Beauty in the Midst of Tragedy

As I am formulating some thoughts on our recent visit to Mexico, I felt compelled to write about an event that took place while we were down there. We were in Mexico for one week and part of that time would fall on Sunday, which was Father’s Day. I knew going on this trip that I would miss being with my dad, which weighed heavy on my heart.

June 18th is not a normal day for our family. It is the day that tragedy struck in a mighty way, with a word that I have come to hate. That word is suicide. This year June 18th would fall on Father’s Day, making the treasured time of remembering our dads, turning it into a time of reflection for one particular Father and wondering where did he go wrong? My brother was only 17 years old when he died. I will never forget that day. I was 14 years old at the time and had my own struggles of being a teenager. Pretty soon, my struggles seemed so small compared to what my parents would spend the next days, months, and years going through.

Fast forward 31 years. Although its been quite a long time since that horrific day, we never forget. Now, I was sitting in the living room of Casa De Mana’ feeling sick to my stomach. Not sure if it was pasta I had eaten the night before, or if I was dehydrated. But, something was not right in my body. I decided to stay home and not go with the rest of the mission group to the church on the street in Tijuana. My husband decided to stay home with me and make sure I was alright. The rest of the team left in the 15 passenger van and the house suddenly became quiet.

As we sat on the couch, I opened up to my husband about it being Father’s Day and the fact that it was the anniversary of my brother’s suicide. I said, “I want to pray for the group going to Tijuana. I want to pray that at least one person comes to know Christ in a personal way today – that one soul would be saved for the one life taken.” We then bowed our heads and began to pray.

A few hours passed and we heard the van drive up the driveway. We anxiously awaited to hear all that happened with the street ministry. As soon as our friends came walking into the house, we could see something spectacular had taken place. They each shared about their own experience and what personally touched them. For one person, it was trading his nice pair of shoes for a ratty old pair, for another it was boldly holding a sign inviting people to church, for someone else it was getting to share their testimony.

Then it came to our friend, Alex. She began to tell of her amazing story. She had been asked to share her testimony to the people that came to church that day. As she was speaking, a man was being touched by her personal story of Jesus Christ. When she was finished, she went to the back of the tent and this man began to talk to her and ask questions. She listened intently and asked him what his story was. He began to tell her about his life – how he was supposed to go dumpster diving with a friend that Sunday morning and that he was addicted to drugs. As she spoke, he began to undersand why he came to church. He realized he needed Christ in his life. He asked her to pray with him. She gathered the rest of the group around him and they began to pray and he accepted Christ that day. Juan became a Christ follower!

As Alex and the rest of the group shared, my husband looked at me and said, “Christine, do you know what the name Juan is in English?” I shook my head, “no.” He said, “It’s the name John!” I suddenly had goosebumps run up my arms. That was the name of my brother. In that moment I began to cry. God had answered our prayer; a life for a life. They didn’t have 1,000 people come to Christ that day. Just one. A man named Juan, whose life would be forever changed because some people from Washington obeyed, and spent a few hours in a trash infested area of Tijuana to share the gospel.

“To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3

Things Above…

My husband, daughter, and I just got back from La Mision, Mexico. We were spying out the land God has prepared for us. What a week it has been! We were joined by a group of people from our church to do a short-term missions trip and to see the different needs in the community and surrounding areas of La Mision.

Riding up the long bumpy dirt road I realized why God had us live in eastern Washington for six years off-grid. The dirt road was similar to the one that we had to drive on to get to our little cabin in the woods. Rocks, sticks, and bushes line the driveway. I may not have understood it at the time of living off-grid, but I see now why our family went through some of the trials and triumphs we faced at our cabin. God was preparing us for the future; moving to a different country to share the good news of Jesus Christ!

On our trip we met several missionaries and got to see a small glimpse of the kinds of things they face. We now have a tiny understanding and can pray for specific needs. We saw many orphans, some with special needs. My heart broke when I realized they were orphans and would not get to experience a typical family. Then as I thought about it, I began to rejoice. Rejoicing in the fact that they are part of a much bigger family with love that abounds without expectation. As I held little Sammy in my arms, I prayed over him and prayed a prayer of blessing on him. Realizing that he was touching my heart probably more than I touched his. That a deep love that goes beyond borders, or race, or social status means more than anything this world could buy.

Needless to say, we are definitely moving to Mexico; dropping our nets and going to do a work far beyond our reach and resources. I know God will provide. It may not look exactly as I have pictured in my mind, but I know that God is directing us and I can rest and find comfort in the promises He has shown us. It won’t be easy, but I know this one fact…God is who He says He is. He is “I Am.” The same yesterday, today, and forever!

“Set your mind on things above, not on the things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2

How Bright is the Moon?

“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

It is finally here! My husband I wrote a children’s story called “How Bright is the Moon?” many years ago, however between writing it, losing it, finding it, rewriting it, and then trying to find an illustrator, it took eight years to publish it.

The book “How Bright is the Moon?” came into being shortly after God introduced the true concept of grace to my husband, Mark, one night on a dirt road under a bright harvest moon in the mountains of California.

Many of us believe grace to mean mercy. Although we definitely need mercy in our day to day lives, grace is much different. It is the greek word Charis (pronounced khar’-ece) and it means the divine reflection of God in one’s life.

This children’s story takes you on a journey of finding out just how bright the moon is. The setting is in a mountain top kingdom with a King and his precious family. After working long hours in the wheat fields all day, the King comes home to his family and his youngest daughter, Sarah, asks her father, “How bright is the moon?” Along this journey you will learn about grace and the importance of it in our walk with Jesus. We have included a grace study guide to go along with the book to do as a devotional with the whole family.

It is available on Createspace and will be available on Amazon soon! Click on the link to order your copy today!   createspace order page.

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Go into all the World…

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15

A few months back I wrote a blog post called, “Send Me.” Little did I know just what those wordsTraditional-Mexican-Food-Recipes-2 would mean in the short time to follow. I meant what I said with all my heart, “Lord, send me.”

However, I did not think that it would happen so suddenly. My husband and I met a man recently that God has used to change the course of our lives. This man came to one of our home fellowships and really hit it off with my husband. Over the next few months, we have had several meetings with him, fellow-shipping and breaking bread together. He is in the Navy, but on his down time, he does short mission trips to Mexico.

One evening after spending several hours talking about our life living off-grid and discussing this gentleman’s mission trips, he asked my husband and I if we would pray about moving to Mexico permanently to be caregivers of a mission house. We were stunned. We had been feeling like change was on the horizon, but didn’t know when, and most assuredly didn’t know what we would be doing.

We prayed that evening together and as we were laying in bed I said to my husband, “I feel like if they asked us to go tomorrow, I could.” I had a peace wash over me. Mark replied, “I feel the same way!” So the past few weeks, we have been preparing and letting family members know. God is opening the door wide! (Revelations 3:7 & 8) God is going before us. He has already had funding come in and the house is being prepared as I write this.

Our two daughters will be coming with us and our son will be staying in Washington. He is almost 20 and has a good job. He feels like God is telling him to stay behind. As we prepare, the Lord has shown us more and more what we would be doing in Mexico.

Some of the other missionaries found out that I homeschool and have asked me to teach their kids! I am so excited about this. I thought my years of teaching would be coming to an end soon and here, God has made it clear that this could be just the beginning. My husband will be teaching Bible, doing building projects, marital counseling, and much more. All of us will be helping out at the orphanages, medical clinic, and churches in the area.

Although this has been a shock, we are all very excited. I have moments when worry and fear can consume me, but in the end, I know that God will take care of us. I understand it will not always be easy but I can see how God’s hand is on this journey and I believe our days of living off-grid has prepared us “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)

 

No Jealousy Here

“And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.” 1 Samuel 18:4

I have been doing a study through 1 Samuel with some ladies at our church. It has been a great time and I look forward to our daily reading every morning. It’s an online group, which I have never done before. At first, I was a little skeptical. I didn’t think you could really connect with one another without it being face to face. However, I have found that not to be the case. It has been very refreshing and I enjoy seeing each other’s comments on what we have read for that day.

I was amazed when reading about the friendship between David and Jonathan. In 1 Samuel 18:1 it says, “The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” Wow! That is intense. I liken it to a kindred spirit. I have a few ladies in my life that I have known from the moment I met them that we were soulmates. Its a fantastic feeling to know that there is someone that understands you without having to explain yourself. You may be completely different in personality, but the same in spirit because we are unified in Christ.

Here, we see Jonathan and David’s souls knit together. Later in 1 Samuel chapter 18 we see Saul’s jealousy for David, to the point where Saul wants to kill David. But, Saul’s son, Jonathan has no jealousy in him toward David. Jonathan was going to be heir to the throne, but we see him being happy that one day David would be king, appointed by God. Jonathan willingly gave David his robe, armor, sword, bow, and belt. A sign of humility, respect, and a loving friendship.

That is my desire. That I will always be excited when good things happen to the friends in my life. That I would never let pride or jealousy rule over me.

 

 

Land of my Affliction

“For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house…For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”   -Genesis 41:51, 52

I was reading in Genesis chapters 40 and 41 yesterday. As I began to read I was overcome about thinking of Joseph’s life. His brothers wanted to kill him, but instead they sold him as a slave in Egypt, where he was thrown into prison because he wouldn’t lay with Potiphar’s wife. Things are looking pretty grim for Joseph.

He then sees a glimmer of hope. Two men, the butler and the baker get thrown into prison with Joseph. They both have dreams, which God gives the knowledge of the meanings of the dreams to Joseph. Joseph knows that this is a gift that God has given him. He takes no credit for the gift. He interprets the dreams. The butler’s dream turned out pretty good. He would be released in three days and be restored his position. The baker’s dream, however, wasn’t so good. He would also be released in three days, but instead of getting his job back, he would be hanged. It amazes me that Joseph didn’t sugar-coat the baker’s interpretation of the dream. I am sure it would not be easy news to give to someone that they were going to die. Yet, he told the truth. A lesson for me to remember. If God gives me something to say to someone, even if it’s harsh, I need to obey.

The next part is what really spoke to me. When those three days were up, Joseph told the butler to remember him. He said, “Remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house.” Joseph at this point had hope! He must be thinking, surely he will remember me. When will I get news that I am released? Days pass. Weeks pass. Months pass. No news. Where is God? He trusted God, but where was He? Heaven was silent.

Two long years go by. Pharaoh then has two dreams and doesn’t understand the meaning of them. The butler finally remembers the man in the dungeon – Joseph. He wasn’t forgotten by God. It had to be in God’s timing. He is sent for and once again, does not take credit for being able to interpret dreams. He gives the glory to God. He told Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” (Geneseis 41:16)

Pharaoh recognizes something different in Joseph. I believe it was the Holy Spirit in him. He then puts Joseph in charge over his house, and all the people, second to Pharaoh. Pharaoh gave Joseph a wife and she bore two sons to Joseph. The first Manasah: “For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house.” And the second son named Ephraim: “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

God sees you! He loves you! Regardless of what you are going through, he knows exactly where you are, especially in your “tomb” moments, where all hope seems lost. He is there watching, waiting for the right moment to set you free!

Send Me!

“Whom shall I send, and who will  go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
-Isaiah 6:8

I was reading Isaiah chapter 6 and was overtaken with the beginning of the chapter. The setting is that King Uzziah died and Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up. Seraphim stood above and they cried to another “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”

Isaiah then said, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to Isaiah, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar and he touched Isaiah’s mouth with it, and said: “Behold this has touched your lips, your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.”

Imagine to hear those wonderful words, “Your sin purged!” Yet, once we come to the mercy of Jesus and realize that our sin is completely washed white as snow, we can live and know that our iniquity is taken away! We start the sanctification process – a lifetime of becoming more and more like our savior, getting rid of our cold stony heart and replacing it with a heart of flesh.

I realized I used to believe, woe is me. I have so much sin in my life, I am unworthy to worship at the feet of my Lord and Savior. However, now I am at a place where I am free of my past and feel like I imagine Isaiah felt. Here am I send me! With excitement in my heart, to be chosen by God to encourage others in their daily walk with the Lord.

Father, thank you for your mercy and forgiveness, so I can come before you and worship at the throne, clean and spotless in your sight. With excitement I go forth to spread the good news to others that they too, can be washed white as snow and worship you forever!