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, September 7, 2017

The "Heart" Beat.



  As a mom and as a child of God, I would so much rather deal with a behavior than a heart.  I know that sounds horrible, but it's the truth.  A behavior seems easier to see, to change, and to control. 
However, dealing only with behavior is like putting a band-aid on your skin, when you have internal bleeding.


Jeremiah 17:9-10English Standard Version (ESV)

The heart is deceitful above all things,

    and desperately sick;
    who can understand it?
10 
“I the Lord search the heart
    and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
    according to the fruit of his deeds.”


I love that last part that says fruit of his deed, not his deeds.  Again, we can hide behind good works but the fruit of it, good or bad is a result of the heart behind it.



We have a friend (Jeff) that often says, "Relationship before task."  I believe this is the heart of God.  He is so much more interested in our hearts than our actions.  He is a relational God and He wants our whole heart, and out of that whole heart will flow the actions that produce good fruit.

I have made an attempt this summer to see into the heart of things, and especially my kids, not just  actions.
  Oh Lord Oh Lord. 
 I can tell you, when you start looking and praying for heart issues not just behaviors, and go beyond asking God to keep them "healthy, safe, and strong,"  it can get very vulnerable and honest and messy in a hurry.

Psalm 51:15-17English Standard Version (ESV)

15 
O Lord, open my lips,

    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;

    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

One thing I have found as God has opened my eyes to see deeper into their hearts, is it has revealed some issues that needed repentance in my own heart. 

As I have prayed more intentionally for hearts rather than just the behaviors, it has cultivated space for some real work to be done.  God is so faithful to hear our prayers and to transform and clean our hearts.  It has not happened overnight and it is all far from perfect, but I feel a different heartbeat, a different rhythm in our family.  It feels like we aren't as controlled by circumstances and moods, (which is a stinking miracle in itself, as we have so many teenage hormones living in this house).  The family heart beat is stronger and more constant.


There is a fresh freedom and peace and joy that has taken root in their hearts and mine.



God gave me such a beautiful picture of this today when they drove off together for their first day of high school together.  I got a bit choked up, as I was thinking of how good and kind and faithful our Father is.  I love how creative He is in putting families together.  He got really wild when He put this core bunch together.  These 3 are the most different people in every way, and yet.  God has brought them together and they make up this beautiful creative core group, and they share the same father on earth and the same Father in heaven.         


Then there is this amazing 4th grader and my Kindergartner.  These older kids might be the core of the family, but these younger ones are the passion. 
 They are fireballs in their hearts and in their actions. 



God gives the most amazing gifts and He is so faithful. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Remembering To Listen, Leads To Understanding

God is faithful to teach us when we go to Him.  Often times I have something on my heart and ask God to lead, and He will  blow my theory to powder and throws it out, or He teaches me in a very up close and personal way and brings new understanding.



Psalm 25:4-6 (ESV)

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
    teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all the day long.
Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
    for they have been from of old.

So I've been struggling with this whole statue of Robert E. Lee situation.  I think it's just so sad and complicated beyond a simple one word, *history*, or one action *removal*.  Obviously it's so much deeper than either one of those things.

The big division that has shown up over this historical statue has been a manifestation of what has been brewing in the hearts of people for a long time, generations..........

The thought I kept having last week was:

If you ran my Grandma over with your car and then put that car in a park to remind everyone of that history, and justified that it was a good car and it was only doing it's job when it ran my Grandma over, it would bring pain and anger every time anyone in my family saw that car for generations to come.

But as usual I kept thinking, there must be more that I don't see or understand..... because that seems too simple too obvious...What am I missing that seems to make everyone think this is so important to fight over?

  It's the hearts of people, NOT the history or statutes, that has everyone in turmoil.  When our idols are messed with it, it causes the heart to FEEL big and act PASSIONATELY.

So, here's my personal experience....I have a kid that has had a traumatic past...and this child does very well in life, and is a very loved and treasured human being among our family and friends. This child is one of the kindest humans I have ever known. This child has been thru IT and has overcome a lot in life.  A few weeks ago this child fell off the track of progress....nobody else would probably know it, or notice it, but there was  a looming heart-ache that affected all those in close contact.  We had done all the things we know to do, to bring the heaviness to a restful place again, but I became exhausted and frustrated.

Then a few days ago, the opportunity presented itself to have a heartfelt conversation.  I have tried many times before, but there has to be a readiness on both parts.  Our paths finally crossed at the right time, and we began to talk about what was going on.  When this finally happens we have to track back to when it all fell apart "this time".  As we talked, we realized there was a certain piece of history that was being remembered and felt and looked at daily, and not thru the lense of love and forgiveness, but thru the lense of hurt and pain and it just was more that this child could bear.  It would seem to be a small and insignificant thing to most people, or even a good thing to possess such memorabilia, but that's not what this child was experiencing.

 Oh Lord in heaven I am here to testify with all confidence....it did not do good things for this precious soul, to have a constant reminder of this " simple history".  As soon as I understood what was going on, I knew it was important to keep this "thing" to remember, and to preserve "history," BUT I knew more than anything else that this item needed to get out of constant vision or we were all going to have a melt down.  The history needed to be remembered, but also grieved over, and this is something to do on occasion, with reverence, not daily and not flippantly. What seemed so innocent and even sweet to me was a source of pain for this child.  Some of the pain, is feeling and thinking about, "what could have been".  The act of listening to what was happening inside this soul was eye opening.  This child didn't even know this is what was going on inside until we began to talk and confess it out loud.  I don't have the same reminders or reaction to this item, but since this child DOES, I couldn't get it out of here fast enough.

I thank God for showing me this in my own home, even though it has been a bumpy couple of weeks.  I wonder what would happen if we could all take these divisions and make them as personal as a child in our own home.  We might all give a lot more understanding and not be so sure of what we think and feel, but compassion might lead the way to unity, even if we still don't agree.

May our minds open to understand, our hearts feel compassion, and our passions be lead in LOVE and GRACE.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Eclipse Me? What Are You Doing Here?


This eclipse has made things pretty interesting around here.  
We live right in the "path" of the total darkness eclipse.


There are people flooding into this small town, farm community like crazy.

There are aerial views and that make one of the camps look like a refugee camp.  



When these folks come thru they look different, we can easily identify them, as "those people".  These folks are traveling in everything from small cars to big buses, but whether they are in a car or a bus, they seem to have everything they own strapped onto it.

You see every reaction possible to these folks, from the locals; there is a fear, irritation, or fascination.  I love seeing the old locals parking their pickups and leaned over the hood with a cup of coffee and a friend, and watching main street like a parade is in town.

I am so curious about these folks.  They have come from a very long ways, all over the world, and by the looks of it, they have all their belongings with them.  I realize they are here for the eclipse and the party, but there has to be more than that drawing these folks.  

I keep having the thought that they are so close to having it right.  They are drawn by an event of the  sun.  They are planning and traveling, for a long time from a long ways, to get the best view of the SUN doing something spectacular.

These people seem very different, but they are really just the same as all of us.  These folks all have a story.  I would love to sit and hear just a handful of the stories of these people that have come to celebrate and get the best view of the SUN becoming dark for approximately 2 1/2 min.

I wonder if these folks have been told about the SON of the living GOD.  The  SON that did something spectacular 2000 years ago and the SUN went dark for 3 hours that day. The whole history of the world revolves around this SON, just like our world revolves around the SUN.  Without the SUN or the SON and we have no hope, no life.

John 8:12-16English Standard Version (ESV)

I Am the Light of the World

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me.

I want to sit with a few of these folks and ask the question that we get asked when we travel to Uganda,
 "You have come a long way, why have you come?"

Even if these people don't know why they have come, or they think they have just come for the eclipse or the party, there is something deeper that I think draws us all to be a part of something amazing that will go down in history forever. 

Job 12:22-25The Message (MSG)

From God We Learn How to Live

13-25 
“True wisdom and real power belong to God;
    from him we learn how to live,
    and also what to live for.
If he tears something down, it’s down for good;
    if he locks people up, they’re locked up for good.
If he holds back the rain, there’s a drought;
    if he lets it loose, there’s a flood.
Strength and success belong to God;
    both deceived and deceiver must answer to him.
He strips experts of their vaunted credentials,
    exposes judges as witless fools.
He divests kings of their royal garments,
    then ties a rag around their waists.
He strips priests of their robes,
    and fires high officials from their jobs.
He forces trusted sages to keep silence,
    deprives elders of their good sense and wisdom.
He dumps contempt on famous people,
    disarms the strong and mighty.
He shines a spotlight into caves of darkness,
    hauls deepest darkness into the noonday sun.
He makes nations rise and then fall,
    builds up some and abandons others.
He robs world leaders of their reason,
    and sends them off into no-man’s-land.
They grope in the dark without a clue,
    lurching and staggering like drunks.”


I went on a hippie hunt yesterday to see if I could talk to some of the people that are coming thru town, but I realized there are some pretty interesting hippie looking peeps staying right here in our house.  


These 2 hippies are SON followers.  They will miss the eclipse, as they are moving onto the next stop, but they have already committed their lives to following the SON of God and being a part of something spectacular that has been life changing and life giving.  Praying for safe travels for these 2 as they look like the other peeps driving around with all their stuff strapped to the car.




Matthew 16:24-25 (ESV)

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Happy Birhday To My Man.

 Happy birthday to my wild man!!!
Charlie's life has been a wild ride for 54 years.
This man of mine is wild.  He is willing to do what it takes to get the job done, even if the job is to have fun, he will go to the absolute fun-limit.  


My man will put the fear in his kids.  He doesn't mind taking authority and raising his hand, and he doesn't mind lending that same  hand to lead and carry and hold.



 This man is generous with his love and time and resources.
 He may not be the first to jump up, but when he jumps, he will be all in. 
Charlie has a lot of marks on his body, he has lived a lot of life in 54 years, and he leaves his mark on the lives he touches.

Everything he does, he does with all his heart, and his heart is big.

His answer is usually
 NO 
to begin with (maybe because he knows when he says yes, it's all or nothing)....and then it's 
YES, and LET ME LEAD THE WAY.

 Charlie has taken some risks in life, he doesn't live cautiously, he lives with intensity, he lives with purpose.  

The first thing Charlie does every single day; he get's into the Word  of God and he shares it.  He sends out a text to many people of the Scripture he is reading.    

Charlie's verse that he puts on everything he builds is:

Hebrews 3:4 (ESV)

(For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.)
I pray this year is a year of more wild love and risk taking and hand raising and intensity and purpose  wrapped up in a full - on blow out for
 Jesus.

  I pray this is a year we will never forget, and it makes a mark on our hearts like never before. 
 I pray this man lives hard, dreams big and builds like crazy. 
 I pray his hard living is living for Jesus, I pray he is a Kingdom builder.
  I pray he experiences more love and joy and peace and grace than all his 54 years combined.


See this line-up???
  I can't imagine anyone that could handle this crazy wild bunch like my wild man.
I pray this line grows in love,  in grace, in wisdom, and in number.  I pray this line-up spreads out all over and never loses touch with our Lord Jesus Christ, and never loses touch with each other.
 I pray my wild man leads this line-up in 
FOLLOWING JESUS
 wherever He leads us.
I pray this is a year that starts with 
YES
and builds from there.





Psalm 127 (NLT)

Psalm 127

Unless the Lord builds a house,
    the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
    guarding it with sentries will do no good.
It is useless for you to work so hard
    from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
    for God gives rest to his loved ones.
Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.
Children born to a young man
    are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
    He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Dare to Dream

I have had a couple of friends ask recently, "How can I pray for you, or how can I pray for this certain situation?"  Wellllllllll........here's my typical answer...pray for my kids, our house situation, more kid stuff, husband, husband work, friends and family.....you know the drill.  It's not that I don't think I need the prayer, because BELIEVE me I do, and I know it.  It's just that I feel like I've lost touch on what I even desire. I know the grace and blessings I've been given, and I know what I deserve.  It will never match up, it will never make sense.

Ephesians 1:7-8 (ESV)

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight
 I have heard people often quote the scripture...God gives you the desires of your heart...I believe this with everything in me...but, I believe He actually imparts the desires of your heart, He places the desires within you...desires that bring GLORY to Him, desires that He placed in us when He was putting us together and then when we delight ourselves in Him, these desires well up in us.

Psalm 37:4English Standard Version (ESV)

Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.


But, lately....I can't even tell you what that is for me....I can always give the right answer...I want love and peace on earth for all mankind (slight sarcasm), but as far as specifically for me....I know deep down what some of those things are, but they seem so far out of reach that I have a hard time even praying it, let alone sharing with people...LORD, HELP MY UNBELIEF.  

I truly believe God can do anything and I don't have to pray a certain prayer or think of the perfect answer to that question, but how much sweeter is it, when I can go to my Father with the desires that He has placed in me, and be honest and to recognize that it is Him that has even placed the desires into my heart, enough to even know what that is and then watch Him absolutely work miracles to do more than I can think or imagine.



We gave Luke and Esther a Sweet 16 Survivor party last weekend.  It is tradition in our family.  The kids tried to plan and drop hints that they wanted to do this, and I just told them not to worry, we had a good plan for their birthdays.  I know they wanted this, but they figured since we had done several other things to celebrate, that they were just happy with what had already taken place.

 
 We surprised them, and it was fun and messy and wild and completely unnecessary.

 We knew they would have a blast with their friends and it gave us great pleasure in making it happen.  

Our Father feels this way about us, and does these kinds of things for us all the time...........only a zillion times more.

As I was trying to reassure the kids the other day in one of those family meeting sorta talks that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives and we just need to trust Him; we can't get stuck in hanging on to only what we can see and understand, but we have to walk in faith  and trust that the Lord is good and He is working in us, and all around us, all the time, for our good and for His Glory.


 This is easy for me to tell them and hard for me to receive, apparently.




It's been a week of daring to dream again.  God has given me a renewed hope and some pretty sweet conversations with people to listen and speak encouragement.  I've had some people press in and ask some questions that gave me courage to dream.







 God has given confirmations of His hearing and caring for  my heart, even when I've been afraid to admit let alone, speak or think, what was truly in there.

I've had some moments of thrill at the possibilities, and fear of the unknown.




May we race hard and fast with a smile and the belief that we are in the best race of our lives.

Hebrews 12:1-2English Standard Version (ESV)
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.




Sunday, July 9, 2017

Maranatha.

Let me try as best as I can to explain the week from heaven we just had.  You may never believe me, because it is too good to be true, but it is true, it really happened and more….I will just give a taste of it here in this space.


As a big family, vacations are a stretch and a strain often times.  It’s an act of God to get our schedules to coordinate, and to get all the basic human needs to be met without breaking our backs and banks in the process.  If you don’t want to do all the work yourself, you’re paying 6 or 7 or 9 or 12 times, depending on who you got to bring.

*this is not a complaint…I wouldn’t change a big family for anything, I’m just setting the stage for you to see the glory I experienced last week*

It’s called Maranatha Bible Camp, and it was family camp week at this camp.
Maranatha is a word that means, “ Come, O Lord.”
I’m pretty sure He came in the form of a little wagon every day last week
 (more about that later).
 Maranatha was a  sweet taste of heaven on earth.  We had 33 people in our family come from California, Texas, Oregon and Montana and we all agreed it was worth every mile and hour of travel to get to Maxwell, Nebraska and spend the week together.

When we signed up, we had no idea what we were signing up for, but my family wanted a place to congregate and spend some time together.  Shauna, my youngest sis, threw this family camp idea out there, her family had come to it last year and they loved it.  Most of us said we could give it a whirl, having no idea what to really expect. 




When we showed up, we arrived with an extra person, our friend Mulondo Patrick, we had made plans for him to join in, but I hadn’t nailed down all the arrangements.  When we checked in and I began my apology for not having given proper notice and funds ahead of time, and the little loves at the reception desk explained that it was all fine and that we had exceeded the family limit and there would be no more charge.
  When I  initially heard "exceeded the family limit," I automatically went into despair because I thought we were being turned away or at the very least reprimanded.
 NO!!!!
 The opposite, they were rewarding us for being many and bringing more.

What?!?!?! 

I got over my shock of that sweet news, and looked around and could see there were many families with many members and nobody seemed upset or bothered by any of it.



THEN!!!!!
At meal time, the food was delicious and plentiful and served to us 3 solid times a day. 

AND!!!!
When we would  inevitably drop food, at least a plate or partial plate every meal, people would look with complete understanding and trip over themselves to help; instead of irritation and fleeing the scene in fear that our messy kid life will rub off on them.
AND!!!
In between meals, we had activities, that were fun and active and messy.
The camp would plan and provide the fun, execute it, and clean it.  
The kids were tired and wild and happy so so so happy.




THEN!!!!!
We would get up, off the beach, from a hard day of playing, and get ready for dinner, and it was, AGAIN,
 served and yummy and healthy.

THEN!!!!!

At 6:20pm, every single night without fail, this chariot from heaven, equipped with angels arrived, and took all our children. 


  This chariot, filled with angels, was what I called the
 magic wagon.
  It showed up from heaven and had all these angels in charge, and they would pick up our tired,
sun-burned kids with no hesitation, no lecture, no guilt, no glare, no charge. 
This is me when the magic wagon would arrive.

They would come happily and take our children, and love them and care for them and teach them about Jesus.
Us parents would stand in AWE and THANKSGIVING.

THEN!!!!!!
When we came out of the shock of that heavenly experience, we would wander into the air-conditioned building and worship and fellowship and pray and hear the Word and laugh and sing and clap, and listen.


  We could just participate to our hearts content.

THEN!!!!!!
We would go back outside after that piece of heaven, and our children would come back in the chariot with angels in charge, and they would bring back our children.




They were tired and excited, but not so tired they were cranky and not so excited they were out of control.  They perfect balance of tired and excited.
THEN!!!!
We happily would go to another evening fun time, or to the sweet shop for a little treat or whatever caps off a perfect day for all to wind down.


THEN!!!!
We would go to bed so tired and wake up the next day and do it all over again.
UNREAL – NO CATCH
We didn’t have to give them our first born (although I would consider it now, knowing what I know).  We didn’t have to sign over all our earthly possessions.
NOTHING!

AND!!!
Best of all, we were encouraged to draw nearer to God and  love Him more and truly enjoy Him and to love and enjoy our family
 (earthly and heavenly)
 and got to enjoy many of God’s beautiful gifts.

Land and water and food and fun and family and friends.







The ending and highlight of our week was that Maezie asked to be “bathtized”.  She said she wanted her sins washed away, and she wanted to follow God and she said she felt it in her heart when she was singing.  That’s all we could ask for.  Jesus never turned away little children and neither will we.  So she may say it wrong, but she got it right in her heart.
 We are so proud of her.




Thanking Jesus for so many many many things.

Psalm 34:8English Standard Version (ESV)

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!



http://maranathacamp.org/