Calm Down!

Feeling pretty puny today. I only get sick about once every two years, which is pretty remarkable. But, I have been hit with the “cold” that so many others are dealing with and just out of of gas. So, I thought I would share a little story with you. It reminds me to pray in the normalcy but also in the crisis!

It was a typical Tuesday in mid November. We were in Tuskegee and had been loading left over wood from a wheel chair ramp for over half an hour. We had been on the road back and forth from three worksites most of the morning. As we were getting ready to load up and head back to Auburn, a man came running up in a frenzied panic. We could barely make out what he was saying but then he pointed behind him and yelled “there’s a man on the side of the road, I think he had a seizure”. Sydney and I sprinted over and laying perpendicular to the road, with his head just on the pavement, lay an elderly man.

His eyes were blood shot and glazed over with cataracts. His right hand was clenched in a fist and his left hand lay limp beside him. He breathed in gasping pants and lay speechless. I asked him if he was ok but no response. Looking at the man who called us over for help I asked him if he had called 911. He exclaimed he did not have a phone so I turned to Sydney and told her to make the call. As she ran to go get her phone, I paused, not quite sure what to do next. The man was breathing, although sporadic. There was no blood or seemingly other injury. Was he in shock? Was he having a stroke? During the fall, did he injure his neck? So many questions. All I knew was that his breathing was short, rapid, and sporadic. He was in danger of aspirating. The only thing I knew to do at that point was pray, and not to myself or quietly, but out loud where he and the man who called us for help could hear.

I placed my hand on the back of his shoulder and began to pray aloud. I prayed for Jesus to be with this man, to give him assurance that help was on the way and that he was ok and going to be ok. I prayed for God to calm his spirit and allow him to relax. Silently, I asked God to calm my spirit as well. As I continued to pray, the man’s breathing slowed and his tense body slowly relaxed. Although he still did not speak, it seemed for now he was stable. In fact, it seemed he was just taking a rest on the side of the road at this point.

Several people drove by, a sheriff arrived and even someone who thought I should turn the man on his side since he at one point had a seizure. Because he was stable and calm, I did not think this was a good idea. I was fearful of moving him in the event he had a head or neck injury. I asked this lady if she was a nurse and she said she used to be at which point I asked if she wanted to take over. She declined and left the site. (Maybe that is why she “used” to be a nurse). Finally, the fire department and paramedics arrived. We learned the man’s name was George and it seemed he was well known and had a history of seizures. After about fifteen more minutes, George began to move around a bit more. We sat him up and shortly after he was walking around. At that point, it seemed our time there was done, the professionals were now in charge. I continued to silently pray for George. During the entire time, I kept one hand on George just to let him know I was there and offered words of encouragement with short requests to God.

As we drove back to Auburn, my head was swimming. The “what ifs” hit me. What if he was having a stroke? What if he had still been in a seizure when we ran up on him? What if he was having a heart attack? It could have been so much worse! It took nearly fifteen minutes for the fire department to arrive and another five for the paramedics but it seemed like hours. What stood out in my mind more than anything else is what happened when I prayed. That was the pinnacle moment, the moment when he responded the best, when it seemed that God was right there with him and instantaneously calmed his breathing to a resting state. It was when I also physically felt and experienced the power of God.

First responders deal with this all the time and my appreciation for them has been deeply heightened. But, the lesson I learned that day, no matter what the situation, pray. Pray because God is active and moving. This world is NOT static, the plans are not SET IN STONE, and we can be the conduit of God’s active spirit and movements. And in this instance, it was important that George KNEW I was praying for him. He heard my prayer and for sure, God did. With Paul we exclaim, in all things pray!  What a day and what a small opportunity to minister and extend the love of Jesus.

When at times we seem powerless, it is prayer that is our best source of power. Pray without ceasing.

Grace and peace,



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February 4th Service Day

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13

What a great day of service! This past weekend we had a fantastic service day with students from the Auburn Wesley Foundation and ARM@AU. These students served with 6 of our home repair families, and even completed the work for one of those families! We would like to thank all of our crew leaders and volunteers for their willingness to serve our families and to do God’s work in our community!

John David Parker - IMG_1853 IMG_20170204_104459803IMG_20170204_111513896

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Hands trembling, I carefully tore open the letter. My mouth felt like someone had shoved the cotton wad from the top of the pill bottle inside. The outside cover of the letter read, “Auburn University School of Veterinary Medicine”. What would it say? Did I get in? I was preparing myself for disappointment. Funny how we start to scan letters for the parts. You start to look for key words like “sorry”, “regret”, and “cannot”. Where were those words? What I read was “happy”, “inform”, and “accepted”. My knees buckled and I fell to them in partial prayer and euphoric disbelief. “I was going to Auburn’s School of Veterinary Medicine! I was going to Auburn’s School of Veterinary Medicine”!!! (repeat several times) Shock and awe.

Funny how things change. Or maybe not. What was also in the letter was a contingency clause. My responsibility now was to finish out the current set of classes and maintain a “C”. Pretty easy. I had been making A’s and B’s for quite some time in some grueling classes. My strategy had worked and there was only one pesky class to get through, Organic Chemistry 2. Not my strong suit, I had saved it for the final term so that a C would not hurt my GPA.

Everything was falling into place except for Organic Chemistry. I simply did not understand it and could not memorize it. Labs went well but the class work was beyond tough. I was also in a few extracurricular leadership roles and could not dedicate full attention to my class. Hindsight says I should have made a shift when I realized my predicament.

The quarter was turning into a disaster. We only had two tests and a final in the class. One test I had failed, the other I scored a “D”. The class average was a “D”. It seemed only the Chemical Engineering students were grasping the concepts. As the quarter loomed on, I became panicky and desperate. My prayer life increased for sure and I found myself pleading for God to rescue me from this chemical nightmare. As the days before our final exam solemnly approached our professor threw us a life line. If our grades were not good, whatever we made on the final could serve as our final grade! This was like divine magic. I studied, crammed, prayed, hoped, and everything in between. I reminded God of all the great missionary work I was going to do as a veterinarian and the very vision He had placed upon my heart.

After taking the test, I was hopefully optimistic. I felt like I had actually done ok. At least “C” level work and maybe just pulled it out. The thing about these Chemistry tests is that they contained complex structures; like complicated quadratic equations on steroids. Meaning that you received credit for how you worked out the problem and showed your work. One question could be worth 15-20 points.

My optimism was shattered. The disappointment of defeat tasted like acid reflux. There had been one question that really stumped me. And that one question was my demise. It was one question that if answered correctly would have resulted in a “C” on my final exam. I went to the professor and laid out my situation, pleaded with him with tears leaking down my face. He even admitted that very few got the question correct. He would not throw it out.

My advisor was distraught. He was angry. Partially because there was competition for Chemical Engineering students in the Pre-Vet major to get slots in vet school. I was in the Animal Science Pre-Vet. My losing a slot might potentially open for someone else. My advisor was advocating for me at other levels. A summer class was not available for me to try to retake the class. When the reality sunk in, that I was losing the slot in Auburn’s School of Veterinarian Medicine, it was one of the worst feelings of shame, defeat, and embarrassment I had ever felt. I had to tell my family, my friends, my colleagues…and then the confusion and betrayal. Had God tricked me? Had He set me on this grueling path only to not help me see it through? Had I not heard correctly? These thoughts, fears, insecurities and anger coursed through me. But alas, I had no time to process. Although losing my slot at vet school, I had been awarded a slot to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) and was to start that June.

What do we do with defeat? What do we do with disappointment especially when we feel we have been called to something; when the plan and path seem so clear? How does failure move us forward?

I’ll share with you those next steps next week but for now, I invite you to just sit with the emotions we feel when defeat and failure come. Most of us have experienced this in some way. A relationship that went sour, a career opportunity like mine that disappeared, a business going bust, an accident or illness that steals the dream away. Maybe you have a friend or loved one in a difficult situation that just may need your listening ear and support.

So, I leave you with this, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned, the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior”. Isaiah 43:2-3. God is with us. There is new light in the morning.

Grace and peace,


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Dream Quest

In a little less than two months, ARM is trying something new and different. Before I delve into our new venture, let me ask a few questions.

  • Have you ever had a dream? Not like what happens when we sleep each night, although it is possible a dream could get shaped there. I mean a deep passion or longing where you “see” something that is not quite there yet. Ever had those deep, driving feelings that the world could be different and that somehow you had a role to play? Ever had it keep you up at night? Ever had it make you frustrated with your current job or being in school?
  • Have you ever been found yourself driven to do something? Or something else? Does life sometime seem mundane? Or do you see a place where there is pain, hurt, and suffering, and you have what feels like a fireball well up somewhere deep inside to want to help?

These were the types of questions that dominated my thinking as a young adult and still today. I seem to live with an insatiable amount of vision and passion. No surprise that I am considered an Idealist and Challenger on various personality type indicators.

Those questions paved the way for ARM to begin. Paved the way to a part time career in the National Guard and still drive me today. The outcomes have been thousands of volunteers serving their neighbors through home repair. Children in low-income communities feeling loved and valued and several homes a year being rendered, safe, warm, and dry. And there is so much more!

We figured it was time to share these with others. That if others, especially our young people, also had visions and dreams to make the world better, maybe we could help them develop that early on and let their early studies and work focus on making those a reality. As followers of Jesus, these dreams come from him through the Holy Spirit. Our visions are visions of his kingdom.

For the next couple of weeks, I am going to reveal a few of the topics we are going to handle and want to invite you to journey with us. We are never too young or too old to have a dream. We are never too young our too old to see it happen. But, we can live in the dream world and procrastinate putting it into action. And that is super sad. There are God sized potentials in us and I hope we have the courage to see them unleashed.

So, this event. It is February 24-26th in Tuskegee, Alabama. It is called Lead Up. We will spend the weekend with high school students listening to their passion and step by step helping them develop a plan to put it into action. If you have a youth or want to come be with us, you can find the details and registration on our web site

What is your dream? What in this world do you know needs to be different? Are you brave enough to see where God will lead you if you take time to pray and plan around it? Lead Up! I would love to hear!

Grace and peace,


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MLK Day 2017 Recap

What a weekend! We are happy to announce that due to the help of all of our volunteers, we were able to help 9 families through home repair, minister with 14 children through our MLKids program, and do community service through the Macon County Food Pantry and the beautification of a Tuskegee cemetery. God did some amazing work through all of us this year, and what great way to kick off 2017! We would like to thank all of our teams and volunteers who served with us:

Home Repair:IMG_20170114_100734546

  • Auburn Community Church
  • Auburn United Methodist Church
  • ARM@AU
  • Embrace Church
  • Liberty United Methodist Church
  • Bell AUMC D-group
  • St. Thomas Episcopal Church
  • Trinity Lutheran Church
  • Tuskegee University Omega Tau SigmaIMG_3728
  • Tuskegee University Zeta Phi Beta
  • Wesley Memorial United Methodist ChurchIMG_20170114_095327355_HDR


  • Auburn Wesley Foundation
  • ARM@AU
  • I Am My Brother’s Keeper
  • Tuskegee Wesley Foundation

Tuskegee Community Service (food pantry and cemetery clean up):

  • Auburn-Opelika SURJ
  • Auburn University Honors Serves
  • McGrath Family
  • Tuskegee University Student Government Association

Check out this video of all of the work we were able to do!!


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