I remember the first time I met her. We rode into town like knights in shining armor... with our idea of what to do and how to go about it. I remember vividly my fellow team members throwing a dirty old mattress off the balcony while others waited on the ground... ready to light it on fire. She put a stop to that in an instant. The look in her eyes said it all. What seemed like garbage to us was of use to the children who still had nothing to sleep on. Humbled and changed forever I watched as the old mattress was carried to it's new home... the room just down the hall.
In that moment I realized it was their house, not mine, and it was my job to serve as they wanted to be served... not as I thought they needed.
When I met Madre Estela Hernandez Patiño in 2001 she had 125 children in her care. There was hardly a moment when she wasn't dealing with something or someone... even throughout the night. She slept on a twin bed in her office and all night long little ones gravitated toward her in their sleepiness. The most she fit in her bed at one time, she told me, was five children plus herself! Madre's life, lived in total faith, was difficult. She lived in circumstances most of us can only imagine. In spite of that fact she never lost sight of God. After surviving cancer and other health issues over the years, a brain aneurism took her from Earth to Heaven in 2009.
Madre taught me so much about giving... and getting the most out of every day. She worked tirelessly and it was always for others. She did nothing for fame or money. She gave when she seemingly had nothing more to give. Madre was a living example of sacrificial living. She helped those who could give her nothing in return. She gave completely... and then some. I knew when I met her I would never be the same.
44 They all gave of that which was more than they needed for their own living. She is poor and yet she gave all she had, even what she needed for her own living.”
Here is a little song I wrote that was inspired by my work with Madre Estela and the impoverished, indigenous of southern Mexico.
Never Be The Same (Just push the play button below)
I'm really pretty good at following my heart. I go where I feel called... without regard for how hard it might actually be to get there. God knows that about me.
Some may call my ability to jump in faith and go for it... a lack of focus or bad business practice. I call it being willing... as long as I'm able. I believe God will provide in every circumstance and if I am truly called by Him then I can stand on that.
God spoke to my heart in the night. He must have known I was lying awake having my own private doubts about upcoming opportunities and responsibilities. This is what I heard... "Follow my heart." I tossed that one around in my brain for a while and eventually convinced myself it was just me... talking to me. Then I heard it again... differently this time... with an added message to drive the point home. "Follow my heart. Don't lean on your own understanding. Trust me."
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.
I've got a lot to do today... most of which is in preparation for things down the road. I am inspired by the idea that it's not my heart I follow but His.
I'm so pumped! I figured out how to upload audio files! Here is a little something for you. Just click the play button below. My prayers for you go with the music.
I Give My Life to Thee by Julie Hoy from the God Will Provide CD
I Give My Life to Thee
This is what my swimsuit looks like... minus the fish. I needed a little divine intervention... and God knew it.
I've got a music/ministry tour shaping up in San Diego and Phoenix. The woman responsible for the dates in Arizona called and asked if we would be at all interested in staying at the Arizona Grand Resort while we're there.
Hmm... let's see... a seven acre water park... with slides, a wave pool and a lazy river, award winning food, golf... which I don't know anything about, a spa, warm weather, and a nature preserve? "Yes, I said, That will be just fine."
Then I remembered my swimsuit situation. We live in Oregon and rarely vacation. I haven't bought a new swimsuit for about fifteen years. The one I've got is fine for the place I visit most which is southern Oaxaca, where out of respect for the culture, I cover up with a t-shirt and shorts anyway. All covered up like that you can't even tell that the elastic is crumbling or that the back has drooped a little lower than appropriate. Now, with the possibility of being seen and the likely hood of my daughter being seen with me... I had to do something. So I set out for the mall.
God knows I'm not big on shopping. I said a little prayer on the way that went like this...
"Lord, I'll go in through Sears and out through Burlington Coat Factory... I really don't want to go anywhere else. If I find something reasonably priced... and in my size... I'll buy it. If not... I'll go with what I've got."
Trusting in His provision... I knew with or without a new swimsuit... I was going to be okay. So I parked and went in. I asked the first clerk I could find if there was anything left this season as far as swimwear was concerned.
"Ohhhhh, she said, as she touched her chin. I think there are still a couple of things hanging over there, as she pointed to a sorry forgotten rack in the corner, but it's pretty much all gone. It's almost Fall." As though I didn't know that.
I humbly strolled over to check it out. There was one black swimming skort (a skirt and shorts combined) hanging all by itself. It was actually in my size and only $9.98! I prayed that my exit through Burlington Coat Factory might actually provide something for me to wear with it. I knew it was a long shot... but finding that skort was miracle enough for me. So I paid for it in faith and walked on.
I entered Burlington Coat Factory and asked the same question I had asked at Sears. I got a very similar answer. This time though I found the sorry rack of what was left under the escalator. There it was... a Perry Ellis tanquini, black and white and IN MY SIZE! The price tag read, $9.98! I could hardly contain myself.
I really do think this was a miracle. God knew I was too late in the season but He also knew exactly when I would be there looking. He also met our budgetary needs. Perhaps most importantly... He spared my daughter and the poolside population of the Arizona Grand Resort the misery of my ratty old swimsuit. and me in it.
On behalf of everyone... Thank You, God.
What does a track athlete do when they graduate high school?
I am aware of the fact that very few high school sports athletes go on to participate at the college level. But running is one of those life long sports. As long as you are physically able... you can run. But can you compete? I'm just curious. I'm not saying our daughter wants to. I'm just wondering... for her. I hope she doesn't mind.
She finished eighth in State competing in the 300M hurdles last June. Always determined to do her best... she finished well. Now she's off to college... the local community college... where there is a track... but no track program. Her grades and SAT scores... earned her two years free! She's always been a very practical thinker so she made the practical choice. "Why go into debt, she said, when I can get my prerequisite courses for free." We couldn't be more proud.
I was inspired last night at a premier for a documentary called We Grew Wings. It is based on the women of Track and Field, past and present, at the University of Oregon. Our daughter attended the premier with my husband and me. She won the drawing for a new pair of running shoes. Again... I don't know if she's thinking about this at all... but I am.
What do you do... when there is nowhere to run?
I was wondering what Meseret Defar of Ethiopia was doing after she crossed the finish line for the gold medal in the 5000 meter run. She was looking for something inside her singlet. I was really touched to see it was a picture of those whom she carries closest to her heart, Jesus and His Mother, Mary. So sweet. So inspiring... someone humbled to the point of showing what means most... after having given it all to the core. Wow... I just realized something... I could say the same about Jesus and Mary too.
Ephesians 5 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved [c]you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God [d]as a fragrant aroma.
This is what the sky looks like at night when in Ethiopia. Just thinking about it makes me want to be there again. Beautiful people... difficult life for most... same moon for all of us.
Check out the work of my dear friends Marta and Deme Gabre Tsadick at Project Mercy in Yetebon, Ethiopia projectmercy.org The work they are doing is saving lives and changing the lives of many.
I have seen it.
I love my job. I work for God no matter what I do.
To many... I am "musician, published songwriter, author and inspirational speaker." To very few... I'm just that woman who runs the filler machine at the cannery from 3:00 to midnight during the summer.
They don't know my husband and I have a five-year-plan for getting out of debt and that I work there nights so I can still do ministry, music and writing full-time during the day. They don't know that 12 years ago we helped to form a non-profit which is currently helping some of the poorest of the poor in southern Mexico to get the education they simply deserve. Traveling there is where a good part of our debt has come from. In the name of service we gave. Now I'm working like a dog for an hourly wage to speed up the process of paying back some of what I have spent.
Just last night a woman I work with at the cannery came to me. She told me that last year when we talked at the end of the season... when I shared my faith and gave her that CD... "It helped her so much and her life was changed."
I didn't notice any bonus in my paycheck for that! I was just doing what I do... like I do it... no matter where I am. That's what working for God is like. THAT is the part of what I do that doesn't translate to financial managers. Yes, I lost about an hour talking to that woman last year and stepped into the red by another $15.00 when I gave her that CD... but it was worth it. I didn't get confirmation of that until last night. I am where I'm supposed to be... as uncomfortable as it can be sometimes. As much as it costs... what is inspiring others really worth? I'm just glad God can see my actual bottom line. It is my pleasure to serve and I'll continue to trust that He knows exactly what I need when I need it.
That said... I must admit... as I walked through the grocery store today and there was an announcement over the loud speaker which stated "Cherry season is almost over!" I skipped a little faster and smiled a little brighter. It couldn't come any sooner for me at this point. One night off in 29 days has made the summer seem a little like hell. Thank God there's heaven... I hear God has prepared a place for us. Not that I'm ready to go but If I get there... you are all welcome anytime!
Thanks to my sister Shawn for creating the attached photo after last year's season. It is not a photo of me where I work. And here is the link to that non-profit I spoke about... should you want to know more.