christianity

When Perception Meets Reality

I had a hard truth come to light this week. Realizing I am not where I thought I was in my spiritual walk. I am currently reading the book Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray and what an inspirational convicting book!

We all struggle with surrender. I haven’t met one person who isn’t stubborn in one way or another. But it’s those times when you realize you aren’t where you thought you were or you weren’t as strong as you believed you were that are difficult.

Looking at Peter’s life in the Bible he is faced with this very thing. Peter tells Jesus that he would go to prison and die for him. Jesus’s response to Peter is that before the rooster crows Peter would deny Him three times.(Luke 32:31-34)

We know what happens next and that is that Peter does, in fact, deny Jesus three times.

But what was Peter’s reaction?

“And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.And he went out and wept bitterly. “ Luke 22:61-62

Peter wept bitterly. Can you imagine looking Jesus in the eye after you denied him and doing exactly what Jesus said you would do? I believe this is the reality moment…the moment Peter saw how weak, how feeble, how unable he was to love the Lord with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength. The reality caught up with his perception. He wasn’t as strong as he thought he was.

However, what’s the good news? Peter found out where he was so that he could move forward. Peter did go to prison and even ended up one day dying for Jesus – crucified on a cross, upside down!

The surrender finally came! The absolute willing surrender…to give up self. To give up the self-life, the self-comfort, self-pleasing, and self-will.

How did Peter do it? “The work that Christ began in Peter when He looked upon him, was perfected when Peter was later filled with the Holy Spirit. The cause of the weakness of your Christian life is that you want to work it out partly, and to let God help you. And that cannot be. You must come to be utterly helpless, to let God work, and God will work gloriously.”(taken from the book Absolute Surrender)

We have to come to the end of ourselves and cry out. We need to realize we don’t have what it takes to be perfect, but when we surrender, the One who is perfect does the awesome work through us.

I spent a few days in utter disbelief and tears understanding that when I surrender I am free from the bondage of self. I am free from putting my own wants before others. I am free from being afraid of what others think. I am free from wanting the things of this world to desiring God’s will above all else, and that my friend, is a fabulous place to be!

“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Thank you Lord for your grace enabling us to be perfected by your wonderful power. May we not look at yesterday but look forward to the work that you are doing and continue to do when we absolutely surrender. Amen.

homesteading

You Never Know…

You never know what an impact you will have on someone’s life. We have had several guests at the cabin lately. It’s been a little crazy and we never know what a day will look like.

Last night I sat down with one of our guests and as the day turned into night I started lighting candles, then the kerosene lantern. The conversation was rich. We talked about life, simplicity of daily living at the cabin, and most important our relationship with God which spills out on those around us.

As we were talking her daughter sat down in the wicker rocking chair and started to express her joy and thankfulness that she was able to come for a visit. She said, “It’s so peaceful here and I feel like I’m living like Laura Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie.” She then said, “I also love how I can talk to your family about anything.” (My heart leapt at that moment.)

What she didn’t know was that I was a little nervous about her family coming because we live a rustic lifestyle. Outhouses, hauling water, heating water on a stove for showers, hand watering a large garden, etc. Although they read my book Beautiful Dependence, reading and experiencing off-grid living are two different things. We can easily romanticize something we read about or see on YouTube.

This family came and got to experience Cherith Brook. They were so grateful for so many things at our little hide away. Why? Because they had just been on a camping/backpacking trip. They were eating MRE packs (Meals Ready to Eat), they had no access to showers, and had to use an outside bathroom with no walls.

By the time they arrived at our place, we had a hot meal for them with ‘real’ food, a warm bed, hot showers, fresh drinking water from our spring, and an outdoor bathroom with walls!

Thankfulness is the key to contentment in life. Here, I was concerned that our property would be too rustic. It ended up being a luxurious get away and a place to refresh as they continued their ‘outdoor’ adventures for the next few days.

Again, you just never know what’s going to happen or what an impact you will have on a person’s life. I think of Jesus and how one conversation changed so many lives…the blind man, the woman at the well, the lame man, etc. One conversation. One small moment in time can change a person’s life for all eternity.

Eph 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

homesteading

Threshing Floor

Are you being threshed?

When we first moved to our property the Lord was showing me the threshing floor. I began to study what the threshing floor was and how it applied to my life.

The threshing floor was a smooth flat surface that was used in the process of harvesting grain. It’s where the farmers would separate the grain from the chaff, through the process of beating the sheaves, called winnowing. The wind would then blow the chaff away, leaving only the good, edible grain.

The threshing floor was usually at the top of a mountain (go figure). Spiritually speaking, it was where good and evil were separated. The Bible shows the chaff as evil and the grain as good. In Matthew 3:12, John the Baptist refers to Jesus as the one who would separate the good grain from the chaff with a winnowing fan. It says, “Jesus will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

God showed me that the beating of the wheat represents trials in our life; and as a result of the threshing we are then able to enjoy a bountiful harvest.

God was changing me. The process had already started. He was changing me more and more into His image and burning away the chaff in my life. Trials are hard. Life is hard. But, if we can hold on tight to Christ we will get rid of the dead unproductive fruit so we can have a beautiful harvest.

(An excerpt from my book Beautiful Dependence)

homesteading

Life As We Know It

It’s been a little over a month since we left Mexico and moved back to Washington. Many things have happened in this time.

I have had to work through and process quite a bit. Some things I expected, others I had no idea I would be experiencing.

Recently the small town we moved from in Mexico was ravaged by fire. When I heard the news I couldn’t believe the damage that was happening. I had received a text from my mom saying that our daughter, Sarah and her husband were safe from the fire and were in the states. My mind started whirling. What was she talking about? Fire? What fire?

You must understand that we don’t get texts at our cabin easily. We have to hike out to a place on the property that we call our “phone booth” which is an old stump about 1/4 of a mile from our house. This particular day we were headed to town and we hadn’t checked any of our phone messages because we knew we would soon have cell service. Once we arrived in town we started receiving more and more texts. Then I received a message saying that one of the homes we lived in, in Mexico was completely gone due to the fire.

I couldn’t believe it. What was going on? I immediately tried to get a hold of our daughter to get more information and to make sure she was, in fact, alright. After several tries we finally got a hold of her. She and her husband were definitely safe and weren’t planning on going back to Mexico for a few days. My mama heart was trying to reign in my emotions and trying not to freak out. I had to give it to God and remind myself that He is in control. There was nothing I could do. I had to pray.

Pretty soon we started seeing photos of the devastation. We saw a photo that showed our daughter, Storm’s little casa was still standing, which is amazing because it was constructed out of wood. We heard reports of homes being burned and others completely unharmed. We continued our prayers for the next several days as the winds picked up and we were getting reports of other fires happening within the area. I thought of all of our friends there, my students, my family.

Then I thought, “God, we were just there. Why now?” I don’t have the answer to this, but I know that God’s timing is perfect and that He uses all things for His glory.

Needless to say, We are loving being back at our cabin and the rest has been very good for us. We have done ministry in some form or another for 20 years – the last 15 have been more intense ministry. Now that we are at the property it’s been great to just take in the fresh air, sunshine, and each other. We have had God divine appointments there and have had several opportunities to minister and pray with those in the area. Ministry doesn’t always look the same, which I believe is a good thing. We are still loving the one in front of us which is what we are all about.

We do travel to my parents home once a month and our church that is close by has hired my husband to do maintenance whenever he is available, which is fantastic.

We were recently blessed with some more solar panels. We are excited to install them especially as winter approaches and our small unit that we have been using doesn’t charge the batteries enough this time of year.

It’s been fairly easy getting back into the groove of living off-grid. I love the simpler lifestyle and the fact that we don’t have access to the internet or technology to waste our time. Things are very intentional on the mountain. Conversations are deep and sometimes silly.

I’m sure I will be processing what we have experienced in Mexico for awhile and I don’t know what that will look like. I have had many moments of tears, but I know that God sees each one and I take comfort in each day that I get to breathe a breath.

“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habbakuk 3:19

Photo taken by Love Story Foundation

christianity, Uncategorized

Looking Ahead

Our house is full of boxes once again, things are in disarray, not in their normal places. But one thing is consistent…I have peace.

As I stare out the window facing the ocean, I am reflecting about our time in Mexico. I have shed many tears here. Some happy, some sad, and some full of anger. Anger at the suffering we see, anger that it’s an unjust and unfair world.

I know when Eve offered the fruit to Adam and he ate (Genesis 3:6) that was not the road God had wanted them to travel down. But thanks be to God he is bigger than our mistakes. He had a plan. A plan that would cost His son’s life. But, an awesome plan that would wipe away every spot and blemish, every sinful thought, every tear from our eyes. Yes, it would be thousands of years later, but it would happen just as he promised.

Moving back to Washington was not on the radar three months ago. In fact, we were talking about making Mexico our long-term plan. We have been asked many times over the past two years what our plan was. “How long will you be here?” is a common question. Our response has always been, “As long as God calls us here.” We held Mexico with an open hand.

Our ministry is called Cherith Brook based out of 1 King’s 17, where Elijah went to hide and the crows fed him because there was a famine. As I was staring out our window, I felt like I should revisit this story in scripture, but continue to read further down the chapter.

Eventually the Brook dries up. Cherith Brook, where he would get his thirst quenched no longer produced the nourishment his body needed. So what next? What was he to do?

1 Kings 17:8 says, “Then the LORD said to Elijah, Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.”

I love this because God continues to direct Elijah. He doesn’t leave him hanging. He gives instructions and tells him exactly where to go. Elijah listens and obeys. He doesn’t know all the details. He just goes.

As the story continues we see some miracles, which is awesome! But, for me, I felt like God saying, “I got this Christine. I am calling you back to Washington. I have a plan. Do you trust me?”

This past month we have seen God open so many doors for us, making it clear that He is definitely calling us to Washington. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know the entire plan. We are taking it one step at a time as He directs us.

Two years ago, as we were pulling away from our cabin (the original Cherith Brook) to move down to Mexico, I had a choice. Do I look back longingly like Lot’s wife did? Or, do I look ahead at the adventure before us. I had a huge choice to make.

Quite a bit happened at that cabin. It was where God met me and I had to face some hard truths about myself that I didn’t want to see. I became FREE there. When we were in the truck pulling away from our beloved place on earth, I decided not to look back. I knew God wanted us in Mexico and I didn’t want to be disobedient in my heart. I had to push forward with the thought that I may never live on the mountain again. I gave it up.

Here we are, returning to a home, that I love. It’s not pretty. It needs a lot of work. But, I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store. I’m sure there will be trials-there always are in life. However, I am excited to experience the next chapter, so I can learn and continue to grow.

Sometimes the future just doesn’t make sense. Many good things are happening in Mexico. Why would God have us move now? I don’t have the answer to this. But, a verse comes to mind and it is this:

“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:6

Thank you, Lord for always directing our footsteps. We may not like the direction you are leading us, but it always works out to our benefit. I pray that wherever we are, your light will always shine through us and that you will continue to enable us to love the one in front of us. Amen.