Friday, April 30, 2010

Where I am Reading This Week--May 1, 2010

Ready to be stretched? This one will do it.

How the Kids and the Neighbor-Next-Door Might Really Become Christians? -- "And is that why there are fewer and fewer of genuine disciples? Because we who have Bread are indifferent hoarders, letting the masses die? Or because we're going around passing out cardboard, pseudo-Life, because the ugly truth is that we've never tasted of the Real Christ ourselves?"--Ann Voskamp
Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Relay for Life Survivor Dinner Speech

Friday night I had the honor of giving the welcome and invocation for the Survivor Dinner for the Wylie Relay for Life. I don't know anyone whose life has not been touched by cancer. Whether you are battling this enemy, fighting for someone who is battling, celebrating victory, or grieving a loss, I want to share this as encouragement. Wherever you are on your journey, I pray this blesses you.

May your hope be strengthened, and may you keep on walking.

God bless you,
Jerri



Wylie Relay for Life Survivor Dinner 2010


Last year when my daughter joined a Relay for Life team, we didn’t know much about Relay for Life. We understood the logistics of it. We understood raising money. We thought we understood all night.

However, there was so much we didn’t understand. We didn’t understand that Relay for Life isn’t a once a year event. We didn’t understand that once we were done, you weren’t really done. We didn’t understand that when we went home…we would take it with us.

We joined a Relay for Life team last year because my eleven-year old daughter had realized the world was a big place with big problems, and she didn’t feel a little person could make a difference. When I found out Stacey was a team captain, I asked if she had room for two others. No, but she had room for one, and Anna would fit perfectly.

The first day we set up her webpage and set her fundraising goal. Later that day, she exceeded it, and we upped her goal. Over the next few weeks, we upped her goal three or four times. When the day came for Relay for Life, she was very proud of the money she had raised, and because of the nice graphic on her webpage and the team’s page, she could see that her efforts were making a difference.

Then we got here, and the nifty little graphic on the computer suddenly became people…with names…faces…and families.

Each luminary that encircled the field told a story of merciless attacks on innocent victims. Some of the stories ended in victory, and some ended in tears. We have been part of those stories.

Each survivor that walked through this tent and slipped on a “Survivor” ribbon was a face we knew…the face of someone precious, someone loved, someone with a purpose, someone of promise. We have touched those faces, too.

Each caregiver that humbly wore their ribbons…the little girl who wore it for her mom, the parents who wore it for their pre-school son, the husbands, wives, sisters, and brothers…We know them. We’ve walked with them. We’ve prayed for them.

We were here to walk for people, and they weren’t the strangers we thought they would be. They were people we sit down with at family dinners, the people at our school functions, our neighbors next door. The people who walk the hard road, who become exhausted, who wonder if the mountain is too big…but still keep walking.

And people kept walking…all night long.

Some walked for those they had lost, and some walked for those in the middle of the battle. Some walked for those who had overcome. Everyone walked for a cure.

See, it’s not relay for raising money.
It’s not relay for a better treatment.
It’s not relay for endurance.
It’s not relay for 5-year expectancy rate.
It’s Relay for Life.
… for a full Life.
… for a long Life.
And every step gets us closer to our destination.
Every step gets us closer to the cure.
And one day, we will get there.
We just have to keep walking.

Copyright Jerri Phillips 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010

Gratitude 34--For Walking

As some of you may remember, last year my daughter and I joined an amazing group of people to participate in Relay for Life. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

This year we did not walk, but it was a great honor to give the welcome and invocation for the Survivor Dinner. I have no words to describe the feeling of standing in front of all those survivors and caregivers and looking at the sea of beautiful faces...except thank you for letting me part of your celebration. You are amazing heroes. Thank you.

Last year I was grateful for Relay for Life. I am no less so this year. In fact, maybe now I am even more thankful because now I understand better.


851. For the vessel(s) that started Relay for Life, thank you for having a vision as big as a cure.

852. For Wylie Women's League who did an amazing Survivor Dinner and works so hard to raise money and support the event

853. For the army of young volunteers--If anyone thinks the next generation is a bunch of lost and hopeless adolescents, you need to watch this group in action. Wow!

854. Donated food, prizes, and other supplies

855. Good weather

856. Stadiums all around the US that open their fields and grounds to Relay for Life so people can walk for a purpose.

857. Those who donate money, you are making a difference.

858. For a "cancer free" report for Kipp Gremillion, Rob's step-brother

859. Prayers, prayers, and more prayers

860. For those who keep on walking...
at Relay for Life...
in memory...
in honor...
with hope...
to the chemo treatments...
to sit in waiting rooms and patients' rooms...
to carry meals to those who need them...
because quitting isn't an option...
for a cure...

861. For a God who is the cure. Lord, release the knowledge to your vessels that cancer may be defeated on this earth.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010

When She Flies

She is still my little girl. She still likes to play Little Pet Shop, sleeps with a stuffed animal, and struggles to find matching shoes in her room. When she is sick, she wants her mom and her blanket, and when dancing around the kitchen with her dad, she still stands on his feet.

Don't be fooled, though. Inside that quiet, gentle little girl is a King's daughter who loves to fly.

Last week, she soared.

On Monday, a man came to check on our A/C. While here, Anna told him about Redlight Rescue and encouraged him to prayerfully consider donating to save girls from the sex trade. He asked if he needed to donate in her name. No. Just donate.

I watched his face. I know the look in his eyes. I've seen it before.

Wonder...as he looked at a twelve-year old girl with compassion the size of a planet.

It is a look in many eyes when they look at this little girl of mine who believes she can have a great impact.

On Wednesday, this man returned with the A/C part...and money. He was matching Anna's pledge. He handed her the investment...in the girls around the world...in her.

"My wife and I decided to give this to you directly because we want you to know if it weren't for you, we wouldn't have known, and if we hadn't known, we couldn't help. You are making a difference."

Her eyes shone with joy.

Mine blurred with proud tears.

On Thursday, she and her daddy headed to Austin for Teenpact, a time to learn how government works, the importance of godly leaders, and the steps to making a difference. That last she already knows.

At Subway, she sees a young lady in her late teens and asks what she always asks (I mean always). "Can I ask you a question?" A smile and nod. "Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?" A shake of the head. "Would you like to know about Him?" Yes, she would.

So, they slip to the side, and Anna explains sin, sacrifice, salvation. The need. The answer. The hope.

When done, she invites. "Do you want to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?"

The young lady accepts the invitation, and Anna walks the lost sheep into the Shepherd's arms.

Heaven rejoices, and Anna's voice joins them.

On Sunday Anna is home from her trip and heads off to youth group, money in hand...enough to rescue one girl. With joy she tells her pastors about the A/C man, about her sharing, about the donation. She cannot wait to give the money...to make a difference...to save someone.

During the service, she is surprised when the pastor calls her to the stage. He asks a few questions, and then he opens the door for her to tell about the money, how she had simply shared her passion, how the man and his wife had responded...how a life will be forever changed...how others are set free...because she's not afraid to soar.
Monday, April 19, 2010

Gratitude 33--Out and About and Home Again

Some days--some weeks--leave me in quiet awe. This has been one of those weeks, and I am so grateful.

819. Daughter who finds passion in setting others free

820. Daughter's fearless evangelism that leads a young woman to the amazing love of Christ

821. Husband who takes daughter to Austin to learn the political process, the leading and growing of a godly nation

822. A job that allows Wonder Man to be involved in out of town activities with the children

823. Time with the Wonder Boy, game playing, art doing, movie watching...heart learning

824. Too quiet rooms filled with children returned home

825. Ice cream for upset tummies

826. Hot chocolate for sore throats

827. Long drives and deep talks

828. Couches with recliners on each end where mending bodies can rest and recoop

829. Curling up close and just being

839. Cake recipes, rich in chocolate

840. Husbands who diagnose broken computer batteries

841. Warranties

842. Plungers when necessary

843. Washing machines that work even at midnight

844. New socks for Wonder Boy

845. Rain...so needed...so appreciated

846. Youth leaders that bless, encourage, and nurture tender hearts

847. Friends who believe I can do things that feel bigger than I ever dreamed of being

848. Long talks with friends, planning and dreaming

849. Conferences in the making, hearts valued and precious

850. Beloved Ann, believing in grace, rejoicing in freedom
Friday, April 16, 2010

In the Storm

Last night I was emptying out old emails, and I found the one below. I forwarded it to my precious friend Lisa Buffaloe, who suffered a tragic loss this week when her friend Erin and Erin's unborn baby were killed in a car wreck. When I read this, I thought of Erin's husband, family, and friends. It is a beautiful picture of how the Lord takes care of His children, even as the storm rages around them.

Lisqa asked me if I were going to blog it. At first, I wasn't going to, but I don't know where you are. I don't know the storms that rage around you, or in you. All I know is God is our refuge, and sometimes I need to see that clearly, so maybe you do, too.

Blessings.

IMPERTURBABILITY
by Darlene M. Makin

I think Charles Allen said it first. "When faced with problems which threaten to steal your peace of mind, learn the meaning ofthe word 'imperturbability.'"

I heard of two artists who were asked to illustrate peace. Each was assigned the task of depicting a peaceful scene on canvas.'

The first artist drew a beautiful picture of a countryside on a warm, spring day. A soft sun illumines green grass. A picturesque farm house and grazing cattle are bathed in its warmth. A farmer walks contentedly behind strong plow horses making his field ready for spring planting. The picture is one of beauty and quiet tranquility.

The other artist took a different approach. He drew a majestic, rugged cliff. Gnarled trees, twisted by years of violent winds, jut from the craggy mountainside. Dark clouds hang low and fierce while jagged streaks of lightening slash across an angry sky. The picture is one of violence, chaos and rage. But as one looks closely, something else becomes visible.

There in one of the crevices of the rocky mountain, tucked back just out of reach of the wind and rain -- a nest with two small birds. Apparently unconcerned about the impending storm, they appear calm, cozy and peaceful as they patiently wait for the turbulence to pass.

And isn't that the way it so often is? We may want to be surrounded by peace, but storms rage. Problems and pressures without threaten to steal peace of mind within.

The answer is imperturbability: inner peace which doesn't leave when circumstances change. It's a peace which is greater than the problems of life, built on assurance that the tempest will finally pass, we will survive the storm, we may grow stronger because of it and, in the meantime, we will not endure it alone.

Imperturbability -- it's the result of a peace which passes understanding. For serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.

Jesus to his disciples: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
Thursday, April 15, 2010

In a Single Bound

I feel like I took a flying leap off the side of a mountain, and if it were not for trusting God so much, I think I would throw up.


Actually, jumping off mountains solo isn't such a big deal anymore. I've become pretty accustomed to that. It's jumping tandem that leaves me reeling, especially when the one tethered to me is my daughter...especially when she is standing on the precipice ready to go over the edge and God says, "I made her to fly. Let her go."


She looks at me questioning. I nod.


Off she goes.


I am right with her, as though a mother's heart could be anywhere else.


And now we are flying in what feels like a free fall, out of control.


Out of my control.


My last illusion of control went flying over the edge with us, and right now, I'm not enjoying the flight. Right now, I hate this. Right now, one thought goes through my mind: "God, what have I done?"


I know the answer. What I have done is release my daughter from my safety zone to God's infinite possibilities. What I have done is declare that I believe His thoughts are higher than my thoughts and His ways are above my ways...and He can do amazing things...through my adolescent daughter...HIS daughter.


I keep tripping over that.


HIS daughter. His creation. His solution to a world in need. His answer to girls caught in a life of slavery and hopelessness. His chosen one.


Right now, though, my mother's heart is struggling. Right now it is concerned about my life, my comfort zone, my life status quo, my family...my own personal Rockwellian view of family life.


But Norman Rockwell was an illusionist. He had a gift for making life's tough spots look poetic, but life isn't poetry, not the kind with perfect metre and comforting rhymes. Life is messy. Healing is done with tears, not smiles. Families in perfect clothes at the perfect table for the perfect holiday spill things...drinks, soups, and souls.


It's in the mess and the spills that the connections occur. A touch of the hand when wiping up the tea. Arms wrapped round to dry the tears. Hearts laid bare as souls are tended.


It is into this mess that my daughter chooses to walk, into the world of young girls captured into a hellish nightmare of human slavery, children sold to grown men to fulfill a wife's place. She, too, is captured...by the hope of freedom for every child who feels hopeless. She is determined to be their hope. She is determined to be the light in their darkness and to find them in their prisons and set them free.


She can do it. Maybe not alone, but people have good hearts. They just need someone to tell them about these children and give them the chance to help. And she will.


What exactly that means for my personalized Rockwell picture, I don't know, but while my mother's heart is screaming, "What have I done?", my faith answers, "I've given her the freedom she wants to give these children...the freedom to be an answer, to be a blessing, to live big, to serve God in whatever way He leads. I've given her the freedom to fly."




To find out more about how you can help set children free from the nightmare of human trafficking and sex slave trade, please visit AMPED Red Light Rescue, Sowers of the Seed Inernational, or contact me personally. Thank you.
Monday, April 12, 2010

Gratitude 32--The Basics

My temp is up, my face is pale, and my stomach is aggitated. The virus my daughter hosted last night has come to visit me today. I am annoyed and, at various times throughout the day, on the verge of tears.

I hate being sick. First of all, I feel like a failure. If I were truly a woman of faith, I'd have authority over this illness, and it would be banished before Anna's temp ever went over 99 degrees. If I were a real woman, I wouldn't let this annoying thing keep me supine on the couch. I'd just push through, get stuff done, and laugh in victory.

However, my temp is over 99, and the bug is still here, and frankly, if I don't lie supine on the couch, my face goes from pale to green.

Second, I had plans. The children and I were going to clear the part of the yard where we are putting in a flowerbed. We soaked the water last night so the roots would be easy to pull up. The ground is ready. Then tonight, I was finally going to have another tennis lesson. I haven't had one in a month because of a variety of things, and I was so excited...then I had to cancel.

Then, in the midst of my near-tears pity party, a prayer I've prayed many times came back to mind.

"Lord, I don't ever want to be your spoiled child who is ungrateful for what you give just because I didn't get exactly what I want."

I'm upset because I didn't get to prepare the ground for the flowerbeds. There are people who never get to see a flower either because their physical eyes are damaged or because their lives are barren. We can prepare the ground in a few days. Will others suddenly have the ability to see then? Will their lives suddenly be filled with color?

I whine about not hitting a tennis ball when there are people today who have no use of their hands, who cannot stand up, who struggle to remember the word "ball". Today I was able to work on laundry, help with schoolwork, and iron pants. Tomorrow will hands be regrown? Will legs grow strong? Will the mind become firm?

Oh, God...have mercy on my self-centered existence. Forgive me for focusing on the unimportant things that can be done later...or not done at all...and no one's world will be the better or worse. Thank you for reminding me that while I am blessed with many frills in life, there are those who would be so thankful for the "basics". And I am grateful, too.

Thank you, Lord.

802. My hands can hold a ball, type on the keyboard, hold my husband's hand, and wipe away my children's tears.

803. My body fights viruses on its own.

804. Our yard is green, even if it is mostly weeds right now.

805. For amazing children who bless me with peaceful naps when my body needs them

806. That you've never called me a failure.

807. Faith is a journey, and I am learning and growing as I go.

808. Grace covers me when I don't perform as well as I wish.

809. Austin, tennis coach extradinaire, who is the epitome of patience and grace

810. Coaches that are soft for my body.

811. Fred, our Lab-experiment, who wags his tale when I pat him, even when my patting him is for my comfort.

812. Rob was the hero of the day cooking dinner so I didn't have to smell it.

813. Dry toast. Oh, Lord, thank you SO much for dry toast.

814. Ice cream.

815. Cool wash cloths.

816. I can walk to the couch on my own power, and if I want to get up, I can do that, too.

817. Lord, I love automatic washing machines and dryers. Oh, I love having them in my house so I don't have to go to a laundromat.

818. Thank you for asnwering my prayers, especially ones that stretch me and cause me to get out of myself. You are so faithful, and I am undone.
Sunday, April 11, 2010

Where I'm Reading This Week--April 16, 2010

Strong Like Bamboo--Mary Faulkner is a friend of mine. More importantly, she's a world changer. She has a heart to see the world change...by the healing of its women. And in her travels, she meets other world changers...like Sarah.
Friday, April 9, 2010

Where I'm Reading This Week--April 9, 2010

Good food:

"That for a Christian, identity is never about figuring out who he is —- but accepting Whose he is." -- Ann Voskamp

D-I-V-O-R-C-E--Divorce in the home starts with divorce in the heart. This is a wonderfully convicting, challenging, and encouraging article addressing the problem, the progress, and the prevention.

When it Comes Time to Really Die -- Baptism is more than a ceremony. It is the choice to die...to tell everyone you are dead. This is a stunningly beautiful picture of baptism...dying and being buried in Christ...dying daily...and making Him the only life you want to live...

A Great Date (And It's not What You're Thinking) -- "The Lord sets the lonely into families." Maybe you are a single person needing to belong, or you are a family with a home to share. In either case, this is for you. Hope and challenge for the body of Christ to love like He does.
Thursday, April 8, 2010

All That Matters

I don't normally do this.

When I write personal emails or personal words of encouragement to people, I don't usually share them on my blog. After all, they are personal. This morning I wrote a personal email to the ladies who write the For Her column of The Christian Pulse. These are amazing ladies, and I am so blessed to serve with them. I have great respect for them, and I would never want to break trust with them. However, I feel part of what I wrote is for others, too, and since it is all God's, He can give it to whomever He desires. I pray it encourages and blesses you as well.

Always for Him,
Jerri

From my email...

The Word tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Last night I had a dream my husband was involved in an affair, and although he made no real effort to hide it, no one would believe me. He was such a good guy, no one believed he could do that, and they all said I was overreacting and being paranoid. Now, I don’t know if the dream has some deeper meaning from God. I haven’t had time to ask Him about it, and although I know my husband is not having an affair, I woke up in a funk, sort of miserable, heart sick, and just gloomy. Exactly the way Satan wants me to be because when I’m like that, I sort of ramble around the battle field feeling and acting puny instead of putting on my armor and fighting the battle set before me.

After about an hour of this pitiful mind misery, I told the Lord, “I feel…”

When I was done, His voice came back to me, and He said, “How you feel isn’t the issue. Who I AM is the issue. I AM the one who loves you, and I AM the one who has all power. Whether your husband is having an affair or not is not the issue. How you feel about anything is not the issue. Whether I am faithful to love and bless you is the issue. Whether you trust me or not is the issue. If you trust me, rejoice in me for I have great plans for you.”

I don’t know what Satan is dumping on you. I don’t know how he is trying to discourage you or attack you today. What I do know is our God is higher than all that. What I know is our God loves you infinitely. What I know is when God is for you, it doesn’t matter who is against you.

Father, I lift up those reading this today. Give them joy in you. Give them strength to stand, and when they have done everything, enable them to stand. Give them a gift of hope where the enemy has tried to cloud them with hopelessness. Open their eyes to see your power and your character. Satan wants them to think you can't--or WON'T--come to their rescue, but you are already providing the solution. Open their eyes to see your answer because sometimes our vision is warped by experience, doctrine, and tradition. Open eyes to see your answer and your love no matter how wild and far-fetched it may look. Open their hearts, minds, and eyes to see and know the reality and power of your love. Thank you for the wonderful things you are doing in all these lives today. Be glorified in us. In the perfect and all-powerful name of Jesus I ask these things, Amen.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Come on Over

Have those times when life feels overwhelming? Ever look up and see a mountain sitting in front of you that appears insurmountable? Ever just get to the point where you mutter in defeat, "I can't do this"?

But then there is a wondrous relief that comes from knowing I can't do it...at least, not alone.

Visit me today over at The Christian Pulse to find out more.
Friday, April 2, 2010

Where I'm Reading This Week--April 2, 2010

Braver Every Day -- One of the bravest prayers I've ever read.

Human Target -- How would you live if you knew someone always had you covered?

Relevant

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Red Light Rescue

Imagine being a parent barely able to pay bills and someone comes to your home and promises to educate your daughter and find her a job. You agree, hoping to give her a better life. Then she disappears, and you find out she is not being educated. Instead, she is a prostitute, a victim of human-trafficking, beaten and abused daily. Sounds like a nightmare, doesn't it? For 100,000 girls in India, this is reality. To find out how you can help, please visit Red Light Rescue.



Quotables

"It's not the wind in our hair that makes us free. It's the movement of the Spirit, the growth of our invisible side." --Amber Haines

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My simple life plan: To live the kind of life that when asked, "If you could be anybody, who would you be?", I'd choose me.

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