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As the time to make my annual Associate commitment rolled around I was debating on whether I wanted to continue as an Associate with the Sisters of Providence. This hesitation had only to do with the fact that I now live so far away from “the woods” and I wasn’t sure how I could contribute from this distance.

But isn’t this what I had been praying for? To break away, to leave the nest where I had worked and served the Sisters for 8 years. God answered my prayer. How can I contribute from this far away? The same way other Associates do.

As Providence Associates, we further the mission of the Sisters of Providence by:

  • co-creating a hope-filled world,
  • building relationships,
  • cultivating community,
  • and living lives that challenge them to embody the face of Providence as they seek to be love, mercy, and justice in the world.

 

There are more than 200 Providence Associates all over the United States. We stay connected by praying the Prayer of Reunion, by praying the Litany of Non-Violence, by staying in touch with each other and the Sisters, and by bringing love, mercy and justice into our sphere of influence.

How am I going to do that in 2020? Things have changed for me over night and I am completely blown away by God’s AWESOMENESS! I had been serving the community of Valdosta, Georgia for several weeks through Living Bridges Ministries. I loved it! I was in the beginning stages of becoming a liaison between the ministry and a single mom’s ministry in Valdosta. I have had a passion for single moms for 13 years and I was finally realizing the dream of serving single moms. I have written a Bible study for single moms and am now a certified Biblical lay counselor. AND THEN my car broke down. I can’t get to Living Bridges now, BUT GOD opened a window for me to serve single moms from home! I will still go to the local single mom ministry and serve the single moms there. I also was invited to be a featured expert on the expert panel with The Life of a Single Mom Ministries!!! It will be a huge blessing in my effort to reach single moms and be able to counsel single moms worldwide. I have dreamed about being on that panel, but never thought that I was good enough. They loved my simple Bible study and invited me. I am still blown away by God’s goodness. Anyway, this is how I can bring love, mercy and justice into the world as a Providence Associate. I have been blessed by the Sisters of Providence and in this small way I give back.

 

Luke 8:43-48

43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. 45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” 47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

These two weeks are all about faith for me. I am back to square one and completely confused. My car is no longer functional. It developed electrical issues and can not be driven and I don’t have the money to fix it. It never had issues before. And comparatively, the value of the car isn’t going to be worth the money put into it to fix it, so I am without a vehicle. I can no longer go to Living Bridges Ministry because I don’t have a way to get 1 mile down the road much less 40. It is disappointing, frustrating and sooooo confusing. I had prayed about this for months before I got involved. I felt God leading me that way. Some might say that this is an attack of the enemy keeping me from my purpose. I don’t feel that way. I usually have a pretty good sense of what is an attack and what is God. Not that I am always right.

I will be housebound for who knows how long. My only way of getting a car is prayer. God has a way of stripping us of everything in order to bring us closer to Him. It is sometimes needed to bring us to a place that we are fully dependent on Him. Just touching the garment of Jesus can bring a miracle, if only we have faith.

Luke 22:42

42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

I still struggle with trying to control things. Maybe, keeping me housebound is a way for God to make me focus on HIS will for once. I can’t go anywhere. He has a captive audience and I am willing to say, “I am completely confused and I have no idea what you are doing, but THY WILL BE DONE.”

I have 2 heart tests next week, so prayers for a positive outcome are appreciated!

Regardless of all the challenges in my life, I am abundantly blessed!

 

Ezekiel 33:10-11

10 “Son of man, say to the Israelites, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?” 11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’

The Israelites were crying out from the weight of their offenses and sins. They cried out that they were wasting away because of them. Carrying the weight of our sin can be a heavy burden. I have had to repent recently of my own wrong attitudes of anger and resentment. I know first hand how sin can weigh us down and separate us from God and God’s best for us. I was wallowing in my anger and pride. I didn’t want to give an inch and was NOT setting the Christlike example that I knew I should be setting. I knew that my attitude was wrong and yet I refused to give in. What’s even worse is that I was hanging on to an anger and resentment that wasn’t rightfully mine to hold on to. It has been weighing me down. I hate knowing that I am choosing to let sin keep me from God’s presence.

So what do we do when sin is weighing us down? In verse 11, God tells us to Turn! Turn from our wicked ways! I read this verse yesterday and God used it to bring me to a place of repentance and restoration. I had to swallow my pride and make amends. I now feel reconnected to God and a relationship is in a place where Jesus can transform both of our hearts.

No one on this earth is exempt from sin. At one point or another, we will ALL sin and become weighed down by our sin and wicked ways. But God tells us that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He would much rather that we turn from our sin and transform our hearts. He would much rather give us life than sentence us to death.

2 Peter 3:9

 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

1 John 2:1

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

We WILL sin! But because God does not want any of us to perish, He has provided an advocate to intercede on our behalf. His name is Jesus. If we accept Jesus into our hearts and lives, we can repent from our sin and we will be forgiven. BUT we also must TURN from our wicked ways! Accept Jesus. Repent of our sin. And turn from our wicked ways.

There is life in Jesus! Allow Him to transform your heart and live for Him.

 

I am covering two weeks on this post. Fall has finally arrived and some cooler temps. We have changed out the Summer clothes for the Fall/Winter clothes in the clothes closets and we have seen an increase in clients coming in for clothes and housewares. On Wednesday we served 13 clients (some with family sizes of 5 or 6) and gave away 164 items of clothing. It’s a blessing to be able to serve these families and to make sure that the little ones will have warm clothes for the colder months.

I was excited to have Kiowa come volunteer Last Monday. She had been gone for two weeks on training in Europe and had a day off before going back to work, so she came and volunteered with me. She also volunteered at the Fall Festival on the 26th. Unfortunately, we were soaked an hour in by a torrential downpour and had to pack up. You never know in Georgia when it might rain! It was still a success and over 150 people were able to get information on community resources and the kids had fun on bounce houses, getting their hair painted, making slime, making sand art and doing other fun activities. We were able to give out toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste to families and we were blessed with the appearance of a full rainbow.

I had to stay home Monday-Wednesday of this week due to my car being worked on, but I used the time to create a Faith based Facebook group for single moms in Lowndes County and the surrounding area. I will also be involved with In His Grace Ministries (a support group for single parents that meets once a month at a local church) and am stepping out to be a liaison between the two ministries and single moms in the community. If you know me or have read my blog at all, then you know that serving single moms has been a passion of mine for many years. I am excited to help single moms build community with each other, as well as providing online Bible studies, resources, information to help in the struggle, and a safe place to share our hopes, dreams and hardships. Being a single mom can be isolating. This is my way to bring single moms together in support of each other. If we can build that village of mutual support and encouragement, helping each other along the way, our kids will benefit.

I was also able to use the extra time to finish my program to become a certified Biblical lay counselor. I have always wanted to counsel/coach/mentor single moms. This does not make me a “licensed professional” but it does allow me to counsel from a lay position. Everything I have longed for and have waited 15 to 20 years for is being realized in this moment. God’s timing is perfect. When I try to control things, I make a mess of things but when I wait on God’s timing and will things fall into place. I am imperfect, but I continue to learn!

The garden is growing! Our cabbage, collards, broccoli, kale and basil are doing great! This week we planted carrots and lettuce. We have had some intruders on some of our crops and have had to take action early on to prevent further infestations. We want our crops to grow and produce healthy, strong fruits and vegetables and that won’t happen if we let garden pests take over. The same goes with our Christian walk. we need to guard our hearts and our lives or sin will creep in and take over, crowding out anything good that we might plant in our lives. We have to repent and dig sin out by the root in order to make sure that we keep growing and produce good fruit. Who knew that we could learn life lessons from gardening?

On a personal note: 

My savings is dwindling. I live a frugal life and have stretched it as far as I possibly could, but circumstances crop up that need money. I mentioned my 13 year old car needing fixed. I was blessed to have the husband of an intern at Living Bridges fix my car. He is a mechanic and charged me nothing in labor, however I have had to pay about $650.00 in parts since Saturday. If you have been moved in any way by my life on mission here in South Georgia, I am asking if you will partner with me to see how God works in not just my life but the community as well. God is working in Living Bridges Ministry. Classes are being added and we are reaching the community to make sure that those who are in need are being reached. Through Living Bridges God is at work in Valdosta and the surrounding community and I am blessed to be a small part of it. I also ask that you continue praying about my heart issues. I wore a holter monitor last Thursday to Friday. I have an ultrasound on next Thursday and a stress test on November 19th. Other than an occasional heart flutter, I feel fine.

Click on the link to check out the LIVING BRIDGES Facebook page!

Please visit my support page if you feel led to give as I live my life on mission in South Georgia.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.