Saturday, July 19, 2008

One Hope

While in Tulsa this past week I had the opportunity of meeting some amazing people from a ministry called One Hope, an outreach to inner city kids in the Tulsa area. I sat down at Starbucks with Joe Blankenship and his daughter Miriam along with Curtis and Rachel Branch for not even an hour, but after our time together and hearing about the children they are investing in daily, my heart was deeply stirred. You see, just the day before I had finished reading a book called "When Invisible Children Sing" about street kids in Bolivia and their struggle to survive from day to day amidst the violence and poverty and everything that goes hand in hand with calling the streets 'home'. Little did I know how closely the lives of children in America could mirror those I had just read about from a third world country. Both worlds live in extreme poverty and as a result, children are left to fend for themselves, adopting violence at an early age as a means of survival. Abuse, drugs, rape, hunger and illiteracy are everyday factors considered normal by these children who have never known anything different, and falling into the same patterns as the ones who go before them is the only way they feel even remotely accepted.

In talking with Joe and Miriam and hearing how sincerely they desire to reach each child with the Gospel of Jesus, who is their "One Hope," grabbed my heart. They recognize the deep need for these kids to be loved and accepted without condition, the need for a safe environment where children can play and learn and just be kids, and their greatest need for a Savior who cares about each one more than they'll ever know. One Hope is dedicated to training interns in the ways of the Lord and equipping them to reach out to hurting children with the hope of Jesus Christ. One Hope is committed to building lasting relationships with their kids and being a family to these children who may feel abandoned by their own families. The ministry of One Hope is affecting the Tulsa community with the love of Jesus, but they need our help. Thus far, One Hope has been dependent on the generosity of churches and city officials for their meeting location, but the goal is to raise enough money to build their own facility for the children. I encourage you to visit their website at and see how you can get connected and extend the love of Jesus to waiting kids in Tulsa.

Check out the article about One Hope in Tulsa World this week:

Riverwalks and Bathroom Lights

KXOJ of Tulsa had me come out for their summer concert series on the Riverwalk just yesterday, and little did I know as brief as the visit was, how my heart would be stirred and broken and encouraged. I was able to talk with so many precious people before and after the concert and was deeply touched by their stories. During our time of worship, it was nothing short of awe-inspiring to look out at my new friends and see them pouring out their hearts to God in song, some even with tears. I ended up staying at the Riverwalk till almost midnight getting to know a few who stayed late, and what a blessing it was to hear so many similar heart cries to that of my own. We share the strongest bond of Christ alive in each of us, a bond that unites strangers over many, many miles.

Once back in my hotel room, I sat down over a hu-massive plate of spaghetti and meatballs to rest and process all the conversations from just minutes before, but I'm pretty sure I got lost in my plate of spaghetti somewhere along the way. (It was good stuff!) Nonetheless, my heart was still so full (and now so was my belly), and I couldn't help but reflect on the goodness of the Lord just in that one Tulsa night.

I had no trouble falling right to sleep, and was deeply dreaming when circa 3:30 am the light in the bathroom turned itself on. All by itself. Now you have to know, I am a light sleeper and wake up at the slightest noise or change in the room, so when the light came on, I sat straight up. It took me a moment to remember where I was, and even longer to figure out how in the world the light decided to suddenly shine on its own, so I just crawled out of bed and groggily hit the light switch. Enter 4:30 am. The light is awake again! I tell ya, this thing has a mind of its own. I get out of bed to turn it off and hit it with more authority this time. Despite my valiant efforts to turn the light off and keep it that way, the bathroom lit itself every hour on the thirty mark. If I had been thinking clearly whatsoever, I would have just shut the door, but instead made the short trek from the bed to the bathroom and back to the bed about 6 times in all. Then, to confirm my hunch that the room was haunted or something, come 7:30 my TV came on all by itself! Now the Hampton in Bixby has a nice colorful screen saver-looking-background with nice music playing, but it was NOT time for my wake up call. I switched off the television only to see the bathroom light on again. Let's just say I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight with no living electronics. ;)

Monday, July 14, 2008

You're Not Alone

I have received countless e-mails and messages from people who have been touched by “You’re Not Alone,” and in reading these testimonies, I have been completely humbled and have cried through many of your stories. When I wrote this song during Thanksgiving of 2006, sitting at my parents’ baby grand in North Carolina, I had no inclination of how the Lord would use it to deeply minister to the hearts of broken, lonely people. All I knew at the time was that He was singing His promise over me, reminding me that He had been by my side all along, and ministering to my broken, lonely heart. Now having heard many others’ accounts of how God’s promise through “You’re Not Alone” has so encouraged and strengthened them, I want to share a few of them with you. These are real people with real hurts, trusting in a loving God who has said, “Never will I leave you.” Here is what they had to say:

"’You're Not Alone’ is really a testimony of my life. I have never heard a song that really lays out my life so closely. I appreciate it so much. You have a beautiful voice and I'm very glad you're using it to glorify God. It gives me hope for the world.”

“I absolutely love the song ‘Your Not Alone.’ I am going though a tough time in my life and have been praying alot about it. I had been feeling distant from God, and then I listened to your song and it just made me realize He has never left me. It was exactly what I needed to hear.”

“Last fall I moved to a new state to teach in a little Christian school and at times it was very lonely. Towards the end of the year I listened to ‘You're Not Alone’ ALOT. It really seemed to express my feelings, and became kind of like a prayer with me.”

"’You're Not Alone’ has been a blessing to me and someone close to me after I played it for him. He is in the Marine Corps and is set for a seven month deployment sometime in July for Iraq. He has gone through alot lately, and with no one close to him on base he gets pretty lonely sometimes. I played "You're Not Alone" for him yesterday and he just broke down in tears. I reminded him that God is there for him when he's going through tough times and when the lonely times are too much to handle.”

“Last night was another lonely night. A pretty "dark night". Hearing your songs today on your myspace have really made me feel a lot better. Still pretty lonely but now more comforted. The words were spot on, just what I needed to hear.”

“My daughter and I saw you in concert in with Brandon and Aaron. She is 17 and for the last 8 months has been struggling with severe depression. When I bought the tickets to the concert it was just something we had talked about and I thought would be fun for her to do. When you sang ‘Your Not Alone,’ my daughter just started to cry. It was as if you had been living right here beside us all this time and wrote that song just for her.”

“’You’re Not Alone’ has spoken to me in my time of need from the Lord, to know He is here for me. So thank you, Meredith for your faithfulness to the Lord with His songs.”

“Hi... I just wanted to let you know how much your music truly touches people. I just had an ectopic pregnancy and had major abdominal surgery on May 10th. I came home very tearful after being in the hospital as it is not the first baby I have lost, and do not have any living children. I almost died and could not understand why God allowed this to happen to me. I was ready to give up on life, literally, but then my iTunes playlist hit four of your songs and I felt so much better. I was able to let God be there to hold me versus blame Him and pull away. Your songs literally saved my life. I was told I needed to give my baby a name to help with closure. Her name is Meredith Lynn. Lynn was my adopted mothers middle name who also passed away shortly after my adoption. You can guess where Meredith came from. Thanks Meredith for your hard word and unfailing faith in God to do His work and spread the joy and healing.”

“’You're Not Alone’ ministered to my heart sooooooooooo much. By God's grace I grew up in a Christian home yet there have been many times in my life when i've felt alone and abandoned. In my mind I knew God was with me, but in my heart I couldn't seem to accept it. You're Not Alone has become one my most favorite songs! It's really blessed my life and I just want to thank you for allowing God to use you in your ministry.”

“Your song, ‘You're Not Alone’ came on the radio and I think that was totally God because it was exactly what I needed to hear. That's really where I'm at in my life right now; feeling all alone and I really needing to be reminded that I’m not- that I need to stop worrying and stressing out about everything that God is completely in control of.”

“’You’re Not Alone’ makes me think of how wonderful our heavenly Father is to us, loves us, brings us in from our deepest despair. Like others I have had numerous significant losses in my life, including my fiance and two sisters, but God can reach us. I have been in the process of adopting from China since Jan. 2006, and the wait has continued to get longer and longer. It has been an emotional roller coaster ride at times, but your song really ministered to me like God is singing to her, and me singing to her that God would wipe away her tears and bring her home, and that He has loved her all her life, before she was even conceived.”

“I have been living for God all my life, even thru my parents divorcing, me getting married at the young age of 17 and my husband leaving me and marrying another woman... I've been thru too much to mention but all of the glory goes to God for me making it thru. There have been so many times I have felt all alone. Only one that has faced that kind of hurt can truly understand just how alone one might feel. Well, I heard the song ‘You're Not Alone’ the other day on the local Christian radio station and I believe that God gave it to me! It means so much to me, the lyrics, the music.
Then today I received an email from a friend of mine and she began to tell me about her situation and how much she was feeling alone and disconnected and that she wants to hold on and believe that God is going to see her thru. She had even thought of ending her own life but God spoke to her. Immediately I thought of your song and sent her the video from the internet. She wrote me back and said "That is awesome! It's exactly what I needed!"

“Your song has touched the deepest part of my heart and put all I have been feeling into words I could never articulate. I felt as if God was singing right to me just to remind me that he is here. I just wanted to say thank you for blessing me at such a hard and lonely time in my life.”

I pray that these have touched your heart like they have mine. Thank you to each one who has let me know how much God has used "You're Not Alone" in your life. Let me also encourage you, Friend…this promise is for YOU. No matter what your circumstance, no matter how far you’ve fled from Jesus, His arms are open wide, waiting for you to turn and run back home. Read these verses and know that God’s promises are loving and true: Deuteronomy 31:6 & 8; Joshua 1:5; Psalm 23:4; Psalm 46:7.