Tuesday, May 1

A new month has begun! Yippee, I get a fresh slate with my Verizon cell phone minutes. I really went over last month, if that continues we will have to get rid of the phone… we cannot afford to continually go over our budget on the phone cost. I will be more frugal on the phone this month.

Yesterday the kids spent the better part of the day searching for the rabbit, to no avail. Grace and I made posters that she handed out wherever she could find someone willing to post the flyer. She is being really brave and very thorough in her search for her “bun-bun”.

In the evening we entertained John and Giselle. They are a young newly-wed couple, he is a pastor and she is a student at the school of ministry. What an amazing couple. They are young but have great compassion and such hearts for the Lord. It is just awesome.

Both of them have testimonies that made Jeff and I pause and wonder at the greatness of our Lord and Savior. Their life stories are so incredible. It reminded us that God takes the broken, makes it whole and will use it in awesome ways. If only we relinquish being self-sufficient and allow Him to be the “all” in our lives.

I just love our God. He is such a great Father.

Wednesday, May 2

Whew! Yesterday was incredible! It’s funny, I remember back last fall praying and praying for God to use us. I kept wondering and questioning whether or not He was ever going to have some work for us to do for His kingdom.

Well, He has certainly answered that prayer!

I spent the better part of the day on Tuesday, talking to women about obedience and submission. It was fantastic!! I went over to the coffee shop (at Calvary-Albuquerque) to have some quiet time, away from the family, to work on some beading. I want to give some jewelry to the bookstore, it is a great way I can contribute and the store can make some money!!

In any event, several people stopped by the table where I was working to admire the necklaces and ask if I sold them. I explained that they would be at the bookstore and that no, I don’t sell them but donate them to the store. Then one woman came by and I felt like I should give her something, so I offered her a pair of keepers.

She sat down and we spent the better part of the lunch hour talking and counseling about obedience. It was so fabulous. I was so awed that God allowed me to minister to this wonderful woman. There were several more ladies during the day and another in the evening after the woman’s bible study. All were hurting over husbands and obedience.

Wow.

I learned lots about counseling yesterday. One thing is to listen first, talk second. I tend to just jump in with our story, not really asking first about the woman’s needs or concerns. But it worked out okay. I didn’t hinder anyone to much (God wouldn’t let that happen!!).

I heard a story at the woman’s bible study last night. It was testimony night, so lot’s of women shared their stories (including me!). A young woman spoke about how she had witnessed to a man on a bus and invited him to a bible study. They exchanged phone numbers and subsequently she lost his number.

She wondered whatever happened to him. Two years later she ran into him at that same bible study… two years later! She said, “so you see, it didn’t matter that I lost his phone number, God took care of him and got the man to the bible study”. It didn’t matter that she lost the phone number…. God was on the case! Amazing lesson.

Our efforts and work are not essential for God’s Grace to extend to the lost… He can do it without our help, or rather, in spite of our help. That is just a wonderful thing to know. Especially for me, who embarrasses friends, gets tongue-tied while counseling and just plan says the wrong things sometimes! Salvation for others does not depend upon my work! Thank you Jesus!

Tonight we are going to attend the communion service at Calvary and then leave for Sioux Falls via Oklahoma City in the morning. Funny, I was not comfortable here when we first arrived, but will miss this place now! We have made lots of acquaintances and found many great sisters and brothers in Christ.

Being the small fish in a large pond has been a wonderful experience and I have learned that God can even use the small fry’s!

Thursday, May 3

Today was the National Day of Prayer. I awoke to Jeff firmly shaking me and exhorting me to get out of bed… time to walk across the parking lot and pray with the rest of the church. So I dutifully rose, got dressed and went to church…. Alone!! What a goofy guy. Actually I am grateful that he woke me, it was a marvelous service.

And last night’s communion was fantastic. It was one of the most holy communions I have ever been a part of!!! The presence of God was palatable. It was wonderful.

As for this morning, a very interesting gentleman was the speaker. He talked about spiritual warfare (his background is the military), and strategy. One thing that really stood out to me was a discussion of goals in any type of warfare. Satan has goals. He asked us what we thought the enemies goal is….

Most people think that the goal of our spiritual enemy is to keep us from entering eternal life. Not so! The goal of the deceiver is to hurt God, to wound Him, to pain His heart. Satan knows that he cannot destroy God, the creator. So his goal is to cleverly use God’s most precious creation, humankind, to create sorrow, pain and sadness in the heart of God.

Well that thought stunned me. That I could be used to wound my King, the Emperor of the Universe, the living God. Holy Cow. That gives me pause.

Later in the day, the kids were being kids and irritating me immensely. I related to them what I had learned. That their unkindness to each other really didn’t serve to do any real damage to them or to me, but it did hurt our wonderful God immensely. And that by hurting God in this manner, they were being used by satan. Both Kurt and Grace were visibly sobered.

I do not want to be a tool of satan to hurt my Lord. I refuse to allow this deceiver, the small and fallen enemy to us me. I will not fall prey to his strategy.

~~~~

We are parked between two noisy big rigs in a truck stop somewhere on I40. It is eleven in the night and we have no idea what state we are in!! What a hoot. Boy these trucks are LOUD. Wal-Marts are much quieter… so are church parking lots!!

As I was booted out of bed very early, I must sleep. Tomorrow I must relate my story of Susan and the joys of ministering to people who don’t listen!!!! Arrgh.

Nitey Nite.

Friday, May 4

Last night there was a doosy of a storm! Big ole hail came raining down on us around two in the morning! The kids slept right through it, but I thought the world was ending!! It was REALLY loud!

Now, about Susan (not her real name). She is a woman I met in the prayer room last Sunday. I was standing outside the prayer room and a young woman I had met at the missions office poked her head out and asked if I did any ministry work and could I please counsel a woman inside? Apparently this woman did not want to talk to a young person, she wanted a mature woman… that’s me!!!

Susan has been a test for me. She is disjointed in her communication, moving from one event in her life to another with little transition and barely a breath. She talks fast and begins her sentences nearly before I have responded. She asks the same questions over and over, full of self-recrimination and a manufactured babe-like wonder. Yet, it is obvious by her word structure that she is quite bright.

Since Sunday she has called me several times each day. Always with the same litany of woes. Always asking the same questions. Never listening.

During these phone calls, I find myself trying to hurry the conversation, wanting to escape her repetitive self-castigation and questioning. My heart pounds and my chest begins to constrict as my anger begins to rise in my stomach. Jeff on more than one occasion has placed a gentle hand on my shoulder, reminding me that Jesus always had time for everyone. That He loved each person that came into His presence.

And then I find myself recalling a Christ-like love for this woman. Yet, it takes going through this process of anger and remembering to find love for her. I am learning that in ministering to women, I will not have an immediate love for each person immediately. That I will find some that just plain irritate me.

But, just because they irritate me, does not mean that Jesus loves them any less. My human nature is just getting in the way! I wonder how many Pastors I have encountered in our travels that do not like me, that I irritate, and have had to work hard at loving me…. Very good thing to remember…

The trick is to suspend my nature and to take on the nature of Christ as I encounter women who need. And, to be more sensitive to the people I meet, to understand that just as some irritate me, I will irritate some… and yet, the love of Christ within us will bridge that gap and make in us loving and giving natures.

I must remember this lesson, not only with the people we meet as we travel, but also with my own children.

What a valuable lesson I have learned from this sad and lost woman.

Friday Evening

Oklahoma City…. Here we are!!! We drove all day through a storm that seemed to follow us as we traveled east from Santa Rosa, New Mexico on the I40 (which parallels Route 66). I drove most of the way while Jeff worked on our travel plan for the next several months.

We have a few places we need to be over the next several months… The Grand Canyon to meet Kurt’s Boy Scout Troop (Memorial Day Weekend), Tucson for repairs and a youth group trip to Tombstone for Kurt (June 4 - 7), Albuquerque to drop Kurt off for his mission trip (June 23), Mom’s big birthday bash in California (July 1), Grace goes to summer camp for Girl Scouts (July 7) and then Kurt has Boy Scout summer camp (August 7).

I think we will have to use some of our air miles and fly Kurt from Albuquerque on his return… we can’t be in California to pick-up Grace and be in ABQ at the same time for Kurt. They both get done with their trips on the same day.

Gosh, it sounds like a busy summer! We got great news today about Kurt’s Scout Camp. He got a 100% campership! That means we don’t have to pay for camp, this is a good thing as I am not sure how we would swing it otherwise! A campership for Grace would really help! Funny, but God always provides when you act in faith. I am not going to worry about Grace…. God will take care of it!

We are going to be here in OKC through Monday or Tuesday. Then off to Sioux Falls in time for Mother’s Day. That will really please Jeff’s mom. I imagine she will be happy to see him, Mother’s Day is a good time to visit your mom!

After we got settled in the parking lot of the Calvary Chapel - Oklahoma City (yes, another Calvary…. this is beginning to be a trend?!!!), I went off in search of a Laundromat. Jeff teases me that I have a Laundromat ministry. It seems that each time I do laundry, I meet someone that I end up sharing the Gospel with or teaching about Obedience.

I just giggle, I mean really… a Laundromat ministry?? How absurd!

But… It happened again! I was able to talk to a man and his girlfriend about obedience and I gave another couple a copy of the Jesus Video. Then on the way home, I stopped to help a stranded motorist (in front of another Laundromat) and gave her a Jesus Video too!

Okay… this happens EVERY time I go to do laundry. What’s up with that???

Sunday, May 6

The good thing about being in Oklahoma is that we have left the dryness of the desert behind. The bad thing about being in Oklahoma is that it is REALLY humid!! What a quandary!!

We spent all day yesterday helping with the “Mudder’s Day Spa” event at the church. It was a nice event for the moms, there were facials and manicures, massages and even haircuts for everyone! I got my haircut… radically. It is rather short now! When Eve saw me, she put her hand over her mouth and said, “Ohhhh Mommy, your hair…. You look like Daddy!”.

Yes, it is a bit short…. Actually it is radically short. Hair grows!

Other than the haircut, I didn’t really participate. I helped with the set-up, as did both Grace and Kurt, the most awesome kids in the world!!! And I helped clean-up. During the event, I mostly watched and listened as several women told me their stories. Somehow, I just didn’t feel right about participating! Weird.

I think I was just tired! I spent all day Friday driving from New Mexico and I was just tuckered out! After the event was over, I went home, crawled in bed and slept for several hours, woke up ate and went back to bed until this morning.

I did get to give every woman yesterday a mustard seed pin and relate my story about the mustard seed and the strength it symbolizes. That was nice and I hope that it helps the women hold onto their faith, remember it is a choice and use their faith for God’s glory.

Jeff went to a men’s prayer meeting in the morning. It seems as though the time spent with the men was good for him. He was able to share about his dad’s illness and Jeff’s concerns about dad’s involvement in the Masonic Lodge. Jeff seemed much more at peace about going to Sioux Falls and saying his goodbyes to Dad. I am glad, Jeff needed peace on this issue.

How awful it must be loosing your dad. My dear Jeff is so conflicted and sorrowful about his dad’s illness. I cannot imagine the grief he must be suppressing. I also think about Pam and Sue, Jeff’s sisters. How they must be feeling at this time. My heart just hurts for them. It is time for me to be in the very far backseat and not interrupt… this is their daddy.

My husbands family is very private and quiet. Quite the opposite of my family. I must pray that God helps me to be absolutely appropriate during this time of grief and change for their family. I must remain quiet and nearly a piece of the furniture as they go through this time together. I pray that God keeps my voice silent and my interference completely absent.

I cannot imagine the pain I would feel if it were my father.

All this makes me reflect on my relationship with my dad. It was so strained for so many of my years growing up and as an adult. I was so fearful of my dad. He is so smart, so powerful and so very joyful in his ability to out-think others. My dad was never the huggy type. I cannot remember ever hearing him saying, I love you or initiating a hug.

Yet, as he and I grow older, my heart softens toward him. I do so love my dad. I watch him age, loosing his ability to remember things and watching his joy in his grandchildren. My heart aches for the time we lost, yet rejoices in the present. It is easy to say, I love you Daddy. I find myself calling him sweet names like, Poppy and Daddy.

The words of love come easily and I express them willingly. He responds without rebuffing me, he listens. Dad allows me to hug him, to kiss his old bald head! He has softened these last few years.

Who knows what made my Dad so distant and uncomfortable with love. Who knows what created that mean spirit or angry heart. Despite these things, he is my Daddy, I love him and pray that he experiences the joy of unconditional love in his lifetime.

I love my Dad so dearly.   Oh, Jeffy... what sadness he must be feeling.

Monday, May 7

Jeff went out to Tinker Air Force Base for Alex today. They need a proposal for a new system at the club on base. I am so worried. I do not want to get pulled into Sound Pacific again. I pray that this does not send Jeff off on a side path, that it does not divert him from the instructions that God has given him for this family.

I need to just give this worry over to God.

I pray that Jeff doesn’t get distracted (by the enemy?) from the plan God has for our service to HIS kingdom. Oh, Father…. Please give Jeff wisdom and give me understanding.

Wednesday, May 9

We are in Olathe, Kansas which is about twenty miles south of Kansas City! There is another Calvary Chapel here that we would like to visit. It looks like they are a small fellowship and perhaps there is something we can do to help the worship team (sound system anyone!!!).

Leaving Oklahoma City was sad. Again, we met some wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ. Jeff was able to help with the sound system and I left some of my spirit jewelry for the chapel store. Grace met a wonderful little girl who really connected with her heart.

Grace is still finding it difficult to make friends easily. She waits for just the right person to give of herself, she just will not give her friendship unreservedly. It is really interesting, Kurt and she are so different in this matter. Kurt always makes a friend, has a good time and moves on. Grace on the other hand, only connects with a certain type of person and makes a “life” friendship.

Kids are cool!

I also made some wonderful friends. Both Julienne and Eva will be part of my heart always. Eva is the worship leader and Julienne is the mother of Grace’s friend. What wonderful sisters. I wish I could gather all these special women; Joanne, Jodi, Joyce, Cheryl, Sharon, Julienne, Eva… and be in the same place at the same time. What fun to have a bible study group with these wonderful sisters, to go for coffee, to be able to fellowship. Someday… in the air!

As we were driving from Oklahoma City to Kansas yesterday, Jeff and I talked about this mission we are on and what our ministry is about. I am feeling more directed in what God has me doing. The website, individual counseling with women and the jewelry. All is okay. But what is Jeff’s aspect of our ministry?

Well, I think that he has begun to figure that question out! Jeff is feeling a call to serve the body with his talent for audio engineering. Whoopeee!!! Finally my darling husband is able to see that this gift is from God and can be used to benefit the body of Christ!! Yippee!

Helping with the sound systems would be a great way to participate in the sowing of the seeds of Salvation!! Help spread the word by making sure it is heard clearly!!!!!

I continue to pray for God to give him wisdoms in all matters. I still pray about Sound Pacific. But I have lots of hope… God is faithful.

Wednesday Morning

Jeff keeps bugging me to make a list of the "recipes" I am coming up with to feed the family from all the food pantry items (canned goods!!) arrgh!  

Me.... recipes???..... isn't that an oxymoron?

Friday, May 11

Ii just finished reading Deuteronomy 28. Very interesting, there are fourteen verses describing the blessings to be received if we are obedient to God. And then the chapter ends with fifty-four verses describing the curses to be received if we are NOT obedient to His commands. Whoa! I guess it’s pretty clear… obey the Lord your God. Okey Dokey… I think I will choose the blessings.

We arrived in Sioux Falls last night. It took us the entire day to get out of Omaha… the entire day!! Funny though, I wasn’t frustrated as is my nature about our incredible slowness. Somehow God was very kind and gentle with my heart. I think Jeff really needed the time to get onto the road. Once we got on the moving north, he called his mother and discovered that dad is in the hospital.

Bummer.

What was odd was the change in Jeff’s spirit as soon as he heard that his father was hospitalized. Even the change in his moms voice is different to my ears. They both seem really “up”. Jeff and I giggled nearly the entire journey from Omaha to Sioux Falls. It is as though he was feeling relief.

I don’t think Jeff expected to hear that his dad was in the hospital, but somehow it brings both he and his mom comfort.

I am going to drop Jeff off at the hospital and take the children to the library to finish our annual testing. Best that Jeff figures out what is going on before we get the children involved.

Friday Evening

I’m sorry. Boy that is so simple to say, isn’t it. As a mom, I hear it over and over when I express concern over a task left undone, or attempt to reprimand when my directions are not heeded. But, sorry doesn’t mean anything without action.

Today I spent the better part of the day with the children. We bicycled to the library from the Wal-Mart parking lot, did school and had a picnic. After the ride home, I made dinner and a pie for dessert. I wanted something nice for Jeff when he came home from spending the day at the hospital with his dad.

After dinner, I did the dishes, leaving one pot to soak and left immediately to find a Laundromat, as Jeff was out of underpants and the kids needed clean socks. I left Kurt in charge of taking the pie out of the oven and scooping the ice cream while I was gone.

When I returned, the dishes were left sitting in the sink and everyone was watching a movie and eating dessert. I began to reprimand the children in the most gentle manner that I could muster. I told them it made me feel bad to come home to a dirty sink and that no one had thought what that might be like for mom.

So, that is one side of the story.

The other side is that after spending a wonderful day with mom, eating a great dinner, being treated to a peach pie, and being free to relax after dinner without the requirement of cleaning up … Mom comes home from doing laundry and does nothing but get mad at everyone. Whoa… where did that come from? How come she’s so mad? What’d we do????

They are, after all, kids. And Jeff did spend the entire day at the hospital with his sick dad. So, what’s up with that, Christa???? Can it! Jeff and I had an emotional “discussion” after I came into the house. But did it really make any sense for me to get so upset? The kids enjoyed a stress free day with me, and Jeff was wiped out… what was I thinking?

Sometimes it is so easy to be crazy!!

(giggle)

Saturday, May 12

We awoke to banging on the door this morning. A Wal-Mart employee was there, letting us know that we needed to either call the Sioux Valley Hospital (where Jeff’s dad is) or get to the hospital immediately. Wal-Mart is a great place… I cannot imagine any business that would make that kind of effort for someone staying in the parking lot!

Jeff and I spent the whole day at the hospital with Muriel (Jeff’s mom) and Moo (Jeff’s Aunt). Norman is not doing so well. We sat most of the day. At one point we took a break and got on the computer in the patient recreation room. We were surprised to find out that we were unable to access any website that had the word “Christian” in the title. Had no problem with Hindu, Buddhism, etc..

Isn’t that sad.

I left the hospital around 8:30pm. Jeff is going to spend the night with his dad. Norm is not cognizant, but it gives Muriel comfort knowing that Jeff will be there if Norman has trouble or leaves the world of the living.

Sunday, May 13   (Mother’s Day)

Jeff’s Dad, Norman, died last night.

Monday, May 14

After going to the hospital early yesterday morning to pick-up Jeff and wait on the family Pastor, Jeff and I went home to the RV and Wal-Mart for some sleep. The kids woke around 9:30, so I took them to church (yes, there is a Calvary here!) giving Jeff a few extra hours of sleep and privacy.

I really like Calvary. No matter where we go, it is the same. Praise and Worship, then bible study. And this Pastor was just as great as every other Calvary pastor we have had the pleasure to hear. He understood scripture and taught it well.

This Pastor, Skip Collier, is a special individual. Saturday night when I got home from the hospital, I knew that Norman wouldn’t last the night. We all did. I called Skip at home and he came right over to the RV and then went to the hospital to visit with Jeff.

He came even though he had never met us, didn’t know us, and was sound asleep when I called. This is one special man. He prayed with me and then again with Jeff at the hospital. This is a wonderful pastor and the people of Sioux Falls are blessed to have him among them.

After church, Skips wife invited us to dinner. I went back to the RV, Jeff was already awake and dressed, and we spent the next four hours in fellowship with the Colliers. What incredible and wonderful people. God surely put them here and allowed us to meet them.

Skips wife, Charissa, is amazing. She is from California (they both are!) and is having a difficult time adjusting to living in South Dakota (who wouldn’t!). And yet, her heart is full of God’s love. She radiates Christ’s love and obviously adores her husband. They trade secret looks when they think no one is watching. Looks of love and affection that filled my heart with joy.

What wonderful and godly people. Thank you Lord for bringing them into our lives. Thank you Lord for releasing Norman from his pain. Thank you Lord for Life in You.

Wednesday, May 16

I am learning a lot about humility here in Sioux Falls. I am struggling with keeping my thoughts and natural inclination to take charge inside. I want to just jump out of my skin and manage. But I am learning that it is a wonderful gift to Jeff when I contain myself and do not jump in front of him to lead the way.  Our culture promotes female domination in the family. Too bad. The way God wrote the rules are so much better, more difficult, but ultimately more rewarding.

So much is going on...

I am still making necklaces for the churches to sell in the bookstores. I just heard that Calvary Albuquerque only has four of the necklaces left!! Hallelujah!!! I will send them more, with tags that explain that all proceeds go to support the church itself. I think people are more willing to purchase something with their hard-earned money if they know the proceeds support the church entirely, rather than just something someone is making money off of!!!!

Pretty exciting that only four are left. I should call the other churches that I left necklaces and keepers at and see if any are selling there as well!!

This week Jeff has been working at the Calvary Chapel - Sioux Falls. What a wonderful pastor here. If we lived here he would be a great pastor for Jeff to learn from, he’s a real guy! No fakery about him at all!!

So….

The funeral is on Friday and the burial is on Saturday. Jeff’s oldest sister arrives tonight. We will probably leave Monday or so.

I am praying for peace right now. Since I stopped taking Prozac I have been a tad more emotional, according to Jeff. Funny but I don’t see it. I feel the same as when I was on the Prozac. In previous years when I had gone off the medication I definitely felt depressed and then went back on the drug.

This time is different. I don’t feel depressed. No bad thoughts or plans or even ideas, it is the furthest thing from my mind. But I do notice that when I am sad about something, I cry. When I am happy, I laugh. Seems pretty normal.

I I think that this is hard on Jeff.  Must be scary for him. He is accustomed to my muted emotional state.  Normal emotions are bigger. I am sure he fears me reverting to my past “crazy lady” state. It must be strange after living so long with a woman who expressed muted emotions. Kind of makes normalcy seem wild!?? 

Thank God I have Jesus. Jesus is so faithful and gracious. I am sure that He will keep me from ever experiencing depression again.  I know that HE is so much greater than depression and I continue to have faith that our Lord will lift me and keep me from descending into that pit ever again.

Thursday, May 17

Yesterday was a hard day for me. I found myself tearing up and crying at the slightest provocation. I loved Norman. I will miss him. He was sweet and gentle, his heart was good and kind. He was a mild mannered guy, never one to press himself on anyone. He would wait until asked and then offer himself, his thoughts and memories.

I will miss Daddy Norman.

We went to dinner at Jeff’s moms house last night. All the women in the immediate family were in attendance. Jeff’s oldest sister had driven up from Lincoln, NE along with her daughter.  Jeff’s mom and his other sister were also present.

It was a difficult hour and a half for me.

I had made up my mind to be unobtrusive, a piece of furniture. My goal was to not follow my fleshly nature and take charge, getting in the middle of their family affairs and plans for Normans funeral. My plan has been to stay out of the way, this is about their daddy.

Still it was difficult. I watched the family dynamics from the outside, not being a participant, waiting, not intruding. I sat there and just got sadder and sadder. My heart was so heavy. I wanted to scream, “I loved him too!”.

But this is not my time. This is not my daddy.  And my heart grew heavier and heavier. I had not anticipated the level of grief I feel over loosing him.

As we drove off (we were headed to church - for Wednesday night bible study and worship), one of Jeff’s sisters told me about the plans for the funeral service as we talked through the car window. She mentioned the flowers that were being delivered on behalf of the children. Children? What children? Oh, Jeff and his sisters. I blurted out that I hoped my name would be on the card.

What was I thinking? I was not one of his children, I am his daughter-in-law. I loved him. And I made a mistake. I felt so bad after driving away from the house and spent the rest of the drive castigating myself for my faux pas. I am not one of his children, how could I have asked to have my name included on the card. Arrgh.

It’s just that I loved him too.

During the worship service at church, I listened to the music. I was not a participant. My mind kept reflecting on my hurt and frustration over the evening. My flesh was in charge. My spirit was not.

Then God spoke to me, through Pastor Skips teaching.

Rest in Jesus. 

If I could just put my faith entirely on the Lord, nothing would be too small or too large for Him to handle. I have been worrying and stressing, getting angry and indignant over the things of the flesh, over life's "things".  Not once have I spoken to my wonderful and mighty God… Father, I can’t do this, would you please take this burden from me?!

I can do all things through Him.

Pastor Skip spoke about entering into HIS rest. Trusting in HIM. So often we give ourselves to the Lord and yet, we keep an umbrella up, keeping the rain of His love cascading around us, to the sides, never really quite touching and saturating our heads, our hair, our bodies, our hearts… our souls.

I need to put my umbrella aside. Trust completely in the Lord. All this “stuff” with Jeff’s family is nothing. God can handle it all. If I would only trust and rest in HIM. The Israelites spent forty years in the desert on what should have been a ten day journey, all because they could not completely rest and rely on HIM.

My umbrella has been up, I am still… even now, afraid to let go entirely to God. I hold back that little bit of me, my worries and my hopes. I must allow the rain of His love to cover me, only then will I grow and bear fruit (John 15).

Faith... even as small as a mustard seed.

How much work does God have in me. How much work does He do in me each day. He is faithful and true.  Now, I need to stop getting in the way of that seed, step aside and let the plant grow and bear fruit.

The purpose in our creation is to be in fellowship and to lead others into fellowship with the Lord. I have no chance to succeed in this purpose until I let go completely, put down my umbrella and rest entirely in HIM.

God, take me, all of me.

Thursday, a little later

My darling sister in Christ, Kathleen Gillon, sent me an email and I just had a chance to read it today.  The subject line said; regarding Ephesians 1:3 .  I opened my bible to read this reference:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Oh, how I needed to know this today.  Thank you Lord.  

Monday, May 21

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

NKJV - Matthew 6:25 - 34

Jesus is good. This morning when I sat down to write, I first looked at the daily devotional in My Utmost for His Highest (Oswald Chambers), Matthew 6:25-34 was the reading. Just what I needed to read. I am a little worried right now about our finances.

Whenever God sends money our way, we always put ten percent aside for tithe and another ten percent aside for savings. Our goal is to live on eighty percent of whatever God provides. However, here in Sioux Falls we are low on finances, so we have been using the savings money. We are now about six dollars away from using the tithe.

I know that God will provide for our physical needs. So why do I worry? The fact is that He has provided for us each step of the way on this journey. The reading from today’s devotional was exactly what I needed to hear.

Once again, my umbrella was up. Time to set it aside and feel God’s provision, love, grace and comfort rain down on me. When will I ever stop grabbing that umbrella? Silly human.

~~~~

Well, last week was difficult. Friday was the funeral service for Jeff’s dad and the burial was on Saturday. Jeff and I were both pretty unaffected by the service on Friday. To me it felt very distant and not too real. The hard part was Saturday and the burial service. Jeff’s sister Pam played some jazz music (dad was a jazz musician) and said some very touching things about him. My tears were public on Saturday.

Jeff’s mom did pull him aside Saturday and worriedly asked if maybe we were going overboard on this religion thing. She is worried about her boy. Jeff assured her that he is doing great and that this is God’s will for our lives. In the midst of her grief she still has the space in her heart to worry about her boy. She is an amazing woman.

After the graveside service on Saturday, we went back to the farm and didn’t see our extended family again until dinner at Wendy’s last night. Pam graciously picked up the tab. Jeff’s sister has been very generous this week. Each time we go out for a meal, she has picked up the tab for our family. I have no idea what the funeral expenses we were responsible for, she picked up the bill for our family.

Although Jeff’s family does not agree with our lifestyle choice (hmmm, neither does my parents or siblings!!), they have generously set their worries aside this week, and have not asked for financial contributions or taken Jeff to task with our inability to share the bill.

This is kind of them. Funny thing about family, they may not like what you are doing, yet their love for you prevails. Love comes much easier in the face of this kind of support and grace.

~~~~

Friday at the funeral home, I met Jeff’s piano teacher, Ellen. She shared a lovely story about Norm. Soon after she was divorced (the 60’s), she wandered into Norms music store to purchase a home stereo. Rather than sell her a big piece of furniture (as stereo’s were packaged in those days), he steered her into purchasing individual components.

Norm then split the sales price into monthly payments on the equipment (a gift for a newly divorced young woman), and offered to take the equipment in on trade when she wanted to upgrade, at full purchase price.

Ellen never forgot his kindness. It changed her life. Eventually she became a piano teacher and developed and enduring love of music. What was probably a small thing to Norm, was life changing for Ellen. His small act of kindness changed the course of her life. And she never forgot him.

Ellen shared this story with Jeff at the funeral. It has comforted him so much. Again, Norm’s small act of kindness had life changing effects, this time on his son. Rather than face his dad’s death with sadness and remorse, Jeff is filled with hope and a remembrance of his father’s grace.

~~~~

Last week (Thursday I think), we moved from the Wal-Mart parking lot out to a farm owned by Jeff and Kathryn, members of the Calvary Chapel. What a gift this move has been to our family.

Kathryn also homeschools her four children, and is a gentle loving soul. She has provided great comfort to me this week. Our children mesh well and play together well. Kurt, Grace and Eve have been thrilled to be living on a farm this week. They especially enjoyed riding the mower to help to mow the immense yard and they have gotten a kick watching the cat kill birds and mice in the barn, to feed her young kittens.

Again, God has provided us with wonderful fellowship. We have been blessed.

~~~~

I think we are leaving Sioux Falls tomorrow. Kurt will be thirteen next Sunday. His boy scout troop from California is camping in the Grand Canyon next weekend… we are going to try to meet up with them. It will be good for Kurt to spend his birthday with his buddies from the old neighborhood.

I am concerned about Kurt’s birthday. I want to purchase gifts for him. I need to pass this burden on to God, as I am unable to get Kurt anything much for his birthday. This part of our life is hard… it is just flesh… just “stuff”. But he is my son and I want so dearly to be able to give him all he desires for his birthday.

Lord, please take this burden from my heart.

The fleshly desires are strong.

Then on the other hand… God is so gracious and he is being so provident regarding Kurt’s mission finances. We sent out an email to family and friends asking for financial support for his mission to Mexico this summer. Thus far we have received two responses back from friends who have pledge support. Kurt is thrilled.

Kurt doesn’t realize yet that my mom sent him a donation in his birthday card to be used towards his mission… Mom is so great. She doesn’t agree with our choices and yet, she has sent Kurt support for his mission. And, she sent another check to Kurt for his birthday! Wow.

I don’t think that some of our family members (both sides - mine and Jeff’s) were too thrilled about the email asking for support for Kurt’s mission. I think we offended some of them. Perhaps I should send an apology. I don’t know. I hate to offend them, although I am not quite sure why they are bothered. If he were in public school we would be asking them to buy candy or wrapping paper or something to support the school.

Sometimes I feel like I must make everyone happy. I know that is impossible. But I really feel badly when I upset my siblings or Jeff’s siblings. I know I embarrass Jeff sometimes. I don’t mean to, I just do. I am so grateful that Jesus loves me as I am and that I don’t embarrass him or offend him by my nature - my personality just isn’t too big or overwhelming for God.

That is so nice.

Monday night

Imagine.  What a wonderful and thoughtful woman is Jeff's mother.  In the midst of the sorrow and grief over loosing her husband of sixty years, she thought of our Kurt.  

Tonight at dinner she gave Kurt a card and a gift for his birthday.  I don't think that anyone could expect her to be thinking of anything other than her pain and sorrow, and yet, she took the time to bless Kurt for his thirteenth birthday.  What an amazing woman.

Tuesday, May 22

I woke this morning with a song in my heart. It is over. The whole week of mourning and my efforts to stay out of the way are done. Praise God. We have a few errands left to accomplish to make South Dakota our state of residency, but other than that… we are free to leave and be on our way to whatever God has in mind for our family.

Last night, Monday, before going to bed, we looked at the map…. It would take five days of driving six hours per day for us to make it to the Grand Canyon. Not gonna happen! Kurt, Jeff and I decided that the Grand Canyon and camping with his Boy Scout Troop, just isn’t going to happen. Kurt was very mature about the decision.

So, we will head towards Arizona at a more leisurely pace. Kurt has a youth group trip to Tombstone, AZ with the Tucson Calvary on June 4... We can do that. Thus we will leave Thursday morning after we attend Wednesday night services here one last time.

We have become very emotionally and spiritually connected to the Sioux Falls Calvary Chapel. Skip is a wonderful Pastor and has offered to “cover” our mission. In this way Jeff becomes accountable to Skip for our actions as a missionary/ministry. This will provide us with great oversight so that we have less of an opportunity to go off in some weird or unscriptural direction. It will also make it easier for us to serve at various Calvary Chapels that God puts in our path.

God has also been faithful to us by opening up avenues for us to acquire sound/video equipment to place into fellowships. Funny, but today when one of the manufacturers we deal with agreed to let us “open” their line and become a dealer, I jumped for joy. My first reaction was…. I’m Good! Yah right. Moments later I was able to express, GOD is GOOD!

The Apostle Paul always reflected his successes to Jesus. I’m not quite as quick as he was, but I am learning. It was a bit of a watershed moment for my “self” to realize and acknowledge that it wasn’t ME, it was God that accomplished what seemed so amazing (opening a product line). Now… God is Good and He is amazing… there is no way we could have had this opportunity to serve without His immense and awesome power.

God is Good. (And wonder of wonders…. I had nothing to do with it!!!)

~~~~

It was a good day today. We have new South Dakota drivers licenses, our vehicles are registered here and we are well on our way to becoming permanently based out of this state. This is a good thing for us financially, the registration fees are lower, state taxes are lower and in general we will have a lower overhead as residents of this state.

Then we had dinner with Jeff’s mom. The family has graciously taken us out to eat every night, tonight I made some soup in my crock pot and we went over to his mom’s house to share it with his mother.

After dinner we talked. I cried. And we talked some more.

I found out that I had failed miserably at being a piece of the furniture this past week. Rather than quietly stay to the sidelines in all things, the family felt that I had been trying to be center stage and that I was pushy about my faith in Jesus. I had offended just about everyone in our extended family, I learned tonight.

Tears.

Although I didn’t ever bring up Jesus first in conversation, I responded with my opinions and convictions when asked. This apparently caused the same reaction in this family as it does with my own extended family. I get in trouble with everyone for sharing my beliefs. Even though I make a concerted effort never to start the conversation, I am invariable given responsibility for the birth of discussion on the subject.

Tears.

I also learned tonight that Jeff’s extended family felt that I was too much of a “center-piece” person. I offend them by my desire to be the center of attention. But this is not my desire. My attempt to stay in the background had failed. Even being as un-obtrusive as I could, still my spirit got out and in the midst of the family.

Tears.

I also learned that Jeff’s family felt overwhelmed by me, that they were harboring hurts from little things that either I said or did over the years. Years and years ago. Things I had never even thought of even remembered. Looks I gave, responses I made, things that should have been forgotten or overlooked, were not. I have been an uncomfortable person in their midst.

Tears.

I have been a source of pain and frustration for my mother-in-law and her daughters for many of these years. As we drove away tonight, my tears would not stop. And then my darling and brilliant husband spoke words of truth and love.

Jeff reminds me that Satan will use anything to bring me down. Remember the fruit. A tree bears fruit after it’s kind, after it’s roots. My fruit is good. My children. They are good and strong and kind. Their hearts are godly and good. He reminds me to look around me at the fruit of the rest of the orchard.

How easily I slipped into self-recrimination and castigation. How easily did I fall into the trap that Satan had set for me.

Jeff reminded me of the scripture:

Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Luke 12:51-53 NKJV

and

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Matthew 7:13 - 14 NKJV

 

Jeff is amazing. God is amazing. I am so very blessed.

As we talked, Jeff comforted me, not with his words so much as with his strength and understanding of God’s direction for our lives. Jeff has become a husband I am proud and honored to follow. Sometimes I am frustrated by his timing or his nature, but I am always immensely honored that God has given me this man as my husband.

What an amazing work God has done in us both. Thank you so much my Lord, my God.

Lastly, Jeff reminded me that I am from a different culture than his family. That my nature is to just pitch in, help without being asked or prompted. This is not the culture of his extended family. They are more willing to wait on an invitation of need. They are quieter and less willing to impose their help on each other. My speed of pitching in, is offensive to their culture of quietness and private-ness.

I grew up in a home where you just pitched in without being invited or encouraged to help. It was offensive to my mother to be required to ask for help, you just rolled up your sleeves and the work. This is not the way Jeff was raised. I am too fast and too much for his family.

Also, Jeff asked me why I thought everyone got so mad at me, why are they so fearful? I just had no answer for him. He challenged me to explore the possibility that our total commitment to serve God and live for our faith, is frightening to family. Satan promotes fear of us and the Holy Spirit convicts them of righteousness, that is uncomfortable. Conviction can be pretty scary.

I think about my tears tonight. What prompted them? Why did they go on and on. Fear. Jeff didn’t say a whole lot while his mom and I were sharing our hearts. I was afraid that I would lose him. How dumb is that? How ridiculous.

The enemy was certainly at work tonight.

As my tears flowed tonight, my fears flowed. Fear that my convictions would disgust my husband and that I would be forced to choose between him and Jesus. And in my heart, I knew that Jesus would win. How silly. If it came to a choice between me and Jesus, Jeff would also choose our Lord. The choice is clear.

The prince of this world, satan, was working on me tonight.

Jeff reminded me to rely on Jesus. Stay in the word and in prayer. Only through Jesus can I overcome my fears, my emotions and my inclination to step into the hole of depression and anger. To combat these inclinations I can either use chemicals (Prozac) or the Word.

The Word of God has power over all things.

Wednesday, May 23

After reflecting on this week, I am again touched by the strength and wisdom of my brother’s wife, Kristen. I have learned great respect and admiration for this woman.

It has been a hard week for me. Although I have attempted to stay out of the center of family things as this is not my family. It has not been my daddy that has died. I still had the expectation of being treated as family. But I am not family, not really.

Jeff pointed this out to me last night. It is my expectations that create problems… for me. I am not truly a Gefke. At least not in the eyes of his extended family. Just as my sister-in-law is not really a Stone, to anyone other than her husband. We sister-in-laws are really just those women that married someone’s brother. Accepted by force, not by choice.

I have learned this week that Kristen is an amazing woman. I regret my actions towards her in the past. She has been a gracious and loving woman to a family that didn’t always seek to make her feel included. I don’t think that our actions were meant to be cruel or distancing towards her. 

Perhaps this is true of my husbands sisters.

Perhaps it is just difficult for women to allow another woman into the circle. Perhaps we women fear the potential of this “outsider” to vie for control. Perhaps we fear loss of power to this woman we did not choose to be involved with...  that our brothers love.

I will look at my brothers wife differently. I will look at her and be awed  by her love of my brother and her ability to love me, in spite of myself. 

Thursday, May 24

What an AMAZING and POWERFUL and AWESOME God we serve. I have been struggling with my “self” over my relationships with my husband’s family. I suppose, if I were to really try to pinpoint the genesis of these frustrations and struggles, it would be from the very beginning, nearly twenty years ago.

At first, the frustrations and feelings of rejection would have been mostly regarding Jeff’s parents. Their refusal to attend our wedding was painful. Then over the years, there were so many little “hurts and arrows” from his mother. Minor things that eventually built up into a belief that I was unloved, un-liked and resented by his mom.

Then as my walk with Jesus deepened, my faith and love of Him taught me that this woman who gave birth to my darling husband, was struggling, just as I was, with the realities and hardships of marriage. As we spent more time in her company, I grew to love her, admire her and learn strength from her life.

This past week was hard. I wanted so much to be unobtrusive. But the truth is that I am not an unobtrusive woman. I am large. Again, I learned that our culture differences were troublesome. Midwestern traditions of quietness and strength vs. Californian traditions of involvement and loudness.

What I did not imagine or plan for, was my frustrations and feelings regarding Jeff’s sisters and aunt. I thought I was “one of them”. I am not and never will be. How on earth could I?? I was not raised with them, nor do we share a common life history and tradition. Thus, here we were, thrown together for the first time in my married life, during a time of great stress and sadness.

I did not know how to respond to the family, I had no history of relationships or involvement with them as a family unit. Oh, I knew them each individually. Yet, never in my marriage had I been amongst them all… at one time, together, as a family group.

The dynamics of this family were outside of my experience. My lack of experience, combined with differences in culture and styles were a sure fire set of ingredients for explosion and ruffled feathers… for all parties.

They had no experience of me being involved in the family unit. Even as they acted out their parts this week, there was a new twist, a new member… me. Their expectation of the family dynamics did not include a new member. Thus we were all primed for frustrations.

Add to the mix the death of dad, a family very committed to a life of faith and you have a sure fire recipe for anger and pain.

And I was primed for satan to work on me, to magnify my fleshly desires and “self”. I gave in to the temptations of the enemies manipulations. It was easier for me to focus on the differences among us, than to follow my King and practice His love and patience. Rather than follow Christ’s instructions in John 16:33, Matthew 25:40 and Luke 6:28.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. “                                                           

John 16:33

    “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me”

Matthew 25:40

    “…bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you”                                Luke 6:28

Neither did I treat my husbands family as I would Jesus, nor did I have peace in Christ in the midst of trouble. And I complained about the whole thing. Never did I pray for their  peace during their time of sorrow and tribulation. I did not bless them with either my actions or my prayers.  They are justified in their anger towards me.

Oh my Lord God, please forgive me my transgressions and stupidity. Please forgive me for being a poor witness on your behalf. I failed my King during this trial.

The families frustrations over my “needs” to be the center of attention were not baseless. I failed miserably to be an ambassador of Christ, Jesus. I was so caught up in “becoming unobtrusive” that I became obtrusive. What a misfortune. How I have wounded them all, including my God.

Thanks be to God, that he is a forgiving and glorious King. I know that He still loves me and forgives me my sins. I know that through His sacrifice I am cleaned of my sins and transgressions. His forgiveness is the hope and joy of my life. His grace and love gives me the ability to overcome and empty my “self” so that there is more space for Him in me. Oh, thank you my God, my Lord, my King… for giving me this life lesson and loving me so much.

I owe Jeff’s family an apology. And I owe my husband thanks for allowing me to grow in Christ, for loving me as Jesus did… Jeff has selflessly allowed me to go through this lesson even as he deals with his own pain of loosing his father, Norman. What a marvelous man I have married.

What does this world need: Gifted men (and women), outwardly empowered? Or broken men (and women), inwardly transformed?

There is a vast difference between the outward clothing of the Spirit’s power and the inward filling of the Spirit’s life. In the first, despite the power, the hidden man of the heart may remain unchanged. In the latter, that monster is dealt with.

(from: A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards)

Interesting thing about God, he uses broken people. He is like the shepherd that breaks the legs of the lamb that wanders, only to carry that lost lamb until it heals and heeds only his voice. These days have been a part of breaking me.  Praise God.

I pray that I can heed only His voice and not remain unchanged but become inwardly transformed.

Saturday, May 26

What a glorious morning!! We left Sioux Falls late Thursday afternoon, traveling as far as Norfolk, Nebraska. Our goal on Friday was to get to Cornlea, Nebraska. Actually a farm outside Cornlea was our destination.

While staying with Kathryn and Jeff Hind in Sioux Falls, they turned me onto a website for a company called Second Harvest Curriculum. After looking at their website and discovering they were on our route southwest towards Tucson, I sent them an email asking if we could visit and check out their ministry.

Well, God is just an amazing father! Not only did they say sure, come on by, these wonderful people invited us to stay on their farm and have dinner with them last night! WOW!! And they shared with us that they are in the process of planting a church in Hastings, Nebraska - sent by their pastor in Madison, NE … a Calvary Chapel trained pastor. Isn’t that amazing!

We arrived at Shelley and Bob Noonan’s farm around four in the afternoon, and the kids spent a wonderful time feeding goats, checking out chickens, turkeys and more cats than we have ever seen!!!! After a fantastic dinner, the kids piled into their truck and the Noonan’s oldest son took Kurt and Grace out to watch him do the evening irrigation chores.

The Noonan farm has been in Bob’s family for over one hundred years, they farm seed corn on acres and acres of beautiful land. As the planting was just finished Thursday, Bob is a very tired guy! After dinner Bob, Shelley, Jeff and I had a wonderful couple of hours of fellowship. What blessings this family is to their community. They are strong and committed Christians, leading the way for their community to a life of peace and love in the Lord.

~~~~

I am so grateful for the experiences that this Adventure has brought my family. We have been privileged to stay with Americans in all different places and walks of life. To think that we have the opportunity to meet and fellowship with people like the Noonan family on a farm in Nebraska, to the Governale family in the Mountains of Arizona, the Hind Family in the countryside of South Dakota or the Small family in the city of Tucson.

We are learning and living so many different lifestyles. We are watching the work of our Father as He moves people in so many different styles of worship and fellowship. I feel so incredibly blessed by these opportunities and the amazing love of Jesus. WOW!!!

~~~~

Tomorrow is my baby boy’s thirteenth birthday. WAAAAAA! I cannot believe that he is so old, or that I am the mother of a TEENAGER!!! Kurt is such a great boy! He is kind and loving and is so committed to Jesus. I could not ask for any more.

I am so blessed by this wonderful young man that God has placed into my life.

Late Saturday night

I just opened my email to read a note from a family member.  They admonish me to keep my faith to myself, accept their choice in faith and that I should in the future refrain from writing about them.

I cried.

I write about myself,  I only share my faith when asked or challenged and I cannot choose anything but the narrow gate.

When and if I am ever blessed with a book, it will hurt our family.  So, what do I do?  I do not want to be the divisive factor in the family.  I want them all to come to Christ.  Does my writing turn them from Him?  What would the Lord have me do?  Is publication a fleshly desire?  Or is it of the Lord?

I think some prayer is in my immediate future. 

Monday, May 28

                                Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the. Lord

                                Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

                                Children, obey your parents in everything for this pleases the Lord

Colossians 3:18-20

 

This is the Noonan Family. Our family is so blessed to have been able to stay with Shelley and Bob (and their amazing two boys), these last three nights. What a gift God has given me, to have met Shelley and learn from her and Bob as they serve the Lord through the greatness of their lives and love.

The fruit of their lives is abundant. I have been privileged to share in these last three days of fellowship with them as many families have passed through their doors, either to buy books from them (Second Harvest Curriculum), or to fellowship over a meal (Shelley is an amazing cook!!), or to worship our awesome God.

This verse from Colossians is my call to the world. It is my personal challenge and my mission. God has given me a joyous three days, sharing with me the fruit of His Word in this family.

What a Good God.

~~~~

Kurtie is thirteen. Last night we celebrated his birthday over dinner and brownies with the Noonan family. Kurt was so gracious as he opened his gifts of t-shirts, books and music. My heart was touched by his genuine reception of the gifts we were able to give him.

The gifts were meager by comparison to our former lifestyle and ability to give. And yet, Kurt was so happy and thrilled to receive them. Afterwards, I cried. I wanted so much to give him the other things he had desired (Nintendo games, Computer programs, Music CD’s), yet, it is not within our ability to do so as we live the life of missionaries.

The sadness and regret I felt was only mine. And, it was only about things. What a lesson my wonderful little boy (okay, so he’s not so little at 5’ 6”) gave me last night. He was blessed by what we were able to give him in honor of his birthday. He was so happy and fulfilled.

God, thank you for my amazing and wonderful family. Thank you so much. Thank you for leading me down this path of Your Love and Grace with such gentleness and mercy. Oh my Lord, my God… thank you for my life, thank you for my husband, thank you for my children.

Thank you sweet Jesus for the gift of my son, thirteen years ago.

Tuesday, May 29

We are on the road towards Tucson, AZ (Kurt has a youth group outing to Tombstone next Monday, for three days). Some how or another I injured my back last Friday and have had awful back spasms and pain. I slept most of yesterday in response to the pain. So this morning we found a doctor in Wichita, KS to check me out.

As I had self-diagnosed…. My back hurts.

He gave me a couple of prescriptions (anti-inflammatory and pain relief) and off we went, down the road toward Tucson. I am praying we get to Albuquerque in time for Wednesday night services at Calvary Chapel (Skip Heitzig).

Yesterday and today have been very difficult days for our family. Everyone is on edge. The children are having a problem listening (and carrying out their instructions) and Jeff and I have been irritable with each other and in general we are a bunch of crap apples.

I am looking forward to getting back to Tucson, friends and worship at the Calvary there.

Kurt and Grace are a real handful right now. They are mean to everyone and their attitudes are hurtful and defiant. There is little love in their hearts right now. It would be simple to say that it was all due to the work of the enemy, but I think a part of the problem is our close quarters and just plain old puberty.

Puberty, the big P in our life. Can’t wait to get through it!

Of course, I am not the most patient person in the world today, my goodness but pain is a real “pain in the back”!

~~~~

On Monday morning as we left the Noonan farm, I felt such sadness. Here we go again, making friends and sharing hearts and leaving them. The downside of our lifestyle, I guess. However, the upside is the opportunity to meet such wonderful people and the gift their lives are to our family.

Later that afternoon, as I lay down for a nap, a verse came to mind:

"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

Ephesians 3:14 - 21  NKJV

I am not quite sure why God gave me this verse, but it has stuck with me these last two days.  Perhaps it is response to an email I received this morning from my dear friend Jodi, releasing me from her counsel. I will miss her wise words and friendship over these last few months on the road.

My Dear Christa,

It time for me to let you go. God's wishes are clear. He wants to deepen his relationship with you, but I and others are in the way. You may never know what delight you journey has brought to me and my family. Thank you for the chance to follow along through your journal. I will pray for you often.

Let God be your Focus.

Jodi

Thanks be to God for the gift He gave me through the emails I received from Jodi, always full of godly advice and encouragement. She mentored me through a time of change and growth. Women need other godly women as mentors and encouragers.

Titus 2:4-6 tells us that older women should:

“…admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”

I don’t know if Jodi is older than I am, in any case, she fulfilled that role of a Titus woman valiantly in my life on the road.

I will “thank my God upon every remembrance of her, always in every prayer of mine making request for her all with joy, for her fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now”                        Philippians 1:3-5

Italics and insertion of “her” are my changes!

Isn’t God Good!!

Thursday, May 31

REPENT OR DIE!!!

Okay, so I am not Jonah marching through the streets of Nineveh. I tremor at the thought of actually talking about the wonderful gift of Christ Jesus, the gift of salvation through faith in Him. When faced with a non-believer, I rarely (if ever) begin a conversation about Jesus, faith or my heavenly Father.

And yet,

The message of the Lord is delivered, through my lifestyle, my joy in Him. How? I think that when non-believers spend time in the company of our family, they are convicted. That is what makes some of the folks in our extended families so angry. The Holy Spirit has convicted them. So, they direct their anger at us.

“To each his own”

Okay. But do those that cry this as a mantra really and truly realize what that means?? Do they understand the consequence of their words?

It is so easy to say, “I am a child of God”…. you are? Have you been adopted? Where is your adoption certificate?

            Father: an originator, a male parent

            Parent: a source; origin

            Adopt: To legally take into one’s family and raise as one’s child, to choose or accept

            Child: a son or daughter

How can you be a child of someone if you do not call them as your parent? A parent is responsible for the training and discipline of a child. Now, obviously God did not impregnate good old mom, so, if you take yourself as a “child of God” then you must be adopted. Ok. So, where is the legal proof of that parentage or choice?

My adoption certificate is the acceptance of Christ in my life. It is my choice of faith in His sacrifice for my salvation. Jesus said:

 “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”     John 14:6

That seems pretty clear.

 

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