Monday, April 8, 2019

A Generous House Guest


Have you ever had someone invite themselves to visit your home and you panicked?  Is my house clean enough? Do I have enough food? Did I hide my mess good enough under the couch?

What does that have to do with prom dresses? I feel as if the prom closet is an extension of my home. I spend most of free time there and I am always surrounded by family.

I’ve have been asked a lot how many dresses we picked up last Saturday in Charlotte.  But before I answer that...

Zacchaeus comes to my mind. He was a tax collector; a little man that climbed a tree to see Jesus.  Jesus tells him “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I most stay at your house today.” Luke 19:5b
Jesus invites himself to Zacchaeus house. I wonder if he panicked, too?  JESUS is coming to your house!! What do you do!?

Last Saturday, Jesus invited himself into the prom closet and all we could do was clean and yes… hide dresses under the dresses!

First, we had an amazing group of women from my mom’s Bible study class come to the Prom Closet and fill a huge need we had for more Bibles!  We had given away every Bible we had in two weeks!  So, what happen when Jesus invites himself in?  Seventy Bibles were donated for our “Bible lady” to cover.
As you know Tammy and I had a plan... (you know when you start a sentence with those two names trouble must follow.)   Our plan was to have our “war room” clean to make room for 500 dresses. My mom and her friends and all available hands were put to work! The room was cleaned and four racks were empty and ready for dresses in no time.

Second, that afternoon we all left for uptown Charlotte. We had two cars and five people.   After we arrived, they kept bringing bag after bag of dresses.  When then they ran out of bags and started rolling rack after rack full of them!  We had to be quick on our feet and think… Where are we going to put all of them? We have no room!

After mom and I gave up our seats, all 891 dresses as well as boxes and bags of shoes made it into two cars.  With the exception of two people who had to be left behind until Mis  Gail came to pick us up, we managed to get the whole load back to the Prom Closet.

But Jesus wasn’t done with His visit yet:

While waiting for Miss Gail a lady came to pick up dresses. All the dresses they had were gone. Without hesitation we told her about the Prom Closet in Huntersville.  She said, “I work with mental health patients and I want to have a prom for them.”  As we talked one thing she said stuck out to me “I was driving from Raleigh, I live here in Charlotte and I knew I was going to be late, but something would not let me just go home. I drove here knowing I was late. But now I know the reason I am here.  It’s not for the dresses but God wanted me to here to meet you.”

As we talked it calmed me to realize what a blessing it is to have Jesus in your home! 

Like Zacchaeus, how high do we have to climb to see Jesus?  How would Jesus invite himself in?
After we collected the 891 dresses Saturday even more dresses came in to Lydia’s Loft so we now have well over 900 dresses.

What a generous house guest Jesus is!

Blessings,


Aileen

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Making Disciples of All Nations

Stebbins, Alaska

Have you ever been too shy or scared to ask a question?  Like me, are you afraid that the answer will be no?

I met a friend at a Bible Study group a couple of years ago and I was able to share a little about the Prom Closet and what God was doing through it.  A few years later, when her daughters were attending prom, the Closet was ready for them.

She said, "We love your ministry and the blessing it has provided my family. We were able to serve our Lord and still allow the girls to go to prom.”

For the last few years they have visited the Prom Closet and found the perfect dresses.  That doesn't seem out of the ordinary but God always has something up His sleeve that I just love!!

As many of you know, Prom is becoming more expensive.  People can spend at least $1,000 on the dress, shoes, hair, makeup, prom tickets, dinner, valet, and more!

So where do we go from here?  Malawi Africa!!   Yep… you read that right Africa!!

My friend said, "Last year our family went to Malawi, Africa.  Getting the prom dresses last year for both of my daughters was a blessing and helped us put our money towards our mission trip."
"Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations..."Matthew 28:19a
But God is not done yet!  This year one of the daughters will be heading to Delaware:
“Again, the prom closet has blessed our family” she said.  “We are able to save money, but still have the Prom experience.  My girls were treated with such kindness and they cherish the experience."

God has endless blessings up His sleeve.  Last week we even got a chance to bless girls in Alaska! Twenty-nine prom dresses will be heading to Stebbins, Alaska, a remote Yupik village.   The amazing lady who came to pick up the dresses will be taking a mission trip there and bringing the prom experience to the beautiful girls in Alaska!

It gives me chills to think that we played a small part in God's Kingdom as these families go to wherever God has called them to be in the world and "make disciples of all nations."

Have you ever thought that God could take six prom dresses stored in my garage next to the oil and paint cans and do this?

Last year the prom closet took its first mission trip to South Carolina and Africa. This year South Carolina, Delaware, and Alaska.

What next? I am afraid to ask…

Blessings
Aileen

Monday, March 4, 2019

I think that is the dress. What do you think?


Hi everyone!

It has been an awesome season so far and God is just getting started!

Have you ever listened to our "prom song?"  Check out "Cinderella" by Steven Curtis Chapman.
I bet you didn't know we had a “song” did you?!
“She says he's a nice guy and I'd be impressed
She wants to know if I approve of her dress
She says,
"Dad, the prom is just one week away
And I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?"
In our nine years of service, moms have always been a huge part of daughters picking out a prom dress but there is something special when dads come and approve the dress!

As you know, dads are not allowed in the dressing room area so they patiently wait out in the hallway… waiting and waiting… (on the average it takes about an hour to find the perfect dress!) 

Recently one such father-daughter couple visited the Prom Closet.  After each one she tried on, the daughter said "I like this dress, but I need my dad to approve"

Everything that sweet girl tried on looked amazing but with each one she would say "I need my dad to approve."

Every time she showed off her newest find dad would look at his little girl and say "You look beautiful." 


You should have seen her face beam with delight! 

As she went back to the dressing room to try on “THE dress” I could tell that she couldn't wait to get in it.  After putting the dress on she came out of the dressing room with a huge smile and twirled in it!

"I think dad will approve" she said and wasted no time showing him. 

"I think that is the dress.  What do you think?" he asked.

Her smile said it all! Cinderella had found her dress.  Now all she has to do is practice her dancing.  Dad are you ready? 

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! and that is what we are!.." 1 John 3:1
Love & Blessings,
Aileen

Monday, February 25, 2019

Armor that Sparkles

Can the armor of God look like a prom dress?? 

When I think of armor, I think of metal plates on your body that protect you from harm in war.
Heavy and cold, this type of armor is not as cute as a prom dress and it definitely does not go with heels!

Last week at the Prom Closet I looked around we had volunteers and people all over the place.   It seemed that I was always bumping into Prom Squad peeps!  Some were welcoming families as they came in, others were holding dresses, zipping up dresses, and helping girls choose jewelry and shoes.

Let’s just say God pull me aside and whispered “look.”  Our Prom Squad was helping girls and their families feel His love.  While I stood outside the jewelry room and saw Mrs. Perry helping a young girl with her shoes, all I could think of was the armor of God and what it looks like for us at the Prom Closet.

Is God awesome sauce or what?!

We get the privilege to dress these girls in the armor of God and it has sparkles!

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:11‬ ‭
Love and Blessings,
Aileen

Friday, February 8, 2019

Through the Rear-View Mirror


Have you ever just sat in your car and stared through the rear-view mirror?  I have to admit, it is sometimes easier for me to see where I have been than where I am going.

The more I think about last prom season and all the amazing things God did through each of us, the more questions I come up with:
What is God going to do this year?  Will He let me know before hand? What will He allow us to see and experience?  How will we pray for people?

What a huge difference from what I see and what God sees!  I realize that I see things through the rear-view mirror and God sees things through the windshield.  Usually it is a blessing that God doesn’t answer all my questions at once but it doesn’t stop me from wondering.  And watching…

Hebrews 12:2 New International Version (NIV)
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Tomorrow we open from 9 a.m. to Noon.

And I can’t wait to look in the rear-view mirror and remember all that He has done this season!

Love and Blessings,
Aileen



Friday, January 25, 2019

Be careful, we are contagious...

When we visited 96 last weekend the meaning of the word GIVE became more and more clear to me.


As most of you know, the goal of the Prom Closet is to give what is sometimes least expected.  Each young person comes with the mindset that they will be getting a new dress or suit to wear for their special occasion.  Little do they know what is in store for them…

As we set up in SC we had 220 dresses – 206 that we had brought and 14 donated from there.  As Prom Closet SC started, I noticed an unusual thing.  Girls were coming and bringing their dresses!  It made me stop in my tracks and send up a quick prayer “God what is this all about?  I think you are doing it all wrong.  Our purpose is to GIVE dresses not GET them.”

Now I would like to say that this is the first time that God and I have had a misunderstanding but the fact is that after 9 years of the Prom Closet I am still slow to learn the lessons God has in store for me.

He reminded me:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declare the Lord" Isaiah 55:8

Tammy's niece Hannah brought her prom dress to donate and another girl saw her dress and fell in love with it!  I wish I could describe the look of joy on Hannah's face as she saw that someone who now had her dress on was feeling as beautiful as she did when she wore it!

And the generosity became contagious. 

The girl that took Hannah’s dress came back with her old prom dress to donate.  Then a foster care group came in and one of the girls fell in love with her dress and it fit her perfectly.

Now a girl searching for a new home, found an inner joy and beauty from the generosity of another.

It became clear to me what John the Baptist meant when he told the crowds who came to be baptized:
"Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same" Luke 3:11 

God gave us His best in Jesus.  It is not much to ask us to GIVE, too.

Love and Blessings,
Aileen

P.S.  Time for a little math quiz:
27 dresses were given out
25 stayed in SC
130 were donated to Night to Shine
How many do we have left?

Friday, May 4, 2018

“Who is Lydia? .... Are you Lydia?”

I love answering this question.

Every time I think about Lydia’s story the Holy Spirit stirs my emotions and sets an energy within me that shares the Gospel even when I am scared or nervous.   Lydia’s story is one I have read and told many times during the last eight years and every time I learn something new.  Lydia's story is only three powerful verses in Acts 16:

Acts 16:13-15 New International Version (NIV)
13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
Lydia's story takes place outside the city gates in a place Paul calls "a place of prayer (13b.)"  Often when I am at the Prom Closet I see that it is truly our "place of prayer” where women gather.  People who come to the Prom Closet might not realize it, but before we open every Saturday the Prom Squad gathers in the back room to pray for them. God knows who will be coming through our doors. He knows the needs, the hurts, the blessings, and the joy.   As volunteers we do not know these things but our prayer, much like Lydia’s, is to prepare hearts to receive not just a dress but a blessing that will have an eternal impact. 

Paul and Silas were sharing the gospel when they met Lydia.  My favorite part of her story is that "she was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message" (14b.)  Lydia had been preparing long before Paul and Silas arrived to accept the Gospel.  It challenges me to remember that as a believer I also need to prepare my heart to receive God's word and blessing.

It is clear to me now that her story is ultimately about God pursuing Lydia and her response to salvation.  Salvation not just for her but also her household. Her response brought her family to God. "When she and the members of her household were baptized..." (15a.)

Lydia story challenges me and reminds me, have I made "room" in my heart and in my home for God? or Like Lydia, Am I quick to recognize the truth and welcome it? Do I take time to prepare my heart for God?

“... she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house” and she persuaded us.” (15b.) We hope that as Lydia welcomes Paul and Silas into her home, you also feel welcome and feel God’s love as you come to the Prom Closet.

By the way, I can’t wait to share Lydia’s story with more people... 


Blessings,
Aileen