Monday, December 29, 2008
"Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be."
To be a child of God is to have access to hope. Not all of us, in all circumstances, take God up on the access. I have a feeling, in the coming year, more of us will have opportunities to choose between hope or fear. I find this thought pretty exciting. Imagine what might happen in the church if hope or faith in God were muscles we were more practiced at using.
May 2009 be filled with hope regardless of what life on earth throws our way.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
A year of new beginnings...
took on new airline customers from around the world.
began a new role on his team at work.
is learning about a new camera lens.
discovered a few new recipes (He's a great cook!)
started facilitating Bible study again after a break.
joined the planning team for Bible study.
is starting a new ministry focused on prayer/reflection.
joined the steering team for North Texas Youth For Christ to Urban Ft. Worth.
started several new temporay jobs.
is helping her parents settle into their new home in Texas.
is sixteen and driving himself around town. Yeah! (with an occasional Yikes moment)
is playing the bass guitar in a new youth praise band at church.
is a working man now, ten hours a week at Schlotzsky's Deli.
joined the Air Force ROTC at his High School.
God's presence has been a very real part of 2008 and we look forward to walking with Him in 2009.
We sincerely wish you a very Merry Christmas and a joyful New Year!
Dave, Cheri and Matt
Saturday, December 13, 2008
climb a 14,000+ ft peak (fourteeners in Colorado speak)
be cross-cultural here in America
break a compulsive TV habit
survive parenting a toddler
Those are a few things that come immediately to mind. The reasons I thought I wouldn't do them are very different. It's funny to me how irrelevant the reasons are now. They seemed so legitmate at the time. It's also intriguing to think about what changed my perspectives. There is a common theme in that. They were all changed by my relationship with the Lord.
I've been wondering something this morning, "What do I currently expect I will never do, but someday, because of God, will do?" Life being an adventure matters to me so I hope it turns out to be a long list!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Until, I saw…
the peace of God rest on a couple previously tempted to abandon one another
the peace of God in a mothers eyes who lost a child to death
the peace of God change a restless heart into a directed heart
the peace of God help a recently blinded man and his wife accept his new condition
the peace of God in the eyes of a woman called to “ insurmountable problems” in inner city Phoenix.
There are many people who hope for world peace at this time of the year. We long for peace to reign. One day we are promised that He, The Prince of Peace, will on all occasions and in every circumstance reign.
Today, I just keep looking for signs of His peace in one life, one story at a time.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
For some one over 40 that seems like a really funny statement. I'm in some kind of twightlight zone. Is it good? Is it bad? Is it just different? Can you believe what we spend our time doing? And that in some strange undefineable way its actully useful and even relational.. While sometimes it is distracting and escapist its also fun, enlightening and meaningful.
I had no idea how important that typing class in highschool was going to be...
The other day I said to my husband, "Is it wrong to love your phone?"
I can email, text and oh yeah occasionally actually talk to people on it.
So far I largely use it as a tool for efficently setting up face time with people...
Even that expression "face time", when I see those words it makes me think of when we lived in California. While I was very grateful for things like unlimited long distance phone minutes I also hated being on the phone and longing to just see my friends eyes light up or their smiles in real time. I didn't want to imagine it. I wanted to see it. I hope "face time" always remains important to me.
I think its one of the reasons I love facebook so much. Friends around the country who I would have no chance to see are "seeable" via their various albums each and every day. We get to enjoy much more than the annual Christmas letter.
Maybe the Christmas letter will die soon. Is that good? Is that bad? My bet the vote on that is that it's good.
I just have to get all my friends to sign up for Facebook and then I can journey guilt free through late November and early December without the stress of what on earth to put in the Christmas Letter.
Let the recruiting begin...
Saturday, November 01, 2008
I do not have a gentle and quiet spirit. If you think you see that in me I can tell you for 100% sure what your seeing is God.
Since I've sensed this is an area that I need to learn more about I've had way to many opportunities to trust God for gentleness.
As always if I'm walking in tune with Lord it goes well. If not, I'm not gentle but instead harsh. Actually I think all that has happened is that the Lord just keeps showing me the habits of harshness I've always had. It's not pretty. I don't want to be harsh anymore. I really want to have a strong, trusting and gentle heart.
One of the verses that's helping me recently is 1 Timothy 6:11:
But you , man of God (daughter of God), flee from this (evil, rebellion)and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love and gentleness.
What I love about gentleness is that it really is about loving the other person. And, I'm very appreciative that the Lord chooses to interact with me in gentleness.
Does anyone else ever get tired of the fact that there is always something more to work through? Sigh...
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
waiting is what you asked of me
Trust me, believe me is what you said
I want you to stop trusting just what is in your head
But what if I get it wrong?
Will I have a place to belong?
Yes my dear child, I'm preparing a way
A path of life you wont understand in a day
I will not forsake you, I will not let go
But I will ask you... to die so my life in you may flow
Last weekend, during a retreat called "Listen to my Life" we were given some time in the afternoon to simply enjoy being with the Lord. While I was sitting outside enjoying a beautiful fall afternoon the words above were what came to me.
I have been praying for a while now for a tool to use that would help me share with others what God has been doing in my life. I have been overwhelmed by the idea that I might have to write such a thing. This past weekend God provided the material that I knew I needed to move forward with a ministry that will be called True Hearts - Nurturing souls in Grace. It took Sharon and Sybil five years to put it all together. I couldn't be more pleased that God brought into my life just what I was asking for. God keeps proving to me over and over again that he provides what we need. So good to be his daughter.
Pray that I will be faithful to move ahead as God is leading...
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
beautiful location- mountains of Southern Colorado
lots of women in one place
development of inside jokes, "Bless your heart"
And yet it was different...
Here were some of the firsts for me on a retreat:
adventures on ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles)
cattle in the high country meadows
calves at play and grampa cow always working to catch up
an engagement annoucement
movie watching in a state of the art theatre room
women actively trying to get to know all the other women there
But best of all the home we stayed in was a work of art. It was beautiful. It honors God's creation. It invites you to dream big dreams... It was obviously built with love thinking always of all that would cross its threashold.
Our hostess was the embodiment of hospitality and loving sacrifice in every possible way.
The combination of these two realities did something to us, her guests. Our souls were opened up in beautiful ways. We were free to be generous with each other as she and the Lord through her had been generous to us.
I have never perosonally been more impacted or watched others be more impacted by this gift. There are passages in the book of Acts that will forever mean more to me than they ever meant before.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above you heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
We are grateful for the answers to prayer that God has provided!
Saturday, September 06, 2008
I know, isn't it cute our names rhyme. It came in handy when Mom was calling us. We both responded to a positive tone. We both assumed it was the other one when it was "the somebodies in trouble" tone.
My brother is a couple of years younger than me. We were very typical. Liked each other but also liked a good fight. Road trips were especially interesting. We lived in Kansas when we were little and there was no place to far for Mom and Dad to drive us. So we got some serious "don't cross that line" time in the car.
As we grew up we both were led to leave Colorado for college. We were both led to Christian Universities. Terry went to Northwestern in Minnesota. He married a local girl and they are very happily settled up there.
Terry is a youth pastor. I love his heart for the Lord and people. We have great talks over the phone. Processing what the Lord is up to in each of our lives. Encouraging each other to press on and delighting in what we each enjoy about ministry. He is more than my brother. He is a dear friend.
This week he called to tell me something serious was up with his health. He discovered this while swimming to shore dragging a kyack because he another person had accidentally flipped is on one of his adventures. He heart and lungs weren't working right. After we got off the phone I was horrifyied by the thought that it could have been my dear sister-in-love calling me to tell me Terry drowned in the lake and we can't figure out why.
Before that moment, I thought I already knew how much I love my 6ft 3in "little brother". Turns out I didn't. I couldn't imagine and still can't not having him to call. So now I know better how much I love him.
The doctors have made progress figuring out what's going wrong. He'll be feeling better soon. And all of us who love him will be more appreiciatve than we've ever been before.
I wish I knew why it takes events like these for us to know how much we love and are loved.
I'm always fascinated when the very thing we would never wish on somebody it the very thing that teaches was we need to know.
To those who knew what was going on with Terry this week, thanks for praying!
Monday, September 01, 2008
I cried through most of my conclusion. My final paper ended up being a journey paper. Where was I on numerous topics before I entered seminary and where am I now. Pretty cool process for your last paper. God's beautiful sense of timing shows up once again.
I cried because I am so overwhelmed with what the Lord has shown me over the last few years. What a joy it has been to work through what I believe, or don't believe or want to believe. And to go through all that experiencing God and his love for me through each question or revelation.
I have read again through the greatest book ever written. I have read many great books about the greatest book. I have sat under great teachers. They were great mostly because they love God and they want others to love God too. They wanted to teach me what God had taught them so I could pass it on to others. No earnest question was ever dismissed some led to the best conversations I've ever had.
Many people have encouraged me along the way. I have been thinking of many of you today as I have been writing. I have to give my dear husband a word of appreciation here. He has listened to me think through so many things. We couldn't even begin to count the number of times I said, "Oh honey you've got to listen to me read this..." It's been a sacrifice that my family has for the most part joyfully endured. May I do as well for them as they have done for me.
Soon my diploma will be in the mail and I'll be looking for suggestions about what to read next. However, that will come after I get through the pile that is already on my desk... :)
Thank you so much for your encouragement along the way!!
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Tonight's the night its over... bittersweet.
The new schedule starts tomorrow. I love new schedules. New beginnings... Fresh starts...
Fall was my favorite time of year as a kid. Since moving to Texas and being highly allergic to Fall here, its a little hard to say its my favorite. At least not until that first cold snap hits in say late October.
But I do still really love the new challenges and new people that come with new beginnings.
I hope something new is starting up for you in the near future!
Grace and Peace
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
My Dear Sister
You are a woman of substance
Called by Jesus Christ
To share the secrets of His kingdom.
Treasure the wonderHis Word is life
Protect your heart
It's God's holy dwelling
Expect the test
It proves you're not a fake
Dig the roots
Your God loves you
Stop the choke
Be a warrior, Not a worrier
Retain the Word
It makes you competently competent
Then with faith, And a fiery passion
Press forth, sweet one,
To the great glory of Jesus
To your 100-fold
You, go girl!
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Anytime you go some where and the music is beautiful and the words of the music are straight from scripture and the teaching is based on the word of God your bound to come away encouraged. But this was more than that.
Five or so years ago, I took a study written by Beth called Believing God. Life changing for me. It was during that study that I became convinced God was asking me to go to seminary.
I walked into this weekend with some unresolved questions. I asked God my questions again. It was a little like there were two conversations going on. The one I was having with the Lord that relates to what I've learned from Beth in the past but still struggle to understand. And then the second conversation which was what Beth was bringing to us this weekend which was also very applicable to my life now.
Then the two conversaions collided. I received an answer to my central question with a Scripture reference and everything :). After taking my answer in, it made what Beth was saying this weekend so much more meaningful. It all resulted in feeling and knowing I am more free to move forward that I have felt for a long time. In essence it was a commissioning service.
After we in pairs finished speaking a blessing into each others lives. It hit me this was my graduation from school. This was the ceremony. I've asked Living Proof if I can have a transcript of what took place at the end. If I receive it. I'll post it here.
I'm telling you all this because we're friends and well today was kinda a big day for me.
But I'm also saying this because I want to encourage you again to humbly ask God to answer your questions. If you believe there is an intentional delay in the answer and yet feel led to keep asking. Keep asking. Marvel at all God will do to bring you His answer and the timing of it.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Relationship reduced to action is void.
An invitation is received inviting me back to a heart to heart chat.
There I am accepted, loved, embraced, taught and inspired.
We lock hands and journey once more into action.
The void is filled and life begins again.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
- My class was awesome - great material, great professor, great classmates.
- Reunions were very enjoyable with meaningful conversations.
- Dolphins at the Pier never seems ordinary, especially when there are baby dolphins. What a blessing!
- A local church hosted the author of The Shack. I went to two meetings. If you get a chance to hear him speak in person about his own story of redemption I highly recommend you take it, the book will be better understood and/or carry deeper meaning for you.
- My family missed me and I missed them. It's good to know you really do like each other.
By the way for all the book lovers that live in my area. The Lewsiville Library offers free interlibrary loan. They have relationships with all kinds of libraries. I've heard that it is pretty rare book that they can't get a hold of for you. If that's true that makes my heart very happy! I'm testing it out this week. I requested four books for the paper I need to write.
Hope your getting some time this summer to relax and enjoy friends and family!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
God delivered a really nice gift to me yesterday.
I had to go pick the gift up at the airport. :)
I found out about the arrival time Sunday via the phone. My presence at the airport was requested at 4:30 pm on Monday. Perfect, I get done with work at 4:00pm.
So what was the gift? My first godly friend arrived back into my life. Her name is Carmen. She was one year ahead of me in high school.
We have a friendship that always involves a heart to heart about what God has been and is up to. We marvel together at what God is doing for and through the other. It never stops amazing us that we can go without seeing each other for years and then pickup exactly where we left off.
All was not perfect, it seemed we were hopelessly lost while getting her to her hotel. We made it there an hour later than we planned. But the Lord provided what we needed to get there safely, a wonderful husband with access to Google maps and a police officer. It was an adventure.
At one point, I said to Carmen if you haven't started praying yet now would be the time to start. Then I commented that I wondered what we were supposed to be learning from our journey. Carmen thought for a while and said, "to be thankful in all things." She was right. When we got off the highway she broke into a praise song. I joined her. Later I was reminded of all those hours spent together in choir.
We have another story to laugh about more later.
We saw the goodness of God in our reunion and in her eventual delivery to the front door of her hotel.
Actually, I've been a little blown away the last few weeks at all that God seems to be up to. I have found everything a little difficult to keep track of and take in. Sometimes walking with God feels painfully slow and involves so much sitting and waiting. Other times, like now it feels like a very long sprint. I'm wondering when I'm going to get a chance to catch my breath.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Well I think I have reader's block. I think I've finally done it. I've read to much.
The timing is interesting. I'm starting class next week and I have three books plus professors notes to read.
Usually, I can focus while reading just about anywhere. But lately I can be in a room with no noise and have to read word by word, out loud and slowly in order to comprehend anything. Hmmm...
Maybe there's some cool stuff I'm not supposed to read through quickly in this last class.
Maybe turning 40 just became more than a number...
I'm grateful the Lord will help me whatever the reason.
What are you grateful the Lord is helping you with?
Sunday, June 15, 2008
It was a very hospitable group of people. A joy to be around.
These are people who intentionally make time in their lives to discover how God wants to reveal himself through a partnership of creativity with them.
Some are very experienced. Others like me are just getting up the nerve to slip into the back of the room... so to speak.
I've discovered some things about me which are new to me. I don't know what these discoveries might mean. I am actually shockingly thankful I don't know. I'm going to trust God will keep revealing what He wants me to see and do it a little at a time. I hopeful that what God is opening up for me will both help me to walk closely with Him and be a benefit to others.
As I think of you, I am curious what brings both joy and meaning into your life?
If your honest answer to that question, after you say in your head all the things you know you should say, is ... nothing. Then let me encourage you by saying, I have been there. By God's grace, I'm not there anymore. I truly believe God wants to lead you out of that place as well. Jesus said and is still saying, "Come, follow me." Let Him lead you to what it is that allows you to express and experience both joy and meaning.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
I'm grateful for the time recently spent with family and friends.
I'm grateful Dave spotted a giant fish in the pond and two huge turtles, it made him very happy!
I'm grateful Matt gets a break from school for the summer.
I'm grateful for air conditioning.
I'm grateful for the things on my calendar the next few weeks.
I'm grateful for walking trails and lakes.
I'm grateful my husband had mercy on me when I dropped my dear sweet Ipod. That was very sad moment. Call apple is not a good message on your Ipod. Another one is on the way.
I'm grateful for all the music and talks on my Ipod and what they do for my soul.
I'm grateful ...
Ok, maybe I did have something important to think about and say...
Hope your grateful list is long too!
Saturday, May 31, 2008
I'm going to one of my earthly homes this summer. Estes Park, Colorado. My Mom found a house for the 10 of us to rent this summer for a few days. I spent my High School years in Estes Park.
Since its located in Northern Colorado and my parents have settled in Central Colorado I don't make it back to my home turf very often.
What a joy to be with there with my Mom, Dad, Brother and all the additions that God has brought to our little family.
This place means a great deal to me. Growing up in the mountains was a unique privilege that I don't take lightly. The people who live there are outdoor adventurers, risk takers and admires of God's handiwork. Those people and their passions made a very big impression on me.
Most importantly God made a bigger impression. How can you not be wowed by Him when your seven mile commute into school everyday brings you to vistas that never cease to inspire? Majesty, beauty, strength, wildness, dependence, the brilliance of snow covered trees...
In August I will go and remember with family and old friends, and be grateful to rediscover it with the next generation of our family. A blessing indeed!
What get away are you most excited about this summer?
Friday, May 23, 2008
I am very excited about this last course. The title of it is Participation in the Ministry of Christ. I could not be more excited about the description of the course and its desired learning outcomes. It matches up so beautifully with what has been most enjoyable and challenging about my journey through seminary.
I will return to Southern California for two weeks in July to complete the course. The Lord, through his wonderful people, has provided gracious hosts and even transportation for me while I'm there. I'm looking forward to many wonderful reunions.
One friend will just be arriving back from Israel so I'll get to see all her pictures and hear her stories. I'm very grateful for the timing of this because we believe the Lord wants all three of us to travel to Israel with our church next spring. So it will be fun to hear about her experience and I'm sure will get me even more excited about our upcoming trip.
Another friend will just be returning from co-leading a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. I am excited to be praying with her about some specific things and can't wait to hear how God worked through her and in her on that trip!
That's just a couple of the conversations I hope to have.
As I reflect back on the last five years and look forward into the near future, I realize how much of an adventure my life with Christ has become. He has called me to follow him by faith to places that were unknown and intimidating. He keeps asking me to continue living my life that way. It has gotten a tiny bit easier to follow the Lord into these places because His love and faithfulness have only get more obvious. For that I am very grateful.
I know what it is like to feel stuck. I hated that feeling. Let me encourage you that if your feeling that way to ask God to show the way out that He has for you. Whatever challenges that journey brings will be worth whatever cost you might have to pay.
Continuing the adventure...
Sunday, May 18, 2008
I read this statement in The Shack this morning. Its not the first time I've contemplated this idea.
Love teaches us to not be indifferent to God and to others. Love teaches not to be indifferent to ourselves. There is much that needs attention paid to it.
This is one of the reasons that I believe prayer matters. Talking to God gives our relationship with Him a chance to matter. It matters that I say thank you. It matters that I worship the Lord with words and songs. It matters that I seek wisdom from God. It matters that my friends are hurting or seeking and that I talk to the Lord about those things. It matters that I look back and think about the motivations behind the things I did that I don't want to do in the future.
Some days I convince myself it doesn't matter. I become indifferent. I choose not to love. That is sad and prideful.
I do not want to be indifferent and absent of love. I'm grateful God knows when I get there and that He pulls me back. He loves me back.
Where are you indifferent to God? Where are you indifferent to people? Talk to God about it and be in awe of what happens next. Or, if you don't feel like talking try just sitting with Him.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Jesus has a different view of maturity: It is the ability and willingness to be led where you would rather not go. Henri Nouwen
So when do we believe enough in Christ to go where we don't want to go? When have you believed enough to go to such a place? How did God meet you there? What did you learn about God or yourself or both together?
The answer to these questions must have endless possibilities and fantastic stories.
I marvel at how long and patiently and artfully the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are willing to work for us to trust God enough so that we will go places we do not want to go.
Friday, May 09, 2008
It may be one of the most important we ever have. Both God and lies were intensely at work in what what going on.
Honest tough questions got thrown my direction. Sincere thought through and completely believed by me answers got served back in his direction. Praise God, his heart and mind connected with what I shared with him.
I saw my son move from doubt back to faith, hopelessness back to courage, from anger to love. It was one of the greatest privileges of my life to be in that conversation with him.
However I have new appreciation for Paul. Jesus Christ swept into Paul's life and changed every perspective he had. Once he could see with new eyes he was tenacious about getting the word out. He was full of compassion and zeal and love for his formerly sworn enemies - the Gentiles. He wanted everyone to understand what God was revealing to humankind through Jesus Christ.
One of the reasons why I wanted to go to seminary is the experience I am having in this class. What is the big picture? Each time I get a glimpse of how one book of the Bible fits in with all the books I see the picture better than I did before. So far it blows me away every single time. God is beyond big. God inspires awe. The way God has moved through history to reveal himself is breathtaking. Once again, short on words that match what is going on in my soul.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
This week I'm going down to meet some of them and leaders of other organizations that are already investing in this community.
The area we're focusing on has huge needs and limited resources.
We're praying for adults who will be willing to reach out to these kids in ways that will bring hope and inspire courage. It takes courage for these kids to move from living out of fear to living out of truth-faith, hope and love.
We're praying for the kids to have receptive hearts to the Gospel. We're praying for ideas that will help them be involved in solutions that bring healing to their community. There is so much need for healing.
I am praying the Lord will reveal to me what, how and when He wants me to be involved.
If the Lord lays it on your heart to pray for any of this, please do.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Our deck is one of those things.
Dave and I just restained it. We added some pots and some herbs for Dave's cooking adventures and flowers.
My idea to paint a poker table that was left behind by the previous owner was a bust. It warped horribly while outside in the weather this winter. So I recently picked up a new table a few weekends ago. I was so grateful that I found an inexpensive one that matched the chairs we already had at the first store I went into. Some people are very skeptical about shopping gifts from God but it felt like one to me.
I love starting my morning with some time outside. I love enjoying God's creations. And ending the day having conversation with Dave or Matt or both on the deck.
Gifts are meant to be shared, so come over some morning and let's have a cup of coffee together. But you'll have to put up with how much my dog loves all people. :)
What's the place you enjoy the most?
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Oh, my goodness!
At the beginning of each week, my professor asks us to read one or two books of the New Testament in one sitting.
Intentionally, I have read them in the New Living Translation because I rarely use it and it's easy to read. It helps me to avoid jumping in with all my preconceived notions when its in language that is a slightly different from how I usually read it. I have been pleasantly surprised at what I have discovered by doing this. Themes jump out that I haven't noticed before. Change of mood is more easily discerned. I think I will continue to do this when I sign up for a Bible Study class at church. If I lead a study again, I will ask those taking the class to do this. I really think it gives insight that doesn't occur a few verses or a chapter at a time.
Gotta get back to Romans and Paul and Greeks.... :)
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Here are some phrases in 2 Corinthians 2-6 that jumped out at me as I read through these chapters recently:
2 Cor. 2:6 to the one a savor from death unto death; to the other a savor from life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
2 Cor. 3:5 not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God;
2 Cor. 3:12 Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech,
2 Cor. 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves
2 Cor. 5:6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.
2 Cor 5:16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
2 Cor. 6:4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;
2 Cor 6:10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
I have a dilemma. Just yesterday I was talking and praying through this dilemma with my prayer partner. Recently I find myself caught in the middle of two ideas. I am caught between the truths that God desires our service to come from humility. And yet, Paul doesn’t have any trouble expressing him self boldly with believers.
Humility and boldness do not yet belong in the same sentence for me. God has been working on breaking my pride down for some time now. I used to hate the words submission and obedience. Up until four or five years ago, I wouldn’t have been honest enough with you to tell you that. But God knew. He allowed, even invited some pretty tough stuff into my life, so He could love me through the need for transformation regarding those two words. The tough stuff was very humbling stuff. The amazing result of that loving discipline is that I don’t hate the words submission and obedience any more. I value what humbling situations and an attitude of humility has done for making my heart teachable. This whole experience has been mostly internal. Spoken out loud only to my husband, my prayer partner and one on one conversations with those who have sought to know what God is doing in my life and desire a deep and loving relationship with the Lord for themselves.
Paul’s example of boldness and confidence confuses me. When my mindset switches to those two words, it is very difficult for me to continue to embrace humility. Boldness and confidence are associated with experiences from moments when I wasn’t feeling humble at all. Things like playing high school and college volleyball, passing the CPA exam, solving problems for business clients etc. God has given me natural leadership skills. For the longest time those were used from a place of pride. Even though, I now know that all that I am and all that I offer comes from God. When I switch into some of those leadership behaviors with people beyond my close circle, those that know my heart well, I battle with pride. I don’t like battling with my pride so I tend to shrink back and not want to engage.
I appreciate these verses from 2 Corinthians, Paul expresses with certainty that his confidence comes from the Lord. He ministers with confidence not from a place of arrogance but because he wants everyone to know the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He wants believers to know what God expects of their lives as believers.
One of the verses says, “Regard no one from a worldly point of view.” I think this may be one of the keys I have been missing. I get tripped up when I regard others and my interactions with them in ministry from a worldly point of view. I’ll be asking the Lord to help me change in this area.
Lord willing, I want to get to a place where I can express with boldness and confidence my faith, my walk and certainty that I am just the messenger. Any goodness in me comes from God dwelling in me. I’m asking the Lord to help me understand all this better. I’m also asking the Lord to help me have humble reactions to people when what their saying things that tempt me to feed my pride in myself rather than God. I want to replace those with genuine feelings of awe over what the Lord is doing.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
90 Minutes in Heaven - I was a total skeptic. Then someone handed it to me. I'm glad I didn't miss this one.
Running with Horses by Eugene Peterson. I believe it has been around for a couple of decades. He reflects and interacts with the book of Jeremiah. I love Jeremiah.
What's so Amazing about Grace? by Phillip Yancey. Believe it or not I have avoided this one for some reason. I don't really even know why. I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. It was suggested in a class I am taking at church.
Love beyond Reason: Moving God's love from your head to your heart by John Ortberg. This one came out in 2001. I like the way John Ortberg writes.
Reaching for the Invisible God by Phillip Yancey. This one is tough for me. Yancey is a serious skeptic at heart. He lays that journey out there. I've been reading it because I have a couple of serious skeptics in my life. I can tend to be the other extreme. But when you measure your level of faith by how you actually live your life. All of us are skeptics on some level.
Why do I read so many books? The number one reason. Not everybody in my world wants to engage in conversation about the Lord and their walk with the Lord. With those that do our schedules often get in the way. That's sad. I really enjoy picking up a book and listening to someone else's journey. I gain new perspectives. My own are sometimes reinforced sometimes challenged.
So if you've been thinking that you'd really like to do some reading, I say go for it.
I will return to my assigned reading list! :)
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
A few posts ago I shared what took place in my life over a seven day period. At the end of the seven days, I was feeling very joyful about how things were turning out after a lengthy period of waiting and praying. I was really enjoying how it all happened.
A week or so later, the joy of the moment was wearing off and a sense of emptiness was arriving in my soul. I was confused about that. I expected my "to do list" to be fulfilling, satisfying not empty. I started asking God my list of questions. I was embarrassed but admitted my confusion to a couple of people. After a period of time, this is what occurred to me.
I had turned finding a "to do list" into an idol. It seems to me that God looked at my situation and said she needs some help seeing what her priorities should be. So, God provided what I had been asking for in a way that I would know that it was His provision and not my manipulations.
But then only a short time latter it felt hollow. I believe it felt that way because I was more concerned with God giving me things to do than I was with my relationship with Him. Abiding is first, doing is second. I believe out of abiding there always comes a "to do" list. I was reversing the order again. When this light bulb went off and I told the Lord how sorry I was a very deep sense of joy settled into my soul. My relationship with the Lord was restored to its proper place.
I have been very touched by how God worked in my life on this one. He gave me what I wanted so He could show me what I really needed. It feels like mercy and love to me. And now I am really enjoying what the Lord has me doing.
Thank you for creating us with a desire to do. Thank you for showing us how important it is to do things and be in relationship with others. Forgive us for when we make that a priority over having a relationship with you. Help us to trust you. Help us to remember nothing eternal can be done without you. Thank you for your patience, wisdom, understanding and love. Thank you for being our teacher, friend and guide.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
To be Peter when the noise of the crowing cock ceased.
The pain, the loneliness, the confusion.
To move from such certainty to undeniable betrayal in one evening is a horrifying descent.
Where do I go? Who do I turn to? What is real? The suffering must have felt unbearable.
But God, He sees it differently. God knows all the gifts He is about to shower on Peter. The gift of love. The gift of unceasing forgiveness. The gift of humility. The gifts of a calling, message and purpose. The joy of restored relationship.
No, all was not lost at the sound of the crowing cock. All was about to be gained.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Apart from Christ we are found:
tossed easily by the wind
we live without substance
We believe and experience that our faith in Christ allows us to be full:
full of love, faith and hope
the WEIGHT of the realness of God comes to rest in our souls
we overflow with life to give to others.
If we could only REALLY SEE the WEIGHT of God's glory.
Monday, February 18, 2008
A friend of mine went to check on his wife and found that she had left her home on this earth to go to her new heavenly home. It was unexpected.
We're not sad for her. We do grieve with hopefulness. However, we do grieve.
I have been reminded that every breath is optional. God has the option of bringing us home.
Right now, I really hate that death creates so much pain.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
In California I discovered that I enjoy working with adults learning English, upon moving to Texas I felt led to explore the possibility of becoming a ESL teacher in a school district. I probably would do well with high school students but I'm not sure that I belong in a school district. For several reasons it doesn't seem like the right path to pursue for now. Since arriving at that conclusion, my tolerance for the difficulties of substitute teaching has decreased significantly.
I also discovered that I do not have enough experience in English Second Language to be a candidate for employment in non profit organizations that are close by. Larger organizations, which may have room for a novice and budget for employment are a great distance from our house. This type of employment also means afternoon and evening commitments which put me in direct conflict with my desires to be available to my family when they need me.
In addition, I have also realized that as a tutor my effectiveness in those places was not limited by my lack of being bi-lingual. (In fact you are a better ESL tutor if you don't speak their first language. ) But, if I am ever to be working daily in a Latino environment, I really believe I need to be bi-lingual. I have been working on that goal for eight months or so but I'm a long ways away from reaching it.
Simultaneously, I was also been having another experience. Because my thinking has been altered in so many ways, I was beginning to believe that I would be frustrated trying to minister to my own peer group. I have been convicted that this thought is not true. In fact quite the opposite is true. So while I previously felt free to look outside my local body of believers to serve, I now believe that I am being asked to discern where I need to be serving there.
Which brings me to something else that had to be sorted out regarding my time. Unless something changes, we expect that I need to have a part-time income through Matt's college years.
So after months and months of going through a sorting out process, this is how God addressed all of these issues in one weeks time:
On a Wednesday, I asked God to find me something else besides substitute teaching. (I had actually been praying this for at least a month but on this day I was much more desperate about it.)
On Thursday, I applied for a administrative job in a ministry and learned the position was filled.
On Saturday, I discovered a job posting for a part-time Executive Assistant who needs to be familiar with QuickBooks and Excel. The location was Flower Mound. The business has to do with Recreational Vehicles. The owner liked my resume, particularly the going to seminary part.
On Sunday, the owner invited Dave and I down to see them "in action" at the Ft. Worth Home and Garden Show. At the show, we scheduled an interview for Monday. I accepted his Monday job offer on Tuesday and began work that day.
Also on Tuesday, before leaving for my first afternoon of work, I got a an email from my church inviting me to participate in a ten week seminar on learning to teach. If I was still planning to be a substitute, I could not have committed to those Tuesday mornings. I am very excited about growing in this area and serving in this area.
On that same evening, I visited a local ESL program. When I left I was concerned that at this time this program would not be a good match for me. I woke up early the next morning with a new friend on my mind. She has moved here from Mexico in the last year. Why had it never occurred to me to talk to her before. On Thursday, I asked her if she would be interested in meeting once a week for an hour to work on English. She said yes. We've set a date to start.
I know I have given a whole bunch of details here. But in this case, the details really do matter. See I had some expectations when leaving California about what I thought the Lord might want me to be doing. I needed to explore those ideas. Some of those ideas conflict to much with the current responsibilities to my family. I have discovered, that there is additional training that needs to happen for some of those interests and desires to come to pass. For now at least, my passions and training in seminary do not seem to be things that will bring our family additional income. So instead God has provided financially through my business skills which do make me employable. A bonus is that those skills will be used to help a Christian family who I think have a great business idea. Best of all, I will have a schedule that allows me to continue learning Spanish, volunteering as an ESL tutor and be engaged in serving women at my church.
I have been asking God for a long time to give me a to do list that makes sense to me. There have been days when I wondered if that was just asking to much.
Right now, I am just so grateful that God has blessed me with the ability to understand why I needed to go through a process of sorting some things out before arriving at this past week. And, I find it incredibly comical and very God like that all of these things fell into place in seven twenty-four hour periods.
I have been humbled yet again. I went through times of doubt. Sometimes I had trouble believing that God was at work at all on my prayer requests. At this point those doubts are very embarrassing.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Since we've found a million different ways to print the bible. I think someone should take all the books that are really letters and print them that way. It really invites you to sit and read it all in one setting. It helps with the issue of thinking about what is being said in the context of the whole letter.
Since reading this together, I've been thinking about a couple of phrases. The first is the truth that we are asked to patiently endure. We are to value perseverance.
Perseverance and I have love/hate relationship. I've been trained through my athletic and academic experiences to value perseverance. It has been easy for me to value persevering in those circumstances. Since I have always valued the end goal I have therefore been willing to do what it takes to get there. In large part this has been because of coaches, teachers, parents and their faith in me and their words of encouragement to me.
Perseverance as it relates to my walk of faith with God, well not so good some days. I often want something specific or tangible as my end goal. For instance take, trusting God as an example. I can look back ten years and say with confidence I trust God much more now than I did then. But what about six months ago or last week. My spiritual life is not as easily measured as other areas of my life. I am having to learn to be more accepting of that.
I find it easier when I make it a point to spend time with other believers. I need coaches, teachers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles to help me see what I can't easily see. So that I will embrace not just tolerate one more day of patiently enduring.
Thanks for all that you led James to write down in this letter. Thanks for all the believers you have used in my life to encourage me to patiently endure. Thank you for the encouragement you have given me through your Spirit. May we endure with joy. May you use me to encourage others as they patiently endure.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Out of the corner of my eye I kept noticing one little girl. She was watching me. Everytime I would turn towards her to make eye contact she would shyly turn her eyes away from me. I have no idea what was going through her cute little head. A couple of hours into my time there I was sitting at a table in the back of the room helping a boy read the directions to a math problem. This little girl came and just stood in the small space between the boy and I and listened. She waited till I finished. Then in the quietest voice asked me a question. She just needed confirmation that she understood and was doing the problem right. I confirmed she was with a nod and a smile. Then to my surprise, she gave me a hug and walked quickly back to her seat to sit down.
The rest of the afternoon she no longer avoided eye contact with me. That little girl made my afternoon all worth while.
I make it a point before I enter a school to pray that God will use me somehow. Some days it seems that God is aware that I need to be encouraged as well. I'm learning to marvel at how beautiful even a brief relationship can be.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
While I was thinking back on everything that has happened between my last post on December 15th and today my head started to spin.
I'm very grateful that I can honestly say that most of what has taken place this last two weeks has been really enjoyable. Its a little overwhelming to think of all the people who didn't enjoy this Christmas season for whatever reason. Another example of life is not fair.
From someone, I heard that there is a church offering a "Blue Christmas Service" for those who find themselves grieving this Christmas and unable to enjoy the traditional Holly Jolly Christmas.
For various reasons, I've been thinking a lot about heaven during Christmas. In addition to other things, I've been looking forward to there being physical substance and attributes associated with God. Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled we can sense God's presence here with us now. But I'm looking forward to more.
And even at my young age there's also a list of people I miss and look forward to being with again. Oh the things my Granddaddy and I are going to have to talk about!
no more sorrow
no more hidden agendas
no more sickness
no more hatred
no more selfishness
no more pride
no more death
no more damage
the presence of God
the sounds, the sights, the smells
the things to do
the ways to be
the variety of souls