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.

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...