Monday, December 31, 2007

God became Man

"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel." , "which being interpreted is, God with us" (Matthew 1:23, prophesy from Isaiah 7:14)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth" (John 1:1, 14).

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Defend the Orphan (Isaiah 1:17)

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27.

I've read that so many times, and although its clear as day, I don't think my "religion" consists enough of looking after the "orphan and widow." Maybe not out of desire, but just ignorance of the practicality of it. If your're feeling like me, I have some advice: Family Life ( had a series of great messages during their "The Cry of the Orphan" Campaign. Two in particular, given my Rick Warren, were very enlightening, and I recommend every Christian check them out. Apparently, God is VERY concerned for the orphan and oppressed. And therefore, so should we. Immediately, I want to run out an adopt a dozen kids, but that's obviously not something I can do yet (Shawn, don't get scared). However, there is much singles can do to defend the orphan, and it doesn't involve adoption. Family Life has a brochure called "Ten Ways Every Christian Can Care for the Orphan and Waiting Child." It's Free to order, and has some really practical and unique ideas. I'll share one that I had no idea exsisted and think is very cool:

Speak up for them: Ever wonder how to put all those fun years of college to even greater use? Start to thank God for those speech classes! It turn out there are organizations that train regular people to be Court Appointed Special Advocates for children in foster care. These volunteers get to know a child, his/her case, etc and speak to the court on their behalf. Visit for more details and to find an office near you.

Don't forget to get the Family Life brochure. It has more great great ideas!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

He shall be called...

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6, written over 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ).

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Ladies love to be pursued. We long to be chased after, desired, and fought for. I think of the way Shawn pursues me, and can't help but smile real BIG...the effort, the sacrifice, the commitment...It's beautiful. To pursue someone or something takes action, persistence, commitment, passion, etc, and this is exactly what God calls us to do in regard to a godly lifestyle.

1 Timothy 6:11 says, "But you (Paul writing to Timothy), man of God, flee from all this (evil, greed), and PURSUE righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. FIGHT the the good fight of the faith. TAKE HOLD of the the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession...(1 Timothy 6:11-12a"

So although it is God who works in us to do the things that please him (Phil 2:13), we obviously have a choice to make and a role to play. This role is not passive (i.e. waiting for God to develop all these things in us without any effort on our part) Rather, we must "PURSUE, FIGHT, TAKE HOLD " And just as a man pursuing and fighting for his lady is not a drag or burdensome task, but rather a joy and a delight, so should it be our joy and delight to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Wedding Planning has began

It's been a month since we've been engaged, and although some days I feel like I haven't gotten much done in regards to wedding planning, I'm starting to see that I'm not doing so bad. I purchased my wedding dress this past weekend! It's beautiful...and so fits my personality. The girls and I have chosen bridesmaids dresses...They are so cute!! They will be so beautiful. Location is still being decided, and the research for photographers, flowers, caterers, etc, etc continues.

Wedding planning can be very consuming. I have to remember to keep it in check. I used to wonder why people hired wedding planners; not anymore. Nevertheless, it's been fun and I look forward to all this day will mean for Shawn and I.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Shawn Evans asked me to marry his this past weekend! exciting! We've seen the Lord's hand already at work so much this past week, confirming his favor over our relationship. Shawn is such an amazing man, full of love and passion for God. He leads us into deeper faith, a life of prayer and a love for the Word of God. I'm so so blessed! Below is the story of the proposal, written by Shawn..he's also a great story teller.

The proposal was Saturday! It was supposed to be Friday, but my only plan - plan A, couldn't work because of the weather. I was going to take her up for a flight seeing tour of Galveston bay, right near Houston, but the weather was rough, and I know it was God's way of saying OK OK, cool out. You don't have to blow as much cash as you're thinking.

What really happened was God had something much cooler planned. We ended up having an early night and she had planned a date night the next night. We went to this water wall in Houston which is about 4 stories high, and just cascades water down this cement wall, on both sides, which is shaped like a semicircle. Very big. It was turned off when we got there. strike 1. Actually, we have our theories that it was off so this group of Buddhists wouldn't have good photos which they were taking about 10 minutes after we arrived to have a picnic. We ended up not eating for an hour after that but instead started praying. about 2 or 3 minutes later it started to rain, but not nearly as much on us, we being under a tree. They fled to a nearby shelter. This only encouraged us, and praying slowly became praying against deception of darkness, which became calling and casting out deceptive spirits from 75 feet off. This became singing, or more like almost yelling praise songs to the name of Jesus. Worship songs, and prayer, one would sing, one would pray, then the other way around, and we had something of a vigil against it.

We forgot to bring silverware, and eating with salad tongs, with an occasional cracker used as an eating tool. Pasta and salad. With salad tongs and crackers.Later, we went to listen to a jazz trio play at a church nearby in a music series they were doing. They had a dance floor and we got up for a number of them. It was really special. Following that, we went to a hotel lobby to listen to some recent work in composition I'd been putting together. I had written Tania a song called "Reflection", on which I played piano and sang, but for this occasion I told her there was a new work written for her. She wanted to hear it. "That depends on how you answer the next question, " I said. I took out the ring and said something like, "tonight has been the perfect metaphor of what God has put ahead of us, and I can't imagine being next to anyone else for it...Tania, will you marry me?" think that's what I said. 5 minutes later, we got ourselves together and listened to the second song written for her. You know, Because she got the answer right.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


I'm amazed, still, 24 hours after meeting an amazing girl named Bethany (not her real name). 17 year-old Bethany shined brightly with a love and joy that could only be described as heavenly. She talked about God like he was her highest treasure, and excitedly told me about her great passion to be a light in the world and share God's message with young people. Excitement, love, joy, humility, and peace just flowed from her so genuinely.

I met Bethany at a Burn hospital for children where my church goes every other month to play Bingo with the kids there. Bethany had been to this hospital many times for treatment after the accident she suffered 8 years ago. Yet, it had been 2 years since she had returned.

A few weeks ago Bethany had told God that she wanted to getter better. (You see, her scars are MANY. Burned skin does not heal well). And so our God who is full of unfailing love answered Bethany's prayer. Soon after she received a call from Shiner's hospital. They wanted to fly her down to do reconstructive surgery on her face! For a 17 year-old girl who is not able to go to school because she helps her family, who make a living off a yogurt stand in Mexico, this blessings is huge!

Yet, as I sat there listening to Bethany tell me about the God she loved so much and was so passionate for, I could not help but forget about all her scars and the unfortunate plight of her life. All I could see was a beautiful girl, so spiritually full of a joy that can only come from God almighty. I was AMAZED! AMAZED!

She understood what it meant to be a citizen of heaven, a stranger in this world, a beloved child of the God of the universe. Like my friends Lauren and Tyler Maddox said in one of their blog post, we can see good people so misfortunate and poor in the eyes of this world, and think, "how unfair is that!!" (And maybe think too, how unfair is God). Yet, I'm telling you, this girl was SO FORTUNATE in the eyes of Heaven and had a spiritual wealth that we should eagerly aspire to have. She had it go'in on!!

Despite her financial and physical set backs, Bethany will soon be in training to be a missionary in Mexico. I'll never forget her words, " I just want the path he has for me...It's not about an emotion, its about passion for Him" How beautiful this life truly surrendered, truly anchored in the love of God.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Shawn's Coming...I know him!

For those of you who didn't get the joke in the title to this blog post, I was alluding to Buddy from the movie Elf when he says, "Santa's coming...I know him! 2 weeks my favorite guy Shawn Evans will be in Houston once again...yay! For anyone who hasn't met him, this will be your chance...don't miss it. He's awesome, and like you can see from the picture, so much fun!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A whole lot of nothing without His grace

I was convicted this week of how prone I am to be prideful in my own self-righteousness. None of us have "arrived." None of us are who we want to be, or know God wants us to be. I still fall so short of the glorious standard of God... and so I am in desperate need, daily (ok, hourly), of Jesus, who lives to intercede for me at the right hand of God. Anyone who has been a Christian for a while (and by anyone, I mean me), can look at less mature Christians or non-Christians and quickly let wicked pride come into our hearts as we compare and judge. Jesus spoke pretty harshly to the Pharisees, and reminded them that they needed to stop worrying about looking so holy on the outside, and clean house on the inside. Therefore, I can pat myself on the back for what I "do for God", and all the sins I don't do, and the commands I do do, etc, etc, but if I'm have pride, self-righteousness, ill feelings toward others, or any other yuckyiness in my heart, I'm not different than those Pharisees who got a heavy dose of rebuke from Jesus (Matt 23)...(ouch!).

Another thing I noticed is that Jesus didn't rebuke the Pharisees for what they taught (He told the people to obey what the Pharisee's taught), but for what they did (or didn't do...they didn't practice what they preached, and neither do we all the time). Even in some of the things I have written about or taught about (including the basis for the name of this blog), I fail to, MANY times, live up to.

Conclusion? We're all in need of that "Amazing Grace" we love to sing about. We're no less in need of it than prostitute on the corner or that angry person who cut us off in traffic this week. We all need to be like the tax collector who prayed, "Lord, have mercy on me a sinner," and not like the Pharisee who prayed, "God, thank you that I'm not like those sinners (paraphrased)."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

2nd Katrina Anniversary

It's been 2 years since Hurricane Katrina changed the lives of many people in the gulf coast. I had the chance of going to New Orleans this past week with a team from Somebody Cares to visit a few ministries and churches we've been supporting through hurricane relief. It was an awesome time, and it was such a blessing to be able to encourage those still serving on the "front lines" in New Orleans and Mississippi. They're still rebuilindg...still bringing hope to their communities (There is still alot of work to do). They are true hereos of compassion... in it for the long haul. It was a honor to meet them. The following is part of an aritcle about the trip and the continuing relief work in New Orleans and Mississippi:

August 29, 2007
By Belinda Thacker, Somebody Cares America
When I had the chance to travel back to New Orleans with Doug Stringer and a team from Somebody Cares America, I jumped at the chance," says Mark Roye from BloodNFire/Somebody Cares San Antonio. "Somebody Cares America was and is such a huge blessing to so many people and ministries, still reaching out and giving a hand to those in need."

Mark joined Doug Stringer and a team of four other representatives from Somebody Cares Houston and Somebody Cares America who were sent to New Orleans and two Mississippi locations-Picayune and Pearlington-last week to visit some of the front-line ministries we have supported with funds, teams, and directing supplies and donations.

There's no doubt that the images captured by the media two years ago-and by the personal experiences of people like Mark and others who were first responders to the tragedy-were permanently embedded into our thoughts and our minds as Hurricane Katrina changed the physical and cultural landscape of our nation.

"As we landed at the New Orleans airport, my mind began to race with memories of what took place almost two years ago. I thought of coming to that city just eight days after the disaster of Katrina had taken place. Memories of the smell of death and sights of destruction raced back in my mind's eye.

But now, two years later, what are the long-term affects of Katrina, and what is still left to be done?

Earlier this year, a church in Houston who has partnererd us throughout the years was no longer involved in Katrina relief, so they generously entrusted Somebody Cares America with a very significant donation that had been given to them, designated for relief. The Somebody Cares team visited some sites that had already received aid from that donation, and we were able to disburse donations during the visit to new sites as well.

Resurrection Life/Somebody Cares Picayune
"Literally, thousands of people have heard about Jesus because of our relationship with this man and his ministry." Pastor Allen Hickman was introducing Doug Stringer as the guest speaker...
When Katrina hit the Mississippi coast, many people fled north to the small town of Picayune. Ironically, the name Picayune means "small and insignifcant," but to the thousands in need, it was immensely significant! Out of their own need, the RLM church began relief operations from their parking lot. Somebody Cares was one of the first organizations to direct trucks and food to their location. "In the first 2 ½ weeks, over 23,000 cars came through the church parking lot and we were able to help 100,000 people," says Richard Hinojosa, associate pastor. "And that's a lot of people, especially when you're talking about a town that only has 15,000 residents!" The August sun was so hot on the pavement that Pastor Hickman's sister reports that her tennis shoes began melting while she was serving!

It was an impossible task to do alone, and Richard says it was only through relationships that the task was accomplished. "I have used Somebody Cares as an example ever since Katrina," Richard says. "Because we became connected with Doug years ago, when the crisis hit, the network was already in place. I tell people all the time 'Get connected with what's important.' Don't wait for the crisis."

Picayune for the most part is currently up and running. Resurrection Life has grown from about 1500 to 2000 (over 10% of the town's population) and is committed to serving their congregation and the city. RLM's Manna Ministries is a diverse and multi-faceted ministry meeting the needs of thousands of people both physically and spiritually through food and clothing distribution, a free medical clinic, a ministry to mentally and physically challenged people, drug assistance programs, and benevolence assistance for low income families. Manna Ministries serves 20,000 individuals each year, and is constructing a new facility on property donated by the city.

"Picayune is not a big city, and RLC is not a 'mega church' like we know them in the 'big cities,'" team member Tania Hernandez observed. "But they are faithful with the community they have been entrusted with and the resources they have been blessed with. They will hear the words, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.'"

Another team member, Cynthia Sanchez, agrees: "Jesus was truly in that city."

Pearlington MS
South of Picayune and slightly to the east lies the small community of Pearlington. We were greeted by Doug Pennington from Hickory Hammock Baptist Church (HHBC) in Milton FL-a sister city to nearby Waveland-and Pastor and Mrs. Rawls from First Missionary Baptist Church. Initially intending to assist, naturally, with Stage 1 relief efforts in Waveland, Hickory Hammock's assessment teams were continually being directed to meet the needs in Pearlington. Since then, they have "adopted" the community and have been coordinating teams and rebuilding efforts for two years. Somebody Cares was connected with Pearlington through our relationshp with Pastor John Elliott from Gulf Coast Foursquare Church in Hitchcock TX, which faithfully sends construction teams to Pearlington each month. Through the designated donation we received earlier this year, we've been able to help fund some of those trips.

Prior to Katrina, Pearlington was small but segregated. White churches were literally on one side of the tracks, black churches on the other. Now, there is no division. "We've crossed racial, economic, and denominational barriers," Doug Pennington says. "We're doing Kingdom work."

HHBC oversees the rebuilding efforts of a coalition of four churches: Hope Chapel, New Hope Church, African Episcopal Methodist Church, and First Missionary Baptist, which is the oldest African American Church in Southwest Mississippi, founded 137 years ago. Pastor and Mrs. Rawls have been commuting daily from their home in Picayune since the hurricane and have renamed the church "House of Bread." The coalition also works closely with the Salvation Army, who trains all volunteers in grief and trauma counseling, and Walls of Hope, which focuses on re-building homes. Gene Butterfield, a contractor who left his businesss in Virginia to live by faith and serve in relief by founding Walls of Hope, estimates that it will take two to five years to complete the rebuilding.

Pearlington had a population of 1700 residents before the storm, and it is currently back up to 1200-1400. Children attend school 35 minutes away.

Mark said, "T hough it's a place that was once in the eye of the storm, it is now a place where the eye of the Lord is pleased with what He sees: The body of Christ being the body, helping each other, giving and receiving, and, in the process, rebuilding a community where the church is becoming a place of hope again." Mark Roye

Abiding Temple, Ninth Ward, New Orleans
As we entered the Ninth Ward to meet with Pastor Marc and Angie Smith from Abiding Temple, God had arranged a divine appointment with Operation Blessing. The 700 Club had sent a crew to meet up with their local on-site crew to do a two-year update for CBN, and they had parked by chance outside the Smiths' church building. Not only was it a time for Doug and Somebody Cares-who have a long-running partnership with OBI-to catch up with friends from OBI and CBN, it was also an opportunity for us to arrange an impromptu CBN interview with the Smiths.

Marc and Angie's facility is a large two-story building that onced housed a youth center with pool tables and other activiies on the first floor and the church sanctuary upstairs. Now, with the sanctuary still in needs of repairs, the church has been meeting downstairs. At one time, over 100 children came there weekly came to be encouraged with after school programs funded by the city. Now, because the city's funding is down, the young people are joining gangs and hanging out on street corners. Of the 500 churches that had previously occupied the neighborhood, only 20 are currently operating.

"Compared to two years ago, we are in a better position to reach out to the community because so many people have moved back in the past year. Before that, maybe one in every five houses was occupied. Now it is one in every two houses. There's a new attitude now. Everybody is determined to see things 'normalized.' But we want to see that happened based on Scripture."

Having been in ministry for 18 years, Marc and Angie are no strangers to living by faith. With a congregation that has dwindled and lost all they own as well, the Smiths have been living off of their insurance money. "Then God just sends strangers to bless us! So we have to say, He is good, He is the provider, and He is the source! We don't have a complaint at all."

During the visit, Somebody Cares was able to write a check to cover the remaining expenses for the sanctuary repairs-including new doors for all doorways and a new sound system-so the church can move back upstairs and re-open the youth center.

"It is a blessing from God to know that 'somebody cares' about the purpose and plan of God coming to pass in New Orleans," the Smiths wrote to us later. "Words cannot express the joy that has come upon us. Thank you for allowing God to use you."

The Smiths said there is an immediate need for clothing, shoes, and school supplies for children of all ages, along with recreation items for the outreach center.

Youth With A Mission New Orleans
"You're not just restoring our homes. You're restoring our lives."

Over and over again, YWAM New Orleans directors Steve and Bronwen Niles have heard comments like these coming from the New Orleans residents they are helping throughout the city. Using every square inch of their available facilities to house work-teams as often as possible, YWAM has had so many teams come through they have literally lost count of the numbers. "There is so much hopelessness and despair," Bronwen says, noting the increase in murders and suicides. "Sometimes we just sit and listen to people tell their stories. But it's a wonderful time to talk to people about the Lord."

Steve tells of meeting a 65-year-old man who was standing in line with him at Home Depot. "When I told him we could help him with his house, he started crying right there in the store. Nobody else had offered to help."

The YWAM work teams are focused on gutting homes. Houses that are cited by the city for not being gutted are bull-dozed if the gutting is not completed within 30 days. Steve met one elderly woman who returned to the city not even knowing she had been cited, only to discover home was no longer there. Somebody Cares has been able to help YWAM purchase enough tools to gut multiple houses at one time, along with a new pick-up truck and all the office furnishings to re-open their crisis pregnancy center.

During one of their gutting assignments, a YWAM team was able to recover some precious belongings for an 87-year-old woman who was relocated to Fort Worth afer Katrina.

"Our connection with Miss Hattie began when she contacted our YWAM office about our free house-gutting services," Steve says. During that initial conversation, she said that her house had received 10 feet of water during Katrina. "You are doing a job my daughter and I could not physically do."

"While our team was doing the dirty job of removing all the moldy furniture and belongings from the house, a teenage girl saw something sparkling in the midst of the rubble on the floor, which we later discovered was Miss Hattie's diamond engagement ring," Steve recalls. "The other items found that day included silver dollars dated back to 1880 and a complete set of dishes with gold trim."

Steve and Bronwen visited Fort Worth to personally deliver the diamond engagement ring, the silver dollars, and the wedding dishes.While there, they learned that the recovery of each of these items was a specific answer to prayer.

"Unknown to us," they said, "Miss Hattie had been praying that God would help our team find these specific items while they were gutting her home. The silver dollars had a lot of sentimental value to Miss Hattie because they were a gift from a woman she worked for after her husband died. The dishes belonged to her daughter whose husband died suddenly five years ago. The only thing her daughter had wanted from their house was her wedding dishes."

"All of us were in tears," Bronwen says. "When we left she said, 'I will never forget you but I know I'll see you again.'"

The Dream Center New Orleans
It was once called The Jerusalem Temple, the scene of Mardi Gras balls, concerts, and other high society festivities. Today, any New Orleans resident still knows the building by that name, but soon they will know it as a place where dreams are birthed and hope is restored. The facility was purchased by Church of the King in Mandeville, pastored by Steve Robinson, for the purpose of transforming it into the Dream Center New Orleans. Strategically located on one of the most visible and frequented locations in the city on St. Charles Avenue, the Dream Center borders the beginning of the elegant Garden District on one side and the New Orleans inner city on the other.

"The vision of the Dream Center is to reach people and build their lives so that they are empowered to achieve the dream that God has for them" says the Dream Center website. "This dream becomes a reality as they develop healthy life skills to maintain positive lifestyles by caring for the whole person - spirit, soul, and body."

One of their current projects is the renovation of the second floor auditorium, which seats 1700. The auditorium will be used for theater performances and other cultural events as an outreach to the community. Dream Center students will be able to receive training in various areas of the arts, as well.

A mobile medical clinic in the parking lot will soon be one of the only free clinics operating in the city. A trailer next the clinic was donated to be used as a dental clinic.

Dr. Doreen Babo serves as the Dream Center director, working with Diane Amos. Dr. Babo and her husband served in Nigeria for many years, and Diane moved with her husband from California to help with long-term relief. Both women are committed to seeing the vision God has given their church body come to pass.

"Right now, we see the racial barriers have come down. We are seeing more Chrsitian leadership emerge in the city. Pleas pray that it continues."

Dr. Babo says the economy of the city is "extremely fragile." Finances to continue with the renovation, manpower, and medical personnel are some of their biggest needs.

The Next Step: Somebody Still Cares!
In response to the ongoing needs of the city, Somebody Cares America is planning a city-wide "compassion crusade," currently targeted for March of 2008, called "Somebody Still Cares, New Orleans!" Working with our ministry partners above, SCA will recruit work teams for construction and gutting houses and, during a two-week period, will offer youth-oriented athletic activities, concerts, and medical missions. Doug Stringer wants to begin with a "Somebody Still Cares" billboard campaign and by bringing in teams of intercessors to blanket the city with prayer before the outreach. Among the groups participating will be Athletes Who Care, Medical Professionals Who Care, Business Professionals Who Care, and more.

"What would it look like, in our lifetime," Doug says, "to take a city that has been literally washed away and rebuild it on a new foundation?"

Prayer and compassion, he says, are not event, they are a lifestyle. "Our desire is not to just blow in with a big even then blow out again. We want to leave a deposit as we equip, empower and encourage those who are in New Orleans for the long haul-serving in the church and the front line ministries-so they can fulfill the mandates God has given them."

Your continued support can help us make possible what seems like an impossible task: rebuilding a city once known for its decadence on a godly foundation.

"The church in New Orleans has been given the opportunity to be a voice of hope in a city that has a daily struggle finding the strength to continue on. I have never seen a city that is so spiritually vulnerable. It is time now for us to help them rise up and take their place with the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Update in Tania-ville

I'm about 3 months post-graduation, and almost 2 months into my new job. It's been a ride filled with God's amazing grace. Although, I would prefer not to commute 40 minutes to an hour each way each day, I love being with my family. I could not be more grateful for my job, and the wonderful servants of God that I am PRIVILEGED to know and work alongside. I am so amazed, challenged, and encouraged by their faith, their love for God, their kingdom-mindset, their lives in general. My boss Dr. Doug Stringer is a man whose life is worth learning from and imitating (as He imitates Christ). It would be a long post to talk about his life, but definitely one worth asking me about. I'm so honored to be working for Him, but ultimately for his master-Jesus Christ.

I've been helping complete a disaster prepardness and response manual, and we've had our first Houston-area training for churches and ministries last Saturday. We are now preparing for our annual summit and benefit banquet in October. This is a time for all our chapters, ministry partners and affiliates to come together and share the amazing outreach and compassion work they have been doing in their communities. I've moved into more of a role of chapter laison (making sure we're servicing on chapters well, getting reports from them...internal marketing in a sense). The most exciting part though, is getting in on the "fron lines" (i.e. getting to particpate in praying with people who call our office, helping single moms find jobs and other assistance so they providide for their children... the list goes on, and its such joy to have people say, "Wow, you really care...You are the first person to take the time to really help me!" I've heard it more than once. It's awesome how God can use us to be a real and tangible expression of his love for them.

This past Saturday, I got to teach a computer class for Hispanic pastors (in Spanish)...My bestest friend Lydia Jones, taught it last week, and we can both testify what a joy it was be able to use the skills we've been blessed to acquire for the benefit of others.
Back in Pearland, I'm involved in a small group bible study through my church on Thursday evenings. We're going through Jold Eldrege's book The Sacred Romance. On Saturdays I have the joy of teaching children's church to 3 and 4 year olds (hence the picture to this post). What great things God teaches me through this precious children who love so unconditionally. They don't hold back in their affection...It's awesome to see and a challenge to imitate. For example, I was up front leading the kids in some songs, when out of the blue, a precious little girl comes up to me, give me a hug (no words said) and then returns to her place and continues to sing. So spontaneous, so pure!

Sundays is my day to rest and spend at home...It's beautifully turning into a day where I can (interuption-free) spend time in God's Word, with God, and with afternoon nap is popular on this day too!

On a Shawn note, he is awesome as ever. Still sailing on the grand seas, in leadership on the cruise ship's Christian fellowship, and of course drumming it up. He visits me again in the first week of October. He is a joy and blessing...we learn so much from each other. I love being a part of His life, and having him as part of mine. On October 5th, it will be 2 years exactly from the day we met on the Continental flight to Calgary.

This update is quickly becoming long, so I'll end it now. Blessings and love to all!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Clamshell Containers and God

For my job at Somebody Cares America, I've been helping complete a disaster prepardness and response training manual for churches and other christian organizations. The manual has been developed from the experience and expertise of our local and national relief parterns. Last summer, many of them met in D.C with Somebody Cares at a "think-tank," on how the church can co-labor more effectively to be our government's greatest asset when disaster strikes. Many of those at the meeting were some of the first responders in New Orleans and other places where Katrina and Rita did their thing. The stories I was able to read are amazing (I'm talking jaw-dropping)...God did so many cool things through His Church. The following is a very cool testimony from a pastor in one of the areas where Rita did lots of damage...this is just a glimpse of the amazing provisions of God...Enjoy!

"It [Hurricane relief] was just one extended adventure for me, just a great spiritual adventure. I'll give you one testimony: The Southern Baptist Convention guys showed up and they had five city block of [cooking equipment] organized and put together. The head cook came over and said 'we don't' have anything to serve [the people] in.' They were handing out food in pieces of aluminum foil, and he said, 'what are we going to do?' I said 'all I know how to do is pray,' so I put my hand on his shoulder and I said, 'Lord, Aubrey and I know that you know where all the clamshell containers in the world are, and you know what we need, and I ask you to give us what we need.' I took my hand off his shoulder, and the phone rang, and it was a volunteer from Pennsylvania or somewhere in Doug's (Somebody Cares) office. He said 'I'm so and so from Pennsylvania. I'm here just volunteering and I just got the call that somebody has some clamshells they'd like to give away. Would you like some?' And I said, 'Yes! I'll take all you can give me!" I called one of my denominational leaders (Jerry) who was going to drive that way in his car [so he could] pick them up. And he said, 'find out how many they have.' And I found out and called him back and said, 'well, you car won't do. They have six pallet loads of clamshells.' I said, 'You know, Jerry, I guess God is going to have to provide a 26-foot enclosed trailer with a one-tone Dooley truck if we're going to get those clamshell….My phone rang; It was my wife who was at our distribution center and said, 'Charles, a guy just drove in from West Texas with a 26-foot horse trailer with a one-tone truck. What do you want him to do with it?' That [miraculous provisions, etc] happened every day, over and over."

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

God Listens

I borrowed the title of this post from my local Christian radio station. "God Listens" is there slogan...a wonderful reminder to the city of Houston that the God of the Universe hears the prayers of His people. He really does! I got to experience this sweet and marvelous truth this past Friday night. I was in bed already, and could hear my dad coughing and gaging horribly (he has acid reflux and was hospitalized in May for about a week when the acid pierced his lung, giving him pnemonia. The horrible cough associated with the acid reflux had recently returned). So my dad was gaging it up, and my older brother was scolding him for not going to the doctor, etc, etc. As the "friendly" family dispute and the coughing was going on, I got a urge in my heart to go downstairs to pray for dad's cough to stop. I thought about it a little, and hesitated a while. After all, what if I prayed in front of them all (my 2 brothers and dad), and nothing happened? Nonetheless, I decided to go downstairs and began to pray for my dad outloud in the name of Jesus. I finished and returned to my room. I continued to pray and worship the Lord, asking him to glorify His name-that my brothers and father would see the power and glory of the name of Jesus Christ. One of the songs I sang to God was, "How great is our God," by Christ Tomlin. "Name above all names, worthy of all praise...all will see, how great, how great is our God," says the chorus. That night my family and I saw experienced anew the greatness of God and the power of the name above all names-Jesus Christ. My dad's cough stopped minutes later, and He was able to sleep like baby that night. I know God could have stopped the cough even if I had silently prayed from my room, without a single witness. However, my family was able to share the miracle of answered prayer because I decided to ask in front of them. I pray their faith was increased.

"This is the confience we have in approaching God: if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him." (1 John 5:14-15).

Thank you Lord for hearing me.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

(A Grateful People by Watermark)

It is time that we give you honor
This is the day to give you all the praise that you deserve
A Holy King, of everything
inhabit the praises of your people
Have we waited far too long to surrender?
Forgive us oh God for the years we failed to seek your face
Oh Lord, your mercy turns us into Grateful people
We can't seem to find the words
so take our lives that there might be enough to tell you
how grateful Lord, we are grateful

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Whatever I do???

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (Colossians 3:17)."

How many times have we read or heard this? I have a ton, and maybe even taken it to heart sincerely. Today, though, it gripped me harder than before. Seriously, everything I do and say should be done not only as a representative of Jesus, but they should be done with a heart of gratitude and praise???? I'm challenged and convicted. I'm also thankful for my gracious God who wills and works in me to do what pleases Him (Philippians 2:13). There's no way I could even attempt to live us to this without the help of God. I hope you will hold me accountable to do and say everything in Jesus' name, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Happy Birthday Tia!

You're crazy and I love you!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

New Job

After months, and months (and I mean months) of searching, applying, praying, and more searching, and more praying, and more applying, I have finally accepted a job! And not just any job, but a job that I am so excited about. It's been a frustrating few months of searching, getting rejected, and rejecting "good jobs," because I knew that I would be a miserable for 40-50 hours each week. (I wish I could explain the rollercoaster its been).

At last though, God has opened a wonderful opportunity. I will be working for an organization called Somebody Cares America, a network of relief/compassion organizations in the U.S. Their mission is "To let people know that Somebody Cares. Because Jesus cares, we, the church, care. As a result, through grass-roots efforts, communities are transformed and the church is uniting. This is unity with a purpose in action." I will be working with them on their marketing initiatives, fundraising/donor relations, media/communications, and many other operational things. For example, one of my first projects will be to help them finalize a diaster relief manuel to be used to train churches (and maybe other ministries and organizations??) on disaster relief prepardness, much of it based on lessons learned from Katrina and Rita. In addition, I will also be getting involved with the programs and initatives of the Somebody Cares Houston chapter and their parent organization Turning Point Ministries. There is probably a lot more I'll be involved in that I don't know about yet, so stay tuned.

Since I was about 17 years old, God had put a great desire in my heart to work for a international relief/compassion organization. It's funny how even though I toyed a lot with other career options (ones that would make more money, required less risk, made my parents super proud of me etc, etc), that desire never left me. It haunted me greatly. Graciously, God has brought me back full circle and has given me the opportunity to do something I love, something that He has put in my heart to love. I'm grateful and excited.

I also want to encourage you to not ignore those desires God has placed in your heart. Living for ourselves is far too small a goal in life. Sacrifice and risk might be involved, but if God has called you to do something, He has everything in the world at His disposal to help you achieve it. And I'm not necessarily talking about ministry. If God has placed a great desire in you to be a great athlete, musician, artist, teacher, accountant, doctor, whatever, then be the best at it for His glory (not your own), and make sure the world knows that you are the best at it for His glory.

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses [for many of us this could be jobs, degrees, money, titles, etc, etc] , but we trust in the name of the LORD our God." (Psalm 20:7)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Happy Birthday Alan!!

My little bro is 14...aaahh! Mmmhh...I remember 14. Don't think I'de ever want to go back there, but I think it beats 13.

Anyhow, Happy Birthday Alan!! I know you'll enjoy 14 with you're text messaging, play stationing ways...(Kids these day) You are incredibly special to me and our entire family. We love you more than you'll ever know.

The little guy is on his way to the airport right now. He's going to Tampa, FL to play in a big wig soccer tournament. His soccer team, the Houston Pumas, are 1 of 2 teams in their division here in Texas that qualified for this tournament in Florida...Yeah! The fam (minus me) joins him tomorrow.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Shawn's @ Sea

"The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thuders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters...and all in his temple cry 'Glory!'" (Psalm 29:3,9)

Shawn is going to be a super star drummer for Princess Cruise Lines. He's my favorite drummer in the whole world, and I am so proud of him for how hard he works to go after his dreams and God's dreams!

Shawn, I hope your time on the Dawn is amazing! I can't wait to hear all the cool stories of how God will use you there. You are an awesome warrior for Him, and you will bless so many there!

Friday, May 18, 2007

I'm officially a blogger and ...a college graduate

Yup. I'm hip....I have a blog. Welcome to it!

I've just ended one of the greatest chapters of my life, College. I was blessed to stay for 5 years and leave with 2 degrees...What a deal!

More importantly though, I made many wonderful friends who I will miss, and was part of an amazing church. There I was taught what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Thank you Living Hope!

I hope this blog will serve as a fun way to stay in touch with old and new friends. I call it "Fullness of Joy" because the bible promises that at God's side their is true, full, and everlasting Joy. I want that more than anything!

Enjoy the grad pics...

La Familia

My grandparents, visiting from Zacatecas, Mexico

My friends entertaining themselves at graduation

2 of my dearest friends, Carol and Lydia.

My amazing boyfriend Shawn, straight from Calgary, Alberta