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Sunday, November 8, 2015

The End

Pocket Full of Quarters Journey 2015
The End

Written In Jacksonville, Florida
By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalms 37:4

It was time for the 2015 Pocket Full of Quarters Journey to come to an end. I knew it because I felt the "Uncalling." I also knew it because our bank account and credit card balances matched - which meant that as soon as we paid the bill for the last month of travel, we'd be out of money. Besides, I had a grandson turning 4 and I wanted to be at his birthday party in Jacksonville on Sunday. I can always tell when God has released me from a focused journey call because I begin feeling called back to my family.

I left the Fullers in Manchester, Tennessee on Friday. The plan was to drive to Atlanta, have dinner with my best friend, Nancy Edwards, and pick hubby Bob up at the Atlanta airport at 10:00 PM. We had a reservation in an Atlanta campground and planned to drive home on Saturday.

The drive from Manchester to Atlanta was slow and dangerous. What should have taken three hours, took six. Impatient drivers cut across multiple lanes of traffic. I passed several serious accidents and was almost involved in 2. I called Nancy several times to change meetings times. Finally, at 8:30 PM when we realized that traffic wasn't going to allow me to get to our meeting place, Nancy changed meeting locations. My cell phone wasn't charging and my phone wasn't receiving all calls and texts and I felt very alone. I arrived after 9 at the new meeting place, hungry and exhausted. Nancy knew what I liked and had ordered for me so my food was waiting.

I wanted to fall into my best friend's loving arms and allow her to comfort me but she'd brought a friend along who needed the combined ministering attention of the two of us. We do this occasionally and I wasn't surprised. Without any prepping, I assessed the situation, prayed, went into "Encounter Mode," and we ministered together as we have done so many times throughout our lives.

I knew I was going to be late picking Bob up and knew he'd understand. There was more traffic getting to the airport and it was after midnight when I gratefully released the driving and prepping the camper for the night over to him. I collapsed into bed and slept straight through the night.

We've had 198 salvations! I thought as soon as I woke the next morning. We need two more so it will be an even 200. God, it would delight me if you send us 2 more salvations.

I briefed Bob and even though we were both anxious to get to our home in Jacksonville, we began slowly making our way to Jacksonville, stopping where we saw people. We sowed seeds and had great encounters...but no salvations. It was getting late and we just wanted to be home.

"I need coffee to stay awake," Bob said.

"I see a shopping center. Pull off there. Maybe there will be people and we can evangelize one last time."

We pulled in to an empty parking lot. The shopping center had seen more prosperous days. The stores were closed or empty. There was 1 bakery/antique shop that looked open all the way at the end of the parking lot.

"Maybe they have coffee," I suggested. There were no other customers.

"Is your coffee fresh?" Bob asked.

"I'll make more," a cheerful Alexis said. While the coffee was brewing, we found out that her husband and his family were born again Christians. She believed in Jesus but admitted that there was something missing. There certainly was. No one had told her how to invite Jesus into her life. Within minutes, Alexis knew Jesus. That made 199 salvations.

"I have to find a restroom," I told Bob after he got his coffee. He waited and I made my way through the antiques and found myself in a kitchen in the back. There a sad eyed, thin, stringy haired girl was cleaning up after a day of baking.

"Where is the restroom?" I asked. She pointed the way.

"May I give you a gift?" Her name was Michelle. She smiled as I gave her a Gospel Bracelet and told her what it meant.

"You have no idea how much I needed to hear this today," Michelle said. About that time, a man walked in and glared at us.

"Do we need to talk later?" I asked. "I'll wait." I assumed this was her manager and didn't want to get her in trouble.

"No!" she said, glaring back at him. "I need to finish this. We don't have any customers and I'm almost done here." With her manager standing there glaring, she wept as she invited Jesus to be her Savior.

"Thank you God," I prayed. "200!"

Alexis joined us in the kitchen, still smiling. I suggested that the two of them find a church and grow together in their walk with Jesus. I turned to the still glaring manager and offered a bracelet but he wasn't interested. As I left, both woman rolled their eyes at the manager and as he walked toward them, they stepped warily out of his path. I knew there was a story there.

I found the restroom and made my way back to the front of the store. Bob was talking to a vender, managing one of the antique booths. He was the only other person in this huge store and he was sitting down in a chair attached to an oxygen tank. I hadn't even noticed him before.

"John has COPD and the doctors can't do anything else to do for him," Bob reported.

"I'm so sorry," I said to John. "My Daddy had that and I know how hard it is."

"We'd just started talking," Bob said. "John doesn't know where he is going in the next life." That was my cue.

I walked around behind the counter and tied a bracelet on his wrist. I gave the Gospel and after John prayed to invite Jesus into his life, I asked, "Now where are you going in the next life?"

"I reckon I'm going straight to heaven," he said, giving me a big Georgia-boy grin. Yes, he was!

"Wow," I said as we got in the car. "Good job Bob! I also had a salvation in the back of the store."

"I wondered what took so long," Bob said.

"That makes 201," I answered. Should we try for 205?"

"Cheryle!" Bob said, smiling. "You know that when we set a goal, God always blesses us with a bonus. Remember that leap year when we were at 364 salvations? You wanted to have 1 salvation for every day of the year so we needed 2 more. We stopped at Walmart at 11:30 PM on New Year's Eve. Not only did God send 2 more salvations, he gave a bonus of 1 more so we had 367. Can we please go home now?"

We did. We pulled into the driveway late Saturday night October 17, 2015. So far, I'd visited 35 states in 2015. Since leaving home exactly 2 months before, God had allowed us to have 201 salvations. He sent countless more Divine Encounters and many opportunities to train people to give the Gospel. It was the best Pocket Full of Quarters Journey ever. The harvest is the ripest I've ever experienced and we're getting close to 1,000 salvations for the year. Maybe God will send 1001.

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Live Gracefully

Pocket Full of Quarters Journey 2015
Live Gracefully

Written In
By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name's sake Romans 1:5

Do you live by grace? I pray you are saved by grace but I'm talking about living beyond being saved for eternity. I'm talking about living gracefully - understanding grace in light of everything that happens in your life. For me, living gracefully has been a process with ups and downs, stops and starts, and like peeling away layers of an onion to get to the flavorful part in the middle. This week peeled away another layer of the living gracefully onion.

I spent a couple of days at the home of my ministry mentors, Pastor Ron and Amanda Fuller. Yes, some of the time was spent evangelizing and 4 people met Jesus while I was there but most of the time was spent in their home chapel with Pastor Fuller literally standing at his black board and me taking notes on scripture and process applications for fulfilling God's call to Pocket Full of Change Ministries. Part of Pastor Fuller's call to ministry is equipping others to do the work of equipping the body of Christ for ministry. I am just one of many that he and his wife pour scriptural knowledge, experience with running ministries, and their unique spiritual gifts into. I always leave better prepared to fulfill my call from God.

This time my lesson was about living more gracefully. Technically, I knew that every good and perfect gift came from God. After all, I'm a Bible student. Having said that, I've always had trouble accepting ministry gifts from others. For example, when people take me into their home, I worry about their inconvenience, particularly because part of the nature of what I do means I can't always know ahead when I'm going to arrive. I joke that God doesn't seem to understand scheduling when I open myself to traveling America and going where He leads. Last minute critical assignments and/or encounters delay me for hours or even days. My hosts have to understand that but even when I've clearly heard and obeyed God and the fruits of the surprise encounters are obvious to all, I was still bothered by the scheduling inconveniences to others.

The same has been true when people donate. I worried about their ability to afford it, worried that their love for me put pressure on them, and felt constant pressure to be worthy of their faith in me. You are probably beginning see the problem.
Add to that how blessed I am by the number of people who follow me and reach out via email, text, phone or social media. No matter how many hours I work, I go to bed nightly without something done that has a person waiting. It has been frustrating that even on the most amazing days where I had many salvations, I could still go to bed feeling badly about something I hadn't done.
Now let's talk about my family and friends. I know how blessed I am. No matter how much a part of their lives I was or how hard I tried, I often felt as if I hadn't done enough or had let someone down.

I realized this week just how much all of this tortured me and hampered my effectiveness. Everything I've just mentioned are gifts from God because of His grace. By feeling unworthy or trying to be more worthy, I've been living as if these gifts were either things I earned, things humans gifted to me, or gifts I had to work for. What I'd thought of as humility, gratefulness, and care for others was actually audacity that I was the one Christian to whom God's plan for graceful living didn't apply. Trying to work to be worthy of this many blessings was exhausting because of the impossibility of it. It worked me to death and stole my joy of the blessings. Thinking I could ever be worthy of so many blessings is not scripturally sound and my feelings of unworthiness and gyrations to try to be worthy actually chases away new gifts God wants to give me.

So what do I do? Well, I start by not being surprised or feeling more unworthy. I'm human and we've all fallen short of the glory of God. I offer grace to myself and accept God's sweet graceful response that He will help me do better in the future. I rebuke the lies from the enemy and trust what the scripture says about the source of gifts. I confess my fears of losing precious gifts, dishonesty in recognizing the source of all gifts, selfishness in trying to hold onto gifts, and the self seeking involved in trying to be worthy of gifts that came to me via grace. I ask for forgiveness, make any necessary amends, and relax and enjoy even more graceful living.

This was a big week for me. I feel like a huge burden was lifted. Gone was the guilt that Pastor Ron and Amanda Fuller stopped all of their other important work and focused just on me. It was replaced with the wonder of the blessing. Imagine how blessed I feel to recognize that those comfortable homes I'd stayed in and all of the people who partnered with me through donations to take Jesus to America were gifts straight from the Creator of the Universe. I went to a birthday party for a grandchild yesterday and was overwhelmed with joy that the God who hung the stars in the sky took the time to craft this family just for me. I turned on my computer for the first time in days this morning and saw the blessings of all the emails without the stabbing pain that people were waiting for a reply. Anything I do for them isn't from me, it is a blessing from God sent when God chooses to send it. Can you imagine the relief of that knowledge? Instead of a voice whispering that I haven't done enough, my voice has shouted to God, "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

Here is my commitment to you. If you choose to bless this ministry through your homes, time, spiritual gifts, prayers, or donations, I am going to praise God and stand in awe of His gift. We are partners in the joy of taking Jesus to America and participating together in this blessing from God. When you offer to be a conduit for God's gift, I won't insult you by asking if you are sure, worrying about your convenience, or trying to be worthy of your generosity. I'll just enjoy and put to use the blessing from God. When I do something for you, I ask you to do the same. Let's all just enjoy the blessings of God together. That is the gift of graceful living.

Are you worrying about what others think of you? Do you have trouble letting people help you? Does your best not seem good enough? Do you feel unworthy of good things coming your way? Perhaps, it is time to find relief in peeling away another layer on graceful living.

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