YOU Are a Person God Can Use!

A month a go, I was at the Good Shepherd Center for the last day of the retreat for the Guatemalan women.  I cried as I sang in Spanish and watched women washing the hands of their sisters in Christ.  I smiled thru tears as I recognized that God was indeed at work in my life and all around me.

I taught a workshop about how to teach the Bible to children.  I had 1 hour (30 minutes if you take in to account for translation) to share what I took as an entire course at Campbell Divinity School.  I highlighted the importance of teaching children the importance of prayer, service, and modeling for children how to live a life that follows Jesus.  Also, we brainstormed about Bible stories that are important for children to learn and how we can help children apply truths from these accounts to their everyday lives.  I was humbled at their desire to teach the next generation to follow after Christ.

The three day retreat theme (translated into English) means “A Woman that God Can Use.”  I spent the majority of the time with two precious 6-year-olds, Dorkas and Victoria, and I shared with them, in my broken Spanish, that they are girls that God can use.  Victoria and I wrapped silverware for all the women who attended the treat.  I reminded her that this task was one of service and love.

The WMU Guatemalan Mission Team 2015

The WMU Guatemalan Mission Team 2015

My journey to Guatemala started in my home church and community.  From a young age, “I learned about missions, prayed for missions, gave to missions, and did missions.” (modified Children in Action pledge)  My parents, and many others, modeled for me the importance of serving in whatever way needed: raking leaves, singing carols at nursing homes, gardening at the church, and the list continues.

I am thankful for the opportunities that my home church has given me to serve, even from middle school.  I watched the children while their parents were in choir practice as a young teenager, and I was able to lead devotions during youth group.  Also, I am thankful for all the love and support and prayers that I have received from my home church and those who have joined my journey along the way.

A philosopher from China (another place dear to me) says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  Well, I would say, “My journey of a life devoted to missions began with a single lesson about missions as a preschooler.”  Never under estimate the difference that teaching children about missions can make.

Remember you….as a child, a youth, or an adult…..as a male or a female….as a ______ or a _______ (insert whatever dichotomy you will)….YOU are a person that GOD can USE!

Following God Everywhere

Recently, I shared on my blog about my upcoming mission trip to Guatemala. Since then, I have seen God work in some amazing ways to provide encouragement, prayer support, and financial support.  I stand in awe of God is preparing the way for me to go interact with children during a women’s retreat and at the Baptist Children’s home.

Today I was given a reminder of how God is calling me to reach out to others in His name right where I am right now.  While pumping gas, I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to invite the lady across from me to a missions singing event we are having at church on Friday evening.  So I obeyed.  The lady shared with me about how she lives in Raleigh but drives to Selma to go to church where her and her husband are involved.  I hope she is able to come on Friday night.  When we left to go our separate ways, we parted with a hug.

I am excited about Guatemala, and today I was reminded the important of being excited about serving God right where I am today in the ordinary moments of life: pumping gas, getting dinner from the drive thru, walking the dog, and getting the mail.  So I encourage you to seek out Gods direction to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance whether God leads you around the world or onto your computer to encourage a friend on Facebook.

Guatemala in September 2015

Dear People who Read my Blog,

In partnership with the North Carolina Baptist Men, the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU of NC) is forming a ten person team to go to Guatemala September 5-12, 2015. We will be leading a retreat to disciple and encourage local Christian women as well as spend time at and take supplies to the Good Shepherd Children’s Home. My responsibilities will include leading activities for the preschoolers while their mom’s attend the retreat. I am excited to be able to combine three of my passions: God, missions, and children.guatemala

Recently, I prayerfully made a list of things that I wanted to accomplish. Some items on the list were simple, such as visiting the library regularly, and other tasks were more challenging such as going overseas again on a mission trip. That same week I received a call from Irma Duke, the mission trip leader, and she personally invited me to be a part of this mission trip. Immediately, I caught her vision of a group of women, Hispanic and Gringos, going together as a unified team to minister to women.

To commit to go on this trip is a huge step of faith, and I have many things to prepare in the upcoming weeks. First of all, please pray that God would prepare me spiritually for the task at hand and that I would make spending time with God priority. Next, please pray that God would allow me to start now to prepare physically by eating well, drinking lots of water, and exercising. While in Guatemala, I will be at a much higher altitude. Also, please pray for the hearts of the women and their children who will attend the retreat and for all those who we will encounter.

Another matter of prayer is for the financial aspect of the trip. The cost of the trip is around $1500, and half of this will cover the airline ticket ($600-$850) and the other will cover our transportation, lodging, and food. A $200 deposit is due on July 1st, $600 due on August 1st, and then $700 is due on September 1st. Philippians 4:19 states “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I prayerfully sense God’s leading, and I am stepping out in faith and obedience trusting God to provide the necessary resources for me to go.

The following are statistics about the dire need in Guatemala as printed in my mission trip orientation book,

“Guatemala has the highest infant mortality rate in Central America and the highest rate of malnutrition in the western hemisphere. Daily, children and families are battling malnutrition, extreme poverty, and early pregnancy. In addition, abandonment is rampant. In Guatemala City, a child is abandoned every four days; 75% of these are newborns.”

My heart breaks for this country and the needs of these children and families.  If you feel led to support me financially or would like to know more about my upcoming missions adventure, please e-mail me at saumckids@gmail.com so I can share more information with you.  Most of all please pray!

Responding to God with, “Here am I, send me!”

Alicia Turner Beard

What is going on?

I love the preschoolers who fill my life with excitement and wonder.  The children at our church keep challenging me to ask God questions and to invite others to know God more.  My job at the nanny agency allows me to mentor nannies and help families.  But really, what is going on?

Some where in the midst of all the tasks that have to gets done, I have neglected my love of writing and blogging.  Tonight I’m home, which a rarity for me, because I’m not feeling well.  So I decided to at least begin blogging again.  I have no idea when I’ll be able to blog again, but for tonight I’m glad to blog again.

Friends, stay well, and don’t get to busy that you neglect your passions, like blogging, writing songs, or playing music!

Traditions

Holiday traditions are the glue that keep families focused on each other even in the midst of changes. Who needs ham for Christmas Eve dinner when you can enjoy spaghetti and homemade biscuits? Why give typical gifts when you can pass a handmade squirrel around every year? Pies make great desserts for holiday meals, and another wonderful dessert is a store bought angel food Happy Birthday Jesus cake. Christmas Eve services are a meaningful time for families and faith community to come together, but my family always spends that time together enjoying leftovers from lunch and watching Hallmark Christmas specials.

The holidays are a bit different for me this year.  Adam and I now travel home with our English Bulldog Ryder, and so our traveling has become more eventful. I may resort to seeing if you can give a dog Dremamene to prevent car sickness. For the first time in four years, the Advent season will not be marked with Campbell University Divinity School weekly chapel services. I will miss the blessing of sitting still and worshipping in the midst of the busiest season of the church year. Also, this year was the first year I participated in the Black Friday Deal specials, and we were able to get all four of the items we went after in about two hours.

The Elf on the Shelf has become a new tradition for many families, and I look forward to seeing on Facebook what the Elf is up to this year. Other families enjoy purchasing a new ornament every year. What is your family’s favorite tradition?

Traditions can be stressful if you try to make them turn out perfectly. So this holiday season make time to enjoy those you love and be flexible enough to start some new traditions.

Much Needed Rest

Yesterday, I did not do anything related to any of my jobs, and at the end of the day, I felt exhausted. My body finally rested, my thoughts slowed down, and my heart took time to break. I cannot go six weeks again without taking a whole day off. The consequences of a rushed life are tough realities. I need to feel when I feel. Delaying processing emotions is not healthy.

Anxiety and depression are unwelcome companions that push me to get stuck in the patterns of my past. In undergrad, I struggled with anxiety and depression. Yes, even though I am a Christian, I had struggles that I did not want to mention at campus ministry Bible studies or mention in a Facebook status.

I hide behind the masks of wanting to be professional and wanting to set a good example, but today someone saw past the masks. I am thankful she took the time to check on me. I hope that more of us will take the time to look past the masks and be responsive to the pain of others. Be courageous, be vulnerable, and be real.

During this joyous time of year, your friend, your neighbor, your coworker, or anyone around you might be grieving, disappointed, or struggling. Open your eyes and see the needs around you!

After a day of rest and a day of worship, my spirits are renewed, my body is more rested, and I look forward to a week full of family, friends, and home cooked meals.

I am reminded of the command “to be still and know that God is God.” (Ps. 46:10) I urge you to take time to be still in God’s presence before you no longer recognize who you are.

Breathing Room

Right now I am in Minnesota for training as the Nanny Placement Manager for College Nannies + Tutors of Cary, NC.  I have used this time away from my regular routines to start engaging the book Breathing Room by Leeana Tankersley.   And, WOW!

I thought that I would be able to push thru this book in order to make my deadline for reading the entire book by my blog review, and yet, I am still processing the first couple of chapters of this text.  Already I feel like Leanna is a great friend who is journeying with me in life.  I can sense that she is someone that I would indeed like to meet.

For the first time in quite a while, I’m allowing myself to underline, circle, write questions, and even journal entries/prayers within the pages of the book.  I know that I will return to this book during different seasons of my life, and I hope that I will be able to see how God has been faithful in the past.  Also, I want to dialogue with God as I learn how to “let go and fully live.”

My intention is to come back in few weeks to process this book more via another blog post.  In the mean time, I encourage you to get this book for yourself or for someone you love.  Yes, I read this book, which I receive for free, in order to write a review, and yet, the request to obtain this book for yourself is one that comes straight from my heart to yours.

My past few months have been full of juggling one event and responsibility after another.  One person even commented that I did not look like I was enjoying my work any more.  And as I read this book, I know that I am not the only one to ever deal with feeling overwhelmed or unable to meet the expectations I put on myself.  What a relief to know that I am not alone in my struggles!  What reassurance, via Leanna’s words, to know that I am not alone!

What have you been reading for inspiration?  What helps you to know that you are not alone in your struggles?  Please share…I want us to share resources and experiences so that we can help one another.

Reading Provides an Escape

As I struggle to balance three jobs and life, I want to escape for a few hours at a time into another world.  Irene Hannon’s book Deceived allowed me the opportunity to go into another world, a mystery world of real life proportions.

The main character, Kate, has a compassionate, generous heart, and I could relate to her secretary telling her not to work too many hours.  Hannon wrote in such a way that you felt that you were journeying with each of the characters in the midst of their ordinary moments and their far from ordinary ones.  As you turned pages, the characters became more alive.  Even though the plot seemed quite predictable at times, unexpected turns happened frequently.

Hannon’s novel challenged me in my faith and in the hectic pace of my life.  How often do I give up hope in difficult situations?  Am I willing to mentor others in the faith?  Am I still finding ways to serve out of my passions and giftedness in the midst of my busy schedule?  I felt the truths of scripture come alive from within the pages of the novel, and I am grateful that Christian writers, such as Hannon, write about characters who have a real relationship with Christ.

I am too busy to write these days–at least that is what I think.  And I wonder if Hannon encountered any challenges while she wrote this novel?  I am curious to know if she did.  If I allow my business to block out my writing, am I going to be as fulfilled?  Honestly, I don’t think so.

So as I continue to read more novels (and escape into their worlds), I hope that I’ll take time to process the plot of my own life and keep blogging and putting together other writing pieces to be considered for publication.

Holy Spirit

Last night as I was walking our dog, I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me.  I’m convinced the nudging was indeed from God because I immediately looked up at the sky and started to argue with God.  You want me to do THAT?  NOW?  REALLY?  I thought of a million other things that I could do rather than the specific task that God was speaking to me about.  My choice was between obedience and disobedience.

I know that several friends and family members are specifically praying for me during this season of my life, and so I felt confirmed that this request was indeed from God.  Usually we expect God’s Spirit to urge us to do tasks evangelistic in nature or to lead us to make life altering decisions.  God continues to surprise me with His concern for the everyday aspects of our life.

On purpose, the specific task God led me to do is not being revealed.  Nonetheless, I wanted to share my experience.  Perhaps my journey will help encourage someone.  If nothing else, I’m documenting this moment of my faith walk so I can remember.

While traveling last year, I felt God leading me to stop at a Cracker Barrel to go to the restroom.  In this instance, I thought if I heard God wrong I haven’t lost anything.  God sent me to that restroom so that I could be there in that exact moment to help a woman in a wheelchair.  If I had went to another location for my pitstop or stayed in the car wondering if I really heard from God, I would have missed this opportunity to help this person.

The Holy Spirit is difficult to comprehend.  The Trinity is complex and simple simultaneously, and on this side of heaven, I may not fully understand the mystery and sacredness behind the Trinity.  Still I pray that I continue to sense God’s Spirit during the ordinary moments of life.

Have you ever felt the Holy Spirit urging you to do something strange and/or ordinary?  I would love for you to share in the comments about your experience(s) with the Holy Spirit.