Monthly Archives: May 2015

How to Survive Storms and Thorns

We all face seasons of storms and thorns. My mother died unexpectedly in 2003, and her funeral was the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. I attended Daddy’s funeral on that same holiday in 2004. He was laughing one day, gone the next. All three of my siblings experienced serious health issues during this season of loss. I was terrified I would lose them too.

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I was reading scripture and ran across, Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV. My face grew warm, my stomach churned, and a rage consumed me. I was acting like a child having a temper tantrum. It humbled me to discover the shallowness of my faith.

THe feet of a young woman as she is standing on the beach

On the weekend preceding Memorial Day in 2005, I was with my sister who was recovering from breast cancer and said, “If no one I love dies this week, I’m going to say, ‘Thank you, Jesus’.”  After two consecutive years of mourning, I faced the holiday with anxiety.

The loss I endured that week was my career. The CEO of the company where I worked informed me that the decision has been made to outsource my department, and my services were no longer needed. I was numb, crushed, and heartbroken. What had I done to cause this calamity? I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t force the words, “Thank you, Jesus” out of my mouth.

I recognize the summer of 2005 as a turning point. With no career, I was available to help with Vacation Bible School (VBS). The theme Bible verse was Deuteronomy: 6:5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. It was embedded in every story and song. On the Friday following VBS, we loaded our car and headed for the beach. On Sunday morning, we rushed to the Baptist church and realized we had missed the service. People were just walking out, but they pointed across the street to the Methodist church. We jogged across the street and found a seat. As I stared toward the front, the verse being projected behind the pastor caused me catch my breath. Deuteronomy 6:5.

I felt a chill, and every hair stood on end. I’d sang and read this verse over and over during the past week, but I hadn’t taken the time to consider the scripture.

I spoke to my minister when I returned home and asked, “What do you think God is trying to tell me?”

He frowned. “Sometimes scripture is difficult to understand, but this verse is clear.”

I still didn’t understand.

“God wants you to love him with all your heart…”

“But I do love him.” And then I remembered my rants, the angry outbursts, and my bitterness over losing my parents, the worry for my siblings, and my disappointment in losing my job.

After much introspection, I came to the understanding that God wants me to love him, unconditionally. God doesn’t owe me anything. Even though I was an adult, my personal relationship with God was shallow. I’d counted on Mom to be my prayer warrior instead of trusting in Jesus.

I discovered that to be able to trust Jesus you must spend time in scripture and prayer.

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God is so good. All three siblings recovered from their illnesses. He provided a wonderful position for me as the director of a small-town library. Books have always been something I love, and three years ago I started writing. This week, on the Tuesday before Memorial Day, something amazing happened. An agent with one of the most prestigious literary management companies in the nation offered me a contract. My life has not been perfect, but I can have perfect peace if I trust Jesus.

Today I’m on the mountain top, but I know there will be valleys to pass. I pray that I learned my lesson and abide in faith, hope and love, so no storm nor thorn will not break me.

ciel apres l'orage

 

#nostormnorthorn #abideinfaithhopeandlove #memorialday

Calling All Prayer Warriors!

I’ve had a tough few weeks with more irons in the fire than I can effectively handle. But what should I give up? My mission work? Serving my home church? My job? Serving my family? Serving my home community? Serving my work community? I’ve also been plagued by jealousy, which makes me feel underserving of God’s blessings. Who am I to share the gospel when I’m such a sinner?

I’ve felt overwhelmed to the point of sleepless nights, tossing and turning, and worrying about a hundred things over which I have no control. I’m scheduled to attend a writers’ conference next week, and I’ve thought about cancelling my trip. I’ve allowed Satan to discourage me.

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On Thursday morning, I threw in the towel and turned everything over to God. Last night I slept through the night, and for the first time in days, I feel refreshed. Thank you Jesus!

A lovely friend and sister in Christ suffered a stroke last week and has been transferred to Hospice. Please pray for her and those who love her.

One of my coworkers faced a terrible health scare. Yesterday she received fantastic news from the doctor. Thank you, Jesus! I am grateful for her demonstration of faith as her prayer has been, “May God’s will be done and may he give me the strength to bear it.”

The Kenya mission team is hosting a fish fry tonight to raise funds for our trip. Please pray that God will provide the funds we need. Please pray that our team will be obedient and that God will prepare us. Please pray that God will soften the hearts of the unbelievers we meet in Kenya.

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Early last week I learned that one of our team members may have to pull out of the trip. Yesterday, another person said they would love to take his spot. Please pray that God will pave the way for whoever is supposed to be on this team.

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I’m going to stick with my original plan and attend the writers’ conference. Please pray that I will be able to concentrate so that I can improve my writing skills and that my work will glorify God.

Thank you for your prayers and support. I have faith that great things will happen because I believe in the power of prayer. I’ll give you an update next week.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1Timothy 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all people –

Bible Group Praying Together

 

#thepowerofprayer #prayforoneanother #prayforafricanmissions #africamissions

Would You Be A Bold Witness?

A stranger stood in front of me at an event and ranted, “You should be fired!” She shouted.

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My jaw dropped. When she stopped spewing venom, I asked, “What services are we not offering that you’d like to see.”

She stepped back and scorched me with a hateful look. “It’s not my job to do your job.” And she stomped off.

I have talented and trained staff, so I’m accustomed to receiving compliments. The tirade from this angry citizen stunned me.

A friend said, “Forget it. You know it’s not true.”

I’ve been burdened by this furious lady all week. And finally, it hit me. What terrible things must have happened to her to fill her with such rage? It dawned on me that I should pray for her. “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

a woman is praying to god with hope

This experience made me consider, What is it like to live in a country where Christians are persecuted? I know my friend, Ibrahim, faces persecution on a daily basis and yet he continues to be a bold witness. I have to wonder if I would be an unflinching witness. I can’t be positive because I was shaken by the rant of one angry woman about my work performance.

I am thankful for this experience because it gave a splinter of glimpse of what it might be like for my brothers and sister living in countries that persecute Christians.

close up of hand of a prisoner grabbed the bars of the prison

Would you be a bold witness? Only God knows the answer.

#boldwitness #christianpersecution #prayforyourenemies

Kenya Mission Schedule

Many have asked me about the schedule for our Kenya mission trip, so I’ve written a rough outline of how we’ll spend our time. About five days will be spent travelling, three days on the mission field and two days resting or touring. There’s a reason the Tharaka are an unreached people group. It’s hard to reach them because of the terrain. See below a picture of the type of vehicle we’ll use to reach them.

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Thursday: Depart for Nashville Airport at 10:00 am.

Friday evening at 8:00 pm: Arrive Nairobi

Saturday: Orientation, shop for supplies and rest to recover from jet lag.

Sunday Morning: Depart at 7:00 A.M. and we hope to arrive at our campsite by early afternoon and set up camp. This is a picture of a typical camp site.

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Monday:  Door-to-Door visitation around the site where the missionaries and pastor hope to plant a new church.  We will visit homes and share “Creation to Christ,” the gospel, and invite neighbors to the activities of the next two days. We will form teams of a volunteer and national partner with translators.

Tuesday Morning: Vacation Bible School for the children; Afternoon: We’ll offer separate classes for the women and men.  Women’s topics:  women’s health classes and water purification. Men’s topics:  animal care and nutrition, and water purification. We’ll also share the gospel in these sessions in some way.

Wednesday Morning: Vacation Bible School for the children; Afternoon: Separate Classes for the Men and Women continued. Evening: We will show the Jesus film in the afternoon or evening and offer an invitation. At some point, we will have a celebration time with our Kenyan partners to thank each other and close our project of working together.  Depending on the schedule, it could be in the afternoon or early evening.

Thursday: Morning – Break Camp and travel to a lodge and national park. This is a picture of a room. Notice there are no walls.

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Friday: Morning – Photo Game Drive. Afternoon – Return to Nairobi.

Saturday: Tour Nairobi and visit elephant orphanage and depart for the airport in the evening.

Arrive Home: Sunday evening.

It may seem to some that it’s too expensive to travel so far and only be able to spend three days on the mission field. However, I know that three days of camping, and working in a brutal environment is about all my aged body can withstand. I pray I can meet the challenge, but I know I’ll be exhausted. I wish I could spend a larger portion of my time in Kenya on the mission field, but I’m not physically able. This is what it takes to reach an un-reached people group and the price we have to pay to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Romans: 10:14-15
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believe? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “”How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’”

#notgoingtoAfrica #Africamission #Kenyamissions