Friday, December 26, 2008

He giggles!

Words aren't really necessary. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas at Crosspointe

It was incredible, and I am exhausted.  It's hard work playing the role of donkey, sheep, goat, cow, camel, cat, horse and duck 5 times!  Preparation for this challenging role started back in Elementary School when I was granted the opportunity to be the Grinch's dog in the school play "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Christmas eve was awesome!  From the opening song with the string quartet, to the kid's "segment" to Heather's performance of Faith Hill's "A baby changes everything" to the videos on life change and the kids Christmas thoughts.  I laughed, I cried, I rejoiced.  The Baby, changed everything. 

The guys put a lot of work into the videos for our Christmas Celebration.  One of them can be found here.  And yes it is worth watching.

The gifts...

So I am totallly falling through on the 31 gifts!   I have a list at home, and had some ideas prepared, but have I done anything about it for the last 2 days?  Nope.  Because I was getting ready for Christmas at Crosspointe and my trip to Texas tomorrow.

And I have to be honest, most likely, new posts won't occur all to frequently over the next week.  I am going to spend the week with my brother, sister in law and nephew, and blogging would take away from the limited time I have with them.

We can resume gifts after the new year.  Or start a new series.  One that is shorter with less frequency....


Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Planner

Tonight I laughed and cried and was in awe...and it was only practice!  It is my first Christmas Eve at Crosspointe and I was mesmerized tonight.  It's going to be incredible, you don't want to miss it.

Just a reminder of Christmas Eve service times for the week:

Monday December 22 7 PM
Wednesday December 24 1, 3, 5, 7 PM

And for those who care, I fly out Christmas morning to Texas!  And of course, its the early flight...the 6am one.  I mean really, why wait until 11?  I have family to see!

Wisdom

I really don't need to add my own words to this post.  Read what the Bible says about Wisdom:

A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.  Proverbs 19:11

There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.  Proverbs 21:30

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.  Proverbs 23:4

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established.  Proverbs 24:3

Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.  Proverbs 24:14

He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.  Proverbs 28:26

For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge the more grief.  Ecclesiastes 1:18

I saw that wisdom is better than follow, just as light is better than darkness.  Ecclesiastes 2:13

Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this; that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.  Ecclesiastes 7:12

Wisdom makes one wise man more powerful than ten rulers in a city.  Ecclesiastes 7:19

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  James 1:5

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  James 3:17


Weakness

I was much better at this two weeks ago when life wasn't all crazy.  The last several days have been jam-packed with serving at the rescue mission, staying with kids of friends, Christmas Eve prep, and prep for my trip to Texas on Christmas day.

And I must be honest, these gift posts are getting harder and harder. Not because of lack of gifts, but mostly be I am lacking creativity in these days that start at sunrise and end around now...midnight.

Today's gift is weakness.  Or actually that was yesterdays gift that never got posted or written!  I am often reminded of how weakness is a gift in that it helps to create a dependency upon others.  In my weakness I learn to ask for help, from friends, family, and God.  If I possessed all of the strength I needed for each day I most likely would not use any of the many blessings that come about in my weakness.  

In my weakness, I learn of the strengths of others.
In my weakness, I learn of the strength of God.
In my weakness, I get a glimpse of the community Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 11-13, one that is interdependent on each other and fully dependent upon the strength of God.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Scripture...a gift.

It inspires
teaches
challenges
and moves.

It calms
excites
motivates
and leads.

It hopes
guides
directs
and reveals.

Creativity

I lack creativity.  I am really good at taking an original idea and tweaking, but when it comes to new and fresh ideas...I struggle, unlike the guys I work with.  They amaze me.  I must say that this week I have been further and further impressed by their creative minds.

But God, He is the creative one.  He is the one who started from scratch and spoke the heavens and earth into being.  He is the one who lit up the sky and put flowers in the fields.  I am thankful that He creates us in His image, and shares that creativity with us.

I hate to think about what this world would have been like without it.  

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Yet, it seems like we are all lacking peace.  I wrote about this gift last saturday, and it has plagued me all day today.  

In the last several weeks I have heard countless stories of families losing loved ones, others being abused, others causing the abuse, surgery, illness, accidents, violence, you name it, and my heart grieves and had started to become weighed down by these things.  All things that don't necessarily correlate with peace.  The ickyness of the world seems more and more icky these days.

I am reminded that I am so incredibly thankful for a God who is also known as the Prince of Peace, who is the source of that peace that surpasses all explanation and understanding.

We need Him.  We need the Peace He offers.

He does not fail.

I have no idea where wednesday went.  All I can say is I failed to post a gift.

So it seems appropriate to mention the fact that He does not fail.  That in itself is a gift beyond measure.

He doesn't make mistakes.
Nor accidents,
nor misgivings.

He does not fail.  period.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Silence.

I can only imagine the number of heads nodding in agreement.  Especially those with kids.

But I am learning this lesson slowly.  I am learning of the benefits of not turning on my car radio,  leaving itunes shut down, not having the ipod headphones and not turning on the tv when I am home.

In those moments I discover the gift of silence.  The gift of having space to think through what is going on in my head, discern the ideas that are swirling, and consider the other parts of life that are so important.

I am hoping you can find the gift of silence during the hustle and bustle of this Christmas season.

The day you all have been waiting for...

So if you ever wanted to see me act like one of these...


You should make plans to attend one of the Christmas Eve services at Crosspointe Church.

Dates and Times:
December 22nd at 7pm
December 24th at 1, 3, 5 and 7pm.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Permanence.

Stability.  Durability.  Permanency.  Fixity.  Fixedness.  Changelessness. Immutability.  Immortality.  Indestructibility.  Endlessness.

The Creator.
The Forgiver.
The Healer.
The Redeemer.
The Provider.
The Counselor.
The Almighty.
The Majestic Ruler.
The One who dwells among his people.
The Father.
The Daddy.
The Lord most high.
The everlasting.
The Maker.
The Shepherd.

And so many more.

How awesome is it, that in this ever changing world, our God in all his characteristics and qualities is permanent.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  What an incredible gift it is to know that the God of the universe who forgave David, who freed the Israelites, who created the universe hasn't (and won't) change.



Sunday, December 14, 2008

Discomfort

I very much prefer comfort to discomfort.

Comfort food to health food. (except most foods on my comfort food lists contain gluten which means that they really aren't comfortable in the long run...I digress.)

I would rather sit in a ray of warm sunshine than shiver on my couch.

I would rather sit in a room of people who are full of words of encouragement then in a room full of critics.

But I am learning that discomfort can actually be good.  It is a gift.

Discomfort motivates change.

For example the gluten.  If I had a choice to eat it and didn't experience discomfort I would continue to reek havoc on my small intestine which could lead to so many other worse diseases.

If I was only around encouragers, I wouldn't grow from the wisdom I receive from critics.

If I didn't experience discomfort when I walk through slums...I wouldn't be motivated to change the situation.

If we didn't experience discomfort, we would grow content with life the way it is, for us, and for many others who live in poverty, and nothing would happen.

Good comes from discomfort.  It's a gift.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The gift of peace.

Towards the end of middle school and into high school I started having pretty horrific dreams.  At first they were sporadic, but even when they were few and far between I would get pretty freaked out.

In college they became more frequent, and I became a psychology major and started to open up my mind to the idea that perhaps I was having these dreams for reasons other than just having a dream...

Well one night I had a particularly rough night.  I woke up about 20 minutes after falling asleep and was haunted.  So much so that getting out of bed was not an option, I was frozen, but falling back asleep was also not an option...so I did the only thing I knew to do...I pulled the bible off of the bedside table and read...and stumbled upon this gem that changed my life (and nights) forever:

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.  Psalm 4:8

When I read this I realized that my dreams that were quite rooted in fear. I realized that I was living each day fearful of what could have been or what could happen to me today.  I hid it so well that often-times I had myself convinced.  When I read this, I realized that I had also set up walls and protective measures to downplay the fear and also increase my safety.

But they weren't working.  I wasn't keeping myself safe.  And I was reminded that although there are the realistic measures to take (like locking my doors etc.) it is ultimately the Lord who keeps me safe.  I lie down and sleep in peace, because the Lord gives me peace.  I take courageous leaps around the world because the Lord gives me peace.  I searched abandoned buildings for homeless people in the middle of the night because the Lord gave me peace.   I sleep well at night, because the Lord makes me dwell in safety...he gives me peace.

In what ways have you been given the gift of peace?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The gift of rules to live by.

I am by default a rule follower.  This is helpful when the rest of the world wants to follow rules, but oh so very frustrating when they don't.  My brother and I laughed about this over Thanksgiving weekend.  If I know a rule exists about something, it VERY HARD for me to not follow through.  It is nearly impossible really.  

Which is why I never did anything wrong in my life.  HA!  Just checking to see if you are still reading.  You can ask my mother, she will tell you, I do plenty wrong, even in my default character of following rules.

Well many many many many years ago we were given the gift of some rules to live by.  Most of us can't recite them, nor do we live by them, and I will say that many of us in church today try to not get caught up in "all the rules" and in fact, some churches will talk about everything but the rules, so as to not appear "legalistic."

But I don't see the rules as bad.  In fact, I am of the opinion that if most of the world joyfully embraced life as God set it out to be, our world would be much different...and dare I say better?  Now, of course we would still need Christ on the Cross because none of us are perfect, but the rules are not to make life boring or numb, but instead to help us have life to the fullest.  In fact, so many of us get caught up in the rules themselves we fail to see the reason for them in Deuteronomy 6.  As Moses is sharing about the rules, he shares how God instructed him to tell the Israelites to keep them close to their hearts, to write them on the doorposts and as they remember where they were brought from (as if they could forget they just escaped after 400 years of slavery) and the Lord commanded "us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today."

Now re-read those rules.  Which has the possibility of bringing you the most harm or disappointment in life...trying to live by them...or trying to ignore them and live by your own?

The rules my friend, they too are a gift.  Just like mama's rule to not play with fire.  She didn't give us the rule to ruin our fun, she gave us the rule so that life would be longer and we would have more hopes for fun in our longer futures of not playing with fire.

And yes, you might have noticed, this is the second post of the day.  That's because I try to adhere to the rule about working six days and on the seventh resting from it.  This is Fridays gift, a day early. Enjoy.

The gift of Joy.

Today I ventured into the realm of Christmas shopping.  It did not at all appear joyful.  AT. ALL.

This is what I saw:
  • mom's annoyed with other mom's for blocking the aisle with their cart.
  • Clerks zoned out but no doubt counting down until closing time in their heads.
  • full parking lots.
  • empty facial expressions.
I read a few cards about Santa, Frosty, and Christmas Joy and Cheer.  But as I walked through I could only help but notice, that in 30 years of life, the Joy of Christmas didn't show up in a stocking, a gift from santa, or mom and dad.  Sure, there were moments of happiness, my parents were good gift givers...

But Joy.  Joy is so much more than a feeling of happiness.  Joy is something that is woven within us, that is inexplainable really, and is not as temporary and fleeting as happiness.  Joy cannot come from a gift, from wealth, from things.  I have discovered in my own life that joy is rooted in something far greater than material things.  Joy is hope for eternity discovered and lived out to the fullest.  Joy is forgiveness given and received.  Joy is love unhindered and indescribable.  Joy is an intangible gift from God that is to be treasured.

Joy is for the receiving, and it is freely given, but so many of us miss out on it because we are walking through store aisles on rainy thursday nights looking for that perfect gift.  Joy doesn't come wrapped in a pretty package, but rather it comes wrapped in a manger, from the heart of a Father to His children.




Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The gift of mercy.

We have all been there.  We have earned ourselves a punishment that we fully deserved.  We stood in fear, waiting for the wrath of mom or dad, and sometimes waited and waited and waited.  While waiting we dreamed up all the possible terrible things they could do to us...and then came mercy.  Oftentimes, for a reason not explained to us, the punishment was withheld, or way less than we expected.  

I am not sure where to say the gift of mercy began.  Did it begin with creation?  Did it begin at the fall?  Did it begin when the angel announced to Mary that she would give birth to a Savior?  Did it begin when Jesus was born or did it begin on the cross?

I am not really sure that it matters.  What is important, is that we recognize this gift, and give God an immeasurable thanks for the fact that because of the fall, we all deserve death.  We all have sinned, we have all fallen short, but we all have access to this gift of mercy (freedom from death) through Jesus.

We deserved condemnation.  Our condemnation was removed.  Mercy.  Unfathomable really.

Our Tree is Bare!

A week ago The Giving Tree in the lobby of Crosspointe Church was jam-packed with ornaments listing the wishes and needs of residents of the Durham Rescue Mission.  And now, if you take a closer look at our lovely tree, you will notice that it is nearly BARE!

After just one week of The Giving Tree, nearly 300 ornaments have been taken and the gifts are already coming in! Thanks Crosspointe Church for loving our neighbors at the Durham Rescue Mission this Christmas!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Gift of grace.

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings...
Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things.
~ U2 Lyrics to Grace


When I was a little girl, I was downright ugly, and I am not talking about the physical sense, but I was mean, mostly to my mom. I can remember yelling horrific things at her before I ran out of the room (because lets face it, she was bigger than me and she had the spoon!)

I had issues. I still do.

But that is where Grace steps in. U2 says it well in the song, Grace:

Grace finds goodness in everything...
Grace finds beauty in everything...
Grace makes beauty out of ugly things...
It's also a thought that, changed the world...

The concept of Grace is a difficult one to grasp. I often confuse it with another gift, mercy, but I once heard it described well. 

Grace is the giving of something I didn't deserve, mercy is the withholding of something I did deserve.

I did not deserve the Grace that has been given to me in my life. Many people, trust me, MANY have given me forgiveness when I didn't deserve it, they have given me second chances when I didn't deserve them, they loved me when really I deserved to be left alone. They gave me grace and often times more than once.

And God, man has He ever given me grace. So many times in my life I chose myself over him. So many times in my life I did what I knew was distinctly against what I knew He prefered for me..and every time, every time, I found grace.

Grace has changed my world. I am still learning how to give myself grace, but really, it is grace that ends fights. It is grace that calms fears, and settles stressful environments.

Grace, it makes beauty out of the ugliest things.

John 1:16-17
From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.


Monday, December 08, 2008

The Gift of pain.

Several years ago I was wrestling with the question, "where is God in all the bad stuff?"
And "Why the pain God?"

And after many years of searching I hesitate to give the trite, simple, blow off the question answer: "He's right there."

But I did learn a thing about pain. It mostly started when I was picked up C.S. Lewis' book, The Problem with Pain. Which I should also admit that I never finished, I rarely finish a book, I get distracted by something else. Like I am right now. One of the points Lewis made in his book is that pain was necessary in order for us to experience joy.

In addition, one other thing I learned about pain, is not the answer to "where is God?" but the question that is answered is the question of "where am I?"

Pain, as much as I hate it, as much as I don't want it, always has this amazing way of bringing me right where I need to be...at His feet. I hate that the world is not perfect, I get frustrated with people using their freewill and causing others pain. I am often irritated by the choices people make that affect others.

But I love that where Pain is, so is He, and I can so easily access His comfort.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The gift of Freedom.

Psalm 119:45
I will walk about in freedom for I have sought out your precepts.

Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow upon them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, and a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Galatians 5:1
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Ephesians 3:12
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

My big brother is a pilot for the US Navy. I can't imagine what life would have been like without having an older brother, because really he is just plain awesome. After living overseas and going through the wonderful ordeals of the event I will probably forever refer to as "that accident," and after experiencing life in a country where you have to be on guard concerning your safety, we have had several conversations about "freedom." And about the blessing of the "freedom" we have as Americans. We really do have a pretty decent life here.

We also have a different kind of freedom extended to us. Because of the cross, we are extended an invitation to walk in freedom from all those little emotional prisons and such that we encounter in our life.

Freedom from guilt.
Freedom from our past.
Freedom from the lies that the enemy speaks to us.
Freedom to choose life in Christ.
Freedom to forgive and seek forgiveness.
Freedom to love and be loved.
Freedom to find healing for our broken hearts.
Freedom to be who God made us to be.
Freedom from grief.
Freedom from mourning.
Freedom from death.
Freedom to approach the throne of grace.

I don't take advantage of this gift nearly often enough. I often times forget the gift of this freedom that comes through the Spirit. I oftentimes sit in my guilt, or actually a better description would be that I beat myself up. But when Christ hung on that cross, He removed all guilt. He removed condemnation. He paid the price, and because He did, I can take hold of that sacrifice and remember the freedom I have been given.

Another area where I fail to remember the gift is when I battle the lies of the enemy. I know this might sound like some crazy talk, but I do believe in a spiritual realm, and I do believe in satan, and I do believe that he will do whatever he can to break us down. For me, he often shows up in poor view of self, poor belief's of who I am, and how I am influencial in the world around me. I often hear, "you are not good enough, you are not smart enough, you need to work out less and eat less crap (which is true to an extent...but he lays it on pretty thick,) you don't love well, you speak too harshly (again probably a small amount of truth there, but he loads me up with guilt on that one,) you should work harder, you should love better, you need to give more, and do more and man you really stink at being a follower of Christ. Sadly, this is often on repeat in my mind throughout the day.

I forget, that because of the cross, and because we have a God who is present and the freedom I have to approach him, that I can go to him for the truths that fight these statements. I can approach the loving Father who sent Christ on Christmas day to hear the truth about who I am, how I am doing on this journey, the truth about how I need to love better but not get consumed by the fact that I messed up last week. I can be free to make mistakes, accept the grace, and move on trying harder next time, and also relying on His Spirit to help as well.

The day Christ died, we were granted Freedom, as long as we choose to accept Him and the sacrifice that enables us to approach that lovely...i need to go there so much more frequently... throne of grace.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The gift of community.

We need each other.

Pretty simply put. We need each other. We need each other to stand up in trial, we need each other to mourn together, to celebrate together, to grow together and to learn together. God made us that way. And, since He is the all-knowing God of the universe, I assume it was all on purpose.

I assume it wasn't coincidence that God created Man and Woman. I assume it wasn't just for kicks that he said to, "be fruitful and multiply." I assume, that He had a plan all along, and part of that plan was for us to have community.

A community like that found in Acts chapters 1 and 2. Think about this group for a minute. In recent months they had seen Jesus crucified on a cross, then heard (and some saw) of his resurrection. They had given up everything when Jesus said to follow him, only to watch him die on a cross. I can imagine times were tough, I can imagine that there was some ridiculing from the pharisees or from those who didn't believe. Some people would walk away and quit.

But not the apostles. The stood together. They called together all of the believers, they prayed together, they ate together, they remembered scripture together. They were fortified and they stood firm as they remembered Jesus' last words and as they voted on a new apostle to join in the leadership.

Then comes pentecost and they gather together again. And strange things started to happen as they all encountered the Holy Spirit. And they were challenged again, and they were judged, but instead of falling apart (like many would) they stood together, again remembered who Jesus was, and pressed on.

It is SO hard to go against opposition alone, and so much easier to stand up to it when there is someone standing with you. I am thankful that God has given us the gift of community so that when we are fighting battles there is someone to go to. I am thankful that God has designed a way for us to be strengthened when we face opposition. I am thankful for the gift of community.

The gift of His presence.

Nearness is relative for a lot of people. Before moving to Tanzania the United States seemed huge and to have family on various parts of the country seemed daunting. They seemed so far away.

Fast forward two years and after living on the other side of the planet, enduring terrible phone connections and a 7 or 8 hour time difference, being in the same country seems so very near! Many people will ask where my family is, and when I respond, "mom is in Indiana, dad in Florida and my brother is in Texas they get a sad look on their face and comment on how spread out we are. I often reply, "We are thrilled to be in the same country." It's all about perspective.

Sometimes, God seems so very far away doesn't He? He seems distant, like we have to navigate time zones just to speak to Him or hear His voice. These times are very difficult for me, as I am still navigating this road of Christianity and there are days, where let's face it, I need a reminder that God is there.

And it's on those days that I am reminded of the following Scriptures. And I am reminded, that the Creator of the Universe has given us the amazing gift of His nearness. He could have been like other god's of other religions, un-involved or dictator-like, but when you read the bible you see that He is very much the opposite. He is very near to His people. He cares for us like a father cares for his children. He desires to be near to us and reminds us of it when we need reminding.

Psalm 145:17-19
The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he ahs made. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him' he hears their cry ands saves them.

Deuteronomy 4:7
What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?

I laughed so hard I cried.

I know that I didn't post a gift yesterday, but it was Friday and I take Fridays off.  I will post two today, don't worry, you didn't get shafted.

While you are waiting for me to put two other gifts up, watch this, and laugh until you cry.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Cheppema Children's Home and Cheppema Hope Center

A few months ago I wrote a letter to the community of Crosspointe Church about a situation in Cheppema, Kenya.  Over the last several months we have been working closely with Special Ministries (our ministry partner) to help resolve a crisis that their neighbor the Cheppema Children's Home was facing.  Although the Cheppema Children's Home was not a direct ministry partner, we have been monitoring it closely as it is closely tied by location (they are neighbors) and by ministry (some of the kids from the home attend school at our Hope Center.)  Yes I know it is confusing.  The picture below might help you better understand how closely the ministry affected is, in proximity to our ministry partners the Cheppema Hope Center.  They are two ministries, that are next to each other, but have different leadership, staff and missionaries working with them.


It has been a few months since we have updated our church community concerning the situation at the Cheppema Children's Home.  But that does not demonstrate a lack of energy or effort put into trying to help remedy the situation. In September of this year a group of 17 people from Crosspointe church participated in an already scheduled mission trip to the Cheppema Hope Center our partners through Special Ministries.  You can read their stories, see their pictures and learn more about their experience at the Cheppema 2008 blog.  

 While we were in Kenya we were able to tour the home, talk with the director of the board of the Children's Home, as well as talk to Kenyans and American Workers who are daily involved in this situation.  

At this stage in the game, very little has changed.  Unfortunately due to greed, corruption, poor leadership and the Kenyan time clock, progress has been slow.  The Kenyan officials have been informed about the abuse, the abuser has left the home, he has not been arrested but an investigation was started into the accusations.  The individual accused of the abuse had verbally agreed to sell his home and land (the Children's Home ) to the board of directors, however he has not yet signed his name to a deed of transfer or sale for the property.  Those on the ground have been working diligently to try and make this happen, and those in the USA are trying to push things along if at all possible.  Our first and foremost desire in all of this is to make sure that the children in the home are safe, that they receive the care and help they need through this crisis, and afterwards.  In addition to the children in the home being safe, we also want to make sure that any children who might come to the Hope Center we partner with would also be safe.

Crosspointe has been an encourager for those fighting the battle, and has tried to be a motivator for a more rapid response.  We have prayed fervently for the government officials to respond appropriately, and have offered resources for the children and the purchase of the home.

As hard as it is, sometimes we have to do what seems most unnatural and most frustrating for us Americans...wait. This week we received news that the landowner has asked a new (and much higher price) for the land.  He has also made a few requests that honestly cannot be honored.  We have again offered to help with this process.  

As part of the community of Crosspointe, I beg of you to be praying fervently with us, that an appropriate resolution would not only be found, but would occur.  I beg of you to continue to pray for the boys and the girls in the Cheppema Children's Home, and I beg of you to pray for our ministry partners through Special Ministries as they try to help their neighbors.  Pray for us as leadership as we try to discern what steps we take and what role we play in the solution.

The gift of restoration.

Restore:  reestablish, repair, refurbish, revive, refresh, to reinstate, to bring back

1 Peter 9:10
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Isaiah 43:25
I , even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.

I have a nativity set that I purchased while I was in Tanzania.  The first year I owned it one of the wise men lost his head.  Yes, I know, that just doesn't sound right, but he did.  He was knocked off the table and the tile floor was triumphant over the soap stone.  I did what my mother always did, found some super glue and put it back together.  I then moved the nativity to a place where little hands couldn't get at it, and it wouldn't be so vulnerable.  I did this, because I valued the nativity set (I have this desire to collect them from all over the world) and I didn't want further breaks.  I also knew, that since the wise man had already broken once, that it would be more vulnerable and could break again with ease.  I also must admit, for the point of this entry, that the once broken wise man found an inconspicuous spot in the back because my repair job was not so great and he looked a little funny.  I know.  Very. Shallow.

As I think about my life I can reflect on the many times that God has brought about restoration.  There were times when I was young and my heart was broken, but he heals.  There was broken trust, and then trust restored.  And then there is the big one, my broken relationship with him.  Because we have all sinned, we all need to be restored to Him, and he does this, but not in the same way that I restored the wise man.  In 1 Peter 5:10 it says:  restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.  I would not necessarily use those words to describe my soapstone wise man, he is actually quite weak after my repair.  But God, the God of all grace, restores us to himself in this manner, he doesn't have some wimpy super glue, but he has the grace to forget our sins, and remember them no more, and in His restoration he makes us strong, firm and steadfast.  Instead of making a quick repair, he weaves himself within us, and instead of hiding us in an inconspicuous spot, He restores us to Him, for all to see.

I find myself thankful for restoration this morning.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The gift of emotions...A heart of flesh

I have never been really good at expressing my feelings... or my emotions until they become too much, or too overwhelming.  I have often associated expressing tears or emotions as an expression of weakness... which lead to SO many other problems in life.  

Until I read the following verses and realized it was not weakness, but how God created us:

Ezekiel 11:19
I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; and I will remove from them their heart of stone and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.  

Ezekiel 36:26
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

And just look at the writings of the man after God's heart:

Psalm 4:1
Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God.  Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.

Psalm 5:1-2
Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing.  Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.

Psalm 9:1
I will praise you O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders.

Psalm 19:1
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

And what about the example of Jesus.


I am learning more and more, that the God who so dearly loves us, gave us the gift of emotion.  Sometimes I don't like it all that much, but I am learning that even those icky emotions are something to be treasured.  It is such a gift to feel, and I am learning more about it each day as I refuse to become numb to the situations and experiences around me.  






Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Gift of Hope...

I can't imagine what life must have been like during the days of the Old Testament.  They were constantly searching and forever waiting for the day that Hope would be born.  They had been told a Messiah would come, and they waited...and waited...and waited...

About 200o years ago Hope was born, and we had a new life.

When life was trying, we knew that Hope was enduring with us.
When the world seems to be crashing, we know that Hope has a plan for redemption.
When we cry out, we know that Hope listens.
When we are alone, we can be reminded that Hope is present.

Here are some more reminders about the gifts that lie within the gift of Hope:

Job 11:17-18
Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become lie morning.  You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.

Psalm 25:3
No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.

Psalm 31:23-24
Love the Lord all his saints!  The Lord preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full.  Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.

Psalm 33:20
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.

Jeremiah 29:11-12
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.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you.

Romans 5:2-5
And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts given by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

1 Timothy 4:9-10
This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.





Monday, December 01, 2008

Memories and Traditions...

A year ago my brother and I had a dream.  We dreamt of our kids having traditions over the holidays, that there would be an expectation that things would be the same and that our kids would look forward to the family traditions.  We recognized that it has been hard to have this dream because we are often in different places with different people from year to year, so we shared this dream with our parents and families and started something new.

Thanksgiving is at my house.
Christmas is at his.
Everyone is invited and welcome to join in the fun.

Well our first annual Thanksgiving at Pam's was memorable to say the least.  We had an awesome gluten free meal, with some gluten on the side for those who can have it, and great company.  (pictures in previous post!).  My mom, brad and grandma came down from Indiana.  My cousin Tricia (who I haven't seen in countless years) and her little boy came from the DC area, and my brother and his family came in from Texas.  It was a houseful, but fun!  Even some friends from the area stopped by for dinner and brought a carrot cake that looked so good I was tempted to endure the consequences of eating gluten, however, my rational quickly took over when I realized days of consequences weren't worth the minutes of the cake on my palate.

We had hoped to make memories over the weekend however the weekend took a turn friday evening.  After a wonderful day we returned to my apartment and throughout the evening noticed that grandma wasn't being herself.  Her behavior was off, and she eventually complained of a headache.  Mom took her back to the hotel to rest and after a while my brother and I put the pieces together and called mom to take grandma to the ER.

This story is getting long.  The short version is my brother and I arrived at the ER and thought the grandma we knew would never be the same.  I remember looking at him in tears as she lay there talking gibberish and wondering if he was as scared as I was.  According to the doctors grandma had a stroke.

Eventually we came to our senses and realized that having all of us there in the middle of the night was not a good idea, so we went home, slept for a few hours and made plans to relieve mom in the morning.  Throughout Saturday grandma started gaining her memory, and gaining words, little by little.  Her MRI that day showed only an "old" stroke (which no one has record of occurring) and they said that whatever happened friday night was not a stroke.  confused?  yeah I was too.  They then determined she had an infection.

Saturday night they blamed the delirium, disorientation, loss of motor skills and language skills on a severe bladder infection.  We were confused, but grandma was improving by the hour so we didn't complain.

Sunday morning she had a different MRI, this time they told mom she had indeed had a stroke, it was just a "small one."

Grandma was released Sunday afternoon and we all sat in my living room with the most thankful of hearts.  This was the image we had expected all weekend.  My brother and his family, mom, brad, grandma and I all sitting around, laughing, talking, enjoying each other's company, filled with gratitude for what God had given us.

It wasn't how we anticipated our first annual Thanksgiving at Pam's, but the calendar is marked, and the menu is already being worked on for next year.  The second annual Thanksgiving at Pam's will take place on Thursday, November 26, 2009. You are welcome to join in the fun, and we promise to try and keep the visits to the ER to a minimum.

The Breath of Life

It is the time of year, when most of life revolves around a gift, so I thought I would take a different perspective on this blog. Instead of focusing on gifts I am giving, receiving or wanting, I thought we could spend the next 31 days reflecting on the gifts we have received.  

After this weekend, there is one gift that I am fully reminded of this evening.  The Breath of Life.  In a matter of moments this weekend our entire family was reminded of how fragile life is.  One moment we were laughing with grandma and the next we were standing over her bedin the emergency room wondering what the future would look like for her.  Thankfully grandma seems to have made a full recovery, but it reminded me of this gift we have been given...the breath of life.

The story of creation is told in the book of Genesis.  In chapter two the most amazing words are written:  from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

I am in awe of this passage, and I am made to sit in silence when I think about the fact, that God gave us all His breath of life and continues to do so each day.  I am so thankful for the Breath of life, and I don't want to consider what the world would be like without it.


So many words to describe our weekend...

But for now we will just let the pictures do the talking...