Friday, April 01, 2016

No 1 Draft Pick

There is a young man who is like a nephew to me, in fact I had to be his “Aunt” once in order to sit with his Mom as she waited in the hospital after his surgery for a football injury.  He’s a positive, intelligent, and enthusiastic person.  A natural leader.  He comes from a close-knit family who supports him in all his endeavors. 

He’s one of those well-rounded people who has good grades, excels in sports, and can sing and dance in the school musical. I’ve had the privilege of serving beside him during two different mission trips where the youth built homes for impoverished families in Mexico.  This young man stands out to me because he is a kind, quiet leader who reaches out to and encourages people in a most sincere way.

It would be easy to think that life is easy for this “All American” kid, but in fact he is weathering through one of the most difficult seasons I’ve seen anyone go through.  It is one of those seasons when if anything could go wrong, it chooses this time to do it.   Like many young leaders he was easy to blame when things went wrong.  Shortly after the season began, some important people turned against him, and it got ugly at times.  Thankfully, with the support of his family, and the strength that comes from his own relationship with his God, he is coming through a stronger, wiser, and still kind person.

Fast forward to this week.  I picked up my daughter’s New Living Translation Bible called The Way, and found this description of Jeremiah: “Jeremiah’s been drafted to play for a losing team deep into a horrific season, and nothing can turn the tide.  But God is present.”  Immediately I thought of my young friend.

Please rest assured I’m not trying to take the Bible out of context, and I’m not trying to say my friend is like Jeremiah or like the Jewish people in the book of Jeremiah.  But I do find it encouraging that when I read the Bible, God reveals Himself in the book of Jeremiah. (Admittedly, when I “read through the Bible in a year,” I take 2.5 years and use a children’s Bible to get through Isaiah, Jeremiah, & especially Ezekiel!)  In His Word, God shows us His heart and His unchanging character, and we can see His love for His people.  He is a God of restorationHe is a God of SalvationHe is Present.

Difficult seasons are just that, difficult.  I’m not going to say anything cliche here, there are simply no easy answers.  As I continue to pray for my young friend, I’m challenged and inspired to watch him fight the good fight and see him grown in strength of character. He seems to already know for himself that God is a God of restoration (Jeremiah Chapters 30+), a God of salvation (John 14:6) and He is Present (Psalms 61-64;Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 11:30 and surrounding verses, the list goes on and on!) These are some of my go-to assurances in God’s Word, what are some of yours?


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Horseshoes!

Whoever would have thought Horseshoes could be useful to minister to people and share Jesus with them?!  My family and I were part of a mission trip to Italy recently and T.Michael & I were assigned to "Western Games" which for us meant none other than horseshoes!
Yee Haw!
There were two Italian churches putting on the western-themed Festival, and our little family was part of a team of Americans sent to serve, encourage and support the Italians as they reached out to their community. There were all kinds of free entertainment at the festival: Crazy Dress-Up Photo Booths; American Cooking Booth; "Teenager Girl" Make-up & Nails Booth; Crafts; Health & Blood Pressure; Speak English; Line-Dancing, etc, etc.

We had some regulars who came to Horseshoes each night, and T.Michael & I used our very broken Italian to be kind and loving to those who came our way.  One night Cindy from the English-speaking booth said a young Italian man  asked her where she was from and she replied, "Portland."  Then he said, "Just like Jennifer!" Wow!  I couldn't believe that my little 'small talk' was really getting through to my new friends!

It was so affirming to know that even though I couldn't "witness" to them, I was a witness just by being available and consistent.  Then, at the end of each evening there was live music followed by a great speaker who DID share Jesus with people clearly and in their own language.  What a privilege to serve with my family in Italy!
 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Greater Than



In John 3:30, John said to his disciples:

"He must become greater; I must become less."

Ever since John was in the womb he knew Jesus as Lord.  (Luke 1)

Later, while baptizing people, he said he wasn't even worthy to untie Jesus' sandals. (Luke 3:26)

John's whole life he knew his job, his purpose.  He was sent ahead of the Christ.  (John 3:28)

Like John said, Jesus must become greater; I must become less! 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day


 This Mother's Day is particularly special to me because not only do I have the 2 most amazing kids ever, but also I am reunited this year with  several kids from an orphanage I served in 20 years ago in Honduras.   In fact I just received a text last night from one of "my orphans" (I hope that title is not offensive to them) saying:
"HAPPY MOTHERS DAY - DIOS LE BENDIGA" 
Wow!  I experienced that jolt of love in my heart that you feel when one of your own loves you back! Relationship is what our time here on earth is all about!

Our Pastor challenged us to pray about sponsoring a child through Compassion International this Mother's Day...pray about it. Hmmmm....So I have been. I don't mean to over-simplify the challenge, but I wonder if I'm praying about sponsoring a child, or really praying about how to add something new to my monthly budget.  This may sound a bit crass, but I'm sharing from my heart that if we sponsor another child, it will be so much more than a money decision.

As usual, I came across an interesting part of my daily reading that pertains to this very question.  (As you can guess, I don't believe this is coincidence!)  In Luke 16 Jesus shares a parable about a shrewd manager.  At first I was puzzled by this seeming appreciation of a dishonest manager -- but then I read a commentary that I tend to agree with.  The author wrote:

"The Cash value of each reduction was about 500 denarii, what a laborer would earn in 500 days.  Jesus does not commend the man's dishonesty but commends his use of the money to prepare for his future.  Too often believers use money without considering eternal rewards."

I know through my friend Missy that sponsoring a child is a real blessing.  She sponsored a child many years ago and one time I ran into her just after she returned from visiting her sponsored child in Africa!  In addition to sending monthly support, she has faithfully prayed for her child over the years -- relationship that spans time and oceans!  (Through an organization that does what it says...now THAT is impressive.)

Missy has seen her money used as promised, to help feed, house and educate a precious person.  She uses money while considering eternal rewards!







Sunday, December 09, 2012

Gifts!

There are so many things to be grateful for, but one of the many gifts I received this year is to be on our church's Youth Mexico Outreach Team.  Yes, that means McKenzie is a freshman in high school!  I can't believe it!  It is a joy to join in on the fundraising and team meetings and see how God is using this outreach to bless McKenzie with new friends and developing leadership skills -- that girl is beauty in motion! 
Another, most amazing Gift has been to go through a great season of Football with T.Michael.  This fall there were some intense character development moments as T faithfully worked at every practice and game!  I admire his commitment to get good grades at school while working hard for his team -- he's a good sport too, he's good at lending a hand to help a tackled opponent back up...right after ruthlessly plowing them down!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Life is a Puzzle!

Life can be like a sliding puzzle!  You have so much to do (many "first-world" problems to tackle!) and so little time to do it.  We had an amazing Thanksgiving holiday, fun with family then lots of visiting and a movie...then somehow we got the notion to get a new mattress.  Sound simple?  NOT! This began the big ripple effect of life!  Here's how:

We needed a new mattress
Somehow this morphed into new bedroom furniture also (a very good thing)
This resulted in two IKEA trips -- one on Black Friday (which is against our religion)
McKenzie would get our bedroom furniture
T.Michael would get McKenzie's bedroom furniture
T.Michael's furniture would end up at the Pine's home, since they're hosting Australian basketball players  and need an extra bed
All this resulted in finding dust-balls the size of our cats
This was not quite enough chaos so the kitchen sink decided to leak (trying not to take it personally)
On the way to run an errand the battery in the van was dead (I'm not making this up)
I decided to take Dave's car instead, and a headlight was out
Upon returning, I realized the street light and McKenzie's bedroom lights had all burned out
...All because we "needed" a new mattress!  Life can be so fun!