Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rejoicing and Blossoming

God spoke to Jeremiah and spoke very encouraging words to him.  God said in Jeremiah 1:5 
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you:
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
Then Jeremiah replied, “Ah, Lord God!          Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.”
Then Lord replied, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ For you shall go to all  whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.  Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you.  Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.”

     These words were specific to Jeremiah, but His words ring true to all of us now also. Luke 21:15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.   Sometimes I feel nervous when we are headed out to North First Street because I think, “How will I know what to say?  What if I don’t have the words?”  It brings great peace to know that the words come from the Lord and all we have to do is step out and open our mouths.  He gives us the right words for the person in front of us. 
     There is so much joy in serving others.  When we come back from serving on North 1st, we feel like we could do anything for the Lord.  God just gives so much back as you are giving.  You think that it is all about having the right thing to give, but the fact is that it is the act of meeting someone’s needs with the love of Jesus behind it that acts like a boomerang.  Remember the old saying, “Bounces off me and back on you?”  Well when you serve the Lord, you give the love of Jesus and He in turn fills you up to overflowing with His love.  Amazing!!!   Thank you Jesus!!!
     Isaiah 35:1-2 is so beautiful!! “The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them.  And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, Even with joy and singing.  The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, The excellence of Carmel and Sharon,  They shall see the glory of the Lord, The excellency of our God. 
     I just plug in North 1st Street here.  North 1st street shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.  It was a wilderness and a wasteland, but now it is blossoming abundantly and rejoicing!  The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, North 1st street shall see the glory of the Lord, The excellency of our God!!!!
     Praise God!  This week was beautiful.  We had new volunteers with us as well as our awesome hard core weekly devoted crew!  We needed the numbers today because there was a huge group of people that were served. In the end- 75 to 100 people, 150 hot dogs, bottled water, cookies/baked goods, snacks, wonderful “Don’s Donuts”, clothes, toilet paper…. Wonderful!! 
     There was an awesome joy that seemed to be prevalent amongst the crowd.  People had to wait in line for food but it went quickly and it gave us time to walk along and visit with them as they waited for food.  There is such joy in shaking someone’s hand, look at them straight in the eye, smile, ask their name, find out where they are staying…… I felt like today I could see the wilderness and wasteland of the old lot we use transformed into a family reunion of hugs, handshakes, smiles, thanksgiving, laughter, full stomachs, and needs met.  Praise God! 
     Isaiah goes on to say, “With everlasting joy on their heads, they shall obtain joy and gladness and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”  I honestly think that joy and gladness is showing up more and more and that sorrow and sighing is fleeing….. I think that with spring coming… that hearts are softening.  A trust has been established over the last 6 months and they know that we come every week.  We are not asking anything of them or judging them, just extending the love of Jesus.
     It felt very natural today to say, “Can I pray for you?”, then reach out and lay hands on them,  and pray.  A young girl and her boyfriend talked with me about the fact that the girl has missed her period for the past 3 months.  We talked about where she could get prenatal care and the importance of being followed by a physician for the health of the baby.  They were so receptive and they let me pray for them which was wonderful.  We were able to celebrate and be excited about their new baby growing in her tummy.  I prayed blessings upon the baby and the parents and then wrote down a list of things that they could use including things like: bras, under clothes, bigger shirts, stretchy pants etc.  God is so cool…. I felt honored to be able to celebrate with them and pray blessings with them. 
     Another young gal (15) who had recently had her baby, brought her little guy out to show us.  So again, we were able to celebrate a new life and pray over him.  She was afraid because CPS was going to be investigating her living situation to make sure it was safe for the baby.  We talked about how their job is to make sure that the baby is safe and that they want her to be able to keep it.  She just needs to listen to the recommendations that they give and follow through.  Again, we prayed for the baby, the mother, and the situation…. Doors are opening on North First St.  Halleluiah!!!!! 
      Easter is fast approaching and with it we feel led to have an Easter celebration with our friends on North First Street.  Keith would like to lead a small service and then share communion together with our homeless friends.  Please be in prayer for hearts to continue to open and for bondage to be broken!  We pray for love and freedom from oppression for all of North First Street as well as the whole city of Yakima!  In Jesus Holy Name!! Amen :0)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Fragile Clay Pots....

It has been 2 weeks since I've written a blog, not because there wasn't anything happening, but rather because life has been a bit crazy!  One verse keeps coming back to me though....echoing through my head and bouncing around in my heart....

2 Corinthians 4:7  " We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.  This makes it clear that our great power is from God not from ourselves."

I came upon this scripture and love it!! It was so fitting this weekend.  Keith was out of town at a Men's Retreat in Oregon. He left Friday morning and did not return until Sunday afternoon.  I knew that my weekend was filled with things that had to be completed both on Saturday and Sunday... Things that I did not know if I could do or  not... involving hooking up a trailer, loading it and unloading it by myself, driving it without crashing lol, and working some really long hours for the auction that I didn't know if I was going to be able to do by myself.....

Well let's just say Friday night I was full of worry... and prayer.  The Lord and I were having a huge chat throughout the whole evening.  I came upon 2 Corinthians and I identified so much with it.  I felt very fragile-  I was missing Keith (Yes... even for just a weekend.  I know, kind of silly, but honest).  I started thinking... what if something happens to him?  What if I had to go through the rest of my life without him- (Yes, my mind was spinning a bit out of control).  I felt very fragile and doubtful of my own abilities.  

The Lord was extremely reassuring and I felt a peace come about me by morning.  I woke up early, pulled myself up by my boot straps and said, "O.K. Lord, It is You and I today.  I have a lot on my plate, but with You, I can do it!!"  Well.... the weekend endeavors went very well.  Besides a policeman stopping in front of my driveway to ask if I was trying to steal the trailer while I was tipped upside down trying to figure out the latch, it went smoothly!  I just laughed and told him, no... I was just trying to show my husband that I would be o.k. while he was gone and I could handle it.  lol

By Sunday I was feeling more confident in my skills- since my team mate was no other than.... God.  :0)    I loaded up the trailer one more time to head to North First Street.  Usually Keith leads the endeavors, but it went well.   Our team met at the Harley Davidson Parking Lot as we do every week to pray before heading over and setting up.  After our team meeting we headed down to our lot and started setting up.  Like usual, we had a group waiting for us- which was really nice because I didn't know if day lights saving time would throw them for a loop.  Nope-  they were there and ready to help unload and set up tables. 

I was so glad that the Lord provides for our "fragile-ness".  I felt exhausted from the 13 hour work day from the day before and I wanted to make sure and not "blow it" for our group who relies on the food as well as the clothes.  As 2nd Corinthians says-  in our fragile human-ness, God's Glory is able to shine through and touch those around us so that they know it has to be God and not us.  One of our homeless friends shared that "We would not believe how much it has helped to have us come down through the winter.  He said that it has helped so many people."  God has awesome ways of letting us know that it is worth  the time, effort, and love.  That all the help from our Awesome team, donors, and wonderful people who bake is not in vain... That in our fragile clay pots- God's Glory is radiating out and penetrating souls.... Thank you Jesus!!!

What is so cool is that God always provides our needs-  we had some volunteers out because they were sick, others were out of town, etc. but he always brings other people to step in and make things happen.  He makes a way because it is His endeavor and not our own.  He makes a way because it is about His agenda and not the silly details of our own.  .... Thank you Jesus!!

David and Mike were back this week :0)  but Chris wasn't :0(  I hope that she is o.k.  I heard that she has been trying to kick heroine on her own, but hasn't been very successful.  She needs it so much that she shoots it up in her eye to get the quickest high.  I also heard that she has hep C which all makes me so sad.  Next time I see her,  I need to ask her if she knows Jesus.... I hope that I get to see her again and I am sorry that I haven't said that to her before now.  I am so glad Lord that you are able to show your glory through my fragile clay pot..... Thank you Jesus!!!

Last week Keith had promised two people tents for this week.  My brother brought by two tents last week that he wanted to donate... wow coincidence??? Of course not!  God is so fun to watch!!! Well..... I wasn't sure who the tents were promised to so.... let's just say that before Keith arrived from his trip... I had promised 7 people tents and I only had 2... oops!  See... the overnight shelters around town close this week because it is almost spring, so all of the people who sleep in the overnight shelters around town will be out on the street by the weekend.  I told the people that I promised things to to hold on and wait until Keith arrived.  Our team prayed as we always do at closing and were joined by about 12 homeless people who joined us. It was a truly beautiful prayer that Doug led us in....a prayer that included all the people on both sides of the box..... Than you Jesus!!!

 Keith arrived at North 1st Street about 3:00 right about the time we were packing up and getting ready to leave.  I broke the news that I had accidentally promised too many tents and sleeping bags..... and that the group of people over by the fence were waiting there so that I could go round them up what they needed.   Once again... my fragile clay pot.... had gotten me into a fix that only God could help me work out.   Keith and I climbed into the car and said, "We'll be back in an hour!"  Thankfully Goodwill had an abundance of sleeping bags (which is so odd because usually I only see a few hanging and this time there were about 14).  We grabbed the sleeping bags that we needed as well as a blanket for each person then continued our adventure in finding sleeping bags and tarps.  Let's just say that God is so so so Amazing! 

Shortly after... we pulled into the lot and had the joy of handing out a sleeping bag and blanket to each person as well as tents and tarps for each group that we had promised them to.  It was such an honor to represent God's Goodness in this way.  They were so very thankful.  It is amazing to see hearts soften to the Lord when he meets them right at their dire need.  They asked to pray this time... so we all locked arms and gave praise to Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior!!!  With thanksgiving... we hugged goodbye and went on our way. 

One of the couples that we brought a tent to were staying on the other side of town, so we loaded their things up in the car and took them to their destination.  It was a woman in her early 30's and her fiance.  They were from the lower valley and had lost all of their things in a house fire.  Because they did not have family in state- they were homeless.  The lady cried and said, "I never thought this would be me."  She said, "I have seen people on corners before and thought- Get a job, but I never thought I would be in this position."  My heart went out to this couple so much because they were different.  They did not appear to be "addicts" as most of our homeless friends are, but rather- very nice people who are temporarily homeless and trying to make the most of it.  Because they had so many bags to carry- we were able to help them get to their destination.  I pass by them every day on the way to work and can't help but look out over the highway and pray that their night was peaceful and that they were able to stay safe.  It will be an honor and a blessing to be able to help them with some of their other needs throughout the next week or two.  Please be in prayer for them that the fiancee will be able to find work so that their living situation will be able to improve shortly.  God's Glory shone through our fragile clay pots.... so that they knew that it was God's Glory and not our own!!  We shared the Lord with them, exchanged hugs, and off we went back to our world where two days prior I had been worrying about how I would handle the events of the weekend alone.... wow... what would it be like if I had to handle the freezing nights with no home... and an unsure future!  Thank you God for shining through our fragile clay pots....

Dear Lord-  It is such a humbling experience to be one of your ambassadors.  I love reaching out in my own weakness and feel You streaming through me like water pushing over a waterfall.  I pray that everyday I will grow closer to you as I try to see with "Jesus Eyes" rather than my own.  All My Love Forever-  Camille :0)