Move the Gospel Challenge Day 13

I thought about skipping today in light of the heinous and cowardly attacks in Paris, but isn’t that exactly what this ideology wants?  To silence us and make us afraid of standing against moral filth and evil that is so prevalent! To prevent us from speaking out and standing for what is good.  It was difficult to quiet my mind and search my heart for what He would want from me today in this challenge.  Let’s just be honest here for a moment.  I know this is not a struggle against flesh, against someone in a hijab or any other head garb, but against the rulers, against the authorities, and against the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).  This attack is not the first and according to scripture, surely not the last, but knowing all this does not make it easier to be a follower of Christ.  The more things like this happen, the harder it is going to be as the wheat will begin to be separated from the tare (Matthew 13:30).  Being a Christian business owner and seeing how France reacted to these attacks with martial law and closing its borders, gave me a glimpse of what could happen here and made me realize all the more how short of time we really have to openly share the gospel! So, with a new day of His mercies, I hold fast to the confession of my faith without wavering and press on to day 13!

This weekend we are hosting seven high school girls and two leaders in our home for a D-NOW conference and so I spent my morning serving and getting them off to their days’ activities.  Once they were gone, I needed to head to the bank for the restaurant to grab change for tomorrow.  As I drove, I thought about 9/11 and how those line of events changed the very fabric of our society; how people, including myself, lived in fear after the incident.  I began to run through my daily memory verses in hopes one would speak truth into my heart at that very moment.  I smiled as two jumped right in my head and down into my heart, calming the fears that has so paralyzed me in the past.  I knew then, the ones I would need to share and leave behind on windows in the coming days.

Once I dropped off the change at the restaurant, I went around to the front of the parking lot and slowly made my way in front of Planet Fitness, watching the healthy and fit make their way to and from the gym.  I stopped my van and just prayed, still trying to quiet my mind long enough to just hear a whisper or a nudge, but I got nothing & realized my mind was still thinking about Paris.  Shaking my head at myself, I took a long breath and let it out and visually took the anxiety I was masking as peace and laid it before His throne, praying for His Will.  I looked up and began to move my car to another part of the parking lot when I saw the front of a car that had a New York license plate.  My thoughts immediately turned to 9/11 again & so I thought perhaps this might be a nudge.  I parked, got out of my van, and went to place the index card between the window, but I could not find the little space to leave it in.  I tried all around the window to no avail.  I began to think, “We’ll maybe this just isn’t the car and as usual you really aren’t hearing Him, you are not as discerning as you may think.”  With those thoughts badgering and distracting me, I didn’t notice a guy coming towards me.  My heart dropped to my feet thinking this actually might be the cars occupant and I might be getting caught by not just anyone, but a New Yorker!  As I kept trying to find a spot, the guy walked right behind me and into another car that was parked to the left and my heart rate began to return to normal.  At this point, I began to realize there was no way I was going to be able to leave the index card on the window. So, I looked down at the handle of the car and saw that it was perfect for leaving it in between the door handle.  I carefully made it so it would not be blown away or missed by the person that would find it.  Satisfied, I made my way back to my van and drove away.

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I join many whose hearts hurt for those effected by the attacks in Paris.  I know the propaganda spewed out on the MSM is not calling for us to love one another, live in harmony with one another, or to persevere through this, but that is exactly what we must do.  We are not American, French, Arab, Asian, Canadian, Australian, Russian, Brazilian, Italian, South African, or Irish, but we are all human beings and need to stand together through whatever the enemy throws our way.

1 Peter 3:8-9 ” Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another, be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.  Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

Move the Gospel Challenge Day 11

If there is anything this challenge is helping me do, it is definitely helping me to not get consumed and distracted with all that is going on in our culture.  There were days a while back, before Christ captured my heart, I would get so frustrated with the issues brought up within our culture and spend too much time being bothered by how people felt about a certain subject.  I have learned, thankfully, how important Hebrews 12:2 really is to a believers walk with the Lord.  Fixing our eyes on the author and perfecter of our faith is such an incredibly important discipline as we navigate through our days in this life.  One misstep off the path He has chosen for us or one time we take our eyes off Jesus and the results could be detrimental to our walk with Him. Some people take it so lightly, as if it is not that big of a deal that they wander off a bit or place Him on the back burner until they get their life “in order” themselves.  I already been there, done that, and let me tell you, the t-shirt wasn’t worth it! So, fixing my eyes on Him, I press on to day 11 in this challenge.

My husband was off today so we were able to go and visit his 93 year old grandmother who is in hospice care, but gratefully, in the comfort of her own home.  I don’t think many like to think about their loved ones moving on from this life, but it is part of life and so we have to face it at one time or another.  For me, it is always easier to handle end of life situations when you know the person has had a daily personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

I remember when my step-father was dying of cancer and it became clear I needed to pray and be somewhat of an instrument in sharing the gospel with him one way, shape, or form.  He already called me a “walking Bible” so it would be no surprise to him that I would at least attempt to share with him.  My husband and I tried twice, but he stopped us each time reassuring us that he would not be one of those people who would come to Jesus just because he was dying…he wanted it to be sincere and genuine.  I honored that and prayed fervently for his salvation.  As I sat there watching him take his last breath on this earth, I was grateful he wasn’t in any pain anymore in this life, but I yearned to have confirmation of his final destination.  I prayed the next couple of days for this and the Lord answered me through my devotion and later through the hospice nurse and mom who told me they came around the corner of his room and heard him call out to Jesus.  After reading in Romans 10:11, I am confident I will see him again.

Our visit with my husband’s grandmother went well.  We ran short of time and had to go pick up the kids from school, prep dinner, and head off to Wednesday night activities at church.  Before I knew it, the day was practically finished and I had not accomplished day 11 of this challenge.  Luckily, my children could not live without their weekly run for ice cream after church and so we stopped in at a Winn Dixie to pick some up.  As we entered the parking lot, I saw a family of 5 getting out of their truck and begin walking towards the automatic doors of the grocery store.  Without hesitation, my heart quietly whispered “There is day 11.”  As my husband headed for the door to the grocery store, I headed to the door of their truck, wedging the card the best I could between the window.

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I am always amazed as I can go into a room and forget what in the world I went into the room to begin with, but have not forgotten one day to do this challenge.  I am praying when this challenge is said and done, leaving index cards on peoples windows will be so ingrained in my daily life that it becomes just part of what I do when I go out from my home onto the mission field. So, instead of it just being written over the door frame of my home, it is actually something I do everyday 🙂

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Move the Gospel Challenge Day 10

I know some of you might be feeling a little cheated from yesterday’s blog, thinking that I didn’t really “get “caught,” because I am sure most of you thought I got caught by the person I was leaving the card for.  Regardless, I did get caught, but thankfully from a person of peace who not only helped me encourage someone, but surely encouraged me as well!!  So, today, after spending sometime in His Word, I felt a certain scripture grab my attention. I felt I needed to make sure I really heard from the Lord in where this one would be placed and so I prayed a little longer than normal.

I had many errands to run throughout my day.  I entered the parking lot of where my first errand was and parked there for a moment and just began to pray, asking Him to please guide me and clearly show me if this was the parking lot I was to look to leave this card.  After I prayed, I kept quiet and as I focused on just listening, the lyrics of the song I was listening to sung “So we wait, we wait for you.” I opened my eyes and just smiled realizing this wasn’t the time or place He wanted me to leave it.  Now I know some might be saying “Really?  That’s how you decipher the Lord’s guidance? Song lyrics?”  With all that I have been through in my life, I have come to recognize how the Lord speaks to me, but more importantly, I have come to know how incredibly sovereign my Savior is in my everyday life. If He knows I am waiting on Him to act and I pray for wisdom for guidance in that action, He is going to provide the wisdom I seek, according to His Word in James.  It is up to me to prepare my heart to hear and be aware of when He speaks.  So, knowing I needed to wait, I went on with my day and continued with the rest of my errands which led me to another part of town.

My son had broken his glasses and I needed to get them repaired.  I knew this earlier in the day and thought about the area in which I would be going later and lifted up a prayer for anyone who might need this encouragement in that part of town.  As I entered the parking lot, I began to scope out all the cars and those coming and going. I saw an SUV next to me, but I heard quietly “wait.” Something just told me this was not going to be a car that had already been there, but one that would soon pull up. Sure enough, there was one parking spot left and a bright, deep, blue car pulled up and parked.  I patiently watched as this woman got out of the car, limping ever so slightly to find a cart. “There, that one,” I heard, “in this life she has had trouble.” As she made her way into the grocery store, I grabbed the index card and my 3 year old and started for her car.  Hoping not to be startled like yesterday, I looked around before I placed the card between her window and noticed a man sitting on the curb under the shade of a tree, watching me.  With cars zooming through the parking lot, I pressed my daughter close to me. I found the nitch between the window to hold the card firmly in place and then darted off towards the eye doctor office.  As I opened the door to the office, I glanced back behind my shoulder to see if that man was still there, but he was no where in sight.

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I have wondered in the last ten days of this challenge if this is really making a difference, if any of this is really making an impact on individual lives, but more importantly, is this making an eternal impact.  I won’t know of the eternal impact, if any, on this side of heaven, but I can honestly say, the more I press on in this challenge, coming out of my comfort zone, I am beginning to feel a boldness that I haven’t had before and more of a desire to daily share His Word in the lives of those God places before me.  Can’t wait for tomorrow 🙂

Move the Gospel Challenge Day 9

Well, talk about not giving up! Mondays are usually me trying to catch up from the weekend with laundry, grocery shopping, and other domestic engineering duties.  At times I look forward to them as much as someone looks forward to a root canal, but today was pretty awesome because I GOT CAUGHT!!

My first task for the day was to replenish the pantry and so off to Wally World I went.  I found a descent parking spot for a Monday and once again scoped out the parking lot.  It was quite busy as many seemed to be thinking along the same lines as myself to get in and out early.  I watched a woman in an exercising outfit get out of her car with a cigarette out of her mouth and blow smoke into the wind.  I heard an ever so quiet whisper of “that one.”  So, without any hesitation, I grabbed my purse, my 3 year old, along with the index card for that day and headed for her car.  As I tried to place the index card in between her window, the index card bent and I couldn’t find that spot that most cars have to be able to place paper between.  All of a sudden a woman came up behind me and said “How about try this” and she took the index card and tried to help me.  I was at first, startled and then just shocked that someone was stopping to help me leave a note on someone’s car.  Her method worked and I thanked her. She accepted my gratefulness and went on her way.  Something just kinda took over inside of me and I yelled out at her to get her attention and asked her if I could take her picture and began explaining what the note was all about.  She looked at me, smiling and was in agreement….”a person of peace”, I thought!

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A person of peace, indeed,  just as I was taught in Cape Verde!  My heart was so full and I was shocked at myself in the fact that I was so vocal about what I was doing, unashamed at what He was calling me to do on this local mission field.  After doing this challenge for almost 10 days, it was incredibly encouraging to find a person of peace.  I found myself singing a little louder in the aisles of Wally World and intentionally looking directly in the eyes of those I past, making sure they saw the big smile on my face 🙂  Mondays are not so bad as they seem…a little encouragement, persons of peace, and grocery shopping all rolled into one.  Yes, I think I can handle that!

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Move the Gospel Challenge Day 7

I love it when I have a day that goes just so smoothly, my kids are listening and being kind and considerate to one another, all traffic lights are in my favor, lost people don’t seem so lost, no issues at the restaurant, my home magically gets cleaned as I listen to praise and worship music, and all just seems well with the world….today was not one of those days.  It seems the more days I am in this challenge, it really is becoming quite the challenge.  If it isn’t an issue with timing, or tag along kids, it is a heart and attitude issue with myself.  So, with as trying as this day was, I found myself not even in the right frame of mind and heart to even go forth with day seven.

Luckily for me, His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in my weakness!  I know we sometimes throw these scriptures around like they are no big deal, but as I have been meditating on them and putting them to memory, I have found they really have such incredible power.  They are active, living, and can judge the attitude of the heart and thankfully change the attitude of the heart as well.

Pulling into the Publix shopping center to grab some grass-fed beef for dinner, I glanced at the scripture He had given me that day to leave behind..Psalm 145:18-19 “The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.  He fulfills the desires of those who fear. He also hears their cry and saves them.”  My mind thought of my brothers and sisters who are being persecuted in other nations and it didn’t take long for my attitude to change and be one of just humbleness and gratefulness.  I thought “How dare I allow the circumstances of my day dictate my obedience and encouragement to others.”

With those thoughts in mind, it didn’t take long for me to align my heart and mind to this challenge and complete the task for which He has called me to that day.  I became aware of an older SUV that had its’ driver side window down. As usual, I glanced around to check to make sure not too many people were paying attention, got out of my van and nonchalantly placed the index card on the speedometer.

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Another thing I am realizing in this challenge is obedience has a lot more to do with the attitude of the heart than it does than just physically going through the motions.  Judas was obedient, but the attitude of his heart was no more joyful or selfless in desiring to obey Jesus than those that just go through the motions on Sunday morning.  In over 2000 years, following Jesus has never been about a “going through the motions kind of obedience”, but a “He has captured your heart, kind of reckless abandonment obedience.”  Which one do you have?

Move the Gospel Challenge Day 6

Having to leave an index card in front of my children and take a picture of it allowed me to evaluate my motives and agenda in doing this challenge.  My oldest loves to point out my flaws, which I have many, but today she gladly pointed out that taking a picture of these cards and using them in my blog is, in her opinion, boasting.  I believe she attempted to quote the scripture in Matthew 6:5 when Jesus speaks of praying in secret, not like the Pharisees who do it in plain sight and she is right, without a doubt.  We shouldn’t parade our good deeds for all to see, but we should surely parade His goodness within our lives.  Saying that, my motives behind this challenge are definitely not, “look at me”…and if that is what is portrayed, please forgive me.  At first, as He was leading me to do this, I felt this was surely a way to encourage complete strangers on a daily basis, attempting to get people out of their comfort zones and challenge them to do the same. Then, as I began to blog about it, I realized this challenge was more about taking me out of my comfort zone and taking inventory of my daily comings and goings…who I saw, where I went, what did I see, and how would I respond to what I saw?  Would I just put my head down and plow through my day, keeping His Hope inside me or would I really start looking for opportunities to encourage complete strangers with this Hope on a daily basis in real life situations?  If you really know me, then you know I just can not, NOT share the Hope that I have…it is just not possible anymore! So, onto day 6…

Busy day for this mom of four, restaurant owner, and short-term missionary as we got to meet with a couple who desired to know more about what we do in Cape Verde.  If there is ever a time my face has a permanent smile it is when I am talking about where God is working and the opportunity we have to join Him where He is working! As time ran short, we had to quickly get to our kids and then to the restaurant so I could get payroll in before a certain time. So I found myself unable to leave any cards in my comings and goings this afternoon and I thought I’d just have to try again tomorrow, no big deal if I skipped a day.

Seems God wasn’t having that and so after church we headed to the mall to grab some supper for the kids since this mom failed to plan out her day properly.  I was happy in the thought I had been given the opportunity to leave a card, hoping that perhaps it would be left on the window of someone who might had just watched “Woodlawn” and needed that extra encouragement, but I will really never know.  Thankfully, because His ways and his plans for my day were not my own, I was able to, even in my busyness and in my poor planning, He directed my steps to be able to encourage in the least likely of places in my day…the parking lot of a movie theater 🙂

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Where have you left encouragement? I would love to know!  Or am I the only crazy one that is doing this? It wouldn’t be the first time lol 🙂

Move the Gospel Challenge Day 3

The more I go through with this challenge, the more He reveals to me just how many are hurting and how many are lost in this world.  I am reminded how lost I once was, the person I once was, the person I am now, and the person I am becoming due to His grace and the incredibly abundant life I get to live in Christ. It is this abundant life that leads me to encouraging others in anyway the Lord guides me.

On this third day of the challenge I had time before church to treat my kids to Dunkin Donuts. When I entered the parking lot it was bustling with traffic as many trying to get their caffeine fix for the day.  The positioning of the parking lot could be clearly seen from the windows of DD, so I made a mental note not to leave a note in that area of the parking lot when leaving, but ask God for guidance of another area He would prefer me to go in.

As we left I began looking at the vastness of the parking lot and noticed a “loner” kind of car parked under the shade of a tree.  My kids kept asking why I was going so slow and questioning my direction.  This was a little different from the other two days, since I wasn’t concerned with having to answer to anyone of what I was doing and why I was doing it.  Side note here for those who don’t have children: Children want to know everything you are doing and why you are doing it even if it doesn’t pertain to anything they are doing, their needs, or wants…they just have to know or they’ll explode with the thoughts of not knowing! So, after I quickly explained what I was doing to my children, I parked next to this car and silently prayed for the person who would receive this next card, got out of the van, and stuck it in between the car window.

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Having to do this in front of my children made me realize all the more what kind of example I may be setting for them.  They already see their father and I leave them for ten plus days to a foreign mission field every 60 days and now something as simple as this challenge.  I can only hope the example set for them is one that will prepare them to stand firm in His Word and in their faith no matter what others may think. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:18 “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.”

This challenge may very well be foolishness to many that either read this or those that receive one of the index cards, but if it helps one person, just one person out of the 100’s of index cards I plan on leaving, then it was worth it.  Worth it to me, not necessarily for unselfish reasons, but for the reasons it made me slow my life down to take note of the those around me, for the reasons it made me dig into scripture, and for the reasons it made me pray for a complete stranger. Yes, worth it indeed 🙂

Move the Gospel Challenge Day 1

With a family of six, I am bound to end up at the grocery store, the produce stand, the bank, or a school parking lot, at least once during the day.  Today I brought five index cards with me that I had already prayed over and just asked God’s wisdom on where and to whom I was to leave it with.

I needed to pick up a couple of things for dinner so I pulled into Winn Dixie, parked the car and just watched the parking lot for a moment, looking around at those coming and going and listening to that still small voice.  A couple was putting their groceries in the back of their car, another was grabbing a cart getting her list ready.  I watched an elderly man struggle to get out of his “old faithful” pick-up and truck, leaving his cane behind, wobbled the best he could to get to the nearest cart. “Him…I am His strength in his weakness,” I heard. I had noticed he left down his window on this beautiful, blue skied, fall day in south Florida. As he made his way into the grocery store, I quickly got out of my van, walked over to his truck and placed the index card on his steering wheel, hoping not to draw attention to what I just did. There, I did it. I took a deep breath and made my way into the grocery store to begin my shopping. “That wasn’t so bad,” I thought, “Not as hard as it seemed in my head.”

When I finished up at Winn Dixie, I got in my van and began to pull out of my parking spot when I noticed another beat up old truck parked in the farthest part of the parking lot. “There..head there,” I heard. I pulled up behind the truck and questioned the Lord “Really? I thought I was only doing one a day?” He said “I thought you said ‘in your comings and goings’.”  Okay, you got me there…So, I slowly got out of my van and wedged another one in between the window and drove away.

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As I drove home, my mind stayed with those verses and the people who would come across them….I found myself praying for them and reiterating the verses within my heart.  Yea, this isn’t as bad as I made it out to be 🙂