"For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Gift or The Giver?

“Hurry, Mathias!”

He did not want to hurry for hurrying meant hope. He accepted his fate of wandering and begging outside the village to survive. Resentment replaced his wife’s memory and anger, the longing for her touch.

Signs of sickness appeared two months into marriage and he was declared unclean six weeks later. His heart died when she left. It was too painful to dream about life with her again.

Mathias surveyed his nine friends. Disfigured hands and feet, hobbled along the dusty road. Expectation was in their strides as they quickened their shuffle, but Mathias’ fearful heart prevented him from moving faster.

“Mathias! Hurry before Jesus goes into the village! He could heal us!”

“Even if He could, why would He heal me?” Mathias wondered. If the rumor of Jesus looking into souls was true, one glimpse into Mathias’ would turn Him away. The love in his heart had been overtaken with bitterness. He detested life, even the Life Giver.

As they topped a sandy mound some distance away from the gate, Mathias spotted Jesus. A caravan of people followed Him, yet He clearly stood out. Nine lepers cried, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"

Mathias remained silent. Jesus turned and held Mathias’ eyes. Power and humility, love and justice, holiness and understanding all met together in His face. If healing was possible, this Man could provide it. Suppressed hope began to grow.

"Go, show yourselves to the priests." Jesus said. Mathias held out trembling hands, but his heart sank. No change. Jesus disappeared into the village.

Confusion reigned. “Show ourselves to the priests? But we are still lepers! We will be carried out to be stoned!”

Peace and a desire to obey the Man with hope in His eyes flooded Mathias. “Let’s go.”

He started toward the village, prepared to walk alone before hearing the shuffling of the other nine following. The straggler had become the leader.

The journey was long and hearts heavy as they realized what Jesus had requested. As they neared the village steps became more deliberate. Mathias stopped. Would Jesus be inside? Would healing come when He saw they were willing to risk everything to receive it?

Oblivious to the beggars witnessing the scene, Mathias focused on Jesus and walked inside. As he did, the pain lessoned, his body straightened. He glimpsed new skin briefly before his eyes filled with tears. Dropping to his knees, he gratefully weeps.

Barely aware of the surrounding commotion, the other nine realize they are healed. Excitement turns to urgency as they rush home to wives and children. The whole way they talked about the One who gave them their lives back.

While they enjoyed the gift, Mathias was captivated by the Giver. Home could wait. He stood and ran determined to find Jesus.

The exhilaration of running thrilled Mathias. He cried for Jesus and praised God as if they were One! A crowd split; there stood Jesus. Never slowing, he threw himself into Jesus’ feet sobbing, “Thank you!”

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well." Luke 17: 11- 19

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Remember the Prisoners


“Remember the prisoners, as though you were in prison with them and the mistreated as though you yourself were suffering bodily.”
Hebrews 13:3

Walking into church late with head held high, her high heels click on the porcelain tile as she waves to friends and grabs a cup of gourmet coffee before stepping inside the packed worship center. She steps past the state of the art sound equipment and plops down in a cushioned chair as she passively listens to her Pastor teach eloquently from the stage. A gifted speaker, with many years of study and two degrees, he is trained to hold the audience’s attention. Yet she still finds her mind wandering. She glances at her watch - a to-do list waiting at home, bills to pay, dad in the hospital, son’s struggling grades. Finally the sermon ends and a video plays, holding her full attention for the first time this morning. The hair on her arm stands up as the dramatic words express God’s love. She claps her hands and leaves satisfied. In her luxury SUV she hits a quick drive through before heading to the grocery store and then home to clean her house for Bible study tomorrow night. Never stopping to relish the privilege she has, she is unaware of over 200 million Christians around the world who daily face persecution and death for a faith much of America takes for granted.

Nearly 70 percent of the world’s population live in countries with restrictions on simple freedoms we enjoy in abundance - owning a Bible, attending church or openly confessing to be a Christian. They have no surplus of Bibles on bookstores shelves. They are confiscated and banned. Churches are either government run or forced to meet underground at high risk. Christians are separated from family, beaten, brainwashed, imprisoned and killed. How difficult to imagine life where the greatest motivation for living is also a basis for death. What does faith look like under such a weight?

If you look beyond the scars of the persecuted a beautiful faith is revealed. One that has been refined by fire and worth more than gold, you uncover a commitment that looks much like Jesus’. You find a commitment to obey the Father through great physical pain. A love that survives tests of torture and forgives the torturer. Boldness in sharing Jesus with presence of fear and joy poured out through song inside prison cells. Yet the persecuted would not trade one of these things for mediocre faith. They know in accepting Christ they are trading their comfort in this life for their reward in another. “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) Their powerful testimonies leave a permanent imprint on the earth.

Currently Pakistani Christians are being accused of blasphemy, which in Pakistan is crime punishable by death. An Iranian pastor faces execution due to a crackdown on the growing Protestant church movement in the Islamic nation. Eight Christians were killed in Nigeria this week. A girl in India was poisoned by her family after accepting Christ. And similar headlines continue throughout 60 countries spread out over 5 continents. The increasing numbers of Christians martyred each year towers near 200,000. These precious people take the words of Jesus seriously: “The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of me will find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39). They understand the cost of following Jesus and they love Him more than life.

Let us never forget these men, women and children are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are called to be one – one body. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope at your calling;” (Ephesians 4:4-5). They are not in this battle to survive, they are in it to advance God’s kingdom and they need our support. What can we, the American church, do to help our hurting family?

If the persecuted answered this question, they would quickly ask for prayer – specific prayer calling on the Lord for deliverance, endurance and love for the ones mistreating them. Many websites contain information on how to pray over the churches. Others focus on individuals and allow you the privilege to pray for their needs. Operationworld.org is an excellent resource, detailing updated information on the gospel working in every nation and sharing prayer requests from every country. It is all laid out in a daily format that will transform your prayer life and possibly change the world.

They would also request we show our concern by involvement in ministries supporting our persecuted body. Voice of the Martyrs is one of many organizations offering the opportunity to write a word of encouragement to the prisoners. Writing to government officials on behalf of the persecuted is also a great need. Become aware and make others aware. Speak out for those who cannot. And give. Bibles are priceless in restricted countries and families of prisoners are starving. We who have much are blessed to be a blessing. Let our gratefulness spur our giving.

Maybe even consider the call to go. The bored and privileged church attendee went and changed more than her perspective. It changed her life and the lives of those around her.

After a twenty-two hour plane ride and high heels left at home, she steadies her swollen feet as her eyes adjust to the darkness. More than the night sky darkens this country - Communism has enclosed it for years. Her stomach growls and she remembers the spiritual hunger of this nation. The hour is late, but with no time to waste; her small group of Americans locates “the friend” and proceeds down darkened streets. Once her sense of direction is completely lost, she is hurried up three flights of stairs and into a tiny apartment. Wall to wall people fill the place from the kitchen to the bathroom, people sit and look at them ready to receive God’s Word. Men, women and children, all there at risk of their lives, but determined to make what time they have count to the fullest. As soon as her mouth opens all eye contact is lost as each person readies themselves to take fierce notes. Opportunities like this are few. Tears roll down her cheeks as she feels God’s presence in that room more than she ever had in her multimillion dollar worship center half a world away. She prays she never forgets this moment. And never again overlooks these precious soldiers of Christ ready to give their all.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Freedom from Fear - Pt. 2

When Shawn called me to tell me he would be flying out that same night for Ohio, I wasn’t surprised. Although he hadn’t taken a business trip in over 5 years, I knew it was coming. Not because we had talked about it. Not because anything in his work had changed, but rather I realized God was doing a work in my heart that would require Shawn leaving again to be complete.

About two weeks before that phone call, I sat in Bible study with a group of ladies from church with tears pouring down my face as I listened to Beth Moore teach on Esther chapter 4. From one of her first sentences until the final prayer, I felt as though she was talking directly to me. I knew God was.

“Self-preservation can keep us from our destiny – but we can be set free today.” Oh, how I wanted to be set free that day. Without a doubt some serious rattling of my chains took place that day.

Beth talked about facing your fears. My greatest fear was a secret. My friends knew I struggled with fear, but they didn’t really know why I was so afraid. She talked about letting your mind go there – to your greatest fear. And then ask yourself “then what?” What IF your greatest fear happens – then what? The answer is “then God.” No matter what God will be there to pick you up. He will take care of you.

She told how the most frequent command in the Bible is “Don’t be afraid.” God knew how fearful we would be, so He gently reminds us over and over again. I begin to wonder, how different my life would look without fear.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but knowing there is something more important than fear… We will never know abundant life if we remain in the stronghold of fear.” I never wanted to settle for the American Dream. My life was called to be “spent” but now I was too afraid to even consider the cost.

Beth told us God offers courage, “Take courage!” He says. And I took it. Not all of it, but enough for me to want more. I remember vividly walking to pick up my kids from school that day feeling lighter. A weight of fear lifted. I knew I would be tested, but for the first time, I wasn’t afraid.

So when Shawn called to tell me he would be leaving that very night for Ohio for a week, I was not surprised or anxious. I was ready. I expected God’s presence to once again fill the house as it did when Shawn was in Honduras – and I couldn’t wait for that.

I dropped Shawn off at the airport and headed home feeling strong and ready to conquer the week. Then the sun went down…

To be continued…

Freedom from Fear - Pt. 1

Sunday, July 18, 2010

In His Courts

Since I am so good at blogging (hahaha!!) I have agreed to help a dear friend write her story on her blog. Really it is God's story - He is the true Author of it all. I am humbled and so grateful for the opportunity to be a small part of sharing her journey with others. Linda Reppert has been a blessing to me and to so many. Filled with the Word of God and overflowing with wisdom, she continues to give to others freely, despite her physical condition. (You can read about that here.) Her life truly is a testimony of James 1:2-4: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Come join Linda on her journey as she shares lessons the Lord is teaching her on the land of Israel! It's going to be good!

In His Courts

Friday, July 9, 2010

Freedom from Fear - Pt. 1

As Shawn prepares to leave for camp with the high school ministry at our church, I can’t help but remember a year ago as he prepared for his first mission trip. God has been so gracious with me, taking me by the hand and gently leading me toward total dependence on Him. I still have a long way to go, but I am more excited about the journey than I have ever been.

When Shawn first mentioned going on the mission trip, I was every bit of encouraging. Having a heart for missions and the world, I was so excited for him to experience it! Unexpectedly, it hit me that my husband, who is a very huge part of my security, would be gone for over a week. It had been 5 years since he had left me for more than a couple nights, and this would be the first time since my trip to China 10 years earlier he would not be a phone call away.

The Sunday before he left, my heart felt like it was breaking already. I kept thinking, “A week from today he won’t be here…and two weeks from today…he still won’t be here.” I fought that thought process the rest of the week and would randomly find myself in tears.

I wanted him to go…but I didn’t want to be left behind. It was a struggle that at one point landed me in my closet, on my knees in tears. I begged God to promise me He would keep Shawn safe. “If You will just promise, You will bring Him home safe… I will give Him to You to take… if You can just tell me for sure I have nothing to worry about… I will believe You.” Silence. Tears continued to fall as I realized God wanted me to trust Him regardless of the outcome. I felt Him whisper to my spirit, “Shawn isn’t yours to give me. He is already mine, to do with as I see fit.” Painful as it was, I opened my hands and surrendered. Determined to walk ahead with purpose, confident the results would be worth it.

My sweet Mother-in-Law came and stayed with me for three nights and four days. I am not sure how I could have done those first days without him – without her. Shawn’s plane was “lost” on the way over and a couple other things would have sent me over the edge if not for her comfort. Dear friends also surrounded me. Giving up time with their families to come spend late nights with me, or even sleep on my couch. God’s presence filled this house like I have never experienced before from the minute Shawn walked out the door to the moment I was in his arms again. It was painful. I was stretched. Living moment by moment, sometimes in great fear sometimes in great faith, I survived. And actually found myself longing to feel God so physically near again once Shawn was home.

So a couple of months later when Shawn called to tell me he would be taking a business trip, I almost welcomed the opportunity. Fully believing God would show up again. But He didn’t…or so I thought.

To be continued…

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Healing for a Heart: A True Story of Hope in the Holy Land

To meet Linda Reppert today you would never know a few months ago she was diagnosed with a serious heart disease expected to affect her quality of life and shorten her life span. Her slender, athletic build, sun kissed skin and hair conveys a picture of health. When her steady hazel eyes meet yours and her lips give way to a friendly smile, there is no indication of fear or uncertainty. Yet, for eight long months she has had countless doctor appointments, numerous tests and a surgery to determine what has caused her enlarged heart. It is still unknown why her blood pumps at only 50% capacity. At times she has actually felt her heart working inside her as it struggled to do its intended job. Facing a relentless fatigue daily she still cares for her family and friends as the ever strong one. It was in the midst of such crucial physical circumstances; Linda made the decision to visit Israel a second time.

Linda had been home only four days when she agreed to meet with me following her fourth doctor appointment of the week. Due to being sent for an unforeseen test our time was delayed although the results of that appointment would become the driving force behind my every word. I walked into Linda’s home only hours after she received news open heart surgery was recommended to repair or replace a worn out defective valve the doctors believe is a contributing cause of her enlarged heart. She was given less than a 60% chance her life will improve after the surgery. Remaining untreated, her heart will eventually stop working. I sat and listened to her story while my own heart ached and tears poured on my paper, yet not once did her faith appear to waiver. Not once did she seem without hope. Heaviness came over me as I realized the weight of the story God had entrusted me to write. It was one with much more impact than a friend’s recent visit to Israel.

With her doctor’s approval Linda set out on a journey that would change, challenge and encourage her as she faced the trial of a lifetime. “Though I immediately started feeling my heart struggling I did not miss a minute of the tour. Aside from my husband and two close friends the other 28 people did not know of my condition. I did not want to be the ‘sick one’ or someone people had to worry about.” Despite her swollen legs and extreme fatigue she felt God strengthen her to press on to each location and soak in many lessons.

Near the end of the trip there came a time for her secret to be revealed. As they neared the Pool of Bethesda, known as a place of healing, Linda knew she could not leave without prayer. “Being obedient to James 5:14: ‘If anyone is sick, let him call to the elders to pray and anoint him with oil.’ This would be the third time I requested this from a different set of elders in different locations.” Knowing He could heal, and trusting Him completely with the decision, they prayed fervently each time. Linda’s heart remained the same. Yet that moment in Jerusalem became most memorable as God spoke to her soul through James 1:2-4: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Like Paul, she had brought her request before the Lord three times and He had chosen for her to endure. “I realized that going through this trial was the only way God could make me ‘mature and complete, not lacking in anything.’ We all want the end result, but most of us do not want to go through the trial to get the maturity.” She felt peace and a renewed joy to be serving Him, even with a defective heart.

They visited a church near the pool where the acoustics could have made a frog croak sound like a blue bird in the morning. “How could we not sing?” Fresh from begging her Maker for healing, still sick she turned to Him and sang, “Lord, I give you my heart…” The significance of the words not lost on her she continued on, “I give you my soul, and I live for you alone. Every breath that I take, every moment I am awake, Lord have Your way in me…”

Another powerful moment on this pilgrimage to the Holy Land was when they passed through the valley of death and entered the Garden of Gethsemane. Heart pounding, breathless and sweating, Linda was overwhelmed thinking the Lord was allowing her to share in a very slight glimpse of His suffering in the Garden. “I realized this was not only a place of prayer, but a place of decision. What God was asking me to endure would cost me something. Would I be able to reach the point in the struggle to pray, ‘Not my will, but yours be done?’ The lesson continued as I recognized this place of prayer and decision was also a place of betrayal.” Tears stung her eyes, but the pain that filled her heart at that moment was not physical. She knew betrayal. Any tears cried since her diagnosis was not from fear or pain, but rather the lack of encouragement from some of her family. Ones trusted to protect her seemed to be leaving her alone at a time when most needed. Mercifully, her pain, decision and betrayal were very tiny compared to Jesus who had faced total separation from God when He bore our sin. Because of this, Linda would never have to be alone. Jesus would be her constant companion during her trial. She would steady her eyes on her Savior as He has fixed His eyes on His Father. She knew there would be glory after her Gethsemane just as Jesus had glory after His.

Leaving the Garden they trekked on down the Via Dolorosa, the street where Jesus carried His cross up to Golgotha. “When Jesus entered Jerusalem he came down a hill on a donkey and the people cried ‘Hosanna!’ It was a grand entrance coming down the hill but when He left the city it was a sorrowful incline. He had been beaten and you could almost picture Him in the street with the cross. He came in all His glory and I sent Him out with all my sin.” Linda’s chest again hurt, this time the pain spiritual as she felt the crushing cost of her own sin upon the back of her Savior. To stop there would be to lose all hope, so she continued on.

Walking from the place of the Skull to the garden tomb, Linda’s heart took on a renewed strength. She could not wait to get there. Just as Jesus’ fearful and despairing disciples became courageous and filled with hope at the sight of the risen Lord, Linda’s disposition also changed. “We all took our turn going into the tomb. People were exiting with heads down processing it or weeping. I came out with a smile and my arms were raised. It was a place of victory; a place of hope.” Many have shed tears over her physical struggle, but she really has not. If she has cried it has been in response to the reactions of others. The same hope that fills the empty tomb fills her entire being. Her confidence lies not in the doctor’s words but in the very Word of God. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26) Though an uncertain road lies ahead, she walks in complete trust of the God that has ordained her every day.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Privilege of Preference

I can still see Kevin standing in the middle of the street filled with swerving bicycles and honking cars. Over the straw hats and brightly colored umbrellas his small frame seemed to stand tall. His arm waved recklessly as he called out “Goodbye Ms. Mindy!” with a heavy accent. No longer able to see him through tears, I turned and walked away leaving a piece of my heart spilled out on that crowded China road. I would never be the same.

Those last weeks in China, Kevin had been my constant companion. Through tired eyes, I would spot him coming toward me the moment I stepped into the cafeteria for breakfast at 7 am. He would walk me to class and sit in the front row as I taught English to 12 very eager students. When I would give a break, some students would immediately switch to their native tongue and head out. Others would sometimes lag behind and speak with me for awhile. Kevin always remained, rarely leaving my side.

While all my students were dear to me and all thrilled to learn, Kevin was unique. He had joined the class midway through the summer after one of the four girls in my class had to leave for military reasons. This school was one of the best in China and available only to the wealthy. My students came from the homes of government officials, military generals or such, except for Kevin. His grandmother cleaned the school and after hearing of the opening in my class, persuaded the school officials to allow her academically advanced grandson to attend for the remainder of the program. Kevin had a passion for English, wanting to learn everything he could, valuing every single minute with me. Idioms, grammar, American culture and even the gospel – the more I shared, the more he wanted to know.

One day as we walked to get coffee flavored ice cream; (the only flavor offered at a local ice cream stand) Kevin shared his dreams to study in America, a dream that seemed unreachable. He had so many hurdles to overcome, one major one being a national test given to all students that determines whether one can attend college, and if so where. He said, “Many students are not allowed into college and are instead assigned to a job. In fact, the day the test results come out is referred to as “Suicide Day” because many teenagers take their life rather than face the disappointment of their parents or a life time spent in a factory.” My na├»ve American mind struggled to comprehend. After searching through hundreds of possible colleges and universities, I then set out to visit several before finally making my own decision of where I wanted to attend. I turned down a job and accepted another one. I changed my major half-way through school. I changed schools half-way though my major. Kevin’s whole life would be determined for him. Was it any wonder he was so desperate to learn?

I returned home, welcoming the break of my rice and watermelon diet, yet struggled to adjust back to life in America. Questions plagued my prayer time; decisions – from the big to the small – frustrated me. Ordering ice cream off a menu of 36 flavors, picking between three different Christian radio stations, or choosing a new book to read were all decisions that suddenly overwhelmed me. People sitting in one of the ten churches on the street unmoved, students sitting in classrooms oblivious to the privilege compelled me to plead, “Do you understand what you have been given?” Suddenly the country I grew up loving, took great effort to tolerate. My heart longed for the country where freedom was but a dream.

Now ten years later, I have settled back into the American life. Married to a wonderful man that provides for more than I need, have three lovely children who leave me worn out but loving life at the end of each day. We have a nice house, the kids attend a great school and I fill my spare time with church and community activities. Yet, I cannot read “made in China” and my heart not go there. And I still struggle over decisions knowing so many are unable to make any.

Kevin kept in contact long enough for me to know he achieved permission to go to a college in China, but he had not given up on his dream to study in America. I received a letter requesting help to come visit me when all communication unexpectedly stopped. Even after our correspondence ended, Kevin has remained in my prayers. Did the knowledge of the gospel ever drop from his mind and into his heart? Even with a government deciding the results of his physical life, they cannot determine his eternity. Will one day when I walk on a golden street, through the multitude will I see his waving hand? Over the “Hallelujah” of the angels will I hear, “Hello, Ms. Mindy”? I pray it is so while trusting that decision to the wisdom of the Father.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Running

Running with chains that I cannot undo, I stumble. Pulling them behind requires more of me than I can lose. Fear keeps me from liberty. I do not believe I can let go. Bleeding and broken I fall screaming for freedom. Yearning to run unhindered, I release my hurt and allow the Healer to wash it in Truth. I rise and run with new passion. As my breath leaves me, His breath fills me and I pour out. I glimpse the finish line, but I still have more to give. This race demands my all. I push harder, desiring to know Him more. I want only to come to the end completely spent, arms lifted in surrender. In losing myself, I achieve victory. In dying I find life. At last I run into the arms of my Savior. Completely His and for His glory, I run only for Him.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Frustrated at Facebook

Offended yet again, I shut off the computer and walk away. I had avoided facebook for weeks, while contemplating what to do with it. Delete my account? Block some “friends”? Each time I visited the site, I would go away cringing. Though the good in facebook kept compelling me back. It works well to keep up with family and dear friends who I would otherwise have no contact with on a day to day basis. If only people would think before they typed…

This time as I walked away from the computer I was more upset at myself than the people on the other side. Why was it bothering me so? Aggravated at myself for being aggravated, out the door I went for a stroll. I took only two steps before releasing my built up complaints to the throne room of Heaven. I walked and talked letting my heart overflow with honesty to my Father. I shared my thoughts with Him, every last one of them. And then I paused, ending my rant with sincere question, “Do you get offended, Lord? Or are you just so full of grace…?” I couldn’t go on. The words stuck in my throat for my heart already knew the answer.

If God were to get offended, wouldn’t He constantly be offended? Is there ever a moment void of evil somewhere? If people’s thoughtless comments offend me, a sinner, how much more would my thoughts offend a holy Christ? Does He ever avoid me because I displease Him? Does He turn me off and come back later when my thoughts may not be so insulting? Or get so tired of my ramblings that He considers “un-friending” me? It brought tears at the mere thought of it.

I have yet to decide if there is some middle ground here. Are there things worth taking offense too so evil doesn’t thrive? I’m not sure. As far as my “friends” and facebook goes… I have decided if I am going to error, it will be on the side of extending grace instead of getting irritated. One small way my heart can better reflect my Master’s.

Now to go pray about my time management issues and facebook…

"From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another." John 1:16

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Testimony (In 294 Words)

While attending VBS at age 5, I asked Jesus to come into my heart. He answered my prayer; however, I did not fully comprehend how to have a relationship with Him. Fear ruled over my thoughts as I somehow came to believe salvation depended on me. I lived in a frustrating cycle of failure. At age 13, I began attending church and again surrendered my life to Christ. This time, I found strength and friendship in Him. In high school, God gave me a vision where I saw myself stumbling into His throne room wearing only filthy rags. I understood this to be a call to missions, and embraced the call with my whole being. I believed my life would not be easy but spent on the poor and the needy. To such an extent, I nearly missed marrying my husband. His stable career seemed to promise me an effortless life. Despite that, God gave me peace to wed this man I loved dearly. I surprised myself with how quickly I settled into the American life I never thought I would live. We bought a house and moved to a small town where I pictured raising our family. Thankfully, God had other plans. My husband lost his stable job and moved us to big city several hours away. My body moved with him, yet my rebellious heart remained distant. Always faithful, God used that painful time to teach me and give me roots in His Word. He taught me about grace and forgiveness. Together my husband and I learned to trust God and depend on Him in new ways. I do not know the Lord’s plans or all His call on my life will require. Still, whatever He asks, I pray I answer “yes.”

Friday, March 12, 2010

Wacky Wednesday

About a year ago I shared Connor’s no underwear adventure. Since there isn’t much in between that one and this one, I have hesitated to post another of his wardrobe malfunctions. Partly in case you think it is a pretty often occurrence…well, maybe it is. And partly because it could embarrass Connor one day… well, maybe that isn’t so bad either. :) So here I go…

Yes, it is true that Connor often has trouble getting dressed in the morning. Obviously forgetting underwear, but he has also met me at the stairs ready to go down to breakfast still in his pajamas but with socks and shoes on, or his socks, shoes, underwear and shirt on but NO PANTS. And yes, that boy is oblivious to his errors until I point it out. Then you see the realization wash over his sleepy face. Luckily, since last year, all of these incidents have happened inside our home until Wednesday last week.

It wasn’t just any Wednesday, mind you. It was Wacky Wednesday. For Summer at least. She dressed up in wacky tights, shorts, backwards shirts and a crazy side pony tail. All of it just gave her license to dress how she would every day if she could. Connor's class didn’t have wacky day but went to school in regular jeans and a regular shirt without complaint.

We were crossing the street on the way home from school that afternoon when I noticed Connor was pulling at his pants. “What’s wrong?”

“My underwear is messed up”, he said.

“Wait until we get across the street and I will help you.”

Once safely across the street, the crossing guards (who have become dear friends) begin going on and on about Summer’s crazy outfit when one of them asked where Connor had went. In immediate panic I turned around and found Connor hiding behind me…with his pants down. Since I had forgotten, he had taken it upon himself to fix his underwear right there as cars drove by.

Quickly, I yanked his pants up and glanced at the sweet crossing guards who seemed to be waiting for my reaction before responding. “Well, I can add that to my list of embarrassing things he has done”, I said.

They laughed. Summer wasted no time before breaking into the story of his no underwear day. I smiled and wondered to myself why I take them out in public sometimes.

One crossing guard then noticed Connor’s normal clothes and said, “Oh, you didn’t have Wacky Wednesday today, Connor?”

Connor, quick as ever, replied, “Nope. I had wacky underwear day!”

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Do I Dare Try This Again?

I have started this post a few times over the last month, but how in the world do you come back after almost a year of silence? It is not easy that is for sure. I want to make all these promises to do better, but I honestly don’t have enough faith in me to do such a thing. What calls me back is knowing all the sweet moments I shared with my family…moments I was sure I would remember but now have been forgotten. The timely moments where God has changed my course of direction…the little ones, I barely recognized, but now wish I had a better account. Then there are the big moments I have scribbled on a post-it note and still hope to record on here eventually…maybe…hopefully…

Here is a quick update on some of what has been going on the last year…
In June, I was forced to trust God in new ways as Shawn headed out on his first mission trip. God’s presence was tangible in my home and I learned so much… so did he. In October, Shawn headed out for a two week business trip and I expected the same peace that had accompanied me the last time he was gone, but instead this time I felt so alone. God began a work on me while Shawn was gone and still isn’t finished yet. It has been one of the most painful experiences in my walk with Him this far, but I am holding on…knowing it will be worth it.

God has reignited my passion for missions and it was a frustrating few months before I begin to see a reason why. He took me all the way to Houston over a weekend before I finally surrendered and received clear direction of what He wants next. Maybe I will share more of that someday. I am still busy with the women’s ministry at church and organizing the Bible studies. It is passion I don’t think I will ever get out of my system.

Shawn and I will celebrate our 10th anniversary this year and I have been amazed at him more lately than ever. He worked so hard this past year to support our family and he did so very well. These last few months, he “supporting me” has taken a different direction. I can hardly talk about it without tears. I am so thankful he is mine.

Summer is quite the little lady. She is definitely her own person and very Ok with her uniqueness. She rarely picks up a toy to play, but will spend her time on crafts, electronics or reading. She loves helping me in the kitchen. She takes social to a whole new level. Never wanting to be alone, she follows me around doing her own thing but carrying on an almost grown up conversation in the process. Her wisdom and maturity amaze me. Love that girl!

Connor, as active as ever, always keeps me on my toes. He doesn’t sit still for a minute and never has enough time in the day to play. Superheroes or cars occupies most of his time. His toys are his prized possessions, yet he has a huge heart. He will do almost anything for his sisters or me and do it cheerfully. The most amazing prayers come out of his little mouth. God has big plans for that little man, I just know it.

Chloe is near perfect sweetness. That little girl loves anything alive and has the most nurturing spirit I have ever witnessed in a little one. She is my constant companion throughout the day and I enjoy her so much it scares me sometimes. We clean together, run errands together, play together. Don’t even talk about her going to school…EVER!

So maybe I will be back to share more tomorrow…or maybe next week…or next month…but hopefully before next year.