CASTing All Our Cares

CASTing All Our Cares
On Saturday the ladies from our church gathered for a mini-retreat. Current situation being what it is, we thought a one-day event would be easier to plan logistically than anything involving an overnight stay. And with the uncertainty of the times, our planning committee decided rather than bring in a speaker, we would spend the day in prayer and worship activities.

It turned out so beautifully! We organized the day's activities around 4 sessions: Confession, Adoration, Supplication, and Thanksgiving, which is a variation of the A.C.T.S. prayer model many of us have learned. The acronym led us to choose "CASTing All Our Cares on Him" as the theme for the day.

While the tone of the national scene threw a bit of a somber note in the background, there was much joy in being able to gather together (staying within current guidelines of course). Table activities provided the opportunity to get to know other ladies better and foster conversations.

Our Confession session began with some beautiful worship songs and Scripture, and then we took about 20-25 minutes to spend time alone with the Lord. I wrote in my prayer journal, using the Bible to shape some of my thoughts. We ended by reading portions of Daniel 9 to offer a national prayer of confession, closing with another song before the first break.

The Adoration portion was fun and interactive, mixing songs with activities that included listing as many attributes of God as we could A to Z and talking about the names of Jesus.

Panera delivered our pre-ordered lunches, so we got to enjoy more fellowship, with a game based on "The Price Is Right" which was silly and fun.

Supplication, or intercession, gave us the time to pray with a partner or two over personal concerns, and then we corporately offered prayers over marriages, families, our schools and community, the USA, the persecuted church, and the world, closing with the song "God of This City."

Closing the day with a session about thanksgiving was perfect! So many beautiful Scriptures and songs.

All in all, it was a wonderfully refreshing time with my sisters in Christ. I was privileged to help plan and lead this event and realized how very much I miss regularly gathering for intercessory prayer. Perhaps that is something that will grow out of this experience, especially since, as I type this, the election results are incredibly close and being contested even though a winner has been projected by some outlets. 

The need for prayer is ongoing. Therefore, we will continue to worship and pray, knowing the Lord is sovereign over all.
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Don't Quit Now

Don't Quit Now
The life metaphor was already looming large in my mind. What if we had quit just 100 feet from the top? What if we had allowed the growing difficulty of the trail to defeat our desire to reach the top? What if the lack of our ability to even see the top had discouraged us from pressing onward? What if we hadn't met those folks along the way?

Truth Has Stumbled in the Streets

Truth Has Stumbled in the Streets
From my Bible study with Ted this morning (complete with coffee sans sweetener, for my fellow sugar detoxers!), the passage below stood out to me. We have been doing an in-depth study of the book of Isaiah, and now more than ever it seems to reflect the reality of what is happening in our own time and place. Truly the Word of God is timeless!

For those who call themselves followers of Christ, I urge you to pray for our country. This is not a red or blue matter: this is literally a life-or-death issue, a matter of where we will spend eternity. Repentance is at the heart of change. And it MUST begin in our own hearts--not pointing at folks across the aisle and shouting for THEM to change. No, we must look inward, find and acknowledge the depths of the sin in our own hearts, confess, and turn away from that sin. 

Repentance and revival: this is the cry of our hearts. I rest in God's sovereignty even as I have strong opinions about government's role in our society. "Truth has stumbled in the streets," as the verse says, and THAT, my friends, is the REASON our nation is unrecognizable as the United States of America.

ISAIAH 59:12-15a
For our offenses are many in your sight,
    and our sins testify against us.
Our offenses are ever with us,
    and we acknowledge our iniquities:
 rebellion and treachery against the Lord,
    turning our backs on our God,
inciting revolt and oppression,
    uttering lies our hearts have conceived.
So justice is driven back,
    and righteousness stands at a distance;
truth has stumbled in the streets,
    honesty cannot enter.
Truth is nowhere to be found,
    and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
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What I Learned from the Presidential Debate

What I Learned from the Presidential Debate
If you watched the debate last week, you likely came away feeling anything but positive about the state of politics no matter which side of the fence you're on. And if you read articles or listened to commentary on said debate, you may have felt your blood pressure rise just a wee bit. (Or maybe it was just me?! No, probably not...)

I'm not here to debate policies or defend either of the candidates, but since I've been pondering a few thoughts related to the latest theatrics from Washington, I figured I'd share.

1. Where does your hope lie? My friend, if you're placing your hope and trust in whether [insert candidate's name here] gets elected, I'm afraid you will be severely disenchanted. I have no insight into which candidate will claim victory—but I do know that no matter which party has the White House come November 4, 5, or 6 (or whatever date all the votes are finally counted), that individual will always disappoint. He's human, after all (as are all of his advisors), and history shows even the best leaders make mistakes—whether purposefully or unintentionally.

2. With whose purposes do you align? If your plans and dreams hinge on whether a certain political platform receives a "mandate," again...I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. For those who call themselves Christians, we are to be about our Father's business. "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33). Policies may change; executive orders can be overturned. But right and wrong will NOT be changed, no matter how would-be wordsmiths try to change definitions. In unsettled times, it's comforting to know that "the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations" (Psalm 33:11). God's purposes are the only ones that will never be thwarted—and since He is sovereign, we can trust that He will make all things right in His perfect timing.

3. Where do YOU stand on the REAL issue? Ultimately, this world is passing away...and not because of climate change! The real issue is, do you have a relationship with Jesus? Where will you spend eternity? It's tempting to think we're better than [insert politician we aren't voting for here] because we believe this, or we would "never" do or say that, but when all is stripped away—we've all sinned. We are all in desperate need of a Savior. Are we willing to admit we've gone against a holy God? Do we see our transgressions for what they are—the reason Jesus suffered and died on the cross?

Our country is facing desperate times. Wildfires and wild behavior rage out of control. Media outlets by and large opt for click-bait headlines over the hard work of investigative journalism. Civil discourse has been trampled and forgotten. We can shake our heads. We can shake our fists. Or we can fall on our knees, praying first of all for our own hearts to be made pure before the God who holds all people accountable.

And then we can pray, pray, pray for our nation—its people AND its leaders.

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Run for Recovery

Run for Recovery
Six years ago I ran 26.2 miles in Greece. It was 2 weeks before my 40th birthday, and though I didn't know it at the time, I was pregnant with our 8th baby. 

How? And WHY?? About a dozen of us who were living in Naples, Italy, had made a commitment to train and run the marathon not only for the personal satisfaction of traveling along THE original marathon course but also to raise awareness for the issue of human trafficking. Our goal also included raising donations intended to go toward building a safe house for victims of human trafficking in the region.

Most people are now aware that sexual slavery is a global pandemic. It has been a "hot button" issue for quite some time now. But are people actively doing something about it? 

When we lived in Italy during a military tour, I came face to face with a reality I couldn't ignore. Prostituted women lined the streets, having traveled (most often unwittingly) from Africa, eastern Europe, Slavic countries, and even Brazil. Italy, with all its glorious beauty, ancient history, and exquisite cuisine, is a top destination in the world for commercial sex trafficking. The burden on my heart grew daily, and I was grateful to meet others with the same concern and passion I had. I joined with a local ministry, Missione di Luce (Mission of Light), to serve the women on the streets, to show love and grace to them, to offer them prayers and hope.

The need was great, our efforts seemed small, and yet the ministry witnessed changed hearts and lives. More and more, anti-trafficking ministries and organizations have begun to network throughout Italy--indeed, all throughout Europe. My dear friend Joyce Zick, co-founder of Missione di Luce, now works with her husband in full-time mission work in a different Italian city, while continuing to be involved in Naples and other Italian locations, spreading awareness, educating in classrooms, and advocating for change on every level.

And now...IT'S TIME! There is an opportunity to purchase land WITH BUILDINGS ALREADY ON IT suitable for a safe house and recovery center! The roughly $10,000 our Athens marathon team raised back in 2014 has swelled to $50,000 with other contributions over the years. Now, we seek to raise AT LEAST another $50,000 so that Alba, the safe house ministry, can officially make a purchase offer and put a down payment of $100,000 on this property.

Will you help? 

I'll be running a 10K the weekend of October 17-18 as many of us join for the 2020 RUN FOR RECOVERY. I would be grateful for any support/donations you would like to give in recognition of the worthiness of this cause!

To learn more about the ministry of Alba, their philosophy of safe house ministry and after-care for victims of sex trafficking, visit their web site here.

If you'd like to be a runner and raise funds...or if you'd like to donate to the cause, click the button for all the information you'll need!

Please share this post and/or the race information!
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