Saturday, July 30, 2011

Still

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Life has been so very full recently - since coming home from a two-week staff conference in beautiful Colorado, things have been going non-stop. All good things, all things that God has brought into our lives, and things that have blessed us. Yet, I have found myself experiencing some unrest in my heart. And I have been asking myself, where can I find the peace that I long for? Even in the midst of the busyness of life?

And I am reminded. It's not about our busyness, but it's about taking time to be still. It's about what we focus on in the midst of our busyness. It's about resting and being still in my heart before God, taking time to listen to Him. Listening to His Spirit within, listening to His Words to us. This is where I find my peace.

"Yes, I am the Vine;
you are the branches.
Those who remain in me, and I in them,
will produce much fruit.
For apart from me you can do nothing."
(John 15:5)

Thank You, loving Lord - how I needed to be reminded this morning. In the midst of busy days, I choose to take time to rest, to listen, holding onto You, my Vine.

Linking up with others, writing for five minutes on the word-prompt "still", at Five Minute Friday.



Sunday, July 24, 2011

Filled Up

By Poudre River near Fort Collins 

So thankful for the opportunity to hear from God through many speakers and leaders during these nine days of staff conference here in beautiful Colorado. My journal is filled with notes, and my heart is overflowing with thanks.

Thank You, Lord, for these words of wisdom this past week (sharing a few of the many things I wrote in my journal):

~ "when we find ourselves in need of finances and in need of more manpower, we are right where God wants us, totally dependent on Him".

~ "operate out of brokenness, not out of giftedness"

~ "when faced with trials and difficulties, remember that God is not picking on me, but perfecting me."

~ "we are in 100% perfect standing with God"

~ "stamped next to our name in the Lambs Book of Life = Righteous!"

~ "don't listen to people so much - listen to the Holy Spirit and to the Book"

~ "is Jesus my life? is He the most important thing in my life, or is He my life?"

~ "global community of caring Christians passionate about connecting people to Jesus Christ"

~ "everything depends on my time alone with God"

~ "be in His Word - our life needs to come to us personally from God"

~ "God will do great things through you if you are willing to be lonely"

~ "go for the 'more' we long for"

~ "focus on being a bond-servant of Jesus, not on what position we're in"

~ "experience the Gospel ourselves"

~ "it's His story"

~ "don't fall in love with the work/ministry we are in, but fall in love with the One who called us"

~ "don't run from our pain, but run to it, for Jesus will be there"

~ "not do more, but be more"

~ "be transformed by the renewing of our minds; renew our minds in the Word"

(One Thousand Gifts #552-570)

Sharing gratitude along with others at A Holy Experience



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And linking up at The Wellspring



Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Name


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Here at staff conference in beautiful Colorado, there is excitement and anticipation about a name change for this ministry that is celebrating it's 60th year this summer. And even though we will soon be using a new name for our ministry, as always, the focus of our time together, the focus of all that we do within this ministry, is not programs, principles, or causes ... but always, the focus is on one Name, the Name of Jesus. This focus is what we love most about working alongside others in this ministry for twenty years now.

A very moving time this week as we have listened to Francis Chan, Darryl Smith, and others who have shared with us, reminding us to focus on this Name, to focus on listening to His Spirit, and to focus on His Words written to us. Not to focus on ministry, or our reputation, or getting approval from others ... but to focus on the Name of Jesus. To listen to Him, and to walk closely with Him. That He would be our Life. Not just in our life, but - be our Life. How my heart resonates with the words I hear, words that I hear over and over again and never tire of.


"Discipleship means personal, passionate devotion to a Person - 
our Lord Jesus Christ. 
There is a vast difference between devotion to a person
 and devotion to principles or to a cause."
(My Utmost for His Highest)


Not devotion to a person who is far off, but to a Person who is more Real than any other. The One who created us, and who longs to walk with us through all of life.

"I am far more Real 
than the world you can see, hear, and touch."
(Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young)

The One who desires intimacy with us, meeting our deepest desires. And the One who calls us to join with Him in His redemptive work, drawing people to His heart.

"Seek My Face and you will find all that you have longed for.
 The deepest yearnings of your heart are for intimacy with Me ... 
your yearning for Me is a form of homesickness 
longing for your home in heaven." 
(Jesus Calling)

Thank You, Gracious God, for Jesus - the One who makes it possible for us to come to You. The One who gives us Life - who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6)

Linking up at Brag on God Friday











And linking up with others at Imperfect Prose


Monday, July 18, 2011

Choosing the Better Thing

Photo taken from my brother and sister-in-law's cabin near Estes Park ...

"I have called you to follow Me on a solitary path, 
making time alone with Me 
your highest priority and deepest Joy. 
It is a pathway largely unappreciated and often despised. 
However, you have chosen the better thing, 
which will never be taken away from you. 
Moreover, as you walk close to Me, 
I can bless others through you." 
(Jesus Calling)

Thanking God for this time in Fort Collins, Colorado ... time to pull away from the routine busyness of life back home, time to connect with other staff, time to hear from Him through great speakers, and awesome times of worship. Praising God together with 4,000 other staff ... a touch of heaven.

And, in the full days of meetings and events, taking time to be alone, listening, and connecting with God. So essential, and so necessary ...

Thank You, Lord, for Your many gifts this past week ...

~ many wonderful memories in my heart from the gathering at our home of 30 family members the first week in July ...

~ time to connect with a son last Monday evening, enjoying a special meal out with him ...

~ and times the next two afternoons to connect with another son, helping with details for his upcoming travels; cherishing these times as we will soon be missing him ...

~ thankful for a precious time of prayer together with my husband, up the hill at our town cemetery, so peaceful, overlooking our town ...

~ for lunch with a sweet daughter, hearing her heart ...

~ for Your help as we scrambled to get ready to leave for two weeks ...

~ for helping us get out our next newsletter before we left ...

~ for a safe drive to Fort Collins, in good time, just 9 1/2 hours ...

~ great news the next day of a large donation towards our needs, received even as our newsletter was still in the mail ...

~ for peace and strength amidst a trial ...

~ the joy of visiting a brother and sister-in-law at their cabin near Estes Park ...

~ times to connect with other Student Venture staff during three days of meetings together ...

~ being able to spend a bit of time with staff member friend and fellow blogger, Abby, and hoping for more time together here at staff conference ...

~ thankful for texting, email, etc., with family back home ...

~ for comfort and love, as dear friends pray together with us ...

~ for my husband, so blessed to be kindred hearts through all of life ...

~ such meaningful, powerful teaching from our executive director ...

~ extended time yesterday to spend time with You, listening ...

"There is only one thing worth being concerned about.
Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her."
(Luke 10:42)

(One Thousand Gifts #534-551)

Linking up with others, sharing gratitude, at A Holy Experience.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Not Picking on Us, but Perfecting Us


Columbine, the beautiful Colorado state flower ... photographed nestled up close to my brother and sister-in-law's cabin in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. We spent a few hours at this cabin yesterday during some free time amidst twelve days of staff conference in nearby Fort Collins. 

So perfect, and so beautiful ... these flowers have weathered the changing Colorado weather. Some days gorgeous, sunny days (as when we visited my brother and sister-in-law), and other days carrying sudden mountain rains and storms.

And this morning, our executive director shared from his heart about storms, and about perfection. 

How often do we shrink away from difficult times, from the storms that continue to come our way? Life is full of storms, of difficulties, of heartaches. And our natural tendency is to run, wanting to escape. We wonder if God is picking on us by allowing such things into our lives.

But as our director said this morning ... when difficulties come, remember that "God is not picking on me, but perfecting me". 

Difficulties and trials teach us to be totally dependent on God, and not to depend on ourselves. When things go as we have planned, it is easy to become self-sufficient. But when we are faced with desperate situations, we cry out to God in our brokenness, and we are given glimpses of His love and strength that we never would have been able to see otherwise. The Israelites experienced this when they were faced with great difficulty ...

"He did it to teach you that people
 do not live by bread alone; 
rather, we live by every word that comes  
from the mouth of the Lord." 
(Deut. 8:3b)

Loving Lord, though I so often want to run from trials, I also thank You that trials teach us how much we need You. Without You we have nothing, and with You we have all that we need. So in a present day trial that we are going through, I will take the next step, and I will hold on to You and Your Word. And I will be right where You want me to be ...

"Keep walking with Me along the path I have chosen for you. Your desire to live close to Me is a delight to My heart. I could instantly grant you the spiritual riches you desire, but that is not My way for you. Together we will forge a pathway up the high mountain. The journey is arduous at times, and you are weak ... All I require of you is to take the next step, clinging to My hand for strength and direction." 
(Jesus Calling)


Linking up with others at Brag on God Friday's

And with kindred hearts at Soli Deo Gloria


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Letting Go to Be Filled

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Letting go means opening up to something better. My mother heart is preparing for more letting go, as a son makes plans to travel far. And with six grown children in all, there is always more letting go.

Sometimes we try to hang on to things or people, thinking that we must be in control. But when we feel that we are the ones in control, we must also be the ones who carry the weight of responsibility. 

In place of control and in place of being burdened with responsibility, God asks us to let go, and to let Him be in charge. 

"Walk with Me and work with Me - 
watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with Me,
and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
(Matthew 11:29-30 The Message)

Loving Lord, thank You for reminding me (again) that the best way to love is to let go, humbling myself and recognizing that You can do things much better than even my own best efforts. And as I release my control, I will find freedom and will be able to live lightly while You are at work in the lives of those I love the most. 

Linking up with others at Walk with Him Wednesdays

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Memories

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Summer is in full swing ... the 4th of July has come and gone, and nearly thirty family members have enjoyed a week together at our home this past week, and have now left for their homes. I have been going through the rooms of our home in the few days since they have left, cleaning up after the fun of nine grandkids and two nieces, and a full house of family. And I am reliving memories in my heart, thanking God for blessing our days together in so many ways, giving us a week that was even beyond my expectations. And as I refocus on what comes next, I want to pause and listen ...

"I speak softly to you, in the depths of your being. 
Ask My Spirit to quiet your mind 
so that you can think My thoughts. 
Sit quietly in My Presence, 
letting My thoughts reprogram your thinking."
(Jesus Calling)

Quieting my heart, and thanking Him for all His gifts this past week:

~ my youngest brother and his wife arriving first, the day before the 4th ... and a special noon meal together the next day at the retirement community where our father lives.


~ picking up my other two brothers and sisters-in-law, along with two nieces, later that day at the airport, and driving to our home for a very memorable evening together on the 4th ... so happy to all be together again, coming from the east coast and the west coast to the center, where we live.


~ filled with joy to be together again ... much laughter as we shared stories from the past together later in the evening, as the fireworks were going off in our neighborhood (sounds of celebration, for our freedoms, and also adding to the feeling of celebration we felt in our hearts to all be together again).


~ the arrival of a daughter and her four children the next day, and nearly 30 family members gathering at Mahoney Lodge that evening to celebrate the 90th birthday of our father and grandfather ... the three big tables surrounded by the sweetest people in the world. (more photos here)


~ the next evening we all gathered at our home for a barbecue to celebrate eight June and July birthdays ... a granddaughter turning 4 that very day, my husband's and a son's late June birthdays, three of our brothers' July birthdays, and two nieces turning 12 later this month. (more photos of our big family birthday party here)


~ thankful for the sounds of children everywhere during our week together, nine grandchildren and two nieces ... our two oldest granddaughters and our two nieces helping out with the younger ones throughout the week.




~ a very special lunch together at Wheatfield's in the Old Market area, a gift for my husband and me from my brothers and sisters-in-law, as a thank-you to us.


~ and our last evening together on Thursday, a very special treat - our four daughters and two sons treating my husband and me, and also my older brother and his wife to a very memorable 40th Anniversary celebration. They made an amazing picnic meal, and after a very fun "not-so-newlywed" game, served each of us couples beautiful anniversary cakes. (more photos of the wonderful evening here)


~ later that evening, time to view photos of my older brother & sister-in-law's new home in Oregon, and also more photos from a recent trip to Japan by some family members.


~ so thankful to God for His incredible blessings of our week together with family ... our hearts are overflowing with memories of our time together, and with thanks for the gift of family.

Thank You, Lord, for all these blessings, packed into a week of celebrations, and now, held in my heart to treasure in the coming weeks and months. Thank You for the great blessing of family ... and thank You that You are always with us, filling us to overflowing in the good times, and holding us up in the hard times. May I always, everyday, quiet my heart and take time to listen and learn from You, giving You all the praise for Your many gifts.

" ... let God transform you into a new person
by changing the way you think. 
Then you will learn to know God's will for you,
 which is good and pleasing and perfect."
(Romans 12:2)


(One Thousand Gifts #524-533)

Sharing gratitude with others at A Holy Experience

Monday, July 4, 2011

Keeping My Focus

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"Rest with Me a while. 
You have journeyed up a steep, rugged path in recent days. 
The way ahead is shrouded in uncertainty. 
Look neither behind you nor before you. 
Instead, focus your attention on Me
your constant Companion.
 Trust that I will equip you fully
 for whatever awaits you on your journey."
 (Jesus Calling)

Keeping our focus in the midst of busy days, and in the midst of concerns and uncertainty. Looking to Him today ... the place where God always is. Looking for His gifts of Love, each day ... and for glimpses of His Presence with us, always.

Thanking Him for His Presence last week, during busy days of preparations for a family reunion at our home this week ...

~ the joy of anticipating time with my three brothers and sisters-in-law ... all of us together to celebrate our father's 90th birthday, also celebrating other family birthdays, and two 40th anniversaries (ours, and a brother and sister-in-law's!) ...

~ also greatly looking forward to all our own children home - our daughter and family from Dallas here, together with our other five children & their families who live in this area ...

~ an unexpected time early last week for shopping and errands ...

~ waiting up one night for my husband to come home; so thankful for him ...

~ a phone call from a son, catching us up; our hearts with him always ...

~ open windows ...

~ looking out through clean windows ...

~ sounds of birds chirping ...

~ some great news about our staff team ...

~ finding new kitchen stools, just what we wanted, and for a great price ...

~ for menu planning and grocery purchasing accomplished ...

~ for hearing a son's voice over the phone on his birthday, and for the anticipation of celebrating together as family later this week ...

~ for a friend helping put in a new shower in our basement, just in time for our family guests this week ...

~ for painting, and finding some decor items for the bathroom ...

~ quick repair from ServiceOne for our air-conditioner ...

~ two little grandsons, so full of happiness ...

~ sweet "I love you's" from our youngest granddaughter ...

~ protection for a daughter during a car accident ...

~ safe arrival of a brother and sister-in-law yesterday afternoon ...

~ joy of anticipation of more family arriving today and tomorrow ...

~ God's mercies and grace, new every morning ...

~ His Words - perfect, and life-giving, giving me focus, giving me peace and rest ...

"For we are God's masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things
He planned for us long ago."
(Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

(One Thousand Gifts #502-523)

Sharing gratitude with others at A Holy Experience