Lady in the Yellow House

this-old-yellow-houseWeek after week, my prayer list held the same phrase, lady in the yellow house. This is God’s story of how God brought love to the inhabitants of the yellow house.

The rain had just started as we continued on to the last few houses we had on our route for the day. Mikayla, my 11 year old daughter, clutched the flyer which shared the information about our church’s Thanksgiving outreach. Our heart was to make sure every family living in our church neighborhood had a Thanksgiving meal.

We rounded the corner on the sidewalk that led to the yellow house. There was commotion in and around the house, but we walked up confident of the love we had to share. Mikayla knocked on the door and a scowling woman answered the door. I began, “Hi, I’m Lisa and this is my daughter, Mikayla. Our church…”

“No! No! No! Oh no. Leave me alone! Get away from me!” the angry woman yelled at us. Throwing the flyer down in an outrage, she slammed the door. I had no words to say. Mikayla was shaking and crying

I’d like to say compassion filled my heart, but that was not my immediate reaction. As we walked away in stunned silence, I couldn’t just let it go. I reassured Mikayla that we were not doing anything wrong, that we were okay, and that everyone else had been loving and gracious to us on our mission. But, my heart remained on that woman. I just wanted to tell her our purpose. If only she knew that we weren’t asking her for anything at all. Not inviting her to church. Not asking for a donation. Just wanting to bless her with a free meal.

Before I could think any further, she emerged back out of her door. Okay, God, here I go again. “We just wanted to ask if you need a Thanksgiving meal,” I call to her before she has a chance to shut us out again.

“You get away from me!” she screamed at us as she headed to a neighbor’s house.

Well, that was that. We would not be talking to the lady in the yellow house that day. The rain came down heavy now and our route was complete. Time to head back to our car to soak up the heat and rest our tired feet.

Why did God have us go to her door? Did any of the love we had to share break through to her at all? Discouraging questions ran through my mind, until I began praying for the lady in the yellow house.

I prayed that God would soften her heart:

Ezekiel 36:26,  “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Although I didn’t see her after that day, God brought her to my mind almost on a daily basis. I waited on the Lord to show me what He wanted me to do, but in the meantime, I prayed.

Distribution day came. It was an amazing day. Families piled into our church. Greeted by our Pastor. Given mochas, hot chocolate, muffins, cookies. Families were prayed for. They were each given a full bag of food containing the side dishes for a Thanksgiving meal, a huge pumpkin pie, and a gift card to buy a turkey. My daughter even set up a table full of books and stuffed animals for the kids to take.

In all, we had 107 full meals to distribute that day. It was thrilling to see how the Lord worked to bring the families there and how He worked through those of us who were willing and eager to be used by God.

At the end of our scheduled distribution time, we still had several meals left. I knew where one of the meals was going. I always knew that I would be making my way back over to that yellow house. No words would be needed this time as we were holding a beautiful pumpkin pie and a large bag of food. She couldn’t turn us away today.

Mikayla joined me as we walked up the familiar sidewalk and rounded the corner to our destination. There was a younger woman sitting outside the door to the house. Not the lady we had encountered on our first trip. She was sitting down in an old lawn chair, crying.

“Can I talk to her, mom?” my daughter asked me. “Yes, of course,” I replied.

“Would you like this Thanksgiving meal?” Mikayla asked the distraught young woman.

“No,” shaking her head, keeping a steady look toward the ground, quickly discarding her cigarette.

Oh, dear woman, if only you knew, we don’t care that you were smoking. We want to love you.

“Well, do you know anyone that could use this meal?” I ask her, while motioning at the pumpkin pie like one of the ladies on the Price is Right.

“Well, you are starting to convince me to take it.” Looking up from the ground, her red rimmed eyes met mine, “But, why? Why would you do this?”

“Because we love you and Jesus loves you so much…” I could barely get the words out before she was standing and leaning in towards both of us, hugging and sobbing against us. She cried hard. “Can I pray for you?” I asked. Big nods from her head assured me we were not going to be turned away this time.

“What is your name?” I asked. All those weeks, I longed to know the name of the lady in the yellow house.  God had clearly brought us back to this house for a purpose and her name was Kristina.

I prayed for Kristina as she continued to hug us and cry. Amen, so be it, Lord. May she find peace in you. Hope in the death and resurrection of your Son. A fountain of love in your plan and purpose for her life.

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She wiped her tears and then her heart softened. “You guys don’t even know,” she poured out her deep sadness, “my mom died on this exact day 3 years ago,” choking on her tears, she continued on. “And, I just talked to my dad and he’s been having strokes lately.”

This, Lord, is why you brought us here. 

“The Lord loves you so much, Kristina. He sent us here to tell you that.”

Laughing and shaking her head, she asks, “Where did you guys even come from?”

Mikayla explained that we came from the church down the road. We had no other explanation to offer her other than God loves her so much that He sent us to her in her desperate time of need.

Kristina was not at all forgotten by the Lord. He saw her tears. He knew she was hurting. And, He saw fit to use Mikayla and I to reach her.

There is nothing like that in all of the world. Knowing the Creator of the Universe chose to use us in that brief little moment in time to help bring comfort to a hurting soul. There is also nothing like being the recipient of God’s love when we are in need.

For a brief period of time that afternoon, all was right in the world in front of the yellow house. There was a need. God was completely aware of the need. There were God’s children ready to be used. And, the need was met. Beautiful.

Oh, God, thank you for your beautiful plan for Kristina. Thank you for loving her so very much. Thank you for using Mikayla and I to demonstrate your love to her. Please help us to see the needs in front of us and step forward in obedience with You. Amen. 

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Blessed One

 

I saw you dear Christian. Hesitant to speak.  Concerned over words and reactions.  Uncertainty growing into a willingness to yield. Obedience followed by excitement.

I saw you desperate mom. Working hard each day. Little sleep, little reward. Pouring out your heart to the stranger at your door. Feeling love and less loneliness.

I saw you bold children. Fearlessly approaching doors. Knocking with vigor. Talking to strangers. Praying with God’s people. Learning to serve with love.

I see you dedicated servant. Skimping so that you could buy food for the hungry. Bagging up meals.  Greeting families. Loading and then unloading 100 pumpkin pies.

I saw you faithful Pastor. Leading the church. Selflessly serving the people. Working behind the scenes. Giving of yourself.

I saw you hungry family.  Humbly admitting your need. Reaching out for help. Surprised that God heard your prayer. Genuinely giving your thanks.

I saw you Holy Spirit. Leading the hearts. Filling the bodies. Supernaturally guiding the ministry.

I saw you Heavenly Father. Meeting the needs. Providing for your children. Teaching us  to sacrifice.

I saw you and I was the one who was blessed.

Read more about our outreach and consider reaching out in  your own neighborhood:

Who Will Knock on Her Door?

The Answer is Jesus

Missed Opportunities

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Who Will Knock on Her Door?

If we truly believe that Jesus is the path to Heaven, the direction to everlasting life, and the route to eternity, then how can we keep that news hidden?

We live in a neighborhood with sidewalks, and many houses crammed into not a lot of space. It’s conducive to door-to-door sales and religious missionaries. On a weekly basis we will have high school fundraisers, people promoting their extermination businesses, or others expressing their faith at our doorstep. Many times we don’t answer the door. But, at times, we do. We hear their spiel, kindly reply, and then go about our day.

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What makes this a cut and dry process for us is that we are not searching. We are not wondering how to donate financially. We are not looking for the best way to rid our house of pests. And, we are not searching for something or someone to fill the role of Lord of our lives. 

But, many are. You can’t go outside without coming across a lost soul, looking for meaning for their life. People are searching for wisdom. They are in need of purpose. They lack direction. In general, they are lost.

During our Thanksgiving outreach (read about our outreach here: The Answer is Jesus and Missed Opportunities) the other day, I met a beautiful woman who seemed to be just waiting for someone to come to her door. It was about 4:00 in the afternoon. Our group had been murmuring about whether anyone would actually be home at this time of day. Most people would still be at work, so we’d probably just be leaving flyers at the door and not actually get to speak to many people face to face.

Knocking on the green door, my mind wandered and my hands began to wrap up the flyer to prepare it to be left in the door jam. Suddenly, a small woman somewhere around my age, opened the door.

Thankfully my mind went into automatic mode and I began my phrase, “Hi, my name is Lisa. We are putting together some Thanksgiving meals. If you or anyone you may know is in need of a meal this Thanksgiving, you can call this phone number here, and we will set you up with a meal.”

She replied with a slow, “Oh, okay.”

Switching out of automatic and into being led by the Holy Spirit, I say, “Do you think you may know someone who may be in need?”

She looks me straight in the eye, “Yes. Me. I am in need.”

She went on to explain her situation of working a full-time job, being a single mom, receiving no child support, and struggling to feed her family. My role was to listen. Really listen. Hearing her pain. Loneliness. Fear. Fatigue. Need. 

I sympathized with the incredible burden she faced and then I offered her more than a meal. “Can I pray for you?”

“Yes. You can.”

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I prayed for her and her boys. I told her I really hoped to get her call and then to see her again. I offered a few more words of encouragement and then left.

As I walked away, I prayed that her heart would be open to receive the truth. That she would know she is so loved. That God knows her struggles. She’s not alone. That she can receive forgiveness of her sins and a life of freedom, as well as eternal life with our Savior. I thanked God that she was open and receptive to the truth. I thanked God that He had orchestrated that moment for her path to cross my path. 

I couldn’t help but remember the precious woman my daughter and I met during an outreach in Mexico who cried overwhelming sobs because she had prayed and been given a vision of Americans coming to her door to pray with her. And, then, less than an hour later, we, a group of praying  Americans came to her door step! “Gracias, Senor” she kept repeating to our Lord.

As Christians, we are aware of our sins, and we believe and know that Jesus forgives our sins. We believe and know that Jesus paid the price and made a way for us to be reconciled to the Father. He created a way for us to have eternal life. We know that Jesus and God the Father are one. These truths are foundational and they are everything to the believer. These truths are what we must intentionally share with those we come across. 

Just as the religious missionary walks through our neighborhood spreading false teaching, contrary to what the Bible, God-breathed scripture teaches, Christian believers should be ready to share the truth. 

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For the seeker, they are vulnerable to news being shared at their doorstep. They open their door and are susceptible to whatever words are going to be shared. I am grieved imagining  the possibility of the single mom opening her door to deceptive lies. This grief coupled with the burning desire for others to know the truth, is the motivation I need to knock on a strangers door and share my faith.

1 Peter 3:15, But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

Read more about sharing your faith here: What’s Your Story

God Appointments

“It’s metal on metal,” my husband declared. “The brakes need to be done today. It’s no longer safe at all to drive that car the way it is.”

“But, the girls’ music classes? Our Thanksgiving outreach time this afternoon?” I whine in protest. Read about the outreach here: The Answer is Jesus and Missed Opportunities

“I don’t know what to tell you. The brakes are shot.”

“My books. We have to get my books on hold at the library. Oh, it just has to work out for me to get my books today,” my daughter chimes in.

All our carefully laid plans for the day, are out the window. Plan #1…uncheck.

Plan #2: We pack up our school stuff, planning to spend the morning at the car dealership.

“I need to leave my car here to have the brakes replaced and my goal is to be out of here by 3:00 this afternoon, ” I state with all authority.

“Well, we can’t get to it for an hour and then we can see what all needs to be done to it.  Then we will let you know what time it will be done. In the meantime, Bob, our shuttle driver would be happy to give you a ride home and we’ll call you to tell you what we find and give you an estimate,” the kind man replies. Plan #2…uncheck.

Plan #3: Bob gives us a ride home, where we will do our school work as usual today.

“Girls, go ahead and get your math books out.”

Rustling around, papers being shuffled, grumbling voices. “Uh, mom, I think you may have done something with our books.”

Blank, crazed look back at the girls.  I rack the inner recesses of my uncaffeinated brain. Books? Where in the world are the books? Back up to Plan 2…oh yeah, they were all packed up into the car to take to the dealership, where we were going to do be doing school for the morning. Poor, neglected books, sitting unused in the back of my car at the dealership. Plan #3…uncheck.

Plan #4: Math games at home, art, walk outside for exercise, and reading.

20 minutes into Multiplication War, my phone rings. “Hello?”

“Hi, this is Larry, from Marysville Ford. We took a look at your car and you need a full set of rear brakes. You will likely need front brakes in about 6 months. Oh, and the check engine light you mentioned? Yeah, we are going to need to order the necessary part.”

The rest of the conversation is a bit of a blur. Huge, amazingly large numbers being thrown out for replacing the brakes and an even huger, amazingly ridiculous number tossed out to replace the part causing the engine light to come on.

“I will have to call my husband and get back to you.”

“I am sorry,” my husband says, “we just don’t have that kind of money. Please call them back and explain that to them. And, then you may need to call around and see about a better price.” Plan #4…uncheck.

Plan #5: Have shuttle driver pick us up at home, bring us back to dealership to pick up our car, take car to Les Schwab (where the price quoted was about half of what the dealership quoted), shuttle ride home from there and wait for our ride to church later to participate in our outreach opportunity.

Whew. Not one thing I planned today went as I had planned it.

A couple of weeks ago, when we were heading out to do outreach work for the Lord, my car would not start. Now, today, I have no brakes and thus no car to use. Coincident? No. These stumbling blocks and changes in plans are not coincidence. The enemy would love for us to stay home. To hang our heads in defeat and say, “I guess we were just meant to stay home today.”

A couple of weeks ago, when my car wouldn’t start, I reached out to our church through Facebook. Sandy said, she just happened to check Facebook at that moment and quickly responded with, “I can come pick you guys up!” 20 minutes later, she was at our door, picking us up, delivering us to the church not a minute late for the outreach.

So, today, I recognized the enemies attempt to foil the Lord’s plan for outreach immediately. Again, I posted our request on Facebook, and even before securing shuttle rides to and from car repair places, I secured our ride for the outreach. The Lord immediately provided our ride and my mind was at ease.

It was tempting to see the middle part of our day as sort of a wash. No math instruction, no science, no history, no reading, no writing. Running around place to place just to get a car fixed.

But, then the Lord brought to mind ALL of the many people we interacted with today. If my Plan #1 had taken place, I never would have interacted with:

  • The service department man who read a portion of my daughter’s Bible study lesson along with her. Did that spark a remembrance of a time when he sought the Word for wisdom?
  • The shuttle driver who heard my daughter reading her Bible memory verse aloud. Did the power of God’s truth resonate in his soul as she said the words?
  • The 2nd shuttle driver who told us her adoption story and then heard our adoption story. Was she reminded of the beauty and sovereignty of God through hearing our story? And, were my girls touched by hearing her tell them, “they were chosen by their parents”?

I imagine little seeds dropped about to people that we may have never come in contact with had our plans not been disrupted.

Although I believe the enemy tried to derail us today,  the Lord prevailed.

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The Answer is Jesus

Green beans

Canned cranberries

Cornbread mix

Boxed potatoes

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Compiling our list of needed foods for our Thanksgiving meal outreach, I thought to myself, most of these foods are non-perishable items. Couldn’t people just go to the food bank to get these? They could make the phone call to the local food bank, drive themselves to the pick up location, grab their bag of food, and drive home. Their basic need for food would be met. Done. Easy as that.

Why go to the trouble with this outreach? What can we provide that the food bank may not?

It’s about the relationship. Going to the people’s doors, speaking to them, meeting them in their home, face-to-face. Meeting their families. Talking to them on the phone. Inviting them to  church. Welcoming them into our lives.

What’s different with this outreach? The answer is JESUS.

Jesus was relational. He ate with the people. He lived among the people. He spoke to and taught the people. He loved the people. He related to the people.

It’s Jesus that draws people in.

Last night, during our outing in our church neighborhood, one of the men in our group, Rich,  met a woman at her home named, Kathy. He offered her a Thanksgiving meal, but he sensed her need was greater.

After leaving her doorstep, a few minutes later, Rich met up with the rest of us, telling us about the woman he had just met. We began praying for her. Seconds after we said, “Amen”, Kathy came back out of her house, walking towards us. She had given my youngest daughter an umbrella to borrow, but wanted to tell her she could just keep the umbrella.

It was more than an umbrella that drew her back to our group. What brought her out of her warm, dry house, into the pouring rain in pursuit of our group? The answer is, Jesus.

She began openly sharing about her need for a Thanksgiving meal as well as difficulties some of her family members are experiencing.

Rich said we’d like to pray for her. Kathy immediately accepted, leaned in, grasped the hands of those of us around her, and lapped up the words spoken to the Father on her behalf.

After the prayer, Rich began to share about Jesus’ love for her and her family. At the mention of the name of Jesus, Kathy not only leaned in closer, but actually physically took several steps closer. Jesus was drawing her in.

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Drawn in just like the disciples who were told to, “Follow me” and then dropped everything and followed.

Drawn in like the woman in the crowd with the bleeding disorder desiring to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment.

Drawn in like the friends lowering the paralytic man through the roof to be near Jesus and receive healing.

Drawn in like Peter being willing to step out of the boat onto the water to be near Jesus.

What about you?

Do you know about Jesus’ love for you? Do you hear Him calling your name, drawing you in, maybe for the first time? Or, maybe you have forgotten…letting time and space come between you and your Creator.

Let today be the day you set aside whatever is holding you back and allow Jesus to draw you in.

The answer is Jesus.

Thank you, Jesus. Your love is powerful. At the mention of your name, darkness hides and your goodness prevails. 

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Missed Opportunities

Walking around the Marysville neighborhood, we inquire about the sweet neighbors need for a meal for Thanksgiving. “Hi, we are from Calvary Chapel Marysville, the church just down the road, and we are wondering if you or anyone you know is in need of a Thanksgiving meal?”

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We mostly receive pleasantly surprised looks when the people realize we aren’t doing a fundraiser, but are instead hoping to bless them with a meal.

Although, I have been a part of this outreach project in the past, I stumbled on the correct words a few times. I was caught off guard once when a woman turned the tables and instead of needing a meal, she wanted to know how she could join in our efforts. One neighbor became outraged as soon as she heard the word “church”.  And the planner (a.k.a. me), didn’t have a plan about which addresses we were going to go to that day. All that to say, our outreach wasn’t polished or perfect. 

When my 9-year-old and 11-year-old got in the car with me to head home from our time in the neighborhood, I saw my gospel tracts sitting on the seat next to me. “Oh, wow, how did I forget those?” I mumble under my breath, rolling my eyes at myself.

“What are you talking about, mom?” How do they ALWAYS hear me when I talk to myself?

“Oh, I had planned to give some of the neighbors some of these cards that have a gospel message on them…a missed opportunity,” I lower my head sadly.

“You’ve been saying that a lot lately, mom. You know about your ‘missed opportunities'”, my 11-year-old comments.

“Gee, thanks, I guess you are right,” I reply, in defeat.

Lord, was our time spent in vain? My prayer that morning was that we would share your love with the neighbors. Did anyone see your light in us today, Lord? I feel like I am seeing more of the opportunities you give me to love others, but am I just fooling myself?

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The next day, our church secretary messaged me that three people contacted the church expressing their need for a meal! I was filled with mixed emotions. Sadness that in one afternoon, in two different apartment complexes near our church, we found three people that are struggling to feed their families. But, joy that our time was not in vain and the Lord’s love reached three different families.

Lord, please bless those three precious families. Please fill their refrigerators and pantries. Thank you for bringing us to their doors. Thank you for blessing our time of outreach. Thank you for their obedience and humility in contacting the church expressing their need. Please forgive me for being so close to these families, driving by them two, sometimes three or four times a week, and never stopping for them. Please show me how we can meet their biggest needs. Amen. 

My heart is to help those in need. I have more than I need. I have enough to share. I have so much that I get distracted by all that I have.

My mind wanders to the story Shelene Bryan shared in Love, Skip, Jump where she meets a woman and her large family living in extreme poverty. Shelene immediately asks if she can pray for the woman, but the woman replies, “I was actually hoping to pray for you. ” “What, me? Why me?” Shelene asks. The woman replies, “Because you have so much to distract you from the Lord.” Shelene wrote about how she dropped to her knees and said, “Yes, pray for me, please do.”

This is me. So distracted at times by my “American wealth” that it requires me going to an orphanage in Mexico to focus on what the Lord really has for me. So distracted by my “to do list” that I have to drop everything and schedule in time at a low-income apartment complex asking about food needs. So distracted by my service to already blessed people that I sometimes miss the dire needs of “the least of these” right in front of me.

Although both my 11-year-old and I are noticing all of my “missed opportunities”, the Lord is blessing the time I am spending responding to His call. This time is not perfect or polished. My voice is sometimes shaky when I step out toward His call. Sometimes my naiveté gets in the way. At times, I am less than bold and regret my fears.

The enemy would love for me to focus on my “missed opportunities”. But, the Lord keeps taking those misses and giving me 2nd chances.

I go to Him in prayer, asking Him to give me His eyes, His words, His power, His Spirit. And the next time, that “missed opportunity” becomes my call from the Sovereign King.

Thank you, Lord, for what your word teaches and promises about your 2nd chances:

Isaiah 43:18 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.

Job 33:29, “Behold, God works all these things. Twice, in fact, three times with a man”. 

Jonah 3: 1-3 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying,  “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord.

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AMEN!