Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lean on Me

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest... Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you." Matthew 11:29 The Message

I would say, "It's all over but the shoutin'," but since my voice is barely above a whisper it wouldn't make much sense.

We finished strong here in San Diego, and though we are farmers (in the Harvest fields) who have just completed dutifully planting our crop - we are trusting God to bring forth the fruit of our labor in the days to come.

We connected. We sang and we danced. We laughed and we cried with the families here. We exchanged emails, and promised to stay in touch but the truth is life will "happen." The soldiers will re-deploy, the wives will be left alone to care for the children. The world, the flesh and the devil that is waging war against their soul will return.

But the Word of God remains and does not return to Him without completing the mission He assigned to it. There is something about the soldier's ethics "no man left behind" that you have to figure is even stronger with the Word of the Living God.

After a day of being at a "loss for words," I was concerned I would not be able to share my "story" with the women today during our time of pampering. The rest I took in Him for my voice was enough to get me all the way through. I entitled me testimony appropriately enough, "Finding my Voice."

With my gravely throaty sound adding drama to the tale, by the end all the women tearfully related their pain, their sadness and their connection to my history. I clearly presented the Gospel, and explained each day is an opportunity for redemption. I rejoiced with the voice I had lost that was fit enough to share how to be "found."

We ended the evening with the volunteers singing for the families the Bill Withers classic "Lean on Me." We are not strong alone - but working together as the Body of Christ we can lead the way, shine the light and sway in harmony to the "unforced rhythms of grace" the Master has taught us.

With a whisper
And a prayer
and of course a big smile!
In His service

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Benjamin Franklin

It might not have been Benjamin Franklin who coined the phrase "Learn something new every day," but since he is on the hundred dollar bill I thought I would give him credit. It made for a better title, curious (like a cat) and heck, "a penny saved..." will eventually add up to a hundred dollars, and perhaps you will fell like you have earned it!

I learned a lot today. But I was also reminded of the total sufficiency of God. Especially when we are totally dependent on Him.

This was the first full day of jammed packed fun. We had breakfast on the rooftop overlooking the ocean. The kids went off to their morning sessions while the adults listened to the event's motivational speaker Clebe McClary. An ex-Marine wounded in Vietnam (lost one arm, part of his leg, and his eye).

He and his wife Deanna are from South Carolina. Let me put the emphasis on "soooouth carolinuh." They were motivational, inspirational and down right funny sharing their wit and wisdom with these young Marines and their spouses. Clebe broke the age and disability barrier down immediately by tossing a rubber eyeball he had in his pocket at one of the wives. He had a catchy one-liner to go with it, but for the life of me all I can remember is seeing an eyeball fly through the air!

"You can't judge a book by its cover"

Old Benny boy probably came up with that one too. Next time I start to judge someone, I think I just might have to picture a flying eyeball.

I learned it's good to have something in your pocket that will catch people off guard.

After lunch there was a carnival, complete with rock climbing wall, bouncy house, popcorn and CARE EE the clown. Except, for the first time in her illustrious (notorious) global career, Care EE was mute. Notice I did not say mime.

I learned a clown costume and stickers come in handy when you can't say a word.

Dinner was a Hawaiian Luau and my character "Hawaii 5-0" showed up with her Bo Derek wig on. I learned if you were born later than oh, say 1975, you have little chance of knowing there was a TV show called Hawaii 50 and Bo Derek? Who's that?

I learned even if you can't sing but you can dance - well, you can get people to have a good time even when they don't get your "get-up."

We closed the evening with the comedian Michael Jr. I suggest you check him out on YouTube. A pretty funny (clean) guy.

And from him, I learned the best thing. He was describing the documentary he just completed (Laughter, the Road Less Traveled). He explained life as a comic is to "get" laughs from an audience. But one night before a show he saw a homeless man outside the club. God told him comedy was "giving people an opportunity to laugh." He went over and shared with the guy, down on his luck - the guy laughed. The documentary is on 4 locations where laughter is seldom "given" or "gotten."

Many times through my years in ministry I have been blessed with "entertaining" while sharing the Good News. Tonight I learned a good description of the gift God has given me.

I get to "give" people an opportunity to laugh. Until tonight I never could quite explain why a soldier wounded in battle would don a silly hat and walk around all day with a purple wig on. This evening, once again I had an opportunity to look at an unlikely group (Marines Special Operations) wearing wild Hawaiian shirts and leis at a luau and smile in His service. I turned to the director and said, "That's a whole lot of happy."

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine."

And smiling silently

Friday, June 25, 2010


The day began with a few gliches. The hotel had not scheduled the breakfast for the volunteers considering our program officially didn't start until the Marines arrived. But for a girl from Texas waking up to 62 degrees and an ocean breeze - who cares about food!

With a virtual army of youth to care for the 28 children (14 under 5 and 14 over 5); chaplains, paracletes (as the volunteers are called); a rock band AND a rock star (that would be me) we were set for their arrival.

I didn't cough much during the day and I tried to preserve my energy and voice for tonight's welcome activities. I am not sure when I noticed my voice was lost - but I never found it again.

I was praying all day for health so I could be my best for those who serve our country. The Lord chose to take my voice and give me Demi Moore's instead. Here I had been wondering what kind of character voice would compensate for my respiratory shortfall and instead when I spoke, out came the raspy deep sexy voice of a long-time lounge singer.


The Marines and their spouses loved "Tina Turn-table" and her take on Proud Mary, and we did a conga-line to the Rolling Stones "It's Only Rock and Roll...but I like it"

We have a full schedule complete with a carnival and ending with a luau under the stars tomorrow.

Originally we were told all the families attending would be believers. This morning the chaplain shared out of the 15 families there were only 2 that attend church. One of those families didn't show.

It's a mission field here. A beautiful location for a bountiful harvest.

"And I am speechless, I'm astonished and amazed, I am silenced by Your wondrous grace. you have saved me, You have raised me from the grave. I am speechless." Steven Curtis Chapman

With little voice
But still smiling
In His service

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Small Thanks

Here I am at DFW airport mixed in with all the summer travelers. Families with children, teens off to find fun in the sun, the usual weekday business travelers and hundreds of uniformed armed service personal.

I do my best to approach each one, shake hands and say, "Thank you for serving."

It feels like an very small gesture for the very large service they perform for our country - and you and me.

I am excited to personally have the opportunity to interact with 15 Marines Special Operations men and their families over the next few days. I have no idea what exactly that will look like or demand. I am only there to follow orders of my Commander. I hope to "Be - all that I can be."

Please pray for our ministries finances. We have several large financial commitments and a dwindling supply of funds. God is our source and He has never be lacking.

Please pray for the Spirit to heal with love and laughter the soldiers fresh from the killing fields of war. Pray for divine mercy and comfort for the children and spouses.

Please pray for my continued health and recovery. I am pleased to report 82%.

Pray again for my BAGS to make it to San Diego! All the fun is in the belly of the winged beasts!

Pray and them pray!

In the air again.
Serving those who shed blood
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Under Fire

Field Marshal Reporting:

Dateline Sunday - Last Day of Spring

There is a battle raging! I have two more days before I leave for San Diego, California to participate in a Warrior Getaway for the Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC).

I can't remember the last time I felt completely, utterly and totally physically sick, until today. Yes, the grass, mold and pollen is off the charts in the atmosphere, but I also recognize the timing as not without its own significance. There is no doubt, something is happening in the unseen realm.

Unlike the previous five Joni and Friends Warrior events I have participated in, the two for MARSOC
(June and August) are for soldiers returning fresh from the battlefield. They have no physical injuries and will face re-deployment in a few months. The effects of war impact their spouses, and children as well as the challenge they face returning to a home-life normalcy when the sights, sounds and smells of conflict are fresh in their mind.

Our mission as "Paracletes" at the Getaway (remember soldiers never retreat) is to provide a safe place of peace and comfort. We will walk alongside them to encourage them spiritually with the love of Christ. I will be supplying some of the medicine of laughter.

Today I am under "fire."

"When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." Isaiah 43:2

Still a soldier

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

MARSOC - Calendar of Events

Depart for San Diego
MARSOC* Warrior Getaway

Training and Orientation
Soldiers and Families arrive between 3-5 pm
Evening Program

Full Day Children's Program
Evening Program

Full Day Children's Program
Evening Program

Half-day Children's Program
Return to DFW
*MARSOC is the acronym for Marine Special Operation Command