Sunday, February 21, 2010
This is Matt and I enjoying some broth and juice at a place in town called "Super Salads". This place was one of the few places Matt and I went on dates for our fast. Caroline wanted a bowl of soup also (so, this wasn't actually a date, all the kids were with us!) However, when her soup came she was extremely angry because she wanted it "like Mommy's" aka, with nothing in it!! So, I strained all the yummy looking chicken and avacado and veggies out of her soup so it could be like mine and just thought it was funny that she wanted what was the "empty" version of the soup instead of the "full" version, just because that was what she saw me doing. I pray that our kids see abundant life in Christ in Matt and I and that they grow to want that, never settling for the "empty" version of Christianity that the world settles for. I want our kids to grow up knowing that fasting, giving to the poor, seeing people healed and worship are normal parts of an abundant life for any believer, not just things that a few radicals do.
I was able to spend lots of time alone with God this day, which was a nice blessing before the end of our time. I am so aware these days of the power of my thought life. As I read and pray I am realizing to a deeper level how the answer to a contented life lies in the mind. I have always struggled with trying to stay focused on positive thoughts, but more than ever I really want, actually really NEED to have a mind defined by Phillipians 4:8. That only that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy would occupy time and space in my mind. I want to be continually transformed by the renewing of my mind. I want to have the mind of Christ. Oh, what an awesome thing that would be. That is my prayer today.
Cami enjoying a ball of raw cookie dough, her special request
The very tempting cake balls!!
Cameron is the biggest sweet tooth in our house. She could eat sweets, desserts and candy 24 hours a day. (And tries to.) So, we had several sweet options at her birthday party this year, one of those being "cake balls". I saw this recipe and thought they looked pretty. You can be sure the entire time it took to make them I kept thinking, "Why in the world am I doing this?" They seemed to be the most delicious looking thing ever - so Matt and I put back a few with the intentions of eating them on my birthday (Sun) which is our first "free" day after the fast!
Cami had just turned 1 year old when we moved here to Monterrey. She will always remember her childhood growing up here on the B2B campus with fondness, we have a special living environment here and God has really blessed our family. We look forward to continuing to watch him care for our children! Just for fun, here is a picture of her 2nd birthday. We celebrated at Dairy Queen here in MTY.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
I have a lady who helps me in the house a few days a week. She will help me clean, cook, do laundry, ..... Well, she had surgery last week so she's been home recovering. That to say I've been doing all the cooking now for 2 weeks and my house looks like a pig sty. I have had many thoughts of feeling sorry for myself that I am constantly in front of large amounts of food, but then again if I can continue on despite my circumstances then God is showing His strength in me, which is exactly what I want! My husband has actually acused me (joking of course!) that I'm cooking better now than I was when we could actually eat dinner. Surely it's just that fettucini alfredo has never looked better than after 35 days of juice! We've passed through 2 of our children's birthdays, friends birthdays, staff parties, valentine's day, a chili dinner - and we've denied ourselves at every hour. I almost am sad to be coming to the end. Not that I don't want to eat (I have known now for weeks that pizza is the food I miss the most!!!) but I don't want to go back to any form of an over-indulgent lifestyle. I want to keep desperately looking for time to spend with God. I want to keep calling on God for extraordinary and incredible manifestations of His power and goodness. I want to continue hunger after God as though I would die without Him. Even as I write this I feel God's encouragement to me that He has heard my heart and that He will give me passion for Him so that I can live out 2010 in His will. That's it then, all I need! Press on in your own walks friends!!
Monday, February 15, 2010
Praying with Hope and 3 ladies from Ohio.
These pics are from a Sat. outreach at Meme's Rio. I was excited to be able to return as I haven't been back to pray in several weeks. It was a blessing to be able to pray with Hope and 3 women from a visiting group as we walked the trash strewn road. I truly believe in my heart that God is warring on behalf of the poor who live in this neighborhood and that He wants to bring liberation to each soul. I was incredibly cold as we spent the day, but I was very aware of the fact that I would be going home where I could take a hot shower or cover up in warm blankets on the couch. These people, however, were home. There was no warm water, let alone hot water. There were very few blankets, no couches, no reprieve from the cold, no escape from the wind, no way to avoid the harsh reality of living amidst hunger, endless trash, ragged dogs, animal feces, and the putrid smell of chemicals that a local factory dumps into the river behind these shacks. Yet, even with all of these physical reminders of poverty, the true need is for the spiritual poverty in an area where people turn to false gods for answers and security. Yet we know that the enemy is a deceiver and that his only goals are to steal, kill and destroy. Join us as we continue to pray for the holds of darkness to be broken over this poor neighborhood and that the people who live there would have eyes to see the true love and provision of the Savior Jesus.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Today Caleb and Caroline had a Valentine's Day party at school and I was asked to bring something to share. I don't know if people go overboard in the states like they do here, but I always bring something little and all the other Mom's bring elaborate things. Like, a mom might print up little baggies with her kids name on it and fill it with goodies for every kid in class - like, every time they have party, for any random reason. So, I made cut-out cookies in heart shapes, but when I finished the cookie dough I was so incredibly tempted to lick out the bowl that I literally threw it across the kitchen into the sink water. I seem to have taken a step backwards in the hunger area, everywhere I go, everywhere I look is something calling me to eat it! It's like the old cartoon where the little chicken looked like a drumstick - oh, never mind, but you get it.
As I enter the last week I want to stay strong and finish hard - no licking the bowl even! I'm still praying and waiting on God about the issue I shared about yesterday - He is faithful and I know He will answer.
So, this is a little late, and bit out of order - but I wanted to let you know about a little weekend get-away that Julie and were able to take during days Twenty-Five, Twenty-Six and Twenty-Seven of our fast.
Among the artists that we are greatly enjoying during this season of life, is an incredible singer and worship leader named Kim Walker and the amazing band she performs with named Jesus Culture. We actually just discovered them in late December, and have been falling in love with their music ever since.
So, one day I mentioned to Julie that I thought it would be incredible to see them LIVE, and she said, "Yes, it would! And that's what I want for my birthday!" Since her birthday is later this month on the 21st, I decided to do some research, and found that Kim and the band were going to be at a conference called ENCOUNTER 2010 over the weekend - and so, to make a long story short, we made the plans, and left for our three day adventure!
The conference consisted of four main sessions. Each including a time of worship and a time of teaching. It's been a long time since we've been a part of such a conference. From the moment we arrived the air was full of LIFE. I'd guess that 90% of the crowd was between 15 and 22 years of age - but it helped us to feel young! I loved every minute of it! We loved that we could soak up every word without effort - because it was all in English! And we loved hours of worship in English with thousands of others. Words cannot explain how much we loved entering into the Lords presence in such intense worship. In addition to Jesus Culture and Kim Walker we also enjoyed worship led by Melissa How, Kritene Mueller, and Jake Hamilton. Speakers included internationally known Sergio Scataglini, and two members of the staff from the host church (Bethel Chruch) Kris Vallotton and Banning Liebscher. I loved the music, the messages, the encounter with God, the freedom he brought to us, the words of wisdom for us to pass on to others, and the challenge from other believers to pursue 100% holiness.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Well, I have certainly missed some days! It's been busy, but good. The challenge continues to be, not the actual fasting as you may suppose, but finding time and a place to be alone with God. I don't want to miss his voice during this time. Matt and I were able to hear some great teaching (in English PTL) and worship this weekend, and we were encouraged and refreshed! (I think Matt will write more about this later...) We continue to pray for revival in our own lives, in our staff, in our teens, in the Casas Hogares, and in the groups that come down to partner with us. God has really been speaking to me about living a life of love. So much is involved in such a life - it involves my attitude being the same as that of Jesus Christ, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. Jesus made himself nothing. Do I? Jesus humbled himself. Do I? I am challenged to show God's love in new, creative ways. So in the spirit of this, I saw a young man at the gas station just standing to the side of the parking lot in the shadows. I called out to him "Hey, are you OK?" and he smiled and nodded his head. Well, it's baby steps at first, right??!!
I am facing another issue that I won't share about yet that has me upset today. I am currently studying the book of Daniel. In chapter two we read about King Nebuchednezzar's dream and how Daniel "urged them (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning the mystery." I am facing a mystery myself and hope very much that I can report to you all that God provides me with clarity. Thanks for reading friends!!
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
One day in late September or early October we were sitting in church listening to our pastor give his sermon, when out of nowhere he stopped, turned toward me and said, "Matt, God is going to give you Spiritual Sons." I nodded in agreement with his prophetic statement, and then he just turned and went on with his sermon.
First of all I found myself in wonder at a man that has the ability to listen to God so intently that DURING HIS SERMON he could actually discern a word of encouragement (or prophecy) that was for me, stop and take the time to share it with me, and then go on with his sermon without skipping a beat. I loved it. I loved that my pastor could be so in tune to God's voice, and I loved the promise that God had for me in the message he delivered to me through the pastor. From that day forward I began to think on those words, and imagine what exactly it might look like when they would come to pass.
So in November, after some of our boys had made decisions for Christ I began to think that I had seen the prophecy come to fulfillment already. I just assumed, because in my simple mind I couldn't imagine what else it could be.
November 14h-16th a sister church of our church was holding a youth retreat about three hours outside of Monterrey in a tiny little town called La Chona. The youth pastor from our church was invited to lead worship for the weekend, and he had invited me to sing with the worship band. At first I saw the invitation to sing in the worship band way outside of my bull's eye of responsibilities. However, then it occurred to me what if I took my boys along! So I made the decision that we would go together as a house. Although only four of the eight ended up being able to go, it later was clear to me that they were exactly the four that God wanted to be there.
For me the weekend was three unforgettable days of meeting with God, being renewed in my spirit, challenged by the Lord, and used for his glory as we ministered through music and prayer (but perhaps that is a separate blog entry!) Early on in the weekend I began to feel that the Lord wanted me to "let go" in the way I worshiped Him, and to no longer worry about what others thought about me, in particular what the boys might think of me. Then God began to bring something to mind. When we raise our children from a young age they watch us, and model us, and learn what is normal and acceptable by our example. Then God began to impress upon me that it was exactly the same with my "big boys" and my example to them in how I pursue God and how I worship him. And so, I took the step of faith with God, and decided to "let go". I decided that if while in the presence of the Lord I felt led to raise my hands, or sing a new song, or jump, or dance, or whatever...that I would not worry about what others were thinking, and I would not hold back. In the end I realized that whatever I do in the Lord's presence is ALL for Him anyway!
As I began to let go, and worship as the Holy Spirit led, something amazing happened. First of all, I found a brand new level of freedom in my worship of God; and second, my boys, in following my lead, began to worship the Lord freely as well. In that exact moment, it hit me like a ton of bricks...the Lord had given me "Spiritual Sons"! I took great joy in sharing with them that although I do not have the honor of being their earthly father, that I feel all of the pride of a dad in seeing my "sons" seek the Lord with all of the heart, strength, mind and soul!
Matt praying with Marcos at the Youth Retreat in La Chona
So, we realize that we were not really great at keeping up our blog throughout the fall - but this is a new year, and we're trying to do a better job with it in 2010! Along with that commitment is the need to communicate some very exciting things that God began doing which we have not yet taken the time to blog about...
WAY back in September (see old post), we shared some about some prophetic words that were given to us as a couple. It was prophesied over us that "the harvest was coming". We were ecstatic at the thought of it, and trusted that God would do just what was said. This fall, we actually began to see, what is at least the beginning of that prophecy coming true!
Through the hospitalization of our youngest son, Caleb, our whole household’s faith was stretched to some new levels this fall. God was incredibly faithful and encouraging to us during that time. We trusted God for the health and healing of Caleb, and we personally felt that it was a time of renewing and spiritual growth for us.
For many of our boys Caleb is a very special little brother. While he was sick and in the hospital they were visibly concerned, constantly asking when he was coming home, and moved to pray for him. For a number of them it was a time of stretching and growing in their faith as well. I've never seen a group of teenage boys more excited and relieved then when Caleb was finally able to come home! But the exciting part was the fruit that came in the weeks that followed. Within that first week we saw four of the eight boys in our home make decisions to give their lives to Christ and/or to recommit their lives to him! We could not have been more excited to be witnessing such an amazing turn of events, and to see with our very own eyes fulfilled prophecy over words that spoken to us just two months before. The conversations that followed in the next week brought us nothing but pure joy and encouragement to see them not only make decisions for Christ, but to truly see the desire in each of them to pursue the Lord to new levels. Praise God, praise God, praise God!
What an awesome God we serve!! The weather here has been cold and rainy, much like the old days in northern Indiana! However, inside our house continues to be a haven full of God's presence and blessing. Among the many things Matt and I are praying for, the main thing continues to be that we would know God better. We really just want Him, to seek his face and to dwell in the house of the Lord all of our days! I don't know if I will continue to blog about every single day but I'll try to stay consistent! We are looking forward to the ways in which God will move this year - I pray He is moving in your lives as well!
Monday, February 1, 2010
Oops! The weekend flew by and here it is Day 21 and I haven't blogged for 3 days! This would have been our last day, but sitting here now I can't imagine stopping yet. I believe God has more for me and I want to receive it. I have recently finished up a study on the life of Paul (which was fantastic) and have now begun a study on the book of Daniel. It's been amazing to think that Daniel was only about 15 when he was taken into captivity. I am amazed at the resolve he had at such a young age to be faithful to God, even to the point of putting his life on the line. Clearly, his upbringing had been preparing him for such a time as this. I hope that I am able to train my children as well. 1 Timothy 4:7-8 says, "Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." What encouragement that when we train in godliness, not only will there be fruit in this life, but also in our next life!