Monday, March 29, 2010

I {heart} giveaways!

I read a blog written by Heather.

I like that she works through many issues near and dear to my heart and lets us read her thoughts on the subjects.

I've learned a lot by reading her blog.

I've even blogged about her before. You can read what I say about her blog here. Or, click here to learn more.

Today, she posted a giveaway.

Go check it out. It's for a swimsuit by the company Lime Ricki. They make stylish, modest swim suits.

I entered to win--by commenting, posting on Facebook, writing this entry, and telling her my favorite suit. Sweet!

Go check it out! Or, go directly to Lime Ricki's site.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Speaking of Entries

Our trip to Arizona was wonderful in so many ways. I have many pictures to post, but they will have to wait just a moment longer.

This trip stirred several things in me. First, it was good to be back home. We haven't been to Arizona in three years, since we first began the support raising process to join staff with Gospel for Asia. So, it was good to see smiling faces, show off my cute kids, and hear all about the exciting things God has been doing in the lives of sweet friends.

Second, I was re-energized. We had ample opportunities to share about all God has been doing in our lives and in the lives of thousands of new believers in Asia. We shared for six class periods at a high school, talked with two youth groups, had lots of individual meetings, and spoke at two supporting churches. I also shared at a ladies meeting one Saturday afternoon. All of these times rekindled the love in my heart for speaking (as in "public speaking"). I walked away from each of those speaking times with more energy than when I began. I was also encouraged by many of those in the audience--young and older--that they were blessed by what we shared.
With this second aspect of speaking being stirred in my heart, you can imagine my excitement when I returned from our trip and found an email from a friend telling me about a conference opportunity for speakers!
Kristin reads a blog and saw that there is a contest for a conference called She Speaks. She Speaks, a part of Proverbs 31 Ministries, is a training time for speakers, writers, and women's ministry leaders designed to help them live out the verse Proverbs 31:26 "She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue."

Lysa TerKeurst, the ministry's leader, is offering three Cecil Murphy scholarships for the conference. The winners will each receive one registration to the conference, all materials, two nights at the conference hotel, and all meals associated with the conference. This is an incredible opportunity I would love to have to learn more about speaking, writing and women's ministry.

If you receive our family's newsletter, you will remember I wrote about women's ministry in Asia in February. You can find the newsletter here on our site. I am completely confident the Lord has our family right where He wants us. I'm also confident I have this desire for speaking for a reason. I don't have any idea what He wants to do with it all, but I know with all my heart I want to be used for His glory and purposes. The chance to learn more about speaking, blog writing, and ministry to women is just too exciting for words!

Join me in praying God will open the doors and this entry will win a scholarship if that's the path He wants me to follow!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Traveling with Five Kids

I have some cute video footage of our trip to Arizona that I'm hoping to edit in the next few days. Until then, enjoy these "travel" pics.
We had three adults and five children (all 5 years old and under) in our minivan. It was a fun adventure with lots of good conversation, contagious giggles, and plenty of noise (at times).

It was also beautifully silent at some points.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Slow Connections

A slow internet connection is preventing me from sharing some pictures with you. Hold fast and hopefully I'll remember to take the computer to a faster place soon.

Today we shared at Stone Ridge Church. I gave my life to Christ at Stone Ridge as a teenager (it was First Southern Baptist back then). I served the Lord there as a young adult, even directing the youth as a staff member at one point. My pastor there officiated our wedding and guided us through premarital counseling in the months before we got married. My mom still lives in Yuma and is a part of Stone Ridge - I guess it's been about 16 years now.

Unfortunately we've only been back to Yuma a handful of times since we left 8 years ago to serve on staff at a church in Pennsylvania. It's partly due to the fact that our family grew so quickly and traveling with young ones is neither easy or cheap. We came back when I was pregnant and our friends gave us a baby shower. It was such a blessing. Then, we brought a group of junior high students for a mission trip when Rylee was just 3 months old. We didn't return again for three years. And, now three years later again we've made the trek. I sure hope it's not another three years until we can come again.

I always get reflective on trips like this. Whether it's back to North Carolina, Arizona, or Pennsylvania (the 3 places I've lived before Texas), lots of emotions always flood my heart. There is a huge part of me that was developed in each of those places. I spent my first ten years in North Carolina. Most of my family is still there. Then, I spent the next 14 years of my life in Arizona. My mom still lives there. It's where I gave my heart to Jesus and began serving the Lord in full-time ministry. It's where I went to school and did work in the community. It's also where Joel and I met. Then, I spent five years in Pennsylvania. It's where Joel and I had our first home, gave birth to all three of our children, and invested our hearts and lives in a church and its teenagers. Our friends there are like family.

I've already been asked quite a few times "is it good to be back?" Such a hard question to answer. It is great to see our friends and family. But, there's so much more than can be said with that answer. It is good to be back. It's good on many different levels. It's good for me to see what God's been doing since I've been gone. It's good for me to hug the neck of friends. It's good to touch base in person rather than by email. It's good to finally make contact with those who don't email or keep in touch much. It's good to be challenged. It's good to be reminded. It's good to reflect.

It's good to come back home for a while.

Friday, March 12, 2010

So Far So Good

We have made it to Arizona. 1200+ miles with 3 adults and 5 kids in the car -- ages 5, 4, 4, 2, and 7 months! We chose to drive early in the morning so much of our time in the car was spent with kids finishing their nighttime sleep. It works well for our family and seems to make the trip more enjoyable for us all.

The kids are already having a blast at Nana's house. The non-traditional toys of an old suitcase, pads of paper, purses, and cardboard boxes are fun. Throw in some random stuffed animals and balls of various sizes and you have three happy kiddos who are being creative with their play.

Pictures to come...

Thank you for praying for our family and this trip.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Little Torn Up

My heart is a little bit on the torn side. I'm not really sure how to even describe what's being done to it.

It's not painful in a bad way, but good. The kind of hurt that you know is helping, though it doesn't feel good at all.

I've been going to physical therapy for my shoulder. When she gets deep into the muscle and tendon tissue to work out part of the problem, it hurts. I breathe deep and exhale slowly and imagine the pain pushing out what hurts.

Last Tuesday night I watched a video on persecution. I've read stories. At Gospel for Asia we talk about it because the missionaries we live and work to support deal with it. We get reports directly from the field on a regular basis.

I even shared about some of the persecution last year when we went on a support trip back to PA.

But, last week, the video messed me up. (I tried to link to the video, but it's not working; sorry.)

It features Pastor Francis Chan. I had heard of him. He wrote a book called Crazy Love that my friend Kristin read. She said it was good. I downloaded an audio version and got through the first few chapters.

The ladies in my LIFE group recently decided to read the book and discuss it each month when we meet.

So I knew who this guy was and knew what he was going to say...sort of.

Do I really want to be like those Christians?

Then, Pastor Francis came to GFA this week. He shared with our staff. And, again, I'm a little broken.

Pastor Francis shared quite a few things that were challenging, encouraging, and convicting to me. I'll just tell you a few. I'm not sure they'll make sense, but this is where I process sometimes.

First, he talked about obedience. Simple obedience. God asks us to do what He says.

He used an illustration to talk about how little we obey. It really hit home. (this is my version of what he said, not from a transcript, but just my notes) He said "say I tell my daughter to go clean her room. It would not be okay if she came back and said 'I memorized what you told me to do.'" It wouldn't be cool if she said "Hey Dad, I learned to say those instructions in Greek." And, it really wouldn't be obedience if she said she was going to invite some friends over so they could discuss what it would look like for her to clean her room. Obedience would be cleaning the room. Anything else is disobedience.

I disobey God a lot.

Second, he talked about emergencies. He told us that he signed over the royalties from his book Crazy Love. He and his wife decided they would probably waste the money on things they didn't need and would regret it. So, they donated it to a charity that helps orphans and the poor and dealing with issues like sex trafficking. Someone told him he wasn't being a good steward with the money. What would he do if there was an emergency? Pastor Francis' question for them was "What about what is happening in India, Haiti, that not an emergency? People dying of starvation, going to hell without the Gospel, being sold as sex slaves?" He asked "is it only an emergency if it involves you and your children?

We are not concerned about whether or not we will live. We are concerned about our standard of living. We are worried that someday we won't have the nice things we want to get.

I live as though there is no emergency.

Finally (in the 3 things that stood out most to me right now...maybe I'll share more later, but this is enough to rip me up for now), he talked about the church in Sardis that is written about in Revelation 3. It says in verse 1 "I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead." Pastor Francis explained that the church of Sardis was doing many good things. They looked like they loved God. They had a good reputation. But, Psalm 139 tells us God searches us and knows our heart. God told the church of Sardis that He knew their heart.

Pastor Francis pointed out that he is a good communicator. So, he can communicate truth or a lie. We can make people believe whatever we want them to believe. We can spend oru days building up our reputation. It's easy to fake it. To our staff directly, he said people will assume things because you're staff of GFA. He is right. I've heard people tell me their assumptions. Just the other day someone told me they knew we (Joel and I) were in a completely different place than them (because we serve on staff and have prayer every Tuesday and spend our days working for a ministry).

I've made it a point on this blog to try and dispel that myth. In fact, one of my labels for blog posts is "being real". But, even in my attempts to "be real", I tell you what I want to tell you. I share what I want, post what I want, make it sound how I want. I don't tell you about all my screw ups and failures and nastiness.

There's plenty. I want a good reputation. Sometimes I want a good name more than I want to know God. Sometimes I want you to think more highly of me than I care what God thinks.

I'm not really sure what God's doing in my life, in my heart.

But, I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be the same.

At least, I hope not.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

February Newsletter Online

The first one was a success, so here's our most recent newsletter. Enjoy!

You can choose to read it "full screen" by selecting that button on the top left corner. It makes it much bigger and almost like you're holding a copy in your hand. Very cool. I like the website I used to upload these PDF files--Scribd.

02.10 Newsletter Online

Monday, March 1, 2010

January Newsletter - now online!

We plan to post our newsletters here so you can easily find them! Let us know if you'd prefer to receive them directly by email.

Newsletter 01.10 No Contact