My classroom called life…Kingdom lessons

My desire is to abide

Get your Dance on… February 22, 2009

Filed under: Crazy stuff,Dance,Random — charredsmore @ 1:36 am

My Aunt sent me this crazy fun commercial that T-Mobile put out…it is stinkin’ hillarious. I would have loved to be there to see it…I guess only the dancers and producers knew about what would happen.

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Slumdog Millionaire February 21, 2009

Filed under: Movies — charredsmore @ 8:05 am

Sweet movie.

Totally prophetic.


I suggest you check it out.

It’s up for a couple Academy Awards (Sunday evening).

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SMG: 24, 25, 26, 27 Happy Valentine’s Day! February 18, 2009

Filed under: Surprise Me God - Round II — charredsmore @ 9:51 pm


WOW, WOW, WOW!  My goodness, SO much has happened in the past four days, I am completely overwhelemed.  Just when I thought I couldn’t take any more of God’s goodness…He pours out another helping.


My sister’s wedding week was a crazy organized frenzy.  Yea, if that makes any sense.  She had everything pretty much locked down and set except for the little details.  This was my sixth wedding and FINALLY I was able to help out for a WHOLE WEEK!  Usually, I am living in another state and can’t even get off work for more than the weekend, so this was a total blessing.  God has perfect timing in all things.  I am in the midst of transitioning jobs (same town) and just “happened” to have a month where I could take off to visit family, help with the wedding, visit friends, and take a sabatical.  Praise Jesus!  I always thought it strange when people just took a month off…kind of selfish if you ask me.  No offense to my good friends who have done this (many of them have).  NOW, I recognize the HUGE benefit, esp. when a person is in the middle of such a HUGE transition.  It is good…I HIGHLY recommend it, if it is a possibility.


Back to the wedding stuff.  Details, details, details.  Shopping, errands, tanning, hair, make up, dresses, bridesmaids, honeymoon plans, vehicles, limo, showers, friends, helpers, TR fam, music, family, neighbors, 400 roses, food, soda, engraved flutes, garders (now time to throw the garnments…haha Vince), speeches, toasts, dancing, more dancing, fun, fun, and more FUN!



My mom was a bit stressed the day before as we strolled frantically through Sam’s club trying to get the cakes, cupcakes, meat, cheese, veggies, and drinks.  We had some moments of pure hilarity…like I almost peed my pants laughing so hard with my sister, while Israel looked at us asking, “WHAT is so funny?!?”  I guess you have to be a Carney girl to recognize.  There were also moments of stress and yelling…of course not me…my sister was going ape about the pop.  Come on Stacy…it’s just a beverage.  Just kidding…I love you so much and all that yelling didn’t taint my heart of appreciation for you, it was probably pay back for all the meanness I gave you when we were little.



Wedding DAY…simply beautiful!  I was pretty much in awe of how Stacy’s friends came together to help out, and my friends who are also her friends.  Three close friends from my Two Rivers fam drove 13 hours to help with the wedding.  Talk about SERVANT HEARTS!  Yea, thats humbling.  The three of them took care of so many things…pics of the guest for the guest book, videography during the reception, fixing my sister’s hair, putting out table decorations, picking up food, running errands, replenishing food, making sure things were running smoothly, picking up afterwards (missing the dance), cleaning the building, and had a smile on their faces the entire time!  Oh, I forgot one…Stacy (one of my BFs.  We have lived together and worked together for the past five years!) who is also a good friend of my sister stood up in the wedding.  That’s right, she was a last minute BRIDESMAID!  Wow!  We have both been in like 6 weddings of close friends, but never together.  How special is that?The Bridesmaid situation was quite interesting and I won’t go into detail…basically they all got switched out the last three weeks before the wedding except for me.  I think all the women STacy invited to stand up in the wedding are wonderful sister’s in Christ, and I am still not sure what all happened, but I am praising God that He knows and He wanted the four of us to stand up in agreement with STacy and ISraels’s covenant of love.  The funny thing is that when STacy (roommate, not sis) told me she was coming to the wedding about five months ago, I pictured her IN the wedding.  Of course, I didn’t say anything…two weeks ago she actually pictured herself standing up in the wedding too (but she didn’t say anything either until after the event).  God is so good!



What else…hmmmm…lots of fun connections.  I got to see my neighbor, who sold us Yolanda, the teal sporty Saturn I drove in college.  We even prayed together for his family.  Talk about a blessing.  When I lived at home I was definitly NOT a Christian.  I thought I was, but really didn’t have a clue about Jesus or living my life in the Kingdom. 




Bethany School of Missions is a fun connection the Lord gave me while at One Thing this past December.  They had a little booth and were doing the recruiting thing.  Of course I stopped to chat…because I want to meet and talk to everyone, trying to figure out how we are “connected”.  This does get a little time consuming and can be rediculous at times, so I have to hold it down.  Anyway, I connected with these brothers at the booth and found out Bethany Printing Press is one of the largest printing operations for Christian literature.  Very cool…they do self publishing stuff, so you do all your own marketing and other stuff…which is PERFECT for me.  I don’t want to give anyone else money for doing something I already enjoy doing.  Got the deets there…hopefully my book will start really coming together.  After that I spent time in their prayer room.  Yea, that was good stuff.  The half hour went by in what felt like 2 seconds…I was reading through some of my favorite scripture in Song of Solomon…lots of revelation and more to come.  There is ALWAYS MORE!  Finally, I joined them on a little trip to Minneapolis to do some worship, prayer and outreach on the U of M campus.  Did you know this is one of the largest campuses in the US (as far as student population)? 




It begins with worship at The Source, a Chi Alpha church in the city.  They seek the Lord about where they are going to go…they share ideas and get into their groups and do it.  They really get into it too, like Bethel in Redding…asking the Lord for BIG things.  They expect God to really touch people, heal them, set them free, and minister to them.  After a few songs of worship, the teacher (yes, this is actually part of their class…my kind of class…hands on learning) lead us in a time of prayer.  He asked the HOly Spirit to show us who He wanted us to pray for and minister to that night.  Sounds crazy…but check it out!  I had a picture in my mind of the Starbucks on Riverside in MPLS (this is where I would get coffee before going into work at Freebees back when I worked with YW and where I would do in person interviews when I worked in the recruiting department), also it is where LOTS of Somoli men hang out (who lack revleation of JC – he’s MORE than a prophet friends.  Next a brother stands up and says, “We need to pray for the Msms!”  I guess he had been meeting with a group from campus and been totally recieved and welcomed even though they know he is a follower of JC.  He had been trying to contact them about the meeting for tonight, but no one was getting back to him.  So, as we are praying, HE GETS THE CALL!  Yes…it get’s better.  I finally feel liberty to share my silly little picture.  Afterwards, I hear the brother yell from across the room, “That’s where we meet them!”  Hahahaha, that is stinkin’ hillarious.  So, my friends, next time you have a silly little picture in your mind and don’t have a clue how it fits in the puzzle, I recommend you SHARE IT!



After the wedding Stace and Izzy got some prayer action from the bridal party, family and friends before catching their limo.  The day was coming to a close and the reality still hadn’t sunk in…MY SISTER IS A MARRIED WOMAN!  Mrs. Israel Heard.  WOW!  She is no longer a Carney.  How weird!  Now, I am the only single one in my family…YIKES!  I’m getting over it.  It’s not even a big deal to me anymore.  I just had to get over myself and focus my energy on the people who were getting married and know that my time will come.  Jesus is writing my story, and He is a pretty good writer…so I am not even worried.  Ha, remind me of that when I start freaking out. 

 giving-away-the-bride            the-boys           sisters    mrs-heard







The whole day was filled with blessings, joy, peace, and abundance.  It was almost like a dream to me…and I am sure for the two love birds.  Everything was taken care of as family and friends all pitched in to help.  It was elegant and beautiful.  The day seemed to fly by so quickly, but I soaked in each moment.  I almost forgot I had to give a speech…I had already written and practiced in my head, knowing I would lose it and get all weepy.  Luckily, Vince went first.  I was really impressed by his words of encouragement, the brother is only 18 years old, but holds wisdom.  Next, Israel told “the story” of how he knew that he knew SHE was the ONE.  I asked him to share it for those who hadn’t heard it yet, which was most of the people.  Talk about a God orchestration!  I will have to write that story on another blog for you.  Finally, the time came for the sister of the bride to share words.  I couldn’t help it…I started tearing up and crying, as I was OVERWHELMED with the love and goodness of our Father.  I was able to pull it together and share my perspective of their relationship unfolding from beginning to end.  I will try to post it on my fb page or something…maybe.  They are blessed and have an increadible destiny together in Christ.  He treats her as a princess and is SO IN LOVE WITH HER!  She recipricates love back to her groom and it is wonderful.  I look forward to seeing the path the Lord has for them now together as Mr. and Mrs.


I was house sitting while they were gone…so I cleaned up a bit, put their gifts downstairs and started organizing a little bit.  Their house is still a work in progress, they have painting and other projects going on…so it’s a lot like us…a work in progress. 


It was really nice having lunch with an old friend of mine from high school.  We didn’t have any contact for 10 years, then all of a sudden we are friends again.  It’s nice when you can just pick right back up…like time has just been frozen and yet you have matured and been transformed in pretty radical ways.  The relationship had not been tainted, just shifted a bit.  I like that.



Visited two good friends from Camp St. Croix.  They actually met at camp, fell in love, got engaged at camp, and got married at camp.  Yea, it’s a really fun story.   He is from New Zealand and a perfect match for her.  They have grown to love each other more through the last three years of marriage and I love witnessing their story unfold.  They bought a house like 2 minutes from my high school…how fuN!  I think I need to pay some old teachers a visit…hmmmmm….maybe today?  They will probably be glad to hear I am following in their footsteps.  Plus I would like to see Cindi in action (my friend from three years old, danced together and she is pretty much my sister) teaching SPanish and ESL.  Then I get to hang out with the International Students on campus!  Just like old times!  I would always rush to the International students and try to befriend them.



Lunch with the sisters (and little Jack my nephew) yesterday at Applebees was full of laughter and remeniscing.  I love them so much and wish I had more quality time with them.  Again, I reflect on the importance of family and the priority they are becoming in my life.  I wish Cairo was like 10 hours closer!  You women are so special to me.  This weekend will be nice, a bonfire on Saturday with the fam at Mom and Dad’s.



The Pastor who officiated the wedding is actually Israel’s old roommate and now brother -in-law!  How fun is that?  He is married to Izzy’s sister.  I am truly blessed by Israel’s family.  They are all unique in their own way and so welcoming and loving.  It has been wonderful spending more time with Alex and Mo and I look forward to more quality time and hopefully ministering together.  Maybe a mission trip….ooohhh, that would be fun!  Let’s go to Africa! 


Dinner last night with my Aunt and her best friend of like 3o years.  Again, a time of food, fellowship, sharing, and LOTS of laughter!  We were able to talk about so many things and I left feeling so encouraged by these women of God.  Thank you Jesus for the older generation that is pouring into the younger.  She actually goes to the church I was involved with while I lived in MN and where my sister and ISrael go…along with a bunch of high school and college friends.  God is truly doing a new thing in the Twin Cities….UNITE THE SAINTS!  Teach them, prepare them!  AMEN! 


Okay, I need to get going…I am thankful for those of you who are journeying with me on this “Surprise Me God” Experienment. 


Please…tell me if you are walking with me on this fun adventure.  Also, tell me the surprises God has brought to you…even if you haven’t asked.  I am curious!


And now to Him who is able to to immeasurably more than all you ask or imagine according to His Son Jesus Christ.

 Ephesians 3:20


SMG: 21, 22, 23 February 13, 2009

Filed under: Surprise Me God - Round II — charredsmore @ 7:52 pm

I guess good things come in threes. Only blogging when I have a minute to breathe in between the wedding madness. Not really madness, it’s super fun and I love details so it’s all good.

As I was reading through my SMG RII (Suprise me God – Round II) late last night I realized I use WAY too many of !!!!!!!!!!!!! these and also overuse the word, “AMAZING” and usually put it in all caps, which kind of reduces the word a little bit. So, my February resolution is to not do those two things so much, I need to get a lil more creative in my writing.

I’ll work backwards this time…starting with this morning.

  • I spent the night at my old neighbors (Mike and Kim) along with some of the TR family (Stacy, Jesse, and Heather).  Talk about weird!  Being right next door to my house.  Okay, not my house anymore…but come on!  I grew up there, and for like 26 years called it my home…now I am next door with my fantastic neighbors.  Hopefully I will get a chance to go and visit the new owners, they are kind people who would probably even give me a tour and show me the changes they have made on the house.  I think my mom has been back to see it, but not dad.  I guess that would be too hard…after you practically built the house (it was a smaller cottage type house on the lake until he pumped it with steroids and made it into a beautiful home – multiplying the square footage by DOUBLE).  It would be like creating a sculpture, selling it at auction, then seeing the new owner change pieces of it.  Of course they have the right and it is theirs, but as the artist it would be a hard thing to watch.  Perhaps that’s how the Creator feels about plastic surgery. Hmmmmmmmmm….something to ponder.
  • This morning I knew I couldn’t get out of bed at 5:00, no time for naps today.  So, when I was just lying there, still not falling back asleep, I decided to write the Maid of Honor toast in my head.  I was reflecting on the goodness of God in Stacy and Israel’s relationship.  The speach is written.  I am overwhelmed by the Father’s love and his orchestration of love.  “When God writes your love story”.  Simply beautiful.  Simply divine.
  • Last night was real fun, I ran some errands for the Bride and Groom, visited some high school friends, called some other friends, and finally met up with the crew at Caribou as they were closing.  Found out a friend of mine from high school works for the Academy Awards…WHAT?!?  I have to hook that up!  She is a FB friend, so I will have to message her and get the deets on that one.  The way I found out was a surprise…the dude who works at Caribou knows her sister and as we were talking about WBL alumni, he brought up her name.  Crazy stuff.
  • I took a nap…for the first time in probably over a year!  Yeah, I hit the wall yesterday after being up for 7 hours (and it was only noon).  When you wake up everyday at 5, the days are REALLY long.  Hey, I am NOT complaining…I LOVE THE MORNINGS!  Praise the Lord for early morning wake up with no alarm.  Love it.
  • Stacy and I had a break from each other…which was probably better for her than me. 🙂   She said, “Heather, can you tame it down today a little…I can only take so much of you.”  Not offended…I know I am a little…what’s the word?  Passionate, intense, LOUD, over the top, in your face…yea taming it down is a good idea.
  • Stace and I have had lots of fun laughs together.  We even went to the Verizon store so she could boot me off of the Family Plan.  Really, I can’t even get upset, it is TOTALLY my fault.  I was causing the minutes to sky-rocket, we kept going over, and I was texting like a mad woman.  Ha!  What’s up with Verizon not explaining themselves…when they said unlimited texting…I thought that is what they meant.  Really, they meant only to Verizon customers…which caused our plan to go up like 40 bones.  YIKES!  I think they will give us a bit of a reimbursement for that one.  I guess after 1,000 texts you can rack it up.  So, now I am alone again on my Verizon plan…probably better that way.  I won’t have to hear messages from my sister every other day, “Heather, can you please check our minutes on Verizon, we only have 100 left, which mean we each have like 2/day.”  Yea, like that is EVER going to happen.  I need to monitor myself so I can only get mad at myself.  Thanks family, the family plan was fun while it lasted.  What can I say?  I like to communicate.
  • I got a sweet deal at the tanning place.  They have these new beds that get you really dark really fast.  Man, I sound like a valley girl who only cares about her tan.  I normally am not a fan (anymore) of tanning beds, but hey it’s my sister’s wedding and I am really WHITE. 
  • The night before I spent with my bf from three years old…Cindi.  She lives in Wyoming….MN that is.  A bit out of the city, but a good drive anyway.  We went out to eat and had some major laughs.  As we reminisced about our past 25 years together, we both realized how fortunate we are…to be alive.  We were some crazy girls back in the day, and I am so thankful we are both different, transformed, made new.  Seriously without Christ, I would be…let’s not go there.  It’s too scary to even consider.  So, all of you high school friends reading this…yea, a new woman.  Not perfect, that’s for sho, a work in progress.  Amen.
  • Cindi is also a teacher – at our old high school!  I love it.  She teaches ESL and Spanish (which is what I started with before I had to diagram sentences…aaaaahhhhhhh, I had to go back to Math) …Profe Swensen is the best teacher at WB High!   She shared some pretty inspiring and hilarious stories.  Gave me some good tips on classroom management and just keeping it real with the students.  I look forward to more advice as time unfolds this new chapter in my life.  Thanks Cindi for being a wonderfully beautiful friend.  She also shared a bunch of wisdom from her marriage experience, which was also good.  I think I get it, really I don’t have a clue what it is like to be married.  Only when that time comes.
  • I did forget a couple from my La Crosse visit, so here goes…There is this worship deal that happens once/month at the La Crosse Center called City Praize.  It is put on by this millionaire couple who live in Sparta, along with some other marketplace saints.  They have been doing it for over a year now.  Every time I roll through La Crosse I am sad that I have missed it or am leaving too early.  This time I was able to celebrate with my family in La Crosse.  Talk about unique and Holy Spirit touched!  This gathering consists of saints from churches all over the Coulee Region…some travel a distace to be there.  They are not all Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Catholic, Methodist, or Charasmatic…but they are all included.  I heard there have been over 100 churches represented at these deals.  WOW!  Talk about a miracle.  God is in the business of uniting His Chruch and I am thankful it is unfolding in La Crosse.  This has been my prayer – John 17…that we would be ONE.  Also, I have been praying for the supernatural to unfold in this region.  I had a vision while worshipping…people coming out of wheel chairs and running up and down the isles.  People getting set free of all types of mean addictions.  Yes, that is my Savior at work and it will happen.  It probably already is. 
  • Another sweet blessing from La Crosse is a dear friend of mine I worked with for about two years while I was in college.  She had gone through some major stuff as a child that still had an effect on her as an adult (don’t we all in some ways).  While in college I had gone through this healing seminar and also recieved a little bit of training on how to walk someone else through.  It was pretty basic…lead them through their past.  Identify areas of bitterness, unforgiveness, sin issues, negative thought patterns, areas of hurt and pain…then ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the root and dig it out.  Although I say it is basic, is it extremely profound and powerful.  People are only vessels and not couneselors.  The Holy Spirit truly does the healing.  So, this friend wanted to meet with me and another close friend (who had also gone through the training) to walk through some inner healing stuff.  To be honest, I was terrified.  I didn’t want to “mess it up”.  Hearts are precious and this was one of His lambs, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing.  This was probably a good thing, considering I wasn’t the counselor anyway.  We met at my friends house (who was also being a vessel for the Spirit – I don’t know what else to call it).  She was so funny, she set an extra chair out for Jesus and put this large portrait of Jesus (you know the white blonde one…haha) in the chair.  It was symbolic of what was really happening.  Anyway, we walk through some stuff, she describes being sexually abused as a child.  She is not even emotional about it, kind of cut off the feelings in order to cope (totally nornal).  We get to praying and leading her through – asking Jesus where He was when that happened.  I felt kind of nautious, like, “What am I doing?  I have no business trying to lead someone through healing in such an intimate place in their heart.”  Well…let’s just say the Holy SPirit showed up in a BIG way!  She starts weeping pretty hard.  We ask her what she sees.  “He is here with me!  He is leading me out of the room, down the stairs, through the kitchen, out the back door.  I am safe, I am safe, I am out of the house and safe.”  By this time we are all losing it, weeping and praising God for deliverance.  The story does not end there friends.  She called me yesterday and told me that she won a piece of artwork (from a traveling evangelist/artist type guy who makes these beautiful and HUGE pieces of art about Jesus and the Kingdom) which is the EXACT picture of Jesus that she saw that day rescuing her.  How AMAZING IS THAT?!?!  Our God is so GOOD!  I praise you Father for complete healing, salvation, deliverance, and redemption of ALL things.  This woman truly has been renewed.  She came with me to the worship deal (described above) and I saw a FREE person giving her all to Jesus.  She said she always remembers that day we sat down with Jesus at the head of the table…so do I.

Give me your eyes… February 12, 2009

Filed under: Healing,Music — charredsmore @ 9:04 pm


My new favorite artist.

My new favorite song.


SMG: 17, 18, 19, 20 February 11, 2009

Filed under: Surprise Me God - Round II — charredsmore @ 8:47 pm



Blessings showered on my sister Stacy as we gathered to celebrate her and Israel’s union.  I rolled right in to Beth’s driveway right on time for the shower with the women in my family and Israel’s mom.  It was great fun.  My mom, grandmas, aunties, old babysitter, best friend from three years old, neighbor, and sisters were all there.  What a special time to honor and celebrate Stacy. 



Bachelorette Par-Tay

Stacy’s friends all came to her and Israel’s new house for a sweet time of fellowship and dancing.  We started the night out with introductions…share a funny/embarrassing story you have with Stacy.  She’s pretty good at that…so there are LOTS of stories.   You know I love you girl!  Some of them even had pictures from back in the day when they were together in Elementary School.  Talk about laughing hysterically!  I was even a part of some of those pics…memories…some things you can just go right back to…even if it has been 20 years!  Dang, I am OLD!  Her good friend Emily came (1st grade friend).  WOW!  How funny!  She’s great, it was really good to reconnect with her.  So, after the stories, we had some dinner and wine…then we got ready to go out on the town.  No, not Minneapolis…Sommerset.  Come on!  Our other sister Kelly DJs and does Karaoke at the Rendezvous bar on Saturdays…so we wanted to hit that up…a little more low key than the city!  haha.  Anyway, I didn’t get to go because one of the girls got a little sick (no, not from alcohol) and I brought her home.  All is well…Stace called me when they sang “Going to the Chapel” so I was able to still enjoy the music with them!  I was there in spirit.  I will have to hit that up sometime though…Kelly is quite the DJ! 



Auntie and a Movie Defiant

 It was nice spending some quality time with my Auntie.  She is so kind, generous, hospitable and loving.  I prayed that some of that would run off on me.  We went to the movie Defiant, which by the way is AMAZING!  The setting is 1941, WWII, Nazis taking over…Jews hiding in the forest.  This band of brothers took responsibility over a small group in hiding and it actually became a group of probably 1,000 or more.  They spent three winters in those trees.  Can you imagine?  It was amazing to see the community, love, sacrifice, and leadership of these people.  Totally reminded me of the Israelites in the desert…the grumbling, the complaining, the community, the provision, the love, the miracles, the survival.  AMAZING!  I would love to meet some of the people that were a part of this group, or their children.  I think I need to do some research…

There are a couple other movies currently out about WWII.  I didn’t really know this because I don’t have a TV and don’t see previews.  Some friends had told me about Valkyrie, Defiance, and the Boy in the STriped PJs (I think that is the title).  Anyway, I recomend watching them.  It would be good for your soul.


After the movie we went to one of my fav. restarants…Chipotle.  Yummy!  Next we went home and had some good chats…I filled her in on Cairo and my life and teaching and lots of things.  Finally, Grammy time!  I was a little disappointed, I thought my man LL Cool J was going to be hosting.  What happened to that?!?  I actually fell asleep during the awards show I was so tired, good thing a friend taped it for me!  I’ll have to catch up on that after the wedding. 🙂 

I slept over and she made me a delicious breakfast in the morning!  I felt so spoiled!  Thanks for being an amazing Aunt!



Wedding Plans

So I am officially a Wedding Planner!  Yes, I am available…call me and we can chat details!  Really, I love this stuff…weddings, couples, love, planning, organizing, details, stress…I LOVE IT!  I really don’t get stressed much so this is a perfect job for me.  It’s all fun.  Keep praying that I have a servants heart and that I am selfless in helping Stace and Israel…it is NOT MY WEDDING!  There are things that I would definitley do differently, but WHO CARES?!?  It is not my day.  Man, I really need to get over myself sometimes.  It is teaching me a lot about humility and servanthood. 

Bless these next three days Jesus.  Let me be invisible.



Israel/Church/College Friends/High School Friends

Went to Woodland Hills Church on Sunday.  I used to attend there pretty regular when I lived in the cities and Hudson.  Israel and I went together because Stacy was at work.  It was good to spend some quality time with my soon to be brother.  He is already really my brother in Christ, but you know what I’m saying.  It was a sweet message on the Kingdom of God being in us NOW!  Amen to that!  I appreciate Greg Boyd.  He get’s a lot of flack from people, but I really think his heart is in the right spot.  I may not agree with everything…but really when does that happen anyway? 


I ran into a couple old friend from college that I had not seen in probably six years or more!  Yeah, that was fun!  They are married and have a beautiful boy.  They are now attending this church, which I think will be really good for them.  The husband was my Bible Study leader when I first became a Christian – Angel Hall baby!  Talk about a baby…I was seriously on milk.  Sometimes I still am!  For those who are totally confused by that sentence…the Bible talks about the immature in Christ needing milk (like a baby)…the basics of the Word.  The mature are on steak…the more in depth things of God.  Yeah, I’m glad I’m a carnivore!  Haha, just kidding.


Ran into an old high school friend at the mall.  He is managing his Dad’s store.  It was real good to see him…it had been 10 years!  Yeah, I love reconnecting with people.  Two of my bfs from high school are coming to the wedding…I can’t wait!  Some other close friends will also be there – from the TR team and elsewhere…I am just inviting everyone!  WHy not?  My sister only get’s married ONCE!  It will be like a school dance…haha…bust a move. 



Sister Time

It’s been real good hanging out with Stace planning wedding stuff.  She’s all over the place…working, unpacking their new house, paining, cleaning, moving stuff, wedding stuff, shopping…WOW!  I am glad she is starting to have fun with all of this.  We have a good time together, mostly.  When I keep my mouth shut.  For real, I am learning how submit my words…it is NOT easy, but is GOOD!
Spent the night in Sommerset with my older sister, brother in law and nephews.  I love this sweet time with my family!  It is sometimes hard living so far away and not having this quality time all the time.  We had some good chats, laughs, made these cool sparkly t-shirts for the ladies in the wedding, watched my favorite movie, and cuddled with my nephews, listened to Talon play the keyboard, laughed at the new puppy, helped with school Valentines and had a blast.  I miss this stuff!  My nephews have to be the coolest kids on the block.  They are so smart!  I said to Kelly, I better have kids soon or their cousins are going to be like 20 years apart!  Good thing I want teenagers first.  They are all at work and day care/school, so I am just cleaning the house, reading and catching up on blogs.  I need to get bacm to the city though to take Stacy out to get her nails done.  Good times. 


Thank you Jesus for this sweet time with my family and friends.  Multiply the time…let me live in the moment…let me die to myself and love others well. 



SMG: 14, 15 February 6, 2009

Filed under: Surprise Me God - Round II — charredsmore @ 9:40 pm



These days are flying by so fast it is hard to keep up with recording.


Hmmmmmmmm, where to start? 


I have been chillin’ in La Crosse with my old college friends, which has been a major blessing.  As I spend time with them I realize how much I have changed and how much they have also grown.  Mostly on similar paths with the Lord.  It has been encouraging to see their increased faith and maturity.  Spending time with Bethany and the twins has been fun (although short due to busy schedules – and we have a date today that I am looking forward to).  I am so blessed to have this friendship that has taught me so much about Christ. 




As I spend time on campus memories flood my mind: Trowbridge Hall, Angel Hall, Hutch Hall, RA stuff, Education classes, Campus Crusade for Christ, Retreats, Mission trips, Panama City Beach SPring Break, Worship, Prayer, OUtreaching on the drunk bus, Late night talks, Perkins, Stats, STudying with friends, Cartwright, Pancake Breakfasts, Food Fights, King Street Castle, West Ave Wonderland, Mr. Ds, YMCA, The Salvation Army, Tutoring Program, Clinicals, Embarrassing Moments, Laughable Moments, Concerts, Awakenings, VIP, Envisage, Bluffs, Kim and Greg’s Wedding, Wonderful Roommates, The Rec, Rock Climbing, TESOL classes, International Students, New Friends, Old Friends, Witney Dining Center, Detoit Mission Trip, Summer Projects (Tahoe and Boulder), Tripple Bunk, Pranks, Long Walks, Clock Tower, “I agree with Dan” outreach, Evangelism, Blimpy Subs, Easter Week OUtreaches, Bible Studies, Praying in the studies with Nat…and LOTS MORE!  I love thinking back to where I was and now who I have become in Christ.  I was such a baby Christian!  I still am in some ways…God is so good.


Finally did all the paperwork to get my Wisconsin Teaching License!  Praise the Lord…it should only take 8 weeks, I am praying for 4!



Last night I drove to Sparta for a Bible study with Stacy and Tim’s crew…they are doing the Truth Project!  Talk about divine appointment, I have been wanting to hear more about this study after viewing the promo video.  It is amazing material.  NOt your typical fluffy stuff…serious, hardcore, intellectual study about our Creator.  I believe it is important to know the Word of God first and also to understand a little bit about science…even though it is a challenge for my mind to grasp some of the science, I truly desire to learn more about intelligent design and how our bodies have been formed.  It is truly a wonder!  He is truly a wonder!



Campus Crusade has a weekly meeting on Thursday nights, I am never in town on a Thursday, until this week!  So, I went to the meeting after the above Bible study.  It was great!  My old friend/acquaintance TJ spoke (he is now interning with CCC) about living in the Kingdom of the World, but opperating under the Kingdom of God.  Talk about a right on time word!  Thanks TJ for bringing it last night.  I am praying about our connection (Two Rivers/Cairo) with the La Crosse saints, and in particular Campus Crusade.  We will see what the Father unfolds.


After that hung out with a good friend, good chats, good laughs, good fun.


SMG: 13 (or something like that) February 5, 2009

Filed under: Surprise Me God - Round II — charredsmore @ 4:55 am

I am not really sure what day I am on…does it really matter?  Everyday has been an abundance of surprises, it is hard to keep up.







To give a recap of the last few days…

(Yeah, I really like linear bullet points and numbers, I am a dork and that’s why I am going to be a math teacher…lol)

  • Southern IL Call Jan. 31st was wonderful….except I was puking my guts out sick. 😦   On the drive there I started to feel queezy…knew it was spiritual attack.  Thought, okay, I know something is about to happen.  I got there and TR team was leading worship with a new addition – STACY!  I was so proud of my roommate for taking the plunge and getting up there on stage to help lead worship.  They seriously looked and sounded like a different team to me…more mature and strong in the Spirit.  AMEN!  I wasn’t supposed to be up there, even though I wanted to be.  I couldn’t even do anything.  I was just laying there with a pillow under my head at the front of the room.  They started doing some rapid fire (quick and short) prayers for the purging of sexual sin and refinement, repentance, and purity.  I started really feeling it…like I was southern IL feeling the purging.  Melissa came over to me to pray…she prayed what I felt the Lord was putting on my heart (that I didn’t tell her).  I needed to go throw up…asked Melissa to take my prayer time on the mic, she did and talk about POWERHOUSE!  Praise God for new positions in intercession.  Normally I would have loved to be up front leading worhship and praying on the mic…instead I was throwing up sin. 
  • Jan. 31st was my last official day as a prayer missionary with TR…of course I am still a prayer missionary, just hired by the school.  Just found out my first day is MARCH 3rd!  ONe month away friends and I will be teaching!  PTL!  They have the ISAT test the first week so it will just be proctoring and praying…
  • I stayed home to rest, even though I wanted to be on the road on the 1st…it was good, real good.  I was able to hang with my staff for a bit, rest, sleep.  PS  I woke up feeling almost 100 percent.  Nice!
  • Was able to attend Dr. Kinder’s going away party.  He is a friend of ours from the community/neighbor of our old office.  The school building we opperated from (ST. Joe’s) was actually in his yard…his family lives in the old convent.  THe party was inspirational, I was encouraged by his testimony and faith.  He shared miracles that happened at the clinic.
  • Next stop…Rockford, IL.  I was able to chill a bit and visit my good friend Jill.  Her husband Matt was at work, so bummer I didn’t get to see him.  I did get to spend a little time with their two precious “adopted” children.  We even prayed together.  Her little girl kept asking me, “Heather…pray for ME!”  I love it!
  • Now I am in La Crosse, WI (where I graduated from college).  It is so nice being back here for more than two seconds.  Usually it is a hit and run type deal, maybe squeeze in church.  I am here for a few days visiting friends and staying with Bethany.  Such a blessing!  God has done so much in my life since being here.  This is where I met my first love…JESUS! 
  • I already had a TON of divine appointments since arriving.  Met a couple gals in the student center who are reading Passion and Purity…we spoke about the Elliots relationship and prayed together…they are involved with Campus Crusade, which is the ministry I was very involved with when a student here.
  • Visited The Salvation Army, which is where I worked for two years while in college as the Director of Youth Ministries…learned a TON about the culture of poverty.  Anyway, most of the peeps I worked with are now gone, but some are still there!  I was able to connect with three of them today…talk about a CELEBRATION!   I have some special memories with them…thank you Jesus. 
  • Went to Panera…another appointment.  A guy from Cornerstone Church (which I guess is where a lot of my friends from The Salvation Army are now attending) who is a surgeon who actually went on a mission trip to Haiti with my roommate back in college!  Talk about CRAZY!  Lots of connections there.
  • Tonight I am going to Bible Study with Bethany…more fellowship with college friends and new friends.  Looking forward to that.
  • Connected with old roommates mom who works on campus…she has TONS of fun stories from when she attended college here at good ol’ UW – L and was involved with Campus Crusade for Christ.  There was a mini-revival that happened one summer when she was obedient and stayed back instead of going on summer project.  The Lord spoke to her heart about a summer project in La Crosse! 
  • Met up with my good friend Genny, who co-pioneered and lead the Awakening Dance Team on campus with me.   She is now working for this amazing photography studio which is owned by another college friend.  I am so proud of them!  Mueller Photography does QUALITY work, you should check them out for your wedding…
  • FREE BOOKS – that I actually wanted from the UW bookstore.  They have a rental service (no fees for books, that’s why I love UW schools!) and give away old publications they are no longer using.
  • FREE FOOD – from The Salvation Army
  • Had a wonderful conversation with a close friend who just returned from Korea (for her second trip teaching at a Christian University).  What a sweet friend!  I look forward to reconnecting in person Asha!

Nigeria’s ‘respectable’ slave trade

Filed under: Uncategorized — charredsmore @ 4:27 am


Last Updated: Saturday, 17 April, 2004, 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK
Nigeria’s ‘respectable’ slave trade

By Allan Little
BBC correspondent Nigeria



“Trafficking in human beings” is a phrase guaranteed to cause a sharp intake of breath among listeners from the liberal and affluent and concerned West.

Children can either be an economic burden or an economic resource
The view of trafficking in Nigeria is somewhat different. In fact, it is seen as an everyday part of West African life.

It starts with the promise of a better life.

The parents are taken in. The children are persuaded. When they leave home they do so willingly, with some excitement, not trepidation.

The trafficker has promised a good job, a schooling, a regular income. But that is not how it works out.

One young woman told me she was promised regular work in the Nigerian countryside.

Discernible shame

She found herself transported overland through the north of Nigeria, to Mali, then to Algeria, then Morocco.

From there she was smuggled into Spain, at night, in a small boat, and from there, on forged papers, into Italy by train.

They took her to a house in Turin where she lived with other girls, some, but not all, Nigerian like her, and under the control of a madam, also Nigerian.

She was put to work as a prostitute, something she speaks of now with a discernible shame.

After seven months she had earned enough money to pay off what she owed the traffickers for taking her in the first place.

The streets of Nigeria are teeming with trafficked children

When that debt was paid, her trafficker shopped her to the Italian immigration authorities and she was repatriated, home to Benin City, Nigeria with nothing to show for her ordeal.

There was a second young woman with a similar story.

Not yet out of her teens, her traffickers took her to Verona where she worked as a prostitute.

She spoke without shame. She spoke with anger.

“Just when I had paid off my debt,” she said. “Just when I was about to start working for myself, the police caught me.”

This is the pattern. The traffickers do not want their working girls setting up on their own, taking custom away from their girls.

Turnover – in human traffic – is everything.

Oil rich cities

Unicef estimates that human trafficking is more lucrative than any other trade in West Africa except guns and drugs.

The streets of Nigeria are teeming with trafficked children.

Of the hundreds of thousands of street kids living rough in Nigeria’s oil rich cities, perhaps 40% have been bought and sold at some time.

The girls most frequently sold into domestic service, or prostitution, the boys into labour in plantations, or to hawk fruit and vegetables for 12-hours a day in an open air market.

Some work as washers of feet.

Human trafficking is one of the biggest industries in West Africa
In Nigeria children enter the labour market almost as soon as they can lift and carry.

We watched a skinny boy in a dust bowl of a quarry carrying stone blocks on his head ferrying them from where they were cut from the earth to where they were broken down into usable pieces for the construction industry.

He worked here alongside his heavily pregnant mother.

He earned 40p (70 US cents) a day, which his mother used to buy food for her five younger children.

The boy was nine-years-old and he had been working at the quarry since he was seven.

Unicef believe there are 15 million children working in exploitative labour in Nigeria.

It is a 21st century slave trade.

What is most striking is the tacit support that human trafficking enjoys at almost every level of society.

Trafficking has the tacit collaboration of the victims’ own families

The Lagos middle class have a bountiful supply of house boys and house girls, brought from villages in the north by helpful aunts and uncles who pocket the cash and disappear.

No-one asks questions. No-one wants to know the answers.

For human trafficking is not something that happens on the criminal fringes of Nigerian society.

It is woven into the fabric of national life.

In Benin City, in the oil rich Edo state, east of Lagos, I met an articulate 15-year-old girl who said many of her friends had been trafficked.

“Their parents are involved,” she said. “They say to the girls: ‘Why don’t you go with this man and work. We have no money, we have nothing to eat. You can send us money.’ And so the girls go.”

And that is the problem. That trafficking has the tacit collaboration of the victims’ own families. That it is not seen as criminal activity at all but as a normal and even respectable way for a family of – say – seven or eight children to boost its meagre income.

Root cause

I have filmed for BBC television news in many countries of Africa over the last decade. But I have never had an Oscar winning Hollywood movie producer carry my tripod before.

David Puttnam – who made Chariots of Fire, Midnight Express, The Killing Fields – knows a lot about trafficking.

As president of Unicef UK he has seen it across Asia as well as in Africa.

What frustrates him here, in Nigeria, more than the poverty that is its root cause, is the attitude that accompanies it.

“Half of you feels sympathy,” he told me.

“But the other half wants just to shake the people here and say look – this is a large, wealthy, powerful country.

“Put the structures in place. Develop some determination. And this exploitation of children could be tackled and Nigeria could be a really successful nation”.


From Our Own Correspondent was broadcast on Saturday, 17 April, 2004 at 1130 BST on BBC Radio 4. Please check the programme schedules for World Service transmission times.


Show me the POWER! February 3, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — charredsmore @ 8:04 pm

The dress rehearsal. February 2, 2009

Written by Sara Rust (my lovely friend)


Last week we had a major ice storm here in Cairo. It took down most of the tree limbs all over the city, including most in our yard. It also rendered our town powerless for days. In fact as I write this there are still homes without power. As you can imagine with no power or light, things were very cold here, especially at night.

After the first night without power we spent the next day connecting with the police station and Red Cross to see how we could help. As it turns out, Cairo needed people to run the warming shelter in town until the Red Cross showed up. Our staff were able to help out! God had already prepared us to cook for the masses and set up sleeping rooms through our experiences with YouthWorks, we were excited to help (and also to stay warm, the warming center had a generator).

For a few days our staff rotated around the clock to prepare meals and care for those who came to the Elementary school to stay. I can’t tell you what a blessing it was to be able to care for the people of Cairo. I can honestly tell you I was exhausted at the end of my time slots, and wrestled to focus on Christ in the midst of all the tasks at hand. But the Lord filled us up through it all. I loved getting to talk to many people at the shelter and truly the Lord created a sweet atmosphere at the school. Everyone was appreciative and helpful towards on another. I loved seeing the kindness of the Lord displayed in the people of Cairo. It was also a wonderful blessing to work alongside the fire department and police department and city officials to serve our community.

I was particularly touched the night I went over with Heather C. to do the night shift. One of the women staying at the shelter was elderly and got around in a wheelchair. She ended up being very sick and throughout the night Carney and I would have to take her to the bathroom and then back to bed to tuck her in. Taking care of her was very humbling for me as it required me to get over any fear or awkwardness or offense and simply do what had to be done. As I was running around trying to get different things for this sweet woman I found myself stopped in the kitchen, pausing, filled with a thankfulness towards God, that He saw it fit to call me there that night to care for this woman. I know I don’t have anything to offer – just Christ’s love, and He has to help me give it out, even. This woman’s name is Jewel, and the Lord just reminded me of the rewards of heaven, the jewels in our crown and how special it is to Him every time we stop for the one He puts in front of us to love them with His love. It was a welcome lesson for me.

Because Cairo sits on a major fault line, we’ve known an earthquake is coming, someday to this area. It felt like these few days were a welcome dress rehearsal to what it might be like to care for people in the midst of another disaster. We continue to ask God to prepare us for what is to come and to fill us with His love that many would know Him as the loving Father He is, come what may.