Archive for the ‘Christian Living’ Category

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Prayer Works

June 15, 2011

I just spent a week with my cousins and Aunt from PA and absolutely had a wonderful staycation with them.  Their boys are such a joy to be around and full of life.  Aunt Janice is more like a second mom than my aunt. Kavin, my one-year-old yelled in excitement every day he saw the boys.

In all the fun and the hustle and bustle of a wirlwind vacation, there was a sweeter connection happening that we didn’t have before.  Matt, my cousin, and Barbie, his wife, have been going to church for a while now and are hungry for Jesus.  It blessed my heart to the deepest places to know they are getting fed on a regular basis with scripture and fellowship and I enjoyed listening to them share about their faith journeys.  I learned some new things from them this week about scripture and Matt’s thoughtful questions going further after the sermon energized my spiritual curiousity.  I write this with tears in my eyes, grateful for God answering my prayers for many years: that Matt would desire a deep realtionship with Jesus.  Thank you, GOD!

As I dove into the scriptures myself this morning, the Lord led me to Thessalonians 1:5- “for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”  I am reminded that it is the Holy Spirit’s work to draw each of us into conviction.  We still have a choice and we need to pray for those we love, but the Holy Spirit’s work, not our own, is what draws us to Himself.  This week I witnessed the Holy Spirit drawing my loved ones to Himself and I am grateful to the very depths of my being.

I never thought I would be sitting in a church worshipping with Matt… and there we were, with both our families… listening to the Word and learning about the disciples.

So, we did lots of fun things this week, and all the boys (including my own) enjoyed romping around So. Cal. together.  For me, the greatest gift was seeing my cousin, whom I love so much, be interested and excited about the things of God.  It encourages me to continue to pray and trust that the Holy Spirit is working… even if I can’t see.  We are all on a journey with ups and downs, smooth times and rough.  I am grateful that the Lord allowed me to spend time with him this week and get a glimpse at Matt on his journey… as a husband, father, and believer.  I am proud of who he is and excited to see him next year when we visit.

Prayer works!  Pray for those you love and don’t lose heart… the Spirit is at work.

 

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The Gospel

June 13, 2011
The Gospel is not some pithy catch phrase to gloss over our lives and make them whitewashed with goodness.  The Gospel isn’t some bumper sticker we place on our car as we join a club.  Instead, the Gospel is an invading force of light that penetrates every pore of our being until we ourselves become light so all the world might see.  It is my greatest pursuit that more of Jesus live in me today than yesterday.  That is only made possible by the provision of the Gospel.  You see, I use to SAY I believe, like some still do, but then live our lives as if the Gospel has no power.  It doesn’t.  Not in a life that believes but doesn’t embrace.  One of the scariest verses in the Bible for me is James 2:19- “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.”  What is this faith then, that saves us?  It is the faith that chooses to allow Christ to transform us by HIS grace and not by our own attempts.  From death to life.  From darkness to light. From brokeness to wholeness.  From sinful to holy.  All made possible by the Gospel by which we live:  Christ lived perfect, died a sinner’s death, rose to life, and ascended into Heaven.  It’s simple… yet simply life altering.For me, the Gospel is everything.  It not only saves my soul from hell, but gives me everything I need for life and godliness.  When famine comes, it is my sustenance. When doubt comes, it is my truth. When fear comes, it is my peace.  I know that in the Gospel, I am nothing, but Christ in me is everything.  What a relief!  What a joy!  What a promise!

Sometimes I am scared at the reality of the Gospel.  As a believer I skim over the grotesque nature of sin so that I can live a comfortable life, not consumed with the depravity of others in order to penetrate my light in a way that will lead them away from darkness.  The questions we are faced with today with the ever-increasing wickedness around, the dissolution of morality, the severity of sickness and catastrophe;  I don’t have the answers for, so I often remain silent.  I excuse my responsibility by thinking “I don’t know the Bible enough, I don’t know their situation enough, I don’t want to damage our relationships.”

Well, the real only foolish thing is to remain silent on the one thing I do know.  Christ is life.  What that means in the places of sickness and poverty, I wish it could magically erase these devastations now (it will some day when Christ returns!).  But I am learning that the hope of the Gospel, the transforming nature of the Creator working in the lives of the believers; is available for anyone, even an awful sinner like me.  It’s not for the faint of heart, but for the brave.  It meets all of us where we are at and gives us the hope and purpose for it all … the good and the bad.  For the adventure He has me on takes me to uncomfortable places within my self and within the world.

The Gospel is not some pity catch phrase to gloss over our lives and make them whitewashed with goodness.  The Gospel is to die to myself so that others might live.  The Gospel gives me life… the Gospel is my life.  He died so I might live… and the life I live, I live by faith in Jesus Christ so others might live.  Yes, it’s sloppy.  No, I am not perfect.  But I desire to be changed from the inside out.  No whitewashed tomb here… just an overhaul in process…. thanks to the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Yet, I will praise Him

June 12, 2011

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines.
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock would be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,

YET (emphasis mine) I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet
And makes me walk on my high places.

This basically sums up the first year of motherhood for me. Yes… there have been thousands of joys every day and I love watching Kavin grow. I would not exchange the divine privilege of being home with him with anything in the world, YET… it has not been easy. From his possible death the first month of life, to transitioning to full-time motherhood… there have been many days I didn’t know if I could do it.

However, it has been in my weakness that Christ REALLY has made me stronger.  He has taken my broken, crippled feet… and given me hinds feet.  Although I am still in process, I am amazed at how far His grace has brought me in just one year’s time.

I also look around at the trials I see going on: famines, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, disease… and I too can see in these that followers of Christ or not, we ALL go through trials of various kinds.

It seems to me that we, as the church at large, do not talk about the Christian life as one of toilsome perseverance as we pitch a rose-colored Gospel to would-be followers of Christ, but following Christ does not keep us exempt from hard times. From the pages of Scripture in the verses of Habakkuk, I can see it all clearly…

Life sucks sometimes, yet even in all the mud and mire, the Lord is our strength… and THROUGH it all (not around it all) He will make our legs like hinds feet so when calamity strikes again, we will be able to rise above it and leap from the mountain top of joy, to the mountaintop of promise.

I imagine myself writing poetry like the passage in Habakkuk. As I look at current world events, my poem may look something like this:

Though the economy may fail
And children die from starvation
Though houses wash away
And marriages dissolve
Though countries rage war over greed
And the poor remain in need

YET… I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation
The Lord is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet
And makes me walk on my high places.

Jesus promises us trouble… and victory. There is no victory without adversity.  The Gospel is summed up in this… that He DIED (adversity) and ROSE (victory) from the dead!  So too will we in Christ Jesus.

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Objects in the Mirror are Closer than they Appear

June 6, 2011

Objects in the Mirror are Closer than they Appear

I drove home from church and glanced in the rear view mirror to see if Kavin fell asleep in the car seat.  The warning “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear” popped in my head.  Something so routine prompted a reflection.

When Kavin struggled for life the days after his birth, doctors would not tell us how long he would stay in the hospital; or when we would know if he would survive; if his lung would ever develop; if he had brain damage from the lack of oxygen.  So many questions and no answers.

A month is not a long time in the scheme of things, but when every moment, every breath is weighed with the unknowns of life, of time, of hope… not knowing how long the trial will last makes the longevity of it seem more perilous.

Yet, had I known from the beginning that he would be there a month, maybe I would have missed seeing God as clearly as I did… because I wouldn’t have needed Him as desperately.  The thing is, we never know how long a trial will last.  We don’t know what life is like on the other side of a hard season.  Is it a small wasteland or years of wandering through the wilderness?  Will we die in the wilderness or enter the promise land?

I am reminded, however, that the God who created the world and my very life, sees all that is ahead and is with me now.  He knows the boundaries of the various trials we travel through and sustains us in the moment.

I also see now that in the moment of peril, I quickly enter into jittery impatience, wanting to push through to get the hard part over with.  In that determination, I sometimes throw a proverbial temper tantrum and then laugh at myself when I realize that the closure of the difficult time was closer than it appeared.

Instead of an object, my imagination thinks:  seasons in the mirror are closer than they appear.  Life is in seasons.  Some are treacherous, some relaxing, but one thing we can be sure of, one season leads to the next.  As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”  (Ephesians 5:15-17, NIV) Let us not get so caught up in the difficulty, that we miss making the most of the moment.  There is always something we can do to shine our light to others… even when we sit in a dark cave ourselves.

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A Year with Kavin in Review

March 23, 2011

It has been a while since I have wrttien publicly.  Just needed a break to allow God to work in me in the quiet places of my heart.  Although I am still in the thick of this private journey of transformation in this season, an awesome experience happened today that I must share with those of you who cared enough to pray us through the firey ordeal almost a year ago.

———-

So, Kavin had a scheduled special xray for his diaphragm at the Kaiser hospital on Sunset, where he spent the first month of his life.  I honestly did not want to go today.  Not because it jarred us out of his normal nap routine, but because it shook me back to a place of remembrance.  I started crying this morning even before we lef the house.  Mixed emotions.  Mostly grateful, but some I can’t even explain. Like going back to the that place somehow hit a bruised part of my soul.  It hurt.

I rushed out of the house to make the 9am appointment.  Rush hour traffic, no fun.  One the way down I prayed and listened to the Christian station to try to get focused for the day.  As I pulled up and drove into the parking structure for the hospital, the Spirit nudged in the way He does,  “don’t see this place as a negative thing.  This place is like an alter of remembrance, a celebration pillar of what I have done.”  Peace.  The same cloud of peace that carried us through those tough uncertain weeks washed over me.

We made our way to the appointment and were attended to by an Indian middleaged man, who was a bit ackward and shy at first.  However, Kavin’s smile and scrambled words quickly got him out of his shell.  We chit chatted throughout the procedure and as he walked me out to the waiting room again, our conversation turned serious.  He opened up to me about the desires of his heart and about the gal that he is living with.  I encouraged him to do what would be most pleasing to God and He would reward and guide him.

During the video x-ray, called a florascopy, the radiologist said that Kavin’s diaphragm looks like it is working well, praise the Lord!  A layer of relief and weight lifted from my heart that I didn’t even know I carried.  Thank You, Jesus.

The picture the surgeon sent us on 4.12.10

I decided to get a cup of coffee on the way back to the car.  As I walked up to the line, I noticed one of the attending surgeons for Kavin was in line in front of me!  What?  Of all the times he could come to the coffee stand!  I was so jazzed to show him Kavin and what a joy our baby boy is.  We enjoyed talking about the goodness of life and our miracle.  He ended up buying me my coffee and we greeted eachother with the “best” for the future.

As I walked back to the car with my squirmy and fussy bundle of joy (it was passed his nap time), I just spilled over the brim with gratitude that the Lord really made my “pillar of remembrance” trip into a sweet time of encouragment and healing.

The last couple weeks I have been reflecting on how much life has changed since Kavin… how much I am changing as a woman of God.  I really am a different person, being transformed from the inside out.  And I love it.  I love the woman God is creating in me.  One who is more focused on relationships rather than tasks; I am becoming a woman of perseverance rather than immediate gratification (can we say laundry? lol); my prayer life is deepening as I go about my daily “automatic” duties; I am learning my value is not in WHAT I do, but in my relationship with Christ.  Most of all, I am learning to be a servant in everything.  I thought I was.  Now I realize, I have a lot to learn yet.  When life is spent and all is said and done, I am learning that I want to say, “I followed Christ every step of the way.”  From the international fields… to the mission of the home… and what ever else God leads me to.

This year has been what seems like the most difficult year for me.  Transitioning from public ministry and working in my administrative gifts to day in and day out serving in the home- has been a journey of surrender, and yet still surrendering more.  Sometimes kicking and screaming like a two-year-old before the Lord.

This year has changed me… and I like the woman I am becoming.  Being humbled is hurtful, but in the end, I will be a vessle ready for the smith.

Thank you for praying with me and for us this past year.  Your prayers have made all the difference. AMEN!

Day at the LA Zoo- March 2011

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God’s provision in our service

December 22, 2010

Serving God

December 22, 2010

When God calls me to something, it is always beyond my natural skills or ability to achieve.  I have tried to push and produce in the flesh, but it comes up short and leaves me defeated and exhausted.  I now begin to see that when He calls, He provides His power and His Spirit.  I must yield to His provision and not depend on my own, as if serving Him requires my self-sufficiency.

When He called Joshua He said, “I will be with you where ever you go.”  (Deut 31:23) Yes.  It is true.  Where He leads, He goes there with us.

When He calls me to speak, it is His Spirit that gives me utterance.  When He calls me to pray, it is His inspiration that gives me insight.  When He calls me to give, it is His provision that is given.  When He calls me to speak, it is His words that are shared.  When He calls me to write, it is His passion that moves my fingers on the keypad.

I am relieved by this recognition.  So many times I labored to fulfill His calling on my own.  I claimed the responsibility.  Yet, the only responsibility I have in relation to my service to Him… is choosing this day whom I will serve.  As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)

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Holiday Traveling Tale

December 15, 2010

Flying home alone with Kavin this week, who is eight months old now, caused a bit of anxiety.  Jason and I joked about it on the way to Pennsylvania.

“Before I was a dad I used to see a baby on the plane and think, ‘Oh great!  I will never be able to sleep now.'” He commented as we stood in line to get on the plane.  “Now we are the ones people are looking at saying, ‘Oh great!  There is a baby on the plane.”  We laughed.  Inside my mind I hoped for kind fellow travelers.

Kavin did great on the way there.  So, as I stood in line for the flight home, this time on my own, I prayed for kind travelers once again.  Thank God for His provision.  A lady and her mother befreinded me in line. They loaded first, due to the mother requiring extra assistance.  When I stepped onto the plane, I saw my new friend sitting in a seat behind her mother, “Here.  These two seats are for you,” She said as she rose and handed me my cup of coffee she carried onto the plane for me.

The flight going out of Pittsburgh was delayed, so I needed to make a mad dash to the next gate once we arrived in Vegas.  With Kavin hanging on my chest, a rolling carry-on, another bag full of blankets and snacks, and his diaper bag, I tried my best to scoop everything up and not hold back the line.  “Here.  Let me help you,” Bonnie, the grandmother whom sat in my row, said as she grabbed my bag of blankets and snacks.

Bonnie needed to make her flight too, but took the time to walk me to my gate and get me on the flight.  “Wow, Lord.  Thanks!”  I said as I walked down the ramp and loaded onto the booked plane from Veags to L.A.  I could only find one window seat… the last seat in the back of the plane.

The flight attendants assisted me to load my bags.  Sole, a beautiful blue-eyed Puerto Rican young woman with long brown hair, perfect french tip nails, and sporting a Luis Vitton hand bag sat next to me.  “You and I will get very close this short flight,” I joked with her as I explained that I will be breast feeding Kavin for most of the trip.

Shortly into the flight Sole began to tell me about her boyfriend she was on the way to visit in Los Angeles.  As we shared our stories a bit, she continued to open up, and I found myself counseling this younger woman about life, love, and hard decisions.  The Spirit began to prod me with something to say, but in my mind it sounded judgemental and harsh.  So, as I listened to her, I wrestled back and forth with the Lord, “Do You really want me to say that?”  I asked over and over.  Finally I conceded.

“Sole, can I say something?  It may sound harsh, but I think you need to hear it.” I asked.

“Sure.”  She said as she genuinly turn her countenance in interest to my insight.

“Bottom line is, I think you are focusing on the wrong things in your life.  You are confused and frustrated and hurting because you have made yourself and your happiness the priority and not your relationship with Jesus.  The Word says, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.’  NOT delight in your desires and God will give you whatever you want.  If you focus on seeking Jesus, everything will fall into place.”

Whew.  Did I just say that to a stranger?  I waited for her response.  She lifted her hand as if holding a hammer and slammed it down onto an imaginary nail.  “You nailed it on the head.” She said.  “I needed to hear that.”

This morning I too am wrestling with foggy perception and frustrated with lack of clarity.  I hear my voice speaking truth into Sole’s life and realize once again that truth is universal.  All I need to do is seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto me.  The focus is Jesus.

Currently I am reading the book of Ephesians.  Paul writes, “by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.”  Today, my revelation that I am writing in brief is this:  Always be willing to speak the truth into someone’s life; accept the kindness of strangers when there is a need; and recognize God’s hand in it all.