Friday, November 22, 2013

When Monroe, North Carolina meets Monroe, Louisiana...

Last year I was flying out of Charlotte to attend some meetings in London. I had an early flight and the airport was not very full yet. I love early mornings at the airport. I have an anticipation of what is in store. It is quiet. I just have sweet reflections with the Lord. So, on this early morning, I saw someone dressed just like Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty. I mean, down to the sunglasses.

Now, at this time, the show was just getting off the ground. Wal-Mart was not carrying their merchandise, the phrase "Happy, Happy Happy" had not caught on yet, etc.

No one was approaching him, or even seeming to notice him. I had watched the show. (I have been know to watch a reality series or two. I am a fan of A&E television.) So, as we were approaching each other, I said, "Well hello! Do you have Miss Kay with you." I figured this way, if he was a look a like, he would be complimented and I would not look the fool!

"Yes I do! Let's go on over and say hello!"

Oh. My. Word!!! It was Phil and Miss Kay and their oldest son Alan and his wife. They had just come from a speaking engagement and were headed home to LA. I sat down because I did not want to draw a crowd. I just wanted to let them know that I appreciated their "Family and Faith" values and it really comes through in the show. We had a wonderful chat. I got to hear more about Phil's time being a pastor, how Si get's so many letters of proposal, and that Alan's wife is the original daughter in law!

I asked them if I could get a picture of them. They said they would take a picture WITH me. (Okay, so much for not drawing a crowd!) It really was a sweet time for me. I walked away with the biggest smile because I had just encountered some authentic, genuine, God loving people.

It was a special time for me. Now, when I see them on A&E, I know that what you see is what you get.   And, when this "I am Second" campaign came out earlier this week, I know it is real too!

Take the time to watch. It is so good!

Love God. Love People.

It is so simple. And, it is what we have been called to do.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gobble Til you Wobble!

For most of us in North America, we really do enjoy a FEAST at Thanksgiving time. There is so much food on our counters, tables, sideboards, buffets…we cannot imagine going to bed without a wonderful turkey sandwich made with leftover turkey! Sad to say, this is not always the case in my part of "the hood."

When we first moved to our neighborhood, 16 years ago, we knew that this was the place that the Lord had called us to. It is a very urban setting with poverty all around us. In those early years, we were praying and asking the Lord how we could bless our neighbors and neighborhood. How could we love them how Jesus loves?

We knew a few people on the block who lived in intense poverty, going to bed hungry, trying to provide for their kids, etc. We even knew of some families without stoves to cook on. We felt like we were to make turkeys, the day before Thanksgiving and deliver a gallon of milk, a baked turkey and all the sides to these families on our street. They were overwhelmed with gratitude. Todd had said that every family should be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with dignity!

In addition, we joined with a local ministry that would serve Thanksgiving meals to the poor and needy out of Wendy's in our city. We even helped deliver those plates to people who were unable to get out of their homes. We did that for a few years.

A few years into this, some of our neighbors said, "Hey, thank you for all the help at Thanksgiving. This year we can do it on our own!" We were excited by this news. And we asked, "What's next?" That is when we went to a whole other level!

We started doing food drives, having local churches and friends join us, to collect ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal. We actually made a shopping list for people, asking them to pick up one or two extra items. Together we can feed people at Thanksgiving.

We no longer cook the turkey. We give them out in frozen form,the Saturday before Thanksgiving, with a paper bag filled with instant potatoes, stuffing, canned corn, green beans and sweet potatoes. It has been wonderful to see the community rally around this…to see people fed. We DO NOT run a food pantry, this is a Thanksgiving only event for us. We simply do this because the word says, "To love your neighbor as you love yourself!" This is one way we feel we can love out neighbor.

Together with the local schools, churches and other friendships we have in the city, we are able to connect with these needy families. Last year we were able to help 450 families. This year, we are needing more help in order to meet that goal again.

This is an easy model that can be replicated anywhere. In fact, we have a friend who is wanting to do just that in Texas. I am grateful for my hubs, because he carries this with such passion. I am grateful for our team at Youth With A Mission-Charlotte because they also carry the passion for this.

A friend once said to me, "We cannot step on our neighbors to reach the Nations." It is true. We need to love those we are with, while we are with them. We were created with a huge capacity to love…let's do this. If you are able to help this year, please contact me immediately. If you are interested in what we do year round, please check out our website There is always room for more around our "table".

Thanks for reading and praying. God wants us to love Him and to love others. Start by showing love to that person right next to you!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Today marks a very special, albeit unusual day. At this point, our little girl has spent half her life in Africa and half her life at home!

When we were in Togo, I wanted to soak up all the sights, the sounds, the noises. I knew there would come a day when she would ask about where she came from. I felt so responsible to capture all of it…not just in pictures, but in sounds, touch, smells. I did not know what she would remember, what she would bring "home" with her.

Now, it has been three and a half years that she has been home. Our days have been filled, from the start, with tons of lovin'…hugs and kisses, snuggles. Those same days have been filled with therapies in every area; swallowing therapies, speech therapies, physical and occupational therapies. There have been school days and pool days…mega-watt miles all along the way. Our lives are filled to overflowing!

Who knew that all those years of waiting, praying, fighting and praying some more, would yield such reward!? Gabi is home. She is thriving. She is energetic. She is FULL of life. She is loved beyond measure.

In her young life, she has changed the course of history for a nation and for hundreds of children who need forever families!

Our story begins before her birth. It is a story filled with joys and sorrow, laughter and tears…and is has a happy ending! I will tell her story here…just not tonight.

Tonight, we celebrate!