Sunday, September 11, 2016

Hope, in the midst of tragedy.

There seems to be so much hurt in this world today. Perhaps, not any more than in the past. Perhaps, because of the media it seems that it has increased significantly only by perception or perhaps it simply has. Today as I receive word of multiple families in various stages of tragedy highlighted by the tragedy of our nation fifteen years ago, I'm taken back to that day when our life changed in an instant.

I remember leaving the house. Taellor and Annie on the couch. Tae had just made some guacamole for lunch and the boys were playing outside. I remember messing the top of her head over the back of the couch as I said goodbye and I remember the hollow feeling that I felt when I received the first phone call. A hollow feeling that seemed to grow deeper and deeper with each subsequent call as the reality sunk in that our lives had taken a turn down a path that we had not foreseen. I remember how quickly God placed Psalm 139 in my head. I remember Michel Fletes Jimenes bringing Travis' Bible to hospital and with no words simply handed it to us. I remember reading that He knew her number of days. He knew before I had even held her.

But just as quickly, satan began to play a part. He began to masquerade attempting to spin a web of deceit and deception. "Did He really know?, Does it really say He knew? What if it is all a lie? What if it isn't even true? Whose fault is it really? Maybe it is mine for having let her? Maybe it is for placing the hammock where it was?" He was masterful. He was relentless. He tried to create disharmony and doubt. He wanted to take what the world would call tragedy and make it truly tragic.

He wanted to take our joy. He wanted to take credit for our daughter leaving this earth. He wanted to label it an act of evil as if he were the mastermind of her life, of her soul, of her death. He wanted it to cause us to stumble, to fall in our faith and to ultimately destroy our lives and he stopped at nothing. Within three days of Taellor's death, three other trees had fallen on our property. Three. He wanted to scare us.

Our refuge, though, was found in our Father. He protected us during that time ever so gently. Even though satan's arrows were unleashed, even though their fire was felt, He extinguished each and every one. It was almost as if I knew that standing close to Him, looking full-face only and ONLY, unto Him then we could walk this path and we would find joy in knowing Whose she was and where she was. We would miss her but we could rest assured that she was safer than she had ever been in her entire life. We would revel in her race well run.

I found myself only seeking refuge in Him. My survival meant focusing on Him and His message. If there was another thought, another doubt another possibility, it wasn't mine to entertain. Unless it was Scriptural, it wasn't mine to consider. I learned a lot during that time. I learned how often I would look to others for advice before seeking Him or how often I would seek others to find another way perhaps than the one He had shown. My faith, that day, was strengthened by His grace and His mercy. My faith, daily is strengthened, as I continue to lean into Him as the journey without my only daughter on this earth continues.

In Genesis, Joseph responds to his brothers, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20

So that others might know.
Live worthy.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2 Timothy 2:15 January 7, 2015

2 Timothy 2:15

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of Truth.

We take our careers seriously.

We plan for our professional careers from the time we can begin to put our aspirations into words. We map out our educational goals fueled by the intent to obtain our goals. We spend years in educational institutions preparing for our future learning processes, procedures, new ideas and the history of our world. We devote much of our lives to preparing for our chosen path.

And once we get there, we work just as hard or harder to climb the proverbial ladder within. We work long hours, missing family and vacation time while trying to position ourselves to be successful. We watch mentors closely and emulate their patterns hoping to find the right combination that will propel us forward. Time off work is spent plotting and planning work. All justified by the notion that it will all work out in the end with bonuses, advancements and accolades.

And then we reach our "sweet spot". That place where we know we are in the zone. We've worked hard and it is beginning to pay off. This is what we have dedicated our lives to. The hours and work are still seemingly just as rigorous but the confidence in each moment and interaction exudes from ourselves. We can do this and do it well. Pride and the assurance of a job that started when we were young had been obtained and obtained well. Our dogged determination to make this happen has been successful. We have arrived.
Can you imagine what our spiritual life would be if we put that much emphasis on our relationship with Christ? Where would we be if we had that much dogged determination to place towards our faith? What would it look like if our spiritual journey would be just as intense as our professional journey?

Instead of a seemingly afterthought?

What if we were asking our children at the dinner table what they planned on doing with their faith as often as we asked what they want to be when they grow up? What if we asked them what God was doing in their lives today as often as we asked them how their extracurriculars were going? What would our world look like if the mentors that we searched for and emulated were true men and women of faith?

We've been lulled into searching for the worldly dream first and foremost. Faith seems to come later either after our dreams have been realized or we've stepped off the driven path. We tend to live worldly focused with just the right smattering of faith. Not too little but not too much. Enough that we can say we are but not enough to truly experience the freedom that we were meant to feel.

As long as we search for the world first, we will always see first through the lens of this world. We will. We will find ourselves forever trying to find peace that will never be. We can be successful, absolutely, but God is to be first. We answer to Him first. Too often we try to straddle the line and work both side of the fence but it doesn't work that way. Oh, satan will try to assure us that we can have it all but he will be the first to drop us down the deepest pit.
Work towards faith so that we are strong in Whom and what we believe. So that when the storms come, and they will, we will not be swayed by the winds but rather welcome the strength that comes from within a faith that is well-grounded.

Live different.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Lord's Supper

We had the Lord's Supper today at church....

I have found that many things have taken on a different light so to speak since Taellor has died. And this is one of them. I used to approach the Lord's Supper with as much reverence as possible, use it as a time of personal reflection and examine my heart.

And then Taellor died.

While I am left with grape juice in a plastic cup and a cracker to honor my King, she is with Him face to face. Face to face. While I am left to examine my heart and subjected daily to the presence of sin, she is not. While I am left to scour the Scriptures to find out more about our Lord, she knows Him. While I am left with prayer and reflection to draw closer to Him, she couldn't be closer.

For she lives in the places of Scripture that are still a mystery to me. She walks the streets of gold and has seen her prepared place. She has seen it and walks it while I still read about it. She has been reunited with those who have gone before while I still miss them. She has traversed the great divided between this world and eternity while I still await.

There is something about burying a child before her parents die but there is something completely different regarding the child completing the journey before the parent. As I read Scripture, as I walk my chosen path and, yes, as I partake in the Lord's Supper, there is realness that is now there that wasn't there before.

My place at the table has been set but is still awaiting my arrival. My daughter's place has been taken. Her seat at His Table awaits no more. She no longer has to partake of a substitute body and blood for she walks intimately with the King. And there is joy found in that.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

When We Loose Our Way 2 Timothy 2:11-13

Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with Him;
if we endure,
we will also reign with Him.
If we disown Him,
He will disown us;
if we are faithless,
He will remain faithful,
for He cannot disown

He is faithful, always.

There are times in our lives when we seem to endure more than we can handle. We begin to live one moment into the next and seek normalcy in our lives. Our worlds are turned upside and inside out. Our heart hurts and stomach churns as we fight to just simply be.

We make ourselves get up and move or sometimes we don't. We struggle to stop the tears and sometimes they won't. We find ourselves in such a state of disbelief, despair and utter frankness that we simply don't know whether to sit or stand, walk or run.

And then our lives take a turn for the worst.

We thought we were there or perhaps we thought that we'd already walked the darkest path imaginable and, yet, the corridors that we now face are filled with rows and rows of anguish and sublime evil. Our darkest day now seems a distant memory as we find ourselves submerged into a new worldly hell.

And, sometimes, we begin to falter. Perhaps, it is the shock of it all or maybe the seemingly well- meaning advice that we have sought but we begin to loose faith in what we thought we knew. Our very foundation seems shaken to its core and our legs are no longer sea-worthy. Our mind begins to race and questions apart the pieces of what we thought we once knew.

And if we aren't careful, we fall deeper into a pit of darkness. Our faith slipping as we spiral down a dark lonely path. To some, it might appear that we are faithless. On some days, they may be right.

We are floundering in mind and heart but not in our soul.

He is faithful, always. Even when we seem to have lost our way, He is faithful. Even when we have have taken too many blows to even breath, He is faithful. Even when, we have nothing else in us, He is faithful. He has told us that He will be with us "to the very end of the age" and He is faithful to His promise. He never turns His back, never walks away and never forsakes.

So rest.

Simply rest easy knowing that even when we don't know which way is up, He does and He cares. When the world turns its back, when death reaches its steely claws, when evil abounds and we are surrounded we can always be assured that He has our back even when we don't think He does. And with this assurance, comes freedom. Freedom in knowing that He is who He says He is no matter our response. He is not dependent on us. He simply is and that is a foundation that is firm.

Live different.

Monday, October 12, 2015

October 12, 2015 2 Tiimothy 1:7 No Fear......

2 Timothy 1:7

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Power. Love.

Did we exude those today? Yesterday? This past week or month?

Too often, we live in fear. For some of us, the fear is extremely tangible. Our lives are on the line as soon as we commit to follow Him. For others, our lives might as well be on the line for the fear of what others might say or think paralyzes us into forgoing the force that God has created us to be.

We keep longingly looking at doors that God has closed wanting to be let in. We forget that doors closed are closed for a reason though our flesh desires to be a part. Sometimes the desire is so much that we can taste it. We bring it into our minds and we toss it around hoping for a simple droplet of the seemingly forbiddenness. It's often times nothing bad yet just simply not ours to taste.

Not our path. Not our way.

We can choose, though, to walk on in. We can choose to forge our own path fueled by our own desires. And while we may reach a destination, we will find emptiness and will have missed the path blazed by Our Creator. A path that isn't for the faint of heart. A path the builds warriors with each step, each turn and each mountain.

A path that, through, self-discipline molds us to stand ready so that when the arrows of opposition come our way, we stand firm knowing in Whose plan we forge. Self-discipline that comes from one day at a time, one prayer at a time, one reading at a time. Much as a marathon, the race day is simply the conglomeration of hours upon hours of a focused life.

An intentional life.

It doesn't come by accident. It doesn't come by chance, church attendance, family relations nor by accident. It comes from every moment of every day choosing to live the life that He has intended us to live.

Live worthy.
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Saturday, September 5, 2015

2 Timothy......

Today, we begin to delve into 2 Timothy. Written by Paul while he was in prison for what would be his last time ending in his execution, I am inspired by his faith...his endurance, his realness. A man, who used to execute Christians himself, in prison for being a Christian...and not just a Christian by name but a radical, fully sold out believer who used ever moment that he was given left on this earth to further the Kingdom.

These are his last words.

I think back to my father's last words...his last days on this earth. I remember how I saw his faith strengthen as his earthly strength started to fade. During his life, he didn't speak outwardly much about his faith. He actually held it pretty close to his chest, however, when faced to his end here, He spoke mightily and outwardly to all who would listen. And the words weren't spoken as a walking dead man spewing his last bit of hope, but rather as one who seemed to understand deeper the closer and closer he was getting towards the end of his time on this earth. 

Perhaps death brings clarity.

Clarity. A reminder in what matters, what will be left when the end comes. A reminder of the residual. Earthly provisions no longer hold their value as we slowly get closer to our heavenly home. Reality sets in as we realize that we are tethered less and less to this earth but rather find that our souls are drawn to Him in a manner that we have never gotten to experience before. Slowly, the bonds that hold us here gradually become less and less. Not in actual strength or importance but rather we find ourselves experiencing strength of such a magnitude of proportions that our greatest loves become not the greatest anymore.

And that is okay.

That doesn't belittle or change anything that we have experienced on this earth. Doesn't negate or dissolve any of our relationships or loves but rather opens our soul to an experience in which we were created to be. No longer held back by the decay of this world, no longer limited by the depravity of evil but rather exalted into the glory that our souls have always sought. Finally, at rest in the place in which we were always meant to be.

Timothy knew where he was going and his last words were written with such passion and courage that inspire and propel us to keep our eyes on the horizon for each of us will one day have a final word on this earth. A final thought, a final day....may it encourage and propel.

Live worthy.

Update on Taellor's House!

Wow! Is this not incredible? Taellor's House.

I've had a few people ask what Tae's House will do...its purpose. The purpose is to share the Hope that can be found through Jesus Christ by building relationships through the ministry that will be done there. The first phase that has been completed with the exception of painting houses the classrooms and kitchen area. The second phase, which is under construction now, will house additional classroom space and housing for our coordinator and interns. 

There are many young girls and boys who are not able to go to school because they have to stay home to watch their younger siblings. They may only be 6, 7 or 8 years old themselves yet they are already responsible for the home while their single parent has to work. Tae's House will provide a safe place for the younger siblings during which time educational programs to include preschool, English, Bible and computer skills will be taught. The children which are old enough to attend school will spend their time outside of school at Tae's House in tutoring, computer, Bible and English classes. Their mothers will also be in the women's program designed to empower them by walking beside them in their journey providing classes in business, parenting, family dynamics and Biblical principals. An internship program will also be housed here to allow interns who have an interest in foreign missions to come from the US to serve with Project Hope while gaining experience in the mission field.

At this moment, Denise Meyer Winn, who is the children's program and intern coordinator, and Claudia Carrion are evaluating surveys that have been conducted by the community group. When I return, we will interview the mothers of the top 50 children based on greatest need analysis. By the middle of October, the first 50 children will have been selected to begin their journey of Hope here starting in February 2016.

Join us in prayer that God will guide our steps in this phase of the process. Join us in praising Him in the progress that had quickly come to fruition. He is ever faithful. Thank you to those who have continually supported through prayer and finances.
Hope can change a life at a time.