We are in Silver City, New Mexico. After leaving the Noonan’s farm on Monday, we went to Wichita, KS. There I saw a doctor as I was in such immense pain from some kind of “kink” in my back. He gave me some powerful ibuprofen and a muscle relaxer. I am still in pain, but it is getting much better… should be fine by Sunday or Monday. At least now I can walk without pain and breathe!!!
In any event after leaving Wichita we traveled to Albuquerque and spent the night in the parking lot of the Calvary again. It was nice to see familiar faces and have a latte in the morning at the coffee shop at Calvary. Jeff also had a chance to help the audio department work out a bug in one of their PA systems. It was a nice stop.
After leaving Albuquerque we landed in Elephant Butte, NM at a marvelous state park and lake. After spending the night and a couple of hours on the beach in the morning, digging in the sand. We headed towards Tucson via Silver City. This little mountain town has a Calvary, so we decided to stop and see if their was any way for us to serve the body here.
Amazing thing. They are needing some help with the sound system for their new building. Isn’t God great… He takes us places that people can use Jeff’s skills and gifts. What a cool thing, to be able to serve the body using our gifts. Cool!
The Pastor here invited us to park in his driveway (actually his mother-in-law’s!), they are tremendous people and very kind.
Today Eve is FOUR. Wow.
Jeff and I received a call from a sibling. I have injured the feelings of our extended family by what I wrote in my journal and then published on our website. Jeff and I have a deal, he always previews what I plan to publish prior to publication. This is my “fail-safe”. Jeff reads what I write, looking for errors, hurtful words or negative witness. Generally this works.
Apparently it did not work this time.
It is not my intention to write hurtful things or un-truths, I write what is on my heart.
God knows what is in each of our secret hearts. When we began this adventure, God put it on my heart to journal and publish my internal journey, to share my growth and the secrets of my walk. My only other instructions from our Lord was to obedient to my husband, to respond to Jeff’s directions and counsel for my life. We are one flesh.
I journal my joys and my pains. I write about my frustrations and hopes in my journey to becoming; an obedient wife, a loving and patient mother, a good daughter-in-law, a welcoming sister-in-law, a gentle sister, a fruitful witness and most importantly a worthy disciple of Jesus. I don’t intentionally write about other people and their short-comings nor do I purposefully write things about others in my life that are untrue.
It is true what Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:9:
So, my problems are no different than another woman’s, just as her problems are like mine.
However, I do write from my perspective. As simple as that is, it is only my opinion and my experience of this earthly life. Sometimes I make assumptions that end up being wrong. But they are my assumptions, my feelings… and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of our extended family. I write what is in my heart. What I struggle with, what pains me.
I also try to write prayerfully. Most days I begin or end each session of writing with a prayer for guidance from God. I know it is His will for me, at this point, to share my life; the ugly parts of me, as well as the nicer ones, with the readers of our website.
I love my family. I love my God.
One of our extended family called Jeff and expressed an opinion that I am mentally unbalanced, that I have psychological problems. I write too raw perhaps. And, it just might be a little true that I am wacky… but I have to repeat, “And there is nothing new under the sun.”
Aren’t we all just a little imperfect?
A NOTE FROM CHRISTA:
As I am writing about my life and experiences, sometimes that includes interaction with extended family members or the lessons that I have learned from my perspective of our shared experiences.
There are some family members that have requested that I not include them in my writing, I will honor those requests in the future. If I have misrepresented any of the facts of my life or experiences as they appear in this journal, I sincerely apologize and will happily correct them. Please email your corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org
We have spent the last three days in Silver City, New Mexico. The Pastor at the Calvary Chapel is Joseph Gros… he is an AMAZING teacher. He and his wife Dea very generously allowed us to park our motor home on their property. They also blessed us with a wonderful day for Eve’s birthday, swimming, barbeque and great fellowship! Again, it was hard to leave new brothers and sisters in Christ.
After attending worship services this morning and a yummy potluck… off we went on a VERY windy drive to Tucson. I drove… everyone else SLEPT…. NO MUSIC, NO CONVERSATION…. LOTS of Truckers whooshing by in crosswinds on a very, very, very boring highway!
Don’t think I want to do that again!!
So, after that non-repeatable drive we wound up at BEAUDRY RV RESORT!!! YAHHHOOOOOO!!! They have a special price… $10 per night. That includes cable television (okay that’s not a big deal, but we do get to watch Star Trek reruns!), a phone line and a swimming pool!! Yippee!!
First thing we did was take a dip in the pool. Ahhhhhhh.
I also took a little trip to the grocery store. I was shocked!! Everything was SUPER expensive. I will be looking for a discount grocery store tomorrow or our funds will not go very far in Tucson.
Kurt is going with the Calvary Tucson Youth Group on an outing to Tombstone, AZ tomorrow. He doesn’t know a soul and yet he is still thrilled to be going! It is really amazing how our children have adapted to meeting and making friends quickly. That has been a blessing, especially with Grace, my shy dove. She has really come a long way, meeting people much easier now!
Tucson is an interesting place. It feels a little oppressive here.
Kurt left for Tombstone today. I pray he meets someone and has a REALLY good time in the Lord.
After dropping Kurt off, I noticed that there were lots of younger kids at the church… it was Vacation Bible School! I ran back to the campground and took Grace over to the church to participate in the VBS program!
After dropping her off, I ran into Joe, the sound man for Calvary Chapel - Tucson. He is the one who tickled Jeff’s ear about Calvary Chapels needing help with the sound systems in all the little fellowships across the country. Joe is the reason Jeff’s audio ministry got it’s feet. So I said hello and asked if he needed any help.
What a question!
Apparently he is in the beginning stages of installing a new system at the church and needed some help. So I ran back to the campground (again!) and got Jeff. We spent the rest of the day working on the system at the church.
It looks like we will be in Tucson for a while as there is some need for Jeff’s help with the sound system. Interesting timing God!
Isn’t it amazing how God puts everything together… and it seems so complicated, there are so many variables... to work out at exactly the right time?!!
Kurt returned home today. I missed him so. He had a great time and was really impressed with a speaker at the retreat named Phil Chalmers. Apparently this fellow travels the USA in an RV with his family (Hmmmmm that sounds familiar) and talks to youth groups about secular and non-secular music. Kurt was really impressed with Phil’s facts and findings.
We also got our mail today. Kurt received $110 towards his mission! Nearly half of that was from a cousin of Jeff’s that we haven’t seen or spoke to in over ten years! WOW!! That is God at work! Kurt is only $200 away from having all the funds for his mission to Mexico.
Still, I worry that he will not have the finances by June 20th, but he is totally unconcerned! Kurt’s answer to me is, “Mom, if God wants me to go, He will provide the money”.
Holy cow, what is going on with my son?? His faith is extreme! I thought that this mission would be a good lesson in faith for Kurt, turns out it is for me as well!!!
Again I struggle with God’s plan for me. This last year I have learned and grown within God’s plan for my life as a wife and mother. I have learned that obedience to my husband leads to greater liberation and joy in this life than anything else I have attempted. I have learned that God’s plan request for obedience is not an empty promise, but is filled with purpose and reward.
But here I am again.
This week we have been staying at Beaudry RV Resort as we waited for Kurt to return from his three day retreat with the Youth Group. We are also here to have the body work done on our little home on wheels that was never begun in February/March when we waited here for six weeks for parts to arrive.
In any event, we have returned to get the work done as the parts are available. To insure that there were no problems (again), the parts manager laid out all the parts next to our coach at our campsite on Tuesday while we were over at the Church. No problem, everything fit… or so it seems.
Of course, there was a problem. After checking into a hotel (that Neville - Manager of the RV Park graciously paid for), we got a message that the parts were wrong. Arrgh.
This is where my lessons started again.
I wanted to march over to Beaudry RV and give them a piece of my mind. I wanted to cry. I wanted to take charge and just get some satisfaction from this company. Frustration after frustration… I was just plain mad and scared that we would be taken advantage of!
I wanted Beaudry to pay for our hotel, our camping fees… I wanted them to make good. I felt it was unfair that we had to come back to Tucson in the first place, after waiting six weeks for the parts to come in earlier this year. I felt as though Beaudry was just plain responsible for our situation….
Here we are, having to spend money on camping fees, I can’t find any food banks here so we have had to use the really EXPENSIVE supermarket, and staying in a hotel we have to eat at restraints. We have used up all our financial resources and of course that always scares me… at first.
Then my darling Jeff steps into the picture.
He asks me to stand down. Literally. Jeff lovingly reminded me that he is my cover. That I am not responsible for these things in our life. He is. This is his job and as long as I keep trying to take care of the situation, he will never be able to do God’s will in our marriage. And that is to be the head of the house.
I have to accede to Jeff’s leadership in this matter.
And that is the rub for me. Our styles are SO different. He is gentle and does not demand action. However, Jeff is so honest and good. He never asks for more than we are entitled to, or owed. I, on the other hand, would have Beaudry pay for hotels, camping, carpet cleaning, and any other little extras I could get thrown in to the pot.
Not Jeff. He asks for and gets only what we are truly owed. He is so honest and good. I am awed by his trust in the Lord, by his willingness to not try to manage our environment and allow God to run things. I wish I had this faith.
I get mad and worried. I worry that Jeff will fail. Why do I worry about this? Jeff had asked me to step away from our family accounting, it is his job. But it isn’t being done at my speed… he waits, takes time, doesn‘t rush. His style is so different than mine. I barrel in, get the job done and move on to the next item, never idle for very long. Jeff on the other hand painstakingly moves through his work. Rarely needing to re-do what he has completed, as he watches every detail (unlike me!) and doesn‘t move forward until he has all the information needed for completion.
Arrgh, how this frustrates me!! And yet…
I am concerned that Jeff puts things off. I am always afraid that he isn’t “doing” something about our family business matters. Worry, worry, worry. Where is this getting me? I have to remind myself that Jeff is a lesson in God’s timing for me.
And that is true for Jeff. I do not know when his timing is either. So, by living with Jeff’s timing I am learning to relax (well, not entirely!) into both his and God’s timing.
And so, God is working on me with timing and stepping aside and allowing Jeff to be my cover. Oh me, oh my…. This is not easy.
I just want to shout…. I want everything resolved NOW!
Maybe I have had too much coffee today!
We got our coach back late yesterday. The new paint looks GREAT and the new door actually closes!! WOW, no more door slamming when we try to close the door!!! Yahhooooo!! The man in charge of the Body Shop at Beaudry (Dale Frei) is awesome!! He even brought us a case of water to our campsite and made sure we got settled in okay. What a nice fellow. Thus far, everything Dale has promised he has delivered.... Beaudry needs more guys like Dale and Neville!
Kurt and I were talking about his mission fundraising effort, he is only $185 away from his goal! That is so cool!! He is so confident that God will provide if it is HIS will. Wow. Where did this kid come from? I suggested he write some support letters, after a few moments of thought he agreed saying, that Biblical soldiers didn't just go stand in a battle field and wait for God to slay the enemy, they had to lift their swords. Holy smokes... cool that his reading of the old testament has impacted his vision of his own life.
Isn't God amazing.
It is 9:15pm and NINETY FIVE DEGREES OUTSIDE!!! This is too hot.
I watched my little Eve walk in front of me as we went for a swim and a barbeque (in this HORRIDLY HOT place called Tucson!), and my heart was filled with such intense emotions. How I love this child.
My heart nearly bursts with love for her, as I watch her little body run ahead of me, arms swinging, legs pumping as fast as they can. I am overwhelmed with the intensity of my love for this small child.
This must be how God feels about us. To be loved with such strength and fervor. Praise HIM for loving us so much despite our inequities. Imagine, I love Eve with such fierceness... imagine how powerful HIS love is for me.
Eve is easy to love, she has not spent a life of compromise. And as I look at her, I can nearly hear HIS voice showing me that despite myself, HE loves me and all HIS other children with the same intensity and fierceness.
How simple it is to give my life to ONE who can love me so very much. What better thing can I give than my whole hearted worship to this amazing and sweet LORD.
It has been five days since I have been able to write. This place, Tucson, has been difficult… not restful, this time. When we were here early in the year, Tucson, and specifically Beaudry RV Park was an oasis for our family. But not this time.
Firstly, it has been very hot. For some reason, my body does not adjust well to the heat. It makes me angry, emotional, teary. I just can’t stay even-tempered. Everything upsets me, more than it should.
Secondly, we have had to spend a lot of time inside the RV Park clubhouse because our coach has been in the shop. They have a lovely library with lots of sofa’s and room to hang-out. However on Wednesday, the staff (whom we had become very fond of), informed us that another guest complained that we were using the Library, spread about and taking up so much room. I was so embarrassed and uncomfortable.
Why would they share something like that with us? They said the guest was just a complainer, but still, it just made us feel so unwelcome. As a result, we have not been back into the clubhouse since. It doesn’t feel welcoming or friendly anymore. I guess it was difficult for the staff and other guest to have a family of five hanging out all day. Unfortunately we had no where else to go!
Thirdly, being obedient is SO difficult right now. I thought I had slain this beast. I thought that my war with submission was done, complete, finished…. And that I had won! I thought that I had learned how to obey my husband, how to submit to his headship of our family.
Ding, ding, ding, ding…. WRONG!!
Jeff has been so demanding this last week. Literally telling me things like: “Christa, do not question me, just be obedient”. “Christa, please, just obey”. Oh my gosh. It is one thing to be obedient out of choice and to someone who is unaccustomed to submission and it is another thing entirely to obey someone who demands or is accustomed to a submissive wife.
I have had such a difficult week submitting to this man called my husband. At one point, I asked Jeff to please balance his demands or requests, with some positive words… something to ease my difficulties with obedience.
Jeff has come such a long way from the man that started this journey. He is actively taking charge of our family. Charting our path and making decisions. Such a different man. He has never really been one to be verbal about his likes or dislikes , and now he is so much more verbal.
I have become accustomed to Jeff’s non-verbal encouragements over the past twenty years. Rather than say, “I love you” or “Good job”, or “you’re a good mom”, he touches me gently on the back or holds my hand. But right now, I need words. I need encouragement.
I need him to tell me what I am doing right… often.
Balance. That is so essential.
So, Tucson has been difficult this time. I imagine that God is telling me that there is no refuge but HIM. I thought that Tucson would be a restful place again, a place of growth and joy in the Lord. It is growth… He is teaching me on several levels this time.
First, I am learning that there is no place on this earth that is guaranteed restful or is a refuge. HE is the only refuge there is… ALWAYS. HE is constant and faithful, and HE is my refuge… guaranteed!
Secondly, I am learning that submission is sometimes a difficult but worthy choice. I could choose not to obey Jeff, and there would be discord in our little home. The same is true with our Lord, Jesus Christ. HE choose to obey the Father, even though the decision to lay down HIS life and be separated from the Father was onerous. The rewards of HIS faithfulness and obedience were great.
Even, Jesus asked that the cup be passed from HIM, IF IT BE THE WILL OF THE FATHER. The will of the Father…. That is the key. We have to keep our eyes on the Father and HIS will for our lives.
So, if obeying Jeff is the Father’s will, I choose to do HIS will. Even though it is REALLY HARD. Even though Jeff is still learning to be a Christ-like Leader in our home. I choose to follow and obey my husband, even though he is sometimes he is a little overbearing and not terribly encouraging.
He will become that servant-leader, because this too is the will of the Father.
This place is sooooo hot. (okay, there’s my complaint for the day!)
We received a letter yesterday from a disgruntled family member. It was very interesting. This person was really angry that I would write about my life experiences that included anyone to which this person was related. It was as if the shared experiences belonged only to them, not to me as well.
The letter went on to say that I was seriously psychologically troubled, that it bothered this person for me to call Jeff’s mother, mom; and that Jeff had better take action.
Isn’t it interesting how a person’s perception works.
Before we knew Christ, our world was centered around ourselves. Our perceptions were the truth. We were the center of the world. After knowing Christ, everything changes. Suddenly our perceptions of the world are not centermost. It is the love of Christ, for all peoples, without regard to their status, their cleanliness, their history… that is paramount.
Years ago prior to committing my life to Christ, a very wise woman shared with me that each of us look at the world through our own special colored glasses. As a result of these “special glasses“, what we say has more to do with our personal perspective of the world.
Her lesson to me was that everyone has a pair of these special glasses and that when someone is hurtful or cruel, it is important to realize that that person is merely speaking through their special colored glasses.
And that if they are not telling the truth, what they say is unimportant. It just doesn’t matter, because they are just seeing things through their own “special colored glasses“.
For instance, if someone says that you are mean, but you actively seek to serve others, obviously their words are untruthful. What they are saying has nothing to do with you, but it tells you a whole lot about them, what is going on inside of their hearts.
It is important to judge what people say (especially if they are not believers) from their perspective, particularly if what they say is ugly or untruthful. What are they telling you about themselves? What are they revealing about their fears and frustrations?
I later learned that this wise woman was a born-again believer.
So… what she was teaching me was something that I would learn again later in life. That when you put on the spectacles of Jesus Christ, all things are different. Your life is colored with HIS amazing grace. Not just for yourself, but also for the unsaved people in your life.
It is important for me to remember that Jeff and I have put ourselves in an awkward position. I expose my inner self for the world to see. As a result, there will be slings and arrows. Not just from strangers, but from those we know and love. Thankfully we have the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16) to “quench the darts of the fiery one”. Our shield protects us, loves us and allows us to see beyond the darts and love the person aiming at our hearts.
Praise God for HIS amazing love and protection.
We have also determined that we will not be opening or reading any letters from those that seek to hurt us. Why bother? What they have to say is just wrong.
Well, an amazing thing happened yesterday. We received our mail (a red-letter day, for sure!!!) and in the mail was a check written to LifeLine Missions for support of Kurt Gefke in the amount of $250. I can hardly believe it!!! The check was from Coast Hills Community Church, back home in Orange County.
While we were busy praying for Kurt’s mission finances, God was working on the heart of someone (Hmmmmm… Pastor Eric???) to provide for his needs. What is truly amazing is that the check was written several weeks before we started to panic. God prepared the road ahead before we even realized that we would be down to the last moment to raise money for Kurt’s mission trip.
Isn’t God cool!
We have decided that I will drive Kurt to Albuquerque, NM on Friday (6/22) and that Jeff and the girls will either stay here in Tucson or go on to another fellowship that needs the services of Mustard Seed Ministry in Casa Grand, AZ. That part is undecided, we are waiting on God’s direction for that detail!
Then… yesterday while we were working at the Church (Jeff is still putting up speakers in the sanctuary), I met an amazing and funny woman named Noreen. She is a member of the church and also works in the office. She has offered, out of the blue!, to drive with me to Albuquerque next weekend. What a relief! Now I feel safe about driving seven hours as I will have another adult to share the trip (and the driving).
Isn’t God the MOST amazing person in the world??!!!
I continue to pray that the publisher that called me last month will indeed be interested in publishing my writing and that God will reveal what HE wants for me in the area of women’s ministry.
In my heart, I can see myself standing on a stage, in front of a huge audience of women. We are laughing and praising God, singing and talking about becoming obedient to our husbands and our AWESOME LORD! I pray that this is not a desire of the flesh. I pray that I listen and follow where God is leading me.
One thing is sure. I do not want to do anything in MY timing… I have learned that my timing is typically wrong and that God’s timing is always right on! The test for me is to not “force” myself upon this heartfelt desire. To wait upon God’s direction and timing.
I really wish that I could seek the counsel of a wiser woman, one who has experienced this “stuff”. I need an older mentor. I need a Titus woman to guide me.
Ohhhhh, but then I might be admonished that these desires of mine are for a later time. That my responsibilities right now are to my husband and children. Hmmm. Again. My timing is typically wrong. God’s timing is always right on!
I wait on HIS directions and until then I will love my husband, love my children, be discreet (now there‘s a hard one for me!!), chaste, a homemaker, good, obedient to my own husband (another struggle!), that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
Oh Lord.... You do speak to us today, now don’t You!!
This place, Tucson, has been such a trial for me. I fight my role of an obedient wife and mother. I intensely dislike everything here. The heat. The heat. My husband. The motor home. The heat.
Jeff has become stronger in his role as the leader of our home. I have become more defiant. I feel that I am constantly being pushed to “do”. No room for me. No place for me. The heat wears me down.
Is it all about me?
I go to the scriptures to find my answer.
Okay. Serve. Serve my GOD, my husband, my children; in all things. This is so difficult. To put oneself away. To give all to the others in your life so as to serve the Lord. Sometimes I just want to put my foot down and say NO!
Today all I wanted was a home and a garden. A room that I could go into and shut everyone out of! I decided that I did NOT want to serve anyone at all. It is just too hard. Too, too hard. So, I determined to “suffer in silence”. I went about doing Jeff’s bidding silently, taking care of the children’s needs - lunch and school.
Silence. Peace. And I prayed.
“Oh Lord, please take all this away from me. Give me peace. Teach me to be your servant with a glad heart. I want stillness Lord.”
I prayed and I was silent. Tears came every time I looked at Jeff. But I was silent. Jeff spoke about Satan and his keen desire to ruin my witness, to destroy my ability to serve Jesus. Jeff re-iterated Robert Furrow’s sermon from Sunday, about the battles that we fight being
“against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
I responded with sharp answers and jibes. Not very peaceful of me!
I prayed and continued in silence.
Then I took a call from a pastor in Oceanside for our audio ministry work. During the course of our conversation, he reminded me how good our God is, how loving and generous.
How could I not be as generous as our Lord? What if Jeff is unreasonable or less than loving right now? What if the children are unappreciative and generally self-centered? Haven’t I been thus to Jesus?
And does He still love me? Yes. And didn’t He still die for me, without regard to my self-centeredness, my unloving attitude, my unreasonable choices and words, without regard to my absolute immersion in my “flesh”.
If I am to become as He is, how can I not extend that same love towards my husband and children.
I recently read that only one out of ten people who begin as believers, end up continuing that walk through to the end of their lives. Why? It is hard. It is just so hard to reflect Christ, to become as Him and to Love like Him.
The road is narrow and it is difficult… but the rewards are eternal life.
I choose ETERNAL LIFE.
It is about nine in the morning. We do not have anywhere to go today! Hallelujah!!
Jeff has been working at the Tucson Calvary Chapel, installing a sound system on the Eastside Campus. He and Joe (the resident media-director) have been working diligently to get the system installed, the kids and I have been hanging out at the church (in the air-conditioning) while they work their tails off!!
The Audio ministry is taking off … fast! There is a real need amongst the Calvary fellowships for help in this area! It is so great that Jeff can use his gifts and talents to benefit the body! He seems so much happier working for God, than working for money. Our finances continue to be taken care of by God, and we lack nothing.
Jeff has asked me to think about how I tell our story, especially the finance part, to others. He does not like the “poor me” attitude. I did not know that was the image that I was conveying. So, re-wording my description of our financial state is uppermost in my mind when people ask how we survive financially. I just point everything to Christ. I will discontinue discussing my fears and talk about the goodness of God’s provisions. Which by the way, is pretty darn good!!!!
In any event, the Audio Ministry is great. There are lots of fellowships here in the Southwest that really need Jeff’s help! (Gee, am I ever going to get out of the heat???) I had hoped that we would head towards Oregon and Washington after we leave Orange County in July…. Looks like we might be headed back to Arizona and New Mexico. Oh yippee.
Friday I leave to drive my little Kurtie to Albuquerque for his mission training. I will miss the boy.
Then next week we head back to California to celebrate my mom’s seventieth birthday with a party at the beach. My parents and siblings have rented a house in Newport Beach for the July Fourth week. My youngest sister has planned a wonderful party to celebrate Mom’s life!
While we are in Orange County, Grace will also be attending summer camp. She is really excited to spend the time with Kristen, her best friend.
I had such a time yesterday. It was the first day since we arrived in Tucson, that Jeff did not have something to do for the Fellowship in town. So, we decided to take a day at home, resting and catching up on household things. Towards the end of the afternoon, the girls were hot and needed a dunk in the pool, so off we went to “chill out”.
Meanwhile, Jeff and Kurt (being the wonderful men that they are!), went over to Beaudry to pick up the remaining items we had left in the Body Shop while our carpets were being cleaned on Tuesday.
I swam a little and then decided to sit in the shade and do a little beading. You see, I had promised one of the young ladies in the youth group that I would donate some bracelets for them to sell (to raise money for their mission trip to Ireland next month). So, I sat down to diligently work at building a few baubles for the youth group!
I spread out all my bead boxes around me under an umbrella and began to create. Little by little the wind began to build up around me. Soon, my wet hair was permanently dried in a wild flip off the side of my head (quite a sight, I am sure!). Yet, I continued to bead… I was determined to finish at least twelve bracelets for the youth group.
Then up came a strong wind, battering my body. If not for my arm firmly pressed against the beading board, I would have lost all my beads and bracelets in progress. Yet, onward I persevered! (Oh, what a sight I must have been).
Meanwhile the girls are still swimming. Oblivious to the quickening winds and the wild sky in the West.
I kept on beading until fighting the bouncing board (due to wind gusts) and the blowing dust made it too difficult to continue.
I put my beads away to “enjoy” a few more moments in the pool with the girls. They were too tired. I sent them off to shower and got in the pool alone. In the distant sky the clouds were getting blacker and blacker. Lightening was shooting across the clouds in a beautiful display of the power of God.
The Monsoon season had begun… and I had completed twelve bracelets.
So many things are bubbling in my brain!
Yesterday Jeff and I spent the day cleaning the coach, digging deep into the dark recesses of our drawers and under the bed to find things that we no longer remembered having or needing. The girls were busy playing “pretend” games and Kurt was spending the day swimming with his new buddy, Billy.
I have been a little worried about finances, yet after Wednesday nights bible lesson from Pastor Robert Furrow, I have been really working on my faith as trust, rather than faith as confidence. Joe G., from the Calvary Chapel - Tucson, came by to gather Jeff’s receipts for supplies he had purchased on behalf of the church for the installation.
He left to take them over to the church and get a reimbursement check. What a surprise when he returned. The Pastor had authorized another check to be written to us as a “love offering”. An unexpected and incredibly generous answer to my prayers about our finances.
~ God taps me on the shoulder, see Christa, I love you and will provide for you… trust in Me. ~
After Joe left, I had to run errands to Wal-Mart and Walgreen’s to get some final items for Kurt to take with him on his mission trip. Having no cash, I used my American Express card. When I returned, I told Jeff how I had paid for my items, he was very angry with me.
I blew it. Not only did I neglect to ask permission to use the American Express, I had forgotten entirely to ask Jeff about how I would be paying for my needed items. But, you see, I had cleverly turned it around on Jeff, asking him why he did not offer to provide for my needs.
Christa. This is wrong.
Later in the evening, after dropping Kurt off to spend the night at Billy’s house. Kathy, Billy’s mom (and Joe’s wife!), sat outside with me and we talked about my day and frustrations. She is one smart cookie! This generous and compassionate woman kindly (and figuratively) took me over her knee and gave me a big spanking.
I had told Jeff that it was my choice to obey him. But that is not reality. Kathy reminded me that it was my choice to believe and have faith in Jesus. After making that choice, I am then commanded to submit and be obedient to my husband, without regard to my feelings about his decisions. I have no choice at this point.
I have already chosen Jesus.
(Jeff had told me several days ago, that my faith should be in Jesus, not Jeff.)
Kathy reminded me, my faith and trust are in Jesus… not my husband. (Sound familiar?) I need to have faith that God will take care of Jeff. It is not my job to “teach” Jeff to be a better husband or father, it is God's job. Jeff has not been his normal self here in Tucson, as he is typically a gentle, loving and wonderful husband.
I need to place my faith in Jesus that HE will take care of me, provide for my needs and insure that my marriage and relationships are peaceful and flourish in His Name.
Obviously, Jeff does not beat me, nor is he a terrible and harsh master. But, the experience that I have had these last weeks, here in Tucson, is a good reminder… I obey GOD, not my own self-will. The crushing power of the leash that I have felt here, is not of Jeff, it is a lesson that Christ Jesus has for my life.
In any event, I am grateful that God sent me to Kathy Goodale, she is a great example of the kind of wife and mother I long to be, I aspire to be. With God’s help and guidance I will get there.
Kathy also gave me a little whack on the side of the head (again, figuratively) regarding my attitude about myself and my “failures”. She reminded me that I am typically very hard on myself… is this how Jesus wants me to think about myself?
So, the truth is, I can never be perfect, God knows this (that is why He gave us the law). I must stop expecting myself to be perfect and remember that my justification and righteousness comes through Christ Jesus. I can seek to improve and grow closer to His image, but I can never attain that perfection.
When we are hard on ourselves, we deny that God is King and Lord of all. We seek to attain His perfection and greatness… and can’t do it! Ain’t’ gonna happen. If I cannot forgive myself for my faults and mistakes, and yet God does… does that mean that I am greater than He? If He can forgive me for myself, so can I… for He is greater and I seek to follow His example.
O Lord, our Lord,
I returned from Albuquerque last night around 5:30pm. It was a long and emotional drive. Thankfully, Kathy Goodale made the drive with me, so that my return trip would not be so lonely… I was a bit nervous to make the drive alone. All went well.
We left Tucson on Friday, at about 4:30pm… arriving in Albuquerque at 2:00am. The Governale family was kind enough to include us in their accommodation plans. I was so looking forward to a nice, quiet hotel. Lucky us… we stayed in a cabin at the KOA campground. It was a hoot!
Between Melissa’s snoring, the heat in the room and the movement of the bunk bed (yes, I was in the top bunk!), sleep was nearly impossible. We were roused at 6:00am, as Melissa and Maria Governale left for the Mission Training Camp (they needed to be there early as registration helpers!). My, but it was a restful evening!
After rising bright and early, we rousted Kurt (who can sleep through ANYTHING!) to find that he had slept with chocolate in his pockets and it was smeared all over his clothing… to the washing machine we go!
Eventually around nine or ten, we make it out of the KOA and head out to breakfast. And what a lovely meal that was… mmmm, yummy JB’s buffet. Not something that I would recommend trying again!
Finally, we arrived at the Mission Training Camp, located on the campus of the University of New Mexico at noon. After checking him in, we wandered over to his accommodations in one of the dorm buildings. Then we got to wait… for three hours, to attend the parent orientation meeting.
Kathy was a champ… never mind that the check-in was confusion central or that I was a blubbering mess, she was so wonderful, asking questions and keeping me focused. Kurt was just ready for me to leave! We delivered him to the mission group, now leave Mom! Poor boy, I was following him around taking pictures and acting generally like a mommy.
After sharing a lovely (sure!) meal in the student dining facility, we again got into the care and traveled back to the church (Calvary Chapel Albuquerque) for the Saturday evening service, where Skip Heitzig, the pastor, would be commissioning the children for missions.
It was really incredible seeing 230 kids, aged eleven to seventeen, all dressed in their yellow mission shirts bouncing with enthusiasm to get out onto the mission field. Lifeline Missions is sending all these children, with outstanding mission directors and leaders, to five different countries (Indonesia, Philadelphia, Ghana, Mexico and Panama).
The worship was very emotional for me, as I reflected on the immense grace of our Lord God, and the gift of my darling boy Kurt. Poor Kurt, he kept asking if I was okay, through my tears I kept nodding and whispering, “I’m just so proud of you, I am so amazed at our God” …. sniffle, sniffle, sniffle!
After church, we drove Kurt and one of the boys from his team, Josh, back to the University of New Mexico to their dorms for the parent goodbye session. When we arrived, Kurt hopped out of the car and said, “Bye Mom, see ya in three weeks”. And off he went.
We skipped the parent goodbye session.
How incredible is it all. Jeff and I have raised Kurt for thirteen years, praying these last five that he become a godly young man. We have lifted him to God, for guidance and love. We have been trusted by God, to raise Kurt into a man who will love Jesus, serve Him and be used by Him.
Here we are now. Our son has been called by God to begin that service in the mission field. Kurt has heard that call, without our help, without Jeff or I planning and strategizing for our boy. This is between Kurt and Jesus. His private and personal relationship with God is outside our parenting. It belongs to them.
I am so moved by the goodness of our God. I am overwhelmed at the gift He has given us, in the life of Kurt, of Grace and of Eve. These children are ours for such a short and transitory time. We are raising them to love and serve our Lord… then they do. Oh God, thank you for trusting me.
I will miss my Kurt. Funny, I am not worried about him. Kurt is so safe in the center of God’s will for his life.
My baby will return to me as a changed servant of God. I can’t wait to see my boy again.
Kathy and I spent the eight hour drive home talking… gee, imagine that! We talked about everything under the Son, our fears and hopes, our struggles and our successes. We spent eight hours in wonderful and intense fellowship. Praise God.
Kathy ministered to me greatly. We talked much about obedience and submission. She is a great Proverbs 31 woman. Her understanding of submission to the headship of our husbands is very mature. She gave me much hope.
When we obey our husbands, in even the tiniest things, we honor God. It is a little like speeding on the highway. Who would really care if, when the speed limit says 65mph, you drive 66mph? Is it really breaking the law?
Yes, it is.
Could I get a ticket for driving 66mph?
If the posted speed limit is 65mph, that is what we are required to obey. Obedience in even the small things is our obligation. Especially if we have chosen to serve the Living God. After choosing to submit our lives to Christ, we then have given all choice and personal preference over to Him. And HE requires… no, HE commands our obedience to His Love. Part of that obedience is to submit entirely and in all things to our husbands.
This was in obedience. And it was no small thing.
The choice was mine. Believe on Jesus or not. I choose Jesus. Okay, then obedience in all things is HIS command to my life.
On the chore list in our home, I have posted the following verse:
Hmmm. That applies to me as well.
When I returned from Albuquerque, Jeff and I spent some time talking about what had happened to each of us while apart. After sharing our lives, we talked about the things of our marriage.
One of the items we discussed was my dislike of being corrected in front of the children. I do not mind the correction, it is the action in front of our kids. I feel it degrades my authority with the children, especially when he is not present and I am solely responsible.
I shared this with Jeff and asked that we do something similar to Kathy and Joe. He has a pet word for her that is used when she needs to stop whatever it is she is saying or doing. Later he then corrects her…. Privately.
Although Jeff believes that the correction should be public, teaching our children that husbands are the head of the household, he was patient and listened to my request. Jeff came up with a private signal that would alert me to stop. I don’t think that my dear husband fully understands why I need this correction to be private, but he is willing to try, because he loves me. That is truly wonderful.
Grace is so wonderful.
Last night she was talking on the phone with a family member, and after the normal third degree about school work, Grace was questioned about going to college. Grace indicated that she did not want to go to college rather that her plans are to go to Africa or China, to serve God as a missionary.
Then Grace was told, she could just take the high school equivalency test, travel and watch TV. After ending the call, Grace said, ‘Do they think I'm dumb?”. I was so proud of my little Gracie… she did not take offense at the conversation, she just wondered how anyone could think she was ignorant!
I asked Grace if she thought of herself as dumb. She looked at me and grinned… no. So, I reminded her, just ignore untrue words or comments.
She smiled, she already had!
While Kathy and I were driving home from Albuquerque on Sunday. We were talking on all kinds of subjects. At one point, Kathy brought up a personal concern and proceeded to share her story. We talked and talked… then of course, I had to give a little sermon on the death of self.
As I was sermonizing, a fly flew into Kathy’s mouth and down her throat… all of a sudden the woman next to me began to hack and hack, kind of like a dog with a hairball (akkkhaaa, akkkhaaa). Next thing l knew, the door was open and she hacked out the fly.
“Ah… the death of self, Kathy! You just hacked out your ‘me’!”
I have never laughed so long or so hard… even now as I write this I can barely see the screen for my tears of hilarity. Isn’t it amazing how God works, illustrating our life as we learn!!!
My point is that we must die to self. When we can die to self, there is room for Christ. If our lives are so full of self; self-pity, self-concern, self-love, self-centeredness… there is no room for; the love of Christ. We are so taken with ourselves, that we can only give passing thought or concern for the maker of our lives… God.
How do we want our children to remember us? Oh, my mom went through so much in her life, or; my mom was a great volunteer, or; my mom did everything for us kids… what is it that we want our children to have in their hearts as the essence of their mommy?
‘My mom loved Jesus.’
That is how I want my children to describe me. A woman who had Christ as the center of her being. For what does that say about their mom? She loved with Christ’s love, she served as Christ served, she persevered with the spirit of Christ. She was the embodiment of the nature of Jesus…
How do we get there?
I read in My Utmost for His Highest (by Oswald Chambers) today the following:
“The Sermon on the Mount indicates that when we are on a mission for Jesus Christ, there is no time to stand up for ourselves. Jesus says, in effect, “Don’t worry about whether or not you are being treated justly.” Looking for justice is actually a sign that we have been diverted from our devotion to Him. Never look for justice in this world, but never cease to give it. If we look for justice, we will only begin to complain and to indulge ourselves in the discontent of self-pity, as if to say, “Why should I be treated like this?” If we are devoted to Jesus Christ, we have nothing to do with what we encounter, whether it is just or unjust. In essence, Jesus says, “Continue steadily on with what I have told you to do, and I will guard your life. If you try to guard it yourself, you remove yourself from My deliverance.” Even the most devout among us become atheistic in this regard—we do not believe Him. We put our common sense on the throne and then attach God’s name to it. We do lean to our own understanding, instead of trusting God with all our hearts”
So, I went to scripture and found that Jesus tells us….
The death of self.
How to do this?
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
After leaving Tucson, early Tuesday evening we drove as far as Casa Grande, Arizona (a whole sixty miles… wow!). We wanted to check in with Pastor David Landry of the Calvary Chapel in town as he had expressed needed some help with his sound system when we spoke last week.
We drove to the church, always looking for our destination before finding a place to camp for the night, and found a Safeway Market nearby with a large parking lot. So, I went in to ask the manager if we could spend the night on their property.
I met the manager and she agreed. Her name was Free. I noticed her name and commented that it was unusual, and she said, “yah, it’s better now that I’m older!”. I said, “Parents were hippies?”. Her response; a small smile, a nod of the head and a big sigh!
We spent the night (it was 103 at nine o’clock at night) with the generator running all night… the air conditioning was essential.
Wednesday we spent in the company of Pastor David and his wife Tot. Jeff worked on their sound system for a while, then we went to their house for dinner. We enjoyed ourselves immensely. After dinner we attended the mid-week service and David taught on 1Corinthians 11:17-33 (The Lord’s Supper). It was great. David is a marvelous teacher.
Our phone is not working in this town. Apparently there is a cell-tower out of commission and we have no reception here. I am so sad. Kurt is leaving Albuquerque this morning and heading to Mexico. I did not get a chance to call him and give him my love. I pray that he will be safe and that he knows I love him… very much.
Last night, after the teaching, was a prayer meeting. I asked for prayer for Kurt. The whole church prayed for him, it was an incredible time. I felt the presence of God, so powerfully. It was so awesome to feel His touch, to know that He held my son in the palm of His hand, and that our Lord was listening to the petitions of the brethren. Petitions full of love and hope for my little boy.
I miss my son.
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