Thankfulness.

We had a guest speaker in church yesterday who encouraged us to think this year of 20 things that we’re thankful for… and to make them a little deeper than “clothes.” 🙂 So, here’s my list of 20. I’d love to hear yours!

  1.  My husband. I feel I’ve been truly blessed by the man God has given me. He truly completes me and he is leading us into ministry. I could not do this without him! He keeps my feet on the ground and my mind clear! 🙂
  2. Our financial supporters. The economy is horrible and there are hundreds of demands on people’s finances, everything from necessities to benefits and charities. And yet, the Lord has provided us with around 17 monthly supporters who remember us each and every month, regardless of their own personal circumstances. So incredibly humbling.
  3. Our prayer partners. I never realized what a discipline prayer was until I started praying for specific requests and people on a daily basis. Being a prayer warrior is really a gift and I’m so grateful for the many people that uphold us in prayer on a daily basis.
  4. Our mission organization. We’ve both been involved in a couple of different organizations and never have we felt so at home with any organization like we do with BCM. We love going down to headquarters and just talking with the people down there. They’re so encouraging, welcoming, and loving. A true family!
  5. My dog, Gunther. We had to leave a lot of stuff behind in SD and Gunther was one thing that I wanted to bring with us! We had to give away my two cats (both of which I really did love), but Gunther came with us. Unfortunately, he won’t be going all the way to Peru. So, I’m enjoying my time with him here, while I can. I’m sure gonna miss that little dog.
  6. Friendships. Moving around teaches you who your true friends are. When you up and leave someplace, it’s the ones that keep in touch, that want to know how things are going, that can carry on conversations that are more than “so, how are you?” – that are true friends. Sometimes it takes leaving before you find out who they are. We’ve also built friendships here in PA that we didn’t think we’d have. When you’re without friends, you also realize how much you need them!
  7. My Bible School education. Even though I grew up as a PK, I didn’t really know a lot about the Word of God, besides typical Sunday School answers. My two years at Bible school really helped me learn so much more about doctrine and theology than I would’ve ever known on my own. I also learned how to study the Word for myself and how to present Bible studies and lessons. I didn’t realize how invaluable this information was until recently when I found out others who grew up in the church are really clueless about some basic Bible knowledge.
  8. An entire extended family of believers. Everyone on both my mom’s side and my dad’s side are believers. That’s a lot of people, in case you were wondering! My dad comes from a family of eight… there’s a lot of cousins. 🙂 But, to my knowledge, everyone has accepted Christ as Savior, including most of my cousins’ children. What a legacy! Brian is one of only three believers in his entire family (the other two are two of his younger brothers), which means that we are the start of a new legacy. We’re quite excited about bringing the Gospel of Christ into this family!
  9. My health. This has been a good year for me, healthwise. I had some major problems with my thyroid a few years ago and it’s taken me about six years to get it regulated and under some kind of control. This is the first year in five years that I haven’t been to the doctor every few months and had to have blood tests every three months! My thyroid seems to have finally regulated; I have finally found a doctor I like (albeit, in SD); we have a doctor waiting for me in Peru who is a bilingual believer; and I have a pharmacist friend here in PA that can help with perscriptions. I think these should be numbers 10-14! 🙂
  10. The birth of my best friend’s baby in July. Braden Joseph Conry was born 24 hours after we left SD this summer. We were so disappointed that we didn’t get to meet him in person! We’ll meet Braden for the first time in two years, when we’re home on our first furlough. I’m thankful for his birth, though, because I love his parents so much and I’m so incredibly happy for them. They will make wonderful parents and they were so excited to have this little boy join their family. Her pregnancy was easy and the birth went well – it doesn’t get much better than that. Our family has had problems with miscarriages and family members unable to get pregnant, so seeing how easily her pregnancy and birth went just reminds me that it all really is a miracle and babies are a gift from God.
  11. My friends’ adopted baby girl they brought home in April. This story is an amazing journey of God’s sovereignty!! Our friends waited 15 years to be parents. They waited over a year to bring home an adopted child. They brought home this little girl two days after she was born in January. But, 24 hours later, the birth mom asked for her back. We rejoiced with them when they brought her home and literally sobbed and ached when they gave her back. It felt like a death in our family. Then, three months later, they got a call saying the birth mom wanted to give the baby girl back to them. She has some pretty serious medical issues and the young mom did not feel she could keep her. So, our friends brought Sadie Lynn back home in April and decided in July to adopt her officially. She becomes their little girl on paper in January 2009. She is their precious, beautiful, blind gift from God who even looks like them! God is so faithful and so good, even when it doesn’t appear that way all the time.
  12. The opportunity to lead about 25 children to the Lord in January. I taught three Released Time classes in January and part of February for a friend of mine who needed to have her hip replaced. Long story short… the week I stopped teaching, I gave the Gospel message and was able to see right around 25 kids total from the three classes accept the Lord as Savior. My favorite part was this one little boy who definitely knew what he’d done tell me after I explained the Lamb’s Book of Life to him that his name was written in there and he would see me in heaven. Praise the Lord!
  13. Our cultural training this spring. We attended the Center for Intercultural Training in NC for nine weeks this spring. We had no clue what to expect when we got there! It was a long, wonderful, amazing nine weeks. We feel so much more prepared for ministry overseas now! I’m so thankful for our professors, our mentor, and all the training we received.
  14. The friends we made at CIT. We really needed some friends who understand what we were going through and who would be right there with us on this journey. We met those friends in CIT. We now have close friends spread out all over the world – Morocco, Somaliland, Ireland, Romania, Guatemala, Kazakhstan… the list could go on. We have no idea when we’ll see these friends again. It might be in glory, but that’s okay. That’ll just allow us to not have time restraints on the reunion.
  15. The internet. I think about missionaries of old who left home, family, and friends for the mission field and were gone the rest of their lives – with no or very little communcation the entire time they were gone. Now, we can talk to friends overseas for free – and even see them with webcams! We can send updates, prayer requests, and letters via email and have them delivered within just a few minutes. Amazing.
  16. Freedom. I read a lot on WW2 and I am so grateful that I live in the era that I do. I have freedom of religion, freedom of speech… many, many freedoms. I am also safe! The terror in India is ongoing and that’s just one of many places around the world where persecution is running rampant right now. But, I am safe and free and my biggest worry is still miles smaller than what fellow believers are worrying about right now around the world.
  17. Loving parents. Even though living with my parents this past year has, at times, been really long and, shall we say, trying… I am so grateful for parents that love and support me and my husband the way they do. I have never been abused, neglected, or abandoned. I love my parents and I am so grateful for them and all they do for us.
  18. The talents God has given me. I am so grateful that the Lord has given me multiple talents that I can use for Him. He gives everyone talents… I’m glad He gave me the ones that I have. 🙂
  19. My Bible. I love having my Bible accessible. I am learning, as I grow older, to not take my Bible for granted. I love reading the Word. I am so thankful for this letter from God Almighty!
  20. My salvation. Without Christ, my life would be meaningless. To Him alone be glory forever and ever Amen! He has given me all the things I just said I’m thankful for, plus so many more.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! No matter where you are in the world, I hope you take time this week to thank the Lord for all He’s done for you this year. If you’d like, feel free to share some of them here. I’d love to hear them!!

[FYI, I put a different option for the prologue to my book under “My Writings.” Check it out and let me know what you think! 🙂 ]

House.

house

Here it is! This is a (scanned-in) picture of what our house will look like and where it will be on the campus. This particular house belongs to a co-worker, but it’s what our house will be modeled after (all the missionary houses look alike; all the dorms look alike; and all the classrooms look alike). The arrow points to where our house will be positioned. We will be beyond the married student’s dorms, at the far edge of the property, kind of off by ourselves. We’ll be clearing out some of that land so we can build. Our back view will be that mountain. Very cool. We have this picture hanging up in our bedroom right now so we can be reminded of what we’re looking forward to!

This past Tuesday, I helped put on a benefit for the family of a friend of mine. Her dad has advanced acute leukemia and underwent a bone marrow transplant a week ago. But, they have five children and need help with bills. So, about ten of us ladies from church organized and put on a ham dinner benefit with a silent auction. It was a lot of work (and I didn’t even do half of it!), but it was well-worth the effort!! We were so pleased with how the Lord provided. Probably the neatest thing for all of us was just seeing the body of Christ work together. It really is an amazing thing to be part of the church. If you have two minutes, check out this news blurb! I don’t know how long it’ll be available, but check it out if you get a chance. My friend’s dad was the cameraman’s mailman for 25 years! Very cool. Here’s the link:

http://pahomepage.com/content/fulltext/?cid=55281

If you think of it, you can be praying for the Ogden family. We are praying that the transplant works! His sister was a perfect match, so the doctor is quite optimistic. Pray for the family – there are 5 children. Elyse, his wife, and their oldest daughter, Kate, are living in Philadelphia right now so they can be near him. The rest of the kids are home alone. Thanks so much!

Riding the Rollercoaster.

dsc00498

There it is! The first contract I’ve ever received for the first book I’ve ever written from the first company I ever sent it to.

This is also the first contract I have ever turned down.

Yup, I turned it down. After much thought, prayer, and discussion, I decided not to accept this offer. I talked with a friend who edits and writes for another large publishing company and she adviced to not accept it. She has also offered a plethora of advice on how to make my manuscript even better for the next time I send it anywhere. First on my agenda is rewriting the prologue, so I might do a giant overhaul and when I do, I’ll repost it so I can get your opinions on it.

But, for now, the excitement of getting accepted (and receiving such high praise) is over. It may never get accepted again and I need to start being okay with that! At least this was a stepping stone.

The other big rollercoaster this week was, obviously, the election. I am actually surprised that it affected me so minimally. I really thought I’d be more passionate about the results, but I’m not. I knew Obama was going to win, so that didn’t surprise me at all. Am I disappointed? Yes. If you read my post on the election, you know why. Am I impressed with America? Absolutely. We’ve come a long, long ways. Regardless of your stance on how this turned out, I agree with another friend of mine – we must applaude our President-elect for coming so far and making history. His story really proves that in America, you can do anything. We are a great country!

I am embarrassed for our Christian community, I will say, though. As much as I don’t think America will look the same in four years as it does now, I don’t think it’s the end of the world. I don’t believe Jesus is coming back any sooner than He would have if McCain had been elected. I actually look at this as more of an opportunity for Christians than anything. We already know he is going to let the government fund abortions again. He will probably work to enable “civil unions” in all fifty states, or something to that equivalent eventually. And yes, there’s a good chance some of our religious freedoms that we enjoy will change somewhat. So, what’s our role in this administration?

I believe our role is to live even more Christ-like lives than we have been. My uncle said once that if the church was doing its job, we wouldn’t need to worry about a politician working to stop abortions or keep marriage between a man and a woman. That’s our job as believers; not the government’s. Let’s set an example and stop protesting the new President-elect and just continue to spread the Gospel. Worrying about what he will or won’t do is not going to save our country. Spreading the Good News about Jesus Christ, on the other hand, will preserve our country for generations to come, just like it has all these years.

We’ve lost our battleground, people, to a society that is getting increasingly immoral. Let’s win it back! But, let’s do it in a way that’s honorable, reputable, and not dispicable and laughable to the unsaved community. The more we fuss and fight and get mad about the election results, the more they’re going to laugh at us and not want to hear what we have to say.

If David could honor the man who spent most of his life trying to kill him, we can honor our new President. God has put him there for a reason. He’s also made us citizens of the United States for a reason. Respect the office; stand your ground; live for the Lord. God never promised us it’ll be easy. He just promised He wouldn’t leave us. Let’s leave a legacy for our children to follow, regardless of where our country ends up in the next hundred years.

Ah, the rollercoaster of life. Hang on… the ride gets bumpy really fast!!

speed_rollercoaster_big

They Liked It!!

A few weeks ago, I posted that I had written a novel and was “biting the bullet” and sending it in to see if it would be published. Well…..

My dad told me I had a voicemail today and that I needed to listen to it and have a pen ready. I was all upset because he wouldn’t just tell me what the message was. So, as I sat there listening to it, my dad stood behind me grinning like a goofball. I didn’t make it through the whole message before I started screaming and crying and running through the house like a maniac. I had to listen to the message three times before I could get the phone numbers down to call the poor lady back!!

When I got ahold of her, she told me that she LOVED (her words, not mine) my manuscript and thought it had a lot of potential. She wanted to know if it was a true story (which it’s not) and told me I had written the rape scene “very tactfully.” She was “highly impressed” with how well it was written and can’t wait to send me a contract… if I wanted it. I about jumped out of my chair – of COURSE I want to see a contract!!!

This never happens – send in one manuscript to one company when you’ve never been published before – and be accepted… with enthusiasm! I am ecstatic. Overjoyed. Overwhelmed!!

Here’s my plea, though! Obviously, I have never done this before. I honestly sent it in expecting a rejection, so I wasn’t planning on having to figure out where to go from here! So, have you published? Do you know how this works? Do you know things I should be looking out for/make sure are there? And the big one: should I have to pay to get it published when it’s not a self-publishing company? I’m open to advice. This book is my baby and I will not let it go unless I know it will be treated well! 🙂

If you haven’t read the prologue, feel free to read the unedited, older version of the prologue under “My Writings.” It has since been fixed and revamped, so this is not what was sent in to the publisher.

Give Me Your Eyes.

airplane

A few weeks ago, I quoted lyrics from the soundtrack to my life. One of those is the very popular Brandon Heath song, “Give Me Your Eyes.” I love this song. I cry every single stinkin’ time I hear it! I’m telling you, the more I listen to it, the more it hits home.

While I was in college, I did a lot of flying. That was really the only way to get home for breaks. After college, Brian and I flew out to see each other rather frequently during our year-long engagement. I love flying. I used to love landing in Montreal at night. I love the city lights. I love sitting in airports and people watching. I hardly ever actually read whatever book happens to be in my bag; I just sit and stare at the people and wonder where in the world they’re going and what their stories are. Airports make me contemplative.

I went to New Tribes Bible Institute in Wisconsin since I wanted to study the Bible and I knew the Lord had called me into missions. One of the ways I knew the Lord had called me into missions is that every time I flew, over the city lights of Montreal, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, or wherever I happened to be, I cried. All those lights represented all those people who don’t know the Lord. All those people who had never even heard of the Lord! So lost.

The first time I flew to South America, I was 17. My best friend and I sat staring out our window at the Caribbean and then at Brasil as we passed over. It was gorgeous! When we landed in Quito for our layover, I remember thinking how huge that city was and how, again, it just represents all those people who have never heard the Gospel. It literally makes my heart ache thinking about it.

In Brandon’s powerful song, he sings, “…Give me your eyes for just one second, Give me your eyes so I can see Everything that I keep missin’, Give me your love for humanity, Give me your arms for the brokenhearted the ones that are far beyond my reach, Give me your heart for the ones forgotten, Give me your eyes so I can see…” The beginning of the song, the first verse is: “Looked down from a broken sky Traced out by the city lights My world from a mile high Best seat in the house tonight Touched down on the cold black tile Hold on for the sudden stop Breathe in the familar shock of confusion and chaos. Are those people going somewhere? Why have I never cared?” That’s exactly how I feel every time I fly. All those people. Where in the WORLD are they going? What do those people represent – heartache, loss, pain, illness, death, suicide, abortion, divorce, abuse, orphaned, mistreated… lost.

I told Brian on Sunday (as I sat crying through this song yet again), “I don’t know if I WANT God’s eyes for just one second! Can you imagine what He sees in that second? I know of so much pain in my small circle of people in my life. Why would I want to see the whole world’s pain? Why would I want to know the burden?”

God cares about individuals. That blows my mind! I love teaching children and one thing I love telling them is that God knows how many hairs are on your head. They always look at me like, “yeah right.” I actually had one little boy say once, “But, I had a haircut last night!” He was honestly scared that God would’ve gotten confused about how many hairs are on his head at that moment. God knows the intricate details of everybody’s lives. He keeps our names straight. He keeps our problems straight. He doesn’t say, “Are you the one that was telling me about ___ or was that somebody else? I forget. My memory’s so bad these days, you’ll have to forgive me. I have been doing this for longer than you’ve been alive!” He’s not Santa; no lists for Him. He doesn’t use those memory video games. He doesn’t play Sudoku to keep His mind sharp. He keeps us all straight. He knows us intricately. He shares in our pain, our joy, our sorrow, our laughter, and our tears. Wow.

We are His representatives, though. We do have a certain responsability. I want so badly to “be all things to all people so that I might reach some”, like Paul. I realize that I can’t be everything for everybody or I’ll wear out, but I do need to be more sensitive than I am. I do need to notice when someone is hurting. I do need to notice when I need to shut up and just listen instead of talking over them with my own set of issues. Oh, to have a taste of God’s compassion, kindness, and love. Oh, to be aware of the hurting, the hungry, the lost, and the lonely around me!

If I am God’s ambassador until He calls me home, why is my prayer life not miles longer than it is right now? Why do I pass people by in church that I know are aching just because I don’t “have the time” to truly talk? Why do I think they wouldn’t want to talk to me? Why do I not offer a hug more often? Why do I promise to pray and then forget by Wednesday?

“I’ve been there a million times A couple of million eyes Just moving past me by I swear I never thought that I was wrong Well I want a second glance So give me a second chance To see the way you see the people all alone…”

Give me Your eyes, God. Give me Your hands. Give me Your feet. Give me Your heart and Your arms. But, most importantly, give me Your love for all of humanity who are so broken, so lost, so desperate without You!

November 2008
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