YOU WANT ME TO LEAVE MY KIDS???

Sticky sweat and sunburned neck as I sit at the picnic table talking about everything and nothing to my daughter-in-law after the garage sale.  The granddogs are basking in their own spot of sun. A truck pulls in, one of my handsome sons gets out; brothers chat comes floating by. Any given night, the phone rings. An hour later, what was meant as a brief conversation has lasted as my daughter-in-law (who lives an hour away) and I found plenty to talk over. Texts, pictures shared, phone calls, the sound of a key turning in the door as one of our kids arrive. Pictures on the couch, laughter as memories past fill our holiday dinners. Rods are checked, motor is running before the boys and their Dad take off to fish. Bleached out hair from the sun, rosy cheeks from activity still fill my mind’s eye of little boys, now grown men with beautiful wives. I walk into Son #1’s house and 3 of my granddogs vie for my attention, as my son worries that they will knock me over in their joy to see me; every time our front door opens, the smallest granddog runs through the house to me, letting me know that she has arrived! This is my world – this is my life – this is my joy.

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And yet, we are leaving them. All of them. Moving a full day’s journey away from them. Why? How? What is wrong with us? How can my heart take it? Who does this?

My parents left their families and all that they knew when I was just 4 months old. They headed to another country, not just another state! When you grow up that way, your immediate family is everything. Other missionaries fill the gaps for grandparents, aunts and uncles. That was my normal. When I married, my husband was studying to be a minister, so I knew that my life would involve moving. BUT! We had our children. Our little unit of family. Moving from Michigan to Florida for a time of our ministry life was no big deal, but we did it as a family of 5.

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One by one, each of my siblings and I left our home and family in Brazil and returned to the USA. Separation. Loss. Unknown. One by one, we made our way into this new world, new culture, new friends, new family. One by one, each of my sons left our home. Grown, ready to move on. Separation. Loss. Unknown. My husband – his wife. Back to the way we began all of those years before. Together. Just you and me, Babe. One by one, all of our kids ended up near us again. Family. Togetherness. Love.

In a week, just two of us will get in the truck and leave them all behind. They are my world. And yet, are they?  Too many changes.  Too much new. Couldn’t do it alone. God had my back. My entire life has had one main focus. God gave me what I needed for every change, every move in my life.  When I was 4 months old, it was up to my parents to watch over the change in my life. At 17, it was a different story. God came with me to America. God helped me through the culture shock. At 30, God had given me the family I so wanted – a husband who loved and served Him and 3 beautiful sons. By 55, wonderful daughters had been added into the mix. God has been right in the middle of it. Faithful. True. Helpful. Friend. Confidant. Fortress. Sheltering Wing.

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Yes. I am leaving the ones I cherish the most behind. I find pure joy in following the call of Christ! Where He leads, I will follow. Where He calls, I will go. Where He sends is where I will be. What He will ask, I will answer. You see, He never leaves me! He is always with me. He never leaves me comfortless. He loves my family more than I could ever imagine, more than I ever could and that is a HUGE task!!!!!!!!  He will watch over them. They will turn to Him. I will turn to Him. He is my family.

I am not leaving the country. I am just moving away from where I have lived. I am “homesick” for my new home! God has already gone before me, giving me a love for all that is ahead: new friends, new home, new church, new people to meet, new journeys to take, new joy to be found. YES! God wants me to leave my kids!!! He wants me to follow Him and in that, my joy is complete.

Where you go I’ll go. Where you stay I’ll stay. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God.

Where you go I’ll go. Where you stay I’ll stay. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God.

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Hezekiah Walker – The Will of God

There are so many things about the will of God
The things we don’t understand because they seem so hard
We try to find the way that seems to be just right
But the way that we choose only leads us further from the light
But if we can learn to accept the things we cannot change
And never question God for we’ll never know His way

We must accept what God allows
And we must never try to tell Him how
To order our lives
He has a plan in mind
He’s the one who made you, created you, saved you
And He knows what’s best for you
His will is good
It is acceptable and it’s perfect

There are many things about
What God allows that we don’t understand
But if He allows all of these things to be
It’s a part of the Master plan
He knows what’s best
And He won’t put more on you than you can, you can bear
His will is good, it is acceptable and it’s perfect

Yes, yes, yes to Your will
His will is good, it is acceptable and it’s perfect

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CUT IT OFF!

1107c3579fd43618668c4b8259f832bcSeveral months ago, I was given a plant as a gift. It had beautifully, shiny leaves, and was full of blossoms. It required very little care, yet kept its cheery blooms going non-stop. The leaves grew and grew – what a healthy plant!

After a time, the flowers faded, and I plucked off the dead heads and kept watering the plant as needed, waiting to see what would come next. No more flowers… then the large leaves began to wilt and parts of them would turn brown…I thought, “I am losing this plant!” No amount of tender, loving care was helping, and it was becoming rather sad looking.

This morning, I decided it was time to prune this plant, but oh, was I afraid to try! What would happen if I removed those huge leaves and all that was left was a scrawny, little thing that would struggle to survive and finally fail? Shears in hand, I carefully began working from the bottom to the top, sorrowfully eliminating the rotting and dead parts. Lo, and behold, what I discovered under there was a sight to see!! New life in small, shiny leaves – exquisite, teeny buds! Oh, what a pleasure, what a joy for my moaning, gardener’s heart! All of that, struggling to make it; buried treasure beneath a load of killing heaviness. From that point on, I happily trimmed away, letting the beauty burst out, as it was intended all along!

The Israelites had been oppressed slaves in Egypt and Moses was God’s chosen leader to take them to a new and beautiful land where they could be free, a land flowing with milk and honey, where they would live off of the gardens and farms of those who were there before them, a land that had been promised long ago. Just like me, however, they were afraid. Afraid to leave what they knew, afraid to follow Moses, afraid of the journey, afraid of the changes – AFRAID.

“Preparing ourselves for the fulfillment of God’s promises, however unlikely they may seem, demonstrates our faith.”

All of the promises God had given them, along with the world’s best leader, were not enough to overcome their fear. Their Promised Land was waiting at the other end, (just like the beauty of my plant that was underneath the decaying part,) yet fear held them back. Eventually, the Israelite descendants made it to the their new home, but because of the ones who just could not get over their own fears and wanting their own way, only 2 of the original people got to see it. What a shame!

God has a beautiful plan for our lives. If we are too fearful to let Him prune away at what is in us that eats away at our walk with Him, those things will eventually turn us into wilted, rotting people who will miss out on every wonderful thing that He has in store for us! Our lives can be so much more, if we will give our fear to Him, hand the pruning shears to Him and say, “Father, I want my life to reveal new buds, new leaves, new emotions, new growth – all for You and Your plan for my life! Shape me into what You want me to be.”

May it be so with me, Lord, may it be so with me!

John 15:2

He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.

 

 

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A Voice is Heard in Ramah

I am sharing a powerful blog from my daughter-in-law.  Feel free to share and may it be as freeing to each reader as it is for her.

http://anevangelistswife.com/2015/01/20/a-voice-is-heard-in-ramah/

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THIS AIN’T YOUR HGTV SHOW!

Knowing that the repair man is coming this morning made it my urgent duty to start off the day cleaning the kitchen floor.  On HGTV’s shows,  comments such as, “It’s gotta be ripped out!” or, “Gut it all!” are the norm.  It shocks me how much is demolished simply because people want more.

As my Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and I made short work of the floor this morning, I prayed. It seemed that the linoleum squares had messages in them of people in desperate need, so as I scrubbed, my prayers increased. When I got to the long scrape line in the linoleum at one point, I thought of the scars in our lives and how no matter how hard we can try to take make them go away, not even Mr. Clean can repair that scrape or scar. We need to, “Gut it all!” Living with repeated behavior that damages us will just create more scars, until our lives are nearly unbearable.

We can live with it, try to clean it up by ourselves and make it look good on the outside, or we can change it completely, from the inside out – just like ripping up old linoleum and putting down a beautiful tile! We cannot do it by ourselves, but God can show us the way. He can take our dirty and torn up lives and make us brand new! The old will be gone and the new comes – true happiness and contentment will take over and there is no need to fake anything – we become truly clean, on the inside and the outside.

So, maybe our lives are like an HGTV show a bit, after all! Let God gut your life and make you something beautiful.

2 Corinthians 5:17

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away;  all things have become new.

John 3:16

 This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.

Romans 10:9

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

 

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AND THE AWARD GOES TO…

It is the season of award shows. Actors and musicians anxiously wait for their name to be called as being chosen to be the best and move forward to center stage to give their acceptance speeches.  Some use the time to promote their platforms or causes. Others give glory to God.

Social media is a place where “regular” people post their successes and accomplishments, not only announcing to the world, but posting pictures and accruing likes and comments. Most of the time, they begin with, “I normally don’t post things like this about myself…” or, “What an honor…”

We live in a mostly thankless world.  We work hard and are rarely praised for what we do. We are taken for granted.  Sometimes, things are just so miserable that if we don’t let others know our accomplishments, no one will do it for us.

Being the wife of a pastor, I am privileged to see many things that others do that most never know about. They give and they do, all in secret. They don’t even think about doing it for praise or recognition – that part does not even enter their minds!

While reading in the book of Proverbs this morning, my thoughts were turned to this topic.  Needing honor keeps our motives at an earthly level.

Proverbs 25:6-7, 27

 Don’t work yourself into the spotlight;
    don’t push your way into the place of prominence.
It’s better to be promoted to a place of honor
    than face humiliation by being demoted.

It is not good to eat much honey,
    nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.

Proverbs 27:2

 Don’t praise yourself; let others do it!

Proverbs 29:23

 Pride lays people low,
    but those of humble spirit gain honor.

Proverbs 30:32

 If you have been foolish, exalting yourself,
    put your hand on your mouth.

2 Corinthians 10:12, 18

 We won’t dare to place ourselves in the same league or to compare ourselves with some of those who are promoting themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they have no understanding.

 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

Colossians 3:2-4

 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

So while some of us may struggle with this on occasion, let’s work on focusing on the end results, pleasing our Father in heaven!

 

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HAPPY WIFE, HAPPY LIFE…REALLY???

Billboards for jewelry proclaim it, comedians and late night hosts repeat it, husbands can be heard spouting it: “Happy wife, happy life!”  Really?  The more I think about this phrase, the more deceit it breeds.

Who is really happy?  Is it the husband, who is led to believe that all of his wishes must be put aside to make his wife happy?  Is it the wife who is believed to be happy because her husband is supposed to set aside everything in order to please her every wish? Is it for any children they may have who witness this incredibly one-sided philosophy or viewpoint?

Many believe that marriage is a 50/50 proposition. It is not. It is compromise, to be sure, yet anything less than 100% on both sides is not fulfilling the meaning of true love. The problem with the, “Happy wife, happy life,” statement leads to a belief that only one person in the relationship needs to be made happy and that the husband is the one who is making all of the sacrifices for fear the wifey will not be happy. Shame on him! Shame on her!

Any wife who believes that she is the one to please, and that all kinds of retribution will follow if she is not made happy, has some serious issues to attend to.  How is she giving 100% to her part of the relationship if there is always a fear or dread on her husband’s part of her getting angry or upset if things do not go her way?  Where is the desire on her part to please her husband and make him happy? Who would want their husband to give in and give up at their every whim? Who wants her husband to be viewed as a wimp or for herself to be viewed as bossy or high maintenance?

So many years of counseling couples in their marriage has shown a definite lopsidedness in this area.  Men have always been thought to be big children, always wanting their toys and “playing” at their hobbies, no matter their age. Many of them, as long as they can have these things and act this way, are willing to let their wives be in charge and keel  to their every wish! This, too, in lopsided and not a very realistic approach to true marital happiness.

My husband has quoted the, “Happy wife, happy life,” more times than I can count to many, many people. Most times, it is received with a laugh or a chuckle. Our family camp recently has morning sessions dedicated to marriage.  Each session had a brief time of discussion between husband and wife on a certain phrase.  One morning, the leader said, “Turn to your spouse and say, ‘I am the most selfish person I know.'” My husband turned to me and said, “How are we supposed to do this exercise? You are the most unselfish person I know!” (Yes, I melted!)

There is a give-and-take in every marriage, a balance of respecting and giving to each one’s happiness. Our primary purpose should be in making sure that the other one is truly happy, and being as unselfish as possible.  There will be times where one spouse will receive more and the other will give more, but there should also be reciprocity.

My mother remarried after my father died, and my husband’s father recently remarried after grieving the death of his wife. In both situations, it has been like watching teenagers or young adults in love! It is a great reminder to us that we forget the small things that fill our hearts with tenderness and joy or make our eyes sparkle just by being in the very presence of the one we love. Time seems to take away the bloom of love, and even though we “settle in” to our marriages and family, we shouldn’t take each other for granted. (Easy to say, harder to do!) I make my husband’s lunch each day, and have taken over mowing our massive lawn in order to make his life a bit easier.  When I am away from him, I like to send him love songs, (although that embarrasses him a bit!) He has recently taken to opening my car door for me – I tell him that I feel like his 2nd wife, with such a sweet gesture!

When is the last time you looked into your husband or wife’s face when they were not looking and just thought about how much you love them and how devastated you would be without them? Give it a try – you might decide that the person you want to make happier, is not yourself, but your mate!

Ephesians 5:31

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

Genesis 2:18

“The Lord God said, “It isn’t good for the man to live alone. I need to make a suitable partner for him.”

I Corinthians  13:4-8
Love is kind and patient,
never jealous, boastful,
    proud, or rude.
Love isn’t selfish
    or quick tempered.
It doesn’t keep a record
    of wrongs that others do.
Love rejoices in the truth,
    but not in evil.
Love is always supportive,
loyal, hopeful,
    and trusting.
Love never fails!

My challenge is to get over yourself and fall in love with the love of your life all over again!!

(Dedicated to the one I have loved all of these past 32 years and many more to come – let’s just get better together!)

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OOPS! I DID IT AGAIN…

Once again I realize that I have been looking Websterat things through the eyes and heart of someone from a different culture. It seems to be something that I cannot un-learn. When you grow up in a different country, you take on the traits of that culture.  How you think, how you feel, how you react – all parts of the young you that made you who you are. Boom! Clarity.

Recently, something happened that hurt me deeply, yet those closest to me did not understand my reaction to the pain. In the early hours of the morning, God spoke so softly and sweetly to me saying, “Honey, it may be that no one will ever truly understand the way you are.  You react the way you do because I placed you in a land during your formative years that make you who you are today. I made you for a purpose, to love passionately and feel deeply. You may never be understood, but I created you that way.  When you are hurt or dismayed, keep turning all of your passions to Me – I will never disappoint you.  You are my precious child and I love you so very much!”

Devotions, along with my cup of coffee, were aimed right at the same topic, almost as if God is trying to get the point home to me through Scripture, (ya think?!) The word, “Sojourner,” came up.

I’m a sojourner (stranger) in these parts;
give me clear directions.

Webster defines it as such:

so•journ
noun \ˈsō-ˌjərn, sō-ˈ\
: a period of time when you stay in a place as a traveler or guest
: a temporary stay <a sojourn in the country>

So began a search into my Guidebook:

Leviticus 19:33, 34

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.  Rather, treat the foreigner staying with you like the native-born among you — you are to love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt; I am ADONAI your God.

Exodus 23:9
 “Do not beat an outsider down. You yourselves know how it feels to be outsiders. Remember, you were outsiders in Egypt.

Acts 7:29
When Moses heard these words, he left Egypt at once. He lived as a sojourner (stranger) in the country of Midian.

Hebrews 11:9
[Prompted] by faith he dwelt as a temporary resident in the land which was designated in the promise [of God, though he was like a stranger] in a strange country.

Psalm 119:19
I feel like a stranger visiting here on earth.
I need to know your commands.
Don’t keep them hidden from me.

Psalm 39:12
Hear my prayer, O Yahweh!
Listen to my cry for help!
Do not ignore my sobbing!
For I am dependent on you, like one residing outside his native land;
a traveler passing through the earth.

All of us at some point or other, feel like sojourners – strangers in our own skin, strangers to circumstances we find ourselves in, out of place, out of sync, just not fitting in, not being understood.  This is  when we can find comfort in these Scripture verses, sent to us straight from our Father to help us through these feelings. He hears our cry! He cares about our every thought, our every pain, our every foreign feeling. He captures our tears and stores them, because each one is precious to Him!

Psalm 56:8

You have seen me tossing and turning through the night. You have collected all my tears and preserved them in your bottle! You have recorded every one in your book.

Isaiah 49:16

See, I have tattooed your name upon my palm.

Do you know why God does this? Not only does He love us, but He understands us! He gets it.  He’s been there.

Jeremiah 14:8
Hope of Israel,
its Savior in time of distress,
why are You like a foreigner in the land,
like a traveler stopping only for the night?

So when my, “soul melts away for sorrow,” God will, “strengthen me according to His Word!” (Psalm 119:28) We can be encouraged, as we are only passing through.  This world is not our home.  We do not have to fit in.  We do not have to be like everyone else.  We do not have to be understood. God created us to be unique, to go through the things in life in order to be shaped, molded to become the person He wants us to be.

Life is full of pain. My heart has been shattered on many occasions and I will be hurt many more times before my sojourn on this earth is over. My cry out to God is this final verse – I hope it will be yours, too.

Psalm 119:54

Your statutes (instructions) have been my songs
    in the house of my sojourning, (wherever I am living).

 

 

 

 

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Beauty in Ashes

Beauty in Ashes.

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Conquering Your Giants – a Beatbox Message

Ever feel like you are not in a place where you can get the Word out?  Too shy to verbally speak it? Worried that people may never hear about Jesus Christ?  HERE is one way to do your part: WATCH this video, “Conquering Your Giants,” by xSTAYTRUEx Ministries Trevor Heyd, then SHARE it everywhere you can – facebook, tumblr, pinterest, twitter, instagram, google+, email, your blog – anywhere and everywhere you  can imagine, and YOU will be telling people about Jesus! PRAY for those whose lives you might touch by doing this one, small thing!

Trevor Heyd is my youngest son.  He has spent his entire life serving God to the very best of his ability. He took a stand at an early age, determined to live in a way that would please Him, no matter what.  He has earned a degree in Christian Ministries from Indiana Wesleyan University, went on to be ordained by the Wesleyan Church International, and founded xSTAYTRUEx Ministries, where he travels world-wide to share the Gospel of Christ through beatboxing, skateboarding and speaking mainly to teens and young adults and sometimes children and older adults.  His unique way to speak in a way that shows his love and commitment to the things of God shines through as soon as he begins to interact.  you may check more of what he does at staytrueministries.com.

Thank you for taking a couple of seconds out of your life to read this and then pass on the message above.  You never regret what you do for the sake of the Kingdom!

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SHINY OR GLOWING?

The American culture finds it repulsive for a woman to sweat. We can even name it, “Dewy,” if we should be caught having the unthinkable happen! It is not acceptable for a woman to have a shiny face. Public restrooms are filled with women who have their make up kits out to remove the grease that created that shiny nose.

Last month, my husband and I went to a retreat for Pastors and spouses. The purpose is to take us away from our ministries to take time to pause and soak in.  The speakers were fabulous, the games hilarious, and the worship music over-the-top wonderful. It is a moving sight to see pastors and spouses showing the God they serve how they feel in a multitude of expressions. But there was one pastors wife that always had me turning my head her way through out those days together. On her face was the most incredible, indescribable expression of adoration, joy, peace and love that I think I have ever seen. Her face glowed! I have no idea if her face was shiny, but it sure did glow!

Today I was reminded of her as I read this Scripture as part of my devotions:

29 …Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. 32 Afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he commanded them all that the Lord had spoken with him in Mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. 34 Whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, 35 the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him. (Exodus 34:29-35)

The shiny skin on the face of Moses was to show the people that the true and living God had been speaking to him. As one commentator put it: “He carried his credentials on his very countenance.” I have always been saddened that the people were so afraid of his shiny face that he had to put a veil on to cover it up.  Imagine being so close to the very glory of the Lord!  Imagine if they hadn’t been afraid, and instead had wanted more and had gotten as close to him as possible and all of those closest to him would have had shiny faces, too?! Instead, Moses placed a veil over his shiny face except when he went in to meet with God intimately, where the veil could be removed, where God could see him as he was, shiny face and all.

LORD, show me Your glory!

Matthew 5:16

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Numbers 6:24-26

24 “The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”’

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