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Cord of Hope Beginnings

October 1, 2009

In Sept of 2004, I received a newsletter of a ministry friend who lives in Waco, Texas. At the time, my family and I were living in Lincoln, NE. In her newsletter my friend began to describe a new ministry that she was involved with and how it had grabbed her heart. She described feeling like she had no choice but to join God in taking the message of Jesus to the marginalized of society, the places that the church often shuns or turns from because of shame and embarrassment, the places where Jesus himself would go if he was walking around today. The description of beautiful gift bags filled with fragrant lotions, cute jewelry, pink lip gloss, fancy nail polish, and of course, delicious chocolate taken in and handed out with extreme, non-judgmental, freely given love captured my attention. But, what captured my heart was that they were taking these gift bags into men’s clubs to pass them out to strippers.

As I was reading the article in the newsletter, I began to cry and asked God to give me the ability, means, and passion to take gifts to women in the clubs in my city. The story of the woman that washed Jesus’ feet with her hair and tears continued to come to my mind. You see, I am that woman. I’ve come to Jesus so many times with shame, guilt, and self condemnation. He continually lifts my head, looks at me, and offers his grace and forgiveness. As I was praying for the opportunity to be part of a ministry like this I continued to picture women bowed at his feet, and Jesus taking them, lifting their heads, and changing their lives.

My family along with ten friends, moved to Tucson, AZ in November 2004 to start a church called Second Mile. We were basing much of our ministry philosophy on Matthew 5:41 where Jesus commands that you serve people not in just the first mile, but you go ahead and go two miles. Because I’m a very passionate, outspoken (some say loud-mouthed) person, I immediately started talking about taking gifts to men’s clubs. In Tucson, it doesn’t take long to notice that there are men’s clubs everywhere. As a church, we decided Easter would be our first trip to a club to meet and give gifts to dancers.

I’ll never forget the first time I was sitting in the parking lot waiting to go in and ask the managers permission to bring gifts to the women. It was the Thursday before Easter. We were hoping to bring the gifts to pass out on Saturday night. My friend/accountability support was coming from work, so I had the opportunity to sit, pray, and shake. What would I say? Would the things I had rehearsed easily come out of my mouth? Would the manager know I was sincere with no ulterior motives? Would he believe me when I told him that we didn’t want to preach, just give out awesome gifts? Would he in fact give us permission to come back on Saturday?

The look on his face when I began to tell him that we were from a church called Second Mile and we wanted to bring these gifts (I carried a sample for him to look through) to give to the dancers the night before Easter was priceless. “You want to do What?” I explained that we knew the dancers would work long hard hours and probably wouldn’t have time to do the “traditional” Easter thing, so we decided to bring Easter to them. I again asked permission. Through his shock he said yes, and then showed my friend and me around the club so that we would know where to go when we showed up with 50 beautiful gift bags that weekend. It was the beginning to a journey that I could not have predicted, understood, or imagined.

We have grown to giving out 120 gift bags, 15 manager gifts, and 25 baked good bags for bouncers and male employees. We will be adding another club, 50 bags, at Christmas. Our main gift giving happens at Christmas and Easter, but we will start taking much smaller gifts throughout the year starting in October. We pray, weep, strategize, and continue to ask Jesus to give us his love for these women. We go to them not because we think we are better, not because we think what they do is evil, not because we want to get them out of the business. We go to them because we truly desire for them to experience the extreme, non-judgmental, freely given love of Christ. We go to them because Jesus has asked us to go EVEN IF we never see anyone give their life to him. We go to them because we believe Jesus is on the move and as we are passionately pursuing him we must be on the move with him.

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Wooden Chickens

May 15, 2009

As a parent my soul is often overflowing with laughter.  Kids are just funny.  They view the world through such innocent and obvious lenses.  My son Kyle, who is nine, adds to his observations very witty commentary.  He always has the best comment, at just the right time, delivered in just the right way.

It has become a mother’s day tradition in the Haynes family to buy an assortment of potted flowers for Angel.  Each year we try to add a decorative pot to go along with the flowers.  It is a fun family project and a great way for Angel to see her family show their appreciation for all the time she spends cultivating our lives.

This year we had a few too many flowers and needed an extra flower pot so Kyle and I jumped in the car and headed to Walmart to buy a one.  Our goal was to get a nicer ceramic pot and thought Walmart would offer “the lowest prices.”  Well, I don’t know if you have shopped for a nice ceramic pot, but low prices and ceramic pots simply don’t go together no matter where you go to get the deal.  We finally decided to go with the simple clay pot and then headed to the register to wait in line behind all the other shoppers who were buying their last minute Mother’s day gifts.  In case you didn’t catch it, the kids and I hadn’t waited until the last minute.  I want to make sure you are not doubting my ability to help our kids cherish their mom.  All the flowers had already been purchased and we had been spending the morning with Angel planting them when the need for another pot became apparent.

Back to the line at the register with our clay pot.  There were two people in the line in front of us.  There was an elderly man who was having difficulty figuring out the debit/credit machine.  Behind him and in front of us was a young, attractive women who had two wooden chickens.  She had been very gracious to the elderly man in front of her and helped him finalize his credit card purchase using the machine.  It was now her turn to check out.  Kyle had assumed that the two wooden chickens were just on display at the register and in a very “matter of fact” tone and with no hesitation said, “Who would buy two wooden chickens?”  The young women was trying to finalize her purchase while using her debit card, but had become distracted because she heard Kyle’s comment.  I, however, had not heard the comment originally, but noticed that she was very distracted and Kyle had started giggling.  I asked Kyle what was going on and he through even greater laughter restated his observation.  This caused me to laugh rather loudly, which caused the woman to start laughing which led to a somewhat awkward but hilarious moment at Walmart.  By this time the cashier was wondering what was taking this women so long with the machine that she had just helped the customer before her figure out.  The woman through her laughter stated that she had been distracted because she was purchasing the wooden chickens for her mom for mother’s day but was now having second thoughts.  I told her that the chickens would make a lovely gift, and that even though a nine year old boy would not choose to decorate his room with fowl figurines, I was sure they would be a a great addition to her mom’s home.

Kyle and I left Walmart  that Sunday morning with huge smiles on our faces and a story of laughter that we were both eager to tell.

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Leading, Protecting, and Providing

April 23, 2009

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.  Ephesians 5:21-33

As a community of faith we have been exploring the uniqueness of God designed relationships.  It is in this uniqueness that we find the beautiful creativity of God.  God, through his written word, has given us the ideal.  He longs for us to understand his best in our relationships.  When we read scripture, the truths that we discover are not there to cause us shame in our inability to meet his holy expectation.  The truths are revealed for God’s children to experience freedom as our world is reordered from self centeredness to God centeredness. 

God’s ideal for marriage is that the  husband would take responsibility and lead his wife and family offering them protection and provision.  Paul makes a very clear connection between Jesus’ love for the church shown through sacrifice and a husbands love for his wife also shown through sacrifice.  The great example of a leader who takes the initiative to save and protect his bride is Jesus.  Men, Jesus is our example and we must follow his lead!  Are we protecting our wives?  Are we taking the time to earnestly pray for her sanctification?  Do we create the atmosphere of respect, humility, and servanthood towards our wife with our peers and children?

What about provision?  Verses 28-29 strongly directs a husband to nourish and cherish his wife.  The implication is that the husband is a caring provider willing to do anything to meet the needs of his wife.  Men, are you apathetically letting life pass you by or are you actively engaging?  Have you made the necessary choices to be in a position to provide for your wife?  Think practically, both physically and spiritually.  Are you insuring there is a roof over your head and food on the table?  Are you meditating on God’s word and offering humble spiritual guidance, instruction, and encouragement?

Take the time and allow God’s word to transform your marriages.  Be encouraged, Jesus has given us a beautiful example of the love that is required in headship.  Be the kind of husband your wife will joyfully follow.

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Thank You…Easter Bunny?

April 3, 2009

It has always been strange to me that a knicker wearing, pastel loving, egg toting, fluffy white bunny is the alternative icon for a deeply meaningful holiday known as Easter.  How can the reflection and celebration of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus be substituted with such a bizarre mythical creature?  At least Santa Clause, once stripped away of all his folklore, was a real guy named St. Nicholas who used his resources to benefit  the under privileged.  

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So, what’s with all the bunny talk?

It seems the first mention of Easter Bunnies is found in German writings that date back to the 1600’s.  Rabbits (Hares) as well as eggs have always been associated with fertility.  They usher in the beauty that comes with spring.  I mean really, who doesn’t like spring.  The grass is turning green (unless you live in southern Arizona and then it is just less brown), the trees are starting to bud, it’s time to plant all those amazing looking and smelling flowers. Renewal is the theme of the season and it’s beautiful.

Rabbits have the unbelievable ability to reproduce incredibly fast.  It is in the spring that the male rabbits leave their otherwise reserved temperament and compete for the female’s affections.  Female rabbits play hard to get which creates even stiffer competition among the males, and makes their mating habits somewhat humorous and interesting for the human observer.  This behavior is easily summarized in the saying “mad as a March hare.”  Add that phrase to your colloquialisms.  In fact, a female rabbit can conceive a second litter of babies while still pregnant with the first.  Ladies, aren’t you glad you are not a rabbit?  These facts are what point us to the obvious connection between the symbolism of fertility, renewal, birth, and urgency with the rabbit, bunny or hare.

An obvious question, at least for me, is what can we learn from this association as followers of Jesus?  Many of you may be thinking, “We have nothing to learn.  I know the true meaning of Easter.”  I believe it is in that sentiment that we lose our ability to influence culture.

As stated earlier Easter is deeply meaningful and profoundly spiritual.  Jesus, the son of God, who walked this earth to reveal the reality of God’s plan for humanity was crucified and three days later, through the power of God to defeat death and sin, was resurrected (1 Peter 3:18).  It is the resurrection of Jesus on which the faith of Christianity is held together!  Without Jesus’ ability to take on the sin of the world, become the ultimate sacrifice, and prove his sovereignty by conquering death we have no faith.  Jesus, however did all of those things and so we have the sweet privilege of entering his family, as adopted sons & daughters (Galatians 4:4-8; Romans 8:13-18), by acknowledging our sin, asking him to forgive us, and embracing his new life.

What do we do with these two worlds?  World number one looks to a bunny for the reminder of the beauty of birth, renewal, and the urgency of life.  World number two looks to a savior named Jesus and experiences beauty, renewal, re-birth, and a call to urgency.  

We build a bridge and create meaning and purpose through our cultural interaction.  As followers of Jesus we relate with the rest of humanity who longs for the basic ideas that Easter brings.  We find commonality in the search for renewal, re-birth, beauty, and urgency.  We gently, with respect and dignity, share the realities of Christ and the silliness of rabbits.  We utilize our culture with all this egg and bunny talk to remind us that there is an urgency for people to hear the message of Jesus and to respond.
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Jesus, may we be diligent in sharing our lives within the context of our culture to express your truth!  Give us the strength, perseverance, and boldness to celebrate your glory without shame.

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Children Deserve Conversation

March 27, 2009

Parenting is one of the most vital responsibilities of human experience.  We are given the challenge to love, nurture, develop boundaries, and influence countless generations.  Everyday as a mother or father, the opportunity to lay aside self and insure that our children gain the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual investment required is monumental.  My role as a parent requires every fiber of my being to be actively engaged.  I am flooded with more questions than answers with every interaction I have with my children.

Are my words kind?   Are they used with the precision of a surgeon to bring vital and timely healing or do they resemble a savage, hacking away with sword in hand, to bring about the deepest wounds?

Does the usage of my time foster inclusion, worth, and respect or inconvenience, waste, and requirement?

Do my actions reveal my convictions? Am I consistent with word and deed?  Is life lived with intentionality and purpose?

God’s purpose in our role as parents is to reproduce the gospel.  Psalm 145:4 “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.”  We must take our role seriously.  

Parenting is the process of developing deep life long friendship with your children.  During one of Kyle’s baseball practices I overheard a conversation with another player and his dad.  The air temperature dropped significantly as the desert sun fell below the horizon.  This dad approached his son with a long sleeve shirt in hand and said “hey bud, put this on.”  The kid showed his unwillingness to go along with his dad through his deep sigh and look of inconvenience.  The dad quickly responded to his son’s resistance with “I’m not asking you, put the shirt on.”  At this point I was still smiling thinking of the countless times this exact situation had played out with my own children.  In fact, the phrase “I’m not asking” has come out of my mouth many times.  However the next phrase is what turned my smile into feelings of confusion and deep sadness.  In a much louder voice and with the hopes of others hearing his proclamation the dad very proudly said, “since when do we have conversations.  When I tell you to do something, you do it, there is no conversation.”  Instantly, his son’s face turned from a look of inconvenience to a gaze of emotional disconnect.  My heart ached.  In the course of 2 minutes and very few words, this dad had very clearly communicated to his ten year old son that he has nothing to say worth taking the time to listen.  Some may see this moment as trivial, but my understanding of this situation caused me to evaluate the many wounds caused by the “simple” words of a careless parent.  Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

My prayer this week has been; God grant me the patience and intentionality to nurture deep and meaningful conversations with my kids.  Please make me aware, in moments of joy, and in moments of stress, that my words and actions will either foster increased intimacy or loss of respect.  Every moment may my gratefulness be that of Psalm 127:3 “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”

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Resolve

February 18, 2009

Burden, weight, pressure, un-resolve,

What must change?

Situations, conversations, proclamations, restoration. 

Is this what it will require?

Days are gone before a deep breath can be fully appreciated.

Weeks pass without fully acknowledging all there is to see.

I am finite.

          Easily bruised.

                    Entangled with doubt.

Can hope prevail?

 

Passion, zeal, purpose, focus,

Same experiences different perspective.

Opportunity, dialogue, truth, transformation.

Results that can come through only One.

Time stands still.  There are no limitations.

He is sovereign.

          He relates to pain.

                     Jesus embraces faith.

Hope is guaranteed.

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2009 The Year to actually Blog

January 16, 2009

This is for the millions of people that view our blog on a daily basis.  We are currently in transition.  We are re-formating our blog and we will be back very soon.  We have a strong desire to be consistent bloggers and hope that this change will facilitate this behavior modification.