Friday, December 6, 2013

The few things I know for sure.

First: Good news.
I finally got in to see my doctor in Texas (just for any of you who might have been worried): She diagnosed me with Vasovagal Syncope and told me to monitor stress, sleep and avoid caffeine.  So relieved!  I was able to take blood work that I had completed here in Missouri which helped her to rule out other things.  So glad it didn't require an MRI or EKG, or any other expensive tests!  She gave me the okay to drive and encouraged me to KEEP RUNNING! :) You can imagine how happy I was!

Second: Recent lesson.
Over the past few months the fainting episodes have been a reminder to s-l-o-w  d-o-w-n.  You would think that would be a loud enough reminder, but besides physically slowing down I've been reminded that I need to rest emotionally too.  I've been reading through the  Old Testament and been noticing what happens when mankind in his own wisdom decides to hurry God's promises or plan along.  Think of Abraham and Sarah who thought surely God meant that Hagar being a surrogate would be the means God would use to provide the innumerable descendants that God had promised. Right? Nope.  Surely Rebekah needed to intercede to make sure that Jacob got the blessing-since that was what God had said, right? Nope. Then, God must have wanted Moses to deliver the Israelites by killing the Egyptians off? Wrong again.  The list goes on and on...  Why you might ask? Because God's deliverances and fulfillment of the promises were so much bigger.  He fulfilled His plan HIS way, and in so doing, received all the credit.  But the cool thing is that He used broken people to do it.  People that had made tragic errors at worst, embarrassing mistakes at best still got to be used by God to show the world that God is powerful and loving.  And in this study He's been reminding me that I need to stop and let Him be the one to guide me.  Lacking answers doesn't mean I have to work harder and faster to try to find answers and make decisions that seem to be the best way to accomplish His goal-that's what I default to.  But I'm convicted to rest in Him and wait.  I don't like waiting.  In case you haven't noticed, I don't think anyone does.  That's why we have fast food restaurants, online shopping, overnight shipping, urgent care centers, etc.  But that's what our great God calls us to, and He gives us a promise too.
Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. 
Isaiah 40:30

Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD. 
Psalm 27:14

(Pic from here)

Plus it snowed, so we don't really venture out anyways...

Third: Thanksgiving.
Loved being home for Thanksgiving break.  This was probably the least structured break ever.  We played lots of games, had lots of fun, spent lots of time with family, and laughed a lot.  My familia rocks!
A girl on staff here, told me about a challenge she was given to be thankful for 1000 things.  I was challenged to start seeing the blessings and being thankful for them (more than just in November).  It really has given me a fresh perspective.  It's helped me to see things as they are: a gift.  I deserve n-o-t-h-i-n-g.  It's not like I've done anything great to deserve it.  God knows my evil heart, it's by His grace that there's anything good in me.  So besides the grace He's given me, He delights in pouring out His blessings on me.
A classmate reminded me too that we all have the potential to serve the Lord.  I, as a child who was given a lot of neat opportunities growing up, have the same potential to serve the Lord and honor Him here-and receive the highest honor imaginable (to hear "well done good and faithful servant") as someone who grew up in a remote village high in the cold mountains of Bolivia who shepherds sheep, has a 3rd grade education, two outfits, and a diet mostly consisting of potatoes, rice, and llama meat...if he has the opportunity to know God and trust in Jesus' gift for him; he can live his life every day in a manner pleasing to God and have that same high honor someday when he stands before God.  IF he gets the opportunity to hear and know God.
I didn't choose where I would be born, but I choose how I live my life today and every day.  So today I'm thankful for the GIFT of being born in the USA, for being taught  from childhood the love and grace of a just God who gifted us undeserved salvation from the penalty of my sins, for being given the opportunity to go to college, learn Spanish, travel to Bolivia, and get to go back there.  Who knows what the future holds; or even tomorrow for that matter. But today I'm glad for the reminder to be thankful and live my life as a proper response to grace. I've been given such great opportunities. Now what am I going to do with it?

Fourth. I gotta plane ticket!
Yes, this will be my 7th trip to Bolivia.  So what I do know is that I have a plane ticket.  I also know that there are 9 wonderful, adventurous other folks who are committed to traveling to Potosi to spend a week supporting local churches in Potosi along with Red Vida de Esperanza doctors Jorge (MD) and Waldo (DDS), and clown Carlos.  I'm so thrilled for the opportunities the LORD has given to travel back and forth to Bolivia and to be a part of this great ministry.  If you want to help send us, you can
1. PRAY-seriously we NEED you to do this for us-with us. Although we're going, we don't go alone.  We go with God (of course) and well carried by the prayers of faithful saints who take time to lift us up to the Father for safety, flexibility, teachability and for prepared hearts (in us and the bolivians).
2. PARTICIPATE. I mean you could go this year, if circumstances were just right--but I'd probably want to know about it pretty quickly so we can get visa stuff going.  But if you feel led to come along, by all means let me know.  We'll talk!
3. PAY- what? It just fit the pattern!  Yes, no one wants to talk about money, but it's a reality, okay? ;) It costs about $2500 per person, and we aren't rich.  :)  But God is, and sometimes he pricks the hearts of His people, and my experience is that His people are generous.  So if this is your spiritual gift and you feel the Lord prodding you to be a part of our team in this way you can send any checks to 10420 Norwalk Rd. Litchfield OH 44253.  Just designate it for our team, or a specific team member (meet them here).
4. PROVIDE- We are frequently asked to bring donations (find a list here) of things that are hard to get in Bolivia or are very expensive or you can go here to sponsor a student or paint a school this Christmas.  RVE does some similar things to a lot of bigger organizations you may have heard of.  It's like Samaritan's Purse meets Doctors without borders meets VBS meets coop selling handmade goods meets world vision meets...about 10 other organizations on a mini scale.  It's neat really.  Grassroots and so refreshing (and sometimes frustrating, let's be honest).  But I've never seen such love as these men have for the people they serve.  Sacrificing their own sleep, comfort and preferences because they long for these people to know the Gospel.  You can browse my blogs and find a lot of neat things about RVE-or you can just ask me!

Monday, December 2, 2013

My favorite Christmas Ideas!

 There are always so many ways to help and here are just a few:

This is our third go with Navidad en Bolivia. This year we have programs to sponsor kids for Christmas presents, school uniforms; supply seminary students with resources; paint a school; and provide hygiene items and school supplies for kids in rural communities of Potosi.  Check out this link and follow the tabs across the top for more info.   There are some pretty amazing artists down there! (*If you gift this on behalf of someone else, we will be sending out cards as well).

We also have a team going to Bolivia.  You can meet them HERE. On this blog you can also see testimonies from previous team members, see pictures of previous trips and teams and get more info if you are interested in going someday (required documents, etc). This will be my 7TH trip to Bolivia, and I am so excited to see what God has for us this time.  If you feel led to help cover team expenses and the projects we are hoping to help complete, let me know.

Thanks friends!  Feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Numbering the days

It's been a whirlwind week.
Starting last Thursday afternoon when I found out that my former boss and good friend of my whole family (Robby) went home to be with Jesus.  He'd been waiting for the day when he would see Jesus face-to-face, and lived accordingly.  What a man of God.  He spent time in the Word, prayed for others faithfully and was a great encourager.  He was everyone's "dad". When my parents couldn't make it to my college graduation Robby came along with my extended family.  He even got pizza with us afterwards and got me flowers!  He gave me a job when I had no prospects--and paid me way more than I was worth! What a legacy he left among my family, his church family and his biological family. I felt sad that he was gone, although I rejoiced that he was free from pain and suffering.  I decided Friday night to drive back to Ohio for the funeral.  Granted, I didn't get as much sleep or eat as much as I usually do, and maybe drank a little more caffeine than I usually do, but nothing too out of the ordinary.  As I was starting my morning drive on Saturday after stopping to rest for a few hours, I suddenly passed out.  I woke up to some men knocking on my window and telling me that I had crashed into the guardrail.  This isn't the first time I've passed out, but it's definitely the scariest.  Never have I felt so vulnerable or so close to death.  Thank God, I didn't hit anyone else, I had no passengers to freak out, and I wasn't injured-- It left me a bit shook up though.  James 4:14 says, "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away."
And I came away with a totally different perspective.  Upon talking to my family and a few close friends and mentors, I was advised to go to the doctors and see what is going on with my body.  So tomorrow is the day I will go to the hospital for an MRI and a host of other tests upon referral of a local doctor.  It's probably nothing, I tell myself. But maybe it is...either way, I trust that God has a bigger better plan than me anyways.
As I sat in the ambulance in shock last Saturday morning trying to process what I had just experienced, I remember thinking, "how should I be acting right now?" I know I could've been standing before my Maker, but that doesn't frighten me--in fact I look forward to that day! But right NOW, while I'm here on earth, how do I live my life to make it count.  How can I be representing the God who has given me breath for my physical life, and undeserved gift of grace for an eternal life?  This is what the Psalmist said in 90:12 NIV: Teach us to number our days, *that we may gain a heart of wisdom.(Some versions say *that we may present to You a heart of wisdom).  
I think maintaining an eternal perspective has to do with trusting God.  I find myself worrying about even the tiniest little details, but God has it all figured out!  My worrying about where I'm going to get money for the next phase of life, or where I will serve, or how to be a better sister, or what so-and-so thinks of me, etc doesn't change the outcome for the better.  If I could live in confidence that the very One who MADE me and the world around me can take care of it soo much better than me, I could represent Him so much better.  I can be freed up to love and live with reckless abandon (within reason...!)
This past week we finished a class where we broke up into teams and taught through the old testament and how God was working and bringing the fulfillment of His promises up to the coming of the promised Redeemer and then the ultimate gift of love (sacrifice) of Christ's death to pay the penalty for our sins that we could never ever pay on our own.  I'm left feeling even more convinced of the truth of God and His word, and the conviction that this is something so worth living and giving my life for.  I hope you've found the message to be life-transforming as well.
So pray for me tomorrow, for peace and a calm dependence on the Lord so I can represent Him well-and thank Him whatever the outcome.
Fall is my favorite [season]. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Who will persevere?

I have a note in my bible in red pen that says:
"keep on"
You see, I wrote this to myself when was training for a half marathon in Texas in July (terrible idea in the first place, but I didn't want to sound like a wimp and whine about the obvious reasons...I mean, I wanted to live a little bit longer...but whatever...Tee ran a 1/2 with me, and I didn't want to let her and Jules down, so I agreed against my better judgement).  Training was brutal and my stamina greatly reduced because of medication I was on at the time.  Running, like most other things is a mental exercise as much-if not more than a physical already should have figured out that I survived that day-my main goal was to survive and I don't think I've ever sweated so much--or hated running so much--as that day. But I've recovered just fine. And one of the things that motivated me that day was the fact that life is kinda like a race. Some days it's downright brutal. But our focus cannot remain on the discomfort we feel.  We think about the finish line--my parents, and my dear friends and mentors from Bolivia cheering (or worrying) for me, the free frozen yogurt, the satisfaction of successfully completing a ridiculous feat.  In life we can't focus on the hardships in front of us--well, we shouldn't.  My friend used to remind me that you never want to finish a race and feel like you could've run harder, faster, or farther.  And I definitely do not want to finish my life thinking that I could've done better or more.
I wrote this note a while back-on a particularly frustrating day of watching friend after friend give up.  There are plenty of well meaning individuals who offer the cliche advice that we should do what makes us happy.  Ummm...hello. If we only did what made us happy we would leave a disaster in our wake. 

"Why so quick to quit?
I'm so tired of everyone so quick to give up.  Why can't we just encourage others to persevere?  Why won't someone try to save their marriage instead of saying they just can't.  When will people hold out and maintain sexual purity for the one they will marry.  Or have the baby they conceive even of they know it will bring some hardships.  Because with that perseverance will come strength and what a testimony of love. "

Paul Shepard ( said, "we are killing a generation in the name of love...loving them to death, not life".  His point was that we do a great injustice to those we care about when we neglect, or refuse to faithfully come alongside others and help them see areas of need and grow out of it.  So we might out of "love" tell our friends to just give up when something gets hard because we want them to be happy, but is that love? What about "love endures through every circumstance/always perseveres/endures all things" (1 Cor. 13:7b NLT/NIV/NASB)

Who will be the ones to press on and finish strong--and cheer on those around them to do the same?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Disaster transformation specialist: God

A sweet reminder today. ..maybe a bit girly, but I imagine mostly girls read my blog anyways...
Sometimes I find myself wavering.  Rethinking and analyzing decisions, actions, or attitudes that I've had.  Sometimes I make poor choices. I let my emotions carry me away.  I get discouraged.  Or I just think things should have happened differently for me. But today as I was chiding myself, "silly, silly girl", I told myself as I thought of how stupid I was for having whatever bad attitude it happened to be at the time--usually some sort of selfishness or pride.
And then I stopped, and I had to bring myself back to a place of reflection. Does God see me as a stupid child?  Nope. I think He looks down on me and says, "Oh, precious girl- I love you, even when it seems that no one else does.  You're not worthless--I MADE you." And I melt.
What an amazing God we have.  In Ephesians it talks about the complete and total disaster we were before we came to Christ--"having no hope and without God in the world" (2:12b). And that, my friends, is depressing. But it's not over there.  Chapter 2 is sets of contrasts between who we were-left to ourselves and who we ARE--in Christ.  Verses 4-5;
BUT GOD being rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions made us ALIVE together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)." (Emphasis mine) That's it. Not because I'm smart, or pretty, or nice.  Truth is: I was a mess and God loved me anyways. He reaches down and picks me up out of my broken disaster and gives me hope and peace and a future.  Ultimate example of unconditional love.  One of my girls from Bible study pointed out that God wasn't surprised...when He chose to extend grace and love to us unconditionally He knew full well how desperately wicked our hearts are. Yet...He loves us anyways and desired to use us for His glory.  Yep, it's a paradox...but I'll leave it there for some reflection.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Even better than having John Wayne for a dad.

This is my dad.  And he's probably the. coolest. dad. ever. No joke.  I'm not saying he's perfect.  In fact, he'd be the first one to say that he's not. We'd reluctantly agree--but we don't really care.  All our imperfections make us that much more quirky!  Growing up we watched a lot of John Wayne movies. I thought he was pretty cool..but quickly realized that movie characters are fake! Bus as I've grown and seen a lot of hard family situations-deadbeat dads, absent dads, workaholic dads, etc. And I don't know why, but God has seen fit to bless me with my dad, who in real life is a good man.
Honestly, he's taught me so many good things.  Like working hard, working for others, and finishing a job.  He taught me to be strong, and to learn as much as I can about as much as I can.

 I told him one time that no matter how good of a show part-time dad's put on to try to show everyone what a good dad they were, I know he's the kind of dad who was there for me.  He was standing at the finish line when I ran my hardest 1/2 marathon, he put his arm around me and held me when I cried when I sold my steer (*and didn't even act like I was silly), he was there for my quiz meets, helped put on llama leaps, has picked me up from the airport hundreds of times, and fixes my car without ever complaining! He taught us how to play basketball--in the living room with a ball of socks.  He didn't bail me out when I got into a project over my head.  He stood behind me and reassured me that I could tame that steer, or back that rake into the barn, or end that relationship.  And when I had to make a hard decision he never told me what to do-even if I cried and begged.  He just gave me some things to think about and told me that he knew I would make the right decision.  Well, this list could go on forever, but I think you get the idea.

But the things Dad taught me went beyond physical achievements.  He encouraged me to know the Lord. He challenged me to read and memorize God's Word, and think about my decisions and actions and how they represent God.  He introduced me to Mexico and missions to unreached people.  I'm sure he had no idea that would have such a deep impact. He and my mom modeled sacrifice like no human I've ever seen.  Imagine, 13 kids, all fed, clothed and educated.  And we never had food-stamps or medicaid.  They trusted in our God to be faithful-and He always has been.  And my earthly dad has been a cool example of unconditional love when I make really poor choices and sacrifice when I don't deserve it, and the encouragement to do more than I think I'm capable of.

This kind of reminds me of someone else...Jesus who "loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20),
In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us
and sent His son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. (I John 4:10)
He is the ultimate example of love and sacrifice.  Of accepting us and loving uis just the way we are. And as cool as my dad is, I can assure you that he probably has felt on a few occassions that he would rather just put me up for adoption--I was a pretty stubborn kid, okay?!  But our God is faithful in spite of our sins,  longsuffering and kind. He has sent Jesus to pay the debt we've incurred because of our sins that we could never repay.  And that's grace.  And on top of all of that He showed even more grace by giving me the family I've been given.  And because of that, I think no sacrifice is to great to give.  As CT Studd once said,
"If Jesus Christ be the Son of God and died for me,
Then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him"

So today, on his birthday, I'm so thankful to God for giving him to me and allowing me to be so deeply affected by a man who loves his family, gives of his time and skill to serve, and has been faithful (though still learning and growing) in his role as a father, husband, brother and son. And I love him!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Banana Oatmeal Bread Bites

1/2 c brown sugar
1 stick soft butter
4 T cornstarch
1 1/2 c ripe bananas (3 lg, or 4 small)                                                                                                       
1 t cinnamon
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c oats
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt

Drop by rounded tablespoons on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.  This recipe is adapted from key ingredient (I didn't have any eggs and wanted to add some healthy things to I added oats and left out the chocolate chips) and they turned out delicious if I do say so myself!  The cornstarch made them soft and fluffy and held them together.  Made them for my nieces and then went home and made them for my siblings!  (*sorry I don't have a super duper fancy camera to take awesome pictures, but I guess this will have to do!). 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lessons Learned: Grace

So I cannot believe I'm in my final semester of Bible school.  This past week I had my senior interview and it's basically a chance to sit down with my dean (who's been an incredible model of intentionality, honesty and grace) and recap the past two years.  Good times and bad and what God's taught me through all of it (both the academic side (classes) and experiences).  It was a really cool way to be reminded of things and even while remembering some moments that I'm not proud of, to see God's hand in it and His desire to redeem even those moments where my brokenness and sinfulness is most evident.  She asked me how the whole concept of Grace has changed since I've been here and I found myself get really emotional as I reflected on the many ways I've been overwhelmed as God so faithfully  and continually extends His grace to me--even in those moments I'm most ashamed of.  Wow, so different from the response I find in others, or even give many times when others fail.  In Christ we have the chance to move on.  Unconditional love that we do not deserve. The opportunity to grow when I'm incompetent to complete the task in front of me.  The room to move on from failure because in and of myself I'm incapable of making good decisions.  I don't know maybe some of you have found yourself in a similar place.  Before the Lord, broken; so aware of your sin; your need exposed and finding that all you can do is hang on to the Lord and trust that He will be faithful.  Because really, when I look back, I see that I've failed so many more times than I care to even recall.  I remember that every time, my amazingly faithful God has been the source of strength that I need.  I remember the promise of Philippians 1:6 (NLT)
And I am certain that God
who began the good work within you,
will continue his work until it is finally finished
on the day when Christ Jesus returns. 
So grow in grace my friend.  

Two girls that have modeled grace so genuinely in my life. 
My dean Martha (R) and great friend Deborah (middle). 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Lessons learned: [Part 1-Felix]

Follow this link to the team page to learn some pretty cool lessons the Lord taught us through our brother Felix.