Redeeming Last Year

A Texas Christmas

Last year as I prepared to make my annual trip to Texas, I contacted Laurie (my ministry partner) and my home church in Bastrop.  I also contacted a church that I had connected with in Abilene.  Laurie responded immediately, but the silence from the churches was deafening.  So I contacted the churches again, and people I know that are in leadership.  Still nothing.

Meanwhile, Dave contacted me, inviting me to come visit him and his parents in Alabama (see Our Two Divine Appointments).  So although I was getting no response (no welcome) from these churches, I got a big welcome from Dave and his family, and from Laurie and Don, her husband.

So I went only as far as Paris, on the eastern edge of Texas.  Laurie and I had our corporate meeting and visited a homeless shelter[1].  Then I turned around and returned home.

Two days after returning to Asheville, I saw on the news that a big storm was tracking right up Interstate 20 from Texas to Georgia.  When the storm arrived it slammed Georgia, and also Asheville, North Carolina, with snow that temporarily paralyzed both states.  The storm caused a lot of accidents, too.  When I saw that, I realized that God had protected me from the storm by not allowing me to spend more time in Texas.  Nevertheless, I was sorry not to be able to see my friends in Texas.

This year was completely different.  Of course, I got the expected welcome from Laurie and Don.  People from the churches in Abilene and Bastrop also responded with a welcome.


My friends, Jan and Peter, go to a church near where Mom used to live.  The pastor of this church is a Messianic Jew, so already we have something in common: an interest in the Hebrew roots of our faith.  Just as I was arriving in town, I got a phone call from Jan, inviting me to dinner.

Jan and Peter have an interest in missions that is likely to take them into the mission field someday.  For the time being, they need to stay put because Jan shares custody of her kids with her ex-husband.  Once the kids (now teens) are out on their own, she and Peter intend to begin going on mission trips, looking to discover where God is calling them.

Over dinner they listened eagerly to my stories from the mission field, asking questions, and treasuring the answers.

The next evening we went to the Shabbat service at church.  Jan and Peter admitted that they don’t usually make it to Shabbat service because they are constantly on the road, driving the kids to and from games and their father’s house.

Benjamin, the pastor, welcomed me warmly.  He said that he would like for me to share something from my recent trip to Israel.  When the time came, I didn’t know what I was going to share, but I had prayed about it.  So I opened my mouth, and God filled it.

I told the church about my six week stay, spending ten days camping in the desert at Timna Park during Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) at the beginning of my stay, and about the ten day prayer trip with Bethel at the end.  I said that between these beginning and ending events, there was two weeks, but it didn’t make sense for me to fly back to Italy just to turn around and come back again.  Then I had heard about a prayer conference in Cyprus, praying for the Middle East.  The timing was perfectly within that open two week period.  It had God’s fingerprints all over it, so I went.

Then I told Benjamin that I heard that he’s planning a trip to Israel for the church.  I recommended Jeremy, who guided the Bethel prayer trip.  Jeremy had taken us to places where most tours never get to see, and he paced the trip very nicely so that we didn’t feel like we were running from place to place.

The outpouring of love from Jan and Peter, and from Benjamin and the church felt so good that the disappointment of last year’s trip was completely redeemed.  I am learning not to become quite so disappointed whenever my plans don’t work out.  God always has something better in mind.  God is good!

[1] See Shelter Shopping.

A Grandmother’s Love


Chain Gang by Sam Cooke

I left Paris this morning and drove to McKinney, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  I had the opportunity to speak briefly to a seniors group at a church here.  They turned out to be a missions-minded church, which was very encouraging.

Afterwards several people sought me out to ask more about my ministry in Europe.  Some of them also asked for prayer.  One in particular asked for more than prayer.

Sal told me about her grandson, who is incarcerated in a substance abuse facility.  She told me that before his imprisonment, God woke her up three nights in a row, telling her that she must warn Billy that he’s heading to hell.  Obviously that’s not an easy message to deliver.

Over the next few days she tried and tried to call him, but it seemed that Billy was avoiding her calls.  Finally she prayed that if she was to be obedient to God and deliver that message, then Billy would have to answer her call.  So she called one last time and he answered.

She chatted with him about his life and other family matters, then prayerfully she eased into the subject.  She didn’t use the strong language, but delivered the message truthfully.  The silence on the other end of the line told her that he understood.  A short time later Billy was caught, sentenced, and sent to prison.

In prison, Billy told his grandmother that he had found Jesus.  Since alcoholics and drug addicts are expert liars and manipulators, she didn’t believe him at first.  But over the course of the next few weeks and months, it became increasingly clear that this jailhouse conversion was genuine.

Sal told me that she wanted to send Billy some of my books to read.  She knew that they would encourage him and help his faith to grow.  But the prison authority doesn’t allow inmates to receive any books except those straight from the publisher.  So we sat down together and ordered him three of my books from the publisher.

Thus encouraged, Sal also asked me if I would take a moment and write a letter to Billy, myself.  Of course I said that I would.  I had actually met Billy once at a birthday party for his brother.  The birthday party was in a bar, and I had seen how Billy drank, so the news of his incarceration had not taken me by surprise.

I knew how an alcoholic handles the drink.  Many years ago I was the sole support for my family.  I was working a good job, but it was extremely stressful.  As a young woman who had drifted far from God, I handled the stress the only way I knew how: I drank to excess.  There were times when I was in no condition to drive, and I got behind the wheel anyway.  Only for the mercy and grace of God, I never had a car accident.  One day after a close call, I realized that I could have killed someone.  I completely gave up drinking for almost twenty years.  It was only after moving to Italy that I began to take a glass of wine with my meals—and of course not every meal or even every day.  Maturity helped me keep drinking from becoming a problem again.

Before moving back to Italy and into full-time ministry[1], I was invited to join a weekend prison outreach with Bill Glass Ministries.  I had never been inside a jail or prison before.  I was assigned to a women’s substance abuse facility.

The first day, when that gate was slammed shut behind me, I was terrified.  The women seemed unconvinced, and I left feeling like a failure.

The following day as I drove to the facility again, I remembered my experience as a drunk driver.  Suddenly I realized that I actually belonged in prison.  There was no difference between me and those women except that I had never been caught.  This time when the gate slammed shut, it didn’t scare me.  That day I saw 22 women make decisions to follow Jesus.  I’ll never forget the joy in their eyes when He took their sin and their pain and gave them eternal life in exchange.

I look forward to the opportunity to write to Billy and encourage him.  I’m sure that prison is not the easiest place to hold onto your faith.  Despite the success of my second day of prison ministry, there were other women who had remained aloof and even hostile to the message of salvation—and to me because I was there as an ambassador for Jesus.  The defeated enemy loves to kick you when you’re down, and he whispers all sorts of lies and discouragement into your ears.  That’s because he doesn’t want you to share that message of salvation with your fellow prisoners.

But prison is a great place to share your faith.  Every single one of those prisoners has hit rock bottom.  They know that they have made bad choices in life, and are paying the consequences for those bad choices.  There is nowhere else to look, but up.  They need the hope and help that Jesus offers.  And when they learn that Jesus loves them in spite of their bad choices, often they respond.

And this is the message that I want to share with Billy: that this is not the end of the road for him.  God wants to give him a total life makeover.  This place that looks like a dead-end is the place where God can give him an amazing breakthrough to a whole new life—a life more fun, more fulfilling, and far happier than he could ever have imagined.

He did it for me.  God is good!

[1] In 2010.

God’s Roadside Assistance


The plan was to drive to Texas from North Carolina.  I had just gotten four new tires and an oil change, so my car, although almost twenty years old, was in great shape to make the trip.  If nothing else, I’ve always kept auto maintenance as a priority.  If properly cared-for, even a car with 140,000 miles on it can do the job.  The reason to drive instead of fly is because I am visiting some far-flung places while in Texas: Paris, Dallas, Abilene, Austin, and people who live within 2 hours of each of those places.

I spent the night in Memphis, which is a good halfway place on the fourteen hour trip between Asheville and Dallas.  I intended to get an early start to avoid the morning rush hour in Little Rock, but got off much earlier than intended.  A drunk in a room near mine slammed his door four times at 1:45 in the morning, and woke me up.  I tried, but couldn’t get back to sleep after that.  So I hit the road at about 3:30.

A little over an hour later in The Middle of Nowhere, Arkansas, my engine light came on, and I saw that the temperature was up in the red.  Immediately, I pulled over and shut the engine off.  After sitting for about half an hour, I wondered if I could make it to the nearest gas station (eleven miles up the road) on the four bottle of water I had with me in the car.  So I got out and tried to open the hood, but I just couldn’t find the hood latch.  I even checked the manual to be sure that I was looking for it in the right place.  So I had no choice but to call for a tow truck.  The State Police Dispatcher sent one that arrived a little over half an hour later.

He towed the car to a garage that he said would probably be able to get me back on the road the fastest.  Then he dropped me at McDonald’s, about a mile away, so that I could wait in a warm place for the garage to open up.  He even offered to have Sheila, the office manager of the garage, pick me up on her way in to work, but since it was only a mile up the road, I decided to walk it.

Now, this whole time, I didn’t get upset, but I did pray.  And one thing that I was convinced about is that God has a higher purpose for this little adventure.  So I kept my eyes open.  Soon after she arrived to work, Sheila told me that Freddie, the tow truck driver, had been battling cancer.  She said, “Even with chemo and radiation treatments, Freddie only missed work for two days.”  So I started praying for him.

It was clear from the prayer plaques in her office that she was a Christian.  I told her that I would keep Freddie in prayer.  She responded, “That’s good!  Please keep me in prayer, too.  I just lost my husband in September.  He died of cancer.”  So I promised to pray for her, too.

Like Freddie, Sheila also did something extra for me: instead of having the auto parts store send over a new radiator, she told me to go buy one (just a block away).  “That way if something goes wrong with the part, you can take it to any of their stores nationwide for replacement.”


As I was walking back to the garage with my new radiator under my arm I thought, “You know, this is just like God to have good people like Freddie and Sheila take care of me.”

My car was ready and road tested before noon.  It had cost far less that I had thought it was going to.  And in the end, I missed Little Rock’s morning rush hour and managed to get to Paris before dark.  God is good!

P.S.  Wanna hear something strange?  Just before the engine light went on I passed a man walking on the highway.  At least I had thought he was a man at the time.  All I could really see of him was a pair of khaki cargo pants.  The rest of him was impossible to see in the dark.  Now this was miles and miles from anywhere, and he was walking toward the oncoming traffic at the edge of the westbound lane of Interstate 40 in the inky-black darkness of about 4:45 AM.  What would a person be doing out at that hour in such a remote area?  Then minutes later, I’m stuck on the side of the road.  I don’t think he was human.  I think he had something to do with the radiator bursting just when and where it did.

The defeated enemy didn’t want me to make it to Texas, and he knows that if I get all bent out of shape, worrying and fussing about the situation, then he has the opportunity to derail my plans for going to Texas.  But it didn’t work the way he wanted.  And every time that I refuse to give in to anger, fear, or worry, my faith gets stronger and stronger.  Come to think of it, I should probably send him a “thank you” card.  God is good, and I’m getting better at remembering it!

Boring Business?  I’ll Take Boring Anyday!

16 September 2016

The Jericho march around the block of the whisper house continues[1].  This is day three, and the defeated enemy has really stepped up his game to try and scare me out of the march.

As I left my building I heard the sound of water falling—lots of water falling.  There was water gushing from the balcony in the building next to mine.  So much water that it seemed that a water pipe had burst or something.  This was more than just someone leaving a tap on.  I responded immediately in prayer right there at my front door.  And what I prayed was a renewed prayer for invisibility (see The Retroactive Power of Invisibility).

The first lap started well.  I noticed that the broken beer bottle had been cleared away from the sidewalk.  That’s a good start, and I was feeling pretty good.  I was singing “Lord of All” by Carman softly to myself as I rounded the second corner and then the third.  Then as I approached the house—The house!—I saw water coming from the front porch.  I looked up to see a naked man peeing off the porch.

Startled as I was, I didn’t make a sound, and I didn’t halt the march, but continued.  The strange thing is that when I looked up I felt my right top lip curl up, just like the Elvis lip.  It’s strange because I can’t curl my lip that way no matter how I try.

The man didn’t seem to see me, so I know that I was invisible once again.

As I continued walking out the remaining six laps, I found myself walking faster and faster, fueled by righteous anger and determination to oust this squatter, be he an evil angel, demon, or human.  Whatever he is, he’s gotta go!  God has given me this house, and I intend to take possession of it.  Nobody, human or evil spirit, will stop me from taking possession of what God has given me.

On the next lap he sat unconcernedly smoking a cigarette.  Smoking and peeing sure makes him sound human.

On the fifth lap I saw him leave, walking down the alley in a yellow sweater and khaki slacks.  And then when I finished I did as I had done on the previous two days.  I took down the last poster, tore it in half, and disposed of it in two different trash cans on the way home, praying that the anarchist fundraiser would flop.  In fact, tonight would be the first of the two nights of the fundraising party.

Then I spent the rest of the day formatting the book.  This is my ninth book.  The first book was a memoir about my dad for his three grandchildren, and all the rest are about my life as a missionary, adapted each year from my blog.  With crazy stuff like the pre-dawn peeing squatter, I never lack for material.  God is good!

[1] See Timing too Perfect to Ignore and Boring Business that Must be Done.

Boring Business that Must be Done

fishing gun

A gun was hanging by a fishing line from the balcony of the house

15 September 2016

Jericho marching, seven laps for seven days, is boring stuff.  Around and around the same old block.  But then God reminded me that the reason He whispered into my ear about this house is because I don’t stop and I don’t give up.  And just when I think I’m about to go out of my mind from boredom, three men came walking toward me.  I didn’t like the look of them.  It was pre-dawn, and there’s practically nobody on the streets.

Yesterday I had been startled by bats and birds that suddenly flew at me on lap five of the march.  And now these characters.  They had been walking abreast, and made an opening for me as they approached.  But I’ve got the promise of invisibility from anyone that would do be physical harm (see The Retroactive Power of Invisibility), so I knew that if they can see me, then they will not harm me.  One of them greeted me: “Buongiorno,” with a touch of menace in his voice that said nothing at all good about the morning.  I responded only with a curt nod of my head.  I do not speak to anyone besides God during a Jericho march.

Later I wondered if these three had been human or spirits.  Either way, the defeated enemy had sent them to scare me away from finishing the march.  It didn’t work.

As I had done yesterday, when the march was finished I crossed the street, went to the park, and re-crossed the street to remove the second of three posters about the fundraiser.  I crossed again and tore the poster in half, wadding it up and leaving half in the trash at the park and the other half in a trash on the corner of my street.  As I did so, I prayed that the anarchist group would be as divided as the poster, and the fundraiser a flop.

Today I also began the boring process of formatting a year’s worth of blog posts so that I can publish them as a book.  It’s a lot of very detailed work, but the hardest part by far is simply getting started.  I won’t bore you with the details of formatting.  I usually listen to some Newsboys or Audio Adrenaline, and that helps me get through the next couple of days of formatting.

Boring or difficult, sometimes scary, I do stick with the job until it’s finished.  Two days down, five to go.  God is good!

Timing too Perfect to Ignore


14 September 2016

Today I signed up for a prayer conference in Cyprus.  Someone recently told me about it, but I don’t remember who.  The conference falls exactly within the period of time that I have nothing planned while I’m in Israel.

I also was prompted by the Holy Spirit to begin a Jericho march around the house that He showed me the day that He whispered into my ear.  I was just waking up and I could practically feel His breath on my ear.  He whispered: “Isaiah 5:9.”

I had no idea what Isaiah 5:9 said, so I got out of bed and went straight to my Bible.

In my hearing the Lord of hosts said, “Truly, many houses shall be desolate, Great and beautiful ones, without inhabitant[1].

That very day I learned that the house that had been occupied by anarchist squatters was going to be sold at auction.  In fact, they didn’t sell just that one house, but 6 or 8 houses comprising much of the block.  All the houses were to be sold as a unit.  The first time there were no takers at the auction, and the houses were withdrawn.  The second time there also were no takers.  Then the third time, the houses were sold.  But they had stood, empty and abandoned in the two years following the sale.

Meanwhile I had seen a squatter hop over the wall of the back yard right in front of me one morning, startling me.  He went to wash himself in the fountain of the park across the street.

I had told a couple of ministries about the house, but they gave up on it after looking into it briefly.  It wasn’t until this morning that the Holy Spirit pointed out that it was my ear that He had whispered into, and not theirs.  So with renewed belief that God intends to give me the key to this house[2], I started the Jericho march: seven times around the block for seven days.

As I walked I prayed for the owner’s salvation.  In the course of the march, I noticed that there were three copies of a poster on the house advertising a fund-raising party for the anarchist group.  The party is dated three days from today: on Friday, and another on Saturday.

The timing of this Jericho march is clearly no accident.  When I finished the march I crossed the street and walked to the park across from the house.  From there I re-crossed the street and took one of the posters off the wall.  I took it home to read it more carefully than I could while keeping a steady pace walking.

After reading the poster, I tore it up and threw it away, praying for the anarchist fundraiser to be such a monumental failure that it would actually cost them more that it brings in.  I also prayed for the salvation of the anarchists.

Lord, show me how to take hold of this house by faith so that I can receive it in reality.  Amen!  God is good!

[1] NKJV, emphasis mine.

[2] Or houses.

My Answer is Coming—Now What do I Do?


The necklace design is called One New Man.  It’s Christians (at the bottom) grafted into the Jews (at the top) by Israel (in the center).  Such is the kinship I feel with God’s Chosen People.

8 September 2016

Today I bought tickets for my trip to Israel—starting with a ten day stay in a tent at Timna Park for Sukkot.  I waited longer than I had intended to because I had the audacious idea to stay in Israel for over six weeks.  The idea scared and thrilled me, but mostly scared me into paralysis.  So today I overcame that paralysis and made the leap of faith: six weeks in Israel.

This morning as I was praying, I suddenly realized that my daily prayer: “Please send more missionaries to this mission field (Europe),” is about to be answered in a personal way.  My home church is sending a team of missionaries here to collaborate with me in ministry.

This is powerfully encouraging for me, personally, because it is the first time since I started in ministry (six years ago) that anybody has come to collaborate in my ministry.

Now comes the problem: what will we do while they are here?  Since no two days are alike for me, I have no idea what this collaboration will look like.  I have a couple of weeks to figure this out, and I know that God will prepare divine appointments for us.

I know that God is also answering this prayer for more missionaries throughout Europe in ways that I don’t yet know about.  And I may not know about many of them until I reach Heaven.  I feel powerful hope for Europe and encouragement for myself.  God is good!