Wednesday, April 16, 2014

HAPPY SECOND BIRTHDAY!

Okay, I don't really know the EXACT date that I accepted Christ.  I do know it was in April of 1994.  Today is the day that I celebrate my salvation birthday.  I have since my first year.

I must say, 20 years is a long time to know the Lord.  Yet  it seems as if it is such a short time.  I want to share some of my lessons of knowing Jesus Christ for 20 long/short years!

First, He is faithful, even when I am not.  There have been times when I just didn't think that serving Him was worth it.  I was tempted to walk away.  One time, I nearly did.  These times of wanting to quit Christianity come when I am at my weakest and my most painful days.  It's hard to keep going when you're in so much pain.

His faithfulness is one of the things I love about Him.  Growing up, I was abused, neglected, and abandoned. My mom would leave me and my sister and head off to who knows where.  We were left with our aunt.  My family is not the best role models.  I became the black sheep of the family, not because of anything I had done, but because of the family's rejection of me.  My family favors one sibling over the other.  The favored one becomes the one that is set up on a pedestal.  The rejected one becomes the scapegoat for anything the favored one does.  Thankfully, Jesus favors me.  He doesn't set me up on a pedestal.  Nor does He refrain from disciplining me.  No, His favoritism is just what I have needed throughout my life.  Just because He favors me doesn't mean that He rejects someone else.  His favor surrounds me, just like it surrounds every one who belongs to Him.

Which leads me to the second thing I love about Jesus.  He accepts me for who I am.  I don't have to pretend to be someone else that I'm not.  I don't have to pretend that I have no feelings, that I am immune to people's insults and rejection.  I can run to Him for comfort, just like I have always wanted to do with my own father.  He doesn't try to sugarcoat or explain my hurt.  He wraps His arms around me and holds me close.  When I try to hide my true feelings from Him, He gently reminds me that He is the One who created me.  He knows me, so why try to hide from Him?  So, I let Him  have it all.  My fears, my excitement, my anger, my disappointments, my pain, my joys, and my doubts.  I confide in Him every feeling that comes my way.  Prayer has become one way of my emotional release.  Jesus doesn't rebuke me for having these feelings.  When I am in His presence, He doesn't rebuke me for things I cannot control (like my memory, losing things, and getting my hopes up only to have them crushed).  His acceptance draws me ever nearer to Him.

The third thing that I love about Jesus is His unlimited love.  I don't have to do anything.  I don't have to say anything.  He loves me.  I can hurt Him, if I really wanted to.  I can slander Him and reject Him.  He will still love me.  His love is limitless and complete.  That means that I cannot earn His love.  I cannot make Him stop loving me. I haven't met anyone with so much love.  He loves me unconditionally.  His love draws me closer to Him.

With everything I have been through these past 20 years, I can say with conviction that Jesus is who He says He is.  My heart is ever entwined with His, and I am eternally His.  My faith  has grown to the point where nothing can separate me from Him.  I know His presence, I have felt His love, and I have seen Him work in my life.  I am strictly His, and there will be no other to replace Him.  He owns my life, my heart, my soul, and my mind.  I am deeply in love with Him, and it continues to grow.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

CHRISTIAN TOLERANCE

There has been much debate about Christian tolerance and intolerance.  Christian businesses are expected to compromise their beliefs over birth control or other spiritual issues.  Christian charities are beginning to go against the Bible.  Pastors are marrying homosexuals.  Disciplining a pastor for marrying a homosexual couple is headline news.  The list grows every day.  Sin, no matter what it is, is glorified and celebrated in today's culture. To stand against the glorified sin is viewed as intolerant.  Christians are being sued and despised for their view on sin.  Either they are ridiculed and possibly jailed, or they must compromise the Bible truths.

I don't usually get into political views or anything that will cause an outrage.  However, perhaps it is time for me to voice my own thoughts in the hope of giving those Christians who are facing the decision to compromise or to fight the strength they need to continue.  I don't want my blog to become a source of hate and bigotry.  Jesus loves people, and so do I.  I am concerned for others, and I accept others for who they are.

This is my take on these issues.  If it offends you, then my salt is rubbing into a wound that needs to be healed.  Pray that the Lord will open your eyes and allow you to see why my words have offended you.  If it doesn't offend you, good.  My salt has not lost its flavor.  Praise the Lord that He is good!

 The world is more accepting of sinful behaviors (not just homosexuality but also adultery and lying, etc) than it used to be even ten years ago!  The church is also more accepting of sin as well.  And more and more Christians are called intolerant because of our stand against sin.  The Bible says to flee from sin, not embrace it.  We are called to be the light in the world, not add to the darkness.  People are going to HELL, and we are expected to whitewash their sin and ignore it rather than confronting it and praying that they will turn away before it is too late.  If we as a church compromise our stand on sin (no matter what it is), how are we shining our light and showing others the way to the Truth, who is Jesus Christ?  The Bible also says NOT to have anything to do with the sinful BROTHER/SISTER.  It is the unrepentant CHRISTIAN (who says self has a personal relationship with Christ) that we are to deal with, not the unrepentant non-Christian.  We are called to judge those INSIDE the church, not outside.  The homosexual should be accepted into the Christian community, but, very lovingly and firmly, told that choosing that lifestyle is sin.  The same  is true for those unfaithful in their marriage, for those who lie, for those who steal, etc (put in another sin).  IF he/she is not repentant, then follow the Bible's instructions in how to deal with them.  What the Bible says (Paul's letters) depends on whether the person claims to be a Christian or not.
And, another thing. . . The Bible says that good will be called evil, and evil will be called good.  This is just one sign of the many signs that Jesus is about to return.  Even though I am saddened by the state of sin in the world, I am not surprised.   Each sign fulfilled brings us closer to Jesus' promised return.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

SPRING FEVER

Okay.  I know.  It's not quite spring time yet.  However, I have a high case of spring fever.  I want to go out for a walk.  I want the children that I work with to be able to go outside.  Trouble is there is still snow on the ground, and it is still very muddy.  Plus, it is still freezing outside, with slightly warmer days giving us hope that winter is ending and spring is coming.  It's still too cold for the children to be outside, for me to go on a half hour walk.
Yesterday, I received a letter from Niphaporn, my beautiful girl in Thailand.  I suddenly had the desire to handwrite a letter to her and to send her some things.  For the past nine months, I have been emailing my Compassion kids response letters.  It saved time, mostly.  And, being in school, I didn't have a lot of time.
I am currently in my last course before I graduate in April.  April 6, to be exact.  I do have an opportunity to pursue my associate's degree.  However, I admit I need a full time job before pursuing that opportunity.  The school has assured me that my associate's degree will only be 5 months, if I want to be considered full time, 8 months if I want to be part time.  I am planning on going for the 5 month one.
I have a strong desire to return to my normal activities before school.  Handwriting my response letters to my kids, keeping up with this blog, getting more involved with church, etc.  I am feeling the stress of learning lift off me.  It is a great feeling.  I now have more time to do the things that I have given up while I was in school. Oh, I am still in school, but the course load is more bearable, and I am able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Another thing that I am going to continue is writing my devotionals.  I haven't written many since June of last year, and I miss it.  I miss encouraging others in their own walk of faith.
With the arrival of spring, I have a high feeling of expectancy.  The Lord is about to do something wonderful. I will be in a new career, for one.  What else He has in store for me, I do not know.  But I can't wait to find out.
If you're feeling drained, emotionally worn out, or depressed, be encouraged.  Jesus has a great plan for you. You are only in this position for a short time.  Continue to grow your faith, to lean more on Him, to be more aware of His great care for you.  Keep looking to Him to bring an end to your troubles (at least until the next one begins).  He is constantly guiding you onto the path He is on.  Keep following Him.  Keep loving Him.  Keep serving Him.  And, one day, your spring fever will come upon you, and you will know with certainty that Jesus is about to do a wonderful thing in you and for you.

Monday, February 3, 2014

ETC. MEANS. . . A TOILET!

Last year, I sent a huge birthday gift to Anabell, my sponsored child in Honduras.  She was celebrating her quinceanera.  For those who don't know, a quinceanera (I hope I spelled it right) is the girl's fifteenth birthday in most Central and South America countries.  It is a passing from childhood into adulthood.  It's kind of like the 16th birthday in America, but on a much bigger scale.

I wanted to provide Anabell a birthday celebration.  It was the only thing I could pray for, think of, and prepare for.  For an entire year, I set aside a certain amount of money every time I got paid.  At the end of the year, I was able to send the gift to her.  So determined was I that she celebrate her birthday in the tradition of her culture that I specified the gift be used for her quinceanera.  Compassion told me they would do their best to ensure the gift be used for it, but they couldn't promise me.
 
Once I sent the gift, I finally yielded it to the Lord.  Even though I wanted Anabell to receive a birthday party, I contented myself with the fact that it might be used for something else.

A few months ago, I received a letter from Anabell.  It also included a picture.  I was thrilled when I saw the picture.  It is the first one I have of her smile!  I am still pretty excited about it.  However, whenever I look at her picture, I laugh.  Or, on an extremely bad day, I will at least smile.  Why?  It is what she wrote and what the picture told me.

I wish I had a scanner, for I would post the  picture.  Maybe one day, I will.  For now, I will describe it to the best of my ability.

Her letter stated, "Thank you for the gift you sent me.  I bought 3 pants, 4 shirts, 3 shoes, ETC."  How like a teenage girl to list clothes!
 
Then I studied the picture and had to reread the letter again.  Anabell had a bright pink shirt on and dark pants with black shoes (loafers or dress shoes, I can't tell).  She is smiling softly while holding the rest of her clothes. Anabell is standing in front of huge dirt pile.  My precious teenage girl is standing beside a brand new, white toilet.  The toilet still has the white plastic over its lid.  Beside the toilet is a cardboard box filled with a white trashcan and white toilet bowl brush and holder.  Maybe she, her mother, and twin sister likes to color coordinate?
  
Have I mentioned that I would love to meet this girl?  Her letters always make me laugh, and this is no different.  In fact, everytime I hear ETC, I laugh and think about a toilet.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

CHANGES FOR ME

Okay, I can't believe it's been a couple months since I blogged.  Of course, Christmas is usually busy and hectic.  And then I have to continue my school work.  I haven't been writing devotionals recently, either.  Though I have attempted one this week.  My school is currently still on Christmas break, and I am catching up on things that I used to do before I began school.  I am still studying, but it is more of a review of what I have learned.  I have to do something school related.  Otherwise, it will be even harder to get back into the routine.
I believe 2014 is going to be the year of change for me.  I graduate April 6.  It is just getting to be a reality for me.  Can I help it if I am getting excited and am counting down the months?  The great thing about the school is that they help with career placement.  I think I am more excited about going through that than I am about graduating!
For those who know me personally know that I work with children.  These past few months have really been hard financially, as I am now part time.  However, I am not complaining, because I am devoting more time for school.  Jesus has His hand on my life, and I am depending on Him for my every need.
I have been in day care for 13 years this month (January).  That is a long time to devote my life to one career.  I love children.  I always have. Children are precious and fun and so much joy.  However, for the past few years, I have felt my passion for child care waning.  I knew that the Lord was calling me to something else.  I just didn't know what.
Then the online school happened one day when I was off sick.  I was applying for jobs, and clicked the box that said I'd be interested in career training and educational opportunities.  The school called a few minutes later.  It all happened so quickly, but I have felt the Lord's hand in it every single moment.  I prayed about it as the guy was talking.  My words?  "Lord, I need an answer.  NOW, please!  Because everything in me wants to do this!"  The more I learned about the school, the more I felt the Lord.  He wanted me in school, and He wanted me in this one.
I know the time in day care is coming to a close.  I am relieved, but I am also sad.  I will miss the children.  My last day will be with great sadness but also with great joy and excitement.  I am sure that I will be crying the whole time.  Not because I don't want to leave, but because the grieving will come.  I will be saying goodbye to a career that I have enjoyed and loved for so many years.
I am fearful that just maybe, I won't be able to find a job and that the time with the career placement will come to a close.  The part time is only until the end of the school year, and I may not be working through the summer.  If I allow it, the fear will conquer me and paralyze me.  I will most likely suffer a panic attack.  When I feel anxious about the future, I have to remind myself Who is in control of my life.  It's not me!  If it was, I'd be accepting the first job that came along.  Jesus has never once left me in need, and He will continue to provide for me.  When I stop to remember that Jesus has my back, and I seek His presence, then I am filled with peace and joy once again.
I know I have said it before, but I will say it again.  My time with the kids is ending quickly.  I am excited about this new stage in my life.  For one, I will be moving.  Second, I will be going through the process of adopting a child through the Foster to Adopt program.  God will not let me alone about adoption.  I know He has the perfect son or daughter for me.  Have I mentioned that I would like a son first, and then a daughter?  The Lord has promised me a child, and I know He will fulfill His promises.  In fact, every day, I am more convinced that He is about to move. Even if I don't adopt a child right after I get approved, at least I will be ready.  God has prepared me for this next move, and He will continue to work in my life now, tomorrow, and in the future.

If I may ask, please pray for me.  I need all the prayer that I can get.  I need His guidance and His peace.

Friday, November 29, 2013

SO BEHIND!

I used to be so good at keeping up with writing to my kids.  Now, since I've been in school, I just don't have much time to respond to letters.  I am finding that emailing a response is much quicker than hand writing a letter.  I hope my kids understand why I am so late in writing to them, and that they are not disappointed with finding no little goodies in the envelope.  It's been a couple weeks, and I now have six letters to respond to.
I also am having a hard time emailing them once a month.  I can't believe it'll be almost December, and I still don't have anything to write about.  Maybe I should take a break from writing them, but then, I feel guilty about missing a month.  And I just can't miss a month.  I keep seeing Kajal's words in my mind; "I look forward to your letters every month."  I can't disappoint them.  I may delay responding to their letters, but I have to keep my monthly letters.  Here are just a few highlights from the letters that I have to respond to:

Guian Carlos in Peru:  I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was 13.  I tell you that at Christmas time I decorate my house and I also set up a Christmas tree and I listen to Christmas carols.

Praise God that he is a Christian!  His Christmas traditions sound a lot like America's, doesn't it?

Kajal in Bangladesh: When I am sick our teachers and madam take me to doctor for treatment.

I am so glad that Compassion takes such good care of our children!

Samuel in Kenya: Samuel says that he loves Jesus and he asks whether you love Him too?  He says he prays all the time for you.

Another one who loves Jesus!  I just love it!

Peace in Rwanda:  I love you so much and am happy with you.

Aw!  So sweet!  She is definitely beginning to open up.

Mickelene in Haiti; I sing very often in a group that is called United Hearts.  I don't sing in solo.  Do you used to sing in a group as well?

I'm glad she is active in her church.  People would not pay to hear me sing;  in fact, they would pay NOT to hear me sing!  Sorry, Mickelene!




Saturday, November 9, 2013

CARLOS' FRIENDS

I always enjoy learning about my kids' lives, families, and friends.  Carlos, the cutest little boy in El Salvador, wrote me a letter telling me about his friends.

Who is your best friend?  Kevin and Lucas

How old is your best friend?  7 and 8 years old

For how long do you know your best friend?  3 years (about the same amount of time that I have been writing to him)

Where did you meet your best friend?  My school

What grade is your best friend in?  2nd

What do you like to play with your best friend?  Play tag

Who does your best friend live with?  Mother and Father

Hi, I'm very happy to write to you, I play soccer at the CDI, I'm now able to add the numbers.  My best friends' names are Kevin and Lucas, they live with their mom.  I always ask for all your prayers and your letters.  God bless you and take good care of yourself.  Your friend that loves you very much, Carlos.

Carlos drew me a very cute picture of his friend/s playing soccer.  I'm not sure if the two boys are him and a friend, or if they are both of his friends.