We are in Orange County, California visiting my extended family. Kurt is still in Mexico and Grace has left for summer camp. It is just Jeff, me and Eve. This is a quiet and pleasant time surrounded by family and friends.
I am going to take a short break from writing. I need some time with no obligations, pressures or responsibilities. I will resume when we resume our service to the Lord. For now, I will focus on my relationships with my sisters, brother and parents.
We are in Oceanside, California, helping the body at a local fellowship. Jeff is spending the next several days working on the sound system here, and Eve and I will be spending time together.
I have been ill, but am recuperating. I have some kind of horrible, hacking cough.
Daily I pray for Kurt and for Grace. I pray that they come to a closer relationship with our Father God and that they are stretched in His presence and into His service. I can’t wait for them to return!!
Jeff has really got his hands full here! The system is in need of a major renovation/re-wiring. He is going to work away at it, praying for completion before Sunday morning service.
We have been getting several bits of email from various Calvary Pastors around the country, looking for help with their sound system. I pray that if God grows this ministry, He brings us someone to help.
I am so excited for Sunday. Kurt will be home. Then on Monday, Grace will return and we will be a family again! God speed Sunday to us!
We just picked up Kurt from the airport. It is strange. This young man, he is so tall and so thin. He wears a bandanna on his head and sports a new watch and necklace, souvenirs from the Mexican marketplace. He hugs me with joy, yet I sense a reserved ness about him. He seems more set apart, separate, more… self-confident and less child-like.
My heart aches. I want to know all of his experiences, the joys and heartaches he experienced while in the mission field.
Little by little he fills me in on bits and pieces, words coming slowly at first, then spilling out.
He tells of bringing a young Mexican man to a saving knowledge of Christ, in Spanish without a translator. He shares about the fun he had on an off day in El Paso, Texas. He even teases me that the bug bites all over him are from the Gigantic Juarez Biting Cockroach (okay.. I believed him, they were actually just mosquito bites!!). He softly shares that he was given responsibility as a group-leader, even though he was the youngest person on the mission team.
He is not the same boy, he has relationships and experiences apart from me. He has private memories and friendships.
He tells me he is probably not interested in Boy Scouts any longer and that he wants to go back to our old neighborhood to share the Gospel with his old friends.
No more Boy Scouts? Share the Gospel with .... friends??? What happened to him? How did he grow up so quickly?
I love my boy so much, it brings tears to my cheeks and a lump to my throat. He is just thirteen and will be mine for not much longer. He is already slipping away. I know that is the course of events that life is destined to take, but as his mother, my heart is breaking.
I want him to grow, to experience the world, to become an individual, separate from me. But I long for the days when I was the center of his world. I love him so very, very much.
This is hard. It is good, but it is still really hard.
We picked up Grace yesterday from summer camp. She had a great time. Although she lost weight, she still had a great time. I don’t think she enjoyed the food. After dinner, she confided in me that she had an unsettling experience at camp. Apparently there were girls in her cabin playing a game called “black magic” and some other game where you predict the future. She cried and told me it really scared her. I don’t think she will be going back to Girl Scout Camp. Next year we will try a Christian camp.
Grace is also having a hard time with Kurt. Just before dinner, she came crying to Jeff and I, that her brother had changed. He wasn’t Kurt any longer. What? She cried, “he isn’t mean to me anymore”.
I told her that Kurt had really grown in his walk with Christ, and that he was learning to be more Christ-like in his relationships. Would Jesus treat her meanly? No. Well, then… Kurt is attempting to follow his Savior and treat Grace accordingly.
All of us are noticing the difference in Kurt. He is a changed young man.
I wrote an email to Cheryl, telling her about my boy. (Both her daughters also went with LifeLine Missions to the mission field.) She wrote:
"you mean you are not fully in control of him anymore?It is a good thing and a healthy thing. We are supposed to raise our children up to follow Christ and to realize that HE loves them more than we do ... they are not owned by us , they are on loan to us to raise them in the Lord and to let them be able to make decisions in life. By example , by prayer, by instruction but not by control, I say these things in Love. I hope you can receive them in Love"
Yah, I know. But I still am a mommy and my fleshly desires are that I remain the mommy and in charge! The truth is, that the change in Kurt is wonderful. Scary, exciting, melancholy, bittersweet, thrilling. But still… wonderful.
I do love that boy.
We are still in Orange County, parked in front of my father's house. I find that there is more
discord among Jeff and I here. I do not feel peace. However, I do so love spending this time with my dad. He is getting more and more forgetful and I am enjoying his growing sense of humility and his humor. Kurt told me he shared the Gospel with Dad the other evening... it didn't go well.
This has been a very difficult day.
It started okay. I finally got the new design of our website working and that was a real treat, because I am still learning the new software.
I have been helping Jeff with the Mustard Seed Ministry since we began. Mustard Seed, that was my thing… I have felt that the mustard seed was central to my faith, as sometimes all I have available is faith that is just the size of a tiny little mustard seed. So, the ministry somehow ended up being called after that little seed.
Hence, calling the ministry after that little seed was something of me. I felt as though the ministry was a team effort. Something that we were doing together. Jeff did all the design and planning and labor. I did the background work; phone calls to the pastors, setting up the relationships with the vendors, ordering equipment and following up on delivery, answering the emails (tons!) from pastors needing help from Jeff… all the organizational stuff. The stuff that Jeff hates to do, and that I enjoyed doing for him
Today, with preamble, Jeff dismissed me from my duties. It was a shock.
Of course there was much wailing and tears on my part. Much pleading and many questions. But in the end, he was steadfast. I was not needed in the ministry work any longer. The unspoken inference was that I was neglecting my duties to the children and to Jeff, that the ministry work had left me unable to fulfill my godly obligations to my family.
I felt so very small and so very unloved. It felt as though Jeff were saying, that the work I did for the ministry, although personally fulfilling, had been distracting me from what should surely be my first love… my selfless service to the family… cleaning, cooking, picking-up, teaching school, entertaining children… all that fun stuff.
I am so wounded. I have gone through the gamut of feelings, anger, hate, understanding, fear, sadness today. I am on the edge of tears, just moments away from loosing control of my feelings. I am so, so hurt.
I feel as though I have been fired. Almost like I am that employee that goes to work each day, loving their life and their contribution to the company, then one day… the boss comes in and says, “you know, we never really liked what you were doing… goodbye”.
The truth is I am not personally fulfilled by child-care. I never really have been. I do it because I love my children, my family. They are the loves of my life. But, at the core, I am selfish… I enjoy using my brain and working amongst adults. It isn’t pretty, but the truth is painful sometimes. I enjoy exercising my brain in the service of others. I love research and I love interacting with others.
But, my husband has put his foot down, rather firmly. He did not do it in a gentle manner, it was very hurtful, but… he did put his foot down. I will be obedient. But I am so wounded by the manner in which I was dismissed from our joint labor.
Of course Jeff and I have discussed this ad naseum. He doesn’t understand my hurt, he doesn’t understand how wounded I am, or that I feel so small. It is not his nature to lovingly pander to feelings.
We have a friend who often gleefully proclaims that she is a truly spoiled woman. That her husband spoils her without discretion. Sometimes, I want a little of that. Sometimes, I want Jeff to hear me the first time I speak to him, not the third or fourth time. I have a small amount of envy when I see my friends husband come home from work and as his first action at home, put his arms around his wife and hold her, grateful to be home with his wife. I want that too. I suppose that if we did not live together in this motor home 24/7, perhaps Jeff would treat me that way also?
What does that have to do with being fired? I don’t know, it all just seems to come together in my mind as I reflect on this terrible day and the smallness that I feel.
The Submission of the Believer
“You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am” (John 13:13).
Our Lord never insists on having authority over us. He never says, “You will submit to me.” No, He leaves us perfectly free to choose—so free, in fact, that we can spit in His face or we can put Him to death, as others have done; and yet He will never say a word. But once His life has been created in me through His redemption, I instantly recognize His right to absolute authority over me. It is a complete and effective domination, in which I acknowledge that “You are worthy, O Lord …” (Revelation 4:11). It is simply the unworthiness within me that refuses to bow down or to submit to one who is worthy. When I meet someone who is more holy than myself, and I don’t recognize his worthiness, nor obey his instructions for me, it is a sign of my own unworthiness being revealed. God teaches us by using these people who are a little better than we are; not better intellectually, but more holy. And He continues to do so until we willingly submit. Then the whole attitude of our life is one of obedience to Him.
If our Lord insisted on our obedience, He would simply become a taskmaster and cease to have any real authority. He never insists on obedience, but when we truly see Him we will instantly obey Him. Then He is easily Lord of our life, and we live in adoration of Him from morning till night. The level of my growth in grace is revealed by the way I look at obedience. We should have a much higher view of the word obedience, rescuing it from the mire of the world. Obedience is only possible between people who are equals in their relationship to each other; like the relationship between father and son, not that between master and servant. Jesus showed this relationship by saying, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). “… though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). The Son was obedient as our Redeemer, because He was the Son, not in order to become God’s Son.
I have misjudged Jeff. Isn’t it odd, you can live with a person for twenty years, and still make mistakes about their character or intent.
Yes, Jeff fired me on Thursday. But he did it out of love and concern for our family. Like me, he is still learning and growing in his walk with Jesus. Perhaps Jeff spoke to me in a short and unpleasant manner, but truth be told… this is better, that I focus on my ministry to him and the children.
Funny, but I want him to be perfect… now. It just doesn’t work that way. It is difficult to allow Jeff room to grow in Christ. I want him to be the perfect husband, leader, father… immediately. Never mind that I am still developing as a wife and mother, never mind that I am still learning how to walk the narrow path. My expectations of my husband are that he be the exact, perfect man of God that I imagine God wants him to be, now… today… immediately.
Now, how fair is that?
After we let things calm down a bit, Jeff and I had a long talk. He still desires my help when we meet people, to make calls and with his webpage for the ministry. But… and this is the important point, he doesn’t want me to do the purchasing, the accounting, the details of what he feels should be his responsibility. That is pretty nifty!
Jeff knows that I obsess, I take over, I “do” things to the “nth” degree. The work I was doing for him, was beginning to take over my life. It was what I thought about and what I worried about. So, being the loving husband that he is, he removed the worry from my life and freed me to enjoy time with my kids and with him.
What a gift.
I was wrong to get so mad over the delivery of his message. Yes, he still needs to work on communication skills, but I could have interpreted beyond his wording or the style of presentation… I have known him many years and I know better… he is not a bad man. Jeff is a good man. I feel humbled by his concern for my life.
Last night after dinner with the extended family. Jeff did the pots and pans, relieving me of the chore… he knew I was tired and worn out from the events of the day (more on that later!) and out of love and concern for me, he did my work.
So, he isn’t such a bad guy. In fact, he is a great and loving husband. Just like me, Jeff is still growing in his walk with Christ. Just like me, he makes mistakes in judgment and in presentation. But… just like me, Jeff loves his family, his spouse and Jesus.
It is really easy to hold your spouse up to a microscope and watch their development and growth.. To complain that they aren’t doing things right or perfect. Truth, we hold our spouses to a higher level of perfection than we do ourselves and others (friends, neighbors, relatives) in our lives. It is so easy to knock down the person most immediate in our lives.
I thank God for Jeff. And I thank God that He has given Jeff the grace to forgive me.
Other stuff that is going on:
We are still at my parents house. I am ready to move on, however we still have to work out our storage issues (we must lower our expenses on the storage of our personal effects - clothing, books, furniture, knick knacks), and a few other personal items here in Orange County. Things move so slowly. Arrgh.
Jeff helped out the Calvary Chapel of Orange on Sunday. Funny, the fellowship meets in the cafeteria of the high school I attended. Pretty cool to be worshiping Jesus in a place like that! The Pastor and his wife were really great people! I wish we had an opportunity to get to know them better, but this is Orange County… things don’t work like that here.. Everyone is so busy with their lives.. No time for new relationships.
I really enjoyed the Pastor’s teaching on the Beatitudes. He taught them in a way I had never imagined before. Jesus was really addressing the disciples, not the great mass of people that were hanging out… the Beatitudes are really lessons on character for the believer. It isn’t just a bunch of lofty “stuff”, these words are solid lessons in the development of the believer.
Yesterday I also got an opportunity to speak to a group of people at a young man’s Eagle Court of Honor. Our friend Brian Jenkins, who is just sixteen, earned his Eagle rank in Boy Scouting. Brian invited me to speak on his behalf at the Court of Honor. It was such a great blessing and I felt so very honored that he desired Jeff and I to be there for such a great occasion. It was really a great event…. But it did wipe me out!!
Let’s see… what else… hmmm. Other than the relational lessons this week, life has been very quiet. Kinda nice
Last night we went to mid-week services at Calvary Chapel of the Canyons. The pastor is Larry DiSimone. What an incredible teaching! This pastor teaches without notes, and is so very knowledgeable regarding the historical bible, Josephus and ancient world history and politics. It was a fascinating lesson on Joshua.
Joshua was quite a man. He was so very obedient to God (and to Moses), even when the odds were definitely not in his favor. Wow. Would that we could all be a bit like Joshua!
God has been working on my heart.
I also am reading “the Hiding Place” by Carrie Ten Boom. Again, here is an example of an obedient servant. One thing that really has struck me thus far in my reading is the amazing love that both Corrie and her sister had for their oppressors. This love was learned at the knee of their mother.
Oh Lord, show me how to love as You love.
Corrie’s mom is the Proverbs 31 woman. She loved and served unceasingly. My prayer today is that I learn to be as this woman. To share my heart without judgment and without reservation with my children, husband, extended family and the world at large. To serve without ceasing, from the center of that love.
I love our Father. Thank you for this gift of life.
A very generous friend gave us three tickets to Disneyland, we went there yesterday and took Eve. It was a special day, just for Eve and her mommy and daddy. The big kids stayed with friends in Mission Viejo. What an incredible day we had!
Eve is so wonderful. We spent the entire day visiting with the Characters (Snow White, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Pooh Bear, Tigger, Eyeor, Minnie and Mickie) and watching shows. We only went on two rides; the Snow White ride (terrifying) and Pirates of the Caribbean (Eve and I prayed through nearly the whole thing!). What a funny child, she has absolutely no material wants, she didn't once ask for anything or want to buy, buy, buy! It was a gift of a day.
The most touching moment was when we were watching the parade and Snow White looked directly at Eve and blew her a kiss. Eve was thrilled, I just sat there on the hot pavement tears coursing down my face, blubbering like an idiot! My Eve was so thrilled, she is the most incredible and amazingly wonderful child.
Each time I looked at this child that God so generously has loaned to me, I was reminded at the vast love that our Lord has for us... His children. This child of mine embodies the gift of Grace and Love that our Father in heaven has for me and for each soul that walks this planet. Her kisses are like drops of pure love and commitment, as if I were receiving the touch of Jesus on my cheek. What an immense gift this child is to my life.
When I was pregnant with Eve, we had some devastating news, her amniocentesis was horrible. Apparently one of her chromosomes was mixed up. This could mean, the doctors told us, that she was profoundly retarded or that she would be fine... they just didn't know. I remember during those horrible weeks of waiting that at one point I got down on my knees and begged God for her. I prayed that she would arrive perfect and whole. I promised God that if He would just give me a healthy baby, I would dedicate her life to Him. She would be His forever.
She was born perfect.
I am not sure what form my promise to God will take in Eve's life. I only know that her life is a gift and she belongs to Him. I am so very, very grateful that He has seen fit to loan this amazing child to me. I am humbled by His greatest and my insignificance and unworthiness. I do not deserve such grace and mercy.
Oh what an awesome and glorious King I serve.
I was surprised at the level of darkness of Disneyland. The song that accompanied the fireworks spoke of the magic and of believing in that magic as hope. I prayed that all the people there would just believe on Christ, they don't need that "magic" that Disney promised. And what is the Disney promise? Empty.
The promise of Christ. Of the gift of redemption and eternal life with Him... that is the promise in which we can trust and have absolute faith! While we were standing there, watching the "Fantasmic" show and the Firework Show, we were surrounded by believers. We began talking to the family standing next to us, Christians from a Northern California town. What fellowship we had there amidst the darkness and despair that Disney paints (dragons, devils and evil witches throughout the park). What hope there was amongst that small cadre of believers. As we were leaving, a man and his wife tapped me on the shoulder and thanked us for the encouragement... they too were believers.
Oh, thanks be to God. Who knows (He does!), who else was listening... perhaps some poor unsaved soul had an opportunity to hear the Gospel and the amazing gift of life and grace from our Savior Christ. A saving knowledge of Christ... I pray that someone heard the message and received the gift.
We are Sinners All.... He Died, He Rose Again, He Washed Away the Sins of the World with His Blood.
Believe and be Saved.
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