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"Consider How the Lillies Grow" (Part 2)

>> 6.27.2011

While we're on the subject of Christ considering the lilies growing, as I've been thinking a lot about God taking care of my needs, I can not help but move past myself and think about all the needs of those who are "helpless"-- the orphaned, widowed, fatherless...God says in James chapter 1 verse 27, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in heir distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Whew!  Read that again.  And again.  And then go read from James 1:22- 27.  Should I quote it all for you?  Probably.  Here we go:

"Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does NOT do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and...goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has head, but doing it -- he will be blessed in what he does.  If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless." (through verse 26, reread verse 27 above, it won't hurt to do it again!)

WOW.  I mean, really, if we just studied those verses alone for a month, we STILL wouldn't be getting it all right.  You know?  So today, as I consider Christ considering the lilies growing and considering ME (and YOU, and ALL the world) even more than they, I thought about two people  that are part of my group of heroes.  I'd like to introduce them to you today.  They are part of the group of heroes that are considering orphans and widows and helping to take care of them -- in some fun and unique ways.

Person One (in no particular order=): My mom.  Lois is her name.  A couple of years ago, my mom was in a transition period out of a ministry she'd been highly involved with and was praying for direction as to what God might want her to do next.  After being introduced to the book Not For Sale (by David Batstone, founder of the organization http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/), God lit a little fire in her heart that desired to "do something" to help with this horrible human tragedy of human trafficking.  Mom didn't just want to do anything, though, she wanted it to be personal, for her to be able to see the difference she was making for herself.  Through a series of events that only God could orchestrate, my mom was introduced to a wonderful man of God who is sharing the gospel in an area of the world too dangerous to mention specifically.  He trains men who don't even have Bibles to go back to their villages and teach others about God.  He also had started an orphanage for girls.  Through broken language barriers and with much hesitation, so as not to offend the man, my mom was given the opportunity to ask if the girls in his orphanage would be a part of sex trafficking if it were not for his orphanage. The answer?  A resounding, "YES!"  He and his staff share the love of Christ with these girls and are dedicated to raising them in the absence of their families.  My mom saw all her previous "dots" connected as she saw God guiding her to where her efforts should be directed and, thus was birthed her own small business, "Beads to Bless".  Lois creates hand-crafted jewelry and other items and uses the proceeds from this business to go directly towards the orphanage.  So far, with the proceeds from just this year, the orphanage has been able to build a new facility outside of the busy city that can house the girls more comfortably and allow them space to play like children should.  Mom is currently looking to expand her business through using various medias (Internet being one) and as soon as she does, I will give you all an update and post her website!  Below are some examples of her work using Kazuri and paper beads, both fair trade beads made in Africa. (Warning: these pictures are a bit underexposed -- I just wanted to get them up and not fuss with fixing them!)  If you're interested in finding out more about the story of Beads to Bless or to "shop" for Lois' jewelery, you can contact her at beadstobless@yahoo.com.

Person Two: Heidi Ziebarth.  This is a young lady that lives in my town.  I've never met her, but I've been touched by her life just the same.  I'll let her tell you about herself in her own words taken from her blog.

My name is Heidi Ziebarth, and I am a 11 year old currently going to Harrison Elementary. My mom and I have initiated a recycling project called Africrans by Amerikids. We make the crayons out of old crayons that we collected from the 7 elementary schools in Warsaw, Indiana. (With the added crayons from 2 schools sent to us by the KC Recycling Center)What my mom and I basically do is melt the crayons down, package them, and sell them. We give half of the profits to the Village of Hopeadult's fee to go to college, but have no money left over to pay for food. So while they have a education, they are basically starving.

You can reach us if you would like to donate or buy crayons, or if you would like to help out, go to africrans@yahoo.com

Below is a picture of my (wonderful) children unwrapping crayons to donate to Heidi's business.

I encourage you to GET INVOLVED while you wait, and put feet to your "religion" by helping to take care of the orphans and widows God puts in your life.


"Consider How The Lillies Grow" (Part 1)

Luke 12:27-28 “Consider how the lilies grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field…how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!”

Consider: To think about seriously, to believe after deliberation, to look at thoughtfully.

What a road life has been these last few weeks!  When I last left you, I was in a hotel room with my family as my husband candidate for an associate pastor position.  Well, he was offered the job, we accepted with much eagerness, and now we’re in full swing of packing and getting all the details in order to move a family of six!  Quite the project, really.  But in the hustle and bustle we’ve been reading a book to our children from the wonderful ministry Lamplighter, called Challenge at Runaway Brooke.  Here is the exchange that took place between two characters that made this verse stick with me for the past several weeks.

“[Luke 12:27] is such a pretty verse,” said Sarah. “What made you think of it?”
“I do not know,” said Rosa, “unless it was working at the flowers.  I often think of it when I have flowers.  I like to remember that Christ used to notice and admire them when He walked in the fields.”
“Do you suppose he really did?” asked Kitty.
“Certainly,” said Rosa, “for he says so, and I believe every word He tells me.”

"And I believe every word He tells me"…do I?  Do you?  This interchange between two young girls in the story struck me in several ways.  First, to imagine Christ walking along talking with the disciples.  He had at first mentioned a raven and then the lilies—do you think that perhaps those were animals and flowers that He and His disciples were passing by?  It only makes sense…or perhaps our word “lilly” was used in place of a different kind of flower better known in that region of the world. (I didn’t take time to look that part up!)  But it really makes no difference here, for we can picture Christ enjoying creation.  Even in these early summertime days, I have not taken time to truly consider His creation.  Have you?

Second, Christ’s words are really quite powerful if we believe that every word He says is true ; that “not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.”  AND then the next part, “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field…how much more will he clothe you…?”  Is there something that you need right now?  I know there are many wants, but is there something that you truly need?  Maybe it’s not a material item, maybe it’s healing or comfort, maybe it’s rest and spiritual rejuvenation.  Whatever it is that you are lacking, do you believe Jesus Christ can provide that sufficiently for today?  I know I have used these words from Scripture and from this story to remind myself probably 10 times JUST TODAY that Christ is sufficient for ALL my needs, today.  (And He will be tomorrow, too, even if I have to remind myself 11, 12, or 20 times!)  Reminds me of a popular chorus from a few years back.

All of You, is more than enough for all of me,
for every thirst and every need.
You satisfy me with Your love,
And all I have in You is more than enough.

(Enough, words and music by Chris Tomlin and Louie Giglio)

I DO believe every word God says is true and therefore when I am tempted to worry instead of trusting in Him to supply my need, I need to confess that and turn and depend on Him.  That's the way He designed it to work!  And He promises to supply our need -- in HIS time (the PERFECT time, EVERY time.)
May God's hand of comfort and peace be with you today!


While we wait, Part 2 (Seminary "pause")

>> 6.10.2011

I'm writing this from an iPad, so please forgive any lack of proper writing format...

So if you have any experience leaving the work world to dive head-long into seminary (or any full-time schooling, really)you will relate to that time where all of a sudden you feel as if you'll be taking the next few (2? 4? 5? 6? Sigh...)years off of life. It's the feeling several of my fellow (former) sem-wives called a "pause", or my favorite: a "parenthases". When reflecting on this feeling a little further, however, we realized that this time in our lives was anything BUT a "pause", but rather a continuation of what God had for us to shape our lives and hearts the way in which He wanted. God did not intent for us to "pause" or to just sit back and relax (ok, relax? maybe not. edit our husband's papers? maybe). No, He intended for us to MINISTER while we waited, as He intends all of us to serve no matter WHAT time of life we are in.

As hard as it can be to get involved in people's lives, to invest in relationships for the purpose of glorifying God while in a time where you may anticipate moving once again in just a short time, God built us for relationship and digging deep. Opening yourself vulnerably is the way we can allow others to speak to us and one way we can affect other'S lives as well. How thankful I am, sitting here now in a hotel room on a candidating weekend, to know that I invested in others' lives and allowed them to invest in mine as we ministered to each other, our kids, our spouses, and our local church families, and didn't choose to just "pause" while I waited on hold. If you are in a time of uncertainty, don't use that as an excuse to check out of serving others. Sure, there are those occasional times where healing and a little bit of "pausing" is necessary, but sometimes the way God wants to heal us is through us looking outward to those who need Him just as much as we do.

I sure am excited to get back into a "normal" life (whatever that is!) but I have learned so much and grown so much from the relationships He provided over these last (sometimes very long feeling) four years, that I cringe to think I could have missed it all had I chosen to check out and truly "pause". Embrace the situations and journey God has for you and don't wish them away. Allow God to work through you in those times and joy will come when you see what fruit He produces in your life because you trust, love, and serve Him while you wait.


An Awesome Example

>> 6.08.2011

I wanted to blog about a family that has been an incredible example to me of suffering a trial so unimaginable and yet leaning upon God in even their very difficult trial: meet Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth.  Yeah, yeah, I know you "know" them (just like I "know" them-- they're on my "people most wanted to meet in life before I pass" list=).  If you are not familiar with them, let me just give a small bio on them:  They met and fell in love in high school. (I've seen pics-- trust me as I say they are a great looking couple NOW, but even though very famous currently, they still have awful high school pics just like we all do!)  He went on to become this famous singer and have an amazingly beautiful wonderful family.  After they were "done" having their own biological children, through a maze of detail which only God can orchestrate, they began adopting and ended up with three beautiful adopted children from China.  They began an amazing organization (am I saying "amazing" too much?  Really, I can't say that enough in this case.) called Show Hope which helps in all avenues related to orphan care and adoption.  Together, SCC and Mary Beth had six children and were making and incredible impact on the entire world for Christ and growing His kingdom through helping to raise awareness of the desperate need for people to open their hearts to Christ -- AND to orphan care.  (All this with a minor "side" of being an highly sought-after and world-wide Christian music artist-- well, anyway, in my very humble opinion the music was just a "side" for a greater work.)

(This picture taken from the People magazine article http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20201819,00.html)

On May 21, 2008 the most unthinkable thing happened: a tragic accident took the life of their youngest girl Maria Sue.  Even writing this stops my breath and I can not even begin to imagine what that must have been like, and continues to be like day in and day out. Last fall my husband and I had the awesome privilege of seeing SCC and his wife in concert-- WOW, what realness, what vulnerability, what incredible FAITH!!!!  Though they have been struck by incredible sadness and tragedy, they have chosen to let God take it and do a work in them and they continue to walk this road the Lord has chosen for them and glorify God through it all. 

I walked away blessed by some music for sure-- but the greater work remains turning over and over and over again in my mind as just about not a week goes by when I ask myself: Do I have that kind of faith?  Faith that says "You are God.  You can be trusted NO MATTER WHAT You bring into my life."  What would I really do, what would I really say about God, should He choose to bring tragedy of this scale into MY life?  I mean, really, right now it's about all I can do to trust that He'll provide the money we need for our monthly bills!  No, instead SCC and Mary Beth have chosen to say "You are faithful." and even  "You are GOOD."  May God grant the Chapman family blessings upon blessings for being in the place like Job and choosing to remain faithful to Him when it would have been so easy to just turn their faces...

If you have any resources to purchase SCCs album released after the death of Maria Sue, PLEASE DO SO!  You will be so blessed when the trials of your own life can be viewed through the music that rests upon the Truth of Scripture and that gives us the ONLY True perspective that God is God and He remains in control of our lives and what He does in us is GOOD, all. the. time.  Below, you will find a few of the lyrics from two of the songs on the CD "Beauty Will Rise" (From Title Track "Beauty Will Rise" and "You are Faithful".

Out of these ashes... beauty will rise
and we will dance among the ruins
We will see Him with our own eyes
Out of these ashes... beauty will rise
For we know, joy is coming in the morning...
in the morning, beauty will rise

Though I cannot have the answer
that I'm wanting to demand,
I'll remember You are God
and everything is in Your hand.
In Your hands you hold the sun, the moon,
the stars up in the sky,
for the sake of Love, You hung Your own Son
on the cross...to die...
You are faithful!
When you give and when You take away,
even then still Your name
is faithful!
You are faithful!
And with everything inside of me,
I am choosing to believe You're faithful.

So faithful...


God's Design for Suffering

>> 6.04.2011

If you listen even a little to Christian radio, you are sure to have already heard the incredibly powerful latest release by Laura Story, “Blessings”.  I mustn’t continue with my thoughts until you read through a few lines of this wonderfully – timed song containing so much Truth.

We pray for blessings, We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things
Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plead
And long that we'd have faith to believe

When friends betray us, When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
One cannot escape from reading these words or listening to this precious truth-revealing song without pondering much on what GOD desires to make of our suffering (i.e. waiting).  It is clear that God designed us for living in a perfect world and it is not HIS desire that we wait for His return in suffering, but it is what SIN has done to this world.  Praise God He IS returning to set all things right and to redeem us unto Himself!...one. day. soon.

Hebrews 13:14 grounds us in this Truth saying, “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.” 


Verse 15, “Through Him, then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” (NASB)

In my next post I’m going to talk about an amazing family who has shown the world that through their terrible sufferings and waiting, they can still rest in the arms of the One Who loves them and Who will one. day. soon. bring them unto Himself to comfort them for eternity.


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