Missions Monday #MissionsMonday

This is Emma’s idea for her Instagram and so I thought – hmmmmmmm, maybe we can take this to the GrubHub as well.   [Of course I don’t guarantee EVERY Monday there will be a post about Missions… as life gets in the way and soon we will be entering a VERY busy summer at SCORE in the DR, but hopefully we will get close!]

A week ago Sunday we attended an International Dinner and Missions Night at the Lutheran church I grew up in. Yes, I said Lutheran. 🙂 Interesting, huh? The truth of the matter is that if it wasn’t for Martin Luther – we’d all still be Roman Catholic. We would trust our good works to get us to heaven and our confessions to a priest/pope to keep us out of hell. The funny thing is, while I did glean the beginnings of a spiritual foundation on the biblical truths taught there, I still had blinders on to certain biblical truths ~ like there was nothing I could do to save myself, that I needed to REPENT of my sin and accept Christ as my Savior, that following Him means surrender in every facet of my life. Those are not Baptist principles or Pentecostal principles or Lutheran principles – they are BIBLICAL principles. And I thank the Lord for drawing me, opening my eyes and revealing His truth to me by the Holy Spirit in my early 20s.

After I was saved, however, I was quite dogmatic and saw things as very black and white. I assumed that since I heard (my spiritual ears finally opened to) these truths in a church/denomination other than the one I was raised in, that they were wrong and this church/denomination was right. (Arrogant, much?) Again, thank the Lord that He who began a good work in me is faithful to complete (and still completing) it (Phil. 1:6). As I have grown in spiritual maturity, I have learned that people have grown up hearing the truth in Baptist churches, A/G churches, Nazarene churches, Lutheran churches etc., but because their spiritual ears weren’t opened to that truth at that time, they didn’t accept Christ until later in life, like I.  That there are people who have accepted Christ and have a personal relationship with Him, serve Him and SHARE Him in all kinds of denominations. PRAISE THE LORD!

Sorry for the rabbit trail – it is interesting when God brings things full circle (like an apologetic-loving girl raised in a Lutheran church, saved in an A/G church, discipled in an Independent Baptist church, planted a Southern Baptist church and currently attending and being sent to a non-denominational ministry from an Evangelical Presbyterian Church…).

All that to say – I was so blessed by the Missions Night. From the others going on short-term trips to the opening prayer, the heart of the night was taking the GOSPEL to the NATIONS! Reaching out to the poor, the orphans and sick.  Sharing Jesus.  GLORY!

We had a delightful international meal. Whoever made the chicken enchiladas – those were AmAzInG! The meal was followed by a “Pound Auction.” Have you ever heard of such a thing? I had not, and it was So. Much. Fun! Basically, people brought items wrapped or in gift bags that weighed about a pound and we, the audience, bid on them – not knowing what they were. There were things like a bunch of bananas, POUND cakes :), coffee and other items. It was a blast! All of the proceeds will go to the mission teams represented (us included). We connected with friends/church family from the past and met some great people. Blessed night! Here are some photos from that night.

PS – Speaking of photos, we’re going to start adding photos to our Flickr account from each church we visit, different mission teams we work with in the DR etc.  You can get to those albums in the margin on the right.  🙂

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Someone Should Tell Him

Taking a quick pit stop from marriage talk to follow up on the “Frozen Post” (previous marriage post). This time we’re talking Olaf. – – – What do you mean you haven’t seen Frozen yet??? — Rent it now :).

olafIn case you’re not familiar with the story, Olaf is the adorable and comical snowman in the movie “Frozen”. When he first comes to the scene, Kristof tells Olaf that they need Elsa to bring back summer. Olaf replies, “Oh, I’ve always loved the idea of summerrrr. And suuuuun. And all things hotttttt.“ olafsand

At which point he goes into a song dreaming about summer.  My favorite line from the song:

Winter’s a great time to stay in and cuddle.

Put me in summer and I’ll be a…

HAPPY SNOWMAN!

olafpuddle

Just before the song, though, Kristof says, “Someone should tell him.” See Olaf has this grandiose idea of what summer is like, that he’ll be sniffing flowers and tanning and feeling a summer breeze…   When he’s done with his song, Kristof reiterates, “Somebody’s gotta tell him!” The reality is if Olaf was in summer, he’d be a goner – melted away with the salty air of the hot beach. Sad face.

I think that is how some people think of heaven.   They have an idea, maybe even partly from the bible – sun, beautiful – crystal sea, lovely music and a bright light – God.  And they think they’re going. When someone passes away you always hear the phrase, “They’re in a better place.” We comfort one another with those words.   And while there is a better place, the best place even, there’s also a not-so-better place – the worst place even. And the truth is somebody should tell them. Somebody should tell them there is a wonderful place called heaven – but there is also the stark reality of hell. And when we die, we go to one of those two places. No cushy in-between. No whimsical, make-believe dreamland for good people or nice people or people who haven’t killed anyone.  And, there’s only one-way to the best place and that’s through Jesus. He IS the way, the truth and the life – no one comes to the Father except through Him. John 14:6

There’s a lot of talk right now that Heaven is For Real. And it is. Not because a little boy can tell us about it, but because of a Book that gives us glimpses of it – and a roadmap to it.

You can see God’s work and glory all over the earth, so we have not excuse not to acknowledge He exists. – Romans 1:20

And He does want you in heaven; He doesn’t want anyone to go to hell. He’s patient and loves you. 2 Peter 3:9

None of us are “good enough” for heaven. We all mess up. We all “sin”. Romans 3:23

That’s why Christ died for you and me! Romans 5:8   1 Cor 15

So if you believe in Jesus Romans 10:9 and repent (turn away from sin) Acts 3:19 and choose to FOLLOW Jesus in this life Luke 9:23

…then Heaven will be FOR REAL for you. The crystal sea. The GLORY of God. No more pain, sorrows, sickness, tears. Spending eternity worshipping Him who made it even possible.

If this is a new concept to you or something you’ve never thought about, click on those verses. Check them out. Feel free to message me if you’d like to talk further.

olafsummer

When life gets rough, I like to hold on to my dream

Relaxing in the summer sun, just lettin’ off steam

Oh the sky would be blue, and you guys’ll be there too

When I finally do what frozen things do in summerrrrrrr!

Fixer-Upper

Is it the clumpy way he walks?

Or the grumpy way he talks?

Or the pear-shaped, square-shaped weirdness of his feet?

 

And though we know he washes well – he always ends up sort of smelly.

But you’ll never meet a fellow who’s as

Sensitive and sweet!

So he’s a bit of a fixer-upper,So he’s got a few flaws…

 fixerkristof

Are you singing yet? If you’re not, then you obviously haven’t seen “Frozen” yet. And my goodness, why in the world NOT? 🙂 If you have kiddos under 18 (or maybe even if you don’t), you may be like me and have seen it more times than you have fingers – in which case as a blogger, it’s bound to end up in a post. Here we go!

Believe it or not, this is a marriage post. I know, I know – I told you back in March that we were going to share a few things on the subject. And it’s still coming (starting now) ~ it’s been a bit of whirlwind around here.

Back in March my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and last month in April, my in-laws celebrated their 51st! WOW! It’s almost unheard of to see a couple make it to that milestone, and we are blessed that BOTH of our parents have made it and crossed over it!  The premise of these marriage posts is the anticipation of Kevin and my 20th anniversary THIS MONTH! Now, if I tell you it’s been all rainbows and butterflies and unicorns I’d be straying from the truth. None of the three of us couples may be writing the “Stellar Marriage Book” anytime soon – and largely because we are married to a “fixer upper”. 😉

Is it the way that he runs scared?

Or that he’s socially impaired?

Or that he only likes to tinkle in the woods?

 frozenannasparkle

He he! I’m sure we could all write some verses about our spouse. I’ll spare you mine – ha! It’s no doubt that you’re married to a “fixer upper” too. How do I know that? Well, Jesus was the ONLY ONE who walked this earth and was perfect.

So what do you do if your guy’s got a couple of bugs or your gal’s brain’s a bit betwixt? 

frozenkristofanna

Keep listening…

You can fix this fixer-upper up with a little bit of love!

We’re not sayin’ you can change him,‘cause people don’t really change*.We’re only saying that love’s a force that’s powerful and strange.

People make bad choices if they’re mad,or scared, or stressed.

Throw a little love their way.

Throw a little love their way.

And you’ll bring out their best.

The thing is, we look at our fixer-upper and think – there’s nothing that can fix that fixer-upper.   We think the grass is greener…. When the truth is:

grassgreener

I have been there. And to fix a fixer-upper one way to start is to:

LOVE – If she’s grouchy in the morning, love her anyway. If the honey-do list gets ignored – love him anyway. If you can’t decide on what movie to watch, what color to paint the kitchen or where to take vacation – love ‘em anyway. If they work too many hours, or if they don’t work enough hours, love ‘em anyway. Love covers a multitude of sins (offenses, shortcomings, failures…). 1 Pet. 4:8

PRAY – if you think you can’t make it another day, pray. If you think you don’t even love them anymore, pray. If he’s disinterested or she’s distracted, pray. If life is busy with the kids, school, work, church, activities… pray. If he’s annoying or she’s a-naggin’, pray. (Real talk.)

SEEK – if it’s that bad – seek help (especially if any sort of abuse is involved). In other situations, seek counsel – your pastor, a counselor, a godly older couple. MARRIAGE IS HARD. You are NOT ALONE! Seek the help you need, it is worth it. God CAN heal, save and restore.

When all these things happen to you—the blessings and curses I have set before you—and you come to your senses while you are in all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and all your soul by doingeverything I am giving you today, then He will restore your fortunes,have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.Even if your exiles are at the ends of the earth, He will gather you and bring you back from there. Deut. 30:1-4

So he’s a bit of a fixer-upper,but this we’re certain of
: you can fix this fixer-upper up with a little bit of love!

kristofanna

 

PS – *People can and do change, especially when God is the One doing the changing :).

We Live Here

houseOur house is for sale. If you didn’t know, we are mooooooving :).   We have had the house for sale by owner for a while now, have it listed on Zillow etc. and are going to list with a realtor soon if it doesn’t sell.   We have had a lot of traffic the past month or two, especially considering that it is FSBO.   But, a lot of traffic means a lot of cleaning. When you’re showing your house to a potential buyer, you don’t just clean it… it needs to look as if you don’t live there. Like a magazine.

One week, we were showing the house on a Friday evening and that evening got a call that a realtor wanted to show it the next morning! YES! It was already clean so this was a win! I may or may not have told the kids, “Like – don’t even sleep in your beds.” I was kidding. Sort of. 🙂

But the truth of the matter is we live here. We typically don’t make our beds (*GASP). Our sink usually has at least a few dishes sitting there. We have dogs (enough said). We have SHOES. We have dirty laundry. We smudge the glass doors.   We have crumbs. We have HAIR in the bathroom! UGH! And even when we do our weekly chores, there’s still some of all of that – which is okay on a typical day – but not a house-showing day.

I wonder if sometimes we do that as Christians.   When we go to church or going to be with our Christian friends. We get magazine ready – maybe not model, actor type ready, but we hide the crumbs, we dust the end tables of our lives, we wipe away the smudges – albeit temporarily. We wear the clean clothes, put away the dishes. We may not let anyone know that we have hair on the bathroom floor of our hearts. We put on a front, hide the imperfections and certainly don’t share that we have dirty laundry.

But the truth of the matter is we live here. We live here on this planet and until we reach heaven, we are going to have smudges, hair and imperfections. We have sin, faults, and failures. We do not have it all together. No, not even that one that you see week after week – she doesn’t either.

There’s no house showing for us as believers. In fact, we’re not supposed to worry about the outside of our cup looking clean when the inside is struggling, dirty, depressed, wretched, far from God. (Matt 23:25-26) If you’re around a group of believers and there’s not a culture of real or of “we live here” than be the first one. Take the risk and share. Yes, it will be uncomfortable. Yes, you may (will probably) get weird looks. And then, the walls come down and another has an open door to share. And another. And another. Next thing you know you have a culture of “we live here.” Of authenticity. A safe place where burdens can be shared together, struggles can be lifted up in unity and support and God can move in and through community.

We don’t need a Savior because we have it all together. We need a Savior because we are imperfect, we mess up, we struggle. We are desperate for Him. That is why God sent us His Son… and why He gave us each other. We need more real. We need more authenticity. We need more “we live here.”

When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Mark 2:17

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. Phil. 3:12

Follow (February #OneWord365 Update)

I was a little hesitant when I chose, or rather when God impressed upon my heart (ahem, keep it spiritual :p), the word FOLLOW (and here) for 2014.   It felt a little cliché.  A bit kum-by-ya-ish. A little ordinary. But let me tell ya’, God has been In. Ma. Face. with tHis word (not a typo).  Some of us are, ok I’m a little slow… or a little hard-headed… or a bit distracted.   And it’s not what I thought, so far, it’s so much more.

We’re reading Matthew with our church’s one-year New Testament reading plan.   And, well, the follow theme is pretty prevalent here.

In chapter 4 v. 19-20, Jesus calls Simon (Peter) and Andrew and tells them to follow him.  And they did, immediately. When Jesus calls, follow.

In fact, a lot of what we read in Matthew can be summed up with the word follow – even if that word isn’t specified:

Follow Him in prayer. 6:9-13

Follow His example in forgiveness. 6:12

Follow instead of worrying. 6:25

Seek Him, keep asking, keep searching, keep knocking and you will find Him so you can follow. 6:33, 7:7-8

Matthew followed, will I? 9:9

And the humdinger… “Whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. 10:38 *Owie.

The story of Peter walking on the water – keep your EYES on Him to follow Him – 14:27-31

Humdinger’s cousin… “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me. 16:24

Follow in faith. 17:20-21

And if that wasn’t enough… Jesus Calling has also been relentless.  Getting a little too close for comfort really.

January 12th – “I will not show you what is on the road ahead, but I will thoroughly equip you for the journey.  My living Presence is your Companion each step of the way.  Stay in continual communication with Me, whispering My Name whenever you need to redirect your thoughts.  Thus, you can walk through this day with your focus on Me.  My abiding Presence is the best road map available.”  This has follow written all over it. In uncertainty, follow in His Name. Focus. 

January 18th“I am leading you along the high road, but there are descents as well as ascents.  In the distance you see snow-covered peaks glistening in brilliant sunlight. Your longing to reach those peaks is good, but you must not take shortcuts.  Your assignment is to follow Me, allowing Me to direct your path.  Let the heights beckon you onward, but stay close to Me.”   Yes.  This.

And if I wasn’t getting it the other days, Feb. 1st“Follow Me one step at a time.  That is all I require of you.  In fact, that is the only way to move through this space/time world.  You see huge mountains looming, and you start wondering how you’re going to scale those heights.  Meanwhile, because you’re not looking where you’re going, you stumble on the easy path where I am leading you now… You don’t know what will happen today, much less tomorrow. Our path may take an abrupt turn, leading you away from those mountains…” Follow in the here and now, one step at a time.

(Have you bought Jesus Calling yet?  What are you waiting for???  Get the app by clicking on the link or stop by the Christian Book Store in Findlay (if you’re local) or buy one on Amazon…  Do it.)

It’s almost obnoxious, at this point, but I’m studying Gideon, with teaching from the lovely Priscilla Shirer, in the Ladies’ Bible Study at church and yes – He’s nailing me here too.   For the sake of time and due to the length of my ramblings thus far, I’ll just share just two quotes.  First from Day 2 of Week 2: “Today’s tasks – even the most mundane of them – are often preparation for tomorrow’s calling… God is teaching you faithfulness, diligence and integrity through every task.”  And from Day 5 of week 2: “Wherever you are now is where you are meant to serve now.“  Follow in the ordinary and the mundane.  Follow faithfully and savor Him in the now. Follow today so you’ll be ready for tomorrow.

I don’t know what I expected when “follow” became my 2014 word, like some big follow calling?  Some giant mission? One great directive?  Nope, that’s not what He’s showing me so far.  It’s a lot less WA-BAM and whole lot more still small voice saying: I love you.  Follow close to me, I won’t steer you wrong.  Follow Me today. At home.  In the workplace. At church, at the kids’ sports games, in the neighborhood. Follow daily, moment by moment, breath by breath. Follow.

Rented

In preparation for what’s next (I know, I know – I promised it’s coming and it still is… just waiting for some t’s to be crossed and some i’s dotted :)), God graciously allowed us to sell our vehicles.  Some friends have let us borrow their car until ours will be ready next week.   I have felt so blessed and thankful to them and to God for providing wheels for this transition time.  Sometimes I will be driving and just praise God and thank Him for the use of this vehicle… and it dawned on me.  Even if I owned the vehicle, shouldn’t I be praising and thanking God for it?  Isn’t everything we have just “rented” or on loan from God.   Nothing is our own.

Everything.  Every car, house, every cart full of groceries.  Our kids.  Our education.  Our jobs. Our pleasures.  Even our purpose and callings in life – all a GIFT from God.

So what are we going to do with our gifts from God?

Be Thankful:  Turn up the music and PRAISE God (or if that’s not your style, sit quiet before Him and thank the One from whom all good gifts come from).  Shoot – we have more than 10,000 Reasons to PrAiSe Him!! Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2 Stay alert, be intentional, be thankful.

Be Generous:  What we have is not our own.  It’s on loan from God.  We can deceive ourselves into thinking we earned it by working a job, saving money etc. – but ultimately everything we have is from God Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.  James 1:17  If that is the case,  we shouldn’t be hoarders.  We should be givers.  The One who provided for you did so, so you can be generous.   Now the One who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many acts of thanksgiving to God. They will glorify God for your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with others through the proof provided by this service. And they will have deep affection for you in their prayers on your behalf because of the surpassing grace of God in you.  Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift. 2 Cor 9:10-15.

 Use it for God’s Glory: 1 Cor 6:19-20 says that we “are not our own” and “therefore we should glorify God”. He is speaking specifically about our bodies here (which are in fact, on loan from or rented from God), but the same principles apply.   Paul shines more light on this in 1 Cor. 10:31 when he says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.”   Every generous act and every generous gift are from God (James 1:17).  Don’t you want to be used by God?   At the end of the “day” I want to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.”  Matt 25:21.  I want to use my time, my treasures and any talent He has given (rented to) me for His glory.

 2 Cor. 9 paints the perfect summary: God gives to us.  We use what He gives to be generous to others.  People are thankful.  God is glorified.  Repeat.  It’s a cycle really, do you see it?   It’s a cycle I want to be a part of.   Because after all, all we have is just rented from God anyways.

LOVE

You’ve heard it read at weddings.  You gloss over it when reading in the New Testament because of its blaring familiarity.  The LOOOOOVVVEEEE chapter.  In fact, you may stop reading now, because you know it.   1 Cor. 13.love

All that aside, let’s take a fresh look at these verses.  Forget about romantic love.  Forget (for the time being) about marital love.  Forget about parental love or amicable love.   Read these verses, look deep inside yourself and examine your own heart, and I will mine.  Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you fall on the “love-ometer.”  I fall short.  Too short.  So I pray as I study these verses that they will touch me anew.  And help me LOVE well.  And I’m praying for you as you read this. I’d love to hear what sticks out to you as you read this with expectancy.

If I speak human or angelic languages

but do not have love,

I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy

and understand all mysteries

and all knowledge,

and if I have all faith

so that I can move mountains

but do not have love, I am nothing.

And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor,

and if I give my body in order to boast

but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.

Love does not envy,

is not boastful, is not conceited,

does not act improperly,

is not selfish, is not provoked,

and does not keep a record of wrongs.

Love finds no joy in unrighteousness

but rejoices in the truth.

It bears all things, believes all things,

hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends..

Now these three remain:

faith, hope, and love.

But the greatest of these is love.

1 Cor. 13:1-8a, 13

Feel free to share your thoughts as you read this in the comments section.  What sticks out to you?   ❤ K