Raising A Missionary

raising-a-missionaryIt was already a couple of years ago that I noticed Caleb was drawn to other languages. For a girl who didn’t even take French in school, my language knowledge is very limited.

He was hungry to learn how to count, say hello, speak his name and hear other people communicate.

I felt the Lord tell me a while ago that Caleb was going to be called to the foreign mission field. My heart ached a bit. I could see the call already. The passion for people, the outgoing nature, the raw boldness for Jesus, the love of other languages, his desire to study the world map.

With Kindergarten starting, so do the many activities that we could be involved in. I’m wrestling in my heart over and over. I saw a little saying floating around on Facebook that said “we should be less worried if our kids making the team and more worried if they sit with the lonely kid in the lunchroom.”

I would rephrase my heart for Caleb to “I need to worry less about him making the team and being in lots of activities and more concerned about him being ready to walk out the call of God on his life”.

I guess that’s  a little longer and doesn’t flow as nicely.

Then a couple of weeks ago Caleb had a revelation. He came and told Andrew and I that he believes the most important thing is for people to learn how to hear’s God’s voice. He said if they can hear God’s voice for themselves, then nothing else matters.

He talked about inventing a machine that would help people hear God and then taking it all over the world to help people everywhere.

Our hearts were bursting and we told him he could help people hear God without a machine, but that perhaps God was going to give him new strategies to help people hear God.

Caleb went on to boldly declare that he would help more people around the world than could fit in a Major League Baseball Stadium.

The Lord knows this mama is going to need a solid 18 years to be prepared to send my son off.

But I remember receiving my call. I was about the same age as him. I encountered Jesus and knew I was called into full-time ministry.

I ached for an adult to affirm this call, tell me I could do, and help me get ready. I had lots of people do the first two things, but not so many to help stay the course.

Yesterday we had a missionary come to our church and speak. My son was so touched. He  came to me with a slightly broken heart.

“Mom, why hasn’t our family followed God to another country?”

I held him on my lap and let his passion seep into my heart.

“Remember honey, God spoke to mom and dad to come to this little town because he has a plan for it and he needs our family here right now. We are missionaries here. But I know God has put other countries on your heart and we can pray into what that looks like right now. Maybe we could start looking at some options for a missions trip for you?”

He was excited about that.

“Just makes sure it’s somewhere that speaks spanish, mom.”

Lord give me grace and wisdom as I raise a missionary.

“Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for his purposes.” Ephesians 5:16 TPT

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Can I pray something over you?

 

Today is an exciting day for us. Our little guy turns two! I also have to help with a fundraiser for our playschool. Time is short this morning, but the Lord woke me up around 3:55 a.m. with an urgency to get in the word of God!

I snuck downstairs very, very quietly, which is pretty much a magical art form!

I spent an hour trying to get through chapter 3 in Ephesians. The revelation was just pouring out today and each verse seeemd to stop me in my tracks!

So in the midst of a busy day for me, and perhaps a full day for you, can I pray something over you?

I believe we are in a day where it is of absolute importance that we have a revelation of the love of Jesus. Our world is confusing, people can be mean and family can be difficult.

This is straight from Ephesians 3:

I ask that you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences – the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding – the extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God! 

I pray that this is the love that you experience today! I pray that old hurts, misconceptions and misrepresentations of God’s heart would be stripped away and that you would be left with a genuine encounter with the love of God that heals and makes everything new!

eph3And don’t listen to that voice inside your head that says this love isn’t available for you! For this is what he says right after:

“Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you!” Ephesians 3:20 (TPT)

Overwhelming you with His love and peace is not too hard for him, and he will outdo himself in love toward you! Just open your heart and receive!

Have an energized day in His love,

Monica

3 things I’ve learned about helping someone through loss.

14826361_10157563737240431_980090643_nI remember every detail of the day my dear friend lost her first baby at 35 weeks pregnant. I was 30 weeks pregnant with my first. I read the text that morning and it didn’t seem real. I was two provinces away and wouldn’t able to see her.

I cried and cried. I tried to get out of bed. I stood in the shower and wept. My heart was so broken for her, and so full of fear for my own baby.

I wanted to support her, but I didn’t know how. I was scared that my own pregnancy would hurt her, and quite frankly, I didn’t know what to say. She didn’t deserve this horrible pain.

I pulled away. 

That was my tactic for most situations of loss.

Fast forward a couple of years. Now I’m a pastor and I’m supposed to know how to support people through these situations!

My fear and lack of confidence had not vanished, but I knew I had to push through and be brave.

Like most of you, I am not a grief counsellor, so that means that my role is to support and comfort. Essentially “just be there.”

Here are three things I have learned over the last few years of having to step into situations I’d much rather avoid.

  1. Stereotypical gifts are comforting. Flowers, food and cards mean a lot. Families still have to eat, words comfort and flowers add beauty to brokeness. One mom dealing with a second trimester pregnancy loss said one of the best gifts that came to them from an out-of-town family member was a meat and cheese tray. As she had to come to terms with what happened, her kids had easy food to snack on.
  2. When a person wants to isolate the most, is the time when love needs to invade the greatest. There is something about admitting to others that you have lost someone. It makes it real. If you verbalize it, it’s like you are cementing the truth of it. You’re admitting that time can’t be turned back. And of course that’s heartbreaking and unimaginably hard.

    At first I gave someone space when they were dealing with loss, thinking I didn’t understand. But the reality was that part of their grieving was needing to speak out that it really happened. Through listening, offering a hug and meal I was able to be a stepping stone to healing.

    After a period of time, depending on the extent of the loss, I’ve found that people need help “rentering” the world. It’s a very frightening thing to step out and experience a new normal in grief. Sometimes just offering to go with them for groceries so they aren’t alone, inviting them out for coffee or meeting them at the door of church so they don’t have to walk in alone, makes a big difference.

  3. It’s ok to cry too. The bible tells us in Romans 12 to “weep with those who weep”. We don’t have to remain strong for someone. In fact, surrendering to our emotion, allows us to experience their heart and live out compassion. Compassion literally means “to suffer together”. This shows the person grieving that you truly care about their pain, and allows your emotion to lead you into action.

    This realization was freeing for me. I am naturally a compassionate person and so I can’t hear your pain and not be moved to tears and practical help.

Walking through pain together is an inevitable part of life, and it’s something we can’t afford to avoid.

I’ve walked into many situation scared out of my mind, not sure what to say or how to act, and the Holy Spirit has intervened.

Ephesians 1:8 says

“This superabundant grace is already powerfully working in us and flooding every part of our being, releasing within us all forms of wisdom and practical understanding.”

Remember, loving people is God’s idea! He is close to the brokenhearted and with those who are crushed in spirit! You don’t go on your own.

You CAN “be there” for someone and be a source of healing in a devastating situation!

Ditch the “try and fail”.

Try and fail. Try and fail. Get up, try again, and fail.

Don’t do it on your own strength, people would tell me.

What the heck does that mean? I bitterly asked inside.

Try and fail. Try, try, try. Fail.

Grace. A back door for evil doers? A quick way to get out of the punishment they should deserve?

Kind of. Free, undeserved favour. A gift, beyond what any can imagine.

I’ve tried the cycle of try and fail.

I’ve tried so much and failed so much I wanted to give up, but I realized that would just be failing again.

I tried to access God’s power, but struggled to understand what it looked like to have him rule over my desires.

I read Galatians 5 in the Passion Translation.

“As you yield freely and fully to the dynamic life and power of the Holy Spirit, you will abandon the cravings of your self-life. For you self-life craves the things that offend the Holy Spirit and hinder him from living free within you. And the Holy Spirit’s intense cravings hinder your old self-life from dominating you! The Holy Spirit is the only One who defeats the cravings of your natural life.”

Galatians 5:16-17a

I have seen this so many times. The more I just focus on the Holy Spirit, he consumes me. When I focus on getting rid of my bad habits, I fail.

It’s like with my eating. For so long I focused on what I shouldn’t eat. I made lists, I banned sugar. I would focus so much on what not to have that I craved it all the more.

Then there was switch. A list of what I should eat. A plan. A new focus. Suddenly I was so aware of what I should be eating and when I should be, that my cravings became less.

When I read this verse, dear friend, I knew I had to share it with you. Why? Because I know that you are like me, and we fall into the trap of running after perfection. We start focusing on what not to do, instead of freely falling in the love of the Father and the dynamic life and power of the Holy Spirit.

So I asked the Holy Spirit, what are you saying? I felt him whisper:

Surround yourselves with me. Run after nothing else. I am not like chasing the wind. I will be found by you.

Some of you have tried so hard to defeat the negative things in your life that you have felt like God has abandoned you. You have believed you will never find him. But he says that you just need to surround yourself with him.

It’s simply a perspective change from seeking change to seeking the only One who can change everything!

Seek him first. Stop the pursuit of works, the pursuit of results. Cry out to him. He will be found by you!

You will find that breathless feeling will leave, and the peace you so desire will fill your spirit, soul and body.

Holy Spirit, thank you that you are the one who unlocks the dynamic life of power! It’s sounds so exhilarating and adventurous, and you know I crave it. I pray that today my friends would experience you like never before. That as they asking you to draw near, that you would blow them out of the water with how you want to move! Give them peace! In Jesus’ Name! Amen.

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Abundance at the Pumpkin Patch

“Lord, I feel like I’ve taken the Pumpkin Patch from the my kids with this clothing sale. Will you sort this out? It was such a wonderful time last year. As we give time, would you make it somewhere?”

I wrote that little prayer in journal on October 11th, a few days before the thrift sale we put on. We had planned to go to the pumpkin patch Thanksgiving Monday, but the weather wasn’t nice. The upcoming weekend was beautiful and perfect.

But we were already committed to something we believed God put on our hearts. Fear crept in that the longer we waited the worse the weather would get.We had already experienced more than one snow fall.

When we recapped 2015 with our kids, the Pumpkin Patch was the highlight, next to the Manitoba Children’s Museum in Winnipeg.

Plus, we were craving a relaxing, fun day with our three.

I read Proverbs 19:23 again.

When you life a life of abandoned love, surrendered before the awe of God, here’s what you’ll experience: Abundant life. Continual protection and complete satisfaction.

I was claiming that as we aimed to live with abandoned love, the Lord would work out the abundant life at the pumpkin patch!

This Friday was a long weekend in Manitoba so the pumpkin patch was open. This was so perfect for us since we find Saturday events hard with a service the next morning.

It was the most glorious day. The sun was perfect. Honestly, the pumpkin patch is like the ultimate opportunity to wear a cute fall outfit…and I definitely did not want to miss out on that buried in a big jacket! (I know, trivial!)

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But I was able to wear exactly what I wanted all day! Complete with the best homemade hot apple cider!

Our souls needed this day, and it was perfect.

To quote the Magic School Bus “knowing what you need is half way to getting there.” 

Go for a quick family check up. Know what you need, then ask God to make it happen even if it seems you’ve ran out of opportunities!

I’m learning that giving never leads to lack. Ever. It only leads to abundance!

I declare that my kids’ will never experience lack from our decision to serve God with abandoned love!

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Eli called all of the animals “cows”, just because he always gets a laugh!

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We played until closing and the sun set behind us.

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We spent a lot of time at the rubber duck races!

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Their joy was overwhelming!

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Our five year old photographer wanted to get one of Andrew and I, but Amayah is way too cute to crop out!

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This slide is crazy fast!

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Eli taking a break from running around. Later Caleb said “the pumpkin patch is all about running fast from one place to the other to try everything. My legs are exhausted.” They slept well!

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This was Eli and Amayah’s favourite, the pumpkin train! They are in the last car with people in it.

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Caleb made a friend and played in the sandbox for a very long time!

Waves.

 

Has anyone else experienced a lot of pain and loss in their circle lately? I feel like every day the last two weeks I receive a text about something devastating.

My fear has been triggered almost daily. Fear of loss, fear of heartache, fear of grief.

In the midst of these big things, we’ve been walking our five year old through the Kindergarten transition. Seemingly trivial, but unbelievably huge in his life.

We have talked a lot about how strong we are in Jesus. How in Christ we can be as bold as lions, and we have access to all his courage and might.

At Sunday school they’ve been learning “The 4 Most Important Things”, which has been almost more impacting to us as parents than to the kids.

One of those things is that our mouth establishes praise to silence the enemy.

This morning as I was doing my make up, Caleb pulled out daddy’s guitar.

School mornings that go successfully always involve him building himself up in Jesus. Singing, praying and asking us the story of his name (he loves to be reminded that he is our Wholehearted & Faithful Warrior).

“I was made for the waves. Jesus created me to worship.”

Caleb’s spontaneous song pierced my heart. I was made for the waves. waves

I knew instantly what he meant.

I was made for the trials, the hardships, the storm because I was equipped to worship victoriously through it.

Powerful.

What can happen in this life that I can’t worship through? Even in death Jesus has taken the sting. In what can I not give glory and praise?

In this world we WILL have troubles. But I am equipped with a weapon of worship, and nothing can stand against me!

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He moves.

I looked around my house, finally tidy and put back from another crazy day. Thoughts continue to surge through my mind. Do I do enough? Do I do too much? If I calmed down on the ideas, the giving, the caring, would things be calmer here?

My heart raced as I stood in front of my calendar. The week, full, bursting with good, great and mediocre.

I hate mediocre. Can I cut it out? 

Sometimes my quest to live with pure purpose, walking fully in my destiny drives me to the point of madness over the things that I feel steal my time.

I feel the anxiety stir in my heart. When will I rest? I feel the whisper.

“Right now. I give you lots of moments that you lose to stress.”

I don’t usually read my bible at this time, but I pull it out anyway, along with my journal. I read, write and receive.

“When you live a life of abandoned love, surrendered before the awe of God, here’s what you’ll experience: Abundant life. Continual protection and complete satisfaction.” Proverbs 19:23

I write in my journal: I love that wording of abandoned love. Throwing everything else away for love. But sometimes it’s in the abandoning that I stress myself out.”

The Lord speaks as I write: “I can tell I’m missing the second piece when abandoned love leads to stress. Surrendered awe.”

I write down all the points that have me feeling pushed to my limits.

I surrender them.

I remember the ways he’s come through.

Awestruck wonder. He is good.

I go to bed. I rest. I do nothing.

All the while, I have released an avalanche of grace on my behalf.

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I wake up to texts and messages of people wanting to volunteer for one of my projects, another person bringing a meal on a crazy day of our week, another moved to pray for me, another speaking wisdom and encouragement, still another able to decorate for something I forgot about.

As I receive those things, I ultimately lay down another point weighing on my brain.

I wait for the answer.

Awe. He is good.

Creative solution arrives in my heart.

The Lord whisper floods my hearts: Monica, I told you that where I am leading you this fall is not meant to overwhelm you. The divinely inspired season will bring divinely inspired strategies.

Ah yes. I remember that part. I quote it every day to people I’m encouraging in my life.

I’m feeling it. That abundant life of the grace walk. The continual protection when I fall into him. The satisfaction…knowing the buck doesn’t stop at me. Jesus has led me here, broke me for this, graced me for this.

He knows where we’re going.

“The lovers of God who chase after righteousness will find all their dreams come true: an abundant life drenched with favour and a fountain that overflows with satisfaction.” Proverbs 21:21

In my mind, satisfaction equals peace. Peace that goes beyond what makes sense in the moment.

If following the Lord feels like it’s brought you to a place of stress and trouble, I trust that you can release it and see what he says.

He has spoke that he will not lead us to a place to simply overwhelm us. He is leading us so that he can overwhelm us with his power when we release him to move!

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I pray I can show her that powerful women simply walk out surrender, every day, to Jesus.