"Here lies the tremendous mystery - that God should be all-powerful, yet refuse to coerce. He summons us to cooperation. We are honoured in being given the opportunity to participate in his good deeds. Remember how He asked for help in performing his miracles : Fill the waterpots, stretch out your hand, distribute the loaves."
Elisabeth Elliot, GATEWAY TO JOY
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
I'm all about grace. I lived the first 30 or so years of my life singing about it and reading about it but not really knowing about it...the kind of knowing that transforms. Then God radically changed my life through the ministries of a couple of amazing grace-filled Jesus followers, Dan Wills and Steve Brown. Since then, I've tried my darnedest to walk in grace in a way that not only keeps me free, but sets others free. So when I read this post over at my pal Jeff Goins' blog, I just knew that I had to share it here at Graceland:
"Did I tell you about the yard sale?" my friend asked me the other day while I was out of town for my work. I told her no. The story she proceeded to tell me was nothing short of inspirational.
"Well," she began, "I went to a yard sale the other day, picked out several items, and told the man who was in charge of the sale that I was ready to check out. He took me into his house, pulled out the bank pouch, told me how much it cost, and I took out the money. Then, he stopped me and said, 'Here's the deal - it's all free.'"
Re-enacting the story, my friend's mouth dropped.
She described the mental conflict that was happening within her. She said that it made her uncomfortable to get something for free. The man explained to her that this was like what Jesus did for her - he wiped her ledger clean, gave her something for nothing. My friend, of course, was a Christian, but this still stunned her.
For a moment, she wanted to fight it. She wanted to tell the man that she didn't need such a gift - at least, not like those poor Mexicans rifling through this man's possessions did. But she knew that was ridiculous. She knew that she needed grace just as much as the next person. So, she took her money and the handful of yard sale items she had been given and walked away.
I think that for those of us who have grown up with more wants than needs (which is most of us in America, by the way) have difficulty not paying our own way. This may look different in particular situations - it may be a sense of pride when a friend offers to pick up your dinner check, or it may be the pain you feel when you have to ask a family member for money due to financial straits. Whatever the case, we hate to be in need.
But that is precisely our state. Jesus says that unless a person understands his or her own spiritual bankruptcy, they cannot be blessed. It's impossible. You can't receive a gift if you don't recognize your utter poverty and need.
I think that we need to be reminded of grace.
I think that we need to constantly "un-forget" the story of salvation.
I think that "making a decision for Christ" can be a one-time incident, but it takes a lifetime to comprehend and appreciate.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Maybe it's because you're spending your time, energy, gifts, and resources on lots and lots of good things but not focusing on the most important things...those few things that you're really supposed to be saving yourself for. I just finished reading SMALL FOOTPRINT, BIG HANDPRINT by Tri Robinson. I'll be sharing many quotes and sections from his book on this blog in the days and weeks to come. For now, here's a beautiful introductory video to it:
Small Footprint Big Handprint Introduction from Vineyard Boise on Vimeo.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
...for all those who have left the security and comforts of family and home to pour out their lives for the least of these. Pray that their burdens will be light as they seek to share with those in need about the One who will carry life's burdens for them. Pray that their path will be lit as they seek to share the light of Christ to those living in darkness. Pray that their needs will be met as they seek to tell those in need that He is the ultimate provision. Pray for those who are lonely as they seek to bring love to those who feel so unloved and alone. Pray for those who are weak to know that He carries them as they take the Good News of His transforming grace to those who desperately need His strength.
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Fisk, http://stephaniefisk.theworldrace.org/ .
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Betcha already knew that, huh? But did you know that my 3 year old does, too?
It was so sweet. I was sitting looking at Katie Rowland's World Race blog a couple of days ago when my little Miss M asked to get up in my lap. She wanted to see what I was watching. So I hit play and a video about Swaziland started. Well, seeing as how she is 3 and can't read, I had to read the text for her. Near the beginning, it said "I love Swaziland". So I read the words to which she responded that she loved Swaziland, too.
I love seeing my children get a heart for that country. My oldest who is 15 will be going this summer to spend a month ministering primarily to orphans and other at-risk kids. My 13 year old is begging us to let her go with us if God opens up a trip for my husband and me to go on together this year. My 11 year old son said yesterday that if my husband got a million dollar pay raise we could go live in Swaziland and not have to worry about any money, and it goes on and on.
Since I am so passionate about that nation and it's people, it of course blesses me to know that my children are also growing to love it and want to make a difference for God's "least of these" way over there.
I thought I'd share the video that Miss M and I watched. And if you feel like God is starting to tell you that He would like you to get involved somehow, someway, sometime with what's going on in Swaziland...or maybe missions someplace else?...let me know if there is ever anything I can do to help. One of my greatest joys in life is helping people follow their God given dreams...especially when those dreams are about loving and caring for His little children.
I've Seen HIS Love Come Down. from katie rowland on Vimeo.
Monday, March 23, 2009
I know that St. Patrick's Day was nearly a week ago, but my 15 year old daughter typed up a post about this special day and I just couldn't resist sharing it after I read it at her facebook:
You have to wear green on St. Patrick's day. Or else. Especially if you have little brothers and/or are one of the only girls in a Sunday School class with boys under eleven. I learned that at a tragically young age.
I remember one year going to church, wearing green, and being visciously attacked by nine year old boys who used that Saint's day as an excuse to torture me. Did the fact that I was wearing green stop them from pinching me all over? No. It did not! Did the fact that they weren't wearing green change anything? Noooo. My poor arms were covered in hard little pinches. Fortunately for me I was a fast pincher and got most of them back. I think I even made one cry.
Little brothers do the same thing.
Like Saturday, we had a St. Patrick's day party and 5 year old T runs up (four hours before the party is supposed to start) and pinches me.
"What was that for?" I asked.
"You aren't wearing green!"
"It's not St. Patrick's day!"
"You're not wearing green!"
"Neither are you!"
It took T a second to process the fact that I was about to pinch his nose off, but when he did he ran to his room saying he "had to take his nap".
Liar. Sneaky little five year olds.
Sneaky little boys.
So there, something holiday-ish. A memory. How cute. Well that's the only ones I'm willing to share. Even though I have better ones. But oh well. Deal with it people! Cause I know you're all just heartbroken that I won't tell you my favorite memory!
Sunday, March 22, 2009
LET US COUNT THE WAYS...
...we love Grandmommy on her birthday.
1. Little 3 year old Miss M loves "Grandmommy cooking for me".
"Lizzie had a sleepover party last night to celebrate her 8th birthday. She
had 3 sweet friends spend the night. There was pizza, blueberry pie, gifts, and
LOTS of giggles well into the night. Some of us are still recovering. Like
Peeka. The girls REALLY liked her."
Saturday, March 21, 2009
My pals and fellow Swazi-trippers, Lisa Samson and Claudia Mair Burney have both been nominated for Christy awards for their books, EMBRACE ME and ZORA AND NICKY. I'm so happy for them. These are truly great books. In fact, my husband never, ever reads "womanly" books but he read Z&N and really enjoyed it. Here's a pic of Lisa, Mair, and me along with Lisa's longtime friend Jennifer in Africa:
Contemporary Romance category are:
* Beyond the Night by Marlo Schalesky (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
* Finding Stefanie by Susan May Warren (Tyndale House Publishers)
* Zora and Nicky: A Novel in Black and White by Claudia Mair Burney (David C. Cook)
Contemporary Series, Sequels & Novellas category are:
* Sisterchicks Go Brit! by Robin Jones Gunn (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
* Summer Snow by Nicole Baart (Tyndale House Publishers)
* You Had Me at Good-bye by Tracey Bateman (FaithWords)
Contemporary Standalone category are:
* Dogwood by Chris Fabry (Tyndale House Publishers)
* Embrace Me by Lisa Samson (Thomas Nelson)
* Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon by Debbie Fuller Thomas (Moody Publishers)
First Novel category are:
* Blue Hole Back Home by Joy Jordan-Lake (David C. Cook)
* Rain Song by Alice J. Wisler (Bethany House Publishers)
* Safe at Home by Richard Doster (David C. Cook)
Historical category are:
* Shadow of Colossus by T.L. Higley (B&H Publishing Group)
* Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin (Bethany House Publishers)
* Washington’s Lady by Nancy Moser (Bethany House Publishers)
Historical Romance category are:
* Calico Canyon by Mary Connealy (Barbour Publishers)
* From a Distance by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House Publishers)
* The Moon in the Mango Tree by Pamela Binnings Ewen (B&H Publishing Group)
Suspense category are:
* By Reason of Insanity by Randy Singer (Tyndale House Publishers)
* The Rook by Steven James (Revell)
* Winter Haven by Athol Dickson (Bethany House Publishers)
Visionary category are:
* The Battle for Vast Dominion by George Bryan Polivka (Harvest House Publishers)
* Shade by John B. Olson (B&H Publishing Group)
* Vanish by Tom Pawlik (Tyndale House Publishers)
Young Adult category are:
* The Fruit of My Lipstick by Shelley Adina (FaithWords)
* I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires by Cathy Gohlke (Moody Publishers)
* On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
A few weeks ago I shared with y'all about the "Beveni Challenge". I wanted to share the finale with you as written by Deb Gangemi, head "big kid" for the online community that sponsors children at the Beveni Carepoint:
We have come to the end of the Christmas to Purim Beveni Challenge as described in previous blog posts (www.orphanshope.typepad.com) . It has been an incredible time of lessons learned and blessings received.
The truth is the blessings we have felt as we were given updates on the total raised for the children and caregivers of Beveni have been pure joy for us! We were very excited last week when the total approached $2000 as we realized God had increased the original gift 10 times over!
Then I was contacted by a member of the Beveni Carepoint Facebook group. She had been praying for many months for the opportunity to give water to people who had none.
Beveni has become the people she is gifting! Her financial gift is enough to cover the cost of an entire water system, including a well and pump, for people who had none.
How awesome that He would provide an answer to her prayer by allowing her to provide life-giving water to the dear people of Beveni! I rejoice with her that she received an answer to her prayer even as I rejoice with the people of Beveni as their needs are satisfied in that answer!
As Purim passed and our family remained committed to praying about the giving of gifts to the poor, as prescribed by Mordecai, we came across the following passage in 1 Chronicles 29. We realized it perfectly expressed our own thoughts and feelings about the last month. We close this note with heartfelt gratitude to you, His Body. Please accept these verses as descriptive of our hearts to you, for the children and always, always in awe of Him!
But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to give as generously
as this? Everything comes from you and we have given you only what comes from
your hand. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people have given to
you. I Chron 29: 14, 17b
Amen, and amen!
Friday, March 20, 2009
There's a nail in the board in the bottom of the kennel;
There's a nail, there's a nail, there's a nail in the bottom of the kennel.
What that little ditty doesn't say is that not only was the nail in the board in the bottom of the kennel, but that nail ended up in the FOOT of the boy in the picture on the post on the screen of your computer.
Yep, the nail was in there, we couldn't get it out, so an ambulance ride later, we were in the pediatric E.R. having medical personnel dealing with the sticky (pun intended) situation. The little guy was pretty upset (as was his mother) but as soon as the nail was out, he was back to his charming self, even telling the nurses as we left the hospital, "it was nice meeting you". And after we left and ate a late lunch at Sonic and picked up a Littlest Pet Shop toy in Wal-Mart (which he was promised in the ambulance) he told me that yesterday had been a "great day"!
By the way, I have to take the chance to thank my dear friend Rhonda for helping with the kids and their sweet kids for all their "get well" notes and presents. I was also very proud with how calm, cool, and collected my older kids were. My oldest daughter actually went with us to the hospital and was amazing. Though I'm not yet ready to say it was a "great" day, I am thankful for God's provision.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
BEST LAID PLANS
I've heard the old saying many, many times, "the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray"---and man!---did today ever illustrate that for sure! They went so astray that I'm utterly worn out and don't have it in me to even begin to describe the day's events. So for now, I'll just say thanks to all of you who prayed and have sent sweet messages of concern. And for those of you in the dark, just ponder these words....3 inch nail sticking out of a 3 foot board, ambulance ride, and a 5 year old boy.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
A month or so ago, I read a book review by Seth Barnes, founder of Adventures in Missions. The description and quotes really connected with me. So when my birthday rolled around a couple of weeks ago and my husband gave me a gift card, I knew right away how I'd spend part of it. So yesterday my oldest daughter picked it up and now it is waiting for me to delve into. I've read the introduction and skimmed through a few sections and it looks to be as good as Seth's review promised it to be.
I thought some of you might also be interested in reading SMALL FOOTPRINT, BIG HANDPRINT and I'll let Seth tell you why:
Here's a book that will give you some practical steps to become more radical in your faith: Small Footprint, Big Handprint: How to live simply and love extravagantly by Tri Robinson, pastor of Vineyard Boise Church (a 3000 member church in Boise, Idaho).
Robinson's thesis is that "Most Americans have too much stuff; stuff that often weighs them down and ultimately keeps them from a more simplified, freeing life." He illustrates by relating how his own life got out of control. Everything was on the top shelf of his life's priorities. It was too complex, too busy and too out-of-control. "I realized that the great things that truly gave me joy and the things I deeply desired to invest my life in were being pushed aside for dozens of merely good things."
He defines simple living as "a lifestyle that allows us to focus on the things that are most important to us, such as relationships both inside and outside of our families, without being encumbered by an inordinate amount of responsibilities that demand our attention."
The book dives into some of my favorite themes - the link between spiritual adventure and simplicity, contenting that an adventure with God begins with simplicity. It makes the point that "You can't embark on a treacherous hike with 200 pounds of gear strapped to your back...."
So, radical faith is best expressed when we're living simply, unencumbered by the things of this world.
Robinson links the excess in our lifestyles to a casual faith that renders us ineffective. "Now more than ever," he says, "people who profess to be followers of Jesus must resist casual Christianity in lieu of coming to the aid of a world in decline. Everywhere we look, there are images of a suffering humanity just begging for the practical demonstrations of the Gospel."
One simple test of our propensity to excess is to ask, "What do I struggle to let go of?" We are what we can't let go of. One of the greatest tragedies in humanity is for a person to come to the end of his or her life and realize that it was misspent.
Robinson challenges us to look at the snapshot of our life comprised of our time, energy, and money. And then ask ourselves, "What needs to change?"
The bottom line of a life lived well is that your life reflects uniqueness in Christ rather than just blending in with everyone else. Robinson's challenges you to ask yourself, "Do my time, energy, and money reflect my passion and commitment to Christ?"
To read more of Seth Barnes' writings, visit his blog: http://www.sethbarnes.com/
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
For 'tis green, green, green, where the ruined towers are gray,
And it's green, green, green, all the happy night and day;
Green of leaf and green of sod, green of ivy on the wall,
And the blessed Irish shamrock with the fairest green of all.
~Mary Elizabeth Blake
And in our family, it's green, green, green in our breakfast oatmeal.Hope you and those you love have had an amazingly wonderful St. Patrick's Day!!!
Monday, March 16, 2009
And yeah, I like alliteration. Must be the preschool teacher in me coming out.
ANYWAY....before I so wudely interrupted myself, here are some picchas from our Saturday night "early" St. Patrick's Day party (which was also a birthday party for our friend Starr). Must have been fun for me than just me as I'm already hearing talk about next year's party. Wanna come?
Sunday, March 15, 2009
...green frosting that is!
Yesterday was our St. Patrick's Day party and in preparation, my two youngest girls helped me make shamrock cookies. We all had a good time baking together...they especially enjoyed the homemade green icing made of lots of SUGAR! Don't worry, the cookies were NOT from scratch. Good ole refrigerated store-bought dough. Didn't want y'all to think I'd gone all uber-baker on you or something.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
So get ready to travel back to Swaziland in the late 1980's...preppy styles and all. Sorry the quality is not better. It was pre-digital camera days and I have no idea where my photos are packed away. Hence, photos made of photos my mom has scrapbooked for me, except for the one below. This one comes from a guy who is now a youth minister, husband, and father of three, but who 2o years ago, was one of the missionary kids that made up my mission family. And family they really were for me. Chad Elliott, his parents, and the rest of missionaries and mks were there during holidays, on birthdays, when my car broke down, or when the crazy man tried to crash down my door. Most of them lived in Mbabane and attended church where I was assigned.My main areas of ministry in Swaziland were doing teacher training and curriculum enrichment at Mbabane International Baptist Church. I also taught Sunday School & helped with Children's Church.Because of cultural reasons, many of the church's youth group activities were divided by gender so I was the primary leader for the youth girls under the overall youth leader and boys' leader who was another Journeyman, Andrew McKneely from Texas.
Maureen Enderby was a pal from Scotland. She was a stay-at-home-wife so had lots of time to minister in the community. One way she blessed me was to help cut out the seemingly endless game pieces for the preschool.