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!  

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Symbol≠Substitute [A reminder of our good Father]

A few weeks ago a friend and I went out to see the boys from the orphanage that I used to work out. We showed up the same time as a father who was there to visit his boys. He was clean cut and dressed casually but nice. He comes once a week to visit and is working on paperwork to get his sons back after a few altercations, I later learned. One son was away at a party but the tías told the son that was present that his father was there to visit to go outside where his dad was waiting. He went out and came back in at which time the tías sent him back out. I went out a bit later to look for one of the other boys as I approached the back yard I hear laughing from a little boy and a man. I got there to find the son with two friends sitting at the edge of the field playing a game on a phone while another little boy (not the son) was playing with the father. The little boy was laughing hysterically and the dad was so good with him. Then they would take a little break and the father would come over and plead with his son to come play with him. The son would say "later, later…" and the father would remind him that he only can come once a week, and he's not going to bring his phone anymore because he only wants to play with that and not him. He then went back to play with the other little boy and I tried to reason with the son, asking him why he didn't want to play and how his dad might feel. He kept playing his game until the battery died and the dad took it back. Later the dad helped him fix his legos and with another game then they went on a walk to get ice cream.

 I couldn't stop thinking about it. I wanted to blame technology, or the kid's attitude until it was like the Lord said to me "you are just like that too!". Ohhhh, right. I thought as my stomach sank. How often does the Lord want to spend time with me, gives me sleepless nights, or beautiful scenery, or great experiences, or lonely moments, and how do I respond? Kinda like the little boy. O sure, He gives us lots of great things to enjoy, but enjoying the creation isn't the same as enjoying The Creator. And basking in the benefits of a love relationship isn't the same as knowing The Love-r. Even though He gives me good things to enjoy, it's not a substitute for time with Him. It's not technology or business that's to blame it's ME. It's my choices, my stubbornness and laziness. But boy am I ever thankful for a Father that continues to pursue me. Continues to love me. And continues to be good.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The servant that could but wouldn't...

I'm really enjoying the chance to teach the girls at the shelter from God's word. We've been a bit scattered about themes but I feel like I'm so challenged and encouraged from God's word as I prepare and teach them. If you're interested here is a brief summary of three of our last lessons... For Valentine's Day, I thought it very important to highlight the love of God-which really is the best. We talked about a few key verses and how God's great love was demonstrated in the fact that He loved us when we were most unlovely, had nothing to offer Him other than our broken selves and how He loved us enough to give us the greatest gift of LIFE. Then last week we talked about the woman who anointed Jesus' feet with her perfume, tears, and hair (Luke 7:36-50). Simon complains and Jesus reminds him that he had done nothing in the way of common courtesy to welcome him into his home, but that this woman couldn't get her own emotions or gratefulness under control and lavished her love on Him. He told the story of the king who forgave two people-one with a huge debt and one with a small one. "Who do you suppose loved the king more?", he asked Simon. I'm sure he was squirming in his seat as he realized what was happening as he said, "I suppose the one who was forgiven more". He who is forgiven much loves much. That blubbering lady on the floor had shown her love for Christ while Simon was standing self-righteously in the corner completely oblivious to Christ's love or the forgiveness that he himself had received. So this week I'm continuing that thought (Matt 19:21-35) about the servant who was forgiven a debt that he could probably never repay…20 years wages. The king ordered that he and his family be sold along with all their possessions. Only their lives could pay the debt…sound familiar? He pled with the king (who Jesus compared to the kingdom of heaven) who had compassion on him and forgave him the debt. The story goes on to say that he went out from the presence of the king and went looking for another servant who owed him one days wages. He began to strangle him and told him to pay it back right away. The servant begged for mercy, "give me time and I will pay it all back" (sound familiar?). The other servant, who was just forgiven exponentially more, refused and threw him into jail. When the king found out he called him in and reminded him of the great debt he had just forgiven him, "shouldn't you have likewise had mercy on your fellow slave"? He threw the unforgiving servant into prison to be tortured until he repaid the debt. I read this and think "Duh!, it's one day's wages--he just got out of 20+ years' wages!) The things I'm reminded of: 1. God forgives HUGE mistakes, errors, sins, whatever you want to call it. 2. If I make the mistake of not recognizing how much I'm forgiven I will a. Not appreciate or recognize the greatness of His love for me. b. Withhold from others the same grace and love that I've been shown. 3. I am loved. Not for what I've done or what I have to offer, but simply because God loves. He loves me, you and the rest of the world. Will I accept it and enjoy it? Will you?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

This years video!

See our team blog for more info or the photo blog for pictures!