Sunday, December 4, 2016

Musings on Love


Talking to friends tonight, and seeing God's Love through them...

We can't love as we ought to - not perfectly, not all the time. We can't even love decently on our own... not really. We tend to hurt people we should love best because of our pride and insecurities. But God tells us how we are to Love - and He shows us.

When we feel: Restless. Angry. Overwhelmed. Small. Broken. Tired. Impatient - God still calls us to Love... He sent His Spirit so we would not be alone to figure out how to love. He is willing to teach us - prick us - hold us - grow us - so we can love more and more like He does.

God's Spirit lives in me. Praise God - I am not on my own trying to muddle through life. I have a Helper - I have a Friend - I have a God who fully knows me.

I don't have to give in to my own emotions, or break under circumstances around me. I can choose to love, because the God of Love Chose me.

That's a peace-filling thought.


Just Honest, Raw Joy

I had a rough week, emotionally. (The cry-so-hard-I-can-hardly-breathe and pretend-I'm-fine-to-most-people-when-I-really-feel-I'm-gonna-fall-apart kind of emotional...) But God kindly kept bringing reminders of His Love into my path through people around me... I don't know how to word the enormity of tonight, as simple as it is... I don't know why the Holy Spirit working always startles me so...

A friend messaged me asking for prayer for her stress, as this Christmas season is busy. So I recorded me praying, and sent it to her. And we talked a lot about the love of God, and how we love others. It was deep, and good, and though we talked nothing of my week, it helped heal some of that hurt.

Later, another friend messaged me back... I had asked how her Thanksgiving was... Somehow, God often has me message her when she needs a listening ear. And we talked, and I mostly listened - And I saw the beginnings of God answering the prayers of her heart.

Neither of them know how hard this week has been - or how I felt walled off in ways. God just said, "Here. Talk." and gave me people.

And then... as those conversations were over - God sent a third friend. She asked me, "How have you been?" God often sends her to me when I am overwhelmed in His goodness... She has been growing in so many ways this past year, and she has blessed me by sharing with me lessons she's learning... God makes me laugh at the perfect timing of sending her. I exploded joy to her of seeing God moving - and then she began to tell me how she's been seeing Him in her own life the past few weeks.

God is amazing - moving people separately so that each of us can speak life into each other, and see how God is moving in each of us...

Every time things like this happen, I'm knocked over with Joy - and I get to remember all over again, how much God is watching over my life, and the lives of those I love.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

I Will Not Choose A Poison


   I've not spoken much about this election anywhere. I suppose most people are as sick of hearing about Trump and Hillary as I am... But here I am anyways, to give my two cents that maybe a handful of people will view. Oh well. ;)

    I know why a lot of Christians will vote for Trump on Tuesday.

    Because of the  "potential Supreme Court Justice appointments".
    Because people are  "afraid of what having Hillary as a president will do to our religious freedoms".
     Because we should vote for "policies, not the man".
     Because "at least Pence is a good vice president".

    People I love and highly respect will go to the polls and vote for Trump. Close friends. Family members. I don't agree with them - but I believe they are doing what they think is right.

   My opinion?

    I believe that either candidate coming into office will be a judgement from God on our nation.

    As a nation, we have tried to push God away. We have taken Him from schools, from monuments, and worse - from our day to day lives. We have celebrated and delighted in sin with parades and pride. We have killed our own children before they ever take a breath. So many things that were once against the law are now accepted as good.

  How far have we fallen that childish, mean-spirited, judgemental, angry people are lifted up into places of potential leadership?

      .... I don't believe God ever asks us to choose evil.  Both candidates are in rebellion against God.  They slander their neighbor. They have pasts they are NOT repentant of. They are not fit to rule us...

   I will not choose which judgement I'd rather... I'll let God sway hearts and I will pray for mercy for our nation... But I believe either candidate is God's why would I choose one?

    Let me tell you something.... When you state reasons why you choose Trump, all I hear is: "I will choose this blatantly rebellious person over this other blatantly rebellious person because I believe they will do more to protect God's kingdom than the other candidate."

    Now let me ask you this: Since when am I supposed to judge which wickedness better serves God's purposes?

    In my conscience, I can not say, "I will choose this evil, and pray to God it was the right choice."

    Choosing the "lesser of two evils" is still choosing evil.

    If the nation chooses a poison, at least I can say I didn't open my mouth to either.

~Ophelia - Marie

**I will vote for Darrell Castle, because at least at the end of the day, I can say I voted for someone who is seeking God. I don't expect him to win - but I won't choose a willfully rebellious person to govern our nation either.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Tell Me A Story Of Loyalty

I've always loved stories of deep loyalty. Tonight I'm pondering a lot of threads and seeing how they cross each other.

As a child as young as six, I told stories to myself to help me fall asleep... The one I remember and have written in an old journal was about the adventures of Ophelia the cat. She led a group of orphan children who lived in the woods, fishing and having adventures... Even then it seems I had a fascination with the idea of leadership and family.
My most frequent type of dream involves running and leading. I'm usually unafraid as I lead groups of people through forests, down metal tunnels, across rooftops... Sometimes I am afraid. Sometimes I turn and fight.... They're exhausting dreams, but interesting none the less. They remind me every time that somewhere in my brain, I'm still wanting to protect people, even while I sleep.

The only story I've ever truly worked on is all built around this feeling of protecting those you love. Rider of Pure Motion is a present day story about a girl who finds dragon eggs and ends up leading a group of dragons and their riders. She doesn't want to. She's afraid to trust, but they stay by her. They fight and tease and grow into a loyal family... I don't know how to make the story all it is in my head, but the emotions that wrote it means I'll never be able to shake those characters from being dear to me. Most people who know me know I like the Ninja Turtles. I love how they are family. They bicker and tease - they protect each other and work as a team. Leo interests me in his desire to lead, but his deep fear that he's going to let them down. It's a kid show, granted - but there are still those themes that drew me in as a child and keep me still. The themes that runs through my dreams, and resurface in books I love the best, and in my own writing. Leadership. Protecting the weak. Friendship. And yes - Loyalty. As I'm considering stories tonight, I'm sorting out what draws me to certain ones so deeply. I'm wondering at my own dreams and writing....

Agents of SHIELD (Especially the earlier seasons.)
What do these books and shows have in common besides being stories I love? I will protect you. Even at cost to me - I will protect you, become your family, give what I have, and stand by you. They don't circle around romantic attraction - though some of them have that in the story - it's about friendship.

What makes friendships turn into family-like bonds? What makes leaders worth following? What moments break or make loyalty? What are they willing to do to protect each other, even at risk to themselves? Even if your story drags in parts or has some confusing plot holes - if you can make me love the characters for their loyalty for one another, I will probably love your story... Because that? That is real.

There is so much more I could say, but for now I will stop because it's almost 2AM. Some blog posts are meant to be an outpouring of thoughts, not well-thought-out pieces. That's why I have this blog. ;)
I suppose I'll end up writing on this topic more in the future - there's so much to ponder.


What are your thoughts on loyalty and how it makes good stories?

And all that to say... Do you have any book recommendations?

~Ophelia - Marie

Monday, August 29, 2016

When Your Car Isn't Red, And You Don't Understand The Prayer

At the end of May, my boyfriend rented a car and drove me to NJ for my 2 month mission's trip at The Boardwalk Chapel.

I remember being half awake, and looking out at the side mirror and thinking, “The car is red.” It was a random acknowledgment of color, like my brain usually likes to do – just an, 'oh, that's nice' type of reaction... But it triggered a memory...

Back in the Winter, my best friend, Faith, and I went to a conference at Calvin College on the Holy Spirit, Spiritual Gifts, and the power of prayer. It was very encouraging and helped me continue the learning process to pray boldly, with joy, to a Father-God who loves me. As we learned about different things, we'd often be told to break up into groups for prayer.

Usually when this would happen, I'd look around and go to the people I felt led to be with. Though I was in a room full of unfamiliar people, I went wherever my first instinct was. Sometimes Faith headed in my same direction and we ended up with the same people – sometimes we didn't... This time, I went up to two ladies about my grandmother's age, we sat together, they laid hands on me, and we prayed. It was a powerful time of prayer for some people and situations in my life, but with what seemed like one odd, unknown bit: One of the ladies asked, “Is your car red?”

I told her no, my car is not red.

She nodded, and explained she had a mental image of a red car...They went back to praying for about a minute, before she said again, “What color is your car?”

I told her,”My car is silver... My dad's vehicle is red, but it's a van.”

I just really feel like I need to pray about a red car.”

So she prayed for my car. She prayed about this "red car". She prayed about my dad's red van. She prayed about safety on the road for me, my family, and that God would protect us.

It's always good to pray for protection, and I took that prayer as it seemed then – just another interesting part of that conference.

Triggered in my half-awake state by the color, I remembered that story and told it to Jimmy as we drove. He agreed that it was an interesting story, and we continued talking about prayer and such.

Several hours later, at about 9:30 at night as we drove down the highway, a vehicle drifted into our lane and side-swiped our red car, and we veered off to the side of the highway. The first thing I remember saying as we lurched to a stop was, “Thank God!”... We hadn't hit the guard rail. We hadn't been physically hurt – not even bruised by the seat belts... And suddenly, my recounting of the story from the afternoon came back, and I knew... This is what she had prayed about. We were safe in our red car. God had answered her faithful prayer, that none of us at the time understood.

The world would tell you that this was a coincidence. I would tell you that I saw God answering prayer that He had given us to pray. 

God speaks. He is not silent. He loves to remind us of how He watches over us, always... Even when we don't understand.



Friday, June 10, 2016

It Must Be You

Yesterday I felt too small.

When it came time for names to be called to go out witnessing, and I found myself praying, "God, please let me stay back and pray. God, please don't send me out."

But my name was called - and I went out, praying, "I don't feel I should go out, but You want me to, so I am." God blessed my team that one young lady about my age became a, "hopeful convert" as she prayed with us to accept Jesus. Only He knows now if she will go on to bear fruit - but we pray her heart was truly changed last night. Ah. God is good.

My head knows, "When I am weak, then He is strong." and my head knows, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."  But my heart sometimes fights those words so hard. I find myself saying, "God, I know it is You who does the changing of hearts - but we have people on our team who are stronger evangelists than I am. I feel I am in the way. Please let me stay in."

Ah, but He smiles at me, and reminds me - I am sent anyways, because what my head knows is true - It's not about me being able: It's about Him acting.

What my heart needs to remember is - He uses me, despite me. God has given me a role here too. It may not be my gifting to share the Gospel in this manner, but God still calls me to witness. 

Today, my heart feels lighter, as my focus has been restored. I needed the reminder, "You do you. Don't worry about trying to present the Gospel in just the right way, or like anyone else. You present the Gospel as best as you're able, and let God do the rest."

I will Aspire to have Zeal, as I walk this life with my Lord:
I know He will carry me through.

" 'Cause I'm tongue tied, weak in the knees
Must be something You only see

If there's anything good
Anything that's good in me
Well, it must be You, oh
Must be You

And if there's any part of my shaking heart
To see this journey through
It must be You, oh, it must be You
It must be You, oh, it must be You"


Friday, May 27, 2016

Learning to Ask

So... It's hard for me to accept money gifts - it's hard for me to accept people taking me out to eat, or spur of the moment saying they're going to buy me something I said I like, but don't want to spend the money on just yet. It's the attitude of, "I can do it myself." and God has been breaking me of it. Slowly... Because even the other night I told my nurse, "No thank you." when she offered to buy me a snack - and when she insisted, I replied as I should've, "Thank you very much." It was an act of appreciation. It was the last time I'll be working with her for the summer. It was an act of kindness. I'm relearning to respond with simple gratitude when people give to me. Because honestly - I love it. When I let go of my misguided attitude, I am filled with gratitude.(That didn't meant to rhyme, but it did, so there ya go...) I love when people show their care for me by giving - perhaps because I love giving spur of the moment gifts so much myself. Now why is this on my mind this morning? I almost didn't do a GoFundMe page. After praying about it, I even opened an account - but then I stopped. "God. I can do this myself," I remember praying... and to try to be in the right spirit, I added, "I'm willing to give up this much to do this ministry You called me to." I didn't feel at peace about that prayer... but I was stubborn. When I was at my best friend's house about a week later, she told me, "You should start a GoFundMe." I had to sigh and laugh and tell her that God and I had been talking about it... And so I would make one... and regularly share it. And try... I would trust Him with this. I'm thankful I did. I kept telling Him, "Whatever I raise is more than I thought I would." ... Sometimes I feel God must simply smile at me and go, "Watch Me." I've raised so much more than I thought I would. People who I hardly know - people I //don't// know - people who I wouldn't ever have expected to give to me - and people I love and know - have blessed me. Last night I almost cried. This morning too. It's an overwhelming sense of, "Wow.... Wow..." Thank you to each of you who have asked about my summer, encouraged me to show the love of God, prayed with me, promised to pray for me, or given to my fund. All of life is a mission field. My nursing home job - these trips - everyday life - are all opportunities to show people who Jesus is. I find that rather humbling - for all the times I haven't spoken, and in the way that God can use me as I am - and exciting - because there is so much good left to be done and God knows what He is doing. I trust that God is going to do beautiful things this summer. Pray that God would overwhelm us with a sense of His Love and Joy - so starkly in contrast, that the world won't be able to help but stop and wonder. In Christ, ~ZA

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Of Paper Crowns and Character Development

 Today I'm excited to be welcoming the author, Mirriam Neal, to my blog for a guest post. ^_^

 I've admired Mirriam's writing for years; her sense of humor, character interactions, and overall good storytelling make me want to read every story she shares snippets from. So needless to say, I am overjoyed that her book, Paper Crowns has been published so I can finally read the entire thing!

Paper Crowns synopsis:
Ginger has lived in seclusion, with only her aunt Malgarel and her blue cat, Halcyon, to keep her company. Her sheltered, idyllic life is turned upside-down when her home is attacked by messengers from the world of fae. Accompanied by Halcyon (who may or may not be more than just a cat), an irascible wysling named Azrael, and a loyal fire elemental named Salazar, Ginger ventures into the world of fae to bring a ruthless Queen to justice.

        Today, Mirriam is here to share her thoughts on character development:

  //Cutting Through the Static

Static: lacking in movement, action, or change, especially in a way viewed as undesirable or uninteresting:
I'm going to start by referring to the Campbellian idea of a hero's path to personal transformation. Usually called the Hero's Journey or the Mythic Journey, it puts for the idea of a three-step journey all heroes take. Each step in the journey has minor sub-steps (or baby steps, if you will), but in the end the three main points are Separation, Initiation, and Return. A perfect classic example of this is The Lord of the Rings, in which Frodo undergoes Separation (leaving Hobbiton on a quest), Initiation (a series of tests he must endure), and Return (he arrives back at Hobbiton with new insight). According to Joseph Campbell, who named this process in his dissertation, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, this idea is a monomyth - an Ouroborean cycle of mythology, continually on repeat.

There's a reason we're drawn to stories of heroes and quests. Not only is it a grand adventure where the stakes are high (if it's a good tale), but we get to travel with the hero as he or she embarks on their journey. We fall when they fall, we rise when they rise, and we come out the other side all the better for the undertaking (hopefully).

Or rather, that's the ideal. Unfortunately, much of modern fiction has taken a turn from the idea of character growth and has instead handed us more static characters than we know what to do with. A static character, as you might now imagine, is someone who never changes. They don't grow, they don't even backslide - they are exactly the same at the beginning as they are at the end.

This is a personal peeve of mine, and it's all-too prevalent - especially in young adult fiction. I don't think it's usually on purpose - I think it's a reflection of our culture. As life demands less and less of us, we demand less and less of other things, including stories. We settle for mediocre, and soon even mediocre becomes better-than-average.

Suffice it to say, character development is, to me, the most important element in writing, and I'm thrilled to be able to talk about it today.

Nobody wants a static character. Now, when I say static, I'm not talking about characters like John Watson who remain solidly heroic and undergo no striking changes in personality. I'm talking about characters like James Bond, who undergo various and sundry adventures that would change the ordinary person, but leave 007 surprisingly unscathed - both physically and mentally. The actor may change, but the character does not - at least, not in any major way.

Personally, I think James could do with a little character development now and then, but that's just me. But character development isn't necessarily easy. It takes less work to keep a character the same as you write them, because you don't need to think as much. You know exactly who they are and how they will react at any given time - which in my opinion is a terrible thing, both for the writer and the reader. Character development is what helps us grow as people. Nobody wants to travel on a journey alongside a fictional character and come out the other side exactly as you went in. How boring would that be? (Answer: Very. I've been on several such journeys. Sigh.)

But I did just say writing character development can be hard, so over the years I've cultivated a few tips that ensure the personal plot carrying on inside my characters is always moving.

• Throw a situation at them and see how they react. This situation doesn't have to make the final cut, or even enter the novel at all - it's an exercise to see how well you understand your character. Place them in a difficult position. Give them a dilemma to solve. Give them a devastating heartache. Give them an incredibly happy moment. What do they do? Their reaction will help you get a grip on their personality.

• Step back whenever you come to a major plot point. How will this affect your character? Don't just keep writing on autopilot - take the time to really think about it. What is the outcome of this? Does this challenge your character in any way? Will this break them, or will they rise to the occasion?

• Keep asking those questions. Never fall into the trap of thinking you know everything about your character. Question everything they do before they do it. Ask 'what if?' and go with an option that surprises you. Keep things rolling. Keep things interesting.

• Don’t forget that your character is not isolated. (Or at least probably not.) Most characters are constantly surrounded by other characters. No man is an island, so don't forget that your character needs to be very real, which means what other characters say and do will have an impact on him or her. This may not seem like it has anything to do with character development, but it has much to do with understanding your character - and understanding your character paves the way for development.

• Not all development is forward in motion. Sometimes a character who began as the good guy becomes the bad one. Sometimes a character makes a stupid choice. Sometimes a character breaks your trust. These are always fascinating situations to explore the character's psyche and throw a twist into the plot - both of which are opportunities you should never pass up.

• Compare. Look at your favorite fictional characters (the ones you didn't write). Why do you love them so much? What trials do they undergo? What changes them? Look at your own character and see if they measure up, if they're the kind of character you would root for. If not - you should probably fix that.

• Your character should learn from his or her mistakes. One dumb decision is fine - good, even. Two is acceptable. But three, and you've developed a bad habit. Your character isn't learning. They're running into the same wall over and over. That's the opposite of character development, and it's an issue I see most often in young adult fiction. I can't count the times I've wanted to strangle a YA character because they kept making the same mistakes, caught in an endless cycle of poor choices.

• Make a list of major plot points. You'll have to work for the filler that comes in between, but you'll have something to keep you moving forward. I usually like to have at least three major plot points figured out before I start writing. These plot points usually deal with the main character, but don't forget that they should have an impact on the minor characters, too.

• Write down all those cool ideas. I pretty much always have a notebook with me when watching a movie or a drama or a TV show for those 'Oooh. That'd be cool,' moments. I don't end up using all of them, but I never regret writing them down. Seriously. Losing a good idea is one of the worst feelings ever. Not that I'd know anything about it. Ahem.

• Ask someone! This final step is particularly hard for those of us who are private, or sensitive to criticism. I used to be so terrified of anyone reading my work that I didn't let anyone see it. Take it from me - you can do it. Pick someone you trust and have them give you their opinion. You don't develop a thick skin by keeping yourself locked away in a safety cocoon.

This learning process is different for everyone, and as far as I know, it doesn't ever stop. It's a constant thing that practice refines and refines some more. I stated earlier that it was hard, but I don't want to daunt you. It's hard. Writing is hard. Most things worth doing are hard! (Particularly writing. But I'm also biased.) I'm not an expert, although I've just written an entire blog post on the subject - but I've been writing for a good long while, and these tips have proved consistently helpful. I hope they're as helpful to you!

~Mirriam Neal  

Author Bio:
Mirriam Neal is a twenty-two-year-old Northwestern hipster living in Atlanta. She writes hard-to-describe books in hard-to-describe genres, and illustrates things whenever she finds the time. She aspires to live as faithfully and creatively as she can and she hopes you do, too.

Goodreads: Link!!
Barnes & Noble:Link!

Friday, April 15, 2016

No Longer Held In Shame


        Thoughts from worship last night:

       Sometimes we let our shame hold us back from God. We don't always live as if we truly believe that He has taken it all from us. We despair that we'll ever break free of our sin patterns. We hold parts of that shame as if it still has power over us... Is His blood not enough?

     He died for you. He loves you that much. Do you believe that?

     He loves us totally, perfectly, wildly. He knows us down to the very core of who we are - and He calls us His children. He calls us His bride. He calls us His.

      We should live life in Awe of the amazing gift God has given us. His forgiveness should humble our hearts, and flood us with thankfulness. We should have the type of joy that the world looks at and marvels. We have the Love of God - how are we pouring it out on those around us? How are we living now that we're Free?

 Hebrews 12:18-24 

The Mountain of Fear and the Mountain of Joy

Galatians 4:4-7

"You split the sea, so I could walk right through it
My fears are drowned in perfect love 
You rescued me, and I will stand and sing 
I am a child of God!"

Monday, February 15, 2016

Someone To Walk With - Shared Post (1)

        God has designed us for fellowship, for friendship.  In the gospel, God reconciles enemies to himself and makes them friends.  He then makes his friends members of a community of friends (the church) and gives specific instruction as to how those friendships are to work (the 'one anothers').  Jesus regularly withdrew from the crowds and from his closest companions.  Yet much of his earthly life was spent in the presence of his friends.  Should we choose a different path?  Do we not need time alone before God in prayer and meditation? And do we not need the accountability and encouragement that comes via friendship?

                                      Click to read the rest of the post....

In Genesis 2: 18, God says that it is not good for man to be “alone.” This statement has more to do with God’s design for humanity than Adam’s neediness. God created us to be relational beings because He is a social God. God lives in community within the Trinity as Father, Son, and Spirit, and He made humanity in His image. Genesis 2 is not speaking primarily to Adam’s experience of being lonely as much as it is revealing his nature as the person God created him to be. Because God created a communal being— someone designed for relationships— creation is incomplete without a suitable companion. While Genesis 2 does address how male and female complement each other, the implications are broader to include all human relationships.

by  Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

~Ophelia - Marie

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Calling


          When I told God I didn't think this was possible, I'm pretty sure He must've laughed at me. I told Him I didn't see how I was supposed to do this – and yet here I am fitting the last pieces in.

        I work full time as a Nurse Aide, over here in Michigan. I take care of elderly people, and absolutely love it, but this summer I'm leaving them to share the love of Jesus elsewhere.

            In August of 2015 I started praying about summer 2016 and my desire to spend time at The Boardwalk Chapel in NJ.  In September, after talking to a lady I know, I had a desire planted in me to spend time in Mears MI, helping at Grace Adventures camp, and hopefully somewhat with the Harbor House ministry.

          See, I didn't feel God was calling me to leave my job as a Nurse Aide, but at the same time, He was clearly telling me that I was to spend this summer elsewhere. I wrestled with Him – I told Him that I wasn't sure what my employers would say – I told Him I didn't know what my parents would say – I told Him how hard it would be to leave my residents for such a long time, knowing some of them would probably pass away while I was gone. I told God I wanted to go, but I saw so many things that could hold me back...

             I was messaging my best friend about my inward struggle and she said, "Before I knew for sure whether or not I was going to Australia for missions, I would get this picture sometimes of Lucy in Prince Caspian when she finally went to go find Aslan. And he asks her : "Why didn't you come to me before -(like when you saw me and knew I wanted you to follow)." And Lucy basically says she was scared to come because no one else believed her or would go with her. "

         She continued, "Even though your family may support you and those around you may support you in going, ultimately no one else is going with you to meet this "Aslan", Its gonna be you and God. 

         So it comes down to this: are you willing? Are you willing to go when people are offended, when you may lose something if you leave it behind? Are you willing to go though no one else believes you should, but you know God wants you to follow? Are you willing?  I feel like that's what God is asking you right now, He wants to know how willing you are to follow Him and how much you'll give up."

            She was right – I could feel it. God was asking me, "Are you willing?"

             The next day, I was scrolling through FaceBook and started reading a random blog post. When I got to this part, I nearly started crying:

            "I think every Lucy is likely to find herself standing alone now and then. Even though Susan, Edmund, and Peter wait nearby – they cannot hear that singular call of Aslan. And sometimes she stands in the wood alone and without even hearing the Lion. "

          In an unconventional way, God asked me if I'd heed His call. He was Aslan, calling in a voice only I could hear and He was telling me to come.

         As I trusted God and took the steps to plan my summer of service, everything fell into place. I am taking a Leave of Absence from my job for June 1st – August 31st.

       I am looking to raise $2,200 to cover my expenses. I need to cover the expenses of travel, food and housing at the Chapel, and to cover my insurance while I'm not working. If you're able to help in any way with that, I'd really appreciate it. :) 
Here is a link to my GoFundMe page.


         So that's how I got to where I am now. If you want to keep reading, I'd like to tell you where I'm going:

          Grace Adventures camp is a ministry near to my heart. I spent the summers of 2011 and 2012 on staff in the kitchen, and I have gone to visit every year since, even if it's just for a weekend at a time. They impacted my view of others, my confidence, and my faith – I love seeing how they are doing the same for others. They really are seeking to reach others with Christ in ways that go beyond one's stay with them. I will be helping them serve up to 300 or so campers and staff their meals.

          Through Camp connections I have learned about the ministry of The Harbor House of Hart .  The godly people there foster teenage girls, and run outreach programs into their community. I will be spending August with these two ministries, serving where I'm needed. :)

               The Boardwalk Chapel is a ministry of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in New Jersey. I was on staff in 2013 for the summer, and spent 2 weeks of my vacation in 2014 there; this year I will be there June and July. They have a small chapel space right on the Boardwalk – there, people are presented with the Gospel through preaching, music, and skits.

           During the day our team attends Worldview Seminars, practices for programs, and shares the ministry of the Chapel with anyone who comes through our door. Every week a new youth group from other states joins us. They help us run programs and go evangelizing with us. It's a great opportunity to show other young people how to present the Gospel to others.


             Most nights we have a program where we invite anyone walking by to join us. Visiting pastors do short, fifteen minute sermons, we preform songs and skits that are specifically geared towards sharing the Gospel, and we share testimonies of God's grace.

             After the program is done, we split off into teams of two or three and go out witnessing. Our goal is to start conversations about God with others – to show people who God is and why He should make a difference in our lives.

Please be in prayer for my teams that I'll be working with:

          For Grace Adventures:
        Please pray that I'd quickly integrate into the flow of the kitchen schedule.

          That I'd have energy as I am only spending a few days home between NJ to Camp, and will be adjusting to a new team.

       For The Harbor House:
     Please pray that I'd be able to build relationships, and be an encouragement to their household.

      For The Boardwalk Chapel:
     Please pray that God would give our team boldness as we share the Gospel. We want to truly show the love of Jesus, and who He is.

         That we would have unity together and build each other up, even when we become tired and not all personalities mesh well.

        That we would stay well - it is so easy for colds and other sicknesses to pass around when you all live close together, and aren't always getting enough rest.


     Thank you for your prayers and support! I can't wait to see what God is going to do this summer! ^_^ 

          ~Ophelia - Marie Flowers