Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Incapable, Unworthy and Lovin' It!

For nearly a year now, I have had the huge privilege, and great joy, of leading a women's Bible study on Sunday mornings at the church we attend. Sunday we began a new six week discipleship study and 40 women attended! Praise the Lord! I would be hard-pressed to find something more exciting than watching people grow in the Lord, whether it be "my" ladies or "my" children (they really all belong to the Lord!)! However, as I led the introductory session I became overwhelmed by the sense of my unworthiness and incapability for the task set before me.

Later on in the morning, I sat down for a scheduled counseling session with a 21 year old rape victim whose 3 month old daughter is the result of that horrible experience! As we sat on the preschool Sunday School chairs in the church kitchen (the only chairs and space available to meet), and I listened to her, I just kept thinking: "Lord, what am I doing here? This should be Teri (my sister-in-law and licensed counselor), not me. What am I supposed so say, suggest, do?" The Holy Spirit just kept whispering to my soul, "Julie, this is where you are to be." No guidance, no words of wisdom, just a reassurance that this was my place. (Counseling and therapy services in Mexico are few and far between, much less Christian counseling. Boy am I glad that God believes in me more than I believe in myself!)

After church, Victor and I met with two young people who had entered into a dating relationship. However, the young man involved is coming out of the same neighborhood and situation in which Victor had grown up - lies, streets, robberies, etc. Once again thoughts of utter incapability crowded my mind, threatening to choke out any truth that I could share!

On the way home, our family bought some roast chicken for dinner and headed to the side of the volcano for a picnic. As Victor and I took a walk with the youngest children, I counted them to see who we had with us and who was playing in other areas. I felt like we had most of the kids with us, but I only counted to 7! That meant that there were 10 more of our children that weren't with us at the moment! When all 17 are together it doesn't always seem like many, but when I am with seven or eight of them at a time and realize that I have 10 more children besides, my mind suddenly starts to whisper (shout): "You can't do this. There is no possible way you can raise these children up in the love and fear of the Lord."

BUT, thank Jesus for a breath of fresh air this morning! I started a new Beth Moore Bible Study and began to watch the introductory video session. Here are just some if the things that the Lord shouted at me loud and clear:
  • God has called us to live far beyond what we are able. (Good thing because I am definitely there!)
  • In Christ we can do what we can't. (Can you see me wiping the sweat off my forehead?)
  • "I am still confident of this, I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Psalm 27:13
  • Let's live lives of exclamation points!
In a world where "recession" is a daily word and weekly giving to Fishers of Men definitely reflects that reality; in a family where 10 of my 17 children have parents or siblings who have passed away and who face innumerable memories of abuse, neglect and abandonment; in a nation where drug-trafficking and kidnappings get closer to home each day - I can only praise Jesus that the answer, nor the strength, nor the provision, lie in us, but in HIM!

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay
to show that this all-surpassing power
is from God and not from us."
2 Corinthians 4:7

On the lighter side of things there is something else that I am incapable of doing...catching a mouse! Catching a mouse? I am incapable of standing on the floor in the same room if I know there is a mouse on the loose! As soon as a mouse has been spotted, I seek higher ground... aka a nearby chair, couch or, if necessary, table! A few Sunday afternoon's ago, I was in the kitchen chatting with Angie and Diana, our two eldest daughters, when a quick movement to the left caught my eye! I turned and said: "Girls, I think there is a mouse in the house." Thankfully, my kids are very understanding of my fear and quickly came to my defense with brooms and flashlights to get rid of the little menace. When the initial emergency had passed, I grabbed my camera and recorded the following video of my children's heroic efforts (and of a few others who follow in their mother's footsteps:-)!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Building...by Lucy

Julie reminded me yesterday that it is my turn to blog. I spend most of my days in the school so I don't have as many stories as Julie or Mark about playing with the kids. I had to think back a little to find a story. Most of our play time is spent with the younger kids who aren't afraid to ask if they can come into our home. Danny usually comes over at least once a day for a story, and sometimes David comes with him.

It was in the evening, and most of the kids were playing outside. Danny followed us from the supper table, and David wasn't far behind. Mark read a story to them (Who knows what they understood, but everyone loves a Curious George story!). Afterwards, they started horsing around (like boys will), wrestling and laughing. Before someone got hurt, we decided to get out the few blocks we have. There are fourteen blocks with which to build. It isn't much, but they don't care.

As long as you can put one on top of another, and they can knock it down, they are happy. They were trying to build things separately, taking from each other's creations as they needed blocks. What made me laugh is that they didn't care. I figured we would have a fight because they both wanted the blocks for their own creation.

Mark and I started building taller creations that they could knock over. They never got very tall before they would clatter to the tile floor and the boys would laugh.

Eventually they left the blocks to attack Mark. I think that was way more fun for them than watching the blocks fall.

Eventually after trips to the Marshall bathroom (They love to use our bathroom for some strange reason!), and some homemade bread, we walked them back down to their house. When we came back, there were the blocks scattered on the floor, not one creation intact, no building to show for all the work. Then I thought about what we had built that would last.

We may have been building with blocks, but we were really building young boys who someday will be men of God who will build up the kingdom of God! We were building relationships with them that will last far beyond anything we could build with the blocks. I was reminded that sometimes things that are hard to go through are there to build us into better children of God, ones that can stand the tests and trials of this life.

The next time you're going through something tough, remember that. Building takes time and effort and a lot of sweat and tears! But what God is building is a child of God! Allow Him to work!

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5

Friday, September 16, 2011

Follow in the Footsteps

5:45 a.m. last Sunday morning- I had gotten up early to finish up my Sunday School lesson that I give to 50 or so women each week at the church we attend, when I was joined by 5 year old Ana! Let's just say that my early morning time is a haven, a reprieve, a recharger, an absolute necessity right up there with eating and breathing, so I have a very hard time being joined by little ones!

Ana during one of her sweet moments (not at 5:45 a.m.!)

Upon joining me in the office, she promptly informed me that 2 year old David was sleeping in her bedroom. Hmmmm! David's bedroom is downstairs. Ana's bedroom is upstairs. David's bedroom is literally in the opposite corner of the house and I KNEW that I had put him to bed in his crib the night before. Ana pulled me to her door (across the hall from my office) and, sure enough, there was David, curled up on top of Ana's pink blankey there on her floor! I decided that I really didn't want to try and figure this all out before 6 a.m. so, I took Ana back to my office, laid her down on the floor and tried to finish up my Sunday School lesson...when....David arrived!

David showing off his "innocent" look...NOT!

Hmmmm! He was completely naked except for his diaper, which was on backwards! I KNEW I had put pajamas on him the night before and, after changing diapers for the last 10 years of my life with no break, I KNEW I had not put his diaper on backwards!

"Ana, where is David's pajama?"

"He took it off, Mommy."

"Oh. How did David get into your bedroom?"

"I took him there."

OK, so this was not making any sense, but I was more anxious to get them back to sleep and get myself back to my Sunday School lesson than to try and figure out this early morning mystery!

An hour later Angie, our 18 yr. old daughter, pops her in head into the office:

"Mom, why does the bathroom floor have diarrhea all over it?" (Sorry if that was too much information:-)

A few more pieces of that morning's interesting puzzle began falling into place in my mind.

Ana woke up and I began asking her questions about her night that had surely been most interesting!

As far as I can tell here is what happened:

  • David woke up in the night with a very dirty diaper full of diarrhea.
  • Since most of the time he doesn't wake up until morning and knows that he can find me doing devotions in my office upstairs, he went upstairs looking for me. However, since it was the middle of the night, he didn't find me there.
  • The noise of him going upstairs and calling for me woke up Ana, whose room is near my office.
  • She got up and found David in the bathroom taking off his own very dirty diaper, which he promptly carried to the garbage can...dripping all the way! :-)
  • Ana told me that she then cleaned up his bottom and put on a new diaper! She is five years old and the diapers are kept in the downstairs bathroom. She and David were in one of the upstairs bathrooms. So, in the middle of the night, Ana went downstairs, climbed onto the changing table, got a new diaper for David (the right size, too, as we have kids in two sizes of diapers at night) and put the diaper on him, backwards, but she got it on.
  • Then, she took him to her bedroom, used her own blankets to make a little bed for him on her floor and put him to sleep!
I couldn't believe it! I was so proud of her! I was proud of her initiative, caring spirit, responsible actions, calmness and bravery!

As I thought more and more about this situation, one curious aspect of it kept grabbing my attention. Why did Ana put David to bed on her floor if the two of them would have fit in her bed with no problem?

I think I have it figured out! When any of our children get scared at night or wet their bed, they come into Victor's and my bedroom. However, we only have a full size bed, so nobody else can really fit in it besides ourselves. So, we always have an extra warm blanket on hand in our room to throw on the floor and create a makeshift sleeping space for the needy child. So, in Ana's estimation, if you have to help a child during the night and bring that child into your bedroom, then he or she needs to sleep on your floor!

This occurrence brought to my mind, front and center, just how powerful our example truly is for our children. I know...duh! Of course I know that our daily example of living forms and shapes our children much more than our teaching and words but, every once in awhile, a situation arises that reminds me of just how powerful our daily example is! This was one such situation!

The Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 11:1, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." Oh, that those words would be true as I parent my children! May I be able to say to my kids: "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." There are so many days when my actions, attitudes and words are so far from that ideal. On those days I am so thankful for the grace of Jesus Christ and the assurance that His mercies will truly be new the next morning!

Our goal is for our children to follow the example of Christ, but sometimes Jesus just seems too far away for them to effectively follow in His footsteps. As they start out, they need some human-sized footprints to follow - our footprints. As our kids walk in their mommy and daddy's footsteps, even putting blankets on the floor at night for their younger siblings, may their mommy and daddy follow their Father's footsteps so that one day, they too, can grow up to follow their true Daddy's footprints all the way to Heaven!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Easy Giving in a Hard Economy

Did you know that you can earn money for Fishers of Men when you buy groceries or do a search on the internet? It’s as simple as that! The economy may be hard, but giving can be easy…especially when it’s not even your money, but corporate money just waiting for you to access on behalf of Fishers of Men!

For those of you who live in Ohio, Fishers of Men participates in a program through the Kroger Corporation. With a few seconds on-line at: www.krogercommunityrewards.com you can identify Fishers of Men (NPO# 82464) as your chosen charity so that each time you swipe your Kroger card a percentage of your purchase is donated to Fishers of Men.

For those of you who spend any amount of time on the internet, each of your searches, and even your purchases, can produce revenue for Fishers of Men. Go to www.goodsearch.com and follow the easy step by step instructions to start earning money right now for Fishers of Men!

Giving has gotten even easier through PayPal! You can give a one-time gift on-line or, to prevent forgetting to send in your monthly donation, set up a subscription for an automatic donation to be given each month. Just go to our website: www.fishersofmenmexico.org and click on the PayPal button!

We thank our gracious Heavenly Father for His faithfulness in providing for His work here in Mexico! However, we have never received a check with God written on the signature line nor 1 Pearl Street Place, Heaven, 77777 as the return address! God meets the needs of His ministries around the world through people like you! He meets your needs so that you can help meet our needs so that we can meet others’ needs who then meet their neighbor’s needs and the heavenly accounting system carries on! Giving can get tough in the midst of a tough economy, but with a little creativity and a tiny bit of effort we can simply help channel funds to the places where they are needed! We can’t do everything, but we can each certainly do all that we can do and trust God to fill in the gaps that we can’t fill!

Do you know of any other businesses that support non-profit organizations? Let us know!

So, giving is just that easy, creative and productive! Even in the midst of these hard economic times, let’s use creative ways to support all that God is doing in and through Fishers of Men!