What's Next?...

Posting #3:  What’s next?...

Yep, that’s right, OSIF has a new “spirit child”.  Baby Y is 6 months old.  Baby Y was deemed a spirit child and came to OSIF’s attention recently through the relationship building Dave & Ellen have done with GN’s village and through Mama Laadi.  He has attributes originally leading them to believe he may have Down syndrome.  (Although, we have learned, Down syndrome in Africans is very rare.)  Baby Y is from the same village as GN.  Unfortunately, his family is under a different family unit and therefore, different elders.  The father, although educated has washed his hands of his wife and child, because she is unwilling to “throw him away”.  The father has already taken another wife from within the same family unit, and has stayed living in this family unit community.  This means, within their community, Mom is abandoned to care for Baby Y on her own, watching as her husband takes on a new wife and they live right there in her community.  We are not quite sure of the risk level, just yet.  But, preliminary assessment has left Dave and Ellen with the sense they are not in “danger”, however this will be constantly monitored. 

When Mom learned of GN’s story, it inspired hope, where hope had been lost.  Oh, and this family is Muslim.  (It is really unusual to be Muslim and follow indigenous beliefs…but, they are/have/do.)  The current status…Baby Y has seen the neurosurgeon (GN’s doctor), however unlike GN; his prognosis is not nearly as positive.  Baby Y has a genetic disorder where he only has half of a brain.  Needless to say, Mom was devastated!   When Dave & Ellen shared the news, I instantly was reminded - this young boy has a purpose.  I felt the whisper of the Lord telling me – to share words of comfort, letting her know God does carry us through.  Even in the dark times, even in the moments when we have lost hope, God has a plan and it is not always what we expect.  But, today, we stand up tall knowing the extreme loss and grief of losing our daughter Violet was not for nothing.  And, so Baby Y’s Mom has a beautiful boy to love and hold.  I don’t underestimate the trials of having to care for him through his life with this major medical issue, or the grief of losing hope in his quality of life.  However, Jesus heals, Jesus makes us all whole – even if in these bodies we can’t see or feel it. You can’t say he doesn’t have a purpose any more than we can say Violet’s short life didn’t, we know she did…and so we of course pray for healing and miracles but we also pray for God to reveal Baby Y’s purpose. 
Dave & Ellen have gone to visit mom and Baby Y since their return from the neurosurgeon.  They were overjoyed to see, despite the grief, both Mom and Baby Y were smiling and laughing.  We don’t have an idea what will come next for this young baby boy, but we are standing in agreement the Lord has a plan and we are ready to help and participate for what is to come.  A couple things to add to Baby Y’s story…he has an older brother, 10 years old; we’ll call him Brother A.  Brother A has Hepatitis B.  Dave & Ellen are working with an American doctor friend who used to be a missionary in Ghana to obtain accurate testing, to validate his condition.  Once validated, steps can be taken to start rebuilding his strength.  This young boy was #1 in his school class, and has now slipped down to #3.  He is slowly declining, with increasing weakness.  Determining the official cause and best treatment is crucial.  As Dave & Ellen continue to plow relationships with parents of these children, it is becoming clear they are a packaged deal – the family, the village.  J!!!  Besides Brother A’s medical needs, Mom needs to find a way to support her family.  Dave & Ellen are working options, as she is a skilled weaver and has capability of providing income with some initial help.    Although OSIF may not be the funding mechanism for all needs in a family and village, we certainly will be praying and seeking relationships with other organizations that can help along the way.  We are ready; we are ready to stand in the gap Lord.  We have taken on Baby Y without a committed sponsor, believing God will provide.  We just knew this baby from the same village as GN deserved the opportunity to be redeemed.  We couldn’t turn our backs on his life.  We couldn’t turn from what we have already seen.  His life has value, and he deserves to have the opportunity to live and not be labeled “spirit child” with the risk and dangers associated with those labels.
Here is where we are…
We are currently supporting two children in Aninkroma, Isaac & Ama (these two are not related, they are from separate families).  We provide their support for their education & basic needs (deodorant, toothbrushes, socks, shoes, clothes, school supplies, tuition to public school, etc.).  Their family provides shelter (home) and food. 
We have GN and Baby Y, spirit children.  We provide recurring support for GN, $100/mo to cover his diapers, special food needs as he continues to improve, as well as various other necessities.  In addition, we provide recurring medications, $60/mo for each (GN and Baby Y).  The neurosurgeon has placed Baby Y on the same medication as GN to help try and “wake” his brain.  The prayer and hope is this medication will begin to improve his condition and quality of life, more to come as he progresses. 

It is our hope to take on more children, like Brother A and others out there waiting.  The truth is there are more.  Since the progress of GN, Mama Laadi has started a list of those with likely neurological issues where the child has been deemed a spirit child or a witch.  The majority on the list suffer from seizures.    Our oldest son has seizures.  Praise God he hasn’t had one in a few years, but it is always on our minds – each time he is playing outside, sweating, and his face turns red…we worry he is overheating and he will have another seizure.  Our son’s seizures are due to his body’s inability to control/maintain temperature.  He is not evil, he is not a witch.  These children on the list who experience seizures are treated as psych patients, and given psychiatric type medications.  The community deems them as threats, evil spirit filled children or witches.  WOW!  They aren’t mentally ill or unstable.  My son is not mentally ill.  They are not evil.  They are not witches.  Oh gosh Lord!  Sigh…the burden of knowing there are more waiting.  The burden, as a mother…how can we not help them all?  But, I am reminded…the face in front of us…one at a time.  To all of you star throwers out there; we’d love to have you join us in making a difference – one by one – we can make a difference together!  Let’s continue with Baby Y…
If you are interested in joining us…please check out our website www.onestepinfaith.org OR http://www.onestepinfaith.org/make-a-difference/give.

Curious what it costs to provide medical support care?

This doesn’t include any surgeries, vitamins, possible food supplements to improve the child’s nutrition or any other unique medical needs.  For example, we are not yet certain of Brother A’s medical needs just yet.  His will be different, as they are not neurological.

Currently our website offers the opportunity to provide one time donations, with information regarding sponsorship.  The sponsorship program we have detailed is for children more like Isaac and Ama.  Kevin (Vice Chair) & I will be providing more detailed sponsorship programs opportunities in the coming weeks.  Until then, if you feel called to join us in the opportunity to help make a difference in the life of a child, in the life of these children, please visit our website and navigate to the GIVE page.  Any and all support is greatly appreciated.  So many nonprofits today tell you, no gift is too great or too small.  I’m here to tell you…every $1, $5, $10, $100 gift is a HUGE blessing!  It is absolutely true – no gift is too great or too small!  If you find yourself called to help support either of these specific boys, or desire to help begin providing support for future children to be added to our programs, please let me know!  onestepinfaith@gmail.com

Thank you!!!
One last thing…
Troy, Ellie (Troy’s mom) and I will be leaving to Ghana in a month.  We have been given land.  Yay!  Typically “give” really means…”I’ll give you land, and you give me….X”  But, that is not the heart of the man supporting us and our desire to (1) become part of the community in Aninkroma (the village where he is from) and (2) have them join us in rescuing and caring for the children we will be led to by God. We have met with friends of ours who used to live in Ghana as missionaries, looking for advice in how to dash (tip, way of showing thanks for the generosity) both the Chief of the village and the person we’ve grown in relationship with who is giving us the land.  You see in Ghana, “giving” land is really unusual, helping other tribes also unusual.  We want to honor them for helping us, joining us, including us…allowing us to be included in their community in order to make a difference in the life of children in Ghana.  Our friends recommended iPADs or iPAD minis as both men are business men.  If you know anyone who has contacts for helping us obtain these at a discount, donation, or otherwise, please let us know as soon as possible.  We are hoping to finalize procuring these soon before our departure to Ghana.  (Remember we are a 501c3 organization, these donations are tax deductible.)

Thank you again!!!

GN Update

Posting #2:  GN Update…

Okay, as I was praying about what to post, the words of redeem & redemption are what continued to come to mind.  The official definition is to make something acceptable or pleasant in spite of its negative qualities or aspects, and to energize giving new strength or vigor.  I absolutely cannot think of better way to describe the journey God has brought us on with GN.  I wanted to share an update, but if you haven’t read about how GN came into our life, please click this below link FIRST.  It is an amazing testimony.  This is more than just a story of his surviving, his healing, his family, our team, One Step In Faith, missionaries shepherding the family, Mama Laadi…his purpose stretches to individuals and families in Ghana who have already learned and been involved with his story AND to individuals and families here in the US who have learned about his story.  It stretches to those who have stopped me and thanked me for sharing the story, for those who took the opportunity to come before the Lord, purposefully on behalf of GN.  It stretches beyond, to those who actually don’t even know GN’s name or story, yet someone who did hear took the opportunity to have a positive impact in their life.  His life, I believe has touched the doctors, nurses, those in the waiting rooms, and so many more.  Word of mouth…such a powerful tool…and God is on the move!

Read through other posts to learn the progression leading to this update.

Oh, by the way, if you didn’t catch in prior postings…GN has been officially reintegrated into his village, his grandparent’s home.  Yep, you read that correctly.  He is home, and by God’s grace he is safe…he is loved…and he is growing strong every day!

Dave and Ellen Bartlett, in country missionaries on our board, took GN for his checkup with the neurosurgeon.  It’s been over a month, and GN is smiling, moving around, holding up his weight, and behaving like a typical baby.  Although he is 21-months old, he is catching up in his development.  He’s more like a 4-month old in development.  Ellen emailed us, “I wish I had taken a picture of the Dr holding him up, smiling at him and playing with him (all part of the exam but joyful nonetheless!).”  The last time I held that little boy (Feb 2013), he was limp, lightweight, and so helpless.  The recent images and video Dave & Ellen sent us have shown REDEEMPTION!  I have withheld images from the blog, in protection of GN.  But, now, we are ready to unveil GN – Before & After (Current).  

The neurosurgeon prescribed a new medication to help “wake” the brain to perform duties it has never done before.  After they returned from the appointment, Dave & Ellen had the new prescription filled, making arrangements to personally deliver it the following day.  They purposely arranged for Mama Laadi to be with them (as the official interpreter J).  Grandma came running to greet them!  They are building a relationship beyond this little boy.  They were welcoming, inviting and full of smiles to have them come again to the village.  Even Grandfather came riding his bicycle up to greet them. 

So much was learned in this visit, to just deliver medication and ensure everyone understood what GN’s progress was from the prior day’s doctor appointment.  (Although Grandma was with them at the appointment, she does not understand enough of the local language in Tamale or English.  So, it was important to bring Mama along to provide her a complete understanding of her grandson’s progress.)  During this time, it was shared the Head of the Family who held the official reintegration meeting had stayed in the home the first two nights GN and Grandma came home.  He truly is a man of his word, a man of honor and integrity.  He kept his promise to protect GN and his grandmother.  Thank you Jesus!  To our delight, Grandfather has been peaceful and welcoming of both GN and Grandma.

Now, for what truly brings joy to our hearts…a surprise testimony.  There was an elder there during this visit, one who was coming to see them for the first time.  He was very eager and very happy to see them.  Thankfully Mama Laadi was there to translate.  As she stood there, listening as he provided what is a monologue of a speech from his heart…Dave & Ellen waited in anticipation of what he could possibly be saying.  Here is the paraphrased testimony of an elder from GN’s family unit:

"I am so thankful for you people.  So very thankful.  We were planning to throw the child away.  We didn't know - we just didn't know.  We have thrown away many children.  We are so sorry.  We didn't know, we just didn't know.  Thank you so much.  We will never do it again."

Dave and Ellen shared with them, Jesus forgives them.  God was the One who wanted them to know the truth, and how absolutely thankful we are all to God that they were willing to open their eyes, see, and listen.  This is the reason they know the truth, the truth that children are not evil, the truth of the medical causes of their problems, and how these can often be helped. 

The elder was so grateful, so sincere, so genuine…I can’t wait to meet them all!!! 

Thank you all for your prayers.  Thank you for your continued encouragement as we have pressed on.  Thank you to those who have supported GN.  Thank you in advance for all those who will come alongside us in these coming days, weeks, months, and years – growing and rescuing more.  Below is AFTER, current images of GN - Redeemed!

What’s Next?  Check out the next posting…we have taken on a new baby rescue!

Giving Him all of us...

    It has been 4 weeks since I last updated the blog.  I want to apologize for the delay in getting these updates posted.  So much has happened in our personal lives, with the organization, and in Ghana…we just have struggled to find the time to stop and send an update.  Yet, today I find myself realizing, I just can’t wait another day before getting information and updates posted.  Although these past weeks have been filled with important details and people to care for, we know the enemy will use these important details to distract us from sharing the good news.  That is NOT what we want!  Because there are so many updates, I am breaking them up into 3 different postings.

·         All of me…
·         GN Update
·         What’s next?

Posting #1:  Giving Him all of us
Those that know me well know I’m not an evangelist.  I don’t door knock.  I’m not a bible thumper.  Yep, I actually looked it up.  According to Wikipedia (the internet authority, of course), Bible thumper is a real, published expression to describe those who aggressively impose their religious beliefs.  That would never be how I would describe myself.  Actually, I have never been comfortable with this customary way of reaching people or sharing about Jesus.  I’ve carried a lot of worry over the years because of my lack of comfort in being aggressive.  How many people in my life will have missed in truly knowing the blessing of living their life for Christ, because I didn’t share aggressively enough?  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen Jesus work through me over the years, thankful to have been a part of his plan.  But, in these last years the Lord has revealed through a few people here and there, door knocking, bible thumping is just not how he created me.  He created me to love, share, and TALK (of course!).  He created me to be exactly who I am.  He created Troy to love, share, bring laughter (of course!), and to be exactly who he was created to be.  But, I have to tell you, it really clicked earlier this year when our pastor shared a tidbit of history before his St. Patrick’s Day sermon.  He may have thought he was just warming up the congregation.  You know what I mean, they get us all warmed up in an attempt to ensure we are paying attention and are awake so we can take in the fullness of the message God has given them.  J!  Well, that and because it is likely no fun to preach to a sleeping crowd!  All pastors are different, and some have varying leads…sometimes with humor, but sometimes it is just something interesting, like history. 

      Well, March 17, 2013, Pastor Tom chose to share a bit of history with a little humor.  I mean, when you tell people the day they’ve all come to know as the national holiday for green beer, leprechauns, and gold is actually a religious holiday…you have to expect a little snicker here or there.  Although Pastor Tom always has tremendous messages, I can’t recall his message.  I have been so captured since that day with his lead in.  (Pastor Tom, thank you for this particular lead in.  I’m sure you were searching for the perfect one, and even if it was just for me…thank you!) I am not sure if that tidbit had an impact on anyone else, as much as it did for me.  Look, my family has serious Irish blood.  My maiden name is Mulreany for goodness sakes.  Although, if you look closely you’d easily realize our family heritage has been long lost.  I’ve come to realize it really is a shame.  But, I have to tell you, I had no idea St. Patrick’s Day was a religious holiday, and I would suspect none of my family knows or remembers either.  Did you know?  If you didn’t, don’t laugh, seriously.  That Sunday, I came home and looked it up for myself, not because I didn’t trust Pastor Tom, but I found it to be a profound contradiction.  For all those who look forward to the cocktails and beer with their greens and pork, you might find it interesting…so don’t stop reading just yet.  Just a bit of interesting history, up until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17.  How about that?  70s, go figure. 

    So, what did Pastor Tom share?  What did I learn?  A British kid who grew up in a wealthy family, with a dad who was a deacon and a grandfather who was a priest was taken captive during a raid.  He was taken by the Irish, back to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16 years old.  Wow, really, a slave?  Yep.  He eventually escaped and upon his return to Britain he studied to be a priest.  Years later, he felt called back to Ireland.  He returned to the scene of the crime.  He didn’t come to rebuke or to bring justice.  He came to share the love of Christ.  He moved in, became a part of the community, and just began to live and share his life with those around him.  He began to pour himself into those around him – just being the person God created him to be, an overflow.  No door knocking.  No Bible thumping.  He was a missionary.  And, through this style of evangelism, before his end days, more than 50 churches were planted and over 20% of the country was converted to Christianity.  That may not seem like a very big number to you – but think about what 20% of a population actually equates to.  And, all this came through the obedience of one man, to go where God called him.  He was called to return to where he was taken captive, taken as a slave.  And, so filled with the spirit of God, he brought the overflow of God’s love…and Pastor Tom’s statement was…St. Patrick was practicing Evangelism by Hospitality.  It was then, it clicked.  This is the only comfortable way we have lived our lives, Troy and I.  We are just ordinary people.  We are definitely NOT pastors or priests. We are just like you.  We live in this worldly world.  We make mistakes.  We fail and fall.  We have good days and bad days.  But, I’d say one of the greatest attributes we have is we are a family of people who love Jesus. 

    We live in this world surrounded by trials and tragedies, and yet we have found more and more blessings even through the trials and tragedies with each passing day.  Now, don’t be fantasized by my words to believe we walk around oblivious to the trials and tragedies.  Some days are harder than others.  Some days we don’t turn to God as we should, and we try to carry on in our own strength.  Yet, God finds us where we are at, and he always carries us through it all.  As I prayed about what to post, I was reminded of this lead in by Pastor Tom and how important it is that I be transparent, honest, and just me when I post updates.  My mom told me the blog posts from this past February trip to Ghana was the most honest and real I’ve ever been.  Funny, I didn’t try to be different.  But, as I find myself growing closer to God, I am finding myself just being the overflow - evangelism by hospitality.  So…the point, the purpose of all that.  I won’t let work, school, life, sadness, pain, fear, tragedy of this world we share be a distraction of the grace, love, blessings and absolute joy God has shown us in the midst of these distractions.  I will make every effort to remember to proclaim all God has done…and not always be distracted by life.  Troy and I are giving God all of ourselves, the best we can.  Thankfully, God has a lot of grace. We need it!  There are stories to be told, there are truths to be spoken…even through my little voice on this blog, in this little organization, in our family, in our friendships, and through all parts of our life.  We are on the brink of something big, and it started with one little boy who was hanging on by a thread for his life…GN.


We have received an update on GN.  I just don't know what to say...thank you Jesus, yeah...that is a good start!
Sometimes emails are intended to be private...but, this one...I have to send just as they wrote it...

Email from Dave/Ellen:
GN is amazing - we are so very thankful that God had you in the right place at the right time aaaaaaannnnnnndddddd that we have the great privilege of being part of his story.
GN is standing with assistance - cooing like crazy - smiling all the time aaaaannnnnndddd today he sucked his bottle !  Oh my!  There are no words -
We love you guys and thank God for you!  There are many more stories waiting to be told!

And, that's not all...
I asked them to find out if GN will always carry the label of spirit child or will it/is it removed?  Since we are reintegrating, we want to know how he is perceived.  This of course is another area of concern.  Here is the response:

I was told that since it is clear that the operation had improved GN, he is not a spirit child. 

Look, there are more hurdles and we are all walking out in faith with each moment, each decision, each second through this whole process.  But, if that isn't a miracle, I just don't know what is...Thank you Jesus!!!

thank you all for faithfully joining us in prayer!  Thank you for being intercessors for GN, his family, Dave, Ellen, One Step In Faith, and all the children to come!  WOW! We are so excited to see where the Lord is leading!

Have a blessed day!

The Village Meeting & GN's progress

So, what’s going on with GN.?  Since my last post, we have a few updates.  First…Dave and Ellen, Mama Laadi, and Grandma Mary have gone to the village and visited with the head of the family and elders, as well as GN’s great grandparents.  The grandfather, unfortunately, was too afraid to come to the meeting.  Instead, he sent a peace offering with one of his sons, which was given to Dave and Ellen.  The meeting went fairly well.  Right now, we’ve just accomplished one step…a huge step…in faith.  There, naturally, are still many points of concern, but Dave and Ellen will continue to work with the grandparents, the family, and the community to build a relationship.  This relationship will provide the opportunity for trust and accountability to grow.  Later today there will be an opportunity for Dave and the head of the family to go down and visit directly with the grandfather to ensure everyone is on the same page.  And, to ensure Grandma and GN will be safe.  Provided this face-to-face meeting with the grandfather goes well, today will mark the beginning of transition.  As the Lord prompts you, as GN passes through your mind, as you think of your neighbor – will you continue to lift up this boy, his healing, and the healing of this family.  We have a LONG way to go…but, even in the western skeptism…we are living in the belief yesterday was a big WIN for the KINGDOM.  We trust the promptings of the Lord.  (As Dave and Ellen were leaving, another woman came running up to them with her much younger child.  She was not from this “family unit”, but within the same village.  And, she too had an infant with visible neurological issues, and her infant had also been deemed a “spirit child”.  However, she had not abandoned her child.  She knew what has happened to GN…she is ready for her child to be Restored too!  Now, there is much more to process and sort through before helping this child, but the point is…GN’s testimony is already at work.  Thank you Jesus!!!) 

I was sharing with our board a week or so ago about a testimony I read by a young woman living in Uganda. The testimony was about listening to the soft promptings of the Lord, even when you’re weary.  The message I heard was the absolute power of prayer.  She was weary, she was just plain ole’ tired out!  She is young, yes, but she is raising 13 girls (ranging in ages from infant to teenagers), runs a feeding program 5 or so days a week in a nearby village for over 600 children, and many more things. She need to pick-up a few groceries, and went to the store (of course their grocery stores are a tad different than those here in USA J), in the rain, in a taxi (at this point in her ministry she had no vehicle).  She shared, you know those moments when you are tired, you want to go in, get, and get out.  You put on your blinders and just want to pass through quickly and be done.  Well, she tried to put on her blinders, but the soft prompting of the Lord led her eyes to a young boy sitting in the corner shivering from the rain.  She approached him to help him out.  She gave him some biscuits (some type of cookie), a drink, gave him her sweatshirt, and got him a taxi ride home.  She shared; it wasn’t a lot of time out of her day, and it helped this young boy.  She shared; the expense was very minimal (it was like less than $1), except for the sweatshirt, which she said she probably had 8 in her drawer at home.  As he was leaving, he asked for her name.  It was like a year later, she happened to be back in that store, when a small child was yelling her name and nearly knocked her down to the ground with a hug of excitement.  He said, I’ve been praying for you!  I’ve been praying for you every day.  He went out of the store, bought her a little something from a vendor.  In this whole year, he was praying for her!  In this whole year, when she was going about her day doing what she feels called to do…he had been praying for her.  Yesterday, as we were getting caught up from Dave and Ellen on what was happening with GN, and the village meeting, Ellen shared…the great grandmother (grandfather’s mother) explained to them, she had been praying for us.  Those people who came and rescued GN, her great grandson, she had been praying for them every day.  Praise God!!!  She was praying not just for GN, but she thought to pray for us.  (Let me pause; because you might be asking – they pray – are they Christian?  If they are Christian, why would they belief in spirit children and witch doctors?  Something important to know, it is common for Africans to convert to a religion and yet actually sit on the fence of their past indigenous belief as well.  Example:  Near the village we are hoping to adopt outside of Kumasi we had spent a few days back in 2010.  During this time, we met “Benjamin the Methodist Monk”.  Due to the sensitivity of yesterday’s meeting, it was felt premature to bring up faith.  But, from what Mama Laadi shared with us back in February, it is not likely they are Christian).  The point is she thought to pray for us.

Well, you have probably noticed, we are pretty protective of GN and so we haven’t posted very many pictures.  Protection from so many dangers and other concerns we are just learning to guard against has led us to limit images posted.  However, knowing a picture says a thousand words.  A picture gives you something tangible to hold onto.  The below images are of GN.  The picture on the right was Saturday, 9 days after surgery.  The picture on the left was Sunday (being held by his great-grandmother), 10 days after surgery.  Let me end this posting with an awesome testimony!  Today, GN is able to hold his head up completely by himself!!!  COMPLETELY!  (He does get tired, and so his head will give way when he's tired. J) He is able to move his legs!!  If you hold onto him, he is able to support his weight on his legs.  Seriously, are you reading this?  He...is...able...to...hold up his head!  He...is...beginning....to use & build strength in his legs...ALREADY!  The image to the right is demonstrating how he is holding his weight on Grandma Mary’s legs.  OMGoodness!  It is absolutely amazing!!!  Praise God! Thank you Jesus!  We are nothing without you, and thank you so much for allowing us to be involved with you in this work you are doing in Bolga.  Thank you for allowing us to join you, in your plans to rescue, rehabilitate, and restore hope through this little boy!  Jesus, you were already at work and you invited us to join you...and we will be forever changed.  GN, sweet boy, you are forever the first OSIF baby and we are SOOOOO...proud to be a part of your journey!  Dave & Ellen, we will all be praying as you are looking and watching where the Lord is leading you in your part of this invitation, long-term.  Thank you Jesus! 


Change in belief

So much going on…and I do need to provide an update on GN.  But, despite these many happenings any the long list of things I need to accomplish today, making time for the Lord isn’t just necessary it is vital.  So, I’m starting with the Lord today.  He taught me something last week, and I didn’t make time to share it.  I was thinking this past week, with all my work and responsibilities, making time for God is more like squeezing Him in, rather than God first and then squeezing work in.  I had felt God really impressing on me a reminder to start my day, end my day and in the middle of my day make time for Him.  I am an avid prayer.  I pray just about all day.  Making meals – praying, brushing teeth – praying, shower (most favorite time with God ever) – praying, when I work – all day on/off - praying…praying is just something I can honestly say has been growing in my DNA.  (I’ve come a long way, baby!)  But, so it’s clear, I am not talking about the one-way street praying.  You know, “God bless Ma, Pa, Granny, the neighbor down the street for driving too fast. Please forgive me for…” No, I pray and seek and wait for His reply/direction.  But, I’ve felt God impressing on me about making time for just Him – no “multitasking”.  Which, I am the queen of multitasking!  I have so much to do, I need to bundle my load to get it all done.  Yet, I felt him impressing on me, by doing this time will expand and the burdens will be lifted.  I know it seems almost silly to think of time actually expanding.  But, I think the ability to achieve more was really the point.  Anyway, today’s devotion (from Jesus Calling), a written reminder of this very thing…”I am life and light in abundance…as you spend time “soaking” in My presence, you are energized and lightened….through communicating with me you transfer your burdens to My strong shoulders…Be willing to fight for this precious time with Me.  Opposition comes in many forms:  your own desires to linger in bed, evil one’s determination to distract you from me, the pressure of family, friends, and the critic inside you that keeps you pushing to be productive…” This is my paraphrased excerpt.  It was a great reminder, today.  Casie, keep pressing into Him, keep my eyes on Him, turn it all over to Him and He won’t fail me.  He NEVER fails me.
We have been hosting the “Experiencing God “bible study at our home.  This week is the last week.  I really like it, and I feel the timing has been perfect.  If you’ve done it, do it again – if you haven’t, it has been a great study!  I’ve learned a lot about purpose, and one thing I really saw this past week was the change in belief.  You know, as you are seeking the Lord, pursuing a relationship with Him, the opportunity will come where He will extend an invitation for you to join Him where He is working.  And, when this happens, so many of us (me included) wait before responding.  We wait, saying, “let me pray about that”.  And, in so many cases He doesn’t want us to wait and pray about it.  He wants us to respond and act.  I’m not saying all decisions or situations are a respond on the spot kind of situation.  But, what I’ve now learned is sometimes if you don’t the moment passes by and the opportunity is lost.  During these invitations, we will encounter what the study calls crisis of belief.  I had hoped to write this last week, but my busyness got in the way.  So, here it is today.  Crisis of belief requires you to be willing to have a change of belief.  Let me better explain, how God did this for me.
Everyone has beliefs, opinions, and thoughts on just about any topic there is.  Last Sunday, a man with a reputation for high wire/sky wire walking, was televised during his walk across the Grand Canyon.  We really didn’t know his history or much about the event, except we stumbled upon the advertisement earlier in the day and the children wanted to be able to stay up and watch it.  Honestly, Troy and I both had an opinion about this event.  It went something like, “what in the world?!  Seriously, this is ridiculous.  He has a wife and he has children.  This isn’t smart or necessary.”  But, our 8 year-old son Connor, wanted to watch this event.  He didn’t want to miss any part of it.  So, we sat.  And, we watched.  Originally, the show had planned to have an open mic, so to speak, for open communication back and forth.  However, due to various conditions, the hosts decided not to have a free for all open mic, and instead decided it was best to allow the gentleman to stay focused and kept the channel open/free.  The only two speaking were the man walking (Nik) and his father, who was giving him encouragement and status updates of the progress (time, how his son was doing, how the wire looked, etc.)  Because there wasn’t open talking back and forth, what you mostly heard instead was Nik as he spoke.  And, for about 90% of the walk, he prayed.  He called out praise to Jesus; he called out glory to God.  This man, in every step thanked Jesus, gave glory to Jesus, and called out to Jesus to calm the winds, and continually – over and over – lifted Jesus’ name up.  I won’t lie; I was one of the many out there criticizing what he was doing.  How crazy it was to risk his life, knowing he has a family.  How stupid (yes the “S” word) it was to do all this to break some record or be placed in some “Guinness” world record book.  And, I won’t lie by saying, as soon as he started praying my view stopped.  No, actually, when he started praying I was thinking…”Come on, God expects you to use some brains and what?....you want Him to calm the winds so you can walk across a wire extending from one side to the other of Grand Canyon?  Seriously?”  And then, it happened.  Watching him…hearing him…and hearing the sincerity of his simplistic affirmations to the Lord…goose bumps and compassion began to fill my heart.  “Change of Belief” ladies and gentleman.  This is what is called, change of belief.  And, it was right there, as simple as it might be, it was right there.  All of the sudden, I realized, this man has a purpose.  His purpose is to use his gifts to glorify you God, and his gift may make absolutely no sense to me, but it was glorifying God.  So, does it matter?  He spent every step thanking, praising, giving Glory to God through His son Jesus.  He made statements like, I’m nothing without you.  Oh man! 
Now, check this out.  Look, this channel airs in 223 countries, of which this specific show aired in 178 of those countries.  This ranked as Discovery’s highest rated live event.  It had over 13M viewers during the walk.  There were over 1.2 billion tweets in that one day alone on the subject.  On Sunday, this topic was over 70% of total topics being tweeted about.  This doesn’t account for the 2.9M streaming live video, as there were multiple camera views if you went online to watch, vs watching on TV – the day of the event.  Since Sunday, there have been 6.8M page views from 4.8M visitors (oh, and that statistic is from 4 days ago).  Think about how many people experienced, saw, and witnessed the power of prayer.  How many more will experience, see, and witness through watching and rewatching the videos over the coming days, weeks, and months.  This man’s continued and unfailing love and faith in God was proclaimed and displayed for the entire world to see.  He gave all the glory to God.  Y’all, I seriously experienced a change in belief.  Something simple and it wasn’t as if it was really related to me.  Oh, well…ah ha!  Maybe…it is related to me.  Through this, I was able to finally understand. 
Lord, I know I am too comfortable in my life as usual!  Forgive me.  You have an assignment that is God-sized and to accomplish it I must have adjustments to my beliefs and faith.  Show me how, I am willing Jesus.  You may change my circumstances.  You may change my relationships.  You may change my thinking.  You may change my commitments, my priorities, and my actions.  You have permission to change my beliefs, even those I have so proudly held on to for so many years.   Change whatever is necessary for me to carry out your assignment.  I surrender to You.  I depend on you entirely, and I wait for your call to action.  I want to think your thoughts, act in Your ways, and focus on your purposes. Make me ready to obey.  I want to EXPERIENCE You.  Thank you for caring enough about me to want to change me.
 [thank you Experiencing God for teaching me this very important message – prayer above is modified from Experiencing God study, thank you Nik Wallenda for being obedient to God]