Taking a Break

May God continue to bless our great nation.

I will have family in town over the next few weeks and so I’m taking a break. I pray that you and your family have a wonderful 4th of July. I hope that we all take a little time to give thanks for this country that God has so richly blessed and ask Him for continued blessing and guidance. I hope to meet you back here soon.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Eliminating Srongholds

Wasps are particularly vicious around their nests.

On a recent Salkehatchie mission trip I attended, we encountered lots of wasps and found many wasp nests. When we eventually removed the nests, the wasps moved on too.

I felt prompted to take a picture of one of those many nests. I wasn’t sure why at the time, but I’ve learned to follow those promptings which commonly come from the Holy Spirit.

I didn’t think much about those wasps after they were gone, but as I was scrolling through my pictures after I returned home, the shot of the nest caught my eye. It doesn’t look like much and is completely harmless once it’s taken down, but when it’s attached and supporting wasps, that’s an entirely different scenario altogether.

When wasps have an active nest, they will aggressively defend it. It becomes larger and larger if left unchecked. It can become a home to many stinging insects and can become very dangerous.

But, once it gets knocked down, those dangerous wasps will move on to a different location. They won’t just simply rebuild in the same spot.

That wasp nest made me think about strongholds that we have in our own lives. We all have areas of weakness where we allow the Enemy to whisper in our ear and to build a nest of sorts. It could be anything ranging from pride, self-doubt, anger, hurt or unforgiveness to name a few. The list of human weakness is vast and when we don’t put on the Armor of God, we can find ourselves unprotected.

Over time, strongholds for Satan can be built and when people come near to challenge them, the wasps will fly. Those stings hurt.

Think about it. When we come across the path of someone who has been hurt in the past, we can reach out to them and they can strike out us for what seems like no good reason at all. We can in turn become angry with them and the wasp nest for both of us continues to grow and thrive.

But, there is another way. We can prayerfully ask God to show us those strongholds and ask for help removing them. The Holy Spirit will help us knock them down. It’s not always easy and we may sometimes get stung. However, once they are gone, they can no longer harm us.

We can be free.

A picture of a wasp nest reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character, Salkehatchie Series, Trusting God | 2 Comments

The Enormity of Grace

Grace is huge.

On the final night of our Salkehatchie mission trip, we all participated in communion. We do that every year and it’s always a meaningful service. But, this year, was a communion service like I had never participated in before.

We were all called to kneel at the alter. As we waited for the pastor to come around, he handed us each an enormous hunk of bread. I’ll have to admit that I found it kind of strange. I have taken communion at many different churches over the course of my lifetime.

Sometimes it has been in the form of perfectly round little wafers. Sometimes it’s been tiny pieces of bread. Sometimes it has been small pieces of Saltine crackers. I have stood up and knelt down and even passed the communion tray. The procedures may have varied from church to church, but one thing never changed.

The bread that represented the Body of Christ was small. This makes perfect sense because communion is remembrance and there are often many people to feed.

It’s also usually a solemn service with few words spoken as we are called to contemplate with quiet reverence, the enormity of Jesus’ sacrifice.

But, that night as I waited for the cup to come around and made a mental note of the very large piece of bread in my hand, the pastor addressed us. He told us that he was sure we had noticed the large portion of bread that we all held in our hands. He told us that grace was big like the bread that we held. He told us that we would have to spend some time chewing on that bread in our hands and that we should spend some time “chewing” on the idea of the enormity of grace.

I suspect his message was specifically meant for the teenagers present, but it struck a cord deep in my own heart.

How often do we just breeze through communion and life for that matter, taking grace for granted? It’s complete forgiveness of sins, forgiveness for anything we have ever done. It’s the bridge to a relationship with God and to Eternity. It’s huge, but like the communion service, we can sometimes allow it to become commonplace.

When the pastor finished offering us all the cup, he pointed out all of the crumbs on the floor. He reminded us that grace was messy just like sin is messy.

After the service, we all went on to individually share the ways we had seen God that week. He was everywhere, but of course, He’s always everywhere just as grace is ever present, we just often don’t take the time to look.

An unconventional communion service reminded me to seriously consider and give thanks for the enormity of grace. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character, Salkehatchie Series, Watching for God | Leave a comment

Removing the Bad

Sometimes we have to allow the removal of all of the rotten, before we can build something better.

On a recent mission trip that I attended, I was throwing old shingles into a dumpster. When we began our work, the dumpster was completely empty. But, after we had been at work on the home for a few days, I noticed that the dumpster was getting full.

We had to tear off all of the old shingles before we could put on new ones and they had to go into the dumpster. After we removed the old shingles, we found quite a few boards that had rotted due to weather exposure. They had to be removed and put in the dumpster as well.

If we would have put new shingles over rotten wood. The wood would have continued to rot. Those old, rotten boards would not have been able to support the weight of the new shingles and they certainly would not have held up over time.

No, the bad had to be stripped away entirely before we could build something new and lasting.

That dumpster was ugly as was all of its contents, but it was completely necessary for transformation. Its symbolism spoke to me so loudly that I had to snap a picture.

Don’t we go through a similar process when we allow Jesus to work on our hearts?

We often carry around ugly and rotten things underneath our shingled exterior. Sometimes, like that roof, no one can even see them or knows that they are there, but us.

But, like a good roofer, Jesus knows, and He comes along and chips away at that exterior, exposing the bad underneath. Everyone’s bad looks different. It may be anger, hurt, shame, pride, anxiety, resentment or anything that separates us from the love of Christ.

After He exposes it, He cuts it out and throws it in the dumpster, replacing it with faith, hope, forgiveness, and love and then He shingles over all of that with grace.

But, we have to be willing to allow Him not only to expose the bad stuff, but to remove it and throw it away. That dumpster can get pretty full and ugly, but we have to allow it to fill up so that it can be hauled away for good.

Jesus calls us to live an abundant life with Him and to be transformed into something new. In order to do that, we have to be able to worship Him with our whole hearts. We can’t do that if we are carrying around rotten parts that need to be let go.

A half-full dumpster reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character, Salkehatchie Series, Trusting God | 1 Comment

Trusting God

The Creator of the Universe always has the final say.

On a recent mission trip my family took to South Carolina, we were planning on working on two houses on two different work sites. Both sites required new roofs which is not unusual for Salkehatchie mission houses.

What was unsettling was that the weather report called for 80% chance of rain on Monday and 100% on Tuesday. We were undaunted.

When a man came to our site to help us get the shingles on the roof, he told our site leader, “that there was no way he would open a roof today.”

Our site leader smiled. He told me that he started to tell him that we were working for Jesus, but he didn’t.

I had reminded the teens before we got on the roof that the Creator of the Universe was not in any way bound by its laws.

On Monday, we completely tore off the shingles on one side of the roof and replaced them. We got a few sprinkles of rain at most. After we returned to the church where we were staying and after we all got showers, it began to pour. I smiled as I ran through the drops and gave thanks.

God had come through.

The next day, the rain chances were even higher. There was a discussion about just tearing off a quarter of the shingles, but our site leader, a man of deep faith, thought better of it and gave the go ahead to get them all.

I sent out a prayer request that the weather would hold on Facebook.

I was sent to pick up some boards to replace the rotten ones. As I drove, the rain began to drizzle. I prayed out loud that God would show Himself to these teens. We were acting in faith, opening up that roof and would He please keep the rain at bay.

He once again came through. I kind of pictured Him in the heavens somewhere with His mighty hands holding back the rain, just as He had done with the Red Sea for Moses.

We finished that side of the roof with little to no rain once again and once again, when we left our work site and returned to our church, the rains came.

I giggled as I gave thanks. I will never have any idea how many people prayed for our weather on those two days, but I do know there were warriors involved. We got two roofs put on while the occupants inside stayed dry.

I am reminded that man’s laws, knowledge and predictions mean nothing to God. He has always had the final say and He always will. He demonstrated that fact to me and a bunch of teens not long ago.

Perhaps you needed to see it too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character, Salkehatchie Series, Trusting God, Watching for God | Leave a comment

Inspiring Through Action

Shining the light of Christ can inspire others to do the same.

On a recent Salkehatchie mission trip to South Carolina, my group was working on a roof. If you don’t know anything about roofing, you first have to remove all the old shingles and every single nail. Then you have to replace any boards that have rotted underneath those old shingles.

It takes a while and it’s a lot of manual labor to cut out the old boards and haul up the new ones with the right measurements.

On top of that, the new shingles have to be hauled up on the roof. They come wrapped in bundles and they are heavy, very heavy, but if you broke the packages and carried them a few at the time, it would take forever.

This year, our site leader asked the man who delivered the shingles if he knew anyone with a shingle lifter. That’s a cool little contraption that lifts the shingles to the roof on a little elevator. Turns out he did know someone with one. His son-in-law had one.

Our site leader called him and he agreed to come and help us out. He drove from an hour away to get to us and it was understood that there would be a fee for the services.

When they arrived in a big white van, we found that he and his partner were very nice guys. They joked with us and picked at the kids as they lifted the shingles to one side of the house.

When they were finished, the owner asked our site leader if he was making any money on the roof. When he told him not only was he not making any money, but that the teenagers he saw before him had all paid to be able to come and help with this project, he was stunned.

He actually stopped and addressed the teens and told them in a world where kids only cared about themselves and their electronics that he was thrilled to see a bunch of them giving up time in their summer to help someone. He was well aware they could have been doing something else.

He left without charging us a penny for his services and offered to come back to lift the shingles to the other half when we were ready.

I thought about that man long after he drove away, long after that roof was done. I thought about how we so often talk about being the hands and feet of Christ and letting our light shine. But, we often miss how our doing that inspire others to do the same.

Some teens doing their part in light shining encouraged someone else to be a part of our mission too. Isn’t that what we are all called to do?

Have an awesome day!
Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character, Salkehatchie Series, Watching for God | Leave a comment

A Reminder to Pray

Prayer creates a safety net.

On a recent mission trip that my family attended, I found myself sidelined with an injury. As I sat down, annoyed at my misfortune, I was reminded that I had also been sidelined with an injury, on my very first day, on my very first trip, three years before.

I had been picking up shingles and turned my back in just the right way that brought me to my knees in pain. I walked and prayed, afraid to return to the roof. I took some ibuprofen. At first, I asked God to please stop the pain in my back.

I knew He had brought me there for a reason and I couldn’t imagine that it was for me not to participate. I ended up repeating the verse over and over, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

I spent that day getting to know the homeowner and hearing his story. It was a blessing. I woke up the next day very close to pain free and I went back on the roof.

I was a little wiser this time and I prayed and watched. Another adult had a minor injury too. When the third approached me looking for something in the first aid kit, I went on alert. Three could not have been a coincidence. We were under attack.

I began to diligently pray that God would keep us safe and that Jesus would intervene and remove whatever it was that we were fighting.

By Tuesday all was well. The rest of our week proceeded without incident.

But, the lesson remained with me long after I returned home.

When we are doing God’s work, we tend to think we are somehow bulletproof. We forget that is when Satan is most likely to come after us and so we let our guards down.

Think about it, if we are out doing what we are not supposed to be doing, Satan will leave us alone. Why bother? But, when we are doing God’s work and following Christ, we have targets on us.

Fortunately, we have the Armor of God to protect us. However, armor is no good sitting in the corner. We have to put it on and Ephesians 6:18 says to pray always.

It’s easy to focus on the safety of the physical, but we sometimes forget that the spiritual is a serious force to be reckoned with. The Bible tells us that the unseen is where our biggest fight is.

Make no mistake, we can win because Jesus will win. But, along the way, we are called to be vigilant.

A small injury reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Biblical Wisdom, Building Christian Character, Salkehatchie Series | Leave a comment

Seeing Beyond the Surface

Seeing beyond the surface can produce amazing results.

On my family’s recent mission trip to South Carolina, my hubby and son were assigned to Site 2 to work on. The home had been recommended to our team and required a massive amount of work.

It needed a roof. The bathroom floor had soft spots and holes in it. You could literally see the ground. The sink was broken from where a family member had fallen on it after having a stroke. The kitchen had holes in the floor and ceiling, and had to be completely gutted.

I remember thinking how badly it smelled when I toured it. I later was reminded of those thoughts, when a pastor pointed out that poverty has a smell that you never forget. His words brought tears to my eyes when I realized I had missed that fact.

The homeowner, Eric, was a man who lived with his mentally disabled mother. She wasn’t very verbal and went to a day care every day while he worked. He didn’t have much to say as we walked through his house. His shirt was on inside out and backwards. He didn’t seem very grateful to me.

I later learned that when they went in to look at the house, he never made eye contact, and at one point, told them to do whatever they needed to do and went into a room and closed the door.

I’m ashamed to say that I don’t know if I would have continued with the walk through. Did he not care that help was coming?

But, people much wiser than I am were in charge. They recognized what I would have considered apathy, as utter and complete embarrassment at his situation. Imagine your house falling down around you with roaches running around and a bunch of people in nice clothes and cars asking for a tour.

He needed help. He wanted help. He was too ashamed to ask. Have you ever been there? Have you ever missed a chance to help someone who has been there?

Personally, I can answer yes to both questions.

The people from Salkehatchie, told him with the amount of work required, that he would have to do some of the tearing out himself, or they would never be able finish.

When our group arrived, he had done just as he had been asked. Turns out he was grateful for the help.

He was working during most of the work, so the kids didn’t get to spend much time with him, but the work they did transformed not only his home, but Eric as well.

When the entire camp toured the house on the last day, the change was amazing. There was a new roof, new carpet, new paint, new bathroom floors and ceilings, new cabinets and sinks, and a brand new fresh smell.

And perhaps most importantly, Eric was changed too. He had a smile on his face as he was presented with a Bible. He had on a clean shirt and he stood up tall. He even asked where the carpet came from so he could put some in one of the bedrooms.

It seems that the work done for him inspired him to continue it. Isn’t that amazing?

Eric’s story reminds me to be very careful and prayerful when deciding who we extend a hand to. Because sometimes those people who we judge as ungrateful or unworthy, are the people who need it most of all.

Perhaps you needed reminding too. I pray I never forget.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character, Salkehatchie Series, Watching for God | 2 Comments

Seeing Beyond No Trespassing Signs

Sometimes we have to let faith take the lead.

My family and I just returned from our Salkehatchie summer mission trip in South Carolina. It’s always amusing to see the look on people’s faces when we tell them where we went. When you say the word mission trip, people picture far off places like Haiti and countries in Africa.

But, my family has discovered a deep need for help just one state over from where God has planted us.

My daughter and I were assigned to site 1 this year and were blessed to meet a Godly woman, named Ms. Barbara, with a beautiful, quiet spirit. I found the story of how God led us to her incredibly inspiring.

Ms. Barbara, is a high school custodian. If you know anything about how schools work, then you know that custodians are some of the hardest working, most underpaid people you will ever meet.

She had broken her foot on the job and was out of work. Her goal was to heal and go back for one more year and then retire. That fact alone impressed me. She could have easily retired on disability, but that was not how she wanted to go out.

She desperately missed the teens she was in constant contact with, (another reason for a medal in my book!) I later learned that she often attended basketball and football games to support some of the high school kids who had parents that could not attend, for whatever reason.

I also learned that on most Saturdays, she was not home for part of the day because she was opening the weight room for one of those kids she was mentoring.

But, God was at work.

One Saturday, our camp director and site leader were looking for a house to work on. They felt led down a particular road. They ended up at a house badly in need of a roof, but with “No Trespassing,” signs in the windows. But, the Holy Spirit is not deterred by man’s warnings. They cautiously got out and knocked on the door.

Ms. Barbara had her sister with her and answered the door. She said she had a good feeling about them and welcomed them in. Our site leader immediately noticed the “Last Supper” carving, hanging on the wall. They knew they were in the right place.

They talked about what we do at Salkehatchie Summer Service. She told them they were an answer to prayers and shared some other repairs that her home needed.

When I spoke to Ms. Barbara later, she told me that she had been praying for help for a long time about her leaky roof and had become discouraged, but that God had told her someone was coming. He just didn’t say who.

The fact that it was teenagers, just made her day, since she had a soft spot for them and missed being around them.

As we repaired her home last week, I learned a lot from Ms. Barbara. I learned about tireless faith. I learned about waiting on God and I learned about His perfect timing.

In the end, Ms. Barbara helped me as much as I helped her. She was an inspiration. Perhaps you needed some inspiration today.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Community, Watching for God | 1 Comment

Embracing Mary

Taking time to remember that we are all called to play a part in somebody’s village, could change how we see everything.

I was reluctant to sit down and write this post. I have so many things going on at the moment. My family is heading to South Carolina tomorrow for our Salkehatchie mission trip. There’s laundry to be done. There are suitcases to pack and where did I put my work gloves?

But, even as I yearned to get my to-do list checked off, I also felt a quiet voice which told me that I needed to take a time out and prepare myself spiritually for my trip as well.

It wasn’t loud or bossy. It was gentle, but persistent. It reminded me that quiet reflection time with Jesus trumps all we can physically do every single time. So I shushed my inner Martha for a little while at least, and attempted to embrace my inner Mary.

As usual, when I obey the calling of Christ, I was not disappointed.

I was reminded how life changing this particular mission field has been for my daughter. This will be her 4th trip. When she went the first time, she was so quiet and shy that she just did her best to scoot out of everyone’s way. It earned her the nickname Scooter. Everyone there calls her that. It’s a name she wears now with pride, one that she will treasure forever.

This year, she has been asked to bring her guitar and lead all of our worship songs in the evenings. She’s been practicing for days, which makes me give thanks for Vanda, her guitar teacher for seven years. Vanda’s time and love contributed to a gift that my daughter will carry for the rest of her life.

It’s so amazing when we have those special moments when we can look back on what has been and we can see God’s fingerprints all over our past. I’m so very thankful for the mighty village that God has gifted both of my children with.

I am reminded that we all have the opportunity and the calling to be a part of somebody’s village. We have the choice to make a positive kingdom impact on everyone’s lives that we touch. We have no idea the difference that a word of encouragement can make for someone or for that matter, we have no idea what kind of difference just sitting with someone and listening to them can make.

There are even times when a silly little nickname can change someone’s life forever. I’m glad I took a time out. Perhaps you need one too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

PS Due to the fact that I will likely spend much of next week on a roof in South Carolina, I won’t be posting next week. But, I’m super excited to see how God will reveal Himself on our trip and I look forward to sharing with you back here. My family would appreciate your prayers.

Categories: Building Christian Character, Salkehatchie Series, Watching for God | 4 Comments