Christ…The Reason for the Season

Christ…The Reason for the Season

On an ordinary night while cleaning my kitchen, I heard God speak directly to me. He told me I would donate a life-saving kidney to a man I didn’t know, David Ensley. And that’s exactly what happened.

David and I were a 1-in-20 million miracle. We were such a close physical match we should’ve been siblings. It was as if God made my kidney for him.

After countless tests, my surgical team approved me for the transplant. David’s doctor, however, denied me as a donor. The MRI showed two small arteries on the top of both my kidneys and he wasn’t sure if he would be able to reattach it. If he couldn’t, he couldn’t guarantee how much kidney function would be lost as a result.

David, diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease, was in complete renal failure and needed a kidney transplant. He had been on dialysis for many years, but unfortunately, it quit working.

We found out about the denial on Friday afternoon. The following Monday my church had a scheduled monthly healing service. My husband and I had already planned to attend the service with David’s sister, Jennifer, and her husband, Sean, before the news on Friday, so we decided to go regardless. David, too sick to come, stayed home.

Sadly, this was the first time Chuck and I had attended a healing service at our church. Jennifer commented she’d never been to one at hers either. We were willing to try anything because David’s health was rapidly declining, and he needed a new kidney as soon as possible. The only answer I knew was to pray.

Walking into the dimly lit sanctuary, people sat in quiet reflection. The music swirled around the room in a meditative melody. We found a seat toward the back as a minister began reciting healing scriptures. In the background, someone strummed music on a guitar.

As the minister continued to recite scripture, people made their way to the front for laying-on-of-hands and personal prayers from a prayer team member. We waited in line for our turn and then gave the prayer member the condensed version of our story.

Jennifer and I were instructed to sit in chairs facing each other, our knees barely touching as we held hands. Then the two of the prayer members laid hands on us and asked Chuck and Sean to do the same. They prayed, and to be honest, I don’t remember what was said; but a sense of safety, comfort and peace flooded my spirit.

We left there that night with a different perspective. We believed God was in control, and He would heal David with my kidney.

Three days later, David and I were approved for surgery and three weeks later on July 6, 2011, as I walked to the pre-op room before the transplant surgery, I murmured, “Thank you, God!” (Oh and by the way– David’s new kidney functions at 100% even though the doctor couldn’t re-attach the extra artery. God is good!)

I tell you this story because it’s part of my “spiritual legacy.” God works in our lives, and He requires us to shout His miracles from the rooftops.

“What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight, what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.” Matthew 10:27

What is your spiritual legacy?

Our spiritual legacies are the miracles of Christ in our life. They are the reasons we believe.

With Christmas around the corner, we are reminded of the biggest legacy of all – the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

How has Christ worked in your life? And who have you told?

Maybe you haven’t donated a kidney to a stranger, but maybe you’ve kissed a scraped knee and made it all better. Or maybe you gave your last dollar to someone in need. Or maybe you helped an elderly lady carry her groceries. Or maybe you’ve told your three-year-old the story of Jesus’ birthday.

God instructs us to “teach our children the word of God while we sit at home, when we walk, lie down and get up. We’re to write It on the doorframe of our house and gates so our days and the days of our children will be many.” Deuteronomy 11:19-21

If we don’t tell our children about the miracles of God, who will? A gang member? A drug dealer? A prison guard?

The love of Christ is the “reason for the season.” Be His love.

Tell your family and friends about your spiritual legacy today. Don’t wait…shout it now!







Blessings in Disguise

Blessings in Disguise

Change is difficult for me.  I just don’t like it.

Unfortunately, life is all about change–nothing stays the same (except God). I should learn to roll with what life brings me.

But I don’t have to like it, or do I?

About a month ago, I woke up with a huge truck carrying a large tractor on the back of it, in front of my house. And I thought to myself, what’s this truck doing here? There’s nowhere for him to go. I live on a cul-de-sac. He’s obviously lost!

You know how sometimes you ask a question but don’t want to know the answer? Yeah, well, this was one of those times.

Come to find out the truck wasn’t lost, in fact, it was in my neighborhood on purpose– to drop off that large tractor. An investor bought the property behind my house and has decided to build another subdivision.

In an instant, all the beautiful woods behind my house are gone…GONE!

For the past two weeks I’ve heard, BANG, CRASH, GRRRR and many other sounds I don’t know how to describe. (Although, I’m sure my six-year-old nephew would know how to make every one of them!)

My German shepherds are like fits of anxiety on steroids because they too don’t like change or loud noises. They run from one room to the next barking at invisible attackers because it sounds like they could tear through the walls at any moment.

But the worst part is looking in my backyard after the workers have left for the day, and seeing the vast emptiness of nothing.

In those woods once lived a family of deer that from time to time would visit. One time I came home to a doe standing in my driveway. She didn’t want to move. She looked up at me like I was intruding on her space. I relented and waited. Eventually, she trotted off to the woods.

My husband has seen the buck standing in the middle of the cul-de-sac. It’s amazing when you see nature that up close and personal. Keep in mind, though, I live in the middle of a large metropolitan city. Deer hanging out in your front yard is not the norm!

So, where has that family of deer moved to? I wonder.

I saw a baby deer wandering the neighborhood on my walk the other day. I waited to see if his family was around too but it turned and ran off the other way.

It makes me sad sometimes to see all the changes that are happening and I think does it need to?

Laura Story wrote a song called Blessings and every time I hear it I feel like she’s singing directly to me. She asks the question– what if the trials of our life are really God’s blessings in disguise?

“What is the trials of this life, the rain, the storms, the hardest nights…are Your mercies in disguise?” – Laura Story, Blessings

What if what we experience today are the blessings of tomorrow? What if after all the tears, the anger, the fighting, the pain we find something even greater than all we can imagine or dream.

Laura goes on to remind us that “this is not our home.”

Where we live right now is not our home. One-day God will bring us home, and there will be much singing, dancing and celebrating. But I’m, also, confident I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! God promises us heaven on earth.

I have to remember that God is with me every moment of every day. All I have to do is reach out to Him, and He will answer me. I believe in His goodness and His blessings. I believe He is greater than any of my circumstances– even a large tractor tearing down my woods!

Thank you, Lord, for all my blessings, even those that at the time don’t feel like they are. I love You and believe You today for everything.



Where’s the Bojangles Chicken?

Where’s the Bojangles Chicken?

Bojangles Chicken out of WHAT!?

That’s like Starbucks with no coffee… it just doesn’t happen! Except it did one Sunday afternoon on my way home from church.

If you’ve never had Bojangles chicken, I’m sorry. But you’re missing out. It’s a Southern staple; crispy chicken, hot fixin’s and sweet, sweet–dare I say it again– sweet tea.

With the Panther’s game starting in a half-hour, I pulled into the parking lot with the line wrapped around the building. Silently I prayed it wouldn’t take long.

Finally, my turn to place an order, “8 Piece Tailgate special, please with mac-n-cheese, green beans and sweet tea.”

“Yes, ma’am. Please drive around.”

Eventually, I made it to the window and the lady greeted me with the friendliest of smiles. What she said next though made my mouth drop.

“Ma’am, I sorry. But we just ran out of chicken.”

My eyes flashed wide as I thought maybe I heard her wrong. “You’re kidding. This is a joke, right?”

“No ma’am. I’m afraid we just sold our last piece of chicken to the car in front of you.”

Dropping my head in disbelieve, I asked, “You mean you’re completely out of chicken?”

“Yes, ma’am. But if you give us twenty minutes, I’ll bring your order to you.”

The clock on the dashboard flashed 1:25 pm. The Panthers kicked off in five minutes.

I must’ve looked furious because the lady replied, “Ma’am what can I do to make your wait more tolerable? Can I give you extra sweet tea or how about more biscuits?”

The smile on her face and the twinkle in her brown eyes were more than I could handle. How could I be upset with such a loving face?

“Throw in a few more chicken legs and you have a deal,” I replied.

I moved my car to an empty parking space and turned up the Panthers radio station to listen to the game. Hopefully, I’d only miss watching the first quarter.

Thirty minutes later, I still didn’t have my order and decided to check on it.

Entering the Lobby

As I entered the lobby, angry faces swarmed around me, and I apologetically moved to the front of the line hoping to find the employee from earlier.

Suddenly I heard, “Oh, ma’am, I was fixin’ to bringing this out to you.”

I turned to see her round smiling face. “It’s okay. I can see you’re busy.” And I reached out and she handed me the bag.

“I’m truly sorry for your wait. As promised, extra Bojangles chicken, biscuits and sweet tea are in there. Thank you for waiting patiently, and it’s been my pleasure serving you today.”

Flabbergasted, I replied, “Thank you for your kindness. I hope your day improves.”

“Oh, it’s been awesome! Unfortunately, running out of chicken caused a little hiccup but life happens,” she shrugged.

Looking at the other customers, I wouldn’t have called it a hiccup but her infectious attitude made it better. She truly enjoyed what she did, and it showed.

This experience made me think about my attitude towards work, angry people, crazy drivers– and believe me, we have a few around here– and my ministry.

What is my ministry?

It’s anything the Lord has called me to do. Whether it’s writing a book, or caring for children, or running errands for an elderly neighbor, or waiting on angry customers at Bojangles.

As Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24

We’re to do everything with love in our hearts and do it to serve the Lord because we know our reward comes from Him.

I’m not sure if the Bojangles employee I met necessarily thought she worked for the Lord, but the fruit of her spirit proved it’s a possibility. Calm and courteous, she showed me respect and love in an impossible situation.


Thank You, Lord, for reminding me of Your generous Spirit and that You require the same from me in all I do. Thank You for the Bojangles employee who afforded me dignity and appreciation despite my selfishness. May Your blessings and inheritance be her reward!



“What I Have I Give to You!”

“What I Have I Give to You!”

Have you ever felt an overwhelming conviction from God’s word that it brought you to your knees? Or have you ever heard your personal story narrated by Matthew, Mark, Luke or even John?

Reading Acts 3, Luke spoke directly to me as if we were the only two people in the room– humbling me to my knees.

The story unfolds shortly after the resurrection of Jesus Christ and Peter, a disciple of Jesus, heals a crippled beggar at the temple gate called Beautiful. The man had never walked a day in his life.

Peter said to him, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

And the man got up and walked. People watching were filled with wonder and amazement at what happened to this man.

Then Peter asked, “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?”

Like those people, I’ve been filled with the wonder and amazement at miracles I’ve witnessed and like them, I’ve overlooked God at the center.

Early in my walk with God, He asked me to do the impossible – establish transitional housing for battered women and children in my community. He gave me a vision, but I had no idea know where to begin. Unemployed with a young child, God provided me with everything I needed; including the passion and fire to believe Him.

God strategically placed people in my life. I established a small working board, and together we were awarded a 501c3 tax-exempt non-profit status. Then we submitted grant proposals for funding– and, surprisingly, people gave us money!

As a high school drop out with only a GED, I had never written anything but failing book reports, so writing grant proposals proved rather intimidating. God, however, uses our weaknesses as His strength.

Next, we found a location and opened the doors to woman and children who needed a safe place to live and time to get back on their feet.

We were breaking the ties of domestic violence and giving families the opportunity to live a life free from violence!

Somewhere along the way, however, I forgot it was through faith in God that I received the power to do what He called me to do and as His instrument, He worked through me – not the other way around. Pride crept in and took up permanent residence in my heart.

I became tired and weary from doing everything on my own. Eventually, the program closed and I walked away from everything – including God.

Years later, I heard God’s voice calling me back home. I started meeting Him again in the mornings to read His word and openly talked with Him. God honored my faithfulness and time by filling my heart with His passion and fire once more.

Not long afterward God asked me to do the impossible again– donate one of my kidneys to a complete stranger.  God had a sense of humor because this time He made sure I couldn’t take credit for any of it. All the miracles that transpired could only have come from Him.

Even the desire to do it, God gave to me. As Peter said, “What I have I give to you.” I didn’t have anything to give until God first gave it to me.

On July 6, 2011, I donated my kidney to David Ensley, a friend of my husband from high school. God created the perfect kidney in me to save his life. We were such a close physical match we should’ve been siblings; although, we had never even met until then. David takes minimal anti-rejection medication as a result of this miracle-match.

Last month, David walked his daughter down the aisle and danced with her at her wedding. Four years ago it wouldn’t have even been a possibility. God is good!

Also in 2008, the YWCA opened Families in Transition, providing families with children long-term housing and intensive support services. God continues to provide for the needs of His children.

Thank you, God, for your faithfulness and Your blessings. Your love continues to amazes me!


I Wouldn’t Make a Good Homeless Person!

I Wouldn’t Make a Good Homeless Person!

As I breathed out a long, deep sigh, a stream of hot water pulsated over my worn-out body. Leaning my head against the shower door, I allowed the warmth of the water to comfort me.

It had been a long day pulling weeds and planting vegetables in the garden, and a nice warm shower was my only desire. I propped my head against the wall with my eyes closed and allowed the hours of dirt and sweat to pour off me.

At that moment, an unsettling thought crowded my mind – this shower was a privilege and a luxury many people couldn’t afford, and something I’ve taken for granted will always be available. Humility filled my heart as stood in a shallow pool of water with wet hair and a soapy sponge ready to wash my worries and cares of the day away.

I often joke with my husband that I wouldn’t make a good homeless person. I liked my comfortable bed and my warm pajamas. I couldn’t possibly live in a cardboard box with him– no matter how cute he was!

“I am a high maintenance type of woman,” I declared, flinging my reddish-blonde hair over my shoulder for a little added effect.

Thinking about that statement, I realized how self-righteous and entitled it sounded. Something my Grandmother always quoted, “There by the grace of God go I.” It’s a reminder to me that I’m, but one blessing away from being that person I criticize.

The Glass Castle, a memoir by Jeannette Walls, is about her life growing up in poverty and living on the streets, or cars, or broken-down houses not fit for human living. She described days of going without food, or sometimes if she was lucky, cutting away the maggots from old meat because the insides were still good. On really good days, she would find half eaten food people threw in the garbage and would share it with her siblings – a Thanksgiving feast!

The shack they lived in West Virginia didn’t have running water so taking a bath, especially a hot bath, was not an option for her.  She would carry buckets of water up from the stream to provide enough water for a sponge bath, but it was never hot.

And here I am in a clean shower with hot, water cascading all around me. How blessed am I?

As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m reminded of all my many blessings. But as I reflect, I ask myself– do I mirror God’s character? When people look at me, do they see Him?

Jesus was the first to feed the thousands, and he often ate with the prostitutes and beggars. Jesus called me to follow Him. Do I follow Him? Or, do I rush by the person on the street asking for food, instead of stopping to talk and offering him a sandwich?

Do I take a minute to hold the door for the struggling mother with a child on one hip and the other dangling from her arm? Or, do I hurry by her because I don’t want to be bothered?

Or, what about the person on the corner with a sign “Homeless- will work for food!”? What are my thoughts? Do I immediately judge him and the choices he’s made? Or, do I lovingly offer him the “Blessing Package” I have in my car with supplies of crackers, water, socks, and a few dollars? And was it given without judgment?

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or s stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” – Matthew 25:44-45 (NIV)

As we spend time this Thanksgiving with our families and friends, let’s give thanks and ask God to show us ways we can reflect His love and character to others.

“Thank you, Lord, for your blessings in my life. Show me ways I can be your hands and feet. Provide me with the opportunities to do for others because I don’t want to miss doing for You!”


For those who want to know what a “Blessing Package is:

  • Gallon size Ziploc bag
  • Soap
  • Toothpaste/ toothbrush
  • Socks
  • Chapstick
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Crackers
  • Mini water bottle
  • Gloves/ scarves
  • Feminine products (for the females)
  • A note card with “Jesus loves you.” And a couple of dollars in the card (if you want to).

You can put just about anything it in but from my experience these work best. I normally get items from the Dollar Store or Family Dollar.

I make up one or two and keep them in my car. Then I pray and ask God to put the person in my path who needs to receive it. But remember you have to be willing to stop, even if you’re in a hurry when you feel the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit. I’ve ignored it before and have always felt sorry later.

The people I’m led to give the package to are usually very honored to accept of the gift. But what I receive no amount of money can compare.

Also, ask for their name so you can pray for them later.


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