Calling All Hinsons

"…that they should seek God…" Acts 17:26-27


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Our Provider

May 1st 2013 was the very last day either Grant or myself were “employed”. I had quit my job at the hospital just two months earlier and Grant’s last day at our church was on this day three years ago. This ranks up there as one of the hardest things we have ever done–quitting our secure jobs. We had no promised income at the time, only a command spoken by God deep into our marrow.

That night we handed out our very first commitment cards and received some back. Over the years we have handed out many more of those same cards and received many more back. When we were called to move to Lancaster and begin a ministry, it was very clear to us that it would take our full focus and trust. We were to lean on our Savior to provide our every need.

And He has.

We have very faithful givers who have not missed a beat since that day three years ago and we have those we have picked up along the way. We have been given anonymous donations and ones from long-time friends. We have received funds from both the rich and the poor.

We have also felt rejection.

We have heard that we have enough support already. We have heard that if we were only a non-profit they would be glad to give. And we have heard that donations were coming, but they never arrived.

But in the midst of it all, God has provided.

We have never (Not once. Not ever.) been without.

Even those times when there was only $0.11 in our bank account, it was always followed by a knock at the door with someone who felt the Lord telling them to bring us this money. 

Or when we had an unexpected bill, it was always followed by someone who had a dream where they were told to give us this money. 

Or when we had used up all our groceries feeding the kiddos who hung out at our house and someone came by with a car full of snacks because they felt the Lord was telling them to.

You see, He provides our every need.

If there is anything I have learned in these three years it is to TRUST that He is going to do what He promises He will do. It is a trust that goes deeper than I am able to explain. It is a learned trust. After obediently giving up security and comfort of a paycheck for the sake of God’s call on our life, we have learned that type of trust.

And this post isn’t only about monetary donations. Those are just the tip of the iceberg. If I were to add up all of the ways churches have provided snacks and toilet paper and hand soap and paper towels for The Connection I would be exhausted. And the times people have given of their time and talents to mow and build decks and storage buildings. And the times people felt led to pour a basketball court and paint our porch and donate soccer goals. And when Grant was given Panthers tickets so he could take a young boy to a game who had just given his life to The Lord.

And just this week we experienced it as well.

Wednesday, Grant called me with a surprise. He and the kids were in Rock Hill and wanted to meet me at any restaurant of my choosing as a celebration of my last day of clinical. My stomach spoke before my mind and I said Olive Garden! before remembering we had $8 in our checking account. I quickly apologized for choosing somewhere too expensive and told him I would be fine eating anywhere. With confidence, Grant said No, if that’s where you want to go, the Lord will provide.

Hesitantly, I met him there. I wanted to trust and relax and be able to enjoy myself, but I felt that we weren’t being good stewards of the cash Grant had in his wallet and I wasn’t very excited anymore. After we were seated, I made one trip to the bathroom with one child, came back to the table long enough to order, and not-so-surprisingly had to make another trip to the bathroom with the other child. When I got back to the table the food was coming out and the waiter had our bill in hand. When he laid it on the table he said, The people that were sitting beside you paid for your food and left you this note.

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Dear Hinson Family, Just wanted to say “thank you” for all the work you do in Lancaster. It doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. Thanks for following God’s path for your life. ~Another Family in Christ

I could hardly eat my ravioli for the tears that kept flowing. We didn’t know the people who were sitting beside us who paid for our dinner, but God knew us both and knew not only our needs, but our desires.

He knows not only our needs, but He knows our desires.

Is God asking you to give something to someone? You may be who He is using to meet a need or a heart’s desire. You may be the one He uses to bless a family who is celebrating. You may be the one He uses to pay a bill. He may be asking you to stock a pantry for someone who is unsure of where they will get their next check from.

Three years ago today I would’ve never thought these stories would be mine. That God would use people we don’t know to meet our needs. That He would speak to people’s hearts to bless my heart. That He would orchestrate schedules in order to provide a blessing.

I am thankful that three years ago we took that step of obedience. We gave up security in ourselves for security in Him and we have never been richer.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

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A Day in the Life

The days always start the same but never end the same. Each night when I am finally able to drag my worn out bones into the unmade bed I feel different–sometimes more encouraged, sometimes more wise, mostly more weary.

Today started as it normally does. The 6:30 alarm goes off way too early and I am surprised it’s already time to wake up. I stand up and hear all my leg bones pop and crack and I wince at the pain in my back. This crazy life is not only wearing on my emotions. Obviously.

Soon after that early alarm, we are all five out the door. Early morning meetings are followed by trading out kids so we can each make our different appointments. The clock in the mini-van reads 8:49am as I drop off the baby with Grant. When I got Adah out I heard a strange noise in the door and we now find ourselves standing and staring at an automatic-shutting door that has just breathed its last. Grant pulls on the handle and tries different ways to shut it as I jump in the other car to head off to Spanish class, leaving him there with a baby, a broken van, and an apology that I can’t stay and help.

Spanish class is good for my heart but I’m still unsure that I am capable of fitting another sliver of information in my saggy, soggy brain. I press on anyways and pray that God will use just a piece of what I am learning to further my relationship with a neighbor.

I say adiós at 10:30 and I drive to The Connection for a meeting with someone I don’t know. She heard about the ministry and wanted to find out how her family and church could get involved. Our views lined up so closely that I was sure she was sent as an answer to a prayer that we have prayed for months.

At 2:30 our weekly ministry team meeting was full of hard questions and even harder answers, as we gathered around picnic tables seeking God’s plans for the ministry. It is a joy to work with my teammates and to watch God weave our strengths and weaknesses together to make a beautiful instrument He is using to reach our neighbors.

Rushing away from the meeting, we all loaded up in our cars and headed to Homework Helpers. We buckled in our six red-faced, dirty-footed kids who had been playing in the sun while their parents worked through a meeting agenda. When we arrived at The Connection with five minutes to spare, book bags were already strewn on the porch. It’s a good thing I can multi-task because while I’m unlocking the door I’m bombarded with questions about what’s for snack, why is it so hot, and can they have a basketball.

I strategically chose my seat on the floor to help kids with their math and to have quick access to Adah as she crawls all around at everyone’s feet. From my view I could see the door and I saw a girl walking up with tears in her eyes. She said there were people in her house, they were drunk and arguing, she didn’t know them, and they wouldn’t get out. Could we help her? Grant and Jason leave to help as me and Nancy stand on the porch whispering a quick prayer through tears. Lord, keep our men safe. We don’t know what they are walking into, but PLEASE protect them.

We finished up homework a little later and breathed a sigh of relief that our men showed up safely back to their waiting, worrying wives. I shook my head in disbelief as Grant shared what was going on in that trailer. Even after living here for three years, the sins still take us aback.

And later back at home, as I change Adah’s diaper, a tear falls from my eyes onto her soft, sweet skin. I wipe it away and she giggles. Moments before, I heard Grant’s car pull up and looked out to see him talking with someone in our yard. Someone we had prayed for earlier today–crying for The Lord to work in his situation. And now he, too, was crying out in our yard. He just got back from court and came to share the news. Our prayers weren’t answered in the way we hoped and he will likely not see his little boy again. He fought for him the best way he knew how, but it wasn’t good enough. I watched for a moment through the blinds as he paced back and forth, punching his fist in the air. He bit his lip as tears streamed down his face. His large frame could hardly hold him up with all the emotion that weighed so heavy on him.

I shut the blinds so I couldn’t see anymore. It was enough. My heart was done for the day. Meetings and prayers and planning and decisions and pleas and fears and new relationships and physical aches and broken people–it was enough for one day.

So I drag my worn-out bones into the unmade bed again for another night. I pray with Grant that we will be wiser and that God will show us the way. We can’t do this without Him. We can’t run like this without His love and His grace and His answers to our cries. Maybe tomorrow will be a day of more rejoicing and less heartache. Maybe not. But tonight we rest in knowing that His mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness is so very great.

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Adventures in Prayer Walking

This spring weather beckons us out of the house. It welcomes us with open arms and we embrace it. And it’s not only us that the light calls out, but everyone seems to have heard the news. The sun is shining and it’s a great day to step outside.

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Loud music booms from cars driving by, ever-so-slowly. It always makes me wonder how they aren’t deaf when we have conversations with them. I want to ask them but I will save that question for another day. Maybe.

Trailers sit empty, more-so than I think I have seen in three years. New landlords come in, debts need to be paid. Taxes come in, debts aren’t paid. Trailers are abandoned.

Children run in the yard. Many new faces run around, introducing themselves as quickly as our eyes meet. Asking millions of questions about Adah and begging to push the stroller. Just try not to bump her through the potholes, I beg.

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Jehovah’s Witnesses sit on the side of the road in their suits and ties and formulate a plan. They are here to invite our neighbors to a new gathering and to share John 3:16. I pray for them, too, as we battle in the streets for the souls of our neighbors. Only one of us is using John 3:16 in the correct way.

Sin is obvious, but even more obvious when the weather pulls us all outside. All out into the open and into the light. Light has a way of exposing darkness.

The smells in the air are undeniable as the wind blows in just the right direction from their hiding spot down the street. It’s not the sweet smells of the Mexican produce truck that we buy mangoes from.

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The visitors to the park come and go so often that the dust has no time to settle on the tinted windows.

The foul language overheard is piercing to my ears as I hope my children didn’t hear it. And hope they don’t repeat it.

But they seem oblivious to the environment. There is nothing shocking or surprising or scary to them. One picks flowers and finds the beauty in her surroundings. The other prays out loud for his friends as we walk.

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And as those friends join us, I pray deeply and fervently for them. One has told us that he has demons living inside of him. To hear him laugh a deep, raspy laugh at only 7 years old, you would agree. Shortly after I began singing My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, he decided he didn’t want to walk with us anymore.

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There is power in our words and our songs and our prayers. There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power when God’s people walk the streets, intentionally lifting up their neighbors to the Throne of the Creator. It’s a power that can overcome addictions and false religions and potty-mouths and idolatry and all manner of evil. Power that causes demons to run and hide–even ones that take up residence in children who have a home life that we can’t conceive.

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So we walk on. We will continue to flood the streets with our prayers and we will see change come about. Sin is not victorious, God is. He is faithful to keep His promises.

“So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:10-11

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Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly

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I sit on the old, fading couch at The Connection. It has been the place for people of all ages to come and take a rest. I sit, typing out a paper that is so taxing. Besides the looming deadline set by my professor, and the pressure I have placed on myself to make the perfect grade, the topic seems to weigh even more on my heart.

As I type away and delete, then type some more, I find myself wondering what the future holds. As I research articles on the library database, I feel tears welling in my eyes only to fall onto the keys and be brushed away. My heart feels so burdened that it physically hurts just a twinge. This is schoolwork, I tell myself. Get. It. Together.

But it’s not just schoolwork. I type to the beat of the dribbling basketball that I can hear through the thin, freezing windows. It would normally be distracting, but today it is driving home the point deep into my heart. The trash-talking and occasional profanity are slightly more distracting, but are hammering that point even deeper.

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For the capstone project for my master’s degree I have chosen to focus on health disparities in impoverished communities. Socioeconomic inequalities are significant contributors to health disparities in the United States. Evidence shows that vulnerable populations disproportionately experience health inconsistencies. We know this. What do we do about it?

Over three years ago when me and Grant were praying about where The Lord was leading us, we decided it would be time for me to apply to Family Nurse Practitioner programs. I always said if it was too much to handle in this new stage of life, school would be the first to go.

As I sit and type this there are only 77 more days left until I graduate.

77 days.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I didn’t do this on my own. God was my source of endurance, perseverance, and knowledge. He was my source of concentration when I would take tests while begging the kids to go back to their rooms for just a minute more. He was my source of energy when I went to clinicals in Columbia [over an hour away] and I had a 5 week old at home who woke every two hours at night. He was my source of remembrance when I had millions of other things on my mind but still needed to know what drug went with what disease process.

So as I sit here writing about a problem too big and too overwhelming, I am reminded that I serve a God that is bigger than any healthcare issue.

I am finishing up my coursework with clinicals at a local Free Clinic. A place where health care needs are met for free. A place where people who are struggling financially can come to receive quality care, despite what is in their pocketbooks. A place that meets the needs of those who are most needy.

{My preceptor had a homeless patient last week. Along with providing care for him, she also brought him blankets from home so he would be warm in the freezing temperatures.}

So what do I do with all this? My heart is torn as I write about some of the CDC facts:

  • Insurance coverage is strongly related to better health outcomes. Hispanics and blacks had substantially higher uninsured rates.
  • In 2006, the overall U.S. infant mortality rate was 6.68 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, with considerable disparities by race and Hispanic origin. The highest infant mortality rate was for black women with a rate 2.4 times that for white women.
  • A comparison of rates by race reveals that black women and men have much higher heart disease death rates in the 45–74 age group than women and men of any other race (CDC, 2011).

I can’t help but think that God gave me a passion for medicine and a heart for the indigent so that I could pair up what I love with what I do.

I want to pair up what I love with what I do.

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So I sit still, letting all the facts and injustices soak in while I listen to the kids outside argue over a foul. I know them all by name. They all fit the statistics that are negatively affected. They are already set up for negative health outcomes simply because of their upbringing and the color of their skin.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

It’s not fair and it’s a big obstacle, but I want to make some kind of dent in the problem in my lifetime. The next step may bring us closer to bridging the gap of healthcare inequities in Countryside. In the meantime I will act justly, love people, and walk humbly with my God.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/minorityhealth/chdir/2011/factsheet.pdf

 


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Happy Birthday Grant

I couldn’t let this day go by without celebrating Grant! Thirty-five years ago today he was born into this world. His mom says when he was younger he was a charmer with “unbridled enthusiasm”. He hasn’t changed much over the years.

Grant is perfect for me. We work well together in this journey as a team and he loves me with all that he has. He treats me like a queen and loves me when I am so unlovable. I come home to a spotless house more-often-than-not and he never complains if I need some me-time.

He is a favorite of three little people, too. They love playing jungle gym with their Daddy-O and jammin’ to Lecrae and KB. Asher calls him Dude-O, Evan calls him Daddy {in her sweetest voice, of course}, and Adah adores him with her gummiest smile.

And most importantly, he serves The Lord with a confidence that I have never seen in anyone else. He hears his Savior speak and acts immediately. He seeks God’s will for our lives and our ministry through hours of Bible reading and on-his-face praying. His relationship with The Lord is contagious.

Happiest Birthday to my Hunkiest Husband! I love you more than you will ever know!

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Bulldog Profile

I am so excited that school is coming to a close. Less than 100 days until graduation!

I am also excited to share our story in different avenues. Gardner-Webb contacted me recently about sharing our story on the School of Nursing website. They did a great job writing up the article. Check it out!

http://www.gardner-webb.edu/academic-programs-and-resources/colleges-and-schools/health-sciences/schools-and-departments/hunt-school-of-nursing/index

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