Though it Linger

We are back in our home in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa after two weeks traveling with our 5 kids to a missions retreat. It was a hairy ride up and a beautiful one back. Sometimes I feel like we barely survive traveling with kids (read about our trip here) but you know I will be doing it again! Grace and short-term memory loss help with the thought of such future travels ;-).

I’ve been wanting to share this post with you for a few weeks. I’m excited for two reasons. One, Oswald Chambers captured my attention with this deep and potent word, and I am still stirred by it. Two, our friend Janelle Willis took this amazing picture and when I saw it, I knew…Habakkuk 2:3. If she had hurried the photo, the colors of brilliance would be weak. The timing was just so. Thank you, Janelle, for sharing your stunning photo.

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If we lose “the heavenly vision” God has given us, we alone are responsible—not God. We lose the vision because of our own lack of spiritual growth. If we do not apply our beliefs about God to the issues of everyday life, the vision God has given us will never be fulfilled. The only way to be obedient to “the heavenly vision” is to give our utmost for His highest—our best for His glory. This can be accomplished only when we make a determination to continually remember God’s vision. But the acid test is obedience to the vision in the details of our everyday life—sixty seconds out of every minute, and sixty minutes out of every hour, not just during times of personal prayer or public meetings.

“Though it tarries, wait for it . . .” (Habakkuk 2:3). We cannot bring the vision to fulfillment through our own efforts, but must live under its inspiration until it fulfills itself. We try to be so practical that we forget the vision. At the very beginning we saw the vision but did not wait for it. We rushed off to do our practical work, and once the vision was fulfilled we could no longer even see it. Waiting for a vision that “tarries” is the true test of our faithfulness to God. It is at the risk of our own soul’s welfare that we get caught up in practical busy-work, only to miss the fulfillment of the vision. Watch for the storms of God. The only way God plants His saints is through the whirlwind of His storms. Will you be proven to be an empty pod with no seed inside? That will depend on whether or not you are actually living in the light of the vision you have seen. Let God send you out through His storm, and don’t go until He does. If you select your own spot to be planted, you will prove yourself to be an unproductive, empty pod. However, if you allow God to plant you, you will “bear much fruit” (John 15:8).
Obedience to the Heavenly Vision, Oswald Chambers

These words resonate soundly in my spirit. Do you have a vision from the Lord? God sent us to very southernmost place in Africa, Cape Town, with a dream and vision to disciple, train, and help lead a generation of young adults in reaching the unreached. You know what is odd in a wonderful sort of way? We are finally old enough to be ‘fathers’ and ‘mothers’ towards the younger crowd. We are at that age when we can be more than just a few steps ahead but really influence a younger generation. I love it!

God is stirring up my dreams. Dreams I had when I was 19 and 20 that were either just begun and then put on hold or stayed in the seed form altogether. Honestly I let some of these dreams die. It was easier that way, especially in the harried season of birthing babies and diapers and nursing and sleep deprivation.

It is exciting (and daunting…) to be reminded of dreams and vision again. Some days I feel like there is no way I can be of any use to anyone, not even knowing if I should start with the laundry or the dishes or getting myself dressed before lunchtime. And homeschooling? What grade are my kids in again??

Can you relate to this?

But then there is the storm of God, when God sends you out, and decides it’s time for you to be released. I love how Chambers says we must live under the inspiration of the vision until it fulfills itself. God has a way of working in us as we wait it out, of planting desire in our spirits and then as we work out our salvation he waters those seeds and they sprout and begin to produce life.

How has it happened in your life? Looking back on the last 15 years, I have changed and grown so much. But it’s interesting to note that my dreams and vision have not changed but rather matured. Much like that rock hard avocado I bought the other day. After what felt like a generation of waiting, it was finally ripe and perfect for our favorite food…guacamole!

I am still in the early to middle stage of raising our children, of being a homemaker, of learning how to love my husband and build the nations of the earth through our family. This is my first calling, focus, and passion of my heart. I suppose 95% of my time and energy is spent on being the keeper of our home. Yet God in his brilliant goodness can anoint all hours of the day, even in the life of a stay-at-home-missionary-homeschooling-wife-and-mother to bring forth fruit and fulfillment.

Be encouraged that God can cause us to dream dreams again! I am thankful for these words of wisdom today as we carry on raising our 5 disciples but also walk forward with a vision to tear down darkness in our culture and build up sons and daughters from all nations of the earth.

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I Will Give Them a Crown of Beauty

As I write this, it is Gabrielle’s 5th birthday, and a new tradition is begun. We take turns with each of our kids to have a special “date” with dad. This ranges from a trip to the grocery store (special to be alone when you have four other siblings vying for this privilege!) or out for a milkshake. Once it even involved shopping for clothes at a Thrift Store.

But today, on her birthday, it’s G’s turn. I fully expect her to in be in complete princess regalia as she goes out to breakfast with her Daddy. As the news spread through our home that G is going out for a birthday breakfast with Dad, each child smiled and commented wistfully…”I want to do that.” It certainly helps that our favorite restaurant in South Africa gives a voucher for a free kids meal on their birthday!

It is so important for Dads to make a habit of filling up their daughter’s hearts with words and actions of love, affirmation, affection. It’s easy for me to smother my kids with love and kisses. Yes, they need that too. But something different happens when their father kneels down and looks them in the eye and says, “You’re beautiful.”

GIGI

“A father-daughter relationship is the God-ordained birthplace of true beauty in a young woman. Just as God spoke words into a formless void and the world came into being at creation, a father’s words create beauty, security, and confidence in a daughter. When words of blessing, looks of love, and pure touch have gone forth from a father and done their work in a daughter’s spirit, she is not drawn to the other voices that may want to lure her. She is not dependent on those other voices to validate her because she has already been securely validated in her beauty through her father.

There has been a lot of talk about spiritual warfare in recent years. If you want to fight hell and the powers of darkness that seek to destroy the hearts of our daughters, I know a type of spiritual warfare that creates value in a daughter’s spirit. It is called “Taking your Daughter out for Tea” or “Going to Her Soccer Game,” and it works in direct opposition to the agenda of hell and darkness that wants to destroy their lives. They need our time, attention, questions, and interest.”

Jim Anderson, Unmasked, pgs. 44,48

We are so thankful for this princess, this daughter of the King; for her delightful spirit, easy smile, and way of bringing out the best in people.

The Mountain I Climbed

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“The only problem with a busy schedule,” my husband said recently, “is that we lose speed when our feet touch the ground!” He took this beautiful picture in the slide above while doing some good, old fashioned character building with our son.

But it’s true! Our family can run on adrenaline for a while, but at some point, something has gotta give. When our feet do touch the ground, I feel like our family can get a stress fracture and then its time to do damage control.

In the uncanny wisdom of Dr. Seuss, “You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace.” I’m not an advocate of running at the break-necking pace of the western culture. I have no problem with saying ‘no’ to events, meetings, outings and activities. Being busy is not necessarily better! I see my job as a mom in part as the Gatekeeper of the Home. To protect, guard, and sustain our home. Nothing gets in or goes out without going through that gate!

Recently, due to an unusually high amount of activities we’ve committed to, I’ve had to put the brakes on the kids and I attending evening activities. It is so refreshing to be home, get the kids to bed on time with a bath and story, and keep our hearts quiet. Instead of wearing ourselves thin with too much busyness, we are trying to live and parent intentionally.

So, to get to the point of this post! A couple months ago my husband and I sat down with the chief task of writing out a plan on how we want to Live on Purpose in regards to our family. We used 2 Peter 1:5-8 as a starting point in identifying the values we want to pass onto our children. It is by no means a perfect plan, but it gives us a reference point to intentional parenting and building a strong family identity. I’m learning we need to set goals and cast the vision for our family if we want to raise up a godly generation. Or else by default the world will do it for us.

A central value in developing our little disciples is Good Character. Of course this has been drilled into me since my days in Master’s Commission! On the list of character qualities we are hoping to develop in our kids is perseverance. To quote one of my favorite authors and the inspiration for our Living on Purpose plan, Sally Clarkson, “Teaching your child how to endure and how to wait with grace could change the whole story of their lives.”

Perseverance…the ability to strain ahead, endure, press on, strong inner resolution.

Perseverance is something that’s easy to get practical with. We’ve all learned it, to varying degrees. For me, the very best catalyst to develop perseverance is to be physically challenged in the outdoors. Where the natural elements of nature meet the spiritual. Its one thing to talk about perseverance while reading a book about it; its entirely another to talk about perseverance when you’re clobbering a mountain one heavy footstep at a time. Or when you are pushing through the middle mile in a 5k, 10k or if you are like my extreme-sport-loving brother in law, a marathon.

So we decided to make a point to physically challenge our kids through hikes, sports, and exercise in general. Which is some of the reason why we have a full-er schedule than normal! We are blessed to live in a place with ample opportunity for anything you might want to try, so the challenge is more to eliminate all the rest. My husband is training for a ministry trip to an unreached people group in the Himalayan mountains of Nepal. It will be an arduous trek, over several 16,000 foot mountain passes. When our six year old son heard wind of a hike up the Helderberg to train with his dad, there was little we could do to prevent him from going with! In his mind, all he would need is a peanut-butter sandwich or two and he could easily conquer that peak.

He came back, four hours later, puffy and swollen, bruised, covered in red dirt,  scraped knees, holes in his shirt, and the tennis shoes that were almost done-in are now officially scrap material. After a soak in the tub…he went to bed! How many six year old boys do you know who tell you they need a nap?

But he learned something of perseverance, and before my eyes, he grew up a little bit. Now, when we drive past the Helderberg Mountain on our way to Cape Town, he reminds me…”See mom? That’s the mountain I climbed.”

As parents we aim to teach our kids the ability to strain ahead, endure, and press on through hard things in order to reach the goal of the upward call of God. Sometimes, it’s just carrying that heavy shopping bag home or finishing a tough math assignment. Later on in life overcoming challenges becomes more complex. We want all of our kids to look back and say…”That’s the mountain I climbed.”

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Combating Negativity with A Thankful Heart

In keeping with the season of Thanksgiving, I am reminded of the power of gratitude. I frequently admire people who seem to walk through life with joy and thanksgiving naturally flowing from them…and then, more often than not, I learn this person has been through a personal tragedy or defeated overpowering obstacles. I believe we have the answer to one of the most common maladies of this day and age! Thankfulness is the answer to depression and anxiety (I am not referring to those clinically depressed, or suffering from anxiety/panic disorders…although I do believe this will improve those conditions greatly too!).

Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

This The Weapon!

So when negative thoughts crowd your mind, instead of turning down that road to despair, drop to your knees or reach your hands up and begin to practice thanksgiving. Don’t be disingenuine about your difficulty, struggle, pain, or depression. But begin thanking God for what you have! I recently finished the biography of Joni Eareckson Tada. Now, I have been avoiding this book for years, simply because I knew enough of her story to understand I would be deeply convicted and challenged by it. I was right. When Joni was in the throngs of depression due to her paralysis, bitter and resentful, a friend reminded her of the truth. “I saw people at the long-term care center who were really bad off — blind, mute, deaf. Some even lost their minds. They have nothing left. But you have your mind, your voice, your eyes, and your ears. You have everything you need.”

Whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things. And the God of peace will be with you.

Here is my gratitude list as I combat the enemy of my soul with a THANKFUL HEART.

1. A house of our own to live in while we spend time with my family in Washington State…thats just one block away from where my parents’ live! The kids can experience what its like to ‘go next-door to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.’

2. A breakthrough in my husband’s RSA passport status. We’ve been waiting for 13 months for renewal and have finally been approved for an emergency passport while they frantically dig through heaps of papers to find where his is misplaced (my theory :)).

3. A flexible, gracious employer who is willing to work with us through this time of transition, moving, and process of citizenship.

4. A healthy, kicking 29-week old baby and an uncomplicated pregnancy. An OB whom I love.

5. No debt.

6. A clean house. Even though our house hasn’t sold yet, with every showing, I get to come home to a sparkling, clutter-free home. If you know me at all, this would not be the case in any other situation!

7. An online homeschool group in the Western Cape, South Africa, where I am already making acquaintances and finding resources. I needed a starting point as we move to an entirely new part of the world and God has provided this amazing, like-minded group!

8. An great deal on plane tickets to Washington during the typically inflated-fares of the holiday season.

9. Wisdom as we make each decision towards moving overseas. The logistics involved are staggering and intimidating but God is directing our steps.

10. A homeschool curriculum I LOVE (Sonlight) that makes it possible for someone like me, not especially organized and easily overwhelmed, to home-educate 4 children. My children have already developed a foundation of missions with the biblical worldview Sonlight books provides.

11. Friends and men of faith, near and far away, who have spoken words of life and faith into me as we embark on this journey.

12. A powerful display of God’s providence as I met up with a missionary friend from years ago, at a missions’ conference where neither of us currently live.

13. A beautiful Midwest fall and coming Northwest Christmas (we want LOTS of snow!!) to add to my storehouse of precious memories.

14. A husband who listens intently to the Lord as he leads our family.

15. A growing church body, full of dear friends, that is able to send us out into the mission field.

16. Pumpkin Pie. 🙂

17. Health for our family, protection from sickness, disaster, and disease, refuge from the storms of life. Psalm 91.

18. The mercy and goodness of God. His kindness that led to my repentance. That his gifts and call are irrevocable. That he is faithful through our struggle against sin, in the process of us being conformed to the likeness of Christ.

19. A super-fun shopping date with my oldest daughter. I remember going on these with my mom, and they are some of my favorite memories. Now its my turn to create them with my daughters!

20. His JOY is my STRENGTH. For when I am weak, then I am strong in the Lord.

 

 

The Great Commission and Elections

I feel, like many others, that I’m in a time of mourning for our nation. We prayed hard for this election and God revealed his will…but its not in the direction we hoped. Mourning is not a lack of faith. Its a spiritual and emotional response that is an important part of living by faith!

We know God’s ways are not our ways, and he uses many different methods to advance the spread of the gospel. Including persuasion and kindness. But also including persecution, war, natural disaster, and political leaders.

Habakkuk carried a burden of prophecy as he looked upon injustice, wrong, violence, and paralyzed law in his nation. He complained to the Lord! ‘How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?

I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.’

You know what the Lord’s answer was? Listen to this. Look at the nations and watch- and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.

The lense I see the world through is God’s kingdom. It is advancing all through the nations. Its so important to not become discouraged, cynical, or fatalistic in our faith regarding these elections and our government.

I turned to Psalm 2 on Wednesday morning. Have you ever read it?

‘Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.”

The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will proclaim the decree of the Lord:

He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession (vs 1-8).

You might not sense God calling you to move overseas into cross-cultural missions, like he is calling our family to. But did you see the electoral map of the election results by county? I perceive this map as a clear indication of where the mission field of the United States is. The inner-cities and metropolis are where the unreached of America lay.

This election is not a call to depression, seclusion, fear and bitterness! Its a call to sell yourself completely to the Kingdom of God. I believe we are about to see a great harvest, greater than the first. The fields are white in the world. Even here in America where immigrants abound and a generation of Americans do not know the living truth of the gospel.

Let’s cry out as Habakkuk did when he saw his nation in distress; when he heard and his heart pounded and his legs trembled…

I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known;
In wrath remember mercy.

Let’s ask for the nations as our inheritance, now, in our day.

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What’s In a Name?

We sold our car a couple of weeks ago, and the celebration lasted about 60 seconds until I remembered we have no back-up vehicle until we save enough money to pay CASH for a second car! So our family of 6 has been enjoying many sunrises lately as we all pile in our one vehicle at 6am to take my husband to work. I wish my kids were old enough to stay at home by themselves, but alas, 4 more years til my oldest can babysit!

The sunrises are the unexpected blessing. Today the dogwood trees, in full bloom, looked like snow on the rolling Ozark hills. Driving home, I felt the Lord speak to me about naming our homeschool. I was homeschooled just one year, in the 3rd grade, and I remember my mom carefully choosing a name and a logo for our school. St. Francis of Assisi Homeschool. That was the best year of my school-age life.

A name should be meaningful, don’t you agree? My husband and I spent hours considering and praying about what each of our children should be named. Some names required waiting for the right child to be born! Others (our son) were not named until we saw his red face in the hospital. I finally let my husband decide because we couldn’t come to an agreement. His is the only South-African name in the bunch, which seemed fitting since he was born there and is our only son.

One of our first memory verses last year was Psalm 1.

Blessed is the man

who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked…

…but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water,

which yields its fruit in season

and whose leaf does not wither.

Whatever he does prospers.

 

Another meaningful verse to us is Isaiah 61:1-3

…”they will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

 

So our name is…..get ready…..

Deep Roots Homeschool (or Deep Roets??)

Haha no big surprise, right! I am amazed that the Lord took one of my fears and is turning it into a strength. I feared my kids would struggle with identity, since my husband and I are from two different continents and cultures. The opposite has happened. We are creating a strong family identity, which I think every young couple needs to do. Leaving and cleaving is part of it! We don’t have any extended family nearby, which is definitely difficult but has strengthened our sense of purpose and identity as a family and as husband and wife.

Our goal for our kids is to teach them to love the Lord and to build godly character in their lives. That their roots will go down deep in the Lord.  Only by his grace we can do this!

In Sickness and in Health

My husband and I passed a milestone last year by celebrating our 10-year anniversary. For the first 5 years we jokingly remarked we were still newlyweds, the honeymoon feeling lasted so long.

I fully credit this awesome start to marriage with going through a process of courtship. We voluntarily submitted our relationship to the leadership of our pastor and parents, and through their guidance we followed several biblical principles to build our relationship on a foundation of trust and friendship. We refrained from indulging in the romantically saturated culture of dating in order to see each other’s character be revealed and tested.

Biblical Courtship is based on these 5 foundational guiding principles: Purity, Protection, Communication, Honor, and Witness or Testimony.

To read further on the topics of courtship, dating, romance, and sex I recommend Unmasked by Jim Anderson. I highly recommend this book! I would go as far as to say it is a must-read for anyone seeking to go deeper in their spirituality.

Recently my husband and I went through an unforeseen test of character and covenant. There is a reason a lasting marital relationship is not based on feelings! Feelings are nebulous and unpredictable, you can’t trust them.

He has been through a long run of illness, resulting in a scheduled tonsillectomy. We prepared for it moderately, expecting some brief down time and a quick recovery. I naively thought we could even work on some projects around the house during his 2-week sick leave.

Instead of the subdued vacation time we imagined, my husband was flat on his back for 14 days. He was in pain, and I quickly realized while mercy flows abundantly from me for my children, I sort of ran out of mercy for him after about 10 days. Isn’t that awful??

We laugh about it now, the truth being couples go through much deeper suffering than this. The Lord is present to seal our covenant, a cord of three strands is not easily broken. But many couples today spend more time investing in their wedding day than preparing for marriage.

The reward is great when you choose to ignore foolish, youthful infatuation and instead build a friendship based on character and trust, delaying romance until it is attached to a committed, covenant relationship. It isn’t easy to practice self-control and guard your heart, to rely on your character to draw and attract rather than flirtation and sex appeal.

My husband and I certainly didn’t do everything right. Not by any measure. But I believe God blessed us because we submitted and surrendered our relationship to him from the beginning. I have a passion and desire to help equip other young people experience great joy in their marriages. To see an end to the brokenness the cycle of dating produces. To see fathers protecting their daughters, and the daughters trusting that protection.

I guess the message I hope to communicate to you is God desires to bless your marriage, and there is a generation rising up who will not be satisfied with anything less than a lasting marriage. Too many young adults have grown up with the pain and scarring of broken homes and are delaying marriage or choosing not to get married at all.

I hope will you read Unmasked: Exposing the Cultural Sexual Assault. It is a book with “revelation that could change our very culture.”