Welcome to A Family House of Prayer Site!

It is only just begun, and yet we are already changing the future. We are one little house … one little house that has become "a house of prayer for all nations." Please, join us in making a difference far beyond the reach of your hands …. Just say “yes” to the Lord and watch Him faithfully complete the work in your own home. “Yes, Lord. Make our house a house of prayer for all nations.” Go to the side bar and look for the first post in March "In the beginning" for starters.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

On Thanksgiving ... Revisiting a journal entry from January 2014

So much to be thankful for this year!!   In June Kayla returned from Thailand and SE Asia.  In August AnneMarie left for Lee University.  And tonight she comes home to celebrate Thanksgiving with us!  But throughout this semester, I have been filled with joy at watching from a distance as she is enjoys college life.  I just wanted to post my journal entry about letting go, and say, "Thank you, Lord, for giving me the grace to not just "let go" as my children grow, but the sheer joy and excitement I have as they journey toward becoming all that you have designed them to be!"
Kayla and AnneMarie 5 and 3

Here's the journal entry ...
Kayla's kindergarten graduation

January 5, 2014.

Today I keep reminding myself to just breathe.    I can’t let my thoughts go too far down the week, because the end of the week brings something I’m not ready to face.  Kayla flies away.  And yet in some ways, I wish these few days had already passed, and that she was already there, in Bangkok, settled in with a smile on her face, so I could begin the countdown,  150, 149, 148, … until she returns, with stories by the dozen, lighting up the room with God’s crazy love pouring out all over the place, while we play catch-up, trying hard to begin to imagine all those days where she lived life to the full, becoming more, while we just lived the same, here.

I hate to admit it, but I know that this feeling of losing Kayla’s company cuts deeper than it will for the next, and the next, and the next, and the next one.  Kayla is more than daughter.  She’s sister/friend in the kingdom, my co-conspirator in this Spirit-filled life that continually strains against the status quo of American existence.  She does it much better than I, of course; far less years of baggage and habits, and far less weighing her down,  worries, hopes and fears.  And far more time to just be.  She lives and breathes kingdom love and power, soaking it in from secret wells.

I’ve raised her for this very thing, of course; so in a way it’s my own fault – this pain of letting her go so far.  But I must remember that many other moms say good-bye at this age.  And not all (not many) are so secretly jealous of the life to which their offspring is called.  No; many hold their breath this week as their barely adult child heads off to war … or to nowhere, led along by passions for things that will destroy.

I am blessed to have raised one whose passion is for God’s kingdom, and it is that which will see me through as I count down the days.  My daughter is called, chosen, highly-favored by her Father above.  Called by the King of Kings … to set the captives free, to save lives, to save souls.   Like Mordecai I must confess, “…you were born for such a time as this.”  Who am I to hold you back?

There is a part of me that knows that this first true letting go, though the most difficult to date, will be followed by more.  She will not settle for a handsome Mr. Right, with a nice comfortable job, to sweep her off to a nice comfortable suburban home, so that I can drive my minivan down to pick up the grandkids and whisk them off to the zoo.  She will choose someone who has no desire for the American dream, no desire for the status quo; he will spur her on to higher things, to do more, to go farther, to go lower, and to bring hope to the hopeless.

I refuse to hold her back.  I deeply desire for her the life that she is called to -- and the man who will pray daily with her so that this life becomes reality.  As much as I would love to see my grandkids every weekend… as much as I want to see them well-fed and protected, I would never wish upon Kayla a life half lived, or a man not ready to pursue wholehearted kingdom living with her.

Kayla, my darling, the Lord will indeed write stories using you as the main character.  Together you will bring many to know the Father, and I will rejoice!  I will never forget that I gave you back to your heavenly Father the day you were born – only hours after I birthed you.  What I realized then, and must recall each day from now on, is that you, Kayla, are more HIS than you are mine, and HE was simply gracious enough to ask.  More than that, He was gracious enough to give me the grace and strength to say yes, through tears.  And so each time HE again will ask, another letting go, it will be by HIS grace and strength alone that I say, YES!  By the grace of God, you will do great exploits.  By the grace of God, I will go with you in prayer, in spirit, one of your diligent intercessors.  And if the Lord wills, perhaps by HIS grace, we will serve together somewhere some day.  But I will leave that up to HIM!

Today I must say, as much as I am crazy in love with you, I love God more, and I choose to trust and obey, with thanksgiving for every day you are away, without wishing one of them away.  For His ways are far higher than mine!   Father, let it be done according to your Will, not mine.

Let's all hang on tight with big smiles on our faces and enjoy the ride!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

On my daughter's 20th Birthday!

To my precious daughter, Kayla,

Although I wouldn't like to travel back 20 years and relive the experience, your birth was certainly one of the most amazing gifts that God ever gave me! I can still remember being in that hospital room several hours after you were born, holding you. You were so tiny, 6.0 lbs all swaddled tightly, looking so fragile. I felt weak and fragile, too. I was supposed to sleep, since I'd been up all night. But I was too scared to close my eyes. Through tears I prayed that I would have the strength and wisdom that I needed -- just to keep you alive and healthy! But the Lord didn't answer with what I thought I needed. Instead he said, "Will you give her back to me?" I cried harder, tears falling on your cheeks. I didn't want to let you go! I felt fiercely possessive. Then the Lord reassured me, "I can take so much better care of her than you. Do you trust me? Please, give her to me." I knew He was right, though, because He was the one who had created this beautiful baby and knew exactly how to raise her. So through the deepest tears I can remember, I said, "Yes. She is yours." I laid you in the bassinet, and I held my hands open to release you. In that moment my heart was breaking, because I didn't know what that answer would mean ... even whether you would live another day or not. But as I watched you sleeping, my tears subsided and peace rushed in -- giving me a sweet assurance that He had accepted my "yes" and graciously given you back to me - for me to raise for Him. I felt a little like Moses' mother must have felt when she actually got to be her own son's nurse and caretaker. Long story short, it's been a great privilege to be "Kayla's mom". I've had to let go many more times since ... and I expect the hardest times of letting go are still to come. 

Happy Birthday, my precious daughter,and blessings for the best year yet!

PS - No, I don't feel old enough to have a 20 year old daughter - but if we had started having kids right after we got married, I could actually have a 27 year old!  And grandkids!  Now, THAT is scary!

Jamaica - the story behind the pics

July 18, 2014

We are rejoicing in all that the Lord has done over the past few weeks!  What an amazing journey!  Two weeks ago we celebrated July 4th with our daughters and some of Kayla and AnneMarie’s close friends.  Fireworks crackled, popped and boomed outside my window as I hope for a few hours of sleep before rising at 3 AM so that we could catch a 6 AM flight out of Dayton.  Many very long, bleary eyed hours later, we arrived at our destination --  The Blue House, Ocho Rios,Jamaica, and sat down to dinner with our host, Elise Yap.

Elise runs a ministry called Bread Basket Ministries to help the desperately poor in Jamaica, particularly widows, orphans, and families with unique needs.  To assist in the funding of Bread Basket, she runs The Blue House, a boutique bed and breakfast with an amazing chef – Elise’s brother, Darryl.  The Blue House is staffed by young adults whom Elise has groomed and trained – bringing them up out of situations where their futures were bleak.  One of her passions is to help build homes for those who are living in rundown shacks and have no means to better their lives, and that is where we were invited to join in … to be part of a team to build house for a very poor family of five.

Our family was particularly blessed to be invited to join together with a family from South Dakota, who funded the house building project, together with a couple of their young adult friends, and a young woman from California on this trip – a group that only the Lord himself could have knit together for the week long project.  

Elise is a Spirit-filled Catholic who readily shared her own personal journey of faith, including being filled with the Spirit, and hearing a direct call from the Lord to “feed my sheep,” which then led to her establishing her ministry.  The next morning we attended Mass at Elise’s church, which overlooks the ocean.  The liturgy was typical, but the homily was amazing, and the Eucharist left me totally overwhelmed by the Lord’s presence.  (Elise would later share that it is the experience of the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist that keeps her from leaving her church for a more dynamic one.)

Sunday remained a day of rest and we enjoyed a local beach where we talked with several Jamaican families.  Monday, however, was definitely a day of WORK!   After a good breakfast we headed to the site where the house was already started – the foundation was laid, ready for us to begin building a house for a family of five.  Rupert and Diane have three children – Daniel, a severely handicapped boy who recently turned 10, Kerry-Anne, an 8 year old with mental and emotional delays, and Tiffany, a typical 6 year old.  All three children wore huge smiles as we greeted them.  They invited us to see the house in which they live (right next to the brand new foundation for the new house).  In one very small room they all sleep together in a full sized bed – yes, all five.  And in a smaller back room they keep their kitchen stuff and other belongings.  There is an outhouse detached.  All cooking is outside over a fire.  Rupert, as it turns out, is an amazing cook!  He works as a farmer and takes on small chef jobs whenever he can.   Diane’s busy full time with the children, particularly Daniel who cannot attend school.  He cannot walk or talk, and interacts like a child of about 7-8 months old.

After being at the site for about 20 minutes we were all drenched with sweat.  As it was only 10 AM, we all silently wondered how we could possibly work all day in that heat.  But before long we were immersed in the work itself.  And it seems that once you’re that sweaty, it just doesn’t matter anymore.  You just keep drinking lots of fluids.  And you don’t even worry about having to pee, because it all just sweats away.

The first day as children from the surrounding neighborhood came, we put them to work painting – priming the plywood walls.  White paint was everywhere as children from age 5 to 12 dipped brushes and rollers and put paint everywhere.  It was quite crazy, but the kids were so enthralled with helping, that we just did our best to keep up with rolling and brushing out all the paint to a nice smooth surface.  We fed the kids peanut butter and jelly and they were sooo happy!  Elise says that most of the kids are hungry most every day.  They get food, but never enough to fully satisfy.

I helped Rupert chop veggies, as he cooked up an amazing meal in large kettles over the fire.  He was quite proud of his cooking – and we were all very impressed. Jamaican cooking at its best, with just the simplest of implements!   Later I wondered whether the food was that incredibly tasty or whether we were just all so hungry by 1:30 when lunch was finally ready.  We gobbled up rice and beans, chicken, and veggies, and then distributed the rest to the kids who hadn’t had their fill of PBJs.  (They seemed to strongly prefer the PBJ though.)

Construction on the house had begun early with our large team mixing concrete with shovels, slopping it into 5 gallon buckets, and pouring it into an area that would serve for plumbing and waste processing for the new house’s bathroom – with running water and a flush toilet – a huge upgrade.  Later the 2 x 4’s would be sawed and fitted, hammered, and screwed, and before we knew it, we were watching a house arise from the foundation.  It would become a very nice 2 bedroom home with nice living areas and a porch!

Meanwhile, as the construction progressed and the food was cooked and served, though all of this is somewhat a blur as to what happened when, Kayla, Mayana and Lia gathered many neighborhood children to sing songs and play games in a central clearing in the neighborhood.  Thankfully, this area was mostly shaded.  The kids were thrilled to join in the activities.  And my girls were thrilled to be there leading and guiding them!

What was the area like?  Well, it wasn’t too far from a main road in St. Ann’s.  It was kind of like a very large campground in a tropical forest, with clearings carved out like campsites.  On each site was a makeshift dwelling about the size of a family sized tent – or perhaps a little smaller.  The insides of the dwelling were used kind of like you might use your tent while camping – for sleeping, changing, maybe resting.  But inside was hot and stuffy.  So most people always were outside.  Cooking was always over the fire.  Water came into large rain barrel, and it was used for just about everything but drinking.  It looked clean though.  Then, in the middle of the home sites, there was a rather large clearing with a large outhouse on one side, near a river, and it contained a single bucket-flush toilet and no seat.  Not that one would have sat anyway.  The clearing was a great place to gather the children and play games, sing, and teach.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were all WORK days.  But, thanks to Elise’s great idea, we also used that time to minister Christ’s love to the children.  Each day around noon, apparently after morning chores were done at each house, the children would begin to gather around, eager to talk and get hugs.  They took delight in simple games of duck duck goose, London Bridge, red light-green light, etc.  But perhaps their biggest smiles came while singing songs.  Kayla, Mayana, and Lia – sometimes accompanied by Grace and AnneMarie, as well – led the children in Bible camp songs like Deep and Wide, Peace Like a River, Father Abraham, and many more.  And then the children taught us Bible songs that they had learned about loving Jesus and stomping on Satan, etc.  They really liked watching us catch on to their songs!

One moment I will never forget is walking down to the clearing where all five of my girls were encircled by Jamaican children all singing and dancing with huge smiles on their faces.  My girls were so engaged with the group and clearly enjoying every minute of it!  Another favorite moment was watching the little children – age 2, 3, 4 – crawling into Mayana, Grace and Lia’s laps – sometimes three to a lap!

However, I was probably the most impressed watching Kayla handle the crowd of children when it was time for the story.  With the help of promised animal crackers for those who could answer questions about the story, Kayla got them (most of them) to sit down and listen attentively.  About half of the children were very engaged in listening and responding to questions.  Each day Kayla shared a new Bible story.  On the day when she shared about Jesus falling asleep in the boat and then calming the storm, she had several children up front acting out the story and all the children adding sound effects. 

After each days story, the children were invited to prepare a craft to reinforce the story.  Boys and girls from age 3 to 12 or 13 flocked around to use crayons, glue sticks, scissors, and more, and most did a great job of trying to follow the instructions.  What was so touching was the way they flocked around us to show off the results of their hard work.  “Miss, Miss!  Look at mine!”  We lavished praise on their obvious hard work, and then we watched as Kayla had them each retell the story back – helping them to understand it better.  The children learned the parable of the lost sheep, and God’s concern for every single person who is lost from him, as well as the story of the unforgiving servant, in addition to Jesus bringing peace to the storm, and how we need not fear, for Jesus will help us through.

By the end of our time, Mayana wanted to stay on at BBM to be a children’s helper, Lia wanted to stay on at the Blue House to study under chef Derryl.  However, Kayla, AnneMarie, and Grace, while totally enjoying all of their time that week were ready to come back home, connect with friends, and prepare for the coming school year, with hopes of maybe returning to do it all over again next summer.

Tom and I do hope that we will return in the next year or so to participate in another mission trip with Elise and Bread Basket Ministries.  We are praying that God will open up the right doors and make the way clear, but also that He would lead some others to join us!

For more information about Bread Basket Ministries*, see http://www.breadbasketministries.com/

And if you are here in the Cincinnati area, please consider supporting us on August 16th for a garage sale to benefit this ministry.  They operate on a shoestring budget and would like to help as many needy children and widows as possible!

Many blessings!

*This is from the BBM site: 
Bread Basket Ministries (BBM) is
a non-profit, charitable Christian
organization ministering to the
physical, emotional, social and
spiritual needs of poverty stricken
men, women and children in Ocho
Rios Jamaica and its surrounding

In seeking to do so we partner
with local and international
individuals and organizations,
mission trip teams seeking to serve
the poor in Jamaica, as well as,
loving, generous visitors who
respond to God's call to do more
than simply vacation here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Jamaica - a mission adventure - the pics

Some photos from the Jamaica Mission Trip with Bread Basket Ministries... photos in no particular order.
Most of these are photos are of the children in the neighborhood where we ministered while our team was building Daniel's House.  For more information, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/danielshouse/
Everybody gather round and learn some songs!

I've got love like an ocean.

Kayla got them in line.

Mayana and a new friend.

Some of Mayana's many friends

Just for fun - all dressed up to go to dinner!

Miss Kayla, Miss Kayla!  Look at my boat!!

Some friends saying good-bye.

The adorable baby cousin of Daniel and sisters.

Listening to the story.

Red light, green light.

Lia's lap was often full, too.

Kayla talking to Daniel.

How big is God's love?

Hugs!  Our favorite part.

Parable of the lost sheep and fun making masks.

More fun and games.

Circle time

Yes, I was there, too.  Here I am talking with Daniel.

They listened pretty attentively while Kayla shared.

 Cute as a button.

More hugs.

Grace's lap got used a lot when she wasn't painting and hammering.

More craft time.

Daniel's aunt with Grace and Lia

AnneMarie with Daniel's sisters, Tiffany and Kerri-Anne

Sunday, December 22, 2013

In the Beginning was the Word ...

As soft Christmas carol instrumentals played in the background, I asked the Lord to take me into the time of his birth, to celebrate His birth by being on scene with Mary and Joseph.  He brought me there in the spirit, and I stood in the stable with them.  They were aware of my presence, accepting, not startled.  Slowly I moved closer to Mary, so that could see Jesus more closely.  Mary smiled at me and held the carefully wrapped infant out toward me as if to say, “Would you like to hold him?”  My heart melted within me.  “Me?  Hold him?”  But Mary smiled with an expression that said, “Why not?” 

So there I was, holding the baby Jesus, just like I would hold any other baby, except that my insides felt like they were melting into one giant pool of emotion.     He opened his eyes, which were deeply deep, beautiful, and calm and whose color was hard to discern exactly.  Transfixed, I stared into those deeply wondrous eyes. 

As I stared, I was drawn into those eyes, as if my entire being were being drawn through them and beyond them.  And suddenly I was watching as Jesus, the craftsman at the Father’s side, brought stars into being.  In a time lapsed fashion with startling clarity and color, similar to the images from the Hubbell space telescope, I watched from a far distance that still seemed like a front row seat, as colorful lights swirled and flashed.   In that moment I was so overcome with the realization that these baby’s eyes were in essence the same eye that watched with great pleasure as the worlds were first being formed – galaxies given birth. 

I was pulled from the far reaches of space to observe once again this tiny baby whose eyes held galaxies, and then, without warning, I was simply back sitting on my brown couch with my two daughters, who were completely unaware that I’d been gone.