Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

To My Precious Daughter and Son In Law On Leaving For Moldova

When Kat left for college I wrote a poem for her called To My Daugher on Leaving For College.  I actually submitted it to Blue Mountain Arts and they bought it from me for a whopping 50.00.  Many years have gone by and I found myself struggling with words for Kat and Brian as they embarked on their new mission - missionaries to orphans in Moldova with Philip Cameron Ministries.  So I sat down and wrote To My Precious Daughter and Son-In-Law On Leaving For Moldova.  I gave it to Kat last Thursday night at the prayer service with instructions not to open it until the wheels of the plane were up.  They are in Moldova.  They are eight hours ahead of me right now.  I won't see them for a long time.....but my heart....my heart is with them. 

Today is Sunday, July 20th and I know the day will be dawning bright and glorious for you.

Yet, there will be a storm brewing in my heart

You and Brian have loaded the last of your life in the suitcases

And will be heading to Atlanta to begin the next journey in your life. A journey that has been three years in the making.

It is one that the two of you will go on with God.

I have watched you both grow from children to adults and am one proud momma

The mother of missionaries is a new role for me, but I know God will train me in it well.

I have done all I was supposed to do as a parent.

To quote you, “Moms are great, moms are grand, moms are everything but a man”.

So here I am now, giving you to God and setting you free again.

Just like when you went to college I was sad.

Today I find myself sad again, but for me.I am glad for you.

I am bursting with pride at the life choice you both have made.

You have amazing life partners in each other.

But then I think I knew that when “B” was just in the 9th grade.

Your new journey is on the other side of the world from me.

You both are destined to do great works in the Lord.

And although you have not lived in my house for a long time

I find myself missing you already.

You are embarking on a spiritual journey of a lifetime.serving God.
A thousand thoughts flood my mind as I sit here writing this for you guys.



Have I told you this? Have I taught you that?

Moldova will love you both.  Stella’s Voice is lucky to have you.  Hug those babies(and teens) real  good.

On my way to church.to do MY calling I know my eyes will fill with tears.

But I promise you they will be happy tears.

You know, the day you were born I knew I was beginning the process of letting you go.

The fact that I am letting you go with God as your pilot is an awesome feeling.

Know that you will always, be in my heart, and will only be as far away as Skype, Facebook , and email.

I want to be part of your experiences.so be sure you keep your blog updated.

Enjoy this experience, grow with this experience.  Know that I am praying for you both.

With much love and God’s many blessings,
Remember Isaiah 6:8.  It was the verse I thought God had given me about you.that turned out to be specifically for me. 

 

 

 

 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Evergreen



About The Book:  An empty nest has Ingrid Christiansen dreading the upcoming holidays, but her husband, John, couldn’t be more excited about this new season of life. He even has a surprise trip abroad planned. He’s sure she’ll love it. What’s more romantic than Christmas in Paris?  Before he can stop her, however, Ingrid agrees to spearhead a major church project. Then their faithful dog, Butterscotch, needs emergency surgery, draining their savings. And then—because disasters strike in threes—an unexpected guest arrives, dredging up old hurts.  As a beautiful blanket of snow transforms the north woods into a winter wonderland, a deep chill settles over John and Ingrid’s marriage. With the holidays fast approaching, their only hope of keeping their love evergreen depends on turning the page on the past and embracing a new chapter of their future.
About The Author:  "Growing up in Minneapolis and attending the U of MN, I learned to love city life, although I'm a woodsy girl at heart. Or maybe I'm an adventurer -- having lived and traveled all over the world, including Siberia Russia as a missionary for eight years. Probably that's why my characters can't sit still, and seem to get into one scrape after another -- they're too much like me! I love God, my family, my country, my church, and feel privileged every day to be able to write stories, that I hope inspire and entertain!"
My Thoughts On The Book:  I love reading Susan May Warren.  This book was no exception.  It is another delightful story of the Christiansen family.  From the moment I began reading until I reached the last page I was hooked.  I was actually sad that the story had ended.  Warren is a wonderful character builder and you feel as if this family lives next door to you.  This is a must read.
Disclaimer: This book was given to me to review in exchange for an honest review.  The thoughts are entirely my own.  Thank you for this opportunity.

Behind The Stage

About The Book:  Follow Christian minister Josh Allen’s harried life as he struggles to rescue his family and his church from the pitfalls of desire and intolerance in Anne Sanders’ new book, Behind the Stage. As his world falls apart, Josh must build a new life in a Southern town where temptation takes hold of his daughter and his congregation. On the church’s stage he leads his flock, but what will happen behind the altar?
About The Author:  Anne Sanders is an author, blogger, teacher and researcher. Her first articles were published in 1992. After working as a research consultant and teacher, she returned to writing in 2002 with the birth of her son. She began by crafting articles for a local newspaper and was picked up as a regular features contributor by the Pensacola News Journal.  She found herself writing features about people who made a difference through their life work or volunteering and wanted to help others see how they could do the same thing, especially Christians.
My Thoughts On The Book:  I am a pastor and pastor's wife and loved this book.  I understand the moving concept and it is difficult to pick up your life and move somewhere new every few years.  This book is about a year in the life of Pastor Josh.  The former pastor had been at the church for over fifteen years and when Josh comes in there are many congregants who are not happy with his views and his method of doing things.  Most pastor's know that when you are moved to a church it takes a year to learn how things run.  On top of learning the new church in a small town....he finds his own family is falling apart.  This is an easy and good read.  It was raining here and I sat and read the book.  Loved it!  Good job Anne Sanders on this debut book. 
Disclaimer: This book was given to me to review as part of Thomas Nelson Publishing Company's BookLook Blogging Program in exchange for an honest review.  The thoughts are entirely my own. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

In God's Hands


Rock Mills had a tough week.  We buried three  people, two were rushed to the hospital for serious falls, two were hospitalized for strokes.  One of them was 27 year old Keaton McCarley.  His mother is my dear friend.  Frank and I happened to be at West Georgia when we got the call about the two strokes.  We were on the fifth floor visiting Mrs. Josie.  We rushed downstairs to find both people across the hall from each other.  One turned out to be Bell’s Palsey….the other one was a stroke with a brain bleed in critical condition.  He was going to be airlifted to Emory Midtown.  We waited with the family until the helicopter took off, returned to Rock Mills just in time to do Bible School….we waited…..we prayed.  This young man is the father of Kash, Kruze, and Jett.  They spent over four months in UAB with the babies…..and now this.  Life had thrown Magen a huge curve ball…..and through it all…..she claimed Isaiah 41:10.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I don’t know why life throws us some curve balls, but it does. Why on earth God ever decided to create tornados, hurricanes, gnats, flies or even mosquitoes is beyond me, but He did. Life can hurt some times! I have asked the same questions of God that you have asked; “WHY?” “Why do you allow suffering and pain?” Why don’t you just take it away and help us?” “Where are you God when life doesn’t make sense?”  We believe that God is all powerful – so therefore He could stop all evil and suffering. And we believe that God is all loving – so therefore He would stop all evil and suffering. So we believe God could and should, but don’t, you and I sometimes think that He doesn’t care.

I personally have had a tough time preparing for today when my daughter and son in law would board a plane to move to Moldova and answer God’s call to be missionaries.  So let me ask you….Has your faith been under fire lately because of the trials, struggles and suffering you have experienced? I can’t answer all of the questions of life, but there are some realities that we need to come to grips with regarding the question of suffering.

I. Reality #1 The gift of life allows us the capacity to hurt!

A.  freedom comes with consequences!

1. It is true that sometimes we do suffer because of the sins in our life -the consequences of our actions. The person who has smoked all of his or her life can be saddened by the diagnosis of lung cancer but he/she is not necessarily surprised. The absent husband who pursued his career at the expense of his marriage can be devastated by his wife who is not home when he returns from work one day, but he should not be shocked.

2. God gave humankind freedom. We are not creatures who are void of choice. We do not serve God and live in His created world as robots without free choice and decision making.

3. Jesus is present and He is involved in our lives even when we cannot understand why we do not hear from Him or where He may be as a result of the suffering we are going through.

4. God encourages us to ask the tough questions. He is not insecure – He is God. He is not afraid of our questions. He has the answers. God knows that the hardships and cruelties of life will raise tough questions in our minds and, unlike some of His insecure servants, He does not demand blind, unquestioning obedience.

5. Sometimes we just have to wrestle with what is and hold on to what we know - but that does not mean we have to like it.

How many of you have seen the movie Soul Surfer.  It is one of my favorites.  Bethany Hamilton was born to surf. A natural talent who took to the waves at a young age, she was leading an idyllic, sun-drenched, surfer girl’s life on the Kauai Coast and competing in national competitions when everything changed in a heartbeat. On Halloween morning, Bethany was on a typical ocean outing when a 14-foot tiger shark came out of nowhere and seemed to shatter all her dreams.  Why did this happen?”

6. Have you ever asked, “God why did this happen ?” Have you ever questioned God because of the circumstances and situations – the suffering and pain in your life? “It’s a bloody awful mess and that’s all there is to it.”

7. The Bible is full of questions. “Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do times of trouble happen? How long will you hide you’re your face from me?

When the communist countries of Eastern Europe were finally liberated the following words were found penned on the wall of a prison cell in one of those countries, “I believe in love even when I don’t feel it. I believe in God even when He is silent.”

B. Perception is our enemy, not God.

1. We must not assume God’s silence or apparent inactivity is evidence of His disinterest. How we feel about God as a result of our suffering in no way changes who God really is.

2. Loving God and growing in faith with Him does not guarantee a happy, carefree life. Just because someone may be going through tough times and hurting does not mean that God is not at work!

3. In John 16:33 Jesus told his disciples that they should anticipate suffering. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world.”

4. With God, even when nothing is happening, something is happening. Believe the truth, not what you feel! He has a plan in all things even when we struggle and hurt.  Sometimes the struggle is exactly what we need.

II. Reality #2 The healing we want for our pain and suffering is not usually easy.

A. Because we can’t always find God in our situation. It is not to say He is absent. It is to say however that sometimes we don’t see Him or feel him.

1. As John the Baptist lay imprisoned for his faith he did what any one of us would have done.  He questioned where he was at and what was going on.  In Matthew 11:3 John sends a message to Jesus from his prison cell and asks, “Are you the one or should we expect someone else?”

2. He had not given up on Jesus by any means, but if you are going to lose you head over something, first check out the questions that are swirling inside of it.

3. In John 9: 6 we read where Jesus spits on the ground and makes clay. Then he applies it to the eyes of the blind man and told him to go wash it off. The mud pack was hardly the healing I would have preferred.   We find ourselves thinking, Just touch my eyes and heal me Jesus - What’s with the spit and mud! Maybe that is why the duration of our suffering is extended - we are looking for another way, another alternative. Maybe we are resisting God’s present interaction because it is not what we expected.

4. Some questions just don’t have the answers we hope for. In the story from John 9:25 when the man was questioned a second time about who Jesus was and how He enabled the man to see, the man responds, “Whether He is a sinner or not, I do not know; One thing I do know, I was blind but now I see!” Talk about Amazing Grace!

5. Pain and suffering doesn’t always have explanations, but they do come with a promise “I am with you! Trust me” In Jeremiah 29:11 we find,  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

6. Those who know the path to God can find it in the dark. And sometimes it takes the rocky hard path with many bumps and bruises, some pain and turmoil in order to meet Jesus.

III. Reality #3 You can’t go through your pain alone. Share it with others

A. The way through suffering to find our healing is to allow others to help us.

1. The man was born blind. He lived as a beggar. Yet after Jesus applied the mud pack to his eyes, He tells him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. Now how do you think a blind man with mud on his eyes could physically move from where he was to where he was told to go - the Pool?  This man had some help! The Christian faith is a helping hand. We are in it together. One of the great truths of the church is that we are all members of one body and if one member hurts, we all hurt.

2.  Tornados and hurricanes have torn apart many cities in the United States and there is much pain and devastation but they are not alone. We hurt for them as well and as Christians, we will stand beside them and help get them back to their feet.

3. I take nothing away from the difficulties they are going through but I must say that there is no worse pain and suffering than when you go through it alone.

B. As difficult times arise, it is sometimes hard for us to accept help isn’t it?

1. Solo suffering may eventually see you through to healing, but just think of how much care, love and help you missed by not sharing with those around you.

2. The person who does not share his/her pain with others, who isolates him or herself often becomes a critical and cynical individual. They soon turn on the world and begin to blame it for all of the hypocrisy they see and much of the pain they experience.

3. If God does not seem to make sense in your life right now because of what you are going through, I would like to invite you to reach out to others and allow them to help you.

Suffering is not God’s way to punish us. Through suffering we can discover God’s love for us in a way we never thought possible.   I don’t think that we have to like suffering and I personally pray that I don’t have to experience it, but this is my hope and my prayer, When it does come, and come it will, “help me God to hold on to you when everything I believe and feel is being questioned.”

How about you? Have you wondered where God has been in your life lately? Have your hurts and sufferings separated you from the God you know and love, and put your belief system in question?  Let Go….and Let God.

 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Home Sweet Anywhere


About The Book:  An enchanting account of how one couple sold everything to fulfill a dream of living abroad-one country at a time.  Reunited in love after 35 years and suffering from a serious case of preretirement wanderlust, Lynne and Tim Martin made a life-altering decision: they sold their house and possessions and hit the road to live internationally full-time. Now tethered to nothing but their suitcases, each other, and their next exotic location, they've never looked back. From sky-high pyramids in Mexico to monkeys in Marrakech, this delightful, inspiring memoir is a romantic tale of derring-do for grown-ups and a road map for anyone who dreams of turning the idea of life abroad into a reality.
About The Author:  In 2011, Lynne and Tim sold theirr charming house in Central California’s wine country, gave away the furniture, and stuffed art, clothes and small treasures into a 10 x 15 storage unit. They said goodbye to their surprised children and quizzical friends and now they live in rented apartments and houses internationally, putting down new roots one country at a time. They have no property taxes, roof repairs or home insurance, so all of their spendable income is used to fund their new way of life. They do have small suitcases, an appetite for new experiences, good computers, and the savvy and flexibility to make ourselves at home in almost any situation.  They have lived in Mexico, Argentina. Turkey, France, Italy, England, Germany, Portugal, and Morocco and are currently living in a wonderful apartment near the famous Staten Island Ferry, a twenty-minute ferry ride from lower Manhattan,  while they promote Home Sweet Anywhere, Lynne's book about their adventures.  Thanks so much for looking in on their website.   They love to hear other peoples’ stories!!!
My Thoughts On The Book:  I will agree that Home Sweet Anywhere was enchanting.  This lengthy travel memoir was a little tedious from the beginning.  I was expecting more colorful tales and they just never came about.  Most of the book involved travel, living, grocery shopping, going out to eat.  I was impressed with the concept of what they did.   Not many people could sell everything they owned and country/continent hop for an extended period of time, but they did.  Lynne's husband Tim had quite a knack for details.  Yet, even with his intricate planning they still made mistakes and they handled them without throwing in the towel and returning home.  They lived their life to the fullest.  The epilogue of the book was entitled Postpone Nothing and they go on to say that the only thing they have postponed is feeling old.  The last few pages of the book give you some things that you won't find in a guidebook.  They were very helpful suggestions.  If someone is planning to live free then this is a good book to read to get a rough idea of what to expect.  It definitely is not something you do without a lot of thought and planning.
Disclaimer: This book was given to me to review by Net Galley Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review.  The thoughts are entirely my own.  Thank you for this opportunity.

 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Bloom

Five Minute Friday

I have been a participating member of Five Minute Friday for almost two years.  I had reached a point where I was drawing a blank every time I sat down to blog and then one morning there was Lisa Jo Baker and her Five Minute Friday.  There are a few rules to participate and none to just read what everyone else wrote.  The rules are simple"
1.  We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that I post here starting at 10pm EST on Thursday night and all through Friday. And we connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FMFParty (It stands for Five Minute Friday Party).
2.  There is no extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. Unscripted. Unedited. Real. It started because Lisa Jo had been thinking about writing and how often our perfectionism gets in the way of our words. And so she figured, why not take 5 minutes and see what comes out: not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing. So now on Fridays a group of people who love to throw caution to the wind and just write without worrying -
See more at: http://lisajobaker.com/five-minute-friday/#sthash.9OiHogPc.dpuf
if it’s just right gather to share what five minutes buys them. Just five minutes. You can meet them over here on our Five Minute Friday Facebook page. Your words. This shared feast. It’s easy to join in, just:
1.  Check what the prompt is on my blog.
2.  Write a post in only five minutes on that topic on your blog. {And if you don’t have a blog, no worries! Just leave your writing as a comment on my post}
3.  Link over here and invite friends to join in.
4.  Select the permalink to your post {so not your blog url www.lisajobaker.com but your post url www.lisajobaker.com/2012/07/five-minute-friday-2/ } Using the blue linky tool at the bottom of her Five Minute Friday post enter your link. It will also walk you through selecting which photo you want to show up in the linky. Your post will show up in our Five Minute Friday linky. Be sure and encourage the person who linked up before you! Our most important requirement for participation: There’s really only one absolute, no ifs, ands or buts about it Five Minute Friday rule: you must visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.
So, if you are ready....the word for today is BLOOM


I love flowers.  One of my favorite things to do is photograph them so I can look back and enjoy the bloom that is present in my picture long after it has faded from the plant.  Mrs. Betty Jean, Mrs. Shirley, and Mrs. Jean's houses give me constant blooming pleasure.  I have plants in my own yard now from all of them.  I am thrilled when that first bloom opens up and shows it's face. 


I am a pastor's wife and I have learned in following my husband's ministry to bloom where I am planted.  I am one of those people who has roots that run deep and so wherever we go I become part of the community, the church.  Blooming takes on many forms in my life.  When I was expecting my daughter people would tell me I was positively blooming.  I laughed because I thought they were talking about the baby bump I was growing....but I found out later they were talking about me....I was blooming.  When I held that precious bundle I watched as she bloomed and went from being a scrunchy faced little bundle to a beautifully soft open-eyed bundle.  I watched her bloom right before my eyes.  Throughout her whole life she has bloomed....and now she and her precious husband are going to bloom where they are planted.


  She and Brian will be leaving Sunday to go to Moldova.  There they will serve as full-time missionaries for Stella's Voice and work in orphanages there.  They have been doing this in the summer for the past three years.  Now....Now....they will plant themselves and begin blooming.  Growing the love of God and showing children how to bloom too.  Moldova is a depressed third world country.  The countryside is gorgeous....but it has a sad story for children....and their parents.  There is no joy blooming there.  I know that once Kat and Brian begin blooming where they are planted.....joy will be blooming abundantly.   Can I get an AMEN?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Moment for Mesothelioma

I was contacted earlier in the summer by the Community Outreach Director for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. She asked me if I wanted to participate in their summer campaign, by taking a moment for mesothelioma, a rare cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos.  I said yes, and then life happened.  We never know when things will occur that keep us from fulfilling commitments we made.  This topic is near and dear to me because my father died from Mesothelioma.  You see he had lung cancer and asbestos was the enemy.  Asbestos is a dangerous material not banned in the US.  You can risk exposure by touching clothing or items that have asbestos fibers on them. Men are four times more likely to be diagnosed with Mesothelioma than women.  Women are becoming victims of Mesothelioma through second hand exposure. It has also been used throughout the U.S. military in hundreds of applications including naval ships, military buildings, vehicles, etc.  We know asbestos...but have you ever heard of Mesothelioma before now?  How did you hear about it?  Why?  I did not know myself until it affected my own little world.  It was then that I began to research this ugly word and found that Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that has a long latency period, and symptoms may not manifest until the cancer reaches the later stages making most diagnoses rather grim. I found myself visiting the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance site because I wanted to know more.  What I found out was staggering.  Every year close to 3,000 people are diagnosed with Mesothelioma and given around 10 months to live.  My father made it exactly 10 months.  My mother's two brothers did not.  Asbestos exposure is the number one cause of occupational cancer in the United States....and this is more than 50 years after the peak of its use.  That is so very sad.  Mesothelioma was difficult to diagnose in my father.  His diagnosis went from asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and finally cancer.  No amount of asbestos exposure is safe.  There are three types of Mesothelioma:  Pleural, Pritoneal, and Pericardial.  Symptoms may not appear for many years after exposure.  Asbestos is the most deadly when it begins to flake off and become airborne.  Do you know where it is?  Most of the areas you find it in are areas you would never think to look.  You can find it in older homes, schools, factories, and commercial buildings.  The house next door to my parents has asbestos siding on it.  The local fire department asked for permission to burn it down for fire training. The owners gave them permission, but once asbestos was discovered it was deemed unburnable.  Burning it would have meant putting asbestos flakes airborne.  So, the house sits and falls in.   US Veterans are at the greatest risk of Mesothelioma.  Navy veterans are at the greatest risk for developing mesothelioma as asbestos was widely used in naval ships and shipyards.  While the soldiers who lived and worked aboard the ships - including gunmen, boilermen, and firemen(this is what my father did in the Navy) - were susceptible to inhaling asbestos, those who built and repaired the ships were even more prone to developing diseases associated with the toxic mineral. They were tradesmen such as pipefitters, plumbers, mechanics, shipfitters, electricians(this was my father's trade), welders and boilermakers to name a few.Mesothelioma can remain dormant for several decades, many veterans who served during the 1950s to the 1970s are just now being diagnosed with the disease. My father was in WWII and was only diagnosed in 2008.  During the campaign the goal of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance is to educate 300 people throughout the summer in hopes that our efforts could help ban the use of asbestos in the US! Want to know more?  I hope you do and will click here and check out their website.  The information is eye-opening.  If you or someone you know suffers with this then please go to this website and find out what you can do.