Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Eclipse and Bags of Love - Forgive My Randomness...

It's been a quiet morning here in the Collyer household. The hubby stayed home this morning to prepare his message for the kids tonight, Lucy (my parent's dog, whom I'm currently pet sitting) has been sitting curled up by my feet and I have to say I woke up with a thick sore throat, so I've been totally engrossed in the third book of the Twilight Saga, Eclipse. ;)

Much to my surprise, I've enjoyed getting lost in the mythical love's become my guilty pleasure. Not so impressed with the movies, but thoroughly captivated by the writings of Stephenie Meyer, her writing style is simple yet elegant. She has an innocent way of pulling you in and leaving you thirsty for more. (no pun intended)

As I mentioned two posts ago, 2010 is rapidly transforming into a year of new and exciting things. A few years back, while at a music school in south Florida, I had an opportunity to be involved with a group of people who had a burden for the homeless. Homelessness is huge in the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area, mainly because the weather is usually mild (well, not too cold at least). While most travel to Miami for the beaches and the high end clubs and restaurants, this group of people had an entirely different mission - love on the broken and unloved. This group was quickly named Love Bags and it began to spread like wildfire. What was meeting once a week, became several nights of the week and then began spreading to areas outside of Ft Lauderdale, Miami and Pompano Beach. During a meeting we would come together, bringing canned goods and supplies to help the homeless survive, such as bottled water, canned tuna lunches, granola bars, socks, travel tooth brushes, etc., etc. We would assemble large ziploc bags and inside leave a tiny folded paper containing a verse of love. We would then take a few moments to pray for our evening, asking God to bless our night as He leads us to the broken and then be on our way. Using the buddy system, of course, and taking necessary precautions, we would hit the streets of south Florida (usually at night) in pursuit of the homeless. I'll never forget the conversation I had with a woman - evicted from her apartment because she lost her job and could no longer afford rent, she was found huddled on the porch of an abandoned house. We approached her carefully, only wanting to give her a bag and offer her kind words - but as the others in our group began to socialize with homeless people scattered near by, I felt compelled to ask her more about her life. I soon found out that she had once belonged to a wealthy family, had traveled the world and had been married with grown children - her husband, for whatever reasons, had left her and she found herself alone, trying to afford a suitable lifestyle for herself and her kids (whom were younger at the time of the divorce). Seeing the pain in her eyes as she recalled the events of her life, gripped my heart. Her face was beautiful despite the dirt that stuck after a humid day, her eyes were honest yet filled with tears. I couldn't help but sit there and hold her - an embrace and a prayer was all a poor college kid, like me, had to offer at the time. Towards the end of our conversation, she began rummaging through what little belongings she had, and pulled out a beautiful hand blown, glass bird. She placed it in the palm of my hand and told me it was from a trip to Europe she once took with her father - it was the most valuable thing she had and she wanted me to have it, in return for my kindness. My eyes began to burn, as I couldn't find the words to say.

And so here I sit, a few years later, not sure where that woman is today, but forever touched by her life. I'm challenged and compelled to live out Christianity in a way so real and tangible. So I'm proud to announce that I'm currently researching ways to bring Love Bags here to Pensacola. Now an official organization, they have a website explaining more of what they're about and how they touch the lives of the homeless community in south Florida. Click here to read their stories and see how you can be part of or begin a Love Bags chapter in your area. And stay tuned if you're interested in being part of the Pensacola movement - our projected start date is mid February.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Special Delivery...

I don't know about you, but as a kid, racing to the mail box to see what the mail man had hand delivered was one of the highlights of my day. I used to write children my family sponsored through Compassion International and at times I had a few pen pals, so to receive a letter from one of my long distance friends was a true treat. These days, my mailbox seems less exciting, as it's usually filled with bills for me and catalogues for the man who lived in this house eons ago (how do I stop receiving those anyways?). Anyhow, my mail man hand delivered a special treat this week and I thought I'd share with the class...

My friend Allie Marie Smith, from an organization she founded a few years ago called Wonderfully Made, sent me one of her new tees and I think it's quickly become my new fav.

Click here to check out the WM website and don't forget to check out the store to see the tees and other fun products they're offering this year. It's such a neat organization and I'm blessed to be part of it in a small way. :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Off to College She Goes....

So today's the day my little sister begins her own little adventure as she heads off to Liberty University. It's a sad day for me, but an exciting one for her - I know God's got big plans for her, I'm honored to have been part of those plans up until now. I love you Ches and I can't wait to see you again soon!! -d

Monday, January 4, 2010

Love is Stirring...

Happy 2010! I'm sure you welcomed the new year with style. I hope it was a fabulous week of Holidays for all! :) I certainly had my fair share of celebration - the newlyweds thoroughly enjoyed their first Christmas & New Year together, it was just wonderful!

With the new year has come fresh inspiration, new dreams and hope for the wonderful 365 days ahead! We had a low key New Years Eve. I had to work and Brenton was pretty wiped out from the day's events; so needless to say, it was just the two of us sprawled out on our beautiful new couch (which we are so very blessed to have), watching the New York City ball drop and counting down the minutes till we could raise high our glasses and sip our sparkling cider to 2010. As we were cleaning things up and getting ready to call it a day, I couldn't help but be a little excited about waking up to a fresh start. The following morning I found myself writing down my New Year's Resolutions as I usually do Jan 1st of every year - in my new journal, snuggled up on my new couch and listening to my new husband tinker around one room over, (are you catching my theme here? ;) I stopped to think about all the newness in my life and was reminded that in Him all things are made new and beautiful. He truly has made all things in my life new and beautiful and I couldn't be more grateful and more excited about what's to come. Brenton has recently taken over the high school youth group for the year and we've been talking about the things we're looking forward to doing with the kids as we get to know them. It blows my mind sometimes when I think that God has allowed Brenton and I to be an influence in these kid's lives - high school was such a pivotal season in my life, a time where I was faced with the decision to truly follow the footsteps of Christ or walk away, choosing to do my own thing. Praise God I chose to follow Him, but it wasn't an easy decision and if it hadn't been for the beautiful and courageous women God had placed around me at that time, I probably wouldn't have stood as strongly in my decision. So here I am, on the other side - with the opportunity to be that influence in these young lives. What an incredible privilege! With that said, I've been praying/thinking about ways to be that influence and it hit me like a ton of bricks (or as I usually say to Brenton, like an 18 wheeler) - it's so simple, live out the Bible. Truly put flesh, bones and breath to the Word of God. As that was sinking in, I found myself directed to an all familiar verse, James 1:27 (NIV) "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." - and thus a flame was sparked.

I can't help but grin when I think of how simple the gospel is, but how incredibly complicated I tend to make it. If we are to impact these kids (and be impacted by them), we need to learn how to be the hands and feet of God. His absence is growing here on earth, not by His doing, but by man's as they push and shove Him out of everything they do. Never before has the world seen a time where they so desperately need the hands and feet of Jesus. I don't know about you, but I want as much of Him as I can get before His return, who knows what this world will be like by then.

I have yet to talk with Brenton about my revelation, but over a brunch date with my mom this morning that flame turned into a blaze. What began as a conversation about new years goals and resolutions, excitedly became an "I want to change the way I live and the way our community thinks" discussion. After brainstorming on how to truly do that, I left with my heart burning to reach out and touch the heart of God, to live a life so pure and faultless that it pleases my Creator beyond my wildest imagination. So here I sit, challenged, encouraged and instructed to love. To love and look after the orphans and widows and to keep myself from being polluted by a self-serving world. Are you up for the challenge? Will you do it with me? Will you be the hands and feet of God in a time where He's not exactly welcomed? Will you be the love that's missing? Stay tuned for the ways I intend to do so (as I mentioned, I have yet to speak with my hubby haha and I plan to do that soon. Once I do, you'll hear back from me) - let love stir in your heart this year and let 2010 be the year we live it out!