When difficulty comes…..

Our trip to France was filled with a fairy tale wedding and time to wander down old towns with a feasting of the eyes and an ear to heaven.

We were in Bordeaux for a week and it is wine country. Fields of vines that were being prepared for the next harvest. Miles and miles of land that was all awaiting the warmth of Spring and Summer.

I knew the land had lessons it wanted to pass along and I’m always a hungry to learn.  I was amazed at the canes that protruded from the earth with what appeared to be two arms lifted up in a stance of worship.

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Acre upon acre the land was filled with old weathered vines with arms uplifted.  They had survived years of bearing fruit and every year they get pruned back to their bare beginnings.

In Scripture, Jesus refers to the vine and the branches as he is the vine and we are the branches and that metaphor is profound in its own right. But there was another metaphor to see right before my eyes.

I saw these weathered vines with lifted arms and imagined them to be mature disciples of Jesus. Every year we are to bear fruit. Young shoots come off of the main vine and bear fruit. Did you know that a cane (branch) can only bear great fruit one time before it needs to be cut off and replanted become a mature vine, or thrown out? If it gets planted and takes, then it is not allowed to bear fruit for two or three years until the root system is substantial enough to allow it to send nutrients to new vines.  

Every year the pruning to mature vines is drastic, leaving nothing but the original vine and a couple of canes.

I saw the connection. Last year’s fruit in my life is not what I lean on. Yesterday is gone and today requires new shoots, new disciples, new growth in relationships.

Remember, fruit is produced on the current season’s growth, that in turn grows from last season’s wood. Heavy pruning provides the best fruit. Light pruning results in large yields of poor-quality fruit; very heavy pruning produces too much vegetative growth and very little or no fruit. There are lessons to be learned in this life cycle.

I’m a gardener and I remember when I was first learning about how to care for roses that I was mortified at how much of the canes I had to cut back. At first, I ignored the sound advice and just snipped at the roses. In no time at all, I had diseases roses on my hands. Then I became bolder and understood why the cuts needed to be made. Though I still wince when I cut off what looked like a perfectly good set of buds. It’s amazing how God prunes our lives. At times the cuts are at our ego because that ego has a way of spreading the “me” disease on everything.  I never know where God will actively prune my life.

The encouragement I received was in looking at the vines (mature disciples) with uplifted arms, waiting for Spring and Summer so that the harvest can come. Knowing that the shoots that are grown will one day become strong canes that take their place in the land.

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Life at times feels brutal and you wonder if you can stand it but know if that is the season you are in, you are poised to bear the best fruit, just like the grapevines in France. 

Though it feels like barrenness, it is at the hand of the vigneron.

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We are in good hands. I pray this blesses you the way it blessed me.

We worship and wait as we prepare for the Spring and Summer.

An unscripted life.


The last few years of my life are radically different than I had planned.
Having sat in a church with a strong leadership emphasis, I was diligent to set out goals and worked to achieve them.  There is generally nothing wrong with that unless you happen to be praying for the “more” of God.

Then all of a sudden I read books like Crazy Love by Chan or Radical by Platt and my heart became disenchanted with my limited experience as a disciple of Christ.  Don’t get me wrong I was busy and productive on paper and on the church calendar but there was this deep witness in my spirit that what I was living was too safe and scripted. It was like I had written out a complete manuscript and I just needed God to fill in the few empty spaces.  Somehow God wanted a whole blank page and the thought of that just filled me with anxiety.  God was asking me to live a life I couldn’t control.

Something in me kept whispering that it was time to take the love of God out of the walls of the Church and that the church needed to have legs on it.  The Lord has always been relentless in my life.  God thoughts can at time feel like a thorn in my brain that cannot be forgotten.  The dialogue when a little like this:
“Rozy, when are you going leave this safe structure behind and go be the church?”
“Rozy,  when are you going to take the light into the darkness?”
“Rozy my grace is sufficient for you, why don’t you trust me?”

My answers sounded like this:

“I can’t afford to travel the world Lord, what on earth are you thinking?”
“ It’s not safe to travel to areas where their governmental structures are unpredictable or non-existent.”  “What if I get into an accident or need a hospital?”
“ I don’t have a missional call on my life, I never wanted to be a missionary.”

On and on those conversations would go and at time I thought I presented my case quite well but winning was losing in God’s economy.  I kept talking myself right out of the more of God.

Then one day I stopped making excuses.  An invitation was given. I said yes and never turned back.  In the last few years I’ve worked, cried, laughed and invested more intentionally than I ever thought possible.  I’ve walked on the 5 different continents and I’ve lost count of how many countries I’ve visited.  I’ve ministered to missionaries and loved on strangers. Fed and housed more young people than ever before.  My heart has been torn open to be an unrecognizable size.  I have had to face fears I never imagined and experienced extraordinary measure of the grace of God I didn’t know existed.

I feel like I’m finally part of His plan instead of having God in mine. I have only one regret, that I didn’t say yes sooner.

Following the whisper….

“Prayer is the key that unlocks all the storehouses of God’s infinite grace and power. All that God is, and all that God has, is at the disposal of prayer.  But we must use the key.  Prayer can do anything that God can do, and as God can do anything, prayer is omnipotent.  No one can stand against the man who knows how to pray and who meets all the conditions of prevailing prayer and who really prays. ‘The Lord God Omnipotent’ works for him and works through him. ” R. A. Torrey

As I am blessed with a rich community of praying people. I come before you with specific requests for a month that is rich with kingdom opportunity.  I know without a doubt that the prayers of those that love us have ushered us forward beyond anything we could have imagined for ourselves in ministry.  Especially the prayers of my parents whose prayers I depend on, and know are the first that are carried up to the ears of God as the sun rises and are repeated often before the sun sets.

This month is a bit unique as we will be visting 3 countries and 4 Squads in little over 2 1/2 weeks of travel.

We begin on the 6th on March with our travel to Haiti to visit the Squad we are coaching for the year, C Squad.

Returning on the 10th we board a new plane to Thailand on the 12th of March (yes we will only be home 1 day to repack) and will be there until the 18th.  Then on the 18th we will be in route to China until the 22nd.

During that time we will be with W,X & Y Squads.

Prayer requests –

Personal – Travel grace, minimal to no jetlag while on the field, connections of all flights, no lost luggage, health, energy and both earthy and divine connections would all be made.

Now for the good stuff –

I’m asking for a downpour of the Holy Spirit for each persons individual journey.  Only the Holy Spirit can minister to  almost 200 people and give them each exactly what they need.

That God would break down any walls that hinder them from wholeness.

That their hearts would be ministered to and healing would flow to them, and through them.

I ask for a great revelation of the love of God.

Empowerment of His Holy Spirit of their lives and teams.

Release of their gifts and talents to further the Kingdom.

Courage and boldness to permeate them through and through.

Vision to impact the Nations for the years to come.

Wholeness and Holiness of their minds, body and spirit.

Souls, souls, souls, souls, souls, souls, for the Kingdom.

Territorial strongholds would be pulled down and Kingdom ground taken all around the world.

Yes, we might as well go big, or go home!

I stand as a witness to declare that the hand of God is moving through this generation in ways that motivate me forward with fresh courage, hope and excitement.

Wrap us in Isaiah 61 and Ephesians 1:17-19

Here are a few stories from the field to stir your spirits to pray.

Krystle Desales on the A squad fell in love this month with baby Crystal in Mwanza, Tanzania. Baby Crystal has hydrocephaly which means there is fluid in her brain. Krystle started to pray… http://krystledesales.theworldrace.org/?filename=what-you-did

“I left the hospital unsettled, still thinking about Crystal and her mother. I prayed that God would just miraculously heal her. Two days after the hospital visit, I looked at my bank account and noticed someone put in one hundred dollars into my account, which is the exact amount Crystal needed for the surgery. I know that this wasn’t just some coincidence, some fluke chance that this happened…This coming Monday on February 6th, baby Crystal is having surgery.  After 11 months, finally she is receiving the miracle she has been waiting for. “

Allison Prysianzny on the W squad is in Mozambique. She writes a blog about being ‘up and healing before noon,’ and describes just another day of ministering in the bush!  Read about the healings here: http://allisonprysiazny.theworldrace.org/?filename=up-and-healing-before-noon-just-another-day-on-the-race&bookmark=true#comments

“One man in particular stands out in my memory. He showed us how he couldn’t lift his right arm and then pulled up his sleeve to show the little razor marks the witch doctor had cut into him. He said he had been there many times, but he still couldn’t lift his arm. We prayed for him and watched as he lifted his arm high above his head. PTL!”

Jamos and Emily Mitchell, also on the W squad in Mozambique, share the below story about how God showed up and moved during a spontaneous prayer time in the middle of the marketplace.  Read an excerpt below and check out more here: http://jamosandemilymitchell.theworldrace.org/?filename=african-adventure-into-the-bush

“It was around 8am and we stopped for some bread and bagia in a small town.  Let’s be real, I also wanted a Coke Zero. Felito (our pastor) wanted to see a man who he met at an outreach event 10 years earlier, who was saved and now a pastor in the town.  We met up with the elderly pastor and prayed for him before we left.  When we were done praying for him in the street, there was a crowd gathered and they wanted prayer for themselves!

First, a lady, who was selling pineapples on a blanket on the roadside wanted prayer.  She could not believe that we would pray for her – for FREE!  We were like, ‘yes, of course, we would love to pray for you’. Each time we were in a circle praying, and when one person was done, another person made their way into the circle and we surrounded them in prayer!  People would tell us if they were sick (most were) and one man had even visited a witch doctor to help with his arm, which he could not lift up at all.  The witch doctor (who you pay money to) made small cuts in his skin and he had the scars to show us. We prayed over his arm and when we were done, he could lift it above his head! Another miracle!

The praying continued for nearly 2 hours and when we were done, another man who was healed, came up to the pastor, Felito, and said, “ I want to give you land to build a church in my village – so that my village may know God and be saved” So, he hopped on the back of our truck and we headed to his village to see the land he was going to give our pastor to plant a church.  AMAZING!”

Shayna Black, Y squad, took personal money and helped feed a whole community after she heard God speak to her this week.

So, after much prayer and conversation with our contact, this is what God said to do.
“Feed the village!” -God
So this is what we did with the money:
35-25kg bags of rice
32-50pkg/box of noodles
10 skirts

It went to feed 35 different families in the village both Christian and Buddhist alike.  Here’s the crazy cool part……

Our contact later told me that he had prayed for 2 years for someone to come help him feed his village and here I was answering that prayer!”

Check out pictures here: http://shaynablack.theworldrace.org/?filename=part-2-seeing-gods-plan-photos

Stephanie May (A squad) has an incredible way of telling her story and how she is experiencing the Holy Spirit on the Race–as NOT creepy. Her whole perspective has changed because she’s seen the Spirit manifest. She’s learned to prophesy, pray in the spirit, and has witnessed healings.  Read her story here: http://stephaniemay.theworldrace.org/?filename=7A35CE9F101140A78B4227CF9A6B53

“We walked into a room that looked like every other African living room, concrete with a set of curtains and some tacky fake flowers, and sat down to wait.

A few minutes later, an old woman walked into the room.  ‘Walked’ is a stretch.  She hobbled in, dragging one of her legs, holding herself up on the crudest set of crutches I’ve ever seen. Her face was screwed up in agony, and she barely got herself the five feet to a chair before slowly and painfully lowering herself into it.

Without missing a beat, we got to work, praying for healing.   A half an hour later, I was holding the woman’s hand as she took her first pain-free steps across the floor. She walked 15 feet heading straight for the door. She stopped there, looking out at the world she had been missing, before turning and walking again.”

This is kind of a different update for Friday Updates, but this blog from Leah Malone on the C squad caught our attention. Her uncle with Downs Syndrome passed away this last week and she went home for the funeral. She writes about his life, his relationship with Jesus, and what he has taught her. It is beautiful. http://leahmalone.theworldrace.org/?filename=pancakes-on-friday

“…Thanks to my uncle, I have the most vivid picture of what that looks like [to receive the kingdom of God like a child]. For example, in the last year of his life Jerry loved his Bible. He hardly went anywhere without it. He would read his Bible all the time. The funny thing is…my uncle can’t read! You would look over and his Bible would be upside down and sideways but his lips would be muttering something 100 mph! I love it. You tell Jerry that Jesus loves him and he believes you. You tell him Jesus died for him and he says ok. You tell him he’s going to heaven and he just smiles. Pure faith…so beautiful. I decided today that I’m actually super jealous of him.”

A glimpse of Guatemala

Some moments are for journals only and some are for sharing.

Here is a random moment I had before leaving Guatemala.

I’m on a rooftop balcony patio overlooking a volcano and ruins.

These walls are covered in green vegetation.

Listening to dogs barking, music sung at a school, a radio, birds singing, a broom sweeping.

The chatter of a few conversations floats up to us along with someone watching TV in Spanish.

A hummingbird comes to show off her hovering skills while I watch in amazement.

All the sounds are low except the occasional rooster who decides to crow way after the sun rises.

City sounds and local sounds all mixing together to make you wonder if you are in the past or the present.

The sun high and the clouds look like they are having a race around the volcano.

The heat of the sun and the coolness of the breeze both share the same space.

There are birds nesting on ruins and rusty tin roofs right next to ancient structures.

Bright colors and hidden courtyards everywhere you look.

Guatemalans’ speak in whispers and the Americans speak much to loudly.

I hear the sound of children singing together in their school and I smile all the way down to my belly.

Children with black hair and big smiles, dark eyes in such little packages.  All dressed in bright colors that simply make them magnificent to feast your eyes on.

I don’t know why I have been chosen for this beautiful work but I’ll take it and say thank you.

The D.R. – a hard lesson learned.

We left the D.R. a day early to try and to arrive before the snow storm hit Georgia.  Truth be told I was not sad to leave the D.R.  I would miss the Squad but being in the D.R. was very difficult for me.  Not for any reason that I can explain well though I will try. In fact we had a short flight, only 3 hours or so.  We were given an upgrade so we spent those few hours in very comfortable seats being well served.  The hotel was probably the most beautiful we have seen on the race.  But still my spirit was in turmoil.

My thinking was flawed in that I expected the external circumstances to be indicative of the spiritual climate.  It wasn’t. The spiritual warfare was thick.  The poverty, begging children and beggars in general left me exhausted as they always do.  It is as if my mind whirls and whirls and doesn’t know what the best response is when interacting with people in this situation.

I could see the hardness in the eyes of the children.  In fact there were 3 children, 2 boys and 1 girl. The girl was a little older maybe 10 and the boys a few years younger.  She begged with her hand out and I shook my head to say “no” but my heart said “of course”.  She clearly cursed us as she muttered in a language that wasn’t Spanish.  I asked Roger how much money we had in coins.  Roger had a handful, I don’t know if it was a dollar or 30 dollars.  I just wanted to children to have it even knowing that they might not get to keep it.  I poured the change into her little hand and her fingers wrapped around it like a vice.  In fact it actually pinched my fingers since I couldn’t remove them in time.  She didn’t share with the boys and their hands were left empty.  Her look to me wasn’t gratitude it was anger, survival, she had adult eyes. Not filled with wonder or the beauty that we normally see in the eyes of children.  Her little eyes looked like a 60 year old woman whose life has held little joy and great hardship and disillusionment.  How could such young beautiful eyes be marked with such bitterness and anger?

It wasn’t just the tourists that were hit up for money, there was a general air of “I want what you have and if you let your guard down I will steal it”.  Our taxi driver even carried a gun. Yeah, somehow that didn’t make me feel safe.  Guns were in ready supply. The country sits on ready, the tension is thick.  You can choose to be oblivious to the spiritual climate of people or you can be connected to the pain of a society that sits on tension that feels like it is stretched too thin and can break at any time.

The launch itself was wonderful.  The Spirit of God was all over the Squad leaders and all was in place as the leaders and logistics team whirled around in a typical responsible  fashion.  The teachers brought in exactly what was needed.  They were very spiritually sensitive to where the squad was and delivered tailored meeting times.  In fact it was probably one of favorite meeting times.

All that said I knew where I dropped the ball.  I let my guard down. I relaxed and didn’t step it up.  I thought this one would be easy.  It wasn’t and I grumbled.  When I grumbled I gave the enemy access to me and spent the next two days in pain.  God was clear and kind as He showed me how to repent and rebuke a spirit of defilement.  I know that I’m not doing a great job of explaining this “defilement process”.  I looked at the turmoil around me and I judged it.  The normal hardship that come with traveling overseas, the condition of the people, the crazy taxi drivers, the lack of edible food and the hardship of communicating with people in a different language. The sights, smells and noise that comes with going to a different country.  I took it in, allowed myself to feel overwhelmed and helpless and I grumbled. My grumbling was an effort to remove myself from the pain and confusion of not knowing how to help by putting up a wall of anger. It was wrong, it was sin.

There was much to learn from this lesson.  I will not ignore the condition of my heart.  I will listen to its nagging questions, I will allow Jesus to minister and lead me into actions of obedience and surrender.  I will choose to let my heart break over and over again. I will thank God for allowing me to see the condition of the world and listen as He leads me in response.

Who knew that we are the Paris Hilton of the world?

This year I’ve been down under to New Zealand, Asia, Africa and Europe.  It has been a rich eye opening experience.

Who knew that we are the Paris Hilton of the world?

In each country I traveled to Americans were part of almost every media story.  I learned more about our celebrities than I care to know.  Our President is part of major news stories everyday around the world.  We are either highly disliked and disparaged or celebrated without cause, hence the Paris Hilton comparison (no offense Paris). Every once in a while we are praised for a good reason.

Here are some silly tidbits of information.

Toilets do flush the opposite way in New Zealand and Australia.

Soda costs a small fortune in Europe and they give you only a tiny glass of it.

Cocoa Cola  and McDonalds are very popular . (Thankful when your stomach needs something familiar)

Everybody thinks Americans are rich and or rude.

Light switches are not the same around the world nor where you think they should be.

Hair dryers lose some of their power overseas.

But here is what I really want to say.

Dear America, You are beautiful.  Your people are kind and generous.  You understand the value of personal space and are polite at every turn.  You have wonderful well planned out cities and signs that are easily read by all.  A health care system that still rivals other nations. America you are large and spacious.  The poor here have better options and opportunities to improve their quality of life more than most anywhere else in the world. No wonder our borders are always flooded with those longing to join us.  America you are truly magnificent.

I have not always valued your unique and excellent contributions to my life.  Our government allows us a quality of life that is rare and precious.  We have the freedom to pursue our faith and raise our families.  We are many we are different and we are one. I desire to thank every soldier that has fought or died to protect us and others around the world.

I will continue to travel around the world again next year and the truth is that I fall in love with every land and people group I experience.  The children of the world have stolen my heart forever but I will never cease to be grateful when my plane lands on American soil.

Priority of summer

The last six weeks have been eventful.

Went to Africa to see M Squad fulfill their God given call.

Then off to Florida to visit with my beloved family. Two parents, two sisters and 5 nephews and nieces.

Then to Vegas to be with my one and only daughter and son in law.

In between that time my precious grand daughter turned 2 years old.

We celebrated the 4th of July together with our sons and their wives.

Above all I am reminded of the priority of our family relationships.

Enjoy a collage of my memories of the the last six weeks.