Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Explosive blessings

Mark and I have been listening to Joel Osteen for most of this year; we record him on our DVR and when we have a chance to sit down together and relax, we queue up a few weeks messages and just enjoy his inspiring way of teaching and preaching. For the better part of this year, he has been talking about "God's explosive blessings" and Mark and I continually kid about waiting upon the Lord to see them come (and sometimes forgetting about the part where He sees to our daily needs).

When Mark and I left our former ministry we knew we were also leaving some financial strength behind and we would literally be starting from ground zero but we were prepared to trust God for provision and as you've read and watched, you know provision is exactly what God saw to in our first weeks. Yet, nothing really prepared us for what God decided to do next!

As you know, I attended a 1 day conference in Gatesville where I met some wonderful folks in Copperas Cove who might have some housing and we might want to get together on making this housing become a reality. We left things pretty loose and it was one of the calls I knew I wanted to follow up on.

Monday I set out in the afternoon to meet with Francie Robinson of Jesus is Love Outreach Ministries. She and her husband own two small six unit apartment houses that they've dreamed of turning into transitional housing. Francie and I seem to hit it right off and as we talked we knew we would be working hard for the Lord to give His newly released daughters a safe and warm place to live while they put their tattered lives back together.

We are on a whirlwind now.

Spirit House Ministries is please to announce the partnership with Jesus is Love Outreach Ministries to begin renovation and conversion of their wonderful apartments into a Christ centered women's transitional housing program in Copperas Cove, TX. We praise God for His abundant and EXPLOSIVE blessings at this time when Christians can come together in a unified way and provide for those Jesus has called us to serve.

Joel was right, God's plans for us are far beyond what we can see or imagine and while so many details have yet to be worked out, we can see a glimpse into the plan God has laid out for a few lives here in Central Texas. For now, we are basking in the explosive blessings that He has given us, a place to start the first of what we hope are many Spirit Filled Spirit Houses serving women coming out of prison and entering their new life in Christ!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Which door?

More and more I reflect on the time in jail and the day I walked out. I remember being led down the short hall from booking to the lobby and out to the front counter where one comes to jail to visit. I sat down on the small benches inside and looked around. The activity was familiar. It was just after five so family members were gathering to be escorted up to the visitation halls. But I just sat there watching and waiting for someone to tell me what to do.

In a few minutes I got up and went to the phone, dialing the number of Pastor Joy, hoping she was awaiting my release and my call. Then I sat back down on the bench. I was sure any moment someone would come along and walk me back to some unknown area, telling me I had no business being out there. I just sat. I had no idea how far away Joy lived so I couldn't begin to know when she would arrive, so I sat quietly. I watched the activity, wanting to move but so certain someone would yell my name and stop me in my tracks.

Slowly it came over me that I was free to go where I wanted and I could step outside to wait. No one was going to grab my arm or slap cuffs on my wrists. I had served my time and I was a free woman, as much a free woman as I could be on an extended period of 5 years probation. But I could walk outside without repercussion. I could walk out the dreaded door that led to freedom and a new life.

I have since found life to be much like that busy lobby with doors all around; walk through each one for different life experiences and outcomes. Some you have permission to walk through, some you would rather not walk through; but all of them are doors of choice. Months ago I made the choice to commit a crime. Months later, lives changed, I walked out a new door and into a new reality that was filled with faith, hope and Christ.

I had read in John 10:9 "Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. Wherever they go, they will find green pastures."

That gate or door provides a new life in Christ that changes everything about the women who walked into jail in cuffs and out the front door as a saved sinner. I am ever mindful of His role and place in my life. I had tried for 46 years to open the doors I chose to open. It was time to watch for the open doors that God created for me. Living on my own volition damned me to a life of fear and uncertainty. Living for God front and center made my life choices so much easier.

I will always remember that day, and I am reminded of it each time I have the honor to pick up a woman on her release day. I am reminded the fear and uncertainty that washes over each face as the day comes when the gates swing wide and the world is again beckoning. Often I hear the plea in letters long before they see that day, what had become familiar in the regimented schedule to a life of choices again...oh the fear! And with each letter I share with my sisters in white the joy of choice when Christ drives our lives.

Always I will remember, and always with Christ by my side; we share the joy He intended.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A busy Saturday

Not often have I attended a conference or meeting that I felt was fruitful and informative and I've sat through dozens in my career.

Saturday was totally different. I attended a wonderfully organized and yet intimately informal gathering of Texas prison ministries put together by the Restorative Justice Ministries Network. Emmett Solomon, Anita Parrish and others brought together a group of dynamic ministries, representatives of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and others interested in the many facets of serving and working with those in prison in Texas.

As a relative newbie in the area of ministry, I heard testimony after testimony of faith and grace spreading through the many men and women serving and being served by the dedicated folks in ministry. As a seasoned non-profit professional, I was impressed with the many folks who took time out of their lives to update us all on regional and state concerns as it affects this unique ministry focus.

I look forward to all the connections and friendships that began on Saturday and I know God is moving in all of our ministries to reach out further and further to those we wish to serve. I could not know, some two plus years ago as I sat at a steel table in F5 of the Williamson County Jail that I would ever have the opportunity to function as a professional woman again. I only know that God has so restored my life and I want to share that same hope with the many women currently in prison or jail.

The warmth and care and love that was expressed to many of us there at the conference, and yes, there were several of us ex-offenders in attendance, was amazing. Yet everyone who took time out of their weekend to gather for a unified purpose I believe was energized and educated.

I am anxious to get started on a new regional conference in the Travis/Williamson County area and will keep everyone updated as things progress. What more could we ask except that God intervene and provide new opportunities for growth and collaboration among His many servants. I am grateful for this chance to expand my knowledge. I am grateful for the challenging work He has provided for me. More than anything I am grateful that while I was still a sinner, He died for me and so I am saved!

And that message is one that needs to be told to our sisters and brothers in white; therefore we gladly give up our Saturdays, Sundays and many days to follow in order to insure that no one goes without at least hearing the truth, His truth, His life saving, eternity impacting truth.

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