Joy, Joy, Joy

You know the Bible says the joy of the Lord is our strength. I’ve known this truth for years and even believe it. However, not until recently have I really began thinking about it in a practical way. A way that actually has a daily impact on my life and the way I live. I don’t know about you but I definitely need God’s strength to get through each day. I need the strength that only Jesus gives to be motivated, energized and empowered to accomplish all the good He sets before me daily.

So where does this God given help come from? Joy, Joy in God! Dwelling on Him and His goodness. Thinking on Him and His holiness. Walking with Him in the light of His love. Living each moment focused on the hope we have in Jesus and the wonderful promises He has given. At least that’s when I find my joy tank full and my motivation gauge on the rise.

Like so many things in life, it comes down to our thoughts which then dictate our attitudes and in turn our feelings. They are all linked together so when we are anchored by joy in Jesus we have the fortitude to move forward through each day for and through Him.

I think Colossians 3 verses 1-3 sums it up best: Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Living in the Light of His Love

Reading this verse and thinking of God’s goodness and how this is what He truly wants from us: to climb up in His lap, rest in His arms, be carried thru each day by Him, safe to enjoy the good blessings He gives. Simple faith, simple life, simple joy. That’s walking with Jesus.

Isaiah 32:18 “My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest.”

10/22 UPDATE

Great lyrics from this old hymn to echo the theme of this post. :)

How Strong And Sweet My Father’s Care

How strong and sweet my Father’s care,
That round about me, like the air,
Is with me always, everywhere!
He cares for me!

The thought great wonder with it brings,
My cares are all such little things,
But to the truth my glad heart clings,
He cares for me!

O keep me ever in Thy love,
Dear Father, watching from above,
And as through life my steps shall move,
O care for me.

Rays of Sonshine: Jerry Carter

This month’s Rays of Sonshine has really put some miles on the road since getting involved with Access-Life in 2013. In fact, while he lives in East Tennessee, He has spent almost as much time in TX and FL helping the ministry as in his home state’s backyard.

So how does he do all of this? By transporting our big trailer full of outreach equipment, docks, tents and supplies from TX to TN and then back to FL each year. That’s right he travels almost 2,000 miles annually helping get Access-Life things from one location to another.

The blessings don’t stop there though, as despite living in the 3rd quarter of life, he is one of the hardest workers we know across the ministry’s 3 state area. He actually, out lasted all our volunteers at set-up and tear-down during the recent Expo in North Texas, too. Of course, He shines brightest in the Volunteer state where he not only helps with the trailer transport, general set-up and tear-down and water and ice distribution but he also grades our gravel shore line and helps build our wooden boardwalk so each participant can have access to the boat rides, kayaking and fishing areas on site.

Whew, makes me tired talking about it so I’ll close by saying thank you to all our volunteers who do so much across TX, TN and FL and a special thanks to Jerry who travels across all three states to be this month’s Rays of Sonshine!

Images to Inspire

You know we all get down and have tough days but the great news as Believers in Jesus is that we always have Him with us to guide, protect, comfort and help. He is completely faithful and even in those times when we feel low, if we’ll look around we can see signs of His presence, care, love and blessings. So here are a few homemade scripture art pictures to hopefully encourage us all in these facts. :)

Rays of Sonshine: Queens of Clovis

Our June “Rays of Sonshine” are a dynamic duo who live in Clovis, New Mexico. Anne Linville, who just happens to be Leanne’s mom, and her good friend, Pat Moody, whom we affectionately call the Queens of Clovis. Serving others is their motto and they do that on a regular basis in their neighborhood, church, community and here at Access-Life!

Even though neither of them live in an Expo area, Anne and Pat are always ready for a project and in turn, touch the lives of many in all the areas we serve. In fact we often get a call or text from one or the other asking us if we have a project for them to tackle. However, the main task they assist with on a regular basis is helping with signing, addressing, stuffing and mailing thank you letters after each Expo which we send to all participants, volunteers and exhibitors.  As our Expos have grown over the years so have the numbers of letters and when we got to the point where we needed some help, God provided it through these energetic gals.  As an added bonus, Pat is our official craft lady who assembles our Expo activity buttons and prayer magnets whenever we need them.

After serving behind the scenes for quite a few years they both had the opportunity to serve at the North Texas in 2016 as they traveled with the youth group from their church, Central Baptist, who came and served too. On Friday before the Expo they helped with prepping supply bins, name tags and anything else we needed done.  On Expo day they served in the registration area assisting both volunteers and participants as they arrived.  Anne says what she enjoyed most about serving at an Expo was “experiencing first-hand the happiness and enthusiasm of those volunteering that day, as well as seeing the joy of the participants.”

Having such close family and friends serving beside us even behind the scenes is such a blessing. It is also a joy to have people you have known for so long seeing the value in what God has called us to do and jumping in with both hands and feet to join in the ministry work. :)

Rays of Sonshine: Beth Arsenault

Beth Arsenault has been a Ray of Sonshine serving many in East TN for years and since coming to her first ETN Expo in 2015 has been a blessing for those connected with Access-Life, too. Her love for children with special needs is both deep and true as she has faithfully cared for many kids with a wide variety of disabilities in the area as a busy foster parent. As a result of this God given passion, it was only natural for her to jump in with both feet when discovering Access-Life and the local outreach opportunities.

In turn, she lead the East TN Outpost team that hosted our annual Jingle and Mingle Christmas party this past year, served as a hostess at our annual Crafting a Community Banquet in East TN this spring and is already thinking about painting nails again this year in the Prayer and Care booth at the East TN Expo in August. To say that Beth is an over-achiever is definitely an under-statement. :)

While Beth is living in the 4th quarter of life, she is determined to finish well as despite being a spouse to a person with a disability as well as a foster parent to children with special needs, she still wants God to use the gifts and talents that He has given her to serve and bless even more people living with disabilities through Access-Life. What an inspirational example for us all. In fact, it reminds me of verse 9 in Galatians 6 that encourages us towards this same goal: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

I hope you, like me are longing for the day when we will here our Saviors sweet voice say “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I know Beth does which is one of the reason’s she is May’s Ray of Sonshine!

Rays of Sonshine: Leanne Goddard

This month’s Access-Life Rays of Sunshine is someone you might not think of as a ministry volunteer. After all she is the co-founder and co-director with me but unlike me she receives no financial compensation directly. However, she works just as hard, even harder at times and is just as passionate and dedicated in serving individuals and families living with disabilities as any one I know.

In fact, she is the most inspirational person I know. Her heart for the Lord Jesus, His wholesome holiness, serving others and seeing people accept Jesus as their savior is second to no one I know. She serves behind the scenes, in front of people and often very long days tirelessly doing whatever needs to be done to get the job done. And the job maybe big like doing an Expo promotional eblast or small like taking the call of a person or family member with a disability. It may be mundane like filing a permit application or maybe exciting like seeing participants cheered for at an Expo. Whatever the task, she is faithful to the calling God has put on her life.

Now this does not mean she is perfect or never falls. Hey, we all do, right? But what is so inspiring is her heart that has confidence in Jesus as the one who enables us to follow Him, persevere and make a difference in peoples lives for Him. When we first met she told me her favorite verse was: Philippians 3:13-14: Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. After 25 years of marriage I know why. This is her heart, at the core of who she is and what keeps her going. And that’s why this month’s Rays of Sunshine is Leanne Goddard.

Rays of Sonshine: Jean Malacko

Jean Malacko is a true advocate for people living with disabilities. As the mother of a daughter with a disability and a key volunteer on our West Palm Beach Expo team, she stands in the gap for those in need in many ways. She is straightforward and bold but has the heart of a golden marsh mellow.

In fact, she single handedly by God’s grace secured 1,000 hot dogs, 600 hamburgers, 1,600 buns and $600 in donations for the outreach there on February 18th! All of this despite having no food service experience or special training in fundraising. How then did she accomplish such a monumental task? Simply by answering God’s call, being available to serve and willing to ask for what was needed.

You see God equips the called. When He asks us to step out of our daily routine and even comfort zone to serve Him, He gives us all we need. We simply need to follow and obey. He is the miracle worker not us and as we make ourselves available to Him, I know we’ll be amazed at the results. Just ask, Jean this month’s Access-Life Rays of Sonshine.

P.S. I would have included a photo or two of Jean but she was so busy behind the food table all day at the Expo that we don’t have any pictures of her. Go figure!

Rays of Sunshine: Jimmy Chestnut

1-19-2017-thursday-9As we just finished our 3rd annual outreach to Belize (see the previous 2 posts and photo collages), I thought it was appropriate to highlight, Jimmy Chestnut, one of the many hardworking and faithful volunteers who made the trip as this month’s Ray of Sunshine.

Jimmy was a great addition to the Access-Life Belize Team this year as he brought a genuine servant’s heart and the enthusiasm of a first time short term missionary to Belize. He also, brought a great deal of experience. This experience is not something most folks have or to be honest would even want on their resume. You see, Jimmy is a person living with a disability. He has Cerebral Palsy and uses a manual wheelchair to get around. Like many folks living with disabilities, he does not let these extra challenges slow him down but relies on the Lord with a Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ” attitude to move mountains in his daily life.

His quiet and innocent smile made most of us serving along side him forget that the mountains of life are even bigger in Belize as the muddy roads, rough inclines and multiple transfers in and out of his wheelchair each day never changed his rough but boyish grin. This overcoming attitude is what made his presence so important to those we met as it inspired many to see that “with God all things are possible”. Yes, even in the inhospitable conditions of Belize someone with a disability can serve God and be used by Him in a mighty way.

1-18-2017-wednesday-1That was Jimmy’s testimony from the start as he jumped right in with helping to prepare hygiene kits to give out to people in the villages and cleaning crutches and walkers to distribute at the Expo outreach. He was always eager to help with whatever tasks needed to be done. At some of the sites where our team built ramps, Jimmy was able to interact with people in the community, allowing them to see firsthand that disabilities don’t have to limit a person’s ability to serve God and others even in Belize. This message was again seen as Jimmy was able to work with Sharyn and Mike King at the Adaptive Fitness booth during the Expo and met several people in wheelchairs who came by that day, including a man who was a double amputee and another man who had been wounded in the military. 

1-21-2017-saturday-eli-10On the way home from the Expo, the team stopped by to visit Eli, a man who we built a ramp for in 2016. Mike King had a hand cycle to give to Eli and several from the 2016 team were looking forward to seeing Eli again. Jimmy admitted that when we stopped in Eli’s village, he really didn’t want to get out of the van because he was tired and was hurting from all of the activity of the day and week. Jimmy told the team that he sensed God telling him that he needed to get out of the van and visit with Eli, so he did, and he received a blessing in his life from being obedient. Jimmy encouraged Eli to continue in his faith journey and told him that he didn’t need to have “can’t” in his vocabulary. It was a moving experience when Jimmy voiced a prayer over Eli and ask God to help him to stand firm in his faith.

1-19-2017-thursday-37All in all, it was so encouraging to see God faithfully helping Jimmy overcome every challenge and being a blessing to others around him. From his fellow team mates to those who were surprised to see someone in a wheelchair coming to serve them, Jimmy brightened up the days of hard work and uplifted new friends all week long.