Rory Story #1: What is the color of love?

What color represents love to you? slider-mission

Blue

red

yellow

 Love was blue and grey shades of sadness the night my husband discovered a boy from our church was leaving town for good.

Fear made my husband’s voice quiver.

“I think Rory is leaving for New York. His family is homeless in three days.”

Rory is a 19 year old African-American young man from our Sunday School Class at church. He was introduced to Christianity through Compassion House, a food bank and resource center that is next to our church. He went to Compassion House to get food for his family and eventually work to earn more food by helping around the place.

Rory’s family lived in the ghetto of lakeland and has struggled with poverty and homelessness for years. He has lived in abandoned houses, foster care, group homes and cars. He and his biological mother were on their own after his father died when he was 8 years old. Rory came to our church at 18 years old.

Love became deep shades of red, as this boy captured my husband’s heart in Sunday School each week.

There is something so special about Rory and his personality. He had a genuine love for learning and was an active participant in discussions. Rory was not like most of the kids in Sunday School. As he left church, he walked back to a hard life and not a privileged meal at a restaurant.  He walked back to a life on streets without security that most of take for granted.

Love was shadows of grey for Rory living in the ghetto.

The ghetto: full of  hopelessness and empty promises from those he trusted.The ghetto: devoid of true joy. It is survival. It is getting by. It is never living for more than Friday. Rory told me that when you live in the ghetto, you start to get used to believing you will never get out. There is nothing more. Good people have nothing and bad people are rewarded with  money in bad ways. They seem to prosper.

Three weeks ago, love became yellow in my husband’s heart, shining hope for Rory in a moment of decision.

Mark shined an opportunity that came with a question:

“Rory, will you stay in lakeland, Florida? I can help you here but I can’t help you in New York.”

Mark quickly left church with Rory and asked him mother to trust him to try to help Rory. His mother agreed to let us take care of him, to try to help build a better life for Rory in the future. Through her tears and some hesitation, Rory made the decision to stay in Lakeland. He came to live with us on the other side of town.

Love was orange as fear and in trepidation filled my heart-

MARK- ARE YOU CRAZY!!!!! We just sent a boy off to school and now we are taking on another one that I don’t even know! I felt a wave of panic mixed fear and impending disaster-

Love was white in my heart that day- White is safe- White is plane – White is status quo- white throws money at problems but not it’s heart!

That’s what safe white girls do!

A solution was born that Rory would live across the street at my brother-in-laws house. A safe entry to a stranger coming to live with us, unexpectedly but not completely unwanted. It was my fear that was preventing me from extending full love to this boy who needed my help, our help, our family.

He arrived with dirty clothes that we began to wash and a gorgeous smile that was irresistible. His hug left me speachless that first day.

Somewhere deep inside, I heard a voice say, Will you make him a meal? Will you just make him food?

Love became the color of grilled chicken and salad. It became the color of green beans on a plate from a can.

Love smelled like good food. I’ve smelled that kind of love before in Malnutrition Centers in Guatemala with Orphans Heart.

As I took that plate of food to Rory, I was filled with joy, more than any joy you find in a store or experience on a vacation. I heard that familiar heartbeat in my ears, the one that beats for the needy, the poor, the hungry. Yes, I know that heart beat. I usually have to get on a plane and fly around the world to help hungry kids. Now I just have to open my door.

Love became purple, a royal calling was being born and I began to see this boy with a kingdom purpose for God in this world.

This was not ordinary street kid, this was a man in the making. This boy had potential for so much more and with just a little, his life could become a lot.

My Christian speaking and writing ministry seems ridiculous in light of the tangible opportunity I had to change the color of love in my heart.

Yesterday, my brother-in-laws house sold. Rory moved into my home, into my son’s bedroom, and into my heart.

Love was green yesterday, as I shopped for groceries in the store with him.

I let Rory drive the family mini-van to the grocery store, practicing his driving. ” Miss Tracey, I am whipping’ the hoop-tie . ( that means driving the car )  He is a becoming a great driver as Mark helped him get his learners permit. He practices driving our cars in a back field behind our house. We walked in the grocery and he grabbed the cart to push for me. He remembered doing that for his own mom.

An unexpected simple experience suddenly transformed into a bond experience.  We picked out food and vegetables and yes, I even let him get sugared cereal, Frosted Flakes! We laughed in the grocery story as he pushed my cart. I felt just like I do with my own boys. My little helper just happens to be 250 pounds and 19 years old.  We laughed as we saw Black families looking at me strange and white people looking at him. As we were checking out of the lane, I noticed I was late to pick up my daughter.

Rory smiled and laughed- ” Uh Oh, I am late to pick up my little sister! ”

We headed to the car, picked up Faith, and headed home

Love is black, rich deep ebony, warming my soul and fueling my faith.

As I fluffed pillows on his bed and took laundry to be washed, my heart filled with pride as if this boy could be my own son. Rory is in my home and love is black, rich deep ebony in my heart. My faith sees this young man as a great leader and a prosperous individual.

I may never be the color of his skin but he is the color of my heart.

Today, I am thankful I didn’t stay the color of fear or the color of my safety-

I am glad God changed the color of love in my heart-

Will you change the color of you heart?

Think about my initial question:

What color is love and will you let God change that color to love someone else- ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Risk Becoming Overwhelmed

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Summer is a hard time for me as I remember the loss of my nine year old nephew, Philip. He died from a very rare case of PAM- primary ambeobic meningitis contracted from lake water. The hot humidity in the air feels like a slap in my face every time I walk outside and feel the sting of reminders. Memories can overwhelm me.

Recently, my sister in law (Phil’s Mom)  posted a quote she found written in his last science report for school.

He penned these words,

“To me, science is so complicated that when I try to figure it out, I feel like I could get amnesia. But I am still so interested in why things happen that I enjoy the risk of becoming overwhelmed by it.”

This summer God has given me Phil’s own words to comfort my own heart and gain wisdom for the future! 

 

I must begin to risk becoming overwhelmed 

 

Risk becoming overwhelmed when I am  sad and don’t have all the answers ….

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

Jeremiah 33:3

Risk becoming overwhelmed when I am afraid and fear I don’t have words to comfort my family…

“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants–from this time on and forever,” says the LORD.

Isaiah 59:21

Risk becoming overwhelmed when I am mad my resources seem limited….

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:19 

Dear God-  

Even as I write these words, my fingers and heart tremble because at times, I am so scared.

Help me run the risk of daring greatly in this life, when I don’t have all the answers, when I seem to be overwhelmed with uncertainty.

Help me trust your overwhelming power, peace and joy that will enable me to live for your great kingdom purposes.

Release my hold on my small plans to play it safe in this life-

Oh God, help me risk becoming overwhelmed…

 

Thank you Phil- I will always love and remember you ! You will always be my precious nephew!


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Prayer Practice for Parenting: Using verses in a prayer as if spoken by God to your heart.

I found a letter I wrote myself during my grief counseling.  I was hurting over the ways I watched my children struggle through this painful situation. 

As their mom, I was afraid of all the ways I was failing them with the pain of my own grief.  They were too young to understand that their mom was almost paralyzed by the hurt.

My counselor told me to write the verses of comfort into a letter to myself, as if God was speaking directly to me-

The statements were based on scriptures but put in first person form-

This practice helped me personalize many of the promises of scripture in a deeply meaningful way.

Maybe you need a little parenting pick me up from the Lord?

Parenting in this day and age is a daunting task. Without Christ, it can be an near to impossible mission to raise children to walk with God in a really challenging world. I was just reading these words spoken by Jesus to his disciples,

Mathew 19:26- Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Is there an impossible situation you are wrestling in your child’s life? Are you secretly worried that a weakness in you will damage or limit God’s work in your child’s life?

I am so grateful for this reminder from the heart of Christ himself that my impossible parenting task is possible to God. As I focus on God’s power and not my own, my heart can rest in the security of God’s work in the lives of my children.I pray you will hear the words of your Father in heaven spoken to you today.

Here is an example of my prayer that I wrote.

Maybe you can take the same challenge and write verses in prayer form as if spoken to you by God?

Dear One-

Why are you so downcast and discouraged? It is I who formed and made your child in the secret places of your being. My heart for you today is to rest. Come to me with all that you hold onto, your fears, your doubts and I will give you the rest you are longing to find. I will carry your load for you. Will you stop fretting and trying to do my job in your child’s life? Only I have the power to create change by the work of my Holy Spirit. Take Heart. Do not be afraid or discouraged. I am doing a new thing. You may not see it with your eyes, or hear it with your ears. Your mind can not understand what I have planned for you but it is a wonderful plan to prosper  you and to bring you hope. My blessings are generational as I bless to the thousandth generation.

Rest today knowing your child’s future is in my hands.

 

 

The Hidden Treasures of Faith

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The Hidden Treasures of Faith:

Day One: Planning the Hunt

 

Have you ever planned a treasure hunt for your children?

A treasure hunt includes a long strand of written clues that lead to a final gift or reward. The clues heighten the child’s imagination as they make their journey toward the treasure they believe know they will find. Their wonder soars as they continue in the faith that you will help them along the way, should they get “stuck.”

If you’ve ever played this game with your children you know that they can sometimes become too eager for the prize, neglecting the process and skipping over the carefully positioned guideposts. These children need your intervention to remind them of the importance of the journey.

For another child, you may have to give added inspiration and direction when they misunderstand a clue, get frustrated, or head in the wrong direction, away from the path laid out for them.

The intention of this game is clear: for the child to become successful in discovering a treasure along a hidden pathway.

Is it not the same with our heavenly Father?

Just as we delight in watching our children work through the clues and finally reach their goal, expressions of our faith and confidence along life’s hidden pathways actually please God. They tell Him we are listening and we trust Him (even with our life) to keep each promise He’s given.

Hebrews 11: 1 says, Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (NIV).

Our faith is like a child playing treasure hunt, assured that the journey will produce something good for them. Something planned uniquely for them.

Something wonderful.

Do you believe that God is leading you on a treasure hunt today?

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Do you know that He is faithful to stand by you and guide you—through all of life’s mysteries and riddles, its twists and turns—to your reward?

Maybe you feel like jumping head first into the excitement of a new adventure to find what God has waiting for you? To you, do not be tempted to rush ahead to the treasure, trashing the process. God’s “clues” are as much about proper placement as they are about proper timing. Still, it takes lots of discipline to be led into life by the Spirit, as opposed to rushing in on the strength of your own flesh. So enjoy each moment as you run in the pathway of His delight. Rest in the blessing of the process and trust God with the treasure (placed specially for you) at the end of your journey.

If you are, instead, the child who needs a little more inspiration for the journey of faith, good news! I have some extra help to start you in the right direction: Paul reminds us that, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9, KJV). In other words, in your wildest dreams you can’t begin imagine how awesome God’s plan for you is—how rich the reward prepared for you.

Never give up, good and faithful servant! God has a plan for your life, even when you can’t see it … even when you can’t fathom one could exist.

Take heart! When you can’t see how things will work out, when you can’t hear His voice telling you all the details, be assured! He is leading you further still.

And all this, simply because He loves you.

Feeling Trashed? Day 3: The gift of imperfection

a repurposed heart

Friend-

I wish we could sit down and you could see my heart that has stopped longing for perfect plans …. I  am learning to embrace the gift of my  imperfect life. I don’t like this process anymore than you do but I am finding so much more joy in living in the truth of my human state. I desperately need God no matter how many years I have served him. I will never arrive at the “easy”part until the gates of heaven open for me. ( and honestly, on a bad day, I can’t wait!)

It is only when we feel trashed, when we realize we don’t have it all together, when we weep for our broken state that we find God’s power in a new way. It is such a relief to finally realize I don’t have to pretend.

You don’t have to act perfect or look like you are perfect or try to be perfect! ( whew)

My husband and I  helped run the Celebrate Recovery program of our church. Step one was to realize we are not God, to admit we are powerless and that our lives have become unmanageable. I know this sounds crazy, but the people who began to take this step were able to run with freedom in life! I was one of those people! Praise God! I was honored to be counted among the broken souls that cried out to God with their whole heart for help! Truly, these men and women are some of the most trustworthy and true saints, reaching out to others with the healing they have received.I learned a little secret about hitting the bottom of an emotional trash can –

When we hit the bottom, there are big hands to hold us and lift us up!

To fall before God on our face and admit we don’t have it all together is a gift. Scripture says ” Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.” Even today, I am wrestling an area of my life that makes me feel trashed. It is not the intensive grief I had when my mother died, but every day it makes me feel like a failure. I sat in my living room tonight and began to admit- Oh God, I don’t have this all together! I totally admit that I am powerless to change if you do not help me! I woke up this am and finally feel the first wave of freedom as I know the Lord is coming to help me. I also confessed this area of weakness to my husband and asked for his help.

In this place, God will usher in the power of HIS spirit to do work in the deepest broken parts of our hearts.

Another gift is the opportunity to dare greatly in the fight for our faith. Will you trust and not give up ? Will you walk away from the struggles and let them consume your joy?

It is my deepest prayer you will put on your big girl panties with me and learn to fight back!

Take that! Pow! Bam! Biff! Let’s give it to those emotions that try to break us down !

I love this quote!

“It is not the critic who counts… The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; …who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  Theodore Roosevelt

 

When fear yells, You will fail again! Tell fear that failure is a part of learning to have victory!

When anger rages, You are not enough! Tell your anger, God is enough, I will dare greatly to trust Him!

When sadness cries, You are powerless to be helped! Tell sadness God has all the power you need!

I pray like a  heroic women of the faith that you will dare greatly to yell back at your emotions with the truth.

We must get in the ring of the emotional fight and place our confidence in Christ who has already won our war.

And friend, if you need a girl who knows how to throw a big punch to your emotions, look no further. I have been known to do a little fighting back in my day. I am ready to remind you that God will give you the power to conquer the pain of failed plans !

You may “feel trashed ” with emotions but I assure you, you are most definitely God’s treasure –

A Thankful Heart – #2

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#2: My heart felt like a big game of scrabble. After losses in our family, I struggled to find the words of thankfulness and joy for people in my life. My heart was in pieces. As my grief lifted, I focused on the people of love in my life as invaluable treasures. Being thankful to God was a key that opened my heart to feel joy. Each day I hope to provide you will reminders for your Facebook page that you can share with others! Blessings to you today on the adventure of being thankful! If you dare, leave me one letter that describes the thankfulness in your heart. #TwoWeekstoRepurpose