Experience Creation (Mission Trip Lesson #5)…

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Have you ever seen the beauty of God’s creation and it took your breath away?  Pictures never do spectacular views justice, but at least it serves as a reminder.  Our mission team visited the municipal building in Ojitlan.  We walked up a flight of stairs and were immediately struck by this view.  I couldn’t speak, tears rolled down my face.  I was so overcome with the beauty of it and with the gratitude of being allowed to see it… to feel it.

I haven’t traveled much in my life.  I’ve been more places than some people, I’m sure… but far less than others.  In life, we need to get out of our box and experience God’s creation.  He made the world, yet we confine ourselves to small areas and rarely see what He has done.  I know that there are many places in the world that we may not have the money or ability to see, but with some effort, there are many we can.

I knew that I was going to Mexico, but I didn’t know that we would see this volcano along the way…

I saw some of the most beautiful flowers…

I saw my son in a way that I don’t really get to see at home, in the daily grind.  I saw him as a young man who has listened to things we’ve tried to teach and of whom I am very proud…

I heard the laughter of some sweet friends.  Music to the soul…

You don’t have to go around the world to experience God’s creation.  You will see more of it if you do, but there is creation all around us.  Beautiful flowers, trees, butterflies, people, smiles, laughter.  The key is to see it, to experience it, to feel it. To know that God made all things and that we are gifted with the ability to live amongst it all.  Don’t take it for granted.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.  And there was evening, and there was morning – the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31

If God Wants You to Do it, He Will Make a Way…

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I have been wanting to go on a mission trip for a long time.  In the past year, my older son has been asking to go on one, too.  The problem has been the timing.  Our church offers several mission trips, but they are usually too long for me to miss work.  During the past six months or so, I have felt God moving in my life.  He has shifted me away from things and shifted me towards things.  He’s been telling me that it’s time to go on a mission trip.  Ok God, but…

I have found though that when God wants you to do it, He will work it out.  So, I expressed interest in going on a mission trip to Mexico.  Our church has missionaries that moved there and have teams that go several times a year.  There is a longer story with little details, but the end story is, they made the dates of the trip around my schedule.  So, my work schedule wasn’t an issue.  It’s during spring break… so, my son’s school schedule wasn’t an issue.

We are committed and plane tickets are purchased.  Ok… Now, the matter of finances.  In case anyone doesn’t know, mission trips usually aren’t free.  I made a Facebook post letting people know that we are excited about the opportunity and to pray for our team and our financial situations.  About a week later, I received an envelope from a relative whom, honestly, I barely know.  Inside that envelope was a check… a check that covered one of our plane tickets!  Y’all, I cried.  I cried at the generosity of someone I can’t remember meeting… I cried at the awesomeness of God who provided.

I turned in that money and started pinching pennies.  During this time, we also welcomed foster children into our home.  Things were a little crazy.  Car seat purchased, clothes, extra food.  In the back of my mind, I was also aware that we may these children when I was to be on the trip.  I wasn’t “worried.”  God brought them to us and God knew the trip was coming.  Not sure how, but I knew it would work out.  A week later, it did.  The children were moved to a family member.  We loved having them, but the goal is always for the children to be with family, if possible.

After that month, I had saved some of my “Dave Ramsey pocket money.”  I was going to turn that in the next time I went to church.  Then, to my surprise, we got an escrow overage check for our mortgage company.  Mind you, this is yet another check that was unexpected and perfectly timed.  Between, my cash and this check we were now $12 shy of covering both of our plane tickets!  I think God is just showing off at this point. But, He’s not done…

In addition to plane tickets, there are other expenses… lodging, food, gas, interpreter, and I’m sure other stuff will come up.  We are now working on saving for all that.  A few weeks later, guess what?  Another check.  This time, we received the money from fostering.  This had been our first fostering experience.  We knew that we would get a little money as reimbursement for keeping children, but we didn’t know what the rate was.  That is certainly not why we foster.  Anyway, the check… it wasn’t a large amount, but it was still a little unexpected.  And, it is going straight to our trip.

My point in all this is that when God lies on your heart that He wants you to do something… whatever that is… you need to take a step of faith.  You might think that there’s no way it will work… you may think of a thousand excuses why it won’t work… but, if God wants you to do it, He WILL work out the details.  Most of the time it happens in ways which you never would’ve thought.  He does this so that you will know that He did it, not you.  So, the next time that you hear that subtle voice… take a step, have a conversation, whatever it entails in your situation to have forward progress.  I promise that once you make that small gesture of faith, He will carry you the rest of the way.

“This is what the Lord says – he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:16-19

The Hallway…

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Have you ever heard the saying “when God closes a door he opens another” or maybe it was a window?  Either way, you know what I’m talking about.  That is an old saying, but it’s not from the Bible.  I do believe that God does shut doors in our lives and that He opens them, too.  But, what happens in between?

I’m at this weird place right now in my head.  (No comments from the peanut gallery!)  I feel that God is taking me on a new journey in ministry.  Not like a new job or city, but a new way to serve.  I feel like He has gently led me out of one room and closed the door.  I’ve walked out of that room and started my way to another… I just don’t know which one I’m headed to.

Have you ever felt this way?  Maybe you lost or left a job, maybe you moved to another location, maybe you got a divorce, heck… any number of life changing situations… or maybe it’s just a subtle whisper.  Either way, you are on a journey, but not sure of your destination.

God doesn’t call us to be in control, just active participants.  He wants to lead us, but we have to move.  We have to put one foot in front of the other and go towards the doors.  If it’s not open, we move to the next.  We trust that He loves us and has our best interests at heart.  We trust that He will catch us when we fall.  We trust.

So, if you are coming out of a door, keep walking the hallway.  Eventually, the right door will open.  Keep walking…

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Love Letter…

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photo-nov-24-5-00-50-pmHave you ever had someone ask you “why do you love me?”  Over the past near 15 years, my husband has asked me that quite a bit.  Sometimes, I think it is because he has trouble finding his value in himself.  Other times, I wonder if it’s because I just don’t do enough to make him feel it from me.  I’m not really sure of which is correct, but since he’s gone right now, I’m feeling a little sappy.  I’m going to try my best to put it to words… even though I don’t think he ever reads my posts.

When we first met, we worked in the same building.  He had given a friend money, with no expectation of getting it back.  I saw him sacrifice things that he might want so others could have what they needed.  I saw kindness, generosity, and caring.  I fell in love with that.  He opens doors, gives rides, works hard, washes dishes… I fell in love with that, too.  I have watched him quietly do the dirty work that mostly goes unnoticed, but makes a huge difference.  He has a servant’s heart… and I love it.

He drives me crazy.  I mean like up the wall, pull my hair out crazy… and I love that, too.  My whole life I quit things when they became easy.  Easy is boring.  I never took the easy road… I chose the road less traveled… most times to the horror of my parents.  But, while walking through the briars and weeds in the woods, I managed to find my way to him… twice.  I love that he knows all my crap and loves me anyway.  I love that he tickles my feet, even though I want to stab him in the eye when he’s doing it.  I love that we are loud… I love that we are silly… I love that we laugh.

I love that he is calm when I am not… and I am calm when he is not.  I love that he takes the boys to get icees and always brings me back a candy bar.  I love that he would buy me the world, yet doesn’t understand that I already have it.  I don’t love when he’s gone, but I love that he serves our Country… and I most love that I get a chance to miss him… to get butterflies… to be excited to see him… even after 14+ years.

I love when he smiles, even though he thinks he looks goofy.  I love when he prays, even though he thinks he’s horrible at it.  He prays simply, but if you be still and let him go… there is a great humility when he speaks to God that is beautiful.

Mostly, I love that when we stand face to face and he puts his arms around me, I can lean my head in… and there is this spot on his chest where my head fits perfectly… like God made it just for me… and there, I feel safe.  I love you babe…

photo-nov-24-5-02-25-pm“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.  So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:7-9

Are Feelings Affecting Your Ministry?…

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FeelingsLet me start off by saying that this post is me being very transparent.  I know that I am not the first or the last to have these issues, and just want to open a door of discussion.

Are your feelings getting in the way of your ministry? Currently, mine are.  The key is that I am aware of it and trying, with God’s help, to get a handle on them.

Our church is growing.  We are growing in people and we are growing in buildings.  With growth comes change.  I am open to change, in fact, sometimes I seek it.  I like keeping things new and fresh.  I know that some people really don’t like change.  I can’t say I get it, but I understand that everyone is different.

Anyway, our church is growing… and buddy, Satan is really not happy about it.  He is attacking.  He is fierce.  He has done things as big as delaying the opening to the new building and as small as making the microphones not work right before service on Sunday.

While attacking things, he also attacks people… good people… Christian people.  He attacks our minds.  He puts doubt, insecurities, and fear in place of confidence, self-worth, and strength.  He creeps in… it’s hard to get him out.  I have been dealing with feelings of “maybe I’m not needed anymore”… “people who I thought are my friends, really don’t like me”… “where do I fit in now?”… “why does that person get picked, what about me?”  And, there you go… what about me?!  Is it about me? No… well, hopefully, your answer is no!

I have friends dealing with their own demons.. Satan attacks us where we are, he is very personal about it.  What might work against me, may not be what works against you, but guaranteed he knows how to get in your mind.  It is powerful… and painful.

Logically, I know that my feelings are not true.  It doesn’t make them less real.  It’s like when you have a bad dream and wake up mad at someone.  That person didn’t really do anything, but you still feel the pain.  The feelings are real, but not true.

The awesome ending to the story, is that God wins.  I have the book and have read the ending, we win.  Satan loses… every time.  Knowing that, we have the power to tell Satan to “GET OUT OF OUR MINDS”… “LEAVE US ALONE!”

I will continue to serve God and my church to the best of my God-given ability.  I will love with my whole heart, I will give with my whole being.  I am battling some pretty powerful feelings, but I will come out victorious because God is on my side.  It’s ok to have bad feelings.  It’s just not ok to give in to them.  You are a child of God or Satan wouldn’t be trying so hard.

“Do not give the devil a chance.” Ephesians 4:27

“So obey God.  Stand up to the devil.  He will run away from you.” James 4:7

“So stand firm.  Put on the belt of truth around your waist.  Put the armor of godliness on your chest.  Wear on your feet what will prepare you to tell the good news of peace.  Also, pick up the shield of faith.  With it you can put out all of the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Put on the helmet of salvation.  And take the sword of the Holy Spirit.  The sword of God’s word.” Ephesians 6:14-17

To the Writer of the Linked Article: Bless Your Heart…

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A friend posted “Kansas is Ready to Prevent Welfare Recipients from Going to Swimming Pools and Movies” on Facebook this morning.  There’s a nice picture of a boy doing a cannonball into a pool to head the article.  I thought that maybe at was satire.  I wasn’t sure so, I read the article.  I have to tell you that I got angry reading it.  It truly struck a chord and I’m sure that was the writer’s intent.  It didn’t make me angry because of the proposed law; it made me angry because I disagreed with the point, so much, that I wanted to shake the author… and anyone that agreed with him for that matter.

So… I closed the article and decided not to comment on the Facebook post because I would probably start an argument or hurt someone’s feelings.  As the day has gone on, I see comments others left on the post, some for, some against.  I’ve had time to process and pray…

To the author… bless your heart for thinking that just because you relate to one political party that you lose all your compassion and humanity.  I associate with the Republican party because it does not support abortion, because it follows fiscally conservative principles, and it is not afraid to say “God, Bible, prayer,” etc.  This does not mean that I agree with every Republican, nor does it mean that I disagree with every Democrat.  This means that as a whole, I associate more closely with the Republican party.

I do, however, agree that there are abuses to the welfare system.  AND, I agree that there are truly needy, hurting people out there.  (I’m about to go down a different road, here… so hold on to your holy s&^t handle.)  It is not… I repeat NOT the government’s job to support these people.  Nowhere in our founding documents does it say that we are a socialist country, that we have to provide any or everything to low-income people, or that everyone has to always have the same things in life.  Nowhere!  Life isn’t fair… LIFE IS NOT FAIR!

There are people who come from very dark places that rise above, and there are people who come from great wealth that fall far.  Most of us just come from the middle of the road and just try to stay between the lines.  That is the road my family is traveling.  My husband and I are both employed, he serves in the military, we have children… we make do.  We live fiscally within our means and we try our best to give generously.

I think that what most people don’t get is that it truly is not the government’s responsibility to take care of each person.  I will argue though that it is a church’s responsibility.  You see, while our Constitution doesn’t require us to take care of everyone, the Bible does.  If you search “take care of the poor Bible verse” at least 50 are listed.  God tells us to take care of the poor… repeatedly.  God, not the government.  I’m not sure if you (the writer of that article) are a Christian, because there was no mention of your faith in the article.  Maybe you are just unaware of what the Bible teaches.

This is not a Republican vs. Democrat issue.  This is a matter of Biblical principles that have been lost in our country.  I know that churches and Christian organizations are helping people every day, but if we Christians were truly doing all that God commanded us, there would be no hurting people.  God commanded us to spread the Gospel, to love, to serve, to follow Him.  If we were “on fire” doing those things… well, you can imagine what would happen… GREAT THINGS.

So, I beg you to stop politicizing this argument.  Stop trying to make me look like I don’t have a heart because I choose a different political party that you.  Instead, pick up a Bible, go to a church, give, serve, LOVE!

“and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise  in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10

 

 

 

Love, Even When It’s Hard…

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Different PersonalitiesGod made everyone different.  Each person is unique in their appearance, personality, right down to their finger prints.

Some people we get along with right away, others may take time, others… well, not so much. Some people’s personalities just don’t mix… and that’s fine.  We don’t have to be friends with everyone.

But what if those people who you don’t mix with are people who you have to be around?  What if they are co-workers… ministry partners… or going further… your parent… spouse… or child?  Sometimes, people are just difficult by nature, other times it may be caused by stress or depression.

Do you have someone in your life that is hard to love?  I’m sure you do!  I ask you to check your attitude towards that person.  Are you exhausted trying?  Are you exasperated?  Are you hardened to their anger? Are you so over them being difficult that you may have become difficult yourself?

God calls us to love.  God calls us to love even when it’s hard… and sometimes really hard.  He calls us to love those that we may not choose to love.  He calls us to love the ones that we have chosen, even when the circumstances are hard.  As believers, we should be so filled with God’s love that it pours out of us effortlessly.

Maybe these people in our lives are the ones that need love the most.  Maybe God put them in your life because He knows you have enough love to give.  Maybe it’s hard right now… pray.  Pray that God will give you the strength to love the unlovely.  Pray that God will fill you up so much that it is actually easy.  Pray… love.

“We love because he loved us first.” 1 John 4:19

“The three most important things to have are faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of them is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13