Tilling my heart

Last week I planted my tomatoes in the little raised bed The Mister made me. I’m thankful that he humors my desire to farm on such a tiny scale. In fact, over the last few years I have scoured the internet and read the entire UGA extension office web site to increase my harvest of Big Boy tomatoes because everyone’s knows nothing says “summer” like a slab of red juicy tomato sprinkled with salt and pepper and between to slices of soft Sunbeam  bread. 

The first time I planted tomatoes I did not know much about soil prep. Composting and weed control were not incorporated and my harvest was not particularly impressive. Fast forward to last year. I had tomatoes everywhere. Big fat juicy red tomatoes. We ate them in salads, sliced on hamburgers, dipped our chips in homemade salsa and well….you get the idea. See, I learned the value of soil prep.

And so it  is with my heart……

Jesus explains soul prep to his disciples, and to me. And this morning, after pulling some weeds and feeling the  pleasure of dark black soil between my fingers I think about soul prep here at the edge of my garden where it is  still and quiet and the dew is still wet on my bare feet…

Jesus explains how sometimes in some hearts the seed  of the word never blossoms into fruit because the soil of the soul is never tended. And I see the birds swoop down and tug at seeds barely tucked in the ground.  Satan disguises himself as a black crow and waits to relentlessly eat up theWord  before it even takes root. So I set up a scarecrow on the edge of my heart in the form of prayer. I ask God to chase those Satanic crows  away so I can recieve the Word with gladness. And He does…The Master Gardener patiently shows me the way to set up the scarecrow of faith through prayer and  attention to the disciplines of the faith. he stands guard on the edges of the garden when I ask Him and chases the swooping black crow from the garden so the sower can cast the seeds.

And then I dig my hands deep into the fresh ground and find the cold hard pieces of stone, these fears of what people will say about me, the rejection of the world and toss them outside the garden edges of my heart. Persecution of any degree finds it way into every believers garden. I determine to withstand my appointed persecution like a good soldier and pick up that stone to find rich soil underneath. Because persecution for me will come but God promises to help me endure and find the fertile places where my roots can settle despite the troubles of this life.

I pull at the tiny weeds I see creeping up around the edges of my tomatoes and as I tug at them I ask God to pull up the desire of this world from my heart. Sometimes it’s not the rocky troubles of the world as much as the desire to have more, and be more, and success of this life that choke out the seeds of the gospel in my life. I pinch out the roots of selfishness from my heart and it is painful as I tug it out and toss it aside. These weeds will wrap their long stickers fingers around the green stalks of the Word and before I am aware the Word is nothing more than a yellow withered plant here in the garden of my heart. It’s a daily duty this weed picking. Every morning God calls me to the garden and points out these tiny buds that seem harmless. But I pluck them out today  while they are tender and soft before the roots of materialism and desire for recognition take root and grow their slender thorns.

And I see the garden now. The way the Gardner wants it, rich and black. I can smell the deep earthy scent of spring as the dew melts on it. I watch the leaf of my tomatoes plant unfold in the gentle morning sun. Just this morning the tiniest yellow flower pokes its head from under a leaf with the promise of red fruit that will come late June. 

And so it is in my heart.

And I ask God to burn the parable  of the sower from Mark 4 in my mind.  I ask Him to till the garden of my heart. A daily task that leads to a beautiful harvest.

 

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Day 8: CBCgoestoDR

We finished up our last day of ministry in a village close to Santo Domingo. It is a sister church of Inglesia Evagnelica Oracion. Be sure and ask Shannon about her dental hygienist experience. It was another day of massive needs, and limited physical resources. A day that we shared God, the unlimited, faithful, righteous God who is sovereign over all and has all sufficient resources for every need for the people of this country. We realize that we will never meet their physical needs but God has more than enough to supply their spiritual needs. Praise His name!

I am sitting here on the patio this Easter morning. It’s quiet. All the kids are asleep still and the old folks are sipping coffee and finishing up their packing. I am looking at this sky and remembering that this is celebration day of His resurrection. I am remembering the goodbye dinner last night for Emmanuel and Liz and how we sang and prayed and praised Jesus with some “ahmins” and “Allelujuah” and ” Gloria Christo” 

I would be lying if I said I wanted to stay forever. I miss home. I miss my grandsweetie. This is not my home. God whispers to me this morning that there is mission work at home waiting on me. He is asking me to be as faithful to needs in Georgia as I have been in the DR. What a shame if I go around the world but don’t share Christ in my own circles at home. 

I asked Him to transform me last Saturday morning in the Atlanta airport and indeed He is faithful. He is completing the work He has begun. 


Now outta my way….I’m ready for a hot shower and some grandsweetie sugar!

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Day 7: CBCgoestoDR

I’m not gonna lie….,medical missions is my favorite. This is where I feel most useful. Today we served over 300 people in the village of Las Mercedes. The pastor and his family welcomed us with open arms and opened their church for us to construct a makeshift clinic. People waited for over two hours to be seen by the providers. No one complained about the wait though. Mamas brought babies for us to see. Older men and women were seen from everything from skin rashes to hypertension. 

The youth worked in the HOT sun with the kids and today everyone looks a little sunburned. 

We did home visits for some of the people who could not come to the clinic we got to share the gospel with many and we accomplished much through the power of Jesus name. 

Last night in devotions John reminded us that today is our last day. We looked at each other and a collective sigh went out. We miss our families and a hot shower is number one in everyone’s list, but we are so glad you sent us to minister.  Crossroads has developed such a friendship with the DR church.

Today we repeat yesterday in a new village. Pray for wisdom as we minister and pray for wisdom and we are patients. Pray for open hearts as we share the gospel.

There are not many pictures of clinic days as we are all full blast busy but please go to Josh’s FB page for live feed from day 7. 

Love you Crossroads family and friends! 

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Day6: CBCgoestoDR

This is the part of the trip where we are tired and beginning to run low on our mojo.  Most everyone’s clothes are dirty and we have become experts at bathing in lukewarm water.

The coolest dynamics of any mission trip are seen in day 6. This is the part of the  trip where we really begin to know each other. That is a good thing for instance: Corey is the king of Taco Bell.  Shannon and Stephanie get the first cups of coffee every morning. Stacey keep us all laughing and hugs every woman in every church like she is their BFF. Paul and Wayne have evaluated the electrical and Plumbing system of every village and found it lacking but have no fear, they  have plans on how to restore order to this maze of wire.  John is our “beautiful boy” and the baseball minister in every village according to the DR girls.  Karen is always quiet but never stops working. She is constantly serving. Ramsey has become all of our favorite and it’s been so awesome to hear his insights. Sadie shared a testimony that blew our socks off. Tori has a child on her or near her in every village. Who knew that Squirrel was such a comedian? Ethan Michelle are invaluable as our internal translator and Ethan threw it down in our midweek service with a message straight from God. And can I say I love Jordan? She’s almost as sassy as me and I love it! Jamie has finally figured out there really is no schedule but  that doesn’t stop her from asking Lydia what’s on the agenda. She’s a champion paint scraper and reminded us last night in her devotion of the mighty power of God. Lydia  and Josh are the glue that holds us all together. Sort of like the parents of a wild disorderly family. 

You don’t just go on a mission trip, you become a family of sorts. And that connection is what allows you to work together and God can accomplish His works  for the Kingdom…… like scraping and painting a whole church and we are all excited to know this surprise awaits this Inglesia on Easter morning:


Praise God for this team! Praise God for our church family that sent us and is praying for us. Crossroads family you are accomplishing great things through His power and in His name!

Pray for us today as we minister in medical clinics in the villages in Santo Domingo.

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Day5: CBCgoestoDR

Today we left our friends in Puerta Plata and traveled back to Santa Domingo. We ministered at Iglesias Evangelical Oracion tonight in their midweek service. 

I would share photos and stories but to tell you the truth……

Tonight was so sweet and so precious that I can’t put it down in words….. 

God is doing amazing things beyond what we could ask or imagine…..

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Day 4: CBCgoestoDR

One day 4 we went to church in Dark Waters

We held babies so mamas could listen to the gospel


We made bracelets and painted fingernails while the boys played baseball


I fell a little more in love with The Mister when I saw him in action 

And after a full day of ministry Pastor Josh and Emmanuel took us to the beach because even Jesus took a break:

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Day 3: CBCgoestoDR

Everywhere I looked today I saw my grandsweetie. Maybe it’s just because I miss her. Maybe it’s because I saw lots of beautiful brown eyed brown skinned babies in the village of Havior. Or maybe it’s because a lady in the village told The Mister she was going to name her baby “Wayne” in honor of him. 

I have hopes and dreams for my grandsweetie. I pray she comes to know Jesus when she is young and serves Him all the days of her life. I pray she does big and great things for God. I prayed for her this morning when her mama sent me this picture:

Today we saw lots of mamas bring their sweeties and grandsweeties to hear about Jesus and maybe get their face painted and pick a prize from the big black tote that carry all sorts of treasure. I wonder what hopes and dreams they have for them. Do they hope that they will do great things for God? Do they hope that they will survive and maybe,  just maybe find work that will help them move out of Havior? Do they even hope and dream or are these people without hope? And today it seemed fitting that I should pray for them along side my grandsweetie. I prayed for their souls to know Jesus because I think maybe I may be the only one today who prays a prayer like that over them. I asked God to do great things over the little girl that was about 14 months like my Addi-girl. She smiled just like my grandsweetie does when I rubbed his  little earlobes. 


We also had a coffee party, which is a lot like a tea party but with Dominican Republic coffee that is without the finest coffee I have ever tasted.  Margarite who is a believer here in Puerta Plata has cooked for us and today  surprised the ladies with coffee. The kids were sent inside to work while the men were exiled to the porch. It was perfect. This was a women’s only coffee time. As we sat around and sipped coffee and talked we decided that we don’t do this enough back home, you know slow down and enjoy each other and sip coffee and laugh. How in the world can we share Christ with our neighbors if we don’t take the time to know them? So that sweet little group of Crossroads girls promised each other that when we get back home God will keep us focused more on relationships and less on schedules. More focus on loving God and loving each other instead of rushing.


Y’all please pray with us for the people of Puerta Plata. Please get ready to listen to us go on and on about them when we get home. We are in love with these sweet believers who are working tirelessly with such limited resources to bring others to Christ. Some of these believers literally live on nothing and give all they have so that they can wil the lost in this corner of the world. Puts me to shame. Lights my fire. 


And not just me….this whole Crossroads crowd is being transformed….just like we asked God to do…….

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