Thursday, June 22, 2017

Oh Death, Where is Thy Sting?


Corinthians 15:54-55
54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come to pass: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 


Wendy and I biked our regular route along the beach yesterday, and came upon a stingray a fisherman had caught. He wanted to free the stingray from the fishhook but knew the stingray would only know the pain of the hook being removed, not the freedom that would result. Thus, the fisherman wedged the stingray's dangerous tail against the sand with his fishing pole as he removed the hook. Otherwise, the stingray would sting him and prevent the very act that would set the stingray free. Keep this image in mind for the rest of our day's story...


That morning, Wendy and I had been kayaking.  A dolphin surfaced right by our boats, and continued to play with us, surfacing near while we paddled and talked for a half hour.




Finally, he tired of his game and we wended our way back to the dock. My phone rang. It was my sister Amy in a panic. The nurse's aid had been unable to waken my mom. She was completely non-responsive. My sister was racing to the Assisted Living Home.

Wendy and I were stunned and distraught. "Let's pray," I said. Everyone knows one day death will come to all, but it is never something you are ready for. Crying, I closed my eyes and prayed. I prayed for the comfort of all who love mom, strength for Dad, and a miracle. I prayed that the truth and joy of Jesus would enter not only Mom's life but the lives of all my loved ones, that the travesty of separation might only be temporary. (That part is a continual prayer of my heart.) I prayed that somehow, God would make this all well.

I finished praying and Wendy said, "A dolphin surfaced here while you were praying."

That was a comfort, as though God had sent one of my favorite animals to remind me of His providence in all creation. Still, we paddled back to dock in numb, mournful silence. We returned to the condo, planning how we could get out to Tucson that day. I even had insurance on my flight to Tucson to visit in two weeks so I would be able to change the flight, and leave from Hilton Head.

When we got into the condo, we got a text from Amy: "All is well."

WHAT???? We had been certain Mom had died. ALL is well????

Mom's vitals were all completely normal, the complete unresponsiveness had inexplicably passed after a couple of hours. She was totally and miraculously WELL. They will be doing complete tests today but no one knows what caused it, and no one knows what made it go away. We talked to Mom in the afternoon. She sounded chipper and ALIVE.


I believe God sent a miracle. A reprieve was granted. He LOVES us. He would have not one of us perish and be separated from Him for all eternity. Death has no sting when our hope and trust is in the One who overcame death once and for all in Jesus dying for our sins and rising from the grave on our behalf.

Like the stingray who didn't know he was being saved by the fisherman, but only felt the humiliation of submission as he lay powerless on the sand, ALL of us must submit to Jesus as Lord if the sting of death is to be squashed once and for all. It may seem impossible...but it is THE way, THE truth, and THE life. The stingray had to submit or he would die at the hands of the very one who yearned to save him.

Right around the time as we were rejoicing in this unexpected wonder of wonders, I got a text from one of the moms I work with. She sent a photo of her baby from a 3-D ultrasound with one of Cities4Life partner ministry, Sweet Pea 3-D Imaging. Accompanied with the picture of the baby SMILING in utero, was this message:

I love her message. "Thank you for everything you stand for."  I stand for Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. I stand for life. I stand for victory over death, and triumph over sin. The prayer that is always in my heart is that everyone will stand with me. Every soul is precious to God. Every soul longs for eternity and redemption.

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Hosea 13:14 
I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them …

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Stand with us on the abortion center sidewalks speaking on behalf of the baby's life, and the mother's redemption. Contact me at vkaseorg@cities4life.com








Wednesday, June 21, 2017

How Can a Puny Human Help in the Face of Vast Struggle?

In between biking and kayaking, I spent an hour speaking with a woman in crisis who chose life over abortion. Though I have only known her a week, at the end of our discussion where she poured out a litany of really dreadful circumstances, she had the sweetness to ask if I was having a nice time on my vacation.

The world is so full of beauty and danger. Somehow they coexist but disaster is just a mouthful of sharp teeth away.


While kayaking after the phone call, another woman called me. She had my name from literature we hand out on the sidewalks of the abortion center. She chose life and wanted to see her baby now that our new RV with the mobile ultrasound is back on the curb in front of the center. A life saved because Cities4Life had been present on the sidewalk! That felt glorious!

Then my sister and I were blessed by the sighting of a dolphin near our kayaks. I think it was God's way of reminding me that the troubles of the world may be as vast as the ocean, but out of those depths appear treasures of His goodness, surfacing and twinkling in the sparse rays that manage to sneak around the clouds of despair.

In this world you will have troubles, but take heart I have overcome the world.

Wendy knew the phone call with the woman in crisis had distressed me.
"You need to get out on your kayak," she said.
"You can tell?" I asked.
She nodded heartily.
That obvious, huh?
"It's just that I'm so helpless here? What can I do to help her?"

I can do nothing. God can do everything. You could help though. This woman needs a car for her growing family. She chose life and Jesus in unbearable circumstances. If you have a used, reliable van that you can donate or consider selling for $2k or less, please contact me immediately at vkaseorg@cities4life.com

Meanwhile, I'll be in my kayak looking for glimpses of God's glory and provision.
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John 16:33

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. ...

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. ...

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Yin and the Yang of Relationships and the Call To Sow Abundantly

This picture is a simulation of the yoga class my sister Wendy roped me into attending. This pose is an example of one of the moves the instructor told us to achieve, only without the benefit of a wall or railing to hang on to. Also our leg was supposed to be about twenty feet higher in the air with a graceful arch and our arms were both supposed to be stretched elegantly in front and our neck and head extended backwards such that our forehead gently touched our butt.

And we were to simultaneously breathe deeply in and out of our nose. No mouth breathing or eyes bugging out or sweat dripping off our noses allowed. The instructor didn't exactly say that but while everyone else was in Nirvana and I was gulping in bucket-loads of oxygen (through my mouth) and feeling an overwhelming urge to puke, sweating like a pig, everyone else was standing like statues, balancing on two toes with eyes closed, hands in a prayerful position, contorted like a bunch of snakes in a pit.

I laughed out loud a few times, which also was not exactly protocol in Tai Chi Yoga. I think I have the name correct. It made me think of my favorite expensive hot tea out at Starbucks where I would have paid at least a million dollars to be rather than twisting my body into impossible positions.

The nausea only lasted about an hour. When it had passed, Wendy asked if I would be doing class again with her on Wednesday.

Now contrast that picture above with THIS one:

Or this:

 Or this:


Which of these activities would you rather be doing than Tai Chi Yoga? In my book, any one of them. However, Wendy did agree to ride 22 miles on her bike with me yesterday, then kayak 3 miles in search of dolphins, and go to a 2 hour Time Share presentation so we could snag $150 in restaurant vouchers.

And while we waited forty minutes at the world's best seafood place, she did agree to sit on the rocks overlooking the water where we sighted dolphins!



So this is the yin and the yang of relationships. I am sure tai chi yoga-ists are really into yin and yang. Give a little, take a little.  Kayak three miles with me, and I will stretch my body into muscle-spasm hell.


Bike 22 miles with me, and I will go to the verge of barfing to do the things you (inexplicably) enjoy doing.



It is a Biblical principle after all. The Bible tells us:

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8


We reap what we sow. What we sow cheerfully and joyously will rebound upon us. This works in relationships, and it works spiritually. When we joyfully obey God and offer ourselves as living sacrifices to His will and purpose, we reap eternal rewards. There really is nothing more satisfying than feeling God's pleasure and delight, and watching His miracles unfold as we labor in His fields.
(Though kayaking and biking, and kissing a horse's nose come close.)

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To volunteer with Cities4Life and be a vessel God can use to save babies doomed to abortion, please email me at vkaseorg@cities4life.com
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Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Encounter With an Intelligent Species


On the hunt for dolphins



My sister Wendy is a trooper. I took her on a LONG kayak trip on the intracoastal waterway of Hilton Head island in search of dolphins. She never complained, though she may have asked how many hours I usually kayak.




Her perseverance and trust were rewarded! I have never seen a dolphin so close and so friendly. It was inches from us, looking us in the eye. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life.


No matter what else happens during our week in Hilton Head, I am already content. I have had a close encounter with an intelligent member of another species. Of course, it is not as astonishing as the encounter I have each day with the MOST INTELLIGENT SPECIES. (Hint: God) However, it is still pretty awesome.




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Romans 1:20
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Feast of the Harvest: Saved Lives on the Brink of Destruction

The ocean week with my hubby and sister Wendy could not have come at a better time. If you follow my blog you know it has been a hectic past week, filled with our Cities4Life team rescuing a baby from abortion and a family from homelessness. That entailed a lot of scrambling, prayer, and God's divine intervention. Not only was the baby saved, but God softened the hearts of both parents so much that BOTH asked Jesus to be Lord of their lives, and with miraculous timing, were married three days later. Cities4Life volunteers and supporters were the willing agents through whom God worked. It was an immense privilege to be a part of it.

But now...the ocean!



While on my bike, with the wind whipping in our faces, Justin Reeder of LoveLife Charlotte phoned me. He heads our partner ministry who I called with  the overwhelming issues of the delightful newly married couple I'd met just days ago at the abortion center. LoveLife Charlotte has just ramped up how they will partner with our ministry, Cities4Life, in mentoring and expanding how we access resources for the moms who choose life. He had an incredible plan for the best way to approach all the issues this new family faced.

"Have at it and bless you!" I said as the waves crashed in the background. He told me they had a volunteer social worker and mentors all in place ready to spring into action. Cities4Life has already received promises of donations towards a van for this expanding family, and clothes for the other children. Justin told me he would get back to me as they began to implement their plan.


Pelicans dive bombed for fish. Hubby had enough of biking and turned back, but Wendy, who told me she had trained for her week with energetic me was willing to bike on. My phone rang again as we rolled across the wide sand flats and drank in the salty air.

It was Justin again. Calls had already been made and the social worker interview completed. A plan was in place. Housing would be secured within 24 hours once the family followed through with a short list of requirements. Mentors had been assigned and would walk this couple through the steps they would need to follow to shift their world from survival to abundant living. The weight of the world slipped off my shoulder.

This is how the Christian community is supposed to work. Dozens of people have stepped in to this family's life and what was a homeless, broken, and hopeless situation appears to be turning completely around.

"Should we turn around?" Wendy asked. The head wind was ferocious, and we'd been going against the wind close to an hour.

"Yes," I said, "And you wait. With the wind at our back, you won't believe how fast we will fly down the beach back home!"

Jesus is calling. He is calling each of us. We have varying degrees of gifts, resources, and time. However, if you are listening, God is speaking. None of us are off the hook. With God's intervention and willing vessels, lives on the brink of destruction can be saved. What a feast of the harvest is beckoning!!!



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To learn more about how to volunteer and save lives in one of the darkest places on earth, the local abortion center, please email me at vkaseorg@cities4life.com
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Happy Father's Day to my dear Dad and to my husband! And now, through Cities4Life, three children have a father MARRIED to their mother, and a new commitment to their heavenly Father. Please consider helping other kids rejoice in the family God intended them to be. We could use the help.
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Jeremiah 1:5

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. ...

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Another Miracle for a Family That Chose Life Over Abortion



I spent the entire day looking for housing for the vulnerable new married couple
who chose life for their unborn child. Cities4life and its network has been helping them with many issues including the search for a used van and an apartment.

One donor bought them a bible which I picked up along with food and gas gift cards to deliver to them. While J had accepted Jesus as Lord, her new husband had not been there during our gospel presentation. I never let an opportunity to share the gospel pass me by, so when I handed him the new Bible, I seized the moment.

J sat beside us, nodding and smiling and answering some of my questions with assurance. Her husband was very worried as we talked about sin, the penalty for sin, and the impossible ability of humans to ever be good enough for heaven. We cannot earn our way there.

He looked so worried that I wanted to speed on to the good news, but one cannot impress on folks enough the fallen nature of humankind and the seriousness of our sin. To gloss over how much Jesus suffered for our sin waters down the power of His love. It cannot be minimized.

Finally, I said, "But God has a solution to the problem of sin. Do you want to hear what it is?"

"Yes ma'am. "

I shared the incredible truth of Jesus paying the penalty for our sin, dying a gruesome death on our behalf, and then overcoming death once and for all in the Resurrection. The young man smiled so sweetly, that I KNEW he understood and agreed. His bride was beaming.

"Have you ever asked Jesus to be Lord of your life?" I asked.
"No ma'am."
"Would you like to right now?"
"Yes ma'am."

J took her husband's hand  and we all prayed. The sweet young man asked Jesus to be Lord in his own humble words, and I noticed later he wiped away tears. His wife hugged him.

"Promise me you will pray each night with your family," I urged.
"I will, ma'am."

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I am off now for a week of kayaking with dolphins. Please pray for this beautiful young couple. And if you live in the Charlotte area and are a landlord, consider helping our ministry by providing them with an apartment. Their small car is on its last leg and they could really use a van. Please contact me at vkaseorg@cities4life.com

While they have never asked for anything, I asked them if they needed things for the other children since one supporter asked for a list. That list is below if you would like to help:


9 year old girl needs shirts junior small, bottoms 5 in juniors, sportsbras xl kids or small junior, panties 5 juniors or small, socks medium, pajamas small in junior, shoes 7.5 woman, & want tablet. 

7 year old boy needs,shirts & bottoms size 7-8 in boys, pajamas7-8, socks medium, boxers size small in boys ,shoes size 4 in kids , want tablet. 

2 year old boy needs shirts & bottoms size 4T pajamas size 4T & socks & shoes size 10 in kids, & car booster seat
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We are praying for miracles. We have witnessed so many, that we are confident these needs will be met.
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Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Mom Chooses Life, Jesus, and Marriage: When God Orchestrates a Life

When I woke up yesterday, I thought it was just another day that I would hurry out to the sidewalks of the abortion center with my wonderful Cities4Life team, and hope to convince moms of the sacred value of their babies. It turned into a whirlwind day where I planned and executed a wedding. Not my typical Thursday! I want to be clear from the get-go. There is NO WAY I could have pulled this off. The miracles of God and intervention of loving Christians throughout made an impossible task a beautiful and joyful miracle.

The bride, J, was a brave woman who thought she had to abort her baby since her situation was so difficult. Honestly, she faced some of the most difficult circumstances anyone could face with a new baby on the way. Through the intervention of the Cities4Life team and network of supporters, every obstacle is being addressed. She chose life for her baby, then chose to ask Jesus to be Lord of her life, was convicted of the need to obey God in all things, told her boyfriend, who said, "Then let's get married now."

J and her boyfriend have been together for eleven years. They have four living children together, with one in heaven. They always talked about getting married, but just never got around to it. But now, with a life newly dedicated to God, the urgency of marriage had reached a boiling point.

"NOW,"  J told me. "It's time, and how can God bless us if we don't follow Him in this?"

However, her boyfriend has a brutal work schedule and was supposed to work all day for the next few days, twelve hour shifts...and I leave Saturday for a week vacation. Since I was the contact person helping them, we decided the wedding would have to wait till I got back.

Instead, the groom's work for the day was cancelled due to internet issues, and the couple called me in the morning yesterday. They wanted to get married NOW. I called our director, Daniel, who decided he would conduct a counseling session to determine if our ministry would be in God's will by helping them. While he counseled them, I was on the microphone at the abortion center, urging other women to choose life.

Daniel pulled me aside, gave me the thumbs up, and told me go do whatever I needed to do to make a wedding happen. The happy couple and I dashed downtown to the courthouse, filled out the marriage license application, submitted and paid for through Cities4Life donors.

Then, we went to a consignment shop and instantly found a perfect dress and shoes! I reached the shop before the couple, guessed on her taste, picked out a dress and when she walked in the door, held it up.

"I LOVE that dress!!!" She tried it on. Fit as though it was made for her.

I had already snagged a beautiful ring from home that I never wear and had found years ago. I kept it, thinking one day God would reveal who I could bless with that lovely ring. I hoped it would fit J. It did! Perfectly. As though it were made for her. I gave the ring box to the groom.

We were momentarily stymied when we found out they could not marry right away, but would have to return at 6pm for a Justice of the Peace wedding. MIRACULOUSLY, I got a lead on a pastor who performs weddings and would come to us! I told him J's story, and he said he was honored to be a part of this. He lives an hour or so away, but just happened to be in town which never happens. He could do the wedding at 3 pm. Best of all, he is a strong Christian, and this union would be sanctified before God!

With two hours lead time, J was able to get her best friend to come to the gorgeous park . Daniel managed to fight terrible traffic jams to make it in time. I went home to change into a dress, and somehow, we all arrived at 3:00 ready for a wedding.

The ceremony was surprisingly moving to me, considering I had known this woman all of 72 hours. Daniel took off his own ring for the groom to use during the ceremony so there could be an exchange of rings. I wish I had thought of or had the time to get a ring for the groom! (Don't judge me...this was my first time running a wedding....)



Another Cities4Life donor paid for a room at a swanky hotel downtown for the wedding night. This is a hard working couple, but circumstances beyond their control had landed them in rough waters. A fancy hotel and a garden wedding were not in their wildest dreams. Survival edged those thoughts out.


They were so grateful and so happy. That beaming woman was a completely different lady than the one I met Monday, depressed, despairing and hopeless at the abortion center.

The couple left us for their honeymoon night in the fancy hotel, all smiles and joy.


May Christ guide their future as He did this miraculous day. You just never know how God will use you when you wake up in the morning and say, "Here am I. Send me."

This morning, I found out that the swanky hotel gave this new married couple a free fancy dinner on the house to celebrate them. How often do you hear of something like that happening???

When God orchestrates a life, a symphonic masterpiece is created.
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We would love to have willing spirits join us as volunteers on the sidewalks of the abortion center. For more information, please contact vkaseorg@cities4life.com
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An immediate need is a van, like a used Honda Odyssee.  Their car has no AC and is not large enough with their other kids and the new baby. Please contact me if you have a free or not expensive vehicle you would like to donate or sell to this new couple striving to follow God.  Please share this request far and wide. This is a couple worth the effort!!! (Charlotte, NC area.)
vkaseorg@cities4life.com
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Psalm 51:10-12

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit