Saturday, January 31, 2009

An Update on My Brother

So this blog was supposed to be focused on my upcoming trip to Belize, or at the very least on short-term missions and I’m realizing how very little I’m addressing either. But good heavens, if so many other “life defining” (well maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement) things would stop happening, I could get back to them!

Thursday night, on my way home from bible study, I saw a falling star. Now there are probably only a handful of people, if that many, who know that since I was a little girl I’ve wished on stars. Seriously. No, seriously, I really do. I did it again this morning at 5:15 AM while I was out walking Lucy. And I say the little rhyme when I do it, too. (Say it with me people, “Star light, star bright, 1st star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, upon that star I see tonight.”) Anyhow, I think, for a star wisher, a falling star is a BIG DEAL.

I have always thought (I think I made this part up myself) that a falling star was a wish coming to earth to be granted. CORNY!! And YES I realize I’m leaving out the whole God-factor and all, but humor me here! It’s just a silly little thing I’ve been doing since I was a kid. And come on now, most of you know that when you blow out candles on your birthday cake you STILL make a wish!

Anyhow, for most of my life my wish has been the same, but the last couple of weeks it’s changed. These days my wish is that my brother would get better. Yesterday afternoon my uncle called and said that they now think my brother, on top of everything else, may have prostate cancer. Quite honestly, I’m not sure what to do with this information. I am, quite honestly, avoiding dealing with it. It’s taken me 3 ½ hours just to type the last 3 sentences - not because I keep getting interrupted, but because typing it out makes me think about it.

I talked to my brother last night and tried to get him to let me come up there. He didn’t just refuse, he VEHEMENTLY refused. He told me that there will come a time within the next few months that he’ll need me to be there. That scares me. Correction that terrifies me.

More than anything in this world, I want that falling star to be my wish coming to earth to be granted. I promise you that I know that it’s all in God’s hands. I know that God is in control and yes, I know that it’s up to God to heal my brother, if it is His will. I know it’s not up to wishes, deals I could make with Him or anything else. But my little girl heart wants her big brother to get better. Pray for him.

Oh yeah, and in case you think I’ve lost count… 23 Days!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

25 Days!!

So I work in an office with two guys. I LOVE IT! I pretty much don’t let them get away with squat. And the good thing is they pretty much don’t let me get away with squat, either. We share in all the mundane chores of working here (though I realize I do expect one of them to walk the trash to the dumpster… huh…).

ANYHOW, we drink coffee. They drink FAR more than I do, but I do have my fair share (2 cups). The first one in the office in the morning makes the first pot. After we get our first cup of the day the race is to see who can get their second cup. Now our 12-cup pot gets us just slightly more than 5 cups (higher math is so beyond me at this point). There is never EVER enough for 6 cups and none of us EVER wants to make another pot. Sometimes there’s barely a drop in the pot, but whoever took the last cup (cup 5) OBVIOUSLY thought it was enough for the next person (cup 6).

Now I admit I’m incredibly selfish when it comes to me getting the last cup of the 1st pot, because I know that I’ll make an entirely new pot, have one cup and then they will drink the rest of it and possibly make a third. I’ve even been known to not have 2 cups of coffee that day OR (yeah, this is TERRIBLE) walk down the street to the coffee shop and buy a cup there instead of taking the last cup and being faced with the dilemma of making a new pot.

Why is that? Why can’t I just serve the guys I work with and make the 2nd pot? I’ll give up my time and my vacation to go to another country, deal with LARGE bugs, ICE COLD showers, meals of rice and beans (I HATE RICE & BEANS) and all sorts of other stuff, but I won’t take 3 minutes (yes, I timed it) and make a 2nd pot of coffee? SERIOUSLY?!!

I’m committing to making that 2nd pot – whether I’m going to drink from it or not. Y’all keep me accountable to it, ok? (Making the 2nd pot today is what started me on this train. One of the guys said, “Hey Wassam must want something – she made another pot of coffee.” Ouch!)

Pray for plans and preparations. Everett and John are in charge of all of this. Pray that they will communicate with each other well and that all the details will get worked out (such as, exactly WHERE are we staying??).

Pray for Margaret as she home schools their children.

Pray for me that I won’t be so dang selfish and will make that 2nd pot of coffee!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

27 Days!

      "Dear God, can You help me? I haven't been asking for Your help when I need it and I know You are just waiting to help me. I'm sorry for not asking sooner. Please help me take my medicine and get through the day. I know You will. Amen."

So I’m blog hopping again and landed on the blog for Lanny Donohoe (Lanny’s sister-in-law and I were close friends when I first moved to Orlando). He had heard about and read the story of a 9-year-old little girl in Florida (Gracyn) who was recently diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy. I went to her Caring Bridge website, read her story and am beyond impressed with her naked faith.

Here’s another excerpt from her site from the same day:

      Yesterday, I asked Gracyn to pray. I tried to explain to her, the Lord is waiting for His precious one to call upon Him, to cry out to Him and believe what she's asked for in prayer will be answered. For some reason, Gray has been a bit reluctant to do this. She's not one to ask for help typically.

Here is a little girl, going through something that no child should EVER go through and yet she is reluctant to ask God for help. If she’s anything like me, it’s because she doesn’t want to burden Him or feels her prayers are silly.

Please know I am in NO WAY not even HINTING that my struggles are even 1/100th as intense and BIG as hers. Honestly, after reading about her I feel silly even asking for prayer for ANYTHING. But then I re-read what she said, “…You are just waiting to help me.”

God just wants me to talk to Him! He wants me to cry out to Him! He just wants ME! I’m just, flat out, being selfish by NOT doing what He so clearly wants me to!

Pray for my brother. Physically he’s doing as well as can be expected (they’ve postponed the defibrillator implant AGAIN and are starting him on dialysis this week) but mentally he’s kinda down.

Pray for John and Everett. Pray that John (& Margaret) would have good, quality time with their kids before they go. Pray that Everett would be able to spend some sweet time with his son.

Pray for me that I would be faithful to pray.

Monday, January 26, 2009

28 Days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Many years ago I heard a sermon by Joel Hunter on prayer. During that sermon Joel challenged us that when we had something that needed lots of prayer to take something, a song, a certain car, something, and every time we heard/saw that item we’d stop what we were doing and pray for that thing. Kind of like a string-around-your-finger-thing.

Shortly after that, I had a situation that needed some SERIOUS prayer. It was, or could have been, life changing (well I guess in hind sight, it was). Anyhow, I wanted to put Joel’s words into action so I decided that every time I saw or heard an airplane I would stop what I was doing and pray for that situation. Seems simple enough, right? WRONG!!


One particular night after I had committed to praying for this situation in this manner, I was watching a movie with my roommates. I had control of the remote. Thirty minutes into the movie and 10 pauses later, one of my roomies stole the remote from me (WHILE I WAS PRAYING!!) and told me to leave. WELL!! Could I help it that every 10 minutes a plane was landing?? (Honestly, after the first day, it was driving ME insane!!)

Anyhow, since that time I have continued to use that prayer tactic several times. Only now I’m more, shall we say “discerning,” in the item I choose. And since I’ve been asking all y’all to pray for this trip I thought I needed to step it up a notch and devote more prayer time myself to this trip (and my brother).

This past weekend I had an opportunity to spend a night at the beach house of some good friends. YEAH!! Sunday morning I went for a long walk on a COLD beach. I spent most of the time praying for my brother and for this trip. I also spent a good amount of time thinking about what I could pick to use as my “reminder” to pray. DUH – seashells!

So I now have 2 seashells, one on my desk at work and one on my bedside table. They aren’t perfect, because none of the people I’m praying for are perfect (including me). But they are my reminder of the amazing need of some special folks in my life.

Please continue to pray for my brother. He is in a “regular” room. They were planning on putting in a defibrillator implant, but he’s starting to retain major quantities of fluid so they’ve postponed it. He is on the heart/kidney transplant list.

Pray for John and Everett as they continue to make preparations for this trip. Pray also for Margaret (John’s wife) as she makes preparations to leave their kids for 10 days.

Pray for me that I will be faithful.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

30 Days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok so let’s talk about the llama in the room. (Why a llama? Well it’s not as big as an elephant but it’s definitely bigger than a bread box.) Should I be going to Belize with all that’s going on with my bro?

Trust me – I’ve asked that very same question about 1000 times in the last week. When I got my ticket, he was in the hospital but the word “transplant” had not been used. In hind sight, I’m not so sure if I would have purchased the ticket if it had been. I guess it’s one of those things were God definitely knew better.

In one of the emails I got from my friend who made me… well weep uncontrollably might be a bit strong, but it did make me cry HARD, she said me that she told her husband that once they got settled in their new digs the 1st thing they were doing was finding a church to attend. Later that night I told my friend Jamie that even if the most bizarre thing happened and I had to cancel my trip for whatever reason, that it was all totally worth it for this. Playing ANY role, regardless how insignificant in someone wanting to find more, get more or be more serious about a relationship with God is what it’s all about.

The truth of the matter is, however, that I’m nearly as able to get to Pittsburgh at the drop of a hat in Belize as I am in Columbia. That coupled with how God is so clearly paving the way for me to go makes me think that for right now, I’m going. My brother is stable and the likelihood of him getting a transplant within the next 30 days is slim to none.

SO – pray for the preparations! Everett is arranging meetings with pastors and youth workers, lining up venue possibilities and checking in to what equipment might be available down there. John is praying his guts out and getting ready to meet all of these new people.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

32 Days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’m a terrible blogger. Of the few blogs that I read, I’ve realized that the best ones are updated almost daily. I had a good start, but it didn’t take long (5 days to be exact), before I fizzled. Sigh…

But to my defense it’s been a rough 5 days. And while I’m still BEYOND excited about what God’s going to be doing on this trip and just how He’s going to use me, it’s being tempered with what’s going on in my family.

Many of you, hopefully most of you, know that I have an older brother, David. On December 23 David was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. He spent the next couple of weeks seeing doctors and the doctors spent that time adjusting meds. About a week ago it became apparent that the meds were messing him up and he was admitted to the hospital (he had gained 8 pounds in 4 days). After several days in the hospital he gained 4 more pounds and they couldn’t figure out what was going on and why so this past Monday they transferred him to another hospital, one that specializes in cardiac stuff. This was when they started using the words, “heart transplant.”

On Tuesday he was taken down for a cardiac catheterization. During this procedure they realized that many of his levels weren’t just low, they were dangerously low. So they immediately transferred him to the CCU. During a rather frantic call to the CCU they assured me that he was stable, but that he needed to be monitored.

I’ve gotten to know both his morning and night nurses very well (he doesn’t have a phone). He’s in no pain. He feels good, but they have no idea what’s going on. They have decided that he does need a heart and kidney transplant. He’s meeting with the transplant team today and they’ll start the whole process of getting him registered. At some point next week I will get tested to see if I’m a match. We have different dads, but there is still a chance that we are. What do I need with 2 kidneys anyhow?

Nearly every time I call I ask do I need to come up and each time they tell me, “Not yet.” So for now I’m staying put and praying like mad. I’d love it if you’d pray too.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

35 Days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Some folks have no idea where Belize is or even that there is a Belize. So here are some random facts about Belize.
  • Belize was the site of several Mayan city states until their decline at the end of the first millennium A.D. The British and Spanish disputed the region in the 17th and 18th centuries; it formally became the colony of British Honduras in 1854. Territorial disputes between the UK and Guatemala delayed the independence of Belize until 1981. Guatemala refused to recognize the new nation until 1992. Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy. Current concerns include an unsustainable foreign debt, high unemployment, growing involvement in the South American drug trade, growing urban crime, and increasing incidences of HIV/AIDS.
  • Formerly British Honduras, Belize was the last Central American country to gain its independence in 1981.
  • With the second largest barrier reef in the world and more than than half of its land as protected forests, Belize's main source of income is eco-tourism.
  • Most Belizeans would call themselves Christians, but in each different culture there are underlying superstitions or black magic. Pray that Spanish speakers, Caribbean Garifuna and Mayans would all have the chance to hear the truth about Jesus in a way that is culturally relevant.
  • Many new Christians fall away because there isn't enough follow-up to help people understand how to live out their faith.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

36 Days!!!!!

Last night at a new bible study I'm checking out (as part of a new church I'm checking out) one guy shared how he reacted to some good news he had heard a few days ago. He said he wanted to go around and tell anyone who would listen about this amazing event and that he just couldn't stop talking about it all day long. Later he was struck with the thought, did he get even 1/2 as excited sharing THE good news?

SLAP ME IN THE FACE!! I've been running telling folks about going to Belize and how God dramatically and miraculously provided for me to go to Belize. But do I run around telling people about the God who is sending me to Belize? Do I talk about how He dramatically and miraculously saved me and calls me His own?

That's more a a rhetorical question I'm asking myself because my answer is glaringly obvious.

  • Please pray for John. Pray that he would be faithful to this awesome task God has called him to.
  • Pray for Everett that God would encourage his heart.
  • Pray for me that I would boldly share THE Good News!

Friday, January 16, 2009

37 Days!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yesterday I asked that y’all to pray that I would remain worthy. This morning I realized, I will never, EVER be worthy. And I don’t mean that in a, “Nobody likes me; everybody hates me; I think I’ll go eat worms” sort of way. I mean, who of us are worthy? Christ died for me because I wasn’t worthy enough to get into heaven on my own merits, right? So please, I ask you to forgive me for asking you to pray for something that I’m not, and on my own never will be.

So hey - I go to Belize in 37 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yesterday afternoon when I talked with John he gave me a rundown of what he wants us to accomplish while we are there: a pastors luncheon, visiting each venue, assessing what equipment we can get/rent there, checking out lodging for the band, meeting with youth leaders, checking out some local churches, and about 3 or 4 other things that made me think – will we have enough time??!!! (We will – the planner in me must freak for just a moment.)

Over the last few days I’ve been going through some old photographs to scan and put on Facebook and I found a bunch of ones from my 1st two trips down there. (DANG I WAS YOUNG!) Each picture I looked at brought such a HUGE smile to my face. Some of my fondest memories and sweetest times were spent with those teams, preparing to go, serving alongside of, and debriefing after we got back. I am excited about this chance to create new memories down there with John and the band.

  • Please pray for John that the Lord will multiply his time before we leave(he and Margaret will be gone a bit longer than me).
  • Continue to pray for Everett as he spends the last few days with a team from CIU.
  • Pray for me that I’ll get my ducks in a row.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

38 Days & Counting

So I’ve spent most of my morning crying my eyes out. You see, it all started when I got my first response to my rather unorthodox way of raising funds for a missions’ trip about 30 minutes after I sent my 1st email. It humbled me to the point of tears last night.

At that point I thought about how I very nearly I didn’t send out any emails. Just as I was bout to hit the "SEND" button, I thought, "WHAT AM I DOING??!!" I had convinced myself that what I was doing was stupid and that NO ONE would want to pray or help or whatever. All those fears and doubts just practically overtook me. But I thought what is the WORST that could happen? It’s funny how Satan tries to rob us of our joy or blessing, isn't it?

But those first responses (actually there were 2 within a few moments of each other) made me just want to stick my tongue out at Satan and say, “Nah nah nah nah nah NAH!” (Which I guess if my tongue was sticking out would have been, “blanah blanah blanah blanah blanah BLANAH!”)

Then today, I was talking with my friend Greg Stuckey and later to John Gunden. With each of them I shared about my email and my decision to NOT purchase the ticket myself. ( My brother’s in the hospital, it’s rather serious and flying to Pittsburgh at the drop of a hat is a possibility. So tying up all my money just didn’t seem like the wise thing to do. ) We all agreed that God's provision would be the obvious answer to this situation and His confirmation that what we're doing is His will.

This morning in my journal, before any of these conversations or anything I wrote, "Lord, if this is your will, show me miraculously!" Then John prayed with me just before we hung up that the Lord would confirm, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this was His will. I am not exaggerating when I say that within 5 minutes of this prayer, God had not only answered, He SCREAMED His answer. One email (well 2 from the same person), caused me to cry so much and so hard that it left me with a rather severe headache (and strange stares from my co-workers).

God has provided in such a way that to say I'm humbled, would be an extreme understatement. Even now, hours later, it still causes me to cry as I think of what He's done and is doing. Who am I to deserve blessings such as this? I know that every prayer uttered and every dollar donated isn't for ME but rather for what God's going to do.


  • Please, PLEASE continue to pray for John and Margaret. They, too, are trying to raise funds for their portion of this trip which includes a pastor/youth workers lunchen that they want to host while we are down there.
  • Pray for Everett as he's wrapping up his time hosting a team from South Carolina and then making preperations for us. Pray also that he would have some sweet time with his son in the midst of all the craziness.
  • And please pray that I would remain worthy.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

39 Days And Counting!

This is it! My first attempt at blogging (well serious attempt anyhow). Most people don't even know about this trip yet, but if you're reading this because you just got my email, know that I'm praying for you even now. And if during this trek you have something specific you'd like me to pray for, PLEASE let me know.

So I promised you some more details on the February trip and the June outreach. Connecting John Gunden with Everett Foster was totally, and completely God-ordained. I've known Everett for years, actually met him my 1st trip down to Belize back in 1997. I met John years before that at a Youth For Christ conference.

I’ve heard Everett share his heart about the need in his country and his desire to see God do great and mighty things there many times. There are and have been some wonderful, WONDERFUL missionaries down there who poured their lives into the youth of Belize. But now most missions’ organizations and many churches believe that Belize has been reached for the Gospel. And this is true – to a point. But many young people, teenagers to young adults, STILL have not heard or have not responded to the gospel.

As with most cultures, music is a universal language. So this past August, after hearing Everett say again how much he would love to have a Christian musician come down and do some evangelistic outreach concerts it FINALLY hit me – JOHN GUNDEN!!

I spent most of the late 80’s and early 90’s watching God use John and his music to reach out to teenagers and young adults all over the world. From Florida to Maryland to Romania to Namibia I’ve seen lives changed forever because of the impact of John and his ministry. GO GOD!! And why it took me so long to connect John and Everett, I have no idea. BUT the fact that I get to be a part of this THRILLS me!

Prayer Requests:

  • Pray for John and Margaret as they get ready to make this trip. Pray as they arrange school and childcare schedules for while they’re gone.
  • Pray for Everett as he makes arrangements for us to meet with pastors and youth leaders.