Deep Roots

“…He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season…” Psalm 1:3

I just finished the book Through the Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot. I have heard the Jim Elliot story many times especially being a homeschool mom. We tend to make it a point to study missionaries to encourage us in our own journeys. 

At this time in my life and living in Mexico as a missionary myself, I thought it would be great to dive a little deeper and read about the people who truly lived out what they believed. Thus the reason for reading Elisabeth Elliot’s story and where it all began. 

Her husband along with four other men were killed by a local tribe of natives in South America. They were trying to make missionary contact and to spread the gospel of Christ. It is a remarkable story of dying to self for all those involved.

I sit in awe at the widows’ response. Barbara Youderian wrote: “I want to be free of self pity. It is a tool of Satan to rot away a life..the lord has closed our hearts to grief and hysteria, and filled in with His perfect peace.”

So often self pity is our go to response and here we see a woman who clearly has every fleshly right to have self pity, yet she wants nothing to do with it. Amazing! 

I want to have deep roots like these women did. I don’t want to be tossed to and fro by the waves of this life. Elisabeth wrote: “God is God. If He is God, He is worthy of my worship and my service. I will find rest nowhere but in His will, and that will is infinitely, immeasurably, unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to.” 

I was encouraged to keep fighting the fight…even when it’s difficult. To keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking. He will direct me and if I get off course He loves me so much He will redirect me to His perfect will if I allow Him to.

Yes, trials will come. Yes, we will have conflict. But, He is bigger than all of those things and it’s through those trials that we become refined, shining Christ light for all to see!

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Obedience in All Things

We made it to our destination in Mexico! It had been a long four day trip to move down here. We have all of what was left of our belongings with us in two trucks, a Ford Expedition, and a work trailer. Most of our things had been either sold, given away, or taken to the dump. It’s amazing how much you can accumulate in six years.

We prayed for an uneventful trip in our travels. We didn’t want any car problems, sickness, or accidents. All of which was kept at bay, thanks to the many people who had been praying for us and to our friends who helped get our cars in good working order. 

As I drove up the long dirt road to our house on the hill, I had flashbacks to twelve years ago driving up to our little cabin in the woods, where God would forever change my life. Now, I am further south and in a new country, with people that I can’t understand because I don’t speak their language. What will this journey entail?

Already God is showing me obedience. Obedience in the midst of being in a strange land. Obedience in obeying God even when others think we are crazy. Growing in understanding that it’s not complete obedience if we kick and scream along the way.

In looking at Jesus’ obedience to death on the cross, I am reminded that obedience comes with a heart that is pure and wants to obey out of love. Again, it’s the dying to self and putting other people’s needs above my own and doing what God desires most.

My prayer is that Mark and I, and even our girls will trust That God has something great in store for us in La Mision. I know there will be trials along the way. I understand that it won’t always be easy, but nothing worth fighting for ever is.

So, what are we fighting for? We are fighting a war against good and evil. Against the lies Satan has sold us and the truth that will set us free. Whether we are in America or Mexico, the lies are the same. Satan doesn’t use new tactics depending on where we live. He has come to steal, kill, and destroy. But, we rejoice because Christ has come to give us life and life to the fullest! (John 10:10) that, my friend, makes me want to rejoice and obey all the more!

Sunrise in La Mision

Saying Goodbye

This week has been difficult as we say goodbye to our family and friends. We leave in a couple of days to go live in Mexico. Many tears have been shed. An old song from Michael W. Smith comes to mind:

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord’s the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
‘Cause the welcome will not end
Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Father’s hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long
To live as friends

To all of our ‘friends’ some old, some new. We love you all and we know that this is not ‘goodbye’. It is ‘see you later!”

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

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!

“For Such a Time as This”

“Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: “Go gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise, And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:14-16

As I read these verses I was overwhelmed with how Esther handled the situation. Her people were going to be killed. She wasn’t sure what her role was in all of this. Mordecai had said, “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Those words are so meaningful. Esther didn’t ask to become queen. She knew that God had opened a door for her, not knowing exactly why. Now it seems that everything was falling into place and I can just picture her mind reeling with thoughts of, “Wow, maybe this is the reason I am the queen. I am in a position where I can help my people.” Of course, this is just speculation, but you can almost feel what she was thinking because her reply was amazing.

She didn’t get upset and go immediately into the king’s chambers. She asked all the Jews in Shushan to fast and pray along with her maids and herself; fasting and praying for three days and three nights. She was bathing the situation in prayer. The ramifications of going before the king without being called, possibly meant death. Esther understood what going before the king could mean for her. Life or death. She reconciled this and had peace about what she was to do. She fasted and prayed. After doing this, she fully understood that her life would be in God’s hands. If He willed her to live – then it would be so. If He willed her to die – then He would allow it.

This spoke to me in such a spiritual way. If I go before our Lord and Savior and He asks me to do something that will “make waves” or even be illegal in our country, would I respond the way Esther did? Would I first fast and pray, seeking His will for the situation? I would hope that my response would be just as godly as Esther’s.

Many times on the mountain where we lived, I had to seek God’s face and see what he required for the day. Sometimes it was just trusting that he would provide food for our family, or money for gas to get down the mountain, or the words to speak to a tortured soul. Always trusting that he would provide and knowing whatever the outcome – He had a plan and I could rest in His peace.

If you’ve read the story of Esther in the Bible, you know that it worked out very well for her. She was able to go before the king, ask him to dinner, and share what was going to happen to her people. Through her, God saved the Jews from being annihilated.

Lord, my desire is to go before You with everything. Help me to seek Your face, not only when tough times come, but when things are going smoothly as well. I know I was created, “For such a time as this.” You have a plan for my life and I want to be able to trust you completely. Amen.

Three Kisses a Day

If you’ve ever read the book, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman you know that we show our love via five different ways. Those five ways are touch, acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, and gifts. We also receive love through those same ways.

For me the two that stand out most are quality time and words of affirmation. My husband, on the other hand, is touch, touch, and more touch! Some of you wives know exactly what I am talking about. He thrives on being touched. The love language of touch for me however,  is on the bottom of the spectrum.

Therefore, I have to consciously make an effort to touch my husband. When we were first married, I had to really think about touching him. Now, that we’ve been married over 21 years it has become more natural.

As I was seeking out a way to remind myself to make the effort to touch my beloved husband, I realized I eat three meals a day. I then had the wonderful thought of giving him three kisses a day. At first it wasn’t hard to do, I simply remembered the three meals and would give him a kiss when we woke up in the morning, another one when he left for work and one more when he came home from work. He loved it and began to even speak my love language more. I could see a huge change in him and he seemed so much happier and willing to do things around the house that I wanted done.

But, as is often the case life moved on and so did my excitement for showing my husband I loved him. My three Kids got in the way and drained my desire for kissing or giving a gentle hand-hold to my husband. I felt like I was constantly being touched by everyone around me and being that this was my least favorite love language I began to draw away even more. Our relationship was beginning to suffer.

I knew something had changed but couldn’t figure out what. As I was pondering I suddenly remembered I hadn’t been showing affection to my husband. I knew I had to get back on the band wagon and be consistent in showing my love for him. When I thought of ways to get back on track I thought, “Wow, I can remember to do things that are far worse than showing love to my main man. Like doing dishes and making the bed every morning.” Kissing is way more fun than any of those things! hands

A new thought process began to change in my brain waves. Thus the three kisses a day has been a main stay in our marriage. It has changed everything and I encourage anyone who struggles with showing touch to their spouse (if that’s their love language and not yours) to try the three kisses a day. It works!