Life/Perseverance

I have written two posts in the last year. One was the day after my mother passed away in April last year and the other was shortly after my dad died in early July. I’ve been stuck since then not wishing to engage in writing or really, in anything creative. Sort of like someone hitting the pause button, leaving me in a never ending hold pattern.

Today, I am hitting the resume button. It’s time to reengage life and resume my endeavor into creative writing, sharing thoughts, concerns, joys, sadness, and life as I see it. The last 5 years have been the toughest of my life in one sense and somehow through all of it, God also provided me and my family some of the greatest blessings we have known to this point.

In that time span I have seen all four of my kids develop into great young adults as they each have pursued their own dreams and adventures in life. Two of them found and married incredible people that I’m extremely proud to say are now my kids as well! The other two are still waiting on their matches and in the mean time are experiencing life to the fullest.

As a couple, Lisa and I have experienced our greatest growth as husband and wife and are closer than I ever dreamed possible. This growth occurred only as a result of what seemed like one misfortune after another. Five or so years ago is when we first realized that something seemed off with my mom’s health. She seemed easily agitated and was becoming more and more forgetful. Our fears were confirmed as she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

As she quickly declined, we also learned that dad was facing his own battle with stomach cancer. In wanting to provide the best opportunity for them both, we all decided to move them both into an assisted living house so they could be together but not have to deal with trying to manage a house. This solution worked for a little while but we soon realized that mom needed specialized care and dad needed to keep his stamina up to fight his battle.

A heartbreaking decision was made when we decided that mom would move into a special memory care facility while dad would move to Florida and live with his sister so he could receive the medical attention he needed. It was truly a heartbreaking time for all of us to see this couple, who had recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary be separated by two, truly horrible diseases. Especially tough on dad as he not only had to watch his beautiful wife suffer through her excruitiating decline while literally fighting to survive his own plight against cancer.

To his credit, he fought fiercely and never gave up the hope that he would beat the odds, and recover well enough to return home to mom’s side and care for her the way he felt he should. He told me once that some of his greatest joy was when he had the opportunity to take care of and serve mom in the early stages of her struggles with Alzheimer’s. He was thankful that he was able to look after her with the same love and dedication mom had looked after him for all those years. Their love for each other was truly special!

In the midst of all of this I found myself out of work to start the year off in 2015. Initially, I wasn’t to worried about it as I knew I would find something soon. As the months ticked by it began to look like Lisa and I would soon lose everything. All of the money we had in savings,  401k,  and retirement were quickly vanishing. Looking back its easy to see how God was working in my life as the challenges I/we were facing had nothing to do with money or lack there of, but instead was about me resetting priorities and focus on God.

I had always been quick to say that it was only by God’s grace, love and mercy that I got to enjoy the life I had but in reality, I had come to believe that I was just as responsible for getting to where I was…how foolish indeed. In the eleventh hour during the eleventh month, God provided me the opportunity to join the National Christian Foundation and the truly dynamic family culture that is ever present here.

In 2016, Lisa and I were blessed to watch two of our kids marry the loves of their life’s and begin their own adventures into married life while the other two continued to grow and thrive in their respective towns of Phoenix and Naples.  As parents there is no greater joy than seeing your kids doing well, being successful and being happy. Lisa was also blessed with the opportunity to join the NCF family and is quite successful in her current position.

In 2017, we lost both mom and dad in a span of three months. Although heartbreaking and losses that can never be replaced, I have great peace in knowing that from now to ever more, they will forever be together with no pain and suffering, able to enjoy each other. And the beautiful part for me and those they loved is that we have the memories of each them to help sustain us as they left a legacy of love for us to follow!

Now as we enter the second quarter of 2018, life is good! Although we still have some challenges financially, we can see light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve recently been blessed with a promotion at work and will enjoy the challenges that lay ahead. Our daughter Kymberly returned home in January to stay with us as she took a break from her adventures in Australia over the past year. She has been working as a nanny for a wonderful family in a town called Woonoona, which is about an hour and a half south of Sydney. She will be returning there early in May for another year and we are so excited for her.

Her brother Ben has just recently returned home from Phoenix for his own little break before moving on to his next chapter. It has been great to have the kids home for a little while but as other empty nesters realize, this too, as its own challenges. Our other son Kyle and daughter-in-law Karey just this week celebrated their 2nd wedding anniversary and along with their two bunnies, are enjoying life.

Andrea and Michael moved to New Jersey this past October in preparation for Andrea to start a new chapter in career path as she is part of the dynamic team that recently opened the new Chic-Fil-A on Fulton Street in Manhattan. Along with Logan (their dog but don’t tell him that as he thinks he’s human), they too are enjoying life. As I said earlier, Lisa and I couldn’t be any prouder than we are of all 6 of our children.

So yes, the last 5 years have been tough and extremely hard at times but all in all, the blessings have far outweighed the troubles and strife! Who knows what the next 5 years will hold but I anxiously await to see how God will work in all of our lives and to see what great adventures lie ahead.

Take care and thanks for reading,

Scott

40 Day Journey – with Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Day 1 finished

Its-a-wonderful-lifepicture from thefilmspectrum.com

Day 1 – finished thoughts.

I had a friend of mine comment yesterday with two, very insightful thoughts on truly following wherever Jesus may lead us. The first was the idea that we tend to limit God because we are unwilling to take risks, to dream big or maybe it’s because we’ve never really accepted the promise that God really does want what is best for us, “plans for us to prosper”. This doesn’t necessarily mean financially. It could but to only think of that verse in terms of prospering financially, again limits the ways that God could help us “prosper”.

The second thought, which I completely overlooked, was the idea of – in all things be thankful. Eucharisto. No matter my circumstance, I am and should be thankful for wherever I may find myself. This can be extremely difficult depending on the situation we may find ourselves. Speaking for myself here, I tend to never really express my gratitude for the countless blessings God has given me over the course of my life. Even through the worst moments of my journey, when I reflect on where I came from and what I’ve been through, I’ve experienced first hand the countless times where God has blessed me financially, with strength, with wisdom, with stamina and yes, even with patience.

I once again find myself in such a season where I truly don’t know where God is leading me and in my human nature, it is more than a little unnerving not knowing. However, through Christ, I know if obedient, He will lead me exactly to where I should be. Probably not known to a lot of people, I have been looking for employment since the first of the year. The circumstances which led me to this place are not important but rather the process of which I proceed forward is.

The really great thing about this, is that God started preparing Lisa and I for this months in advance. In talking with each other we both had this sense that God was preparing us for a change. Whether that change was in physically moving or a job change, or both we weren’t sure but we knew things weren’t going to stay the same. The reason we knew this was because God has done this before in our lives. As we started thinking and praying about what was to come, we suddenly, out of the blue, learned that we would be coming into money.

My first thought was how cool, now I can buy some things (toys), and maybe get some things done around the house that really need to get done. But fortunately my conscience (Lisa), prevailed in convincing me that maybe we should practice patience and sit tight with the money. A very wise woman, my wife and someone I never fail to be thankful for! God’s timing proved to be perfect again as the week before the check arrived we found out what the provision of money was to be used for, as I found out that I would soon be unemployed. God’s grace really is sufficient.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also take this chance and express gratitude for Pastor Chuck and the rest of my family (church staff), for the love and support they have shown me and my family through this transition. It is rare to find yourself in this type of position and have nothing but respect, love and admiration for your former employer. But that is exactly how I feel about them. Their constant uplifting as served as a reminder that God is in control and I only need to be faithful to follow Him.

So as I type this I still have no idea what is next for Lisa and I but I am thankful for the peace I have in this moment. It’s cliché I know but honestly, I feel a little like Jimmy Stewart at the end of It’s A Wonderful Life. Not the very end where everything works out but at the moment where he understands how precious his life really is. At that moment, he doesn’t know how things will turn out, he only knows that he has a chance to live, to see and be with his family again. In that moment, he fully understands how blessed he is and is truly thankful for all he has. And just as he was to learn, we typically learn later how much more we are blessed than what we first realize. Standing in his living room, he finally understands that one of his greatest blessings are those relationships which surround him in love in his hour of greatest need.

Peace and thanks for reading

Life Lesson Series – Laugh Often

Christmas 2011Laughter truly is the greatest remedy – it cures almost anything, even if it’s only for a short time. I heard someone say “laughter bounces away all the dirt”. If you think about it, that genuinely describes what happens when you laugh. Everything that is pent up inside of you emotionally is released when you experience the physical act of laughing. It’s an instant release of stress that’s bottled up inside of you. Even if it’s nothing more than an instant  of unbridled relief, laughter can release a mountain of built up stress.

By my nature I’m pretty laid back which I count as a huge blessing. Not that I’m not intense or have moments where I feel like I may explode but for the most part, I’m able to keep a pretty even temperament about things. Right or wrong the only time I really tend to get keyed up is when I am competing at something. I hate to lose…at anything. Sports and the like as always been the one area where I know I tend to take myself too seriously. And I must admit I’m not looking to change this character fault or strength, depending on how you look at it.

I think that in general though, we tend to take ourselves to seriously which prohibits us from laughing more. A quick example of this would be – you’re heading down 85 south to the Falcons game and you are running behind so you feel your anxiety rising. As you make it off the exit to turn right you find yourself behind someone who has suddenly decided that maybe they should turn left, there just not sure yet which way to go. Now be honest, at this point, we all know that person has no right to be driving an operated vehicle, especially with us being late for kickoff.

So what’s our response when we happen to be the other driver. My kids and wife have always taken great pleasure in letting me know when I’m the other driver. They’ll laugh or snicker but not too much as to upset me. Those are the moments you just have to laugh at yourself and move on. Come to think of it, some of the best times we have had as a family has been in our cars, driving to or from somewhere. Music and laughing has always been a staple of any trip taken by the Dorsey clan.

If you are ever fortunate enough to partake of dinner at our house (and your all welcome to do so), with all six of us there, just know that everything is fair game. Say something that doesn’t sound right or try to embellish a story a little and you will get called on it. My absolute favorite memories and what I miss most with the kids being gone now, are those dinners and family game night. We always allowed everyone the opportunity to speak and tell their story of the day. We would have nights where you would have to make up a story on the fly.

As the kids got older we took this game on the road, especially at Christmas time. As the kids and I would be waiting on Lisa to peruse through the mall stores, we would sit outside in the commons area and tell stories about the other people in the mall. “See that older couple over there? His name is Bill and that’s his wife Gladys, they just arrived in town to celebrate Christmas with their son’s family and realized they needed one more gift for their grandson”. The kids would come up with some great stories.

Now that they’re adults we will still revert back to our “make believe” sessions from time to time and it’s still just as much fun as it was back when. They have also refined the art of keeping each other, along with their mom and me, humble. I count it a great blessing that even now as they’re each making their own way in this world, that our kids not only still like to hang with us old folks but schedule time to do just that. We all love hanging out and doing things with other people but we are just as content when it’s only us.

Life is serious business. With the ebb and flow of getting through the daily grind, it’s easy to forget the joys and happiness of life. My prayer is that you refuse to let that happen. To always remember your blessings in the midst of the trials and tribulations. Reflect on the good times and let memories wash away the grime and always, always look forward to how you can make some new ones.

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Scott

Life Lesson 2 – Serving continued

I ended the last post saying that Love was another component to serving others. I have not always had a desire to serve others. Actually, for most of my life, my desire was to see how I could get others to serve me. Ok, that was a little sobering to actually type out but being honest, that is the truth. Now there have been times over the years where I willingly gave of my time, money or other resources without regard to what was in it for me but not very often.

Several years ago I remember hearing this verse in a sermon and was immediately captivated by it: Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus, God’s son, came to serve us and give is life as payment for our sins. Why did He do this? What was his motivation in serving us and ultimately giving his life in exchange for us? A love so great, so vast that even infinity doesn’t come close to measuring it. A love which desires to be in fellowship with you and I, regardless of our transgressions. Imagine someone loving and caring about you so much that nothing, not even death would ever deter them from having that relationship with you.

That’s exactly the kind of love Jesus has for you. We only need to accept what is truly the perfect gift. Once we do, we can begin to faintly understand the depths of His love. It is His love found within that compels me to serve others as He served us. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, seeking opportunities to help those in need. The tendency of most people when they see something about helping those in need is to think about those folks that may need help with material things such as money, food, shelter, clothing, etc. And yes, that’s part of it but to only focus on that aspect is to not fully engage in serving each other.

What about those who are in need of companionship, a word of encouragement or to feel needed. Surely all of us would agree that each of us desire to know that we are loved, at least a little. So maybe instead of asking how we may be able to serve one another, maybe we should ask how can we show love, one to another.  1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 

As faithful stewards. Faithful meaning to do what we are called to do. Steward meaning to wisely use what we have been given. To serve others, extending God’s grace in all it’s forms, that we may show others that God loves them. Jesus was real clear about this as we find when reading Matthew 22:37-39  – 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

Peace and thanks for reading!!

What is God’s Will for My Life?

I left off the last post with the question, What is God’s Will for My Life? You here this question or statement a lot while hanging out with Christians, usually something like – “if you could pray for me, I am praying that I would do God’s will”. Or maybe you hear – “I feel strongly that this the path God has laid out before me”. I wonder how many of us truly do know what God’s will for our life is? Has Dr. Del Tackett asked the question, I begin to ask that of myself. Am I truly following His path for my life?

He then got into this kind of open thought process: If only God had made it simple for us. Maybe if there was just one law that we had to obey, maybe then we could know beyond a shadow of a doubt. Maybe if Jesus had just narrowed it down for us we have a better chance of coming closer to be in God’s will. It was a clever way for the Doctor to infuse some scripture into the conversation as he asked us to look at some different verses. The first was James 2:8 – If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right.

Love your neighbor as yourself. Sounds pretty simple, do this and we are doing right. Why is this so hard for us? I mean, I like most people, and I can get along with just about anybody, but love them? like myself? That’s not so easy. Let’s look at another verse – Matthew 22: 37-40 – 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Now Jesus is answering a question posed by the Pharisees which was – what is the greatest commandment. Jesus makes it simple for them and us to understand – with all YOUR HEART, all YOUR SOUL and all YOUR MIND, Love the Lord your God. Got it and that one I can do. Love God, yes, I do love God so I can follow this commandment and I am good to go. But wait, there is another couple of verses in His answer. Verse 39 He says “the second is like it:”. Like it, let’s see, that means it’s just as critical as the first one and then we read again – “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Well there it is again, the whole loving the neighbor thing. But wait, what is a neighbor, surely that can’t mean everyone, just those we really know, right?  I want another verse please, maybe there’s an exception or something.

John 13:34 – 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I  have loved you, so you must love one another. Love one another and not just love like you love ice cream on a hot sunny day or maybe like you love milk gravy on your biscuits. Jesus is crystal clear when he says “As I have LOVED YOU”. To love others as Jesus loved me, can that really be what God’s will for my life is. I believe it is, no, I know it is, think how much different my life, your life would be if we, as Christ followers would actually obey these two commandments.

To accomplish this will take lots of courage, a willingness to make ourselves vulnerable and going back to last weeks post we already know that apart from Christ, we can do nothing. Sure we can try on our own strength but truly, it is only through Christ that we can ever reach a place that we LOVE OTHERS as HE LOVED US.

As we enter into Easter weekend, I think it’s a perfect time to reflect on just how Jesus loved us. He took all our short comings, faults, and sins to the cross and willingly gave His life, a perfect life for ours. Remember this, Jesus had never known separation from God but He knew that would be price to pay for all of our sins. And He did it anyway!! Through Jesus, we know that we will not be separated from God for all eternity. Because Jesus loved us, we can love others.

Peace and thanks for reading!!

South Africa Revisited

Image

I thought I would take the time and try to put a wrap on my recent South Africa trip. I have not been the same person since that trip and my hope is that I never again, take for granted, this incredible life that I have been given. Before South Africa I was doing just that – taking my life for granted.

I had been struggling for some time trying to figure out what was next for my life. Recently, the youngest of our 4 kids has begun his first chapter into adulthood, leaving his mother and I with an empty house for the first time in a long, long time. I think when parents become empty nesters, there is a natural tendency to reevaluate life and make sure you are on the right path. Looking at all the aspects of my life I started asking one question – was I content with? my marriage? my kids? my job? my friends? Generally speaking, I answered each of those questions with an affirmative, yes but yet I still found myself, well, restless. I was missing something. What? What was I missing?

One of the questions I asked myself was “Am I content in my walk with Jesus”? The answer was easy, yes, I was content. I pray everyday, study most days, and my job affords me the opportunity to minister to people throughout the week, so yea, I felt pretty content. Still, I couldn’t shake the restlessness. Then a question came to me that I wasn’t expecting – “Was Jesus content with His walk with me”? Honestly…..I tried to ignore the question for a couple of days and was doing ok until we took off on our first leg of our journey to South Africa. Let me tell you, 15 hours is an incredibly long time when trying to ignore something so prevalent in your mind.

Do you remember the very first line from Rick Warren’s – A Purpose Driven Life? I do. The first line is “It’s not about you”. That kept coming back to my mind time and again during that flight as I read scripture, prayed and studied. I tried watching a couple of movies, the names of which both escape me as I write this. I would love to tell you that I had a great epiphany on the flight and God revealed everything to me but that is not what happened. But He did begin to show me areas of my thought that were skewed during my time in South Africa. And on several occasions I felt the full presence of God for the first time in a long time!

One revelation I experienced and shared with you earlier was a moment I had while standing on a sand dune. As I looked one way, I was awed by the Indian Ocean, the coast line, as wave after wave ascended on the shore and then looking inland, being able to see the various mountain ranges that circle the city of Cape Town was simply overwhelming to my soul. God’s creative beauty on display for all to see. Just incredible. Then in the same instance as we looked on what is called the Cape Flats and the 6 to 8 million people that inhabit this area, God impressed on me that I had missed the beauty found in His creation of people. All people, each one uniquely created by Him.

The most important lesson I learned during my trip is that I had made God too small, I had limited Him in my life by trying to make Him fit into something I could understand, relate to. Since returning, there have been a myriad of different events, situations and circumstances that have allowed me to see God with new eyes. I am just beginning to understand that I need to see my life through the eyes of Jesus. Jesus wants to have a relationship with me! To see me live a life that is fulfilled. To be content no matter the circumstance. In order for this to happen, I must release my selfish desires and allow Him to be Lord and Master over ALL of my life.

So, with all respect to Mr. Warren. I think we need to understand that it is about us in one sense and that is – we must choose what we are going to do with Christ today? tomorrow? and every day that follows.

Lastly, here is a clip of a song that is one of the most honest songs I have ever heard. I heard it for the first time about 3 weeks before I left for South Africa. Below the clip are the lyrics to the song. This is my worship song for now. It reminds of how great God truly is and that I will never understand the depths of Jesus’ love for me.

What Do I Know of Holy – Addison Road

I made You promises a thousand times
I tried to hear from Heaven
But I talked the whole time
I think I made You too small
I never feared You at all No
If You touched my face would I know You?
Looked into my eyes could I behold You?

(CHORUS)
What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
Those were only empty words on a page
Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

(CHORUS)

(CHORUS 2)

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame?
And a God who gave life “its” name?
What do I know of Holy?
Of the One who the angels praise?
All creation knows Your name
On earth and heaven above
What do I know of this love?

(CHORUS)
What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of Holy?

People are just people – 11/8/12

As we got into the teaching time with the students, you could sense their excitement in having new people come to share with them. As I looked around the room, all of them had their bibles out and were on the front edge of their seats and all eyes looking forward. Initially I was nervous as I opened up our study time but that quickly vanished as we read some scripture and I begin speaking about what we had just read. It was such a pleasure to be up in front of these guys as you could just tell they were trying to soak up every word and being very attentive. With this group it was very easy to stand and speak about the things of God.

After my piece, I turned it over to Jimmie and he led the rest of our study time and truly did a phenomenal job in the short time he had to extol his wisdom. Faith Bradbury joined Jimmie for a short segment and talked to the kids about different ways to share the story of Jesus. As she was leading this time, you could see the kids really come to life as this is what is near and dear to all of them. Unlike most Christians that I know here in the states and including myself, we don’t always seem to have the same drive, desire to tell others about the good news of Christ.

When you talk to these kids, there is a common thread intertwined within each of them. Although each have experienced turbulent childhoods they choose not to dwell there. When you talk to them individually, you can see that most of them come from a very dark time in their past – it’s in their eyes, their voice and you can just feel it but then, like a switch, as they begin talking about God, Jesus and Bridge 4 Hope, you see all the darkness, the pain just fade away and you realize there is an entirely different person standing in front of you.

This is what they haven’t forgotten – that when all seemed hopeless or that no one seemed to care, they were able to find hope and know that someone did love and care about them through Jesus Christ. And they understand, that there are countless others within their family, community, Cape Town, and across the world that feel the same way they did, so they take every opportunity that comes to tell others about Christ. They live Matthew 28:18-20 as they go about their daily routine of life.

After lunch, we all gathered back in the classroom to get our assignments from Asanda before heading out into the community to talk, listen, pray and tell others about Jesus. The excitement expressed by everyone was palpable as their was an expectation that good things were about to happen. My partners were two of the most incredible young ladies I have ever met – Abongile and Bomikazi. I was about to learn a lesson in what trust, courage and boldness really looks like and see, for the first time in a long time, how God can change lives if we would just be willing to live Matthew 28:18-20.

Going door to door is so far out of my comfort zone and is something I have rarely taken part in when given the chance in the past. As we walked to the community I was reminded of my prayer, that I would be open to follow and commit to whatever God wanted me to do, so here it is, something I wouldn’t choose to do but hey, were here, so let’s do this. As we approached the first house, I realized that I wasn’t really nervous, I was curious to see what would unfold. AB and Bom showed no nervousness, fear or even apprehension as they stuck their head in the first door and asked if it was ok to come in.

As I watched Bom engage the young lady in conversation, I was struck by the confidence she had and then noticed that AB was right behind her looking just as confident and ready to speak if need be. No tracks, no phamplets, just two people wanting to share a conversation with the folks they had just met. Although they were speaking in a language unfamiliar to me, I was amazed at how much of the conversation I was able to follow. As the conversation was winding down, AB asked a simple question – “do you know about Jesus?”. And although they said they did, they didn’t want to talk about it so Bom asked if it would be ok if we prayed for them and if there was anything specific we could pray for on their behalf.

I watched in amazement as house after house, these two ladies would engage the people in conversation and as they talked with them, I was able to watch their faces and noticed how intently focused they were on the task at hand. Nothing else mattered except what was before them and the desire they had to help people make a connection to Jesus.

Making our way from house to house, God was impressing on me on just how beautiful His creation of people truly is. 4 weeks later and I can still recall each and everyone that I met that afternoon. Seeing people through God’s eyes means that you see them through LOVE! And as I met these wonderful people, I saw beauty in each of them and my sole desire for each of them was that they would be open to hear about Christ and to know that He truly is somebody that loves and cares about them.

For AB and Bom, they had no idea of the impact they made on my life that day. They reminded me that day that I have no excuses for not sharing my story of what Christ has done in my life. To see how boldly, and courageously these young women were at their sharing their faith, renewed a sense of urgency within me and empowered me to know that God is faithful and that His word never returns void.

Not sure if I have 1 or 2 more posts left about our trip to South Africa but will definitely wrap up by week’s end.

Meeting New Friends – 11/7/12

Three weeks ago I got my first opportunity to meet some incredible people and begin what I am sure will be lifelong friendships with all of them.

As we made our way into the township of Philipi, Terry wanted to give us the opportunity to taste some of the local cuisine. We stopped and had lunch at a place called Mzoli’s butchery. It is a meat lover’s paradise where you can choose anything from chicken, lamb, strips of beef and all kinds of sausages. When you walk into Mzoli’s, there is a front counter area where you select the meat you want to eat. They put your choices on a big platter, you pay for the meat and then take your platter to the back area where there is one of the biggest grills I have ever seen. It looks like something you would see at any SEC tailgaiting venue on Saturday afternoons. They use some kind of secret marinate for all their meat. What’s in the sauce? I have no idea but I will tell you, it is the best barbecue I have ever had – period.

After lunch, we finally made our way to Beautiful Gate. Beautiful Gate is a ministry that looks after the care and well-being of vulnerable children in the Lower Cross Roads area of Cape Town. Beautiful Gate has allowed Bridge 4 Hope to utilize some of their buildings in order for them to perform their ministry – which focuses on kids 18 to 28. You can learn more about both by clicking here – Beautiful Gate or Bridge4Hope.

The first person I was introduced to was Zimkhitha Mlata (Zimmie). This girl has one of the biggest and most infectious smiles I have ever seen. Have you ever met someone that instantly fills you with joy? Zimmie is like that, with her smile and unassuming nature, she simply exudes joy as she speaks and tells her story. Even though we didn’t have a lot of time to hear her complete story she was able to share enough to know that she has had to overcome a lot to get to where she is today.

We also had the opportunity to meet Thembelani, a young man, who like Zimmie has had to overcome a lot in his short life. There is no bitterness within him and although he hasn’t forgot about his past, his focus is on what lies ahead. His heart is to help make a difference in as many lives as he can going forward. To share with others, that there is hope and there is no obstacle that can’t be overcome.

Finally, we met Abongile, Bomikazi and Cheri as they played host and served us tea and biscuits. Again, 3 incredible young ladies, each with a humble spirit, bright smile and great stories to tell. I will share more about Abongile and Bomikazi in a later post but for now, I will just say – about all of these folks, is that it was so refreshing to see young people with such a hunger to learn and know Christ more intimately with each passing day. And then want to turn and share what they have learned with others!

As we pulled out of Beautiful Gate, I was so thankful that God had allowed me to come to South Africa. On this first day, I had the opportunity to see the beauty of God’s creation as I looked upon the ocean and mountains while being reminded to see the beauty in God’s greatest creation – His people. I had been given the incredible opportunity to meet some of these wonderful people and instantly form a lasting bond with each of them. And although they understood that the people from America were coming to share with and teach them – I knew and understood in that moment, that it was me (us), that would be the ones that would learn far more from them!!

Last thought – How much richer would my life be if I would simply take the time and be intentional about getting to know new people? I pray that God would open doors and that I would be bold and courageous enough to step out and do just that in the months ahead.

Peace and thanks for reading

Peaceful, Easy Feeling – 11/5

The following was written on the plane ride home from Paris to Atlanta.

Monday was a hard day with trying to get last minute details worked out for my time away while anxiously awaiting 3 pm to arrive so we could leave for the airport. I spent a lot of the morning listening to MercyMe and Kari Jobe worship songs. Kari’s Revelation song is one of those songs that gets to me no matter how often I hear it.

I was thinking about what lay ahead and was most excited about getting the opportunity to work with young people between the ages of 18 to 28, in their environment. I was also excited about seeing South Africa for the first time as I have always heard how beautiful it was. I have always enjoyed traveling, seeing new things and meeting new people. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures – meeting new people but one I think too many people take for granted.

I was more than a little anxious about this trip even though I have traveled out of the country on several occasions before. I have never shared this publicly before but I seem to suffer from a condition from which I am not sure what it’s called or even if there is a name for it but I call it US Separation anxiety. The symptoms are thus: as soon as I step foot on the ground in another country I begin to suffer something like an anxiety attack. Nothing full blown or anything but just an overwhelming, uneasy feeling that resides within me until I am able to once again put my feet on US soil.

So now, I was about to go half way around the world for 9 days – all the while wondering if I was going to make it without freaking out. And not be able to focus on the work at hand. The flight over was uneventful outside of the turbulence we experienced the first couple of hours. I didn’t experience any weird feelings and was able to get some much needed rest.

As we approached Cape Town, I could feel the uneasyness beginning to creep into my thoughts. Instead of trying to calm myself down, I simply began praying that God would affirm the trip in my spirit and remove the uncomfortable feeling I was having. In that same instance, I felt God’s peace envelope my spirit and it is with me now has I write this some 9 days later and 5 hours from landing back in Atlanta.

I know some of you have felt God’s calling/prompting to take a mission trip and for whatever reason, you haven’t quite made it yet. I hope this will be an encouragement to you and just know that God is greater than any perceived or real problem/issue you may face!!

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Getting Excited

so, 4 days and counting! To say I am getting excited about the upcoming trip to South Africa is an understatement to say the least. Today, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jimmie Warren as we began discussing what topics we wanted to cover next week during our time to teach at the Bridge 4 Hope center. They offer various programs for their students and one of these is called EPIC.  Their current group of students going through this will actually graduate on the Monday right before we leave to come back home. It will be such a great honor to see their ceremony and then to be able to watch how God uses them in the years to come.

Our team, which I am so grateful to be a part of,  will have the opportunity to take part in teaching these students over a two day period next Thursday and Friday at the Bridge4Hope campus. On Thursday, we are going to cover evangelism, studying techniques, leadership and other topics as well as giving our personal testimonies. And then on Friday, we will split the students up as Jimmie and I will teach the young men on being Godly men of Christ while Faith and Mandy will teach the young ladies about prayer and faith.

Jimmie and I are going use an outline developed from a recent study that we both had the opportunity to teach at our Sugar Hill Church called Kingdom Man that Dr. Tony Evans put together. Not sure if we can cover everything as the study is so rich with scripture, stories and practical application but I pray that however much we are able to give them, would be something that are to build on for a lifetime!! I am just amazed and humbled that God would allow us the opportunity to travel half way around the world and teach young people for two days as they near completing their program!

Jimmie will also have the privilege of preaching on Sunday the 11th while were there. I am excited for him and can’t wait to be part of that service with what I am sure will be a host new life-long friends! And really, as I think about it, it is really cool that we will get the chance to meet a lot of our brothers and sisters in Christ as a result of this trip! I think it’s easy to forget that for those of us who are Christ followers, that we have this huge family of brothers and sisters in our neighborhood, community, state, country and around the world. Would the world be a different place if we, believers, would treat each other like family? I’d like to think so! Anyway, sorry about that as I have strayed off topic.

While I’m thinking about it, thanks to all you for your prayers for me and our team as we prepare to leave and hope you will continue to pray for us when we are there. I would also like to publicly thank those who have given financial support to help make this trip possible.

I’m reminded of a couple of verses from 1 Peter 4:7-11  – The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 

Peace and thanks for reading!!