Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How orphans know joy


Here is a gift to you!  As I mentioned at the beginning of the year, James 1:27 has become a life verse that I feel led to focus on personally and I will try to share about it on my blog at times.  One of those ways is to share the stories from people who have their hands and hearts in a ministry called New Directions International/Feed the Hunger.  Good friends of ours lead this ministry and they are feeding hundreds of hungry children (physically and spiritually by teaching the Word to them) each year and the numbers are growing due to volunteer participation!  They also train and equip people in third world countries how to be leaders and ministers.

A way to help them spread the love of Jesus is by taking ordinary people like you and me on mission trips to some of these countries.  In today’s post Kim Canter is sharing her experience on a trip she recently went on that not only helped change the lives of children in Haiti, but also her own.  It’s a revelation story.  It’s a realization story.  It’s a realization of how orphans know joy.  They know more joy having nothing than we do having more than we need.

Haiti on the Inside


By Kim Canter

NDI Mission Team Member

Haiti is forever inside of me because of the memories. I saw firsthand the orphans that really know Jesus as their personal Savior. These orphans have nobody except Jesus. It's not like someone is going to come and take them to the beach or mountains for the weekend or to camp for the summer. They have nothing, no one apart from Jesus, and he is enough.

And they have joy.  How can you have joy when you have nothing: no possessions, no family, and nothing to look forward to? True joy comes from knowing Jesus Christ intimately, and I saw children as young as six and seven that truly "get it". Oh, what I am trying to apply to my life from the lessons those children taught me!

I was in a country filled with voodoo, putrid smells, United Nations peacekeepers, children with AIDS, armed guards at our hotel, filthy water, sizzling heat, rabid roosters at 3 a.m. every day, periodic electricity, insane driving conditions, danger around every single turn, and yet I had total complete peace. Scores of folk in the states were lifting us up around the clock.

There has not been a day since I returned that I have not thought of Haiti, my fellow team members, the children, or the Haitian partners. I have photos up all around my home to remind me to pray and to keep Haiti in the forefront of my heart and mind. Haiti is like no other mission field I have been on, in that it gets inside of you and won’t let you go.


If you’d like to know more about this ministry and how you can volunteer and help feed the hungry physically and spiritually, check out the link on my side bar “Feed the Hunger.”  And while you’re there, “Like” them on Facebook!   Or you can check out their website at

Monday, January 28, 2013

Holy Smokes!


Just our family was on vacation together last week…a long overdue one.  And a fine place to go where *dreams come true*!

Joy was swirling all around, even though I was not on the ride.  I unfortunately cannot ride a lot of rides at amusement parks because my head and stomach keep swirling around after the ride is over and that’s not much fun.  I find joy in watching the rest of the family enjoying the thrill.


On this sunny and 70* afternoon, as the teacup ride swirls around and around and around and around, I turn to look elsewhere before I get dizzy.  But off in the distance I see some other swirling going on in the sky.

There was an airplane beautifully swirling in the sky for everyone at the park to see. The pilot was giving a gift of promises.   The pilot was giving this gift to someone that means the world to him/her.  The pilot was giving this gift to people from around the world that were in this park all together.  The pilot was giving this gift to me, too.

When I looked at the clear blue sky, the pilot had been writing words and leaving them in the sky for everyone to read.  That pilot is a writer and a disciple and a follower and must be experiencing what it’s really like where dreams come true.

The first word I saw I couldn’t decipher because the clouds had stretched out and were no longer readable.  But the next word was as clear as the blue sky “JESUS” and I could tell the next word being formed “LOVES” and with assurance would finish off with a “U”.


Was that first word I couldn’t decipher the name of the pilot’s friend who he/she so desperately wanted to know and experience God’s promises and love? 

Holy smokes! 

Would you do something that extravagant to grab the heart of someone who needs to know Jesus?  Would you do something so HUGE so when your friend or family member looks up into the heavens when life is tough, he/she will read in big white and pure letters, “FRIEND JESUS LOVES U”  (you fill in the blank with your name!)


I loved watching people as they turned the corner and looked up to read the art of words floating in the sky and then they would called out to who they were with and pointed towards the words in amazement.  Even some others were like me and took a picture of it.

That really made me ask myself, “When have I gone out of my way to tell someone about Jesus?”  “When have I intentionally shared my story to help share the love of Jesus with others who so desperately need and deep down want to know and experience?”  But how huge?  Huge is different for each person.  For some, huge might be to have an airplane write the words high and big!  For others, it might be a huge thing just to come out of the Christian closet and share his/her story with someone who needs to hear it.



And then a couple of days later, the pilot was back writing in the sky again.  This time he shared the promise that “JESUS FORGIVES”  and the guidance to “TRUST JESUS”.  Thanking God for the gift of the airplane pilot who witnessed to people from all over the world that sunny afternoon and for the gift of the huge reminder with simple words that I need to be intentional.


Thankful for these last week:

#1180  gift unexpected - seeing wild peacocks at the beach!


#1181  walking on the beach on a warm January morning with the family


#1182  kids looking for seashell

#1183  daughter “hearing the ocean” in the conch shell she found


#1184  gift that might never have been: family vacation if not for a friend who so kindly invited us as her guests at Disney.



#1185  the bus drivers

#1186  the brilliance and creativity and imagination


#1187  the art of design

#1188  daughter brave enough to ride a ride and getting off it with a smile on her face and wanting to ride it again.  overcoming a fear.

#1189  evening with friends at Disney

#1190  a gift in the sky - the airplane pilot who witnessed to people from all over the world that sunny afternoon

#1191  the gift of the huge reminder with simple words that I need to be intentional. 

#1192  the beautiful landscapes at the parks


#1193  a bed at the end of a long day on your feet

#1194  gift before 9am – fog lifting from lake in FL

#1195  gift before noon – working on 1000 joy digital album in car on ride home

#1196  gift after dark – we arrived home safe and a fun family vacation

#1197  friends who took care our dog and home for us!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

He spreads the snow like wool



This week spending special times and making fun memories with our family so not writing much this week but I can’t stop counting joys so I can simply remind myself to be thankful…what are some of your joys this past week that you can’t help but sharing?  Some of mine are reminders of God’s grace, beauty of the snow that blanketed the ground and special family time together…

Last week joys:

#1163  gift worn – God’s grace

#1164  gift given away – God’s grace

#1165  gift shared – God’s grace

#1166  gift quiet – snow falling at night


#1167  kids reading books by the fireplace



#1168  sledding in the snow and ice on a sunny morning




#1169  seeing gumballs with snow caps


#1170  the sound of snow falling from magnolia tree as it melts

#1171  celebrating my husband’s birthday

#1172  new older adult to start a book about

#1173  safe trip to Florida with my husband and kids

#1174  eating at Paula Deans restaurant…a fan of my daughter’s



#1175  Walking around beautiful and historical Savannah, GA


#1176  ordering four french fries and four frosties at Wendys…one for each of us on vacation

#1177  majesty and awe of God seen in space and the universe…spent day with family at Kennedy Space Center.  “God created the heaves and the earth…”


#1178  seeing son enjoying and learning so much about NASA and space

#1179  seeing a bald head eagle and its nest, an alligator and many different and beautiful birds in the wild as we tour the Kennedy Space Center grounds.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Cherish the beauty


Everything is white.   There’s a blanket of snow covering the ground and clinging to the tree trunks, branches, plants and even the daffodil buds that have already appeared in the middle of January.  The sun is waking up and smiling to see the beauty below in this place that doesn’t get snow very often.    Before long the trees will be crying because it won’t last long and as it melts tears will fall onto the soggy ground.

But there’s still beauty in the tears as the sun shines around them.  There’s still beauty in our tears as the Son shines around us.  Oh to cherish the beauty of tears sometimes.

Oh to cherish the beauty of the people in my life.  Oh to cherish the beauty of the messy things too.   Oh to cherish family and those I love.  Oh to cherish the love of Jesus who cherishes us.






I’m joining in with a great company of others who cherish writing and words at todays

Five Minute Friday


Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dora’s Story

It was Christmas Eve Eve and our family had blankets covering us on the sofa and popcorn popped.  We watched the classic musical the Sound of Music.

I watched the entire movie when I was a child and then parts here and there every so often since.  I remember seeing the breathtaking valleys and mountain as the children sang, “Do a deer, a female deer…” and remember the mansion and all of the children lined up in a row, according to height, while their militant father spoke with them.  I remember how Maria, the Austrian nun, who became a governess, and Georg von Trapp, the Naval officer widow, fell in love with each other.  But I don’t remember the part after they got married.  I forgot how they were chased by the Nazis in Austria because Georg no longer wanted anything to do with them.  He was about to be drafted into the Nazi German Navy and forced to fight against his own country. 

And the story continues.  The new vonTrapp family had to hide.  Those children had to have been scared knowing the “bad guys” were hunting for them. They had to hide to save their lives.   They wanted to hide to save other innocent people’s lives.   We hid under warm blankets on the sofa watching the movie and I started thinking of the story a 93 year young woman recently told me a month or two ago. 

Dora has a story and just listening to it, I might have learned more about the Holocaust from her stories than I ever did in history class.  To hear the story from someone who actually experienced it adds new meaning.

She experienced it.  She hid.  She saved.  She had a heart for others.  She was raised in a Protestant Christian boarding school in Holland.  She loved Jesus, and still does.  She also loved her only sibling, her brother Jan, dearly.  Their father died when she was seven and Jan was six.  They were very close and both had the heart…or passion… to help others and risked their lives doing it. 


The people they helped were the Jews during World War II.  Dora’s brother was passionate about helping save lives, and she supported him 110%.  He led a group of rescuers to help the Jews and other groups hide from the Nazis. 

So, here’s Dora’s story.  Here in her own words (and Swedish accent)…

Jan was passionate about wanting to help save the lives of Jewish people, and other people who were discriminated, including Christians, during the Holocaust. I respected him for being that way and for sacrificing his life for other people. Like my brother, I also believed it was so horrible to mistreat and kill the Jews, Christians and others the Germans were looking for.  I thought it was sad that people had to hide.

As young adults, in our mid-twenties, we were very much against the Nazis taking the Jews and putting them into concentration camps. We felt it was against human rights. We thought it was a terrible thing. I believed they were people that God made. I had made a good friend while I was living at the boarding school and she was Jewish. I felt terrible that her family was suffering because they were Jewish. During the war, the Jews had to wear a special coat so the Germans could see who the Jews were. I remember my friend’s mother never wanted to put on that coat. Because she was a very good friend of mine, I got to know many Jewish people.

My brother was very involved in saving people’s lives and leading others to do the same. Along with Jan, several others and I would “lose” our identity cards on purpose but really give our card to other Jews who would take our names and use our cards. We were trying to help save their lives. The Jews had different identity cards than we had, so it would be very obvious if someone was a Jew or not. I remember when Nazis came to our houses and looked for Jews because they were searching to capture them and send them to the concentration camps. I ‘lost’ my card several times and I was never scared to do what I was doing to help them.

To help the Jewish people from getting caught by the Nazis, Jan, along with a few others would tell the Jews to go to “the Underground”, a secret hiding place. The Americans would send messages to my brother and other American allies including Canadians, telling what was happening in France, Germany and other countries. We had a radio but the Jews were not allowed to listen to it; they were taken away from them. So, we would get messages by the Americans and they told us information we needed to know, including when they were about to deliver us letters and supplies for the Jews. The American and allies would drop papers out of the airplane with the latest news. But sometimes the Nazis would get them. The messages were sent in cloth bags. My brother and his friends would go and collected them. Then the girls, including me, would make clothes out of the material from the bags. During the war, we could not buy any material to make dresses so we made do with what we could find. The letters in the bag informed my brother what the enemies were doing. He would go up and down the streets when he knew the Germans were coming and would tell the Jews to go to the Underground.

Near the end of the war, my brother and a few of his friends were supposed to meet up with some Canadians to go and help some Jews get to the Underground in a special part of town. They went to meet at the border of our home town because the Canadians were coming from that side. But the Canadians changed their minds and did not come and my brother and the others were discovered by the Germans who found out what my brother and the others were trying to do. Therefore the Germans wanted to kill them.

But one of the German soldiers was ordered by another German soldier to kill my brother and the three others. But he refused to kill them because he was a father and had children of his own who were the same age as my brother. So, the other German soldier shot him because he refused to kill them. Then he killed my brother and the other two boys and girl.

Even though that was so painful to me, it was still hard to hate the Germans because I knew there were still kind people who were German. A German soldier refused to kill my brother because underneath his uniform hid a caring heart. It wasn’t a matter of the people; it was a matter of the government. Something I admire the most about my brother was how he helped Jews and others from our country, Holland, escape and hide from the Nazis during World War II. Those years were very difficult for most people in the world, and it really was for me, too. I was living in the midst of the Holocaust and I cared for many people who lost their lives, especially my brother. I was brought up to love one another, even people with different beliefs than mine. So when the Holocaust happened, I thought it was such a terrible thing.”



So, that’s just a tiny part of Dora’s story.  I usually hide to escape my fears, or hide to cover my feelings, or hide to avoid unattractive situations, or hide in the depths of my comfort zone.   The only thing Dora  hid were other people so she could save their lives.  The only time Dora hid herself, was when she was saving the lives of others and she had no fear doing it.  She had a heart to be bold.  She had to heart of Jesus to save lives. 

(This is an expert from her life story book I created for her.  If you’re interested in getting more information about Life and Faithbooks contact me!   I’d love to help!)

Monday, January 14, 2013




(the print above, now hanging on our wall, was designed by                                                            a talented artist and blogger whom you can check out at Studio JRU)


I’m considering it a blessing to not have much to write about today. 

It’s just a mundane, dreary, rainy, and ordinary day.  Get the kids off to school, then go volunteer at school, go get groceries for the week and de-clutter the home as company for bible study arrives this evening. 

It can be looked at as writer’s block or simply a time to ponder.  It can be looked at with frustration or simply a time of rest.  It can be looked at with discouragement or simply a hint from the Author Himself to be still and listen…or to pause.

I actually read today, “…whenever God speaks to us it’s pause-worthy.”   So I’m going to consider this pause a gift.  I’m in the middle of the book The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg.  I highly recommend it.  (And if you live in the Burlington, NC area, there’s a bible study based from this book.  Click here if you want more information.)

So, turn the ears on and listen to the soul.  After all, it is part of His story…His love story. 


Still counting reasons to thank God:

#1153  celebrating my mom’s birthday today.  Happy Birthday, mom!!!

#1154  75*  Sunday in January

#1155  the book The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg…resonating.

#1156  Daughter building confidence and decided herself to audition for All County Chorus at school.  Even thought she didn’t make the audition, we are still so proud of her for taking the step to try!  It was also a joy that she was not very disappointed.

#1157  finishing a Life Story book for a 93 year young woman (see part of her story this Wednesday)

#1158  husband and son having movie night 2 nights in a row  (Sherlock Holmes I & II)

#1159  Scrapbooking from noon to midnight with scrapbook friends

#1160  looking through family scrapbooks for an hour with my daughter

#1161  lovely shadow - the sun setting sunrays stretching through our window on the flowers.


#1162  something sweet - baking a new recipe of chocolate chip pound cake – yummy!

Friday, January 11, 2013



I can almost still feel the warm, rough texture on the soles of my little feet as I slowly walked to the edge of the board.  Drips of water…or perspiration… rolls down my forehead.  It gets hot in the south on a summer afternoon.  When I get to the edge of the diving board my little toes curl around the edge of it and stay clutched there for what seemed to be a long time.   The water in our neighborhood pool looked a long way down. 

Excitement and nervousness was wrapped all around a little girl who was testing her waters.   Like the rush of water, feelings rush in too: trying something new and unknown, or seems to be too high or too far away, and you feel as if your heart will beat right out of your chest!  

It doesn’t’ matter how you get in the pool of life!  The fun doesn’t really begin until you are in it!  It doesn’t really matter how you get in.  It doesn’t matter if you hold your nose, squeeze your eyes shut tight or keep them them open wide! It doesn’t matter how… just get in!  Take a running start, hop or skip to the edge…it’s all part of the experience!  And it’s OK to walk to the edge and concentrate sometimes to take that leap of faith.

Dive into the depths of your story!  Leap in with joy!  Jump with all your might!  Do a cannon ball and make a splash!  Flip and twirl and be silly sometimes!  Stretch those arms out and soar!


I’m linking up today with Five Minute Friday!  And today’s word was “Dive”! 


Monday, January 7, 2013

A few ideas, directions or callings?


I just sit here with a blank screen.  A blank mind.  My fingers just positioned to type on the keyboard but not moving…well they are now…but for a long time they weren’t.

That’s just like this year.  It’s a new year with a blank screen, a white canvas, an inkless piece of crisp paper.    What’s going to fill that space?   What is this chapter in your life going to be this year?   What will be the illustrations?


You might have come far on your story this year already.  You may have already made a draft and mapped out where you plan to go and what you plan to do.  You may still be trying to figure it out.   You may be happy-go-lucky, or better yet, completely trusting, excited to see wherever the paint brush strokes.

I have a sketch.  I have a few ideas.  I don’t exactly know which direction they’ll go.  I’m going to trust. 

How about a theme being James 1:27

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

elder and orphan

(photo from Feed the Hunger)

For years I’ve had the heart for widows, especially over the age of 75.  And more and more, my heart has been beating faster for orphans, especially in third world countries.  But it was not until this past fall when James 1:27 kept making its appearance in my life.  I’ve never really put the two and two (widows and orphans) together in my personal life and I know I’ve read James 1:27 before several times, but it wasn’t until recently that it’s just jumped out at me.  (Isn’t it great how the Word can do that?!)

My idea, or direction, or calling…. is to include some guest writers in my *journal* (or blog) every now and then.  And the guest writers are widows ( usually 75+) and orphans and/or people who work with orphans in third world countries.  All my life I’ve had the heart to spend time with the older adults.  But for a few years, I’ve guided people 70+ young to tell their life and faith stories and make a book for them.  I want to write down and save what I’ve learned from them…and they cannot tell it better than anyone else.  So every so often I want to write down (or type) words of wisdom, lessons learned, their real life experiences that helped form who they are now.  Who can’t learn from them?


(photo from Feed the Hunger)

But James 1:27 also includes orphans.  Dear friends or our family lead a ministry, New Directions International/Feed the Hunger that ministers to Christ-followers in third world countries and helps feed the hungry children there, as well.  There are amazing  stories from God’s children in poverty, and stories that come from people who’ve been on their mission trips that need to be shared and heard.    It can be a way to hold me accountable to keep those orphans in my prayers and support them in different ways.  And maybe you too?

Just trusting Him as a heart longs, as stories unfold like a gift, as fingers write, and as ears listen for a small voice.


Thanking God for:

#1147  gift inside – a shopper all by herself at Walmart who was smiling every time I saw her when we passed a few times in the isles. I don’t think she ever stopped smiling. I think she must have deep smile wrinkles on her cheeks. What if we were all like that? Wearing the habit of joy on your face.

#1148  invitation and fellowship over a hearty bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup at our neighbors home with a community of disciples

#1149  gift reading – 40 reasons why we love our friend for her 40th birthday

#1150  gift making – broccoli and cheese quiche for dinner…breakfast for dinner

#1151  gift seeing – an assortment of delicate china tea cups and plates


#1152  gift in the heart – one year ago today (1.6.2012) was the first day I started counting joys

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Did you eat your black-eyed peas and collard greens?

Did you eat black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year’s day for good luck in 2013?  (I remember there were a few times my mom made black-eyed peas on New Years day but that was really the only time I remember eating them.  They were definitely not my favorites, nothing I’d ask to have on my birthday dinner for sure!  I’ve never had collard greens being the city girl I am).  Did you lounge on the sofa watching parades and football and finish up munchies from the eve before?  Did you make a list of resolutions; the things you want to change about yourself this year? 

If I’m anything like I’ve been in the past, I already know most resolutions won’t last much longer than a month.  Resolutions like exercise more, eat healthier, dust the furniture and mop the floors more often.  But I just forget about them or simply give up.   This year I’d love to make it a goal to manage my time better.  Walk faster when I take the dog for a walk.  Dust the furniture and mop the floors more often.

We, or I can at least speak for myself, confess that I’ve made goals and didn’t even ask or listen to what God’s plan is for me in the coming year. What is it that God wants you to do this year?   It’s a good question to ask Him and then listen…all year long.  In years past, I’ve made my own goals but by the end of the year, they are no where near what I planned at the beginning of it. There’s been events and habits that I never thought of setting or accomplishing and they turned out to be even better than what I had in mind.  I am sure you can think of a time or two when that’s happened to you, also.

But I’m still going to strive to make some changes and maybe try something new.  This year, I want it to be the Year to REach. Reach to live more a James 1:27 life. Reach out more to the widows around me. Reach out to the hungry in the community. Reach out to the hungry in third world countries. Reach out of my comfort zone wherever that leads.  Reach out to grab hold of Jesus, who is always waiting and always desiring to be reached for, and never let go. 

God’s grace is reaching for us.   This year I want remembering that promise to become a habit I won’t forget.

Yes, I want my resolutions to become habits that I don’t have to try to re-do at the start of the next year because I failed to do it…again.  As Ann Voskamp said, “A habit is the way we wear our days.”  I want it to stay a habit to count the gifts God so graciously gives.  It’s a habit I never want to break.

If you do want to reflect and resolute this beginning of 2013, I recommend doing this practice below.   Fil Anderson, a spiritual formation director, author and speaker gave me a list of questions to ponder at the end/beginning of the year.  He said centuries ago Christ followers wanted to have a “spiritual rhythm that included examining our days and years in order to see how God has been active in our lives.”  This habit was passed down for many generation including ours.

Below are some questions to ponder and I highly recommend writing your reflection down in a journal or typing in your computer or iPod.  Put your response somewhere so you can look at it again in six months and at the end of this year.   It’s a good habit to form to start each new year.

1.  What name would you give your journey of the past year? How would you
describe it to one of your friends? What picture or figure of speech would
you use to talk about it?
2.  Where did you notice God at work in your life in the past year? How did
God’s presence influence and/or change you?
3.  Did any of your hopes and dreams become a reality?
4.  What were your biggest disappointments?

Now that we’ve headed into 2013, here are some similar questions to consider:

1.  What name would you like your new year’s journey to have? What are
you longing for in the coming year?
2.  Of what are you most afraid as you proceed into the new year?
3.  How is your relationship with God as you begin this new year, and how
do you hope it will change in 2013?


Praying and asking for you to be blessed this year!  May you discover or rediscover the lavish love and plans God has for you.  Jeremiah 29:11-12.



Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christmas Gratitudes

Wow!  It’s 2013!  Here’s some photos from this pas special week, and even more, here’s more I’m adding to my list of gratitudes.  I’m going to write more soon but I wanted to share God’s joy that’s come from His Son’s birthday! 

Happy New Year!



#1128  seeing our Christmas tree lights reflecting on my computer screen


#1129  the stars and candles as we worship Emmanuel, our Savior!


#1130  making caramel pretzels as gifts for neighbors

#1131  watching Miracle on 34th Street and Sound of Music with the family…movie nights!

#1132  our family reading advent story every night this month Bartholomew’s Passage

#1133  Christmas Eve traditions

#1134  humbled that God would become man in that messed up world to save us.

#1135  humbled that He Is and continues to be a gift to us every day as our Savior.

#1136  humbled at the beauty of His Story was breathed and written for us as a gift, promise and hope.

#1137  waking up Christmas morning and whispering, “Happy Birthday Jesus.”

#1138  Jesus’ birthday story still brings me tears

#1139  our family together on Christmas

#1140  reenacting the Christmas story at grandparents’ home.

#1141  moonlit fields blanketed with snow driving home from Christmas at grandparents’.


#1142  sledding on steep hills covered with snow and sleet…perfect for sledding the day after Christmas.











#1143  dinner, conversations and laughter with dear college friends


#1144  Staying up to ring in the new year with my family including my niece being the first time she’s stayed up to celebrate it! Smile 

#1145  the gift from dad… a trunk he made with his own hands.



#1146  The gift of a breathtaking sunrise AND sunset on December 31, 2012