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  • Unexpected Blessings

     [My friend and ministry partner of 18 years, Donna Bowles, is guest-blogging today. I know you will love the sweet story she is sharing – be blessed!]

    Sandy was not just any bus driver. Her joy and her smile are something I looked forward to every afternoon as I put my student on her bus. Even though we hadn’t had any long conversations, the Jesus in me definitely saw the Jesus in her each time we spoke.

    On a particular winter day a few years ago all of that changed for both of us. It was a few days after one of those snows when everyone is told school is on, but then shortly after all the drivers are at the depot, it changes to a snow day.

    I asked Sandy that afternoon if she’d driven to the depot on that particular day, and where she had driven from to get there. She told me she had driven from the same town where I live. I told her I lived there as well and she asked me where.  As I was describing exactly which house was mine (she was out of her seat by then), she exclaimed,

    “That was my grandparent’s house!”

    Come to find out, it was her uncle who sold us the house 17 years ago. We were both so excited to make the connection! She then told me of times spent in my home with her family, and of the constant smell of the homemade bread, and big dinners in my kitchen.

    After our time of sharing and pure amazement at what God had done, I asked Sandy if she’d like to bring her mom and her sisters over to see the house.

    We set a date, and that morning, as soon as Sandy’s mother Hazel walked in, she began to cry. She went from room to room, crying, more in some rooms than others, as she recalled times spent with her parents in my house.

    It was the last place she had seen her parents on this earth.

    After we went through the house, we sat down and had some homemade rolls (the house smelled wonderful) and lemonade, and talked awhile.

    We finished our visit with pictures of all of us together on the front porch. We all knew the Lord had brought us together.

    098 (1)

    This week I had an unexpected visit from Sandy. She came to tell me that her mom Hazel had died a few days earlier. She was 94 and died in the same house in which she was born.

    Sandy sat on my sofa where she’d sat with her mom before, and told me about Hazel’s life, and what a wonderful mother she was to her children. She had also raised two of her grandchildren after her daughter died.

    My heart was full as I listened to her.

    “Her children rise up and call her blessed,” Prov. 31:28, was what came to my mind as she spoke. Sandy said that was the very verse she used in the obituary to describe her mom. As I listened, I couldn’t help but think she was telling me all of this in a place that was so special to her mom.

    I went to Hazel’s celebration of life at her church. I learned of her long legacy of faith that she passed on not only to her family, but to everyone she met. It was clear that it was she who taught my friend Sandy and the rest of her family about Jesus by the way she lived her life all those years. We sang Victory in Jesus and I’ll Fly Away in celebration of a life well done.

    This is truly not my story, it’s God’s. He is the only one who could have orchestrated Sandy’s and my conversation that winter day.

    He knew where I lived, and was waiting for just the right time to let us know that was why He had brought us together. I am so grateful for His plan and purpose.

     “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11-12

    Blessings,

    Donna

    Donna Bowles has been leading women to stand on God’s Word, really understand it and apply it to their lives, for over 30 years. Her deepest desire is for women to apply God’s Word to their everyday circumstances and be victorious over the struggles and trials that come their way.

    She is the co-founder of Sisters in Faith Ministries which includes the Manorwood Café, a Bible study for women in her community; Sisters in Faith, a bi-annual day retreat; and Step Up Coaching for Women in Ministry.

    Donna has been a widow for 11 years. She is a mother of two grown children, grandmother to two very active boys, and a lifelong Maryland resident. She works full time in Elementary Special Education and really enjoys having the summers off!

    Tuesday, August 2, 2016 | 5 Comments
  • Three Women {three haunting beautiful faces}

    Happy Tuesday dear friends! 

    This week, I am so very happy to have my sweet friend Cyndi Word guest-posting on my blog! Cyndi is one of my all-time heroes. There are many reasons for that, but today you will see that she is a person who is fully committed to reaching the most desperately hurting around her. This sister is the real deal, ‘all in’ and is drawn to places where evil has had a serious foothold. Cyndi brings Jesus’ light and truth into the darkest of places and to the most hurting & broken people imaginable. When she shows up, she brings love, grace, and a hilarious sense of humor! I just love her and so will you. 

    Everybody — meet Cyndi! 

     

    Cyndi and a little in the Dominican Republic

    Cyndi and a little in the Dominican Republic

     Three Women {three haunting beautiful faces}

    I can call-up their faces in my memory so easily. Three different women living in three different places in absolute and abject need.

    The first, I recall from my week on mission with our church in the DR. She must have been in her 60’s, or perhaps she was much younger and poverty had etched those lines deeply into her face.

    She had some kind of deformity, the sides of her precious face didn’t quite match up and she was so obviously self-conscious about it. This woman came into the little church where we were doing vacation Bible school and made her own craft.

    Tiny pieces of colorful tissue paper were glued onto a picture of a tree that was drawn on a paper plate, making her own version of the burning bush.

    I came around with my camera and she excitedly held up her project, a huge smile on her face.

    As I aimed the camera she slid her craft up to cover her deformity.

    My heart shattered just a bit as the shutter of the camera clicked.

    I longed to take that lovely, joy-filled face in my hands and tell her she was beautiful — that she had a Father that adored her.

    That she never needed to hide her deformity because each and every one of us has them, seen or unseen.

    DSCN0230

    The second woman is a human trafficking victim, an addict and a sister in Christ.

    I have had the honor of cracking open God’s word with her and celebrated when she accepted Jesus as her very own. Tears have fallen from my eyes as she lifted her amazing voice to sing of God’s grace and the freedom found in His redemption.

    But…after a year and a half of safe-haven in a restoration home, Satan sent the demons so familiar to her and she returned to the streets.

    I met up with her for lunch one day — or at least I had lunch while she sat shaking from the drugs coursing through her system.

    I have no doubt of her salvation, but I fear her only peace will come when Christ calls her home. I ask God to help me understand, why isn’t intense love enough to draw her back to Him?

    He reminds me that He feels the same way and has cried out the same question to every lost soul that has rejected His love.  

    The third woman, I just recently met. Her face might be the one that is haunting me the most.

    She lives just an hour away from our suburban paradise in an abandoned building on the west side of Baltimore. I had the opportunity to serve dinner to some of the people in that area, and she came to the gathering at the end of the night. She could have been my daughter — was just about my children’s age.

    Despite her tiny frame, I learned she had just recently given birth to a baby which was whisked away from the choices this young woman was making.

    She smiled as she was introduced to me and I saw that all of her front teeth were missing. Her voice was high and sweet as she thanked us for dinner and for some blankets we had brought along. I longed to put her in my car, to drive her away from whatever had led her to the dangerous streets of west Baltimore.

    Three women, three beautifully haunting faces. I see their eyes as I close my own and I ask God — what do you want from me? The needs are huge; God-sized and I don’t know what to do.

    So far, these are the answers He has given. I share them because I am sure you have beautiful faces that haunt you too.  

    • Love the one I put in front of you. You may not feel as if you are making a difference, but to that one you are
    • Take the opportunities I give you to serve. You only get one life, so put the first things first
    • Don’t feel guilty for your blessings, feel responsibility
    • Most importantly, tell the hurting about Me.Tell them I love them, tell them I see them, tell them about my Son

     

     

    In His Love,

    Cyndi 

    {from Laura} Learn more about the Baltimore area ministries where Cyndi serves: The Samaritan Women  and Angels of Addiction

    Wednesday, July 27, 2016 | 4 Comments
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