Romans 12:2

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Kenya 2016

Ephesians 2:10English Standard Version (ESV)

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Charlie recently got home from Kenya, Africa on a mission trip with Catalyst for Africa.  He has once again been blown away by God, and all that He has created.  Charlie got to see some amazing country and animals, some he had never even heard of before, such a wonderful experience.

Here's the thing that blows my mind, our God is such an amazing creator that is infinitely more amazing than we will ever comprehend.  It will literally take us an ETERNITY to discover the wonder and the Glory of our God.  But what just kills me, is in all His amazing creation, the thing that is most dear to his heart, is his children and His relationship with them and their relationships with one another. 

He loves us, He created us, and He isn't up there in heaven biting his nails to see if we can get it right or if we can
 perform or produce
 stuff for Him.
 He cares about the process, the relationship with us, and us with each other.  
We measure success in numbers and productivity,
 God measures success by
 as well, but the produce He looks at, is fruit, the fruit of the spirit, which is; 

We can be the best people,
 (by human standards)
 best moms and dads,
 kids and students,
 workers and bosses,
 if we measure with what WE do, and what WE produce on the outside,
but if we don't have 
 producing and working on the inside
 it all for

The people we are doing all that good stuff with and for in our home and around the world,  will not  be helped at all if we 
don't speak the truth and tell all who can hear about
Jesus is the best and most important part of any good deed or good work.
All our good works will burn up in the end, but if 
is the center of it all, it will last for eternity.

1 Corinthians 3:11-13(ESV)

11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.

Here is just a small glimpse of what God does....he brings 3 guys from totally different parts of the country, with totally different lives, families, jobs, and life experiences to come together and go to a country in Africa, and teach in a leadership conference, to love, and encourage, and teach leaders in Kenya and a few from Uganda.

  How does this happen??
  God is a good good  Father, and all we need in common we already have thru HIM, 
We don't need to have to have anything else in common, in fact when you only hang out with people that look and act like us, we are missing some of the greatest blessings life has to offer.

I'm sure there's a more "efficient" way, in the world's standards,of doing the things these guys did, but there is no other way to develop a relationship than to take the time to 
talk and listen,
laugh and cry,
teach and learn,
 eat and drink together.
This is what Jesus modeled for us, this is his example.
 God could have taken a giant Bible and threw it at us from heaven and told us to read it and live by it and wished us good luck and see ya later,
 but instead He sent the WORD in the flesh.

John 1:14English Standard Version (ESV)

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

After all that Charlie had gotten to see and learn and share, it was once again the relationships and the people and their stories of how God pursued them all in different ways to bring them to where they were at that particular moment.
  His heart has been challenged and changed once again to how great our God is.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Sometimes the Truth Hurts

Sometimes the truth hurts.

When you follow Jesus and your relationship with Him begins to grow and  your life begins to change,  be prepared to get the HELL beat clean out of you.  In scripture, it is called "pruning," but it's really the same concept, it's for the purpose of removing the junk and making provision for producing good stuff.

We just finished a study on the Armor of God in women's Bible study, and it is clear that we are told in Scripture to put on the ARMOR OF GOD, not our pretty frilly white Sunday best.
 It doesn't say to put on our dainty clothes that aren't meant for getting dirty, or show any sign of wear and tear, but
  Because we are in a war and the
 *struggle is real*
 and we need all the armor that Ephesians 6 describes.

I think so many times as Christians we are hesitant to talk about the battle, because it's messy and it's painful and it's hard and we don't want our faith to look unpleasant.
  We somehow feel like God can't handle people knowing the real truth about what happens when we submit our lives to JESUS.
  But guess what???
so I'm not sure who we think we are protecting,
 God, from himself maybe?

Don't get me wrong....following Jesus is the ONLY WAY and it's amazing and
 and LIFE ABUNDANT...but it's NOT the best life NOW, it's living in a war zone and looking forward to our best life later.

It's not the abundant life that we think of in the here and now, it's Jesus,

In the Old Testament story of Jacob wrestling with God, Jacob was up close and personal...sweating it out and he wouldn't let go, even though it was hard and painful, he wouldn't let go or give up  until he got a
  He was never the same after that wrestling match, and he walked with a limp the rest of his life. 
 But I bet when we get to heaven and talk to him, he will relive that wrestling match a million changed him, He was changed and He was

I have never seen anyone that has walked with the Lord for very much time, or had a real up close encounter, that they don't walk with a limp of  sorts, and everyone who has stuck it out with God, may have a limp, but they also have

1 Corinthians 13:12-13The Message (MSG)

12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

The reason this is heavy on my mind is that Charlie is away on a mission trip.   The Lord gave an opportunity and provision and Charlie jumped in ready to go.
 I know there will be changed lives and GLORY to God!  

  As he was preparing to go, things just seemed to fall apart, which often times accompanies any step of faith.  In order to stay on track we have to focus on JESUS and know the TRUTH and remember God's FAITHFULNESS. 
 If we look at the obstacles and circumstances and lose heart we will miss the

The christian life is not skipping through life in our Sunday best
with doors flinging open and money falling out of the sky, but rather, things heat up,
 and the battle is on.
 This is why the Bible tells us to put on
 not a  frilly Sundress and flip-flops.
 We have to be ready and armored up and prayed up and prayed for.

I can tell you from the home front that when Charlie is gone, things get crazy even at home
(part of this is just Murphy's law as well...when the man is away...stuff breaks,)
 but I can also testify that when he is gone for the sake of the GOSPEL the whole family grows  and benefits and is blessed beyond anything we could think to ask for.

 One of the best and most beautiful LIFE ABUNDANT examples of this, is our Esther. 
 Had we looked at the wreck that was going on in our lives 6 years ago when Charlie and Lashae were headed to Uganda, and not focused on JESUS, Charlie would not have gone, he would not have met our girl, we would have missed out on this

 Our blessing came home and we walk with a limp of sorts,
 because it's hard, and it's amazing, and we are forever changed and 

I'm getting great reports of how Charlie is doing in Kenya!

I'm so thankful for Charlie and I'm especially proud of him when he is bold and brave enough to get out of his comfort zone and out of his country and reach and teach and share the
I'm thankful to God for always being creative in how he puts His people together on mission.
I'm thankful to Catalyst for Africa and Michael Mozley for taking a chance on a cowboy and welcoming him to the team.

I'm most in LOVE with my man when he has been on a mission trip,
he is full of fire and purpose and

 and therefore I will greet him in a hazmat suit.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Birth Giver

We just celebrated 5 years of having Esther in our family forever!  I giggle every time I check her phone and see that she has my contact name in her phone as:
Birth Giver. 
 OHHHHHHHHHH sweet daughter of mine you are so right.  We have labored together, her and I, for 5 solid years.  The labor has been 5 years which seems so long, but when you are having to push thru 10 years of  stuff that has happened before we were even laboring together, it's understandable.  Just like any labor, there are times of intense pain and times of rest and deep breathing, and more joy than I can describe.  I think the long and difficult labors are the ones that also bring about the most joyful celebration because we know what it took to get to this point. .  Whenever we feel like giving into the pain, we remember the purpose and the result of what is on the other side of it all, and we keep going.  God is so faithful to bring us through. He has also given us all the strength and the perseverance to keep going, keep pressing in, keep digging deep.

  I can't even imagine my life, my marriage, my parenting, my walk with Jesus, apart from what I have learned in this
 "labor of LOVE."

People, on occasion will comment that they can imagine how "thankful" Esther is for our family.  I know what they mean, but I never know how to answer that comment. I don't expect a
 "thank you" from my birth kids for having them, and I don't expect my adopted ones to thank me for adopting them.

I pray all my kids are thankful, thankful for everything!!!

But I pray they are thankful to
 for the gift of life and the family 
has put together, and thankful to
 for parenting and giving them everything they can suck out of us.  :)
*oops...did I blog that out-loud*

Colossians 3:16English Standard Version (ESV)

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

The best OREO ever!!!!!

 I do pray for ALL OF US,
 to rejoice in the Lord and thank HIM for LIFE and LOVE.