Exchanging Our Plans for God’s

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For months the Special Events and Fundraising Team and I had carefully planned every detail of the Taste of Love INC fundraiser. There would be a pie tasting, a pie auction complete with pastries baked by local pastors, a silent auction, a classic car show and outdoor games. Tents were borrowed, a restaurant sized mobile refrigerator ordered; the only thing we hadn’t planned on was three inches of rain.

Looking out my office window that morning, my eyes threatened to pool over like the parking lot down below. Basements had flooded. Streets were impassable. It looked like our outdoor event was a washout. The board president and I had a decision to make, should we cancel? Thirteen churches had joined efforts to bake pies, collect silent auction items and plan this event. Our annual budget depended on its success.

Luckily, the church who had originally offered their parking lot, offered their building (despite the fact that their basement was flooding). A new plan was formulating. Because when the enemy comes in like a flood, God raises a standard. An army of volunteers appeared and began moving tables, setting up chairs and working together. Someone got word that the nearby “Taste of Chicago” event had been cancelled that day, but the show would go on in suburban Tinley Park!

A few minutes before the event officially started, the troops gathered to thank God and pray. Somehow we did it! We set up inside for an event intended for outdoors, and in a fraction of the time we had originally planned. But would anyone come? Sewers were overflowing and backyards had become lakes.

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Visitors began to trickle into the church until the entire Fellowship Hall was filled with smiling faces. Guests were tasting pies and exchanging narratives about sub pumps and downed power lines. Over the past six months there had been struggles. Disagreements and disappointments had seeped in here and there. Yet on this day, the Body of Christ worked together, looking past denominational differences and beyond differences of opinion. In fact, at our followup meeting we all agreed that God had a greater plan. His had been far more successful than anything we could have thrown together.

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Looking back, I realize that the whole experience captures the core of what Love In The Name of Christ is all about. As a nonprofit organization Love INC strives to mobilize the local church in order to transform lives and communities in the Name of Christ. We empower our volunteers who are predominately from our participating churches with opportunities to reach out to those who are hurting in our community. In order to accomplish this, we listen to the agencies that we partner with to determine what needs are not being sufficiently met. After we decipher these “gaps” in service, we rally our churches by collecting product and training volunteers to fill in those voids. Thus far, our affiliate has started four gap ministries: an adult coat closet, a personal care pantry, a bunk bed and bedding ministry and finally a fresh start kit for those in need of household items.

Just like our fundraising event, there are daily struggles. Working interdenominationally can be a challenge at times. We often misunderstand and miscommunicate with one another. Many times the enemy tries to divide and conquer us. He knows that a house divided against itself can not stand. However, when we are united under the common cause of showing Christ’s love in practical ways the Body of Christ is a force to be reckoned with. This work of administering the Father’s love is common to every Christian and in the end is the one thing that matters more than anything. What a privilege it is to be entrusted with the job of provoking others to love and good works in this way.

Kim Sullivan is the executive director of Love INC of Tinley Park, IL, a non-profit service organization that brings together local churches, volunteers, and community agencies to help people in need. Kim began this new career in 2012 after “retiring” from home educating her three children. Kim’s passion for writing began as a child with her love of reading, and her first manuscript was a children’s picture book. She blogs at Journey to Epiphany. Kim has been married to Steve, her best friend and biggest supporter, since 2000 and together they have reared a happy blended household of five. As a Christian, Kim believes that her relationship with Christ is the most important thing in her life. He is all that matters and she is very grateful to be His girl. Kim loves finding the extraordinary in the ordinary and finding lessons in unexpected places.

Sharing over at the High Calling.

When the Enemy Comes In Like A Flood

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When the enemy comes in like a flood….

And it’s during your non profit organization’s biggest annual fundraiser

Which is planned for outdoors

And you have no plan “b”.

When a deluge of doubt drowns all that was sprouting green

And hope is as damp as the basement floor

That threatens to pool over like the tears in your eyes.

When carefully laid plans seem to lay in waste

And a crew of almost 100 looks to you to make a decision

Whether to admit defeat or somehow trudge on.

When even after clouds empty the air is thick with Mosquitos and humidity

And parking lots are lakes

And dreams threaten to turn to nightmares.

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God raises a standard.

And it almost always includes His army

Of mighty workers and trusters

Who look in the face of doubters and dare to defy disaster.

God raises a standard of men and women

Who work together to see how we can make it happen.

Even in the midst of near fundraising tragedy.

God raises a standard

Better than our plan “a”

With fellowship and smiles and never one cross word.

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God raises a standard

A plan better than ours

And once again I remember…

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Still counting

Three gifts water…

110. Morning downpour places screen with Monet masterpiece.

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111. Deluge turns into delight

112. Running water in my home.

Three gifts curled.

113. Dog sleeping

114. Me curled up on office floor napping.. :)

115. Eyelashes

Gifts in life, growth and decline

116. Baby boom at church

117. Taste of Love INC money raised!

118. Decline of 7 day work weeks now that the Taste is over.

Three gifts yellow

119. Early morning sun through trees.

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120. Lone Black-eyed Susan in a sea of green.

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121. Church family donned in Taste of

Love INC yellow. image

122. Firemen.

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123. God’s protection.

124. My neighbor’s safety.

Three gifts hanging down.

125. vbs props

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126. Flower baskets – gifts from God.

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127. Neighbor’s grape fines dripping sweetness.

Thre gifts learned

128. image

129. image

130. image

Three gifts musical.

131. Birdsong

132. #Connect14 worship

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133. Her. She sings in her sleep. image

Three gifts baked.

134. Sourdough bread

135. Double chocolate cupcakes

136. Lasagna

Gifts in light, darkness and shadows.

137. Grandma’s house. image

138. Sunrise shadows.

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139. Dark and cool forests.

…sharing a playdate with Laura:
and at a new place for writers Unforced Rhythms of Grace.

and with beautiful Jennifer Dukes Lee…
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All for the Joy

kd sullivan:

Friends…just this today…

Originally posted on Journey Towards Epiphany:

This is a repost…but I don’t think I could write a better description of my life today.

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How to be deeply pressed and yet not be depressed.
How to remain under stress and not crack for the pressure cooker that transforms uncooked hard flesh to tender heart.
How to allow the bitter to turn sweet. How?

How to face giants without human companionship.
How to distinguish small still voices swallowed in roaring, raging winds.
How to say yes when it would be so much easier to say no. How?

Jesus, our mentor, has gone before us in every area, this one incuded. Pressed on every side, and pressured by the enemy to turn back from His assignment, he stayed. He stayed unmoving even under pressure that squeezed blood from His sweat glands. He did it for the joy that was set before Him.

And maybe this is how. Maybe we…

View original 368 more words

Jesus: The True Origin of Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness

Framed America

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  These are the principles our nation is founded upon. Our forefathers risked everything to make them our everyday experience.  With Jesus as their example, they laid their lives down for the generations of Americans to come.  They made Scripture come to life in a government.

John Quincy Adams said,

In the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior. The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.

 This birthday of a nation is linked to the birthday of a Savior.  It is Jesus the Cornerstone of our faith who laid the foundation for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

 LIFE. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines this word life as real and genuine, vita quae sola vita nominanda (Cicero, de sen. 21, 77), ‘a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions (among them a more perfect body), and to last forever'”

John 14:6 tells us, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the LIFE. No one comes to the Father except by me.'”(NIV)

John 10:10 states, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you may have LIFE, and that LIFE more abundant.”

Finally, II Peter 1:3 reminds us that, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto LIFE and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”

It can be surmised from these Scriptures that true and abundant life is found in relationship with Jesus and in knowing Him.

Deut. 30:19 charges, “Today I have given you the choice between LIFE and death, between blessings and curses.  Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make.  Oh, that you would choose LIFE, so that you and your descendants might John 8:31-32 says that it is this truth that will set you free.

Jesus is the only giver of life, and His life brings us into fullness of freedom.  In order to experience freedom we must acknowledge that we are in bondage.

According to Romans 6:18 we have been freed from sin.

HELPS word studies translates this freedom this way.  Cognate: 1659 eleutheróō – properly, set free, release from bondage; (figuratively) to remove the restrictions of sin (darkness) because delivered by God into true spiritual liberty (growth). See 1658 (eleutheros).

Friends, when we are free from sin nothing and no one can enslave us.

 God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.

 -    Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson Memorial

Freedom from sin is God’s greatest gift to us because it gains us the right to be in His presence without guilt and shame.

We are told to guard this freedom. Gal 5:1, It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us FREE.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS:  According to our Independence Declaration, we do not have a right to happiness, but the right to pursue happiness.

The word blessed in the Old Testament literally means, “happy is the one who walks the straight path” .

“The rights essential to happiness. . . . We claim them from a higher source — from the King of kings and Lord of all the earth.

 - John Dickinson

 The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.

 - John Jay

We are happiest when we pursue the straight path of God’s Words.

A Hebrew scholar recently translated Psalm 1:1 as, Happy [a] are those [b] who are boldly able to enter into God’s presence, who choose not to model their lives after those who are not walking on the right path! [c]  They do not form close friendships with those who habitually sin, nor do they purposely spend their free time in the homes of those who make fun of God’s laws.

How fortunate are we to live in a country whose foundation was built upon the right to follow this path of happiness.  By allowing us religious freedom, every man, woman and child has the ability to choose to model their lives after those who walk on right paths; paths of righteousness that lead to true happiness both in this life and the next.

Still counting…

Three gifts found around the table.
70. Natural sweetness. image
71. Trash to treasure
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72. Empty seats of the empty nest means wings are strong enough to fly away and come back home again.

Gifts found in water, words and white.

73. The water that didn’t come into our basement.
74. You are resplendent with light… Poetry in the Bible
75. Misty mornings veiled in white.image

Three gifts found in those older than you…

75. Morning walk holding hands. image
76. My dog is old.image
77. Volunteers still willing to help.

Three gifts found in fabric.

76. Lacy beauty from creative friend.image
77. Embroidered napkins wiping dirty mouths.image
78. Jesus, the red thread in my tapestry of life.

Three things framed….

79. American laundry framed in forgotten treasure Framed America
80. God’s Word, my frame of reference..image
81. My words, the frame of my future.image

Three gifts found in food

82. Cherries…
83. Breyer’s ice cream treat from John
84. I know this is nasty, but have you ever tried those Keebler Coconut Dream Cookies? Mmm….good…

Three things found in one gift small, one gift big, and one gift just right…

85. Glory in the morning image
86. Friend coming through big time…again!
87. Worship encounter just right on time!image

…sharing a playdate with Laura:
and at a new place for writers Unforced Rhythms of Grace.

and with beautiful Jennifer Dukes Lee…
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And with my dearest Emily…

A Walk of Trust: Waiting For Your Children To Own Their Faith

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As a mother, it has been my biggest concern. How do I ensure that my children have made the Christian faith their own? How can I encourage them to claim Christ as their personal savior rather than as a impersonal family tradition? Have I prayed enough? Instructed enough? Been a good enough example? Dear friends, I am over at Family Fire today, will you join me? Read the rest here

When God Answers Your Unspoken Requests

Life has thrown an unusual amount of curveballs to me, yet I never seem to get an eye for them until they pop in the catcher’s mitt. Because of a series of curveballs, I wasn’t able to purchase my Mother’s Day porch flowers this year. The front of the house looked naked and ashamed without them. I felt like my home’s barrenness proclaimed, “There is no beauty here! Life is too hard for flowers, too uncertain for the permanence of plant life.” Every time I looked out my windows, the empty places where flowers had dwelt reminded me of lack and circumstances beyond my control.

One morning, while pulling out of my driveway, I glanced at my house with longing. “Lord,” I sighed, “I can not buy flowers, but if You could get me some, It would bring me so much joy.” I dared not speak these words out loud. That would seem too selfish. They were heart words, words I blurted out to my closest Friend and Confidant.

He knows, friends. He knows that when life seems void of beauty and your heart seems hard for lack of spirit rain that we need a little pick-me-up. He wants us to draw near; To communicate with Him about the things we would never reveal to anyone else.

I arrived at work that morning, full of lists and ideas, when one of the volunteers mentioned, “I’ve got a flat of impatients in the car. Does anyone want them?”

A smile so big it hurt spread across my face. He loves me! He hears me! He cares about my front porch being a place of abundant beauty.

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You see friends, now I look out my window and see frivolous abundance. I don’t look at the world through impoverished eyes because if He cares about my daily dose of beauty, then He cares about all of my needs.

Unspoken heart prayers are the ones I see answered most and with greatest ease. The Lover of my soul is always wooing me and calling me His beloved..and I dance; dance in His adoration of me.

Counting with Ann:

42. Gift unwanted: broken heart’s tears releasing floodgates of healing.

43. Gift unlikely: long response to letter.

Three gifts in His Word:

44. He has preordained good works for me!

45. Guidance. Luke 9-10

46. Love letters written to me…

Three gifts moving:

47. Fan cooling

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48. Trees in wave offering to their Creator

49. God moving on my life by moving the hearts of others.

Three gifts in your Dad:

50. Integrity

51. Holy

52. Just this. http://journeytoepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/in-my-fathers-house-toys-linkup/

Three gifts in your Heavenly Father:

53. His artistry

54. His love in the form of answered heart prayers.

55. His boundless wisdom.

Three gifts I became today in serving.

56. Deliverer: getting to deliver dressers to needy single mom!

57. Encourager: called a friend to encourage

58. One willing to make sacrifices: skipped lunch to accommodate friend’s and co-workers schedule

59. Getting up at 3 am to clean house

60. A gift sent: first check from Family Fire writing gig!

61. A gift beautiful: new art at Millennium Park.

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62. A gift loved: Time spent with best blogging friend, Once A Little Girl .

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Three gifts found in light:

63. His Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

64. Rare green traffic lights

65. Display of lightening.

66. (Extra!). Light dances.

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Finding beauty in three things that are difficult:

67. Being in true fellowship with others (always worth the effort)

68. Planning a major fundraiser at the same time as planning 2 new ministries and the Chicago Project.

69. Getting to spend time with the kids since I have no car….

…sharing a playdate with Laura:
and at a new place for writers Unforced Rhythms of Grace.

and with beautiful Jennifer Dukes Lee…
strokec2 }

And with my dearest Emily…

Passport of Peace

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I didn’t tell you the whole story. I wanted to understand what all of it meant first, and though I am still unsure, I think it is time to share more of the story — at least in part.

Maybe it is pride, but I hate that even for a moment it has to be about me. My life’s been poured out, a drink offering…and I am spilled out faster than I have refilled…and the cup has been found bone dry. Ann the Counter says, It’s a startling thing to witness: a breaking heart can break down a whole body.

My arms have reached toward Heaven and Father and my cry has been that of a toddler, “Up! Up!” Arms that have reached toward others and the same others over and over and over….now reach to Daddy God that I might be (en)raptured.

The other day I dreamed a dream. You may have read about it, I wrote about it here. I don’t usually remember my dreams, but occasionally I have a different kind; different than the kind that makes sense while you are sleeping, but not so much when you’re awake. You see I had a dream of fleeing to Canada, to a heart that understands pain. A heart that I only know by her words illuminated on screens of many sizes, and a little yellow book begging me to count. I know her by heart, you could say. But in my dream I couldn’t get across the Canadian border because I had no passport. And she was disappointed because she had wanted to soothe my heart with ordinary beautiful things. And then I woke up. It was then that the miracle occurred. You see, when I scribbled my heart in bleeding words that day, I hadn’t read her words on her graffiti wall. This is when I knew it was no ordinary dream, for her words that day were all about forgotten passports and grace to enter in anyway.

I felt like the double rainbow guy with , “What does it mean?”

I determined that my passport of grace was the invitation to count again. I was rusty. Out of practice. No longer could I see on my own. Hands trembling, I put on Ann’s rose colored glasses, her calendar of prompts. A pinprick of light shone bright in the dark of my storm. And now she writes these words straight to my stormy heart,

“Sometimes God will calm the storm for you, but sometimes God will calm you for the storm. Sometimes God calms the storms — and sometimes the storm stills swirl and He calms our fears.”

And then today these words, “…and in You, Lord, there is always the relief of a quiet retreat — the relief that Peace is a Person, not a place: “You’re my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your Word to renew me.”‘ Ps. 119:14 MSG

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I need not rock in Ann’s chair on her front porch, for we share the same place of retreat; His Words. Because Peace is a Person, not a place. He is my retreat, my Destination, and all I need is a passport of grace.

Still counting…

Three things full
32. My day was very full!
33. My stomach
34. My fundraiser is getting full of participants!

35. Thankful that He has made even my enemies be at peace with me.

Three things smelled
36. Fragrance after the rain
37. Peonies laden with dew
38. Stuffed peppers given as widow’s mite

39. Left overs from senior’s group
40. Wet screens

A gift unexpected, unwanted, unlikely
41. Lunch brought by client

…sharing a playdate with Laura:
and at a new place for writers Unforced Rhythms of Grace.

and with beautiful Jennifer Dukes Lee…{\rtf1\ansi\ansicpg1252
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And with my dearest Emily…

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