Why one donut is never enough

When I started attending my church, we had donuts every week in the adult Sunday school class. (I wonder what drew me more at first, the hunger for knowledge or the craving for sugar?) It was part of the ritual – hug a couple people, doctor our coffees, and pass around the flat white boxes of Krispy Kremes, licking the icing flakes off our fingertips. Mmm. I hoped someone would pass, leaving me an extra, but I never wanted to look like a pig by taking two right away. Forget bran flakes and yogurt; I want to start my day with donuts. One day, not long after I began attending our church, I was talking to our pastor, Nathan. I had questions about everything. I didn’t understand the emotions, the jargon, the feelings. People talked about intense spiritual experiences that seemed crazy, delusional – just plain made up. Rather than longing for those moments, I questioned their legitimacy, and wondered how much of it I wanted for myself. I stumbled over “Christian-ese,” the confusing terminology that many Christians use in an attempt to explain complex spiritual concepts in simple words. In particular, I had questions about the “baptism of the Holy Ghost.” The term, as they were using it, refers to speaking in tongues. In my circles, everybody talked about it, but I wasn’t convinced that I wanted it. I didn’t understand it, and I thought possibly I’d be just fine without it. I believed the Holy Spirit lived inside me. I felt the changes in my life. I’d become aware of the presence of God in my daily activities. I’d learned to talk to Him throughout the day, and I thought that was enough. I was tired of feeling...

faith, HOPE and love…& a GIVEaway or two

**Be sure to read until the end for some FABULOUS giveaways!!**  I have a dream. Well, actually, God has a dream that HE birthed in me. Let me get real here for a bit. You see, I had all but given up on “that dream.” The dream that I could make a tangible difference in the WORLD. I had heard for too long, “you can’t change the world,” that I had begun to believe it. God hadn’t. HE used a series of unfortunate events to birth dreams, big dreams, unimaginable dreams. One year ago this month, our lives were, in the words of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, “flipped, turned upside-down…” In the year that followed, God showed up and began to move in ways that we hadn’t expected or imagined. You see, this has been a whirlwind of a journey. Literally, one year ago, almost to the day, the notion of Hope Products was nothing more than a dream. We were living in our comfortable suburban cocoon, “doing ministry” and if I’m honest, completely unaware of just how God desired to use us as instruments in the hand of the redeemer. A dream to truly make a difference. A dream to impact women and men in circumstances they did not choose. A dream to live the rest of our days on earth impacting the lives of others. A dream to live a life advocating for justice and humanity. A dream much bigger than ourselves. Then…the unexpected happened. Life flipped and in all that mess, the DREAM began to take root…just proof that beauty comes out of ashes. It...

Credit Where Credit is Due

“…you treat the potter as a lump of clay. Does a book say to its author,‘He didn’t write a word of me?’ Does a meal say to the woman who cooked it,‘She had nothing to do with this?’”Isaiah 29:16 Wouldn’t it absurd for an art student to go into a Thomas Kinkaid gallery, buy a painting, and then display it in his home as his own masterpiece? What about a woman baking a Mrs. Smith’s frozen pie for her guests, and then claiming that she made it from scratch? We would think that both of these things are preposterous. The Bible says that we are the clay and God is the Potter. He created us and is molding and shaping our lives to be the Masterpieces He has created us to be. Yet, how many times do we find ourselves gloating in the blessings that He has given? We may not say anything at all, but all too often, if we are honest, we get a little puffed up when it comes to our success, our finances, our home or cars, and even our social status. We get a little too comfortable, prideful, and independent, thinking we can make it all on our own. For us to take credit for anything at all in our lives is as crazy as a book saying to its author, “he didn’t write a word of me”. When we do this, we are treating God, the Potter, as a lump of clay. We all know that we had absolutely nothing to do with our coming into existence. I would venture to say, that...

There Is A Ministry Inside Of You

I remember being highly offended during two different church services because of what was spoken over me by the visiting evangelist. One said that I would be a missionary to the world. That was enough to get my blood boiling. God knew I liked the coziness of my hometown and He certainly knew I would never step foot on an airplane. Oh no, ma’am. Not me. I hear you laughing. The second person who spoke something over my life that, to me at the time, was even more offensive. She said, in the kindest and most sincere way, that God was showing her all the creativity and ideas that surrounded me. She said it was beautiful and that God’s instructions to me were to write them down. *gasp* I went back to my chair and nearly cried knowing she couldn’t have possibly heard from God. The most creative thing I had ever done was assign names to my Barbie dolls and semi-coordinate clothing according to pictures I had found in magazines. Huh! “God said,” my foot. Who was this lady anyway?I still hear you laughing. Less than two years after my near nervous breakdown over prophetic words I realized that I could hear from God myself. It was a beautiful thing. At times He even allowed me to see things through His eyes. I saw the confused and hurt state of the women in our area and I felt burdened to help them; to minister to them. So, I prayed. He took me to some scriptures in Habakkuk. This is the message that the prophet Habakkuk received from the...

More than a Splash

The Internet Cafe is thrilled to welcome Patty Wysong of Patterings! I love my house plants. They bring me great joy as they thrive, adding color and texture to my home. Over the years I’ve noticed that my plants seem to go in cycles—they’ll be beautiful for awhile and then they start dropping leaves and getting ugly. One of my favorites is a ming aralia—a miniature palm tree, and it’s definitely in an ugly stage right now. The main trunk is severely leaning and there’s a pile of branches around it and more are dropping off. I was pulling off dead leaves and branches, mulling over the idea of composting it and just filling that spot with something else, and that’s when my eye caught a sliver of green. Right where the old branches were connected there was new growth pushing up, even before the old was gone. I’m tired of constantly having to clean up after this little tree, even if it is my favorite, so, I googled to find out what mings need to flourish. I determined that if it this shedding continued I’d toss the plant and move on. My research was a ‘duh’ moment for me. What I thought was a cycle of the older branches making way for new growth, turns out to be…not enough water. Can you tell I’m not a botanist? I don’t even have a green thumb, I just happen to have a house that’s ideal for house plants. Yes, my plants go in cycles, and those cycles are directly linked to me. When I remember to water them, they flourish...

Wild Savior

Following Christ is a constant learning experience. It never fails to astound me how little I know the deeper in relationship I get with Him! Over and over again He has taught me stagnancy is just not healthy. He desires movement. Growth. Travel. He wants my today to play out a little differently than my yesterday. I was in the shower a few weeks ago talking with Him about random things (most likely the wonder of Starbucks) when I got into my crazy head the shampoo in my hand looked like what I imagine the Israelites would’ve used as anointing oil. Stick with me. I know things just got strange but hear me out. Staring at the thick, beautiful, volume-taming dollop of oil-like shampoo, I decided this was the perfect opportunity to anoint my head with oil. Clearly I am the Lucille Ball of the Christian faith. I had a moment of prayer, threw my hand to my forehead and… Anointed my eyes. I missed my forehead completely. Not on purpose, it was just that the “anointing oil” was so thick it slid off my hand due to its heaviness before I had reached my head.With burning eyes I couldn’t help but crack up laughing. Isn’t that just the way of our wild Savior? He shakes things up. I think, “I’ll go to school, get a job, get married and perhaps bake a sale item for the church fundraiser when I grow up.” He says, “That’s not where your anointing is.” I think, “Okay, I will go into advertising and shine my light on the subways in Manhattan.” He...

Floss your Heart

The Internet Cafe is thrilled to welcome Patty Wysong of Patterings! Raising kids is great, but it is not for the weak at heart! Why is it kids have to be constantly reminded to brush their teeth? You’d think they’d get tired (and grossed out) by their yucky tasting , scuzzy, scummy mouth, but they aren’t. Even when reminded of how nice a minty clean mouth is, they still drag their feet and bellyache about brushing their teeth. I was grumbling about that to God as I brushed my teeth, and when I finally paused for a breath I heard that still voice. Don’t you do the same thing? He wasn’t talking about brushing my teeth, but my heart. I felt like I’d been sucker punched. How many times have I done a ten second brush job—on my teeth and on my heart—hoping a blanket prayer would do the trick. ‘Dear Lord, please forgive today’s sins, amen.’ –when what I really needed to do was a comprehensive brush, complete with a thorough flossing. He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. ~Proverbs 28: 13 Just like we need to use floss to get the grungies out from the crevices between our teeth, we need to use floss to reach into the hidden and secret crevices of our heart. Those are the places we like to tuck away—hide–the sin we don’t want others to see. We all have those places, and we all need to stop concealing our transgressions there. If we continue to ignore them, the hidden sin will...

The Gift

Please join us in welcoming Beth Pittman to the Cafe! As Jesus looked up, he saw some rich people putting their gifts into the Temple money box. Then he saw a poor widow putting two small copper coins into the box. He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow gave more than all those rich people. They gave only what they did not need. This woman is very poor, but she gave all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4, New Century Version) Today is my oldest son’s birthday. He is 28 today and is spending this day in prison. My youngest son’s 20th birthday was just five days ago. Yesterday, he received a rare letter from his big brother. He read it and left it open for his daddy & me to read. It was a short letter. Just a “how are you doing?” kind of letter. He asked about his job and his new place (he’s recently left our nest). He also wished him a happy birthday. Inside the letter, were two pieces of chewing gum in wrappers. Those two pieces of gum make my heart hurt. I held them in my hand and thought about what my oldest son was thinking when he put the gum in that envelope. I think he wanted to give his little brother something for his birthday and that was the only gift he was able to give him. You see, my son has been separated from us for a long time. Crimes committed must be punished and the cost of that has been years in prison. It was...

A God of Creativity

I don’t know about you, but I love to do all of the womanly things I swore, as a teenager, that I would never do. Cooking a big meal from start to finish (from scratch, not a frozen pizza!) is such a liberating feeling. When I look at the meager ingredients I started with and see the masterpiece I created, I feel exhilarated. Even though many women in their 30’s like me have career ladders and board meetings on their long-term planning goals, I have sewing and scrap book projects that will keep me busy for years to come. Martha Stewart might turn her nose up at the curtains I made for my son’s room from Wal-Mart bed sheets, but I am pretty proud. There are so many areas that we, as women, can be creative. Busy lives often rob us of our ability to express this side of ourselves. Yet, for many of us, it is lying just under the surface, begging to be released. Do you ever think your creative projects are frivolous? Is it just one more thing that gets pushed to the side to meet more important demands? Did you know that expressing your creativity can be a way of reflecting God? It actually can be a way to worship Him in a way that is uniquely “you.” When we look at the creativity He gave us like this, it seems terrible to waste it. God is the God of creation. Read the first chapter of Genesis and see that He loves to create. While we might have looked down on the earth and saw...

Show Me the Meaning!

Show Me the Money Meaning “I made the cut!” How satisfying to announce to family and friends that my writing had passed several editing cuts and was finally going to be published–with compensation. Initially, money wasn’t my motivation for submitting. I was just thrilled that somebody judged my thoughts interesting enough to publish. And I can’t deny that feedback from readers is as refreshing as a glass of sweet tea after mowing the lawn. But somehow, simply saving my columns in an album became less satisfying. I needed validation. I needed to be paid. Months passed. I received numerous messages from the editor about the sluggishness of the process. “The check is in the mail” became a running joke between my girlfriends and me. However, it finally arrived. I stuck it on the refrigerator and admired it daily for a month. My girlfriends asked how I would spend it, and I answered, “If I took one or two of you to Starbucks, I could easily blow it there.” But the amount wasn’t important; the fact that I was a paid “author” was! Last week, I decided to cash it. I remembered I wanted to take our winter quilt to the laundromat, so I asked the teller for lots of ones, which made my pay seem even skimpier. Driving away, I thought, “I can’t believe I’m going to spend this at the laundromat. This is my writing money, after all!” Later I pushed some cash on a very poor college student whom I know extremely well. After that, my husband presented me with a chopped, grass-stained $10 bill that he...