Accomplished Plans & Smiling Hearts

“I hep ya, Mama?”-
A direct quote from all 5 of my kids…
over the last 20 years.

I have pictures of them standing on chairs or little stepstools
in the kitchen, wearing an apron, stirring, mixing or just watching
with great interest. Now, back then I didn’t really need their help,
but I loved being with them, and they loved being a part of the action.

One time our oldest, Mariah, (about 5 yrs old at the time) was setting
the table. Her little sister Courtney was about 18 months old
and wanted to help, too. So Courtney proceeded to take a can of pop
from a box of 12, and one by one with your little toddler hands,
took EVERY single can to the dinner table… where all FOUR of us
would be eating! Her “help” may have added a little extra work on my
part, but she was so stinking’ cute and felt so happy to be doing her part
that it made my heart smile! 🙂

On Friday when I opened my Bible, God said I should just make everything
I read my prayer. I’ve been reading in Isaiah, so I picked up at Chapter 25.
Verse one says…

“O LORD, I will honor and praise your name,
for you are my God.
You do such wonderful things!
You planned them long ago,
and now you have accomplished them.”

I started praising His name and thanking Him for all He’s done
and accomplished in Detroit and Courage Church.
Then He quietly said,
“My plans for you being in Detroit have been accomplished.”
Before I could even finish a nice sigh of relief
I stopped short & said,
“Lord I’ve made so many mistakes, how could it all be accomplished?”

He smiled at me ( yes, He does that) and said,
“Yes of course you made mistakes.
You’re a human child, but my plans have still been accomplished.”

Then I read on until this verse …
Isaiah 26:12
“LORD, you will grant us peace;
all we have accomplished is really from you.”

(I added the underlining!)

oh, Duh, Netta! Of course!
Everything is accomplished because HE did it!
Such a merciful God who lets us “help” Him carry out His plans!

Thank you, Daddy God, for allowing me to “help” you!
Perhaps I made your heart smile, too! 🙂

Just One Word

This post isn’t one word… but my focus is.
I asked the Lord to give me one word for this year;
one word to focus on, remember, strive towards, etc.

This morning while reading in Matthew, He very firmly
spoke the word, “TRUTH.”

It makes perfect sense to me.
I’m a “people person,”
And “people persons” really like
people… not a problem.
But they also really want people
to like them…. problem.

Over the years Jesus has taught me more
about obeying Him regardless of what other
people may think or say. But their words
can still mess with my head.

-Stuff I overhear
-Things I think they think
-Knowing I didn’t live up to their expectations
(even if they were totally way off & unrealistic)
– Trying to anticipate their reactions
-Wondering if I shoulda-woulda-coulda…
sigh
You get the picture

All this boils down to…
Who do I want to listen to?
Cuz whoever I listen will prove who I really trust!

He IS Truth!

John 14:6 “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, the truth
and the life…”

The “H” Word – 10 years later

I couldn’t get myself to speak the word.
It was what I knew God wanted, but how
in the world could I tell Chilly?

That was ten years ago this month.
We were moving our young
girls to the city of Detroit. (previous post
here) But didn’t God know that the Detroit
City schools were… well… not the best.
Actually they didn’t even fall into anything
close to “Ok.” What is God thinking?

Chilly & I trusted God and of course
He had a plan. NOT the plan I wanted to
hear about, though. NOT at all!!!
For several days I knew that GOD had spoken
to me and instructed us to do the “H” word.
REALLY? “Oh, Lord. We hardly know any
good examples of kids who have been
schooled that way!? Really?”

I couldn’t do it. My mouth wouldn’t
speak the word. But then one night
when the girls were snug in their beds,
Chilly & I sat in the living room; he
turned to me and said it! HE spoke
the “H” word!
“Honey, God wants us to homeschool.”

“I know! Oh… ugh. I know! What in
the world!? What do I do? Where will
I begin? It’s so huge!”

God directs our lives. He calls the shots.
So we said, “Yes!”
Then something insanely crazy happened…
I wanted to to homeschool.
How is this possible?

You know that whole verse about God giving
you the desires of your heart? Well, I
didn’t think this WAS my desire (by any
stretch of the imagination!) But God
knew better. And when we said, “YES”
He changed our hearts! It became thrilling
to think of… scary, but exhilarating!
(That’s how obedience goes… just saying!)

A month later I was spending a few days
with my cousin in Ohio. She had homeschooled
her girls all the way through. They had
college scholarships and are gorgeous,
well-adjusted ladies now. My cousin
poured into me every bit of info
that popped into her head, and I frantically
took crazy-detailed notes. Thank you, Becky!

Later I attended an evening info session
at a local event… scribbling more notes
and then scouring the internet for all
shreds of info available. (There’s wasn’t
as much 10 years ago as there is today!)

With fear, trembling and joy we started
what would become a 10 year journey into the
“H” word… We became a homeschool family.

To be continued…

(If there’s a topic you’d like to
know more about, please let me know.)

That first drive – 10 years Later

Ten years ago (June 2004) Chilly & I, our three young daughters
and 8 young adults moved to Detroit. Over the next few months
I will be posting parts of that history – my history- possibly
your history, too. Each post will include “10 years later” in
the title. (If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any of
these posts you can have them sent directly to your email.
See the bar at the side.)

That First Drive

hamtramck MI

When Chilly first drove me into the strange and ever-so unique
city-within-the-city-of- Detroit known as
The City of Hamtramck, I was praying.
Desperately.
Franticly.
In a horrible panic.
“Oh, Jesus! Please hurry & help me love this place!”

Unknown

Oddly-shaped,unusually decorated buildings.
Muslim call-to-pray blasting over city-wide loud speakers.
Men in dresses.
Homeless & needy people in every direction.
More cultures and religions in one tiny place
than I could’ve imagined. (and I’d done my homework!)
“Help me, Jesus! How on earth can I possibly live here?”
“Is this even America?”

hamtramck MI

I dug deep and found positive things to say
to Chilly, anything besides what I was really thinking.
He knew. But how could we voice it. If God was sending us
here, to this pocket of Detroit to begin a new ministry,
then how could we do anything but look for the good…
to hunt diligently for it.

Chains & a gate on the building when we first saw it

Chains & a gate on the building when we first saw it

Walking into the building that had been “given” to us
did nothing to erase the panicked flipping of my stomach.
The once-Polish nightclub, turned church, turned abandoned
building would become a second home to us…
but at that moment we were greeted by mold, dirt
and fragments of what had once been something.
It was now “nothing.”
It would become a thing that would change lives.
But first Jesus had to begin that change in ME!

(To be continued…)

She Did What She Could

I’m enjoying several reading plans this month and some wonderful “extras!”
Together, our church is reading YouVersion’s 21 Day Fast , and I’m also lovin’ some wonderful videos & blogs from Mount Hope Church (who recently adopted Courage Church!!!! YIPPEE!)

One thing I read today did a little zing in my heart. Here’s the tiny verse
and then my thoughts are following.

“SHE DID WHAT SHE COULD…” – Jesus
Mark 14:8a

————————————————————————————

(The “SHE” in this verse is the lady who broke her expensive perfume and anointed
Jesus before his crucifixion and burial. She took criticism from people…
but not Jesus. He said “She did what she could.”)

-The people around that table that evening seemed far more qualified to minister
to Jesus than she, yet that didn’t stop her.

– Her sacrifice seemed “unspiritual” and lacking wisdom. (It was not!)

– She could have done many other things with that perfume, and other people
(even the “Christ-followers”) would probably have admired her for doing it.
But she chose to bless Jesus and not be affected by the others’ opinions.

– She let go of what had once been very special to her (and her culture),
because Jesus was now far more important that cultural customs & standards.

– Humility preceded this act of love.

————————————————————————————–

After realizing these truths this morning I started writing down “what I could do”
for Jesus that He sees value in, even if others do not.

Most things on my list were non-exciting, normal, daily and
“not-very-spiritual-looking.” Each one required humility, even demanded it.
(insert big SIGH here)
Others won’t notice and probably won’t even see it happening. If they do see,
they may criticize me. I may appear lazy, ridiculous and lacking in judgement.
And yet…
If these are the things that Jesus sees value in now, and asks of me,
then how can I discount their importance?
On Sunday in his sermon, (1-5-14) Chilly said,
“Our job is doing God’s purpose!”

Everywhere I look, every blog I read & pinterest I view, I’m told what I need to do to be
valuable and successful. But Mark 14:8 tells me that Jesus values my willingness to
“do what I can” for Him & directed by Him.
Simple.
Difficult.
Do-able.

The Thing about Art is…

photo

Friday morning my husband was helping one of our
sons with his school art assignment
and I overheard him say,
“The thing about art is that you have to be patient.”
At that very moment it was as if God cleared His throat
and looked directly at me.

“What? I don’t even do art. I’m not the artsy type, Lord!”

THINK OF YOUR SEWING PROJECTS?

“Um, well, I don’t get to them very often and when I
finally do carve out the time to be creative I have to
rush through them and them they get all messed up,
and I have to rip them out and start over.”
(and yes, I talk to God in giant run-on sentences!)

SO YOU RUSH THROUGH CREATIVITY BECAUSE YOU’RE IN A HURRY
TO GET BACK TO THE THINGS YOU “HAVE” TO DO THAT ARE
ALREADY EASY AND COMFORTABLE?

“Yeeees?”

WHAT IF I’M TRYING TO CREATE SOMETHING NEW IN YOUR HEART
AND LIFE? IT WILL REQUIRE PATIENCE.
WORK.
THE UNKNOWN.
WILL YOU LET ME?
WILL YOU BE PATIENT?
WILL YOU LET ME
BE THE ARTIST?

(tears)

“Yes! Forgive me for rushing and yet digging my heals
in at the same time. Help me to let go when you say so;
push forward in any direction you lead; stop trying to
figure out what the final results of the “art project”
will look like. I trust you, Lord Jesus!”

I’m not gunna lie

I’m not gunna lie.  It’s true… I look.
As of Monday evening I totally take a close look…
at every person riding a bike in our neighborhood.
It’s because I’m instinctively looking for a bike that
looks similar to this one….

bike

Why?
Because my daughter’s bike (that looked similar
to this picture above) was stolen from our garage
during the night.  Then, as if the gashes in the
garage weren’t enough, the thieves returned
during the early evening (while we were away
for a couple of hours) and hacked away at the
garage door again. (fortunately we’d reinforced
the door).  But seriously!

Now some of you may be thinking, “That crazy
family just needs to move out of Detroit?”
(And we really do live right in the heart of
Detroit city… not a suburb.)
But move?  Really?

I bet you’ve had a missionary come to your
church and tell wild stories of danger from
the country they are called to, right?  You
probably sat there with awe and admiration,
thinking, “Wow, they are so obedient to Jesus!”
Why then, do you some of you get disgusted to
hear stories of a missionary in one of your own cities?

You have a choice… just like we do.
Proverbs 11:11
“Upright citizens bless a city and make it prosper,
but the talk of the wicked tears it apart.”

God has sent us to Detroit to make it our home;
He sent us to share His love and the hope that
comes through His forgiveness and salvation.
You have to be where God has called you, too…
and if it’s in the city… yay!
(maybe He’s calling you to our city!)
Or maybe He’s put you elsewhere.

Just obey.
And… speak well of those who are citizens of the
city… and Pray for us! (and other urban missionaries!)

 

Oh…
and a wonderful lady in a nearby area has given
our daughter another bike similar to the one that was
taken on Monday night.  As I’m typing this, our friend
and daughter are on their way to pick it up!  THANK YOU,
Kind Lady who is “blessing the city!”

 

 

 

He’s the Better Artist

I bet you’ve prayed a sincere prayer of submission to God at some point that went something like this….

“Lord, I give you my entire life. Do whatever You want.”

But chances are, when you prayed that, you already had some kind of idea of what that “surrender” would require… you sort of thought you knew what He would ask of you (or not ask of you).  Right?
What if our “mind picture” was totally wrong? What if He asks us to let go something that would completely alter our lives forever? Can He do that? Is He allowed?  Is He really in charge?  Even if it meant that other people, even Christians, would wonder about us?

It’s hard to admit, but we usually have limits and some sort of mind picture when we “surrender,” but He is a much better artist. As a matter of fact, He’s even created the canvas and the paint. We have to let Him paint the picture. We’re just the brush… or as Mother Teresa said, “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.

If I refuse to let Him do the deciding then someone is going to miss His love letter!

 

 

Fight Right

Joseph (from the book of Genesis) had dreamed big dreams… from God. He didn’t make’um up. But he went through some rough stuff before seeing them come true:

Sold into slavery by his BROTHERS;  Earning trust & authority as a slave, only to have it all taken away because of another person’s lust & lies; proven trustworthy again but remaining in prison for years although he was innocent.

These things could’ve really taken a chunk out of his faith in God and his confidence in God’s willingness to use him. But he stuck to what He knew was true… God!   When the time came to stand before the Pharaoh, he was ready, even though he’d only been given a moments notice. He so confidently declared that God was powerful to interrupt dreams, then went on to speak for God by explaining to Pharaoh the meaning of the dreams. THEN… he boldly told the most powerful man in all the land what steps he should take to prepare for the upcoming famine. WOW!

Hard times often take their toll on our faith. Not Joseph. He was a human & must’ve thought the same self-defeating thoughts that bombard our heads, too, but apparently he choose not to dwell on them. He choose to continue trusting God by serving whomever and where ever. When God brought huge life-changes in a matter of moments (from slave to most powerful in the land next to Pharaoh), Joseph’s faith was ready.

Hardship hacks away at our faith & makes us doubt God’s desire to include us in His plans.

Fight it. Fight the fear & doubt.

But don’t fight the situation, and certainly do not fight God!

 

Never Resist

 

 

 

A sweet &  wonderful Pastor (Rev. Bob Graber)  we worked for many years ago often told us to

“Never resist a generous impulse.”

He & his adorable wife have lived by this motto.

Over the years my husband has added this comment after it:

“You can be sure that this impulse is from God because it’s His nature,

not our human nature,  to be generous!”

Have you recently been on the giving or receiving end of a generous impulse?

 

[box]“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son…” John 3:16[/box]