Co-Architects Of Design 

We are now saved because Our Savior Jesus chose to leave the riches of heaven and come walk our sod. He left glory and power for a life of humility and service. He left sovereignty and majesty for obedience and obscurity. He left celestial pleasures for earthly hardship. He left fellowship with the holy ones for ministry to the lost and hurting. He relinquished intimate communion with his Father to take on himself the sin of the whole world.

We, too, have choices to make

 We can live lives of relative comfort and peace and safety by taking our salvation and burying it in our backyards and standing guard to make sure nobody steals it. We can ignore the dying world around us, leaving others to find their own way. We can skillfully avoid the messy business of finding and nurturing relationship with our brothers and sisters in the faith. We can leave the strenuous work of building the kingdom to those with degrees and salaries.

Alternatively, we can choose to take up our crosses and follow our master. We can forsake building castles in the sand and instead yoke ourselves to the one who is working incessantly to build mansions that will endure for eternity. Then, we will have a say in where we live, how many guest rooms we will need, and who we would like to have for neighbors. We will be co-architects in the design of our community centers and fellowship halls. We will be partners in business with the wise. We will spend our vacations exploring relationships with the mighty men of God. We will raise our children with the help of the holy women of God.

        ~Brad Heilhecker 

My First Visit To Prison 


This Christmas break I was honored to go with LionzBride Ministry to visit a women’s prison unit in Texas City, Texas. LionzBride Ministry packaged up soap, deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo and candy in a Christmas bag for all the prisoners at this unit. Our job was to pass out the bags to the ladies and then invite them to come back to a service at the chapel that evening. 

Of course, I didn’t really think too much ahead of time what to expect or what it would be like to go and minister in prison. I knew that I would have to share a scripture or a word at some point at the service. I really don’t enjoy speaking in front of groups of people but I knew that God would give me the words. I thought I could avoid sharing by not volunteering and maybe hiding behind a large object. 

Honestly, I didn’t have any words to share. I have never been in their shoes or didn’t know how I could bring them any kind of meaningful message. Hope was the word I wanted to leave with them. I wasn’t sure how I could deliver that message because I was never in prison and I haven’t faced their specific challenges. I put it out of my mind. 

I didn’t have a chance to think about myself from the moment I stepped passed the last barred gate. There wasn’t any time. We quickly formed an assembly line to put the bag of goodies together with some residents who helped us. They were all wearing white pants and white shirts. All of the ladies looking the same… clean, crisp, sharp and smiling. I figured these ladies were the cream of the crop. They must have earned their way into helping at the chapel. 

 I didn’t know a thing about prison working or privileges or chapel services. All I know is I was told they are NOT allowed to hug anyone or be hugged on a normal day. Today was different. They had permission to hug and be hugged. I positioned myself at the exit door to give the “Merry Christmas God Bless You” hard squeezed hug. I figured it might as well be a good one since hugs were outlawed all the other days. 

These ladies were so grateful for the gifts and the hugs. I was told they had not had shampoo for a couple of months. This was a sweet smelling gift of gold in these bags and they were happy to receive it. 

Each hug brought me more love and tears. It was as if I was the one who was getting ministered to not them. I was overwhelmed with love and affection for these beautiful ladies. Each one different walking by me. Some were tall, short, old, young and pregnant. Each lady containing their own stories of hardships. They were buried deep down beneath their smiles and hugs of gratitude. At this point I stopped seeing them as prisoners. They were mom’s, sisters, grandmothers, and daughters. I met with some and talked and heard their stories. They were beautiful and lovely. 

Church service started and many ladies came back. In fact the whole room was filled up all the way to the back wall. These ladies didn’t need us there. They were their own church body praising God and leaning on Him to give them help in a time of need. We were just participants. During praise and worship I spied a tambourine and I was in trouble. I don’t have tambourines at my church services. 

We danced and I lost my tambourine to another sister who could bust a move much better than me. I was wrecked with the love that God has for these women in this prison. These ladies were locked up but they were free. They were free and Holy Spirit was there right in the middle of it all. 

He was freely comforting them and reminding these ladies of their value and purposes. I didn’t have to bring them any words of hope. 

God had already delivered it and they were receiving it with tears and joy bursting out everywhere. 

We were there to receive it along with them. 

My speaking became nothing more than an agreement that God is good and we are all loved together equally. An acknowledgment really that Isaiah 61 seemed real and relevant to us there that night. 

I left that evening experiencing God. 
These ladies brought Jesus to me. They were now my sisters in Christ. 

People say prisoners deserve to be in prison because of the crimes they commit. 
I don’t disagree. 
I deserve to go to hell because of the sins I have committed. 
Jesus paid the debt so I could be free from that punishment. 
These ladies are paying their debt in prison. They are free from punishment in eternity and they have a future that brings freedom

Love never fails. 

God’s love showed me who they are and how much He loves them. ❤

My prison visit set me free from any preconceived expectations and love didn’t fail that day. 

Isaiah 61:1-7 (MSG)

61 1-7 The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me

    because God anointed me.

He sent me to preach good news to the poor,

    heal the heartbroken,

Announce freedom to all captives,

    pardon all prisoners.

God sent me to announce the year of his grace—

    a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—

    and to comfort all who mourn,

To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,

    give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,

Messages of joy instead of news of doom,

    a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.

Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness”

    planted by God to display his glory.

They’ll rebuild the old ruins,

    raise a new city out of the wreckage.

They’ll start over on the ruined cities,

    take the rubble left behind and make it new.

You’ll hire outsiders to herd your flocks

    and foreigners to work your fields,

But you’ll have the title “Priests of God,”

    honored as ministers of our God.

You’ll feast on the bounty of nations,

    you’ll bask in their glory.

Because you got a double dose of trouble

    and more than your share of contempt,

Your inheritance in the land will be doubled

    and your joy go on forever.

Set Free,

Kelley Allison 

http://www.bowlofsplendor.com

Learn more about the ministry that I accompanied that day here 

http://lionzbride.com/

Synchronization

  
I love this post by my dear friend! Reminds me of #BringHeaven2EarthDay – this coming Friday 4/22 we head out into the community to experience and extend all Christ has for us. 

If in NW Houston- join us or online use the hashtag above to post your pics and stories of loving, praying and serving others in your own community. 
Enjoy this great blog and may we all get Synced up! ~XXOO Michelle Bollom 

“Synchronization” 
For a few weeks now, I keep hearing the word synchronization. Everywhere I go, I hear it, see it or someone is talking about it.  I realized God was speaking to me so I slowed down and asked Him what He wanted me to learn.   Get ready, because when you ask this, He WILL answer! […]

https://iwillnotstaysilent.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/synchronization/

Big Dreams 

  
Big Dreams, and an even Bigger God!!!

This year has proven to be one of the most exciting years of my life! I started out the year in a brand new town, and left the big city of Houston behind. I saw stars in the sky, and felt the wonderful central Texas breezes up on the top of a hill. As I began to settle into a new life, and a new place, I got a little too comfortable. Recently, I heard someone say, that we have to get a little uncomfortable to allow God to work in our lives. That really sparked something in me, and renewed my desire to follow God every step of the way. 

I just returned from the Thirty-one Gifts National conference, and it left me inspired and encouraged to reach bigger goals, and to dream bigger. Thirty-One is founded on the scripture found in Proverbs 31 which talks about the virtuous woman. Sharing the vision of Thirty-one with others is an open door to share the Gospel and to lead others to HIM. 

I have always had big dreams, but I am so thankful that I also have a Big God!!! 

Just last year I started my new ministry, His Hope Ministries, with the hope of reaching the city of Houston. Now, that vision has changed and I am so excited about new open doors here in Bastrop and the greater Austin area. I have been talking with the volunteer coordinator at the Austin Ronald McDonald House. She is going to allow me to bring in a team of volunteers to minister to the families staying there. We have made plans to do adult and kid crafts once a month, and eventually also providing a meal. These crafts will range from hats that the cancer patients can wear, to tie blankets big enough to fit their hospital beds. I am so excited that this opportunity has opened up for my ministry, and also that along with some of my friends, and even my Thirty-one sisters we will have such a unique opportunity to help those in crisis. 

When I look back on this year so far, I cannot help but smile. God was guiding my steps all along, even when I began to doubt or question His will. When we open ourselves up to hear God speak, we can find peace and comfort and know that we can trust in Him. 

I do not know what the future holds, but I know that God is guiding my steps. I am beyond blessed to have this opportunity to see God do great things. I have been around the world, and back again, but now it’s time I continue to reach my own community and share the Love of Christ. 

My life verse, 1Corinthians 10:31 says,

 “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 



There is nothing more incredible then seeing God bless and honor His work…may we never forget to dream big because God isn’t done with us yet!!! 

                    ~Beka Hawkins

Beka Hawkins has always had a heart for missions and from the time she was 3 years old she began telling others that she was going to be a missionary. At the age of 11 she surrendered her life to full time ministry, with a desire to reach the UK or Ireland. As the years went on, she knew that Bible College would be the best place for her to enrich her life and her ministry. She began attending Pensacola Christian College in the fall of 2002 with a desire to become a teacher. Plans began to change, and God began to burden her heart for the broken and wounded people who needed hope. She graduated in December of 2006 with a degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Music. 

Upon graduation, Beka began working in various ministries. She became the director of the first Habitat for Humanity/YMCA day camp center, and saw God do amazing things in the lives of the families there. 

In the fall of 2007 she became a Houseparent at Boys and Girls Country, a ministry that houses up to 80 kids at any given time using a Christian home setting. During her time there, her passion for missions only grew stronger. In the summer of 2009 she joined the ministry of David Stockwell Evangelistic Association, where she spent the next three years working in the states and abroad. She also travelled with the team to various countries in Africa, the Philippines and Belize. She was able to share God’s love with thousands upon thousands of people who were so hungry for the Good News of Christ!!! 

In 2012 she stepped out on her own and began a journey of starting her own ministry. In 2014 His Hope Ministries was started with the vision to bring Hope and Love to the least of these. With many open doors in the greater Austin area, she hopes to use all that God has done in her life to prepare for future ministry in the USA or abroad.

  

You can check out more from Beka Hawkins Here
http://hishopeministries.weebly.com/

Always The Call 

  
God always wants to take you somewhere else

Another path

opposite direction leading you

Through the storm, 

lighting each step with His love…

Pushing you further than you ever thought you could grow

God always demands more than you’re giving

His holiness requires anointed living

Meekness of heart

 a tongue saved by the blood

Faithfulness and generosity to those He places

Lovingly in your keep

Strangers, now friends, your family

He always says to me

“Krystal, will you feed my sheep?

 Will you feed my lambs? 

Will you move on up to where I am?”

God always moves past my plan

Taking me to no man’s land

Which is way narrow

Absolutely contrary to

Any lifestyle or road

That I would live or choose

This place lives within your heart

It is Gods Kingdom

It is where I belong

It is where He always calls me

❤️Krystal Lynne 

9/12/96

  

Compassion

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Compassion

Define:
Compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

Affirm:
Mark 6:34
“When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.”

Recall:
In 2008, I was visiting a women’s shelter in Sacramento, CA and I was in awe…I could not believe how many mothers with children lived in a shelter! Most importantly I could not believe how many women were turned away.

The same day that I visited the shelter, one woman received what I thought was very sad news. The shelter could not house her, so she was turned away. That woman tried her best to explain her plight. She tried her best to get a warm place to sleep. She tried, and failed. I could not believe what was going on…with my very own eyes- I thought what if I was her. So in response to what I saw I wrote this…

What if I was her?

I heard the meek voice of a twenty something year old woman and it said
I am homeless and I have no bed
I thought what if I was her?

My parents died when I was only age nine- I have nowhere to go-but outside
I thought what if I was her?

My husband raped me, cheated on me, and then he left me…oh I forgot to mention he put his hands on me
I thought what if I was her?

I recently got laid off, living paycheck to paycheck and I have not saved enough- and my bills, I cannot afford the cost
I thought what if I was her?

I am out in the cold, nowhere to go-no job- for money my body I have sold
I thought what if I was her?

CPS just took my son, I have lost my child and to talk to you …I have walked 20 miles
I thought what if I was her?

I have contracted a disease, one that will not leave me
I thought what if I was her?

I heard this woman go on and on about her situation, she was very persistent; yet this woman was ignored as if she was not in existence.
I thought what if I was her?

Finally, I looked up
I made eye contact with that women, I vividly remember the day
However the person she spoke to had no room for her and had to turn her away

I thought what if I was her?

As I re-read the piece that I wrote. I am saddened by how I felt that day. A tear drops down my cheek because this woman desperately needed help, she needed love, she needed shelter, she needed…she needed..she needed. That day I decided that I had to somehow add value to the lives of the women in the shelter…I didn’t thoroughly think through what needed to be done- I reacted. I had a strong desire to alleviate someone’s suffering.

The best way for me to help was to leverage the resources that were within my reach. I was connected to many females based organizations. I decided I would:
Host Sacramento’s Little Black Dress Event- “a clothing drive for professional attire to get the women prepared for the workforce”
Renovate “THE BOUTIQUE” By partnering with local stores that would donate the materials to upgrade the space.
Market the Shelter: It was necessary to connect with the community and local media to help bring awareness of the need to support women that often fall victim to life’s situations.

I leveraged my membership with the junior league and turned vision into action. A section from the article I wrote is below:

“The theme of this event was Celebrate! The event was a women empowering women celebration to dress for a cause in wearing little black dresses. We encouraged women to “Celebrate Life, Style, Purpose, and The Spirit of Giving” by donating wearable professional clothing to The Depot Boutique. Guest speakers addressed each individual theme and the night ended in a fabulous fall fashion show.
In three weeks of planning, we connected with other female based groups, sold over 180 tickets, 10 display tables, and scheduled several radio segments. Most importantly, we received over 200 professional outfit donations, and 2 grants from local corporations!”
I inspired about 10 women to join my planning team. And we successfully reached more than 200 people in three weeks, and awesomely touched thousands. At the time our task was ambitious; but we genuinely wanted to help and we did.
I think back to that situation which examples how GOD shows amazing compassion for the sick, lost, helpless….He shows true compassion for all. Although I like to think that I displayed a great deal of compassion by helping the woman/women at the shelter…My compassion is conditional it often occurs on “my terms.” Honestly I feel compassionate sometimes and other times I don’t. Compassion is an area in which I am weak and I am trying to grow strong. Join me in gaining strength in this area.

Exercise:
What is one area in your life that you know you need to exercise more compassion?___________
What will you do daily to make that change?_________________________________

Read this daily.
God I need to show compassion in this area __________________________ area of my life and I commit to ______________________________________________________________________.

Commit to the change. I DARE you.

~ Lereca Monik

“Free to Forgive” by Johnette Cruz

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Today we kick off our #FeatureFriday series. We will be sharing some amazing people with you each Friday. Enjoy!

For years I’ve unknowingly held on to things so buried that they became part of my inner being. With every year and every season that has passed, those things festered and grew so deep that all of it was bound to come spewing out. I’ve dealt with a lot of situations from my past that I’m sure many women face daily: abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, health problems, betrayal, abandonment and resentment issues….yup I can say it, I was a hot mess.

I was saved at the age of 23 and started to turn my life around, and things were looking great. I got married, God blessed us with a miracle of a son and my professional life was striving ahead; but all in the while my personal life was falling apart.

In 2011, I began working with a ministry based out of where I live and we do women’s conferences call the Finally Free Women’s Conference. I attended my first one as the “host” and to experience it myself. Our conferences are all about life transformation. We want to see women coming in one way, and leaving completely different, and let me tell you that I was no exception.

That day was the beginning of my freedom journey. I recognized the things from the past that I was holding on to, burdens that I was carrying that were never intended for me to carry. During the conference we hand out stones, and you name them-claim them, and then give them up to God to handle them. I think that day I had at least a bag of stones, all with different names! Through our gifted speaker Kim Tabor and team, God made me aware of all my past hurt that I had so eloquently hidden from everyone.

Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery”

I left the conference a changed person, feeling like I could take on the world and handle everything the way God wanted me to…but oh how very easy it is for Satan to crawl back in, get comfortable, make his home again and tell you different.

1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”

Fast forward to 2014. Earlier this year, I experienced a season of life where I had to face some really tough decisions head on. This specific situation was the catalyst to my breakdown. Satan knew exactly what to do, how to hurt me to the deepest part of my soul. It’s like he took my heart stabbed and stomped on it, ripped it into shreds intending it to never be repaired again. Those stones that I thought I left at the altar back in 2011 were facing me dead on, and they were no longer stones- they were huge boulders and I couldn’t get rid of them this time.

I was completely broken, utterly empty and in despair. Now that I look back on it, God NEEDED my soul to be shattered; He had to strip me down of everything so that He could reshape and mold me for Him and His purpose. For a series of months I went into intense Christian counseling to have someone guide me through this traumatic time- you see you need to dig deep, and get the ugly out so that God can fill you with things of Him. When you’re filled with hate, anger, resentment, and pride there is no room for God to fill you with His goodness. It was a process, but I finally began my new journey to freedom and healing.

One day a few months ago I had enough. I literally yelled and cried out to God, “This is it! I rebuke Satan and he will never win, I cannot live like this!” So I ran outside to a pond near my house and grabbed 4 stones- each representing something, and I chucked them as far as I could throw them. I HAD to let them go. The negative feelings were producing nothing but a hateful and angry person and my coldness was permeating everywhere I went.

Through my freedom journey, I have learned that there is POWER in letting go, there is a SUPERNATURAL POWER in forgiving. I have a close friend in our ministry who shares her story in our conferences and the one thing that has stuck with me throughout our travels is one of her sayings: “I choose what I dwell on” and oh my goodness how true is that! Is it hard to move forward and not “choose” anger over happiness? Absolutely! But if you choose to do that you will not be living the life God has promised for you! God has so much more in store for us than we will ever know, but the love, forgiveness and grace that he has given us should be given to others- we are called to do that, so why not extend that same love to the people who have hurt us the most?

Ladies- if you are dealing with some hurt in your life and you haven’t let go of it yet and decided to forgive, may I ask why? What are you afraid of? You are missing out on God’s unending love! Do I still have my bad days? Of course! Do I still have pain and hurt? Yes! BUT- I now look at it differently, the anger is gone, and instead of my past irrational decisions to act out negatively I CHOOSE to go directly to God, seek counsel and most importantly pray. One of the hardest things we women will ever have to face is to forgive- it can be done, but not alone. You must give all to God and HE will make all things new, wipe every tear, and bring light into your heart that was dead and dark.

Isaiah 43:18 Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past

Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

For more details on the Finally Free Women’s Conference, book, CD and Bible Study, go to http://www.finallyfreeconference.org

Johnette Cruz is a multimedia professional who has always had a love for music, worship and a talent for connecting people to Christ. Johnette is the Communications Director at Mount Pleasant Christian Church located in Greenwood Indiana and Midday Personality Radio Host for Shine.FM. She also works with Tabor Ministries and is involved in the Finally Free Women’s Conference and Stripped Free; an outreach ministry.

Connect with Johnette:
http://www.facebook/mediacruz
Twitter: @Cruzza
Instagram: @jcruzza