Friday, September 25, 2015

Affirming Words

I’ve heard a lot of talk lately about positive thinking. Self-help books tout the speaking of affirmations as a source of health and success. No doubt, there is immense power in our words. But are we speaking the right words, the best words? Even Christian leaders are encouraging believers to wake up every morning and speak aloud certain affirmations to begin our day.

I consider myself to be a generally positive person. But I have to admit that some of these affirmations have given me pause. I feel uneasy with them. Many of them begin with the phrase “I am (fill in the blank).” And we are told to repeat the phrases in order to strengthen ourselves and impose change. I feel that if we Christians are going to incorporate this idea of positive thinking and speaking affirmations into our lives, we need to remember one vital truth: I am because HE IS.

Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. . . . Apart from Him, we can do nothing. (John 15:5)

As I said in my last post, God has been teaching me just how important His Word is. God’s Word is life! It is a lamp for my feet, and a light for my path. So why not speak out affirmations from God’s Word, rather than these abbreviated “I am” statements? The Word of God is living and powerful . . . more powerful to impose change than anything I could come up with.

So here is a list of affirmations that I am effectively revising for my own life… and I plan to begin each affirmation with the following phrase: 

“Thank You Heavenly Father that Your Word tells me…”

I am strong à
I am strong in the Lord and the power of His might (Eph. 6:10)
The joy of the Lord is my strength (Neh. 8:10)
His grace is sufficient for me – when I am weak, He is strong (2 Cor. 12:8, 10)

I am confident à
I can approach God’s throne with confidence (Heb. 4:16)
The Lord is with me always (Matt. 28:20)
He will never leave me or forsake me (Heb. 13:5)
When I trust in the Lord I will be like Mt Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever (Ps. 125:1)

I am happy/joyful à
The Lord has done great things for me, and I am filled with joy (Ps. 126:3)
This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it (Ps. 118:24)
God dresses me a crown of beauty, oil of joy, and a garment of praise (Is. 61:3)
I am healthy/healed à
God’s words are life to me – they bring health to my body (Prov. 4:22)
Because Christ bore my sins in his body on the cross, I am dead to sins and alive in righteousness – by His wounds I have been healed (1 Pet. 2:24)

I am disciplined à
I present my body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is my true and proper worship (Rom. 12:1)
My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in me and whom I have from God. I will glorify God in my body and in my spirit, which are His (1 Cor. 6:19)
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Gal. 2:20)

I am valuable à
God loves me (John 3:16)
All my good deeds are like filthy rags; but despite my sin, Christ died for me and justified me by His blood (Is. 64:6; Rom. 5:8-9)
God rejoices over me with singing (Zeph. 3:17)
The Lord delights in me when I fear Him and hope in His unfailing love (Ps. 147:11)

I am victorious à
God leads me in triumph in Christ (2 Cor. 2:14)
God gives me victory through the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57)
There is no condemnation over me because I am in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1)
Jesus has set me free (John 8:36)
When I resist the devil, he will flee (James 4:7)

I could go on and on… but this is a great start.

Let's affirm ourselves with the source of all truth – God’s Word.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bread of Life

I LOVE bread.  One of my favorite smells in the world is the scent of freshly-baked bread.  I like biscuits and jelly, blueberry bagels, chocolate chip muffins, dinner rolls, and banana bread.  I can easily find a place for bread on my plate at every meal.  The taste of bread satisfies a deep craving that I have. 

However, nowadays bread has become a very controversial food.  I’ve heard it said that the bread we eat now is nothing like the bread of the past, because we have changed the way we grow and produce our grains.  This genetic modification makes a number of people want to avoid bread altogether.  In addition, many people in today’s world have developed a gluten intolerance, which actually makes bread dangerous for them to eat. 

In spite of all the negativity surrounding bread in today’s world, there’s no denying that bread has been a staple food for centuries.  The Bible mentions bread numerous times, and it is an essential element in the traditions of Passover and Communion.  But in Deuteronomy 8:3 (and again in Matthew 4:4 and Luke 4:4), God tells us, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”  Notice how this scripture is found more than once in the Bible?  I think our Heavenly Father wants to make a point here… FOOD is not our only source of life.  He wants us to actually draw sustenance from His Word. 

This is something I have been experiencing personally over the last several months.  But it hasn’t always been this way.  When I first took up my cross to follow Jesus, I couldn’t put the Bible down.  I was like a hungry newborn baby sucking on a bottle – I couldn’t get enough!  I remember studying the Bible on my own, devouring Bible study workbooks, and journaling like crazy.  It was a wonderful growing season in my life.  But over time, I began to get comfortable and self-confident in my walk.  On a subconscious level I thought I knew everything there was to know.  I had to go through some deep valleys and vast wildernesses before I recognized once again that what I’m hungering for deep down is the nourishment that only God’s Word gives.

Jesus tells us in John 6:48 (and several other places in the same chapter), “I am the bread of life.”  We also see in John 1:14 that Jesus is the Word that became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  So… if Jesus is the bread of life, AND He is the Word of God… it’s clear that the spiritual sustenance we are all craving can be fully and completely satisfied by feasting on God’s Word.  And by doing so, we will come to know Jesus better.

There are several things that are helping me get more of God’s Word into my heart these days.  First of all, I make it a goal to get up early every morning and spend some time reading the Bible (often guided by a Bible study book or devotional).  This is the best time for me to do it, because no one else is awake yet (so it’s quiet), and I’ve found that it really helps me have a better day when I begin sitting quietly before the Lord.  Another unique way I am spending time in God’s Word is through PraiseMoves.  In this Christian alternative to yoga, each posture has a corresponding scripture verse or passage.  And by incorporating this into my fitness routine, I am finding that I’m not just memorizing scripture verses, but that I can recall them easier and for longer periods of time.

What works for me may not work for you.  But I encourage you to find a way to get more of God’s Word written on your heart.  Even if the desire to do so is not very strong right now, I believe that once you get started you will find that your desire is growing stronger all the time.

“Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.” ~ Proverbs 30:5 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Changing Seasons

Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; do not spare; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes.  ~ Isaiah 54:2

I just got off a Skype call where I was interviewing for my 4th job.  When I say my 4th job, I mean it would be the 4th job I’m currently working.  Sound crazy?  Sound impossible?  Good!  When God calls me to the crazy and impossible, I know He is going to supply what I need to do the task.  TaskS.  

Lately I have been sensing the Lord leading me to be bolder -- to step up to a higher level of faith and deeds.  On one hand, this means being ready and willing to give a reason for the hope I profess at any given time.  God wants me to open my mouth more and share about Him and what being in a personal relationship with Him means to me.  And He has promised to fill my mouth with true and effective words (Psalm 81:10).  I believe this is true for all believers.

On the other hand, God is also calling me to DO more.  Of course, I realize that it is possible to do too much, and be too busy.  So as I move forward, every step I make is one that is following His leading, and is being offered prayerfully up to the Father.  Interestingly, what I’m finding for this season of my life is that God is calling me to MORE.  I am already working as a Lunch Supervisor at an elementary school, a Drama Instructor after school on Tuesdays, and a PraiseMoves Instructor who is looking to schedule more classes at new times and different locations.  I also serve as the Executive Director for Eli’s Hope (, and I am the bookkeeper, newsletter writer, and Homework Club organizer for Project 14:6.  Not to mention my roles as wife and mother.  This 4th job would allow me to teach technology to seniors at a local Senior Living Community on Mondays. 

All these different roles and jobs are actually perfect for me and my schedule right now, and they are very fulfilling.  I am seeing the Lord work in each and every one. 

God calls us to live our lives as the earth does – in different seasons (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2 Timothy 4:2).  And for me, I am in a season of busy springtime.  A season of planting, working, and growing.  I will choose to enjoy this season of life, and in my innermost heart of hearts I am eagerly awaiting a great HARVEST.  

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. ~ Galatians 6:9

What season are you in?  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Testimony Flashback

I have been wanting to post a new blog entry here for a long time; I suppose I got hit by writer's block.  :)  But today, because of some things going on in my life right now, I have taken a walk down memory lane and decided to share it with you.  Below is part of my testimony that I shared at my local CBS (Community Bible Study) meeting nearly 7 years ago when I lived in Colorado.  If you'd like, you can listen to the audio version by clicking above (It's almost 17 minutes long).  I hope my story speaks to you...

Psalm 105:1-2 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.  Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.”

I’m going to share with you some of the wonderful acts that God has done recently in my life.  I grew up in a Christian home in the South, where I was exposed to the gospel from the very beginning.  I asked Jesus to save me at a fairly young age, but I didn’t truly have a relationship with Him until I was in college.  And this came after I had rebelled and was sucked into a life of sin.  But God showed me my brokenness and I came to true repentance – my life was changed and I knew it.  Before I left college, I met and married my husband Jeromy.  He is also a Christian, and he had a huge impact on my walk with the Lord while we were dating.  When I graduated from college, we took a leap of faith and moved to Colorado, away from our families, to help plant a church in Larkspur -- and so that Jeromy could go to seminary. 

When we first moved there, everything was perfect.  It was one of those mountain-top experiences.  I felt so close to God, and He was answering all my prayers with a big YES!  We first lived in Monument with some friends.  And within a week God provided us both with jobs and a townhome to rent.  My job was at Focus on the Family, so I was excited about working at a ministry.  On top of all that, the church plant we were helping with was flourishing.  We were working, working, working for the Lord and so happy doing it.

This is where the story starts to take a turn, although I didn’t realize it at the time.  But I was beginning to get comfortable.  So comfortable in fact, that I stopped having a real relationship with God.  There I was serving in church, teaching the kids, doing drama, singing with the praise team, and even working full-time at a Christian ministry.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with what I was doing.  All the things I was doing were good things.  But I was quickly deceived into believing that I didn’t need to spend any extra time with the Lord, because of all the other stuff I was doing.  I stopped talking to God.  Sure, I prayed in church when I was asked or at work during our daily devotionals… but there was no meaning in my words.  Because my intimate relationship with Jesus was no longer existent.  I was just going through the motions.

Then the trials came.  First, Jeromy’s father passed away only a year after we had moved to Colorado.  He was only 52.  It was very sudden and my husband took it pretty hard.  I think I handled it okay, but only because it wasn’t my own father.  I felt some distance from the pain, because I hadn’t known him for very long.  But then, the trials became a lot more personal to me. 
On December 8, 2002, I found out that I was pregnant.  Four days later, I began to miscarry.  But at the time the doctors told me that it might be too early to tell if I was going to lose the baby.  The ultrasound showed something, but they couldn’t find a heartbeat yet.  I was totally devastated.  And so scared.  I sought help from a Christian friend, who gave me a lot of verses to claim and pray over the baby.  I spent several weeks pleading with God to save my baby.  And I mean pleading.  It was a good thing that this trial put me on my knees praying, talking to God -- but the baby was all I prayed about.  I thought about nothing else.  Finally, when it seemed to be over, I went back for another ultrasound and the doctor confirmed that the baby was lost.  In that moment I felt so alone, and I even felt rejected by God.  I couldn’t understand why God would say no to my prayers for that baby.  I felt like God had let me down.  Then I started thinking that maybe it was my own fault, since I had fallen away from my relationship with God.  I went back and forth between blaming myself and being mad at God, seeing Him as unloving, unforgiving, and without mercy.  And so I returned to my former habits of not really talking to God.

A few months later we found out I was pregnant again.  I was excited, but very scared because of what had happened with the first pregnancy.  Then my fear turned to terror when I started to bleed.  This happened off and on for nearly 2 months.  I can’t put into words how terrified I was.  I literally operated under a mode of fear for every single day of that entire pregnancy.  The only prayers I could muster again were pleas to God for Him to save the baby.  I am so thankful to say that I delivered my daughter at full-term, and everything went perfectly.  And although it is sad and almost unbelievable to say, my relationship with God didn’t change much even after that great blessing, because I was still wounded from the loss of my first pregnancy. 
Then, I got pregnant again much sooner than we had anticipated.  Our son was due only 17 months after our daughter was born.  And this pregnancy wasn’t much different than the previous one, as I had some early days where it looked like I was going to lose the baby.  But then my body seemed to settle down and several months went by with no problems.  And because of that, I wasn’t as fearful with this pregnancy.  But at the same time, I still wasn’t really having a relationship with God.  I was relying on the prayers of others to get me through, and I wasn’t seeking God out for myself.  Then suddenly, when I was only 30 weeks along, my son decided to be born.  It was a very traumatic event.  At home one night my water broke and I was bleeding heavily.  We had to call 911 and I was driven to the hospital in an ambulance.  When we got to the hospital and they found my son’s heartbeat, I was so relieved.  After a few hours they determined that they had to go ahead and deliver him.  He was only 3 pounds.  They had to take him to a different hospital pretty quickly, because they didn’t have the equipment to take care of him there.  And since I had a C-section and had lost so much blood, I had to spend some time recovering before I could even get up.  My son ended up spending 5 weeks in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit before he came home on oxygen.  Those days of visiting him in the hospital were the hardest days.  I can remember wanting so badly to pray -– to talk to God like I knew I was supposed to be able to do -- and to find that comfort and peace that only He can give.  But I just couldn’t find it in me to do it.  I don’t even know how I functioned from day to day.  I guess I was just numb.  It still felt like there was a wall between me and God, and that His back had turned on me.

I became incredibly depressed soon after that.  After all I had been through, even despite the miraculous things God had done and the blessings He had given me, I felt so far away from Him.  Here I was, with 2 beautiful children who were true miracles, and I was able to stay at home with them instead of going back to work… yet I felt so alone.  I felt like all the troubles I had experienced were my own fault because I had neglected my relationship with God, and that God would never be able to get over His disappointment in me.  And that was all that I could focus on.  Those thoughts of self-hatred and seeing God as my punisher consumed me.  It took me a while to realize that I was depressed, but once I did, I sought help.  I talked to several different people, including my pastor and a licensed Christian counselor, but nothing helped.  Even the encouragement my husband tried to give wasn’t getting through.  So I racked my brain trying to think who in the world could help me.  Finally, I asked a dear friend if she knew of anyone, and she referred me to a Christian couple that she thought could counsel me. 

I praise God that He worked through this couple to reach me.  They talked and prayed me through some of the experiences I had gone through.  And they reassured me that Jesus Christ had literally been with me during all of those experiences.  It was like a revelation to me – to actually picture Jesus there with me in the most horrible, traumatic moments of my life, and to listen to what He was saying to me during those times.  That is part of what it means to have a relationship with Christ – it is real.  And every time I pictured Jesus there, all I saw was love -- not the rejection I had been feeling.  I could see Him sitting with me, holding my hand, holding the precious baby I had lost… He never left my side, and He never spoke a word of condemnation.  When I listened closely, I could even hear Him speaking to me.  All of the lies that I had believed about God for so long were suddenly brought into the light and exposed for what they really were. 

These words of David in Psalm 77:7-14 really sum up my thought process: “Will the Lord reject forever?  Will he never show his favor again?  Has his unfailing love vanished forever?  Has his promise failed for all time?  Has God forgotten to be merciful?  Has he in anger withheld his compassion?  Then I thought, ‘To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.’  I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.  I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.  Your ways, O God, are holy.  What god is so great as our God?  You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.”

Since that time of spiritual and emotional healing for me, it has been a day to day battle.  I still have days (or weeks) when I struggle with that depression wanting to come back.  Every once in a while I still hear the lies of the enemy ringing in my ears… that I am a failure.  And I still struggle sometimes with talking to God because of that.  But overall, I know that things are getting better for me.  I am getting stronger.  Jesus is so much more real to me now.  I am learning new truths every day.  I am getting to know who God is through my personal relationship with Him.  And slowly but surely, despite all my weaknesses and the reality of sin, I am learning who I am now because of Christ. 

Psalm 71:20 says, “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.”

If I leave you with anything from this story, it would be this: find out who God really is, and who you really are in Him.  Seek the truth about God and do not give up, because the truth will set you free. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Remembering Someone I Never Met

This month (October) is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  In 1988, President Ronald Reagan designated this special month proclaiming, "When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them."

In December of 2002, I found out for the very first time that I was pregnant.  I made this discovery on a whim while shopping with some girlfriends, who coaxed me into taking the pregnancy test right there in the store’s bathroom.  When I saw that it was positive, I was so excited.  But I didn’t know how to share the news with my husband.  I think I knew deep down that he would have wanted to be the first to know, rather than my friends.  They helped me come up with what we thought was a fun way to tell him . . . but unfortunately it didn’t soften the sting that he had missed out on being the first to know.  He was so disappointed that I found out without him.

I regret that, to this day.

Just a few weeks later, I began to experience some cramping and spotting.  Fear engulfed me.  Within 24 hours my husband and I found ourselves at a clinic (not my doctor’s office), having an ultrasound.  The sonographer didn’t say a word to us, but I could clearly see a tiny blob on the screen, surrounded by my womb.  That blob was my baby.  When the doctor called me later that day, he said it was too early to tell if I was going to miscarry.  It was pretty early in the pregnancy, and maybe that’s why they couldn’t find a heartbeat.

So we waited.  For several weeks I spotted, but there was no more cramping.  I tried to hold out hope that everything might be all right.  I had friends encouraging me to have faith, to “name it and claim it.”  So I tried.  And I prayed – hard.  I poured over the scriptures.  But the fear still engulfed me.  In a bit of irony, I had even put together a Christmas drama for our church, and I played the role of Mary.  It honestly felt like torture to have that balloon under my costume pretending to be pregnant, and to carry that little baby doll as if it were my child.

For Christmas my husband and I traveled to visit my family in Georgia.  Despite the instability of the pregnancy, we shared the news that we were expecting with the rest of the family by wrapping a note up as a present and letting my younger brother open it.  Everyone was excited right along with us.  But I remember that night explaining to my sister and my sister-in-law how things weren’t looking good.  And I remember crying in the shower the next morning, singing that song “You Are My Hiding Place.”  And weeping.

When we returned to our home in Colorado, I visited my doctor and had another ultrasound in his office.  My husband couldn’t come with me because of his job, so one of my best friends went with me.  I’ll never forget that day, and the doctor’s voice when he said, “Well, I’m sorry to give you this news around the holidays, but there’s nothing there.”  I felt like the world was literally crashing around me.  I walked around in a daze for the rest of the evening until my husband got home from work and I fell into his arms sobbing.

After that I didn’t really want to talk about it with anyone.  A wonderful woman from our church even came to visit me at our condo one day, but I hid in the bedroom while my husband told her that I didn’t feel like visiting.  I wish I could go back and change that day.  I think it would have helped me to open up to her.  Especially when my body actually completed the miscarriage at home two weeks after the doctor told me that nothing was there.

It was several years later before I truly began to heal.  I got pregnant again fairly quickly, and every day I was completely consumed with fear.  Terror.  I went back and forth between being angry at God and being angry at myself, thinking that either God was honestly cruel, or that it was my own fault I had miscarried.  I knew I was depressed and that I needed help.  But no one had the answers I craved.  So I began to ask God for help.  In between my bouts of hating myself and feeling rejected by God, I asked Him to show me someone who could help me. 

Eventually He brought a friend to mind.  She referred me to a wonderful couple who were lay counselors, and who ended up spending an entire day with me in 2005 (months after I had delivered two healthy children, my full-term daughter and my premature son). 

As we talked and prayed through my entire life, I dreaded the part where I would have to tell them about my miscarriage.  But they were very sensitive and let me take my time.  They led me through a time of conversing with God about those dark days.  They encouraged me to go back to that worst moment in my mind – that moment in the doctor’s office when I knew for sure that the baby was gone.  They told me to picture Jesus there with me.  Because HE WAS THERE.  When I did, what I saw was my wonderful Savior standing beside me, holding my baby.  I feel like this was the Lord’s way of telling me, “Yes, this baby was real.  But he’s with me now.  I’m taking care of him.”

If I am honest, there have been moments where I have doubted that vision.  I have doubted that my miscarriage was real, that there was truly a baby there.  But every time I do, the Lord quickly brings to mind the feeling I had when I first envisioned Him holding my sweet little one.  I cannot deny that experience, and I cannot deny that He spoke to me on that day about many, many things. 

It is painful for me to go back and relive these experiences as I tell this story.  But I feel compelled to share the Hope that God has given me in Christ.  And now I can say truthfully that I look forward to meeting that precious child in Heaven one day.  I like to think that he (or she) will meet me right at the gate.

You are my hiding place.
You always fill my heart
With songs of deliverance.
Whenever I am afraid,
I will trust in You.

I will trust in You.
Let the weak say
I am strong,
In the strength of the Lord.
I will trust in You.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

My Heart

Dear Friend,

When God brought you into my life, I knew from the very beginning that there was a reason.  He pricked my heart with a measure of His unconditional love and divine compassion, especially when I learned about your story of suffering.  I could plainly see the gaping hole in your heart.  Pain and heartache was evident in your eyes.  I knew you needed Jesus . . . but you hesitate to give your heart to Him.

I have watched in agony as you continue through life, trying to make it on your own strength.  Each time you fall down, my heart breaks a little more.  In my mind’s eye I envision you one day running into the arms of Jesus, your Savior . . . but in reality I know that day may never come.  The choice is up to you to accept Christ.  He will never force you.  And I can’t will it to happen.  But I can pray for you; and I do every day.  In fact, the Lord brings you to mind constantly.  The only other thing I can do is find ways to love you, and tell you from my own experience how Jesus Christ has changed my life -- and hope that it touches your heart.e He

Admittedly, I have never gone through circumstances exactly like yours.  I cannot relate to all of your experiences.  But I have suffered.  I have been rejected by others, by people I thought loved me.  I have experienced loss and deep depression.  I know what it is to walk through a valley.  I know what it is to be stuck in a pit and see no way out.  I have been mad at God, and felt let down by Him.  I have doubted God’s love for me, and even the truth of Jesus.  I have cried out for God’s help and heard nothing but silence.

BUT THEN . . . Jesus Christ, the Son of God, reached down from Heaven and touched my life.  He sent specific people to encourage me and point me to the truth.  It was like I had been walking around blind, with scales over my eyes.  But His touch made them all fall away, and finally I could clearly see – Jesus loves me.  And He loves you!  I hope that simple truth comforts you as much as it does me.  God showed me that He had been by my side through every single hurt.  Even when I had messed everything up and done wrong, He was still there telling me how much He loves me. 

And this is what I hope you will one day come to see and understand.  God created you, and He has a purpose for your life.  He knew that you were going to mess up along the way (because we all do), so He sent His Son Jesus Christ to live on earth as a perfect man and then die on a cross to take your punishment.  He didn’t deserve to die, because He never did anything wrong.  We are the ones who are tainted, and incapable of getting to Heaven on our own.  But the good news is, He didn’t stay dead for long!  On the third day after his death, He came back to life to show His power over death.  And this power over death is passed on to us when we accept Jesus for who He is and ask Him to come into our lives.  When we leave this earth through death, we won’t really die but will join Him in Heaven forever and ever.  And He is preparing such wonderful things for us there, we can’t even fathom them. 

Accepting Jesus is so simple.  He wants it to be simple, like us coming to Him as a little child.  All you need to do is believe in your heart that Jesus is God’s Son and that He died and came back to life for you.  Then, confess it out loud!  Tell someone about it. 

And it doesn’t stop there.  Jesus wants to be a part of your life while you’re still here on earth, too.  Invite Him to come into your heart and mind.  Talk to Him every day, whether you’re thanking Him for the good things He’s doing for you, or asking Him for help with your struggles.  Because He has promised to never leave you.  And He always keeps His promises.

He’s waiting for you to come to Him.  And I’m waiting too.  No matter how long it takes.

Friday, July 20, 2012

What I Learned in Germany

Earlier this month my family made a 10-day trek to Cologne, Germany and back.  We have some missionary friends there who invited us to stay with them and work alongside them as they strive to touch people there with Christ’s love.  Taking our entire family on this trip was an eye-opening experience for all of us, and I would like to share a little bit about what God taught me.

  1. Patience.  Unfortunately, the first thing I learned in Germany is that public restrooms are not free.  They are not always clean, or supplied with toilet paper.  And they are definitely not always easy to find.  Traveling with children, we naturally needed access to a bathroom many times.  Needless to say, we had many interesting, frustrating, and creative bathroom experiences.  So the Lord brought His Word to mind:  “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient …”  (Ephesians 4:2)
  2. Blind faith.  Cologne’s Cathedral (Kölner Dom) was awe-inspiring.  Its construction began in the 1200s and wasn’t officially completed until 1880.  That’s over 600 years!  This means that the men who designed and began building the cathedral never saw their work completed.  Countless men poured their lives into the building of this masterpiece, knowing that they would never get to see the finished product.  This reminded me of Abraham, Moses, and all the others in the Bible who did not get to see the end result of what they were moving toward.  “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.”  (Hebrews 11:13)
  3. Trust.  This was the first time I’d been to another country where they speak a language other than English.  It’s a hard feeling to conceive of unless you’ve experienced it, but it can be quite frustrating!  Imagine you’re wandering the streets, trying to find your way, but you can’t read any of the signs.  You try to ask for help, but the people’s words sound like gibberish.  Or imagine that you’re a child trying to join a friendly game of soccer with some other children.  You want to make friends and joke with them while you play, but you can’t understand a word they’re saying.  A language barrier can feel like you’re trapped behind a wall or inside a bubble – you can see what’s happening on the other side of the barrier, but you can’t join in.  It was in these moments that I turned to God the most on our trip.  Because I know that our God can speak any language, I talked to Him whenever I felt frustrated with the communication obstacles.  I found myself relying on the Lord more and more, which is something I know He wants me to do all the time anyway!
  4. Love is a verb.  However, volleyball can be played in any language!  Our missionary friends     hosted a 4th of July/German outreach event while we were there, held in their neighborhood park.  An American mission team from Georgia was on-hand to perform American music     and lead some line dancing.  I attempted the line dancing for one song, but when I saw that there was a group of young people playing volleyball, I opted for that instead.  I bet we played for over an hour, and it was a lot of fun.  It was a friendly game where we didn’t keep score, so there were a lot of laughs.  And even though I couldn’t verbally share Jesus with those kids, I prayed that He would shine through me anyway.  “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”  (Matthew 5:14)
  5. Passionate compassion.  God is moving in Germany, and He has a great compassion for the lost there (just as He does for all of His lost sheep everywhere)!  Honestly, for a long time the first thing that came to mind when I thought about Germany was Adolf Hitler and his horrible holocaust of World War 2.  And naturally, that thought does not exactly spring up a well of compassion in me for the Germans.  But through the experience of this family mission trip, God opened my eyes and my heart to a people who are not that different from me.      Immersing yourself in another culture reveals a new world that exists and functions thousands of miles away – but is filled with regular people who do ordinary things every day, and who go through pain and hard times just like everyone else.  As I sat in the train station one night praying for Jeromy and the missionaries who were trying to engage passersby with free coffee and tea, I was suddenly overwhelmed with compassion for everyone I saw.  The God of the universe gave me a glimpse of His unconditional love and steadfast longing for the precious     souls of this world.  “The Lord . . . is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  (2 Peter 3:9)
This trip wasn’t your typical mission trip, with lots of pre-scheduled activities.  We were simply one family joining another family for a week, walking alongside them as they live a missional life in the everyday things.  We got to experience grocery shopping there, life without a car in the city, an end-of-the-year school program, along with several trips to some unique playgrounds.  We focused on prayer a lot, tilling and preparing the soil for seeds to be planted. We are so thankful that God gave us this experience, and I know that it opened our eyes to a whole new world of people and opportunities.