Friday, August 29, 2008
I am dedicating this post to my wonderful step mother, Beth. Some of you may remember receiving her e-mails during the time that my dad was dying of cancer and the amazing perspective that she was able to maintain throughout it all because she knows her Lord and Savior.
Well, this 70 year old widow is now answering God's call on her life for missions work. She has always had an evangelic heart and has faithfully prayed for and supported missionaries as long as I have known her. One of her seven children, Maribeth, (and her husband Karl) are full time missionaries in New Guinea working with a tribe who has never heard about Jesus. Her son-in-law, Karl, has been working with other missionaries and some of the nationals to translate the Bible into their tribal language. My Dad and Beth went on a trip to visit Mari and Karl just before my dad learned that he had cancer. It was on both of their hearts to return and to assist Karl and Mari during the time when the "teaching" from the Bible translated in the Madak tongue was beginning. Although my dad is now in heaven and unable to do the work here on earth, it has not stopped his 70 year old widow from answering God's promptings to go and be a part of this amazing time with the Madak people. I am asking you to join in prayer for this tribe, for Karl-as he teaches, Mari as she assists in teaching the women, and Beth as she works with Karl and Mari's children and loves on the Madak people. Here is her latest e-mail message about her trip titled, "Have Suitcases, Will Travel:"
When I was a kid there used to be a riddle which we had run into the ground. 'Why did the little boy throw his clock out the window?' 'He wanted to see time fly!' Well, I don't have to do a thing with my clock to see time fly. Here it is already-only 61/2 weeks before I take the long ride across the big pond to the land of the Madaks. The Madaks live high in the mountains on New Ireland Island in Papua New Guinea. And PNG is located just north east of Australia.
Why am I going a g a i n? Karl and Maribeth asked me to return to the mountain when Karl would begin to teach the Truth to the Madaks. And God put it on my heart to say 'I would'. I'll home school their three children for the 3 months that I will be with them as well as be a help in washing the veggies purchased from the nationals, do laundry, help prepare meals, etc.
Then I heard of a need for a special needs' teacher at the missionary Malango School on a neighboring island. And God put it on my heart to respond to that need. I'll be there from January thru May. In 2001 I was able to take the training to work with dyslexic students and now that training will be put to use on foreign soil. To me that is a God thing.
Then if possible I would like to return to Karl and Maribeth's island to help them pack up the house in preparation for their furlough. Everything has to be put into heavy duty zip lock bags to ward off the cockroaches and the mice and to protect as much as possible from mold.
That's it in a nut shell. Some time in late September or early October I'll board a plane in G.R. and start my 8-9 month journey to a land half way around the world.
By the way if you want to write via email my address will be Karl_Greeb@ntm.org. No, there is no access to a cell phone or even a regular phone. If you write I will reply.
Did you know that when you pray for something or someone specifically you have a part in the answer? Oh, I know. God is the protector, the provider , the sustainer, etc. But we move His hand when we ask. That's a promise. From the sovereign God.
Would you partner with me as God brings this iddy biddy senior saint to your mind in asking Him to reveal His strong arm in the areas mentioned below? If you print this you could cut on the dotted line and put the reminder on your bathroom mirror or the refrig or your steering wheel.
Thank you in advance.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
1) Wisdom in preparing a power point presentation to be given at First Baptist in Reed City on Sept.7.
2) Safety in travel and while in the tribe
3) Strength in every area
4) Wisdom in home schooling Oct.-Dec. and wisdom working with the students at the Malango School Jan.-May
5) Faithfulness in my quiet time with my God
6) Understanding and acceptance of the Truth by the Madak people as they hear it for the first time
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
I am proud to call this woman, Mom.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Click on "comments" under this blog.
If there are already comments left, you may have to scroll down or simply look to the right of your screen for the comment box and enter the name of your favorite entry and why. Sign your first name and your first initial of your last name INSIDE of the comment box.
Next, enter the "word verification" code.
Under "Choose Your Identity," select "Anonymous."
You will be posting "anonymously." However, if you have signed your name (first name and last initial) at the end of your comment, I will still know who it was that commented without you having to worry about your information being secure.
I will do a drawing from those who have commented to determine who the movie ticket winner will be. If you live out of state, I will do my best to get tickets for you to view the movie close to your home. If there are no theaters in your area showing the movie, I will buy you a copy of the movie when it is released. I will run this contest for a full week to give those who bookmark my blog time to check it out and to respond. The winner will be announced on Friday, September 5th.
A few that have been especially meaningful to me are, "Becoming Golden," "Aluminum Sculptures and Toby Mac," and "Where is Your Line?"
"Fireproof" is being released in less than one month! If you have not taken the time to watch the trailer yet, check it out. I believe this movie is going to be powerful!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
My husband and I were talking about that last night and he mentioned that he has been experiencing the same thing. He had heard a man on the radio that afternoon talking about losing his vision and how it has impacted his Christianity. Now that the man is unable to read the Bible with the ease that he once could, he relies heavily on the Scriptures that he has memorized in the past. He meditates on the words that he has committed to memory. He could quote the book of John verbatim before he was blind, but he hadn't really ever meditated on the Scripture and let it impact his heart. So now, for hours, he will sit and recall memorized Scripture and that is how he draws comfort and has deepened his relationship in Christ with his Spiritual eyes instead of his physical ones.
I was personally convicted when my husband was telling me this story...would I have enough Scripture committed to memory if I was ever unable to read the Bible? It gave me a new perspective on Psalm 119:11. "Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee." David did not have access to God's word as we do. He couldn't just pull out a pocket New Testament while he was fleeing for his life from King Saul or when he was on the battlefront. I have a renewed "vision" of the importance of hiding God's word in my heart and also a reminder of how blessed we are that we have God's word so readily available to us.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
When my husband and I got married, I purposed to always make sure his needs were met; physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. so that he would not have to struggle with the idea of having an affair. I had watched too many friends, family members, and people at church (including a pastor) who had withdrawn emotionally or had affairs because they were lonely and vulnerable within their marriage. While I am not placing blame or excusing their actions in any way, most times if you talked with them for any length of time about the situation that they were in, it boiled down to their needs not being met for long extended periods of time. In some cases,a spouse had decided that it hurt too much to leave themselves open emotionally so they withdrew. The household became people living under one roof but all living separate lives. In other cases, adulterous thoughts came, they entertained the thoughts and eventually those thoughts led to devastating actions.
Now if you have been married for any length of time, or have a tremendous gift of foresight, you know that my idea that I would meet my husbands needs all of the time was unrealistic. In one word, children. Or another word could be work, or ministry. Now these things are all blessings and gifts from God, but it takes some concentrated effort and prioritizing to make sure your spouse's needs (and children's needs) are being met.
Growing up in Sunday school, I remember learning the "JOY" principle to prioritizing: Jesus, Others, and then You. While that basic principle still holds true in this adult phase of life, priorities become more specific and look something like this for my life:
1. Relationship with the Lord
2. Relationship with my Spouse
3. Relationship with my children
4. Relationship with other family members
It has taken me some time to be at peace with the fact that although this may be how I put my priorities down onto paper, they often fluxuate for periods of time in the "real" world. Right now our Steering Team is in the process of kicking off our new MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) year. This is one of the busiest times of year for me and the ministries that I participate in. There are some key things that I have learned over the years that I wanted to share today that have helped me when I am entering these busier, "not the norm" time frames. Times where I am aware that my spouse's needs are probably not being completely met.
The first thing is COMMUNICATION. If I have taken some time just before things get really busy to communicate the upcoming time demands that I am anticipating with my husband and children, they are much less likely to get bitter, angry, or cranky about the time that I spend away from them and their needs. If I wait until I am in the midst of the business to get my family on board, it usually isn't pretty...I'll let you imagine what kind of conversation that may look like...haven't we all had them? Now sometimes things are going to unexpectedly come up; work demands suddenly change, someone who normally shares your load is ill or has a family emergency, etc. Yet communication is still key. Communicating that you are aware that things have taken you away from your spouse (and family) and their needs are not being met, will often diffuse any negative emotion that they are experiencing. Many times people just need to know that you are aware that they have needs and that you are grateful when they carry more of the load than normal to get them through the busy time until things can return to a more "normal" state.
It is VITAL that after a busy time frame where your spouse's needs may have been unmet or lower than what they are used to, that you go out of your way to reconnect and restore their placement in priority. If you allow your spouse's needs to remain unmet for extended periods of time, you are allowing them to be more vulnerable when satan attacks. You will notice that I said, "when satan attacks." I have stated this before, but I don't believe that satan has to continuously and creatively come up with new things to get people to sin. He has found things that are common to most of us and just waits for those vulnerable moments to mount his attack. He is a "roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet. 5:8). Men are said to be "taken captive by him" (2 Tim. 2:26). Christians are warned against his "devices" (2 Cor. 2:11), and called on to "resist" him (James 4:7). We can help our spouses out in these Spiritual battles, by praying for them regularly and by checking our priorities on a regular basis. One of our pastors did an awesome sermon on how "intentions" are often different from the "direction" that we are moving. (You can listen on line at http://www.horizonschurch.com under "media" choose "Road Trip-Principle of the Path by Jay Hawpe) We want to have a good marriage, but if we aren't moving in a direction that will get us where we want to go, we will never get there.
As always, I would love to pray for and with you as you pursue your marriage. Feel free to comment below or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Would you pray for my relationship with my spouse (and family) during this busy season of ministry?
This past weekend we had some friends at our house and one was telling us about a frustration with his neighbor. She (the neighbor) has had an extremely difficult year. Her husband left her and their children for another woman and he refuses to assist them financially. She has had one thing after another go wrong with her house from issues with the roof to flooding of the basement. Although our friend is extremely sympathetic to her current circumstances, he has grown frustrated with her.
He and other neighbors have helped out as much as they can with her household issues and her church has been a tremendous blessing as well. However, recently when her basement flooded he noticed that her dog had dug a large hole next to the basement foundation so he offered to fill in the hole hoping it would keep the water from collecting there and from seeping into her house. Her response was, "I am just going to pray that God will take care of it all." He offered again and again at different times and received her same response, "I am just going to pray-God will take care of it." Here he was offering to help; to be an extension of God's provision to her and yet she just kept praying. He was frustrated.
As we talked, I noticed the birds busily gathering bugs and worms for their food and I was reminded of something my mother in law says, "God provides for the birds, but they still have to go get the worms!" Sometimes God has already provided for us but it might not look how we were hoping it might; sometimes we just want for him to bring the "worms into our nest" for us. He is faithful to provide for His children. May we be open to the ways in which He provides. May we also be willing to gently and with compassion help our sisters and brothers in Christ to see His provision when they are overwhelmed.
Monday, August 18, 2008
And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice." She was explaining to the children that it is sometimes like God is whispering in your ear what he wants for you to do. My daughter could understand someone whispering in her ear and she has prayed that a few times at bedtime. That God would "whisper into her ear what she is supposed to be when she grows up."
Recently, when I was leaving for a few days to attend a conference, she was having a difficult time with the thought of my being gone. She was crying and telling me to stay and I was trying to explain to her why I needed to go. What it boiled down to was that I had felt God prompting me to attend this conference. Yes, I wanted to go, but there are a lot of things that I want to do that I do not pursue if it means spending resources and time away from my family. This time, however, I knew that I was supposed to go. I felt strongly that God had prompted my heart to attend and my husband was in full agreement and support. I hugged her while she cried and told her that I had to go to this conference because "God had whispered in my ear" that I should go and I was obeying Him. She looked up intently in my eyes as though we shared some wonderful secret and was instantly calmed. Her focus then changed onto what role she would play in the household while I was away.
How does God speak to you? Some of the ways that He speaks to me are: through His Word, what I call "heart promptings," through other Christians, "God bumps" as my wonderful friend Julie calls them, and one that I have recently thought deeply about-through the desires that He places in my heart. Things that don't necessarily cause me gain, but that I am strongly motivated to see come to fruition. I'd love to hear how God speaks to you! Feel free to comment below this post.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
As I sat down to wait for him at the Lucky U Motel, the bed creaked agonizingly beneath my weight prompting two thoughts: “What am I doing here?” and “I wish I had thought to bring my own sheets!” How had I come to arrive at this run down motel whose lights blinked “LUCK U”? (The “Y” had long since burned out and from the look of the bathroom; it would most certainly be missing for some time.) My husband has a chronic illness called Crohn’s Disease. Nine days after the birth of our second child, he had undergone an emergency surgery due to his small intestine rupturing into his large intestine and also into the stomach cavity. We had gone through just over a year of hospital stays, an additional surgery out of state at the Mayo Clinic, and a difficult pain medication withdrawal. All of the time trying to adjust to having two little ones in our family. It would be much too involved to go into all of the details of that year; all of the struggles and pains that we had endured, but as his physical condition began to improve, our marriage was at an all time low. I had come to view my husband as more of a teenage son rather than the head of our household.
During this time, I attended a bridal shower where the traditional “marital advice” was solicited from those of us who had previously embarked on this matrimonial journey. I will never forget as the advice wound around the circle of women, “Pray for and with your husband daily!” “Greet him with a smile at the door.” “Always have clean underwear in his drawer-no matter how busy life gets.” And then it was her turn…the quiet grandmotherly woman who had chatted with a few women throughout the shower, but mostly just watched and listened…”Have an affair with your husband!” She stated, smiled in her soft way, and looked at the next person for them to continue. I don’t remember the rest of the “advice” given that day. I think I muttered something about keeping photo books so you can look back at the “good times” during harder days. My mind was trying to figure out what it meant to “have an affair with your husband.”
A few days and another dispute later, I found myself on my knees crying out to my heavenly father. “Lord, I CANNOT do this on my own. I am choosing to love my husband, but my desire for him is no longer there. I know that you have ordained marriage and you have joined us together. It is your will for marriages to not just “survive,” but thrive. PLEASE renew my desire for my husband! Show me what to do to save this marriage!” I was instantly reminded of the woman at the bridal shower and her words of advice. “Have an affair with your husband!” I still wasn’t exactly sure what she had meant, but I decided to take her words literally. I hired a babysitter for my children. I left a note for my husband to receive upon arriving home from work sending him on a scavenger hunt to find me. His first stop was a local lingerie store that I had preselected two pieces for him to choose between. (The extra weight from our second child still hadn’t made its way off so I wanted to make sure I was comfortable in his choice.) Next, he picked up dinner that was pre-ordered, and finally, he met me at room 14 at the Lucky U Motel. A place he drove past daily on his way to work.
It seemed an eternity before he arrived to that dingy room, but I had plenty of time to pray for God’s healing and restoration of our marriage and also a change of attitude within my heart toward my husband. It ended up being an unexpectedly fun and wonderful time for my husband and I. (Worth the embarrassment of having to return the metal key at the front desk a few short hours after I had checked in…) A strong memory was made for both of us and it meant the world to my husband that I would go out of my way to pursue him.
At church the following Sunday, a close friend came up to us and said, “You have been through so much this past year! God has been leading me to pray for your marriage, how are you doing?” To my surprise, my husband smiled and replied, “On a scale of 1-10, our marriage is a 10!” I cannot honestly say that it was yet a “10” for me, but hope was growing.
God has turned our marriage completely around. Gradually it grows more and more open and intimate. We are living proof, as we celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, that with God’s help, any marriage can be restored; no matter how ugly, distant, or empty things have become. Hope begins when you are willing to confess that in your own strength and will that you are unable. God longs to speak to your heart and lead you back to restoration and then some
If your marriage is in need of restoration or refreshment, have an affair with your spouse! I would love to pray with you as you pursue your marriage. You can leave a comment here or e-mail me at email@example.com.
Monday, August 11, 2008
My husband and I are not big bumper sticking kind of people. I suppose mostly it is because we don't like to deal with the eventual "scraping off" of them when they wear out. However, I believe that we all portray some kind of "message" by who we are, how we dress, and how we treat others. One of our Mentor Moms at our MOPS group this year did a fabulous devotional on this subject. About how it is important to stop in front of mirrors occasionally and to check the message that your face is sending to those around you. The awesome thing is that if we realize that the message that we are sending is not what we want to be sending, we have the power to choose to change it. It may take some concentrated effort and prayer, but we are able to choose the messages that we are sending others. John 13:34 says, "...By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." Our messages are meaningful and important. People send their messages in any way that they can. For some, their life's messages are plastered on the back of their vehicles.
Some of the bumper stickers that stood out to us this trip were: "Back off! I'm emotionally unstable," "It's better to have loved and lost than spent your whole life with the psycho," "People who love Jesus tip the pizza guy," and my favorite, "Life is good." Have you seen any interesting ones lately?
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
I had mentioned in my last post that there were two things that had spoken to my heart during the message this past Sunday at the church we were visiting. The second point that Dr. Ledford had made of the rich man in Mark 10 was that we all have a "line." A place where we tell God that we will do anything BUT... Jesus had asked the rich man to sell all of his belongings and to come follow Him. However, he was unwilling to do it. He "drew the line" at that so to speak. I got to thinking about where my line is drawn with surrendering to what God wants to do with my life. I recalled just recently when I was traveling to a Christian conference and Mercy Me's song, "Jesus Bring the Rain" came on the radio. I could easily sing,
"Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain..."
However, I found myself NOT singing the last phrase,
"But if that's what it takes to praise You Jesus, bring the rain"
I remember challenging myself in that at the time and consoling myself thinking, "I have had enough rain!" It seemed foolish of me to ask for Jesus to bring the rain when I have spent so much of my life praying for the rainbow-peaceful seasons where no one I love is sick or dying. It was like praying for patience or long suffering to me. We all know that when you pray for those things all kinds of difficult things happen in order to increase those areas in your lives. :)
The Lord brought that to mind and I felt Him gently asking me to remove the "line" that I had drawn in the sand of my heart. To completely surrender my fear to Him about loss and suffering. To sell the "stock" that I placed in others in my life and be willing to walk in abandonment with Him even if that meant there would be storm clouds to face again in the future. Was it worth the cost to come follow Him? I cannot say that I am praying for Jesus to bring the rain. My ground is still moist; but I am willing. I know that there are many blessings that would be lost if I stayed here - stopped at my line in the sand unwilling to push past the fear. I am headed for the finish line-both in the 5k with my daughter and with my Savior.
Monday, August 4, 2008
The Lord spoke to my heart through the message as well. It was titled "Keys to the Kingdom" and the pastor, Dr. Ledford, mostly spoke on Jesus's conversation with the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-23. He began by talking about how many Christians don't walk in the power and authority of their position as children of God. That many of us are trying to "pick the lock" instead of using the "keys" that God has given to us in order to walk with Him and have His blessing upon our lives. There were two parts of the message that spoke deeply to me.
The first was something that I had never given much thought. Verse 21 says, "Jesus looked at him and loved him..." It was no surprise to me that Jesus loved this man, but the point that the pastor made was powerful. I am paraprasing, but he essentially said that although Jesus loves each of us, it does not mean that he will pour out His blessings upon us. Jesus loved the rich young ruler, but this young man, "went away sad, because he had great wealth" instead of walking in obedience to what the Lord had asked for him to do-sell all of his earthly belongings and to follow Him. What blessings had the rich young ruler missed because he wasn't willing to walk away from his riches and walk with the Lord? When we do not walk in obedience to what the Lord is asking for us to do, He cannot bless us. It is similar to parenting. We cannot reward our children when they do not obey us. If we do, we are actually doing them a disservice by not training them properly.
I may be alone here, but I have had several times in my life where I wondered if the Lord really loved me because I wasn't feeling "blessed." I could see the hand of blessing on those around me
and I remember thinking that God must love them. Although I would be happy for others and their blessings, sometimes it left me feeling empty, unloved. I had often combined love and blessings in my mind. It seems like such a basic thing for me to have missed all these years, but it explained a lot to my heart.
May God richly bless you as you walk in obedience with Him!