Monday, April 1, 2013

“Windshield Moments”

We all have our own perspective about how we perceive our journey through life, but the concept of a “windshield moment” shared by a dear Brother in Christ was particularly profound. His comments have influenced my way of thinking about how I perceive my own journey.  He recalled a time when he was telling his students that in some respects, one’s journey through life is much like driving a car.  Cars have windshields and mirrors to guide the driver as he or she navigates the car.  The windshield has the larger panoramic view, but the mirrors are there for the purpose of maneuvering the car and alerting the driver of other cars or hazards that one would not see with a single view looking forward through the windshield.  The wise driver uses the windshield as the primary view and carefully adjusts the mirrors so that he or she can see as many peripheral and rearview objects as possible.  However, once the car is moving forward the windshield is the place that has the most attention with only brief and momentary glances at the mirrors for perspective.  He went on to challenge his students to consider how driving using only the mirrors with a glance into the windshield would affect their journey.  Such an approach would be very awkward, slow, and much more hazardous leaving the driver and car in a much more perilous situation.  He concluded by saying that our walk with the Lord can be much like his illustration of the car.  We can choose to focus on all the potential hazards on the periphery and regrets of the past or we can look forward searching for the bigger picture of what God has in store for us. 

As I pondered that analogy, I began to reflect on my own journey in life and in faith.  How many times did I let myself get caught up in the peripheral view and a look back at the past only to miss the bigger picture in front of me?  How much do I “drive” through life looking in the rearview mirror rather than through the windshield?  When I am brutally honest with myself, I can recall many of those times when I was overly skeptical, cautious, or afraid to move forward.  It was at those times I surely must have missed much and my life did not move forward very smoothly or gracefully.  I was “driving” in reverse using a rearview mirror of memories and perspective to make my way down the road of life.  Doing such a thing is a very slow, cumbersome, and downright dangerous way of navigating a car or a life.  Instead I needed to be trusting that God had the panoramic situation well under control and I just needed to move forward in trust that He could see what I could not and enjoy the view ahead of me. 

So I pose this question.  How do you navigate through your life?  Which direction are you looking and how much do you trust the One who sees and knows all?  Are you looking through the windshield or are you using those mirrors to try to move forward?  How many “windshield moments” have you missed because you were busy focusing on the smaller view in the mirror of the things behind you?  If you have been “driving in reverse” using those mirrors, it is not too late to change your way of navigating through life.  Mirrors have their place, but the windshield offers the better view.  Does this mean that all we see through the windshield is spectacular as we “drive” through life?  Absolutely not!  Sometimes the view is downright boring or maybe very scary.  However, there are other times when we see something truly beautiful and inspiring.  God will give us plenty of “windshield moments” if we trust him to stay with us on our journey.  Trust him to be there for all of your moments; the scary, the beautiful, the sad, the joyous, the uncertain, and the peaceful – all for your benefit and His glory. 

“Just keep rollin’ down the road!” (Patty Berry Rhodes)  

Blessings and God’s Peace -- Winnie

Saturday, February 2, 2013

“The Plans We Make….The Potential We Have…”

Painting by Patty Berry Rhodes

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” --  Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)

It has been nearly a year since our dear friend, Patty Berry Rhodes, left this life so suddenly and so young.  In the year since her death, those of us who love her, miss her, and grieve her loss continue to find the many “holes” in this life that her absence leaves and find ourselves in an incredible paradox.  We rejoice that our dear Patty is with the Lord and at the same time we grieve the loss of a life that seemed to be on so many levels unfinished somehow.  Or, was it?  Was it really unfinished or in God’s eyes, was His work in Patty complete?  Only the Lord truly knows. 

One thing I have come to know is that since Patty’s death I find myself reflecting on her witness, her funny sayings, her easy manner, and her smile.  I find myself asking the question of God, “What is it that I can do or still need to do to make a difference to others?  No one can be exactly like Patty, but her life inspires me with a desire to “do more” and to live in a very intentional and meaningful way.  Make no mistake here; I do not write this or pose the question to idolize Patty.  She was a human being and a dear friend, but she was just like all of the rest of us, a sinner who was saved by God’s Grace.  I think it would make Patty a little more than angry to think that any of us elevated her to a level any higher than that. 

Patty was first and foremost a humble servant.  She knew all of her imperfections and struggled just like the rest of us.  She didn’t think she had any special talent, but she was willing to use the talent she had to make her church home a little more beautiful for the Lord, and to earn a few extra dollars for the needs of her family.  We saw this talent, and we know that God certainly used it, but somehow I imagine Patty never quite saw herself as anything more than just “average.”  I suppose it is that humble spirit that endeared her to so many and that God used in the short time she was here with us. 

None of us have the view of ourselves that God has of us.  None of us knows the potential we have of ourselves the way that God does.  As much as I may dream and plan and wonder what it is that my purpose or potential is, I must remember that God is the one in charge.  It is His plan that matters and His “dream” for me will define my potential.  In the wee small hours of the morning, I sometimes find myself unable to sleep with my mind churning away at warp speed a litany of my desires and dreams.  I have ideas for a book, a ministry, a new way to reach the marginalized, a new strategy for teaching kids about Christ, a very long list of people and situations that I am called to lift in prayer, and the list goes on and on.  Then it happens --- I look back and see the “I” in the previous thought and so many before it.  “I” have this, “I” ask that, “I” need to know, and “I” ask as “I” pray.  My mind is so full of “I’s” that I forget “You.”  What is it that “You” want of me, Lord?  What is it that “You” want me to know?  How is it that I fulfill the purpose and potential that “You” have ordained for me?  After all, anything wonderful that I might accomplish or any difference I might make in the lives of others here in this life is not for my glory.  It is for God’s glory and it happens because He worked through me to make it so. I’m just the vessel.  God uses the vessel in the way that He ordains because He sees with perfect eternal vision how that vessel will be used and what the result will be.    

Only God knows our true potential. Only God knows our true purpose.  We may think we know, but only He truly knows.  As much as we try to serve Him, fulfill our purpose, and live out God’s plan for us, only God is truly in charge and only He knows what that ultimate fulfillment will look like.  I imagine that when Patty met Jesus face to face she must have been surprised and delighted all at the same time.  Her thoughts were not of the things she did not do or left unfinished in her life.  God was in charge of the outcome and Patty’s work was complete. 

So the question remains for us in this life; what is it that we are to do to live at our full potential?  God has the simple answer.  He already knows the plan.  He only needs us to be willing, humble, available, and courageous enough to try whatever it is He asks of us.  We keep our spiritual ears tuned in to the voice of God, and we listen very carefully for the slightest whisper, prompting, and tug at our heart.  He speaks softly, so we listen in a very intentional way to hear His voice.  He wants us to yield and to fear not.  We may feel afraid and even alone, but God did not give us a spirit of fear.  He gave us the promise that He would be with us and would never leave or forsake us.  So we can make our plans and dream our dreams, but we must do so ready to change direction or continue on when we feel discouraged or uncertain.  One thing is for certain, when we submit to the will of the One who created us, we will live at our full potential and accomplish much for the glory of the Lord.  We may never see the product of our efforts on this side of Heaven, but when we meet Jesus face to face, He will say to us as I am sure he said to our friend, Patty, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” 

As I remember my dear friend, these words from her heart still challenge and inspire me. 

“God has a plan for you and not living with God as your best friend and at your full potential is worse than building an 800 horsepower engine and never starting it.  Be all God Made You to Be.” – Patty Berry Rhodes

Make your plans, dream your dreams, submit them all to God and you will live at your full potential and for His glory.

Blessings and peace to you -- Winnie

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Thank You

A quick THANK YOU to Hollie Colwick for the use of her beautiful photography on our sites. If you are in the Louisville area, find Hollie at

Friday, January 25, 2013

"The Legacy We Leave Behind"

Legacy is defined by Merriam Webster’s Dictionary as “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.”  In this journey of life, we are recipients of legacies passed on to us from others and we all leave a legacy behind when our time here on Earth has ended.  The power and influence of the legacies we receive and the ones that we give is often underestimated.  As I reflect on this concept, I am reminded of those legacies that have influenced my life.  Most have been very good, and others not so much.  Positive or negative they all combine to form the legacy that I will pass on to others.  I am not sure that many of us fully understand the power of a legacy as it can be something to honor or to overcome. 

For those who receive legacies of faith, hope, compassion, mercy, unconditional love, acceptance, and wisdom, there is a strong likelihood that the lives of these recipients will be balanced well-adjusted and blessed with enough resilience to live a life that is emotionally and spiritually healthy and well-balanced.  When the legacy is one of abuse, constant criticism, conditional acceptance, condemnation, unforgiveness, lack of or intolerance for emotional expression, and negativity, the person on the receiving end is likely to pass on that negative legacy and to have a much more difficult life.  The abused as a child is more likely to become an abuser as an adult.  The child raised in a loving and compassionate environment is more likely to become an adult who is compassionate and loving. 

Most of us have a mix of the two extremes from which we form our own legacy.  We are not necessarily doomed to failure if our previous experiences were largely negative and we are not guaranteed success in life if we were blessed with a positive experience in the past.  Nothing is perfect in this life and outcomes are never guaranteed.  However, we do have choices about our actions and attitudes that have power to influence and overcome.  We also have a Heavenly Father who will (if we just ask) come into our lives to take the bad and use it for good and add it to what is already good to make it better.  Our legacy is something we leave behind that is the foundation for our children and future generations to build their lives and future.  Leave a legacy of your best self and God’s love in your life.  Your children and future generations will reap the benefits and continue that great work that God began in your life.  Imagine the possibilities! 

Blessings -- Winnie

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Do More!

We are all called to do something; Together we can do more! My friend Patty once wrote, 'It's not enough to just believe...we must do more' She was writing about believers who say they have faith but don't exhibit it in there day to day lives. In order for us to impact our world and the future, I am convinced that we must be willing to impact children. In order to really be excellent at effecting change and healing in others, we must first begin with ourselves. It is like the service announcement goes, 'you must secure your own oxygen mask first prior to that of any children around you'. As we move forward, our mission to provide hope to children is the same. Our goals and programs however, have changed. We believe that the best way to offer hope to children is by strengthening the adults in their lives. It is not enough to find homes for the fatherless if the parents in those homes are not equipped to parent well. It is not enough to advocate for the orphan if you are not willing to help sustain his biological family first. It is not enough to say you are brokenhearted over the orphan crisis if you are not willing to help change the poverty level of young women. It is not enough to say you desire to heal the emotional wounds of children if you aren't courageous enough to heal your own childhood wounds first. We must do more; believe for more. For His children and to His glory!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Where we've been...

We first began our efforts helping children through orphan advocacy as Project G.L.O.W. Established in 2003 to shine God's Light to Orphans Worldwide, Project G.L.O.W. set out to advocate for the fatherless. As a therapist, Susan began to see many adoptive families asking for help. Upon inquiry, these parents described how they felt both blessed and ill equipped to care for their adoptive children. She began to gather information and produced courses to help prepare parents prior to adoption. In addition to education, fundraising efforts were launched to help the orphaned and poor in various countries. Since we were educating adoptive families and working to support orphan ministries, it seemed logical to become involved in adoption. In 2008, Arise Adoptions was established to advocate for waiting children in Ethiopia through adoption facilitation. Working in tantum with Project G.L.O.W., it was a well loved, family run program that grew quickly. By May, 2011, the Arise Adoption program had experienced great success, growing rapidly to such extent that the Lord directed us to consider outside assistance. A newly appointed board would make the decision to give our agency, and it's Ethiopian program partnership with West Sands, to Lifeline Children's Services. Adoptive families would now be given the security of other country options and we would find ourselves praying for clear direction and next steps.  After almost 18 months of resting and waiting, we move forward with renewed vision and purpose. It appears to us that there are a great number of adoption agencies and limited support to families and children post adoptively. With the help of many of our original board members and several adoptive families, we go forward. Though we are still passionate for adoption, our goal is to support children and their caregivers through education, consultation and charitable giving. With renewed hope and mission, we have expanded our vision to include children whom have been impacted by poverty, divorce, and/or adoption. Arise for Children, Charities and Family Resources have been established to provide hope and healing to children and families worldwide. We invite you to join us as we help others love deeply, engage creatively, and give generously. We are steadfast in our belief that we are ALL called to do something and together we can do more...for His Children and To His Glory!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

God's Favor

I am so excited to announce that I have been chosen to train with Dr. Karen Purvis to enhance my therapy skills with Trust Based Relational Intervention. I am so very excited. Thank you Focus on the Family! ~Susan