Standing On Holy Ground – Guest Post by Kristin Bridgman for TOYS

Kristin Bridgman’s life has been an anchor I can hold onto. She was minding her own business when God dropped a ministry on her lap, much like God has done with me. Reading her about her adventures always makes me feel stronger and more capable in Him. In fact, I’ve featured her over at my other blog What In The World R U Doing 4 Christ’s Sake. Her blog, Ponderings is one of my must reads, and this particular piece is flavored with such beauty and grace it takes my breath away.

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“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Fredrick Buchner

I would have never thought it four years ago. . .before the birth of the Blanket Ministry. But now I look out over the bridge,

especially underneath the bridge, where dirty mattresses lay,

crushed cans, cigarette butts laying on the four foot slab of concrete, the only place to sit and lay. . .the graffiti on the walls, faded colors from the years. . .yes, even here. . .this is holy ground.

God goes with me and others as we visit with the homeless. We have brought food, coffee pots, we have decorated Christmas trees for them; all of this, sharing the love of Christ; something new for them. They have come from chaotic lives that have no hint of real love, real joy, real grace. I always pray we bring a little of that to them. I believe God meets us there because someone always has a tear in their eye as we pray, as we leave. Hugs are shared. The love of God is shared. This is where I met Dave, Gordon, Larry, Daryl, and Melanie,

the woman who had all her fingers broken by her dad years ago.

“You shouldn’t judge a book by the cover unless you understand the story.”
Anonymous

I met Tony as he came into town.

He ended up at the bridge. Last Fall when I met him, he was scared and nervous from being homeless. . .this was his first time. We talked for two hours. I shared about the love of Christ. He knew it once, long ago but wasn’t sure about “all of that” anymore. We shared time together and he let me pray for him. Nine months later, his eyes were opened all the way and he rediscovered Jesus.

He rededicated his life and is now going to church on a regular basis with the young college guys who had been doing weekly bible studies with him these past few months. Holy ground amongst the trees, river, and bridge.

They showed me that no matter how deep the hole gets, God gives them what they need to make it day to day. They have shown me that even though the world sees dirty clothes, grubby faces, dirty hands, that they have strength, they have guts, they have humor that has not died with the circumstances. The ones so many call bums, these precious ones became my friends. This place brought people from two different worlds together to share with one another. Yes, this place is where I find I am standing on Holy Ground.

The downtown park, on the square as it’s called, is another holy ground. I have sat many times on these black, iron park benches visiting with the homeless;

the drug addicts, the alcoholics, the abused, the lost. All I do for the most part is lend them a listening ear. I share God’s love and offer a few of His truth’s and promises. I put my arm around them when they cry, I hug and I pray; such simple acts, such easy acts. They wouldn’t have been for me 4 years ago. But three years ago, the Lord led me to start a Blanket Ministry for the homeless, a comfort zone I could not believe He was asking to step out of. But I shouldn’t have been surprised, He’s been doing this to me for the last 15 years. Even though I go shaking like a leaf, I’ve learned to go. I am blessed every time.

On one of these benches I had the privilege of praying a man into the kingdom of God. He became my brother in Christ.

He still struggles, but He knows who he can turn to now. He prays with me every time we are together and he cries. Why? Because I think for the first time, he feels the holy ground beneath his feet.

This is also where I met Richard, the young man from Boston.

He had been abandoned.
He showed me the stories behind his tattoos and I listened. I shared about Jesus. He listened. He told me he would never forget me and what we talked about. Yes, holy ground out there among the businesses and dog walkers.

I’ve learned that if Christ Jesus is in us, then any ground we are standing on is Holy Ground, because He is always there. I pray that I honor Him with the ground I stand on, and in those times when I let Him down, I know I’m forgiven because I accepted the gift he offered from another holy ground, a holy hill, the place of His cross.

Did you know there are living graveyards and these are holy grounds?

“All of us are people walking through a living graveyard. Everywhere we go, among everyone we meet every day, there are the walking dead. There are people so radically impacted by death in one way or another that they are candidates not only for healing but also for resurrection; death of relationships, death of dreams, death of business, death of loved ones. And you and I have been prepared to bring a living answer.”
Jack Hayford

Yes, where there is God, there is holy ground. . . even underneath a bridge, a park, and in the living graveyards.

Won’t you join me on Fridays for a new series and linkup called, “Take Off Your Shoes, You’re On Holy Ground!” or TOYS? Each week a post will be shared about the significance of a place and you will be able to share as well!! Just 1) Write a post about how a place has ministered to you. 2) Add your post to the linkup. 3) Add the button to your post. 4)Visit and encourage your neighbors!

JourneyTowardsEpiphany

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The Tick Tock of My Heart – Guest Post By Sandra Heska King for TOYS

Sandra’s Blog was one of the first ones I stumbled upon. She hopes to be a Deep See Diver, and I know that she has inspired me to dive deeper. Her words are like honey, and she always finds practical lessons in hidden places. This particular post particularly resonated with my heart. I love history, and this piece drips with it. If you are familiar with Sandra’s writing you know you’re in for a treat, if you’re not prepare to be dazzled.


Egg salad sandwiches. I’m pretty sure that’s what she served. And sweet gherkins in a glass pickle dish. We probably drank iced tea while seated knee-to-knee at the formica table right here, our backs to the window.

And pie. I suspect we had pie. Or heaping bowls of ice cream.

It was the first time he’d brought me to meet his parents—this couple with a Tow-Low in the drive, a Mercedes in the garage, and a John Deere in the barn.

She showed me her “museum” downstairs—farm implements and pictures and memorabilia and old calendars attached to the barnwood-covered wall.

The whole house ticked and tocked from an array of antique clocks that chimed every fifteen minutes upstairs and down.

In the evening we traveled back to the 1700s as we sat cross-legged on the living room floor. We turned pages of albums and scrapbooks and listened to stories of the past.

“Be careful of the bull,” she warned before we went up to the barn. So when pasture-grazing Bozo took a step towards us, I executed a speedy, though not-so-graceful, dive-and-roll under the electric fence. Dennis, who fed and bedded the resident bull (always named Bozo) when he lived at home, folded in laughter.

We were married six months later. That was more than forty years ago. I grew to love this house and its stories. And there seemed to be a place for everything with everything in its place. But she could hardly wait to move. I was broken-hearted when they finally sold it and built a house next to the creek on the south farm. She only got to live there for a year before she died.

I wonder what she’d think if she knew how God orchestrated a job opening for my husband. How our Georgia house sold on a whim. How we were able to buy the house back and build our own memories over the last twenty-three years.

How we sleep in their bedroom and how those sliding closet doors still stick. How my son grew up in Dennis’ childhood room, the room that’s become my writing place. How the cuckoo clock, though silent now, sits in the exact same spot. How I serve sweet gherkins in a glass dish.

Bozo is gone, and the barn collapsed, but the corn is almost waist high. I try to imagine my husband perched on the gray Ford tractor as he pulled the cultipacker through the field. He was only six, and his feet didn’t even reach the pedals.

I walk the perimeter of the yard and wonder about the old log cabin that used to sit on the site of the Great Lilac Massacre. I see rocks set deep against the fence in places where Elsie Dog used to dig and where she treed a woodchuck, where Rose Dog chased two balls and then flop down to rest.

“Hi! Welcome to the rabbit barn.” I refuse to erase my daughter’s pink-chalked words scribbled on black fiberboard. We once had thirty bunnies housed in cages in the little shed attached to the garage. There’s where the goat pen was, just outside that shed. We had a couple of LaManchas. I often had to fuss at Seeley who’d stand with her front feet tapping on the window of the back kitchen door.

There’s another shed on the east side where my father-in-law raised peafowl. We had chickens out there for a couple years. I miss them. As still-under-the-light-but-moved-out babies, they even returned to spend a night in our bathtub during a power outage.

Our pool is gone. I hear echoes of laughter and the splashing and remember quiet nights when I floated alone and gazed at the stars. Two giant pines crumpled it during the storm that took the barn. I smile big at the memory of my son as he demonstrated how to show a goat. Seeley bolted and ran around the yard with him backwards on her back until she finally skidded under the pool deck, and Jeremy tumbled to the ground.

When we first moved in, I announced they could bury me under the porch. I wasn’t moving again.

Ever.

Yet there are days I stomp frustrated feet at keeping up with a continuing-to-age-150-year-old farmhouse. Then I remember how we stepped into a whim and how fast God took over and carried us home.

This is where I’m supposed to be, but I know the day will come when I can no longer navigate the stairs. When the house becomes too big to care for. And mostly I dread it. Because the walls seep sacred, and the ground hums holy and the land pulsates with history.

And if I close my eyes, I can still hear time tick.

Won’t you join me on Fridays for a new series and linkup called, “Take Off Your Shoes, You’re On Holy Ground!” or TOYS? Each week a post will be shared about the significance of a place and you will be able to share as well!! Just 1) Write a post about how a place has ministered to you. 2) Add your post to the linkup. 3) Add the button to your post. 4)Visit and encourage your neighbors!

JourneyTowardsEpiphany

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When Sacred Is A Walk Down The Hall – TOYS Guest Post by Shelly Miller


Shelly is one of my dearest friends. She is on the top of my list of bloggers I long to meet in person. She is gracious and kind, and her words drip with wisdom. The lessons that she finds in the common are uncommon, and the beauty she finds in the ordinary is extraordinary. If you aren’t a regular reader of her amazing blog Redemption’s Beauty, you should be. I savor her posts like Cadbury’s chocolate! So, sit back and relax and read her stuff, I think you’ll begin to understand why I love her so much!

A few weeks ago, I touched the hallowed walls of destiny in England. Leaned my head back to gaze upon the intricacy of church ceilings built one thousand years ago by the hands of those budded from my ancestral tree. I wiped my palms across the back of sturdy wooden pews, combining my DNA with those of centuries past.

Meandering around headstones, I read of a life’s imprint to the world once etched deep and now fading. And with every step around mossy pediments, I unlace my soul, allow room for history to reveal more of who I am.
While I don’t have the luxury of daily strolls of awe under vaulted ceilings of incense ribbons and angels waving, I experience the sacred of place right in the abbey of my own home.

When I began this intentional writing journey less than one year ago, I created my own room reserved for reverence. Not with clustered columns and arched windows but a quiet space to welcome His voice tucked away from stacks of mail and sinks of sudsy dishes.

On special occasions, this space is my guest bedroom, a place where friends and family spread out for coastal visits. During ordinary time, it’s my sanctuary. A space consecrated to God, a spiritual place.

My pew is a writing chair from Pier One, my altar, a re-painted childhood desk. The window that casts the first ray of sunshine’s welcome isn’t made of stained glass but it does reveal a secret garden outside my cathedral walls.
This is the place where I meet with my Savior, my friend, my Father, in the early morning hours of silence. The space where He guides thoughts that spill onto keyboard, into arrangements of words that tell His story.

In England, I marveled upon portraiture that resembles the profile of my children, admired the spoons from which ancient fingers curled in the breaking of bread. Today I look upon the words of friends and colleagues hanging memory board, eat from the Bread of Life in stacks of inspired writing, admire His creation cut in a vase beholding beauty.
Because surrounding ourselves with what tells the story of who we are today, sheds light on God’s providence in the future.

Susannah Wesley, the mother of nineteen children, pulled an apron over her head in the kitchen for moments of sacred space. Jesus slipped away to the side of a mountain in a secluded spot; in a rowboat to the middle of the sea when life pressed hard. (Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16)

And when my heart hangs dripping from the clothesline of life, I look out my abbey window, watch the birds eating riches from the feeder, and remember who much He loves me, who I am. And I am thankful.
Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? ~Matthew 6:26

Do you have a sacred space where you meet with Jesus?

Won’t you join me on Fridays for a new series and linkup called, “Take Off Your Shoes, You’re On Holy Ground!” or TOYS? Each week a post will be shared about the significance of a place and you will be able to share as well!! Just 1) Write a post about how a place has ministered to you. 2) Add your post to the linkup. 3) Add the button to your post. 4)Visit and encourage your neighbors!

JourneyTowardsEpiphany

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