Jesus Candy

It’s Halloween.

Open your door.

Toss some Jesus Candy to people.

Start a conversation.

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Invite them to church.

Pray over the candy before you hand it out.

For real.  Not even joking.

Like a prayer walk

only pray blessings for the people

who will blow bubbles with the bubble gum you give out.

Print a Scripture and tape it

to each piece of candy.

We are to go all over the world

to make disciples

and that is hard to do

when the door is locked.

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People know that many Christians are famous for

sharing everything we’re AGAINST

but we’re not as famous for sharing Jesus in the most helpful ways.

 

 

It’s like this.

Sometimes we throw stones

at the adulteress

instead of being aware of

our own secret sin.

If we show her love, REAL TRUE love,

the kind of love she’s longing for

with all her heart,

then maybe,

just maybe she’ll want more of that

instead of the counterfeit romance that people offer her.

 

There is ONE night out

of the whole entire long year

that people flood the streets,

MAKE EYE CONTACT,

and say “Hello”

without thinking it’s awkward.

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THIS evening is NOT the time to close the door.

The neighbors you pray for all year long

to get to know Christ

are coming TO YOU

but the opportunity to invite them to know

more about Jesus

is missed because you don’t want

anyone to think you’re “celebrating” Halloween.

Opening your door and handing out candy on Halloween

does not mean you’re celebrating evil spirits

any more than going to a funeral

at a graveside service does.

This year my Mad Hattress, my Dear Fawn, and I

will be loving on people however God leads us,

with lights on, doors open,

and some Jesus Candy to share.

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Be “that guy” and hand out Bibles if you want to

because you never know who needs one

but please don’t miss this opportunity

to love on and bless your neighbors.

Start a conversation.

Share Jesus with people

especially on Halloween

when sidewalks are covered with people

who are dying to know Him.

Be safe. Be blessed and Happy Halloween.

 

[Note: Do not send me hate mail

because I see a great outreach opportunity

and feel led to share about it.

I get it.

Some will be upset.

Some are always upset.

But someone may get to know Christ

because of open doors on Halloween

and I don’t want anyone

to miss any opportunity to share Him.]

People tell us, “It doesn’t work that way!”

God put on our hearts to build a homeless teen place in Alaska and we’re just going in faith that He’s really doing this.

People have told us, “It doesn’t work that way!”  (And more stuff like that.)

Us: In what way does “it” work?

Skeptics: “Well you have to have a church supporting you.”

Us: Who told you that?

The world says you have to have a church backing you or a committee or a degree in ministry or this or that to get ministry work done.

The world lies about LOTS of things.

Us to the Skeptics: So you’re limiting God?

God is NOT limited.

God is not limited to what a church or committee can do. God is not limited to what we think. And He certainly is not limited by the world’s understanding.

Look at what He did with some fishermen in The Bible.

In fact, time after time in The Bible God didn’t choose the wealthiest or most educated or famous or “most likely” people to do His important work.

Don’t you think He is MORE than capable of providing and leading today just like He did then?

He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

He still leads today. The problem is that we’ve listened and believed what the world says for so very long that it drowned out His Voice.

He promises He will take care of us and provide and He does.

When our family stopped asking other church leaders and preachers and pastors about how we can serve, and started asking God instead through prayer, He began opening doors that ONLY God can unlock.

We knew we were supposed to be serving somehow but time after time we were invited to just sit in the pew.

We were ALL made for more than that and when we don’t get the opportunity to serve somehow, a part of us begins to die.

In my opinion, churches (actually more groups and people and leaders, but ESPECIALLY churches) should be doing MORE praying over people to find their unique talents and gifts and LESS stopping people from serving but maybe that’s just me. (It’s not. But to prevent arguments, let’s say maybe it is.)

Prayer is where this happened for us and we pray the whole world starts to pray without ceasing and everyone gets to serve in the ways He’s planned for them since before they were born. He will show you. This, I know.

People know WE don’t have enough money or people or land or buildings to build this homeless place in Alaska.

But GOD’S resources are unlimited.

This is about HIS Power and our obedience to what we feel called to do.

It’s called walking by faith.

We are not walking by what money or provision we can SEE because if we did, we’d have given up WAY before we ever started.

God made us. When He knitted us together He knitted within us what our purpose is but we got so lost in the world that we lost focus of what He Calls us to do.

People listen to the world say, “That dream is too big!” or “That’s too impossible.” Or, “It has to look THIS way.” “That won’t work.”

With this Calling we feel, people have said, “Have you done your research?” “How many homeless teens are there?” Our answer, “If God’s Calling us there like we believe He is, we’re sure there is at least one and isn’t one enough?”

God talks about helping the orphans and widows.

God puts dreams in our hearts all the time.

The world is the place we hear something “can’t” happen or it’s a dumb idea.

Sweet Friend, the world is WRONG.

And if someone tells you about a dream on his or her heart, the answer is, “Let’s pray for more confirmation.”

God opens doors that no man can shut and He shuts doors that no man can open.

You’ll know because He’ll show you.

Don’t worry about opposition or people who can’t see your vision.

That’s okay.

If they were doing the work God has prepared for them to do then they wouldn’t have time to critique His work with you.

And do not even tell me that you’re too old or it’s too late to begin a ministry. God had work for people when they were 500 years old and now, in 2015, when we’re 60, we’re whining for retirement.

We are made to serve and work and why do we hear so many people who “retire” wanting more and going back to some kind of work?

We’re unfulfilled when we don’t have a purpose or work to do.

Your ministry could be right in your neighborhood or home or job.

The work for pay that you’re doing right now may not have been God-led. If you’re miserable at your job this may be the case because even during tough times, He gives peace when we’re doing the work He has for us.  If your job IS God-led and you’re miserable, maybe He’s used you there as long as He needed to and now is wanting to move you.  Ask Him.

He may Call you across the world.

Ask Him to lead and let Him show you His plans for you. To wake up every day and know your purpose is a most wonderful way to live.

God will ALWAYS have work for us to be doing and we can ALWAYS make a difference in this world for Him.

You have to believe.

“Here am I, Lord. Send me.”

I’ve gotta write about this amazing customer service!

Thank you, Gigi, Jax, Ashleigh, and Nora.  Ladies, you made my Christmas extra special this year. And thank you, Erin, for telling us about this store. Thank you, Chloe, my daughter, for caring about me and being a noticer. Thank you for pushing me to go to this store (because we both know I wasn’t gonna.) You are one of my best friends (even if the world says parents and kids can’t/shouldn’t be friends. When you think about it… the world says a lotta stuff that doesn’t make much sense and makes life more difficult.)

When I receive good customer service I OFTEN write to the company or to an employer praising the great way an employee exceeded expectations. (And when I get crummy service I only occasionally write and am very careful what I say. Maybe the person was having a bad day. Everyone has bad days.)

My husband recently took me shopping at Torrid. Torrid is a women’s clothing store. They have cute jackets, tops, bottoms, shoes, jewelry, undies, bras, and even a few nighties to choose from. AND they have gift cards so you can give this wonderful gift to someone.

I visited there once before and received the same quality of service as this time.

THAT time I was just buying a bra that would fit me (because mine was squeezing me like a corset and I was barely able to breathe.) Thank you, Erin. You are my hero! (I know the correct word is “heroine” but I like the word “hero” better because it sounds cooler.) Because you took my daughter shopping with you for your birthday, she told me about Torrid and now I can breathe again. You made a difference in my life when you shared this amazing treasure of a place with my daughter.

THIS time I tried on about 50 items of clothing.

And they did not hurry me. Not even a little bit!

I just had to write about it.

From the moment I walked in I was greeted by a smiling face and she asked if I was looking for something specific. I was. For many years I haven’t found cute jeans that would fit me. She found a couple pair of jeans and then asked if she could reserve a fitting room for me. (They even wrote my name on the door.)

Every time I’d get a few more hangers over my arm, someone would ask if she could take them to my dressing room. “Yes, please.”

At one time I noticed a woman waiting with an employee near the 4 dressing rooms. 3 were occupied. My room was just holding my clothes in it (I wasn’t ready to try stuff on yet) but they were not letting anyone use my space. They prepared a place just for me! Of course, I offered the room to the customer and she accepted.

I believe every person working spoke to me and nobody rushed me. Since I’ve had kids, many days I have been rushed. That’s not fun. Somewhere in the middle of mommyhood, we realize we better sit down a while because we just really need to. As a mom and wife, I hurry to help my kids, my friends, my kids’ friends, my husband, church, school, and then don’t remember that I haven’t taken time for me to be refreshed.

This shopping visit did just that!

After I was there maybe 10 minutes, tears came to my eyes.

What’s THAT about? OHHH! I’m not being rushed, pulled on, pushed, guilted into, needed, volunteered, or anything but pampered.

PAMPERED! WOW! THIS feels GREAT! I could do this every day! (I won’t do this every day. But I will remember the feeling and take moments for me more often.)

(I LOVE being a mommy and wife. These 2 things are all I ever dreamed about being when I was younger. I absolutely love it. It’s okay to need time to re-energize and regroup. Any job requires that for someone to be able to give more again.)

The employees were all kind to each other. There was no “attitude” when they spoke to each other or to customers. There was a genuine respect in the atmosphere that many companies don’t have between employees.

THAT says A LOT by itself!

I wasn’t in a hurry. They let me keep adding clothes to the room.

When I finished looking through all the beautiful choices and was trying the clothes on, every once in a while one of the girls would ask if I needed a different size or how things were going. (They did this with everyone ~ and it was very kind.) Someone would trade out one size or color for another while I was trying on clothes.

It was like they were there to REALLY HELP me shop!

The girls were professional, fun, silly, friendly, real, polite, and would offer their opinions about an outfit.

I LOVED that!

Even if someone doesn’t like a certain style or color on me, I may still buy it because I like it but I really do appreciate their opinions about whether something looks good on me or not. (I’d always rather hear someone who cares about me or cares how I look tell me in the store if it doesn’t look so flattering than for a hundred people to think, “That looks awful on her,” after I buy it.)

It’s not a reflection of my worth or beauty if a certain style or color does or doesn’t look great. Every body is a different shape and it’s pretty cool that we have so many choices to find the most flattering patterns to fit our body shapes.

At Torrid, (I have to admit this) clothes are a little pricey for every season shopping for me, but they’re good quality and the experience, itself, was WORTH EVERY PENNY to me (and to my husband!)

After deciding on final choices (with the help of my family and 4 sweet employees,) they took the time to find if my mailer coupons or if the in-store promotions were better for me.

It was just a special experience from the beginning and it stayed that way until I went home. I listened to the way they talked with other customers. Every person was treated with respect.

Thank you, ladies, for making this Christmas (and bra shopping a few months ago) a fun and special time. Thank you for NOT rushing me. Thank you for actually caring about my day and for offering your opinions when I tried on clothes. YOU made my Christmas more special this year. I know wherever you work, you will shine and companies would be honored to employ you! Thank you, Gigi, Jax, Ashleigh, and Nora.

[Note: This is not a story about thrift stores but I have to mention how much I LOVE thrift stores. Most of my adult life I have bought my clothes and my family’s clothes (not undies or socks) from thrift stores and garage sales. It’s okay to spend money on clothes sometimes but it’s very fun to be able, when someone compliments my cute shirt, to tell people it was only $2 at a thrift store.

But I’m pretty sure I’ll be visiting Torrid again; maybe for my birthday!

Oh, and I did find some cute jeans, too!]

[Note Too: I find it degrading that some people call some women “plus” size. I believe it would be equally degrading if people called some women “negative” size. It sounds unkind either way to me. Like “You’re too much woman.” or “You’re not enough woman.” There’s a lot I wish would change about this world.

Torrid mostly “sizes” clothes in 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4. And it’s a fun experience just to not see PLUS (or minus) on a sign.

We’re women and we’re ALL beautiful. Period.]

[Note Too Also: You know all those clothes we keep in our closets for 10…20…30… years kinda hoping to wear them again?

I cleaned them out.

THIS actually feels GREAT! (I’ll admit I never could bring myself to do this until now. Not really sure why that took so long. And any small step toward being healthier is better than looking a certain size.)

Try it! Say Merry Christmas to who you are NOW at the beautiful size you are NOW.

It’s actually a LOT of fun!! I never thought it would be. But it’s freeing! And once you really look at who you are and how beautiful you are NOW, no matter what size you are, it’s easier and easier as you go through the closet! I’m so excited for you! It may even turn out to be your favorite Christmas gift to yourself.]

 

Stuff God’s Been Teaching Our Family (Without A Car) In 2014

We lived without a working car for 6 months (on purpose.) God has taught us A LOT. This is some of what we learned.

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My kids learned:

-We don’t need a car to live.

-Fast food is NOT what people want when they are walking everywhere.

-When I give food to homeless people it will be something healthy.

-People feel like they have an obligation to offer a ride if you’re walking. It’s a pity thing. (It shouldn’t be.)

-The way people look at you when you’re walking is pretty rude.

-Homeless people are probably stronger than anybody thinks they are.

-Employers are unsure if they should hire you when you don’t have a working car. They wonder if you’ll get to work.

-I learned we can do stuff even without a car.

-We can walk farther than we think we can.

-Any place is in walking distance if you take the time.

-You buy less things ’cause you have to carry stuff home.

-People eat a lot more than they need to.

-Walking is a work-out and it builds muscle.

-You feel better when you walk.

-We were blessed with 2 legs and 2 feet to be able to walk places. Some people aren’t.

-If you’re willing to help someone there needs to be a genuine love. Don’t just do it to check off the service hours on your list. Attitude matters.

~

What my husband learned:

I don’t NEED a car.

God provides what we need.

A car can add stress. (Also not having a car can add stress.)

~

Stuff God has been teaching me:

-When you’re walking places there is less of a hurry. It may take 30 minutes to walk some place when it takes 5 minutes in a car. (I love NOT being in a hurry!!)

-We are too busy …and we’re kinda selfish.

-Most people don’t really want to be bothered by other people’s needs. I was doing that, too. I liked MY schedule. I liked MY life. MY day. MY hours. MY time. MY whatever. But that’s not how we’re called to live.

-When I help someone, take time for them. People are worth taking the time to get to know. They will bless your life or you will bless theirs somehow. (I mean, besides the transportation factor.)

-When I do feel called to give someone a ride I will NEVER, EVER (EVER) have a look on my face like, “OH OKAY. I GUESS I can put myself out to give you a ride!”  Just… NO.

-Wait on God and His timing. Ask Him to be involved in EVERY part of life and trust Him (even when buying – or not buying a car.)

[VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Please DO NOT pick up someone if you feel you shouldn’t. It’s okay to pass by if you feel worried or have that feeling in your gut that it’s not a good idea. God gave us that feeling for a reason. Listen to your body and trust yourself.]

 

Important Stuff

I’ve been thinking a lot about “education,” intelligence, experience, and even God-given talents and how sometimes we seem to feel like someone is “smarter” than someone else… when maybe our view cannot see the big picture.

When we get to Heaven, God may not be all that impressed with how many diplomas we have, how much is in our 401k, where we went to college, or if our kids went to public school, private school, homeschool, or whatever.

I do know God is going to ask each of us what we did with the talents He gave us. I hope we hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

And I know some people aren’t sure God is real or if Heaven or Hell is real. I hope we don’t wait and find out it’s too late to ask Him. If you’re not sure, ask God to show you who He is. He does this. He’s okay with us asking Him questions.

Dear child we haven’t met yet,

Dear child we haven’t met yet,

I am so sorry we weren’t there faster than this. We are packing. We are trusting. We are waiting on God. We are praying and He knows the time frame for when we will meet. He is moving mountains for us to get to you. We love you and we are here for you. Please don’t give up. You matter.

Love, Kerri, Chloe, and Chelsea Valor

She bluntly asked, “What’s WRONG with you?!” -by Guest Writer, Chloe Liv

I asked her what she meant.

She told me, “You’re different.  You don’t cuss or anything!  What’s wrong with you?”

I told her that I have Jesus. She said she wanted what I had.

She started to come to church with me and often our conversations would end in tears as she realized just how much God loves her and will love her no matter what. After a while her parents made rules. She could NOT come to church with me. Or go to “my” church. But she could go to someone else’s church and I could go with her… Rule after rule we gave up. I wanted her to be able to know more about Him and she craved it.

Finally I felt completely defeated. I felt like I failed.

And so I asked my mom if there was ANYthing ANY LITTLE thing I could do.

She told me (these are her exact words,) “Take church to her.” Me and mommy talked a little longer and then Jesus Club became an idea that would soon help tons of people.

As a freshman I was placed in a senior class on accident. I was in there a couple weeks and really connected with the teacher. I could see where his faith stands and who he is so I asked if I could “borrow” his class room. I didn’t even tell him why yet and he said “No! That’s like asking to borrow my car!!” A little shocked I was like ummmm okay then. I was about to turn around and leave and he said “Chloe, when would you need the room?” He still didn’t know why but knowing who I am and where my faith stands he opened up his class room to us.

Jesus Club.
-Chloe Liv

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Sometimes kids tell Chloe they want to go but don’t think they should.

Some say they are atheist. Chloe says, “I don’t care. Just come anyway.”
Some kids tell her, “AWKWARD! I don’t go to church…” She says, “That’s okay. Just come anyway.”
Some kids say, “I’ve never prayed before.” She says, “Awesome. So let’s pray together.”

~
The best Christmas present EVER came from this teacher to Chloe.

Her teacher stopped her and said something like, “Chloe, I am so proud of you for starting Jesus Club. You are changing lives and I can see it. You’re planting seeds and I know it’s just going to keep on going even after you move to Alaska.”

THIS child. This VERY, VERY, VERY SHY child. This child would CRY if she had to ask for a straw at a restaurant. We had to MAKE her ask for a straw. She would beg us not to make her talk. LOOK at THIS child being used by God for His work AND loving it!

THE best Christmas present EVER is to know your child’s heart belongs to God. And on top of that leading other kids to Christ. No piece of plastic or electronics or even a house for Christmas is better than this gift.

God is very much at work. Open your eyes and watch His miracles that happen every day.