Hope of restoration 

Gracious Redeemer

I was lost in sin, held captive by my fear’til your mercy showed your hand was reaching near
My God, you came and made a way for me
You made a way for me
My Jesus, gracious Redeemer and friend
There’s nothing like Your love without end
My hope was purchased by the blood of the Lamb
My Jesus, Redeemer
You defeated death, You trampled over sin
You’re the Risen King, You’re coming back again
Oh God, You came and made a way for us
You made a way for us
No guilt, no shame
no curse, no chains
new life, You gave
Redeemer
My debt is paid
my soul now saved
oh God, You came
Redeemer

As I went to church today, it seemed that God has specific theme about His character to remind me of – Hope in restoration.

This theme first began to stand out to me at the Women’s retreat I mentioned before as Jackie often spoke of broken things that happen in life “outside the Garden”, in the life where we know good and evil, but don’t get to walk along side the Creator face to face.

So in Sunday School today, we looked at Jeremiah 32:7-44, where in the midst of Babylon besieging and conquering Israel and Judah, God told Jeremiah to do something odd – invest in property in the besieged land… as a symbol of the promise of God’s future hope, of His plan to restore His nation.

This week, I need hope of restoration. I need to know God has a long term plan to make all the chaos make sense in the end. Looking back at His work in the Old Testament, seeing how His plan has been executed to my salvation, I will have hope.

My Heart Is Yours Lyrics

I give you my life
I give you my trust
Jesus
You are my God
You are enough
Jesus, Jesus
My heart is Yours
My heart is Yours
Take it all, take it all
My life in your hands
I lay down my life
I take up my cross
Jesus
You are my God
Whatever the cost
Jesus, Jesus
Bridge: (I Surrender All)
All to Jesus I surrender
All to You I freely give
Oh I will ever love and trust You
In Your presence I will live.

20 year of the faithfulness of God

This month marks 20 years since June 1997 when I quit running from the Lord… and He saved me!

So I would like to share 20 examples of His grace in my life:

  • In June 1997, I moved from a very small world of complete focus on Gabe, to start life with God. I was alone, since my former god took all my attention.
  1. The first thing I remember was that He provided 2 amazing roommates, Katrina and Jennifer, who loved Him but also couldn’t carry the weight of my dependency, so they sent me to the Bible for hope, peace, life, direction – EVERYTHING!
  2. Next, He took me to Aggie Sisters for Christ where I learned to study the Bible, be accountable to my Christian sisters, and met my wonderful friends Amy, Wendy, and Anne-Lauren.
  3. For my whole life, I had been drawn to multiple things that didn’t lead to point to a career or make sense to me… but after I met Christ, they made sense! He had created me with a love for the world, since this reflects His love for the Nations.
  4. Then, in 1998, Camp Barnabas came to Aggie Sisters for Christ to recruit volunteers to be one-on-one with individuals with various disabilities at camp. At this camp, God put me in a cabin with 10 girls with Down syndrome, and put His desire in my heart to have a daughter with Down syndrome.
  5. In 1999, He blessed me with going to Rajasthan, India with Caleb Project, where I learned by living with Helen, Tim, Heather, and Mark, who each followed Him with a different expression of faith and discipline.
  6. In 2000, He put Joel on my heart, even before I knew him, or knew that God was calling Joel to himself, and brought us together to be on mission for Him, with strengths that compliment and challenge each other.
  7. In 2001, He used my pregnancy with Arabella to humble the pride that developed over the years of Him letting me be part of His work.
  8. He used an irregular ultrasound to cause us to understand the grace and faith in Him it takes to have a child.
  9. He used the words of Nicole at the Mother Blessing to show us in advance what He would do later, just as with prophets in the Bible.
  10. He showed us the amazing gift of His Church as Ecclesia carried us through the days in the NICU after Arabella was born with a broken heart.
  11. He taught us to surrender our greatest possession back to Him when the doctors had to cut into our daughter 3 times in her first 6 months. And He let us keep her.
  12. He blessed us with knowing Camryn and experiencing the faith of Heidi and Stephen as God took her to His home.
  13. He miraculously brought Darin into our home, a precious present.
  14. He took us to Kaleo, used Bill to heal some brokenness in our marriage, and called Joel to plant The Basilica Community, where we experienced church in an amazing way.
  15. He provided my amazing job through volunteer at Star of Hope, who sent my resume to a friend, and then gave Angela the confidence to let me work from home, so I could invest in my kids while working full time. After 10 years, I still love this job!
  16. He took us to Maine… even as hard as it was, I can’t imagine life without going there and getting to know the Bells, the Desjardins, the Hutchins, and the Stewarts.
  17. He sold our house in Houston, bought in 2004, rented out from 2007-2014, just as we needed money to return to Texas and find new jobs.
  18. He provided Shae & Shelley to provide care for Darin so I could go to church.
  19. He provided a student ministry that has embraced Arabella & drawn her to the Lord.
  20. He gave me a patient, loving mother & a Christ-like father to help me through all these year!

The Lord is listening

The first story is of the last 2 weeks.

Background

This Spring, I have really been hopeless. I know enough to know that I can’t hold together life without Jesus, and it has been a long 3 years of feeling far from Him. After I resigned from helping with Student Ministry Sunday school, then with Student Ministry small groups, I was really struggling to go to church at all. I’m not a great faker… so if I don’t feel it, I don’t do it. Unfortunately, since my Precept bible study ended in March, I haven’t been reading my Bible at all, or praying much either.

Several things got me thinking this month, though. In Sunday school, Chris Yee, brought up I Peter 1:7 “so that the genuineness of your faith–more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” and discussed how the refining of metals works to strengthen the metal. But I was thinking while he spoke “I don’t feel strengthened by the recent trials”, so I asked, “What happens to metal put into and out of the fire?” And he said, “They become brittle.” So I’ve been dwelling on this… how I feel so brittle and not refined… and why.

Then a progression of thing related to Student Ministry camp happened…

  • I was included in the “leadership” group for camp… I really just signed up so Arabella could go.
  • Then I was paired up with my sweet friend Mollie who has been taking walks with me that challenge me to walk with the Lord… and I became worried that my spiritual “brittleness” would affect her.
  • Then I went to the camp leadership meeting and really got anxious about helping lead, but at the same time, I saw the curriculum was really amazing.

Along side that, some other things happened…

  • A women’s stay-local retreat was planned for the weekend before camp
  • I didn’t think I wanted to go, and I also didn’t think I had time to go…
  • But Mollie mentioned there would be a game night during the retreat at the church… and I love games, so I considered just sneaking up to the church for the games.
  • But I also realized I probably needed the retreat to help me get ready to be a leader at camp… so I signed up (after the deadline)

The story

So this brings me to 2 weeks ago, June 7.

I had received a text that:

  1. The church was asking everyone to fast on June 7…
  2. Student Ministry was going to make waffles to serve the students who fasted that day at 8:20pm, after the worship gathering
  3. They needed adults to cook the pancakes.

So for a pretty unrighteous, but also desperate reason, I decided to fast on Wed June 7. I STINK at fasting… I usually get headaches, and distracted, and fail within an hour, and feel like the most undisciplined person ever.

But I left for work on Wednesday fasting – and begging God that He would understand I did not want this space between He and I anymore.

It was a very busy day for my work, and then the opportunity for my nephew, Cody, to join us at camp came up, with texts between my mom, my sister-in-law, the church, etc. making it impossible to keep my thoughts in order.

I felt like this was a perfect day to talk to God about how hard it is to focus on Him in the chaos that is my life, my parenting, my jobs, etc.

Nothing profound happened, but I was able to carve out a small time to study for camp, and felt like God was showing me good stuff in the Bible that made me want to read it more.

But by Friday June 9, the pressure of preparing for camp (spiritually and packing) made me feel like I didn’t have time to go to the women’s retreat. I was pretty sure that I would be sitting in my seat distracted and making a packing list. Out of desperation, I asked for prayer from the Facebook army of friends.

Yikes, those prayers worked.

From the 1st sentences by the speaker, Jackie Kendall, I felt like God was answering the questions I have had. As she shared her testimony, she talked about finding out immediately that she would starve if she didn’t feed on the Word of God… and about how many anorexic Christians she meets, who have nothing to say to each other during hard times since they do not know what His counsel would be.

Conviction #1: I need to be in the Word like when we were in ministry… and then I wouldn’t feel so disconnected from Him.

Then, Jackie’s 3 talks over Friday & Saturday covered:

  • Surrendering your “junior god” badge – why we are controlling as an outgrowth of our fear
    • Fear of things that might happen
    • Fear of being vulnerable
    • Fear of disappointing people
    • Fear of making wrong choices
  • Forgiving the Unforgivable
    • Excuses we use for not forgiving
      1. The offense was too great
      2. They keep repeating the offense
      3. We struggle with the memory of the offense
      4. We want people to pay or be punished before we forgive
      5. The person didn’t apologize
      6. We are too angry to consider forgiving
  • Whining and Snoopervising
    • Ways we try to BE God, imitating His characteristics
      1. Trying to be omnipresent
      2. Trying to be omnipotent
      3. Feeling personally responsible for happiness of children
      4. Trying to be omniscient
      5. Trying to be the shalom
    • Whining is the native tongue of the controller
    • Snoopervising – meddling instead of talking to the Father

Conviction #2: I have worked harder to come up with a “solution” to the place my family is in than I have begged God relentlessly to heal us.

Honestly, this was the first time I have been able to see what my sin would be in my current situation. I don’t have many “sins” that are purposeful wrong things (sins of commission) but I can now see these sins of omission – not doing what God has instructed me to do.

Thank you, Lord, for revealing You to me through Jackie!

This is the first time I have felt like myself in a long time.

 

 

 

Hope

As you have seen in my last 3 years of posts, this has been a rough period…

But I am here to say:

  1. Light has show into the darkness.
  2. This month, it has been 20 years since I met Jesus… which means that I have been in HIS ARMS over 1/2 of my life (I’ll be 40 yrs in August).

Mother’s Day & where I’m at

Today was not perfect. It wasn’t a photo-worthy holiday… and I wasn’t surprised, cuz that’s kinda where we are at as a family.

I think holidays are harder than regular days, cuz they are like “weigh in” day at “over-eaters anonymous”. 

We went to a restaurant (early so we wouldn’t have over hungry kids waiting in a long line), and Darin was melting down before we were even seated.

I used to be fine without the picture perfect… but right now, I guess I’m not.

But I’ll keep trying to be.

Appropriately titled

Not sure why I chose the byline for this blog, but it is a perfect fit right now. 

In the fall, I entered a season of “blah” in my faith. My normal hope and hunger in my faith in Christ have been out of my reach. And as a natural rule breaker vs follower, it’s been hard to get myself to go through the motions of the Christian walk. With the new year, I resigned from leading a small group of girls, since I didn’t feel like leading anyone into the wilderness. 

But I also realized I had created some of the issues… like spending my time at church in student ministry with Bella, instead of with adults.

So this month I have jumped into adult Bible class at my church, and returned to Precepts bible study at another church.

So far, they actually go together – Jeremiah & Daniel. And they are reminding me of characteristics of God’s eternal plan that are bigger than me.

I’ve decided to try to blog through this season, because it’s easy to talk about the easy seasons… but this is the season I need to be able to look back on and learn from.

Gifts

You can’t always fully appreciate the value of a gift when you received it…

In winter of 2013-14 in Maine, a good gift-giver Chuck gave me a treasure that I only now appreciate as such.

Her name is Kaitlin.

Chuck had an amazing ability to entrust Joel & I with ministry inclusion that was outside our pursuits, but so good for us.

In this case, he asked if I would disciple his friend, Kaitlin. We actually met up at the local Taco Bell (there were no Starbucks in Farmington), and decided to start a friendship.

I didn’t instantly know Kaitlin was a treasure. She didn’t sweep in and say, “Here’s all I have to offer as a friend.”

But she might be my most treasured gift from God in a long time.

Kaitlin is an amazing listener. Not because she quietly listens. But she LISTENS, actively and rememberfully, to what & how you say things.

Kaitlin makes time for people. She drove 6 hrs each way at thanksgiving from her home in northern Kentucky for 48 hrs with us in Tennessee.

Kaitlin loves my children well, recognizing their value & setting aside time for each of them.

As I prayed today for companions in my daily life here in Friendswood, God brought to mind my sweet Kaitlin (and others) He has provided over my lifetime, filling me with thankfulness & hope.