A professor once told me "You don't really know someone until you know what makes them truly happy and you know what breaks their heart."In 2012 I was filming a short documentary in Uganda about a wonderful pastor and his wife who adopted 60 children.One of the young girls I interviewed was Florence. Bright, personable, and a natural leader, I knew that singing was her true joy-- so I knew the happiness part.But during the filming the question arose, “Do you have any brothers and sisters?” The answer, predicated by an unnerving eight seconds of stunning silence, revealed what "broke her heart."Lips quivering, tears forming, she answered "yes.. two…they died. I was three, they were older.” And the tears came freely.
Witnessing the return of this tragic memory and Florence’s heartbreaking reaction to it completely opened my heart to her. I now felt I knew her, understood her, cared about her in a personal intimate way.It was like a gift, one that I would always honor.
The shortest verse in the Bible is John11,verse 35. two words: “Jesus wept “
He cried when He witnessed the broken hearts of his dear friends whose brother had died. His heart went out to them and it brought Him to tears.The remarkable truth is He cries for our broken hearts too. He longs for intimacy with us. So tell Him your sorrows. Tell Him your joys. Open the dialogue. He wants to know you. Nobody will ever care for you more.
To see more of Florence and the 10 minute documentary go to www.passionvoice.org.You can share your own love story there under story submissions.It could touch thousands of people. God bless!
Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? Or someone you thought was a friend?Several weeks ago we posted a story called Life or Death.(Now removed) It contained a plea to help a woman survive a desperate medical situation. Her friends created a donation site, we shared it, and many people responded. They opened their hearts and their wallets and quickly raised $18,000 to help her pay medical bills and get urgently needed treatment.
Today, that woman is in jail accused of fraud. She was never ill. She made up an elaborate hoax, took advantage of her friends and took their money for personal use.We are all in shock and brokenhearted at such a betrayal. It's very hard to find forgiveness for this lady. We trusted her. We gave her love. She threw it all away.
It's hard to make this into a love story but I'm going to try.I am blessed by the dozens of people who barely knew her yet reached out to her in compassion and love.I am blessed by their messages to her, by the time they took to pray for her and share her needs with friends.I am deeply moved when strangers do that for strangers. I never regret being compassionate.I still believe in man's capacity for goodness even in the face of ugly betrayal.Most of all, I believe in the heart of my God who teaches us to love and forgive as He forgives us, loves, relentlessly – every time we choose a path away from Him."I will never leave you nor forsake you "Jesus said.No matter what.Our betrayer is God's child too. She may reject Him but He will never reject her. That's how big He is--for all of us. No matter what.
If you donated to the Neesh Miracle Fund and wish to seek restitution you can go to these links.https://docs.google.com/…/1e9km6-oeavpbUCXaeCCuHM…/viewform…
And if you have a “Love No matter What” story to share do it here.www.Passionvoice.org Love wins.
News. Once again the lead story was about the destruction of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. I was cozy and warm drinking hot chocolate while viewing the damage in that area. At least 100,000 structures had been flooded by tens of billions of gallons of water. So many residents either lost their home completely, or their home was left uninhabitable. This tragedy happened in August 2005, yet so many were still waiting for government or charitable assistance.
I sat there thinking that I'd love to help, but being only one person, what could I do? That very night my college student niece Carey called. "Hi Aunt Diane. I'm going to New Orleans to join up with a church based charity group called Rebuilding Together. They are in need of volunteers to help repair Katrina struck homes so families can move back in. Do you want to go?" "Of course I replied, "count me in."
With my brother-in-law recruiting friends and making flight plans, Carey was making arrangements with Rebuilding Together. Within three weeks we were on our way. Since we were a group of 13 we called ourselves "The Bakers Dozen".
A driver in a small bus picked us up after breakfast each morning to take us to the site. On day one he first took us to see the Ninth Ward where the wall to the river collapsed and the homes near by were hit hardest by Katrina. It was overwhelming to see this in person. One home had walls that were nearly horizontal, and the roof was gone. When approaching it we saw a bathroom where a toilet had pulled out of the floor and landed against an opposite wall. Sadly a baby's crib was smashed in pieces with a small toy inside. There was a piece of property across the street where the house was just 'gone'. All that remained of it was some cement steps that now lead to nowhere.
After that viewing we were taken to our project site on Cavalier Street. It was a small 2 bedroom, one bath home in a modest neighborhood. The owner, an elderly man named Jack, lived there with his son, Franklin. Jack was home alone when Katrina hit. He managed to get to the attic as Katrina filled his home below with 4 feet of water. He had no food or drinking water, but he had hope and that helped him to not give up. It was two days later when Franklin was able to get to his dad. He hitched a ride with a man in a small boat. This man was going out on his own knowing there were stranded people who needed rescuing. Jack and his son were taken to a bridge where they were to wait , along with others on the bridge, for responders to take them to shelter. They waited all night before that happened. But, as Franklin said, "At least it didn't rain."
Rebuilding Together parked a supply truck in front of the house. It contained an electric saw and an electric sander. Most importantly, it had a generator because there was no electricity in the house due to the flood. This also meant we had a lot of work to do before the sun went down and we'd lose our light. We were told to lock everything up at night as things could be 'missing' the next morning. We felt no animosity toward anyone who would take any thing, as it was hard times and many people were desperate. In addition the toilet didn't work but Rebuilding Together supplied an "outhouse". Now that was an experience I don't need to remember.
Many building supplies shops and other stores were kind enough to donate supplies that we truly needed. We had no choice of what they sent, but appreciated everything. For example every wall needed painting....we received only white paint. The bathroom needed all new tile for the floor and walls.....we received only white tile. The kitchen needed new cupboards and counter tile...yes it was all white. We quickly learned that we were not designers, we were, at best, amateur sub contractors. White is a beautiful color in deed, thank you.
There was much to do at our project. A couple people in the group had some "handy man" experience. The rest of us were novices, but we took hints from them and ' whistled while we worked.' No one had a set job. I believe we each worked some on every project. During our 7 days on the project we installed new insulation in the attic. We sanded all the floors, we painted every wall. We repaired and painted the overhang awnings on the outside of each window. We replaced a couple windows. We hung a couple new interior doors and put in the new door handles. We measured, cut and hung crown and base molding. And we installed new tile in the bathroom. At the end of the day our old clothes that we brought from home for this project were splashed with paint and sometimes, our hair as well. The ladies didn't bother with makeup and the men did see reason to shave. This was not a beauty contest...although the house was looking prettier every day.
The Mardi Gras was happening at the time of our trip. After long days at the house we would clean up then go out and spend some time and money on the local Bourbon Street businesses. It was truly fun and we met so many wonderful people. Many people asked why we were there (business or vacation?) when we told them some would actually hug us. It was really touching. In the morning no one was ever late for the ride back to Cavalier Street.
As we progressed toward the end of the week our driver took us first to a church in the Ninth Ward. The children in their starched school uniforms sang in a choir grouping for us. They looked like their lives were perfectly normal. After the mass we were told that every one of them had lost their home. And yet they sang for us with big smiles on their sweet faces.
Back at the house things were really coming together. The new appliances were delivered and put in place in the kitchen awaiting the electricity to be turned back on. The cupboards also arrived and once hung everyone went into the kitchen to marvel at them. "Oh my God, it really is a kitchen now." Then the bathroom was done, "Wow, that is really nice." Most of us climbed up a ladder to see how great the attic looked with new insulation. It became 'our' house the house we were gifting to Jack and Franklin...and we were so excited to get them back into it.
On our last work day we did a special project on our own. It seemed Jack and Franklin had a little barber shop in the front room. During our time there we all often walked around a sad looking barber chair. It was hit pretty badly by the hurricane. We decided to clean it up and were surprised how handsome it looked with a little T,L,C. Then a couple of the men decided to freshen up the red stripes on the front awning of the house. We think they represented the barber pole stripes. I think one of the group must have bought the paint, as all we had was.....remember...white
Franklin came by every day or so to see how we were doing. He said didn't expect his dad to be moving back in with him. He was in a care home, doing very well but needed more care than Franklin could give him. Franklin was thrilled with the house and when he told Jack how great it was looking Jack asked, "What about The Shop'? Franklin told him that he would have it back and running in a few days. Jack smiled and seemed very pleased and satisfied.
The day came when it was all over. We each knew when we hugged each other goodbye at the airport that this was an experience that we would share always. An experience where we gave so much, but received so much more in return. We took that home with us along with a little bit of New Orleans
Oh yes, one more thing. Most of the Bakers Dozen (including me) went to New Iberia, Louisiana (near Baton Rouge) in March 2008 to do this one more time. Katrina was now 3 years old and yet people were still waiting to get back in their homes and to have their lives returned to normal. So we did what we could and loved every minute of it. I guess you really can't get enough of realizing that one person can make a difference.
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Did you know that the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz was once a real man?
In the original book by L. Frank Braun the story goes that he was a woodsman that fell madly in love with a beautiful maiden. The Wicked Witch hated his love and cast a spell on him causing him to repeatedly incur injuries to his various limbs. A kind tinsmith replaced his limbs one at a time with limbs of tin.
However the Wicked Witch finally caused his ax to slip and split his torso in half, which was also replaced with tin but alas, he no longer had a heart.When Dorothy and the Scarecrow rescued him after being rusted shut in the rain, he remarked, "It was a terrible thing to undergo, but during the year I stood rusted I had time to think that the greatest loss I had ever known was the loss of my heart. While I was in love I was the happiest man on earth, but no one can love who has not a heart.”
John Eldridge in his book “Waking the Dead” says "In our world there is a war going on and the battleground is your heart.The Wicked Witch brought the disaster upon the Tin Man. This story reminds us that the enemy knows how vital the heart is and all his forces are fired upon its destruction. For when he disables your heart then he has effectively foiled the plan of God which was to create a world where love reigns.”
Jesus said "the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, I have come that they may have life and have it to the full "John 10:10Falling in love with Jesus is a sure way to grow a strong heart. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Jesus called this the greatest of all the commandments.
To love him we must seek Him – spend time with Him – read His word and make knowing Him a true priority. We need to make Him our greatest treasure, examining how the enemy has tricked us into putting so many other things before Him.
"Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34Restore our hearts Lord. Show us how magnificent they were meant to be.
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Wake up! Wake up! Why do you sleep so late?
My first thoughts were "Are you kidding me? Who is this arrogant kid? He is here as my guest!"Gilbert arrived at our house the day before. My young daughters were instantly enamored by his French Canadian accent, his charm and his skateboard tricks.A friend of mine, a strong Christian, had picked him up hitchhiking in the pouring rain.He was unable to offer him shelter and asked if we could take him for a day or two.He said he was a good kid, a little rough around the edges, but worth helping out .It was a little weird, but he was so uniquely engaging that,after having dinner with him we said "Sure, spend the night."My three daughters were 4,6, and 8 and Gilbert knew how to capture their hearts. After all, he bragged about having a girlfriend in every major city in Europe, having spent the last year on a great hitchhiking adventure there.Indeed he had some very interesting stories to tell although I had to frequently remind him of my daughters’ innocent presence.He was 20 and was living a pretty wild life.After dinner I asked him to excuse us. It was my 3rd try at evening family devotions. The first two had not gone well and this one wasn"t much better. The girls kept reminding me they already knew those stories from Sunday school. Gilbert watched from a distance and was probably not very impressed but he was curious."What book you read? He asked in his slightly broken English."It"s the Bible--have you ever read it?""No. Why do you read it?""It"s God"s word. It"s how He teaches us."No response."Hey Gilbert, It"s late. We're going to bed. I will leave it here if you want to read it." Start here. It"s called the New Testament.That was last night--now it"s morning and Gilbert is pacing back and forth- up and down the hall anxiously trying to wake me up.Finally,I"m up."Gilbert , what"s the matter?THAT BOOK!-- I READ IT! I READ ALL OF THE NEW TESTAMENT!I BELIEVE EVERY WORD !
Never in my life have I witnessed such an overnight transformation!God grabbed hold of Gilbert that night and never let him go.God was waiting for Gilbert and that night and Gilbert opened the door and let Him in. .
Gilbert ended up staying with us for the next several weeks and was able to teach my daughters about Jesus’ healing love far better than I was.He was a living example and they liked that.
Late one evening he asked to talk to me alone. He was anxious,distressed. "I have something to tell you--it"s bad. A year ago,in Quebec, I was in a fist fight with a man. He fell and hit his head. I killed him.I have been running from the law ever since. Now God tells me to turn myself in. I am going back."So Gilbert, filled with a deep,deep love for Christ and His word, made a tearful good bye and returned to Canada to face justice. It was an astonishingly courageaous act for a young man transformed by grace..Weeks went by-- finally we got word.The man was only knocked out. No charges were ever filed. Gilbert was now freer than he could have ever imagined!
Fast forward 15 years,Gilbert married the niece of my friend that picked him up, became a pastor, had 5 children, and delights in sharing how "You can"t run away from God, no matter how hard you try. His grace follows you everywhere !""THAT BOOK" THAT BOOK! I BELIEVE EVERY WORD OF IT!"He still does.We can too.
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