Tuesday, June 18, 2019

You're invited to a wedding...

This year I have TWO very close friends getting married. Needless to say, I've got weddings on the brain. To top it off, our pastor has been preaching through Revelation and recently discussed the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.  

As Pastor Don shared with us the correlations between a Jewish wedding celebration and the book of Revelation, I stood in awe at so many things. I would really love to share some of those with you if you have the time to read...

In a Jewish wedding celebration, in those days, (as I understand) it would begin with the groom paying the bride's dowry and leaving a guarantee, something precious, so that all (especially the bride) would know that he was coming back for his beloved. He would then leave to add a room to his father's house and when that room was finished, he would come back to collect his bride. She was to wait in joyful anticipation at his return. She had no idea when he would return, only that he would. So she would make beautiful things to put in her new home and prepare her wedding garments.

When Pastor Don shared those things with us, a lightbulb just went off for me. WOW! My groom has paid the price for me at the cross, left His Holy Spirit as a guarantee that He will come back for me. He promised that He "goes to prepare a place" in His Father's house and that I should be ready because He could come back at any moment.

When I think about my two girlfriends preparing for their weddings, there is so much preparation and so much excitement... the most beautiful dress, the perfect wedding venue, and everything has to be just right. When you talk to them about their weddings, they are FILLED with joy. Why? Because they get to marry the man of their dreams.

Emily right after Pierre shouted "She's beautiful!"
At my friend Emily's wedding, her soon-to-be husband, Pierre couldn't contain his excitement. The doors opened and as she was about half way down the aisle, he shouted out, "She's beautiful!" He could not wait to have her as his own -  that's how Jesus feels about you and me. He can't wait for the day that we get to be together forever.

But until then, how are we (the church) waiting for our groom? With joyful anticipation? Inviting everyone and anyone to come and join the celebration? Or, are we pretending like we aren't even getting married - just living life like it's any other day?


If you aren't sure if you're invited, let me extend that invitation to you right now... Jesus loves you. He  desperately wants to be with you. Your sin keeps that from being a possibility, so he paid the ultimate sacrifice - he died for you. But then Easter... he rose again! And calls out to all, "COME and be my bride! Believe that my sacrifice was enough." If you believe, he leaves you the guarantee of His Holy Spirit and tells you, "Behold I am coming soon!" So invite others, grow in him, and remember your groom is coming for you!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

My flower bed = a scene from Jumanji

This is the first time we have ever had a yard let alone a flower bed to tend. I have no clue about gardening and kill most things I try to keep alive. So when we moved into our house, I didn't have high hopes for our flower bed. I figure I'm good at killing things so nothing out there should last too long. Well, I was wrong. Our front flower bed is a wreck - not with dead things, but with too many WEEDS. Every time I pass by, I cringe because it is so overgrown (see picture!). Honestly, at this point I can't tell what's a weed and what's a plant.

Yesterday afternoon I had it. As the kids played, I went after those weeds like a crazy person. There were a series of vines that were covering the ground, taking over rose bushes and trying to climb into our house! You want to hear the crazy thing? I didn't even SEE it all until I started pulling it out.

Pulling up weed after weed, the Lord impressed on me the sin that can live in my own heart - the way it hides in plain sight. If you have a nicely manicured flower bed, pulling a weed on a weekly or daily basis is no big deal. But if your flower bed has turned into a scene from Jumanji, it's going to take a while. Some weeds even tricked me into thinking, "That's a plant, not a weed. It looks kind of pretty - maybe I should just keep it." Until I pulled it up with satisfaction knowing it was one more weed invading my beautiful space (hard to believe the picture below is the SAME corner of my flower bed).

Sin comes in all shapes and sizes. There seem to be the obvious ones like lying, stealing, cheating and hate. While pride, ungratefulness, gluttony, selfishness, and gossip seem to hide in the category of "pretty weeds," but Jesus sees them all the same. I do not want these weeds taking over my life - they've got to go!

I must go to the Master Gardener, Jesus Christ who can take care of my sin problem. Jesus not only rescued me from my sin, but He now takes the time to clear out my junk. He lovingly and sometimes painfully clears out the weeds - for my good and His glory.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Why are we afraid of death?

When I was a kid, I remember being terrified of the cemetery. Our pastor lived right next to the local cemetery and I had nightmares about it after the first time visiting them. As I've grown older, I wondered why. Why are we terrified of death, cemeteries and the like? I think its because death leads to the grave. An end point. Finality. But as believers in Jesus Christ, that's not how we should view death.

Since Brian's passing from this world to the next, I've begun to think more about death. Death can bring us to one of two places: the grave or the cross. Death is a terrifying thing when we think that things are over and the grave is final.  Although, death can be something to rejoice in when we look at it through the eyes of Jesus' death on the cross. He died so that our physical death would not be final but rather the beginning of eternity with our Father in heaven. We don't think of these things often because death is not part of most of our normal thought process - but maybe it should be. I've noticed something in South Carolina that I rarely saw in Dallas: cemeteries right next to churches. At first I thought, "well that is kind of creepy" (thinking back to my own childhood experience), but it keeps us remembering that this life is temporary... and that death it is not the end but the beginning. The next time you drive by a cemetery, think about it: 'What does death mean to me? The end or the beginning? Where will I go when I die?'

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him." - 1 Thes 4:13-14

As much as it pains us to have to say goodbye to Brian on this earth, we know that we will see him again some day and we rejoice in his graduation to heaven!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Welcome to the Carolinas! Just in time for a hurricane.

Steven and Andrew playing in the "hurricane"
If moving our family across the country for 2 1/2 days with 2 littles wasn’t enough, a hurricane decided to make landfall near our home in Rock Hill, SC a little over a week after we got here. We were in the midst of trying to unpack, fix things around the house, get settled into a new place… only to have the looming possibilities of what a hurricane can bring: flooding, wind, loss of power. So now we had to prepare for THAT too. Running around to different stores to get food, find water and all the other necessities that you need just in case. 

In the middle of feeling a bit sorry for myself, I got an update from a friend of mine who just landed in Malawi with her 4 kids. They had just spent 64 hours traveling from Canada to Malawi. Every day they have power outages for 6+ hours. They have new language, driving standard on the other side of the car on the other side of the road, kids in a new school, new faces, new way of eating, cooking, you name it. 

This is not a case of “who has it worse” but it is a reality check and a time to pray. We have received dozens of calls and text messages to make sure we are ok - and we are so grateful for all your love and support. At the same time, I want to be acutely aware that there is a typhoon in the Philippines that is ravaging that coast line with NO help coming. There are people all over the world who don’t have the food we have when things are good, let alone in crisis. There are missionaries who are stepping into foreign countries for the first time - having to navigate new life and usually in the midst of a personal crisis or two. 


So this has been an eye opening experience for me - to be grateful for what I’ve been given: food, water, shelter, Sam’s, crazy storm experiences that have led to meeting more neighbors and to pray for those who are also struggling whether that’s in life, finding a new norm or are in the midst of a big storm. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Community

The Lord has placed such a beautiful community in my life - women, both young and old who love and follow Jesus. They walked with me through singleness, marriage and children. They pointed me to Jesus when confusion and frustration were all I could see in my future. And then when the Lord cleared a path for what was to come, these same women rejoiced, supported and prayed as we stepped out on this fundraising journey!

As I look back and rejoice in what the Lord has given me, I am hit with a new thought: I won't have these women at my fingertips anymore - to stop by and stay for 5 hours talking when I only meant to stay for 5 minutes, to scoop my children up as if they are their own, to give me a break when I need it, to encourage my heart, and to point me to Jesus. While this thought brings me to tears, I know that these same women are sending us out and will continue to love and pray for us.

Community is not easy to come by - when I moved to Dallas 15 years ago, I knew 2 people. I had no desire to STAY in Dallas - and now I'm having a hard time leaving.
To those who have invested in my life, I am forever grateful. For those I've had the pleasure of investing in, thank you for letting me be a part of you.

I am leaving Dallas a different person than when I arrived. Thank you, Jesus for the gift of my time here. I am forever changed.

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Harvest

In all my years in Dallas, I've never gone blueberry picking. So Emily, my neighbor and I thought it would be a great adventure and so off we went to Quitman, Tx with kids in tow.

We even planned ahead on this hot July day to go as soon as the kids woke up so we wouldn't be in the heat of the day. We packed water, snacks, bug spray and sun screen. Knowing that Joy was small and not used to such torturous heat, I brought a cooling towel. All of those things came in handy, but none of them prepared us for how much work harvesting a gallon of blueberries would be. It's $15 for the bucket - whether you pick 10 blueberries or the entire bucket. If you know me at all, that meant I needed a FULL bucket to get my money's worth. This was easier said than done. 

At first we were looking for the plumpest blueberries, Andrew was helping and Joy was happy on the hip trying to pick blueberries too. But fun soon turned into work. It was hot, we were sweaty, Andrew picked slower and Joy grew more impatient. We began a new approach - pick whatever we could find in clusters. 

In the middle of this Andrew says to me, "I am the vine. You are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit." His comment literally turned on a spiritual switch in my brain - Jesus began to flood my mind with illustrations. 

It was just at this time that Emily took the kids back to the car and I got to pick by myself for a few minutes. The Lord brought this verse to my mind: "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his vineyard." 

Every other time I have read this verse, I've thought, 'Yeah! Who wouldn't want to harvest?' Today I realized how HARD the harvest actually is. We were only out there for a few hours, we had the sanctuary of AC to escape to when needed and knew that we could leave at any time. But what about those who do this job EVERY day with no end in sight. Now that is hard. 

I began to think about our little morning adventure like a "short-term mission trip." It started fun, had some hard parts but at the end of the day, I knew I could retreat to my home. Those who do this job every day as a laborer in the field are like "long-term missionaries." This is life. You have to do the job very differently if you are going to last years or even a lifetime. 

I am thrilled that Steven gets the job of equipping the long term laborers and I get to help with the short term laborers. Both are important. God has called laborers to go out - but the great thing is that they are supposed to have the body surrounding them, supporting them, and training them. Steven will get to walk with missionaries through the tedious application process, mentoring them, and helping them find a good fit within the gifting the Lord has given them. Instead of just being thrown into the field, they will go knowing the harvest is plentiful but difficult, feeling equipped and yet leaning on the Lord at every turn, having the tools they need to navigate this new job but also having people "back home" they can call to get a word of encouragement or a listening ear. I will get to help with logistics of short term trips - from the small things like plane tickets to helping them to truly help the fields and long term laborers they are going to bless. 

We get to do that! 

I know that's a lot to get from a simple trip to a blueberry farm, but as I picked, I got excited to be a part of the harvest. We all have gifts that Jesus wants to use for His glory, but when we don't use them its like the blueberries that stay on the vine too long - they wither and no one benefits. So what are you called to do? Harvest, equip laborers, send laborers or ask the Lord of the harvest to do all these things? Don't miss out on being part of the harvest.







Thursday, June 21, 2018

Do you need REST? I do.

Put your feet up. 
Relax a bit. 
Take a breather. 
Grab a little shut-eye. 
Sleep. 

What comes to your mind when you think of rest? This is a time in my life when rest = sleep. Sleep is something in short supply. So the question is, if I don't get sleep, can I still get rest? 

The answer, I'm learning, is YES. Instead of just a thing to be had, rest can be found in a person. In life we are looking for things to relax us - whether that be food, Netflix, hobbies, vacations or sleep. How many times have you caught yourself saying (or even just THINKING to yourself) "I could be at rest and anxiety-free if I just..." My most recent fill in the blanks are "had 8 solid hours of sleep!" Or if we were fully supported and on to the next part of our adventure OR if we found just the right house. Then I would truly find rest. 

And what happens when all those things happen? Once we've moved to the Carolinas, have a house, have sleeping kids? Then what? I be anxious about new things... if only this felt like home, if only my kids had friends, if only I had friends! If only we were back in Dallas doing what I was doing before 😳 Uh oh. If I cannot find rest in Jesus where I am, will I ever find rest? 

This is something Jesus has been reminding me. My rest needs to be found in Him - not in 8 solid hours of sleep, my current situation or my comfort. He says to me: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest (Matt 11:28). 

During this time of absolute exhaustion: physically, mentally and emotionally, He has stepped in and rejuvenated my soul through His Word - speaking words of truth to me when all I want to believe is the overwhelming, anxiety-filled lie.

As a mama of 2 smalls in the middle of one of the biggest changes of our lives, He has been so faithful to make my heart at rest, even if the world around me is spinning.