Monday, June 28, 2010


We have a strong cultural opinion of what strength is and we believe strongly that we need to maintain a strong appearance so we won’t be weak, knocked down and out. That’s not too far off base much of the time, but, scripturally and otherwise there are always exceptions ...

On Saturday, April 9th at 2 AM, Kentril, a 20-year-old man, a mentor and role model, was gunned down... wrong place, wrong time, no sense at all. Hearts crashed. Fear flooded, overwhelmed neighborhood, family and friends.

The next day, April 10th,
an unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon, approximately 50 of us First Responders arrived from various parts of town. We stood on the sidewalk directly where the shooting had occurred. Standing next to me, holding my hand, was a worn-out, old-looking Black man. This was his first F.R. time.

When we finished praying, I shook hands with him and asked his name. It is Curtis. [The last sentence in the First Responders post: "See, there’s this guy....
"] We walked and talked for a couple minutes and I offered him a ride home.

During the 3-minute drive he shared his story with me. Curtis had been on crack and other drugs for most of his life. He is 52, has been in prison
8 times. Curtis has been “clean” for a year and lives at a Christian rehab house. He is thankful he was in prison so often .... he believes if he had not been behind bars, time after time, he would have been dead through murder or O.D. He is one grateful man.

We have become friends. In this short time, his body appears more solid, his face exhumes more light, and,when we meet, he always hugs me and tells me he’s "doin' good."

How many times would any of us say we were grateful for prison, thankful that it was the right place to be at the right time?

When I was sharing this with my friend, Gary, he pointed out that Biblically, Joseph, while spending years in prison, after having been abandoned by family, ruined, abused, was, in reality, being prepared by God to handle the crisis that was headed for that region of the world.

I am looking forward to seeing how God will use Curtis, for decades filled with what we would call "weakness", to help in the crises Omaha, and other locations, may face.

Curtis’ largest concern: his son is living Curtis' drug life. The beat goes on.

We will grow stronger as we visit the Carnival blog

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Wish I had some pictures of this topic, but don't; am IN a few that have been taken during our ministry times, posted on ministry blogs and even on TV, but that's different. Need to remember to take my camera, but I keep forgetting, b/c all I want to do is "get there" on time. I also had never intended to put this out where a variety of folks could see it. But a couple of hours ago, that changed and I decided that sharing this would be a blessing.

The First Responders prayer group here in Omaha has one main purpose: to pray over murder sites within 48 hours of that evil event. It's been going on for about 3 years; I joined 2 years ago.

Of all the ministries where I've been involved, either in the past or the present, this ranks right up at the top. The opportunities to pray over neighborhoods that have experienced this horrific event, pray for/with family members who have just lost a loved one, to talk with the police and thank them for coming to the sites to offer their support, and on and on. Another blessing: we are able to fellowship with pastors and other folks from all over Omaha at these intense times. Sometimes 5 or 6 people [especially in the extreme heat or cold or rain] but sometimes 50 or 60. Sometimes no one even seems to know we are there; other times the neighbors flood out of their homes for prayer and welcome us. One of the “funny” characteristics... we are meeting for an extremely sad and brokenhearted reason and when we see each other for the first time in several days/weeks, we always hug and say “It’s so good to see you!” And then we always cringe and say “But I’m so sorry to be seeing you.”

Another element that amazes me: the variety of denominations that set aside their differences and come to encourage and bless family members and neighbors.

One recent experience that really amazed me occurred while I had my hand on the shoulder of the mother of a young man who had been murdered in a gang drive-by shooting. I felt a man lay his hand on mine, which was, of course, not uncommon, but when I turned to glance and see who it was, I was floored... it was the Omaha mayor, and I NEVER would have anticipated that from him. A bit later while we had divided up to pray over others, I was standing near him and had my hand on his back. When he turned around, he had tears in his eyes. God is obviously touching his heart... some of us in our hard-hearted attitudes towards him didn't expect that God could really do it... [Maybe it's OUR attitude that needs to change even more than Mr. Mayor's, doncha think?]

We have seen the murders reduce. The godly results are occurring for the benefit of all of us and all of their families and all of those neighborhoods. We are seeing compatibility among pastors and church leaders.

When the leader has introduced me on a local Christian station when he’s talking about prayer walking or First Responders and has asked me to come and share some stories, he always calls me a “prayer walking grandma”, which always makes me knee-jerk a bit. Recently I told him that someone can be in their early 40s and be a grandma; they don’t have to be as old as I am. I know he’s just trying to use me as a “poster child” to encourage people of any age to take the “steps” those directions.

I just wanted to share this. I have SO many stories connected to it that I’m hoping to post at some time. In fact, one situation has been “hmming” my mind and heart for a couple days and I may post it on the next carnival blog re: strength.

See, there’s this guy....

Saturday, June 19, 2010


When I was reading the "Compassion" posts a couple days ago -- running a bit late, as usual -- I saw something that set my heart pounding. It was connected to forgiveness...
I decided I needed to share...
When in Soroti, Uganda, in December, '03, I was at the Rescued Children's Camp, kids who had escaped or been rescued after being abducted by the LRA [Lord's Resi
stance Army] led by Joseph Kony. My task was to interview some of the kids and forward their stories to pastors I was involved with, in Uganda, UK, and U.S. Even though I did this several times, the first day, after interviewing only four kids, two boys and two girls, ages 10 to 15, I left the camp with what became the first step towards trauma.

The boys, 10 and 12, broke my heart telling very frankly what they had gone through
-- their beatings, being forced to steal, being abandoned to die. A few months earlier, when I first knew the Lord was sending me to Uganda to help out in this refugee situation, He reminded me of a motto of World Vision back in the '60s, the title and sub-title of a book I've had for many years, read many times ... "Let My Heart Be Broken... by the things that break the heart of God." Well, I can tell you very honestly that my heart was one shattered mess when I finally arrived home in February, '04, and the PTS took months to overcome. Their stories were major parts of it. And an eye-and-heart-opening one was Christine's.

Christine, 15, was abducted June 20th. The rebels abducted 4 chi
ldren from her family at different times. She was the first. Sitting at home, they called her to come and help carry food -- they never let her return home. Her three brothers – ages 9, 13, and 19 were abducted later; the 13 and 19 year olds had escaped, but the 9 year old was still in the "bush". Her parents had moved from their home to an IDP camp for safety purposes.

Sometimes rebel groups had as few as 7 rebels and 10 children. Her group, however, had more than 150 rebels and 100 children. These differences were determined by how the many villages and how much food were accessible in various locations.

She said she carried so much – firewood, food, all the camp stuff. She was given as "wife" to a 27-year old man, who had 2
other wives, one of whom was pregnant. The three of them mistreated her by beating her and not giving her food. [She never mentioned the fact that as a "wife" she was a "sex slave" ... this was an "understood."]

There was a gun battle between the rebels and the UPDF [the Ugandan Army]; everyone scattered out of the crossfire -- she escaped.

An abductee for only about 6 weeks, she had been in this rescued c
hildren's camp since August 5th. She couldn't go to the IDP camp and be with her parents, because one of the actions of the rebels was to re-capture those who had escaped, if possible, and then kill them in front of others as an object lesson. Staying in this safe and protected children's camp was what she had to do.

As we ended our conversation, using a translator for her Teso language, I suddenly asked something I would never have thought of. "If you could meet with these rebels what would you do?" Her answer overwhelmed me.

"I would forgi
ve them, because they don't know what they are doing."

Later that day, when I was back in the YWAM compound with my co-worker, Jill, I was furious, saddened beyond belief, and emotionally extreme. I was crying and screaming at times as I recalled holding their hands and praying for them, touching them and asking blessings on them... and knowing what these kids had gone through,
seeing their scars, their
w, their fear, their anger... and feeling how tepid or lukewarm or useless were those touchings/ blessings UNLESS the Holy Spirit would use it to bring some aspect of healing, which I won't know until Heaven.

I was especially touched by, and have always been touched by, Christine's response. When I think of her I wonder how she is. She obviously had not become pregnant by her "husband", but did she become an HIV victim? If so, has anyone stepped up for her need? Was she able to finish school? Even though I saw her for only 15 minutes, I love this girl and use her so often as an example of what we need to remember, because very often it is the absolute, certain truth, even of the so-called wise ones or intelligentsia that surrounds us:

"I would forgive them, because they don't know what they are doing."

Her story is part of a book I have been working on for some time based on my "Soroti" experiences.

Monday, June 14, 2010


God has blessed me over the years by dropping compassionate folks into my life. I’ve “posted” about some of them previously, though “compassion” wasn’t the topic. Today, this lady’s name popped into my heart, while I was wondering how to approach this subject, and I decided to share about her.

Nearly four years ago Dave and I changed churches. While attending the Ladies Sunday School class, “she” arrived a couple Sundays after my first time there. I was amazed at the others’ response when she walked in. They were so welcoming, so happy to see her – much love, appreciation and respect for her. She and her husband had been on the road for more than two months helping a woman move to California, and helping their family members in Pennsylvania and Ohio. I immediately knew I’d like her. It wasn’t very long before I also found that she had a heart for me beyond anything I had experienced in many years.

Example: Just as we changed churches, our grandson, Jack, had a very serious kidney crash. I was heart broken and frantic. The crisis went on for months. If I walked into the classroom, and the ladies asked how things were going, and I burst into tears, she would rush over and hold me. This is the way she is to me and everyone else. I think each of us feels we are very special, number one in her life. She treats us all graciously.

I thought she was significantly older than I, because she dressed very [very] conservatively and had white, white hair. Well, she’s only about 4 years older than I am – her hair turned white after an operation when she was in her early 30s. A couple years ago we “adopted” each other. I’m the oldest in my family; she’s the young one in hers. So, she is my older sister; I am her younger one.

Even though we live less than mile from each other, we rarely are able to spend casual or lengthy time together because she and her husband are gone, either locally or nationally, on a nearly everyday basis. No matter who needs help, where they need it, and what they need, if she and hubby are available, they will do whatever they can. When someone’s coming through town and needs a place to stay, their house is open – sometimes a dozen people staying in their small house and everyone just laughing and playing games and enjoying each other. When he retired, they didn’t want to be bored; well, they aren’t. They hardly have time to breathe between “ministry moments”.

I guess she’s not perfect. She says so all the time. I’m sure her family sees flaws. I simply don’t notice... unless you count the fact that she doesn’t know the meaning of the word “no” if an opportunity to serve drops across her path.

She would be thoroughly embarrassed if I put her name in
this post, so I won’t. However, I’m adding this partial photo of the two of us and even though her face won't be recognizable to anyone who isn’t connected directly to us, even with the small bit, I’m sure you can see her love.

Friday, June 11, 2010


“His word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Ps. 119:105

In our world of high-intensity flashlights, of smooth sidewalks, of street lights casting opaque filters against the darkness, this verse is far less meaningful to most people than the Psalmist intended.

Reading it reminds me of Uganda. In late 1994, shortly after moving into the home where Dave and I lived a few miles outside of Kampala, I needed to see a friend on another hillside about half a mile away from the compound – after dark.

I couldn’t go alone and asked our houseboy/ gardener, Sam, to take me over there. [Sam had “come with the house.” Shortly thereafter, he became our “son.”] A narrow, winding path led across the way, with palm trees, banana groves and small garden plots edging it.

I very rarely went outside after dark in Uganda – my “white” eyes weren’t as adept at seeing in the dark and the various shapes and shadows were more mysterious than familiar and my knee-jerk responses kept me constantly on edge – I mean, who could guarantee a python [or similar relative] wasn’t spread across the path?

Sam carried the flashlight, and as we walked single file, he shined it on the path in front of us. Other than lamplight -- some electrical, some oil -- filtered from an occasional house, and a few stars, the flashlight was the only source of light.

I could only vaguely see the light on the path as Sam led the way. I held onto the back of his shirt and kept my eyes aimed at my feet. When dogs growled or barked, when grass or bushes rustled and my imagination immediately “saw” snakes, because I was on unfamiliar ground, I held on tighter – cutting and running would have been a useless, and possibly quite dangerous, exercise in futility. Poor Sam. He could have made much better time without me holding on, tensing up and dragging him back. In the long run, I was forced to trust him and his light.

When this psalm points out that His Word is the light to a path, the Psalmist’s audience understood the principle that without an oil lamp the options were a very slow and mincing step forward – hoping there would not be a cliff to tumble over or a hole to stumble into -- or forced immobility until a light came from another source, such as the dawn.

I need to remember this right now. I am a socially/politically attentive and normally intense person, as most folks know. I recognize that, in the natural, locally, nationally and internationally, it
feels dark; it looks dark. Without the Lord flooding my heart with hope, I could hardly hold the "flash"light in my hand, it would be trembling so with anxiety and fear. But, as I walk in the Light ... the Word of my God ... or "see" Jesus walking before me on the path with the light, me clinging to His shirt, confident in HIM, because He knows the path, knows where it is leading, I can be certain He will not abandon me on the path and leave me trembling in total darkness.

His Word, the Truth, is so True:
“His word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Thursday, June 10, 2010




Every time I hear His name I love Him more.
Every time I hear His name, I worship and adore Him.
For He gave true life to me,
And through all eternity
Every time I hear His name, I’ll love Him more.

Verse 1:

Oh, He is my dearest Friend,
He came to me.
He saved my soul from sin --
He set me free.
He hears me when I pray,
He guides my steps each day,
So, every time I hear His name, I love Him more.


Verse 2:

Oh, He’ll be your dearest Friend,
He’ll come to you.
He will save you from your sin,
He’ll see you through.
He’ll listen when you pray,
You can trust – He’ll guide your way.
And every time you hear His name
you’ll love Him more.


I wrote this song more than 30 years ago. It's not too fancy, too special. But even after all these years, when I'm worshiping or struggling, the words and melody will start floating through my spirit. It's nice to have a chance to share it. -- CJ

Love the Carnival Blog

Friday, June 4, 2010


It was a week ------------- Only one week.

Filled with talking and talking and listening and simply enjoying. Hanging out "feet first".

Being a human-photo-practice-
model for her. Most happily for me?
Sitting on a rock!

Visiting with pastor-friends
locations 100-miles north and east of her home.

Providing a graveyard for hundreds of dragonflies.

For the first time in 26 years hearing the Lord tell me very strongly that I was to pick up a hitchhiker and take him where he needed to go... and the man gave me some more "clues" to the spiritual research project I'm always involved with. But Steve, of course, didn't have a "clue" that God was using him to accomplish that. I also prayed for him before I let him out of the car... he put up with it b/c I had provided the ride. I KNOW God is going to use that experience to plant seed in his heart... hope I see "Eagle Catcher" in heaven!

Had a mutual pastor-friend-singer
come to
Susie's and give a worship concert for us.

Went to the nearby reservation and had a chance to fellowship and speak...left Susie's at 7, got back at midnight.

And, intermittently over the days, rested, rested, and rested again.

The last photo we took toget
her was holding our hands on a rock.

The Lord is our Rock.

The friendship He knit together for us 50 years ago has gone through much hardness and "rocky-ness" in both of our lives... you know, as life is and does.

Our personalities are about as opposite as anyone can imagine -- she quiet, introverted, filled wit
h compassion; me rowdy, intense, always ready to fight (before, physically; now, in a spiritual sense.). The fact that God dropped a godly teen into my life when I was an "other side of the tracks tough cookie" teen, is miraculous. When I was in high school her character drew me to try harder to reach up toward a better option in life.

I have often said that if it hadn't been for her, I don't know how I would have made it during the stretch before the Lord broke into my life.

Life is still a bit "Rocky" for us, in a variety of areas, but no matter the challenges that face us individually and "friendly"
-- we rely together on


[Am hoping for another visit in the not-too-distant future. October sounds good to me... We'll see what the Lord provides.]

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


God is so sweet to drop extra sons and daughters into my life. I have my dear Ugandan family and it makes my heart sing. I miss them so much. Sam and Adhe visited us exactly two years ago, and being with them was a treat beyond measure. Then they left, of course, and returned back home to family and ministry... and the chances for either of our families to connect again face-to-face are really slim... prior to heaven. I felt a heavy sigh taking over my life.

And suddenly, about 1-1/2 years ago, God dropped another son into our lives.

Dave and I were
at dinner at a church-friend's home in November, '08, and among the other guests was a young man from Burkina Faso. He had been in the States just over a year. Because of our overwhelming interest in Africa, we had some very nice time together that evening and agreed to stay in touch.

About a month later, Patrick and I finally met at a nearby mall, and yammered and yammered for a couple of hours. Within another month, he was calling me "Mom." [I found out later that his B.F. Mom was very glad he had found a Christian mom on This Side.] He in
troduces Dave as his "Dad" now, too.

He's one bright and cheerful and happy fellow, and all my g-kids fell in love with him. The youngest, Jamison, was the first to meet Patrick. While I was b-sitting Jamie, when he had just turned 4, Patrick would show up and Jamie would run to him screaming his name and cling to him. Since then, the whole family appreciates him for his fellowship and helpfulness, including going with us to the zoo or swimming pools. [He's more fun than I am, to be most certain sure.]

I appreciate him, because, just as "Ugandan" Sam did, Patrick works in my yard [sometimes brings a friend to help], does other chores, helps me grocery shop and carries the bags for me, etc..... and, unless I force it on him, refuses any payment. His attitude: He's just doing it for his family.

On May 16 we went to his graduation party at his brother's house -- he had received his associates degree from our local community coll
ege. Since meeting Patrick, we've met several of his family members and B.F. friends who were in Omaha before he was. It was a real treat to be there with the whole bunch, laughing and simply enjoying the fellowship. All of them serve the Lord in one way or another in both the church and the Omaha community, all sold out to the Lord with a joy and intensity that, somehow, most of us don't reach... partly because they have experienced the extremity of choosing Christ in a non-Christian culture.

I was sitting here at Susie's today, suddenly realized I miss seeing Patrick, and thought... I need to tell his story and put up photos that will let people know just what a delight he is. As much as I've thoroughly enjoyed my time here at Susie's, as much as I'm looking forward to seeing and hugging my Dear One when I pull into our driveway Friday afternoon, as much as I'm looking forward to seeing and hugging my g-kids, Patrick fits right onto the list of "hugger" specialty folks. Can hardly wait.