Monday, November 7, 2016

Christmas is coming…

Hello friends! Christmas is right around the corner and so I just want to share a few opportunities for you to bless some kids here in Bolivia. (And by blessing them you'll also be a huge blessing to those who serve them here too!)

Kids Club. This is what I do with the Vargas' every Saturday! I've become quite fond of the little ones who play frisbee; duck, duck, goose; and relays every Saturday, listen to Bible stories and then ask me about the zombies, and can't stop hugging me when they find me in the multitude of children.  Every Christmas we pray and trust God to provide gifts and snacks for 1000 children, family gifts for 200 families with consistent attendance, and prizes for the children with the highest grades. Maybe you want to be a part of that?  (We estimate we will need around $8,000 USD)

Navidad en Bolivia. This is where my friend Katie works. When I lived here in 2008, I also served with this team. They hope to provide gifts for about 80 kids who regularly attend the center for help with homework.  For $16 you can sponsor a kid…and check out their self-portraits. They are some of my favorite little artists!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

When we choose the wrong boss

Do you remember being a child and taking suggestions from a sibling…when you got in trouble for not obeying mom, you find yourself sheepishly trying to defend yourself by saying "but ____ told me to do it this way!", "Is she the mom?", my mom would inevitably ask. I remember my stomach sinking realizing how right she was.  What happens when you take instructions from the wrong authority? In life, work, school, family, etc. We get ourselves in trouble!  It's the same in our lives as christians.  If we take our cues from the world, we end up contradicting the very God we should be representing. 
In my Romans class in Bible school we talked about how even though sin is still present in our lives as believers, it no longer is our master! We've died to that life, and now live for Christ, meaning He is the only one we have to listen to!  
I think of how much time I spend doing things that make absolutely no difference in the big picture of living to please Christ, I think of how secular music, movies, conversations about superficial things, and other things take up way more time than actually studying God's Word. If my goal as a christian is to become like Christ-which it is-then shouldn't my focus be on what HE has to say? If as a church (a body of believers…a group of people who want to know, represent and share the God of the Bible with the world) our goal is indeed to be set apart from the world, ambassadors of Christ, and messengers of His good news of HOPE to the world we are going to have to know Him. Know His heart and His character, His love and His plan for the world.   

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, 
as though God were making an appeal through us; 
we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 
2 Corinthians 5:20 NASB

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, 
for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, 
equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

So WHY IN THE WORLD are we looking to the world to tell us what love actually is, how christians are supposed to act, what's appropriate and cool, what relationships are supposed to look like, etc, etc, etc?  Should we not rather be looking to God? 

Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. 
If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant. Gal. 1:10 NLT

It's my challenge for all of us to look to our Savior who indeed shows the greatest love, not by letting us remain as we were but saving us from ourselves and from our sin so we can enjoy LIFE abundantly in a relationship with Him.

Greater love has no one than this, 
that one lay down his life for his friends. 
John 15:13 NASB

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. 
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 
I am the good shepherd. 
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 
John 10:10-11 ESV 

Friday, December 11, 2015

When all we have is way more than all we need.

I've been thinking of some of the believers that I've met in some of my trips to really, andI mean REALLY, rural parts of Bolivia and previously to Mexico.  One of the things that has always hit me is how genuine and simple their faith and trust in the Lord is.  I see how little they really have, and believe that they hold on to the Lord because they know that's all the hope they really have.  They have no education, money, titles, or fame to cling to.  It makes me wonder if all the distractions that pull us were all stripped away we would realize that God is in fact all that we need?  

Monday, October 26, 2015

The weight of the world on His shoulders

I work with kids from some pretty tough life circumstances. Sometimes because of their own choices, and sometimes because of someone else's.  It's pretty tough and sometimes feels incredibly unfair that they suffer because of someone else's sin.  (Ultimately, no one is without sin and all sin is wrong, but some sin affects others much more deeply.) 
I spent a lot of time last week processing, talking, and crying about this, and ended up overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted.  And then, this Sunday we read Isaiah 53 in church: 
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men;

    a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
   smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
And they made his grave with the wicked
    and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
    and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors.
(ESV version found at Here is most of the chapter…but read the rest…it's all good.

And friends…I cried. And here's why: Everything we suffer through, all that breaks our hearts, and the injustices we see, He received, experienced and endured exponentially more than we do.  So when we go to him with a broken heart for the messed up world we live in, He totally understands…and I think He hurts too.  He loves us so much that He allowed His Son to suffer and die to rescue us from this life where we are affected by sin.  He will make all things right one day. And that, my friends, is the greatest hope I can even imagine. 
(picture from here)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

When the real you comes out...

Under pressure, when you're shocked/surprised, when you're with those you know and love the most, when you're mistreated, etc.  There's not really any way to hide it, I don't think…
I just finished reading two really good books.  They both take place in WWII, both of the main characters are held in prison camps, put under pressure, beaten, psychologically manipulated, looked up to by their co-prisoners, and both lost people that were very close to them.  But they responded so differently.
Unboken by Laura Hillenbrand is the story of Louie Zamperini, and Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose is her autobiography.  There are lots of similarities in their situations but as I read I felt increasingly discouraged and hopeless as I followed Louies story…that is until the end when he reaches the end of himself and comes to know the Lord.  It's amazing the transformation to how he mends his marriage, and refocuses his energy into helping people and moving forward…and even forgiving the men who abused him.  Darlene's story was sad, and awful-in different ways, but I found that for some reason there was hope.  She knew it was likely she could die, but she found her strength in the Lord, she found consolation in the One who loved her so deeply, and she found hope that no matter what happened the Lord would use her pain and grief for some greater good.
I began to think…if something like that happened would what I have filled my life with give me hope? Would I know enough of God's promises and truths to sustain me and encourage others?  Or would I only be able to think of articles that I had read that offered no real wisdom?  Could i think of songs of praise of God's sovereignty and trust in His goodness? Or would I only have pointless songs of breakups and shallow love songs?  Could I have enough meaningful conversations stored away in the recesses of my mind, or would I only be able to think of small talk  had or feel-good movies that I had watched?  
I remain so convicted of my apathy.  I know that in the situations where I find my ugly side showing itself, instead, I want God's wisdom and goodness to pour out of me.
(*I totally recommend BOTH of these books!)

"The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45
"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Ps 119:11
"The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip." Ps. 37:31
"I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart." Ps. 40:8

Monday, August 3, 2015

Three more days...means it's practically over.

You can tell that I'm basically an optimist!  By the time I leave I will have been home for exactly 2 months (not counting 2 days of travel).  It's been a rich time, and a joy to celebrate graduation of Michelle, wedding of Bizzy & Nick (see the poem I wrote for N&B here…although I've NEVER claimed to be any kind of writer), adoption of Zac, and lots of other fun family & friend moments.
Nick & Bizzy got married on June 19. 

Zac officially joined our family through adoption on July 9 after 412 days in foster care. 

Michelle graduated June 6. 

AND, my support is officially now at 25%!!! If you're still wanting to send in money you can find more information here: my account #20108. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Missing things…big and small.

Besides the obvious listing of friends and family--which I most definitely have missed, I thought I would share a few other things that you might not expect that your friends who live overseas might extrañar (miss)… 
  1. Christian radio! I love hearing a challenge and/or encouragement throughout the day as I've been in and out of the car a LOT!  
  2. Maná, Enrique Iglesias, and the waiter at the Mexican restaurant. Because it just makes my heart really happy to hear (and converse in) Spanish!
  3. Iced coffee, dark chocolate, and deli sandwiches.  My taste buds are awakened with the rich flavors
  4. My church. As much as I love Spanish, it has been sweet and refreshing to sing praise songs in English and hear teaching in my most comfortable language. Plus being here in the summer means that I can be around for natural summer get togethers and celebrations.
  5. The convenience of having a vehicle to use--and with a sunroof! A sweet couple from my church have lent me a vehicle while I'm in Ohio, and my Dad's been loaning me his extra truck while I've been in Texas. 
  6. Nature! Lightning bugs, soft green grass, lots of rainy days and cool grey clouds…however, the mosquito welcoming committee has not actually been a favorite of mine. 
 Of course I miss other stuff too, but it's been fun to notice the little things that just make each day a little happier--in a superficial kind of way in many of the instances… I hope this somehow inspires you to enjoy the little things with a little different perspective!