Friday, November 12, 2010

Homeless Not Hopeless

"Give us day by day our daily bread"
Luke 11:3

Hello Darlings!

There's something healing about reaching out to others in need. Jesus knew what He was doing when He commanded us to "feed His sheep." He knew that it is a two way street when you help others. Somehow it helps you also.

I think anytime we can step out of ourselves is when we truly step into our purpose in living. It is the moments that we make a difference that count. It reminds us that, but by the grace of God, it could be US on the other end. It is at these moments that I stop and count my blessings.

Last night was one of those nights. My girlfriend Helen and I have been driving to St. Augustine, Florida on Thursday evenings to feed the homeless. The beauty of this personal ministry is that there is no real organized effort. People simply cook food in their own kitchen and show up with it.

The gathering usually took place at the downtown open park. Operations had been moved to a parking lot behind the Lightner Museum due to political and "tourism" pressure. Many merchants felt tourists did not like seeing hungry people fed in the lovely park.

And so we set out to find our new base of operations - an empty parking lot. We were bringing traditional Thanksgiving fare last night because we were both traveling the next two weeks and would not be back until December. We had spent the afternoon in our kitchens baking turkey, dressing, macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce, and wrapping individual slices of pumpkin pie.

The sun was setting with the new time change and it would be dark by the time we arrived. But the trunk was packed to the rim and off we went in search of hungry mouths. We were hoping we could find the new location and that there would be people there.

We arrived to find a parking lot with men, women and one child standing around. There was around one hundred people waiting. But there were no tables set up and no one else there serving something. Someone else usually brought the tables. It was time to think quick on our feet. Luckily Helen had a gut instinct while shopping to buy plastic cutlery and plates. The rest would be left to our ingenuity.

Meanwhile the crowd was getting restless and hungrier by the minute. They started forming a line. We decided to back the car up under a street light (the parking lot was not adequately lit) and make a serving table on top of Helen's car trunk. Another lady showed up with biscuits and a pot of sausage gravy.

We formed a production line operation and started passing out plates after we paused to bless the food and give thanks. They removed their hats and bowed their heads in silence before the hectic frenzy began. They were all excited to get turkey because most often they get mostly pasta or rice dishes that can stretch big to serve a lot.

We kept looking down the line to try and count heads hoping the meat would last to the end of the line. I assured everyone that Jesus had fed a crowd with scarce fish and loaves of bread and still had some left over. I knew He would make a miracle this night.

And sure enough He did! Somehow the huge crowd all got some of the 3 turkey breasts we had cooked. Do the math. I call it a miracle. Half an hour later all the food was gone. All His sheep were fed. And just as there were leftovers in the original miracle story…… we were wrapping up, another troupe showed up to feed the crowd. More food! They had the tables we had needed.

But we had the satisfaction of having a real traditional "Thanksgiving moment" with the group before the second round of helpers arrived. This was actually "dinner on the ground" or a car trunk as it were. The crowd was a polite and appreciative one. They pitched in and helped best they could. They cleaned up and bagged garbage for us. One person asked me "Who are you ladies? Are you with a church group?"

I replied "Nope. We are just a couple of girlfriends who heard someone was hungry and decided to do something about it." I went on to explain how "The Faith Divas Society" was evolving and women were coming together to make a difference in the world and in our communities.

In a twinkling of an eye it was all over. We were exhausted but yet refreshed. Somehow, the petty annoyances and disappointments of everyday living seemed a little less important. Moments like this help us to see our true priorities in life.

As I shouted my blessing of the meal before we started serving the parking lot full of people - I reminded the crowd to keep an expectant heart - to believe that God was always with them - even in the most dire of circumstances. I encouraged them to keep believing and trusting God to show up. I was hoping that in their hearts they would receive the message that they might be homeless - but they were not hopeless.

If ever the twists and turns of life lead me to being hungry and homeless in a parking lot looking for food - I have faith that God will send someone to feed me also.



Monday, November 8, 2010

The Beauty of Snowflakes

Sketch of snow crystal by René Descartes

"Put Me in remembrance; let us contend together" - Isaiah 43:26

Hello Darlings!

I learned something interesting about snowflakes today. It came from quite an unusual source. It came from a female prisoner inside a prison hospital. I was there visiting 8 ladies - half of whom had cancer.

And so you ask, what in the world was I doing inside prison walls?Those who know me well will not be so surprised. I asked God to find me a hopeless situation that I could bring the light of hope to. I wasn't expecting anything quite THIS drastic, but you know how God works. He is always full of surprises.

My next door neighbor has a ministry at a prison nearby on behalf of a local church. He visits the men in this particular place. One day I asked him if there was any opportunities for women to volunteer. Interestingly enough, a new female ministry had just started visitations to the female division in the hospital inside the prison. I told him to sign me up!

After a lengthy and in depth backround screening, I got approved to visit and yesterday was my first day to experience something I had never done before. I stepped into a world behind bars where some do not get to come back out. Those who do cross back through, can only do so after they have served their time, and have permission to do so. It was a strange feeling to hear the bars slam shut behind me as I stepped into a world of lost souls and those who watch over them.

It took a while to get through those doors. All we were allowed to bring in was our bibles and our drivers license. We had to walk thru a scanner, sign paperwork, and our bibles were searched. We were each assigned a pin number and a badge to go with it. We carried a panic button in the event of emergency.

We were given a tour of the chapel area and its resources. Then we walked across the open grounds to the building designated as the hospital. Different dormitories and buildings dotted the grounds. Long sidewalks criss-crossed the area. It almost looked like a college campus. It was alot less dreary than I was expecting. But the barbed wire was a constant reminder of where we were.

When we finally made it into the female hospital ward the door was locked behind us. I wasn't afraid. After surviving cancer nothing scares me. It was a stark room with 8 beds and patients looking rather miserable and forlorn. I asked God to give me the words to say to each stranger. How do you begin small talk and reach out to someone who you don't know, whose journey you have not shared, and who you have nothing in common with? Or perhaps there was something we all had in common. We all have made mistakes by bad decisions in life.

The first challenge was getting past the suspicious or apathetic looks. One by one I approached each bed. My objective was to simply BE THERE and shine my light as brightly as possible. I decided it did not matter to me why they were there. My mission was to bring God's love to the room. I was not there to preach AT them, I was just there to show I cared and let God work through me. I tried to convey His spirit with sparkling eyes, a big smile, and warm hugs. I weaved "The Word" into personal stories of my own struggles as I listened to theirs.. Each girl responded differently to me but by the time I left they understood that DIVA stood for Doing It Victoriously Always!

And sure enough, God had a surprise for me. One spunky gal I talked to showed me a different perspective of "girlfriend power." I was sharing with her part of the book I am writing called "Born To Be Beautiful." I was explaining how I felt we are each different blueprints of God's love. No two of us are alike and we each are unique masterpieces. "Kind of like snowflakes" I told her. She responded. "Yeah, and snow flakes don't melt if you clump them all together!" How perfect was that! I never knew that about snowflakes.

When I got home I googled information on snowflakes. Sure enough, by God's glorious design, when snowflakes or snow crystals bump into each other there is a glue like liquid which is activated that binds them and makes each stronger by sticking together. Hallelujah! Is God good or what? That's exactly how I feel about girlfriend power and what is driving me to create "The Faith Divas Society."

As I left the prison I thought about what God was showing me through my visit to the prison. Why did He send me out there? It occurred to me that helping women who have lost their way and landed inside prison, was not so far removed from helping women on the outside break free of prisons in the mind, that separate us from God's power and what we were born to do. It's all about making decisions from a position of strength.

I will be returning there with my black and white zebra covered bible with its pink jeweled cross in a few weeks. I think I have alot to learn as I reach out to those ladies with "the way, the truth, and the life" that God offers us all. I have found in my own experience that sometimes it takes being knocked to our knees before we are ready to listen to His whispers to our hearts.

In the meantime I walk towards His purpose for me one step at a time. I pray for His guidance as I bring women together - like snowflakes - to become stronger through understanding His direction for our lives. I hope by helping women to come together for inspiration, education and rejuvenation, we can make a difference in the world and find happiness by finding ourselves in Christ. I believe there is a Faith DIVA inside every woman just waiting to be released.

Have a heavenly day!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Gracious Gift of Girlfriends

"Yet who knows whether we have come to the kingdom for such a time as this"
Esther 4:14

Hello Darlings!

Have you ever had the "gut feeling" that something wonderful is about to happen? You know how butterflies feel in your stomach, as you start untieing the ribbon to a beautifully wrapped gift? Or how you can't wipe a smile off your face in anticipation of a special event coming up? It's that special glow you feel when it seems everything is alright with the world - if only for a moment - and you catch a glimpse of yourself passing a mirror and you are smiling!

This is how I feel when I think about my girlfriends. Lately, I have felt like this is a season of girlfriends. It occurred to me that I have "coincidentally" been crossing paths with so many old girlfriends and new girlfriends, at the same time I grow closer to my dream coming to life that was birthed from my love of my girlfriends! I have a feeling God is about to surprise me. It feels like miracles are in the air.

There is power in the friendship of girlfriends. Girlfriends play so many roles in our lives. Each one is a treasure. Each one knows a different part of us. Girlfriends love us unconditionally. We dream together. We celebrate together. We cry together. We pray together. We cheer for each other. We believe in each other. We play together. Girlfriends help keep the little girl inside each of us alive. It is an angelic soul connection that we must protect and keep strong.

My dream to create "The Faith Diva Society" is all about capturing the girlfriend power we treasure. I want to help our girlfriends to each maximize their Godly potential to make a beautiful difference in themselves, in their lives, and the lives they touch. I think women were created for a unique purpose on earth. We can discover that purpose through each other as we embrace "the gracious gift of girlfriends."

What are God's whispers to our heart as women? What were we created for? We were born to be daughters, mothers, sisters, aunts, nieces, grand-daughters, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers to someone. I believe it is through these roles that we bring beauty and order to earth. We were born to adorn the earth with everything bright and beautiful. We were meant to carry the light of god's love to others in sparkling ways. We are responsible for sculpting Godly character in the lives of children and nurturing souls with kindness and love.

It all begins in our own hearts and our own faith. To accomplish our purpose on earth we need to have a faith strong enough to Do It Victoriously Always. It is a daily journey I could not imagine surviving without the love and support of my girlfriends. Ever since my DIVA birthday party, I have been praying for a way to bring women together in special moments of celebration, education and rejuvenation. How could I help women to see how beautiful they are and help them maximize their greatest potential for making a difference in their lives and others?

Lately my dream is becoming clearer as I keep "dancin' in the rain" and putting one foot in front of the other down the narrow path towards living my life on purpose. I know every moment counts in His plan. I hope you will join me on the journey. It is never too late to become who you were born to be.

Take your DIVA step today and call a girlfriend to tell her how much she means to you. Let's start a revolution to change the world one woman at a time - one heart at a time. Grab your hats (the helmets of salvation), your scarves (the sashes of truth), your coats (the breast plates of righteousness), your crosses (the shields of faith), your bibles (the sword of the spirit) and your shoes (the sandals of peace), and stand together to make our lives a living prayer.

I believe we were all born "for such a moment as this." As Esther responds so eloquently in the face of stepping out in faith, "if we perish - we perish!" God's will never perishes. I invite you to come dance in the rain with me and walk towards your destiny!

Have a heavenly day!


Friday, July 16, 2010

DIVA Dreams Come True

Hello Darlings!

Welcome to the world of dreams come true! I have had a vision in my heart for many years to find a way to bring God's love to the world in a way that reflects my heart and soul authentically. Those who know me already, know that I have always approached any thing I do in life with pizaaz! I demonstrated a tendency to be a DIVA at a very young age. I adore all things bright and beautiful and feminine. I love expressing my creativity through clothes, jewelry, hats, scarves, shoes, and anything that sparkles.

I have always embraced my femininity and believe we women all have an inner DIVA within, that is waiting to be released. We simply need permission. Who better than God to show us that we can shine as "living stones" and bring the beauty of hope and love and kindness wherever we go. Even the virgin Mary expressed "my soul magnifies the Lord!"

So I believe we have a unique mission as women, to magnify all that is feminine to reach souls, and bring them the light of the Lord! DIVA is an acronym for defining who we are as daughters of Christ:


How the Faith Divas Society Began

This dream was born on my 51rst birthday. I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and started my chemotherapy. I was frightened at what the future held and decided on a lark to throw myself a birthday party (not knowing if it would be my last.) I wanted to "put on the ritz" and go all out. I wanted to pretend I was a carefree little girl again, with not a worry in the world and invite my girlfriends to come play dress-up with me.

I sent out invitations and pulled out all my hats and scarves and boas and necklaces and rings. I asked a neighbor who was a Mary Kay representative to come do makeovers. I contacted the movie theater to arrange service "diva style" by reserving a row in the theater to watch "The Notebook" as a group. We received personal delivery service of popcorn and drinks. I called "The Olive Garden" and planned a cake and ice cream party afterward. They treated us like queens. We each had drawn "diva names" out of the hat at the party and agreed to address each other as divas only.

I even created a swearing in ceremony (similar to the ya-ya sisterhood) with our own personal creed to make our mission one of spreading smiles and doing good deeds to make the world a better place. We had a blast!

I've often thought of that party and the fun we had giving ourselves permission to revel in the joy of femininity! After surviving cancer, I decided to embrace that lifestyle on a daily basis. I find I am able to connect with so many people with my bold fashion statements and courage to live outside the box. It leads to so many wonderful conversations about daring to believe in yourself, in acknowledging our wonderful God, in finding happiness by discovering the rewards of helping people along the way.

Lately, God has opened up opportunities for me to step up my dream another level. He has led me to several people in crisis that I felt could be encouraged with a dose of DIVA faith. I took a leap of faith and donned my glittering DIVA armour and went charging in with bible and hymn book in hand! I prayed, I sang, I anointed, I brought gifts of encouragement and I brought a heart to serve. I had no fear.

I knew I was on path from the joy I felt reaching out to people and marching in with the "sword of the spirit." It lead me to even bolder moves. In the last few weeks I have acted spontaneously when I discovered homeless hungry people. The first incident I prayed for them on the spot but soon realized God wanted me to do more. I was visiting San Diego, California and enthralled with the beautiful city. As we were leaving out of the city one day our route took us through an area where I saw about fifty homeless people lining the sidewalks with their grocery carts. My spirit wept.

The next morning I got up and challenged a group I was with to go with me to McDonalds and buy 50 hamburgers and bring them to the people I saw the day before. The rallied with me and after going to church at "The Rock" we set off on our mission. It was a humbling experience. The hamburgers were gone too quickly. But we got the chance to shake each persons hand. I pulled out my roll on perfume stick and asked each person if they would like to be anointed in the name of Jesus. I told them it was my favorite perfume (tea olive) and that when we were gone they would still be able to remember that God loved them when they smelled the perfume. Every single person let me mark the sign of the cross on their hands.

Then, just a few days ago I discovered another opportunity here at home to help the homeless. I forget how the conversation started at the local UPS store but Mike, who works behind the counter told me that he and some friends were cooking up some casseroles and going to the park square in St. Augustine at 6:30 the next day to feed about a hundred people. Apparently they have been doing this every Wednesday. I decided to join them and invited my friend Helen to go with me. The next day I bought huge bags of popcorn and pretzels from Publix and cheap baggies and baskets and even dog food (yes, there are homeless dogs too)from The Dollar Tree store where everything is a dollar.

I went home and started a production line to bag up individual bags to hand out so they could take them with them and have something to eat in between. WE showed up a little after 6pm and unloaded our baskets of popcorn bags and then circled endlessly to find a parking space. Then after parallel parking (for the first time in decades) we walked over to the pavillion and jumped in to help dip out from the casseroles. Sure enough there were about 100 people in line. People from all walks of life. Some barefoot. Some sunburned. Some in desperate need of a bath. Some with uncombed hair. Some bleary eyed. One man had a dog. He was thrilled to discover the food and biscuits and bowl we brought.

I have been bravely telling more people about my Faith Divas Society idea. I am amazed at the interest and positive responses to my "hair brained" idea. One thing I realized in trying to make some phone calls to food businesses to ask for donations - their is policy and procedure to follow - but the help is available. I have found my niche! Here is where my corporate activities director and event planning experience comes in! I know exactly how to play the corporate game and get the help needed there.

I may just go ahead and make an application to pursue turning The Divas Faith Society into a non-profit corporation. Meanwhile, I had an interesting talk with my neighbor Steve who works for The First Baptist Church and has a prison ministry going at Raiford, Florida. I asked if there was an area I coud be useful and he suggested getting involved with visiting the female prisoners in the infirmary there. We'll see what God has planned there.

I've decided to open up my home for meetings and get The Faith Divas Society rolling. I am looking for a few good women to join me in my quest to spread the light of the Lord in a sparkling way! I'll keep you posted on details. If you are interested in learning more please contact me. Dare to step out and discover your own DIVA power from within!

I wish you all a HEAVENLY day! Remember to "do it victoriously always!"