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This was my 5th week at Living Bridges! Time flies when you like what you are doing! God keeps showing me His goodness and every day I see His miracles.

We started the week putting stuff away from the clothing exchange. It was a big job! We had to pull all of the Summer clothes from the two clothing closets/rooms and start hanging the Fall/Winter clothes and coats. We have another clothing exchange in a smaller community next month and needed to put some of the clothes back for that. We always have clothes coming in to check in for the clothes closets which keeps us busy, but that’s a good thing!

We had a packed house on Wednesday! We had our clothing closet open, our Food Talk class, plus diaper Day. Amerigroup came and gave away diapers and wipes to our families. We were blessed to be able to help so many people and we are always blessed when we get to see/hold the babies!

On Thursday we went out to the community garden and planted two types of basil, watermelon radishes, and brussel sprouts. It was cooler than it had been in previous weeks, which made digging in the dirt more enjoyable. The community garden provides fruits and vegetables for low income families.

 

The cabbage, broccoli and collards that we planted a couple of weeks ago are doing well. We did lose some broccoli and collards, but planted watermelon radishes in their place.

I wrote my first blog post for the ministry and I am starting a Facebook group for single moms in the area. I will provide resources, Bible studies, Biblical parenting ideas, and a safe place to share prayer requests and concerns. I want to build that community for single moms. Single moms can often feel isolated and alone. I want single moms to know that they are not alone in their journey.

On a personal note:

I had an EKG on Tuesday and a slight irregularity was found. Not a big deal on it’s own but since my heart rate has been high consistently for quite awhile now, I have an appointment with a cardiologist on Wednesday morning. It might be anxiety, but I am doubting that. Anyway, prayers appreciated. On a good note, Kiowa is coming home after being gone for two weeks. Originally, I had decided that I would go back to Indiana while she was gone. I have never (and I am 49 years old!) been alone anywhere without family close by. I finally decided that I would stay here in Georgia. I have found friends and a community. I knew that I had to trust God in ALL things and not run from the discomfort of the journey. I have taken one day at a time and I have survived. My health coach told me that even if I do deal with anxiety, to push myself out of my comfort zone as much as I have takes courage. I don’t disagree. But, I believe it takes more than courage, it takes faith. Faith that I won’t see any snakes while Kiowa is gone. Faith that my car will run fine until Kiowa gets back and we can get it fixed. Faith that God will protect me and allow me to sleep at night. I am growing in faith. God is faithful!

I encourage you to visit the Living Bridges Facebook page for information and updates on the Ministry.

 

 

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This was a busy week at the center! I continue to transition and find my niche. I enjoy being here. The people here have become my friends and family. I am becoming more comfortable, but it is a process. I can’t jump ahead of God. Sometimes, it is simply taking one small step at a time. I am blessed! I have stepped out and He guides me one step at a time.

Monday and Wednesday were busier in the clothes closet. It is a good thing! It means that the people who need us are finding the new building. Along with giving out clothes, we also provide resources for food, medical care, utilities, etc. to those who need them.

Tuesday was Mom’s Connection and we discussed home organization. I am pretty organized, but even I came away with ideas to be even better organized. The moms were able to take away some organizational tools to use in their own homes.

On Wednesday we also had our first Food Talk class. It is a 6 week series on cooking on a budget, cooking demonstrations and nutrition.

On Thursday, Chastidy and I were able to attend a Leaders Summit on gun violence at Valdosta State University. It was eye opening since I am new to the community. There are 3,000 youth in the Juvenile Detention System in Georgia that have gun related charges. Where do kids get guns? They steal them out of cars, homes and other places when permitted gun owners have not secured them. Some of the solutions discussed were educating permitted gun owners on gun safety, creating affordable/accessible activities for kids from low-income families, a partnership between agencies, law enforcement, community leaders, etc. who are willing to share resources and work together for the benefit of the kids, educating parents on discipline and communication for parents who are overwhelmed and may need extra support and simply working toward building that loving village that puts the kids first to keep the kids off the streets and out of trouble. Gun violence is a hot topic everywhere. I am hoping that the this will be more than just a conversation and action will come out of it. 

On Friday I spent the morning helping set up for the Fall/Winter clothing exchange. The clothing exchange took place on Saturday from 9:00 to Noon. It was a blessing to see 87 people be able to receive 1,258 items of clothing including coats/jackets for the colder months ahead.

I will be writing the blog for the ministry as well as keeping up with this one. I am finding my niche. I am blessed that I have found a ministry leader who allows us to explore our individual callings within the ministry. Not every ministry leader is that way.

I have felt from the day I moved here that South Georgia is my home and I continue to grow in my love of this area and those who are involved with Living Bridges Ministry. I listen to the client’s stories and I am in awe of the courage of some of these friends. Never judge someone else, because you don’t know what they have experienced in their lives that have made them the person they are. We need to be willing to really listen to where someone has been and we need to be willing to show compassion and love to those who may seem unlovable. Jesus met people where they were. He loved them as they were and then He empowered them to change. Jesus set the example. Are you following that example? Am I?

 

I was able to attend a Family Connection meeting on Monday. This is a meeting for non profits and agencies to get together to share resources for their communities. This meeting was actually held in a neighboring county and Chastidy (Living Bridges intern) and I got to go and share some information on our programs and upcoming events. Speaking in front of people terrifies me, but again I do my best to allow God to push me out of my comfort zone without running away. I haven’t run away yet!

On Tuesday, we hung out at the Living Bridges Community Center and continued to sort through clothes for the Fall/Winter clothing exchange taking place on 10/12. I have already made some great friends as we work together to do what needs to be done. Some parts of the center are still works in progress, but aren’t we all. It is a satisfying task to bring something that has fallen into decay back to a state of wholeness and beauty. Even more so, the people we serve. To see a life that has been broken by circumstances revitalized and made new brings about a shift in perspective and we view God as a shelter and refuge that we can cling to.

Wednesday is clothes closet day and I remember the days when my 5 kids were little and I, as a single mom, had to visit food pantries and clothes closets to take care of my kids. I am humbled that I have the opportunity to serve others out of love, compassion and respect. You never know what a person’s story is, so we need to treat everyone with love and respect.

Thursday started out at the community garden. I’m not going to lie, it was a challenge! South Georgia did not cool down as Fall crept in. It is still high 90’s and I struggled some with the heat, but I love being there. I got a lesson from a Master Gardner as we planted cabbage, broccoli, and collards. When you have the opportunity to get a lesson from a Master Gardner, you listen and obey. Not unlike our walk with God (who is THE Master Gardner), we listen to what He tells us and we obey the commands that He gives us and in the end we get to harvest the fruit (or vegetables) of our labors. Thursday afternoon, Chastidy and I braved the heat and did some outreach for the ministry. We visited some daycare centers and a couple of uninsured medical clinics to give them information on our programs and upcoming events. It was actually fun and Chastidy has become a friend.

A wonderful article was written in the Valdosta Daily Times about Living Bridges Ministry. Click HERE to read the article.

 On a personal note: 

I posted a couple of weeks ago about my blood pressure being high. It still is higher than normal and I don’t know if it is from anxiety or something else. My pulse has been consistently between 107 and 125. I am seeing a health coach to stabilize my a1c for my diabetes and now I have to go in for an EKG on 10/15. If all is well with that, I may be put on a medication to bring down my blood pressure along with helping me to manage my anxiety (I am already on a blood pressure medication). I am trying to manage it on my own, but God continues to push me out of my comfort zone and my discomfort level is sky high. Every day is a challenge, but I am actually not unhappy at where I am. I have met some wonderful people and made some friends. Each day I step out my front door and I walk in faith.

If you are reading this and can contribute to my life on mission, please visit my support page. I appreciate all of you who reach out to support, encourage and pray for me in my journey of obedience and faith.

 

Do Not Be Anxious

 

Philippians 4:6-9

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

We live in a world of chaos and evil. From natural disasters to the destruction caused by human hands, I don’t believe that there is one of us alive today that has not struggled with anxiety at some level. We become so anxious about making enough money that we start living lives devoid of joy and peace. We live in fear of being in crowded areas because of the violence of the society we live in. The media bombards us with news of shootings, abuse, drugs, natural disasters, and all kinds of evil under the sun. We begin to live in a constant state of fear and anxiety. We are robbed of the joy that God so freely gives us.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We do not have to live our lives in a constant state of anxiety. God has given us a blueprint to handle the anxiety producing situations in our lives.

Part 1:

The Command:

Do not be anxious about anything – God tells us not to be anxious about ANYTHING. This is not a suggestion, it is a command. I know how hard it is not to let panic overwhelm your spirit. Believe me, if anyone struggles with this command, it is me! Still, it is a command and God expects us to obey ALL of His commands!

But in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God – God expects us to pray about and surrender EVERY situation that causes us anxiety. Not only are we to present these situations to God, but we are to give thanks! Why give thanks in a stressful, panic attack producing event? We give thanks, believing that an all powerful God has our back and is with us in the crisis. We give thanks, knowing that He may not take us out of the situation, BUT He can and will calm the storm that rages inside of us.

When you face a situation that is causing you to panic, STOP where you are and START praying. Give that situation over to God. Pray for the presence of God to enter into the situation. Pray with thanksgiving, knowing that God is already at work to provide refuge in the mist of the chaos.

The Promise: 

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

If we are faithful to give every situation that causes us to feel anxiety or fear to God through prayer and thanksgiving, He will be faithful to give us a peace that transcends all understanding. That peace that only God can give will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.

Part 2:

The Command:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

We are to think on ALL THINGS GOOD! After we give our anxiety to God through prayer, we need to focus on the good things of God. We need to focus on the true aspects of God’s character. We need to focus on the love of God. We need to focus on how we can serve others who may be suffering. We need to focus on the positive things in this world. Turn on a Christian radio station and let the songs sink into your soul. I have the K-Love app on my phone and I listen in my car and I can tell you that there have been times when a song hits me right where I am and I will bawl like a baby. There are other times when a song will speak right to my fear and God will use the song to calm me in a very real way. Do whatever it is helps you to focus on the good that is God.

The Promise:

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

If we are faithful to focus on the goodness of God in an anxiety inducing situation, then God promises to be with us. The God of peace promises to be with us in our anxiety. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, the God of peace has promised to be right there in the midst of it with us! If God is with us, there is nothing to fear.

I know that trusting in the middle of a panic attack seems impossible. Just remember that YOU WILL GET THROUGH IT! Take a few deep breaths. Present your requests to God with a prayer of thanksgiving and focus on the goodness of God and on the goodness that can still be found in this world. If you are faithful in this, then the God of peace will be faithful to be with you no matter what you face in life. God has your back, friend! He is faithful!

 

 

 

This week started off with a panic attack when I got in my car Monday morning and the engine light was on. I am a worrier and my car is one of my biggest worries! I went into a tailspin and my wonderful daughter, Kiowa, had to talk me down off of the proverbial ledge and remind me that if I REALLY trust God then I need to remember that He will ALWAYS provide and that He can and will take care of any car issues I may have. Thank you, daughter! According to the diagnostic test that I had run I found out that is more than likely  just spark plugs misfiring and those are going to be replaced in the next couple of days. God is good!

Monday was crazy at Living Bridges! The clothes closet was open and due to unforeseen issues, I was the only volunteer there to run the clothes closet with Darcy (Living Bridges founder and remarkable woman of God). I had stepped a toe into the running of the clothes closet last week. Well, Monday, I was thrown into the deep end and I am happy to report that I survived! I was able to work past my anxiety and do what needed to be done. I still acknowledge that I can be somewhat socially awkward, but thankfully God works through and even uses our imperfections.

Tuesday morning was Mom’s Connection Club and the topic was goal setting. We were given a whole new approach to goal setting apart from the S.M.A.R.T approach and I love it! Our guest speaker was Verna Harvey and she shared some information on goal setting from the book she is currently writing. It is based on the questions, Who are you? What are your desires/goals? When will you start pursuing your desires/dreams? Where  are you now in pursuing your desires/dreams? Why this desire/goal? and How will you get to your destination? It made goal setting more personal. If you want more information, you will have to wait for the book!

Wednesday was clothes closet day. I go into these days with some trepidation. I stated earlier that I can be a bit socially awkward and it can be hard for me to approach people and start a conversation, so clothes closet days push me out of myself and out of my comfort zone. We also sort the clothes and housewares that will go into the clothes closet. We organize and re-stock the clothes closet for the next day. We have also been sorting clothes that will be given out at the Fall/Winter clothing exchange that will take place on October 12th.

Thursday morning I was able to work with Darcy in the community garden. We were able to clear some of the raised beds out to prepare them for Winter planting. It was hot, but it was actually relaxing and satisfying to pull the weeds out and end up with blank canvases that will be ready for the next crop. It reminds me of us, as humans. We start with that blank canvas. We then plant the activities, values, relationships, and life experiences what we want in our lives into those empty garden beds. Next, we water the beds with Bible study, prayer, worship, christian community and service, so they will grow the deep roots that will sustain us in our lives, but inevitably, those weeds of sin, negativity, and toxic relationships begin to grow and if we are not careful they will choke out everything good. DEEP ROOTS! We need deep roots to keep us growing in the good things of God.

Job 14:7-9

“At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant.

There is hope! When we weed out the harmful, the dead, and prune back the overgrown aspects of our lives, then we can continue to water what is good and at the scent of water our lives will flourish and we will prosper. God is the good in our lives. The Bible, prayer, worship, christian community and serving others are the water that keeps us growing in the right direction.

 

I was blessed when Darcy gave me the last of the Summer crops. God does provide in expected, but mostly unexpected ways. I am blessed beyond measure.

God continues to grow my faith. I am very much a work in progress! I have my ups and downs, but I keep looking toward the future.

Philippians 3:14

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Every week is a mystery and a miracle!

 

This was my first week volunteering at Living Bridges Ministry in Valdosta, Georgia. This was actually the first week that they were officially open in the new building that they had been renovating over the Summer. The new building will provide the ability to expand their programs.

I was at the ministry Monday-Thursday this week. Monday and Wednesdays are clothes closet days. The clothes closet wasn’t as busy this week as it has been, but this was the first week it was open in the new location, so we are anticipating that it will pick up as  word gets out. The clothes closet gives us a chance to interact with clients, get to know their stories and offer compassion in a world that can be harsh.

On Tuesday and Thursday, we washed housewares for the clothes closet, sorted through clothes, created spreadsheets for donated goods, and did whatever else needed done. There is still quite a bit of work to do to get the building finished, but it is getting there and it will be an awesome community center when done.

This week was a challenge for me, as I am sure the next few weeks will be, until I get to know the system and feel more comfortable interacting with the clients. I know I have written in past posts about my anxiety and schizoid personality disorder (social anxiety, isolation tendencies). I have a hard time stepping out of my comfort zone, but as God leads I will follow. I did push myself to talk to a couple of clients that came in to the clothes closet. It would be easy for me to hide in the background, but I know that isn’t where God is leading. I am nervous going in on clothes closet days, but growth comes with discomfort. HA! I just need to keep going and fighting through the urge to run. God is never glorified when we disobey by running away. I won’t be like Jonah. Running away didn’t help him in the end. He still ended up doing God’s will.

I am excited to see how God expands this ministry in the future. I am also excited to be a part of a community ministry that reaches out and gives back.

For information and to see pictures of the building renovation click here for the Living Bridges Facebook page and here for the Living Bridges website.

On a personal note:

I found out this week that my A1C was 7.3. An A1C is the blood glucose levels for the past 3 months. It was a concerning jump from 6.2 in April. I had my first appointment with a health coach on Tuesday to find a strategy to lower it to where it needs to be (below 7.0 for a diabetic). My blood pressure has also been high. I am on blood pressure medication, but my blood pressure and pulse was high at my first doctors appointment here on September 5th and is still high. I have written before that I deal with anxiety and so I try to keep the stress to a minimum. I am focused on living a life that is balanced and brings me satisfaction and joy. I had a heart attack scare in September of 2017 and now I want to focus on the important things in life, like loving others to Jesus and making sure that God is my priority always. I can not allow myself to get stuck in another job that I hate and that caused me enough stress that I ended up with chest pains when I went to work. Life is to short for that. I am somewhat stressed that my health is a concern right now. I’m sure that as I settle into a routine and settle into the community that my numbers will improve. God is good!

In order for me to live a life on mission, I am asking for ministry partners. If you feel led to support me as I serve God and community please visit my support page for giving options.

I am excited to see what God has in store for myself and Living Bridges Ministry!

 

 

Matthew 17:20

 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

 

It has been 6 weeks since I have written a blog post. I have now been in Georgia for 4 months and I love the area. I have had to take a step back and focus on what God’s purpose in this move was. I have been hibernating a bit this past 6 weeks. I have been working on obtaining my certification in biblical lay counseling. I have been conquering my anxiety issues. I have been spending time with God and discerning where He wants me to serve. When I moved down here, I was determined that I would not take another go- nowhere -stress-me-out job that doesn’t pay enough to live on. I want more than that. I have always had a missionary heart and I wanted to move here to serve the community. I had a couple of false starts, but I have found a community ministry that fits me like a glove! Living Bridges Ministry is in Valdosta, Georgia (45 minute drive from where we currently live). The ministry is moving into a new building and has some really AWESOME programs for those living in Valdosta.

Clothing Closet

Mom’s Connection Group

Transformation Group

Community Garden

Kid’s Connection during the Summer

Seasonal events

and more programs in the works

I am excited to get plugged in and to see where this goes! Does it pay? No, but the opportunities to serve others through programs that God has given me a passion for is worth the sacrifice. If I can be that example of a living and breathing faith then that is what I will do. It is scary, but it is also exciting. It is such a rush to see how God is going to work when we step out in faith with no safety net. I have no safety net. I am completely dependent on God to provide for my car insurance, gas to drive 1 1/2 hours a day to serve and my other expenses. It is exhilarating, but it is scaring me silly! Faith the size of a mustard seed. A mustard seed is very small. God, being fully aware of our human nature, only asks us to have the faith of a tiny mustard seed in order for Him to work on our behalf. I made the move to Georgia. I have dwindling funds. I have no safety net. I have faith in a God who has always gone before me, stood beside me and watched behind me. He has my back.

I start my new adventure on Monday. There is no better job than being able to follow my missionary heart in community ministry and love others to Jesus in this beautiful city of Valdosta, Georgia.