Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Thou Hast Covered Me In My Mother's Womb

Hello, world. Meet Lucy Jane.

She arrived July 8th and was 8 lbs. and 6 oz full of perfection. Some say she looks like her older sister, Charlie. Others say they see features of her big brother, Henry. (Ironically, no one said they saw her Aunt Rebecca in her! :) )

But, no matter who she looks like, one thing is certain - she is a modern-day miracle.

When my sister was about four months pregnant, she received a diagnosis for the baby of multicystic dysplastic kidney. It's a really long name for a condition that occurs when one kidney doesn't form properly as it's developing in the womb. The process of the formation of a kidney is complex and, if something goes wrong, it can lead to a kidney with cysts and scar tissue. The good thing is that the other kidney is usually able to a take over and perform all kidney function for the baby.

However, if both kidneys are affected, it leads to, what the medical field calls, a spontaneous abortion. Without the kidneys, the production of amniotic fluid does not occur and, therefore, the lungs cannot develop properly.

The doctors confirmed that cysts were present on both of Lucy's kidneys.

I have no idea what my sister and her husband were going through personally as they began to process this devastating news. And, to make it even worse, the doctors told her she had to wait a month before they could perform a follow-up ultrasound. This would allow the baby to grow so they could get a better look at her kidneys.

One whole month.

I'm sure this felt like an eternity. 

One thing I do know is that people began to pray. Our church family, our friends. I'm sure there were people that we don't even know about that began to lift up Lucy's name in prayer.

As I was dealing with some other personal issues at the same time, I began to question if God could really heal her. I think it's easy to hear stories of God in the Bible and to know them in your my head, but perhaps we I don't truly believe them with our my heart.  And, of course, then I became frustrated that I was even having these doubts. Surely my questioning was doing nothing to fuel my prayers for healing for baby Lucy.

One day, I began to look up verses on healing. I wanted to really look at God's healing power in the Bible and believe that he was Who He said he was, and that He would do what He said He will do.

While studying, the Lord led me to Psalm 139. It's probably one of the most popular chapters when dealing with babies and the sanctity of life in the womb.

Verse 13 and 14 states, For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

I began to wonder, 'What does the word reins mean in verse 13?'

What He showed me next was incredible.

Did you know another word for reins is kidneys?! (Look it up in the dictionary...don't just take my word for it!)

In the midst of my doubt, God showed me clearly that He had Lucy's kidneys in His possession! Sure, it still might not be in His will to heal her, but I know the Holy Spirit showed that verse to me for a reason. I didn't have a 'hallelujah' moment or a 'run around the room' experience. But I did have his Word, and I had to make myself choose to believe it. 

It wasn't about my feelings. It wasn't about my doubt. It was about God's Word.

Fast forward one month and Jessica's ultrasound showed that, despite cysts on both kidneys, the lower portion of each one was still working. That meant that the amniotic fluid was being produced and she was continuing to grow and develop.

Fast forward three months later and Lucy is here. Through God's goodness and mercy, He performed a miracle. He must have big plans for this little one. 

Last week, Jessica took her to the urologist to follow up on Lucy's kidneys post birth. This doctor told Jessica that in his twenty years of practice, he can maybe count ten times where a baby given this diagnosis on both kidneys has functioning in the kidneys.

God is good. 

I learned that another definition of reins is the seat of the feelings or passions. Perhaps God performed two miracles throughout this pregnancy.  Not only did God touch Lucy's kidneys, but 
 He took the time to lovingly reveal Himself to me in a time of doubt and questioning. 

He possesses our reins, both big and small!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Diagnosed At Birth

I'm sure you've all seen people dumping buckets of ice water over their heads. Facebook. Instagram. Social media has been inundated with these posts. They've all been in efforts to raise awareness for ALS. And, if the research is done ethically, I think it's a great cause. 

But don't worry. No ice buckets will be dumped here.

I wanted to share about a different disease - one I was born with. This month marks my 20th anniversary of being healed. 20 years!

The main difference between this disease and others, however, is that it is more deadly. But, unlike Lou Gehrig's disease, there is a cure.

In August of 1994, for the first time in my life, I saw myself for who I really was - a sinner. Sure, I was still a child. I hadn't killed anyone. I hadn't gotten drunk or done what the world would consider a major mess up. But the fact remained. I had still sinned. And even that one sin was enough to separate me from a perfect and holy and righteous Creator. 

I'm so grateful to the Lord that He knocked on my heart's door that night. Laying in bed, I heard him call my name. No - it wasn't audible. At least to anyone else. But I know beyond any doubts that, in His still small voice, Jesus' plea of mercy and forgiveness were so undeservedly extended to me that night. There is truth in the lyrics of that age old hymn - my eyes, which were blinded, suddenly saw for the first time.

In my parent's bedroom, I knelt down and asked Jesus Christ to forgive me. I don't remember the exact words I prayed. I don't even remember the exact date. But I know His promises are true when He says, 'For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.' (Romans 10:13)

The past 20 years haven't seen me be perfect. I still sin. After all, it was my soul that was saved - not my flesh. But I have a Redeemer who has never forsaken me. He has protected me. Guided me. Loved me. 

The longer I live, the more I see that everything this world has to offer pales in comparison to seeing my Savior glorified. Money. A successful career. Notoriety. None of it matters. In the end, I can't take anything with me when I leave. Anything except for other people, that is. Will you be joining me?

I pray your answer is yes. If not, today can be your day of healing. 

I'm thankful that twenty years ago Jesus Christ saved me. At my physical birth, I was diagnosed a sinner. But thank the Lord, at my spiritual birth, He changed my prognosis. From sinner to saint. From lost to found. 

Let today be your re-birth. Let today be the day your diagnosis is forever changed.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Life After The Storm

While my parents have been out of town, I've been tending to my dad's garden. And I must say, I've gained a whole new appreciation for the amount of work that goes into them. I'm sure the next piece of squash or freshly sliced tomato that hits my mouth will suddenly be juicier and more delicious than ever!

And if you've spent any amount of time around me, you will know that I love me some fried okra.

Mmmm. I bet your mouth is watering even now as you're reading this isn't it? (If it's not, either one of two things is going on: you're crazy or you're a Yankee.)

This afternoon as I finished making my rounds up and down the rows, the Lord spoke to my heart. As I was carrying the heavy bucket of fresh produce back to the house, He reminded me of the power of a storm.

You see, a couple days ago, I had done the exact same thing. I put my rubber boots on, grabbed the same orange pail, and went to pick the ripe veggies. And, although I got a fair amount of squash and cucumbers, I only got one piece of okra that was big enough. Just one.

But today, that was not the case. I had a hand full.

Although that might not seem like much, when compared to just one piece from a few days ago, you can see why I was excited.

And that's when God reminded me it was all because of the storms. You see, last night it rained. And it thundered. And there was lightning. And then it rained some more. All. Night. Long.

But fruit came from that storm. Something good was the end product.

And that's the same way in our lives as Christians.

Sure, no one likes to go through storms. It's never fun when you're in the midst of life's turmoil. But how much easier it is to rest in the fact that God is working. When we're down at the bottom, Christ is up to something.

(Disclaimer: there are certain trials in a Christian's life that are the result of sin and disobedience. God is trying to bring you to repentance through those difficulties. Those are not the type of storms I am referring to here.)

In Matthew 14, we see the disciples out on a boat in the middle of a storm. The wind was howling and the waves were tossing the boat. But perhaps we often miss the 'fruit' that was produced as a result of this storm.

Matthew 14:33 states, 'Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.'

True worship.

It took a storm in their lives to produce a worship so real and genuine, leading to a greater understanding in their lives of who God was. An understanding that, without the storm experience, they might never have received.

A miracle.

During the storm, Jesus walked on water. I know, if you're like me, you've grown up in Sunday school hearing this Biblical account so much that the very act of defying gravity does not even amaze you anymore. But it truly was a miracle. And, without the storm, they may have never witnessed it.

And an ever greater promise than the expectation of coming fruit is that Christ will never leave us during these storms. (Hebrews 13:5)

So, perhaps you're going through a storm right now. Or maybe one is just around the corner. Just know that God is using them to produce fruit in your life.

Maybe you'll witness a miracle. Or maybe you'll gain a more intimate knowledge of God and obtain a true heart of worship.

Either way, those should be areas of comfort and hope while the storms are raging.

Just as I can enjoy a plate full of fried okra as a direct result of the rain, so too can I take comfort in the fact that life will be sweeter when the storms subside.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

No Solamente Otro Sello

Que yo pueda regresar diferente - determinada para invertir el resto de mi tiempo aquí en la tierra para un propósito eternal, celestial.

Estas son las palabras que yo escribí antes de llegar a Honduras esta semana pasada. Yo verdaderamente quería que Dios hiciera una obra en mi corazón. Mi oración fue que esto no seria solamente orto viaje. Claro yo estaba entusiasmada de comer comida nueva, ver lugares diferentes y abrazar una cultura nueva. Pero no quería que eso fuera todo. No quería regresar simplemente agregando otro sello a mi pasaporte. 

El Senor respondió a mi oración.

No tuva una experiencia de una zarza ardiente como Moises y no vi la escritura en la pared mencionado en el libro de Daniel. Pero en maneras pequenas Dios hablo con mi corazón durante nuestro viaje. Y resulta que en querer que Dios me cambie el me mostró que en realidad no se trataba de mi, se trataba de el usandonos nosotros para animar a otros. 

Para ayudarle a entender, yo siento la necesidad de darle una breve historia de fondo del misionero que visitamos, Arvil Smith.

El ha estado sirviendo fielmente al Senor en misiones desde 1977. Empezando en Costa Rica y ahora en Honduras. Hermano Smith ha dado su vida compartiendo el evangelico con la gente de America Central. 

En realidad, una declaración que el hizo en este viaje lo resume todo:

'Si yo me muero o Cristo viene, El me va a encontrar sirviéndole. Eso es seguridad de trabajo!'

Piensa en esto un momento. 

Como podríamos darle vuelta a esta mundo para la gloria de Jesucristo si todo Cristiano, incluyéndome a mi se despertara cada mañana dandose cuenta que eso es nuestro trabajo verdadero mientras estamos aquí en la tierra.

Pero Dios uso otra declaración que hizo el hermano Smith en este viaje para agarrar mi corazón y ensebarme que me estaba contestando mi oración de ser cambiada, pero lo hizo de una manera que nunca pensé.

El hermano Arvil simplemente dijo en referencia a nuestro grupo viniendo a visitarlo:

'Esta es una de las bendiciones mas grandes que he recibido desde que soy misionero.'

Empece a pensar.

Y entonces el pensamiento comenzó a hundirse aun mas.

Quiere decirme que este hombre que ha sido misionero por mas de 35 anos fue bendecido tanto simplemente teniendo una visita de nuestro grupo esta semana?

No me sentia que estábamos haciendo algo especial. En realidad pasando el rato con los estudiantes fue un privilegio y un honor para mi. Quería hacer eso mas que ver a los lugares de interés de Comayagua, el pueblo donde nos quedamos. (Yo quería traerme a los niños para mi casa en Estados Unidos también!)

Y entonces comencé a tener el corazón roto. Pasar tanto tiempo sirviendo al Senor fuera de su país natal y lejos de su familia y no tener a nadie de su iglesia visitare. 

Me pregunto cuantos misioneros mas les falta ese tipo de apoyo?

Eso es cuando comencé a ver este viaje bajo una luz diferente. Este viaje sirvió un propósito que nunca había pensado. Si una semana puede animar a una persona a seguir sirviendo al Senor, entonces mi tiempo y mi dinero no fue en vano. 

Quieres ser alguien que da animo a otros?

Yo quiero motiva a aquellos que están sirviendo fielmente para que sigan adelante.

Su servicio al Senor esta haciendo la diferencia. Vida están siendo afectados y cambiados y viene una recompensa, si no es ahora, definitivamente en el Cielo.

Si nunca has tomado un viaje de misiones, lo recomiendo. Usted sera cambiado y en el proceso usted sera una bendición a los que visitas.

Por ahora mi pasaporte solo tiene sellos de 3 países diferentes (y yo no voy a contar uno de ellos porque fue un niaje personal y no del ministerio). Si es la voluntad del Senor estoy pidiendo que este libro este lleno de sellos antes de que se termine mi tiempo aquí en la tierra.

Pero esos sellos ya no son solo una marca de verificación en una lista de destinos de viaje. Quiero que representen gente que necesitan ser animados y mas importante, almas que necesitan oír el evangelio de Jesucristo.

Not Just Another Stamp

May I come back different - determined and driven to invest the rest of my time here on earth for an eternal, heavenly purpose.

These were the words I penned before arriving in Honduras this past week. I truly wanted God to work in my heart. My prayer was that this wouldn't be just another trip. Sure, I was excited to experience new food, see new sights, embrace a new culture. But I didn't want that to be it. I didn't want to come back simply adding another stamp to my passport.

The Lord answered my prayer.

I didn't have some 'burning bush' experience like Moses or actually see the 'handwriting on the wall' mentioned in the book of Daniel. But in little ways throughout our trip, God spoke to my heart. And it turns out that, in wanting God to change me, He showed me it really wasn't about me at all. It was about Him, using us, to encourage others.

To help you understand, I feel I need to give you a quick background story on the missionary we visited, Arvil Smith. 

He has been faithfully serving the Lord on the mission field since 1977. Starting out in Costa Rica, and now in Honduras, Brother Smith has given his life to sharing the Gospel with the people in Central America. In fact, a statement he made on the trip pretty much sums up his heart:

'Whether I die or Christ comes back, He's going to find me serving Him. That's job security!'

Wow! How this world could be turned upside down for the glory of Jesus Christ if every Christian, me included, woke up each morning realizing that that's our true job while we're here on earth.

But God used another statement Brother Arvil made on the trip to grip my heart and show me He was answering my prayer to be changed, but in a way I wasn't thinking about.

He simply said this in reference to our group coming to visit him:

'This is one of the biggest blessings I've had since being on the mission field.'

I began to think.

And then the thought began to sink in even more. 

You mean to tell me that this man, who has been on the mission field for over 35 years, was blessed that much simply by having our group come down to visit him for a week?

I didn't feel that we were doing anything special. In fact, hanging out with the students was a privilege and honor for me. I looked forward to that more than I did seeing the sights of Comayagua, the town we were staying in. (I may have wanted to bring the kids back home to the United States with me as well!)

And then I began to be heart broken. To go that long serving the Lord, away from your native country and family, and to not have someone from your home church come to visit.

I wonder how many other missionaries there are lacking this same type of support? This same type of encouragement?

That's when I began to view this mission trip in a different light. This trip served a purpose I had never thought about. If one week can encourage someone to keep serving the Lord, then my time and money was not in vain.

I want to be an encourager.

I want to motivate those who are faithfully serving to keep going. Your service to the Lord is making a difference. Lives are being affected and changed and reward day is coming, if not now, then definitely in Heaven.

And if you've never taken a mission trip before, I would highly recommend it. You will be changed and, in the process, you will be a blessing to those you visit.

Right now, my passport only has three different country's stamps in it. (And I'm not counting one because it was a personal trip that wasn't ministry-related.) If it's the Lord's will, I'm asking for that book to be covered in stamps before my time here on earth is over. 

But those stamps are no longer just a check mark on a list of travel destinations. May they represent stewards who need to be encouraged and, more importantly, souls who need to hear about the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Becoming Mary When My Flesh Screams Martha

If you could only see what I'm surrounded by even as I type this blog. There's probably glitter stuck to me somewhere, there are construction paper footprints on the floor next to me (our VBS spy-themed curriculum explains this!), and there are markers strung across the table. On top of that, I can't help but think of the looming video deadline for my church's patriotic 'God & Country' Sunday that's just around the corner.

These are just a few of the major things atop my 'To Do' list. And when I think about all of the other stuff I need to get done, it can stress me out.

I'm sure you, friend, can find yourself in a similar situation. Your list may be comprised of different items, but the list is still there, nonetheless. And no matter how much you ignore it, the fact remains that we are a busy people.

I wonder if this is how Martha felt?

Sure, Martha didn't have detective-inspired room decor all over her living room floor. But still, there was work to be done. Jesus Christ Himself was coming to HER house! Can you imagine the cleaning that must have been going on?

But, no matter how busy Martha was, it was Mary who Jesus said 'hath chosen that good part.' She simply sat at Jesus' feet and heard His Word.

As I was preparing for one of our VBS lessons next week, these two verses stuck out to me:

And thou shalt love the Lord they God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

None other.

Let that sink in.  None. 

That means I can be as busy as I want, but if I'm not loving the Lord with everything I have, then I'm missing God's purpose for my life, no matter how many items I cross off my 'To Do' list. And it's not the type of love that's so casually used today between individuals. It's a love that requires ALL of me - my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength.

It's only then that this love for God will pour over into loving others and serving the Lord with the right intentions. But it has to start with spending time with God, in His Word and in prayer. 

Sure, I love what I'm doing. I am excited to be teaching some young girls next week about God's love for them. I'm excited to be able to put together some videos for our church's patriotic service. But I don't want the busyness of my schedule to distract me from ultimately choosing the better option. 

Jesus Christ goes further to say that not only did Mary choose the good part, but she chose that which was 'needful.' 

May we see the NEED of spending time at Jesus' feet. Lord, even when my flesh screams for Martha, may the Mary spirit be what I choose!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Real Love Is Confrontational


The mere mention of the word makes me uncomfortable.

I've always been a people pleaser. A 'yes' person, so to speak - even if it meant doing something I didn't want to or taking on an additional task or assignment when my work load was already full.

One summer I took a babysitting job I didn't want to simply because I couldn't bring myself to tell the parents no!

Pathetic, right?

I know that may seem like a trivial example that plays no significant role in the grand scheme of life. (Hey, if anything, it was good preparation for motherhood!) But I'm afraid the fear of confrontation has spilled over into more meaningful areas of my life, namely being more bold in my efforts to share the Gospel message with a lost and dying world.

What if they think I'm judging them?

What if they stop talking to me?

What if it creates an uncomfortable situation?

The problem with all of these questions is that they are saturated in pride. The focus is on me rather than on the Savior who died for them. The real question that should be daily burdening my soul is, Where will they spend eternity if they don't meet Jesus?!

God showed me something a few days ago that really opened my eyes. It's this...real love is confrontational.

Jesus Christ Himself was a very confrontational person. He confronted individuals with their sin.  And in doing so, His love was not minimized in the slightest bit. If anything, it was during these times that it shone brightest. 

In Mark chapter 10, Jesus tells of a rich young ruler who came to Him asking how he could inherit eternal life. This man considered himself to be a good person, as indicated in his response to all of the areas of the law he had not broken. Verse 21 says:

Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, and sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

This isn't teaching a works-based salvation. But before this man, or anyone else for that matter, could accept the Gospel, he had to recognize his need. Jesus saw how he trusted in the observance of a set of rules. As a result, his need was for Christ to confront him with the one thing he lacked.

But the part that stands out to me the most is what preceded Christ's confrontation.

Then Jesus....loved him!

Oftentimes, confrontation has a negative connotation. And I'm sure our politically correct society does not help with this at all. After all, we can't truly love someone if we don't agree with them, right?


I'm so thankful that Jesus Christ was confrontational with me. At the age of nine years old, He showed me I was a sinner, lost without Him, and on my way to Hell. And that was the GREATEST act of love I've ever been shown in my entire life!

What a perfect example to follow.  

Lord, help me to be bold. Help me to be confrontational. Help me to love.