The journey is yet before me....

I am looking at the middle of a week just prior to Christmas and cannot believe how the time has gone by! We are celebrating two years in Brazil, Indiana this month, and I am just amazed at what God has done. If you had told me back in 2007 that we would be here, I would not have believed it and probably would have laughed. I am truly speechless at times when I look back at what Ryan and I have endured. We are in no way done learning from what happened, we continue to learn from it and walk forward with what God has for us to do now. Nothing good can come from dwelling on the past, our mistakes, who did what to whom, or how we could have done it differently. The reality of what we endured hits me square in the face when I realize things could have been very different today had we not remained faithful to our God, to our marriage and our family, and to the calling upon our lives. It is interesting how a struggle can force you to take a hard look at your options and the scary part is, I actually pictured what my life would be like without Ryan. It was not good. It was an unhappy, unsettled existence for which I know I would have deeply regretted for the rest of my life. It would have been terrible for my children, and for our families to endure. It would have been a path away from God's intended purpose for me. It is difficult to admit this, but it is a way for me to come full circle with where we are today. I realize more than ever that today, what we have, who we are, how blessed we truly are---it is thanks to our God. When you find yourself in a place in life where you literally lose everything you have to survive in this world, it puts your wants and needs into perspective. We live in a world, and now we live in a community where so many people are without the basic necessities of life. It is humbling to realize there is so little we need to be happy, truly happy and we have so much to be thankful for. Happiness must be based upon the things not of this world, the peace and joy and love that only God can provide. How selfish and superficial we are to think we need this or that, when the person next to us is just thankful to have a warm bed, a warm meal, a kind hand to help them. Ryan and I are celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary this month, and I am more aware this year than any other of how remarkable it is that we have come this far. I am more in love with this incredible man, this wonderful, gifted, loving man than I have ever been in our marriage. I can't wait to celebrate 15 more years and on and on and on.....I love you Ry.

Barbados behind me--reality before me!

I can't believe it has taken me this long to blog since my return from Barbados. I still feel like I am recovering in some ways, getting back to reality. What an experience it was, and quite honestly a very difficult experience. Every mission trip I have been on has been different, not one experience the same as the other. It is a given going into every mission that your mind set should be to have no expectations, no agenda but know that God is running the show. It isn't my mission, it isn't anyone on the team's mission, it is God's and more often than not He has something different in mind. We were hit right smack between the eyes with a whole lot of unexpected on this trip. We learned very quickly to be flexible and got tired of hearing it even though it needed to be said over and over again. Here's a run down of what we experienced from my thank you letter:
'We went with all these ideas of what to expect and what we would be doing, but we had no idea just how flexible we would need to be until we landed in Barbados. Our flight schedule changed a bit due to a cancellation but thankfully we arrived safely on Sunday, October 18 in Bridgetown, Barbados. We stayed at the Churches of Christ Camp in Grazettes, very secluded and rough campground setting. We stayed in a concrete and block building known affectionately as “the dorm”. Ladies got the first floor, men were lucky enough to stay on the second floor and experience more of the heat than most of us while they slept. October is the end of their summer, so conditions were very hot and there was a warm breeze if we were lucky. As the days passed, we found the evenings to be cooler and a nice breeze came through the camp as we enjoyed some rest and dinner together after a hard day at the work site. We enjoyed out meals in the second building which housed the kitchen and meeting room/cafeteria area. Each of us took turns leading devotion for the team which was a great way to end the day and bring us all together to focus, rest, and share our daily experiences. Each day, our schedule consisted of loading the van a couple times, heading to the work site and hitting the work hard: laying block, mixing concrete, pouring and filling layers to eventually put up the walls for the first level of the new building. When our work was done, we had completed the lower level which included the kitchen, bathrooms, and a large classroom area for Bible studies and Sunday School classes. In addition, there will be better parking available due to the tight location of the church in a very busy, high traffic neighborhood.
The end of each day came and we were of course exhausted, dirty, sweaty, and ready to enjoy some down time to fellowship with each other—that is, if we could stay awake long enough to enjoy it! The best part of the trip was seeing how every person pulled their own weight, nobody was left out and nobody felt they had worked any harder than anyone else. It was an awesome team effort and I was so amazed by the people I worked beside throughout the two weeks. Despite some of the challenges we faced we made the best of it and we continued to focus on this purpose: It is God’s mission and this sweet congregation needs a better facility to continue to grow and thrive, bringing more and more people to know Christ.'
I am thankful for what I experienced because it has made me realize how little the things of this life matter, and how much the things of eternity do. I know my life has been changed and that is why I go on mission trips because I know God has something incredible to teach me, He has a purpose for me and will use me and fill me, and I know there is so much need out there in the world around me waiting to be met. God has placed the call upon our lives to Go! Will you answer His call?

The world behind me, the Cross before me

I am ready to go, just a few things to throw in the suitcase in the morning and Barbados here I come! God is so good, and His provisions is amazing. I never cease to be amazed by His abundant provision for me. I am so thankful, so humbled by the outpouring of prayer and financial support that has enabled me to go on this mission trip. As I have gotten closer to the trip, watching the weeks pass from the calendar, I am antsy. It is what I'd like to call 'spiritual antsy' cause I have this buzzing inside me, a feeling like I can't sit still and just need to go! God has given me the opportunity to go and serve, share the love of Jesus with the people of Barbados. I am so honored, humbled and inspired to be His servant. For two weeks, I will leave behind me the world as I know it, my comfort zone and open myself up to be used completely and filled to overflowing by God. Matthew 28 is our motto, our reason for being on this earth in these turbulent times. God desires for all people to come to know Him, to walk with Him and to worship Him. I have a responsibility as a Christ follower to tell of His love, to be an example of Jesus for those who need Him so desperately. I can't wait to see what God is going to do the next two weeks.

Where He leads me I will follow

I have so many thoughts in my head today as I am looking forward to departure to Barbados on Saturday. I have a lot of packing to do, but I am ready and I have everything I need. I was just thinking this morning that the women's study we have been doing is so applicable to this time in my life. We are learning about women Paul commended in the New Testament church. All of these women lived lives of great risk, bold faith and sacrifice for the sake of the cross. It has come full circle for me as I approach this mission trip and reflect upon their example to me. I am going because God called me and made a way, because there is a need and I have chosen to be available to Him for His use, because God is not done with His people...we must go and share the gospel! Matthew 28 is our motto, our life's purpose on this earth to look beyond ourselves and our comfortable lives to be completely used by God for a higher purpose. I don't care what I accumulate in this life in terms of the world's measure of success, but that I would be wealthy in terms of something of eternal value. I know that this experience will bring me to a much deeper, stronger devotion to my Lord, and I know that He will not be done with me after this trip ends. I hope and pray that this experience brings me to a greater understanding of God's greater purpose for me. I am a child of God, a ready and willing servant who desires to spend time with Him, to seek out opportunities daily to share His precious love and the gift of Jesus with others. As He leads, I will follow His calling upon my life. I am so thankful, so humbled, so blessed to be part of something so amazing and life changing.

Today is the day, You have made! I will rejoice and be glad in it!

My new fave song is Lincoln Brewster's Today is the Day on his newest project. I have listened to it on the way home from work every day this week and it is such a great release! The past few weeks have been particularly stressful for me, so it is a welcome stress reliever to turn up the volume in my car and sing with Lincoln. There are so many days I don't even feel like getting out of bed, much less uttering these words. I know I have so much to be thankful for, so why is that? The stresses and worries of this life at times can weigh on me like the weights in the gym. It is interesting to visualize myself, lifting the weights, strengthening my muscles, to the point of shaking fatigue, how much further can I go on....there is only so much more I can handle! What if we approached life this way? A challenge comes your way and immediately we question, "How can this happen? Lord, I cannot handle this right now!!" Somehow I sense Him saying, "Work it out, you can do it, hang in there!" He is our trainer, we are the athletes, and He is there beside us coaxing us on toward our goal. When we reach the point of exhaustion He takes us in His arms, pats us on the back and we can hear Him say, "Well done!" Don't you wish your trainer could be so supportive? It kind of puts it in perspective, because I know my limits, but God knows them too and He is going to allow stuff to happen to me because He knows it is for my good. Sometimes I may not see the other side of that struggle for awhile, and I may not ever know the full purpose until I stand before Him one day...but, I can trust He has His reasons and He knows what is best.
Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.

Waiting

Nobody likes waiting. I have yet to meet anyone who likes to wait for anything. Whether it is at the doctor's office, the pharmacy, the line at the department store, the drive thru, the repair shop---anywhere and everywhere we have an appointment to get something or do something we are required to wait for what seems like an eternity. How many of us feel the same way with regard to waiting for God to provide? Often times in my life, I have found myself trying to understand why God makes me wait when I know, I just know that this has got to be the right path for me. I have done the research, I have got all the answers I believe that I need to make the right, the wise decision and yet, here I am waiting. I am a bit of a perfectionist, like details, love to be organized and have a plan months in advance. Once I have a plan in place, I develop tunnel vision and believe the path is straight ahead, easy to follow, why should there be any diversions. So, when a hiccup occurs in my plan, I of course get a little out of sorts and frustrated. I know that ultimately God has the plan, but too many times I catch myself going on my own intellect in what I think is a partnership with God to get to the goal I have set for myself. The truth is, there is no partnership---God is in charge, and I have not acknowledged that with my obedience. So, sometimes that hiccup in my plan tends to be God's way of reminding me that I am not the one in control. He is tapping me on the shoulder, telling me to trust and obey Him. So, I say to God, "Wait a minute, what is going on? If I am supposed to just trust and obey you, then how do I know it is going to work out right without seeing it? Can't you give me a glimpse of your plan?" What must He think of me when I expect Him to run the plan by me before I will believe Him? I have to think He must get a kick out of my frustration, it must make Him laugh. When I stop and think about what He is asking of me, it is a lot. It is a risk, it is a sacrifice, and it is a leap of faith to believe without knowing and seeing. This leap of faith I take each day is the kind of example I will live out to show others what a great God He truly is. I don't know everything He has planned for my life, and I know it will mean that I have to wait when I would rather not, but it is for my good. Somehow I have to start each day by choosing to step into my shoes of faith, rather than my shoes of self reliance, and somehow His peace that passes all understanding will be enough.
Phillipians 4:19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

It's not about me, as much as it is my nature to prefer it that way

I have had a couple of weeks of incredible stress at work and just plain exhausted from it all. Thankfully we took a family weekend trip after stressful week 1, and this weekend we are celebrating my son Bailey's birthday! I can't believe he is nine. Where has the time gone? Sometimes the pace of our lives knocks me off my feet long enough to realize maybe I've got too much going on. I struggle with it constantly, and how appropriate that a study my women's group is doing happens to address this issue. I am challenged daily by the pressures of my job, and then keeping up with everything at home, as well as contributing to my church family. I recall my mom warning me at a young age how important it is to prioritize. It would be years later before she could finally admit to me she did too much, that she wished she had said no to a few things and made more time for me and my brother, and even for her grandchildren. This was a powerful moment in my life because my Mom showed me her own weakness to the pressures of life. We are all faced with this pressure and most of us choose to fill our schedules to the breaking point, not realizing how it could effect our lives and those in it years later. I don't want to look back on my life and feel regret for not finding the balance I need for my God and for my family. I have already experienced it once in my life, and discovered my body, my mind and my heart could not take the stress it induced. God desires for me to have a servant's heart, a heart that seeks after Him first and desires to love others first. As much as I would love to take hold of the reins in my life and ride into my own idea of the perfect sunset, God has the better way. I may experience some things along the way that are unpleasant and downright painful, but it is for my good, it is according to His purpose and He will not let me fall. I depend upon Him daily, I don't know how I would get through a moment of this life without knowing God has it all in His control. It helps me have peace, it helps me relax and so I commit daily to humble myself before Him and be obedient---even if I don't feel like it. God is good, all the time and no matter what the road ahead has for me I know He is and should be the One holding the reins.

Inspired, Empowered, Changed

I titled this post with three dramatic words. This week is the beginning of our busy fall schedule. It is that familiar time of year when our schedules fill up quickly and we soon realize we are running full steam ahead whether we are ready for it or not. I am so thankful that my week began with the start of a new women's study. I have been blessed and privileged to facilitate a women's home Bible study group and this is going into our second year. The response has been so great, and they have been so eager, so committed and so consistent. I am constantly amazed each time we begin a new study how the timing is just right for each one of us, and it is so needed. God must love to hear that! We need Him so desperately, and we need to know Him more. This is the outlook we should have on our lives daily. We are reminded over and over again throughout the Scriptures, in the lives of those who walked with God before us, and in the familiar verses that uplift us in our daily quiet times--we need Him and we should be seeking Him without ceasing. The reality of our walk with Christ is that we will never fully know Him until we are standing before Him, face to face. Our humanity would not survive this knowledge, so in our time on this earth we are to strive toward that knowledge by living out this life as examples of Christ, mirroring His unconditional love, embracing the Truth of the Gospel, and influencing others to come to know Him. The result of our daily striving toward this goal, is that we will find ourselves inspired, empowered, and changed--such great words that light a fire within my heart and soul! We should not settle for or expect any day in this life to be "normal", but instead, our goal should be for each day to be "different". We have a role to play in our time on this earth to be light where there is dark, salt where there is no flavor, to be an effect for change! I hope to grasp this daily in my quiet time, and I will pray this for those around me as well.

I have a purpose..He has the plan

As I drove to work this morning, the sun was rising behind me so I had to squint from the reflection in my side view mirror. I have become more and more aware of just how blessed I am. Funny how life experiences, particularly the difficult ones, can cause this pause within us. I know God does this on purpose, it is part of His plan to mold me, make me who I am meant to be. It doesn't mean I'll like it, and the majority of the time I am probably going to kick and stomp my way through it. I am particularly stubborn and set in my ways, I like to have a plan ahead of me as to how I think my life should go, so what hits me as a surprise or an interruption in my life is actually God at work just as He intended. I have to mentally prepare myself for change, for the flexibility required to navigate through this life without completely breaking down from time to time. I am not as patient as I appear, there is an inner turmoil that goes on in my head that the outside world cannot see. I think this is just part of my process of coming into being, because as I churn within, I try to make it a habit daily to release that to God. Somehow, rather remarkably, the Holy Spirit takes that turmoil, fills me with peace and strength to approach my day as I am intended to. I can't imagine the damage and destruction that would take place in my life if I rushed into my day without giving God a second thought. I was reminded in my devotional today of Ezekiel's experience, how God instructed Him to speak the truth and that he was accountable for sharing the gospel with those around him. He was warned they would be very stubborn, obstinate but that he had a job to do. Here is where we as Christ followers screw it up: we are not responsible for the result, but for our choice to act upon the call God has placed upon our lives. It is not our job to save anyone on this planet, but it is our job to tell them about Christ, about His unfailing and unconditional love for us, about how much He longs to spend time with us, so that we can know Him more and more as we walk in our faith. As this year seems to fly by, I am aware more and more that our time on this planet is so short and we have so many people to reach. How selfish it is of us to allow our lives to become so full of "stuff". The message our pastor brought last Sunday was a huge conviction for all of us to de-clutter our lives, prioritize everything around God and God alone. How dare we schedule a single thing into our daily lives without first spending time with Him! It is all about Him, His wonderful, amazing and unmistakable plan for each of our lives.

Beautiful Day

It is a beautiful Saturday morning and I am about to go to my mission trip meeting/training. I am looking forward to it, and I have been praying daily that God continues to prepare my heart for this trip. I know He has something precious to teach me, not sure what yet. The past week or so I have been through a miriad of emotions. When I realized I was pregnant, I questioned going on the trip then I began to come up with all these scenarios of how to handle it all and not tell anyone until after the trip. I kept thinking I don't want anyone to worry, to be put in a position to make exceptions for me. As the possibilities whirled in my mind, the weekend arrived and it all changed. Since the miscarriage, I don't think I have gained any new perspective but I continue to return to the theme of joy and thanksgiving. I know it can only come from the Father, because it is not in my human capacity to grasp that right now. This morning I was reminded as I looked at the familiar scripture in Isaiah, He will raise us up and we will soar with wings like eagles. I know that even in the darkest moments, my God will lift me up and I don't have to go it alone, I don't have to put on a brave face, I can get through this and be strengthened by it. I know He'll carry me, especially when I cannot take a single step on my own. Somehow He takes care of me, He is always there and that helps me see this day as beautiful and full of hope.

Fog...when will it clear?

I realize that for most people, today will come and go like any ordinary day. For me, it would have been true. But now, in light of what I have experienced recently, I am taking each day more slowly, wondering when the fog will lift. I have to admit I have had some really good moments the past 24 hours. Physically, I am not doing so good since this sinus infection began yesterday. I have been out from work nearly a week now, so it has been odd to be out of touch with what is my usual routine. I am realizing there is a certain comfort that comes with routine, no matter how mundane it may be. It is amazing how one experience can effect your outlook on your life. Perhaps that is why God allows these things to happen.
I had a miscarriage five days ago, and for the first time I can put it into words that are visible and legible on my blog. My body is still taking care of itself, so I am slowly recouperating from the loss. I know it is something I will process for many days beyond this first week. I am finding comfort in my God, in His Word and through the love and support of my sweet husband Ryan, and my family and the few friends we have felt comfortable sharing it with. I am comfortable sharing it here, because I know at whatever point someone chooses to stumble upon my blog, it could be something they need to hear today. I know beyond this week, I will find purpose in this that will enable me to look back and see the reason more clearly. I have experienced some very strong feelings: sadness, loneliness, hurt, disappointment, confusion and some guilt. I went through the what if's as to how it happened, what could I have done to contribute to it, what could I have done differently to prevent it? The answers came quickly and I know it was reassurance not only from my doctor, but from those around me who have experienced it and from my Lord, who provides the peace that passes all human understanding. In my heart I know, beyond the fog that still remains, somehow there is a purpose. I know the fog will clear completely, but for now I will embrace the peace He provides that I am going to be okay. I know that this precious life that I carried for a hand full of weeks is in the arms of Jesus and I will meet them one day when we are all in heaven. I know that my heart longs for another child more strongly than before, and I trust that God will prepare me and Ryan for the right time one day. I read in my quiet time today in Phillipians about living without complaining, but to instead choose to live a life of joy even in the midst of difficulty. My brain cannot comprehend this concept, but when I ponder the way the Holy Spirit has worked in my life already, I know it is true and believe it. I know I need to give myself time, and that this will pass as I grow stronger each day. There is an unspeakable depth to the effect this type of life experience has on the heart and soul. It hurts my brain to attempt to understand, so I have to stop myself and somehow embrace the unknown, let go and let God take care of it all. The fog has not lifted, and may not clear for awhile but when I cannot see or need help along the way I know God is there to take my hand and lead me. I am thankful for that today.

Loss and despair--what is the difference?

I read in my quiet time this morning as Paul was imprisoned, how he prayed, hoped, pleaded and encouraged the people to stand strong and firm in their faith and to serve God, spreading the Good News with humility rather than pride. He asked them to examine their hearts, their motivation, as to their purpose....there should be no arrogance, no pride, no selfish reason for making their beliefs known to the world. Even in the midst of his imprisonment, he was not thinking at all about himself. I have considered this week where my life should go as a result of what I have experienced. I could allow myself to sink into despair, become overwhelmed with grief and loss and sit in it, wallow for as long as I want. What is the good in that though? So, I am left to ask, "God, what is your purpose for my life as a result of this experience?" "Why did you allow this to happen?" "What should I gain from it?" I am still wondering, and I am certain the answers won't come easily or quickly. I have not lost sight of the Savior, the One who will comfort and provide for me in ways that only He can. I have felt that already. But, I have also felt alone, hurt, disappointed, confused, and incomplete. I have found a certainty through this about some things, but others are still uncertain. God has a lot to teach me and I can't help feeling like this is leading me to what He has to show me through my mission experience in October. I don't understand His ways, but I know His ways are best, He knows best. I may not like it, but I love Him and will serve Him til the day I die. It is a strange thing, this need to serve a God who has so many unknowns, yet in my heart and soul what I do know is enough. I cannot explain it, nor can I justify it in human terms because it is beyond our understanding. Jeremiah 29:11 continues to be at the very core of my being, a solid foundation His word provides for me to stand on. I will go on, I cannot give up or give in because His purpose for my life, somewhat unknown at this point, pushes me forward with hope and determination.

When I think I'm going under, part the waters, Lord...

I was thinking just now about a song I heard and sang as a girl, an older Christian favorite by Evie. I have heard more recently a remake of it by Selah, an arrangement with the hymn, "I Need Thee Every Hour". So beautiful, such words of depth and longing, that speaks to my heart and soul. I have had a very hard few days recently, experienced a loss I did not expect to face in my life. I know that despite how my heart and mind processes it, God has a purpose for it. I don't know how I would endure this without my faith. It is a peace that passes all understanding, something I cannot put into words. He knows my needs, and He has met me right where I needed Him to. I know this will pass and in the midst of this healing I will find new strength to move forward. God always provides, and when I cannot take another step I know He will be there to carry me. In my weakness, He is strong so knowing that I can take another step forward.

"When I think I'm going under, part the waters Lord.
When I feel the waves around me, calm the sea.
When I cry for help, Oh, hear me Lord and hold out Your hand!
Touch my life, still the raging storm in me."

Still the storm, Lord and I will keep my eyes upon you. I know you will carry me and protect me, for You are my God, my Savior, my Lord.

Second verse, same as the first....

So here I am, another Monday, returned from a great mini vacay with the fam and no motivation whatsoever. I am tired, would have loved to sleep in and be lazy all day but my expanding mid section is getting in the way. It is bugging me, reminding me it is absolutely time to get real with my health. I have seen my mom and other women go through this as they approached their 40s, so I know the battle I face. I have jumped back on the weight loss wagon today and as unhappy as it makes me to resist all the yummy food I enjoy, I will choose wisely and get this dad gum weight off! It is a cycle I keep going through, and it is ridiculous. I need to change, I know that, it just continues to be harder to stick with as I get older. As I look at the years ahead of me, I want to feel better physically, have clarity mentally, and treat my body as the temple God has created it to be. I will move forward and I will improve myself a little at a time. Nobody said it was ever going to be easy. Anyone who says that should be slapped a few times with a wet noodle.

The Battle of the Bulge

I am once again in a very familiar place in my life...a bit heavier than I'd like and than I should be so I am jumping back in to the weight loss mode. Today has not been good since we had a birthday in the office and everyone brought in something yummy to eat and you know you've got to try a little bit of everything....oh, mercy, I have got to show more will power than this. My goals are realistic and within reach so I don't have any grand plan to lose a ton of weight and suddenly become a vegetarian or something. I want to lose 25 pounds, fit back into my favorite jeans and gain my strength and energy back. I am getting in the exercise but now I've got to get my eating habits cleaned up. Why does it get harder as we get older? It is so easy to gain weight, and so much harder to lose it. I hear in the back of my mind and in the forefront of my heart that my body is the temple of the Lord---so I know I should care for it in a way that enables me to be the best I can for His purpose for my life. I am setting a short term goal for myself to lose 25 pounds by the Barbados mission trip in October. I have done it before, I can do it again. I know what I need to do, so now I just need to do it. There are so many reasons surrounding me to do this. Talking to Mom last night we agreed it is just one of those things we get lazy, and then we realize for the sake of our long term health we must choose to make these changes in our lives. The battle rages on.....

How's your heart?

How's your heart? You know, the condition of your inner being? Are you daily absorbing the Word of God, pouring your hurts and joys out to the Father and listening to Him speak to you? Or, have you become numb, uninterested, desensitized? Sin can do that, or what we would label "the current condition of our society". So many of us have excuses, and typically it is our schedules, our commitments to all these things and it is just what we feel we need to be doing whether out of obligation or because "nobody else will do it, so I might as well". This is another one of the lies being fed to us by that stinkin' guy down under. Satan has his ways, I'll give him that but----I will daily refuse to allow him to influence my life. I think most of us in our comfy Christian lives develop this mentality that we must do all these things to be in right standing with society and with God. With society, because we feel the need to keep up with everyone around us, prove that we can do all these things cause it makes us look responsible, like we can do anything and we are to be admired. With God, because we think somehow if we are in all these classes, doing all these events, mission trips, programs, committees that it will look good to our church family, and especially when we stand before God one day. All these things are lies being fed to us from any number of sources but they all funnel to one--that stinkin' guy down under. Blame it on our churches, blame it on our friends, blame it on our families, blame it on anyone or anything you can come up with but ultimately we all have free will and we choose what to do with our time--nobody can make us do anything. I have tried to balance this for years, this need to do so much more than I should be doing. I found years ago it stemmed from this feeling of obligation to help when nobody else would do it. At some point after having my second child I had an epiphany--well, it was probably a mid life crisis/depression of sorts, but ultimately God spoke to me about finding peace and balance in my life. I learned to say no and not feel guilty about it even though there were some good Christian people around me questioning why. We should never feel the need to defend ourselves, because it is between us and God. My decision to maintain balance in my life while serving the Lord is my decision alone. I am thankful for that peace that passes all understanding, regardless of the reaction of those around me. Often when we are right in the palm of His hand is when we will face the greatest ridicule. God is all I need, and so in those moments I run to Him and cling to Him for the extra strength I need. So, how's your heart? Are you completely surrendered to His will for your life, choosing balance over busy? I am certain there will be moments I return to this in my life, a need to check my heart and my focus once again. I am so thankful that God never changes, and He is always there to provide the peace and focus that I need.

We are known and we are chosen

Romans 8:29 is a reminder from the writer, Paul, that we are known and chosen by our Maker. We are to be like Him, striving toward a life that is righteous. How do we get there? Well, we will be working toward it all of our lives. We will get there when we stand before Him one day. We will get there when we hear Him say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." It is going to be sweet to hear those words, although I don't believe I deserve it. It is a healthy humility that I carry knowing that I can never be as perfect or sinless as Christ was, but I can daily work toward being more like Him, drawing from the strength He gives me to be the best example of Him I can be to the world around me. I was challenged to day in my devotional to examine where my feet are planted. Am I splashing one foot in the pools of the world while attempting to plant the other foot on Christ's solid foundation? It is not possible and it is not what God desires for me. I need to shake off the things of this world everyday, and make sure both my feet are firmly planted on the solid foundation Christ has given me. I know the opportunity to serve with my church on mission this fall is just one way He is teaching me to completely trust my life to Him and serve so that He can teach me something I need to learn in my Christian walk. I am inspired and amazed by friends who have chosen a sacrificial life of service in areas that I don't know that I could go. Regardless of where we are called to serve, there is no need for comparison because we all serve the same God and He promises to use us in every opportunity He gives us. What a mighty God we serve!

We were made to live for so much more....

I love that song by Switchfoot. The words are piercing at times, because I realize I am not always living the righteous life God has intended for me. In my morning devotional today I was reminded of how important it is to daily put off my old self, and live as the new creation God has made me to be. But this is not something we can attain instantly, or over a short period of time. It is something I will strive toward for my entire life. I am not defined by what I've done, who I am, or who I'd like to be one day. I am defined by grace, by the precious gift of eternal life that has been given to me through the Son of God. I am daily in awe of the sacrifice for me, Jesus' life upon the cross for all my sin past, present and future. How could I ever earn that or deserve that? It can't be done. How do I live more perfectly, more righteously? Let go of the things that are not lasting, temporary, of material value only. I don't want to dwell on the things that are consuming the hearts and minds of everyone around me. I want to clear away the clutter and dwell upon my Lord, His will for my life, and how I can somehow make a lasting impact on those around me. We were made to live for so much more...have we lost ourselves? Yes, we have! I see it everyday in people around me who have no hope, are simply moving about with lack of true purpose and direction in their lives. The simple life, forced upon us by our poor choices in the past, has given me and Ryan a new perspective on what matters most. I am so thankful for my life, for my family, and for the basics of life: a home, food on the table, a job, transportation, and sweet family and friends to love and encourage me. There are so many people in this world with so little, and nobody to help them get through just the day to day stuff. I desire to be set apart, make an impression on those who are less fortunate and need more in their lives than what they have now. I know God will use me if I am willing to be filled up and poured out for His purpose. We should be so open and useful to Him at all times, not just when we feel we are able to do it. Coming before Him, ready to be used, means to expect the unexpected and expect change. What will He call me to do today that I may not expect or anticipate? How will I respond? He's got a plan, and I need to be ready to move. I was made for something more...and I am looking forward to it each and every day.

Life is sweet, and I am so thankful!

The past couple weeks have been a whirlwind, but a whirlwind in which I have found my focus once again. Funny how seeing a portion of your life come full circle can bring a sweet peace to the heart and soul. We have entered this year on new ground, and it has begun by filing for bankruptcy. Our financial history has not been healthy one to this point, so we are turning over a new leaf. We are beginning new, a clean slate of sorts. It comes at a cost though, as we will have to rebuild our finances and our credit over a period of time. We realize what we have done and cannot undo it, but we have learned from it and we are moving forward with confidence. God is our Provider, and we have learned over the past few years that our complete confidence, trust and obedience is due to Him. I am so incredibly thankful for the God we know, love and serve, and everything He has blessed us with. We have loving and supportive families, and we are so blessed to have friends literally all over the country that have prayed for us and supported us. It cannot be said enough just how very blessed we are. I know that God will continue to bless us according to His purpose and for His glory, and so the difference at this point in our lives is that we are more in tune to Him than ever before. God has a sweet song to write upon our hearts, and we are in a glorious portion of the song right now. Our ministry in Brazil has just begun and we are so thankful for how He is using us and will continue to bless our time here. This is one of those moments when I literally have come home from time with family, friends near and far, and with my precious husband and children and I am going, "Ahh, God is so good!" It feels good to be His, to be loved and to be exactly where He intends for me to be at this very moment in my life. Cindy Morgan is one of my favorite artists and she does a beautiful song, "How Can I Ask for More". I love these words:

If there's anything I've learned from this journey I am on,
Simple truths will keep you going, and simple love will keep you strong.
'Cause there are questions without answers, and flames that never die.
And heartaches we go through are often blessings in disguise.
Thank You Lord, how can I ask for more?

He's never letting go!

Okay, I realize I am the type of person who gets stuck on something and can't let it go! If only I were this passionate about my God. I hope that I am! I realized last night, how much time I am spending watching my favorite shows, reading a great book, listening to good music, filling my schedule with all these events and activities----when I should be spending as much time with the Lord? It is not enough, it never is. Thank goodness He doesn't keep track of that. I would be in serious trouble if He did! "Hmmm, let's see here, Andrea, yeah, you gave me a whopping 20 minutes of your day yesterday...thanks for that." I don't want to hear something like that from Him, and I know I won't but it appears in my imaginative mind as a result of my deeply convicted heart. Looking back at my schedule this last year, I realize I cannot be my best for God with so many distractions in my life. So, I am turning over a new leaf this year. I want to spend more time in the Word and in the presence of my Father, and less time on the other stuff. I want to reflect to my Lord, my family and my friends that my priorities are shaped around something that is of worth. I am sure I will return to this again and again as new pressures and stresses and temptations surface in my life. I am thankful that despite my wavering, He will never let me go. He never changes, no matter what this life throws at me I know I can count on Him.

Disappointed, but not surprised....God is still God

The last few days are a little blurred, and it is no wonder! So much has happened in the world around me it is enough to make me go out and buy a copy of every major newspaper just to get caught up. Life keeps rolling forward. I don't take bad changes well, but a good change is alright. That can be interpreted only by what I define as good or bad changes, cause we all have our own definition of what we think is a good or bad change right? What is wrong or right--John and Kate plus 8 stars, the Gosselin's divorcing and yet the show is still on the air. Oh, but they are taking a hiatus while they settle in to this newest change in their lives. What a cop out on so many levels. I would think a mature human being who truly cares what is best for their children would see that a crumbling marriage is the best reason to turn the cameras off! How is it benefiting the children now anyway? All it says to me is their focus is on one thing only---the fame and the money. There are eight children in that family who will suffer the consequences of their parents' behavior right now for years to come. Whatever happened to stepping back, downsizing, finding a regular job and working your tail off to live like the rest of us? Yes, it would be hard but it would probably be the best lesson and example for your children in the long run. I am so disappointed but not surprised by people anymore. Christian or not, we are really stupid. All it takes is one slip up, and the waters are divided, sides are taken, friendships die, feelings are hurt, and ultimately someone is left alone and suffering without any support whatsoever. I am sure that is how John and Kate are feeling, and I have had several friends over the years experience this when crisis has occurred in their lives. Whatever happened to loving one another unconditionally? What role are we playing as Christian brothers and sisters, and what the heck is the church doing? Hate the sin, love the sinner---do we really believe that or do we just like the sound of it? God loves them all, every single one regardless of how we feel. But what if they don't know it cause what we are showing them sends the opposite message? What a poor example we are, and how sad it must make our God to see us behaving this way. Seeing crisis play out on tv, and in the lives of dear friends makes me stop and think first and foremost---what could I be doing differently to show that person they are loved? I know I could be doing more, and I am sure you could too. So what's it going to be? Shall we remain caught up in the same excuses as the world around us, or will we be set apart, rise above it, embrace the truths of Scripture and love others unconditionally as Christ did? I choose to be set apart. I know God loves me and I know He loves those around me who are struggling, so I will do my part to contribute to the minority. Maybe some day that minority will become the majority. We've got a long way to go.

Giving up or pushing through it..what will it be?

I am a big ball of emotions tonight as I write this. It is not surprising to the world to see another marriage end, especially on national television. Ryan and I watched the famous show about the family with twins and sextuplets tonight announce they are separating due to the problems they have been having for months in their marriage. It is both sad and disappointing to me, but frustrating as well. I had naively hoped they were going to work on it, seek counseling and say they were hopeful. I guess that is not the choice they have made. None of us has the right to judge them, but we all feel for them whether it is genuine concern or all out anger and inapporpriate lashing out. The heart of the matter is the state of their marriage. I listened to comments like "I am hear for my children, and what is best for them is the most important thing to me." What about your marriage? When did that take a backseat and at what point did either one of you think it might be a good idea to start working on it? We are all guilty in our marriages of getting busy with life, children, circumstances out of our control taking over. So at what point do we stop and listen to the warning signs? You know, the signs that start out as a mild flicker, but by the time it gets spinning out of control it is a bold, flashing red light. At what point do we decide to throw in th towel, and how bad does it have to get to make the decision it is not worth fighting for anymore? Every marriage will face struggle, it is guaranteed. So do we choose to ride it out, work through it and learn from it? Every life experience has a lesson to learn, so do we choose to really experience it or walk away and give up? I have been reading in Judges today about Gideon, and his remarkable story of God using Him in incredibly difficult circumstances. Despite where he came from, his own opinion of himself and the state of the Israelite people's faith at the time, God chose to use Him and deliver His people. God can make the impossible possible, and He wants to help us. But, we have to be willing to admit we've screwed up, that we need Him and that we need one another. A marriage is not 50-50....it is 100-100! We should strive to be the best we can be for our spouses, and not get hung up who does what for whom, start the list of comparisons that is sure to end in one way alone: anger, bitterness and resentment toward each other. Why is it so hard to let go of our pride, our selfish agendas, our need to keep track of every little thing good and bad. It would appear to be built into our nature which sucks, cause sometimes I really wish I could just power down like a robot. It is exhausting and not worth the time and energy wasted. Looking at my life and my marriage, I find that I am relieved, convicted and inspired all at the same time. Relieved that we have come this far (almost 15 years) when it could have ended. Convicted to be a better wife to Ryan than I have been so far. I know I have room to improve--don't we all? Inspired by the truths we have learned from God along the way that echo in my ears even as I ponder what we saw play out on the show tonight. God has not moved from His throne, and He has promised us a plan--Jeremiah 29:11. How good is He?! He is too good to us, and we don't deserve it. I will go to bed tonight with a heavy but thankful heart. Ryan, I love you more today than ever, and I look forward to many more days with you. I am not giving up, and you cannot get rid of me!

It's Monday..yet again...

I find it frustrating how the crazy busy cycle of life has become my excuse for not doing better than I am at this moment. I am at that place again with my health, so tired and so fed up with my current state, so I need to whip it into shape and stop making excuses. It is easier, more comfortable for me to make those excuses. I have a a husband, three children, a full time job, and a schedule full of other activities to keep up with during the week. My day starts at 5:15 am and ends at 11:30 pm. By the time I complete my day at work, get in some form of exercise, fix dinner, bath time, bed time, chores that are waiting for me when I get home like ironing/laundry/dirty dishes--take my pick!--and maybe some time to sit and relax, it is gone. I have no time left, and I am spent, done, ready to crash. Some days I feel like I am running on empty, not fumes, EMPTY. I don't like that feeling, but I find I barely have a moment to slow down and process that feeling. How perfect His timing when He gives me the Word: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.Phillipians 4:13
I try and get so much done on my own steam all the time, find myself wrestling with God over who is in charge of my life. That is ridiculous, cause the reality comes to me when I realize, "Psh...yeah! I don't have it, never had it and never will have it--God has got it!" It is not comfortable for me to admit that I am helpless, but I can admit I am wrong...with some reluctance. It is that pride thing, why is it so hard? He is still working on me, that I know. I am not perfect, and this day---whether it is Monday or any other day---will go on as I choose to live it. I can let go of my worries and trust Him, carry myself confidently and with joy in my heart, or I can be a miserable, grumpy and worrisome person who cuddles with doubt. I am so thankful for my God--He knows me so well and delivers me without fail.

Summer's here! Yippee!

School's out, flex schedule starts this week and I am so thankful for the warm weather and sunshine. I can't function when it is dark, cloudy, and rainy for days on end. We've had a lot of rain lately, so the sunshine is such a nice change of pace in our area. As much as I love the start of the summer season, I realize as I get older it seems to go by so much faster. I want to make the most of the time we have here on this earth, so I find that I am taking more moments to savor this life God has given me. Yes, at times I put a little bit too much in my mouth and my waist line shows it---let's just not go down that path in this entry--but I won't waste time beating myself up over it. I am so excited about the time I will have with my family to enjoy playing, traveling and just spending quality time together. We just went to the Indy Zoo last weekend and we had a blast. I love seeing the amazement in my children's eyes as they see all the animals, learn from the exhibits and shows about all the species that God created. As we look forward to more moments with our children like this, I will carry an attitude of gratitude with me. Summer fun lies ahead! Can't wait!

oh, no...it's what time?!

End of the day, get to Zumba, eat some dinner with the fam, then off to Rylee's softball game. It was almost 9:30 by the time we got home, and everyone needed a bath plus Rylee needed her PE uniform washed---oh my word, I need two more hours in my day to get it all done before I crash and sleep! How do I do it? I often wonder, but then I quickly go, "Hmmm, yeah, okay--that's you God!" I love my life, I love my family and I love everything we are doing so it is moments like this that I can take a breath and go, "Aha, yeah, it is okay, God's doing His thing so I can keep moving!" Faith sustains us, His peace and strength encourage us to put one foot in front of the other. I know that if I wasn't talking to Him, digging in the Word everyday and never letting go of that feeling of thanksgiving in my heart then I would crash and burn a whole lot more. I know I am in trouble if in a moment of struggle, I head south for desperate measures...woh! God has not moved, He does not change so despite my circumstances, He is the same. What a relief. I know, no matter how wigged out I get that I can find Him there, beside me, guiding me, and at times carrying me when I finally realize I cannot do any of this on my own. I am getting this much better than I did ten years ago, so perhaps with age and experience I have relaxed a little more. Life will go on, and so I will continue to go to the Father for some time in His presence, at His feet to be humbled, strengthened, comforted.

How am I doing?

I think I ask this question daily to myself, and then to God. Perhaps it should be the other way around? God, how am I doing? I mean, really....am I doing something good, something to make you proud? I don't want a day to go by in this life that I don't take time to say thanks: before I roll out of bed, before I step out my door, before I drink my yummy coffee, before I speak, before I start my work, before I put food in my mouth, before I accomplish the very thing I have been working on all day long, before stepping in the door as I arrive at home, before I speak to my husband and my children, before I end my day, before I close my eyes to sleep each night. I don't think I can say thanks enough, so it should pour out of me without ceasing. Everything I am, all I have and all I do is because of what Christ has done for me, because of what God has given me. I have wondered how often the disciples pondered this very question while they were walking with Christ..."How am I doing?" It is a question we will ask over and over again throughout our lives. I don't think we will truly know the answer until we are standing before Him one day in eternity. Hopefully I will hear those precious words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." That is my goal, that is my aim.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

The mission field

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Acts 1:8

We are charged to go and tell the Good News to the world. This is our mission field. Everywhere we are, it is our mission. In everything we do, it is our mission. We have been given the Holy Spirit, direct access to the power of Christ and the Holy Scriptures to give others the precious knowledge we possess. How can we hold it in? How can we, especially in our nation's current state of distress, hold on to anything that is of this world? I have a new appreciation for what we have, what we "own" and how little it matters to my eternity. Honestly, I am thankful to have a roof over my head, indoor plumbing, food on my table, a job, transportation, communication by cell phone/internet, a place to worship/church family, health insurance, and my sweet family. When it all comes down to it, does it matter what kind of home we own, as long as we have a place to lay our heads at night? Does it really matter if we have the current electronic gadgets, games, phones, planners, etc? Does it really matter that we have the newest, most innovative means of transportation? I am reminded today as I read the headlines, hear from sweet friends who have traveled to distant lands to see true needs, and through my own experiences on the mission field both here and abroad---none of this "stuff" matters! What matters is this--what am I doing and where am I going to fulfill the purpose God has given me? How am I serving Him and serving others today in my neighborhood, my community, my world? This is not a new revelation, but a renewed sense of humility and thankfulness in my own heart that whether I have the nicest house on the block, the newest phone, computer or vehicle, that my kids get every game system or material possession they could want---it is not affordable, permissable, or even allowable if I have not fully committed my life to serving Christ. All that stuff is unnecessary, but what is necessary is that I am thankful for what God has given me and serving Him without ceasing in all I do and say. We are a very spoiled people, and we have so much to learn. My hope and prayer is that we are constantly convicted to simplify our lives, in order to magnify Christ. I cannot think of a greater purpose in my life than this.

Part the waters, Lord!

"When I think I'm going under part the waters Lord.
When I feel the waves around me calm the sea.
When I cry for help Oh hear me Lord, and hold out your hand.
Touch my life, still the raging storm in me."

"I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord.
No tender voice like Thine, can peace afford.
I need Thee, Oh, I need Thee!
Every hour, I need Thee!
Oh, bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee."

(Arrangement by Selah, Contemporary Christian Music group)

I love this arrangement, and I have had it on my mind for almost a week now. It is a haunting, soothing version recorded by one of my favorite groups. I listen to it when I walk, and it gives me such comfort, strength and deliverance. My day's troubles and stresses melt away as I hear the swelling vocals, instruments carry the song step by step. There are days when just the right song at the right time will overwhelm me, and I find myself on my knees in tears. Sometimes I find in the middle of my walk that I can't help but raise my hands to the heavens, and I feel the urgency to drop to my knees in complete worship and adoration of the Father. I need those moments daily to refresh my heart, mind and soul. The world is a tough, painful and rugged place so it is no wonder by the end of my day I am so tired, so weary, so done with everything and everyone I have had to deal with. I found this verse today as I searched the Scriptures. I think it sums up where our strength and hope should come from.
Romans 15:13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
What wonderful words Paul wrote, truly inspired by God. I am thankful for these words, for the power of Scripture and God's touch upon my life just when I need it most. It is something I need often and daily in my life.

All the way my Savior leads me...

I was singing this song to myself this morning, remembering how beautifully Chris Tomlin sang it at his concert. Such a nice arrangement, and the words just cut me to the core. It hurts to admit I don't like letting go, letting someone else lead me. I like to be in control of my life, but the reality is I am not. He is leading, even when I think I am. Something terrible happens, and boom--there's the jolt of reality. He is in control, not me. I don't like how certain moments of my life have unfolded, I find myself wishing I could go back and do it over again. That is where the human mind can truly drive a person crazy with worry, anxiety, regret. I find that I must make a habit daily of turning my mind and heart completely over to Him. Surrender is not easy, but it is necessary. Surrender is not natural, but it is required of me to be fully committed to the Lord and His will for my life. I read in my devotional this morning about the pursuit toward righteoussness, being like Christ. All of my life I will strive and work toward the goal of one day standing before the Lord, and hopefully hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." I cannot comprehend that, but I have mixed feelings about it. I am both fearful and humbled by it, wondering how I could possibly be worthy of His love and approval. What a gift He has given us, the sacrifice of His Son for each one of us. None of us is perfect, and we all will live very different lives, but He loves us all the same. That is remarkable, amazing, incredible to think about. If only we could love each other this way, without preconceived ideas, judgemental attitudes, personality preferences. I know He continues to lead me toward this attitude, this reflection of Him to truly love because I am loved. All the way my Savior leades me....each step I take is one more toward the goal of being a perfect reflection of Him.

Called

What are you called to do with your life? This is a question I have answered so many different ways over the years. From the time I was a child, I wanted to be a wife and a mother more than anything else in the world. Why? Because of my Mom's example. I am blessed to have two incredible Christian parents, and I am especially thankful for a mother who was at home full time with me and my brother. She is an intelligent, gifted woman who did so much more with her life than "wife" and "mother". She was a role model, a counselor, a coach, a friend, and so much more. But her greatest accomplishment was joining with Dad in teaching us to appreciate our church and the mission field, both at home and abroad. My brother and I were participants on several trips, but one particular trip we will always have tucked away in our life experiences, was to Hong Kong. Mom had served in Hong Kong as a journeyman before she and Dad met, so she had a great love and appreciation for this area of the world. Our experience with them on this particular trip in the mid 80s, allowed me to see into another world, meet other missionaries and their kids living their lives in a foreign place, and join together to study the Word, live out our faith and fellowship together. It was an awesome experience that I will never forget. Since then, I have participated in a number of missions experiences. I am so thankful for the chance I had to serve in Springfield, Missouri as a summer missionary leading day camps, Bible clubs and other programs in my own backyard, as well as the opportunity I had to serve one summer in Hawaii. Years later, Ryan and I were living in Colorado and I had the opportunity to join a team going on a mission trip to Salt Lake City, Utah during the Winter Olympics. We were in the heart of Mormon country, leading in a music venue at a coffee shop downtown as well as on the streets doing fun actvities with the kids as they and their families passed by. While we made balloon animals and painted faces, we took the time to share the love of Christ with them and their families. It was another unforgettable experience that stretched my faith and strengthened my confidence in sharing Christ with others. Now I look ahead to October for another opportunity to serve through missions with a team from my church here in Indiana. We are headed to Barbados, and we have a difficult task ahead of us. We are going to build a church, help complete a project that is so needed for a great congregation there. I continue to hear the calling on my life to serve in a variety of ways, even beyond my roles as wife and mother. I don't know how to explain it other than I hear God speak to my heart, and I know deep inside He has something for me to do. I want to trust and obey Him, and so I will follow with great passion and determination. I am so thankful for the chance to serve once again. I cannot imagine how anyone could resist the call.

Consistent

It is a word I don't like, and yet it bugs me when others are not. Consistent. I know I need to be more consistent in some areas in my life. I have done better since going back to work full time and teaching a Bible study group. Every morning as I drive to work, I have my daily conversation with God. I don't turn on the radio, or take a drink of my coffee until I have talked with Him. It sets the tone for my day and makes a big difference in how my day goes. If I have it memorized, I recite my weekly Bible verse to Him too. I know, some of you are thinking "weekly?" For those of you who have the ability to do a daily memory verse, I applaud you. I find it challenging enough to focus on learning one a week, thank you! So, consistent. That is what is stuck on my brain today. When I was at home full time, I found it easier to schedule my day, what I needed to accomplish. Now that I have returned to a full time day job on top of that, not so much. I find chores and the day to day things I need to get done at home are hit or miss. If I am lucky, I will have a good hour in the evening to just sit down and relax. It probably was not much better than that when I was at home full time, but the point is that time is something I don't have a lot of. I find myself wishing daily that I had just one more hour to get more accomplished on my to do list. Whether they like it or not, my husband and my children are being called on to help with that to do list, cause it is just not humanly possible for me to do it all myself. It is hard to ask for help sometimes, cause I want to make sure it is done right the first time. So, this need for consistency can create a lot of anxiety in my life. Didn't I cover that yesterday? Something like that. Well, life is full of anxiety, worry, daily struggles and it will never end. From the beginning of time we have had plenty to worry about. But God is still there to remind us that we just need to rely on Him, let it go, trust and obey.
'Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.' Philippians 4:6
That is hard. I want to hold on to my worries and anxiety like a warm blanket, as if I can somehow control the outcome. I can't. He is able to deliver me. He will every time, but I need to lay it at His feet and follow Him with reckless abandon. I can do this, and I know it will not be easy, but it is something I will work on every day of my life on this earth. There is joy and strength for each day when I can truly give my life and all its cares to Him. Thanks God.

Knowing versus not knowing?

It is a life long battle. It rages in my mind, day after day, often moment to moment. Some of you can relate to this struggle. I know I am a bit of a control freak, okay, I just am. I like knowing what is going on for the days and months ahead well in advance. I like a schedule, knowing what to expect, what I would like to accomplish and all will be right with the world when it goes according to plan. I embrace organization, and when the things on my list are accomplished I feel a sense of peace and I have the ability to relax more. When something goes wrong, something is not right, something is out of whack or out of order....oh my goodness. I can be a bit dramatic, and it can get a little overwhelming for me. I have been told I handle stress well, I don't show anxiety, fear, or worry. Well, I've got news for you--I hide it well. Those closest to me know just how well I handle stress. It makes me angry, I tend to vent to whomever is in my path at the moment, and it can bring to the point of the "ugly" cry. You know what I am talking about. The kind of cry that makes your eyes puffy to the point you cannot see, your nose is running all over the place, hair sticking to the back of your neck and to your face, gasping for air. It ain't pretty, but it is the real me. I don't do this often, but some would say it is because of that I should do it more often. I am finding as I grow older and life's curve balls are coming at me harder and faster, it is getting more and more difficult to deal with it. So, as I am studying with my wonderful, amazing women's Bible study group at church, we are finding out just how vital it is to trust God completely with our lives. It is a direct reflection of my faith. How much do I trust Him with my life? Most of the time, I find myself saying, "God, I am just not quite ready to let that go, so can I just do this one thing and then give it to you?" How many times will I question His ability to take care of me best? Too many already in my life. So, I am finding in the two weeks we have been doing this particular study, I have a lot to let go of. I have held on to the things of this life, the blessings He has provided to me way too tightly. Instead, I need to let it all go and trust Him with it, and entrust those blessings right back to the Father's hands. After all, He is THE Provider. Everything I can experience physically in this world is temporary, and it will all pass away. He is eternal, He has promised something far beyond what my small human mind can even begin to imagine. So here it is...
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
Good, good truth right there. It is truth I need to chew on daily to digest. My faith will not remain the same, it will change. My hope and my goal is for that faith to be challenged, stretched, molded into what He needs it to be so that I can be all He desires for me to be.

Mission trip

Mission trip. The words don't do justice to the purpose, do they? What it is is so much deeper, fuller, richer than the two words actually sound like. Those two words make it sound so simple, but in reality it is an incredible journey that will impact a human life on so many levels. I have had the wonderful opportunity at several times in my life to serve in missions, both here in the United States and abroad. My parents were huge supporters of home and foreign missions all their lives, and we were raised to have a great appreciation for missions as a result. I have incredible memories of our trip to Hong Kong when I was 14 years old. I served in the summer missions program in my hometown, Springfield, Missouri, for several years working in day camps with local kids of all ages. I served in Hawaii for one summer working with some challenging kids in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in a small town on the island of Oahu. I served in Salt Lake City, Utah during the Winter Olympics with a team to share the gospel in an area saturated by the Mormon belief system. All of these experiences have made me the person I know God intends for me to be. He said in Matthew 28 to Go into the world and tell them about the good news and what Jesus can do! Okay, that's one version but it is what it means to me. Go! Serve! Be Jesus with skin on! In each of those experiences I knew God had a plan for me to participate in a mission He had for those people, to use me for His glory. I am so thankful I listened. Recently I felt that familiar tug at my heart, and God is opening the door for me to serve on mission again. Our church is putting together a team to go and serve in Barbados, to build a new facility for a needy church there. The work is going to be hard, but it will no doubt be a rewarding experience for all of us. I know and trust God will provide the financial and spiritual support I need to prepare for this trip. It is both awesome and terrifying to trust God with something for which my human mind still holds some uncertainty. I know I still have to relinquish my will daily because of this. What my mind cannot fathom, I must let go to simply trust Him. He has the answers, He is in control and I know He has a plan for my life at this very moment and in the months to come.

my Ebenezer...

“…Thus far the Lord has helped us.”-1 Samuel 7:12 There are moments in my life when I look back and can see how God in His perfect yet my...