Monday, April 28, 2008

The Race of Life

I've run and walked a few marathons. The first one I did in honor of our daughter Faith, who was still born June 23, 1999. I was physically the least prepared for that one, as I only trained for 2 1/2 months, but emotionally I needed to do it as part of the grieving and healing process. After that, I decided to do a marathon after all the babies I had. So, the next one was in 2001, after Josiah was born. I had more training time, 7 months, and was a little faster. After that marathon I got the bug, so after I had Mia I really got into training. I lost some weight and got faster. Not only did I do one marathon in the year after Mia was born, I did three, followed by two the next year. After Sierra was born it took me a whole year of training but I did complete a marathon in Alaska.
Along the way there are some things that I've learned about races and life. First of all, training is our friend. The more you prepare and condition your body, the more natural the race feels (read "less pain"). In life, I believe our training time is our quiet time, reading God's word and praying, preparing for the race of life. Having good "training" time is important as this is not a short run and we can not "gut it out".
I also learned that when you start the marathon you have all the mileage in front of you so it's best not to worry too much about where the finish line is, but instead to focus on each mile you pass and celebrate those. Small goals will help you reach your big goal: that medal at the end and your free t-shirt! Not to mention the satisfaction that you just completed a 26.2 mile race. In life, we should take it one day at a time.
Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Now this next point is opinion, but this is my blog, so... It is better to run and walk rather than to just run, unless you are a superstar. Since I am not a competitive runner (I never had aspirations of winning any money or gaining any fame) when I run I always plan in scheduled walk breaks. These walk breaks allow for bits of recovery time and allow me to finish the race feeling really good (all things considered). On the other heand, when you walk the whole race, your muscles and joints get worn out of the same motion over and over again. You can try to run for a bit, but since you didn't train for running, it is not really comfortable either. Also, walking a marathon just takes forever and that makes it hurt more regardless of training. I believe we are designed to run life's race, not to walk it.
1 Corinthians 9:26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.
So, we don't want to live an aimless life, but, since we don't know how long our life race is, we do need some walk breaks. There are times in life that are slower paced, times where we sprint, times that are like a downhill breeze where all we have to do is make sure we don't fall, and then there are the uphills! Through all paces of life we don't know what's around that next corner (an uphill, a downhill, a water station, gummie bears!). With that in mind, it's important to plan in those walk breaks in life, times to refresh, reflect, and renew our spirits. Walk breaks allow us to run stronger over the long haul.
I also learned, it's helpful to run or walk with a friend. That companionship allows for us to encourage each other at the tough spots, give hope when it seems hopeless (like at mile 16 when there's still 10 miles to go!), push each other a little further than we might have gone alone, and have someone to celebrate with when it's all over. We also need them for accountability because it's too easy to slack in the training and never be prepared for the race. God did not design us to run life's race alone, we are designed for community because of some of the same reasons I need a running/walking partner: encouragement, hope in down times, to push us further, for celebration, and for accountability.
On the flip side of what people can add to your race, sometimes people can be just what gets you headed in the wrong direction. Believe it or not, I actually followed someone off course one time. It added a mile or more onto my race. Instead of following the signs that marked the course, I had begun following the runner ahead of me. This wasted energy, threw off my time goal, and was just plain irritating when I had to back track.
Galatians 5:7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?
In life, we have to make sure we're on track, obeying God's truth, and running a good race!
Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

So, my last, and probably most important, thought is, how can we run the race without having an intimate relationship with the creator of the course? Though we can't see what's around the next bend, we can trust God to lead us through whatever comes and we can know it was not a surprise to him. We also know that Jesus ran a perfect race and endured great opposition, he's the perfect role model. He set an example to encourage us when the race gets hard for us and we want to quit.
Hebrews 4:14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
(I memorized that verse while running the Portland Marathon!) Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses. He knows our pain, he remembers mile 18 and that awful hill!! We can go confidently to him and receive mercy and grace. He will help us in our time of need. Fix your eyes on him. And when our life race is over, while we're enjoying our oranges and bagels, may we say...
2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Road to Bear Paw, part 4

Only God knows how many "parts" this road to Bear Paw will have. Over the last several days we have faced some new and fairly large obstacles on this road. So much so that I was prompted to call on a prayer warrior and spiritual mentor to pray with me over the situation. I needed that support first of all because I was emotionally shaken, but also because I've gotten a little sick of hearing my own prayers on this matter. Side note, isn't it wonderful that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Sometimes I feel like I keep trying to pray but can't express with the right words what is deep inside. Other times it's just the same words I've been praying the whole time: Lord, your will be done, may this be for your glory, open the doors you want us to proceed in, close those you don't. God knows my heart, he hears the words that are never even expressed and understands those that are repeated over and over again.

Romans 8:26-28 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

But, sometimes it helps my soul to pray along with someone else and the Bible says God is there with us as we pray together. Among other things, we prayed for peace, and God met me right there, immediately, with a peace that passes understanding by a long shot! Not only peace, but a filling of the Spirit that prompted a day of endless worship and praise. Quite a difference from the way the day started. Keep in mind the circumstances had not changed.

I also came away with the reminder that God is handling this process. He will get all the glory for the outcome and even more so as we face humanly impossible odds. The timing is his as well. It is definitely not unfolding on the schedule we had originally, or even secondarily, set. In the face of discouragement and wondering "had we miss read God's calling", I was reminded how threatened our enemy must be. We have prayed from day one that God would close the door to Bear Paw if he had other plans. We didn't want to waste time and effort in pursuing the camp if those efforts should be placed somewhere else. Doors have not closed for us. These challenges we are facing are obstacles, and yes they are tough, but the door to this new ministry remains open, so we continue to pursue. Satan will continue to throw obstacles, fears, doubts, and distractions into our path but greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world.

All of us face these times of uncertainty and, quite frankly, those of you who might think you've got things fairly well planned out... you don't. We never really know what tomorrow holds. We do know that God is the same God that created the universe, who knows each of us intimately, loved us enough to die for us, and strengthens us through trials. How do we persevere? Our hope is in God!

Isaiah 40:28-31 Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Friday, April 25, 2008

You are God!

Today I was directly confronted with the realization of who God is in my life. I know he is my creator, my savior, my heavenly father. I know that, but today I was confronted with it. I am driven to my knees in prayer. Join me if you'd like.

Lord, who do I say you are? Do I believe that? What do my actions, my reactions, my emotions, say about what I believe.

You have opened a door that no man can close. Lord, lead us! I give you my life, my family, my future. They are yours already. Do with them as you please, for your glory. Use our lives. I desire to move beyond a world that revolves around me. I want to tell people about you, God. There are too many lines that have become mushy and gray. I want to stand for the concrete, sink your teeth into it, 100% truth of God. You have a plan for us, a design, for our benefit and blessing and because you love us, not to harm us or hinder.

For those I know and love, that haven't accepted your free gift of grace and salvation. I lift them up to you Lord. May they taste of how good you are and never look back. For the students that I see walk by the house, people I don't know and the next generation. Lord, may I somehow be used as a blessing, as a light, that they would know absolute truth and accept nothing less.

Lord for our nation, one founded on the truth of your word, under God. May we return to our faith in you. Forgive us as a nation for our blatant disregard of you. Hold back the punishment we deserve. Raise up godly leaders within the cities, states, and throughout the nation, that we might be lead by people who are lead by you.

For the people I know who are hurting physically, emotionally, and spiritually, struggling financially or in their marriages, God be close to them. May I be an encouragement, provide the words that will be salve to their hearts or prompt the changes that you desire. May I know when to be bold and when to be quiet.

Thank you for the plan you have for Andrew and I, and our family. May Satan be bound in his efforts to confuse or scare us. I will keep my eyes on you, the author and perfecter of my faith.

This song is my prayer: Take My Life by Passion (you can play it on the playlist, it's the first one).

Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to thee.
Take my moments and my days let them flow in ceaseless praise
Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of thy love
Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for thee

Take my voice and let me sing always only for my king
Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from thee
Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold
Take my intellect and use every power as you choose

Here am I, all of me, take my life, it's all for thee

Take my will and make it thine it shall be no longer mine
Take my heart it is thine own, it shall be thy royal throne

Take my love, my Lord, I pour at your feet it's treasure store
Take myself and I will be ever only all for thee
Take myself and I will be ever only all for thee

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Men and Women

Genesis 2:18 The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

Suitable, an adjective, meaning such as to suit; appropriate; fitting; becoming. If this is such a fitting relationship, why does it sometimes seem like we are talking to people from a completely different galaxy? I'm sure men feel the same way. We just don't get each other sometimes. Andrew and I have read a couple of books that really hit the nail on the head as far as our communication and quite frankly the way our brains work and specifically our needs.

Men are Like Waffles and Women are Like Spaghetti was one we enjoyed. Love and Respect was a life changing series that our Bible study group went through a few years ago. Andrew and I both would highly recommend it. We actually watched the video series and did some worksheets which made it pretty easy. We liked it so much we'd like to start a Love and Respect couples retreat at the camp as soon as possible. It has explained some of the frustration we've felt in our communication and helped us identify when the crazy cycle is starting so we can both turn that ship around before it sails on through to a full blown fight. Anyway, check it out or if you're already familiar with it, post your own review.

The following video is from neither of the above referenced sources. It was something my mom forwarded to me. I don't even know if he is a Christian but his thoughts on the male and female brain are in the same vein as the Waffles and Spaghetti book I mentioned.

Enjoy! It's only about a 5 minute clip.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Word From the Lord

Andrew had a blog worthy experience today. He and my dad were driving home from Medford after picking up a machine he needed. They stopped in Azalea, Oregon around 3pm for some late lunch at the Heaven on Earth Restaurant. Dad had been there before with my Grandpa, but this was Andrew's first time. Upon entering the door of the restaurant, the middle aged hostess approached Andrew and began to speak directly to him. She told him that he should have no fear and trust the Lord, wade into the water that was before him, that God had big plans for him and has given him broad shoulders to handle what is coming. She told him to remember not to worry about the money but to work for God. Then later, after they had a chance to say who they were, she directed her comments to my dad, praising him for being a godly man that raised a godly daughter who married a godly husband and that together they are raising godly kids. She acknowledged the legacy that started with him. Then she went on to encourage Andrew in the importance of his role as a father and the blessing that children are. Both men were really blown away, partially because she said so much in such a short amount of time, and partially because she directly addressed our situation. Andrew said several times that it was just weird (in a good way), he was really speechless about the whole thing. I had to call my dad to get more details and even he was at a bit of a loss for words (which is amazing as my wordiness comes from his side). It was nothing new that she said, Andrew didn't feel convicted of anything, but he felt God confirming our current path through the voice of someone who couldn't have known our situation. She responded to God, spoke the truth, and was used to bless us. I wish I could have been there though, I'm just sure there were more details!!!
The picture above is of him being a good dad with his kiddos!

My Way or His Way.

Sierra loves to be outside and now that the weather is somewhat warmer, she always wants to be out there. She was playing on the slide in the backyard when she shouted out to me, "Mom! Lady bug!" I went over to check out her discovery and was disappointed to inform her that it was not a lady bug but an ant. Yes, as the weather warms our dear little ants reappear from where ever they hide during the winter. And so, the battle begins.

As a part of her proper training in dealing with ants I told Sierra that she should squish it. "No." she said matter-of-factly with maybe a little fear mixed in. So, I showed her how to do it. She looked at me and then squatted down to examine the damage a little closer. I could see the wheels turning.

Not too much later she calls out, "There's another lady bug."

"Sierra, they're ants. Squish it."


This time I decided to help her squish it. So, I took her little pudgy finger and squished it down on the ant. She looked at her finger and then squatted down again to check it out. Now, I hoped that she would understand the power that she possessed in just one finger to take care of those little nuisances. I hoped that through this experience it would become a game or a perhaps a personal goal to squish every ant she ever sees, thus helping in the fight against a hostile ant take over this year. So, I left her again to her slide.

Not too much longer I heard her shouting, "No! You are bad! You go 'way!" She was squatted down, eyeball to eyeball, with a little ant, trying to deal with it her way. Had I not provided the remedy for her just moments before? Squish that thing! Even with a reminder and some coaxing I couldn't get her to let go of her plan of attack.

I can't help but wonder how many times God has felt the same way with us. He has provided the way of restoration and salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Yet we disregard the power of that and continue to try to "be good" or earn our way to heaven. God has given us instruction and wisdom for dealing with many things, like conflict or how we treat our spouse. Yet we choose our own way of gossiping and complaining rather than addressing the conflict directly. Or, we try to make our spouse earn our respect or love rather than giving it as a gift. We do what makes sense to us, rather than follow the wisdom of a God who loves us and desires the best for us. This year I am working hard to step away from my knee-jerk reactions and old ways of doing things, and to follow God's way of responding and living instead. It might seem right to me to yell and shout at the "ants" in my life, but if God says "squish it", I'm gonna squish it.

Women of Faith

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Women of Faith conference in Spokane with my mother-in-law, Andrew's sisters, Diana and Ruthe, and Diana's mother-in-law. It is always such a blessing to worship God with so many other women and to hear the wisdom and encouragement from godly women speakers, some of whom are in their 70's and still full of spunk and charisma. I always marvel at how different their personalities are and the beautiful tapestry Women of Faith is because of those differences. It encourages me to fully be the woman that God made me, and allow him to direct my life so that I can be used for his glory in the special way he has planned. How exciting!
Between sessions I had the opportunity for a photo shoot with Lucy Swindoll (on the left) and Marilyn Meberg (on the right). The cutie in the back is my sister-in-law Diana.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ambition and Determination

Sierra has been watching her siblings climb our apple tree since last year. Sometimes Daddy would lift her up and let her experience the height of the tree and being like the bigger kids. Mom never did. No, I don't want to get her into something that she can't get out of, so the rule with me is, you get up when you can climb up. So, last summer she appeased herself by climbing the vine maple which has very low branches.

Here she is perched precariously in that tree, happy as a clam because she did it all by herself. Well, 9 months have passed since last summer's climbing adventures. Now, with just a glimpse of good weather, the kids are back in the apple tree and Sierra is left to figure out how she will join in the adventure. This year is different though, she's bigger and stronger. She's been practicing all winter long in gymnastics and on the railing of our stairs. She's also smarter and has learned the value of a good tool. Hence the decision she made to take her potty chair stool out to the apple tree. Apparently this gave her just the leg up she needed to reach the first hand hold and with some encouragement from her siblings, she made it up in the tree all by herself! For her though, this wasn't enough. She also needed to bring up her babies as well as her babies' "stuff". You know the baby stuff: blanket, bottle, rattle, etc. etc. Josiah had hung the swing that we use on the play structure from the tree and this made the perfect bed for her babies while she climbed. Yes, by the way, I did say we have a play structure with a ladder for climbing, a fort, and swings... it gets very little use. My suggestion, rather than buy a play structure, plant an apple tree.

Here's Sierra in the tree with Mia encouraging her from above. Note the babies in the swing hanging on for dear life. Here's all three kids in the tree, and, yes, the girls are barefoot. I guess it gives them a better grip on the tree.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cabela's Adventure

We went up to Seattle for the wedding of Andrew's cousin James and Dani. It was wonderful to see them commit their lives to each other and to God and remember the same commitment that Andrew and I made nearly 12 years ago. New love is sweet. Aged love has that wonderful depth and richness. Both are blessings from the Lord.

On to the Cabela's story! On our way home from the wedding we compromised on some stops to make. I'd get to peruse the outlet mall if Andrew could have some time at Cabela's. I've seen their catalogs and was thinking Cabela's was similar to Sportsman's Warehouse and it is, kind of. But comparing them is like saying that Little League is the same as the Major League's. Both baseball, yes, but very different. You might be surprised to hear me say that this discovery was not a bad thing even in light of our compromise. As we entered the front doors it became immediately evident that this was no ordinary trip to the sporting goods store where I try to entertain the kids by looking at some of the dead animals and trying on hats. There were whole environments of dead animals and even a mini aquarium with sportsman type fish stocked in them: trout on one side and catfish and bass on the other. I've never heard comments like these at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, "Oh look at that... pan size!" "Yum!" You could even buy fish food for a quarter and feed some of the massive trout. We passed. I hate the smell of those pellets. Sierra threw in some bark dust but apparently they know that trick.

There was even an African exhibit with a lion, elephant, rhinoceros, and zebra. Some of the other animals we saw were a huge sea lion, a polar bear, black bear, grizzly bear (I think), coyotes, foxes, deer, elk (is there a difference???), moose, musk ox, antelop-y things, turkey, even some brightly colored smaller birds. There were more but you'll have to just check it out yourself.

They had a restaurant in the facility, kind of like IKEA, only this one served wild game burgers and other manly meals. Hmmm, glad we'd already eaten! They also had a home decor section that had log cabin type furniture, wall hangings, door pulls, light switches, frames, everything to make your home seem woodsy. I heard one lady call out to her husband, "Wouldn't it be great make the RV look more log cabin like!" I assume, given the population, that it was their hunting RV she was referring to. Do you decorate those? I guess if you do, then a natural look would be the best.

Cabela's even had lovely restrooms with automatic everything and soap in the dispenser. Someone listened to their wife when designing this place. We all enjoyed ourselves with the only downside being the camera batteries died so I couldn't document this unexpected adventure. Apparently there is a Cabela's only an hour from Bear Paw so I'm sure we'll plan some more trips and, get this, there's no yearly membership fee.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Baby Brother!

When I left for college my little brother was still shorter than me. When I returned that next summer he had passed me up and he never looked back. Though we're nearly 4 years apart it seems like over the last few years that difference has become less and less. Now we're both married with children and paying a mortgage. Two years ago he even joined me in the Alaska marathon and passed me up at mile 13 even with feet problems.

Here he is feeding his daughter Mackenzie, only a couple of months old, on the trail! Though I'm sure he would prefer a more flattering, posed picture for his birthday blog posting, I thought this one really captured who he is: rugged and tender. Happy birthday David!

So... what's the plan?

It's been crazy around here, not just with the packing and remodeling stuff going, that's just the physical part we're dealing with. It's also been mentally crazy. I want to know "the plan" and not have to live day to day as we have for... uh, I can't remember the last time I could say with confidence, "today we will do this or that". Hmm sounds like a verse!

James 4:13-14 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life" You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Matthew 6:31 So do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it's own.

Well I've had the opportunity to live that way through our circumstances and, yes, I know all too well that each day can carry enough trouble of it's own. I'm sure I'm not a natural at living without knowing "the plan" but I have enjoyed the blessing of God's provision and, more than ever, I am clinging to His promises rather than my own "what if" scenarios.

On another note, I don't know if it's this new "lifestyle" or just getting older or what but something is doing a number on my memory. The other day I overheard the kids talking about how old everyone in our family is. It caught my attention when I heard them say, "Mom is 32." No I'm not! I had to step in and correct them:

"Josiah, I'm only 31."

"No, mom, you're 32 and Daddy is 33."

"No, I'm not. I was born in 1975 and I'm... oh, wait... you're right."

Who loses an argument with their 1st grader about how old they actually are! So, I blame it on the constant flux I've been in the last several years and have decided to start looking for some good reference points in my life to help keep me on track. Now that I know how old I really am, I will remember that I turned 32 in Mongolia.
Now to plan 33. Hmmm! Any great ideas for a way to really seal that birthday into my memory? I've got some time to figure it out. See how much I love a good plan!!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom-in-Law

We really appreciate Grandma Nordstrom. She makes us great meals, both healthy and yummy. We really like her pancakes and muffins. She took care of us while mom was in Mongolia and dad worked long hours (for almost 3 weeks!!). She fixes the holes in our pants, and even put a rocket ship as the patch on a favorite pair sweats. She makes cousin jammies for us at Christmas time, too. She always sends us cute cards for Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas... you name it, and sometimes they even have a brand new dollar in them. Grandma loves to play Scrabble! She can make any event a special one with nice touches and a good meal. We love you Grandma have a happy birthday and we'll see you soon.
Grandma Nordstrom with Sierra at Christmas 2005.

Also in 2005, Grandma with Mia, teaching her Scrabble! Mia's wearing Daddy's hat.

A real blast from the past, Christmas 2002!! Grandma with the the grandkids that were born before that time. Josiah is in the red shirt. Mia was "in the oven".

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

And the winners are...!!

Since these two friends both had great "Why me?" comments I'd like to give each a ticket to Anita Renfroe this weekend. Karen quickly listed off lots of great blessings and Kristen looked at the flip side and asked "Why not me?" when experiencing trials. I hope you can both go to the concert. I think you'll laugh your heads off!!

For the Newsboys tickets, which are Friday the 18th! Though the comment didn't post on the blog, their mother spent 2 hours putting together a testimony of God's grace and provision through a very trying year in their lives. Then, through the magic and mystery of computers, it deleted everything when she was trying to post it. Thank you Cathi for calling and relaying at least some of the blessings you experienced and lessons you learned because of that time. Now you have the daunting task of figuring out who in the family gets to go to the concert.

Finally, the Davis Family shared their blessings of a joyful daughter and wonderful family so, since we can't agree more, to you goes the Shawn McDonald tickets for May 1st. Let us know if you need a babysitter.

Thank you everyone! I hope you enjoy the concerts!! Praise the Lord.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Road to Bear Paw, part 3 (House sale edition)

Today we had two house showings. The first was planned, the second was a call that came during the first showing. They had actually called last week and left a message but I wrote down the number wrong and wasn't able to get a hold of them. Just another good example of why it's important to follow up when people don't call you back right away. The first couple was mildly interested, they called us back and asked some more questions but it was just a lukewarm outcome. The second couple loved the house. They told us they love it, they want to buy it, they have the money to buy it and they're going home to prepare an offer. So, we'll meet on Monday.
This is so preliminary that it seems silly to actually blog about it but I had specifically prayed this morning for some kind of confirmation of God's plan today. So, I thought I should bring you along on the journey. It seems like we've faced frustrating delays or disappointing set backs throughout this whole process. Sometimes it's like we're caught in a rip tide... so close, so far, oh oh so close, oh... so far, over and over again. We continue to trust God is working all things out in His perfect timing. Today, though, I needed encouragement; hence my prayer. I've showed the house to too many people who just weren't the right fit. The people today were making their plans for the house, asking about what stays and what goes and they appreciated the potential and character this house has. They were friendly, too! It was great a reminder that "just like that" God can move this process ahead. There are so many things that are outside of our control and of course we are so anxious to get up to camp and get our hands dirty. Even on days when that lack of control is especially uncomfortable (like today) we can still fall back on the truth:
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
Praise the Lord!
Don't forget the contest. I'll decide Monday night and announce in Tuesdays blog who the winners are!!

Friday, April 4, 2008

I'm a looker!

Some people are leapers and some are lookers. A leaper is someone who is ready to leap, they like adventure and risk. They are best known for what they have done or what they are doing. A looker is someone who considers the risk and weighs out potential consequences. They are best known for their wisdom. I fall into the latter category, not because I'm particularly wise, but because I do not like risk. Thankfully God brings leapers into my life to help shift my focus off the looking part of life and into the part where you actually do some things. One leaper in my life is my husband Andrew. Isn't it true that opposites attract and, though it causes great conflict sometimes, being married to my opposite always presents the wonderful opportunity for growth. I remember when we were dating and we faced a defining leaper vs. looker moment. We were at wooded park in Salem that had a little stream flowing through it. In the middle of the stream was a medium sized rock. Andrew promptly leaped out onto the rock and beckoned me to follow him. HA! After looking the situation over I could plainly see it was too far, the rock was too small, it was impossible (even though he had clearly made it). Long story short, he persuaded me to make the leap by promising to hold my hand and help me through it. For 15 years now, this been the example used when Andrew wants me to leap into something and I'm too focused on looking things over.

I have also been blessed with several leaping friends who live their lives doing the things that God calls them to rather than looking and looking at different opportunities. They have stories to share of how God is moving in and around them. They've been places and done things, and are experiencing God. We have a pastor, Steve Fowler, that is definitely a leaper and the way God uses him and his family is enviable.

Over the past year I have been focusing on doing more leaping and leaving the things I would normally focus on up to God. I have to report that there have been no serious injuries and I have seen some amazing sites and actually experienced the greatest joy and peace of my whole life. I leaped onto the short term mission team to Mongolia, of all places, and met some awesome people who, again, are leapers. In God's hands I left the finances to get there, childcare for my three young kids, and safety on the nearly 3 week trip. He was outrageously faithful in all those areas!

This is Krista Fields, a missionary from Salem, a mother of 3, serving the Lord in Mongolia. Here she is with her adopted Mongolian daughter Eden!

Here a crowd of Mongolians wait to be seen by the American eye doctor and his assistants.
It was fun to meet people like this Mongolian couple.

I also leaped to a local outreach for homeless women and actually got to wash and massage their feet. I wonder if I had the privilege of being the first person to treat them in this way. Do they know that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and told us to serve each other in the same way? Do they know that Jesus died for them? I went into this experience with the idea that I would bless these women; I ended up thoroughly blessed myself.

Pursuing the purchase of Bear Paw Camp has been an obvious leap. There is so much unknown and some risk involved, but even the process has again provided the experience of fully trusting God which has created so much joy and peace. I am in great anticipation of the results of this leap, not because I'm such a great leaper, but because I realize I'm holding the Father's hand and he'll guide to the best place to land at just the right time. Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Why me? A contest.

I like to talk. When we're having group discussions, I join in. If a speaker asks for comments or questions, I usually have some. If they need a volunteer to share their testimony, my hand goes up. So it only follows that when the local radio station asks for callers, I call in. After all, I get to talk on the radio!! Last summer I answered a trivia question correctly and won some free coffee! Double blessing; coffee and air time. The second time I was on, they were asking people to describe a superhero. I came up with Wo-Man, who can take care of the kids, fix your breakfast, and stop crime all at the same time. Since I pronounced it "Whoa-Man" the male host never figured out my little play on words (remember that joke, "What did Adam say when he first saw Eve? Whoa-man) so it wasn't as funny as I had hoped but still... I was on the air! The third time they needed some answers to Bible trivia. The question was, name two books of the Bible that start with "Z". Zephaniah and Zachariah. Woo-Hoo! I win again. Although this time I only got the joy of answering correctly and impressing my kids, because there wasn't any prize. This morning was different though. There was a prize and it was a big one. Three sets of tickets to a couple concerts and a fun speaker: Anita Renfroe, Shawn McDonald, and Newsboys. All I had to do was talk for more than 20 seconds without pausing or saying "um" or "uh". Excuse me, do you know who you're dealing with here? Why even bother giving me the topic, you may as well just hand over the tickets. Well, I had to fulfill the task so they gave me the topic: Lifesavers. No problem! I began discussing the little candies, fruit flavored or peppermint, and then I segwayed to the preserver variety of life savers used around water and then I decided to discuss the people that actually do the life saving; firefighters and paramedics. I had more but they cut me off. We have a winner!!!

Have you ever wondered "Why me?" when something's gone wrong? I think we all have, but do we think to ask, "Why me?" when we're experiencing great blessing? One "why me" is the door to despair, a complaint, and a proclamation that life is not fair and I didn't get what I deserve. The other type of "why me" is the door to gratitude, a praise, and also a proclamation that life is not fair and I didn't get what I deserve, I got something better! But aren't both doors always present in any given circumstance? There are always things to praise God for (my heart is beating, the sun is out, the car started, my shoes fit, I have a coat) and there are always things I can choose to complain about, usually in comparison to someone else who "has it so much better." The temptation of those "why me's" come so easily that I won't even give you any examples. Well, this morning I had a choice to make about my response to my circumstances. You see, when I picked up the treasured tickets I won from the radio program, the first thing I did was read the dates so I could get them on the calendar. The first one was Anita Renfroe, April 12th. What? That's the day of the out-of-state wedding we're attending. The second one, Shawn McDonald, April 19th. What, what? That's the weekend I'm attending Women of Faith in Spokane. The last one, Newsboys, May 1st. Will we even be living here? I finally win something great and I can't even use one ticket. Why me? Now I'll just have to give them away or maybe I can sell them on Craig's List for a couple of bucks and go buy a latte. But wait a minute... (hear the click of one door closing and the opening of the other) seriously, why me? Why have I, of all people, been given the wonderful opportunity to bless other people with some great concert tickets? What joy!! How blessed I am to have this privilege and all it cost me was a 20 second monologue about Lifesavers! Thank you Lord for the joy I will experience in giving these away and for someone else's joy that I will get to be apart of.
So you may have noticed the title of this blog mentioned a contest. I thought it would be fun to hear from you some of your "Why me?" comments. (Please remember to choose your door carefully, I'm looking for the one of praise). The best "Why me?" commenter will be given the tickets of their choice. I will decide on the winner on Monday, April 7th so there isn't much time. Pass this link along to your friends, perhaps you'll even have the chance to connect them with a blessing. If you live too far away to attend one of the concerts, still give us your best "Why me?" if for no other reason than it will bless me to read about your blessings!

To post a "Why me?" simply click the COMMENT button then make sure you choose to post with your name so I can announce the winner. Better yet, if you are a blogger, post with your blog name so other people can check your site out.
Lord, lift me above my own narrow horizons, that I might fulfill your true vision for me. - B.J. Hoff