Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Solitude... "absence make the heart grow fonder" or is it "out of sight out of mind"?

My past five months have been that of solitude. As defined by Merriam-Webster solitude is the quality or state of being alone or remote from society: seclusion; a lonely place (such as a desert).  While I was not alone or in seclusion or in solitary confinement...I was without my best friend, my true love.  My boys were with me, but due to the calling on our life Kevin was an hour away. Our family unit was not as it was supposed to be. We knew it wouldn't be fun or easy but it was necessary so he could pastor the the church to which our family had been called. At first it was like we were dating again with lots of excitement to just say hi or see each other for a few minutes, but after almost 23 years of marriage only seeing each other about 3 nights a week was hard. It wasn't fun, especially since my love language is "quality time" as defined by Gary Chapman in his book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts - it is a great book, read it sometime! (To Discover Your Love Language Click Here) We knew it was going to be over in a few months so I thought I would make the best of it. I had great plans of all the things I could get done while he was at the other house...cleaning out closets cabinets, drawers...but I found myself just wanting to go home, not cook supper, take a bath and go to bed. Twenty years ago (before kids) we lived 2 hours apart for 2 year while married and attending college; we had done this before, 5 months should be a piece of cake compared to 2 years, right!?! Well, I guess I am older and set in my ways, I did not like it! It was even hard to talk on the phone because his was either ringing all the time or I couldn't talk very well. About two months ago I finally went to the doctor for my voice - I had been hoarse since September and it was getting worse! I ENJOY TALKING A LOT and I like to talk LOUD!!! I was told I had a vocal cord granuloma caused by coughing and talking too much, talking too loud, and general overuse...imagine that!!! I was told to not sing for two months (I didn't know I enjoyed singing until I was told to stop), to try to not cough, and to talk just above a whisper (almost impossible but I done it some...with the help of my kids and Kev telling me "SHHHHH!") FINALLY, my voice is coming back!!! Praise the Lord!  For a few weeks Kevin and I had to text more than talk because of my voice. His life was busy, there were weeks that a glance across the room was a "hello" or " bye" as we would head back to Lake City. Does "absence make the heart grow fonder" or is it "out of sight out of mind"? It depends on what you put into the relationship. Do you want it to grow stronger or fade away? Do what God called you to do as a spouse or friend, then things will align and keep the relationship strong. Put effort into it. Relationships take work. Being apart takes work. A text can light up your face, or an unanswered phone call can break your heart.  Satan attacks when you are weak and lonely. You have to learn to be intentional and purposeful with the time you have, make the most of the time, treasure the moments, minutes, or any time you have, no matter how short or how many interruptions. When you want to succeed you will. What this experience has taught me is to have a much greater compassion for those who have no choice in this lifestyle - for those forced to be apart while their child is being born because they are active military defending our country; or are missing their families while protecting us, for those who live across the world from family because they are called to be missionaries; for those who are lonely because they have forever lost the love of their life on this earth. My solitude ends TONIGHT...we are all back under one roof again, we are our family again, we are HOME! Excuse me, if a have a glow the next few days....life is back to as it should be for us and that makes me happy, happy, happy! I see patients every day who live daily as we did for 5 months, this is their everyday normal.  When  you see people in these situations, I challenge you to love on them, love them big...a listening ear, a hug or a smile of understanding could turn their day around. It could put a smile on their face and in their heart! Let others know you love and appreciate them. Walk a mile in their shoes with them. We are told to love one another so others will see that we are Jesus' disciples in John 13:34-35. Are we being the salt and light as much as we should?
Treasure your moments! Love deeply! While I am super excited my journey is ending, this solitude may be just beginning for many others in this world. Our two sons may be being a form of solitude also.  Matthew graduated last week, so as my Daddy says, "Welcome to the grown-up world!". Today our youngest, Michael, walks the halls of Bay High School for the last time. He has to say "until I see you again" to friends and teachers - he really does like them! His new world is really just beginning. Our oldest, Matthew, leaves for E-team Kazakhstan  June 8-28th, just when the boys are starting to get close and like hanging out as brothers. Then Matthew will move off to Nashville to attend Welch College in August as Michael makes a transition into a new school in Pocahontas. I will never forget the day my sister got married and moved out...it was horrible. There are people all around us going through some sort of solitude. Look for them, reach out to them. Try to figure out their love language and express it the best way you can as a friend, as a follower of Christ. Love others! Give THANKS because HIS LOVE endures FOREVER! 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

2017 Randolph County Flood

The Pocahontas Ministerial Alliance has set up an account at the Pocahontas Integrity Bank for Monetary donations to go to the Flood Relief for the Pocahontas/Randolph County residents. Donations need to be marked "Flood Victims". You may contact the bank at (870)892-5286 for further instructions if you are unable to make donations at the physical location. All donations will be greatly appreciated.

You may also donate online through this trusted, safe site. The ministeral alliance set up an online fund. The money collected will be distributed to those affected by the flooding. The link is:  https://www.youcaring.com/allresidentofpocahontasaffectedbytheflooding-816898 
First Community Bank also accepting donations. They have set up a benefit account for anyone who would like to donate to help families in need due to the flooding in Pocahontas and surrounding areas! If you feel compelled to do so, stop by any of their locations and just let your teller know you'd like to deposit to the Benefit Account!

Please be cautious of donating to places or individuals, if you do not know them,  other than banks or trusted organizations...scams may unfortunately pop up in the days to come. 

“Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love].”

Pocahontas is a great community that my family has quickly feel in love with since January, 2017.  Our hearts break for everyone affected by the flood in this wonderful community.  I have never experienced living somewhere like this...it is a strong community, a close community, one that looks for ways to help each other continuously. What a blessing that God that chose to send Kevin to pastor Sutton Church in Pocahontas.  If a few short months our love has grown deep for the people in this place. I can't image being anywhere else!


Thursday, May 4, 2017

May Operation Christmas Child Prayer Reminders

May Operation Christmas Child Prayer Reminders:
  1. Praise God for Operation Christmas Child’s Global Connect conference where over 3,000 attendees from 130 countries gathered in Orlando, Florida to worship, pray, and be equipped to further the Gospel around the world. 
  2. Praise God for the 58 countries that have received shoeboxes and volunteer teams who are now working diligently at Outreach Events to share the Good News with over 7.6 million children.
  3. Pray for the over 273,000 shoeboxes still en route on ships to children in two countries. 
  4. Pray for tax exemption of shoeboxes destined for six countries with 557,000 going to sensitive countries. 
  5. Pray for customs clearance of sea containers filled with shoebox Gospel Opportunities in 11 countries. 
  6. Praise God over 8,000 gift-filled shoeboxes were delivered to sensitive countries. 
Watch our OCC Prayer Video OCC Prayer Video  and share it with your friends.

Mid-South Prayer Praises and Requests:
  1. New AC’s Debbie Young: Bowling Green-KY AT, Lisa Steen: Louisville-KY AT, and David and Marilyn Killian: Chattanooga-TN AT
  2. Four churches committing to SAPP
Mid-South Prayer Requests:
  1. Hasty Martin, Regional Director as she leads a Vision Trip to Togo this week, returning May 3
  2. Todd Edwards, Mid-South Director as he leads a vision Trip to Kigali, Rwanda, May 14-25. Prayer for: Wisdom as he leads this team, Team unity, Safety while traveling and while in country, For each child that will be receiving a shoebox gift, that they will experience God’s love and open their heart to the Gospel.
  3. Health for our volunteers, for healing, wisdom for doctors treating them and for family members
  4. Returning Drop Off leaders/locations to complete their paper work by the fast approaching deadline of May 12!
  5. Our Mid-South goal of 850,000 shoebox gifts
  6. Our leader volunteers
North-East Arkansas Team Prayer Requests:
  1. Pray for God to reveal who He is calling to be our new Area Coordinator 
  2. Pray for our Area Team to secure a new Central Drop Off Location in the Jonesboro Area.
  3. Pray for our NEA Shoebox Goal of: 11,550!!! Encourage more people to join this ministry today and pack shoeboxes! Reach out to the churches in your area and let them know our goal for this year - encourage them to set goals also! With God's blessing and putting forth effort, we can surpass this goal!
  4. Pray for everyone affected by the flood
  5. Pray for Kevin & Jennifer's son Matthew as he prepares to go to Kazakhstan June 8-28 on a mission trip.
  6. Pray for each other! If you would like a list of each of our team members so you can pray for them specifically, just let Jennifer Barnett know.  Satan attacks, especially when good things are happening so be faithful to lift each other up in prayer!
  7. Pray for our area team to continue to grow with new team members and coordinators. 
  8. Pray for all the graduates of 2017 - that they would keep or make God a priority and be world-changers.
West and Central Africa International Prayer Requests General Prayer Requests each country faces: 1. Wisdom to recruit, select, lead, and develop new and/or transitioning volunteer leadership team members. 2. Provision of resources and the person who leads this area so they are able to reach their God-sized goals for the current year.

WEEK 1: May 1-7 - Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Central Africa Republic
Burkina Faso: Pray for stability in the country as there have been many conflicts which greatly affect the OCC ministry. Pray many will hear the Gospel this season despite these ongoing conflicts.

Cameroon: Pray God will grant His peace in all the regions so that there won’t be any obstacles for the Outreach Events. Pray the many disturbances, particularly in the west, won’t prevent any child in Cameroon from hearing the Gospel. Pray the Ministry Partners will be faithful to the OCC vision and principles while distributing and discipling children. Pray God touches their hearts so that they fully support this work

Central African Republic: Pray for peace and stability in the Central Africa Republic so that the discipleship of children will not be hindered in any way.

WEEK 2: May 8-14 - Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea

Chad: Pray there will continue to be peace in the country and for an end to the economic crisis so as not to hinder children from being discipled through The Greatest Journey 12-week discipleship program.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Pray for stability in the government so every planned Outreach Event will be held successfully.

Equatorial Guinea: Pray the churches to remain faithful in their desire to have long-term spiritual influence on children through OCC.

​​WEEK 3: May 15-21 - Liberia, Niger and Nigeria
Liberia: Pray for the many children orphaned by the terrible Ebola epidemic; pray the team will share God’s love with each one of them. 

Niger: Pray for the new believers as they grow in their faith. Pray the insecurity of the country won’t interfere with the OCC outreach events. 

Nigeria: Pray for the success of all the OCC activities in Nigeria throughout 2017. Pray especially for the distributions, discipleship, and prayer events.  Pray for divine wisdom as the national and regional leadership teams lead the project this year. Pray their leadership will open a way for many children to hear of Jesus Christ and become disciples through The Greatest Journey.

WEEK 4: May 22-31 - Republic of Congo, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo

Republic of Congo:
Pray for the expansion of the OCC ministry in the Congo as this will allow more children to hear about Jesus and have the opportunity to be disciple.
Pray the insecurity of the country won’t interfere with the OCC outreach events.

Senegal: Pray The Greatest Journey teachers will be well trained and teach effectively. Pray for the team as they prepare for the Unreached People Group exploration trip later this year.

Sierra Leone: Pray that the Ministry Partners will understand the OCC vision more deeply and be effective in sharing the Gospel.

Togo: Pray the team’s plan of action will be successful and the Holy Spirit will touch many children and their families.

Country Highlight Senegal:  My name is Aissatou Barry. There are four in our family. I am the third daughter. I am nine years old and I do not go to school because my parents find that it is not important. We are cattle farmers and our staple food is milk produced by these animals. It is not a custom in our family for parents to give us gifts, because it costs a fortune for them. Operation Christmas Child gifts are not only special for us as children, but also for the parents of this village because, for them, it has never been seen. This gesture of giving gifts of such value is unimaginable, even impossible. For the first time in the history of this village, the Fulani people are looking at Christians with another look as they earlier considered them enemies. Now throughout the village, they are only singing the goodness of Christ's disciples. The booklets are even welcomed by parents for all the Fulani children. They are willing to have their children participate in discipleship programs. Nothing is impossible with God. The love of God manifested in a tangible way and a village was touched and we are continually thanking Him. 

"And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Over 3,000 attendees at Operation Christmas Child’s Global Connect conference where 130 countries gathered in early April to worship, pray, and be equipped to further the Gospel read these words multiple times together – each in their own language. It was powerful. It was humbling. It was significant. In the Old Testament, the entire tribe of Israel stood – sometimes for hours – in honor of the Lord as the Word of God was read. We stood, too. We are called to GO to our local, regional, national and international areas. You may not have had an opportunity to go beyond the borders of the United States, but we are not bound by the physical realm. Through prayer, we can “go” by diligently and faithfully interceding for children who have and will receive a gift-filled shoebox. Maybe it is The Greatest Journey that you are particularly passionate about. Pray God will raise up more teachers than the 200,000 who have been trained already around the world so more children have an opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel and be discipled to live out the call of God on their lives. Another option is to research the country where a child received your shoebox. Find pictures of children from that country to use as a focal point in connecting your heart in prayer with the child who received your shoebox. Ask your OCC volunteer who sent you this email if you would like to receive more specific prayer requests from a particular country. They have access to more resources. Wherever God has called you to “go,” disciples will be made as we stay faithful to His call to pray. One of the ways He has called the global Operation Christmas Child family to “go” is participate in the Quarterly Day of Prayer and Fasting. Join in as thousands around the world pray and fast together on our National Day of Prayer and our quarterly days of fasting for OCC during the year.