Saturday, February 21, 2009

I will rise

posted by Laurie...

I will rise everyday
And I will give my life away.
My better years are still to come,
Remember this when my life's done
That I will rise...

- Kate White from her Turning Pages CD)

On Monday night in a hundred year old Victorian house that's been turned into a recovery home in our neighborhood, my dear friend Kate performed a concert for 43 women gathered around on the chairs and floor. Kate sang, played her violin and tenderly shared her story. Over the course of the next couple of hours she connected with these women that she'd never met before in an incredibly deep way. My teammates Britany and Sophia and I were able to be there too and meet these women who were warm and receptive.

Kate sang and talked about her family, her own marriage and her children, things that all these women could relate to. At one point, she asked all the women to say out loud altogether the names of their children. It was so touching and heart-wrenching to hear moms call out from all over the room the names of their missed children. Kate really wanted to pray a blessing over their children so she asked for permission to pray for all of them. There was probably not a dry eye in the room.

Many pieces of Kate's life story intersected with theirs and although she didn't pretend to understand everything they've gone through, they really seemed to relate to her. We had been told we couldn't “proselytize” nor had we intended to, but as Kate shared her journey she sensed that many of the women desired to know God. So she shared how she had wrestled with trusting God and with the questions and pain she had experienced, but also how she had come to trust Him and give her life to Him.

After the concert, the women came up and hugged us and thanked us for coming. Some of them shared a little of their stories with us…. painful and sad stories. One woman asked Kate how she could know God too and if she needed a priest to be able to do that. So Kate told her she would pray with her and show her how. Some others next to her said they also wanted to know God and before we knew it, almost every woman in the house formed a circle, holding hands. I'll never forget that moment when Kate led them in prayer to receive Jesus as their Savior. They repeated after her, loud and clear "Lord Jesus! I've messed up! Come into my life..." Only God knows which women actually gave their lives to Jesus that night. Some of the women were already followers of Jesus and it was encouraging to see how they came up and began helping the others.

This week we’re going to take a copy of each of Kate's CD's to each of the women and we're listening to see how else God wants us to be involved with these dear women in our neighborhood. We may be able to walk with them, do crafts with them, or just hang out with them. They're in a very structured program so we're not sure how much we'll be allowed to be involved. When you think of it, please pray for these women, for those who gave their lives to God, to grow in Him, as they do the hard work of recovery from addiction. And as they miss their children and families.

Friday, February 13, 2009

full circle

Back in the early eighties I was a commercial banker up in LA. I loaned money to middle market companies to help them grow their companies and accumulate wealth. I was pretty good at it too. But that was a long time ago.

A few weeks ago I made another loan. It was just a little $25 personal loan brokered by Kiva to a grocery shop owner in Indonesia to help her stock her shelves. It was a simple way to make a big difference in someone's life, and something I'd highly encourage everyone to consider doing (

Today I made another loan that required me to tap into the skills I had learned back in my banking days. This time, as an occasional volunteer with the micro-enterprises department of the International Rescue Committee, (the world's largest organization assisting refugees), I approved a $15,000 loan to an Afghan refugee to help him buy a Lincoln Town Car which he'll use to shuttle executives to and from the San Diego airport. It was a blast helping this guy get what he needs to carve out a better life for his family here in the US, and it actually required almost as much analysis as those $5 million loans I made back in LA.

I used to give money to the guys who rode in the back seats of those Lincoln Town Cars. Today I gave money to the guy driving the car. Sometimes life takes you full circle and you get to use the things you learned at one time in your life and apply them in a whole new way in an unexpected setting. And that feels good.