adventure

using the time I have

adventure

I have written before about my (our) desire to be involved in full time ministry of some sort whether that is through a local church or through missions of some sort not so locally. Both Caleb and I have a heart and passion for global missions and the church that only increases as time goes by.

The past few years have we have learned so much and been able to be involved in a variety of things that will only help us with whatever the future may hold, but to be honest they have mostly seemed like a waiting period. We know what we want to be doing but we are in still waiting for God’s timing. Not always waiting patiently…. Patients isn’t exactly one of my strengths.

It is easy to look back on the past 10 years and think we have been wasting our time, why didn’t we go on to more schooling right away after Bible School or why does God seem to keep closing doors when there is such a need. I know his timing is His own and I cannot see the whole picture but it is hard to really accept that sometimes.

So, my question these past few months has been “how can I best use this time of waiting, what can I do now or study now that might help me when a door finally opens?” Caleb is back in school so he is already working on that, but what about me, what can I do, what should I do? I’ve been asked what I would do if I were to go back to school and honestly my answer isn’t too different from what it was when I was deciding what to do after high school. I didn’t know then and I still don’t know now. Sometimes I think that nursing would be neat but then I realize that I would only really be interested in certain aspects of it; and let’s be honest, I did everything I could in high school to avoid the “boring” sciences/maths. LOL I didn’t take chemistry or geometry or physics or calculous. I did take biology but there were only a few parts of it that I was actually interested in.  I have always been interested in Phycology, but I don’t know that that is really for me either. Business is just boring (sorry if you took that, it is great that you did and I am sure it wasn’t boring to you). There are a lot of things I am interested in, but since I get bored so quickly I don’t know that most of them would be worth investing in.

Finally through a lot of reading different books (Restless was a helpful one) I started thinking about becoming a doula. My mom and sister are both doulas so it isn’t a new thing to me, or new for me to consider studying. As a birth photographer the tidbits I have learned from them have been SO helpful and I have gained more insight into the whole process.

I started thinking about what my role might be in future ministry, especially if we do end up in another country. A lot of women don’t have care or support when they deliver their babies, especially overseas. As a doula I won’t be trained in any of the medical aspects of birth but will be trained in more ways to assist moms and alleviate their discomfort etc.

After a lot of time and prayer and thought I finally bit the bullet, paid the fee and started my class. I am excited and a bit nervous. I suddenly feel like I have jumped into this field that I know nothing about despite all that I do know already. I have witnessed a lot of births and helped a lot of moms but suddenly I feel like a newbie. It is exciting and scary and I am so thankful to have two awesome certified doulas in my family who can guide me.

So this is it, my new adventure has begun!

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one body

hurt

It has been all over the internet for a couple of weeks now, a well known pastor in disgrace. It seems that when things like this happen the world is just waiting or it, holding their breath waiting for us to screw up and then they just revel in it – they can hardly contain their excitement, and not just the world but a large number of believers as well. It only takes a quick search on twitter to see the anger, the “I told you so”s, and name calling from other believers.

I am not a Mars Hill attender and I don’t regularly listen to Mark, but I have a few times and when I did have learned from him. I can’t say that I always agree with him or condone the mistakes he has made, but I appreciate what I have learned from him as I have learned from many of the other Act29 pastors.

Last night I watched the video of him speaking with his church and telling them he is stepping down and my heart was saddened. You see, our church has come through something sort of similar so I have seen, first hand, the pain and damage that can be caused when a leader steps down. Even if the change is necessary, it can break a church and that should be heartbreaking to us.

Even if I don’t always agree with Mark, he is a brother in Christ, a part of the body just like we are and it should hurt us when we see him hurting and his church hurting.

I am finding it hard to find the words to express what is on my heart so I will leave it with this:

  • Mark, I am praying for you and your family, that this time off will be healing and you will grow.
  • Mars Hills members, I am praying for you all, praying that you will be gracious towards those who may not be gracious towards you. That you will be supportive of your elders as they try to serve you and that you will remember that God is in control and no matter what happens with leadership He is the reason you gather. I am praying that this brings your church even closer together as you seek to comfort one another and follow Jesus.
  • To those who have been hurt by Mark, I am praying for you that you will find healing and forgiveness. That you will be gracious towards each other and towards those who have hurt you.
  • To the leaders who had to make some really hard choices, I am praying for all of you as well. I know this was not easy for you at all and I pray that God would give you peace and the grace  and desire to renew those friendships when the time is right.

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Capturing Jasmina | Book Review

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I have the pleasure of reviewing another book that I can’t say enough good about. Reading Capturing Jasmina by Kimberly Rae was like being given the diary of a girl who has been through unimaginable things, sold by her parents to a trafficker, escaped only to immediately fall into the hands of yet another trafficker. It is a story of loss and devastation turned to hope and love and big dreams and because of the way it is written you feel so personally involved. I fell in love with Jasmina right away on page 1 (which I read last night…..ya, I could hardly put this book down)  and when I came to the last page I sat for a few minutes sad that it was over already. Trafficking is all over the news and internet these days, it is in the movies we watch and many of us follow A21 on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram so we hear stories of girls like Jasmina being rescued, but to actually read HER story in her words was amazing. It is easy to read and not a long book so it is a pretty quick read (obviously, since i read the whole thing in about 12 hours and DID stop to sleep, mop my floors, shower and feed my kids.) It would be safe for teenagers and even pre-teens to read (in my opinion) since it doesn’t go into detail at all about sex trafficking or drug use. This was is a really beautiful book and I very much hope there will be a book 2, I am dying to hear the rest of her story! signature

Dirty Faith

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I had the pleasure of reviewing an amazing book that released today called Dirty Faith for Bethany House Publishing. I read the description for the book before deciding to review it and thought that it could be good - wow did it deliver! David talks about his work at Hope Unlimited in Brazil, and organization that gives a home and education to the poorest and more desperate street kids while showing and teaching them about Christ’s love for them.

David isn’t afraid to tell it like it is and I love that! He calls out believers for our lack of really caring of the “least of these”, sure we all want to take care of the adorable little orphan baby or send money through an organization like Compassion or World Vision to the cute little kid and that is so very important – don’t get me wrong, but what about the older children who have been selling themselves for years and are not so cute and cuddly, or are addicted to hard drugs and have become violent offenders due to life on the streets and the violence done to them. They are still the “least of these”, they are still made in God’s image and worthy of love.

David challenges us to compare what we believe to how we live and see how badly we are failing. Jesus said that whatever you do to the least of these you do to me, well if we really believe that is the case then most of us are ignoring him most of the time, maybe sending money every so often, writing a letter once in a while if ever, and maybe shedding a tear when we read something or watch something about them.  That isn’t enough, not by a long shot. We are supposed to be the hands and feet of Christ on this earth, we are supposed to be the way the world sees His love and yet there are enough orphaned or abandoned children in this world to more than populate the entire country of Russia. It is unacceptable. We need to make a change NOW.

If you read my blog regularly you will know that I don’t like to beat around the bush about our responsibility as believers, so I loved that David wrote that way to, in fact he was even more direct (fearless) in his challenges.

This book was like an amazing combination of Radical by David Platt and Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis, he tells stories like Katie does and challenges us to really live what we say we believe like David Platt does.

All in all I could not give this a book a higher rating that I did, it is excellent and I believe that every Christian needs to read it.  Dirty Faith has made me think a lot about my future and what future ministry might look like for our family and I know God will use the things I read in this book to make me more like Him.

 

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PS I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishing for the purpose of this review but was free to give an honest and unbiased review.

legacy

legacy-2 “Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband he also praises her.”

As I have mentioned before these past few weeks have been a flurry of activity. My father-in-laws parents and 5 siblings have been here visiting along with their spouses and all of their children and grandchildren. Most of them have gone but a few, including his parents are still here for my brother-in-laws wedding this weekend.

This week happens to be a big week for us to, apart from everything else going on this week we celebrate our 10th anniversary. It is crazy how quickly it has come.

I have spend a big of time today thinking about everything. Zachary and Elisha (just a different spelling and slightly different pronunciation of Aleisha - not the prophet) are getting ready to start their lives together, full of hopes and dreams for the future, full of newlywed love, possibly thinking about children down the line and decorating their new home. Everything to them is so new.

Then I turn and look at George and Esther and I see a legacy of love and care. I don’t see newlywed love. I see something different, something much greater and stronger, something more beautiful even than Elisha will be in her white dress (although I am sure she will be stunning). I see an 80something year old woman, full of grace, joy and love caring for her 93 year old husband who is no longer the spry young man she married. I see her giving up so much (she is a woman who has way more energy than any 80something I have ever met) making sure her husband doesn’t fall, gets rest and knows that she is right there when he needs her. I see the way she loves each of her 6 children and 4 children-in-law; how she prays for every one of them and all their children and grandchildren.

And there we are somewhere in the middle, not newlyweds by a long shot now but no where near the legacy of Esther and George. When I thought of 10 years before it seemed like a “wow” thing, so many people don’t reach that these days; and then i look at Esther and see more than 60 years and it puts things into perspective a bit. Will I be as caring as her if I reach 60 years of marriage? Will I be a loving and gentle as she is if Caleb’s health deteriorates like his grandfathers?

I look at these milestones of marriage, like 10 years, 20 years, 25 years, etc as being some kind of goal in marriage, like reaching those milestones and still being happily married is something amazing. While it is and is something to celebrate for sure, our legacy is what really matters. The WAY we love is what really matters. The husband who stands by his new wife after a horrible accident and serves her and is faithful to her, the wife who walks with her husband through chemo or MS, the husband, like by grandfather Robert, who cares for his wife through advanced Parkinson’s and also cared for her aging mother through many health issues right up to the end. The woman, like Esther who helps her husband get his food, and wipes his mouth and puts him to bed after 60some years of marriage. These are the heroes of marriage. These are the ones that I think Proverbs 31 is talking about. The ones who love sacrificially, whose love for Christ spills over into this beautiful love for those around them. They do not complain or grumble, they serve with grace.

I just wanted to take a few moments today on the eve of my anniversary to recognize them because I can’t think of many better pictures of love.

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guiltless

blood

The last few days have been a huge buzz of activity and craziness. My husbands family is all together for the first time in around 13 years and there have been many new additions since then (including myself) so there have been almost no silent moments for me or moments alone with my own thoughts. I get stressed out with the big planning and laying out the schedule bit but can go with the flow pretty easily once it is actually happening.

So once again I was behind on my time in Acts and trying to catch up again. Most of what I was reading wasn’t really jumping out to me a whole lot, I find that sometimes everything jumps out and other times very little does so it took several passages to find one that seemed to be screaming at me.

In the end of Acts 20 Paul is saying his farewell to these people who he has taught, likely led most of them to the Lord himself and discipled them for many years from near and afar. His words to them are so neat and so challenging. He starts by telling them that he is innocent of their blood because he never once shied away from sharing with them everything about God and salvation. This is one of those points of guilt over the years, looking back at missed opportunities where I let fear of not being accepted win out over being a real friend and sharing as Paul did. Why is it so hard to remember that this life is short and eternity is long and only one thing really matters and that is not how well liked I was or how well I fit in with the people around me.

I look back with so much sorrow at times knowing that I am not guiltless of the blood of some dear friends. I can only hope that the few tiny timid seeds I planted will be fertilized and watered and cultivated by someone with less fear. I can only hope that God will do a work in those precious people. I know that I am not guiltless.

Praise God for his grace for cowards like me. He doesn’t hold against me a list of missed opportunities, but I think that when I stand before him, if those faces are not also in the crowd, I will shed many tears before he wipes them all away. I weep now for the possibility of it which will be so much sobering on that day.

Life is so short, seasons change so quickly and some of us do say many farewells like Paul’s during our lives when we move or someone else moves and we won’t see them again in this life. Maybe we only have a short time with the people around us or maybe we have many years with them, either way every day is a chance that may never be repeated.

Yesterday we had a small church service with the family, there are close to 50 of us, and one of my husbands uncles was sharing  [He (and his family and another uncle and his family) both served with my husbands family on the mission field of Venezuela for may years and this uncle is still working on translating the Bible into their people group's language] some things he has learned from the leaders of the village church. He was talking about learning from these people who have nothing what is really valuable in this life. He mentioned about one of these people coming out of their remote area to a nearby city and asking believers there why they never came to share with them despite being so close to them.

“How will they hear unless someone tells them…”

We claim that the most important thing in this life is our salvation/God’s grace to us, but most of us are all just a bunch of liars because time and time again we put more value on our money, nice houses, popularity, comfort, stuff, education, than on what we say is the most important. We know it is life or death but we ignore the drowning people around us while having the nerve to call them our friends. We need a wake up call, a big one, I for one don’t want to wait until Heaven to really wake up to this.

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PS You may have noticed a few small changes. For a while now I have been noticing that my writing has evolved into something that no longer matches my old mommy blog name so I have been thinking about a change. The old address should still work as well, but i think the new name and address better reflect what I write about. Hope you like it. :)

from the sidelines

tiny obediences I have a desire to do great things for God and for the Kingdom, I think most of us do. We think of amazing things like speaking to thousands and challenging their hearts like Beth Moore does, or seeing a revival started through our ministry like Charles Stanley did, or watching a village of people who worshiped spirits believe and start jumping up and down and singing like the missionaries saw in Ee-taow.

When I think about doing amazing things for God i don’t think about the man faithfully working a 50-60 hour week at an unfulfilling job dealing with seemingly menial work so that he can provide for is family and support a missionary family.

I don’t think about the woman who faithfully taught sunday school to tiny wild children for many years and faithfully prayed for them as they grew

I don’t think about the old lady with her list of missionaries that she prays for every day and has done so for 60 years.

I tend to think about the person of the front lines and I think we all do.  We believe the lie whispered in our ears that our lives are insignificant. Sometimes that lie can be so crippling that we stop doing the little things.

I was reminded of this is a huge way this morning reading Acts 9:1-29, the story of Saul’s conversion. It is easy to read this story and think only about Paul, but what about Ananias. He was faithful in the “small” things God asked him to do. It wasn’t really small at all, he probably was scared out of his whits and also possibly didn’t want Saul to be saved after all he had done and was planning on doing, but he obeyed.

What blows my mind about this story is that because he obeyed he will share in everything that Saul/Paul did from this moment on. All the people who believed because of Paul’s teachings or writings, all the people today today who are changed because of Paul’s life. It was all because of Ananias and his decision to be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading that day.

I have this fear of an insignificant life. I often believe the lies I am told that my life can’t be significant here in North America, or that for it to really be significant I need to have a ministry like these great women of God whose names we all knows. It’s a lie. My life gains significants if I am obedient to God in the small things he asks me to do every day. Ananias had no idea that his obedience in something he didn’t want to do would lead to millions of changed lives. We don’t see his name credited along side Paul’s super often either so he likely didn’t receive a lot of praise in his life for this obedience but in Heaven you better believe he does.

Don’t believe the lie. God doesn’t tell us ahead of time what the impact of our little obediences will be. He doesn’t tell the woman faithfully teaching 10 year olds that one day one of them will change the world. He doesn’t tell the man working the crummy job without complaint that remote people will one day meet him in heaven and thank him for enabling that missionary to come. He doesn’t give us the whole picture, he just asks us to be faithful in our tiny piece.

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Are we there yet?

arewethereyet I love it when God takes something tiny and blows it was up into something convicting and eye-opening inside my mind. He does that for me often and did it again yesterday. Jason, our pastor, has been talking about the Israelites for the last couple of months. He spent a while going through all the laws (which can be a bit boring at times …. did I say that out loud?!) but yesterday was talking about when God first sent the quails. At the time Moses was the only leader and God was sending mana every day to feel the people and yet they were grumbling and complaining about just about everything. He mentioned that they were like kids on a long trip asking “are we there yet?” over and over in a whiny voice.

Oh man, jumped out at me and convicted me so bad. I am so bad at this. As a parent I know how annoying it is to listen to the whiny voice from the back of the car asking “are we there yet?” instead of looking out the window to see that we are not, and yet I do this to God all the time. This life is a journey, we won’t really be “there yet” until we reach heaven. Sometimes the road is beautiful and sometimes it is hot and the sun is beating down on us through the windows or we feel car sick and just want to be there.

I remember the long drives from Florida to Illinois or Canada when I was a kid. There where bits there were so beautiful they took my breath away; driving through the Smokey Mountains in the early morning…. there are no words to really describe the beauty of those miles. But there were also moments when I felt car sick and was sick of being in the car and tired from driving for 20 hours.

Life is like that, some moments we are so full of joy we feel like we could burst and some moments if feels like you will never again be happy and others are just dull and hot and you are restless and want out.

We know all that, deep down, and yet it seems to catch us by surprise and we feel bad for ourselves. We complain.

It is so easy to see these things in our children and recognize them as annoying or silly, it isn’t so easy to see those same things in ourselves.

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unique voice

speak boldly

I spent the weekend with a couple girlfriends and several other women in leadership at a class about communication and leadership. A lot of what we talked about was finding your unique voice and empowering other women to find and use that voice, so it was funny today as I was reading through Acts (desperately trying to catch up to the If:Equip study reading) that the second passage I came upon was Acts 4:5-12.

In this passage Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, delivers a stunningly message to the religious leaders and a huge crowd of people.

I was struck by this a lot and I think it was more meaningful because of the topic this weekend. Peter had a pretty crazy background, he failed Christ so miserably in Christ’s greatest time of human need, then ran away and hid.

We tend to judge ourselves by our pasts, especially as women. I can look back over all of my mistakes and failing and think that my voice doesn’t matter or people can’t/won’t want to learn from be because of what I have done or how I have failed God or friends or family or whatever. I wasn’t bold, I wasn’t loyal, I wasn’t Godly.

Peter spoke but it was because of the Holy Spirit. God gave him the words but He used Peter’s voice, Peter’s personality, Peter’s experience to get those words out. Peter who had failed so badly now had a unique voice that God would use greatly.

“They saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were uneducated men and were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:12

Each of us had a unique and powerful story and have the ability to touch many lives through that story especially as we are seek to let the Holy Spirit speak through us.

Later in this chapter, after being imprisoned for speaking boldly and warned to stop (which they flat out refused to do) Peter and John came  back to the other believers and told them what had happened. They all began to pray that the Lord would grant them even more boldness to continue to speak despite the fact that it would mean persecution and possibly death. God didn’t ignore this plea, he granted it abundantly.

I am a coward, I may not come across that way but on the inside I am terrified of not being accepted (which i just found out today is actually very common for my personality type – ENFP if you are curious) and I don’t often think about praying for boldness. When God grants us boldness he also gives us the words to say which is sometimes that hardest part.

Ladies, your voice matters. There are things that you have experienced or that you have learned that I just haven’t learned or walked through and I could not begin to impact the lives that are waiting to hear your story. Speak up. Speak with boldness. If you don’t know what to say ask the Holy Spirit and he will give you the words. (If you think you know what to say because you have a personality type similar to mine maybe you should still ask the Holy Spirit for the right words (; I know I need to often. ) You are the only one who can tell your story.

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willing to stay, planning to go

stay and go When I was a teenager the church I was a member of had a sign up on the wall that read “willing to stay but planning to go”. I have to admit that I always thought this was kind of a weird slogan, mostly because the majority of Christians are really not planning to go anywhere.

It popped back into my head, although it was the other half of the saying that was tugging at me.

My heart so desperately wants to go. I so badly want to  leave it all behind and serve where I can see, really see, the need and be away from all the distractions of our culture. I just finished reading Katie Davis’ book which has only increased the desire which has been there most of my life.

This morning it was as if the Lord was asking me if I am really am willing to stay if that is what he has for us. I’d like to just quickly say “sure Lord, wherever you lead” but am I really? I often wonder why he puts such a longing in the hearts of some who are actually willing only to tell them “stay” or maybe it is just “stay for now” When the willing, really willing, are so few why not send them all? The need is so great.

A really neat lady had a good reminder for me on Tuesday night at our Bible study.  I am not God and there is a reason for that. I don’t love like him, I don’t forgive like him and I cannot fathom the greatness of his plan. He only lets me see the step I am on. I am living by faith if I can see the whole plan.

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