"Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Yesterday was a day of extreme frustration and angst. I don't want to go into all the details, for fear of turning this into a moan and groan session (those closest to me can probably surmise the source of my frustration :). Besides, the purpose of my blog is to share how I see God working and moving in the ordinary, daily events of life. I'm seeking to live life with an awareness of the Presence of God on this side of heaven (what Brother Lawrence calls "practicing the Presence of God").

So, back to yesterday. Twice I sat at my computer -- wanting to form my thoughts and emotions into words. But I wasn't sure where God was leading me, and my thoughts simply would not gel. On top of that, I didn't feel like God was giving me a green light to post what I was writing. So I deleted it, logged off the computer, and pulled out my journal. I think I needed to vent to God before I could make sense of things. I've often found that getting my thoughts and emotions out of my brain and onto paper helps me get some perspective. So I spewed it all out (even put a hole in my paper -- ouch). God just patiently listened to my vent. He never once told me to "put on a happy face". At the time, He didn't try to explain things. He simply let me unload on Him. No platitudes offered...just His big, broad shoulders.

After I was calm, He reminded me of something I had read and journaled just the night before. /pause/ This happens to me often. God frequently tells me something before I even know I need it. He prepares me with a Bible passage or a profound thought in a book I'm reading. He will highlight it in my mind and I'm not always even aware of it. But then, when the time is just right, He reminds me of what I read and it fits my need perfectly...so cool!

This is what I read and journaled on Friday evening...

"God sometimes calls people to a cause not born of their own abilities or most superficial desires. But His call is always absolutely congruent with our destiny, our truest self, our identity and the shape of our being." (David Benner; "The Gift of Being Yourself"; p. 102-103)

God gently reminded me that He called me to this "cause" that so often serves to frustrate me to pieces. On my own I don't have the ability -- or even the desire -- to accept what He's called me to. But yet, deep inside, I know -- I truly believe -- that this calling on my life is from God. More than that, I believe that out of this deep source of pain and confusion will emerge my truest self.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New gems of truth

God's Word for me today...

"...A disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old." (Matt. 13:52b NLT)

It's so easy to slip into the thinking that I've already heard and know all I need to about Jesus (lots of Christian education...church attendance...Bible studies, etc., under my belt). But as I'm more intentionally searching and seeking to know and experience Jesus, I'm discovering precious new gems of truth! These gems were always there, hidden in God's Word -- I just hadn't discovered them yet. I love it when I have a genuine "AH-HA" moment with God! I see His smile and His nod of affirmation. "You've got it!", I hear Him say with joy.

I hold the gem close to my heart and relish the treasure. When the time is right, this gem of truth is shared with someone close to me. And God blesses someone else with its riches.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Who do you compare yourself to?

I heard a woman interviewed on "Focus on the Family" the other day who said that even though she had attended church all her life, she had never thought of herself as a sinner. You see, she had always compared herself to other people...and it wasn't too hard to find others who lived much worse lives than she.

Then she came face to face with Truth. It dawned on her that she was comparing herself to the wrong person. When she compared herself to Jesus Christ she realized, for the first time, that she, too, was a sinner in need of a Savior.

It was such a good reminder for me to view my life in the light of His perfection. Ephesians 5:1-2a says, "Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dearly loved children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ."

...Follow the example of Christ
...What a challenge that is for me! But that's who I want to look like and act like. And in order to look and act like Christ, I'm going to have to compare myself to Him (as painful as that can be). His Spirit will continue the transformation process as I honestly recognize my sin and yield my heart to Him for cleansing.

So, who do you compare yourself to?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I got this from a friend a couple of years ago...

Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says, "Oh no...she's awake."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Several years ago I made the mistake of getting my nails done before Steve and I went on a special trip. As a lifelong nail biter, I’ve never had nice nails. What a treat for me to actually have nails that looked manicured instead of raggedy and short. But now that I’ve effectively ruined my nails, I need to keep going back!

Yesterday when I was at the nail salon I noticed a stick of incense burning, presumably to the small Buddha sitting next to it. I couldn’t help but wonder about this. Was that little idol - created in some factory - pleased with the fragrance? What sort of worship does one offer to a molded piece of metal or plastic? Isaiah 44:6-20 speaks to us of idol worship, and the foolishness of bowing down to them. Verse 18 reminds us, “They know nothing, they understand nothing: their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds are closed so they cannot understand.” Was the woman who lit this incense acting out of obedience? Fear? Tradition? Sacrifice?

It made me think of what kind of “incense” I offer to the Lord. In my recent Bible study, I’ve been reminded that our worship, praise, and prayers are incense to God. Can you just envision God smiling with delight when your prayers waft up to Him? Did you know that He so values our prayers that He collects them? (see Rev. 5:8) In fact, God never forgets a single prayer we’ve prayed. What an amazing thought. What an amazing God!

God's Word also tells us that we are the aroma of Christ here on earth. In fact, God has chosen us to diffuse His sweet scent to everyone we meet. “Now He uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.” (2 Cor. 2:14b-15a NLT) Wow. Sit on that one for a minute!

It’s easy to sit in judgment of those who burn incense to idols. But I would be wise to search my own heart. Is my life a pleasing aroma to God? Do I love others with the same love Christ shows me? Do I continually praise God and tell others of Him? God has lavished His love on me. Am I lavishly worshiping Him in return?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Steve's home!

Steve and Nuper (Ron Nunnikhoven) got back to Pella Thursday night around 7:00. They flew into NY Wednesday night, and were very thankful to get a flight out of there on Thursday morning, since the weather on the east coast was awful.

It's been great hearing about their trip to Russia. They spent the majority of their time in orphanages, and in facilities for the elderly and handicapped. Christian pastors in the city of Volgagrad have not been welcomed into these places, and have been praying for years that doors would open for them. So they were thrilled that GAIN (Global Aid Network) chose to come and work in their city for a couple of weeks. GAIN was allowed into these facilities because they provide humanitarian aid. Now many of these pastors are hopeful that they can continue with the work that's begun. Please pray that these doors will remain open for the Christian church in Russia.

Steve said that it was amazing to watch the "before and after" transformation in these places. He said the directors, staff, and even the children (and elderly) were all a little suspect when they first arrived. Christians are not held in high esteem in Russia and are generally not welcomed there. Anyway, they would start out with a silly magic show and a funny skit, and soon everyone would loosen up and have a great time! Then they would divide into small groups and share the love of Christ with the children (and the listening staff!). They gave everyone a gospel bead bracelet and explained what it meant. Of course, each group had an interpreter, so language was not a barrier. They also handed out care packages to each of the children -- always a big hit! GAIN provided financial help and other aid to many of these places, as well.

Steve said that by the time they left, the children would be waving and laughing...happy and joyful!! In fact, it was the transformation from sober to joyful that really stood out. Most of these children experience very little joy or love in their life. But now they've heard about Jesus and experienced His love - through the gentle hands and kind words of those who ministered to them. Please pray that these children will never forget the message that was shared with them, and that their lives will forever be transformed!

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control..." (Gal. 5:22-23)
Sounds like the Holy Spirit is actively working in Russia!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Happy birthday Kyle!

Kyle is 17 years old today! Where did those years go? I remember so well the day we got the totally unexpected news of a new baby boy. Steve and I were thrilled to have a son, and Stephanie and Katie were so excited to have a baby brother! Meeting Kyle for the first time and bringing him home is a precious memory I’ll never forget.

God has such a neat way of putting families together. When I close my eyes and ponder how our family was formed, it brings tears to my eyes. I just imagine how God blessed Katie and Kyle’s birthmothers with the grace to be able to release their babies. And it honestly humbles me to think that He chose these particular children to belong to our family. Both Katie and Kyle’s birthmothers “chose” our family, but I believe with all my heart that God did the choosing! They were His willing vessels…and we the blessed recipients.

I’ve had the incredible privilege of meeting both of my adopted children’s birthmothers. We met Kyle’s birthmother at the adoption placement, and we’ve been able to get to know Katie’s birthmother (and several family members) in the past few years. I’m so thankful for that!

As in every family, we’ve certainly had our share of issues. But God has never let me lose sight of the fact that He places us right where we belong. One of my favorite adoption passages is found in Acts 17:24-28. I’m not going to type the whole passage here…you’ll need to look it up for yourself! But here’s the heart of it. “From one man God made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live…”

I love that! God is so intimately involved in our lives. He sees women who are facing incredibly difficult circumstances surrounding their pregnancies, and others who are grieving their inability to have children. By His infinite grace and with incomparable wisdom, He joins them together. A new family created…a match made in heaven!

~Kyle and Marshmallow (the dog with 9 lives!)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Deep thoughts while vacuuming

Since my family is coming over this afternoon for Saturday coffee time (to help Kyle celebrate his 17th birthday), I thought I’d better vacuum my floors. As I was vacuuming the basement family room, I noticed Marshmallow, our precious family dog, warily watching from a distance. She has a bad history with vacuum cleaners.

Several years ago she had a run-in with a vacuum that she just doesn’t want to repeat. I was industriously vacuuming under Kyle’s bed one day, and I didn’t realize that Marsh was innocently taking a nap under it. To make a long story short, I sucked up her tail and she yelped like I’ve never heard since! We were able to pull most of her tail out of the power nozzle, but ever since then she really HATES vacuum cleaners!! In fact, she usually runs to another room as soon as I start it up. I was actually a little surprised that she was staying in the same room this morning until I realized that Kyle was hollering for her to come upstairs. (“Hmmmm…take my chances with the vacuum by mom, or endure whatever Kyle has for me…”)lol

It made me think of how pain can often be a good motivator to keep us away from evil (I’m NOT calling vacuum cleaners evil!), and of how aware we need to be to the temptations we struggle with. So often it begins innocently enough - a small enticement sweetly whispering in our ear -- but then it just sucks us in.

God is pretty clear about how we are to be aware of Satan’s presence lurking around us. I Peter 5:8-9 reminds us, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…”

One of the beautiful things about God is that He doesn’t just holler out a warning to us without offering a solution -- a way out -- as well. Listen to His words of encouragement and hope. “And the God of all grace…will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever, Amen.” (I Peter 5:10-11) Wow! Let those words soak in! God, Himself, will make us strong and steadfast. We are able, with His strength, to say “no” to any temptation we face. God’s strength will also give us the energy we need to run from Satan and his lies.

(Oh, the lessons we learn from our pets! Who knew?!)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

News from Russia

I had 3 emails in my inbox from Steve this afternoon! It was so good to hear from him. I'll copy and paste portions of them here. Don't worry, it's nothing you can't read! Please keep praying for Steve (and Nuper and team) in Russia. Also pray for me and Kyle here at home. Kyle stayed home today...and said he's NEVER going back to school again. I know he honestly doesn't feel good, but there's also a lot of anxiety happening. Some of it is with Steve being gone; much of it is school-related.

Anyway, here are portions of Steve's emails...

"We've been having a great time! We've been visiting mostly orphanage type facilities. Today was busy. We visited both an elderly facility in the morning and an orphanage in the afternoon. I can't begin to explain the things going on here! Time has been flying for me - we're so busy.

"It's very surreal being so far from home and in a foreign country. It feels somewhat like a step back in time. But our hotel is very nice. The rooms are very small, but the beds are comfortable. I don't sleep the best, but enough to get by.

"The churches that we are trying to help have an uphill battle against society and even the orthodox church. There are some amazing people fighting to spread God's word in Volgograd. The love of country is very evident in almost every place and still in the people's hearts. This too is a barrier for the church. Please pray for the church in Russia.

"Say hi to everyone and let them know things are going great!"

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

River of Delight

Yesterday I was reading in Psalm 65. When I got to verse 9 the words suddenly were highlighted in my mind's eye...

"The river of God has plenty of water;
it provides a bountiful harvest of grain,
for You have ordered it so."

Now I know the psalmist was most likely praising God for the abundant moisture He refreshes the earth with, but when I read, "The river of God has plenty of water", my thoughts were drawn to the Living Water -- where we drink deeply from the River of Delight! This river, too, has plenty of water!

Listen to another Psalm that speaks so beautifully about God's abundant, refreshing Living Water. (I'm going to personalize it for us -- that's how God intends for His Word to be read)...

"You feed us from the abundance of Your own house,
letting us drink from Your river of delights.
For You are the fountain of life,
the light by which we see.
You pour out Your unfailing love on those who love You..." (Psalm 36:8-10a; NLT)

I'm praying today that showers of blessings would pour on you. As you go into this day, I pray that you will find shelter in the shadow of His wings. And that you would take the time to drink deeply from the River of Delight, allowing the Spirit of God to refresh and strengthen you.