I’ve been thinking about doing this for a matter of months now. I Finally got around to doing it! It amazes Peter and me how much we have here in America. I did this exercise to help open the eyes of others including myself to help us see how much we have by what we wear. Now I would consider myself a low maintenance person always shopping at thrift stores and looking for deals but I was surprised at the results.
Exercise: Take an every day picture of yourself. Something you would wear on a regular day ( keep it casual) If you wear make up count the cost of the make up. If you wear a watch count it, ect.
I’ve always heard of COTN (Children of the Nations) but never got to hear someones heart after going on a missions trip until Peter came back from Malawi. His passion for Malawi has only grown since then. On May 21st, 2016 he has started a Frisbee tournament to help support a friend he met there. If you were touched by this I encourage you to share this post, and do the exercise yourself.
Do you remember the giddy feeling you’d get as soon as you’d see those presents under the Christmas tree?
All the wonder and curiosity of what’s inside danced in your mind. And that is why this family celebrates Christmas this way.
Instead of hiding the gifts the parents would put them under the tree weeks ahead. The children would sit by them pointing and chatting about them. They weren’t allowed to touch them or pick them up until Christmas. Now imagine with me all the wonder and excitement as a child while the gifts scream ‘open me!’ as they sit under the tree.
They didn’t teach this as patience. They had a far greater lesson in mind.
Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
2 Corinthians “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
How we anticipate the gifts of Christmas is how we should anticipate being with Christ in heaven someday. The Bible tells us bits and pieces giving us an idea of what heaven will be like, but we will never fully know until we are there. Just like the gifts they had an idea of what was underneath the bows and colorful wrapping paper. There’s still the anticipation of seeing.
As a newlyweds Peter and I have been working on surrounding ourselves in a community of encouragement. These next few years are years of preparation as we expand on our family. Although I’m an introvert I am learning how important it really is to have a good community.
We have come to realize if someone is not uplifting us they will not be uplifting for our children. Even if they are family. Of course we live in a world where our children will hear every name in the book and be let down. But it doesn’t have to be from the people we choose to spend the majority of our time with.
Peter already is surrounded by a lot of chaos and unhealthy people at his job, but when he goes and meets up with other godly men he is encouraged.
Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Our Church family is encouraging in our walk with Christ but once a week for a few hours is not consistent enough. Dropping in and leaving isn’t going to make the community it’s about building relationships. It’s about: praying for one another, helping with specific needs, teaming up in ministry, fellowship out side of Church, and comforting and celebrating with one another.
Hebrews 10:23-24 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Tears stream down my face as I as read through my old prayer journals and see how faithful God has been throughout my life.
I started writing letters to God when I was fifteen; I’m twenty-five now. As the years went on I started really getting into the prayer journals; I started decorating mine or buying really nice ones. I would keep one on me that way if I would get alone time I could just take it out and write. This is how I find time with God.
As the ink hits the paper so my heart opens to him. This is where I meet him for quiet time. This is how I am still before him. I discover things that have been on my heart that I didn’t know where there until I would write them down. Writing out prayers has helped me think out all the insecurities I had then and have now. I as continue so seek him he will be forever faithful. He is always on the other end waiting for his letter.
I believe there is a privacy that many have forgotten and have used social media or conversations as a personal journal. Boundaries are crossed that many don’t even know they have crossed. Then every party involved leave at what a could of been an encouraging time, but instead had a gossip session.
I used to feel guilty for listening to someone “vent” on their marriage issues, financial issues or way to personal issues that I never should of never known about in the first place. I felt like if I didn’t listen to them I wasn’t being a good friend, but by listening to them I wasn’t. It’s not my job to hear or know someone on a level where God knows them. That is where God needs to be and they are putting me there.
God asks us to Guard our hearts through out scripture and we must do the same for them by watching what we share as well.
Don’t get me wrong I love keeping up with peoples lives and hearing if someone got a new pet, a new baby, or if they share their hobbies on facebook. But I honestly do cringe and scroll when too much media sharing is seen. Sometimes I wish I could just scroll past in conversations with other women….
I have learned I can!
I have approached my friends in saying “I’m learning about this new thing about myself. I listen to my friends vent thinking I should be a good friend but then leave feeling horrible because too much is shared.”
The conversation we the have is clean, and encouraging. Both of our hearts are protected and God is glorified.
A friend of mine asked me the other day what I honestly thought of her blog and if I thought she was glorifying God through it.
Who are you glorifying when you post?
I asked her this “What is your motive when you post?”
I think this is an honest question every believer needs to ask themselves before they post. Some of us become attention seekers turning others gaze away from God unintentionally. If we honestly question our next post we should be cautious and open to a friends opinion. Remember guys it’s not about us.
Another friend of mine was saying how God should be relevant in all the areas of our lives. I have been convicted of my media posting. Christ should also shine in your media! She wasn’t saying post verses and how amazing God is every other day. She was talking about being clean in our posting. Although crude humor, vile language or the look at what I did all by myself post may be appropriate for our audience we as believers can and should be aware of our posting.
Believers and other bloggers I leave you with this question: Who are you glorifying?
I used to have this issue maybe you have it too. I used to never write, underline or mark my Bible because I didn’t want to ruin it. It was too sacred to me because it’s God’s word. But the truth is he wants us to ruin our Bibles.
Ever heard this quote?
So much truth is screaming out in this quote.
Oh how our Heavenly father rejoices in our torn up Bibles.
There are days when I want to read my Bible but don’t know where to go so I go find my underlined or highlighted verses.They are the verses that I highlight because they speak to my heart. Some times the flesh side of me (who I was before I became a new creation in Christ) gets all distracted or loses motive to even read it. But my highlights catch my eyes and I am reminded as I read each verse how faithful God is.
Beleivers I write this to encourage you. We all get unmotivated at times or caught up in… dare I say it….ourselves. But I encourage you to pick it up, read your highlights, make them, read, make more, tear your Bible up, and fall more in love with Christ each day.
I don’t love her because she’s a legend. I love her because of her story. Why? Because it’s many people’s story. They too want the world to see them for who they want to be. Many people didn’t know her story until her death. She wanted the world to see her exactly as what we saw…
But what her husbands and people who worked close with her saw was a sad abandoned little girl who wanted to be noticed, treasured, and loved. One of her ex-husbands never stopped loving her. He would often visit her gravestone after her death. They too may have called her Marilyn Monroe, but they still saw Norma Jeane. Even with her name change she was still little Norma on the inside screaming for love.
I don’t know Marilyn Monroe. But I do know of “Norma’s” and I hurt for the Norma’s out there who never get to hear about God’s love for them. Who walk around hiding behind forced smiles. Who keep the people at arms length that have good intentions. Who don’t know that they don’t have to carry burdens that they have been carrying.
If you are Norma on the inside I want you to know….
I was looking for an adventure, something to get out of not only Washington, but of the U.S. My thinking was that the ministry happening in Kitsap Country was really good and I am excited for it but there is so much more outside of it to see. I needed to stretch my faith and get out of the comfort zone many of us tend to live in for the sake of Christ. This wanderlust and need to get out of my comfort zone had been in the back of my head for a year or so. It brought me to a friend I had known since high school named Kyle Donn who works with COTN (Children Of The Nations).
Kyle told me about a missions trip to Sierra Leone which is a country in a desperate time between the AIDS epidemic and fall out from civil war. I thought to myself Theres no time like now Lord, let’s do it and so I told him I would love to go for a month. I told Kyle that if possible I would also love to use my welding job skills in the country to help out. He started to coordinate with other people and getting the group together. I sent out support letters and was slowly getting excited for this new adventure, like none I had ever been on. Then the Ebola Virus outbreak happened and put a stop to all teams going. I was disheartened but Kyle informed that a missions trip to Malawi was coming up in the summer (the one we are finishing). Again he would try his best to make it possible for a project which included welding. Little did I know that this trip would be so much more than just doing a few projects.
Once all the funds were in and everything was ready, it was time to undertake this great journey. My expectations before going was that our projects would take up almost all of our time. I was a little more focused on the projects though and realized this two weeks into our trip. God had big plans for my personal walk with him. I knew that I would grow but again had no idea how much. I fell in love with Malawi, the people, the food, and the relationships. During my time in Malawi I also talked to my fiance (now my wife, Mihaela Echols) about sponsoring a kid…and a university student.
Starting from day one in-country everything slowed down including our schedule. Yes, we had projects like I had mentioned and were busy during the day but just imagine not having your cell phone going off once during the day. In fact imagine not even thinking about checking your email or phone…etc. I was reminded just how important personal, real, and genuine relationships are in our lives.
When I got to spend every day with our translators and in the evening different people…oh man do you grow close. Our team would play games at night if not spending time in each of our own devotions or with the people around. God used Molly and Misha (two of our team members) with their years of camp experience and friendliness to do things like Spotlight which helped our team out a lot coming from a group of strangers to a close-knit team. In Spotlight one person was in the “Spotlight” and included three different parts to it. The first being questions to them, whether silly or serious. Then came encouragement to them in any way, wether it be what you have observed in their personality or maybe something you just thought was really cool they did during the day. Lastly praying over the person and if they had any specific prayer request we would pray for that too. This Spotlight and also sharing each of our testimonies throughout the trip really helped to pull the group together and I thank God for that.
Slowing down helped me to grow more than I had been and strengthen my dependence on Christ with him as my identity, meaning, and satisfaction. I had my ups and downs but the Holy Spirit would remind me in verses and in thoughts that I am not alone. Here is part of a journal entry one day when I was struggling that Gods grace was not sufficient for me…
“You remind me during lunch of Psalms 119:9-16 Lord, thank you for the leading of the Holy Spirit. Guide me, help me keep your statues and treasure them. Your grace is sufficient for me, even when I think not.”
God supplied me all month-long with his strength, joy, peace, and contentment because I continually came back to him. I do not mean to say that bragging though because without God would not be the same man or have the contentment Christ provides me with. I don’t deserve anything God has blessed me with including life and the Cross. He knew that I would be going on this trip and everything that would accompany it.
As I said, I was reminded just how important personal relationships are. In the picture above is two individuals I chose to sponsor, the little girl is Cathleen and the man to my left is Samiton. I had the honor of meeting Cathleen’s family and Samiton’s younger brother. Cathleen and her family live in a house a little smaller than mine which is 400 square ft. More than that no running power or electricity but the family was so happy. The mom was so thankful that I chose to sponsor her and it was humbling, heart-breaking, and life changing all at the same time. God was not done with me yet.
I again was humbled but this time at Samiton and his story of life which is very common in Malawi. His dad had three kids with his mom, a daughter and two sons which he is the oldest sibling of them all. Around nine his dad left home and has never come back or communicated back to them. He was left with having to step up and be the man of the house…at nine. He is now starting college and cooks for COTN to pay for housing at their campus. When he is not busy with school or cooking, he is at home helping his mom with gardening and farming. He has his dreams but never walked away from the most important thing to him.
This missions trip has had the most impact on me compared to any other one I have been on. I have a huge desire to go back but this time it will be with my wife. We are planning to go back in two years, possibly with the same team if everyone ends up being free that summer.