Where I’m From

I am from children’s books scattered about the floor, My Little Pony, and a four-post canopy bed.

 

I am from the corner house where the grass stands a little too tall, the paint is slightly chipped, but the rooms are filled with laughter.

 

I am from the cottonwood tree that blankets our cars with white blooms and the swaying bluebonnets that paint our fields, even if only momentarily.

 

I am from the family who prefers Christmas Steak over Christmas turkeys and values time with loved ones, from the Wheelers and Abrams and Parks.

 

I am from late night board games and Sunday drive sing-a-longs.

 

From “Don’t chew with your mouth open” to “You can do anything you put your all into”.

 

I am from Vacation Bible Schools, Youth Camps and Mission trips where I learned that Christ is my Savior and through Him I really can do anything.

 

I’m from the Lone Star State and southern hospitality, from Tex-Mex, Chicken Fried Steak smothered in gravy, and Bluebell ice cream.

 

From the pine cone stuck to my father’s bald head after an autumn pine cone fight, from the language spoken from my grandmother’s hands, and from the labor of my mother’s long work hours so that I could eat, sleep, and grow in comfort, shielding me from the hardships she endured.

 

I am from the wooden frames that line our staircase walls, from boxes of trophies and certificates stuffed away in old printer paper boxes, and from an 8-year old girl’s rabbit fur coat delicately tucked away in her mommy’s closet.

 Note:  Although I would like to say that I came up with this poem’s concept on my own, I cannot.  This poem is from a template that has been around for many years.  It is inspired by George Ella Lyons’ poem “Where I’m From.” And, there is even a templateto help you get started if you’d like to write your own.

The Fruit of the Spirit is love…

1 John 4:20 (New International Version)20If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

 

Jesus gave us a new command that said we should love one another. This is very hard. Often I complain and talk about others with whom I am frustrated. In these times I need to remember Christ’s words above. Andrew Murray wrote in his book “Absolute Surrender”, “You can deceive yourself with beautiful thoughts about loving God. ” He goes on to say, “You must prove your love to God by your love for your brothers, that is the standard by which God will judge your love to Him.”

When I read the words from 1 John, I am forced to look at how I treat others. I can’t physically see God the way I see those who I come in contact with on a day to day basis. Those whom I can see I don’t always care to be around and often find hard to love. Christ says that if we can’t love those around us then we can’t love God. Which then again, forces me to treat others better than I feel they deserve.

I do love God very much and therefore I must set aside all differences with others and love them, even my enemies. Lord, give me a heart that loves like you do. Even when I am far from you, you still love me. Even when I reject you, you are always there for me. Help me to reach out to others the way you reach out to me.

Meditating on the Word

Joshua 1:8-9 (New International Version)8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Psalm 1:2-3 (New International Version) 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

James 1:25 (New International Version)25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

The Creator of the universe has interest in us and desires to reveal Himself to us. He has given us the words of life through the pages of the Bible. Not only do we have this great treasure but also the promises in it are for us. The Father loves us so much that through Christ we can have hope for the future. God promises that those who earnestly seek Him in His word will be blessed. Oh what a privilege to have this book in so many translations and styles today.

I want to be the tree planted by the water that is yielding fruit. Clearly to do this I must read the Word and do what it says. By soaking my mind in the scriptures His thoughts become mine and I begin to decrease. To truly live we must die to self and let Christ reign on the throne of our lives.

I was a drug addict and a single father – Jesus changed my life

The following story is Josh’s amazing testimony.

My parents were Christians and took me and my brother to church every Sunday. I remember when I was 12 years old I heard a pastor ask that if I was to die that night, would I go to heaven? That question scared me because I didn’t know if God would let me into heaven. So when they asked us who wanted to go to heaven to come forward and pray with them I think I was the first one to respond.

Well as the years went by church became less exciting to me and more of burden. Nothing in my life had changed as a result of my prayer that night. My only passion in life was to be in a rock band and party. I eventually started getting involved in drugs. I smoked pot everyday and even sold it occasionally. I would pop pills, trip acid and mushrooms, and even use inhalants to get high. I didn’t care about anything but partying.

I eventually found a girlfriend who shared my philosophy and we started sleeping together. She told me that she couldn’t get pregnant, so we never used protection. I didn’t care because I was just using her for sex anyways. Well, she lied and she got pregnant and we had a daughter. I didn’t let that stop me from partying but I soon realized that our relationship was not going to work out. So we separated and I was a single father at 19 years of age.

My mother approached me one day and asked me if I would be willing to get a DNA test done on my daughter and that she would pay for it. I told her it was a waste of money but I agreed. When I got the results back I found out I was not the father. My life was pretty messed up already from being a drug addict and when I got that news I completely lost it.

I remember wanting to kill my ex-girlfriend by blowing up her house or something. My father calmed me down and helped me figure out what I needed to do. I met with my ex-girlfriend and showed her the results and told her not to call me for anything. I never saw my daughter again after that.

As I drove away from her house I broke down and was crying my eyes out. My ex-girlfriend, who I had spent 2 years with, had cheated on me and convinced me that her daughter was mine. I was with her through her entire pregnancy and was in the room when her daughter was born. I even signed the birth certificate and gave her my last name. All this was a lie. My daughter wasn’t mine anymore and actually never was. My heart was broke.

I began to drink excessively and took as many drugs as I could to drown her memory. I remember taking so many drugs one night that I thought I was dying and was going to overdose. About 2 weeks later, I had taken some drugs at home and was lying on my bed waiting for them to kick in when I started thinking about all I had been through.

It’s hard to explain what happened next but I felt God speaking to my heart. He began to tell me that He loved me and reminded me that Jesus had died and was raised from the dead to forgive me of my sin. I felt so unworthy and yet so loved. I had seen what the world had to offer and it only left me broken. Nothing seemed to take the pain away that I felt. I believe God had delivered me and was offering me a second chance to live the life I was meant to live. I cried out to God for forgiveness and surrendered my life to God that night.

As I let God take control and he began to heal my broken heart. The next morning I flushed my drugs down the toilet. He had broken my addictions and I haven’t touched them since. God began to change me from the inside out as I meditated on the Scriptures. He took away the pain and anger I felt toward my ex and gave me the strength to call her and forgive her for what she had done to me.

That was the hardest thing to do but I knew that just as Christ forgiven me I needed to forgive her. After I forgave her it was like a ton of bricks had been removed from my shoulders. I was truly set free. Jesus Christ changed my life and gave me hope for the future and He can do it for you.

Just a young suburban American girl

Sometimes when I think of our move to Ukraine, I get overwhelmed with the feeling of inadequacies. How can I, a young suburban American girl, really make a difference in Ukraine? I don’t know their culture. I don’t know their language. I have not experienced the hardships they face daily.

But God sent me a little reminder yesterday that He can still use me to reach those who are vastly different than myself.

There was a young man that came in to ‘volunteer’ (he had had a little problem with a cop and was sentenced to do community service) with us at my work. The 20-year old Hispanic boy moved here 3 months ago from Los Angeles; his mom finally made the decision to escape the violent streets of L.A. to find a safer place to raise her kids. “Eddie” walked into our work with his baggy pants sagging below his knees, his large oversized white shirt draping on him like a dress, and his “Los Angeles” black hat was tilted to the side. His overall appearance screamed “Just try to mess with me!” We get many young community service workers with the same look, but there was something different about Eddie. On the exterior, he looked tough and intimidating; but the moment he spoke, I realized that this young man was respectful, dedicated, and had a softer, shy side to him.

When I brought him into the office to talk to him, I decided to probe a little deeper into his background. Amazingly, he opened his heart; he shared with me some of the tough life he left in L.A. and that he was hoping to start new here. We talked about his family (a father who’s left, a mother who speaks no English, trying to raise 3 children the best that she can, how he’s now the man of the house and can’t find work b/c he dropped out of school). We talked about his faith (his mom became a Jehovah’s witness, but he always felt that something was not right with their beliefs). He shared how he is not a Christian but he knows that God is calling him to be a “son of God” (his words) and that even when he was involved with all the bad stuff in LA, he knew that there was something more. I just listened, asked questions, and let Him speak. I shared with Him my faith, some of the things Josh went through, and encouraged Him as best as I could.

Eddie did not receive Christ as His Savior yesterday, but I know that it will happen.

As for me, God reminded me that my background, culture, language, or experiences holds no significance when it comes to Kingdom work. We all have the same God, the same Spirit. As long as we love His people are willing to be used by Him, He will use us to draw others to Him.

Psalm 139:2b

While at a ladies’ retreat this weekend i was reading Psalm 139, but I didn’t get past verse 2. Something had caught my attention, and i could not read past the second part of the verse. It says:

You understand my thought afar off. (NKJV)

The new Living Translation states it this way, You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

I saw the verse from a different perspective. Instead of me being far from God, I saw just my thoughts far from God. I’m at a good place in my relationship from the Lord right now. I do not believe that I am far from God…but, sometimes my thoughts are: I believe lies that Satan has told me, I criticize too pettily, I say hurtful words in anger, etc. Momentary lapses in my thoughts.

In meditating on this verse, I wrote out a type of poem (nor is it written in typical poetry format)..it’s not really edited or perfected; nor is it meant to be…it is merely what I felt God was speaking to me as I listened. Here it is:

Sometimes I don’t think clearly and I believe the lies Satan puts into my mind. Even the thoughts that are afar from God, reach Him, and he takes them in His hands. Weeping, he speaks through mumbled sobs, and tells me that he understands. He is gentle with me and keeps his voice soft. He is not angry, He is compassionate. He is not judgemental, He is empathetic. He is not stern, He is love. He tells me that I am not alone; that He understands my pain. He is patient; He waits for me to hear His words of truth. He takes my thoughts, gently cupped in His fatherly hands and whispers truths and promises over them. The lies evaporate with each word spoken from the lips of my Heavenly Father. My thoughts are no longer afar off from God, for He has drawn me back to Him.

Small group

Tonight was the first night of this school year’s small group.  The teenagers (all 9th – 11th graders) started filing in around 6:45.  It was so good to be back in the small group setting, it’s so much easier to minister to them and talk with them in a home setting.  During the summer, small groups don’t meet and so many of them are off on vacations, spending time with family in other states, or they just don’t go to church.

Last school year we had an average of about 15 – 20 kids that came each week, but things have been switched around and we now have a smaller group.  I’m going to miss the ones who are no longer with us, but I’m so excited to be back with the ones who remain.

Tonight we just hung out, ate our big hamburgers, chocolate chip cake, and played volleyball.   But, immediately, I was able to minister to a few girls.  It was almost as if they were waiting to return just so we could talk.

I know that God has some great things in store for this year and I’m praying that our students will be challenged into a deeper walk with Christ.  They already are a great group of kids, but I know that God has so much he wants to do in and through them.

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