Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Is it Yoga??? No it's Jesus!!!

I crack myself up at some of the thoughts that run through my crazy mind! After dinner tonight I decided to take a stroll along the Mississippi riverfront down by the park in La Crosse, WI. People were literally stirring from every direction this afternoon and from afar I noticed this group sitting on the ground in a circle. The thought crossed my mind that it was a group about to do yoga and then as I got a bit closer I could see there was a man talking with a group of youth. I ended up parking myself on the concrete base of an old monument in the park so I could hopefully hear what this man was telling this group of youngsters. As I listened for a moment it didn't take long to figure out that this group was sharing about Jesus! This was music to my ears and a blessing to my heart:) The guy sharing with the group was encouraging the youth to prayerfully walk around in downtown La Crosse seeking God's direction as to how He wanted to use them. He was sharing from his own heart how God had really revealed Himself in this very park on many different occasions. Immediately, I began to pray for God to lead me in this moment. What was I to do if anything? Did God draw me over just to listen or was I to share something from my heart?

After the group prayed, I asked a lady standing near me what church group this was and she told me they were from First Free Church. I promptly walked over to the guy that was the obvious leader of this group of youth and told him I needed to share something quickly with this group if that was okay. I told them I was from KY and that I was traveling back and forth weekly to work in this area. I shared my experience about how God does want us to be bold and allow Him to work through our lives. We may not always understand or even realize the impact we are having on someone else. I shared the following story: Two years ago I was on a flight into La Crosse when I sat next to a lady that I was sharing my personal testimony about Jesus. This past March I was traveling back into La Crosse for work again and a lady asked me if I remembered her and she started to jog my memory as to who she was when I DID recall her! As it turns out this lady was the very same lady I sat next to and shared my journey with Jesus! It was my friend Shelly that I mentioned in a few blog posts ago titled "Sometimes we just need a big 'ol splash of Jesus". Shelly shared with me how two years ago God had placed me into her life at a critical time when she was searching. She told me God used me to help literally change her life. She got involved with First Free Church and started attending some Bible studies and connecting with other women in this fellowship. I wanted this group to know that God is already using the Christians at First Free Church to bless others and they should be encouraged as they step up to reach out to others. I wanted them to know that just there very presence in the circle at Riverfront Park was a blessing to my heart and gave me tremendous encouragement as I watched God's people gather with intentions of reaching out to others with the love of Jesus Christ!

Is it NOT just crazy AmaZing that God would put a lady in my path from two years ago to let me know how she connected at First Free Church and then tonight I walk right into the midst of First Free Church youth gathering in the Riverfront Park? I live for seeing Jesus ALIVE in the hearts of His people! First Free Church is yielding their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ and I'm forever thankful that He is giving me the privilege of seeing this all the way form KY!

After sharing my little experience with the youth, I talked more with the young lady, Darlene that I had asked what church this group was with. We ended up sharing with each other how amazing Jesus is and how people in general have really abandoned just loving people and having authentic compassion for others. We exchanged contact information and plan to connect by e-mail and possibly have dinner some evening before my time in La Crosse is over. Only God can ordain such connections and meetings and I am forever honored and humbled by his divine hand intervening in my life! Thank you Lord Jesus...I love you so!!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

A 'lil detective work in the sun!

God watches all things at all times and if you are willing He will allow you to be a part of what He is doing in the lives of others around you…get this!

We arrived into Key West late Saturday night and were so very ready to hit the pool early Sunday morning! I had prayed for God to use me to touch the lives of others however He wanted to this week. This made me nervous as I prayed these words, but my heart truly is to be used by God regardless of how uncomfortable it may be at times. It is always worth any discomfort I may initially feel and His blessings far outweigh the discomfort!

Here’s the scoop…

I got to the pool on our first morning at the resort and the entire area had already started to get packed out. After all, it is Memorial Day weekend. I sat my bag on the ground in hopes a couple of chairs would soon open up. Shortly, this gray-headed guy began moving his things over a couple of chairs that made two chairs available to me. Super nice guy he was! He was a smoker and was even so kind to walk away from our area so not to bother us with his cigarette smoke. He kept us informed of all the freebie stuff going on like popsicles available at the concierge everyday at 2 p.m. etc… In spite of his super nice demeanor, I began noticing that he was always getting up and down never to stay in one location for very long. It was like he had ants in his pants! I started to watch him through my dark sunglasses to try and figure out what he was doing. He certainly had the appearance of a lurker.

To my left there was another family at the pool with a baby so they were quite busy entertaining their little one. They were up and down a lot from their chairs. I guess you could call me a “people watcher” of sorts. Traveling around over the years has made me more sensitive to who is around me, and what they are doing for my own safety. I don’t even think about it anymore, it just happens.

After several hours of soaking up the sun, I was taking my last dip in the pool before going to the room. Greg and Kayla were down at the beach and I was also waiting on them to return. Again, I observed the gray-headed man standing up next to the water’s edge reading the newspaper. I thought to myself how odd that looked and wondered why he would just stand there instead of getting comfortable in his chair. He didn’t even have a toe in the water. S-T-R-A-N-GE! I then looked up a few seconds later to find this man seated on the chair that belonged to the family with the baby. I watched him cover his legs with the newspaper and reach into a bag that was left placed on the chair. There was some obstruction to what I was able to see, but it had the strong appearance of this man taking something from the bag. He placed the newspaper on the ground and promptly walked over to his chair. He grabbed his messenger bag and placed a towel over his legs and the bag opening while he placed something inside. I almost could not believe my eyes as I was watching a real theft take place and I was positioned right in the middle of it with a birds-eye view! I immediately swam like crazy to the ladder because I thought to myself; I need to get a picture of this dude so I can report him! I swam like a mad woman to climb out the ladder to get my camera and snapped a great picture of the man’s backside as he was exiting the pool area. I then thought…now what?

Soooo, I grabbed a pool waitress and reported what I witnessed to her and she went to get the resort security. In the meantime, the lady returned to her chair that had been the “victim” in all of this so I informed her of what I had observed. She checked her bag and sure enough…her wallet was gone! At this point, he had only been gone from the scene under 5 minutes. Resort security came over to gather information and walk the grounds after viewing the picture I managed to snap from behind. Within 10 minutes, Key West Police Department was notified.

Claire was the name of the young lady that got her wallet stolen. Claire, her brother James, and myself walked up to the general manager’s office to await the arrival of the Key West PD to file a police report. In the meantime, Claire started notifying credit card companies to report stolen cards. She was on the phone with Bank of America and in real time they were able to give her an address of where the guy had just attempted to withdraw money from an ATM machine. The police went immediately to the area of Bank of America and with the picture showing his clothing were able to detain him for questioning until we could identify him as the same man who had in fact been inside the resort moments earlier.

Key West PD drove Claire, James, and Myself to the scene and had us each identify whether or not this was the guy we had witnessed at the Casa Marina Resort by the pool. Without any doubt at all…this was indeed the man! Needless to say, on day one of my vacation I was not expecting to be cruising around with the Key West police!

While I had a few moments alone with Claire and James, I shared with them how my husband is a pastor and usually we are in church on Sunday morning. I shared how I had prayed just this morning for God to use me in some way to make a difference in someone’s life today. I told her this was how He had chosen to use me. They were both very appreciative and blown away at how “easy” this entire thing had went down from start to finish. I believe the word Claire used is “miracle”. Indeed it was a miracle that someone would see such a crime, report it, and catch the guy in a matter of about an hour total. I would say…”miracle” led by the divine hand of God would be right!!!

This was Claire’s last day at the resort. She and her family were leaving Key West in a few hours to make the drive up to Miami to catch a flight home to Ohio. We talked for a bit after the entire ordeal was over and she gave me a big hug goodbye and once again thanked me for my help. She was even so sweet to have a gift basket delivered to our room at the end of the day full of Key Lime goodies to enjoy on the rest of our trip. She wrote the nicest card of thanks to me and also said she would NEVER ever forget me! I just hope she thinks more about how God used me than me☺

If you have ever thought that walking with the Lord was a bit humdrum; look out because He might just have you rolling with the 5-0! I’m not EVEN kidding!