Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Reflections... "Satisfied"


Satisfied... So many people headed back to the store today because they are not satisfied with their Christmas gift in some way.

 But Jesus was born...

Mary was satisfied with her bundle of joy. The babe, this gift, wrapped in swaddling clothes.

The Magi came to see the babe and were satisfied... they bowed in worship.

This perfect gift, the lamb nailed to a cross... and the wrath of God was satisfied.

Because God was satisfied...

We put this gift on, this perfect gift that fits each soul perfectly...

And we are satisfied...

Not just for that one day, but for tomorrow and all eternity.

Yes, I am satisfied with this gift...

God thank you...

Thank you that you were satisfied too.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Alaska Mission trip

     I am sorry I have not blogged in awhile. I have asked a friend to be a guest blogger for my belated update on our Alaska Mission trip. Robin Hiatt went with me to Alaska and has a heart for missions in Alaska. Please read what she has so wonderfully written.

What do you think of when you think about Alaska?  Beautiful scenery?  Amazing wildlife?  Quirky reality shows?  I confess that I tune in for all things Alaska. I'm a fanatic! My love affair with our largest state began in 2007 with a mission trip to the Anchorage area. During that trip, I saw first-hand the extremes that define Alaska.

Surrounded by the most breathtaking scenery in the world, you might think that living in Alaska would be a dream come-true, but reality can be more of a nightmare. Many Alaskans struggle with alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, and poverty. These factors contribute to one of the highest suicide rates in the country. They are surrounded by an abundance of natural resources, but a scarcity of spiritual ones.

Ministry is difficult. 27% of Alaskans consider themselves atheists, compared to 16% of Americans in the lower 48. 56% of Americans say that religion is important in their lives, while only 31% of Alaskans place great importance on religion. These attitudes make Alaska the state with the lowest rate of church attendance in the nation. So how do you reach people who won't go to church? Go to them! I recently went with a group from Hocutt to partner with Graceworks, a ministry that has a heart to reach Alaskans through park and neighborhood ministry. Through resources and structure that Graceworks provides, ministry teams like ours go into strategic areas to share our faith through Bible stories, arts and crafts, games and park parties. Ministry in Alaska is less about going to church, and more about building relationships.

Each time I go, I am touched by the children that I work with. Just like anywhere else, they are the ones who are the heartbreak and hope of their environment and upbringing. Many of them are starved for attention, structure, and sometimes food. It's amazing what God can accomplish through kool-aid, play-dough, and peanut butter sandwiches!

Alaskans are tough people. They have to be to live in such a harsh environment. They are independent, self-sufficient, and distrustful of outside interference. So, why go if ministry is that difficult? Because, "In His great mercy He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." ( I Peter 1:3b) What a gift of hope we have! We want to share that message of hope to:

  • Children who crave attention and love.
  • Adults and teenagers who feel trapped in a life of addiction, depression or rebellion.
  • Communities who feel neglected by local government, and look for ways to provide enriching programs for their children.
  • Local churches who don't have the people or resources to effectively evangelize and do outreach in surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Individuals who need the gospel, prayer, or just encouragement to keep seeking Him.
C. S. Lewis said, "Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise."

Mission trips give you the time and opportunity to share the answer to peoples' needs- salvation- the reminder of how precious that is, makes the experience sometimes more beneficial to us than anyone else we came in contact with.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

I Hope You Smile!

     One thing is certain, we live in a scary, dangerous world! We read the newspapers and turn on the news and we hear about tornado's, earthquakes, stock market and the economy teetering on the verge of collapse! So, when we as Mom's who look after our children see this, it can be hard at times to cope.

   But... we are not just Mother's, we are daughter's of the King (insert Hallelujah here). When we read God's Word in Proverbs 31: 25b it says,  "... She smiles at the future."  You may read that and say, "How?",  "In this world that I live in, how can I possibly smile at the future?"

     I will tell you how. Because God is already there. God who is our Father, is there in the future. He holds our tomorrows in His Almighty hand. Whatever lies ahead, the trials and disappointments, God will be right there with you, helping you bear your burdens each step down this journey called life.  We are not promised an easy road.   But remember He cares for you and loves you. Never forget that dear child... dearest daughter of the King!

     Another reason we can smile is because Romans 8:28 is true. This beloved verse says, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."  We need to keep our minds focused on God, and focused on the precepts of Scripture. Do you love God? Then this promise is for you.  All things are not necessarily good. But all things will work for good. Maybe not right now, and maybe not even in the near future, but they will. God's good is that He is molding us into the image of His Son. He will use even the hard, difficult things to do this.

    Another reason we smile at the future is we know that in our future is heaven! This is not our home. Once we have traveled all the way down this road, and the Lord calls our name. We will go to heaven to be with Him and all our loved ones who have gone on before us.  We will spend eternity with God. Smile at that sweet sister in Christ!

     In the earlier part of the same verse, (Proverbs 31: 25a) it says, "Strength and dignity are her clothing," There is a sweet, older lady on facebook that I have come to love. She often says, "Now don't forget to go out today without your smile!" No matter what you wear, beautiful ladies, you always look your prettiest with a smile on your face!

     There was a country song that was popular a few years ago. The name of it was, "I Hope You Dance".  Well not everyone can dance. So today my wish for all you sweet, precious Mothers is...

The future is calling... I hope you smile!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"Lessons Learned and Things Pondered" by guest blogger Carrie Nixon

This is another guest blogger post from Carrie Nixon. This is her second time to go to Kenya with Hocutt. It was a privilege to get to go to Kenya with her once again!
Here is what she had to say:

     One thing I have realized this trip is how large the world really is. We sing the song "It's a Small World After All" all the time, but I think what we really mean is "It's a Small American World After All."  It's so easy to get all wrapped up in our lives and our surroundings and not be aware of what is going on in other parts of the world.  I am guilty of it. We are all so desensitized. It's almost as if the U.S. is the Earth and the other continents are actually other planets, and therefore don't matter to most of us.  It's so easy to watch those commercials about saving the children and either turn the channel or call it a scam or just pretend that you never saw it. But, I have seen it with my own two eyes, and it's not a scene I will soon forget, not that I want to.  I'm not suggesting that we should all run out to Compassion ministries or some other child sponsorship program and "adopt" a child.  What I am suggesting is that you be aware.  Be aware of all that you have.  Even in the midst of our struggles, each one of us has access to clean water to drink, a flushing toilet, a roof over our heads, a soft place to lay our heads at night, and more clean, safe food and water to eat and drink than we can possibly consume.  The Father has blessed each one of us with many, many gifts, but we take most of them for granted everyday.

     Another thing that I experienced was the pure Joy of The Lord.  There is a difference between being poor and living in poverty, a huge difference. Not to go on and on about the horrible conditions the folks we visited live in, but it's true.  It's not true that every Kenya lives this way, but where we were ministering, it's very true.  Yet, in the midst of all of it, they have a joy you don't see everyday, a joy that can only come from The Lord.  My husband did a little experiment while he was in Dominican Republic a few years back, and the same is true form my time in Kenya.  If I sat in the midst of all the goings on, on any given day, and closed my eyes and just listened to all that was happening around me, what do you think I heard?  I heard friends talking and laughing together.  I heard children playing and giggling, much like my own do in their backyard.  There was never a complaint, never a negative tone or word.  Looking through a material lens, one would wonder what they have to be happy about.  But then they call you into their church building for a time of worship and prayer, and you see it. You see where their joy comes from.  And even though we couldn't understand every word they sang, we knew Who they were singing and dancing for. And much like the beauty of their land, it's a scene that I can't hardly explain, one that no picture will ever really capture.  It is a glorious thing to see, an experience that has left me in awe of our Great Lord, yet again.

     It was such a privilege to be given the opportunity to work with the children of Africa, to teach them about all that God has done for them already and what He has promised for their future. What an honor it was to teach them the songs my own girls sing and to hear their sweet voices harmonizing as they sang.  It's funny to see how God will take your life and give you the ministry He wants you to have. It was only a year ago that I said to somebody, very emphatically, "Other people's kids are just not my ministry!"  It seems like God has been set on proving me wrong or proving to me that I don't get to choose my ministry ever since.  It started with subbing at our preschool, which lead to a permanent sub position at the end of last school year, then to a permanent teaching position this year, and now all that way to Africa!  I have loved every minute of it, and I have adored every child I have come in contact with. Who would've thought? Certainly not me!  I can only pray that I have been as much of a blessing to them as they all have been to me. Whether while preparing to go to Kenya or while I was there, God was faithful every step of the way and He absolutely lavished His wonderful love upon me, and I am so very grateful.

Monday, March 3, 2014

"I went to Kenya to teach" by guest blogger Synora Cummings

Today I have the privilege of having Synora Cummings as my guest blogger. Synora is a member of Hocutt Baptist church where I serve alongside my husband. I am so proud of Synora. She listened to the Lord and went all the way to Kenya, even though she has small children. She told me, "When God says go... you go!"
It was such a joy to be able to go to Kenya with Synora.

Here is what she has written about her experience in Kenya:

I went to Kenya to teach, but what I learned was

     the spirit of humility,
     the spirit of patience.

I learned to be flexible in my flexibility.

I learned the spirit of serving with a cheerful heart
     the spirit of receiving with gratefulness.

I learned that time can stand still when you close your eyes and open your ears to the laughter,
joy, and communion to what seems to be less, but is far greater than any physical possession.

I went to Kenya to teach, but what I learned is a longing of the fullness of God,

     a freedom of worship,
     and everything is a song.

I learned the joy of a child's heart is the very delight of His.

I learned there is no offering too small and there is nothing greater when given with a heart of purity.

I learned that God is everywhere,

     the sun on my face,
     the wind in my hair.

I went to Kenya to teach, but what I learned is to say YES and live beyond my fears trusting and believing that He is with me, breaking every barrier I have built, equipping me.

I learned that a clenched fist only gives white knuckles, but when I open and outstretch my hand,
God can do big things.

Synora Cummings
Kenya Mission 2014
Hocutt Baptist Church

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Older women leading younger women in the worship of the Lord

     I have been pondering something I learned from two very different tribes we ministered to in Kenya.  One thing these women had in common: they took the worship of their God very seriously!

     In the Maasai tribe, there was an older woman that I noticed last year and this year.  She was meticulous in her wearing of the beads and necklaces. She wanted to do her Maasai dance perfectly before the Lord, and as an example to the younger Maasai women.

     Last year I watched her dance with all that was within her to the Lord. She looked around and noticed that some of the younger women were not dancing with as much gusto. So, she began to scold them for not taking their worship of the Lord seriously enough. 

     I watched her this year dancing just as earnestly, with all her might, to please the Father. This was not to please the Mzungu's that were watching, instead it was an offering to the Lord. She did not look at us. She was concentrating on what she was doing.

     I also noticed an older woman in the Kamba tribe that was the same way. She was dancing with so much joy and happiness before the Lord. Not worried about what we thought,  just caught up in the worship. Betsy, (a fellow team member who is 70 years old), danced with this woman too!  She is someone who is also not afraid to worship the Lord with all her might.

     I noticed two things they had in common.  It was the older women who took the worship of the Lord very seriously. My what a lesson for us in America! 

     Before you say you don't believe in that, or I could never do that, maybe we need to look at some verses.  Psalm 30:11 says, "You have turned for me my mourning into dancing, You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness."  Jeremiah 31:13" Then maidens will dance and be glad, and the young men and old, together, For I will turn their mourning into joy..."

     So many times in our churches in America, the older people have just let the younger lead out in worship. Many have become tired, I realize that.  But we should become energized when we come before the Lord to worship Him! We should not just be content to sit back and  think, " I have had my time of doing things in the church, let the younger ones do it." (I have had someone say this to me!) 

     Oh how wonderful it would be to have the older people lead us younger people in the worship of the Lord!  To be proud of their worship to the point that if we didn't "give it our all", they would scold us!

The lesson here:  As long as the Lord let's us live, and gives us breath...

We should worship and  praise Him... young AND old!

Older Maasai woman serious in her worship of the Lord.

Older Kamba woman serious in her worship of the Lord. Both of these women are great examples to the young.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Teens are the same all over the world

     Something unexpected happened at the conference on Friday.  A tent full of teenagers showed up! We were not expecting them because we thought they would be in school. However, there they were! So Will asked me to teach them for the afternoon on Friday, February 7th.

     I must confess that at first I was really in a quandary of what to do, or what to say for that matter. I did not come prepared to teach young people, I came prepared to teach women! But there they were like baby birds, with their mouths open ready to be fed.  

     I started by asking them why they were there. What did you come to learn? What would you want to talk about?  I found out that day that teenagers are the same all over the world. They wanted to talk about sex, temptation, and how can a young person stay pure. I found out that day that they, like teenagers in America have problems with Internet pornography and it was a real eye opener for me. I did not realize that they had that much access to computers or the Internet for them to have that problem, but they do.

So... God filled my mouth is the only way that I can explain it.  I talked to them about David asking the same exact question as they did, In Psalm 119: 9-16:
"How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.  I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.  Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.  With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.  I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.  I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.  I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word."
     I told them that their mind was like a well, what you put into it, you draw from. If you meditate on the scriptures you can draw from them in times of temptations. Also, the Scripture "I will set no unclean thing before my eyes." Psalm 101:3. We talked about the fact that our minds are recording everything we look at. Once we view it, we cannot erase it. So be careful what you allow yourself to see.
      Another great Scripture to quote is: II Timothy 2:22 " Flee youthful lusts and pursue righteousness..."  Also, another wonderful verse for temptation is: I Corinthians 10:13, " No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it."  Look for the way of escape that the Lord provides for us, because God's Word promises us that He has provided one.
     They left for the day and Will and I agreed if they came back on the next day, Saturday, I would teach them again. So that evening I prepared by looking through my notebook and finding that I had actually brought my lesson that I taught from the "I Can Fly" school last year. Praise God! Carrie also gave me her lesson on the "Armor of God" from Ephe

     The next day, not only did they all return, but brought other teens with them! So for the morning session we talked about putting on the whole armor of God from Ephesians 6:11-17. I explained to them that this would also be a very useful tool in overcoming temptations. We used a poster that I let them fill in with their own languages, words for each piece of armor. I tried to pronounce their words and that's when the laughter would erupt. Once again showing how similar teenagers are all over the world!  Then I taught the lesson I brought from the "I Can Fly" school on "Making Wise Decisions". That covered the morning session.

     The entire afternoon session I spent teaching "The Prodigal Son".. Who Jesus was talking to (The Pharisees and who they are), Then the Prodigal, The "Prodigal brother who stayed home" and then about "The Loving Father", or "The God who runs". 

     I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this! I hoped the youth received as much from it as I did. What I received from it was the blessing of being totally and completely used by God. Because I wasn't prepared to teach this group, God took over. That's the best, and only way I can describe it. When you make yourself available to be used by God, He works in and through you. He brought things to my mind to answer each question and also what to teach. He spoke through me during this whole time and that is a wonderful feeling. 

     I am always amazed that God wants to use me at all. If we just make ourselves available, He will put us in situations where we can be used of Him and then... just watch out... He shows up... and shows off!!

 My interpreter, Dorcas

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Teaching and Learning from the Kamba women

     February 7th we traveled to Machakos to teach the Kamba people.  Betsy and I taught. I taught first, and once again taught on Hannah.  I was blown away by the women's questions at the end. I was so glad that between myself, Betsy and Marilyn, we could answer them. One thing that I noticed was how differently the Kamba ladies reacted to the same story in the Bible about Hannah.  They did not focus on the second wife because these women are not co-wives with another woman.

     One thing that blessed me so much was the way these women would review everything they heard in the lesson. They would talk to each other go over everything they heard. They would build each other up, encourage one another to do what they each heard in the lesson. In talking with Trevor about this he called it, "Oral tradition". Where they would tell everything back to the teacher and to each other. Then they may pass it along to others in the village who may not have attended the conference. I don't know who was blessed more by this, the other ladies who attended, or me? By the time they were finished summing everything up they heard, I had tears in my eyes!  What wonderful listeners they were, so hungry to learn and to know more about God's Word.... What wonderful, godly women.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Teaching at Maasai school

     On Wednesday, February 5th, Synora, Carrie and I had a pleasant surprise of going to speak at a Maasai school in one of the villages.  Synora and I took one group of children and taught them. Just out under a large tree, Synora taught them several Bible lessons, she also had pictures to show them that went with the lessons. She did a great job with them. Then I taught them about the different kinds of hearts. From Ezekiel 36:26 "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you, and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."  I talked to the children about the fact that our hearts are wicked and hard, like stone. But because of what Jesus did, He gives us eyes to see that we need a Savior, and we can repent of our sins and He cleanses our hearts, and softens them and makes us clean. He loves us, and washes our hearts clean. Many of the children raised their hands to receive Christ as Savior that day.  I do not know who was genuine and who wasn't. That is up to God. He is the One who knows their hearts.

     Carrie was working with another group doing games and they absolutely love the parachute. Then we switched, and she took our group, and we talked to her group. Synora and I did the same lessons with the second group. Again, many of the children raised their hands to be saved, and prayed to receive Christ as their Savior. Two of the teachers were our interpreters. The principal and the teachers are all very receptive to us coming in and teaching the children. I am thankful for the opportunity to go into their schools and teach.  I pray that God will send people to them to water the seed that we planted, that they will grow in their faith.
That their little hearts will remain tender and pliable to the Holy Spirit.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Kenya Mission trip 2014/ Maasai women

     I have not blogged since our last Mission trip in October! I went on another Mission trip in February. This time the trips were very close together!

     February 4th, we went to speak to the Maasai people. It was a very hot day, as usual. We spoke to the Maasai women under a tree. Betsy spoke first to the women on marriage, then I spoke about Hannah in the Bible. They were a little bit animated at the end of this because Hannah in the Bible was one of two wives to Elkanah. Since so many of the Maasai women are co-wives with other women, they found a kin-ship with Hannah. They felt for Hannah who was being teased and harassed by Penninah. This opened the door for many questions from the Maasai women. Marilyn followed up with a talk about our hearts. The condition of our hearts, and how to also be kind to one another because God was kind to us and forgave us.  I did not know Marilyn before this trip. She is from South Africa. She is a lovely woman and a wonderful teacher. What amazes me each and every time I go to Kenya is the team that God puts together! Even though we did not get together to co-ordinate our lessons, they all went together so well, and flowed perfectly together. Almost like one lesson would follow-up and answer any questions from the previous lesson. That is only something that God can do... He still amazes me!