November 23, 2015
Volume 7, Issue 3
The Unexpected Blessing
Our family has been in a bit of a financial funk lately. Tonight when Sally went looking for enough cash for two tickets at the $1.50 cheapo cheapo theater she did not look first for my wallet. She knew that finding folded green paper in there was about as likely as catching Donald Trump blush with a high speed camera.
Instead, I found her raiding my baseball bank. This is a large white plastic globe with appropriate red plastic stitching, a slot in the top and round plug in the bottom that we keep near Sally's desk.
I brought the baseball bank into our marriage and I've always felt Sally was privately grateful for this coin receptacle as her ethnic roots may well find discomfort with the idea of a pink plastic pig serving the same purpose.
When we dig into the baseball bank it is the monetary court of last resort—
when couch cushions have been ransacked and pocket lint is as lonely as the Maytag Repairman. Once the baseball bank is breached pride is an orphan among the nickels, dimes and pennies needed to purchase a three dollar evening of entertainment.
A couple weeks back we found ourselves with a need to purchase some household goods only to find a fiscal stop sign at every turn. So we did what we always do when we find ourselves in such straights.
We asked God to send manna from heaven as he has done a thousand times before, in large and small ways, since we began this family and ministry.
When the mail came that day there was, not surprisingly, no million dollar check from The Publisher's Clearing House and no notice from Wells Fargo stating "Bank error in your favor. Collect . . . " Another day passed. Then another.
Later that week Sally brought in the laundry from our dryer and began sorting into three piles: Mike, Shannon and Sally. As the main pile diminished Sally noticed something odd and out of place. It was a curled up piece of paper. She unrolled it to find the completely unexpected reality that she was holding a fairly crisp, beautifully cleaned and dried picture of Benjamin Franklin adorning a one hundred dollar bill.
Sally was stunned when she showed it to me. She assumed it was counterfeit because it looked unlike any hundred dollar bill she had ever seen before. It did look more like foreign currency than American, I agreed. But then I remembered they have recently done a complete counterfeit-preventing makeover of "Benjies" and I had probably not held one in my hand since the re-issue.
I went online and "Googled" the phase "hundred dollar bill" for a visual assessment. By casual comparison this bill looked to be real, indeed.
I asked Sally if she's had a hundred in her pocket any time recently. I knew the question was absurd before she even answered. My response was the same and Shannon has probably never even seen that much money except in a check.
What were we to make of this windfall? A slow realization began dawning on us. We had prayed for manna—
for provision in whatever form God saw fit.
We were able to go to the grocery the next day and buy many of the things we needed for the next little while. We were ecstatic and a bit gleeful as we relayed the story to a few friends. To a person they were all amazed at the recounting of our tale.
Neither Sally or I can say for sure the money came directly from the provisional hand of God. But we know for certain we did not have this new bill stuck in some old, ignored pocket for months. And we were pretty sure friends weren't sneaking into our patio area and tossing hundred dollar bills into our laundry.
The only conclusion we have now, the one we hold onto tightly, is one of faith. We believe God chose to use an improbable method to send two improbable people an improbable but needed gift of daily bread.
As Thanksgiving is upon us this week, let us all take a few, precious moments from the busy-ness of the cooking and cleaning to remember the timesGod has blessed each of us with His hand of provision. Whether the examples are dramatic or mundane they are each a token of a Father's heart for His precious child: You.
Let us be grateful and remember the Giver in our times of plenty as much as we do in our time of need.
" You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it.
If you would like to give an online tax-deductible gift to Improbable People Ministries you may do so here.
—Michael & Sally
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A Funny Thing Happened To Me On The Way To Obscurity . . . .
by Sally Klein O'Connor
Early this year I attended the Christian Writer’s Conference in Mt. Hermon, CA. It is an annual gathering of many name authors in a small niche of creative expression, along with all of us wannabes.
I traveled the 7 hours or so, in the hope of creating some serious interest in A Rumor of Roses, my book project on the vision, process, and ensuing mission, A Tour of Roses.
While up among the redwoods and various people making connections, I ran into an old friend, Sharon Norris Elliott. She was sharing a little bit about her book and new Internet TV show she hosts, A Life That Matters.
Sharon Norris Elliott
As I had been looking for opportunities to talk about the vision for A Tour of Roses, particularly about loving and forgiving our “enemies,” I listened more closely. Later on, I asked Sharon if she would be interested in interviewing me as a guest on her show and she was very receptive to the idea. We set a date and I drove down to Orange, CA, where they were taping the show in the sanctuary of St. Matthew’s Church.
They were running late, which was good for me, because I was able to observe the interview Sharon did before mine.
There was a man handling the camera and another man working the sound and lights. Toward the end of the interview the man behind the camera counted the minutes down from 10 until Sharon wrapped up the segment.
It was helpful to see that, because I realized the importance of packaging my thoughts a little more succinctly at the end. But, as things turned out, when it came to my interview the man behind the camera never counted us down…
Instead, Sharon seemed a little uncertain toward the end, wondering what was going on. She eventually found a way to bring our segment to a close. When the camera was shut off the man standing behind the camera came into the light and introduced himself.
Bishop Andrew Bills is 6’7”, a mountain of a man. Yet, as he emerged, it became apparent he is also very tender-hearted. There were tears in his eyes. He seemed very moved by my journey toward forgiveness and the process that led me into A Tour of Roses.
HSBN Founder Bishop Andrew Bills
To my great surprise he suggested I start my own half-hour TV show on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network, his brand new venture. At the time, I was still recovering from a cold and thought I must be hearing wrong—or, at the very least, having some trouble processing what he was proposing.
In the end, he encouraged me to pray about it with Michael and our board and told me he’d been asking God to send a Jewish believer to join the network. As far as he was concerned, I was an answer to prayer.
I drove down for an interview and was completely taken off guard by being offered my own TV show on the Internet. That was early May.
A Funny Thing Happened . . .
Since then I have taped over 20 half-hour shows with Bishop Andy, who has a heart like Barnabas in Acts.
His vision, The Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network, has exploded with 3 million viewers in 85 countries, and they only launched the network in March of this year.
In October he also began HSBN Radio. So all shows are broadcast on radio and TV. He now has his own office area with a special room set up for taping all the shows, 3 cameras, state of the art editing equipment, green screen, and a new couch I am especially fond of.
But it hasn’t been a cakewalk. During my college days in Boston I managed to audition for a local talent show on a small network. The little I saw of myself on the show back then was overwhelmingly hard.
After coming to faith in the Lord and beginning Improbable People Ministries, God has used many instances in my life and ministry to bring healing to the way I see myself—especially in pictures and video—but it continues to be a work in progress.
The first time I took a hard and critical look at myself on my program it was painful. I saw the crookedness of my mouth and my scar stood out once again—loud and clear. But alongside the very visible things that bothered me was the strong sense of God’s presence.
Even as I watched I could tell He was there in the mix. So I stayed. The truth is there is always something of a battle in my soul each time I begin the drive down to Orange.
I wonder what it all means, and if anyone really hears me somewhere out there amid countless broadcasts on TV and radio. Still, in the end, I find myself knocking on Bishop Andy’s glass door, despite all my doubts and insecurities, because somewhere inside my conflicted psyche I believe God wouldn’t have opened this door if He didn’t have something meaningful in mind.
So, while I may thoroughly doubt myself, in the end, I believe God. He is faithful and able to use everything about this project, just as He has used our songs over the years, and make it all work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Slowly, ever so slowly, I am gradually getting used to the idea that I may have an ongoing place in this brave new world. I have drafted a small group of intercessors I call upon whenever I travel down to tape another show.
Quite often I am not sure what the subject of the segment will be about until I start the 90-minute drive from North Hollywood. One of the more recent times I set out on the drive I felt pretty clueless until I stopped at a 7-11 to purchase my cheap, knock-off version of a mocha…
I was already behind schedule for the drive, especially since I needed some extra time to sit and pray through what this segment should be about.
I was irritated by everything going on in the 7-11 and after settling up with the cashier, who annoyed me, I went out the door in a huff.
“Can you spare some change” her voice practically whispered into my ear.
I turned my head to see a very large woman crammed very uncomfortably into a wheelchair. She was the source of the question.
I didn’t want to.
I really was in a hurry.
I was put off by her size.
I got in my car, stuck in the key, almost turned it—and then stopped.
There are moments when God “speaks” to me out of the blue and my whole world is turned upside down. And then there are other instances where I just know what I am doing is not OK with Him. This was the latter.
I knew it didn’t matter that I was late to anyone except me. This was an appointed moment. I got out of the car and walked reluctantly over to the woman in the chair, whose name I later found out was Lucy.
One thing led to another, and I discovered Lucy had a relationship with God that she was still working out. I prayed for her and the Lord touched her in a special way.
As I drove down to the studio I realized my struggle to see Lucy with God’s heart was the subject of my show.
Bishop Andy has left the creative control of the show up to me including the content, the title of the show, my dress code (a dangerous item for me), the guests, format, etc.
Strangely enough, I have not yet sung live on Love Stories. My goal has been to share the power of God’s love to work in and through our broken souls, to forgive as freely and completely as we have been forgiven, to express the bountiful love and grace of God in a harsh and unforgiving world.
Pam Loe & Chad Watson before taping with Sally
In the process I have had the privilege of interviewing some amazing people—friends whose stories all reveal the power of God’s love to work in and through our lives in amazing ways. And I do believe God will use each of our testimonies to touch the hearts of people we may never meet in this life.
Someone recently offered to connect me with high profile people she knows in Orange County that I might want to interview, but I haven’t taken her up on it just yet. I like the everyday quality of the people who have been on the show so far.
None of us are quite that polished or professional. Most of us are rather “improbable” and I think that is important so the viewing audience might understand all of us are invited to participate in what God is doing—and to love the way He loves…
You can find Love Stories on their Live Stream 3 days a week on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network under HSBN Current Programs below. The show has no set time slot. When it runs it is available all day. So if you don't get it one day—try the next.
You can watch the archived shows in the On Demand section of the web site OR under Love Stories Archives below. The archived shows are there permanently.
I'd love to hear from you if you have comments or suggestions. And please invite your friends and family to check us out. Thanks very much.
—Sally Klein O'Connor
HSBN Current Programs
Love Stories Archive
Improbable People Ministries
From time to time our IPM Board of Directors has asked us to make some specific needs of the ministry known to those who care and pray for Improbable People and our family. While it is not inherent in our nature to ask we also know from experience that there are many blessings of giving we would have missed in the lives of those we love had we not known of their need. In that spirit, here are a few not-so-minor needs we currently face.
We have a ministry vehicle, a black Toyota Corolla. This is used to get to concerts both local and statewide. Like the old Beach Boys tune "Round round get-around it gets around." There are well over 200,000 miles on it and we don't know how many more miles it can last. The car was minted when President Clinton was in office. If anyone has a more gently-used vehicle to donate--something built, perhaps, during the Obama Administration or a bit before--we can offer our eternal gratitude and a tax deductible receipt.
Moving on, we have two CDs currently out of print that we simply have no funds to duplicate. Ironically, they are bookends--our first and last albums recorded: Hey God, Are You Talkin' To Me? and Soul Arise are sold out and will not be seeing the light of day for a while.
While these are products that generate income for IPM the more important aspect to us is the ministry they bring to the hearts and spirits of those who have ears to hear. To be honest, it's as frustrating to us as it is to a construction worker who goes to the job with several tools missing from his belt.
The cost to duplicate these CDs is approximately $1,100 each for 1,000 copies which is the minimum order. If the Lord lays it on your heart to "adopt" one of these CDs through the duplication process or to collaborate with our readers as a group we could get back to work with our "tool belt" replenished and ready for the job ahead.
Finally, this has been a very difficult time in general financially for both the ministry and our family. Our ATOR Budapest trip in July, along with A Tour Of Roses on the Sunset Strip on October 31 and the upcoming outreach to the West Bank in Israel in March of 2016 have required extensive planning. Sally is also writing a book about A Tour of Roses and has had the phenomenal opportunity to host a program on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (see above story). Because of these unforeseen commitments we haven't been able to schedule the needed concerts that help support the obligations of IPM.
If you were considering making a year-end donation to IPM now would be a good and helpful time to make that gift. How and where that can happen is all explained here.
Another way to help us is through the new Amazon Smile program. Just about everybody does at least some of their Christmas online shopping at Amazon. When you click on the banner below you will be taken to the same Amazon startup page you always see. But what you have done is enter the store through a special portal.
Everything will be the same, including the prices, except one thing. When you enter through this portal Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase to Improbable People Ministries. We've seen it work. They have sent us checks through their charitable giving foundation. So if you haven't already selected a non-profit to share this blessing with we would ask you to do the following:
1. Click the banner above
2. A new browser page should open. When you see the Amazon main page please add a new bookmark and make that bookmark your entry point to Amazon from now on. You'll be shopping for the things you love and need and sharing a great blessing with us at the same time.
We thank you for taking the time to read and consider these needs. We know these are some very tough times for more families than just ourselves and that many of you can't even consider one more request from the many you receive.
We understand. We really do. May God bless and keep you in the palm of His hand during this season of thanks.
Michael & Sally O'Connor