Monday, December 31, 2012


For your listening enjoyment, I present a reshowing of 
"The Sibling Pipers"
~Auld Lang Syne~
(First presented to the world by Scott and Danielle S. on New Year's Eve of 2010, brought back by popular demand)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Some Christmas reflections...

And in despair I bowed my head:
                      "There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

My heart has been so heavy. So many people are hurting.

-My friend's brother just died from alcohol poisoning. He was about my age.
-The last little child was buried today from the massacre in Connecticut.
-Went to a movie and gaped at the ads for other films about to be released. Our culture is obsessed with witches and vampires, dark magic and death, zombies and ghosts. We are shocked when death, disguised as "entertainment," jumps off the screen or page and settles his clutches into our homes, our schools, our nation.
-A family member of mine is facing divorce and being mommy alone to two children this Christmas.
-Another of my family members, trying to stifle the pain of his lonely heart with drugs.
-My co-worker and friend has breast cancer and two little girls.
-My friend is tottering on the edge of abandoning Jesus because she can't understand Him.

This Christmas has been different. Because nearly every time I've thought about Jesus' miraculous, silent arrival to earth inside a virgin's womb my thoughts have also raced forward to His return. There will be absolutely nothing quiet and lowly about it next time. My heart keeps echoing the same cry over and over... "Come BACK! Come back again soon and make everything right again, Lord." I found Matthew 23:40 a few days ago. "...And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”  I read it over and over and pictured what that would be like. Jesus says that so many people--from every nation on earth-- will mourn because they didn't choose Him. But there will be so many people rejoicing and saying, "THIS is our God! We waited for Him and He is HERE!"

Oh, how differently His second coming will be!
  • No tiny, helpless newborn wail; this time the very breath of his mouth will decimate His enemy! And along with His shout, and a deafening trumpet call! (2 Thessalonians 2:8, 1 Thessalonians 4:16)
  • A dirty donkey on which to flee from the wrath of a ruler? NO! No puny earth-kings will stand against Him. A white stallion will carry the High King of Heaven! He will be a mighty, victorious King with an army in His wake, arrayed in a dazzling robe of white and no dirty tattered swaddling clothes! The brightness of His coming will not shine from just one single star, because He Himself will shine so brilliantly that He'll literally overwhelm the enemy with the blaze of His eye! His righteous, victorious vengeance will crush sin and evil forever. He will simultaneously strike terror and sear joy into the hearts of earth's inhabitants as He rides as a Mighty Warrior, his robe dipped in blood! (Revelations 19:11-16)
  • No door will bar His entrance.  No manger to contain Him, for not even the mountain upon which His foot steps will be able to hold will split in two. (Zech. 14:4)
And yes...He will make everything right again.

Will you be ready at His second advent? And do you long for it!?
"Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." -2 Tim. 4:8

Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Some random Aussie pictures

Jet lag.
2:00 am. 
My brain is stubbornly refusing to shut down like a good little brain should and go to bed with the rest of my body. So, while lying here with my eyes wide open--or purposely squeezed shut, which is just as bad--and my mind whizzing at 100 MPH, it occurred to me that now is as good a time as any to get to that blog post I've been meaning to write! So I've dragged my computer to bed with me and I'll see how long I last. Maybe blogging is the proverbial "sheep counting" for me and will do the trick. Maybe in a few minutes my sleepy head will bob onto my keyboard and post a paragraph of jumbled letters and numbers for my friends and family to puzzle over tomorrow morning. 

At any rate, until that happens, let me tell you about the last stop of our Bright Lights ministry trip: The Land Downunda'! Woohoo! Traveling to Australia has finally been checked off from my bucket list! I've wanted to go for so long and my kind Father has granted me the desire. And granted it in such a perfect way. As much as I love to travel, I think I'd feel somewhat aimless--guilty, maybe-- just traveling the world without a purpose other than entertaining myself and seeing new sights. Jesus gave me the gift of being able to travel to Alaska, Asia, and Australia with an awesome team and for the purpose of investing in the lives of precious young ladies there. I've just kept marveling all two months of the trip because He's so kind!! 

I'll try to keep it to concise picture captions. :) These pictures are uploaded in no particular order, btw, in case any of the team reads this and is wondering what on earth I was thinking. ;)

On an off day, we enjoyed a train ride from downtown Melbourne to the country for... 
...A barby with friends! :)

Beautiful countryside.

Our team enjoyed an awesome evening at our new friends, the Langford's home. Here we're gazing out at kangaroos in the field just below their home! It was amazing. There were at least 20 kangaroos grazing and bouncing around while we ate our dinner on the porch and watched them. 

This big guy came for a drink. 
She kindly posed for a silhouette shot. 

The birds were noisy but oh, so beautiful. 

Mr. Langford took us on a breakneck-speed "buggy" ride through the fields after dinner, and we raced the kangaroos! A pretty unforgettable experience!

Sun setting in the Australian countryside. 

This picture doesn't do justice to the awesome time of singing we enjoyed before leaving the Langfords.  Some crazy good guitar pickin' and hilarious songs made for an atmosphere of joy with this family that we won't forget! 

On the last day of our time in Australia we went to a wildlife sanctuary and got some hands-on experience with Aussie animals! God's creativity never ceases to amaze me. And animals showcase it the most brilliantly of all!
It's called "I'll-lean-in-and-we'll-look-like-we're-good-buddies." 

I never realized how utterly adorable wombats are.

And the KOALAS! I'm in love!

It's a kookaburra! 

The day after we arrived, friends took us to a park where wild birds will often come and eat out of your hands. It was such a magical experience! To have these wild creatures come of their own volition and trust us felt like a gift. It was amazing. I could have stayed there all day.

The turnout for the Radiant Purity and Strong in The Lord conferences was really great and people drove (or even flew!) from hours and hours away. It was amazing to know that they valued this teaching so much and it blessed our team to know that the truth of God's Word will be spreading like ripples throughout Australia as the girls return to their homes and begin discipling others. Awesome thought!

The weather was too gorgeous to keep my SiTL team cooped up indoors so we enjoyed meeting on the grass. What a precious time of fellowship and mutual encouragement! 

Buddy the skink! I almost stepped on the little guy one evening but he forgave and we made friends. He was the only reptile I saw in Australia. No crocs. Steve Irwin had given me the impression that they await you under every rock and in every tree. Feeling dissolutioned. 

Feeling a little cooped up one evening, Nickie, Jolynn and I set out on foot to find an Australian fish n' chips place.  The walk was longer than anticipated but ended up being a fun memory. :) Here, Nickie and I demonstrate our stubbornness. 

Yessss, we finally found it...

...And it was totally worth the walk!

My Aussie friends and I prepping for a skit :)

My awesome Radiant Purity team. 

This was the group of Australian leaders who helped us with the conferences. Precious sisters!
Sarah Ha and her entire family became such special friends to us. Everywhere we went on this trip we met servants of Christ who blessed us in SO MANY WAYS and the Ha family just kept on giving and giving and giving to our team! When I meet brothers and sisters like them it makes me want to seize every opportunity I can to bless and serve other people whom God brings across my path. I'm so grateful for their fellowship and example. 

Eloise. Aussie tale-teller extraordinaire.
Don't believe this gal if she tells you there are such things as Drop Bears in Australia. 

Emily pulled one on me one evening after we had been talking about the various insects in Australia and girls had been horrifying me with stories of cockroaches and large spiders that actually climbed up their legs. Sneaking up behind me with that blade of grass, she gently stroked it up my leg and sent me screaming and kicking across the room. :) Got to watch these Aussies!
More later. It's after 3:30 am and.....glory be.... I'm getting sleepy!  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Well here we are, back in Singapore! A technologically advanced, beautiful, clean city with amazing architecture, good economy, and--you guessed it--yummy food. :) The above pic was taken as we walked downtown enjoying the spectacular skyline (whoops, did I just state the obvious...!?). We've enjoyed a few leisure days in-between conferences. In Singapore, "leisure" is the code word for "shopping" so one evening we hit the streets to see the sights and blow some Sing Dollars. I must interject here that there is something very, very romantic (or in our case "ro-tic" since, alas, there was no man among us) about a city at night. The air was muggy with a slight breeze and the strains of a Christmas song wafted from a store as we passed through.
White CHRISTMAS!?!?!?
Now that is strange. Bing Crosby crooning Christmas songs just seems a little twisted when we're sweating and strolling among palm trees wearing flip flops (us, not the palm trees) in Asia. It does not at all feel like the Christmas season. There are an abundance of lights but...where is the snow? Where are the warm spicy drinks? Where is the pair of boots I love to wear because they looks so cute with my black hat and red plaid scarf!? 

Ug! I MUST reprogram my mind because if I insist on traveling AND being so attached to holiday tradition and warm fuzzies for the rest of my life, I am destined to be traumatized during many more seasons to come. Because hot chocolate at 90 degrees just does NOT work. 

For Thanksgiving I skyped with mom. She showed me the turkeys brining, the pumpkin pie ready to be palaced in the oven, and--*sob!*--one of our newer Sobie traditions: pumpkin marzipans all lined up in rows on the counter. I ate Indian food that day. It was an unbelievably memorable Thanksgiving meal. CRAZY good, and I can't exactly complain since I know mom will make me a belated Thanksgiving dinner after I come home in December. 

All these memories and Christmas/Thanksgiving thoughts have me thinking about my family, my warm and inviting home, the rich spiritual meaning of the season for me, and the abundant, abundant blessings that overwhelm me each November and December. 

I am so blessed. I am almost ashamed and embarrassed at how easy I've had it, though I know that all blessings come from God's hand. I can't even describe how many little things I know I take for granted... clean, odorless bathrooms and quick, easy medical care and freedom to talk about whatever want to whomever I want, and a bed raised OFF the ground and no bugs infesting my home and the ability to own a car and the absence of fear when I enter my church and It's endless. My life has been filled with one privilege after another and when I stop and think about it--particularly with the focus that being in Asia has brought, I am seriously, literally, overwhelmed. Consider this:

-In Malaysia, there are approx. 28 million ethnic Malay citizens. It is illegal to share the Gospel of Jesus with them. Because of this, it's estimated that there are only about 1 thousand Malay believers. If you were born as one of the 28 million Malays, someone would have to break the law and risk jail time to tell you about Jesus. So, most likely you would never hear.

-Today I listened to a friend of mine who has been working in China among handicapped children. She wept as she told us about the work she does and the children she has encountered. If they are handicapped there's a good chance that their parents will throw them away or give them to an orphanage. At one orphanage she visited she was prohibited from picking up any babies. "They don't cry...they just stare into space because they know they won't be fed or held if they cry anyways. But last time we had come and held them, they cried for a week afterwards. It was because they had hope that someone might come back and pick them up again." Hopeless babies? I have never even considered such a thing. That a human life would be deprived of hope before that person could even say a word or formulate a sentence. My heart breaks. 

-In Malaysia we spoke with a beautiful Christian woman who described the bondage her idols had held her in before Jesus delivered her. Every evening she was paralyzed for a time by the demonic power or her idols and she had no hope for deliverance until she heard the Truth and God set her free. I rejoiced with her but couldn't help but grieve for the millions of people who live in bondage to their idols and will never hear or accept the truth. Like the one Taoist shop owner who exclaimed to me about how REAL her idols she could hear them and and even physically feel their presence when she sacrificed to them. 

-In the newspaper I read about the Buddhist monks who were begging on the street. They live a life depriving themselves of pleasure including the pleasure of food. They eat for nourishment ONLY. any sensual pleasure, they believe, keeps them from enlightenment. It broke my heart to know that these determined men are depriving themselves of the ALL the pleasures God designed us to enjoy...and yet will not reach eternal pleasure because of it! Can you imagine the pressure and needless deprivation of living life this way!? Because we can never hope to work our way to eternal joy and happiness and enlightenment; Only our merciful, powerful God can bring us there; and He DESIGNED us to delight in life, in food, in physical and mental and spiritual pleasure of all kinds!  What a frustrating life. 

I want God to open my heart to grieve for the things that make HIS heart grieve. I want to be aware of the sorrow in this world and do anything He calls me to do to heal a hurting world in the tiny space of time I will fill on earth. When I am in America I forget it so easily! I pray about my little problems and the problems of my friends but I must fight to remember to pray for the world... the broader picture. I don't want to keep forgetting. I want my heart and my perspective and my vision to be eternally changed. I want to be a "world Christian."  I want to learn how to be like my God, who is infinitely joyful, but infinitely pained. How does a human understand this? God must teach me because I don't know. Please comment if you have anything to add. My words fail, but this Michael Card song has been on my mind today and it captures EXACTLY what I've been thinking:

In any split second of a moment of time,

In the blink that is one single day,
The sum of the sorrow that wraps round the world
Would catch every soul up and sweep them away.

As vast as the ocean, as deep as the sea,
Swept up in one toxic tide.
By warm salty waves the world weeps its woe
So how can it be that my own eyes are dry?

So open my eyes,
And open my heart,
And grant me the gift of Your grieving.
And awaken in me
The compassion to weep
Just one of the tears of the world.

When God walked among us in the fullness of time
He wept tears as old as the world
Acquainted with sorrow, he took up the cup
And drank every drop of the poison that heals. 

So open my eyes,
And open my heart,
And grant me the gift of Your grieving.
And awaken in me
The compassion to weep

Just one of the tears of the world.

Well, I'm out of words so that's a pretty good sign that I should wind up this post. 
Time to hit the hay--er, air mattress--because conference prep begins tomorrow! 

Love from Singapore. :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

From Malaysia!

Well, my travels with the Bright Lights crew have led me from Alaska to Singapore and now to Malaysia. Such good times! It's good to be back in Asia... I wondered if I ever would come back and what a JOY to be here. I'll post a few pictures of the happenings lately, but first a thought from this evening.

Last time I was in this city it was in September, during the month of Ramadan. The religious fervor is high in an Islamic country during Ramadan; the call to prayer was louder then and more frequent, and Islamic festivals and bizarres were all over the place. The things I saw and heard fascinated me.
Four years later, they still do!
Tonight I sat in my friends' hotel room and heard the call to prayer outside. (In fact, you can click here to see a video I took of the prayer call early on a September morning in 2008 from the same hotel here in Melaka.) I went to the window and looked across the street to the apartment building opposite our hotel. Many lights were on; many windows open, and through the open windows I could see people praying or leaning out on the window sill to pray as the wailing cry in Arabic echoed over the city. One women, standing in front of  her window, wore a long, draping white hijab, covering her head and body. She repeatedly knelt, bowed to the floor, stood, knelt, bowed to the floor, and stood again . The call ended and one by one people retreated back into their apartments, quietly turning away from their windows, continuing conversations and activities which had been paused during their devotions. The woman in the long white hijab stood and removed it, revealing somewhat modern clothing underneath.
Life resumed.

I stood at my window looking out at theirs and praying for them...
...And thinking.
 The dedication and devotion of Muslims could put many Christians to shame! They probably pray, fast, and give more than the average "Christian." But the thing that fuels their prayers, their almsgiving, their fasting is a deep rooted fear. It is not love. It is DEVOTION, yes, but that devotion is driven by the knowledge that if they reach the end of their lives and their good deeds have not outweighed their bad, they will not enter heaven.
Can you imagine? The fear? The pressure?

I remember hearing a Christian missionary once retelling an incident he had with a Muslim man as they studied the Muslim holy books, Injil (or what we Christians call the four Gospels) together. They read together Jesus' words which are so familiar to us:

"Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."

Upon reading this, the Muslim man broke down into tears. The thought that Jesus Christ is a God who offers REST and not striving, a RELEASE from loads and not more rules and demands to pile on one's back, overwhelmed him with relief; joy; astonishment!

We should serve Him because we love Him and He has saved us....
We should give to those who need it because we love Him and He has saved us...
We  should obey His commands because we love Him and He has saved us...
We should walk in purity and holiness because we love Him and He has saved us...

Not because we're afraid of damnation if we mess up too often!

I hope you can rejoice in the fact that Jesus has paid for your sins with His own life, He has blotted our your transgressions with His own blood, and he offers us a life free of striving and "trying to be good enough." Because He is God and He knows none of us ever will be good enough.
Have you understood and accepted that?

And pray for the precious Muslims of Malaysia and those all over the world who are still carrying the heavy burden of paying for their own ticket to paradise. Pray that they will come to Jesus for rest.

Picta' time!

Fitting all our suitcases in the bus from Singapore to Malaysia. It's about a 5 hr. drive to Melaka from Singapore.

So, we've realized that apparently restaurants don't see the need to wash their dishes with SOAP here. I mean, why do that when you can just rinse them off in a tub or 5 gallon bucket and they look just as clean!? (We shot this picture as evidence but it turned out a little blurry.) This is the Indian restaurant we've been frequenting. We just eat and don't think too hard.

This lovely lady is my roommate in Melaka! I  kinda' like her.

The American team- Me, Grace, Nickie, Bekah, and Sarah... plus Jolynn (far L) and Crystal (second from L)

I stayed with Abigail and Gabriel 4 years ago in Singapore and now they are traveling with us! SO fun to reconnect with these awesome sisters!
I can almost guarantee you: there WILL be Roti Prata in heaven.

Danielle Moi, little Jerusha Tan (in her mommy's belly last time we came) and me

The BEAUTIFUL view from my hotel window in Melaka!!!

It's not that all we do is's just that THAT'S when we pull our our cameras. :)

Eating again. At the no-soap Indian place.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Radiant Purity Conference... D-Day!

Wow, I am just so excited about the Radiant Purity Conference beginning this evening!!

Beautiful things are already happening in Anchorage! :) It was an awesome time last night meeting up with the Alaska girls who are joining our team for the BL conferences here. Praying together, and sharing encouragement with girls who have felt very alone and isolated in their beliefs. One sweet sister, with tears, expressed how incredibly encouraged she felt just to be with young ladies who hold the same convictions, who have had the same struggles, and have the same passion for Jesus as she has. "Sometimes we feel so isolated here."

Alaska has an incredibly high sexual abuse rate. In Anchorage alone, 2002 statistics for reported rape cases were 188% HIGHER THAN THE REST OF THE U.S. We are praying that the Purity Conference will bring healing to those who have been wounded, resolution to those who have not, and hope and joy to EVERYONE who comes. Praise God that He offers His purity to everyone!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

On the Road Again...

Well, what I hoped would never happen has been happening... I do a lot more updating on Facebook now and a lot less updating on my blog.

I feel like such a wretched person, admitting that for myself and all the world to see.

Ugh! I shudder! Me? Neglecting the old friend that is my Blog to run into the arms of a social media network like *shudder* FACEBOOK!? I repeat: Ugh.

But I'm pretty sure that's going to change again because I do miss blogging.
Maybe on this trip I'll get back to it.

Trip? What trip you ask? (Well maybe you weren't asking but that's a good segway into our next topic, as the presidential debate moderators would say...) Yep, TRIP! You  know me; never stay in the same place for more than a few moths, I say. Currently I have left Ohio far behind and I'm in NOME! Freezing, blizzarding, foggy, wonderful dirty ol' NOME! This week I've been enjoying family time before heading over to the Anchorage/Eagle River area tomorrow and meet up with the Bright Lights team. I'll be traveling for the next two months with this team doing girl's mentoring and discipleship conferences. One is called the Strong in the Lord conference and the other is the Radiant Purity conference. We'll be traveling in Alaska, Singapore, Malaysia, and Australia!*

I'm not sure how much updating I'll be able to do, but I did want to mention what I'm up to and say that prayers for our group are appreciated. I'm excited about what God has planned for us on this trip. It was close to 5 years ago that I was in Asia with them last, and God did such beautiful things in our hearts and in the hearts of the girls we ministered too. I'm expecting the same again!

And now for a plug: do you live in the Anchorage area? Do you have girls between the ages of--oh--say 9 and 19? Then COME ON OUT and see us!
You will be super, duper glad you did.
These conferences are awesome.

*Click here to download Strong in the Lord Conference flyer...
Click here to download Purity Conference flyer...
Or Click here to register online.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A tour

I’ve been so excited about this post! Are you ready for a tour? :) 

For quite a while now I’ve been anxious to introduce you to the project that I’ve been working on for months now… our Prayer Room! We just engaged in 24 hours of nonstop prayer as a church, and it was an AMAZING time! Many were overwhelmed at signing themselves up for an entire 1 hr. time slot in the prayer room, but nearly everyone I talked to after the 24 hours were over said the same thing: “One hour in there was just NOT enough time! I’ve got to go back when I don’t have a time limit!” :) Praise God. We look forward to many more weekends of prayer to come, and as a church we’re trusting that this will be the hub of our fellowship; that the prayers uttered here will rise to the sanctuary above and then to the ears of God Himself! That He will revive us even as we pray for world revival! That He will lead us to an understanding of what it means to pray fervent, rightous, effective prayers.

So… welcome to our church! Come on downstairs and I’ll show you around the Prayer room. Maybe you’ll get a few ideas for adopting this idea in your own Christian community. 

Before we walk on in feel free to make yourself a cup of coffee in the room adjoining the Prayer  Room. And while that's brewing, I should show you the bulletin board next to the door. This is where we've posted some helpful things like the schedule for our 24 hours of prayer (names and phone numbers filling up slots) and a checklist to make sure you've turned off everything you need to if you're the last person to leave the room. There are also a couple magnetic signs to place on the door for privacy if you want, and then there's a 5x7 card for each of the "stations" in the Prayer Room. There are 8 prayer stations around the room, by the way...and less than 10 minutes at each will make an hour fly by:
The Worship Area,
The Revival Wall,
The Cross Station and Wailing Wall, 
The Fountain, 
Praying for the World, 
Praying for our Nation, 
Praying for our Community, and 
Our (church) Family. 
Each card has prompts and ideas to help facilitate your time with God at the stations around the room. Who knows; you might only make it through one station! Once you enter the room, God will guide you to where you should spend your time. 

Okay, coffee's ready so in we go!

To start, I'll guide you to the right of the door. There, behind a privacy screen, you see our Worship Area. A chair invites you to sit and rest, while a picture with text from Psalm 37:7 on the wall encourages "Be Still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him." Next to the chair is a bookshelf with some books we thought would facilitate prayer and meditation along with some pens and a journal inviting you to jot down your thoughts and prayers while you are still before God. 

As you sit in the chair, your eyes are drawn to the wall next to you. Some of the precious names of God are painted on the wall along with a verse describing Him as our Rock, our Salvation, and our Fortress! You see a CD player and varied types of music and decide to play some worship songs while you meditate on the names of God. next to the music is a little booklet filled with HUNDREDS of the names of God along with the references where they are found in Scripture. Perhaps one of the names will capture your heart as you sit quietly, and you will begin to praise Him for who He is! 

As He brings praise and prayers or special verses to your mind, I'd encourage you to write them out on the giant scroll next to the chair so others who come after you can be blessed by them! There's a little plastic loaf of bread on the table with Scripture slips in it. Some of us have picked a Scripture from the loaf only to be astounded by the appropriateness of the promise we've just read! Why not tape that up on the scroll too, so someone coming behind you can delight in it? 

Before you leave this station, you might take a moment to read the verses in a little golden frame next to an oil burner. You can already smell the sweet, musty fragrance of frankincense in the room, and as you turn on the burner and read the verses you are blessed by the truth that our prayers rise like the sweet smell of incense to God, filling his senses and delighting His heart! 

When you're ready, you move on to the next wall; a wall dedicated to prayers for personal, corporate, and worldwide revival! Verses posted on the wall, including the Lord's Prayer (because revival is the essence of "Thy Kingdom come...!") assure you that God WILL send His glory to cover the earth like waters cover the sea; that He WILL send justice rolling like a mighty river once and for all! Many definitions of "revival" have been written on the wall for you to see, fully understand, and LONG for what this wall is dedicated to! 

Within a black frame painted on the wall are words from a Charles Spurgeon's devotional on revival. Within this frame you are invited to post prayers in the form of poetry, paintings, drawings, or any artistic expression that your heart finds voice for!

Some art supplies are under the table. Don't get messy, but DO get creative! God is the Author of creativity and sometimes He gives our minds pictures or analogies to express our prayers.

Moving past the semi-sheer dividing curtain, you see the next station; the cross. Kneeling here, we are reminded by the tangible rough, wooden beams before us to humbly lay our burdens, sins, and failures before the Lord. A sign on the cross reminds us that "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live to righteousness. By His wounds we have been healed." (1 Pet. 2:24)

Some take advantage of the paper and pen on the little table next to the kneeler to jot down a heartfelt prayer for deliverance, a prayer of repentance, or to candidly and publicly share personal struggles they are dealing with. Some things are too personal and deep for anyone other that yourself and Jesus to see, so you may take advantage of one of the little envelopes on the table, slip your prayer into it, and pin it to the cross, exulting in the fact that our sins are nailed to HIS cross and we don't have to bear the weight of them anymore!

What a beautiful time to take communion...just you and Jesus... as you praise Him for the Body broken and the Blood spilled for your deliverance and freedom! Little packages containing an unleavened wafer and juice can be found in a bowl near the kneeler. 

Also on the table is a golden bowl filled with rocks. You might notice the little prayers listed on the rocks--many of them just one word but full of unspoken desire for God's intervention: "Marriage revival," "Vanessa," "Job," "Joy," "Deliverance from sin..." Next to the bowl another framed passage tells of the significance of this bowl filled with "prayers." God collects the pryers of the saints in a golden bowl in heaven! Scripture promises that He bottles our tears, He records or prayers... each and every word breathed in this room is carefully recorded and treasured by a Loving, Almighty Father. As you write your one-word prayer and drop it in the bowl with the others, you might see a rock that grips your heart; a name, perhaps, that some other person before you has written, and you slip it in your pocket as a reminder to pray for that need until the next time you're in the room. 

The "Wailing Wall" is directly behind the cross and within reach of the kneeler. Take time to pray for the requests others have written and taped on the wall, and write your own prayer request for the next pray-ers to see and lift to God.

As you rise from the kneeler with a heart full of gratitude for prayers heard and sins forgiven, burdens lifted and tears seen by God, you'll turn to see the next station; a simple, beautiful fountain. Our church is called "River of Life." Water is used over and over in Scripture to refer to spiritual truths, the character of Christ (HE is the Living Water!) and promises of refreshment from heaven. A journal is placed beside the fountain for you to record your thoughts and prayers as you contemplate the fresh water bubbling from the fountain in a never-ending stream. 

Verses placed in a golden frame on the fountain start your thoughts flowing...

Lifting your eyes to the next station, directly adjoining the fountain, you see the words "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" emblazoned above a huge world map. This is the section where we pray for the world that God so loved, that he gave His only Son to save it. You notice a smaller, color-coded wall map along with booklets, posters, and magazines posted at this station also. These are dedicated to the persecuted church around the world; guides to help us to pray for our suffering brothers overseas in an informed and impassioned manner. Perhaps in thumbing through the magazine (The Voice of the Martyrs), reading the detailed accounts in the country-by-country prayer guide, or simply seeing by the color coded maps which countries are hostile and restricting the Christian faith, you are challenged to lift a certain part of the world to the Lord. Perhaps in looking at the pictures of our church's missionaries pinned below the map, or reading the news clips on areas of the world needing prayer that someone else has posted, you'll feel a burden to pray. If not, ask God for one and He will surely grant your request....because He's a GLOBAL God with a GLOBAL agenda!

As you lift up an area of the world to God, place a pin on that spot so we can track the flow of our prayers across the world! Maybe you could read the little slips of requests others have posted to the map and see if God leads you to pray for one of those nations or people groups as well. 

And now, as your prayers become more localized, you've reach the station where we're praying for our blessed, beautiful nation: America. A cross on the wall reminds us that as David declared, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord!" A posted directly beneath it promises that we were, indeed, founded as "one nation under God." A painting of the writers of our Constitution kneeling together in prayer fills our hearts with longing for righteous men and women to once again be leading in all branches of our government!  Pictures of our supreme court justices guide you in prayer for these men and women in the highest court of our land, and a picture of the President and his family, along with a prayer guide for America's Commander in Chief and his family are tacked to the bulletin board. next to the American flag hangs a large map of our country, and again, you notice tacks pinned on the states and cities which others before you have brought to God in prayer.

The next station is a white "picket fence" reminding us to pray for those within our own towns, communities, and neighborhoods! You see local prayer requests tacked up such as the local, schools, police departments and rescue workers and needy persons in the vicinity of the church.  Someone has cut the crime report from the local paper and placed it where you might read it and be grieved as our Lord is with the sin that runs rampant on our streets. You pick several names and situations to pray for, and ask that God would work mightily in your community! 

This is the place where our prayers find feet. What can YOU do right here and right now in your own sphere of influence to bring God's glory to earth in some small or practical way? As you've been praying, as God placed a burden for action on your heart? Has He given you a vision or has He opened your eyes to a need that YOU can be instrumental in meeting?

You've come full circle around the room. The final station before you reach the door again is a station dedicated to prayers for the Church family.  What a joy to bear your spiritual family's burdens and bless them through your specific prayers!

Pictures remind you to pray for the elders, pastoral family, and ministries of your church. Urgent needs in the church body are tacked here for you to lift to God. A directory of church members is pinned to the board for you to pray through. 

On the table below the board is a photo album of the teens in our youth ministry. You may not know their specific age and names, but their faces are familiar and you find yourself drawn to pray for their adolescent needs. Who knows? You might find the desire to pray for new chances to reach out to them and befriend or mentor them.

Well, we've come to the end of your tour. As you reach for the doorknob to enter "the world outside" again, you pause and thank the Lord for meeting with you in this special place. There is a benediction on the door, and hopefully in reading it your heart is grateful that God has indeed blessed your meeting with Him in this room, and He will keep you until the next!