This morning as I was getting ready to clean up around the house and in the house from the power outage last night, I got a phone call. A woman I've recently been in a prayer group with was killed last night in a car accident in the storms. Our group, which meets Fridays, was supposed to be helping another family to clean and pack as they head overseas again. It turns out that family was dear friends with the woman who was killed and spent much of last night with her husband and children. While I didn't know the lady who died well at all, I have had the privilege of standing beside and behind her in intense spiritual warfare the past few months. God had been doing some amazing things in her family the last weeks and to hear of the accident seems almost like the enemy stole that. So I'm processing. I put my own cleaning on hold to go support others who not only are grieving a dear friend, but are in the midst of major transition and under a tight deadline as well. And let me tell you, I walked away blessed today! What an amazing family they were (I just met them for the first time)! They are living out what Jesus asks in following him. Not only did I get to meet them (and a few other OM kids-now grown) but I got to be a witness of something quite personal. I witnessed the deep grieving and rejoicing of a family, of an extended family. I witnessed great rejoicing at this family's next steps and that their house is sold and things are moving along well for them. I witnessed deep love and commitment as person after person stopped by to help and to offer love and prayer and condolence (many times by others who also were grieving). I got to see people pitch in and scrub that house from top to bottom in a couple hours with happy hearts, even though they were heavy hearts. And I got to witness people pray. Often I would look up and 2 people would be stopped just praying. For each other. For this family who lost a mom and wife. For other friends who are grieving so deeply they couldn't even make it over today. I saw such bonds and such genuine community in this family. And I was welcomed right in. The most beautiful thing about this family in their joy and grieving together, was that not one of them are related. These were people from around the globe who have walked together over the last many years following Jesus wherever he has led. Let me tell you, I was in the presence of great saints today. I have been blessed in the past by those kinds of communities and now am so thankful to be part of one here. Please remember the family who lost M last night in your prayers. And don't ever underestimate the power of family, in whatever form you have it!
In a rare post regarding the munchinks, I have to confess I had a "moment" the other day. Lots of my mom friends get all choked up at every milestone and "last" that they experience with their babies. Ty and I are not so much in love with the baby phase and actually have found we enjoy each new phase more than the last. However, on Sat when E had her first dance recital and wasn't even nervous or scared or clingy in the slightest, it happened. I had the moment. I realized, my kids aren't babies at all anymore. They are growing into fine independent young people who are engaging with the world around them less and less needing our hand at every turn. It actually did make me nostalgic for a bit. I do love her age now (mostly!) and with J finishing his first year of school at home I know there's no turning back. Time is only going to keep rushing faster and faster from this point! We are excited at what will be next for them. Mostly though, we are excited that they are growing to love Jesus and interact more with others and this world in light of His Kingdom and His reality. We certainly loved watching E dance though! And J wasn't too bad at soccer this year either! We rejoice at the gift of raising these 2 precious people to know and love and serve our Savior. We continually ask for wisdom and guidance from the giver of all life, that's for sure!
Do you ever get news that makes you sick to your stomach? You know, you get word of whatever it is and instantly your stomach is tight in knots and you feel like if you acknowledge it too much you might just throw up? I got that kind of message today. Instantly, I noticed the knots and sick-to-my stomach sensation. But then I took a step back and told myself I wasn't going to go there. I was NOT going to give in to the fear that was physically gripping me. So I held it at bay. The funny thing is, I've already given this whole issue over to God and laid it before him that no matter what the outcome, it is his resource and his to guide and lead. We will follow no matter where he leads with this. I did that last summer and again this fall. And quite honestly, I've been telling people this the last few months whenever anyone asks about this particular area. And then, today, when reality punched me square in the stomach I wanted to throw up. Or cry. But I chose to exercise power over fear. After all, fear is a tool of the enemy. Fear is NOT of God (well unless it's fear of God, but that's a different post!). If it's not from God then it's from the enemy-the Father of Lies the Bible calls Satan. Today, I chose to not listen to that liar. I chose to not give even a teeny tiny foothold to that fear that instantly descended right into my gut. In my head it's easy to start planning-start going over all the logistics needed to take care of the situation. I can easily play out all the various scenarios (like 15) within 2 minutes, noting what steps I need to take immediately to set up any one of them. I want to go into research mode and find out what logically makes the most sense for our family. I want to worry and stress and be afraid of the situation. Of people, of our culture, of a thing. AND I CHOSE NOT TO! See, as soon as I pushed those thoughts of fear away, it is not like all my cares vanished and it was a bright sunshiny day with no worries. Nope, that's not how the enemy works. He does NOT give up that easily. The fear is there. I can taste it, feel it just beyond reach. I know if I even give it a momentary thought I will drown in it. And I'm not a sinker. I'm a swimmer. A fighter. But tonight I'm doing none of these things. See, a friend posted a verse this week that I've been meditating on. It's Exodus 14:14 and it says "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." Moses has just brought the Israelites out of their bondage and slavery to the Egyptians. And where they were rejoicing mightily hours earlier, now they are panicking and sick to their stomachs with fear over their former captors chasing them down. They are trapped between them and the Sea. Moses tells them not to be afraid and to sand firm and see the deliverance God is bringing them that day. This passage has been on my heart the last few days a lot and I have been praying asking God to help me wait on him. Asking him to help me be still and let him fight for me. Then I got the message today and I almost surged forward into battle myself. But as I realized fear was motivating that I cast it aside and refuse to let it control me. Tonight I'm still. We're still. We are entering battle, but in a much different way than facing the problem head on. We are going to our knees to be still before the Lord. To plead with him to show us what to do and to wait on him to tell us to step out into the sea. No matter the outcome here on earth of this situation, I know that we will be victorious if we are still and wait on the Lord and follow him and not fear.
What do you need to be still before the Lord about?
Today we went to church. One year ago today we both sat in this church for the first time together as we checked it out in consideration of it being our home church when we moved here. At that point we had been on the road for a few weeks and had no idea what the future held in terms of time or where we'd be or really much of anything past friends we were set to stay with through the end of May. We had a whirlwind weekend, meeting friends down here to unload our stuff that arrived by moving truck into our storage unit. We met some new friends, from our church and from our team with OM. We had a crazy 48 hours to acclimate to the area a bit before a week-long intensive orientation/training/interview with OM. And tomorrow, I'm off to pick up several people from the airport who are coming to that same week. When we stop and reflect on this last year we really can't even put it into words (which is a problem for a blog...) We have had many precious memories as a family with friends and family literally across the world. We have had moments of great sorrow and loss. Moments of pure fun and joy. Miracle after miracle both financially and other. We have grown so much. We have grown as a couple, as a family, as new creations in Christ, as people with skills to do a certain job. We have seen a lifetime worth of things and driven more days than I want to add up. We have fellowshipped with the beautiful body of Christ far and wide. We have made lasting friendships that are so very precious to us. We have renewed friendships with old friends we haven't seen in years. God truly has sustained us. One year ago, if you would have told me all this year would hold, I might have stayed at my parents house and never wanted to leave. I'm so thankful for this last year though. We have truly lived a more abundant life because we took step after step following Jesus. As we look forward to another year of much travel and some uncertainty (although not nearly as much as last year!) we do so with joyful anticipation to see what God will do and where He will lead! This is totally unchartered territory for us and we are learning more and more about what it really means to completely surrender and follow Jesus. It's quite the exhilarating ride! Thanks for coming along for part of it with us!
Thanks to Gwen, KT, Kristen, Ty and my mom for our conversations which helped shape these thoughts.
You certainly haven't missed seeing all the posts from both camps regarding the death of Osama bin Laden. There are the Ezekiel passages with people warning about rejoicing about his death. There are other Scripture passages regarding loving our enemies. There are still more passages reminding us of how vengeance is the Lord's. Then there are those who are celebrating in his "justice" in Hell and how terrible his eternity is going to be and how he deserves it. The truth is, he does deserve it. So do I. And so do you. The fact of it is, none of us is righteous, not one according to God's Word. And yet, Jesus died and gave himself up to cover any of our sins, if we so choose to accept that payment for our punishment deserved. The fact also is, bin Laden was a very evil man who murdered many many people. He held much power. This is evidenced by the thousands and thousands of families in our country (and from around the world) who have sacrificed time together, worried over deployed loved ones, and some who even gave their lives or gave up the life of their loved one in the fight to find this man. Our whole country's security system has changed, affecting millions of us. Wars have been fought, locals have died some innocently and some perhaps provoked. This all because of what this one man created in an organization founded on hate and arrogance. Should we rejoice that this power is no longer his? I believe we absolutely should! In the Bible we see David rejoice when evil men are brought to justice and we see Israel rejoice (at God's direction) when their murderous enemies are defeated. Should we rejoice at a soul who will spend an eternity separated from God's love? Certainly not. If we do, we are no better than he in attitude or thoughts or to put it plainly, sin.
It is not an either/or situation. It is a both/and. This week the world can rejoice and celebrate that an evil murderer is no longer able to harm others. We can also mourn as God's heart does, the loss of one of his created beings-no matter how reprehensible his actions. And we can speak with grace and truth and not beat up any who disagree.
To my many friends and family members who have participated (or still are) directly in this long fight the last 10 years-THANK YOU! The whole world owes you their gratitude for your serving us well. To my many friends and family members being the feet of ones who bring Good News to people all over the world-may you be beautiful like Isaiah 52:7 says and may many see the Savior in your words and actions and trust him for themselves!
Carolyn & (sometimes) Ty