A Scripture for this School Year

So I just read a great blog by the wonderful Lysa T.  If you have kids headed off to school this year, you should read it too. Here is the link: http://lysaterkeurst.com/2014/08/before-they-go-to-school-have-this-conversation/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzEmail&utm_campaign=0&utm_content=303165

Anyway… I wanted to share with you the scripture that I will be praying for my kids this school year. And yes, my “kids” include my firstborn, Andrew, as well as all the other “kids” that have come in my life, our foster kids past and present, youth group kids, etc.

Galatians 1:10 says “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Dear God, I pray that You will dwell in the hearts of my kids this year. And that Your presence would be so evident that You are the only person they are trying to please. Help my kids to not fall into the people-pleasing trap. Because when that happens, they are no longer striving to be Your servant. Also, God, please help me, their mom, to strive for Your approval only. In Jesus Name, Amen.

What verse are you praying for your kiddos this year??

#YestoGod- Week 4

This blog post is a little late. But the reason it is so late goes perfectly with the post for Week 4’s Blog Hop on When Women Say Yes to God Online Bible Study.

One of the post options is title “Life Interrupted”. I definitely had an interruption to my week. On Friday, August 23rd, as I was leaving my office, I fell down all 24 steps to my office. For those of you who have never visited my office, here is a little view of how far I fell.

20130902-222709.jpg

Now my recount of this story would be incomplete, at least in my husband’s opinion, if I did not tell you that not only did I fall down 24 stairs, I also busted through the front door as though I was a superhero. And I busted out the doorframe in the process.

If you had had this experience I am sure your first reaction would have been one of thanksgiving for your life being spared… Not me! My first reaction was complete embarrassment and then I went straight to “did I hurt my knee? Dang, I can’t run tomorrow.”

But I guess the real reason I wanted to share my life interrupted story with you is something from the Bible study portion of Chapter 6. The question was “Think about a tough situation you have faced recently. Write out a brief recount of this experience and identify the three things we learned about when God says no.”

Now, first of all, I have not regularly prayed for God to keep me from falling down the stairs. However, now it is apart of my daily routine. 🙂 So at first glance, it doesn’t really seem as though God said no. But I really do pray that God keeps me safe and healthy so that I can take care of my husband and 3 kids and so that I can keep doing the work He has called me to and so that I can keep running so my body stays healthy… On and on I could go, so you see, in this moment, it felt as though God was saying no to keeping me healthy. Also, God really did show up on this day and I am thankful for Lysa’s words in this chapter to help bring God’s light into my life and bring some perspective on my situation.

When God says no, we need to be on the lookout for three things: PROVISION, PROTECTION and PROCESS.

Provision– I work above a hardware store and the guys downstairs take really good care of me. They often run up and check on me when I drop things, because they say that from downstairs it sounds like an earthquake. So the second they heard me falling down the stairwell, they came running to check on me. They didn’t have to run too far, because I was sitting on the sidewalk (busted door, remember)! They called my husband and 911 and took great care of me. Now had God not provided amazing neighbors at my office, I could have had strangers staring at me trying to figure out what just happened. But thankfully it was people I knew and people who were willing to take care of me. Also God’s provision was seen through an amazing boss who, even though he was on vacation, called numerous times to check on me and made sure that things were taken care of as they should be.

Protection– I am now 12 days out from falling head over heels twice down these stairs and my only remaining pain is in my right elbow and occasionally my back. God protected every bone and ligament as I took this tumble and I am forever grateful. A lot of people come away from falls like this not walking or worse. So I am praising God for His miraculous protection.

Process– Now of the whole thing, this is where I struggle. I would like to have instant healing, instant back to normal life, but God has been teaching me to walk through the process. He has been teaching me about rest and how it is important not only for revelation but also for healing too. Now I wish I could tell you that I spent my whole week working on my Bible study and reading God’s Word. Honestly, I can’t. That would be a lie. But I am committing to do better this week. Even though I am able to do more this week, I am hoping to still rest. And by rest I will NOT be sitting in front of Netflix watching shows. I will be diving deep into God’s Word and learning more about my sweet Jesus.

So there you have it. Life was interrupted. I am praying that it never happens in this way EVER again. So I am doing my best to learn all my lessons in one go-round!

Blessings to you all! Keep your eyes open. #Palmsup and be waiting for all God has in store for you.

#YestoGod- Week 2

This week for the Bible Study “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” we went over chapters 2 and 3. They discuss how to really know if God is speaking and being radically obedient to God’s call.

They asked us to think about a time when we had a #saywhat moment with God.

I can say that when God laid it on my husband and mine’s hearts to be foster parents, it was truly like “say what” for me.

If you know anything about our family, you know we love kids! Adam has been in Student Ministry for thirteen years- so that includes our entire married life and a few years before that. Also, we have one awesome little boy! And we have also had three teens live in our home for three different school years through the exchange program. AND we have had other various teens and young adults stay in our home for varying stints of time. But when it became clear that God wanted us to open our home to love on kids in a different way, I struggled. God and I would have conversations like, “really God, isn’t spending a week with the kids at CIY enough?” Or “ok, what if we have kids over weekly for a Bible study in our home, isn’t that enough?” And I always felt God say, those are good, but that’s not the whole picture…

There are always so many questions when adding people to your family. Like how will it affect our family of three? Will they like being apart of our busy family? Can we afford this? How will our only child react to others playing with his stuff? Is this something God is really calling us to do?

This week I learned some more important questions to help see if what you are sensing God calling you to is really from Him—
1) Does what I’m hearing line up with Scripture? Foster care does line up with scripture. We are called to take care of children whose parents cannot care for them. (James 1:27)
2) Is what I’m hearing consistent with God’s character?God’s relationship with us is very much a parent-child relationship. So for us to care for some of His children is consistent with how God has always cared for me.
3) Is what I’m hearing being confirmed through other messages? Confirmations were coming from all over for us. We have several friends who are foster and/or adoptive parents and they were always encouraging us to get certified. Also, sharing God’s love was very much a theme for me during this time.
4) Is what I’m hearing beyond me? Now I feel like “beyond me” is an understatement. Being a foster mom has stretched me more than anything in my whole life. Not going overseas. Not moving 700 miles away from family. Not being in ministry. Nothing is like it. Nothing.
5) Would what I’m hearing please God? I feel like this question deserves a DUH! For this situation, this question is similar to #1 &2, God wants us caring for children who need love and direction.

And now, here we are almost 6 months into being a foster family. And I truly believe God laid in on ALL of our hearts to say YES to Him. Have the last six months been perfect? Far from it. I still have a lot to learn about loving children that have been placed away from their family. And God is still teaching me what perfect love looks like. But I am thankful that I was able to work through the SAY WHAT so that our family could say YES!

I’d like to leave you with one quote from chapter 3–

We need not fear what our obedience will cause to happen in our life. We should only fear what our DISobedience will cause us to miss.

Praying that you are listening for God’s voice as He is calling you and your family to do something greater for Him and that you will allow God’s perfect love to drive out all fear and disobedience.

MOVE Wrap up

The farther we go into the week at CIY MOVE, the faster time seems to speed up. Sorry that I missed posting the last two evenings, but I was up late pouring into my girls and getting every chance I could to spend time with them. The relationships that form during this week are so crucial for helping them when the come home.

Highlights of Thursday:
Mark Christian centered his thoughts around being faithful in the small things. He talked about how Joseph was faithful his whole life in the small stuff. His challenge was- do the little things every day to be a kingdom worker. And through those little things, God will do amazing things.

Also Thursday is extended recreation day. We took the opportunity to spend a few hours at Lake Michigan. It was a great time to get away and rest and play at the beach. It was especially amazing because one of our girls who made the decision to follow Christ this week, decided to be baptized in Lake Michigan.

Thursday evening was all about forgiveness. Cody, our speaker, talked about the “want to” versus the “God tells you to” on forgiveness. Matthew 6:12,14-15 is pretty clear on forgiveness.

Joseph lived a great life of forgiveness. Not only does he forgive his brothers, but he takes care of them and their families and moves them into Egypt with him. One thing I especially loved that Cody said was- The only thing I can control on forgiveness is MY willingness to give grace. I can’t control whether its received. But that is not why God wants me to do. I can only do my part.

At the end of the evening, we got the opportunity to cover a tree with things that we needed God’s help forgiving. It was a really neat experience.

Friday was great too! The question we asked all day was- Are you trying to be a legend or leave a legacy? Mark shared that “You can change your family tree by having faith in the one who hung on a tree.”

Brad, the evening speaker, wrapped up the week by showing us how Joseph was a blessing to others throughout his whole life. And he challenged us to do the same. We need to BLES.
Begin with prayer
Listen to the needs around you
Eat with people
Share your life with them

This week we had a handful of first time decisions and many cries out to God to be pulled from the pit. I am praising God for the GOOD things He has done this week. And the great things that will come from what God began this week in Holland, Michigan.

A few pics to end the trip:

20130629-220148.jpg

20130629-220443.jpg

20130629-220820.jpg

20130629-221044.jpg

20130629-221054.jpg

MOVE, Day 3

Today has been a fantastic day. I started my day with a run, which is always a good way to get my focus on Jesus. Combine that and worshipping with 1500 others… yeah, Heaven is gonna be awesome!

We are focusing on temptation today.

Today’s takeaways from Encounter were:
1- Temptation will be everywhere. So your faith must go with you everywhere.
2- Sometimes doing the right thing, will still land you in prison.

In d-groups, we discussed how temptation isn’t wrong. God created us to like certain things. BUT giving into temptation is sin. We discussed how important it is to love Jesus more than what is tempting us. And we discussed how important it is to have a sisterhood to hold you accountable, to love you and to pull you away from sin and closer to Jesus.

The icing on today’s cake was a simple question from a very special friend of mine. She asked if I would go with her to ring the freedom bell. Why she rang the bell is her story to tell, but I am praising God tonight for her courage to ask for God’s help out of her pit.

I can’t wait to see God continue to MOVE!

20130627-002940.jpg

MOVE, Day 2

Day 2 had a pretty amazing start.

20130625-140140.jpg

They called it the Color Experience. And as we study the life of Joseph, perhaps they were going for the coat of many colors. But it was meant to be deeper than that. Each color had a meaning and the students were covering themselves with God’s promises.

Mark Christian, the morning speaker, talked about God wanting a covenant with us. It’s not a contract where there is punishment if we don’t hold up our end of the deal. It is covenant– where God wants to give us access to who He is in exchange for us giving access to God to all of who we are. With this covenant comes a promise of His presence and His blessing and the hope of Heaven.

We ended the day with amazing worship with the Jordan Howerton Band and a great Word from God about getting out of a pit. A few high points from that are:

1. The bottom of the pit is a great place to go to school. You shouldn’t beg God to get you out. You need to see what God is trying to teach you.

2. God is working for you in the hole and He is working on your behalf outside the hole.

3. Rescue is coming. Whether you are in a hole from your own sin or because someone pushed you there, rescue is coming. It may not come in your timing. And it may come through a way you don’t expect. It may come through a way that really ticks you off, but that may be how God brings the rescue you need.

Please pray for more breakthrough tomorrow as our students continue to learn and understand the part God wants them to play in His story.

MOVE, Day 1

Yesterday two vans loads of students (plus 1,500 other people from churches across the country) rolled into Holland, Michigan for CIY Move Conference. I am looking forward to all that God will teach us from the life of Joseph while we are here.

What I gained from last night’s message was this:
Joseph’s dreams were from God. One of Joseph’s dreams came true. However the spirit which Joseph delivered the dream was not from God.

I believe the message God is trying to teach me through this is that its all about the HOW. When God gives me a message to share, how I share it will determine how it is received. This will affect how the one I share the message with reacts.

How does this play out for Joseph?
God gave him a message– your brothers will one day bow down to you.
Joseph flaunted this message to his brothers.
His brothers hated him for it and therefore tried to kill him.

Now I don’t anticipate anyone plotting to murder me because of anything God lays on my heart. But I need to do a heart check before sharing it with others. Is my motive to bring others in closer relationship to God? Or is there another reason?