Author, Collaborative Writer, Editor - Learn More

New Year’s Resolution?

A trip to any grocery store or warehouse club tells us a new year has begun.  year. In December, shelves loaded with Christmas candy and holiday baking items greeted us. Now, a towering display of protein bars, vitamins and muscle-building shake mixes fills the front of the store. And almost every aisle boasts nutritious snacks, diet drinks and other items designed to appeal to those in New Year’s resolution mode. Social media now allows us to share our once-private pledges with the world. Declarations like “I’ll work out twice a day,” “I’ll lose 50 pounds,” or even “I won’t touch fats or carbs” fill my news feed along with pictures of the lifters, squatters, runners and dieters on my list of friends and followers. Christians, of course, are just as likely as others to post these year-opening promises and to make others that sound more spiritual: “I’ll read the Bible through four times this year” or “I’ll memorize 15 Bible verses every week.” But what about service? Where does it fit on our resolutions list? Deuteronomy encourages us to give God the firstfruit offering. For many believers, this means at least a tithe of our income belongs to God. But couldn’t we extend the idea of firstfruits to our ministry to others as well? Instead of waiting for pleading letters or posts from your favorite nonprofit or other service organization, calendar some activities now. Does the local homeless shelter or food bank need people to serve or pack meals? Such ministries typically have many offers of help in November and December but few after the feel-good holiday season has passed. Local schools are back in session and (after appropriate background checks) often welcome volunteers. And what about summer mission trips? Committing to one now instead of later will give you plenty of time to gather both needed funds and prayer support. If you’re a teen or have teens, I want to take a moment to recommend two student mission-sending organizations. My family and I have served with both. Awe Star Ministries designs its mission trips around the rite of passage concept in which students take a definite step into adulthood. The trips place an equal emphasis on evangelism and discipleship. During the trips, small groups of students work through materials designed to help them walk out what it means to be a man or woman of God. Awe Star offers spring break, Christmas and summer mission trips ranging from 10 to 35 days in length. Summer teams, ranging in size from 20 to 30 students, depart from Dallas after four days of training. Each serves in a different country (this year, teams will travel to Mexico, Peru, Panama, and Suriname) and...

Read More

No More Chicken

Dear Friends, Many of you know that last week, I was buried in cinnamon rolls. Well, almost. I baked more than seventy dozen of them as a fundraiser for my daughters’ mission trips to Panama and Peru this summer. As college students, they have little extra time to fundraise, so my husband and I are doing what we can to help. You could say that missions runs in our family. That’s why I want to make sure to send you to “No More Chicken,” my article in this month’s issue of Book Fun Magazine (the link will open to the magazine cover; then just click on my photo or the article title to read. But there’s lots of other great stuff there, too!). If you’ve served with me a on a mission trip, you’ll see some photos and read some stories from places you recognize. I hope you enjoy this behind-the-scenes glimpse. And even if you haven’t served with me, you’ll have the opportunity to see how God transformed me from a stay-home chicken to a go-anywhere-He-sends missionary. Have you serve in short- or long-term missions? I’d love to have your comments or prayer requests here or on other social media.   For His glory,  ...

Read More

WRITE: Here I Am, Send Me? Courage in Costa Rica (Never the Same Missions, Part 4)

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve posted excerpts from my unpublished article, “Here Am I. Send Me? Courage in Costa Rica.” If you missed any of the other excerpts, you can find them by clicking these links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. You’ll want to make sure to read those before you read the final section, posted below along with a sidebar that offers some fundraising tips. Send Me? The courage all these student missionaries displayed came from the same source as the prophet Isaiah’s: a living, loving relationship with a God who wants to draw people of all nations to Himself. Is your courage stuck on Empty? Do you make excuses instead of stepping up and stepping out? Check with your heavenly Father. He has grace for all, on the mission field and at home. No matter the situation, He’ll provide the courage you need to say along with Isaiah, “Here am I. Send me!” [Sidebar: Courage to Fundraise] Do you suffer from EWS, Empty Wallet Syndrome? Not to fear. The God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills can provide moo-lah for missions. Check out these fun ideas from some of our Costa Rica missionaries: KaytLyn: “My mom and I had a dessert business. We sold chocolate strawberries, chocolate pretzels, cake pops and caramel corn. For two years, all the money we raised went toward my trip!” Stephanie: “I had people sponsor beaded bracelets I made to give to children in Costa Rica. I asked for $5 apiece, but some people gave much more. Felicia: “My sister and I had buckets at the front of our church, each with a picture of someone’s face attached. The person whose bucket ended up with the most money got a pie in the face!” Felicia (part 2): “We also forked people’s yards [placing hundreds of plastic forks tine-down]. People had to pay $15 for us to remove them or $20 to fork someone else’s yard.” Have you served God in international missions, or would you like to? Is God giving you the courage to connect? I’d love to receive your questions and comments below, on social media, or through the email link at the top of this page. If you have other fundraising ideas, feel free to add those as well. My husband and I hope to join Never the Same in Ecuador June 29-July 12, 2015. Teen guys and girls as well as adults are welcome and needed to make a difference. Will you be the next one to say, “Here am I. Send me”?...

Read More

Write: Here I Am, Send Me? Courage in Costa Rica (Never the Same Missions, Part 3)

So far, I’ve shared two installments of my missions story from last year’s Never the Same Missions trip to Costa Rica and four stories of courageous people. You should know that I always have more stories than will fit in the word count limit the magazine gives me, so if you want a few more stories, check back to last summer’s blog (try here and here for examples). But I love the stories reserved for Part 3, and I hope you will, too!   Courage to Speak: Sammie Unlike John, “I’m a worship leader,” Sammie says. “Not a speaker.” That’s what she tried to tell God one morning as her team prepared for ministry. Her head team leader, Rob Kirkpatrick, needed someone to share the gospel after the second drama of the day. “Who’s gonna do it?” he asked. No one volunteered. “It felt like God was pressing his hands on my shoulders,” Sammie confesses. “I knew He was saying, ‘You do it.’” So she did. So well, in fact, that the crowd in the noisy street market had no idea she was anything but an experienced speaker. So well that God used her to help others receive His message of salvation. So well that she kept sharing with anyone who would listen. Watch out. When you follow God in obedience, He’ll give you courage to speak, too.   Courage to Connect: Yemi                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yemi, another Faith in the Wait entrant, was the contest runner-up. But when it comes to courage, she’s a big winner. She shared her story before one of the group’s supercharged evening worship services, called FUAGNEM (Fired up and Going Nuts Every Minute). Yemi’s unusual background—adopted from Ethiopia at age 10—helped prepare her for the missions trip in ways she never expected. On their first day of ministry, her team spent time at a home for abused girls ages 12-18. Leah, one of the head team leaders, asked Yemi to share her testimony. “I forgot she was adopted,” Leah says. But God didn’t. As Yemi spoke, she didn’t know...

Read More