Vitamins… For Your Soul :)

Image

Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 10.14.14 AMVitamins. I’ve been a regular vitamin taker since 2011. I take a good quality, effective vitamin pack that includes a multi-vitamin with maximum mineral absorption (so much better than over-the-counter brands – and no this isn’t a commercial 😉 ), antioxidant support to fight off free-radicals, probiotic with 10 billion colonies of flora to fight off the bad bacteria and enhance overall digestive health and Omega 3 fish oils to support cardiovascular health and decrease inflammation. The great thing about these vitamins, is when I’m consistent with taking them daily, I. Do. Not. Get. Sick. I really don’t. I have energy. I feel GOOD! However when I don’t take them, I can feel myself start to get run down (life is busy!), start the beginnings of a cold or sore throat, and feel really tired (and with tired comes cranky, moody, irritable – you get the point). When that happens I get back on track and take my vitamins. I try to encourage my family to take them… but they don’t… and they get sick. I try to get my friends to take them but they insist on the over-the-counter stuff or other natural remedies… and still get sick.

This is the same thing that happens in my spiritual life, my relationship with God. To be healthy spiritually there’s things we can do – draw near to Him and He draws near to you (us) James 4:8. Just like my vitamins, it’s the basics… spend time in the Word (sword of the Spirit Eph. 6:17), pray and talk with (and listen to) my Savior (fervent prayer of a righteous person has great power James 5:16), fellowship with other believers (not staying away from worship meetings... Heb. 10:25) and pray for faith (take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one Eph. 6:16). And just like when I don’t take my physical vitamins, when I don’t take my spiritual vitamins I get grouchy, edgy and irritable. I may have a lack of faith or be anxious. Again, I try to encourage family and friends (and you reading this) to take their spiritual vitamins as well – so they won’t get sick. Taking these spiritual vitamins make us better equipped to fight off the bad bacteria, attack the free radicals that invade our lives, reduce the inflammations that rise up and encourage overall spiritual health.

Are you off track like I’ve been before in both my physical and spiritual vitamin routine? Are you worn down, on the verge or within the throws of sickness and germs? Start today. Take those vitamins. Not only will you be healthier spiritually, but the goal is to know Him (God)… (Phil 3:10) and glorify Him. These vitamins get you on that right track to know Him, for your spiritual health, for your relationship with God and equip you to walk in the purposes He has for your life.

Tear That Baby Down!

God is gracious to reveal idols to us. What is any idol?  “A picture or object that is worshipped as a god,” anything that takes priority before God.  It can be anything from food to work, your kids, entertainment, your hobbies (music, sports, hunting, fitness…), your new puppy (wait what?), politics, even serving, status or recognition.  Maybe for you it’s money, success, things?  Or contrarily it could be our struggles?  Maybe it’s social media, electronics, gadgets, gizmos and more? Could it even be your friends?

For me, God shows me when something is creeping into idolatry when:

  • It gets me all worked up
  • It is my main topic of conversation
  • It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up or keeps me up at night
  • It lures me from my quiet time with the Lord
  • I get all obsessed with it
When God shows us idols in our lives, our response should be:
Thankfulness – that He cares enough to show us when/if we have something that comes before Him because He desires an intimate, personal relationship with us – let that sink in… the Creator of the Universe wants a personal relationship with us! Wow.
Repentance – an urgency to tear down any idols and turn to God.  Confess what has been taking His place and ask for forgiveness and for Him to work in your life and heart to tear that baby down.
Renewal – that He will again be your first love. Spend time in worship and adoration of our loving Father and His Precious Son. Hold that idol in the light of a Holy God and focus on what really matters in this life. Place your attention and your energy into your relationship with the Lord, replacing the energy and attention that was put on the idol.
Nothing on that list above is bad in and of itself, but only one thing can have first place. What (or who) do you want to have first place in your life?
Nothing satisfies like a personal relationship with God.
For further study:
1 John 5:20-21
2 Kings 17:15
Isaiah 45:5
Matt. 6:33
Deut. 12:32-13:18

Photocred: klove

That Wasn’t In The Plan

That wasn’t in the plan. She had her eye on Joseph for a while, and well, he had his eye on her. Next thing they knew, things were coming together for the BIG DAY. The engagement was progressing right along and anticipation was building. Soon they would be husband and wife. I mean, it was almost as if they were married already, except for, well, you know. Engagement was a pretty big deal back then. Then the angel showed up. What the wha? That was freaky. And unexpected. And a little inconvenient. It could mess everything up. What would Joseph think?

That wasn’t in the plan. Things have finally settled down after the pregnancy scandal. Joseph was a rock for her – after the angel cleared things up for him. Ha! The “big day” took a back burner and baby-prep was in full swing. She was having a baby. Not just any baby, God’s Son. Jesus. Savior of the world. That was a lot to take in. But God’s Spirit gave her peace. And THEN they got the call. They had to go to Bethlehem! What the wha? Um, this wasn’t exactly very good timing!! Didn’t they know she was about to pop any day?!?

That wasn’t in the plan. Rolling with the punches, they finally made it to Bethlehem when she felt something. No. Certainly not what she thought it was. Yup, there was another one. Um, Joseph, “It’s time.” What the wha? The place was a madhouse, like New York City on New Year’s Eve! You couldn’t even book a room through Priceline if you wanted to. In desperation, Joseph relentlessly asked around for a place to stay. A place for his wife to rest… er, uh, give birth.

That wasn’t in the plan. Jesus was born. Such a sweet, perfect baby boy. They had lots of visitors. It all felt a little surreal. Time passed and word on the street, (or in dreams…) was it was time to hightail it outta there. Jesus was in danger. What the wha? Wasn’t He the King? Savior of the world? So off they went. To Egypt of all places. And finally back to Nazareth. What a ride!

Individually each circumstance seemed like it was throwing things off course, messing things up… that it wasn’t in the plan, or was it? Before He was ever born… This was all part of the plan.

*He was supposed to be born of a virgin. Isaiah 7:14

*He was supposed to be born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:1-2

*He was supposed to go to Egypt. Hosea 11:1

*He was supposed to be a Nazarene. Isaiah 11:1

Have you ever thought, “This wasn’t in the plan!”? Things were progressing along and then you got the call. Lost your job. A relationship went sour. Lost a child. An illness. An accident. Relocation. Major financial disruption. Fill in the blank. What the wha? It just doesn’t seem right. The Grubbies certainly thought that before… This wasn’t in the plan, or was it? Could what seems like bumps in the road, two steps back, hard blows actually be a part of a greater plan? Mary certainly didn’t anticipate the twists and turns her life took, but it was a part of the great plan. The redemptive plan. For His glory.  While it seems wrong at the time, so often you can look back and see, OH YEAH! God was up to something there!

When God says “all things work together for the good of those who love God,” (Rom. 8:28) we can trust that He has a plan. Just like Mary’s life was a part of the great redemptive plan since the beginning of the world. God has a plan and a purpose for where you are, your circumstances and life’s twists and turns. Trust. Have hope. Believe.

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved. We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He planned in Him for the administration of the days of fulfillment — to bring everything together in the Messiah, both things in heaven and things on earth in Him. We have also received an inheritance in Him, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will, so that we who had already put our hope in the Messiah might bring praise to His glory. When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14 HCSB)

Follow ~ a #OneWord365 October Update

Follow. That’s my 2014 #OneWord365.   Seemed easy enough ~ we had recently decided to rejoin a mission organization that we worked with.   Woohoo! We’ll sell everything. Head back to the overseas Mission Field.

We finally got notice that we were approved (by said Mission Organization) in February and shortly after that were asked to go down to the DR for the summer to help with the busy months with lots of short-term mission teams! God worked that out and we followed Him down there.

Not all went as planned while we were there, but regardless, we returned to the States ready to make preparations to get back ASAP. While we were gone the house sold. Our cars sold. Other than paying off some previous debt and raising support we were ready to go. Ready to follow Him anywhere He would lead.

And then the pause button was hit. When we got back to Ohio in early August, we had about 30-35% of promised support raised. Two months later, we have about 41%. Yes, praise the Lord for that ~ but we really thought we’d be further along by now. See, we planned on attending Language School in January for about 2 tri-mesters and then be ready to head back to the DR late 2015.

And here we are. Anything can happen between now and December, but if we keep rolling at this pace, we’re not going anywhere in January.   And the question becomes:

Are we wiling to FOLLOW, even if it doesn’t mean going (for now)?

Am I willing? Are we willing? Are our kids? We’ve made some drastic life changes to accommodate leaving ~ moved out of the school district, the kids started online school (to provide schooling continuity for the anticipated upcoming location changes), they have pulled out of sports/activities they enjoyed, we didn’t rent a new house, still selling e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g., I’m working full-time to get ahead financially, Kevin’s working (almost full-time) AND having support meetings… and on and on. We’re doing what needs to be done on our end according to the plan.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Prov. 16:9 Yes – yes He does.

Are we willing to trust that “As heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts”? (Isaiah 55:8)

James packs a punch at the end chapter 4: “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring — what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.“ So if we say/”boast” that we’re heading to Costa Rica in January for Language School and then the Dominican after that…we are boasting in our arrogance? Yikes! The truth is we don’t know what’s up. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. And so we’re left with if the Lord wills…   Which, of course, is a fabulous place to start.

We will follow.  In the word of Chris Tomlin:

Where you go, I’ll go

Where you stay, I’ll stay

When you move, I’ll move

I will follow…

Follow seemed like a great word. Totally doable. Follow Christ’s lead to the ends of the earth. Yes! Here we are, send US! But what about when follow means stay.  When follow doesn’t go according to ‘plan’. When follow takes longer than you thought. When follow isn’t clear… It is not so cut and dry. Not so black and white. Not so easy.

Jen Hatmaker knew this struggle well when God had her and her husband leave the church they were serving in without a plan of what was next. In her book, “Interrupted”, when faced with questions of who, what, where, when, WHY ~ she says, “Why does it matter? It is not your responsibility to explain what God is doing with your life. He has not provided enough information to figure it out. Instead, you are asked to turn loose and LET GOD BE GOD. Therein lies the secret to the ‘peace that transcends understanding.’”

Right now follow means trust. Trust today. Follow today. He determines our steps. His ways are higher than ours. His timing, sovereign. And as the Lord wills, we will follow Him through it all.

Joey’s “Belt” Prayer

beltWhen our cute, little, 4-year-old-preschooler needed a belt, he mentioned it to us a few times over the course of a few days. He did need a belt. His pants were falling down his skinny little frame. However, being the stellar parents that we are ~ we pretty much never remembered it while we were at the store. Until one night he prayed. He prayed with the sweetest intensity, taking his ‘need of a new belt’ to the Father in heaven who lovingly hears our prayers. My ears perked and I knew in my heart what I needed to do. 9pm Walmart run.

The next morning, as Joey foggily woke up, rubbing his eyes, he noticed something on his bed. Not a toy he had left out or yesterday’s clothes, something different. Something new.   A belt. The belt he had prayed for.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Matt. 7:11

“Mom! Did you see this?!?” he asked excitedly! “GOD ANSWERED MY PRAYER! He gave me a BELT!”

I didn’t disagree with him. God had provided the belt for him. Our girlies, being a little bit older (and a bit more skeptical) asked quietly away from their brother, “Mom, did you get the belt?!? How did this belt get here? You got this for him, didn’t you?” I simply replied that God had provided the belt for him.

It was true. God provided the belt for Joey that night, but He used his people to do it. No, God doesn’t answer every request in a Santa Claus like response, but He does often use His children to meet those needs, answer those requests.

In July, we arrived in Tampa, FL after being in the Dominican Republic for 6/8 weeks. After we landed, we had to print our closing papers, sign them, get them notarized and overnighted by 5pm. That was a little crazy, but we got ‘er done!   Then, the next morning we got an email with instructions on how to wire the money due at closing. Wait, what? We weren’t supposed to owe anything at closing, but with how the timing of insurance/tax/escrows worked out, we ended up owing at closing. And we just finished up 2 months of mission work, NOT working, no income outside of the support to get us to the DR. So we gathered as a family and we prayed. And God used one of His kiddos to help us with that need at the time.

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19

Once we got back to Ohio and had to pack up our house in two days after being gone for two months, we had a last minute change to our living arrangements… and we were to move out the next day. So we gathered as a family to pray. And God used one of His kiddos to meet that need.

I called to the Lord in my distress, and I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached His ears. Psalm 18:6

After a few weeks in our new place, I had some really bad Chikungunya days (ongoing joint pain). I cried out to the Lord, “I don’t know if I can do this.” And by cried out I mean crying… real tears. Although very thankful for the Lord providing this place for us to stay, we were living in a basement and everything else in the house was upstairs (bathroom, kitchen…), and stairs can be a challenge when your joints (knees, ankles, wrists, elbows, fingers) hurt :(.  A few days later we got a phone call. One of God’s kiddos had been praying and the Lord impressed on her heart to offer their house for us to use until we go to Language School. Wait, what? We had prayed, and He used His children to answer that prayer.

Even before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24

These examples are all of prayers we’ve prayed and how God used His children to meet a need in our lives, and that is amazing. But it is also incredible when God impresses something on our hearts and used us to meet a need/provide encouragement/answer a prayer in someone else’s life.

As a missionary, it is humbling and an honor when people “show faithfulness” to the Lord by letting Him use them to be a blessing. The housing, the “loan”, the missionary vehicle, the prayers, the support… John summed it up best:

Dear friend, you are showing faithfulness by whatever you do for the brothers, especially when they are strangers. They have testified to your love in front of the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God, since they set out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from pagans. Therefore, we ought to support such men so that we can be coworkers with the truth. 3 John 5-8

Broken Surrender

I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Gal. 2:19-20

Have you ever faced any resistance when taking a step to do something in obedience to the Lord? Maybe when you committed to be baptized, to join a Bible study group to grow in your relationship with Christ, or even to begin tithing? Ever experience any opposition when you are preparing to take a mission trip/planning an outreach event/or committing to disciple someone?

Any time we step out in faith to do what God has called us to, there is sacrifice. There is inconvenience. There is opposition. There is heartache, pain, blood/sweat/tears. Anytime you invest in the kingdom, there is a juxtaposition (one comes with the other) of Gal. 2:19-20 in our lives. Anything we surrender comes at a cost ~ just like Christ’s sacrifice for our redemption came at a cost. He was crucified so we could live, so we could have a bridge to the Father, so we could be saved. So we would have hope.

And it is worth it.

Something beautiful is born because of something being broken.

In Jen Hatmaker’s book, “Interrupted,” she put it this way: “Mercy has a cost: someone must be broken for someone else to be fed. The sermon that changed your life? That messenger was poured out so you could hear it. The friends who stood in the gap during your crisis? They embraced some sacrifice of brokenness for your healing. Anytime you say, “That fed me, that nourished me,” someone was the broken bread for your fulfillment.”

Funny, the same day our fam read/studied Galatians 2, I read this section from Jen’s book… and this quote from my YouVersion devotional plan, “My Utmost For His Highest” based on Gal. 2:19-20: “If you are faced with the question of whether or not to surrender, make a determination to go on through the crisis, surrendering all that you have and all that you are to Him. And God will then equip you to do all that He requires of you.

Surrender. Be broken. See Christ alive and working (in you, in others, for His kingdom, for His glory).

I can honestly tell you that over the 13 years of full-time ministry, I have repeatedly cried out to the Lord and asked if it was worth it.   And every time, in His precious mercy, He faithfully showed me how He was working ~ through the brokenness, through the heartache, through the difficulties, through the inconveniences, through the impossibilities.  That somehow through surrender and brokenness, Christ’s mission is accomplished. Someone comes to know Him. Someone is encouraged and strengthened by His word. Someone moves from darkness into the light. Someone is physically helped or blessed. Someone surrenders his or her life to Him.  Someone has hope. 

And that’s what it’s all about. And that’s what keeps us going.   And that’s what makes it worth it.

Crucified with Christ, so that I no longer live, but Christ lives in/through me. Christ’s sacrifice/brokenness for my redemption. My surrender for Christ’s purpose/mission.   God will equip. He gives the strength. He will bless.

I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Gal. 2:19-20

Home…

photoMonday ventured back ‘home’.   Well, we returned to what was our home for the past 8.5 years, but when we got here it actually was not our home as we closed on the sale of it on the 31st. We caught 2 sleeps there and then were off to our next ‘temporary home.’ Technically, we slept in a stranger’s home those 2 nights… CREEPY 🙂. Just kidding.

Sometimes the word ‘home’ confounds us a little. A lot of people experience this disassociation from the word ‘home:’

Missionaries who leave the country they serve in (home) to return to their homeland (home)

Military families who are not in one place for any long stretch of time

Marathon families (right, Findlay, OH?) or other families that move a lot for work

Many others who lose a house to a natural disaster, fire or even foreclosure

Life has redefined ‘home’ to me over the years. Having grown up in a very traditional family where we went to the same school, same church, same house etc., my life and that of my kiddos looks very different. They have been in five homes so far, plus our home of the past two months ~ six. And are about to be in #7 here shortly which is a temporary hop until we get back to the mission field (to find #8) (with a stint at language school so technically that will be #8, HA!). We have traveled many miles, stayed in people’s homes and hotels along the way and even with all of that get up and go, home is wherever we are.

The five of us. Our family. The roof looks different. The walls have distinctive colors. The climate varies… but (cliché) home is where the heart is. Take a look at our Nala girl. Since our move didn’t take us very far from our previous house, she followed us back and forth. She really didn’t care which house we stayed at, as long as she was with us. Home is where we are together.

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago, but since I’m just now getting around to posting it, I’ll add the insight that our missionary partner/friend, Erica Jude, posted on Facebook a couple of weeks ago… Home is where Jesus sends me. This is so true. Please don’t be offended that we feel a little “eh” being here ~ because it’s not that we don’t love our family/friends here ~ it’s because we want to go where God is sending us. And we’re ready (just waiting on that support thangggg 🙂 ).

Finally, THIS WORLD is not our home. We have a home awaiting us in heaven one day as we have trusted CHRIST as our Savior. In the meantime, may we be faithful on these temporary home-stops along the way.

“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.  And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.”  Hebrews 13:14-16