Courage

| December 13, 2012

What is courage?
For over a month, we’ve been teaching our boys that courage isn’t the absence of fear. It is being scared and facing what you fear, anyway.

With three sidelined practices behind us, and another looming, we didn’t know if he’d be able to get through it. He’d gotten so scared being out there on the court with the coach yelling and a gym full of loud kids, dribbling, chasing balls and doing what seemed impossible for him:  Staying out there.
We simply asked him to make it through a night of practice and just TRY. He didn’t have to be good, keep the ball in control, make any baskets. He just had to stay out on the court. On the first night of practice, the coach didn’t teach them how to hold a ball. How to dribble. How to throw.  The coach simply told them to dribble 2 balls at once. To dribble, jumpstop, pivot, pass, all in quick succession to complete strangers. To make a layup -first thing- on the first night of shooting baskets.  For my little one, these feats seemed impossible. And, I couldn’t help feeling a bit frustrated with what was expected of him, myself. So, for three practices in a row that stretched over a month and a half, he started on the court and ended up sitting on the bench in defeat, watching his brother participate. And fearing the next practice when it would happen all over again.
This week, he left home and arrived to the practice parking lot already in a crying frustration.
Just to help him have the courage to get inside the building, his daddy told him something that must have stuck deep inside. And, I believe, God did miracles in that little heart. His dad told him, “There’s a long line of men in our family who have courage locked up, inside. When you use a little bit, it grows and becomes more.”  And, they went into the school with the understanding that our boy just had to sit on the bench and watch his brother.

I admit, after those three failed attempts, I was questioning if we should just let him stay home. I didn’t want to get through this whole basketball season, which would span 4 months, and have him live with the memories of sitting on the bench, each and every time, after an upsetting retreat from the court. But, I prayed! Oh, how I prayed! I really wanted him to feel proud of himself for facing his fear. I even prayed that if God could raise people from the dead, surely he could help my boy get through basketball practice. This mama was feeling desperate! Have you ever been there?

So, back to the gym. He must have felt some relief knowing he only had to get inside and sit on the bench with Dad. After a bit of just sitting, Dad asked him to play ball on the sidelines for a few minutes, and he lightheartedly agreed. And after a little while, Daddy asked if he might still want to give it a try on the court, adding that our bargain to go for ice cream if he could make it through the night would still be honored. To my husband’s surprise, our boy decided to go out on the court with all the other boys. My husband prayed like never before, and our boy stayed on the court. Then, my husband’s heart sank our son came to the side…. and asked to use the restroom. Would that be it for the night? NO! Upon returning to the gym, he returned to the floor with the other boys! The entire hour went by, and he continued with the practice! He stayed out there! He tried! He acted courageous! And, he was even caught smiling and laughing and having a good time.

Basketball Victory Cup

I cheerfully went out to meet my family for ice cream to celebrate this awesome victory! When I asked my boy about practice, he told me “It was easy!” When I asked if he wants to go back, next time, he said, “I will. But, when this is all done, I never want to do it again!” We agreed that was ok. We were just so happy he faced his fear and he was proud of himself for doing it.
And, when he drove home with me in my car, he told me, “Daddy told me that courage was locked up inside of me, and tonight I unlocked it.”
Yes, you did, my sweet boy. Yes, you did.

Food Fill-Up

| July 21, 2012

One cozy evening on the couch, my sons and I were watching an emotional episode of “The Secret Millionaire.” A secretly successful businessman volunteered with a food pantry. The line of those in need was too long for everyone to receive what they came for. The show ended with a HUGE, unexpected donation, enabling the organization to be more effective and continue feeding the hungry. The rich man also promised to continue giving of his time in this meaningful way. My boys and I discussed how we would love to volunteer if an opportunity like that ever became available. Within DAYS, we heard of a similar, first-time event to feed those in need in our own neighborhood.

First -Ever Food Fill Up at Evergreen Church in Stevens Point, WI

Evergreen Community Initiatives had been selected by Feeding America to distribute more than 10,000 pounds of food to Portage County residents, thanks to another man’s generous donation and Evergreen’s willingness to make it happen. As the registrations poured in, the amount was increased to 15,000 pounds. On Thursday, July 19, in Stevens Point, WI, over 17,000 pounds of food was given away to those in need!

Even as a pastor’s wife in a church family that I truly love – Highland Church – I jumped at this opportunity to join Evergreen Church to make an impact in our community for Christ!  I believe God loves to see His people, family members of different churches, acting as the united Body of Christ in the common purpose of shining the real gospel. Shouldn’t neighbors come together for great things?!

When my sons and I arrived at 9:30 am, there were already around 50-60 volunteers from Evergreen Church, Feeding America, college students from across the state along with local volunteers like ourselves. People were bagging items, directing traffic and organizing everyone for the job to be done. It was all performed with such efficiency that I overheard various Feeding America organizers share that this was one of the most organized events they’ve ever participated in. And, this was a first-time endeavor!

My sons worked together to bag up groceries for the Food Fill-Up

The event opened early, just before 10 am, and went until 7 pm. Guests could drive right up to the building to register -with absolutely no limitations based on income. Volunteers would then put an entire bag of dry goods into the recipients’ trunks, followed by a bag of meat, fresh bread, and fruit. People didn’t even have to get out of their cars! What was so touching was seeing people benefit from the optional “drive thru-prayer” before exiting the parking lot. My kids and I witnessed both recipients and prayer partners crying while they brought their needs to the Lord. What an amazing teaching moment for our children to learn how God’s people can help to meet both the spiritual AND physical needs of others! When we left at 1 pm, the leaders believed that over 1,200 people had already been fed and only 1/2 of the registered families had yet claimed their food. Food would be distributed for the rest of the day.

Here waits one of the prayer partners. Behind the truck is the long line of cars backed up for 2 blocks on the street, waiting to pull in the parking lot for food.

When the kids and I were driving home, I told them that the organizers were thinking about doing this, more, in the future. I asked if they’d want to help out again and both of them yelled out, “YEAH!”  We weren’t able to give a huge financial donation like the secret millionaire, but we felt like a million bucks after we gave of our time and energy to meet the needs of others. What a great experience for everyone!

Lost and Found Bible

| June 8, 2012

Wanna hear a cool story? It’s over 8 years in the making!
Back when I was 17, I bought myself a brand new (expensive) Study Bible. I think it was like $65, which was quite an “investment” for a teenager in the 90′s! As a brand new Christian, I brought this Bible to church and then faithfully plopped it on my nightstand to sit… until I went back to church, again. (Maybe you know what I mean?) After graduation, I brought it with me to Guatemala on my first missions trip. I shared a devotional, for the first time ever, to our team across the world. I remember it vividly, in the yard of a women’s prison, sharing about the plan of God in Isaiah 61:1-4 – which have since become true life-verses for me. I brought it along with me to Bible College and really started reading it. I mean I studied it. I underlined it. I highlighted it. I read the study notes to figure out what it was really saying. I made notes in it, myself. The more I read from it, the more I began to really understand it.  I read it during my early years of marriage. I spoke from it in our early years of church ministry. I looked to it for encouragement through the hard times. I found passages to share in cards with those I loved. I memorized scriptures. One scripture, in particular, was Psalm 23. I spent more than an hour reading it and re-reading it, scared to death and all alone, during a dark night when my husband was away. God met me through those words and I fell asleep, at peace. As the years went on, I noted the verses that meant something special to me by writing the date or short thoughts, alongside.  I read it as my new baby boy slept next to me, in the early, weary days of motherhood. This Bible was my lifeline to God, and had become a spiritual journal of  sorts.
Then, I lost my Bible.
I was sure I must have left it at a hotel in Milwaukee. I called there. They didn’t have it. I asked everyone I knew to look around for it. It was nowhere to be found. I prayed that God would somehow return it to me. But, it never showed up. Finally, I bought myself a different NIV Bible. But, I didn’t write in it. I didn’t highlight it. It wasn’t MY Bible. I investigated other versions and have been reading from those throughout the last eight years. But, I always missed my first Bible.
And, then my prayers were answered!

My long-lost Bible - an answer to prayer!

Last night, my Mother-in-law surprised me with my long-lost Bible. She said that a women found it in her church’s decorating closet! Can you believe it!? For eight years it’s been shuffled around a church I’ve only attended a few times. God knew just where it was, all along.
I’m so thankful for my mother-in-law returning my Bible to me. I’m so grateful for Jen, a woman I don’t know, who “came across my Bible” and thought I “might want it back.”  I’m so thankful to God, for answering my prayers. All these years later, I have a greater appreciation for this book and the history written on it’s pages. Absence makes the heart grow fonder… and appreciate much more! What great care He has for each of us! Thank you, Lord!
Do you have any fun stories about answered prayer? I’d sure love to hear them!

Beyond the Soiled Curtain

| November 25, 2009

beyond the soiled curtain image

This is the first book I will recommend to those who are interested in the issue of human trafficking. It shares about sex slavery in a way that is easily read and accepted. It has statistics and information, but readers won’t get lost in details because the authors share personal stories that keep your attention.
I read through the entire book in one sitting. It shares about the work of Project Rescue and the powerful hope we have in Jesus Christ. It inspires readers about what can be done through the working of the Holy Spirit through people like you and me.
I am thankful for those working with Project Rescue, right now. This is an annointed ministry fighting great battles. They are freeing women from the bondage of sex slavery and taking in the children of these workers, so all may live a better life. The Grants and others working in Project Rescue’s ministries around the world need us to team up with them. Through our prayers, our financial help and by sharing information, we can help them to make a difference. Thank God for Project Rescue!
Missionary David Livingstone is quoted in the book, “Sympathy is no substitute for action.” As a mom and pastor’s wife, I’m busy with the work God’s set right before me. I wish I could do more to combat trafficking. Maybe God will lead me to future works. But I’m reminded, from this book, that the greatest work I can do to combat human trafficking is to pray. I pray for spiritual and physical freedom for sex slaves around the world. I pray for those working with victims to be filled with the supernatural power of His Holy Spirit. I pray that He will fill me, so that I will be ready if He should ask me to move to the front lines. Prayer is something I CAN do. And, so can you.
A prayer from the book: “Dear Lord, please save the millions of women and girls who are being exploited in sexual slavery; and use my life and resources to save at least one.”

God’s Power for ALL Moms

| July 3, 2009

talbotts

The Talbotts provide life training for mothers in Wautoma at Naomi House. Find out how you can help them at http://naomihouse.org/

God’s been speaking to me about mercy.

When I think about victims of sex trafficking, I have the utmost mercy for them. I think about what they have faced. I understand that because of these horrors, it might be hard for them to be healthy moms to their children. They need healing in every respect.  The Home of Hope (changed to Freedom Home after my trip), in Moldova, is loving these women and training them to become better parents. I feel such faith that they will become who God intends for them to be, through His power.

When I think about some of the ladies in my own community, I get frustrated. I recently witnessed obvious neglect and abuse at a local park. It made me mad to see how these children were being treated. How could that mother fail to treat them with the love that every child deserves?

Then, at a prayer meeting, God convicted me as He connected these two thoughts. He showed me that these local women have histories that I can’t imagine. Maybe they’ve experienced abuse and neglect themselves. Maybe they just don’t know any better. But, doesn’t God have the power to change them, too? Why shouldn’t I have the same hope of restoration and health for them?

It just got me wondering if part of the purpose of my trip to Moldova might be to inspire me to help hurting moms in my own community. I’m open to whatever God has planned.

Franciscan Benediction

| June 29, 2009

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in the world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done to bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.
Amen.

Prayers

| May 9, 2009


Change the World

 

Before my oldest son was born, I would pray, “Lord, make him happy, healthy and whole.”
Before my youngest son was born, I would pray the same, but add, “And help Him love you all the days of his life.”
Now I simply pray, “Lord, Make us world changers!”
You see, to be world changers, my sons will need to be totally in love with Jesus. They will need an utter dependence on Him, alone. It won’t really matter if they are “happy, healthy and whole.” God alone provides true joy. He uses the sick. God uses the broken.
I trust Him with their lives. I pray that I can be a true example of Jesus Christ. No matter what it means for any of us, I pray for us to have His abundant life! That we will go after God with our whole hearts and follow Him wherever He leads and do whatever He asks us to do.
Live for Jesus. Change the world. That is our mission. That is my prayer.

Responsibilities

| May 9, 2009

A couple weeks ago, I was trying to fall asleep, but I couldn’t stop thinking about finances. I was asking God why he would lead me to take an expensive trip to Moldova when there are so many other needs; more needs than resources. Was this being responsible? 

It wasn’t a vision or a picture story that I tried to conjure up. But, as I was praying, I sensed that I was climbing up into The Lord’s lap. I felt such faith that He was my daddy, and that He would meet my needs. I started crying, filled with an intense trust that He would be faithful to provide. It was a miraculous moment filled with new, childlike trust.

On Thursday night at “The Worth of One,” my Daddy provided enough financial support to provide for both Amy and I to purchase our plane tickets! THAT is the kind of God I serve! That is the kind of Father that I have.

I’m doing what He’s asking me to do. And, He’s doing what I’m asking Him to do, so that I can follow Him. What a great relationship we can have with our Father God! What a good God!

“Sometimes the will of God feels downright irresponsible. You are called to make a decision or take a course of action that seems to make no sense. And if you do it, the people closest to you may think you are crazy. But responsible irresponsibility means refusing to allow your human responsibilities to get in the way of pursuing the passions God puts in your heart.”

Mark Batterson, Wild Goose Chase p. 18

What Is Your Desert?

| April 29, 2009

 

Streams In The Desert

STREAMS IN THE DESERT

by LB Cowman

 A collection of prayerful meditations, Christian writings, and God’s written promises.  This book has become one of the most dearly loved and bestselling devotionals of all times.

Although the original version of Streams in the Desert was published in 1925, my copy was printed in 1974 and still has the author listed as Mrs. Charles E. Cowman. I think that’s how she would have wanted it to appear. It seems just as old fashioned as the language inside, but her relationship to her husband was key to building her faith. According to the foreword in my version, the book is a compilation of “thoughts, quotations, and spiritual inspiration which had helped to sustain Mrs. Charles E. Cowman during her years of missionary work in Japan and China–particularly the six years she nursed her husband while he was dying.”

Can you imagine the depths of agony, frustration and grief she must have experienced? Yet, she sought God through it all, encouraging herself through the writings of others. It makes me wonder if she thought, “hm… I think someday there will be a bestselling book of all the excerpts that I’ve been putting together.”  No, I bet she was just doing what she knew to do, to find God in it all. I bet there were some days that she found it hard to really feel comforted by what she was reading. But, she knew that it was true, and she chose to keep her focus on Christ.

I love to journal things from the Bible or the other books I’m reading. It helps me focus on truth and I can refer to them, later on. I do it all with the small perspective that it helps me grow in God. But, what if somebody comes across my journals someday? Might they compile them in a book that would encourage millions?

What about you? Maybe the author listed on your bestseller would read something like “Hospital Hansen” or “Addiction Anderson” or “Mommy Miller” or “Nine to Five Nelson.” What is that ingredient of your life that seems to be taking over your days?  Streams in the Desert might not exist if it weren’t for what Mrs. Cowman experienced with her husband. 

Be brave through what you are facing. Look to God in it all. Trust Him. Your situation is exactly what He will use to encourage somebody else, someday.