Friday 23 September 2016

Five Impossible Things - FMF

Time to write, unedited on the prompt "five" GO!

Alice: "Sometimes I think as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
Hatter: "That is a good practice."

In the very wierd and crazy film Alice in Wonderland, Alice has to go up against an ancient dragon and slay it. It seems impossible. Well it is to the logical mind because Alice is no warrior, she is just a girl who fell down a hole in to another world. She has no training and is not skilled at being a swordswoman, but as she takes to the battle ground, she tells the hatter that she thinks of many impossible things. And as she fears, she begins to recount impossible things that are actually very real. With each phrase she grows stronger, not on the outside, on in height or in skill but within. Within she grows, in courage and belief.

This resonated with me this week because this week I too experienced a number of difficult emotions, thoughts and experiences. I sat with these and Abba Father was so amazing in helping me heal and release what only He can change. And as I drew my knees in to the carpet, and clutched my hands together to pray about the new projects in my heart, the new things I so believe can happen. There remained somewhere within me, five reasons why it is impossible to believe that it could happen. It was very special however, to have the Holy Spirit counsel me in this area and show me exactly what I was feeling at the time. I laid down those five impossible things at the feet of my Saviour and I have renewed hope that is limitless. And the reality is that there is a God and He saved a young, broken girl and transformed her life. There is a Living God and He healed me of illness and restored my health. There is a God of nearness who can speak to you at every moment and second of every day. And There is a Man who makes dreams come true, who took a humble offering, gifted it to that girl and now she treasures it as a published book when the world said it was impossible..... And when impossibilities stare us down, I'm going to be like Alice and take up my sword and believe!

Stop! Sharing with Five Minute Friday

Sunday 18 September 2016

Overcoming with All my Heart - Tiffany's Story

During the month of August and September, I have been featuring stories from amazing individuals who are pursuing their God - birthed passions, to effect change in the world. I am so inspired and honoured to be doing this! Today, I want to introduce you toTiffany. A woman whose passion is to change the world around her, and her story is one fo grace and love! She is the founder of "With all my Heart" and I'm so inspired by her story!

My story began when I was ten years old, I was diagnosed with one of the rarest forms of brain cancer that led me to St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, TN. God was stirring in my heart how to walk in faith from an early age. The fight against brain cancer was an uphill battle lasting 7 years and including 4 brain surgeries and radiation treatment. My fourth and final brain surgery was one of the roughest reasons of my life, during the surgery my doctor was determined to remove the whole tumor and in doing so, accidentally cut a blood vessel causing me to have a stroke and paralyzing the left side of my body. 

Through months of rehabilitation and the healing power of Jesus, I learned to walk again, talk again, and use my left side of my body to atleast appear to be normal and without a paralysis. 

Being a child with cancer, I was so determined to just live a normal life. I went off to Oklahoma State University, rushed a sorority, opened my own frozen yogurt store, and was on the way to normalcy when God revealed to me the most beautiful truth. He showed me that as Christians, we were not called to live a life normalcy. He showed me that He loves to use every circumstance, every hardship, every piece of our life for his glory. 

Through prayer and time in the word, God revealed to me what breaks His heart and what He sees everyday. He sees children in need, children in desperate circumstances like myself, except nobody is there fighting for them. He sees children without food, without parents, living on the streets, being sold into trafficking, and nobody willing to fight for their life. God also revealed to me that our responsibility as christians is to go into these dark circumstances and be the light. As He fought for my life, I ought to fight for others.

The With All My Heart Foundation was established to fight for the unreached, unrescued, and underprivileged children of the world. We have homes for orphaned children, feed hundreds of children everyday through our feeding program, and provide ongoing projects to transform the lives of the families in the villages that we serve.
Over the years, I have been to many different countries fighting on behalf of children that are living in darkness. One of my greatest moments was the very first team I took to Haiti. We went to a village that we had never visited before. I wrote this about it here that you are welcome to use:

We were just a group of twenty-somethings traveling through the lush Haitian countryside on our last day in country. In hopes we would find a village that could use our resources, we packed some clothes, food, and goodies that we could disperse as we trotted through the hills on a search for people that we heard were in desperate need. We knew we had arrived at the right place when children came running up wearing scraps if any clothes at all. We slowly walked deeper into the community of barely standing huts. Once we were spotted, Men, woman, and children flocked in a matter of seconds reaching their hands in to grab what left we had brought to give. 
I leaned over to Fabie, my friend translating for us, to ask our fully engaged audience (who was still waiting around incase we had some more gifts to give them) if they knew Jesus. Expecting them to say yes or express what they heard of Jesus, our team awaited their response. 

We got nothing but stares of confusion.

 “Fabie, they are confused, Let’s try asking in a different way.”…Still nothing.

I looked to my left and saw a crushed Coca Cola can in the dirt, “Fabie, maybe they don’t know that you are asking them a question, Ask if they know Coca Cola.”
Faces lit up, heads nodded. I began to get nervous knowing that they probably thought we were going to give them all a coke. 

Pointing at the deflated soccer ball that a little boy found in the dump and was currently playing with, “Fabie, ask them if they know Christiano Ronaldo?”

The villagers faces gleamed and little boys began to fake kick the soccer ball as if they were the soccer star himself taking the game winning shot. 

I tried one more try, "Ask them if they have heard of Jesus”

Once again. Expressionless, confused, as if they were trying to figure out if they knew who we were talking about.
My jaw dropped and my heart began to race when I had realized that we have encountered a village that has never even heard of the name of Jesus Christ. Coca Cola and Christiano Ronaldo made it to the slums of Haiti but Jesus Christ had not. I began to wonder, how could this be? We are only 700 miles off the coast of Florida and there are people who have never heard the name of their savior.  I mean, I have vacationed in the caribbean handfuls of times, yet had never taken the time to offer eternity to the people around the corner?

As I was still digesting the shock of the moment, my team stepped up and begin to express to a very hopeless neighborhood the love of Jesus and what he conquered on the cross for each of them. The faces of the men and woman began to fill with hope. There was an immediate gleam in their eyes. They were hanging on to every word in full eagerness longing to know the Jesus we talked about. When the moment arose our new friends unanimously accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Life that they had longed for was being breathed into their beings as a hopeless village received the hope of the world. 

Although, the living conditions of the people in the village did not change overnight, their reason for living did and the promise of eternity gives them a daily hope to run to. I left that day wanting to stay behind and teach our excited learners more about Jesus, but we were on a schedule and had to head back.  Hours later, as we were traveling home, we received word that miracles and healings spread through the village later that evening and the people we met were so grateful for the love and glory of their greatest gift, Jesus Christ.

In close, In addition to reaching children around the world, we are launching With All Her Heart in three weeks, providing bible studies and woman community groups for women looking to grow closer to Christ. If you would like to get involved there, we would love to stay connected. 

Friday 16 September 2016

Her very own Carnival

This week was my birthday week, born on the 12th I smile when my mom sends me the annual message and tells me how I was suppose to be born on the 15th, the same day as prince Harry. She feels the memory fondly, the fact that her and Lady Diana were pregnant at the same time, for her its kind of kinship I guess. I smile and reply "yea mom but I'm cooler than prince Harry."
"Yes," she says, "and much wiser" (To which she includes a picture of an owl).
I pause in a moment of doubt, "well it would be nice if I had the riches he has, that would be helpful."
The phone goes silent and then the words flash at the top typing.... "Yeah but you are rich in blessings and love my child and that's what matters."
Ah mom, always there with reminder of what's true and that's the special thing about moms!

The day after my birthday, I was blessed to accompany another mom, my sister - in - law and my brother, to their 6th month baby scan. I dont have children of my own, that was a decision my husband and I made before we were married and so to be a witness and a participant in their journey has been special. From the moment we heard they were expecting a baby, Father has placed a burning fire in my spirit to pray fervently for this precious life. To interceed fiercely and sometimes the interceeding is so spirit - led that I feel as though I am roaring like a lioness. When they finally found out the baby's sex a few weeks ago, the lioness picture kept on coming up in my mind. I see this pack of lionesses in my mind and I see the strength among them. The day they found out they were having a girl, my brother sent me a message and asked me what I thought of Ariella as her name, I was astounded that they would choose this name. "Ariella?" I said excitedly.
"Yes," he said, "it means lionness of God."
Of course you can imagine my delight and amazement, God's amazing grace and gift, a glimpse of His plan for her life, and her growing body in the womb. So that's her name, Ariella, the one who roars.

As we entered the gynae's room on Tuesday, I was not sure what to expect. I do confess, I thought it would be kind of mystical and deep but Father Yahweh showed me something else. As the gynae placed the probe on my sister in laws stomach, the lionness inside of her womb became very playful! Ariella put her hand up by her face as if playing a game and then she started swimming around, pulling her knees up and moving everywhere. We were laughing at her and feeling her joy! The entire day had been like that, she was kicking a lot and moving around as we toured the maternity ward and listened to all the info for new mommy's. I watched her moving and having her own carnival, her feast of play inside her mommy's womb and immediately God spoke to me about John, the baby who leapt in the womb. 

Luke 1: 43
"At the sound of Mary's greeting, Elizabeth's child
leaped within her and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy spirit."

John was six months old at Luke's account, the same age as Ariella is now and his identity was formed already. His calling so deep inside of his DNA that even from within the womb he felt his call to announce the coming Messiah. Our call and our character so deeply formed from the time of conception, so deeply one with us that it is only our sojourn in to the world that steals us away from that Sacred gift Father gives us. In part I now understand why Yeshua wants me to pray throughout Ariella's life because my family does not know Him but I do and so should Ariella. Father is so gracious and Loving that our parents may not have prayed for us, but maybe a neighbour did or a school friend, or an aunt or a cousin or a stranger. As I stood looking at her feet on the window of the scan, I was moved to think about the innocence of a baby growing in its mothers womb. We behold innocence, we behold beauty, we behold Heaven. Something we cannot describe, the miracle of life, the miracle of someone pure coming down from Heaven, birthed with a purpose to serve God and to glorify His name, for this is the calling we all have been given. As I stood watching her move, I wondered if an aunt should feel so much love for a child not her own. I received my answer that same evening when turning over the question in prayer, my husband placed a new packet of washing powder on the floor, a gift sent from my parents. A green packet, the kind we never buy and as I peered down at the name it read Ariel, (the Lion of God). Peace washed over me afresh with the loving reminder from God, "dont doubt where I have placed in you." When we walked back in to the gynae's room from the private scan, he turned to me and asked "do you have any questions?" The doctor knows my thoughts on children, he has been my specialist for six years and I recommended him to my sister in law, it was very thoughtful of him to consider me. I responded with saying how thankful I was that I could witness this journey. He looked at me and said with confidence, "you may not have your own children but you will definitely have children." And then he hugged me. It was a phrase that seemed flippant but it was a word I had been given by God for my own life, in the very darkest times where I wondered if I was making a difference in the world around me. It was the words a stranger came up and gave me after a conference three years ago. It was the words a stranger had sent me 1000's of kilometres away when praying for my life three years ago. It was words that I frowned over but have come to understand, deeply. And I am so blessed to be placed here for others and for their children and most importantly, for God's children.

In thinking about this all, the old nursery rhyme resounds in my mind, "sugar and spice and all things nice, that's what little girls are made of," but don't forget the most important thing, she also has a very loud roar, one strong enough to change the world....

Sharing over at Susan's
And Janis' 

Friday 9 September 2016

FMF, A Tearful Need

Five Minutes of Writing! This week's prompt, heal, GO!

I cried, hard in to my husbands arms. Tired of struggling, pain in my neck, so much of it ever since my car accident a few years back. "I'm a writer, I need a healthy neck" I cried in to his jersey, downcast, weary of this burden. Even now as I sit to type out five minutes of writing, patches line my twitching muscles, and I'm hurting. It's been a long walk, a prayer for healing, a cry for healing, a wailing for healing. Physiotherapy, ergonomic desk situation, regular breaks, stretches and everything else in between, I wonder sometimes, will it ever be okay? It's hard to know that pain has become a part of my life and I so young and so ready to begin new seasons, seasons God is calling me in to. Yes, I am sure people will tell me it's for the best and you need to rest but I have rested enough, God is calling me to my feet, to finish the many works I have begun. It's a strange thing to be aware of pain, to nurse yourself, to almost fashion life around the "not being able to today" and the sense of losing days worth of work and truth. It is hard, there is no denying it and I am fighting along with my tears, my pain and my continual cry for "healing." A tearful need of healing and the longing for this. So I cry out again and pray for a chorus of "amens," please Abba Father, please bring this healing! 

Sharing with Kate M 

Tuesday 6 September 2016

Breaking bondage with a Pen, Dale's Story

During the month of August and September, I have been featuring stories from amazing individuals who are pursuing their God - birthed passions, to effect change in the world. I am so inspired and honoured to be doing this! Today, I want to introduce you to an illustrater named Dale who connects his passion for illustration with the fight against human trafficking. It is just so amazing that we can use every single gift we have to change lives. Human trafficking is modern day slavery and even as we sit here, close to 30 million men, women and children are living in bondage. Meet Dale, read his story, share it and allow his challenge to rise up in your heart, to make a difference and be the change!!

My name is Dale Vande Griend and about two years ago I decided to pick up drawing again.  I found some tutorials online and I went about practicing and teaching myself how to illustrate.  Illustrating came back to me quite naturally and I really enjoyed teaching myself a new art form.  The passion I had as a child, doodling on scraps of paper, quickly returned.  Now, my day job requires me to travel to India a couple times a year and over the past couple of years I have fallen in love with the art and culture of this incredible country.  Indian henna and mandala designs soon started filling my sketchbook along with Banyan trees, sarees, and rickshaws.

As my illustration skills slowly improved, I found myself reading a lot of graphic novels and comic books so I could study the art and storytelling.  I began to love how stories were told using this art form.  Ideas began swirling in my mind as I searched for some kind of story that I could tell using the graphic novel format.  

At this same time I took a trip for work to film a story in India about a group of ladies who were trafficked or born into the sex trade in their city.  I had heard a little about trafficking, but this trip prompted me to research and learn more about it.  I read a bunch of books and articles about the subject and started following traffick-battling organizations online.  I did what I could by sharing and raising awareness through Facebook and Twitter.  An organization called Tiny Hands International loved my passion for battling sex trafficking and saw my illustration work and asked if I would make some art for them.  Of course, I did.

Tiny hands International battles injustice in two ways.  They fight trafficking and they have children’s ministries.  They are a wonderful organization and they are doing hard work, but they are making a difference in people’s lives.  Check them out and find a way that you can become involved.

Suddenly the idea I had been searching for popped into my head.  It was really a culmination of all these experiences I had had since I took up illustration again that led to this idea. 

I would write and illustrate a graphic novel to raise awareness about sex trafficking.

I set out writing the story.  It was going to take place in a place I had come to know and love, India.  It was going to be both an engaging narrative and a lesson in sex trafficking.   I also wanted the ending to be real and hard-hitting.  I wanted it to make an impact on the reader.  One they couldn’t ignore.

It was at both the easiest and the hardest thing I've ever had to write.  Easy in that I had an immense passion to get this story out there.  Hard in that this is an emotional and heartbreaking travesty that happens in our world, and I had created a little girl who had to suffer and endure it. 

Even though she isn't real, her story is.  It's the story of MILLIONS of girls across the world, forced into this horrible life, unable to escape.  They need a voice and they need people to understand their story and to get up and do something about it.  My graphic novel will be part of that voice.

This is why this story has been easy to write.  It needs to be told and it needs to be heard.  And through my experiences, my skills, and most of all my passion, this story must come from me.  This story is part of my calling.

This is my challenge to all of you reading this.  Find your passion.  Find your calling.  You do this by trying new things or picking up old ones.  Experience life and keep an eye out for that thing that drives and motivates you. Find where your skills, experiences, and passions intersect and there you will find your calling. 

Don’t ignore that call.

I challenge you to make an effort to follow that calling, pursue those passions and help make this world a better place.

 My graphic novel is titled ‘Doll’ and you can follow the progress of the story here.
You can actually read the first full chapter of the story.  Check it out!

You can also follow my facebook page and Instagram page.

 Previously in this series - Jacqueline's story, Africa's Children