30 Bloggers in 30 Days: $30,000 for Water

What if THIS was the only water you had to drink. Would you drink it?

Would you give it to your children, knowing that it will probably make them sick, but without it they will die.

It’s raining outside in Broken Arrow right now. My ground is parched and some of my plants have died and the rain feels good on my skin. We may have had a dry summer, but I’m not thirsty. I have clean water to drink, to cook with and to bathe in. I’m one of the fortunate ones.

The Bayaka tribe in Central African Republic are not so fortunate. Every day they walk to dirty swamps to fill up their jugs with bacteria filled water – one man set out to make a difference. Please watch this video.

I’m joining the ranks of fellow bloggers, in a campaign called 30 Bloggers, 30 Days, $30,000. The goal is to raise $30,000 in 30 days. Here’s the list of fine folks Tyler Stanton and Bryan Allain have assembled:

Bryan Allain, Matt Appling, Trey Boden, Jason Boyett, Everett Bracken, Stephen Brewster, Burnside Writers CollectiveTripp Crosby, Greg Darley, Sam Davidson, Rachel Held Evans, Evan Forester, Chad Gibbs, Susan Isaacs, Kevin Keigley, Lacey Keigley, Wes Molebash, Scott Moore, Eric Olsen, AJ Passman, Katdish, Brad Ruggles, Rob Shepherd, Jeff Shinabarger, Shawn Smucker, Tyler Stanton, Tyler Tarver, Tyler Thigpen, Karen Spears Zacharias

 Here’s where this money will go:

  • Our goal is $30,000. This provides clean water to 1,500 people (300 families, 6 entire communities).
  • 100% of the money donated goes towards water projects. Private donors take care of all the overhead.
  • $20 provides 1 person clean water for 20 years.
  • Our money will go towards building water projects in Central African Republic.
  • If you give, charity: water will keep you up-to-date with the status of your project, provide you with GPS coordinates of exactly where the well you contributed to is being built, and take pictures and video along the way.

So, how can you help?

  • GIVE. $20 provides clean water for one person for 20 years! Go to the 30 Bloggers, 30 Days, $30,000 site and make a donation.
  • SHARE about it on Facebook and Twitter. Follow @charitywater here.
  • Blog about it.30 bloggers is simply a starting point. We would love to have more people join in and help spread the word! And if you do blog about it, please let Billy Coffey know so he  can link back to your post.

Last but not least, here’s a bunch of cool downloads, banners and twitter backgrounds you can use. Thanks for your time.

Women of Faith: Tulsa Oklahoma, Imagine Tour

 Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Real Women

Real Life

Real Hope

I can still remember the day back in 2004, that my friend Rita stopped me in the hall, pointed to me and said, “YOU need to go to Women of Faith this year. It’ll change your life.” I seem to think I rolled my eyes at her and laughed. I was tired, beaten down with life and grief (I’d buried 10 friends that year), and frankly I was not in the mood for some churchy, happy, smiling faced, woman’s conference. I was falling apart and the last thing I wanted to do was sit around and listen to a bunch of women who had it all together tell me how great they are.  Don’t mind my pity party or self loathing – or the fact that I lived in constant comparison at that time – and always (in my opinion) fell short of everyone else – I was apparently enjoying it because I stayed there for an awefully long time. There is defeat brought on by life and there is the kind of defeat brought on by ourselves – I was losing hope.

The truth is, I was already secretly handing in my ministry resignation to God — going to a conference was not (in my opinion) going to fix me. I’d already convinced myself that I was too broken to be of any use anyway. Basically while I hadn’t given up on God, I had pretty much given up on myself – and thought he has too.

Ever been there?

Feeling smug in my ability to ignore my friend’s recommendation, I was not amused when I got a flier in the mail inviting me to a Women of Faith Conference in Oklahoma City.  Nor was I amused when a gal in my bible study announced that she was going and wanted someone to come with her and decided it would be me.

I’m a believer that God speaks through people. When I hear something once I might pay attention — but when the message comes to me three times in one week, I’ve learned to listen even when I have a broken heart.

I’ll never forget that first conference. I was introduced to wonderful teachers and speakers like Kathy Troccoli, Sheila Walsh, Patsy Clairmont, Luci Swindoll, Thelma Wells, and Marilyn Meburg. I laughed. I cried. I learned and I leaned into Christ for two solid days. I had no idea Christian women could be so honest with eachother.  Chonda Pierce was even there – which is how I met her, but that is another story.

I knew then and there, if I only go to one conference a year WOF was it.  Every year, God breaks my heart open just a little bit more and makes room for His healing touch in my secret places. He fills my heart with scriptural truths, joy, and tears and faith in what He alone can accomplish.  This year was no different.

This year I got to go with a bunch of gals from my church who had never been before and since it was in Tulsa they thought “Why not.” — What a joy it was to be there with them, laugh and cry with them — and stretch out to God with open arms — knowing that He was reaching back. One of the gals even asked if it was always like this and when I said yes, she said “oh this is a no brainer, I’m coming back next year.”

How cool is that?

Women of Faith is totally Christ focused. It’s full of gifted communicators and teachers who share their life stories, and share a faith in Jesus that always leaves me astounded – and hungry for more. I love it.

I’ll give you a brief recap of the Imagine Tour and some of what we learned. If you want to know more about the speakers, just click on their names to go to their web pages.

Marcus Buckingham: In a world that mainly focuses on fixing what we’re weak at, author and speaker Marcus Buckingham offers a rather different paradigm. Marcus believes that our strengths are gifts from God and he suggests that we find what we are strong at, and grow in those areas.  Now I’ll be honest I reviewed Marcus’ book Find Your Strongest Life Now a few months back and I had a hard time reading through it at first. It’s a bit too technical for me. I read a page of credentials and my eyes start to roll back into my head, but that’s just me. Once I saw Marcus speak and explain his thoughts at WOF’s opening day, I gained new insight into what it means to use the gifts God has given us – not for ourselves – but in order to make a difference in the world.  Strongest Life is definitely one for the tool box. Marcus has put together an easy test that helps you find your strength categories. I’m a Creator/Teacher. If you’d like to take his simple test, simply click Strong Life Test.  and see for yourself. – and remember, this is just a tool — Our toolboxes are only as useful as the tools we place in them. I like adding things to mine.

 Lisa Harper: My first question is how did this wonderful bible teacher keep from being on my radar all these years.  I really like this woman. She’s bright, funny, intuitive, and scripturally sound –  I could relate to Lisa on almost every level. I say almost, because I haven’t lived through everything she has. But close. Lisa talks about a personal relationship with a God who is passionate, powerful, loving, and untamed. She speaks of a Hero in her life – named Jesus and what he has done and continues to do.  She speaks about the women in his life from Mary to Martha to the woman in rags, she speaks of His grace, forgiveness, attention and love that he displayed towards them and continues to display towards us today. My only regret was not taking notes — I really wish I’d done that.

Luci Swindoll: How do you describe a woman like Luci? She’s a painter, a singer, a liver and lover of life. She is passionate about everything she does and brilliant to boot. What I originally liked about Luci was her common sense approach to living out her Christian walk. She embraces the life God has given her and does her best to live it out to his glory and not her own. She’s a giver in every aspect of living. She spoke about the importance of feeding our souls – with important stuff, not stuff of the world, but stuff of God’s gifts to the world – she is also careful to remind us not to be selfish with that, but to share with others.

Sheila Walsh: Even though Sheila is second on the roster, I’m writing about her last. I cried my eyes out the first time I heard Sheila speak – her story is so profound and heartbreaking and refilling all at once that you can’t help but be moved by it. I’ve had a wonderful time watching Sheila grow over the last six years. She is a beautiful, anointed, and gifted teacher, singer and speaker. I can only describe this journey as watching her grow into her skin and be happy there. She’s British (or maybe Scottish, I’m not sure) and it’s easy to mistake the posture that comes with it as cold assurance – when in reality I find Sheila to have this tender heart that just melts anyone’s who knows her. She teaches with clarity and focus and apparent confidence. This year she taught on trust — she spoke of Gideon and Abraham – and to quote my girlfriend – she got “in my business.” and I love it. She has a very gentle and affirming way of combining Gospel and Law in life changing lessons. If you saw only her — it would still be worth the price of the entire weekend.

There were more speakers and skits and singers but it would take a whole week to write about them. They are all wonderful teachers and inspiring women who speak of a faithful and true God. If you’d like to know more about Women of Faith please see their web page at www.womenoffaith.com

Have a blessed Monday ya’ll

This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. All rights reserved. Please note that no goods or services were exchanged for this blog post. I am simply sharing my personal opinion on valuable resource.

No Baggage Section Please

I love the stillness of private worship before corporate worship begins on Sundays. While visiting a church across town, I quietly sit in what is probably someone else’s pew, close my eyes and drink in the solitude and peace. My spirit is content, and I say a prayer.

“Thank you Lord for this church. The sermons are wonderful. The pastor is brilliant. I have yet to hear him say anything that I disagree with. I know he must truly be a righteous man. The music is uplifting and scriptural. The people are so warm friendly. No one has said or done anything mean or hateful. I haven’t lost my temper, got into an argument or let anyone down. No one gossips. This church is perfect Lord. But… we haven’t joined yet, and I know as soon as we do, that will all change… “

 It doesn’t take long for baggage to accumulate. A look here, a snide remark there. Misunderstandings, unmet expectations,  hurt feelings, gossip, lost tempers. There are all kinds of issues that can get in the way of worship if I let them. Geographical cures, while nice for a while, are not sustainable solutions.

The solution isn’t perfection, constantly moving, or avoiding all entanglements. The only real solution to baggage free worship, is Christ.

I really like visiting other churches. I especially like visiting churches that are nothing like my own. What I don’t like is when God has the audacity to speak to my heart in the middle of a service and tell me “You like it here because there isn’t any baggage.” Not to sound disrespectful to God or anything like that, but I was really annoyed that he would interrupt my denial and worship with truth that day.

I don’t suggest arguing with God while sitting in church. It might look funny. Nor do I suggest accusing his voice to be that of Satan. Communion doesn’t quiet go down right on those days. Who knew you could get indigestion from a little wine and bread.

The pastor asked me TWICE if I was okay as we were leaving. I’m not sure if I looked white as a ghost or what.. No I was not okay, I wanted God to agree with me and I wasn’t getting what I wanted. And how did he know I wasn’t okay?  

 Sin exists in and out of the church. We are all sinful and fall short of the glory of God. It doesn’t matter if it’s a church or a relationship of some kind. Sooner or later, we will let each other down. There will be misunderstandings, differing opinions, anger, and hurt feelings. There will be opportunties as well for reconciliation, repentance, and forgiveness — IF I don’t run away every time I get my feelings hurt, or hurt someone else’s.

I can carry that baggage with me into church via resentments, or even shame and guilt. OR I can lay those things down in my confession, be fed and strengthened by the body and blood of Christ, allow the sermon to renew my mind and leave behind that which weighs heavily on my heart.

This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. –We aren’t changing churches, by the way.  My husband and I are very active in our home church and committed to our church’s mission plant. We do however like to change things up and really do enjoy worshipping across town at another church as well. It’s a high liturgy service and we think it’s beautiful.

Ablaze Church Update Nov 2 2009

There are days when I wish we all read the same Websters Dictionary. Words are becoming too interchangeable  and it is easy to miss a point and lose your audience.  I’m especially aware of it now that I’ve returned from a speaker’s conference. The “but I know what I meant” doesn’t cut it. I need to make sure other people know what I mean as well.

It has also changed how I listen and how I ask clarifying questions. Sometimes it’s not what is said that causes confusion in my head, but what I think I hear. I get it wrong sometimes.

I’m a bit of a scatter brain, let’s face it. This is going to be a challenge for me. It’s also one I think is worth facing.

A good example is the way LCMS interchanges the words “Mission Start” and “Daughter Congregation”. One implies an eventual independent church and the other implies a satellite location. Most lay-ministers agree those are two different entities.

The problem lies, not in the layministers, but rather with those in pastoral rolls.  Many LCMS pastors and publications are using those two phrases synonymously when they really aren’t the same thing. This is causing confusion Synod wide, not just in our little church.

Is Ablaze in Broken Arrow a satellite or a mission plant? It honestly depends on who you ask. And that status is up for grabs at various intervals of time. The bottom line is, Our Savior is trying to figure that out. Our church leaders are reviewing many roads and many options. They will be presented to the congregation once they sift through it all.

Good changes have come about in recent months.

1 The board of directors at Our Savior is taking a stronger level of ownership at Ablaze and is applying the OSL by-laws to our plant. This is a change from last Spring when the BOD did not think those by-laws should apply.

2. Our Savior voted to allow Open Arms Learning Centers to come in a do market research. Just the research. They did not vote to build a preschool yet.

3. Four parcels of property were reviewed and released for the market proposal last week.

4. A new Bible Study is starting up in one of our member’s homes on Thursday evenings.

5. The teen youth at Ablaze are being included with our Senior High Youth Group at Our Savior and are all working together towards going to National Youth Gathering next June.

Now we wait.

Once we get the survey back, the board of directors at Our Savior will present the findings and recommendations to the congregation.

We still have some page turning to accomplish.  The in-house recommendation from the Strategic Planning Committee and the Board of Directors (both at Our Savior) is to treat Ablaze Church as satellite. That isn’t what the congregation approved three years ago. That too will need to be addressed after the first of the year before we move forward with anything.

If we treat Ablaze Church as a satellite location that means sharing of staff and resources. It means also that Our Savior carries the fiscal burdens of Ablaze as well. It means of lot of things that still need to be ironed out and researched.

In the meantime, the team worshipping at Ablaze are diligently searching out a more permanent venue for worship. Mobile churches are exciting, to be sure. They are also exhausting. We have over 50 people worshipping with us on Saturday nights. They and we, need a more stable home. Please pray with us that we find it.

Ablaze Church Update — September 28, 2009

Welcome to our weekly update. Helping everyone keep up with what’s new at Ablaze isn’t always easy. The most difficult aspect of that is finding time to report.

We have many wonderful things going on right now. The best is our home congregation, OSL, voted to allow $15,000 that was reserved for a land purchase to be moved in order to pay for Open Arms Institute to come in and do a Market Research Study. This in-depth independant study will provide us with clear cut answers as to whether or not Broken Arrow is indeed a viable area for our church plant and learning center. I think that is a positive step in the right direction. Once we receive the results of this study, our core team will have a better understanding of the road ahead.

Our voters meeting this past weekend helped clarify a lot of questions that did still exist in the minds of people at our home congregation. One of the questions was is Ablaze a Mission Start or a satellite/Daughter location? According to LCMS COVENANT CONGREGATIONS site, we are both. The words are really used synonymously through out synod. Which can be confusing to people, I know. OSL is a Covenant Congregation and has been since 2008. We are the only Convenant Congregation in the state of Oklahoma. I think that is exciting.

The good news is both locations, our home location at OSL, and our Mission location in Broken Arrow utilize the same staff, same resources, and are part of the same body.

Broken Arrow is growing to the point that we need a new facility to meet in. We need our own place. This is why, now is the time to begin researching our options within the community we serve.

Our youth that meet at Ablaze are now wanting to meet during the week for fellowship and Bible Study. Our leaders, Erric and Jen are looking into viable options for that.

Wonderful things are happening.

All Glory to God.

Ablaze Mission Start Broken Arrow 9/15/09

Our core team had a group meeting last week, and then a board meeting this week.  Ablaze Church is still running strong, and we are facing some very real blessings that are driving new needs.

Having a mobile church is taking it’s toll on our people and our equipment.

Moving things in and out of our trailer, and storing them in a non-climate controlled garage at Our Savior has caused breakeage. We have replaced $6,000 worth of equipment this year alone.

The team is getting tired. Our core team is there every Saturday from 3 pm to 10 pm, loading, unloading, sound check, teaching, praising, and packing it all back up. That doesn’t include the additional 10 – 20 hours during the week for planning, practice, and administration.

We’ve outgrown our facility. We feel like the Old Lady who lived in a shoe – we have so many kids we don’t know what to do. We’ve run out of space at our present location and our youth group has grown to the point they want to meet outside of Saturday night.

These are all good things, and we need prayers for a more permanent location. 

Having a 100% layminister/volunteer run mission start may work in the beginning, at some point though, paid staff needs to be hired in order to move forward. We are at that next step.

So my friends, please keep Ablaze Church in your prayers as our core team comes up with a plan for the future.




Ablaze Church Post for August 31 2009

There is an emergency team meeting tonight, with several key members of our mission team. I will not be posting an Ablaze post this week. There are many things to be worked through, and prayed over. Please keep our Mission Start in your prayers while we try to discern the voice of God from our own.




Ablaze Church LCMS Keeps on Ticking

“Pastor, I don’t feel comfortable with all of these new people coming to our church. I mean just look at them. They aren’t like us.” — Real Quote from a real Elder to a real pastor. What was he complaining about; the 300 + new members that joined the church from 1991-1994 ish. My husband and I were part of that group of new members. I’m not sure if that made God laugh, or cry. I do know that He knows the plans he had for them and us, and today God just smiles.

Skaters shred through the school parking lot every Saturday while we have church. They come close enough to hear the music and glance at the people walking in, but that is it. They have bigger things to do with their time on Saturday night than visit our little mission start. They seem more focused on the curls, kicks, flips, and stops they are trying to perfect than they are us.

They are pretty rough around the edges, these skater boys. They aren’t like us. Or are they? Our door is open, they hear the music as they skate and shred and whatever else they call what they are doing. Sometimes I could swear they slow down just a little with each pass. I could be wrong though.

Funny thing about our little mission start who, worships 50-60 people a week, we have teenagers. Lots of teenagers. While the adults appear invisible to these skaters, the teen girls don’t. So they decide to pay a visit this week.

I’d like to say, they came to worship. But they didn’t. They came to cut up and tease one of the girls they knew from school. All three boys went to teens church and proved to be a challenge for our teachers.

During our prayers in the main hall, separate fro the teens, pastor prayed for those boys. He told God that while we think we know why they came in (girls), we pray that God would call out to them, be real for them and make them his.

When church ended, one of the skater boys left. The other two? They sought out pastor – apologized for the disruption and asked about Jesus.

“What do we need to do to be saved?”

They asked that!

Hmmm.. Kinda reminds me of another group of “not like us” people. The ones the Pharisees didn’t like. The ones who followed Christ in all their humanity and brokenness. They asked the same question of their own Rabbi, Christ. And he answered, “Believe in the one whom God has sent.”

Pastor and those boys sat down on the steps of our make shift alter, the cafeteria stage and prayed.

That’s why we are there!

Forget the politics. Forget about the present ELCA vs LCMS drama. Forget everything. But don’t forget those boys. God didn’t.


Ablaze Church Block Party

kids and waterWell, it’s official – our second annual block party / neighborhood festival was a huge hit in the neighborhood. We had great entertainment and worship from Halo Jordan, Rhema’s Axis Band, Zion’s Fire, as well as Christian Comedians Michele VanDusen and myself.  Yes, I do stand up comedy and no that isn’t anything new, I’ve been making people laugh on accident for years. Now I just do it on purpose. If you don’t believe me just ask my pastor about the time I informed him in Sunday school that I hated the Rachel in the OT (Jacob’s Wife).I thought the fact that God gave Christ through Leah shows that God does indeed have taste and that he gave men beautiful women for no other reason than to make complete fools out of them.

Yeah, that went well. I have the ability to make my husband hide under tables and my pastor to hang his head and blush. What can I say, it’s a gift. Being part of CCA is a huge honor and privledge. It is an opportunity to share the gospel through humor and Grace and make people laugh in the process. I could not be more humbled by getting to be a part of it.

Jennifer Weiser did a great job coordinating everything and the only sad part of the day was she had two performers pull no shows. She did however have a lot of help the day of and big thanks go out to everyone who participated in making the day enjoyable for the community.

Pictures from the day.



Dale Brookshire Brought out his chuckwagon for great food.
Dale Brookshire Brought out his chuckwagon for great food.


Pastor Dreier delivering his message
Pastor Dreier delivering his message


Our volunteers and performers
Our volunteers and performers


The day was long for everyone who was there by 9 am setting up. Even so, tired or not – chearful faces and chearful hearts greeted everyone who cae. Thank you’s go out to everyone who helped.