Nov 15, 2011

The Double Yield

The message of grace has been a hot topic around here for the past few days. Actually, Mark and I continue to encounter this theme regularly in our everyday lives.

Grace is such a deeply complex idea for something that is so simple to access. All you have to do is accept God.

There is even a song that tries to explain how amazing grace really is, but falls short on so many levels.

By grace we are saved...
His grace is sufficient...

These are familiar phrases, but can we ever fully understand grace?

I think that salvation is just the beginning of grace. As Papa Jack said it is the "tip of the iceberg." It is the first point of contact between God and man. It is the first admission that we cannot save ourselves. It is the first step on a journey of yielding.

I looked up the word "yield" yesterday. I think it is very interesting that there are two common definitions. 1. To surrender. 2. To produce.

If we yield to God, by accepting His grace - the idea that we can't do anything alone, that we need Him for everything, that we need to surrender our selfish ambitions in favor of His will in our lives - then He will yield a mighty work in us and through us. He will produce a harvest.

God will cause great things to happen if we only listen and all little children should.

"For I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven."
Matthew 18:3 NLT

Oct 17, 2011

Mark and I have been traveling in the States for 2 weeks now. We have been refreshed by the church services we have attended, honored to have shared what God is doing in Honduras with church congregations and college and university students, and blessed to spend valuable time with our families and friends.

I don't know if you have ever experienced the feeling where you are doing exactly what you always wanted to do, and more. That is how I feel right now. I have always wanted to travel across the US, visiting people and seeing the greatness of the country-side, and now Mark and I have the opportunity to do that. Before we head back to Honduras we will have traveled through 7 states - but not only that, we will have spent time with people we love and cultivated relationships that we cherish. God is so good.

My constant prayer has been that God wold go before us and come behind us. That He would protect us as we travel, but also that He would set our schedule. It is amazing, as a planner, to watch our schedule unfold before us - or really change before us. When we started out on this adventure we had a plan (a tentitive plan) to travel stoping to see old firends, and hopefully meet some new ones along the way. I am just so amazed how God has taken the shell we had on paper and transformed those dates into divine appointments. How He has taken meetings and turned them into times of worship. God does so much more than we can imagine - when we just hold things with an open hand, allowing Him room to work.

We have almost four more weeks of traveling. Of course we are a little bit tired, but we know that God will sustain us. He has promised to go before us, He has promised to guide us, and we have promised to go with Him.

So to every smiling face we see - thank you. To ever neck we get to hug - thank you. For every 5 minute chat in the foyer and every hand we shake - thank you. Please know that we value you so very much. Please know that we love you and we covet your prayers. There is never enough time for us to see everyone we would like to - but I belive that is what heaven is for - we will have an eternity to catch up, an eternity to swap stories, and an eternity to laugh together. 

Sep 23, 2011

Seek Wisdom, Develop Good Judgment

Wisdom and good judgment are words you will run across frequently in the books of the Bible written by King Solomon. Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are full of references to becoming wise, acquiring wisdom, developing good judgment, asking for wisdom...the list goes on and on. 

Most of the time, the Bible talks about asking God for wisdom. Obviously it is not something we are born with. We have to get it from someone else. 

Why then, do we so often think we can do things based on our own knowledge base? Why do we think we already know everything there is to know? Or worse, we think we know enough to make an informed decision on our own. That is probably the one that gets us in the most trouble. 

I am trying to stop more often - acknowledge that I may not have all of the information - and then ask those around me with more experience. 

Sometimes you have to stop, remove yourself from yourself and look at things from a completely different point of view. Sometimes you have to dissect a sentence or an emotional response to find out why it was offensive to you. And sometimes you just have to shut up. 

Yep, I said it. Sometimes you just have to bite your tongue. 

I have an incredibly hard time withholding information, mainly advice. Since I think I know everything already, I have a hard time not sharing all of it with other people. Sometimes is it the right time, and sometimes it is not. Usually I just end up with a women's size 10 in my mouth looking for a place I can spend a few minutes chewing on shoe leather.

So, lately I have been asking for wisdom, and swallowing the FACT that I don't know everything. I have been trying to develop good judgment - and sometimes the development process is a little painful, and comes with the side dish of humility.

What I mean to focus on here, is that life is about learning. Don't ever think you have arrived, cause you will arrive flat on your face. 

I think I will just stay down here for a while. The weather is really nice.

Sep 6, 2011

Am I Jericho?

I was reading this morning...more like mid-morning...and came across one of my favorite accounts in the Bible, the fall of Jericho (located in the book of Joshua 6:1-27).

You know how sometimes you read something and it reminds you of the last time you read the same thing? Well that is exactly what happened. A little memory bomb exploded in my mind and I had to look back through my journal to find the entry, and to remember what God was trying to get across to me.

I found the entry back in early March, but the verse I wrote down in my journal that day was in Hebrews 11:30, "It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down." Most people know that Hebrews chapter 11 is called the "Hall of Faith" because it lists men and women, along with events throughout the Bible that required great faith. It's not that the people were great, in fact most of the time they were afraid, but God gave them the gift of faith and they were able to bring Him glory and accomplish something great in his honor. So the account of the Fall of Jericho was so significant that the writer of Hebrews included it in his letter hundreds of years later.

So I went back to Joshua and read the account of the battle, and one verse in particular stood out to me:
Joshua 6:1 Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. 
You see, God had given Joshua the job of leading the Israelites across the Jordan River to take hold of the Promised Land. The thing was, that there were already people living there, so the Israelites had to fight in order to take hold of what God was giving them. (That statement could be a blog unto itself.) Word had spread throughout the land that Israel was undefeated because God fought their battles for them. So, out of fear they closed themselves up behind their walls, and no one was allowed in our out.

Most of us know the rest of the story...God gives Joshua a command to march around the walls of the city once a day for 6 days. The priests were supposed to lead the way blowing rams horns and carrying the ARC of the Covenant. Then on the 7th day they were to wait for His signal (given by God through the priests) and then let out a mighty shout and that the walls of the city would come crumbling down. Then they were to go into the city, destroy everything, except for the things that were sacred to the Lord.

And that is just what happened.

The people obeyed the Lord's command and when the city walls fell, the Army of the Lord ran into the city, destroyed everything except for the items that the Lord wanted for His treasury, and then they occupied the city.

There are so many things you can draw from this story, but what stood out to me back in March, was... "What if I am Jericho? What if I have walled myself off because of fear? What if I am hiding within myself because I am more comfortable with the sin in my heart than with the idea of being purged and occupied by God?"

It only took 7 days for the Lord to break through the fortified walls of a city, how long do you think it would take Him to occupy a heart that is ready to surrender to Him? This is the prayer that I wrote in my journal,
Will you take the walls of my heart and break them like you broke the walls of Jericho? Will you burn out and kill anything that you don't find useful? Will you take the next 7 days and increase my faith? I believe that you are with me. I believe that you want me. I will give you my heart, but only you can breach these walls with your battle cries and your pure undiluted presence. 
 How many times in our lives will we be tempted to build a wall of protection around our hearts? Every time I am hurt, or let down, or offended it would be easy to add another block to the wall. It would be easy to make the promise, I'll never let anyone do that to me again. But think about it friends, what happens to a city under siege? They waste away; they starve to death. Disease takes over and they die slow and painful deaths, their hearts full of bitterness and hatred. What they built to protect themselves, ultimately kills them.

Why don't we trust the Lord instead? Why don't we open the gates to Him, and let Him be our Strong Tower? Let Him be your fortress and refuge in time of need. He is there, waiting outside your gate. Waiting to protect you, to love you, and to guide you. He is very patient, but a time will come when every knee will bow and call him Lord; even those that are still starving behind their walls will bow to Him - but they will perish as enemies.

When this battle on earth is over, where will you be kneeling?

Sep 1, 2011

Night Owls Unite

Lately I find myself a night owl.

OK maybe, I have always been a night owl, and now I am spreading my wings a little bit.

How can real, true blue night owls function in society? I am not trying to be silly here...think about it. If you have a natural tendency to stay up late, it is hard to wake up early. I really believe that some people function better in the evening time, some better in the morning, and some people, well let's just call them middle of the day people.

I have be jolted out of delicious sleep for the past 24 years of my life. Those of you who know me, are doing a little math right now saying, "Now she knows she's older than that." It's true...but I can't remember much of my life before kindergarten, so I am canceling the first 5 years of my life. I digress.

I have been awakened either by alarm clock, panicked mother, roommate, dog licking me in the face, or by my wonderful husband with a cup of coffee at my name it, I have hated it - nothing personal to the waker-uppers. I just don't like waking up early. Especially when I hit my creative peak right about now...9:44pm and I can ride this wave well past midnight if I let myself.

The way I see it, there are only a few options out there for night owls.

1. Suck it up, go through life tired. This has been my method for the past 24 years. It is just the way it goes. When we get to heaven there won't be time, so we won't have to worry. will be like...well Heaven!

2. Become a trucker. Semis own the road after dark. You can have miles and miles of highway under your tires and stay up as late as you want to. Just park by a Taco Bell or a 24-hour Wal-Mart and you've got it made.

3. Take the graveyard shift. Most jobs have one...and no one wants it - except for the night owls. We reap the benefits of the extra hourly pay to work while the rest of the world sleeps.

The problem most creative types will find with options 2 and 3, is that there's no space...the time is too structured. When we would rather be whipping up the latest, greatest, newest thing we are stuck driving or watching the security monitors at the airport.

What are we to do? I guess there is only one thing we can do...refer to option 1. We take what we can get when we get it. We have to monopolize on the moments when we can spread our wings...cause the cage is going to come back some time.

So here's to all the night owls out there. Those who are just logging on to check their email, those who are just signing on to Skype, those who are just typing out a blog...oh wait that's me.

Here's to creative energy, and to the people in our lives who understand us - and don't mind falling asleep with the glow of the computer screen cast across their face.

Aug 11, 2011

A Day in Town

On Tuesday I rode the bus into town to take care of some errands. I had to go to the office of immigration and to the dentist. I knew ahead of time that I would be doing a lot of waiting; I stayed up late to finish the book I was reading so I could take the next on in the series with me. I didn't want to have to lug two gigantic books around town with me!

Everything went very smoothly. I walked in and out of immigration with no surprises! Hallelujah!!  I went to Pizza Hut for lunch - they have free internet and good specials. I even had enough time to walk over to the mall and pick up a few new movies, before I caught a cab to the dentist. I spent an hour in the dental chair...going to my happy place...and then scheduled another appointment to take care of my remaining cavities. :-( Then I headed over to the bus station for another few hours of waiting. I selected a shady spot on the curb and continued reading until the bus arrived. We left the terminal at 4pm and pulled up to my gate almost 2 hours later, just as it started to rain.

All-in-all, it was a great day, but there was one thing husband. Mark stayed back at the ranch to help the crew finish out the last week of work on the volunteer housing. I missed his jokes at lunch time, and his protective presence while running errands.

I am so blessed to have such a great husband. I am at a loss for words to describe him, but just know that he is really cool. 

Aug 2, 2011

Soon and Very Soon

I see in the distance, a light at the end of the tunnel. Our summer teams are coming to an end, we have the last one with us right now from Longview, Texas. This is an incredible team of nursing students from LaTourneou University, a PA from the Great White North, and a new and fast friend Greg Seager of The Christian Health Service.

These guys have been a bundle of laughs, and have brought a fresh perspective to our ministry along with a high energy level of service. The students are helping us reach out to our local schools by delivering a health education program and loving on our patients and students.

I am grateful for their youth and their energy. As the summer comes to a close for us, I can already feel my body shutting down. At 7:30pm I start yawning in devotions and at 6:30am I am still wishing I could press snooze again. I wouldn't trade it for anything though. This group has been great, and I am seeing the students develop before my eyes. I can only hope that God is unfolding His plan for their lives, and confirming things for them as they seek His will.

Soon and very will come. I just hope that God will continue to use me and work through me in these last few days with the team.

Jun 30, 2011

Pot or a Pipeline?

OK, so I know I talked a long time ago about how much faster times flies as you get older...well, for time to be going this fast I must be a million years old. I can't believe that it is almost July, which means Mark and I will be making our 1 year wedding anniversary soon. I can't believe the summer of 2011 is almost over.  I can't believe I am 29 now - since my birthday last week. And I can't believe how much has been accomplished in the last few months.

God continues to amaze me at the rate He can do things, and how He can bring them about through the willing hearts of His people.

This past week we took Lee University to serve the community of Nueva Florida. We packed up the team and took off on the 3.5 hour drive - my co-pilot was Sam Williams. I hadn't had much time to talk with him since he had returned from his first year of college, so it was a great time to hear what was going on in his world.

We ended up on the subject of 1st Corinthians chapter 13 talking about the body of Christ and the definition of Love. He told me how those verses were challenging him to love better, love others like God loves us. It was really cool to see him growing in Christ and digging into the Word. Then he began telling me about a conversation he had with the Lord about a year ago, and it was so similar to what God had been speaking to me at that time as well.

I am not sure if I have already written about this on the blog - it may have just been a journal entry, but I think it is cool enough to share twice.

The question is, are you a pot or a pipeline?

For a long time there has been a great analogy taken from scripture that we are earthen vessels put here to carry "treasure" or God's Word to humanity. The word picture works for so many different circumstances, but I think the most common one is this: if you aren't spending time with God your pot is empty, and you don't have anything to offer to others. If you are full of the Spirit, you will have plenty in your pot to pour out as an offering to God by serving, ministering, and working for the Kingdom. You can even go so far as to say that if you hoard all of the blessings that God is pouring into you you, by not generously sharing whatever it is, that your pot will become stagnant, full of mosquito larvae, and it won't be any good to anyone.

What Sam and I both feel the Lord is trying to tell us, is that we need to step it up. There is a sense of urgency He is trying to covey by challenging us to turn our pots into pipelines. What do pipes do? They connect things, they bring a resource from where it is stored in point A to a place where it is needed at point B. What happens if you cut the bottom out of your pot? Everything will fall out, right? You have the potential to lose everything you have stored up. BUT what if you are simultaneously connected to the Lord in a way that you are constantly bursting at the seams? Your pipe stays full - you are being ministered too at the same rate that you are ministering to others.

The challenging part of that is it takes intentional connection with the Lord and with the people you are ministering too. Not to mention you can't be stingy with your time, talents or treasure because you will create a backup - a clog, and no telling how long that will take to repair. But I think the pros outweigh the cons. You are either full or empty, hot or cold - there is no lukewarm position. You know immediately when you need time with the Father because you feel the emptiness, the drop in pressure, the decrease in your output.

So ask yourself, are you a pot or a pipeline? You may not like the answer you get, in that case bring it to the Lord and ask for help. Or you may finally understand why God has been urging you on, challenging you to step it up. Time is of the essence!

It is all for His glory, all for the glory of the Lamb!

May 15, 2011

Full of Joy

We have had an incredible week here at the Jungle Hospital, with a combo medical team from HPC and Big Lake Heights COG. It was so great having Dr. Cheri here again, and I only let her go home since her daughter is coming to spend the summer with us.

The week went very smoothly...supernaturally smoothly. We have done a lot of medical brigades, and not all of them have gone as planned. Not all of the teams have been unified (let alone two different teams coming together in heart and mind). We got to witness a special miracle this week...God bringing people together.

You know that He is going to do amazing things in the last days. And I believe He is doing those things. These 2 churches were from different parts of the country, from different denominations, serving different groups of people, but they came together here in Honduras, to serve our people - the ones we believe are God's favorites - the least of these, the orphan, and the widow, the sick and the forgotten.

My heart overflows as I think about what happened last week. How our HHG team played their parts, and made the whole thing come together. Sometimes our part seems small...but that is when we have to remember that this isn't about us. It is about Him and how He can multiply some thing so small and make it effect countless people for eternity.

From reception to pharmacy, from the consult room to the construction sites, our team pulled their weight and more.I am so proud of HHG, HPC and Big Lake Heights COG. It brings joy to my heart to know that God is in the unity business, and I pray that He continues to blow our socks off. Let 2011 be the year of miracles - small ones, big ones, practical ones, and wow ones.

Father open our eyes to see your hand at work.

Apr 19, 2011

I Keep Reminding Myself

There are so many things I have to keep reminding myself about life. You think you'll be able to learn a lesson, file it away in the "Already Got It" file and be done with it...but life really isn't like that. Sometimes, you keep revisiting that file folder, and right is open on my desk.

I feel like it's review week for "things I thought I already learned" test; the exam is next week and I am cramming! I was never a big fan of the Final Exam.

The good thing is, that I am surrounded by people who give me grace, and might I add, I am taking double helpings of that at the moment.

So here is are 5 things I Thought I Already Learned but Get to Learn All Over Again:

  1. Be sweet - This one sounds simple, but it's not. There have been a few days this week where I felt like I was trapped in an episode of Ally McBeal, where she imagines that she sucker punches her coworkers in the face, but in reality she says "Sure, I'll take care of that for you," in an icky-sweet voice. So I don't want to be Sweet-n-Low sweet, I want to be 100% real sugar sweet. Louisiana Iced Tea sweet. 
  2. Over communicating is a good thing - it is better to say the same thing 1,000 times and have everyone on the same page, than it is to say it something twice and have it blow up in your face later.  
  3. Everyone is NOT out to get you (self explanatory).
  4. Sarcasm is the exact opposite of Duct Tape - it doesn't fix anything!
  5. Planning is important, but the ability to "whing it without loosing it" is just as important. 
As funny as these things are, they are an important part of living together and working together. I love my job and the people I get to do it with. I am so grateful that they give me grace when I need it, and that they aren't afraid to give me a swift kick to the backside when I need that too.

Mar 26, 2011

See, I didn't forget my promise!

We are getting ready to receive our first purely medical team of the season. That means...brigades, brigades, brigades! It will be interesting for Mark to see what Medical Teams look like, and this will be our nurse's first rodeo as well. Bay Community Church arrives in a few hours...and we still have to clean up around here -you know that little junk-y stuff that accumulates and no one seems to know where to put it - that is my job. I am the de-junker on group days, lol. We also have to trek down the mountain for supplies and then come back and cook dinner.

OK, what am I doing blogging?!?!?!

I wanted to uphold my end of the deal here, and keep you posted! Pray for us! This is going to be a wild ride.
4 brigades in 4 villages in 4 days

OH, yeah...I am been feeling the urge to learn how to write grants. Let's see what God does with this, and how He can use me in that way on the mission field. More uncharted territory!

Love you guys!

Mar 22, 2011

Oh Where, Oh Where did the last 3 months go?!

When I logged on today I saw this staring me in the face, "Last post on Dec 27th."


A few months ago, I would have rushed head long into feelings of guilt and condemnation for not keeping you guys in the loop, but that was 3 months ago. I have been lost in the world of Twitter and Instagram, thanks to Heather Leblanc and her iPhone donation! (Please look me up on FaceBook, where I post pictures via Instagram on a regular basis.)

One thing I have noticed since the iPhone appeared in my hand is that things these days are all about the "now." Sending a picture about what is happening now. Tweeting something someone just said. After a few minutes pass that event, or quote, or picture loses it's appeal. So if you don't send it right just fades into the background of your life; it becomes a part of the tapestry.

Don't get me wrong...I love, love,  love being able to send a photo to all my lovely Stateside counterparts. It is thrilling, and I hope you guys love receiving them via whichever social network I appear on. BUT...I miss the blog. I miss taking the time to chew on something for a few minutes. I miss dwelling...savoring.

So many things have happened in the way of married life on the mission field. I can't believe Mark and I are working on our 8th month of marital bliss. I can't believe it is already March and the season of activity and groups is well underway. I can't believe how different this year is from all of the rest. I keep thinking that I will get a handle on it at some point...but just as I think I've got it, POOF there's a curve ball.

Here's to living on the edge. Here's to the fast paced lifestyle of juggling groups, practitioners, interns and marriage. BUT...I promise not to forget about the blog-sphere. I don't want my life to be a camera roll of unsent pictures. Nope. We must take time to work things out on paper...or a computer screen, lol.

Love you guys!