Saturday, January 02, 2016

Encouraged by an almost 13 year old

Avigail, who will turn 13 in February made a list of New Year's Resolutions and plopped it on my desk to share it with me.  She had written a list of about 20 things, more than half with scripture that correlated with each goal.  I looked up every scripture and saw directly how each was connected to her goal for the year.  Umm.... I was just a bit challenged and motivated to do the same.  I will never cease to be amazed and challenged by how much I learn from my girls.  Thank you Avigail for who you are becoming.  Keep challenging me, please!

The Lord's Prayer



In the book, Alone with God,  John MacArthur quotes an unknown author about the Lord's Prayer.  It was incredibly convicting to me.


Mat 6:9  After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Mat 6:10  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Mat 6:11  Give us this day our daily bread.
Mat 6:12  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Mat 6:13  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Mat 6:14  For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

Mat 6:15  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

The unknown author states:

I cannot say "our" if I live only for myself in a spiritual, watertight compartment.
I cannot say "Father" if I do not endeavor each day to act like His child.  
I cannot say "who art in heaven" if I am laying up no treasure there.  
I cannot say "hallowed be Thy name" if I am not striving for holiness.
I cannot say "Thy kingdom come" if I am not doing all in my power to hasten that wonderful day.
I cannot say "Thy will be done" if I am disobedient to His Word.
I cannot say "on earth as it is in heaven" if I will not serve Him here and now.
I cannot say "give us....our daily bread" if I am dishonest or an under-the-counter shopper.
I cannot say "forgive us our debts" if I harbor a grudge against anyone.
I cannot say "lead us not into temptation" if I deliberately place myself in its path.
I cannot say "deliver us from evil" if I do not put on the whole armor of God.
I cannot say "Thine is the kingdom" if I do not give the King the loyalty due Him as a faithful subject
I cannot attribute to Him "the power" if I fear what men may do.
I cannot ascribe to Him "the glory" if I am seeking honor only from myself.
I cannot say "forever" if the horizon of my life is bounded completely by the things of time.

What an amazingly challenging quote.  

Saturday, November 28, 2015

God's Will

This morning I was reading and this is something God is working on in me....I am the only one that has the capacity to obey. God won't make me obey. "God's ardent desire is that we who are His children obey Him completely and immediately with willing hearts" Romans 6:16-18 ...you are salves of the one whom you obey... what that means for me is that I am a slave to myself. "Pride is the major obstacle to be overcome" the pride that is evident in me is that I think I know better. What I want! This has to be overcome before I can pray for God's will to be done in me. This prides has caused me to reject Him and be in disobedience to His will. Is. 1:19, 20 If I am willing and obedient I will eat the good of the land, but if I rebel and refuse, I will be devoured by the sword. To accept and pray for God's will in sincerity and faith, I must abandon my own will for the sake of God's.

Potter and The Clay

I am reading an incredible book by John MacArthur called Alone with God and it couldn't be more on time in my life right now.  He quotes a story told by Author Philip Keller in his book A Layman Looks at the Lord's Prayer, he wrote:

In sincerity and earnestness I asked the old master craftsman to show me every step in the creation of a masterpiece...On his shelves were gleaming goblets, lovely vases and exquisite bowls of breathtaking beauty.  

Then, crooking a bony finger toward me, he lead the way to a small, dark, closed shed at the back of his shop.  When he opened its rickety door, a repulsive, overpowering stench of decaying matter engulfed me.  For a moment I stepped back from the edge of the gaping dark pit in the floor of the shed. "This is where the work begins!" he said, kneeling down beside the black, nauseating hole.  with his long then arm, he reached down into the darkness.  His slim, skilled fingers felt around amid the lumpy clay, searching for a fragment of material exactly suited to his task.

"I add special kinds of grass to the mud," he remarked.  "As it rots and decays, its organic content increases the colloidal quality of the clay, Then it sticks together better."  Finally his knowing hands brought up a lump of dark mud from the horrible pit where the clay had been tramped and mixed for hours by his hard, bony feet.

With tremendous impact the first verses from Psalm 40 came to my heart.  In a new and suddenly illuminating way I saw what the psalmist meant when he wrote long ago, "I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry.  He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay."  As carefully as the potter selected his clay, so God used special care in choosing me...

The great slab of granite, carved from the rough rock of the high Hindu Kush mountains behind his home, whirled quietly.  It was operated by a very crude, treadle-like device that was moved by his feet, very much like our antique sewing machines.

As the stone gathered momentum, I was taken in memory to Jeremiah 18:3.  "then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold he wrought a work on the wheels."

But what stood out most before my mind at this point was the fact that beside the potter's stool, on either side of him, stood two basins of water.  Not once did he touch the clay, now spinning swiftly at the center of the wheel, without first dipping his hands in the water.  As he began to apply his delicate fingers and smooth palms to the mound of mud, it was always through the medium of the moisture of his hands.  And it was fascinating to see how swiftly but surely the clay responded to the pressure applied to it through those moistened hands.  Silently, smoothly, the form of a graceful goblet began to take shape beneath those hands.  The water was the medium through which the master craftsman's will and wishes were being transmitted to the clay.  His will actually was being done in earth.

For me this was a most moving demonstration of the simple, yet mysterious truth that my Father's will and wishes are expressed and transmitted to me through the water of His own Word....

Suddenly, as I watched to my utter astonishment, I saw the stone stop.  Why?  I looked closely.  The potter removed a small particle of grit from the goblet...Then just as suddenly the stone stopped again.  He removed another hard object...

Suddenly he stopped the stone again.  He pointed disconsolately to a deep, ragged gouge that cut and scarred the goblet's side.  It was ruined beyond repair!  In dismay he crushed it down beneath his hands...

"And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter" (Jer. 18:4).  Seldom had any lesson come home to me with such tremendous clarity and force.  Why was this rare and beautiful masterpiece ruined in the master's hands?  Because he had run into resistance.  It was like a thunderclap of truth bursting about me!

Why is my Father's will - His intention to turn out truly beautiful people - brought to nought again and again?  Why, despite His best efforts and endless patience with human beings, do they end up a disaster?  Simply because they resist His will.

The sobering, searching, searing question I had to ask myself in the humble surroundings of that simple potter's shed was this:  Am I going to be a piece of fine china or just a finger bowl?  Is my life going to be a gorgeous goblet fit to hold the fine wine of God's very life from which others can drink and be refreshed?  Or am I going to be just a crude finger bowl in which passersby will dabble their fingers briefly then pass on and forget about it?  It was one of the most solemn moments in all of my spiritual experiences.

"Father, Thy will be done in (in clay), in me, as it is done in heaven."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

God's Will

I was challenged to ask myself the question this morning, "Do I sometimes resent God's will at times?"  I think sometimes I simply resign myself to God's will.  But I was also challenged to look at when God answers a prayer (maybe not the way I would have hoped), to trust that it is always His loving, caring hand moving and acting to accomplish great things in me and those around me that otherwise couldn't have happened.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

You know you don't live in the States when....

 

The other night we were talking as a family and the subject came up about Pizza Hut delivery in the States, that the majority of the time it is delivered in a car to the house.  Ela, said, "In a car?, that's weird."  Huh! go figure.

Another crazy thing about delivery here in El Salvador, is that you can get everything delivered to your house:  McDonald's, KFC and even Pupusas (El Salvador's most popular tipical food).


Friday, September 27, 2013

The God-shaped Brain

I have been reading a book called "The God-shaped Brain".  It has been so fascinating.  I am thoroughly enjoying it.  I would highly recommend reading it.  Today's quote from the book:  Because of how God designed the human brain, "we can't think clearly when we are guilt-ridden."  Think about how far reaching that statement or truth goes.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Unique Fruit

Manzana de agua is the name of this fruit, translated it would be, water apple.  The flavor cannot be compared to any other fruit I've tried.  Ryan always gives me a hard time when I describe the flavor like a flower, but really it is for me the best description.  The shape as you can tell is very much like a pear only smaller.  The seed is similar to that of an avocado, only that it is not smooth.  The consistency of the fruit is somewhat like a pear.  It is not juicy or overly sweet, just a very fresh, clean flowery taste.  We first tried this fruit in Costa Rica.  The size was much bigger but still the same unique flavor.  We were very excited to see the fruit here in El Salvador even though the season only lasts a month or so.  We have get it while the gettin is good!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thanksgiving

Now that things have settled back into somewhat of a routine, I have had a little more time to reflect on our time in the states.  I am overwhelmed by people's love, support and generosity towards our family.  Everytime we come back we are made to feel so welcomed, loved and missed.  We are truly grateful for every opportunity we had to spend time with people, and sad on the other hand that we weren't able to spend time with everyone we wanted.  Thank you to everyone that made our trip so incredibly special and memorable.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Letting Go

I always tell my girls, "stop growing would you, just stop it!"  The fact is that I don't want them to grow up.  And the hard reality for me is, they are and I can't stop it.  All healthy people grow.  God has been showing me ways that I may be hindering my girls from growing up.  I want my girls to be responsible and able to do things on their own.  Recently, I have been faced with the fact that I do too much for my girls.  There is a healthy balance between serving your kids and enabling them.  God has been showing me that I need to let go a little more to let them feel the weight of the responsibilities of life.  As a mom, I like that they need me.  It's hard for me to think about them not needing me, but I know it is healthy for them to grow.  I suppose it is the unhealthy part of me that wants them to continue needing me, but seeing also that they will always need me in some capacity, just not how it looks right now.  I prayerfully enter into these times of "letting go".

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Just Life

It has been so long since I posted anything I really don't know where to begin.  So I will just update a little on what my days look like now.  The days just seem to fly by.  The girls are in school by 7:00 in the morning and come home around 3:00.  Many days I come home and work out then get going on my "to do list" for the day.  Tuesdays I have the privilege of leading the Mom's Prayer group (Mom's in Touch) for the school the girls attend.  We meet at our house, which is also a privilege to have them here.  There are anywhere from 3 to 6 ladies that come.  We have a great time.  They are a great group of ladies.
 Friday's I meet with a gal named Karen for the Woman to Woman study; a study covering the woman's role through the Godly characteristics found in Titus 2:3-5.  Friday nights Ryan and I are being discipled by an awesome couple from Vida Nueva (New Life) named Jose Roberto and Paty.  They have two girls as well and our girls love to go over and play with them while we go through our lesson.  The discipleship ministry at Vida Nueva has 12 lessons and they are almost exactly the same as the 16 lessons from Graceway (formerly KCBT).  Just so you know, Julio Contreras, our pastor at Vida Nueva was at Miramonte when Jeff Adams was there, so their philosophy of ministry and discipleship is very, very similar.  So now we have the privilege of going through discipleship with Jose and Paty so we then can disciple others.
Very shortly I will start the Directions material with a gal from the Mom's Prayer group, named Michelle.  I am so excited to see the growth in her as we spend time together in the Word of God.  She is such a neat lady, that I can really tell loves the Lord and wants to know more about Him.
I have the privilege of having a husband that works from home.  So we are able to spend our days together even though we are most times working independent of each other.  Thursday mornings we have set aside to watch the videos of ¿QuĂ© dice La Biblia? (What does the Bible Say?).  We are watching the teaching on Genesis right now.  Great stuff!
Generally my days are structured to have everything done so when the girls get home I can focus on them.  I feel so privileged and blessed to be their mom.  And am finding out that as they get older, this parenting thing gets more complicated.



Thursday, September 01, 2011

Feeling Blessed

I can't help but feel so blessed these days. I have been privileged to participate in the mother's prayer group at the girl's school every Tuesday. The group is called Mother's united to pray (I think that is how it translates). The neat thing is is prayer groups like ours are praying the same verses for our kids, teachers and administrations. Kathy Mehl has been leading the group for several years, and as a result I right from the start I had connections with some of the moms in the school, which normally takes a great deal of time to develop.

Also, I have the tremendous blessing of participating in a Beth Moore study at our church! It is my first time to go through a Beth Moore study in a group. It has been such a very long time to have had opportunities like these. I hope, hope, hope that I never take for granted what a blessing it is to have fellowship with women like this.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Touching Lives with Banana Bread


I would guess that almost every woman in the United States knows how to make Banana Bread, or at least someone in their family that has a recipe. But that is not the case here in San Francisco Gotera, El Salvador.

In the beginning I gave a loaf as a way to say thank you to someone for teaching me how to crochet. After trying the bread, she asked for the recipe. I began to see this as a way to maybe create a bridge to the ladies in the church.

I would give loaves as God lead. I gave some to the ladies at the post office that have always been very nice to our family. The ladies at the office supply store. They now wave to me on the streets, ask how we are all doing. Before they were very nice but after giving a loaf of banana bread to them, wow, what a change.

Many women asked for the recipe, and with the desire to spend time with them. I would offer to show them how to make the bread and their eyes would light up. It grew and grew.

This past month I had the opportunity to teach the ladies of the church in Corinto (daughter church) and our church here in Gotera how to make banana bread. The response has been more than I could have ever hoped.

I have been buying the materials to make the bread from a local bread store. This past week I gave a loaf to the lady that always helps me, also a member of our church. She gave a piece of the bread to her boss and now her boss wants me to come and teach her how to make it.

This recipe although extremely common in the states, has made a tremendous impact in this little ole town in El Salvador. I would never would have guessed the impact it would have. I praise the Lord for the "tool" to touch lives.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Two Very Proud Girls






Both Avigail and Ela tested for their next belt in Tae Kwon Do and received them!


To receive the next level belt, a person needs to perform various requirements which include forms, fighting, kicks, and breaking boards (I sure hope those are translated correctly, I only know the terms in Spanish, imagine that).

Our girls have really done well in Tae Kwon Do. They have learned so much in last couple of years. I think the biggest thing they have learned, and what I am most proud of, is integrity. Doing whatever job with the best you have in you, regardless of what is going on around you.

They were so excited to receive their belts, Avigail, green belt and Ela, yellow! Yeah girls! I am so proud of you!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Just Life

I always want to write something witty or some great experience, but really I don't have anything. I'm just going to share "life stuff". As many of you know we made the decision to home school the girls until they start their school year in August in San Salvador. Before we actually started, I was SCARED for many different reasons. I thought things like, "I'm going to mess this up", "when will I have time to clean?", "how will I confront issues that arise in learning styles?", "how will I handle resistance?" and lastly and most ugly, "what about 'my time'?" As it has turned out, this time has been one of the sweetest times I have had with our girls. Yes, there has been resistance, there has been challenges but I wouldn't trade this time for anything. Here's a little "shout out" to you mom's that choose to home school year after year. I admire you all so much. Your eternal investment in your kids has so much more value than having a clean and picked up house or having your "project list" grow rather than get smaller, more than having "me time" as much as you wanted. I now have a greater respect for you all. May God bless your time and grow you all through it!

Within the last couple of weeks, 2 1/2 years after coming to Gotera, I have had the blessing of having a few conversations, beyond the "surface stuff" with a few ladies at the church. You say, "wow, great you had a conversation with someone, I just had one Sunday with someone". No, what I am saying, is I have tried for 2 and half years to engage a few of these ladies in a conversation and have come up against just surface stuff, aka a wall. Wow, 2 1/2 years, seems like a lot! But really is it? Some people spend 10, 15 sometimes 20 years trying to get in. Although, it has been a hard 2 1/2 years I feel blessed to have finally had a conversation with someone. A great quote from the classic book "The Door in the Wall" goes "Thou hast only to follow the wall far enough and there will be a door in it". I have found a door!

Lately, I have felt tremendously blessed and overwhelmed with the growth I have experienced lately. In my 40's, I have taken on major things to learn, for example Spanish, guitar, Tae kwon do. When I look back at how much growth and ability that God has allowed, I feel so blessed. But, I do have to say, that it makes me want more! I don't want to settle for what I have learned to this point. I want more!!! I see that so much too in regards to the Bible. I know so much more than I did, oh, but...... I WANT MORE!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Adjusting

We returned to El Salvador just a week ago and we are still trying to adjust. It was interesting for me to watch the girls settle back in. They both have very different personalities and as expected they respond differently to life situations. This past Saturday there was Christmas party for all the Taekwando students and Avigail just jumped right back in to Spanish and being around people. But Ela probably didn't jump back in as quickly. It was fascinating to watch her hang back and watch the goings on. I am always amazed at their different responses to things. And also to see they go through a time of adjustment too.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Gratitude

I was thinking the other day while I was making dinner, how everything bit of food we have in our house is because of people supporting us. Everything! That is a very sobering and humbling thought. We have been allowed and blessed to live outside our own country for more than 3 years, because people support us monthly. My words can never express the amount of gratitude that is in me. I am also very grateful for a home church that teaches the importance of missions and supporting those that are serving around the world. I am humbled to be one of those recipients.

Another humbling thought is to know that people are praying for us, some of those we have never met. One Sunday we visited a church and I walked up to someone to introduce myself and the young man greeted me by name. I thought wow, how did you know my name. Then Avigail and Ela walked in and he named them by name as well. He told me, "we pray for you every Tuesday" Whoa!!! Now that is humbling!

Just a "shout out" to you all! Thank you!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I had a dream

Last week I had a dream about one of our neighbors. In my dream I was teaching Sunday School at church. The classroom was full and with a lot of activity. In the very back was my neighbor and I think her sister. My neighbor started asking some great questions about the gospel. As I am doing my best to answer her questions, all the other students in the class left. So it was just my neighbor and I talking. Everything in my dream was so clear, it was unbelievable.

When I woke up the next morning, I thought, I need to tell her about the dream I had and use it as an opportunity to tell her about what Jesus Christ has done for her. I said to myself, the next time I see her I will tell her.

Maybe a week later, I was going through my "do list" for the day and next thing on my list was go to the store. I so did not want to go, but I pushed myself to go right then. As I was about to open the gate, guess who walks by? that's right, my neighbor. (Now, I will share the ugly truth about myself). I thought, Oh Lord, I don't really have time right now to talk to her. I don't have a track with me. I don't speak well enough. She won't understand me. Not now Lord! With all this processing in my yucky heart, my neighbor has now passed by our house on her way to the little store next door. So I said, Alright God if she passes back by, I will talk to her. Just as I finished saying that, I see her coming back down the hill. Okay, here it goes...

I get out of the truck and tell that I have to tell her about a dream I had about her. I know from meeting her younger sisters that their family is very Catholic. I proceed to share the gospel with her using the dream as a spring board. To be honest, I don't remember everything I said, because it was like someone else was talking (know what I mean?). I do recall telling her that according to the Bible all of us are sinners and born separated from God. The only way that we can fix that problem is by realizing our sin nature and that it separates us from God and ask Jesus forgive us of our sins. I explained that none of us our good enough nor can we do enough good things to work our way to heaven. I used the example if someone wants to travel to another country, one thing that is required to enter into their country is a passport. You can do your very best to explain why the official at the desk should let you in, and say, "but you see I am a really good person, I do good things, I try to be kind." All that is fine and good, but the answer will still be the same, "You must have a passport to enter". I explained to her that Jesus Christ is our "passport" into heaven and into a right relationship with a Holy God. In our conversation she stated that she goes to church and God helps her. She was very grateful for me sharing with her. Now all I can do is pray and ask her what her name is and continue building a relationship with her.

I share all this mostly to encourage everyone to listen and to obey God. But don't do it like I did this particular day grumbling and complaining and doubting that she would listen to me. It is a privilege to share with others the most important thing in my life.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Going Gray

For quite some time, I had been coloring my hair to cover up the gray. I would get a little weird when I would start to the see the gray hair starting to show. Honestly, I started getting a little "crazy" (in a funny way) about when and how soon I could color my hair. Almost to the point of obsessing about it. The fact was that I wasn't ready to be gray yet.

About 3 or 4 months ago I was reading The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, and the author told a story about a man who loved to read the paper. He faithfully retrieved and read the paper every morning. One morning this man went to retrieve his daily paper, only to find that there was no paper in his drive way. After first, he thought, "oh maybe it was throw into the bushes". After looking, there was no paper to be found. As he continued to look, his could feel his heart begin to beat a little stronger. Panic was setting in. "Where is my paper?" he thought. With his heart beating more rapidly now, he noticed in his neighbors driveway a newspaper. In his mind, he began plotting how he could take that paper without anyone noticing. At that very moment something inside this man's conscience snapped, and said, "What are you thinking? It's a stinking newspaper!!!" He immediately went inside, got on the phone and called the newspaper company and proceeded to tell them, "I need to cancel my subscription. The lady working that morning, asked if he just wanted to change his subscription to weekends. He responded, "No, I need to go cold turkey." This man realized that his reading the newspaper was out of balance and he needed to make a change.

You say...what in the world does that have to do with coloring hair, for me, everything! When I read this story, I could replace the newspaper with hair color and there you have it. I had become very out of balance with being preoccupied in coloring my hair. I could totally relate to this man's feeling of panic.

Now please hear my heart... This is in no way is a "Don't Color Your Hair" campaign. That is not the issue for me. The issue for me was my own personal view toward it.

So now here I am going gray and learning to be okay with it. I'll get there. But it was a good lesson along the way of moderation in all things. God is really teaching me about this in many respects. More blogs to come in that area.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Joelito or Little Joel

This is Joel (pronounced Ho-el). With a little attention and time, we have become quite good friends. Everytime we show up at church he is there to greet me asking lots of questions. He is a high energy little boy that sometimes finds himself in trouble. We when we first came to Gotera, he would "bother" our girls. They would come to me and say that he wouldn't leave them alone. Well as I watched, he was trying with good intentions to be friendly. But being the 4th of 5 boys and no dad in the picture, he didn't know how to relate and play with girls. Our girls have both come to appreciate Joel as well.

Joel reminds me a lot of me when I was a little girl. I found myself in a lot of trouble frequently. I know for me it was solely for attention. I had people in my life, thanks to God, that saw through all that neediness and were able to see something worthwhile in me. They invested in me in despite of me. I am so appreciative of these people in my life. All these people that I can think of that made those investments were all Christians. I truly can't imagine where I would be without their impact in my life.

God has given me the chance to see a very sweet little boy in Joel. I praise the Lord for the opportunity to hopefully love, accept and encourage the life of this little boy. Pay it forward!
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