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!







“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.


What? Write a Book? Blog? Seriously!?

What? Write a Book? Blog? Seriously!?

Who am I to write a blog, much less a book? That’s the question I often ask myself. Then I hear, “Who are you not to?” So I write.

Pondering the story of the Samaritan woman I see many similarities between her and me. She, also, had a shady past filled with immorality and deceit but upon meeting Jesus at the well He didn’t seem to care about her past. In fact, He called her out on it but in a very loving and forgiving manner.  She thought he was a prophet, but Jesus revealed Himself to her and her life immediately changed.

With much excitement she went tell the other Samaritan’s about His love and how it had affected her life. Many believed in Jesus because of her story and, as a result, came to hear Him preach. Afterward, they believed not only because of her words but because they heard for themselves the wonderful news of God’s love and forgiveness.

That bible story sums up my hope and inspiration for writing. I may not be the best or the most polished writer but like the Samaritan woman, experiencing Christ’s loving forgiveness for myself, makes me want to shout from the mountain top that His love has altered my life forever. Who knows… maybe you to will hear and believe for yourself, too.

But wow, has it been scary and uncomfortable! Stepping out in faith and pursuing God’s purpose in my life has not been easy. Fear overwhelms me at times, and I ask, “Why me?”

In January of this year, I decided to act on God’s promptings to write a book about my experience as a living kidney donor. I had never written a book before and had no idea where to begin. I decided to take an online writing course, and learned the secret to writing well is – wait, hold on it’s amazing– is just to write. Interesting concept, I know!

So, I started writing the book and then one day my boss told me he had to lay me off– downsizing. On the positive side, however, I found myself with a lot more time to write my book.

Now, I’m told that to get a publisher I need to have a “following” which I’ve found out is a great thing for me, or at least that’s the way God sees it.

I’m not the type of person who likes to be in the front of the group with the spotlight shining down on me. Personally, I’m more comfortable on the sidelines cheering on other people. God, however, likes to push me outside of my comfort zone which is why you find yourself reading this blog. It’s God’s “gentle” nudging – love it!

But I share because God has asked me to, and I pray that those who need to hear will listen, and those who need to see will know.

Thank you for letting this Samaritan woman share my love for Jesus with you.

I pray that one day you will say, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” John 4:42 (NIV)







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