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I’m taking a brief moment this morning to give my shout out of approval to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an open letter to him.

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,

In a day when nations are running to bow to the President of the United States of America, when queens are going “gaga” over the Obama family, I want to encourage you, Prime Minister Sir, to stay strong in your stance to keep Israel a Sovereign nation. 

 Americans will stand with Israel, even when our government may make other noises! The conservatives and the evangelicals will stand with Israel because we know that G-d stands with Israel!  We will stand with Israel because we know that when we do not, then we fall out of G-d’s favor. We will stand with Israel because we love Israel.

We will also stand with Israel because we know the teaching about King David and how he “stole” one little ewe lamb, and the pronouncement that King David inadvertently made against himself because of it. Israel is like the one little ewe lamb. There are over 22 Arab nations which could receive ALL of the people who call themselves “Palestinians”, yet they want the one JEWISH nation to give up what little land and sovereignty they hold.

They will come offering many peace treaties and many promises, yet do not forget the many more which they have broken. There is no “change” for them, because they do not repent of the evil in their hearts, and the greed and lust that they have to take Israel — not even as a prize, but in order to destroy the gemstone on the hill!

Those who stand for a divided Jerusalem stand against Israel!  They know that a house divided can not stand!

Prime Minister, you stand as a guard at the doors of history. If you drop your post and give into pressure, it will be a disaster for Jewish people, not only in Jerusalem, but around the world!  It will also be a disaster for Christians around the world!

Please, Sir, so many of us rejoiced when you won the election because we saw the hope of Israel resting upon your shoulders. You MUST stand strong.

As an American, I beg of you to not let the US Embassy return to Jerusalem! They are not coming there to support you, but to rule you, to usurp Israel’s authority to be a sovereign nation!  Do not forget the day when they left Jerusalem and refused to support Israel by keeping an embassy there. However, Christians from around the world came to Jerusalem and built an embassy there to show their support for Jerusalem, for Israel, and for Jewish people everywhere.

If President Obama gets his way, he will rule Jerusalem and therefore, he will rule Israel, and thus, he WILL rule the world.

Stay strong, Prime Minister Netanyahu. You have the hope of Israel resting on your shoulders at this point in Israel’s history. What you do will decide the fate of not only Israel, not only Jerusalem, but of the world.

We are praying for you — for wisdom, for strength, for courage, and for protection.

Blessings to you and to your family,

But especially, blessings to the Nation of Israel.. the Light which sits on the Hill.. a beacon of hope for Jews and Christians everywhere.

Susan Leipsner

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It seems like I have over-night guest quite often. Most often, it is friends. But, on occasion, it is someone coming for a ministry meeting.  Whoever it is, I want them to feel welcomed and to have a brief escape from the crazy world we live in.  Our home is a place of peace and it seems like it draws people here. We are nestled in the Pisgah National Forest, and there is nothing around most of the year except nature and “us”.  The mountain laurel is about ready to bloom, but first the mountain ivy will break forth in pink and white blossoms that look like huge balls of fluffy cotton or snow.  Tomatoes are growing beside a row of peppers in my little raised garden beds.  I’ve just planted a new flower garden, and one of our dogs decided to undo part of my work.  I found a tattered, but salvageable plant laying beside of the deep hole he had dug up.Where was “he” when I needed that hole dug to plant the flower to start with!  I planted some more flowers and replanted the one that had been removed by my furry critter. If I had a sign in front of my home, or in my gardens, it would say, “Peace Grows Here”. It surely does.

Tuesday I had a friend in from out of town and we spent the day sharing our stories and talking about how wonderful our Abba is. For some of you, that might sound down right boring, but you don’t know my friend — and you might not know my heavenly Father! Nothing is every boring where G-d is concerned. If you turn your life over to Him, it suddenly gets brighter, and more exciting. I’m always waiting with anticipation to see what He is going to do next. Well,  I knew my friend would be leaving early on Wednesday and I didn’t want to spend all morning cooking.  I decided to make my favorite quiche. It’s so delicious and yummy– just like sharing about G-d with a friend.

If you can’t make over to my side of the mountain, at least enjoy a piece of this Yummy, Delicious Quiche!  And, like everything I enjoy making, it’s so very easy!  When you take it from the oven, lightly browned and smelling like a piece of paradise, you will be so pleased with your culinary abilities!

Heavenly Quiche

1 Refrigerator pie crust, unroll over your deep-dish pie pan or oven-proof pie plate, bring to room temperature, fit snuggly into dish and then crimp the edges.

5 Eggs

1 cup of cooked spinach. I use the freezer kind, then just microwave it until it is thawed completely. Drain all of the water out, then give it a very hard squeeze, then squeeze it with several paper towels folded together. You do not want any water left in it.

2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

1 (preferably Vidalia) onion, chopped and sauteed’ in olive oil, drained

2 cups of half-half or whole milk or heavy cream

4 or 5 slices of tomato, slice and then pat very dry with paper towels (otherwise you will get a “soggy bottom”)

1/2 cup sliced or chopped mushrooms, sauteed.

Salt, pepper to taste

1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)

1/4 tsp paprika (optional)

Options:  1/4 bacon, fried and crumbled– drain well and then blot with a paper towel

Handful of small shrimp (I buy the ready-to-eat kind), shelled and cooked

1/4 cup chopped red, yellow, green pepper

1/2 cup chopped broccoli- steamed

1/4 cup chopped ham

1/4 cup feta cheese in addition to cheddar or in place of cheddar

Note: You can make this low fat by using low fat or fat free cheese and low fat or fat free half-half or milk. You can also use egg substitute such as Egg Beaters©.

Prepare:

Preheat oven to 375.  Break 1 egg, and separate the white from the yellow.  Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the egg white over the edges and sides of the pie crust.  Save the yolk and remaining white for the quiche. Sprinkle 1/4 of the shredded cheese over the bottom of the prepared pie crust.

Break the other four eggs into large bowl and add the remains of the above egg, beat lightly to break yokes. Pour in two cups fresh cream or milk. Stir in bacon, shrimp, or chopped ham (optional). Set aside 1/4 of remaining cheddar cheese. Mix rest of cheddar into egg-milk mixture.  Stir in spinach or broccoli. Stir in sauteed’ onions and mushrooms. Add salt and pepper according to your own preference. Add nutmeg. Mix gently. Pour into pie crust.  Sprinkle with Paprika. Gently lay tomato slices in a circle on the top. They will sink, but will rise up as the quiche cooks.  Now sprinkle remaining cheddar (which was set aside earlier) on top of the tomatoes/egg mixture.  Bake approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on your oven and depth of pie dish. When it springs to the touch, is slightly browned and a pick inserted into the middle comes out clean, you know it is done!  If the crust edges brown too quickly, cover them with foil strips, but not the quiche mixture.  Remove from oven and let set about 10 minutes. Slice, serve, and enjoy.  In the last ten minutes you can also add a few sprigs of  parsley to the top.  Enjoy!

I trust in Thy word.  Psalm 119:42

 

Have you ever prayed and asked God to give you courage, and then all of a sudden you realize that your life has been impacted by so many circumstances that require courage?  Perhaps it was not courage you prayed for, but strength in certain situations, and all of a sudden your strength was being challenged on a regular basis.  Or, maybe it was perseverance, and you found that you were having to persevere through one situation or circumstance after another. Maybe you have asked God to give you a spirit of kindness, an attitude of kindness — and you have encountered people time after time who made you want to be anything but kind!

When my children were little, I would pray continually and sincerely, that God would give me patience.  Soon after I started for praying for God to give me patience, I found that I was surrounded by “opportunities” in which practicing patience was required.  For example, my spouse’s career required that I quit college. We moved to a new town with our children one week before Christmas! Everything was packed and loaded by moving men. I didn’t have a clue where anything was, except that it was being stored on a moving truck.  We moved into a small hotel room, and the kids and I spent the next week trying to figure out how we fit into this picture.  At first, the children thought it was a fun adventure. But then, after so many re-runs on the limited hotel television and rainy weather, we were ready to move out of the hotel and into a box! 

Then the challenge went from worse to worser, as my grandson says!  The remodeling work being done on our new home was not yet finished.  The company wanted us to move out of the hotel,  so we rented a very small, very old mobile home from an older couple who lived in a nice house next door.   Christmas eve came and we moved into the tiny mobile home. I found one Christmas tree left over at a lot in town, and the man gave it to me for free.  Our lovely Christmas ornaments were packed somewhere on a truck that was in a place that only the moving company and God knew of!  I searched department stores for wrapping paper, and there was none left.  So, I wrapped the few presents I had been able to purchase for the children while they were with me — in comic newspapers.  I tied them with strips of wide ribbon I had purchased in the sewing department and placed them beneath the tree.  Christmas came and went, and we made it through with a few hidden tears on my part.

I drove by our new home daily and reminded myself that this “home-in-a-box” was temporary, and I learned that I could do anything for a short time.  But, days turned into weeks and a major blizzard hit the state.  December’s move-in date turned into January, and January turned into February.  We had two bedrooms smaller than most modern master baths, and a combined family of five children.   Daily I prayed, “Lord, Father, please give me patience, especially with the children and with this situation.”

I think that my sense of adventure helped some.  I would make a point to take the kids to explore our new community. We made long afternoons pass by at the library.  Lent came and we learned a new lesson in patience as it was our habit to give up television during Lent — except for Sundays.  Long winter evenings were passed sitting together on the small sofa, library books piled high — and we read more than 30 books a week.  Board games were abundant in our living room, and we found a renewed interest in puzzles.

Februrary turned into March, and we waited and anticipated. Then the March rains and ice storms came. The people  we were acquiring our home from had chosen a white carpet for the living room. We didn’t dare move in until the rains and the storms  passed and drier weather allowed the recently landscaped front lawn to turn to something other than a mire of mud.  As the days grew longerand spring came, I found that my patience had grown.   I learned a valuable lesson that year– be careful of what you ask God for!  God does answer prayers,  but His ways are not our ways.  While I wanted an instant injection of patience, my heavenly Abba knew that just like wheat, patience only grows with a little rain and a whole lotta of dirt and sunshine!

Eventually, after what seemed like years — we had the “go ahead” to move into our new home.  The moving truck arrived with out belongings which had been packed away so many months before hand.  In the big bedroom with the large bay windows that night, I realized that I missed the little home over the hill where we had so snuggly spent the past few months.  We had a new home, and our belongings had been returned to us. It was a lot like Christmas!  But, something more had come and that was patience, not only patience with the children, but patience with God’s timing and with life.

Psalm 119:42 says, “I will trust in Thy word.”  The original Hebrew word used in this passage is    בּטח    bâṭach,   which is pronounced baw-takh’ .  It can mean,  to “hide in” or to “take refuge in” or to “place one’s hope in” — to have faith in and in this case, David is saying that he is placing his faith in — he is taking refuge in — he is “hiding” in God’s word. 

Our world tells us that we need to trust ourselves, trust our instincts, trust our feelings, trust our intuition.  If I could tell you how many times I’ve trusted my feelings only to find that what I was feeling was not anywhere in the ballpark of what I should been doing!  I’ve made so many bad decisions and bad choices because I trusted my “instinct” or because I trusted my “intuition ” instead of trusting in God’s Word!  

When we place our faith anywhere except in God’s Word, we are just as apt to make a mistake as we are not. It is like the man who through coins up in the air, and as they came down he made his decision on whether they landed heads up or heads down — and he made that decision (heads up or down) by tossing another coin! 
Recently, I’ve been praying about faith. By recently, I mean over the past five to seven years!  I can look back now and see the footprints, the times when I’ve had to rely only on God’s Word to just get me through from one moment until the next — literally from minute to minute!  When I became a widow, my feelings, my intution, my emotions, and even many of my initial experiences told me that I was deserted by God and by the church — I was alone in the world. 
But, I knew God’s Word said,
 Heb 13:5  …. for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”

When everything said I was husbandless, God’s Word said,

“I am the advocate (husband) to the widow.” (Deut 10:18)

 When I felt that I had been plucked from the hand of God, God’s Word said,

“Rom 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor anything above, nor anything below, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  

 In founding and directing Lydia Ministries International, and in starting new ministries with LMI, such as Rachel’s Ministry and MOSES Ministry, I am constantly challenged to grow in faith.  What I always have to remember is to put faith where it belongs — in God’s Word. Why?
Because many times I’m presented with opportunities to minister, but the financial resources are not already present. In other words, the money is not yet in the bank and even the manpower of volunteers has not yet been received.  If I waited for volunteers to show up on the doorstep, or for the money to appear in the bank, I would never move forward in ministry. I would never respond to the requests of pastors and women around the world.  If I put faith in what I could see, I would not do anything, but stay at home and watch television!  I have to believe in my Abba’s Word, for His Word says, 

  Php 4:19 “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

The word in the original Hebrew for supply,  πληρόω plēroō  and proncounced, play-ro’-o, means to make replete, literally to cram (like cramming a net full of fish, or a bowl full of berries), to level up, (like to fill-in any empty places, like leveling a pot hole and making it full) to furnish, to satisfy, to execute (such as an office), to finish (like a period of time or a task), to verify (to coincide with a predicition), to accomplish, to be complete, to fulfill, to perfect — to supply. 
In other words, I trust that God is going to make replete every need to accomplish His work that He has started in me. He will not be stingy with provision. He will fill up every low place where there is need; he will cram full every corner until it is filled with what has been lacking.  God Himself will furnish every volunteer and satisfy every need for helpers.  He will execute every office and unction that must be executed, and he will complete to perfection His plan.
When I take God’s Word at what it says, when I put my faith in God’s Word, when I rely on God’s Word, when I trust in God’s Word, and not in my own feelings or misgivings or sentimental judgements, then
                       “I know that I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13
As you pray and ask God for what is your heart, according to the riches of His Word, you can know that He will answer — but remember, our ways are not His ways. You do not have to fear asking God for anything, for He has said,

 

 

 

“What father among you, if his son asks for bread, would give him a stone, or if he asks for a fish, would give him a snake instead of the fish?” Luke 11:11. 

 If we, who are not holy would be gracious unto our sons and daughters, how much more so can we trust God to be gracious to us. He is Holy and Good and Trustworthy. Therefore, do not be afraid to ask with reverance and awe, and He will answer according to His riches and glory in heaven.

 

 Please remember: TEAM KENYA 2009 is still accepting applications for volunteers for our September 9-23, 2009 mission to Kenya.  We especially need people who have a heart to work with orphans and street kids in the areas of dance, music, and drama productions, along with playing games and interacting with these precious kids.

We can still use a few key people who can help build a church for a Maasai tribe in Namanga on the border of Tanzania and Kenya.  Please contact us or visit  http://www.lydiaministry.com/teamkenya2009.html

Thank you and God bless! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lydia Ministries International is Excited
to
Announce the Launch
of
Rachel’s Ministry
September 23rd, 2009
At The
Leading Ladies: Empowering Women Through Getting on PAR with Rachel
PAR: Purity, Abstinence, Renewal
Women’s Conference In Nairobi, Kenya
September 23, 2009Our Mission Statement:
     Our mission is to provide a ministry to women, for women, by women which will support women who have made, or desire to make, purity until marriage a priority. Our mission is also to provide a support system for women who have been sexually active, but now desire to abstain from sex until married. Also, our mission is to provide opportunities of healing to women who have been sexually abused, have abused sex, or have been promiscous. 
Goals of Rachel’s Ministry:
  • To Offer a support system to girls and women who have decided to make purity a priority until marriage
  • To Encourage women who have previously been sexually active, but have now chosen to practice abstinence
  • To offer opportunities which will extend healing to women who have been sexually abused, who have abused sex, or who have been promiscuous and now hope to regain a sense of self and value that is not based on sex or sexuality.  In other words — to help bring healing to wounded and hurting hearts, minds, bodies, and spirits of women everywhere!
  • To raise awareness concerning the 1 million women and girls who go missing each year due to sex trafficing
  • In countries where sex trade is the main means of survival or the only means of survival for many girls and women, to develop and network resources that would unbind the chains of poverty and abuse. These would include resources that would offer micro-financing to women’s community projects that would provide food, clean water, medicine, shelter, clothing, integrity, and safety to women and children.

      The purpose of our ministry is to bring healing to women’s lives, and to offer support, encouragement, and opportunities for women who choose a path to renewal.

 

 

 

 

     It is not a ministry that seeks to shame, judge, or ban any woman! It’s not a “veil” ministry and we won’t ask or encourage you to put a veil on to hide your hair, your face, your beauty, your eyes, or your body!  We won’t ask you to take any kind of oath of purity to join.  You won’t have to move into a commune or mark your body in any way.  We won’t even ask any embarrassing personal questions, or anything you wouldn’t won’t to tell your mama — or my mama!  We are not a “male-bashing” ministry, we encourage holistic relationships with the opposite sex, but also acknowledge that in many societies and cultures women and girls of all ages have fallen prey to being used and abused which have lead to shame, humiliation, degradation, pain, and death.
Who Is Rachel?
 
     Rachel was a woman whom we read about in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, and in the Torah of the Hebrew or Jewish Bible. Her name means “purity”. You can read about her in Genesis Chapter 29 & 30.
     Here is my summary of this story, my paraphrase and some additional comments.  Rachel was the younger daughter of a man named Laban. Laban was the brother of Jacob’s mother. When Jacob cheated his brother Esau out of his birthright, he had to flee to the east. His mother told him to go to her brother and live there, to take a wife there. Jacob wandered around in the wilderness for awhile and then finally he came to a well.  Here he met some men who introduced him to Rachel, his uncle’s daughter.  When Laban discovered that this was his nephew he offered him basically whatever he wanted if he would work for him. They agreed that Jacob would work for seven years and then he would marry Rachel. 
     Now, here are a few points I want to make. We know that Jacob was in love with Rachel, and he thought that she was incredibly beautiful. He wanted her enough to work at hard labor tending sheep and cattle. The point though is this, we are never told that Rachel had a say in the matter, or that she was in agreement with the decision. Truthfully, she was considered little more than the cattle were — a possession to be bartered over by Jacob and Laban. I’m not saying that neither of them “loved” her, but that we are not told that she had any input into the decision.
     Second, while Jacob was working away for seven years, Rachel was a “lady-in-waiting” and she continued to wait.  On her wedding night, Rachel was put to the side and when the wedding took place, she was somewhere in hiding.  The wedding party took place and then the celebration. Jacob took his veiled wife into their tent and they shared the wedding bed. The next morning, Jacob awoke to discover that he had not married his beloved Rachel after all. Instead, he had been tricked into marrying the older daughter, Leah.
     When Jacob confronted Laban he was told that because Leah was the oldest she had to be married first. If he completed the week of the consummation of the marriage, and if he worked another seven years, then Jacob would be able to marry Rachel.  Jacob completed the week of the marriage ceremony and he then married his beloved Rachel. From then on, it was a competition between Rachel and Leah over providing the most children for Jacob. Leah won the competition. Jacob had two wives, and Rachel had to share her husband!
     Eventually, Jacob had enough of Laban’s deceitful ways (yet, don’t forget that Jacob himself was known as being the usurper!) and he packed his belongings, his wives, and his children, and he got the heck out of town.  Well, Rachel decided to steal the household gods and she hid them in her camel’s saddle. When Laban tracked them down, Rachel pretended to be having her menstrual cycle and so she sat on the saddle, knowing she would not be asked to move due to her untimely “condition”.  She was the only one who was not searched for the idols. Jacob swore a curse of death to Laban concerning whoever had the idols. Of course, he did not know that it was Rachel!
     Rachel gave birth to Joseph, and after giving birth to a second son, Benjamin, she died.  Today her tomb is located in a Jewish settlement known as Gilo in Israel.  I lived in Gilo for almost two months.
     All around the world there are women who are being bartered over, in one way or another.  Decisions are being made about their lives that they have little or no say in; they are used for trade, for sex, for degradation.  Sometimes it is very evident — like the sex slave trade where girls and women are taken into captivity. But there are also women who are in poverty, and who either have only one choice to make, or they feel like they have only one choice — prostitution.  Yes, sometimes women make this choice on their own, they see it as “glamorous” or “exciting” or “bold” or “easy” to start with. Sometimes they get sucked in by a “friend”.  But most often it is forced upon them.  Over 1 million women and girls go missing each year due to sex trafficking, and over fifty thousand women and girls are trafficked through the U.S.A. each year according to reports by the CIA.
     I’ve “Snagged” five videos and posted them on our website, at http://www.lydiaministry.com/rachelsministry.html.  They are documentaries about the lives of women.  I’ll warn you, they are not “christian” documentaries, but they are powerful!  They are not suitable for young children, and the content can be very disturbing. But, as you think about the women that Rachel’s Ministry is trying to reach out to, think about women and girls like the ones you will see in these videos.  I meet them all around the world, women from Liberia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, the USA, and from the middle-east.
     Clicking on the videos will take you outside of Lydia Ministries International website. If you choose to donate on the Snag site, please be aware that you are NOT donating to Lydia Ministries International or to Rachel’s Ministry. To donate to LMI or Rachel’s Ministry, please click on one of the “donate” buttons located on any of the Lydia Ministries International pages at www.lydiaministry.comEvery dime you donate to Lydia Ministries International goes to the work of the ministry. We do not take a salary from Lydia Ministries International donations! Lydia Ministries International is a 501(3)(c) non-profit ministry.

 

 

 

 

you-raise-me-up-westlife1  Please enjoy one of my favorite songs, You Raise Me Up.

It seems sometimes that my mind wraps around something and  until I get into it, the tentacles just won’t let go. This time, it is the “Power of One”.  I mean, think about it, most of the world worships  “One God”–monotheism.  In all of the universe, there is only one planet that we know of which can sustain intricate life forms–that would be Earth. Earth’s solar system has but one sun, and without it we would cease to exist. We have only one moon which lights the night skies.  Then, I know this is a little touchy, but when you think about the human life form, we come from one egg which is attacked by multitudes of spermatozoa, yet only one is able to impregnate the egg!  We are born with one heart and when it quits beating — well, you know what happens!  We are given one brain to navigate this intricate thing called life — and we are given one life to live!  I mean, think of all the stars in the universe, the cells in the body, the ants on a hillside, — and yet, we get only one chance at this thing called life! Geeze, Louise.

Then, if you think about it without “one” you can’t get to the rest of the numbers. “One” begins everything.  Even stories often begin with a version of one–Once.  Once upon a time– One day-

It makes me think of the one time I made it to the county or state spelling bee — I can’t remember which.  I made it to the finals.  There was just me and this other kid (sorry, can’t remember the kid either). I CAN remember the ONE word that I MISSED. I can also remember that I could only miss one word– and that was the end of my spelling bee fame.  I think the word was quite fitting, if I do say so myself. I mean, if you are going to miss a word in a spelling BEE,  what better word to miss than “Pollen”– that would be “pollen, p-o-l-l-e-n, pollen”.  Yes, I do remember the ONE word that I missed.

Then, there was also the day I bought a lottery ticket. I don’t often buy lottery tickets, but N.C. had just gotten the lottery and I gave into temptation.  I picked my five numbers and waited. Life seemed to tick slowly by while I waited for the night when they would call out the numbers.  Yes, yes, those are my numbers—until it came to the ONE wrong number!  My multi-million dollar jackpot became something like a few dollars!  All because I missed ONE number.

That brings me to another ONE that I missed out on– I was on a long flight to Ghana, West Africa. I had already had a long layover in Minnesota.  I was flying into Amsterdam and the pilot came on the speakers to announce that we could not land. It was too foggy!  So, we circled and circled — I began to feel dizzy. Then the pilot’s voice came over the intercom and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I hate to tell you this but we are about out of fuel. We are going to have to divert our flight to…”  I can tell you this, if there is ONE thing you don’t want to hear your pilot say, it might just be “We are out of fuel…” 

We sat for about three hours on a hot tarmac in Belgium (I think it was Belgium–I couldn’t really tell because they wouldn’t let us off the plane!)  We finally reached Amsterdam right before my connecting flight departed. I was about ONE minute too late and it was the ONE flight to Ghana for that day. So, I can say that I spent ONE night in Amsterdam.

I guess I should include something about birth order. And,  Amy, if you read this you know you are my ONE middle child!  But, we all know that there can only be ONE “firstborn” child.  If you are not in the highly honored place of being the “ONE-born..oops, I mean “first-born” then maybe, like me, you are the One-last born (otherwise known as the “baby” of the family!)  If you are not the “ONE-Born” you know you will spend your life trying to keep up with the “ONE-born”.  The only solace there is that the ONE-born will become a senior citizen FIRST!

Christians, such as me, believe that the One God, haShem (the Name) who is the God with many Names — El Shaddi, Y-hweh, and many, many more — had one begotten Son, whose name is Yeshua (Jesus).  He is the One Messiah. He is the one path to eternal life, and the One Savior of all people whom He draws until himself through the power of the One Holy-Spirit and the ministry of the one true Gospel, which is found in the ONE  Holy Bible, and that all believers are part of the ONE body of Christ, the holy catholic (doesn’t mean Catholic–like with the Pope in Rome, but means “united”) church.

In the Jewish tradition, there is only ONE day of atonement, Yom Kippur!  There is only ONE place where the Holy Temple can be rebuilt (and therefore since 70 AD the Jewish people have lived without the presence of the Holy Temple). There is also only ONE land of the Jewish people,  eretz-Yisrael (the land of Israel). Not only this but Jews believe in “arevut”, the idea that all Jews are responsible for one another, because all Jews are like ONE person. If you read the words to the song “Kol Yisrael” you’ll see this example of “ONE”.  Part of it states,

“All Jews are responsible for each ONE.  All Jews are “brothers”.  ONE people with ONE heart.

ONE people , each pair is ONE. ONE people, as if they are ONE person.  Hear O’ Israel, ONE people!

Of course, there is also the “Shema”, a Jewish affirmation of faith in the ONE God, The first line of the Shema, “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is ONE”.  The Shema is recited each morning and each evening by Jewish people (observant Jews, I should say.)

There’s just ONE other thing that I was thinking about this number ONE–

One day you and I will meet this One God, and He will look upon us to decide if we responded to His One Son, and if you and I will enter into His One Heavenly Presence- to spend the ONE ETERNITY with Him.  We will be required to give account for the One life He gave to us, and what we did with it.  We will have one opportunity to answer— 

 What will you say?

 If you have been feeling insignificant in this great big place we call life, just remember the power of ONE. It only takes ONE person to change the world, for better or worse.  Join TEAM KENYA 2009 and express your POWER OF ONE to make the world a better place!

Quick reminder:  TEAM KENYA 2009 is still taking applications and registrations for our September work trip to Kenya. Read below about this mission and the work we will do.  Contact us today for an application/registration packet.  Space is limited to just 15-20 individuals with a real desire to reach out and make a real change in our world.  And, while I’m thinking about ONE, there will only be ONE TEAM KENYA 2009!  Don’t miss your chance to be a part of it!  For more information visit www.lydiaministry.com

My post are going to take a decidedly different turn this morning from my usual gourmet and gab. In my “other life” I travel around the world trying to make a difference–and tasting a wide variety of world flavors. Yes, it takes quite a passion to lure me from my home nestled in the Pisgah National Forest, among the Blue Ridge Mountains. But, I do venture out and most often it is to places such as East and West Africa, India and the middle East.  So far, my travels have taken me to mud villages, refugee camps and the world’s largest slums!  There’s no glamour in it, and to see my trip photos (bad hair, no make-up, clothes meant for comfort and not fashion), well lets just say that “humbling” is the word of the day! 

Chief and Elders of Tribe

Chief and Elders of Tribe

Last September (2008), my journey took me to Kenya.  I work with the poorest of the poor because it is their heart-cry that I hear (but who are truly the richest in spirit!)  While in Kenya, my host pastor, Bishop Omukhobero took me to meet a chief and the people of a Maasai tribe.  I shared some thoughts with them about why God would send a blonde-haired, white-skinned woman all the way across the great Atlantic Ocean to go out and meet with them. Those thoughts were simply this:  God loves them and He wants them to know that He loves them.  As it says in Malachi 1:1 and God said, “I have loved you from the beginning..” (my paraphrase).  (In other words, Jerry McGuire style, “You had me at hello!”)  That is what I believe God sent me there to tell them: He has loved them from the beginning, before they ever heard about him or knew of him, before they ever desired to build a church, God loved them.  Even before they were born, as they were yet in their mother’s wombs, the Bible says that God knew them. Before they ever jumped and danced and sang to worship and honor him, He loved them!  And, He will love them if they never build their church, never jump and dance and sing about His Glory again! 

The Maasai people have a tradition of selecting one male among every tribe who is the “scapegoat”. He carries the sins of the tribe on his shoulders. I explained to them that God loves them so much that He sent his very own Son to be their scapegoat, to carry the sins of the entire world on his shoulders.  I explained to them that they do not have to do anything to earn God’s love, it is freely given.  They do not have to do anything to earn His Son as their scapegoat, He has freely given Himself to be the one, all they have to do is accept Him into their hearts and their lives.  Afterward, about 16-20 people came forward to accept this gift of a scapegoat whose name is Yeshua (Jesus).  

Their elders had given land to build a church/school for their people (this was before I ever knew of them, it’s not to my credit or otherwise, that they gave the land.)  They’ve been waiting for someone to build this church/school and to dig a well for them.  I realized when I was there that I might be the person they had been waiting for.  I told them I wouldn’t make any promises but I would come home and see if I could raise enough funds to help them see their dreams become a reality.  Then, I came home and committed myself to this mission.  After all, they aren’t asking for St. Peter’s cathedral, they simply want a shelter in which to worship God and a place to teach their children, a school for their kids. They want water that the women don’t have to walk 7 kilometers to find, water that is clean and pure and doesn’t carry disease.  (The same things most of us desire, a place to worship God, a safe school for our kids, fresh and safe water to drink–a better quality of life by anyone’s standards.)

Susan Jokes around with Lion Killers

Susan Jokes around with Lion Killers

Sometimes I say to myself, “I’m only one person what can I do?”  Maybe you have said the same thing to your own self. It seems that there are a lot of problems in this world that I can’t solve. I can’t solve world hunger, or the problems between nations and religions. I can’t solve poverty and I can’t solve the political problems in Chicago or in D.C.  But, I figure that there are a few things I can do.  I can put shoes on the feet of children who run barefoot through filth and garbage–one pair at a time.  I can build one church/school building with the help of a few key people. I can put school books in the hands of children who have never seen one, let alone owned their own– one child at a time.  I can reach my hand out to one person who is sinking in despair, and draw them to a safer ground. Maybe with the right sponsor, I’ll even be able to dig a well for a tribe of people who have no fresh water! I figure,  if I can do this one person at a time, what could an entire team do?

In September 2009 I’ll be leading a team of 15-20 people on a journey of a lifetime.  Together, we will build a church/school for the Maasai tribe who has welcomed me as one of their own.  We will provide school books and materials for their children, educational posters for the new school, and teach them about health and hygiene and how to protect themselves against the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Another part of our team will be renovating a children’s center in Nairobi which serves children from the slums of both Mathare and Kibera, the world’s second and third largest slums in the world, where over 100,000 orphans struggle daily for life, and women with hearts of gold take them in to give them shelter and share their family’s own meager meals.  We’ll supply books and school supplies, take a few more pair of shoes for the kids (I took about 25-30 pair on my last trip there–most of which were donated by a local school teacher and a couple of her students here in my home town) andput them on those who need them.  We’ll host a Vacation Bible School with music and theatrical skits and games for 100-300 orphans and street kids, and help provide breakfast and lunch for them.  We’ll extend our hands and our hearts.  We’ll also have some time for a “safari” (which means journey) to Nairobi National Wildlife Reserves, the Rothschild Giraffe Center, the infamous Carnivores Restaraunt and the Butterfly Center.  We’ll travel into the bushlands between Kenya and Tanzania, and we will share a journey of a lifetime.  We will worship together and eat together and probably shed a few tears together.

Will it change the world? Yes!  For those who make this journey of a lifetime with TEAM KENYA 2009, their world will change!  For those whose lives we encounter, whose hands we reach out to, and whose hearts we touch, their world will change.  For the Maasai tribe who finally gets their dreams fulfilled of having a church and school, their world will change! Will the crisis in Iran and Afghanistan and the USA be effected, I can’t say that it will. But, if we change the world one person, one village, one orphanage, one child, one pair of feet, one hand reaching out, one heart reaching up, one church, one school at a time–then eventually the world will change.

Some Kids from Children's Center with Me

Some Kids from Children's Center with Me

The cost:  basic trip is 16 days, departure is from an airport in N.C.  $2950.00 (most people spend more than that on a week at the beach!) and includes:

Airfare to and from airport of departure (In NC) to Nairobi Kenya; room in a very comfortable guest house in Nairobi and near the Maasai land for those building the church/school; breakfast and dinner/supper while in Kenya; ground transportation in Kenya; safari to Nairobi National Wildlife Reserve; Day at RothchildGiraffe Center; (for extended stay a day at the Butterfly Center where 1000’s of species can be found, some with wing spans in excess of 17 centimeters); Dinner and evening at the infamous Carnivores Restaurant; TEAM Kenya 2009 training event with meal and lodging in June; training manual and travel journal; TEAM KENYA 2009 T-shirt and hat– and the journey of a lifetime!

What is not included: Passport and Visa fees, health insurance, lunch (generally lunch can be purchased for less than $2.oo and a bag lunch is optional), meals in Airports, personal items, extra luggage fees, travel to and from departure airport in N.C., taxes and gratuities, beverages, cost of immunizations.

We are currently accepting applications for TEAM MEMBERS.  TEAM Kenya 2009 is hosted by Lydia Ministries International, a 501 (3) (c) non-profit organization and donations may be tax deductible.  If you would like to join us, please contact me today for an application and registration form.  You may contact me by leaving a comment. I’ll get it and send you an email Or, You can go to www.lydiaministry.com and there is contact information there.  DATES Team Members need to know:   Deposits and application deadline: May 15thJune 6th: TEAM Kenya Training day (we are going to play games, meet your roommates (unless you are travelling with your spouse and will share a room), checking forms, passports and visas, immunization records, health forms, and share a meal or two together!  We’ll talk about what to pack (and what NOT to pack), cultural awareness issues, and our itinerary– questions and answers, etc.  and did I say, EAT!  September 7th: TEAM Kenya 2009 Team Leaders depart for Kenya.  September 9th: Team Kenya 2009 Team members depart for Kenya. September 22nd, Team Members depart from Kenya to return to states and should arrive in NC on the 23rdExtended Team stay will depart Kenya on September 28th.

Remember, our TEAM Member positions are quickly filling up!  We are seeking team members who have building skills, teaching skills, painting skills (can you paint a wall?),  work with a VBS setting with lots and lots of children:), carry blocks and stir mortar.  Also we are especially seeking someone with advanced Medical: ie a doctor or nurse willing to give two-three weeks for medical mission work (physicals, minor medical care, etc. for orphans and for Maasai tribe members and for several hundred impovershed pastors and their families, who can oversee the AIDS and Health/Hygiene training,  and who can provide any necessary emergency care for TEAM Kenya 2009 members (we hope you WON’T have anything to do in that situation!)– and who can also wield a hammer or paint brush (just kidding)!  Make no mistake, this is a work team, and we will all work together as a Team to complete all phases of the work,.  If you have a physical limitation don’t hesitate to contact me,  we will do everything within our power to help make this possible for you!

Please help us get the word out:  TEAM KENYA 2009!  Now that’s Change you can count on!  CHANGE your World! CHANGE their World! CHANGE Our World! 

If you can’t go on this journey with us, but would like to contribute, please contact me.  We need financial donations. 100% of every dime given to Lydia Ministries International goes to the work of the ministry. As Founder and Director, I do not receive a salary. All work is performed by volunteers.  If you can’t make a financial donation there are still many ways to donate:  school supplies, school text books, posters for the school and children’s center (think educational, medical, dental (showing the physiology of the human body), shoes, Sunday School literature, Bibles, uniforms for children (they wear school uniforms (we need about 200 school uniforms in an array of sizes for girls (skirts and dresses) and boys (shorts and slacks), over the counter medicines, sealed for their protection; toothbrushes and toothpaste. This is just a partial list. Please contact us.  Remember, Lydia Ministries International is a 501 (3) (c) non-profit organization.

Click here to listen Meg Hutchinson–Seeing Stars  While you are reading and cooking, please enjoy one of my favorite songs.

We all need to be comforted every now and then.  A child curls up on her mother’s lap and finds comfort from the “scaries” of the world; a lover clings to their “other’s” hand on life’s roller coaster ride; a friend weeps on another friends shoulder.  Comforting each other is a major part of relationships. 

When there’s a death in my community, the churches and neighbors gather around to comfort the families who are grieving. When my late husband died in 2005, the house was full of “comforters” and while I can’t tell you everyone who was there, I still carry their presence in my soul.  The comfort they gave to me then is still with me today.  When something takes me back in memory to that time, they are waiting there also to offer their comforting words and presence.

Only once in the New Testament  are we told that Jesus speaks and says, “Be of good comfort”, and that’s  in Matthew 9:22

“But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.”
The Greek word used there which is translated “comfort” actually means “to be of good cheer”.  Isn’t it ironic that in times when we are speaking comfort to someone who may be sad, or afraid, that we are actually encouraging them to be of good cheer?  I know when my late husband died, I felt anything but cheerful. I was as far away from cheerful as the sun is from the earth, as east is from west.  I can remember even grieving not only the loss of my husband and friend, and all he was to me and our family, but also grieving that happiness had left me.  I also remember the first time I laughed again.  But, it is what we have hope for, that even in the most dire circumstances, one day the sun will shine again, one day our hearts will leap within us, and we will find that comfort has truly returned to us and we are “of good cheer.”

Right now, Americans need to be comforted, we need to be reminded to “be of good cheer”.  Many are frightened about the future, and we have reason for concern.  However, we should not let fear rule us. Especially those of us who are Believers in the Son of God need to remember that there is one greater within us than the one who is in the world, and this One is the Holy Spirit. We also need to remember that “if God be for us, then who can be against us!”  I encourage you to “take comfort and be of good cheer”.

If you are like me, there are days when you need “comfort food”!  Of course, the best food to take comfort in is not the kind we eat, but the very Word of God!  However, if you need the kind that comforts the body, I’ve got just the thing!  Try my Tortellini and Shrimp Alfredo pasta dish.  I have to confess that I stole this one from my husband –well, I added my own little take on it(tomorrow, March 3rd, is the second anniversary of our first date and Friday we will have been married 19 months!  I’m so thankful that God blessed me with a “new” husband, and he is the best husband in the whole wide world–for me!) He’s also a great chef– and the cause of most of the pounds I’ve gained since we got married!

This recipe is quick (it takes less than 30 minutes, add a salad and some nice Texas toast or Ciabatta bread, with a little melted garlic butter brushed on and you’ve got dinner!) 

Tortellini and Shrimp Alfredo

Ingredients:

1 bag of frozen 20-30 count per pound medium shrimp (make it easy and get the peeled, deveined, cooked shrimp–remember this is supposed to be comfort food!)

1 bag of Barilla’s Tortellini (spinach and cheese or whatever you prefer)

2-3 Tbls Olive Oil

2-3 cloves garlic or 1/2- 1 Tsp from a jar of fresh minced garlic

Fresh ground black pepper and fresh grated sea salt to taste

5-6 leaves of fresh basil (more or less to taste)

1 Jar of Tomato Alfredo sauce  (if you don’t like tomatoes then use just the plain Alfredo sauce)

Couple of ounces of fresh Parmesan cheese (optional)

a handful of fresh baby spinach  (washed, drained, dried) or 1/4 cup of thawed frozen spinach, drained and squeezed dry with paper towels

Putting it all together—

  • Peel and devein your shrimp (or do like I do and buy the ones already prepared. I do remove the shell that’s left on the tails, but I try to keep the “tail meat” intact!) I use one bag of 20-30 ct. size shrimp– or whatever the grocer has on sale for that week. If the shimp are frozen I dump them into a pot of lightly salted boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain and hold.
  • Prepare package of Barilla Tortellini (you can also use the larger Tortelloni if you wish)– I like to get in some extra nutrients so I use the spinach and cheese stuffed)  or you can use the type of Tortellini that you find in the refrigerated section of your grocers.  Cook according to directions. Drain and hold.
  • On medium heat, In a  deep saucepan or the bottom of a large dutch oven, (pre-heat your pan) then pour about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Saute 2 cloves of minced garlic. (I cheat and use the garlic that comes in a jar– I use about 1/2 teaspoon or more, I like garlic!)
  • Add in some fresh chopped basil, about a 1/4 cup. Saute for about one or two minutes.  You can use more or less to your own taste. I like basil and grow it from spring til late fall in planter boxes on our deck railings and in my herb garden both! 
  • Add in spinach. If you are using fresh spinach heat until nicely wilted.
  • Pour in one jar of Tomato Alfredo sauce  and stir——-(or make your own from heavy cream and Parmesan cheese–it only takes a few minutes and is so much tastier, add a little tomatosauce and you have a nice homemade Tomato Alfredo sauce)
  • I like to grate in some fresh Parmesan (you can never have to much Parmesan!), about a 1/4 cup or to taste! This is optional.
  • Crank in some fresh ground black pepper to taste.
  • Grind in some fresh  sea salt to taste.
  • Simmer this over medium low heat until it is nice and hot.
  • Next add your prepared shrimp and your prepared Tortellini pasta.  
  • Simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes and it’s ready to eat. 

Ladel up a nice serving into a bowl or pretty dish.  Top with a bit of the freshly grated Parmesan cheese, give a little crank of black pepper, and toss on a leaf of fresh basil for garnish and you are ready to serve.

  Add your salad and your bread and dinner is served.  It actually took longer to type the recipe in than it does to prepare the dish! How comforting is that!  Be of Good Cheer my friends, be of good cheer!

The grandkids always ask for this dish when they come over to stay the night at their Nana’s and Poppy’s house. They love to dip their bread in the sauce, and our little Hannah Grace loves to eat the “shTrimp” most of all!  It’s deliciously yummy and capriciously easy!