Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lakeview Day 5

I find it slightly pathetic that I feel sad writing the final post for the Lakeview trip. It was an amazing time, but getting back to real life shouldn't be so hard, right? So many of the teens have been raving about it, missing the camaraderie and wishing it didn't have to end, I feel sorry for them. It makes me think of Acts 4, when the church was first starting up. Everyone ate, laughed, and lived together, "All the believers were one in heart and mind...they shared everything they had." Acts 4:32 Makes me want it too...

Final day- "God gives good gifts!" was the key bible point. And how true that is! We saw little people saved forever this week, we made friendships that will last into eternity, and we grew in our faith and our understanding of how the church "body" should work together. The Bible verse was Psalm 139:5 "You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid your hand upon me."

Not one of us deserves a single gift, yet God continues to bless us and love us. No matter what. Hearing so many of our young people struggle with feelings of insecurity and loneliness breaks my heart in light of all we learned this week. How can we tell them, Father, that they are accepted and loved EXACTLY the way they are? Because of Jesus. Prove it to them, Lord. I know You can, and I am believing You- that You will. Help them to look to You first for the approval they so want, to trust you first with their hearts. Everything else is just icing.

We left Lakeview right after lunch on Friday, with tears at times, but wonderful memories and even more amazing friendships. God gave us another gift- the opportunity to spend time relaxing in Bend, OR at one of the most amazing cabin's ever. The family we stayed with took us boating at a beautiful lake on Saturday. The water was pristine, and our time was short but so sweet.

Oh, the jokes that keep running through my mind, the laughter I hear ringing in my ears, the joy that I know the kids of Lakeview felt. So good, and so thankful that God gives us gifts when we don't deserve it. Thank you, Lord. Help our teens to feel and choose to BELIEVE in your amazing love and acceptance every day. God loves you, friend!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lakeview Day 4

How horrible is it that my favorite part of this day had nothing to do with VBS? Felida's No Talent Talent Show is the HIGHLIGHT of my week. Oh, I laughed so hard I thought I might break another rib. Our teens are hilarious, and although "management" has informed me I can't post the best video for all to see (picture my son dancing to Spice Girls song "Wanna Be"), I can let you get a little glimpse of the fun:

Needless to say, we laughed, we cried. It was amazing. The girls put on quite the performance as well, and even the staff brought a little comedy to the night.

Thursday is always an awesome day at VBS too- simply because it is the day we share the message of Jesus. So simply, that He came to earth as a man, died to save you from your sin, rose from the dead and wants you to live forever with Him. Oh, how we prayed for the little people of Lakeview to hear that message! And praise the Lord, 6 of the kids prayed to accept Jesus as their Savior today! It was a privilege to be there, and hear the teens who got to pray with them talk about it. There is no greater thing than to know your work impacted eternity for someone. To hear the joy in heaven that morning- oh, I can imagine it!

The Bible point was perfect- "God loves you- No matter what!". The scripture was: "See if there is any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way." Psalm 139:24
Again, condensed for the kids- but I love the whole thing! How much junk I have in my closets, and yet I can trust that God will seek it out, cleanse me from it and love me...No Matter What.

Thursday was a fun filled day with Jesus doing His thing, hilarious music, funny skits, and time to love each other like we never have before. Best day of the week! We also did the "Man Catching Deodorant" Survey for our freshman guys, and after establishing the winner as Teen Spirit Pear fragrance, one of our youth leaders gave the piece of trivia that it is a true fact men prefer fragrances that smell like food, while women would choose floral scents. In response, our mature, wise, Senior team member stated: "There you go- to catch a man, girls should just rub fried chicken in their pits."

Bahahahahahaha!!! Oh, I love my life! (This picture is slightly disturbing, but the teens love it. This guy actually made it his profile pic on Facebook! Gotta love a good sense of humor!)

Lakeview Day 3

Wednesday in Lakeview! Today the Bible point was "God Watches Over You!" and I think all the little monkeys loved the theme and Bible story. They got to go inside a giant "whale" and hear about Jonah, play crazy games and laugh with their teen leaders. It was so fun.

The scripture was from Psalm 139:12, and although their verse was significantly condensed, but I can give you the whole thing:
"And the light around me will be night, even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as day. Darkness and light are alike to You."

I love the idea that nothing is a surprise to God, and nothing need be feared when He is beside You. As we gear up for the school year and all that entails, I just felt comforted as the kids shouted their Bible point, "God is watching over you". It is such a different place- to be parenting teenagers, one who will be moving on and out in just 2 short years. Remembering this verse is really helping me see my changing role- less "commandments" for my kiddos and more guidance, encouragement and prayer.

I just keep coming back to "Lord, enlarge their hearts for YOU." when I pray for all our teens. Truly, truly- if their heart is one that seeks God first and MOST, they can't go wrong.

This morning did give me a wonderful opportunity to work with a few of the teens on the importance of forgiveness and believing the best in each other. I think so often, if we just choose to believe that another person has "good intention" towards us- more than half the time, we wouldn't get hurt by misunderstandings. It was awesome to see young people CHOOSE love and forgiveness, over gossip and bitterness. I wish as adults we did that more often and so quickly. God bless you and keep you, friend!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lakeview Day 2

On Tuesday we had VBS to do in the morning and the Middle School Event in the evening. Very good to be busy and feel productive. One of the boys summed it up really well when he heard what was being served for meals this day: "Corn dogs and pizza in the same day!?! It doesn't get any better!" Doesn't take much to motivate us!

The point today was "God listens to you!" with the verse from Psalm 139:4:
"Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it all." The kids all enjoyed the Bible story today and VBS went so smoothly, it was unreal. I literally had NOTHING to do this morning, our teens worked so efficiently and were such great leaders. They did it all!

Such a comfort to remember that God listens to us, always and anywhere. Our Senior team member taught the lesson for the Middle School Night based on Matthew 5:13-16 to encourage the local teens to become involved, and not allow their "light" to be hidden but to start making a difference in their community. It was such a strong lesson, especially coming from a boy who I see as having one of the greatest servant's heart I have ever seen.

Another "God Stop" this night was the worship time the teens planned for the middle schoolers. Our high schooler that led worship wanted to clearly help the kids see that to God- they were perfect and acceptable because of Jesus. So the team prepared some wonderful songs, and a special solo that hopefully helped them feel the love of God...Who will love you "for you" every single minute. Here's a little clip:

Thank you, Lord, for the way you love us. And thank you for speaking to my heart through the mouths of your children...please help every single one of our teens know and understand how wonderfully perfect they are to you...that Jesus died and rose again so they could live in that freedom.

"Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them,they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you." Psalm 139:16-18

Lakeview Day 1

YES! What an awesome time we had in Lakeview, OR this year! Putting on a Vacation Bible School, night events for the local teens, and building amazing friendships amongst our Christian brothers and sisters. Oh, Lord- you are good!!

The theme for VBS this year was "God is WILD about you!" with a focus on Psalm 139. I so hope our teens saw that God is wild about them, just the way they are.

Day 1 was specifically "God Made You." with the bible point from Psalm 139:14. One of our favorites, yes?
"I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

The road trip down was smooth and filled with hilarious road trip music, debates about the virtues of country verses rap, and by Monday we were all ready to start working!

More than anything, I prayed that our teens would connect as a team- we had kind of a random group, with lots of freshman, 1 sophomore, a few juniors and one senior. We even had a high school graduate working with us. God did His thing, and I couldn't believe how well everyone got along and how quickly they all realized how much they had in common. New friendships were formed and the feeling of family was there from the very first day.

Played some Righteous Ball, explored the local mountain and praised God for His faithful provision. How wonderful is it that he always knows exactly what we need, before we even ask it? He put together this group of teens from the beginning...and it was good.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Campfires, jet skis, sunshine and bruised ribs...what more could a girl want?

Quick update before Lakeview next week! Looking forward to seeing what God is going to do through our teens as they work and play together, and I will share all the God Stops with you in a couple of weeks.

We spent the week at Ike Kinswa and it was so much fun. Steve and I both couldn't believe how much we needed the vacation. No phones, no Internet, just family and friends; water and sunshine! Ahhhhhhh....

(Not to mention Steve fished like a mad man- actually meeting his limit one day with 5 fish in just a few hours!)

Coming home last night, my girl and I had the opportunity to just de-brief and talk, and she gave me such a God Stop with her words. I spend more than half my day worrying about her, and the other half laughing at her. She is so fun and silly most of the time, I cherish the moments when she is just raw and real. Even through her tears- when she is willing to share a glimpse of the beautiful heart for Jesus God has given her- those moments absolutely takes my breath away. As she talked of her desires, and her convictions- repented of sin and prayed to live bigger for Jesus, I just wanted to shout "Thank YOU, LORD!" It reminded me that every step we take is a journey, and although we will struggle this side of heaven, our future is secure. What a wonderful promise.

I have been spending a lot of time in 2 Peter the last month, and my heart just keeps hearing "moral excellence". In 2 Peter 1:5-7, Peter lists the things that we should be "DILIGENTLY" adding to our faith daily- "moral excellence, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love". Yeah. I know. Man, do I fall short. But that wasn't the part I have been hanging on to. The wonderful part comes next. As we continue to work and strive for these qualities, he says:

"For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ...For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."2 Peter 1:8-10

That's what my girl and I wanted last night. To live lives that are effective and productive for Jesus...to truly KNOW Him in the deepest sense of the word. To not stumble because of our ugly sin nature, but to overcome it all and please our Lord. We will keep pushing and trying to build "moral excellence" and all the rest in our lives, because we desire so much that "rich welcome". Oh, happy day that will be!!! Mind boggling to think about...

God bless you and keep you, may He be your comfort and your peace and I so pray that He enlarges your heart to love and know Him better. <3

Thursday, August 4, 2011

"We are going for the ILLUSION of clean..."

Summer is literally my favorite season. I don't know if it is the blue skies, or the flowers, or the water...I just love summer. My garden has been some what neglected as of late. Due to a couple of people...let's just call them "teenagers"...who keep crazy schedules and are far too distracting. But it still feels good to have fresh flowers in vases, color all around and weeds to pull for a couple more months.

As I have been playing with my kiddos, I have been worrying for them too. There is so much that is changing, and so fast. I get caught up in the details of it all, and God was good enough to remind me this Sunday that it's not the "details" that cause us to fall. It's the HEART. Our intern, Tyler Walsh, gave a great message about how we all want to look good on the outside, but our insides are crap. (He said it much more eloquently, you can listen to the message here.)

But basically, in Acts chapter 5 we read the story of a dude, Ananias and his lady, Sapphira. They are part of the first church of Christians and they want to show off their "godliness" and generosity by giving a buttload of money to the church after they sell off some land. Here's the catch- they decide to lie to everyone and say they gave 100% of the profits, but really they keep some back and only give a portion. SOOOOO dumb, yes? Guess what happens?

"Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. " Acts 5:3-6

WOW. The first thought I have is "Sucks to be you." But truly, aren't we all like that? How many times do I get bent out of shape because of something my kids do- not because of the damage it causes to their character, but because it embarrasses me? Because it doesn't "look good from the street"? Oh, Lord! Never again let me have a heart like Ananias and Sapphira. Who cared more about appearances then they did about You. Who lived half-hearted lives and ran after pathetic treasures when they already had the best gift of all.

It just keeps coming back to me this week that my panic lately is rooted in self-centered pride. My prayer should not be that my kids do everything "right"- get into the right school, find the right job, marry the right person. My prayer should be that their hearts would be CRAZY for God and His work- that their goal should be to share the gospel and live a life so PLEASING to God, everyone around them can't help but notice the difference. THAT leads to health in all the other areas. And you know what, when my focus is not on "the details" of life but rather the qualities of life, the panic disappears. <3

Lord- help us all to "run the way of Your commandments, for You will enlarge my heart." Psalm 119:32 That's what ultimately makes the difference between a good life and a great one. Our heart...

And by the way, the wife, Sapphira, drops dead too. Seriously. Crazy stuff.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

This grandma is my hero...wicked sense of humor!

Needed a laugh today, and thought you might too.

I seriously wished I could pull this stunt today. All day.