40:40 Day 33

Miles’ visa took eight months to get approved , and it just happened to be  approved one day before the list was released.One day. Many families had been waiting for months for Dictator, I mean, President Joseph Kabila of the DRC to reopen the adoption gates. Chris and Julie knew it was God that had squeaked that visa in at the last possible moment, and their Congolese son’s name was finally, FINALLY, on the list of kids that were permitted to come home.
Next up was to apply for and receive  visas to get into Congo so they could get their children out of foster care (tons better than the abysmal orphanages they’d been in, but still) and finally start life together, as a family!

They were approved in a reasonable amount of time, and Chris and Julie went ahead and booked tickets for a one p.m. flight! This was it! The only problem was, their visas had been mailed but hadn’t quite made it to them yet. 

The day before they were scheduled to leave, Julie was a bundle of nerves as she checked the mailbox. Still no visa. They mail came around noon each day, and tomorrow was the last possible day it could come, and even then they probably would miss their flight.

Julie sent out a big prayer request through her adoption group on Facebook: “We need a miracle, guys. We need those visas in hand, and we kind of need our mailman to come early. Please pray!”

We did.

The next day, with their bags were loaded in the car, they started anxiously out the window. “Please, God, please, God” was murmured too many times to count.

At 11:02, the mail truck rumbled by, an hour early, and Chris and Julie ran down the driveway. Sure enough, God has come through, and with their visas firmly in hand and tears of gratitude in their eyes, they were off to the airport to go get their kids!

Prayer: For God’s protection and wisdom during times of trial and temptation, starting with me!!

*Miraculous, complete and total healing for J and the lumps in her back.

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40:40 Day 32


Alison is the most animated, joyful, crazy (in a good way) woman I’ve ever known. She IS the party, and for her the party is all about Jesus.

She’d been serving as a missionary in North Africa for three years when she met Brian at a wedding back stateside, and a slooooow romance began to unfold through phone calls, Skype, and eventually whirlwind visits in exotic locations.

A year later he proposed at a park in Rome, and as onlookers cheered a tearful Alison agreed to moving back to the U.S. and be his wife.

They obviously didn’t want a long engagement, because the wedding was to take place only four months after!

Alison had a lot to do, and since missionaries aren’t exactly rolling in the bucks, she wanted to keep costs as low as possible. Her sweet mom and sisters took care of so much, including preparing ALL of the wedding food, which was to be an enormous, delicious spread of heavy hors d’oeuvres and a full sit down dinner, and Melissa had even offered to bake the wedding cake! 

Of course, she still needed a dress. How do you pick one? Is it like finding a man, where you just know? And they aren’t cheap. Unfortunately, Alison didn’t have any seamstresses in the family, so off to the bridal boutique she went.

She tried on a few that were nice, but not quite right, and then she spotted a gorgeous, dramatically classic lace-backed sheath. It fit like a dream, but the price said “nightmare.” It was sixteen hundred dollars: way over her budget.

She said so, and the sales girl lowered her voice and let Alison in on a secret. “That dress is actually on hold, and someone’s paid half of the full price as a deposit. She never came to pick it up. We have to wait a year before we can let someone else have it, but that year is up in exactly one week. It fits you so perfectly, you wouldn’t even have to have it altered. That alone will save you an extra four to five hundred! This never happens. It’s pretty much a miracle. That dress is meant to be yours.”

So a week later, Alison claimed the wedding gift God had prepared for her, and she paid only $800.00 because some angel had paid the other half a year ago when she and Brian first met. 

Prayer: For us to have hearts of praise and gratitude, starting with me!

*Complete, miraculous healing for J


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40:40 Day 31

God knows I need help when something goes wrong with my car.
I had just finished a great lunch catching up with my friend Tiffany.
As I was sliding into my car,the older gentleman in the truck parked next to mine called out,”Excuse me, Miss! Did you know that you have a flat tire?”

I certainly hadn’t noticed that, but now that he’d pointed it out it was very obvious.

He got out of the truck, pushed up his immaculate dress shirt sleeves, and changed my tire for me.

I had been feeling far from God at the time, and it made me all the more grateful. “God is so good,” I told the man. “He’s there for us even when we don’t deserve it! Thank you so much! By the way, I’m Angela!”

He stuck out his hand. “Pastor Brown”.

Of course.

There, in the Chipotle parking lot, God showed me once again what a good and loving Father he is.

Prayer: For opportunities to speak love and truth to people who need to know God loves them!
*Miraculous, faith building healing for J!

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40:40 Day 30

Pramana had been born into a people group with a population of twenty-four million. In his people group, there were only three known followers of Jesus, and no church. The only religion that he had ever practiced or known while growing up had been a sort of folk Islam. Pramana knew the Quran by rote. He couldn’t actually speak Arabic, so he simply memorized the words of the book as if it was a part of some sort of magic formula. He knew the story of Mohammed, of course. But he had never heard of anybody called Jesus, never met a believer, and he had no idea what the Bible was.


” Five years ago, “he told me, “my life was in ruins. My wife and I were always fighting; I was ready to divorce a woman. My children were disrespectful. My animals were not growing or multiplying. My crops were dying in the field. 

 “So I went to the imam of the nearest mosque for help,” Pramana continued. 

 The imam, who also functioned as the local spiritualist, told him, “Okay, son, here is what you need to do. Go buy a white chicken. Bring it to me and I will sacrifice it on your behalf. Then, go back to your village to meditate and fast for three days and three nights. On the third day, you will receive the answer to all the problems that you are having with your wife, your children, your animals, and your crops.”

 Pramana did exactly as he was told. He went back to his village. He meditated, he fasted, and he waited. Then, as he explained it: “I’ll never forget, on the third night, a voice without a body came to me after midnight. That voice said,’Find Jesus, find the gospel.'”

This Muslim man had no clue what that even meant. He didn’t know if Jesus might be a fruit or a rock or a tree. Pramana told me that the voice with a body also said, “Get out of bed, go over the mountain, and walk down the coast to _______ ( a city where he had never been). When you get to that city at daybreak, you will see two men. When you see those men, ask them where _____ street is. They will show you the way. Walk up and down the street and look for this number. When you find the number, knock on the door. When the door opens, tell the person why you have come.”

 Pramana did not know that it was an option to be disobedient to the Holy Spirit. He simply assumed that he was required to obey what he had been instructed to do. So he went. He didn’t even tell his wife that he was leaving, let alone where he was going. It turns out that he would be gone for two full weeks. During that time, his family had no idea where he was. 
  

Pramana simply got out of bed, hiked over the mountain, trekked down the coast, and arrived in the specified city the next morning at daylight. He saw two men who told him where to find the street he wanted. He walked up and down that street until he found the building with the right number on it. He knocked on the door. A moment later, an older gentleman open the door and asked, “Can I help you?” 

 The younger man declared: “I have come to find Jesus; I have come to find the gospel! “In a flash, the old man’s hand shot out from the darkened doorway. He grabbed Pramana by the shirt, dragged him into the apartment, and slammed the door behind him. The old man released his grip and exclaimed, “You Muslims must think I am a fool to fall for trap as transparent as this! ” 

 The very startled and confused traveler replied, “I don’t know if you are a fool or not, sir. I just met you. But here is why I’ve come. “Then Pramana told the older man the story of how he had come to be there that day. 

 The Holy Spirit of the Living God had led this young Muslim man through his dream and vision and his obedience to the home of one of the three believers in his twenty-four million people group. Stunned, the older man explain the gospel to this young Muslim man and let him to Christ. 

This story is from Nik Ripken’s book “The Insanity of God”, which details his life as a missionary and student of the persecuted church in closed countries. I have met Nik and his wife Ruth several times (the first time was when they were having a dinner meeting with young missionaries at my work!), and can attest to their passion and commitment to the Lord’s command to go and see the Gospel transform hearts, lives, and eternities even in the darkest places. 

Check out the book for even more amazing stories of God’s work in the far corners of the world! He is doing big things through ordinary people!

Prayer: For God’s people to be willing (and joyful) to leave the known, and go out on the adventure God is calling them to, whatever that looks like, starting with me!

*Complete, miraculous healing for the masses growing in J’s back and for God to get the praise when he does it! Thanking him preemptively! 🙂

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40:40 Day 29

So I have a curse when it comes to cats.

My first cat, Tony ( short for Antonio Banderas), came home from Richmond Animal League at five months old and died a little over a year later of a freak blood clot that left both of his back legs suddenly paralyzed. The doctor said he would have a long, hard road ahead of him if he survived, and so I chose to not let him suffer. It broke my heart to let him go. I would never find a cat that played fetch like he did, or one with a crazy obsession for Q-tips. He was such a lovebug, and I still miss him.

I got five month old Sebastian a few days later. I had already paid the pet deposit, and had a home to give an animal in need, so my mom and I went to the Richmond SPCA and a sweet little tuxedo cat chose me. He was so affectionate and I just couldn’t leave him there. He got lost in my house for eighteen hours that first day and we finally discovered him in my roommate’s armoire the next morning snuggled under piles of sweaters. He had a cute “hee-hoo”meow and was very playful and sweet. He disappeared 11 months later right before Thanksgiving and though I posted signs everywhere I never saw him again.

On December 11, 2015 I brought home Bentley, a cute and rambunctious five month old grey tabby kitten from Richmond Animal Care and Control. The shelter director explained that he’d been hit by a car as a tiny kitten and had undergone pelvic reconstruction surgery, so could potentially have an issue later in life called megacolon that would call for him to be put to sleep.

I said that as long as he wouldn’t need extensive medical care, I could give him a good home and do the right thing if and when the time came. I took him home and promptly fell in love. So snuggly and sweet!

The time came exactly a year later. He started having a really hard time going number two, and three hundred dollars an x-Ray, and two enemas later, I was told he didn’t yet have megacolon but his colon had healed extremely narrow and he’d need stool softener twice a day and a wet food diet.I also had a lot of people praying for my little guy.

I did all these things, but a week later he was in a bad place again. Tearfully, I admitted to myself “the curse strikes again!” . Why did bad things keep happening to my pets? I called the vet and he agreed that it wasn’t a good sign. I asked if I could buy an enema from them, since I couldn’t afford another three hundred dollar visit. He said I could get two for ten dollars and to come pick them up in the morning.

I knew in my heart that if this last ditch attempt didn’t work, I would have to put him down. He was too uncomfortable. The thing that made me hopeful was that during the afternoon a phrase from a popular Christian song had popped into my head, “Even when you think you’re finished, it’s not over yet, it’s not over yet!” I also flipped to a Scripture in Psalm 145 that reminded me that the Lord is compassionate towards all he has made, and I prayed that Scripture and asked God to be compassionate towards Bentley. I glanced up at my bookshelf and a book title I’d forgotten about jumped out at me: “NOT OVER.” I felt God was affirming that he would let Bentley live. I hoped, at least.

The next day was rough on me, Bentley, and my friend AshCap who came over to help me administer the treatment. It was traumatic for all involved, and for the next couple days all I could do was wait and see if he would get stopped up again. 

I have never cheered so hard for a cat to poop in my life, but four months later we are still going strong! 

God answered, and it grew my faith. There’s no reason why the doctor’s treatment didn’t stick and mine did, but that’s exactly what happened and I know my God is able and willing to show up when we ask him to!


Prayer: For God to show up in big ways and heal our loved ones so that we may praise him and know he is God! Especially for my friend J!


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40:40 Day 28

Once upon a time I thought I was in love.

For once, it was with a man who loved Jesus.

Ok, so we weren’t dating. At all. 

But, everyone thought we would get together at any moment, including me.

We hung out ALL the time, mostly in groups but there was some alone time, too. 

The hot July weekend I was scheduled to get baptized,  I couldn’t help thinking about this man constantly, and Saturday night, driving home in my car I prayed and asked God to set my mind on Him instead, especially since this weekend was about my love for Jesus, not a med student.

That Sunday when I walked down to the river to proclaim my commitment to Christ, the pastor had a surprise for me. He called down my crush to baptize me.

I couldn’t have been more sure that God was confirming that what I wanted was what He wanted.

I remember one beautiful Sunday afternoon after church when he took me for a ride in the countryside on his motorcycle and we stopped in front of an idyllic farmhouse set back behind a picture-perfect pond. We both agreed this place had ” dream house” status. As we zoomed back towards the city down winding roads, tree branches heavy with deep green nodding overhead, my arms wrapped around him, I wanted to stay in the moment forever.

After another year of chemistry and “not-dates”, nothing progressed. It was one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve ever been through.

I still thought about him all the time,and one day I was so sick of the situation I prayed, “God, if this thing is hurting my relationship with you, please, just take it away from me!”

That night, during the biggest blizzard of the year, he started texting me, and through our conversation he mentioned that one of his friends had asked if he was pursuing me. He added, “Just as long as you know I’m not.”

My heart sunk through the floor and I texted back, hurt to the soul, that actually, it had been a bit unclear.

He tried to call me but I was in a house full of people with nowhere to go so I didn’t answer and instead I got really drunk off of an entire bottle of wine and cried myself to sleep.

Oh, my heart was broken.

I felt as if I was going through an actual break up, but apparently I was the only one in the relationship.

I know in my heart there was something there. I’d seen it in his eyes before, but apparently whatever he thought his wife should be, I wasn’t it.

 God had answered my prayer clearly that night, although it was the exact opposite of what I wanted. I had to let it go.

It was tough, guys. I had to still be in church and community with this guy. I had to forgive him for not wanting me. It taught me to guard my heart, because even Christian men can be thoughtless and clueless when it comes to how to treat women.

Fast forward six years. I’m STILL SINGLE. Ok, I’ve dated a good amount, but nothing with “future” written on it. He since moved away, got married and had a baby, whom he named after a long dead saint. Nope. The woman I have grown to be would not be able to vibe with whatever he’s got going on. We are both Christians, but I need a man who is moved by compassion to love others well, not just someone who knows the Nicene Creed. 

God knew what he was doing, and I have been blessed beyond measure in my current state of “unsettled-ness” by being able to grow relationships, travel (hopefully, Costa Rica this August!) , and seek after the Lord. I’ve also made plenty of dumb mistakes, but God is faithful to keep turning my eyes and my heart back to what really matters.

Prayer: Please take a moment to pray for my friend J who has been mysteriously ill for months with lumps growing deep in her back..She has three kids and we are asking God to heal her completely and miraculously!

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40:40 Day 27

She didn’t look like a heroin addict was supposed to look.

Beautiful and petite with long golden hair and big green eyes, T looked like a sorority girl. Not a junkie.

She was dating my neighbor, and he brought her over to a Christmas Cookie and Movie night I was having. At that point, none of us knew anything except how sweet T was and that she could make a mean bourbon ball.

Two weeks later a co-worker found her passed out in the bathroom at work. 

My neighbor stuck with her as she flew to California to go to rehab, and actually told me the whole story while he helped me hang Missing Cat signs out on Thanksgiving morning when Sebastian first went AWOL. He wanted so badly for her to get better. When she came back a couple months later we all hung out a few times, having game nights or just sitting around with her talking and doing our nails. I loved her. A lot. Through our conversation I learned that she had  lost both parents to domestic violence when she was only seven years old. Her only brother was also an addict, and her aunt and uncle had raised her but couldn’t deal with the drug use and didn’t allow her to live with them anymore. Basically, she had no one.

It wasn’t long before she was using again. My neighbor had vowed to be done with the relationship if she couldn’t stay clean, but he loved her, and so they argued, broke up and got back together again. It was a very volatile month, and I never knew whether they were off or on.

One early Thursday afternoon I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. Really nauseous.I had work later, but all I wanted to do was crawl into bed. Mystified, I reluctantly called out of work and laid down, trying to quell the waves. I hate throwing up, and thankfully I was able to fall back asleep without losing my lunch.

I woke up around four, feeling pretty normal, and went downstairs to make some food. As I passed the front window to go back upstairs I saw flashing red lights. I peeked outside. Three cop cars, a fire engine, and an ambulance blockaded the street just a few doors down. T’s car was parked there with the door open, and I saw a cop extract a little baggie from it. My blood ran cold.

I quickly made my way over. My neighbor was nowhere in sight.

“Excuse me!” I called out. “Do you have T in the ambulance?”

“Do you know her?” the cop asked.

“Yes, we’re friends! Is she okay? Did she overdose?”

“I can’t give out medical information, but she’s alive.”

He asked me a few questions about who she was and where she lived, and I told him what I could. I found out what hospital they were taking her to and then I called my neighbor to let him know what was happening.

He wasn’t interested in going to the hospital. He was done with a capital D.

I wasn’t. I threw on clothes and made my way over, praying the whole time, not sure what to expect when I reached the hospital. I probably wouldn’t get to see her. She might still be unconscious. To my surprise when I asked for her they led me straight back to the room.

T looked up in surprise when I pushed back the curtain. Then she immediately burst into tears. She looked so small and fragile in the thin hospital gown. I hugged her, and for the next hour sat with her, held her hand and prayed with her. I stayed with her until she was declared stable and was subsequently placed under arrest. I actually hoped that being held for a little while would help her detox and stay clean, but they released her later that night and she called me to let me know. She drove off, and during the next month I tried to help her however I could as she started a new job and eventually moved back in with her aunt and uncle.

I found out later that she had overdosed that day on purpose, feeling as if no one cared whether she lived or died. I believe with all my heart that God gave me that mysterious, short-lived illness that day to ensure someone would be there to speak love and life to her heart when she felt so utterly alone.

He loves us even at our worst. He is there in the darkest times, holding us, calling us to come into a safe place. Nobody can tell me God doesn’t care, because I’ve seen it and experienced it from both sides. Praise Him. I praise you, Jesus.

Prayer: 

For a cloud of angels to encircle our loved ones struggling with addiction. For help, hope, and healing for them and their families.

*Miraculous, complete, and total healing from the mysterious disease causing painful masses in J’s back.

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40:40 Day 26

I felt completely discouraged.

The Bible study Heather and I had been leading together was a flop. We had been so excited to provide a place for women from our job to come and learn about Jesus, but attendance sporadic at best and it usually ended up being just us and our friend Tiffany, who was already a strong believer.

The few other girls who came seemed to enjoy it, but then would be absent three weeks in a row. I wondered if I had been misled in thinking God wanted me to lead this group. It had seemed so right, and everything had fallen into place when my new coworker Heather and I discovered that we had Jesus in common and she wholeheartedly jumped into lead with me, even providing her house and yummy Dunkin Donuts coffee and gourmet snacks every week!

So why wasn’t it going how we’d thought?

I remember one Tuesday at the end of the work day. Two of the girls had just let me know that, once again, they wouldn’t be able to make it to Bible study that night. I was mad: with them, with God, and with myself. I told God that I guessed he didn’t want me to do this and that I wasn’t a good teacher. I was ready to give up. I had a huge pity party for myself and I cried when I got in the car. If Beck’s “Loser” song had played at that moment, it would have completed my funk.

The next day I got an email, telling me I had been randomly selected out of hundreds of entries and I’d won a two-hundred dollar leader kit for the Beth Moore Bible study of “Esther.” I’d forgotten I’d even entered the drawing.

I believe God saw my despair and beyond a doubt let me know that I was fit to lead. Not because I’m great at it, but because my heart was in the right place and that’s all he needs to use us. 

We continued our Tuesday nights, and we had a good core group that attended almost every week as we went through our video series. Some of my fondest memories happened in that cozy living room with those girls, and I’m grateful that God showed up and encouraged us to keep going.

Prayer: For God to encourage people in their ministry, no matter how big or small.

*Complete, total, miraculous healing for my friend J.
 

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40:40 Day 25

Once upon a time I worked with a girl who was being tormented by demons.

She confessed to me one slow afternoon that her boyfriend had been followed by them, and had brought them into her apartment, and now she would go home in the middle of the day and try to take a nap and they would circle around her, sometimes even entering her body and giving her a surge of power that she described as “really bad”.

She wasn’t a Christian, but she was freaked out enough to agree to let me pray over her in the bakery closet. I pleaded with Jesus to cover and protect her from the evil spirits.

A few days later I hesitantly asked how it was going. She said she could still see them but they could not enter her body no matter how hard they tried. 

I definitely believe God showed up, even though to my knowledge this woman has never become a Christian. In fact, a few years later, after moving away, she stopped by work for a visit, and when I asked her how everything was going that situation she said it had been diagnosed as sleep paralysis. Confused, I asked how that could be true since her boyfriend had seen the demons, too. She just shrugged it off. I guess the truth was too much to bear, so she preferred to just explain it away with a psychiatric “diagnosis”. 

Anyway, I know the truth is that God is bigger than evil, and that both exist, and the whole thing strengthened my faith in his power and presence.

Prayer: For God’s power to give us courage to stand up and pray through our biggest obstacles.

*Complete, permanent healing for J and for her family to praise his name when it happens!

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40:40 Day 24

Never ask God to humble you.

I can’t clearly remember why, but for some reason I was feeling like a hot shot at work. I must have gotten a lot of guest compliments, or maybe I scored high on some Secret Shopper reports. All I know is, I was so prideful that I got convicted and asked God to humble me.

That very night, he answered.

I had a big section in the restaurant, and we were busy!

The first problem occurred when a woman called me over to look at her veggie burger. “This tastes like chicken,” she said, following with, “I haven’t eaten anything with a face for twenty-four years!” I saw that someone had, indeed, accidentally brought her a Chipotle Chicken Sandwich, and she was NOT HAPPY.

While trying to get a manager, I checked on my other tables, who seemed to be doing fine..until..ten minutes later,the dad at table 13 (go figure) asked if we were ever going to bring out his son’s meal. I had seen the son eating, but he only had his side of broccoli, not his Jamaican Shrimp. Someone had, again, dropped the ball and forgotten to bring his dish. Another manager visit.

In the meantime, a six-top had set at table 2 and while I tried the best I could to get to them, I was slow bringing their drinks and rushed through taking their order, because I was trying to put out the other fires simultaneously occurring in my section. Of course, table 2 turned out to be Secret Shoppers, and I did NOT score highly on that report. 

After that, I’ve learned to ask God to let me humble myself before him instead of asking him to do it. I want to keep my job! 

Prayer: For us to see God so clearly at work today that out faith is increased exponentially!

*For God to get so tired of me asking that he just goes ahead and heals my friend J. Squeaky wheel here. 🙂

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