to serve at this tournament in the hopes that God would open the door for us to return with a VBS or Sports Camp or whatever they might need. I’ll admit…my biggest fear was that we were driving 5,000 miles round trip to watch a bunch of basketball games. My fears were unwarranted.

Weston on trash detail

Weston on trash detail

We picked up trash, took up money at the door, cleaned bathrooms, cleaned the break room every day, organized rooms, and any other job we could find.  It took a couple of days but the volunteers and staff (all Native Americans) gradually began to accept us.

Working the check in table

Working the check in table

 

Shane preparing Gumbo

Shane preparing Gumbo

Shane and Kim even decided to make the volunteers and staff a Gumbo for lunch one day. That pretty much solidified it…we were officially a part of their “team.” So much so that the next night two of the ladies decided to make Indian Tacos.

Indian Taco night...notice my empty plate. In the foreground is the leader of the tournament, Lloyd Commander... a good friend and a brother in Christ.

Indian Taco night…notice my empty plate. In the foreground is the leader of the tournament, Lloyd Commander… a good friend and a brother in Christ.

For those of you who haven’t experienced Indian Tacos, I am sorry. You are missing out.  They are made with Indian Fry Bread (I’m pretty sure this was the same bread rained down upon the Israelites in the dessert) and all the fixings for tacos…beans, meat, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. They were nothing short of divine and little Kelsi had the honor of helping make them!

I was blessed by this mission. I enjoyed the people and I enjoyed sharing this time with the Cheeks. When you share something like this with someone a bond is created. You’ve slept with these people. You’ve seen each other at your best and your worst.  You’ve  experienced bodily functions, lots of laughter and a certain amount of hysteria from being so tired. You’ve prayed together, you’ve cried together and you’ve trusted God together.

I was never sure about what would take place on this mission because I wasn’t “in charge.” As usual God provided everything…a great team, open doors, a chance to worship with a sweet body of believers at the Tutuillo Presbyterian Church, a chance to observe and learn about the Native customs of that area and the opportunity to work with Garry Benfield, the NAMB missionary working on the field in Oregon and Washington State. More importantly, we now have an opening to return and share the Gospel with the special people of the Umatilla Reservation and THAT is what it’s really all about.

Oh, but the trip home. It was…memorable. The day before we left Walker got a stomach virus that had the Cheeks pulling off at almost every exit on the way home. On the same day I developed another sinus infection that went straight to my ears and had me pretty deaf and disoriented. All I could really hear was a rushing wind in my ears. It was like the day of Pentecost in my head. Although uncomfortable, I decided to count my blessings because I wasn’t experiencing what Walker was experiencing. I just decided to enjoy the scenery.

Devil's Washbowl in Idaho

Devil’s Washbowl in Idaho

Then Monday rolled around. I’d been driving home since Saturday so I was wishing God would give me the gift of teleportation because I was sick of being in that car. Well, He heard my cries. I heard a very bad noise under the hood of my car.

Let me explain where I was. THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, Colorado. Out there in the middle of nowhere it could have been miles before there was a place to pull over and get help. But I was right at an exit to one lone gas station.
What a blessing!  As I was looking under the hood a man came out and helped me. Not a mechanic, just a nice man. Again, a blessing. He could have just said he didn’t know what it was but he got water and filled up my empty coolant container. Then he checked the hoses and said my radiator hose had broken. I was feeling a little less blessed but still recognizing how bad this could have been.

He then went in and found out where I could take it after he determined it could be driven. Lord be praised, blessed again! There was a Napa Parts dealer and mechanic only 10 miles back in Flagler, Colorado. He told me to drive with the heater on. I did.

My metal throne in the middle of nowhere.

My metal throne in the middle of nowhere.

I arrived at the Napa dealer (very old school, greasy mechanic kind of place, which made me happy) safely and was offered a seat in an old metal rolling chair from the 1950’s held together with duct tape and prayer in said greasy auto parts store while I waited. It was cool inside and that  made me happy. Another blessing.

Even better is that there was one motel right next to the greasy Napa dealer.  I didn’t know if it was a roach den or a place where teenagers went to fool around but it was a motel none the less. Another “Only God” moment. So if it was going to take longer than expected to repair my car I would at least have a place to stay. As I sat on my 1950’s metal throne I contemplated just how closely God was watching out for me. I wrote about it on Facebook singing His praises.

It wasn’t long before the guy figured out that a serpentine belt broke and knocked a hole in my radiator. The good news was he could fix it. The bad news? He couldn’t until in the morning because he had to go and get the radiator. The worse news was it was going to be 500.00. But that’s ok because God had provided me with some extra money that could help take care of it.

My oasis in the desert

My oasis in the desert

I gathered the things I needed and checked in at the motel. It was an old motel owned by a very old lady and her 40 dogs and it only cost 49.00. The blessings just kept on coming. There was even a diner in the same parking lot and that was a good thing because I had eaten nothing and it was already mid afternoon. The food tasted awful but beggars can’t be choosy. It was either that or the gas station next door. By the way, each business I named is ALL that exists in this little town in the middle of nowhere. I digress…back to the motel.

Much to my delight the room was old but well maintained and it had a pretty, quaint appearance on the outside. Looks can be deceiving. I decided to take a shower and found that the cold water did not work. I put a positive spin on it and decided it was much better to have no cold water than no hot. It wasn’t scalding so it was all good.

A bed of bricks in my "quaint" room.

A bed of bricks in my “quaint” room.

Then I lay down on the bed. If I had been Goldilocks I would have run from the room. The bed was so hard that I was afraid that if I rolled over I would get bruised.

Then there was the commode. No big deal that the spot the commode was in was too small to maneuver in…I managed. But then the toilet clogged. Seriously people, I didn’t use enough to clog anything! Well, Granny and the dogs next door were  already asleep so there was no asking for a plunger. So I did the only thing I could. I stuck my hand down the toilet to unclog it. I discovered then where all the cold water was.

Just in case you were wondering...

Just in case you were wondering…

After washing my hands until they were bleeding I decided to end that day and go to bed on that brick someone disguised as a mattress. And then I saw it. A bug. In the bed. I looked at it and then swept it off onto the floor. Suddenly it came to me..there was a BUG in the BED. I then googled images of bed bugs. Yes boys and girls, the bug in my bed was indeed a bed bug.

Let me stop here and tell you a little tale about some mustard. When I was about 12 I had had a very bad day. I had managed to not let it get to me until I went to the refrigerator to make myself a sandwich only to find that we had no mustard. I didn’t like mayonnaise, I liked mustard. That was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. I sat down on the kitchen floor with the refrigerator door still open and cried like a baby.

This bed bug was the mustard all over again. I sat down and bawled. Then I  commenced to tearing the bed apart to see if there were more. I was still crying you understand. But I was fast at work picking things up off the floor and checking every inch of the bed.

I found nothing else but I can tell you this. I just wanted to go home to my crooked house with the rotten floor.  I was tired of being positive. I just wanted to go home.

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Me losing my mind.

I was very aware that I got my wish and was out of my car. I was also aware that all of this was gonna make a GREAT story. I was even more aware that God arranged all of those circumstances in my favor. But at that moment, I could feel imaginary bugs crawling all over me and I was DONE with that trip.

I awoke the next morning with a much better attitude and no bug bites. I collected my car and got on the road. It was all over. I told myself that the rest of the trip home would be a breeze. I lied.

I discovered a few miles into that trip that I had Walker’s virus. It was now my turn to stop at most of the exits along the way.

It took me 6 days to make a 4 day trip. I arrived home deaf and dehydrated. Three days after I returned home I finally got rid of the stomach virus. 18 days, 2 doctor’s visits, a steroid shot, antibiotic shot and a prescription for antibiotics and steroids later and I am still as deaf as I was on day one. Perhaps this second round of meds will take care of it. I leave for Washington on May 25 so here’s hoping I can hear again by then.

You just never know. You never know what adventures await when God calls. You never know who you’ll share the adventure with. You never know if the trip will be filled with laughter or tears or both. What I do know is this…God is in control and I wouldn’t have it any other way! 

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Won’t you join me?

A lot has happened since my last entry.  I’ve spoken in a few churches…

Randy Carruth and I both spoke at Cedar Grove BC in Lecompte

Randy Carruth and I both spoke at Cedar Grove BC in Lecompte

I’ve decorated for Christmas and I’m sure I’ve gotten a few cavities from all the saccharin Christmas movies I watched!

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I’ve sent and received many Christmas cards. I’ve prayed for all those I received cards from and accepted the blessings that came with the cards I received. I’ve visited with friends and family and participated in three Dirty Santa’s and we’ve all opened a shameful number of gifts…

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…and I’ve participated in the whole Phil Robertson/Duck Dynasty defense. I’ve been told that I should be their P.R. person…I’m game if they are! 🙂

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I’ve had a great Thanksgiving and Christmas season. However, the best part of my season had nothing to do with me but with all of you…and with two young adults from Twin Bridges Baptist Church…and with the children and leaders of two Indian Reservations and one Indian community in Mississippi.  The best part of this season was the Christmas Shoebox ministry that many of you made possible.

I sent out a request for help in providing our Native American children with Christmas gifts and the response was wonderful!  Ten churches and six individual families participated in this ministry providing a total of 395 shoeboxes!  180 of the boxes went to the Lac du Flambeau reservation in Wisconsin while 161 went to the Colville reservation in Washington State and 54 boxes went to Corinth Baptist Church, a Choctaw church in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

One little boy in Mississippi is happy to receive his Christmas backpack from Pisgah Baptist Church in Forest Hill.

One little boy in Mississippi is happy to receive his Christmas backpack from Pisgah Baptist Church in Forest Hill.

It was a beautiful day with fresh snow on the ground when Vicki James of Morning Star Ministries delivered these gifts to the children of the Colville Reservation in Washington State.

It was a beautiful day with fresh snow on the ground when Vicki James of Morning Star Ministries delivered these gifts to the children of the Colville Reservation in Washington State.

This ministry began last year at the request of two young men, John Phillips and Zeb Mathews, both of Twin Bridges Baptist Church.  Their simple request provided approximately 100 boxes last year and turned into something we never imagined this year!

This year John and I were joined by Heather Dix, also of Twin Bridges, when we headed to the Lac du Flambeau reservation to deliver gifts and participate with the Lac du Flambeau Bible Baptist Church in ministering to the Ojibwe people there.

John Phillips and Heather Dix getting boxes ready.

John Phillips and Heather Dix getting boxes ready.

The church members provided a luncheon of Creamy Beef Fricassee, Chicken and Wild Rice Soup and homemade Bread Pudding.  The room was full.

The community at Lac du Flambeau joined us for lunch.

The community at Lac du Flambeau joined us for lunch.

Then we handed out gifts to a group of very excited children. We enjoyed watching the kids open their gifts…but we had even more fun watching them enjoy their gifts!

 

This little girl had a box full of goodies but her very favorite gift was this small silk plant. You just never know what will appeal to them the most!

This little girl had a box full of goodies but her very favorite gift was this small silk plant. You just never know what will appeal to them the most!

There were lots of jump ropes and the kids loved them!

There were lots of jump ropes and the kids loved them!

There were lots of bubbles on hand

There were lots of bubbles on hand

Then it was time to brave the cold, head out into the snow and deliver the remaining gifts. The wind chill that day was 25 below but the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. You could hear some of the kids squealing inside when they realized they were getting gifts. 🙂

John and Heather braving the cold to deliver more gifts.

John and Heather braving the cold to deliver more gifts.

Pastor Bill Earl, his wife, Bridget and their kids, Taylor, Zayne and Tallen are so wonderful about making us feel at home and allowing us to turn their home upside down.

The Earl family are wonderful about opening their home to us and helping us make a huge mess while we are there!

The Earl family are wonderful about opening their home to us and helping us make a huge mess while we are there!

The land here is as beautiful as the people and we three Louisiana natives were in awe of that beauty.  There really are no words…the pictures say more than I ever could…

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The Lake of Flaming Torches...not so flaming right now...frozen solid!

The Lake of Flaming Torches…not so flaming right now…frozen solid!

We worked hard but we did take some time to enjoy all of this beauty.  Heather and I even had the distinct pleasure of (and excuse me for this) having our snot freeze right in our noses!  Everyone should get to experience that at least once. 🙂

Look how deep the snow was!

Look how deep the snow was!

The trip was a fast one and one we will never forget.  Yes, the beauty of the land is something we’ll never forget…and the cold is something we’ll never forget…as well as the long drive and the great conversations we had in the car and the friendships we formed. But more than anything we will never forget how great it felt to watch a child open a gift and know that someone in Louisiana took the time to minister to them through a simple box and a few toys.

 

So, what is next on my agenda?  I’m doing some contract work for the Louisiana Baptist Convention for the next month.

Then I’m going to be contacting reservations and groups I worked with last year and making arrangements with them for this coming summer.

I’m also going to be meeting with new groups and new reservations and Native communities to discuss adding to the summer ministry. That means I have a lot of planning to do. I hope to have it all done by the end of February because in March I’ll be going with “I Am Able Ministries” to Mexico to minister to the Mayan children there.  When I return I will be collecting ministry supplies and preparing for the summer.  It all seems a long way off but it will be here before I know it!

I traveled a total of 15,161 miles during 2013 and I hope to cover even more territory in 2014! Won’t you join me?

It won’t be long now…

I haven’t posted in quite a while…mainly because there is so much to do before I head out again. I figured I would give you all a quick update though.

Daddy smallerMany of you already know my dad had triple bypass surgery. It all happened so quickly but with everyone praying he was home before we knew it and is healing quickly. God is good!

I’ve had the privilege of speaking at several churches and I only hope that they have been as blessed by me as I have been by all of them. I’ve been working toward raising the funds I need to take care of the summer, fall and winter mission trips and I’m about halfway there. Again, God is good!

This summer is coming together wonderfully. I’ve got a good group of 11 from Western Series-Indian Summer smallerTwin Bridges Baptist Church in Alexandria and Pisgah Baptist Church in Forest Hill who are going with me to the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington State. We’ll be doing clean up, backyard Bible clubs, prayer walking and fellowship. I have another group of approximately 12 from North Monroe Baptist Church who are going with me to do a Basketball camp at the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota.

I’ll be going with Twin Bridges Baptist Church to a reservation in Oklahoma and with Open Door Missions to minister in New Mexico. We’ll be doing Vacation Bible Schools and Revival Services with both of these groups.

20 smallerChristmas is also on my mind! Mission Ventures will be doing Christmas shoeboxes again this year and I hope to include more than one reservation. If any of you are interested in participating in this ministry just let me know.

As always, I covet your prayers. Please pray for all of these mission that are goingWestern Series-Gods Promise Final smaller on throughout the summer, fall and winter. Pray that many come to know Christ. Pray that there are workers to help the new converts become true disciples. Pray that more Native Americans rise up and become leaders in the midst of their own people. Pray for safe travel for everyone and for finances to cover everything that needs to be done. Pray about how you can be a part of all of it. Pray for our health and even our vehicles. You can never pray too much!

I’ll be heading out around mid May but I plan to get another newsletter out before I go so be on the lookout for it.

God bless you all and I’ll keep you posted!

I stand amazed…

I’ve spent the last several weeks…

Working on gathering groups to go to the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington and to the Cheyenne River Reservation in Northern South Dakota.

I’ve signed up with Open Door Missions again to go to New Mexico and with Twin Bridges Baptist Church to go to Oklahoma. I’m also making arrangements to join Bill and Bridget Earl at the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation in Wisconsin in August.

I’ve been doing contract work at home for the Louisiana Baptist Convention. I’ve also visited friends in Arkansas and I have a few upcoming speaking engagements.

All of this is par for the course when it comes to missions ministry…we all have details to work out each day no matter what our life’s work is. But then there are the moments that leave you speechless (a major feat for me).

I’ve had a few of those moments lately. For me, the greatest tool in my ministry, after prayer and the Word, is my car. I put a lot of miles on Sophie (yes, I’m one of those dorks that names their vehicle) but I also take better care of her than I do myself! I very rarely get in that car without praying over it and thanking God for it. She’s paid for and even though she has 126,000 miles on her at 6 years old, she has given me very little trouble.

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Zeb Mathews and John Phillips taking care of Sophie in Wisconsin

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the “Check Engine” light had come on. My first thought was the fact that I did not have the funds to have anything fixed at the moment. I was on the way to the Post Office so I just prayed and told God it was all in His hands. I should not have been surprised at what I found when I got to the Post Office….a surprise check for a generous amount from Harmony Baptist Church in Glenmora.

The check was definitely the answer to my prayer but even more important was the letter that accompanied the check. Several weeks before, the pastor, Robbie Rollins, had asked me for 10 prayer requests for my ministry for a missions themed Super Bowl party their church was having. I sent the ten requests and didn’t think about it again. The letter explained that the youth and young adults at their church had a Super Bowl prayer event where they each pledged x-amount of money per point that their team scored to give to my ministry. During commercials and at halftime, the television was turned off and their youth minister covered one of my prayer needs, discussed it and revealed the Biblical relevance of it.

It didn’t stop there. The church body that didn’t participate in the Super Bowl event met at their regular time and did the same thing. Their normal sermon time is approximately 35 minutes but this prayer time lasted over an hour. Afterwards, they received an offering for my ministry. There are even some who have dedicated themselves to keeping my prayer requests before their eyes and before the Lord regularly.

Y’all, the check was the answer to a prayer but the idea that these people had spent so much time in prayer for my prayer requests and would continue to do so was overwhelming and brought tears to my eyes right there in the Post Office.

The story doesn’t end there. I brought my car to have it repaired and all that was needed was for some box to be cleaned…please don’t ask me any questions about what box because I am a woman who knows NOTHING about mechanics of any kind. 🙂 The cost was minimal so I was able to do something I didn’t think I would be able to do…repair my driver’s window after 8 months of having to open my door at drive thru’s, etc. (You can read about that in another post entitled “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”).  The window needed to be fixed for the sake of safety but it was last on my list.  Being able to have it repaired was an unexpected blessing.

Two days later my car wouldn’t start at all. I panicked for about 20 minutes (a major improvement over the Terry Tanner I used to know) and then I reminded myself that God was in control. Thanks to Connie and Phil Thomas, I now have AAA so I had the car towed free of charge. I will admit, I was quite aggravated with myself for having that window repaired because I figured now I would need more money for these repairs. I…was…wrong. (I knew that would happen some day. Ha!)

Price Auto informed me that the wires to the fuel something-or-other were bad and had become disconnected. They felt that may have happened when they cleaned that box thing-a-ma-jig; therefore, they repaired it free of charge. Imagine my relief and my dismay at just how faithful God is!

Friends, I get to see this kind of thing so often now. I’ve been surprised with last minute funds that have gotten me home when I didn’t think I was going to have enought to get home. I’ve received monthly pledges from individuals that were totally unexpected. I recently received a monthly pledge from First Baptist, Rayville as a result of the article the Baptist Message did on me. I don’t know anyone from that church and I have never spoken there so, once again, I was left speechless at God’s provision. Zeb Mathews, a young man I’ve ministered with from Twin Bridges Baptist Church, is giving a concert for his senior project and all proceeds are going to my ministry. I am blessed at EVERY turn!

When I stepped out on faith, I had no idea how things would work out but God did. I have not wanted for anything and He has provided for every surprise. I haven’t been buying many purses lately (a past obsession) but, then again, I already had too many of them. 🙂 I don’t live extravagantly but God knows what we need…and He does provide for His children. I find myself constantly standing amazed in His presence.

And as for that letter from Harmony Baptist Church in Glenmora…well, it now hangs on the wall in my office here at home to remind me of just how awesome God is and how awesome His people are! Thank you all so much!

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The letter from Harmony hangs in my office to remind me of God’s faithfulness!

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