2017 CFL Expo Update

What a God blessed 40th Expo we had on Saturday! Yes, the Central Florida event on November 11th was our 40th outreach since 2011 and as with each Expo is was amazing to see God work bringing heaven to earth and putting smiles on faces thru the joy of His presence!

The temperatures were ideal and the few momentary showers were simply reminders of God’s care in watering things as needed here on earth. Although the volunteer turn out was lower than usual, God was faithful in providing all that was needed for all 568 attendees to be blessed including the addition of an accessible 6 seat shuttle, hoverball archery activity and a giant 14 foot canoe! The timely arrival of a team of 20 helpers from Centra Care Mission for tearing down and loading the 20 foot trailer was an encouragement as well. :)

All in all this was our smallest outreach of the year but as we have always said, we are there for whoever God brings in need of some respite, adaptive adventure and a special touch from Him. This was brought to my mind by several families who expressed such gracious thanks Saturday for hosting an event tailored just for them and their needs. The smiles I saw on so many faces including a youngster who had just gotten off of the giant canoe and was sopping wet as “Mr. Bill” had taken them under the fountain, reminded me that God was there working in so many ways that day.

Above is a photo collage and there are about 25 pictures on the CFL Expo page on our website (https://access-life.com/cfl) so feel free to checkout the fun photos and share as God leads!

Rays of Sonshine: Jodi Rowe

This month’s Rays of Sonshine is someone who has been with the ministry from it’s start in 2010. In fact, she served as a volunteer for Joni and Friends when Leanne and I led the Florida office back in 2007. Her service with Access-Life has been diverse as well as longstanding, starting with the West Palm Beach team before she and her husband Steve relocated to the Villages where they now support the CFL outreach.

She is a Physical Therapist by trade but is known in the ministry world for her fabulous administrative skills. However, in actuality she is an awesome networker, too. In fact, she has successfully coordinated groups of folks from her church volunteering at the Expos in CFL as well putting together their own team for our annual Big Wheel Deal wheelchair basketball game in the area.

All in all, what makes her standout though is her faithful service and hard work. She is committed and consistent in her heart for people, love of Jesus and willingness to go the extra mile which is why Jodi Rowe is October’s Access-Life Rays of Sonshine. :)

The Big Three

You know, 1st Corinthians 13 “The Love Chapter” is one of my favorite things to read. Like many folks, I find it encouraging and comforting. Many think it is just for marriage and weddings but it contains so much more from the character of God to keys for everyday living.

From 1 John 4:16 we know “God is love” so when we read “It [love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” in 1 Corinthian 13:7, we are reading attributes of God. They are cornerstones of who God is. Like promises, we can count on God to always exhibit these qualities. This so important because this should be the filter we use in all we hear, read, say and think about God. This will go along way in helping us avoid false negative perceptions about God that we may encounter from time to time.

The other aspect of 1 Corinthians 13 that I love [boy than pun just popped right out LOL] is that while showing love as the ultimate anchor for our lives, it gives us the other two keys for hanging onto the big rock of Jesus. As many of you may know they are faith and hope which are natural responses we all should have in light of who God is as described early in the chapter.

Faith is the precious commodity that begins our journey. It is like the key that starts the engine to get us moving in the right direction as we turn back to God and the wonderful path He has so graciously cleared for us to walk with Him.

Hope on the other hand is the element of endurance. It is like the fuel that keeps the engine running when we have hills to climb and the road seems long. It is so important to keep our “hope tank” full so we can serve the Lord diligently as He leads us each day. We need to not only stay focus on Jesus each step of the way but daily fill our minds with good, wholesome and holy thoughts that will bring a smile to our face, give us joy in the journey and a song in our heart.

All in all, I call these the “big three”. Faith, Hope and Love. They are key elements of living a life of purpose, satisfaction and contentment which can only come from walking with Jesus as your savior, Lord and best friend.

Rays of Sonshine: Gaile Lanier

This month’s Rays of Sonshine is someone who loves working with people living with disabilities and has made a career of providing programing to folks with special needs in the Jacksonville area. In fact, she manages the Bethesda Lake park where we hold our annual Jacksonville Expo and conducts year round activities for those living with disabilities locally. Despite having a slight hearing impairment, she has a winning “Philippians 4:13” attitude that matches her joyous smile and is our most enthusiastic Expo supporter in the area. :)

What we so love about Gaile is that she not only welcomes us at her facility but that she supports what we do 110%! There is obviously the business side of renting the pavilion and cabins, paying fees and getting permits but she goes beyond the basics to help us as an exhibitor, volunteer and networker. Currently, she is even contacting local churches and organizations close by the park trying to secure extra parking for the 2018 outreach. Wow, what a blessing!

All in all, like our other Rays of Sonshine what really makes her special is her love for Jesus and seeing Him transform lives and communities. So thank you, Gaile and may God expand His kingdom and bring heaven to earth more and more in Jacksonville and beyond. :)

Hopeful Thinking

You know according to the Bible, hope is a very important thing. In fact, it’s part of the big three listed in 1 Corinthians 13: Faith, Hope and Love. Yet, we don’t talk about hope much. Everyone knows love is supreme and faith is mentioned almost every Sunday in sermons but what about hope?

I know it is difficult to have hope these days but without it life is a hard row to plow. Hope is essential to giving endurance to faith which ends in love. It is like the fuel that gets us going each morning and keeps us going through out the day.

So how do we have hopeful thinking each day? Well, I’ve found the best way to keep my hope levels on the rise is to focus on God’s character, faithfulness and promises. To that end, I hope you enjoy the scripture art below.

Rays of Sonshine: John and Lisa Deeds

Well, this months Rays of Sonshine post highlights two people who we’ve known for nearly 20 years. They are dear friends and long time advocates for people living with disabilities including serving on the Access-Life board of Directors for over 6 years from 2011 to 2017. They have served on 3 of our mission trips to Belize and helped lead the planning for the North Texas Expo since it’s beginning in 2012. However, what makes John and Lisa so special is not all that they do (which is a whole lot LOL) but their heart for people.

The so love helping people living with disability in their times of need. They do it everyday, too as the own and run a durable medical equipment store in Hurst, TX. They see, meet and make friends with individuals and families members living with disabilities on a daily basis. In turn, reaching out to these folks through Access-Life has been a natural fit. Helping them know that God loves them, has a good plan for their lives and wants them to live abundantly fill with His joy is a natural extension of what John and Lisa already do through their store and work.

Isn’t that a lesson we all need to learn and relearn every day? Letting God’s light and love shine through us leading others to true life only found in Jesus. A Life that gives hope, peace and joy. A life that is about overcoming and living abundantly making a difference for God’s kingdom and bringing heaven to earth each day. So let us each of us honor God with every word we say and every deed we do and please join us in celebrating this month’s Rays of Sonshine: John and Lisa Deeds.

2017 ETN Expo Update

What an awesome day God gave us Saturday at the ETN Expo! God blessed us with 865 attendees this year including participation from 11 churches in Jefferson, Hamblen, Grainger and Knox County.

While the boat rides, bank fishing, archery kayaking and horses were once again popular mainstays, the addition of a rockwall this year was a new activity and big hit with folks. I was specifically encouraged by the dad of a boy with a disability who when thanking me for hosting the event told me they tried to get their son to rock climb several years ago with no success but on Saturday he climbed the rockwall to the top making for a memorable day.

All in all it was a great outreach from the free hot dogs and snow cones to the sand cross craft and tie-dye t-shirt decorating and I hope you enjoy the above photo collage as a reminder of God’s goodness. Feel free to forward, post and share it, too!