Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Honduras Mission Trip 2013 - Highlights

I plan on blogging each day in detail from my journal but I realize folks are busy and they want the Reader's Digest version of my trip so I'm creating this "highlights" post.

First, I am so personally grateful and blessed to have been able to take time away from work and family and serve God in this manner. From 12/3-12/12, I submitted to be a humble servant of our great Lord. Time given but in return has blessed me more than I could have possibly imagined.

During these days, I connected with people in an inexplicable way even though there was such a cultural difference and language barrier. A teenage boy that I only shared worship time with and exchanged loving hugs with, told me on the 2nd night of the crusade (in perfect English), "I have Jesus in my heart because of you". Well, I sure didn't do anything but show up. God's hand was in EVERYTHING and I pray right now that He continues to guide me.

As a group of 35, we achieved over 600 Salvations in the villages, over 7000 meals delivered, 500+ toys, 1 ton of humanitarian relief delivered, 2 brand new classrooms built at the school, over 400 people treated medically and thousands of other lives were saved, healed and delivered!  

Personally, I grew closer to God and realized SO many blessings from this trip. Each and every mother I prayed with was a prayer for ME. Every time I recited the prayer of salvation with someone, God touched my heart, forgave ME again and renewed MY spirit. I shed many tears of gratitude during this trip and the only way I could convey what I felt was "I'm not worthy".

I'm so grateful for this trip and can't wait to experience this again. Currently searching for opportunities to serve closer to home. 

Here are all the pictures. My detailed blog posts will do a better job incorporating images into the stories of each day. 



Friday, May 10, 2013

Thank You Daddy

This is a special note for my Dad, Roy Luke. First though, I must thank God for all he's done for me and continues to do. I'm in such a wonderful, peaceful time in my life. My family is experiencing the ultimate joy of just living free of health issues or worries. Thank you for the many blessings you are raining down on us Lord,

I spent the day yesterday with my Dad working on this humongous garden that is taking up most of his backyard. The layout is 16, 100 foot rows. Dad planted the first round of seed early April but a few seeds never came up so I went over to "supervise" the replanting which had to occur between 5/9 and 5/11 according to the Farmer's Almanac.

I have to confess that's it's been 4 years since I've been out to his house. We gathered there shortly after Mom passed in 2009 and I guess it's just been too hard to go back. And he comes here often so it's not like we're not seeing him.  I'm so glad I made the trip and will continue to on a more regular basis.

Dad has kept himself busy with projects like restoring antique tractors. The one we used yesterday was a '68 Farmall so about the same age as me. This is a great picture of smiling Dad getting ready to go replant the corn and black-eyed peas that never popped up from the initial planting.

We did some practicing with the tractor to ensure the seed was going to get deep enough with the attachments (I'm sure there is another farmer/tractor term for these) and that the seed was dropping.

So, Dad heads over on the tractor to start the rows, on the way he snags the hose and starts dragging it across the garden. Of course neither of us notice until it's too late. He pulled this big tank onto his artesian well and broke off about a dozen PVC pipes, one of which was the main 5 inch pipe to the well. It looked like this.

Well, that's a ton of water that will never stop flowing until the Fl aquifer is drained and a pretty large expense to fix. But, Dad kept his cool, took out his cell phone and called for help. He pretty much just resigned to "stuff happens" and moved on.  We went on to plant our seed and I even got to drive the tractor.

Anyways, I've gone on about the day together because it makes for an interesting story and I wanted to have it for memories but the real reason I'm writing is to thank Daddy for that day and so many others.

You see, Roy married my Mom when I was 7 years old. We didn't want him to marry her. We wanted to keep her all to ourselves, believe me. He was also a stern disciplinarian and what 3rd grader needs that in her life?

He wasn't a perfect father but he loved us and he loved Mom. He was there for us and even took a few other family members and friends in who needed a roof over their heads and food to eat. The philosophy growing up in a family with 5 kids is "what's one more?". 

Dad continues to be involved in our lives as adults. He's an awesome grandfather to my two children as well as 5 other grandkids in our family. He's dedicated to not only being a good Poppy but also compensating for the role Mom held in their lives. Mom was the one we all called when we were upset, my kids included. When we needed a shoulder to cry on or advice. Now, when my 16 year old daughter is upset, It's her Poppy she calls.  He plays it perfectly, being her shoulder, understanding her frustrations but always supporting the side of her parents, Doug and I.

I've needed that too lately. I've been missing Mom. She was the one I talked to about stuff, asked for guidance. There are just some things you want to talk to someone about who has been there, who has life experiences. My mom was always that confidant for me. Yesterday, my Dad officially assumed the role. I'm sure he was always there to do it always but I've not recognized it.  The gardening just gave me the opportunity to open up and talk to him.

So, thank you Dad, for not only the beautiful day, but the beautiful life. Thank you for being so involved with the kids and making the extra effort to stay in-tune with them. Thank you for loving mom so much and caring so well for her. Many lives were positively affected the day you met Mom in the 7-11. God was smiling down on our family that day. May He smile down on you like that each and every day and keep you peaceful, healthy and happy.

Love you much, Mindy

Sunday, November 11, 2012

We ARE Rich!

It's been some time since my original post. I had waited so long to start blogging that it was like a weight I was carrying around, spiritually compelled to start it and with so much on my heart to get out there.

I've been waiting for guidance about the right topic, the right time. A few weeks ago, Sarah came home from school and gave me one. Yet, I delayed. Then, this weekend, God got my attention BIG TIME with Joshie. I'm here now. Hopefully these words will help and inspire those who read it.

Sarah came home from school and said a friend had teased her about her new car (used VW bug for those who don't already know). Her friend had told her "Your family is so rich, you are spoiled and get everything you want".  This was upsetting because of course no 16 YO wants to be called spoiled and Sarah knows we're not rich in the sense that this girl meant.

I had to laugh because I've often proclaimed to be rich but not in the financial sense, Rich with blessings. I told Sarah, "We are rich, tell your friend we are rich". We are rich with the blessings of God over our family and yes, those blessings have resulted in some tangible, physical assets.  Thank you Lord! I am rich because....

 - My children. Josh and Sarah are amazing, young people. I'm far from being a perfect parent and neither is Doug and yet we're blessed with these guys. When I say I have 2 teenagers, people respond "ugh, I'm sorry". Why? they are awesome. They are respectful, hard working, good students, caring, compassionate and funny. They have AMAZINGLY GINORMOUS hearts. I pray they follow your way Lord and realize their true life potential. I thank you Lord for blessing me with them. Being a mother was truly at the top of the list of my purpose.

 - My husband. Doug and I were a hot mess when we met. Both of us carrying a boat load of baggage, with a graveyard of skeletons in our closet. We've grown up together and we make each other better. I cherish him in every possible way. He supports me, loves me, trusts me. I can tell him anything. He never harshly judges me. He is everything I could ever want in a partner and an incredible father to our children. Thank you God for bringing us together. I couldn't imagine my life without him in it.

 - Family - Between Doug and I we have a very large, supportive family.  They provide an extended safety net of protection for my nuclear family. There are so many family members we could turn to for counsel, companionship, fellowship, support, care, let alone money.  Thank you to those who are always there for us, loving us and supporting us. You are the greatest family anyone could ever want. May God bless you as he has us, each and every day.

 - Friends - We have so many. Not just acquaintances but true friends. The kind you love to spend time with, but when you can't find the time, they are still there. Doug and I like to call them low maintenance friends. We don't have to be around each other every day, but when we see each other it's like we were never apart. If we're needed, we go to them and they to us. We pray for each other, support each other through good times and bad, love one another. Thank you God for my extended network of loved ones whom I call friends.

 - Stuff - Yep, this is a catch-all category for my house, cars, appliances, the pool, yard, pets, computers, etc. We could not afford to buy the house we live in if we were in the market today. God guided us to buy where we did, when we did so we could be where he wants us to be. The schools in this area are among the best in the state. What a blessing! I'm certain this was all part of his plan.

 - Health and wellbeing - Here is the part about Josh. He was in a dirt bike accident yesterday and I think he could have died. A rope wrapped around his neck and pulled him off the bike. He appears to be okay (probably going to the Dr./hospital for a follow up) but he has a terrible rope burn around his neck.  Thank you Lord for looking out for my baby and keeping him safe. Thank you also for the general good health we are ALL experiencing. My we all acknowledge this blessing and take advantage of the good times to do your will and show gratitude for just feeling good.

Thanks for making me rich in ways beyond merely wealth. Help me to continue along your path. Help me also find the guidance and confidence to add to this blog more frequently so my readers aren't burdened for time and can join with me to acknowledge your blessings and know you better.

Much Love,

Friday, September 7, 2012

Why am I starting this blog?

It's a long story and likely to be one of my longest posts. As long as I can remember, my family has communicated with one another during difficult times using letters. When I was 12, my mother gave me a letter that basically said that even though she didn't like me very much, she still loved me and would continue to love me through the tough times ahead and she looked forward to the day when I grew out of these teenage hardships. She also once typed up a contract for my brothers and I to help get more buy in for chores around the house. I miss her greatly.

Now, I have a draw full of letters, mostly from my wonderful husband, Doug and my beautiful daughter, Sarah. Notes I'll treasure forever but more often come from hardships and fighting than through love and celebration (I have these too....most of them in the form of birthday and mothers day cards).

I have things I want to say but find them impossible to say. I try but my feelings become so overwhelming that I cannot speak without welling up like a crazy person and by that time I've lost my will and the attention of my audience. "Aw Mom", Sarah will say and hug me and that's it. Can't get it out. Or, out of fear of rejection and coming off as a holy roller which would turn them off. So, I'm going to try this :-)

I've changed, thank God! Really, I'm different and in a good way. Thanks to the course my life has taken over the past 6 or so years. I will attempt to recognize those who made it so but it's really a culmination of activities that brought me to writing this letter.

I'm so grateful for my Christian upbringing and knew I would always raise the kids in the church environment and to know Jesus. I was searching (not very hard) but periodically for a church and mentioned this to a friend at work, one of my dearest friends, Peg LeBel. I told her it was mostly for the kids as I needed to ensure their salvation by seeing them saved and baptized. I told her Doug and  I were both believers so we didn't need church and I made a check mark with my finger "check" going to heaven. She said something to me that didn't really resonate until later in my life, well, very recently actually. She said there was a difference in being saved, check the box, and having a relationship with God. Within a few months, we gathered for a Bible study with another woman from work and this was probably the beginning of a much better life for me.

It's been a rough few years for my family. We lost Randy and Charlie in that horrible crime. We saw his killer tried and sentenced to death. I pray about how I'm supposed to feel about that. I'm still not sure. Mama died. She really suffered too. It was awful to watch but I'm certain even more terrible for her to have to go through it. We removed the life support over 3 years ago but it feels like yesterday sometimes. These things, while terrible and tragic, brought me closer to Him as I reached out for comfort, peace and understanding for myself and my family.

My Uncle encouraged me to join a small group within my church. I had found one and was attending regularly during Mom's illness.  He said I needed a church "family" and that it was important to connect to the body in a more personal way. That's when I joined Toni and Gerald's small group and continued to grow stronger in my faith. This small group got me through the hard times after losing Mom and became an extension of my family, which is pretty large by the way.

This year presented a pinnacle moment for me as I moved out of the corporate world and back into my family's arms. You see, for many, many years I've focused on Mindy, the hard worker, the high achiever, the money maker. This year, He finally broke me and helped me to see the importance of being Mindy, the good mother, the loving wife and the devout follower. I am now happier than I can remember ever being, knowing Him, at complete peace with what my future holds and with the greatest love for people I've ever had in my heart.

It is this moment with His guidance that I begin my letter to those I love.

Please know that I'm writing this from a place of love in my heart and NOT a way to judge or lecture. I just want to share what He has done for me in hopes that you too may someday experience the joy and peace that I've come to know.

Knowing Christ has more to do with today than the afterlife. He helps you today with getting through the stress of work, the worry over your children, the pain of sickness. This is what my friend meant when she said "relationship". I want to share this with you, my friends and family.  If you are struggling, He is working on you.  Oh, did I forget to mention that I'm not claiming to be perfect here. I meant to mention that. I struggle too, I make mistakes and wrong choices. But not as often as I used to :-)

I know He is watching over me. He answers my prayers. I know things I couldn't possibly know because of my relationship with Him. Really! It's called discernment and it's Biblical. He helps me make decisions. He helps me sleep at night. He brings me peace when I'm anxious or nervous or angry. He is providing for my family at this time when I'm not making very much money, but we have enough.

I pray for my family to know You, Lord. To trust you and put their faith and future in Your hands. Please watch over them and guide them down your path. I know when they struggle You are working on them because through times of struggle is when we turn to You. I thank You Lord for working your way in me and for giving me the idea and the courage to start writing this blog. I pray it will reach those I love and help them not only get through this life but to ENJOY it. That's what I've found in You. Love, peace and joy.

Special Thanks from my soul to those who have influenced me over the past few years. Thanks to Mom and Grandma for giving me the Christian basis for which I could return when I needed to, when the time was perfect for me to be receptive to His guidance. Thanks to those of you who took the time to read this far. Please reach out to me if you want to talk or add your own letter. We must share the good news and encourage one another so that we may all enjoy this precious life we're given and fulfill our destinies here on this Earth.

With all the love I could possible conjure up...