Well, it’s been a good year of highlighting some of the ministry’s bright and shining hearts with our monthly Rays of Sonshne BLOG posts and today is our final highlighting post that features yet another very special volunteer: Helen McClaren.
Helen began serving with Access-Life at our first Expo in East Tennessee back in 2010. Since that time she has become a key member of the area outreach planning team spearheading the food service and volunteer recruiting at her church each year. She has also become an Area Outpost leader not only attending local ministry activities but seeing that her church hosts the annual Access-Life Spring Fling. To top off all of these accomplishments, Helen join the ministry’s board of directors this year. A real blessing for our leadership team. :)
Despite all her hard work and accomplishing so much for the ministry, Helen is a behind the scenes, low key kind of leader. She leads with actions and can definitely speak up about her passions of serving others, especially those with disabilities in Jesus’ name. But, Helen, does all this with a gracious smile and serving with a “however needed” kind of attitude. What a great reminder for us all about what God can accomplish as we work diligently for Him with the heart of a servant. That is what impresses us most about Helen and why she is December’s Ray of Sonshine.
Wow, what a busy month it has been with Thanksgiving and the pre-Christmas rush! However, even in the hurry of the season, I want to pause and reflect on the faithful behind the scenes service of two dear friends: Ed and Wendy Nordine.
These two folks have been involved with disability ministry since before we even arrived in Florida as Wendy volunteered for years as the Joni and Friends Wheels for the World Florida Collections Coordinator. This is actually how we met as Leanne and I both served on staff with Joni and Friends here in Florida from 2007 to 2010.
When Access-Life started in 2010, Ed and Wendy were some of the first to jump “on board”. The did so almost literally joining the ministry’s board of directors that same year. Since then they have been leaders on the West Palm Beach Expo team, traveled to help at the Jacksonville, Central Florida, North Texas and East Tennessee Expos and even rounding out their full participation by collecting mobility items for our annual Belize outreach.
From their support in praying, giving and serving, Ed and Wendy are such blessings in all they faithfully do for Access-Life which is why they are this month’s (November) Rays of Sunshine. :)
What a God blessed 40th Expo we had on Saturday! Yes, the Central Florida event on November 11th was our 40th outreach since 2011 and as with each Expo is was amazing to see God work bringing heaven to earth and putting smiles on faces thru the joy of His presence!
The temperatures were ideal and the few momentary showers were simply reminders of God’s care in watering things as needed here on earth. Although the volunteer turn out was lower than usual, God was faithful in providing all that was needed for all 568 attendees to be blessed including the addition of an accessible 6 seat shuttle, hoverball archery activity and a giant 14 foot canoe! The timely arrival of a team of 20 helpers from Centra Care Mission for tearing down and loading the 20 foot trailer was an encouragement as well. :)
All in all this was our smallest outreach of the year but as we have always said, we are there for whoever God brings in need of some respite, adaptive adventure and a special touch from Him. This was brought to my mind by several families who expressed such gracious thanks Saturday for hosting an event tailored just for them and their needs. The smiles I saw on so many faces including a youngster who had just gotten off of the giant canoe and was sopping wet as “Mr. Bill” had taken them under the fountain, reminded me that God was there working in so many ways that day.
Above is a photo collage and there are about 25 pictures on the CFL Expo page on our website (https://access-life.com/cfl) so feel free to checkout the fun photos and share as God leads!
This month’s Rays of Sonshine is someone who has been with the ministry from it’s start in 2010. In fact, she served as a volunteer for Joni and Friends when Leanne and I led the Florida office back in 2007. Her service with Access-Life has been diverse as well as longstanding, starting with the West Palm Beach team before she and her husband Steve relocated to the Villages where they now support the CFL outreach.
She is a Physical Therapist by trade but is known in the ministry world for her fabulous administrative skills. However, in actuality she is an awesome networker, too. In fact, she has successfully coordinated groups of folks from her church volunteering at the Expos in CFL as well putting together their own team for our annual Big Wheel Deal wheelchair basketball game in the area.
All in all, what makes her standout though is her faithful service and hard work. She is committed and consistent in her heart for people, love of Jesus and willingness to go the extra mile which is why Jodi Rowe is October’s Access-Life Rays of Sonshine. :)
This month’s Rays of Sonshine is someone who loves working with people living with disabilities and has made a career of providing programing to folks with special needs in the Jacksonville area. In fact, she manages the Bethesda Lake park where we hold our annual Jacksonville Expo and conducts year round activities for those living with disabilities locally. Despite having a slight hearing impairment, she has a winning “Philippians 4:13” attitude that matches her joyous smile and is our most enthusiastic Expo supporter in the area. :)
What we so love about Gaile is that she not only welcomes us at her facility but that she supports what we do 110%! There is obviously the business side of renting the pavilion and cabins, paying fees and getting permits but she goes beyond the basics to help us as an exhibitor, volunteer and networker. Currently, she is even contacting local churches and organizations close by the park trying to secure extra parking for the 2018 outreach. Wow, what a blessing!
All in all, like our other Rays of Sonshine what really makes her special is her love for Jesus and seeing Him transform lives and communities. So thank you, Gaile and may God expand His kingdom and bring heaven to earth more and more in Jacksonville and beyond. :)
Well, this months Rays of Sonshine post highlights two people who we’ve known for nearly 20 years. They are dear friends and long time advocates for people living with disabilities including serving on the Access-Life board of Directors for over 6 years from 2011 to 2017. They have served on 3 of our mission trips to Belize and helped lead the planning for the North Texas Expo since it’s beginning in 2012. However, what makes John and Lisa so special is not all that they do (which is a whole lot LOL) but their heart for people.
The so love helping people living with disability in their times of need. They do it everyday, too as the own and run a durable medical equipment store in Hurst, TX. They see, meet and make friends with individuals and families members living with disabilities on a daily basis. In turn, reaching out to these folks through Access-Life has been a natural fit. Helping them know that God loves them, has a good plan for their lives and wants them to live abundantly fill with His joy is a natural extension of what John and Lisa already do through their store and work.
Isn’t that a lesson we all need to learn and relearn every day? Letting God’s light and love shine through us leading others to true life only found in Jesus. A Life that gives hope, peace and joy. A life that is about overcoming and living abundantly making a difference for God’s kingdom and bringing heaven to earth each day. So let us each of us honor God with every word we say and every deed we do and please join us in celebrating this month’s Rays of Sonshine: John and Lisa Deeds.
What an awesome day God gave us Saturday at the ETN Expo! God blessed us with 865 attendees this year including participation from 11 churches in Jefferson, Hamblen, Grainger and Knox County.
While the boat rides, bank fishing, archery kayaking and horses were once again popular mainstays, the addition of a rockwall this year was a new activity and big hit with folks. I was specifically encouraged by the dad of a boy with a disability who when thanking me for hosting the event told me they tried to get their son to rock climb several years ago with no success but on Saturday he climbed the rockwall to the top making for a memorable day.
All in all it was a great outreach from the free hot dogs and snow cones to the sand cross craft and tie-dye t-shirt decorating and I hope you enjoy the above photo collage as a reminder of God’s goodness. Feel free to forward, post and share it, too!