My classroom called life…Kingdom lessons

My desire is to abide

LifeSkillz – Praying for Transformation July 4, 2009

Filed under: Cairo Kids,Ministry Stuff,Youth — charredsmore @ 6:37 pm



As I shared bits and pieces of my testimony with the students, their eyes were wide and some of them had open mouths. 

 “Who is this girl you are talking about?”

 “Yea, I feel like I am talking about a different person…” 

During our LifeSkillz class that Coraviece and I are conducting in Mounds and Cairo, we have opportunity to teach the students about a lot of cool stuff.  I am amazed at how this has all worked out.  I mean, come on…I was about to meet with a group of teen girls this summer and do exactly that – teach them about positive decision making, myths of drug use, peer pressure, sex, STDs…and now I can actually get paid for it.  Praise Jesus!


God opened the door for me to share a little about some past experiences.  My only hope is that they learn from my terrible mistakes and make better ones.  Also, that they would see the glory of God in my life.  That He is the one that turned me around. 


After LifeSkillz, one of the gals was helping us unload our stuff at Cora’s house.  We got to chatting about quite a few things.  She asks us why we are so concerned about what the teens are doing. 


“Why are adults always giving advice, can’t we just learn from our OWN mistakes?”


 I began to share with her how I grew up in the church and yet didn’t understand who Jesus was and why he died on the cross and why that mattered in my life.  I told her that IF an older woman would have come into my life to share the truth about Christ, maybe I wouldn’t have made such poor decisions.  I told her with passion, how much I loved her and wanted to see her make good choices and not suffer the consequences that I faced as a teenager.  We talked about a lot of things and prayed before we left.  Overall, I am just in awe, watching God touch the lives of these teenagers. 


It is just beautiful. 


Please, continue to pray for these teenagers.


Antwone Fisher March 16, 2009

Filed under: Cairo Kids — charredsmore @ 5:02 am

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This movie makes me cry…
For a lot of reasons.

It reminds me too much of the situation that my kids are in here in Cairo.
I call them my kids because I feel like a mom and for some reason I think that’s okay. I’m not trying to replace their mother, but in a way we are all spiritual moms to these precious ones we love so much. We love them so much it hurts. It hurts to see them growing up in terrible situations. Terrible because their parents are broken and hurting, never healed, only to go on and continue the cycle of pain.

This movie represents the lives of so many…
Abandonded by family, abused by the ones who were entrusted to care for them, learning how to survive the war within themselves. The battle tears at their soul. They run in fear. They run from relationships, isolating themselves. Being a loner is better than being hurt. It doesn’t feel good but there doesn’t seem to be any other options. Running away from problems is no way to live. Running away from those who are trying to love you is no way to deal. Once they come to the realization that there is HOPE and that people do CARE they start opening up. It all takes time. Hearts don’t heal fast, but they do heal completely.

There is hope. There is redemption. There is forgiveness. There is newness. There is LIFE beyond the pain, abuse, neglect, and rejection, there is LIFE. His name is JESUS. He is our HOPE.

When I look into the eyes of a rebellious teen, I try not to see the hard exterior shell…I try to see what He sees. Let me take another look.

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“Give me your eyes just for one minute”
Brandon Heath song


Eddie James Worship… January 21, 2009

Filed under: Cairo Kids,Dance,Ministry Spotlight,Music,Youth — charredsmore @ 4:13 am











Eddie James Worship


Running Hard… January 19, 2009

Filed under: Cairo Kids,Newspaper Articles,The Race — charredsmore @ 7:29 am


This makes it official.  Real.  Authentic.  No backing out now.  I’m accountable to all of you reading this. 


I am training for a half marathon.  Yeah, Heather, who “hated” running not long ago is attempting the “impossible!”  Ha!  I have always loved making and reaching goals, whatever they may be.  That’s just me.  I have always loved pushing the limits…sometimes that can be good, sometimes bad.  Forgive me when you have been the brunt of the bad.   I am learning and growing, esp. with my words.  Yikes!  The power of the tongue.  I really need to be careful with my words.  Okay, back to the running…


I love going to the gym, I love working the elliptical, the bike, rollerblading, lifting, aerobics, Billy Blanks, rock climbing, sports…you name it…EXCEPT RUNNING.  I watched my roommate and good friend/-train for a half marathon and celebrated with them when they finished.  It was a marvelous event!  The energy!  I was wishing that I could have been there withthem running through the finish line…even though I hated running at the time.  Haha!  Funny, the different emotions you feel when watching people complete a marathon.  Really, it reminded me of the saints, coming into the Kingdom after a hard life of persevering and constantly choosing life, choosing obedience, choosing Jesus.


This past year I helped the 5th and 6th graders train for a 5K Levee Race in Cairo.  It was incredible to see the students persevere in running and training…hard.  This was a challenge for them.  Most of these students have not seriously committed to anything in their lives…this was a first for them.   Praise God!  They wanted to commit.  They wanted to run, even when it was hard, even when they complained, even when they whined…they did it!  I was INSPIRED!  I ran along with them, a 5K, which was a first for me too!  Before, I couldn’t even make a mile without walking.  Now, I was addicted to running.  I have be a little careful about this one too…with my personality type, I can just plain get addicted to anything…healthy or not.  I prefer to ONLY be addicted to the Holy Spirit these days.  I pray it stays that way.


Back at home over Christmas I reconnected with a friend who is a rockstar triathalete, or at least training to be one.  Super determined and goal oriented.  Helped write out a training plan on a napkin.  I really need to start following it pretty strict if I want to do this thing.  Haha, don’t worry Chris, I am not a total slacker!  So pray for me friends, this endurance thing is hard work.  Espescially when you are busy, out of town, have tons of committments and responsibilities.  It has to be a priority.  When it is a priority (no, of course not the first or even second or third priority) you make movement and progress.  My friends, the gym will be my best friend for a while.  I should start going early in the morning, time with the Lord while running on the treadmill is good stuff.  I’ve even done some church up in there!  For real, they are closed on Sundays, but we have a key (yea, small towns still trust people) so us girls will sometimes hit that up with our ipods full of some worship music, scripture in front of us…pressing in while pressing on.  I keep on keepin’ on!  Yea.  Something like that.  That’s my desire.



Of course there are 100’s of parallels with my spiritual journey…


“Running the race with perserverance.  Run as to win the price, which He has called me Heavenward in Christ Jesus…”


Since moving to Cairo I have known that my life is pretty full of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), however a couple biggies are lacking.  A good friend prayed over me regarding a really tough situation, two words came to her, “PATIENCE and PERSERVERANCE.”  Now, it is three and a half years later and another close friend prophesied, “PATIENCE and PERSERVERANCE” over my life.  “These are/will be the cornerstones of my life.”  I nearly dropped the phone.  Are you kidding me?!?  Along with that a vision of running across the finish line with the Olympic rings above my head.  WOW!  Talk about Jesus speaking directly to my HEART!  I love it.  I love Him – Jesus. 



I will reflect and share more on this journey as it unfolds.  It will be a challenge.  But everything worth fighting for usually is.  That’s why it is a battle.  The easy stuff isn’t appreciated as much – ya know?  So, I press on…I run…I keep on…I MUST!


Pray for me on this journey.  Both the marathon and the spiritual journey. 


The predicted (half) Marathon of choice…


Drum roll please……………………………………


Santa Cruz, California

April 19, 2009


I was praying to go back to Cali. for my spring break.  Yes, I will have a spring break, now that I will be teaching (starting in March).  While checking on line, I wanted to do something in the Bay Area…this will be the very last day of my spring break…in a place I almost ended up moving to about four years ago.  Yeah, I always knew I would be moving to California, so I started looking for jobs at different camps.  I had a friend from YMCA Camp St. Croix (where I worked at the time) who had worked for this great camp out there (Santa Cruz).  She suggested I apply.  While in the interview process I was not feelin’ it was for me at the time, although I was drooling at the possibility.  When the job was offered, I politely declined, knowing the Lord had His perfect time.  Now, I know that was His best for me.  I was definitleyNOT ready to head out to Cali.   I was definitley supposed to be in Cairo, IL, the desert.  I needed/still need MUCH refinement.


His perfect time my friends. 


So, really, it’s all kind of a prophetic act…







The race. 

The challenge. 

Running Hard. 



EJM – “I felt like I was at a House Par-Tay for JESUS!” January 14, 2009



For the past two nights I’ve been getting my praise on in Paducah with brothers and sisters from Eddie James Ministry…okay they have like a million names (like our ministry), but this would be the most familiar.  This ministry is raising up a generation in LOVE with Jesus.  Taking them off the streets, out of gang life, drugs, addictions, sex, alcohol, hate, bitterness, unforgiveness, fear, shame, guilt, fatherlessness…the list goes on.  Basically this family lives RADICAL for the LORD 24/7…at least try to.  I LOVE IT!  I LOVE THEM!  God is soooooo GOOD.  Hearing their testimonies made me weep….seeing the Spirit move made me jump…the anointing…the FREEDOM!  Sometimes when you worship you feel  hindered, because of your own junk, issues, pride…sometimes it is because of the environment…this was NOT the case in Paducah Monday and Tuesday.  There was such a FREEDOM to worship – young, old, white, black, Latino, baptist, Pentecostal…they were all getting down!  I really did feel like I was at a house party for Jesus. 
TUESDAY:  The TR staff invited a bunch of youth, filled our cars and took off to Paducah, KY to experience the Lord.  Yeah, most of these youth did not have a vibrant/growing relationship with Jesus.  In fact, we have been praying for these SPECIFIC youth and have had close relationships with them for the past three years.  It was so fun to walk into a church with these kids knowing that they were going to experience Jesus in a different way than normal “Sunday Church”.  There’s a spirit of religion in this town, so most likely they have been tainted by that.  (I understand this phrase might not make sense to some of you, please email me and I will break it down.)  We walk in and shortly after finding some seats right up in front on the floor, they get into it.  I’m talking “YOu are Worthy” was the first song…this makes you want to get up and shout.  Which I did.  The youth are looking at me like, “Ms. Heather, it’s okay to do that in CHURCH?!?!”  haha.  Some of them were looking like that, others were just bug-eyed and didn’t move for like 30 minutes.  What they expected and what they experienced did NOT match up…but I think they were glad in the end.  We got crazy in worship, they shared some POWERFUL testimonies of deliverance of all sorts of stuff, and had a type of an alter call.  NOT the type that is manipulated by words, pressuring people to come forward, music playing on the emotions in the back…NO!  It was the real deal…not a “one prayer” rescues you from hell type of thing either.  It was sincere, lead of the Holy Spirit and POWERFUL.  Basically Eddie James asked everyone to consider their hearts before the Lord.  That title or position DID NOT MATTER.  We are all desperate for JESUS!  He asked people to just come to the front and kneel before the Father lifting holy hands to Him WHO IS ABLE to save them and give them NEW LIFE.  One of the first girls to go up was one that I have been ministering to for about a year and a half.  She is precious before the Lord and to me.  I have seen her struggle, cry, laugh, smile, question, and yes even surrender.   She meant it, it was for real.  She is now a NEW WOMAN.  Of course, it is a process for each of us…BUT I knew we spoke afterwards that something had shifted in her.  A couple other boys also went up….they didn’t make the commitment YET, but something shifted in their hearts too.  They are both in 6th grade, my friend Robyn is their teacher.  One just asked Stacy for a white Bible and is now reading John as an AR book in SCHOOL!  Check it, MANY of the kids in that class are reading the BIBLE as an AR book!  haha!  LOVE IT!  Watch out Cairo…you are about to get rocked by some radical revivalists!  There is a stirring at the schools, EACH ONE OF THEM in Cairo.  I feel it, I see it, I hear it, I believe it!  After sowing nearly four years of prayer in the schools for the teachers, students, administrators, curriculum…he starts to built a little HOPE where there was none.  You start to really believe for the things you are asking for…yea!  It’s not so far out there, like it was the first day you started praying.  A Spirit of faith arises and you PRAISE THE KING!  Amen.


TUESDAY:  I knew I was going both nights with a full car.  I just didn’t know WHO was going to be coming the second night, until I was doing some work in Ms. Harper’s (Band Director) office.  I was minding my own business when a couple girls come up, “Ms. Heather, where you going tonight?”  You see, they had already heard from a couple others that went or were invited…they wanted in.  haha.  I was a bit hesitant because I didn’t know how to deal with the flood of students that would REALLY want to go, when I only had space for four…the other staff were not going the second night, so it was just me.  God knew.  I had invited about four that couldn’t come, and He invited four new ones.  So, it ended up being three gals (including the one that took the plunge the night before) and one guy.  It was funny because I just told them about it THAT day, in fact the male student had not even asked his dad until I got there to pick him up…but he let him go…even though I said we’d be back at midnight.  That’s cool.  I prep. them a bit before we get there, asking them questions about their experience (I didn’t know these kids as well…just see them at school), tell them what to expect…it’s okay to feel weird…blah, blah, blah.  We walk in as they have already started the party…the other girl (who had been there Monday) and I start dancing and hopping around.  The others are like stiff boards wondering what is going on…they’ve probably never seen white people get crazy for Jesus like this…haha.  The great thing about it is, the ministry is a mixture of all different types of cultures and so was the audience.  These kids are the majority in Cairo, so when they are around more white folks, it gets a little uncomfortable sometimes (trust me, I have talked to them about this).  So, I am aware of their “reactions” they whole time, just allowing God to do what He is going to do.  This night I am less concerned about how I respond to the Lord.  I tamed it down the first night, but last night I was just me.  I think that’s okay too.  I didn’t need to wear a mask or try to be what I thought they wanted or felt like Ms. Heather should be. 
They did rapid fire testimonies…they had a different type of alter call prayer…they did personal ministry and deliverance (again, ask if you are curious)…it was sweet.  The whole time the youth were a bit hesitant, but VERY curious and God was definitely doing something.  One girl went up for prayer, Eddie actually had the whole place pray for her…REALITY of the LOVE of the FATHER.  Amen.  We all need a good dose of that.  Next one of the other girls looks real sensitive, I ask if she wants to go up…she says no, but she would have someone come to her.  I find a female staff and she prays over her…on target.  This girl was so eager for prayer, she says, “I just need prayer.  I need all this stuff broken off.”  WOW!  Humbling.  She couldn’t express in words, but God KNOWS HER HEART!  It was beautiful.  The other girl kept wanting ME to go up for prayer.  I told her I NEED it all the time, but didn’t feel now was appropriate.  I even asked the youth to pray for me as I go into the school…they wouldn’t.  Too much fear of man…


For the male student…I knew that he wanted prayer from one of the dudes, but was too hard to admit it.  So, one of the guys was talking to us afterwards and I asked him to pray for __________.  He said, “Yea, I’ve been praying for him all night.”  He begins chatting with this guy and he does pray over him…some truth, some destiny, sprinkled with the WORD.  My type of prayer, love it.  Afterwards the student is really hit by the Spirit and doesn’t know what to think.  He is breathing real hard and I ask, “What do you feel?”  He has a big smile and says, “Nothing, I’m okay.”  “Right, you are getting touched by God.”  “He’s feeling something.”  We all laugh.  It’s all good. 


Next thing you know God is breaking through in some other areas.  The deal ended a bit earlier, but that’s okay we needed to spend time fellowshipping.  We are hanging out with the prayer warrior guy, and some other guys…just free style singing and rapping.  This is my kind of fun.  The youth were in fear and wanted to sing but were afraid.  I felt the Lord was going to break off the “Fear of Man” in a big way, through them singing out loud.  Yeah, crazy, because I know I suffered from this too about five years ago.  Christian (the warrior) starts going ape nuts singing something absolutely beautiful…my youth are AMAZED.  WOW!  I say, “Now your turn.”  Knowing they have all this comparison and fear.  For like half and hour Christian, some other dudes and I are singing trying to get them to join in…FINALLY break through.  One of my girls starts singing her favorite song, “slow motion.”   This girl can sing!  My friend Tiffany (who I met at Books a Million a couple months ago) comes in outta no where and starts singing Amazing Grace.  I NEVER knew she could sing like that!  Talk about anointing!  Next, the dude wants to give it a whirl…he starts singing, “This little light of mine.”  Then we all start singing together.  It was really ___________________…I can’t put a word to it, but basically, “ROCKED MY FACE OFF!”  haha.  For real, this stuff blows my mind.  Here we are at this worship deal in a town 45 minutes away, that the students found out about a minute ago, now they are getting set free of all this stuff and falling more in love with their Creator.  Yea!


Last stop is the basement before we leave.  It was really going to be a quick convo…that doesn’t EVER happen with me…I should know better by now.  We go downstairs where the 40 EJM peeps are eating.  It is really “supposed” to be off limits because they need a break from people (I totally understand).  But, I was trying to get in contact with the head dog in charge to set up a Cairo worship deal.  The youth come with and I am talking to this brother…telling him about Cairo and why I think it would be a blessing for them to come.  THey are going to pray about it.  Actually they are doing an IL tour starting in the south…what town do you think they should start in?!?  HA!  Let’s see, maybe that little one right at the southern tip…hmmmmm….we’ll see. 


People are eating, fellowshipping, laughing, singing…I get held up in the room where a man is playing all these Misty Edwards and Rick Pino songs on the piano.  A couple other brothers are singing their hearts out, so I join them, why not?  Ha.  Talk about a unique blend of voices, it just worked.  The youth were cool, they were dancing in the hallway with some other people.  It really just felt like a big family reunion to me.  After an hour or so, we are needing to head out…it’s 11:00 already! 


One last thing, I had talked to Eddie the night before and asked if I could pray over him and some of the team.  He is on his way downstairs to rest and I stop him and his PA in the hall…”Can I pray quick.”  Of course.  Beautiful.  We all join up (some of their team) and pray.  Holy Spirit inspired words, I have nothing. 


God is good.  I love my family.  The end…or the BEGINNING!

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Christian…I think you need to teach me these dances…lol.

EJM Website


Dreaming of Dance… December 19, 2008

Filed under: Cairo Kids,Dance,Dreams,Education — charredsmore @ 6:17 am

When I watched the movie Honey, I couldn’t help but think the screen play was stolen…from my brain! lol. Seriously, this has always been my dream.

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Lack of Motivation on the Mountain of Education December 13, 2008

Filed under: Cairo Kids,Education,Ministry Stuff,Youth — charredsmore @ 2:54 am

I have been stepping back onto the mountain of Education recently. I’ve noticed quite a few things at the high school that I really dislike. One, a lack of a desire to learn. Hey, I’m not even pretending to say that when I was in high school I LOVED learning. Certain subjects, yes, not all. The students lack motivation, because they lack vision.

Here is a tool that I think would help – the ActivBoard by Promethean. Perhaps I love technology a bit too much [cue song from Napolian Dynomite…”I love techonology”] but this activboard would be stinkin’ amazing to have in class. Check it out.


So, yeah, let’s pray it in since I am pretty sure I don’t have an extra 2 grand sitting around, and I don’t think the Cairo School District does either. Jesus, hook us up.