Sunday, February 28, 2010

Blessed and Obsessed

For those of you who are wondering about the date with the hubs was nice. We went out to lunch and then we went to Brush Fire and made pottery. It was our first "date" as prescribed by our marriage counselor and Joe got to start things off by planning it. He is an artist. We have a few paintings in our home that he painted and we are always complimented by our visitors. In fact, some have tried to purchase the artwork right off of our walls. The pottery painting date was good for him as he likes to create, but it was good for me because I like to focus and concentrate. We'll get to pick up our burned pottery next week. We only accidentally talked about the kids a couple of times. It was good to have face time. It was good to not have any interruptions. It is good to learn about each other again.

Yesterday, my mailbox was empty. No money for the truck. And that might have really been a bummer for me had my husband not received a surprise bonus at work. Our mighty God is so clever. Joe readily agreed that we could put that money into the truck fund. Woo Hoo! Yes, I am obsessed with the truck fundraiser. The entire process is such a blessing to me, and I cannot even fathom what a blessing it will be to Fatima and all of her orphans.

This morning, I spent a solid hour watching the birds in my backyard. I could not take my eyes off of them. The finches finally found their feeder....finally. I think I'm obsessed with the birds now. I want more feeders. I want a bird paradise in my back yard. I might be turning into a bird freak. But they are amazing after all. They fly, right? If that isn't cool, then I don't know what is. And some of them sing. How many of you can fly AND sing? Not a single one! So there!

Friday, February 26, 2010

My Fasting Successes and Failures, oh and $50 bucks

As we speak, I am drinking a Coca-Cola. Booooooooooooooooo!

I have not cut meat entirely out of my diet, but I am limiting it to one small portion per day. One night this week I even ate a bloody hunk of sirloin, and loved every morsel.

My Facebook fast is going splendidly. I only logged on one time and that was only because I needed to retrieve some info I had in an email on my facebook account. I didn't even check on the status updates...just straight into email and right back out. I'm feeling pretty awesome about this. It has been about 3 weeks now. Yay.

**For those who don't know....I am not fasting for Lent. I gave up Facebook for 9 weeks while I am doing the Beth Moore Bible Study entitled, "Believing God"... just because I felt led to. The meat and the occasional soda are bothering my I used to be vegetarian for almost 3 years.

If you were hanging around my blog a few weeks ago when I announced my Facebook fast, you might recall that it is because I was basically using facebook as time to avoid my husband...and that we are in counseling, etc. I wanted to dedicate my heart back to him and be curious about his status updates for a change. God is blessing this effort. Our wonderful marriage counselor has given us some assignments and we are spending time doing those. We are doing a daily devotional together every night, talking about our day, and offering our day to God in prayer. We have never done anything like this before, so it is new for us, and it is very good. Now we have a new assignment to add to that....and that is that we have to go on a date once a week. That is 52 times a year, verses not having gone on a date at all in probably 3 years. So yep, we're cranking it up a bit. Tomorrow we are having an afternoon date together, which is going to be interesting. We have to spend 3 hours together, by ourselves. We have to take turns choosing what we will do each week. And we are not aloud to talk about our children. GASP! I can't really go 10 minutes without talking about to state that this will be a challenge is a gross understatement. But as for today, I deeply believe that our restoration has begun. We are happy about that. We have escpaed the courtroom, division of property, and the shattering of the hearts of our children. I cannot praise God loud enough for this. Although the next steps are unseen by us, I know that we are finally walking on the path that Christ made for us. It feels good.

TRUCK UPDATE: Have I mentioned that donations have arrived in my mailbox every single day since I began the fundraiser? And that I walk to the mailbox with a grin on my face because God is cracking me up? is no different. One of the early donors mailed another check today. $50. A letter to me explained how much she loves her truck, how useful it is, and that she loves to use it to help people move stuff, etc. She felt God "gently nudging" her to send more. I just LOVE these stories. She included a scripture in her letter, one that I just love.

Galations 6:2 "Bear one another's burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ."

As much as I hated using the word "burden" to describe the calling I felt to help Mrs. Maruta get a truck, it was exactly that. And oddly....after I sent Mrs. Maruta an email early on asking her questions about the truck, she asked me if Christ had placed this "burden" on me. (Uh, indeed He did.) And then I placed the "burden" on nearly everyone in my email contact database. Right there in scripture it says for us to bear each other's burdens. But how often do we do that? There are some things we cannot do. We cannot carry someone's illness. But I recall a woman last year who blogged about a horrible trauma that another family was going through, and on their behalf she asked if her readers would help carry the burden. Would you go to God in prayer and ask Him to transfer some of that pain to you, to ease the pain of this family for even just one day? I remember being so moved by that concept and I agreed. I got on my knees and I prayed that He would allow me to carry some of their pain for a couple of days so that they could better cope with what they were experiencing. I wept. I wept a lot. I wept so much I had a migraine. Why? Well, why not? There are so many burdens that I walk right on past. I rarely give money to a homeless person. Sometimes I get prayer requests for people I do not know and I have a hard time praying, or feeling like I'm being sincere. I have dear, amazing, precious friends who I fail to call and check on the status of their hearts when they are in the middle of a crisis. Sometimes the burden is financial, while other times it is devastation in health, family, or loss. I am so thankful to everyone who is taking on the burden of this truck, for every dime you sacrifice. Thank you. I cannot thank you enough.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

One Month

What a beautiful, steady trickle of provision. I am watching it flow like a stream slowly but surely on its way where it will pour down like a waterfall into the mouths of thirsty children.

The Lord God pours His spirit onto you and He lavishes His grace upon you. You are letting His spirit shine through you, and in individual and beautiful acts of grace, are sharing what you have with those who have little to nothing. You are reaching out across the oceans, into the dry land in the southern region of Africa, and you are sharing your love, your resources and your compassion with an orphanage Mum and her motherless and fatherless children. There are nearly 100 of them. All ages. All sizes.

Some of those children are HIV positive. Some of those children were badly beaten by their grandparents after their parents died, because the grandparents didn't want them. Some of them watched their siblings die in their very own arms because no one would care for them and get them the treatment that they needed. One young man lost his parents and his twin brother, all to Aids, not that long ago. One precious young girl had to run away from her grandparents after her parents died....because they were so awful. She was attacked by babboons before she was rescued by the wonderful woman who is her Mum today.

Mrs. Maruta has rescued a lot of children. She continues to rescue children. She manages food, clothing and education for 5 households worth of children. In some cases, there are 20 - 30 people living in approximately 1400 square feet of space. These very people have joy. These very people have faith like I could only dream of having. These very people love you, and they don't even know who you are....but I have told them there are people who are healping provide that truck. They have fasted for you (and me) and are praying for you (and me). We are proving to them that they matter. We are proving to them that they are worthy of all that God wants to give them way out there in the middle of nowhere. We are proving to them that all things are possible to those who believe in Christ....cuz let me tell ya...they are certainly believing Him and believing IN Him.

The truck will make it possible to travel further, to purchase larger quantities of food at better prices. The truck will make it possible to effeciently deliver food to all of the orphanage homes without having to make multiple trips, saving both time and money. The truck will make getting the HIV positive kids back and forth to their clinic appointments for their meds, much more efficiently than one small car...which happens to be out of commission at this point. This is just the beginning of what the truck will do to provide incredible service in the lives of these kids, and to aid the operation of the orphanages. It isn't just a truck, it's a tool. It isn't just a truck, it's a meal service. It isn't just a truck, it's a hospital on wheels. It isn't just a truck. It is your love.

Today, a surprise check for $500 showed up in my mailbox. Given to me by a woman who has very little. But a gigantic heart swells inside of her. Her love and her fingerprints are all over the truck.

In one week, we have raised $6,000. We have one month to come up with about $4,000 more. Do you think God can do that?

You bet'cha! I double-dog dare you to believe it!

James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

Will you blog for this cause? Will you send out an email to your friends and family? Will you ask your co-workers to pitch their spare change into a jar in the copy room? Will you sacrifice a pizza this week and donate $20? Will you sell a couple of CD's that you don't listen to anymore? Will you take a leap of faith like so many already have? Will you donate a percentage of your profits today?

This is so fun y'all. I just can't help myself. Have fun! And may God bless your faithfulness!

Have I told you lately that I love you? Man, I really really do!

Birds and Money

My heart is really going through something beautiful. God is truly using this time in my life to work some miracles in my heart.

First, there is this issue of the truck. Raising money for a truck for Fatima by reaching out to nearly everyone I know, watching you step up in faith, and seeing what God is's just super cool. Along with that, over the course of the past year or two, my opinion of money has changed. My personality with money has changed. My approach to handling it has changed. And I can tell you with absolute confidence, I alone and not capable of all this change. It has required transformation....and it is still full fledge in the process....because I have a long way to go.

I'm also learning about God's provision. Do you know....there is really and truly so much that we can live without. So much. We actually need very little of what we have. Our houses are too big. Our cars are too luxurious. Our pantries are overstuffed with junk. Our kids have too many toys. Our TV's have too many channels. Our communities have too many distractions. Our politicians have too many agendas. There is almost nothing simple in America. Almost nothing. We are so conditioned to achieve and not conditioned to encourage the souls around us. We are conditioned to aquire and spend, not serve. We are a sick sick nation and this is a sick sick world. We are just not paying attention to this true mission in life. Living life to its fullest, involves Jesus.

I'm not saying its easy.

Luke 12:32-34 "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

I've been especially aware of the birds lately. You might recall I recently blogged about how cold it is and how I had allowed all of our birdseed to run out, and that I could see the birds searching my yard for seed to eat. I really felt bad that I had ignored them and that I had neglected them. I ran out and bought seed to feed them. My attention is being called to the birds again....but this time my heart realized that I was really only serving some of the birds....not all of the birds....because I was buying only a generic form of bird seed and not taking into consideration all of the variety of species, and that they all have their cuisine favorites. This past week I guess if "upset" me enough that I went to Lowes and I bought 3 varieties of seed and a couple of different types of feeders and I have distributed the seed around my yard in different places. Some in trees, so hanging independently, etc. I did not have the money for me. And the truth is that I know God will feed the birds. They might have to work harder, but they will find food. There is plenty of road kill around here and there are other yards with bird feeders, but I know that was not the point. What am I doing to feed the birds?

As silly as it may sound, I truly believe in my heart that God is using the birds in my yard to teach me a principle on serving and feeding the people of this world. They are spread out. They have different needs and desires. They have different ideas about gathering, storing up, eating, and digesting. And even though I cannot serve every single person, I believe I am being called to recognize need. I am being called to identify differences among the people. I am being called to respond even when it requires me to sacrifice.

God is using the birds to teach me about need. He is using my friends and even the total strangers who are stepping out in faith to help buy a truck for Fatima to teach me more about provision. That He is sovereign....and that He works out everything for His purpose. Ideally, in His name....we will all pitch in, in this world and use our means to provide.

Yesterday I received a pay pal donation for $15 from another total stranger. I am ecstatic about every single dollar that is given for the truck for Fatima. Every single dollar. And God is ecstatic too.

Another sweet friend of mine handed me a check for $50 a couple of nights ago.

Every single day, God is making the way for this truck to be purchased. It is amazing to be a part of and I am so grateful for what God is teaching me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Today, $100 hit paypal and an unexpected check for $1,000 showed up in my mailbox. To say that I sobbed a mixture of tears and snot today would be an understatement. I don't know what God is doing to you during this experience, but He is totally knocking my socks off. I believe in the depth of my soul that He intends for me to trust Him with my mission, my finances, and all of my life. He is using this experience to teach me some incredibly valuable lessons. And He is teaching me to step out even further in faith than I ever have before.

Thank you deeply to EB and CM for your donations today. I loved you anyway.

I also received the first $1,000 pledge my cash in hand is up to $3,500. Praise Jesus. Add that to the $2,000 that has been pledged and we are creeping awfully close to $6,000. Ok, it's $5,500 but I like to round up. I'm approaching this with the cup not just half full, but overflowing.

I will share more later, but that's the quick good news for now.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Yesterday the truck fundrasier was blessed with 2 donations, totaling $210. And the sweetest thing....I didn't know about either one of them. They both just showed up. I am so so thankful!!!!!!!!!! Thank you to LM and to PH. Your fingerprints have just been placed on the truck. What a gift!

I want to share a praise agreement was reached yesterday on a contract I have been working. It's one that I already felt very good about, but to have it in the file is a great source of hope. I am seeing the hope of God revealed around every corner these days, and that fills me up more than I can describe.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What a Beautiful Day

What a difference the sun can make. Man! Wow. While I have had an incredibly busy weekend so far, I did manage to play in the front yard with the kiddos for a few minutes yeterday afternoon and even got to enjoy a great conversation outdoors with one of my neighbors. Yep, spring might just be in the air. Praise the Lord!

But even if it were dark, dreary, cold and raining outside, today is a beautiful day.

For one thing, I woke up. That is a gift. My children woke up too, nevermind that it was an hour too early, I'll take the gift. Shawn snuggled with me off and on all morning before church, while I was in my reading chair. He sucked his thumb and rested his head on my arm. He snuggled my arm. He petted my arm. He hugged my arm. Then, he scrunched up close to my neck and tucked himself right in, forcing me to put my reading down and wrap my arms around him. Ok.... I'll receive the gift. A little while later, he came over to my reading chair and he pushed me over a little so he could sit right beside me. We both don't fit, so i turned my body slightly away from him, so he could fit. He rested his whole body on my back and continued petting me while I read. This whole episode was very special to me because Shawn doesn't seem to need my snuggles much these days. Sometimes I have to beg for them, and he really has no problem telling me no. So...the free flowing affections from Shawnie are the sunshine in my day today.

Asher made some announcements this morning. While I was in my bathroom drying my hair and getting ready for church, Asher announced that he will put his shoes on today right when I tell him to. And he will say "I'm coming" when I holla that it's time to go to church. And he shared with me that when I tell him it is time to go home, when we're at the playground, that he will come right away without fussing. You what? Playground? Oh boy.....this kid is clever. I guess we're going to the playground later today. It IS a beautiful day. And, the playground is a gift.

***Truck update***I received 2 donations yesterday. A $100 check in the mail that had been previously pledged, and a $200 surprise in my paypal account. Praises be! I am more thankful than I know how to express.

1 Peter 1:8-9 "Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Truck Update

So, yesterday I received an email from one of my friends who said, "girl i want my fingerprints all over that truck!" Amen, sister. I do too. What a beautiful sentiment.

So far I have received $1,070 in my hands. Some of those were through paypal, and others by check. Today I received 2 checks that I wasn't even aware were on the way. One from a sweet new friend of mine who also happens to be a recent client. And another from one of Marcia Ramirez's blog readers. Wow. I am so thankful!

From what I can actually count so far between what has been received and specific pledges that I have already named...including my own pledge, it looks like we have about $4,420. I know there are a few peeps out there who have told me they are discussing their financial ability with spouses and will let me know something soon. And at least one of my friends has issued a challenge to her friends and family to give give give.....and so that is an unknown figure at this point.

I will not be ending this fundraiser until 3/25 so there is still plenty of time to give. I will continue to update as often as I have updates.

Thanks to everyone so far. This experience is really doing a work in me. My heart is overwhelmed and I am strengthened. I am in awe of the God who is in control of this. I bet He has already picked out the truck and is having it shipped from Japan to South Africa, where it will be spit-shined and prepared for Fatima and some of the greatest children in the world.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fingerprints on a Truck

Well, that "donate" button works apparantly, because I have received 3 generous donations of $50 each over the past 24 hours, for a truck for Fatima! Yee Haw!!! Thank you so so much.

One of those donations was from someone I do not even know. That blesses me so much. That actually really rocks my world.

Giving isn't easy. I know that. About 10 years ago, I didn't have a drop of giving blood in my body. I was raised by a single mom on a very tight budget. We never had extra of anything. I didn't even know what a savings account was. By the time I was 19, I was a single-mom. At times I was living in government subsidized housing. My sweet baby was in a sub-par daycare and I was working for minimum wage, and not going to school. My electricity got cut off. I was evicted.

By the time I went to college at the age of 24, I was working so hard to just pay the bills. I had never known anything about giving. I didn't even care. Didn't want to know.

10 years ago, I had just started my faith walk and I was volunteering in an organized church project. I was just beginning to learn of giving my time and my elbow grease. Through a special set of circumstances, I learned that there was a family that was needing something expensive replaced at their house. I soon learned that a very sweet lady I had met, had purchased it for them. Just like that. No questions asked. Wanting nothing in return, and really didn't even want other people to know about it. That caused a light bulb to go off in my head. And I have not ever been the same since. To some of you this might sound silly....but it isn't. I began praying to God right away that He would transform me into a giving person. God does not say "no" to prayer requests like that. And He began the transformation immediately.

I love to give. It is one of the greatest feelings in all of the world, and espeically when I know that what I am giving will really make a difference in someones life. Giving unconditionally is a freeing thing. Giving anonymously is a special experience as well. It's indescribable.

The past 2 years have been a near financial disaster for my family. It has been one incredibly difficult step after another, and I swear I feel like we fall in a ditch repeatedly. We have had to be more frugal than I thought I knew how to be. At times I have begged God, "WHAT is the lesson here?" And I must be awfully stubborn, because it has taken a long time for us to finally, mercifully, be in a position where the light is shining at the end of that tunnel, and the distance doesn't seem too terribly far. But, I have learned a lot. A message for another blog post..... but one thing that I have learned is that I never regret the dollars that I "give". If I buy a Starbucks Venti Mocha Latte in a moment of weakness, I regret it. If I send in a donation to Women for Women International, to benefit my precious woman in the Congo who I sponsor....I never regret it. I never miss those dollars. Never. There are 2 ministries that we support monthly. That money = never missed.

We have not been titheing the way that we should. I'll confess.....I do not always trust God with my finances that way that I should. When we stopped titheing to our wonderful church, it was a knee-jerk reaction to the devastating economy and the personal battery we experienced as a result. I'm not trying to give you the impression that I am setting a perfect example.... but I am sharing that I understand the feeling of wanting to give, but not necessarily being able to.

I want you to know how deeply I appreciate the pledges and the donations. I am a long way from the goal. "We" are a long way. But I hope and I believe.

I hope that you all will continue to spread the news of this need around. I hope some of you are secretly plotting to raise tons of money and surprise me with it. I hope you are getting your kids involved, and in teaching about this incredible principle and doctrine of reaching out and serving your fellow man. This can really be an amazing experience, if you approach it with joy.

You know where to find me, here at this bloggy thing. I've posted my address a few times, and the donate button is on my left sidebar.

I know this. At the end of March, I am wiring Fatima a bunch of money and she is going to travel with it to Durban, South Africa, and she is going to buy a truck that meets all of her needs. And I will return to Zimbabwe this year and I will ride in THAT truck, and I will see the fingerprints of countless generous and trusting souls, all over it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I now have a PayPal donate button on my blog, on the left side. :)

In other random observations, I was told today by a friend that my blog is still feeding to Facebook. I didn't know that. I thought I turned it off. Evidently, I don't know how to make it stop. And I'm on a Facebook fast so I cannot log in and figure it out. So....if you are reading this from Facebook, please click on this link to my blog and make a donation if you can, to help me and tons of other people raise money for an orphange in Zimbabwe. God bless.

Zim Truck Update

Ok, I'm working from memory here and I might make a mistake or two (please forgive me!)

M.R. has pledged $100 (Yahoo!)
C.R. has pledged $50 (YeHaw!)
M.E. is making a pledge soon. (Woot Woot)
L.Cl. is sending a check. (Right on!)
T.H. is going to make a donation to my PayPal account! (Yo Baby!)

Kim R. has emailed everybody under the sun. Marcia Ramirez blogged about me.

AND....ta da, I collected $300, $250, and $120 from close friends today! So, the first donations have been received! I have received $670 with a long long way to go.

I am so grateful for the pledges and the donations. I am trying to set up a widget on my blog that will allow you to easily donate online, but that isn't working out so far.

I am so thankful and still so full of hope! God can do what He says He can do! And I believe He's workin it! Workin' it Big!

Love to all. More updates tomorrow....and hopefully a widget!

Bare Naked #2

dark clouds hover
hover above and over my head

in the sky
midnight blue traces of you
look at me without eyes

around and away
beyond the ground, the horizon is where you play
in the orange and red that burns my head
and kills another day

beyond the ground
away and around
the horizon is where you're sound
in the black and blue of
the midnight moons' shadows
you can't be found

(c) melissa irwin 1997 -(before i knew Jesus)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dessert or Protein?

**UPDATE**(we'll call this "Icing on the Dessert") since I posted this, another precious friend KE sent me an email telling me that she has challenged all of her friends to donate $50. She's working it from her end. Now, THAT's WHAT I'M TALKIN' BOUT! Praise ye, Jesus!

If you're here for the dessert, here it is. Today, I have received emails from friends HW and KH each pledging $1,000. So....that makes $2,000 for the cause, not counting my own contribution of $1, if my math is correct.....that is $3,000 so far. That is in less than 24 hours. I am ecstatic.

I received other emails pledging to send something and to notify me soon of those amounts. One sweet friend, PS, asked if it is okay to send $20? HECK YEA, y'all. It all adds up and quite frankly, my suspicion is that we'll need tons of smaller contributions to pull this off. So please, bring it on. 2 other friends have pledged to donate money tomorrow. I'm just as giddy as a kid on the way to Disneyworld....except that I'm a full grown woman on the way to my kitchen. Not that exciting.

If you are here for the protein, here it is. I have received some phone calls today, text messages and emails that have applauded me for my efforts. It is called different things.... love for God, love for orphans, etc. I could EASILY let my head get big over this, but I truly have no desire for that. I have met these kids personally. I have held their hands, kissed their sweet faces, prayed with them and they have prayed over me. I have walked in their dirt lawns and sat in the floors of their orphanage homes. I have been there. How could I NOT go to bat for these precious people? But actually there is really only one fair answer. God planned this for me to tackle. He made this my duty as part of His mission and purpose. He is probably preparing me for more of this because I am fairly defiant that I am not going to spend the rest of my life asking people to give money for this or that.

I am a Christian. I know that not all of you are. I know that. And never when I write, do I assume that you are all going to agree with my beliefs. But I still have to act out according to what I believe, and in whom I have faith.

So there is this message in Ephesians. A truth that Christians need to understand. When I exercised faith in God, God saved me by His grace. My faith leads to Him giving me grace, His grace. I am not saved by good deeds or good works. I am not His because I say please and thank you and open doors for the elderly. I am not going to Heaven because I went to Africa. And I am not "good" because I raise money for a truck. In fact, the bible says in Ephesians chapter #2 that (1) I am God's workmanship. (2) I was created in Christ Jesus TO DO good works (3) those good works that I do were prepared by GOD himself in advance. So, if I'm reading this and interpreting this correctly, it was not my idea to serve orphans. It was God's idea all along that He planned for me and He has led me to do so. He called me to be obedient, and I had a choice about that.... but He also gave me a Spirit of Himself to dwell within me to encourage me to make those right, obedient decisions.

I want you to be excited and encouraged about my efforts. I do. But I want you to be excited for the right reasons. That by God's grace He has vowed to save you if you can exercise a little faith in Him through Christ. He has prepared awesome works for you to do....planned them long in advance of your existence. And He will find a way to speak to you, to give you purpose, and hope and He will relentlessly pursue you until you are obedient to His calling. He will equip you. He shares His power even....the same power that resurrected Christ. And He will reward your service and obedience. Some of your rewards will show up here on this earth, in the form of precious relationships, answered prayers, victories, and heart smiles. Some rewards will be preserved for your arrival into the Heavenlies. We have no idea the rewards in store for us there. It's all about mission. Be on mission for God. What does He need accomplished here? How do you fit in? You do. I promise.

What really got me dwelling on this particular cause, for me to bring awareness and raise enough money for Mrs. Maruta to buy a truck was the span of a calendar. Maybe it is the American way, or part of the dream that we don't realize. But I can pretty much bet that if there is something I need today, I will have it within a year. I need a new laptop for example. Desperately. Today is February 16, 2010. If I am patient and do it right, I will probably have to wait 6 months to replace my broken one. But if I really wanted to, I could purchase one on credit today. I take for granted all of the time that whether smartly or stupidly, I can get just about anything I want. When I heard the prayer in December 2008 for a truck to bless their lives, I would never have believed that one year later they would still be praying. When I heard the same prayer 1 year stupid head was like, "REALLY?" "Y'all are STILL praying for truck?" Well, of course they are. They are in Zimbabwe, not Tennessee. They rely on donations, not wages. They don't have credit for such purchases. They need someone like me to step off of my pride post and shout "HELP" to as many people as can hear me, and pray like a crazy woman on my face in the middle of the floor, and sit back and trust the God of the universe to provide. They needed my voice and they needed your ears. And the coolest thing to me...(goose bumps just crawled up my body) that God knew all along. He planned this in advance for me to carry. He knew it would freak me out. He knew it would even make me a little angry. And He knew I'd wait another 86 days after the entire year I waited because I didn't even seem to care.

Sometimes our mission can seem fuzzy. Sometimes it's crystal clear. This is my crystal. And if you are so called, it is your crystal too.

I have failed 3 times to give my address. It is 6840 Bridgewater Drive, Nashville, TN 37221

My Ooops

So, late late yesterday afternoon I sent out an email to a large group of contacts, baring my soul about a need for an orphanage in Zimbabwe, in an effort to raise between $10,000 - $15,000 in a matter of just a few weeks.

First of all, praise be to God that no one has fussed at me yet. But I realized after I sent the email that I didn't even verbalize how okay it would be if any of the receivers could not contribute. I have a perfect excuse for this, except that there are never any perfect excuses. I was just so hurried to press "send" for fear that I would chicken out.

For all of you who received my email and felt that I left it as though you will definitely contribute, because I said you would, and there is no room for debate.....please accept my apology. In my heart, I never once felt that. And hopefully, you didn't feel it....but this apology is here just in case.

I woke up at 3:11am and could not go back to sleep. I reached for the iPhone to check my email, with a pounding heart. I have already received a couple of emails from peeps who are planning to contribute and will get back with me soon regarding amounts. And, I have recieved one amazing pledge already of $1,000. I am so thankful and so excited!

One of my sweet friends asked me if I can receive donations through PayPal and I can. If you desire to go that route, please search for me on PayPal by entering my at&t email address, which is (melissa(dot)irwin(@)att(dot)net) . Except obviously, where I have typed the word (dot) you will actually type a (.) period. Make sense?

Again, I thank you and I praise the God above.

With love and hope,

Monday, February 15, 2010

From the Deep

Isaiah 37:16 "O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubum, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth."

Isaiah 64:8 "Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand."

You, Lord God formed me in my mother's womb. You destined my life before my first breath. You planned me for an earthly father who would wander off, and for an earthly mother who would be broken by that. You designed me to be painfully without siblings.

I have no lap to lay my head. No hands to stroke my hair. You fashioned this for your purpose. That I would seek you. Thank you. Oh mercy.

You alone, in your perfect will, designed that I would bare a child before I would even have 2 sturdy legs to stand. You knew and allowed that I would follow many a trecherous path, that I would seek approval in dark corners and that I would sell off little pieces of myself with every deal I made with this world. And you would collect all of those little pieces and sew me back together with the same tender hands that wove me from the first. You love me. Oh mercy.

You delivered me to and delivered me from friends who would shame me and suck me dry. You lifted me out of dry despair and replanted me in a garden where I could grow. You introduced me to other women who love you with the same wild heart that I have. Ones that are held together by your glue, after being shattered into bits. Oh mercy.

Your greatest plan for my life has been that you would cross my path with a man who baffles me and utterly wears me thin. You fashioned him to tolerate me and you fashioned me to somehow keep my fists to myself. You designed that we would plant and grow seeds of our own, to nurture with your sweet and steady love. You've set a test before us that my prayer is we can pass. Equip us now with the mystery that is you, and prepare our miracle. I beseech thee. Oh mercy.
You Lord God know the number of my tomorrows. You know how many belly laughs will burst forth from me and you know the tears that will fall, both publicly and privately. You know the wounds that will heal while I breathe, and the ones you will heal only when I am in your arms. You carry me and you cover me. You shield me and you let me loose. And even when I fail to follow you, you come with. I know you do, because how else could you be so right there when I come rushing back? Joshua 1:5 "No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." Oh mercy.
You are the potter. I am your clay. Clay in your hands, being formed until your work in me is done. Until your masterpiece that is me is finished, long after I am gone.
Thank you God for my thoughts and my heart that treks along the path, peeking behind every tree and under every rock in search of your glory. Thank you for your Son and His mercy seat.

Bare Naked #1

it's not where i am but where i'd like to be
under the brilliant hues of an old oak tree
listening to the hurried hunt of a squirrel
and the songs of a bird as he sings to the world.

feeling the energy from the warmth of the sun
opposing the forces of wind as i run
watching the butterfly dance with the bee
it's not that i am, but that i hope to be free

(c) melissa irwin 1998

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Homemade Valentines Cards

Happy Valentine's Day weekend. Below are some photos of my fam gettin' all crafty!

Have a great weekend, filled with love!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Camping in the Snow

Last night we went camping. And by "we" I mean Joe and Asher. And by "camping" I mean, sleeping in the living room under make shift tents. And no matter that the snow outside has almost completely melted. Ok, I have just completely ruined this blog post. Let me start over.

Two nights ago Asher got it into his precious sweet head that he wanted to have a camping night in our living room, complete with hotdogs and smores. Well, on Wednesday night I couldn't pull all of that off on short notice, so I planned his dream evening for last night.

I should go back and mention that I kept the boys home from school yesterday because they are minorly sniffely and I am majorly sniffely. My mom came over to watch them while I ran out to do 2 hours worth of work in the early afternoon, and to purchase our camping foods at the grocery. But aside from that 2 hours, Asher talked about our indoor camping adventure all day long. And by all day, I mean every 27 seconds. I was ready to toss that kid to a pack of wolves. Ok, that was harsh. I was ready to wrap him in duct tape but keep him indoors safely out of the reach of any wolf packs.

Where was I?

Smores! Ah yes. That's where I was, almost. So when Asher discovered the package of marshmellows that I obviously failed to hide well, thus decreasing the 27 second breaks between jabbering about camping, down to a mere 9 seconds.......I had to breakdown and start the camping early.

Asher saw me retrieve our old crib mattress and the boy had the nerve to say, "Mommy, why are you getting the mattress now? I thought you weren't going to bring it out until bedtime!". Little did he know I was about to give him some sedatives and tuck him in right away. Ok ok ok....I shouldn't joke that way. I don't even have any sedatives. I was gonna get him liquored up. Gosh, there I go again.

What was I talking about?

Oh yeah, chocolate. So anyway......we had our hotdogs which I did cook in a pan of boiling water to make it more special than microwaving them. And we had some raw veggies, just like they do in the wild. Then, it was time for smores. The smores that Asher had been talking about every 9 seconds, all day long. I found our fire starter thingamajiggy and went to town roasting a marshmellow right in our kitchen. Graham crackers, a nice chunk of Hershey's milk chocolate and voila! I handed it to Asher and he almost cried. He didn't want it.

Where are my boots cuz I'm gonna drop kick this kid into the next county? Ok, that was drastic. I'll drive him.

But this story ends well. I told Asher he would eat the smore, or else. And he did. AND, he loved it. Then me and my sickly body went and crawled into my tiny little king sized bed with soft sheets and and fluffy mattress while the boys did there thing in make shift tents in the living room.

As much as the non-stop jibber jabber almost turned my hairs gray, I LOVE committing to Asher and helping pull off his plans. I love to see his joy. I just love it. Life is fun when you turn the living room into a camp grounds. Maybe this year we can go on a real camping trip.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

As promised in my post yesterday, I am posting the introduction to this wonderful book today. Please read. And then go read the book, I tell ya!


Hello again.

If you’re reading this book, it might be because you already have read Same Kind of Different as Me, a true story about my wife, Deborah, and the man who changed our lives, Denver Moore. If you haven’t, don’t worry—we’ve included enough of the story to catch you up. (The “catch up” sections from Same Kind of Different as Me are in italics.)

Since June 2006, when Same Kind of Different as Me snuck first onto bookstore shelves, then onto the New York Times bestsellers list, Denver and I have traveled thousands of miles back and forth across America. We’ve spoken at hundreds of venues, from local book clubs filled with sweet little old ladies to the Bethesda, Maryland, symphony hall. (We were in Bethesda as guests of Doro Bush Kock and her mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, who quite possibly is Denver’s biggest fan.) Throughout that time, we have seen thousands of lives changed—homeless shelters started and millions of dollars raised for the homeless, yes, but also astonishing changes in the lives of everyday Americans that we never could’ve imagined or predicted.

That’s why we wrote this book, to tell you just a few of the stories of hope and redemption that God continues to write in the lives of so many—and in our own.

One day in the spring of 2009, as we were writing, I was in the kitchen at the Murchison estate, where Denver and I live, on a conference call with executives at Thomas Nelson, our publisher. During the call, Denver walked in.

“Hey, Denver,” I said, putting the call on speaker. “We’re talking about titles for the new book. Got any ideas?”

“Title for the new book?” he said, screwing his eyelids down into his famous hard squint. “What difference do it make?”

“What Difference Do It Make?” I said. “That’s it!”

Denver shrugged and walked off, shaking his head.

It was the perfect title. Since Same Kind came out, over and over, like the needle stuck in the groove of an old vinyl record, we’ve repeated a single message: one person can make a difference. My wife, Deborah Hall, is proof of that.

As many of you know, God took Deborah in 2001. Cancer. But if she were here today, she would tell you she was nobody special. If you had come to our house, she would have made you fresh coffee or tea and invited you to sit down at the kitchen table and tell her about yourself. And you would have felt loved. Because that was Deborah’s gift. She loved God and, because of her intimate walk with Him, loved people. Her whole life was about forgiveness and unconditional love, two qualities that most of us find difficult to master on a regular basis.

It really was that simple. Deborah’s life showed that kind of love is attainable for anyone willing to put in the time on their knees, then overcome their fear and go out and get their hands a little dirty. And I have talked to literally hundreds of people who told me that Deborah’s story inspired them to do just that. Through the difference her life made, others are now making a difference, and that’s in part what this book is about. It’s packed full with stories folks have shared with us about how Deborah’s example inspired them to do more, both in their own homes and in their communities.

A lady named Ann, for example, wrote to us from Vivian, a small Louisiana town just north of Shreveport—not too far from Red River Parish, where Denver worked the plantations. Ann wrote of how she loaned Same Kind of Different as Me to about twenty different friends. Every friend who brings it back has a very different story about how the story affected him or her.

“One person notices the friendship Denver and Ron share,” Ann wrote. “Another feels shame over the way her grandparents treated the ‘Denvers’ in their lives.”

One woman surprised Ann by telling her that the portion of the book that dealt with Deborah’s cancer battle stirred her to go and have a colonoscopy she’d been putting off!

Like Ann, we’ve been struck by the amazing variety of stories people tell us about how Debbie’s story affected them. Here we thought we were writing a book about one woman’s determination to make a difference for the homeless, and we started getting letters about marriages restored, friendships renewed, ministries begun, even babies adopted!

In Fort Worth, a high school teacher named Carin told us that, “unbelievably,” she’d been able to get the school administration to approve our book to be read by her entire mental-health class. “The students have learned how so many issues affect our mental health,” Carin wrote. “I have also used the book to help relay to them the importance of community involvement, passion, and what it means to be a servant to others.”

Shortly after Deborah died, her best friend, Mary Ellen, told me that God had whispered to her during prayer that Deborah was like the kernel of wheat Jesus refers to in the gospel of John: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Mary Ellen told me she thought that maybe Deborah’s death would be like that—fruitful. I cannot even express how much I absolutely did not want to hear that at the time. But it appears that Mary Ellen was right, more right than even she knew.

She told me about the wheat kernel just a couple of days before the dedication of the Deborah L. Hall Memorial Chapel, the new worship facility built at the Union Gospel Mission in my wife’s honor and funded by donations that poured in after local folks heard Denver’s story at her memorial service. At the time, we thought the chapel, along with the new care facilities for the homeless, were the fruit God would bring from my wife’s death. I had no idea that the Union Gospel Mission was just the first fruit in what would become a cornucopia of blessing.

Take Detra, for example. Detra, who lives in Austin, Texas, wrote to tell us that after reading Deborah’s story, she decided to start carrying food and socks and blankets in her car so that she can bless the homeless. Also, her church had a picnic in an Austin park and had so much food that they began feeding hungry people who were in the park that day.

One little girl asked Detra, “When are you coming back?”

After that, the church made the picnic a monthly event where church members sit down and break bread with the homeless.

Would I take back blessings like that one and those you are about to read about in this book? If I could rewind time like a video and create a cancer story with a happy ending, would I?

I’m sorry to say there’s a big part of me that says, “Yes! I want my wife back!”

But I can tell you without reservation that Deborah would say, “No, Ron. I’ll see you soon.”

And so the story goes on—men and women all over the country inspired by the story of Denver and Deborah to make a difference in other people’s lives. Over the past three years, I thought I was making a difference too—traveling and speaking all over the country, “carrying Miss Debbie’s torch,” as Denver calls it. And I suppose I was.

But in 2009, I learned that sometimes the most difficult difference to make is the one that’s closest to home.

– Ron Hall
Dallas, Texas
July 2009

Monday, February 8, 2010

What Difference Do It Make?

I recently mentioned a book that I read and loved loved LOVED! It was called "Same Kind of Different As Me", by Ron Hall and Denver Moore w/ Lynn Vincent. I started a conversation about this book on Facebook and heard nothing but 100% agreement from numerous other people who have read the book. It is a beautiful true story, told from 2 perspectives, alternately between Ron and Denver, each one chapter at a time. The story was inspired by Ron's wife, Debbie. Ron and Debbie are filthy rich. Denver is a homeless man. Even though the story is true, thoughtful, provoking, hearty and is so amazing and awesome that at times, you forget you are reading truth....because it is the stuff of incredible fiction. But it isn't. It is real.

Soon after I posted that I enjoyed the book so much, I received a complimentary copy of their follow up titled, "What Difference Do It Make?" I have had the book about a week. The only reason I can figure that I didn't dive right in is because I do not like sequels. I find them to always be a disappointment. Ok, not always...but you know, it just isn't my favorite thing to do. The first book, "Same Kind...." seemed to touch on everything! What more could there possibly be to share? I quietly assumed it was just an attempt to keep riding on the popular wave of success and NYTimes Best Sellers lists.

I was wrong.

It is an incredible read. I DO recommend you reading the first one first, but there is plenty in this book to read on its own, if you must. But I swear, you're missing out if you don't read them both. And even though both of these men are Christians and their love for God is talked about in the book, you can be of any faith or no faith at all and thoroughly enjoy this book. Because the bottom line is, this story is about acceptance, compassion, inspiration and love.

One of my favorite details in both books is that Mr. Moore's chapters are written phonically. Mr. Moore is an aging black man who grew up in Louisiana as a sharecropper. He didn't attend school. His english is his own and I am so thankful that the book was written true to his speech and language. I feel like I can hear him speak while I'm reading, and it makes for an exceptional sound effect (even if it is only in my mind).
And now I am going to step out on a limb here and praise the co-author Lynn Vincent. I am just betting it is her silent voice that lends to the some of the jaw dropping imagery.
Just go read it.
And come back here and let me know what you thought!
FYI, tomorrow I will post the introduction. It might have made me cry a little. Or, a lot.


Did I mention that my giving up meat won't begin until my freezer is empty? I think I did. Anyway....nice bowl of hearty, meaty chili made it's way to my tummy last night, and again today for lunch. Yummmmmmmmmm. On the other hand, I tasted not a drop of Facebook last night or today. Not a drop. And I can tell that this part of the journey will be easy. I am thankful to have received many precious emails from supportive facebook friends. Thanks y'all.

The meatiest dish of all today was my bible study time. Man, God's word really packs a punch and I am thrilled and amazed by a healthy dose of focus. Thank you, Lord!

I memorized two verses today. I have been reciting them all day and I will continue until I know that I know that I know that I know I will never forget them. I want them to fall off my tongue when I encounter a person who needs to hear the truth of God's word. And I want to be equipped when Satan tries again to knock me off my path. And I want to memorize many many more....not for memory sake, but because I want scripture to be more a part of me than my own thoughts and ideas. I want it that bad.

What else did I do today? Well, while Asher and Shawn took a lengthy nap (3 hours) I read a book. Yep, a whole book, cover to cover. I didn't even get up to pee. The book was meaty too. It was amazing. I cried 3 times.....with the 1st being just in the introduction. Seriously.....I can't wait to tell you more about the book.


Nighty night.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Cold-Turkey Conviction

This post is geared to be an explanation for my facebook friends...but if you are a regular reader of my blog, please continue reading. It's life stuff.

This past week my bible study group and I got back together to begin a new study. It will not come as a surprise to many of you that we are diving into yet another Beth Moore study. We love her....I mean really really deeply love her. Beth is a phenomenal teacher. She just is. Point blank. Bottom line. This study that we are doing as of now is called "Believing God". We were supposed to do the study on John, however a couple of things interfered with that and so we abruptly changed direction....and as that pivot took place, we knew that it was God. You know, sometimes He just makes changing directions easy. By force.

We met last Wednesday for our first meeting where we watched the first DVD lesson. This study is 9 weeks, 10 lessons that are to drive and encourage us not just to believe IN God, but to actually BELIEVE HIM. To know and believe His promises. To TRUST Him. And I can tell you this....this is exactly what I need to be studying right now. God is Sovereign. This isn't just a coincidence.

Today I sat in my favorite chair with all of my study materials and I was reading, studying, and doing my homework, I was overwhelmed with the sense that God was calling me to a myriad of fasts during this study. Why? Because I need to believe Him more than ever right now.....and I have distractions. He cannot do all that He has prepared to accomplish through me if I am distracted. And certainly not if I am lacking spiritual health.

I am sharing this with you for one reason ongoing desire to be authentic in the hopes that even one of my readers can benefit from my experience being shared.

I will fast from facebook for at least 9 weeks. The earliest I will allow myself to return to facebook is Wednesday April 7. I have already logged off of my mobile application. I have changed every setting on my facebook account to make some things not accessible at all. I will no longer feed my blog to facebook. And I will not receive any notifications of any kind...and that includes if you email me through facebook. I will not know. I have turned it all off. I did not deactivate my account because I want you to be able to post if you want to....but I won't know about it until April 7.


Because the only status update I need to be curious about for the next 9-10 weeks is that of my husband. I need to know what he is up to. What he is thinking about. I need to be more concerned about what is going on in his life and his heart above anyone else. I have done very poorly at this. He has not asked this of me. I'm doing it out of the conviction I received from my Heavenly Father today. I mentioned on my blog recently that Joe and I are in marriage counseling. I want it to work. Distractions will not help us. The other conviction for my time-out would be that I need more time-in with God. He spoke that pretty clearly to me this morning.

Another major issue I am dealing with internally is a lack of motivation and a lack of trust in God regarding some fairly significant things that I want to accomplish, for Him. I need to raise a lot of money for a friend in Zimbabwe. I am dreading this and I am doubting that I can accomplish this mission and purpose that He has designed for me to do, for His glory. I must focus. No distractions. There is also a side business I want to start....and I get frozen with stress and doubt. He is calling me to more time on my knees with Him. He will bring me to the place of motivation, joy, excitement, determination and ability. It's all about Him.

I should clarify here that I do not necessarily spend an unhealthy amount of time on facebook. The unhealthiness is in my heart moreso. And I want to further state that convictions are specific to individual people..... facebook may not be interfering with your heart. So I am not trying to set a precedent. You must deal with your convictions when God speaks them to you. I am not making a statement about facebook, in any way.

I am also working toward giving up unhealthy meats. If I cannot afford to do the organic deal, I'll not eat meat at all. Aside from finishing off the meat that I have in my freezer...(not much), it's over. I don't believe God is calling me to this for any other reason that to have me starve for Him more. Literally, crave Him. It isn't about animal rights. It is about being kind to my body and being hungry for God.

I have recently had more sodas than what is normal for me....and funny how just a few can send you into a nasty downward spiral. I have to quit. Even though it is just one a day....I have to give it up. My body is my temple. Jesus resides in the temple. Impurities mess up my body. Soda is not good for me. doesn't have to be yours.

Over the next 9 weeks, one very positive change that I want to experience in my life is a desire and an ability to memorize scripture. I want the word of God to be so close to my tongue that I am never at a loss for it. And my other primary prayer and goal is that Joe and I will complete all of the homework that we are given by our counselor, that we will be restored individually and together, all for the glory of God. I am already seeing God work miracles. And I want more of that. all of my facebook friends, especially the ones who have regular contact with me.....I know that friendship is a two way street....and man I am really going to miss you. Some of you have impacted me greatly and I will certainly feel a loss while I am adjusting. I invite you to email me directly or keep in touch with me through this blog...or BOTH. My direct email is Please use it frequently. Or meet me here at my blog and leave comments, etc. If you have a blog that I need to be aware of, please let me know. I want to know and to remain connected to my friends and kindred spirits. It will just require extra effort.

You'll always know what's up with me, because you can find me here. Please, come visit.

Here are 2 verses I am studying this week, in an effort to have the faith that God wants me to have. Full faith, without doubt.

Hebrews 11:6 - Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Ephesians 3:12 - In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Do you have any questions or advice for me? Leave a comment.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bring A Helmut

Is it better to have a spotless house and complete order, but a shortage of snuggles? Or an abundance of snuggles and a deficiency in order?

Visit my house most days, and you'll see I'm choosing the abundance of hugs, with extra helpings of little boy kisses. If you could peek in, you'd hear lots of singing, watch a ridiculous amount of dancing, and you'd overhear some precious sentiments exchanged between me and that Tater Tot. You'd smell a large pile of dirty laundry and your socks would collect dust along the wooden floors. You'd find a table smeared in Shawn's prints with yesterdays yogurt. You would have to step over the toys and books to find a spot on the crumb covered sofa. You'd find almost nothing in its "proper" spot. Ok, that's an exaggeration. You'd find a lot of things in their proper, messy spot. But, my house is the easy thing to figure out.

If you could crawl into my heart and sit a spell, you might enjoy high doses of tenderness before being utterly suffocated. Sometimes this love feels like a seizure and I'm stuck between enjoying the oddity of it, and the pain of wishing I didn't have to feel it so severely. (I know a little bit about mild seizures.) I guess it borders on darkness to think that sometimes my heart just feels like it can't take it anymore. It's that old saying, "love hurts". It does. But we can't live without it. My's a mess in there sometimes.

If you could squeeze a spy-cam into my mind, you might observe that eery calm before the storm, with an occasional gust of wind that you never saw coming. It's always all a twhirl up there. (I think I just made up a word. My mind isn't gonna let me visit right now because it just doesn't care if I made up a word, or used a legitimate one incorrectly.) It cares more about where my love is going, if it is moving in the right directions. It often isn't. It saturates certain areas of my life and leaves other areas hung out to dry. It boggles and frustrates me because I want it to all go in the right direction. My's a mess in there sometimes.

Sometimes my mind feels disconnect from my heart, thinking my way through life, the next steps, the consequences, the plans, the details. Other times my mind is absent and my heart is light and swelled like a floating balloon, with pride. Or it's heavy like a rock that I cannot pick up. Can they ever just walk this journey hand in hand? Does anyone do this well?

I sure wish both my head and my heart could constantly move toward Christ, without ever veering off of His path, without seizing up, without having to weather some scary storms. Or maybe it does, and this is all just part of it.

I wish you could spend some time in my heart or in my mind without needing a helmut, or a seatbelt, or a tranquilizer gun.