We were in a large city in Southeast Asia and it was a beautiful Air B & B! White tiled floors, granite counter tops, a fun swing out on the balcony, two large tiled bathrooms. It was to be our home away from home for a few days and we were excited. What a fun place to be . . .
But what we didn’t know was that this beautiful pristine apartment had a dirty little secret.
I went in to use the shower and a HUGUNDOUS cockroach was resting in the corner of the shower. I know these bugs are pretty common where it’s warm and humid but this baby was BIG! Because there was no one else around to kill the thing, it fell to me. I’m learning as I travel, that I’ve got to suck it up and just do some things I never thought I would ever have to do. This was one of those times. I grabbed my Chaco sandal, thankfully it’s nice and heavy and able to kill a VERY LARGE cockroach in a single whack! But the first time I went to kill the thing I was pretty tentative and it began to scurry all over the shower floor. There might have been some dancing and screaming going on as I attempted to keep it from running over my feet while still trying to kill it. After that first attempt, I got pretty good at killing them with one good blow. Because there wasn’t just one big cockroach, the place was infested with them. We woke up the next morning to find droppings all over the counter. At first, we thought it might be mice, because the droppings were pretty big BUT NO, it was just the CR’s.
Needless to say, the beautiful Air B & B wasn’t so beautiful any more. I resorted to putting a towel under my door to make sure they wouldn’t get into my room while I slept.
As I sat out on our balcony the next morning, in the fun swing, spending time with my Abba Father, I couldn’t help but think . . . It’s not just Air B & B’s that can have a false front; a beautiful outside exterior and a dirty little secret hiding inside. We, who are followers of Jesus, have the potential to be this way as well.
It’s so easy to look like we’re truly following Jesus when we do all the right things, have the right lingo, follow a list of rules and yet our inner life looks anything BUT a follower. It might be a pornography issue, a root of bitterness that has buried itself deep inside, a dishonest heart, or a desperation that causes us to compromise all that we have stood for.
We might be faithful churchgoers, committed Bible study leaders, sacrificial volunteers at church or in the community, donating to some wonderful causes and yet harboring a darkness in our soul that holds us in bondage and keeps us far from our Savior.
Jesus described the hearts of the Pharisees in much the same way in Matthew 23.27, “For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.” And in Matthew 15.8 Jesus quoted from a passage of scripture in Isaiah when describing the them, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
It’s so easy to fall into this trap, of thinking we’re okay because we look good on the outside, when we’re really rotting on the inside. It’s easy to think we’re a follower of Jesus because we’re checking the boxes and doing all the right things, but we’ve never acknowledged that our hearts are desperately wicked and in need of rescue. We’ve never invited Him in to wash us clean. We’ve never fully given up control.
This can happen to any of us. It happened to the leading religious men of the day!
We can be tracking with God, engaged, in relationship with Him and it only takes a second for our hearts to flip. It’s the little things that pull us away. The tiny compromises, the little “white-lies”, the small indiscretions, the subtle doubts and before we know it, we’re harboring a darkness deep in our souls.
The beautiful thing about our Savior is that when we turn to Him in all our mess and filth, He doesn’t run away, instead He washes us clean with His blood and calls us His own! How amazing is that?
Lord, I want to be an authentic follower of You. One who is right with You on the inside and the out. Make this to be true in my heart today and every day, as I seek after You.
“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” John 4.23-24 (Message)
Spilling His Grace, kristi
When I was a teenager, I read about Adoniram Judson and his missionary exploits in faraway Burma but never in a million years did I ever think I would be there ministering to the same precious people!
This trip wasn’t without its challenges; a lost and then found I-phone (a story all its own in which I continue to Praise God for!!), eleven different plane flights, sleepless nights and jet-lag, the unknown, a fall in the river (while trying to get a good picture 😊), power outages (the norm), wondering if what we had prepared was what the women needed to hear, working with new partners, a team member who had to drop out at the last minute because she contracted shingles.
But these challenges were nothing compared to what we saw God do!
There are moments in our lives when we know, without a shadow of doubt, we’re exactly in the right place at just the right time. This trip was one of those moments for me. God confirmed again in my heart the calling He gave me three years ago while on my first trip to Southeast Asia. I remembered so clearly how I felt after leading that first women’s retreat. I told God that day . . . “I know this is what you made me for and I love it! There isn’t anything I’d rather be doing in all the world than this. I will go anywhere, do anything, put up with anything to be able to do this for the rest of my life!!!!” God again renewed that desire in my life as I watched these women grab hold of the teaching from God’s word.
Even as I was preparing for these messages, I clearly felt God’s direction and illumination. I have used a train to illustrate what we put our faith in here in the states with many women but as I have begun to travel, I’ve realized this illustration doesn’t translate well in other cultures. Since February last year I’ve been praying that God would provide a new way to explain this truth and He not only gave me the illustration but it’s something that is easily transferrable around the world! I am in awe!! And it’s things like this where God is continuing to deepen my faith and trust in Him.
This past week, as these women learned, I was challenged as well:
These simple ordinary women have the power to change their worlds for Christ. Many of them live with daily hardships we can barely begin to imagine. And yet God sees them, knows them and loves them dearly. What sacred space it was to come alongside them and walk with them for a short time. I will treasure these moments and hold them close to my heart even as I pray for more opportunities to walk alongside God’s precious women.
Spilling His Grace,
It’s been a wild, wonderful and amazing year! I’ve traveled to ten countries, took just about every mode of transportation known to man – a motorcycle, a boat, tuc tucs, trains, planes, subways, cars, vans, and taxis. I gazed upon the Adriatic Sea, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific.
The breathtaking beauty of God’s creation is awe-inspiring but even more than this is the real true beauty I have seen in the people I have met along the way. People who have recklessly abandoned their own comfort and said YES to God. People who are following with their whole hearts. Men and women totally sold-out to Jesus Christ. And I have been wrecked and humbled by their obedience, their willingness to sacrifice ALL for the gospel.
As I step into this New Year, I want to be ALL-IN. I’ve increasingly discovered over this past year that my battle to be ALL-IN lies within my all-consuming desire for comfort. And so this year, I have chosen as my Word-for-the-Year: Unsettled. I feel much the same way I did when I chose the word DARE in 2016. Sheer terror. But I’m pushing past the fear because I know this is where God will do His purifying work in my heart. This is where He wants me to be.
Jesus told His followers in Luke 9. 23-24, “If you truly desire to be my disciple, you must disown your life completely, embrace my ‘cross’ as your own, and surrender to my ways. For if you choose self-sacrifice, giving up your lives for my glory, you will embark on a discovery of more and more of true life. But if you choose to keep your lives for yourselves, you will lose what you try to keep.” (The Passion Translation)
And in verse fifty-eight of that same chapter Jesus again talks about the cost of following Him when He says, “remember this: even animals in the field have holes in the ground to sleep in and birds have their nests, but the Son of Man has no place here to lay down his head.” And in verse 62, “Why do you keep looking backward to your past and have second thoughts about following me? When you turn back you are useless to God’s kingdom realm.”
Our love of comfort makes it easier to trust ourselves rather than God. Our need for comfort keeps us safe and mediocre. Our desire for comfort above-all-else pushes us to settle for less than what God intends.
I refuse to let comfort be my God.
So with more than a little trepidation, I reach out my hand and take the Hand of my Father knowing He loves me as far as the East is from the West, and I embrace the UNSETTLED place because this is where LIFE is found!
Spilling His Grace,
We had just cleared the gate in our safari vehicle and had gotten our first glimpse of the huge savannah stretching out before us, when the radio beeped. Someone had spotted the lions! We jolted and bumped our way down the narrow dirt road in our quest to see these illusive beasts.
As we pulled up and joined a caravan of safari vans, jeeps and cars, I saw one lion head off to our right, and then I looked to my left and another lion slunk right past me.
The lions were hunting!
A pack of zebras were contentedly grazing just a measly hundred yards away. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Would we see a lion take down a zebra today, I wondered? Part of me was excited about witnessing this real-life drama and the other half wondered if I would be traumatized for the rest of my life, from the experience.
I continued to watch this lean and muscular mama lion as she patiently watched the zebras and waited for her hunting partner to come around the other side. She was just yards from where I stood in our open-aired van. She would crouch down and crawl on her belly trying to get a better view of the zebras. The color of her fur was a perfect match to the savannah grass and I could easily see how camouflaged she was. The zebras continued to eat undisturbed just yards away while DEATH watched and waited!
As I stood in the van that morning, watching this drama play out, I clearly saw the parallels to my own spiritual life.
I am like the zebra . . . Contented. Comfortable. Complacent. Focused on my own satisfaction. Completely oblivious to the danger.
Death waiting for me to get separated from the pack. Death watching for any signs of weakness or vulnerability.
When life overwhelms us, it’s easy to pretend the danger isn’t really there. When all we can see is our need for comfort, it’s so easy to forget! When we’re distracted by busyness, it’s easy to let ourselves become isolated and alone.
And there we are, a prime target for his attack!
It’s why the apostle Peter warns us in 1 Peter 5.8:
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
We have an enemy who hungers for our souls.
And he is patient . . .
Just like the lion, he is watching and waiting for just the right time to attack.
And he is patient . . .
He prowls around the edges of our lives, waiting for the time when we allow ourselves to become vulnerable and weak.
And he is patient . . .
Never have I seen more clearly how susceptible I am and how patient the enemy is.
How do we fight this enemy? By being on guard. By staying alert. By banding together; warning of the danger, encouraging the discouraged and standing in the gap for each other. This is what the body of Christ is for. This is what it means to be in community. This is how we keep the enemy from winning!
Spilling His Grace,
Jesus said to the people standing around Lazarus after He had commanded him to come out of the grave, “Unwrap him and let him go.” John 11.44 (NLT)
Isn’t this what Jesus says to us when we invite Him into our lives and He raises us to new life in Him. “I have unwrapped your chains, now be free!”
But how many of us continue to be wrapped up in our chains?
Chains of fear. Chains of shame. Chains of caring more what other people think than what God thinks. Chains of pride. Chains of guilt. Chains of bitterness. Chains of anger. Chains of disappointment. Chains of disillusionment. Chains of worry. Chains of control. Chains of unforgiveness.
And we wonder why we’re stuck. Why we continue to fail. Why we feel trapped in our old life when Christ promised us NEW life.
In my own struggle, I’ve realized something. Something I hate to admit . . .
I like my chains. They’re my security blanket, where I feel safe and comfortable. Without them, I feel naked and vulnerable. I know it sounds oxymoronic but it’s true.
Unwrapping is often so much harder than we think it will be. It sounds so simple but it’s just way to easy to return to the known rather than to step into the unknown. It feels much safer to stay where we are, curled up in the “security” of our chains. Never choosing to face . . . Our “demons”. Our strongholds. Our chains. Instead we believe the lies Satan feeds us . . . “You deserve this. What kind of God would ask you to give this up – you need it. This is so much easier. You should stay where you’re comfortable.”
This was never the life Jesus wanted for us. It isn’t the life He died for.
What if Lazarus had chosen to remain in his graveclothes instead of letting someone unwrap him? What if he said, “If you unwrap me I’ll be naked. Let me live with them?”
I can hear you saying, “That’s ridiculous no one would ever do that!”
And yet that’s the way many of us are living . . .
We are dead men walking. Weighed down by our chains. Existing but not really living.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8.36
The truth is . . . Jesus died to set us free. Free from the shackles that have held us captive for far too long. Free to be all that He intended us to be. Free to say “Yes” to Jesus.
Free to live a life unwrapped!
So let’s live it!
Spilling His Grace,
Why did Adam and Eve get kicked out of the garden? You might be thinking, well duh, it’s because they sinned. But is that why they were thrown out of the garden? Look what it says in Genesis 3.
Then the LORD God said, ‘Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!’ So the LORD God banished them from the Garden of Eden . . . The LORD God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And He placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Genesis 3.22-24)
So let me ask the question again, why were Adam and Eve thrown out of the Garden of Eden?
Because they had become like God knowing both good and evil. They had sinned and if they ate of the tree of life they would live forever. I don’t understand all the implications of sinful people eating of the tree of life but I do know it was enough to banish all humanity from the Garden of Eden, so there would never be even a remote chance any of us would eat from the tree.
But the beautiful thing about this banishment is that it isn’t forever! For those who are victorious, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we will one day be able to eat the fruit of the tree of life! Check out Revelation 2.7, “To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.”
At the beginning of the Bible we see the banishment and at the end we see the final restoration. Full circle.
God loves to bring things full circle. He loves to take what was broken and make it new. He loves to take what sin has made ugly and turn it into something beautiful! He loves turning ashes into beauty. He is a restoring kind of God.
We see it all throughout Scripture in the lives of His people – Job, Joseph, Paul (just to name a few).
And I’ve seen this in my own life (maybe you have too) . . . I was born to missionary parents in Alaska. I loved it there, it was my home, my safe place. When I was around nine years old we moved from Alaska to California and my world fell apart. All I wanted to do was to go back “home”. As a young girl, I decided the best way to go back would be to become a missionary. I grew up with that hope in my heart until God brought me face to face with my true motivation and called me to surrender to His will and His way. I let go of my dream and began to pursue Him. And now forty years later, I’m finally carrying the love of Jesus to women all over the world. God has brought this hope in my heart full-circle.
Being in the middle of the circle is the hard part. Trusting God when things don’t make sense. When He calls us to wait in the uncertainty. When it doesn’t look like He will restore. When it seems He will never bring healing. When it feels impossible.
But it’s in the middle where God does His most refining work.
There’s a vast space of time between Genesis and Revelation and so it often is, in our circles.
Don’t let go, don’t give up. God is at work, maybe you can’t see it but He is. Trust that He will bring your pain, your sorrow, your brokenness, into His full-circle restoration!
We haven’t reached the promise. We haven’t tasted of the tree of life, but it is there waiting for us and one day . . . One day, for those who allow God to do His refining work and are victorious, we will eat of that tree and finally come full-circle!
Spilling His grace,
She almost fit under my arm, when standing side by side for a photograph. You wouldn’t know it by looking at her, but this tiny petite woman is a giant. She laughs and cries, struggles with insecurity and rejection, and worries about the safety of her family. But this simple ordinary woman has dared to say YES to God. She has said yes to living in a hostile environment, constantly on guard, so she can carry God’s light to Muslim women.
She and her husband have sacrificed everything to follow the call. She lives in a poverty-stricken area, with little to no comfort. Dressing like those around her means she must cover her head and wear long sleeves in a very hot and humid climate.
But her smallness didn’t keep me from looking up at her.
And it wasn’t just one giant but many that I spent time with on this trip to Southeast Asia.
It was an opportunity for these beautiful women to get away from the pressure cooker of life. To enjoy a little piece of heaven on earth. To set aside the cares and concerns of life, to uncover in more ways than one for a few short days. To experience a breath of fresh air.
We laughed, we cried, we opened our hearts to one another and shared our struggles. They invited me into their circle, a stranger who just wanted to love on them, hold their hand and listen, pray with them and remind them of God’s passionate love for them.
I walked among giants. Giants of the faith. Are they perfect – no! Do they struggle with sin? Yes! Does busyness tend to distract them? Always! But they are giants just the same. These spiritual giants have sacrificed ALL to walk in obedience with God. They carry the light into extreme darkness. Often, they are isolated and alone, in a community that rejects them and what they represent. They walk with care, never knowing if someone will report them. They worry for the safety of their children. And yet they continue on . . .
They are real life Indiana Jones’ not looking for treasure but bringing THE TREASURE to broken and lost people.
I felt humbled to be among them.
Watching them so carefree; laughing, bantering with one another, dancing, worshipping God with their whole hearts – it was hard to imagine the oppression they live under day after day.
My heart aches for them. And I can’t help but ask, “God, what am I willing to give for the cause of the gospel?”
Radically following Jesus looks different for each of us. It doesn’t always mean we must sell everything, uproot our families and move to the other side of the world. But it does mean saying YES to God, whatever that might be.
I learned this week you don’t have to be physically tall to be a giant! Because I walked among five-foot giants and it brought me to my knees.
I want to love God like they love God. I want to worship Him like they worship Him. I want to be a giant.
Spilling His Grace,
I’ve recently been reading Primal, A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity by Mark Batterson. (By the way, I highly recommend the book.) In chapter five of the book, there is a paragraph that deeply resonated with me.
The Bible was written over a span of fifteen hundred years by more than forty writers. God inspired kings and poets and prophets and shepherds. They wrote out of very different personalities in very different circumstances. Some wrote in the plush setting of a palace, while others etched their words during an island exile. Some wrote out of the agony of personal tragedy, while others wrote in the ecstasy of an epiphany. Written in three different languages on three different continents, there is no other book like the Bible. Despite the fact that it touches on thousands of complex subjects and controversial topics, it possesses a supernatural harmony from beginning to end. And it is omnirelevant to every person on the planet. -Mark Batterson
As I’ve studied books and articles on cultural relevance and the importance of understanding cultural nuances and differences, it has deepened my Awe and Wonder at this amazing book God has given us.
There is no other book ever written that can cross all cultures, all times and speaks so intimately to our human needs, like the Bible.
This excites me and gives me the confidence that when I teach women how to study the Bible, it will speak to them in ways I never could. It will meet them where they are at and will speak as deeply to them as it has to me.
A friend of mine, sent me this note: I feel like one of my best friends is the Christian, Indiana Jones! The amazing thing is that you are not searching for treasure, you are bringing the treasure.
I don’t know about the Indiana Jones part, most of the time I don’t feel very brave or intrepid. It often seems like this mission is WAY-TO-BIG-FOR-ME and it is! But the beautiful part is I don’t carry my message but God’s. I don’t go alone, I go with Him. It’s His mission, His vision, His work! I just get to join with Him and carry this amazing treasure to the lost, the broken, the hurting.
My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver. Seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD and you will gain knowledge of God. Proverbs 2.1-5
God has given each one of us this incredible treasure!
In this world of changing values and ideas, of brokenness and pain, of varying cultures and unsettling thoughts, the Bible remains strong and true. We can stand on its wisdom, rely on its truth and carry it with confidence into our changing times. It uplifts, challenges, corrects, meets us right where we’re at; whether we’re rich or poor, literate or illiterate, from Dubai or the slums of Nairobi and has the power to transform lives!
What other book do you know that can do that?!
It is an unending treasure to be explored and a road map to guide us in navigating this ever-changing world.
Your instructions are more valuable to me than millions in gold and silver. Psalm 119.72
May we never take for granted this treasure we hold. May we handle it with care and step confidently into this broken world as we carry His Truth!
Spilling His Grace,
Her arm, shoulder and hand had tattoos. Her hair had this crazy bleached out streak in it, her style was definitely different than my own.
And because of her differences, it was easy to assume she didn’t love Jesus like I loved Jesus.
But that was just not so. Ashley loved Jesus with all her heart! And her love for Him spilled out onto those God brought across her path. The tattoos covering her body were Scripture she clung to. And in her short twenty-eight years she impacted the world for Christ in ways we probably will never know until we get to heaven.
God called Ashley home just a few short weeks ago. Her absence leaves a gaping hole in our lives and we grieve because of our great loss. We grieve for the husband and daughter she left behind. We grieve for the experiences lost and the incredible way she served so many. How can we ever replace that? Our loss was heaven’s gain!
But I refuse to call Ashley’s death a tragic accident. It’s easy to see it that way. One so young with so much living yet to do, suddenly gone. A family left behind. A daughter who will never have her mom pick out a prom dress with her. A husband with an empty space in his bed. Questions that seem to go unanswered.
But it’s not tragic for Ashley! She is now living in the presence of the Savior she loved so dearly; more ALIVE than she has ever been. Dancing with Him, singing with Him and gazing on His face. She is HOME.
But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like His own, using the same power with which He will bring everything under His control. Philippians 3.20
It’s so easy to live like this life is all there is. To grab and cling to the here and now and forget that we don’t really belong here. This is just a stopping ground, a place to camp out until we reach our real home.
Ashley lived in the knowledge that eternity was coming! She knew her hope was not in this life, that slips through our fingers like sand, but in the life to come. She lived with a confident hope that her last breath here would be her first breath in heaven. And it was!!
I want to live this way! Totally sold out to Jesus. Holding nothing back. Making every moment count. I want to live. I want to laugh. And I want love like she did. Like Jesus calls me too. I want to remember this world is not my home, I’m just passing through . . .
Spilling His grace,
The story is told of a Spanish sailor named Cortez, who landed in the Americas. After landing, he ordered the ships to be burned. There was no going back. They were there to stay.
How often do we make a decision to let go but still find ourselves clinging to the old way. Holding onto things “just in case” it doesn’t work out. Never fully committing. Never completely letting go.
It’s the woman on a diet who holds onto her “fat pants” just in case.
It’s the newly married man who keeps the number of an old girlfriend in his phone, just because.
It’s the teenager who gets the answers to the test. She doesn’t intend to use it but just in case she hasn’t had time to study . . .
It’s the betrayed friend who hangs onto the bitterness, justifying her right to hold onto it. It’s the father who refuses to forgive a wayward son because he’s done it one to many times before. . .
Never really ALL IN.
Recently I have found myself on this journey of letting go of a stronghold in my own life. And I’ve realized I can’t cling to the old if I truly want to move on. I’ve got to “Burn my Ships!”
There’s no going back. No secret out. No straddling the fence. It has to be ALL or nothing.
And then the fear sets in and the lies become louder than the truth. What if I fail? What if it really isn’t possible. If I “burn my ship” what will I have to fall back on if this doesn’t work?
But in the fear, when we choose to trust, when we choose to listen to truth and let the lies fade into the background, we realize God is greater. God is bigger. God is enough.
And He gives us the courage to “Burn our Ships” and live in the land of the free!
Because this land of freedom is where you intend to STAY, what “ships” do you need to burn in your life today?
Don’t wait. Burn your ship. Step out in faith. Make a clean break. God promises to meet you there.
Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, “Salvation comes from the Lord.” Jonah 2.8-9
Spilling His grace,
As Easter approaches, my soul has never been more aware of the freedom I have in Christ because of His great sacrifice for me!
For years I have had a stronghold in my life that has held me captive. I knew Jesus set me free, but I refused to step out of my chains and live free. I liked the security my chains gave me. I was comfortable with them. I was like a woman who refuses to leave her abusive husband because the unknown is just too scary. I know it sounds crazy. Oxymoronic even. Why would someone ever opt for chains when they could live a life of liberty?
But that’s exactly what I have done for far too long.
A few months ago, things came to a head and I knew I could no longer live the way I had been living. And so I began this journey of repentance and freedom. I didn’t know it would bring freedom at the time, I just knew I couldn’t live like I had been living. I was broken and undone.
I was hesitant. I had been down this road before and it wasn’t pretty. I had failed. I was a failure at least that’s how I saw it. But God spoke deep into my heart and reminded me that I was made for more! He died to set me free from sin, not to wallow in it and remain in my mess. With Him ALL things are possible!
One ordinary day, in this journey, I was challenged to come into God’s presence and sit with Him; with my fear, with my anger, with my frustration. Just to be. And while being, to picture Him sitting there next to me.
The house was quiet. I sat at the end of my couch and pictured Christ sitting next to me. Sitting there I began to wonder what He looked like. Was He the Jesus of the Sunday School pictures I brought home each week as a kid? Did He have long hair? I realized I had no idea what He looked like but instead of staying there I began to think about what I would do if He were truly next to me.
I knew immediately – I would hold His hand.
So I held out my hand and pictured Jesus putting His hand in mine and when I did, I saw His nail-scarred hand! This visible reminder of His sacrifice for me! This sacrifice, at such great personal cost to Him, purchased my FREEDOM. And yet, I have continued to live in captivity. I have continued to dwell in my chains. I have continued to circle my mountain, instead of climbing to the heights!
Once again I was broken and undone! How frivolous I have treated His lavish and costly gift. It was a sacred and holy moment as I felt God whisper gently into my brokenness.
Jesus said in John 8.35, “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” I heard it loud and clear that day, “You are free Kristi, so be free!!”
I no longer want to cheapen the sacrifice Jesus made for me by choosing to live bound up in my chains. I am free! And I am choosing to live free!
“I want to live for the applause of those precious nail-scarred hands.” (Mark Batterson – The Lion Chaser Manifesto) Because nothing else matters more than Him.
Thank You, Jesus – Hillsong
Grace that flows like a river, washing over me.
Fount of Heaven, love of Christ, overflow in me.
Thank you, Jesus! You set me FREE. Christ my Savior, You rescued me.
Take this life delivered, a vessel of Your love,
Wholly now devoted, to see Your Kingdom come.
Thank you, Jesus! You set me FREE. Christ my Savior, You rescued me.
You’ve given me life. You’ve opened my eyes.
I love You, Lord. I love you, Lord. You’ve entered my heart.
You’ve set me apart. I love You, Lord. I love you, Lord.
Thank you, Jesus. You set me free! Christ my Savior, You rescued me.
Spilling His grace and LIVING for the applause of nail-scarred hands,
Friday morning bright and early, my husband and I arrived at the airport ready to head to Honduras for our first missions trip together. We checked in and dropped off our bags and turned to head towards security. It was then we saw a tiny little boy and his family walk through the sliding entrance doors. All but the little boy, had on bright blue t-shirts that said, “Make A Wish”. As this little boy walked in, a cheer rose up from a crowd of people all wearing Mickey Mouse ears and holding a banner. There must have been thirty to forty people, each one having braved the cold and crawled out of bed at an ungodly hour to greet this little boy and his family.
As I watched the joy on that little boy’s face, the tears began to pour. I had to turn away or I would’ve been a blubbering mess.
Later as I sat on the plane reflecting on what I had just had the privilege of witnessing, I couldn’t help but think of another welcome party that had happened just a day before this. I didn’t get to see it but I couldn’t help wondering what it must have been like when Billy Graham stepped into heaven.
When the Lord welcomed him Home and said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Oh, what a beautiful moment that must have been. I wonder, were Moses and Daniel holding the banner? Were the angels singing? Was there a line of people waiting to greet him, anxious to tell him that they were there in part because of His obedience and servanthood? Were people dancing and praising God for this surrendered servant who had finally come HOME! Because I know for sure, it wouldn’t have been about Billy Graham. It would’ve been about God and his miraculous work in the heart and life of a man totally sold out to Jesus!
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. 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 1.10-11
Oh, how I want to live a life of faithfulness to the end, like Billy Graham. To step into heaven and have Jesus meet me there with open arms and say, “Welcome home, my faithful servant, well done!”
Mark Batterson says it well in the Lion Chaser Manifesto:
Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.
Run to the roar.
Set God-sized goals.
Pursue God-given passions.
Go after a dream that is destined to fail, without divine intervention.
Stop pointing out problems, become part of the solution.
Stop repeating the past. Start creating the future.
Face your fears. Fight for your dreams.
Grab opportunity by the mane and don’t let go!
Live like today is the first day and last day of your life.
Burn sinful bridges.
Blaze new trails.
Live for the applause of nail-scarred hands.
Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshiping what’s right with God.
Dare to fail.
Dare to be different.
Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away.
Chase the Lion.
Chase the Lion: If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It’s Too Small.
There is a saying in sports, “Leave it all on the field.” In other words put everything you have into the game and hold nothing back. That’s what I want to do with this life. To step into heaven, totally used up, having laid it all on the line with no regrets!
Hearing those beautiful words, “Welcome Home!”
Spilling His grace,
It was a day of contrasts in a city in Southeast Asia. Of good versus evil. Of light and darkness. Of beauty and desperation. It was an afternoon spent with beautiful women living in abject poverty and yet finding life and love and hope in Jesus. It was an evening walking the narrow walled in streets of a red-light district, feeling the darkness swirling around us and witnessing the hopelessness, despair and depravity of life without God.
We were unable to bring cameras, so I will attempt to paint a picture of all that I saw and experienced that evening.
Venders were selling everything from street food to sticks of wood. The streets were filled with pedestrians, motorcycles, vintage yellow taxi’s and rickshaws powered by running men. We made our way gingerly around it all and paused to split our group up into threes to pray and walk the red-light district. It’s not a very safe place to be and my heart skipped a beat as our little group turned the corner and headed into the narrow walled in street. Incense from the many temples, the odor of many unwashed bodies and other smells accosted our senses.
To say I was uncomfortable bordering on terrified, would be an understatement. I have never ever experienced anything like this before. But if I’ve learned anything from this new journey I’m on it is that God calls His children to carry His light into the pit of darkness. To face the enemy knowing HE has won the war.
Knowing this doesn’t remove the pain of it. Knowing this doesn’t make it more comfortable or any easier. It feels like it is more than I can bare. It is more than I can take in and it shakes me to my core.
Walking those streets, I was confronted with my apathy in regards to human trafficking. Honestly, I haven’t wanted to really expose myself to what is being done day after day to these precious souls. After all what can one human being really do? And what do I do with what I’ve seen? I can’t bear to think about what might be happening to young innocent girls in places like this. My selfish heart tells me life is so much more comfortable when I don’t expose myself to such evil.
But God hasn’t called us, His children, to shy away from sin and darkness but to step into it bravely as we carry the torch of His brilliant light.
And so we did.
We walked the dirty, narrow streets with our inadequate prayers. Because really how do you pray for this dark overwhelming place of sin and degradation? Yes, I know there are no inadequate prayers but honestly that is how it felt in that moment. In that moment I couldn’t pray. I couldn’t think of anything because I was so overwhelmed with the enormity of the depravity and darkness that coiled around us.
So I cried and prayed for God to break my heart for what breaks His.
Why do I pray prayers like that? Because once again, I felt my heart crack into a thousand pieces as I looked on woman upon woman standing in doorway after doorway plying their wares. Heavily made up, robed in brilliant clothes hoping to attract a customer. They were like dolls in a shop – objects to be used and discarded at the owner’s convenience. This is the life these women have always known. They don’t know they’re loved and treasured by God. They don’t know they can be something more than an object in a window. They don’t know there is a better way. And the really heartbreaking part is most would never choose the better way, even if it were offered to them.
It left me reeling and unsettled, uncomfortable and troubled. It was a restless night as I prayed and cried and brought this burden to my Father. How brokenhearted He must be to see what humankind has done to His beautiful gift of sex. How angry He must be that our beautiful sisters are treated as objects to be discarded never knowing His great love for them. How saddened He is that we the church have stuck our heads in the sand and pretended this doesn’t happen in our city. That we hesitate to step into the darkness to carry His light. That we choose to walk in apathy because it’s easier than facing into the darkness.
I’m convicted and wrecked.
I know I can no longer live with blinders on, no longer sit on the sidelines, no longer live uninformed. What this will look like, I truly have no idea but I do know He will be with me. He will be my shield and my rock in whom I can trust as I carry His light into the darkness.
Spilling His grace,
My heart can be so fickle. My attention span, short. My purpose of mind, capricious. I have a tendency to get side-tracked, to be unfocused, and am prone to giving in when my comfort is threatened.
I hate admitting this but it’s true, especially in a specific area of my life that has been a stronghold for far too long. I have rationalized, justified and flat out refused to surrender this area of my life to God. Oh, I’ve tried! I’ve prayed! I’ve begged God to just wave His magic wand and set me free. After all isn’t that what He died for?
But truthfully, I haven’t wanted to do the hard work of rooting this idol out of my life. I haven’t wanted to look deep into my heart and see the ugly. I haven’t wanted to surrender to the pain of the Surgeon’s knife. I can’t tell you how many times I have started with such good intentions and how quickly I’ve failed and given up. It’s just too hard. I love my comfort more. Sadly, “I want the warmth of the womb and not a new birth.” (Wilbur Rees, I’d Like to Buy $3 Worth of God Please)
BUT, recently God has once again revisited this issue (let’s be honest, it’s SIN) in my life and I believe my heart is ready to look deep into the abyss and see the ugly.
So we (God and I) have begun to explore this room in my heart that I have barred God from entering for years upon years . . .
I have begun to see how this idol has enslaved me and how it’s kept me from living FREE. How it’s holding me back in my ministry. How it is affecting other areas of my life. And I have come to understand; I can’t do this without God!! Doing this without His strength and power is why I’ve tried and failed so many times in the past.
As we have journeyed down into the dungeon of my soul I’ve found God so ever present. As we have looked at the darkness of my sin, I have found Him not condemning but illuminating. Whispering, “There’s a better way to live, Kristi. It’s what I died for . . . you’re no longer a slave but my daughter and you are FREE.
Jesus said, “I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is a transient, who can’t come and go at will. The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through. John 8.35-36 (MSG)
Hebrews 12.2, says, “Fix your eyes on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfector of our faith . . . “
I love this! Jesus started this work in me and He will perfect it. What do I need to do? FIX my eyes on Him.
Focused. Resolute. Intentional. Immovable. Anchored.
It’s what will bring . . . Freedom. Victory. Fortitude.
Yes, this is just the beginning, and yes there will be more difficult roads ahead but sticking with Jesus like glue, centering my heart and mind on Him, will set me FREE and allow God to shape my heart into His design instead of mine.
This is my word for the year; FIXED! I’m stripping off the weights and sins that have held me captive (Hebrews 12.1) and fixing my eyes on Jesus who promises to do His good work in me and give me an Undivided Heart!
Spilling His grace,
As I reflected on the Christmas story this past week, my heart was drawn to the lowly shepherds. It was these lowest of the low, forgotten, marginalized and unseen shepherds whom God chose to share the greatest news the world had ever heard! God sent his messenger to these herdsman on the hillside to announce the birth of the Savior of the world and it wasn’t just one but many angels that joined with the messenger to praise God and bring hope to the world!
I couldn’t help but see the parallel of this story to my story! No, I’m not saying I’m an angel. Just talk to my husband and kids and you’ll know that’s not true. But I am God’s messenger, chosen by Him to go to the cast-outs, the marginalized, the forgotten and unseen women of the world and the beautiful thing is . . . I’m not alone in this journey! I have a whole host of people who have joined with me in serving these desperate women.
This message, brought by one angel would’ve been enough for the shepherds but when the host of angels joined him it added emphasis and power to the message. That’s what each of these members do when they pray for me, contribute financially and join with me. We are the Grace Tribe, spilling God’s grace and hope on the hurting and broken.
We tell these marginalized women, they are valued, they are important, and they are loved! They are worth our prayers, our finances and whatever hardships there might be to share with them the Good News of a Savior!
As we reflect on the greatest gift to mankind, let’s not forget that God first chose to share the Good News of Jesus’ birth with the ordinaries of this world!
Spilling His grace,
“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” John 14.12-14
This past week this verse grabbed hold of my thought process and wouldn’t let go. I’ve read this verse plenty of times before but for the first time, I took time to pause and reflect on what Jesus was saying.
All throughout the book of John is this simple phrase Jesus says, “I tell you the truth.” And it’s always followed by a very profound TRUTH. You get the feeling every time He says it that He’s really saying, “Stop, pay attention this is really important! This is Truth. Truth you can count on, Truth you can live by.”
This “I tell you the truth” statement is followed by an incredible statement!
ANYONE, who believes in me WILL DO the same works I have done and EVEN GREATER WORKS.
What? We will do even greater works than Jesus? How can that be?
Remember Jesus said, “I tell you the truth!”
Do we believe this? Do we live like this is possible? Do we pray this way?
I think Paul did. Paul traveled sharing the Good News of Jesus with people all over the known world. Jesus didn’t go beyond Israel. Paul healed, cast out demons, raised people from the dead and constantly remembered this power wasn’t from him but from the One who had died for him. He gave Jesus glory and counted it a blessing to suffer for Him.
It’s not a competition, it never was and it never will be.
What it is . . . is refusing to keep the joy and life we have experienced in Christ to ourselves. It’s choosing to share Jesus with our friends, our families, our community, and the world. It’s making a difference, living outside our comfort zone, and radically following.
Jesus isn’t saying we will BE greater than Him, only we will do greater things than Him. Why? He knew that we would be able to do greater things when He went back to His Father. Think about it. The Holy Spirit would come to dwell within us. The power that raised Jesus from the dead would reside in us! Immanuel – God with us!
Believers would be unleashed to spread the Good News throughout the world, touching hearts Jesus never could and the Kingdom would expand exponentially!
As I consider this new journey, what would happen if I began to pray that I might do greater things? Could it really be possible? Think what God could do with a nobody who is totally sold out to Him! Not in our own strength but through the power of the Holy Spirit. Not to bring us glory but to give God glory. To expand HIs Kingdom.
What if you and I were to take Jesus at His Word and live like this?
What would our communities, our country and the world look like if those who truly believed in Jesus really believed this was true?
“Jesus will you enable us to do Greater Things not for our glory but for YOURS, because You are with the Father and You say to ask anything in Your name and You will do it! I believe and trust in You. I desire to proclaim Your truth and see Your Kingdom expanded! Amen.”
A year ago this month (November 2016), I visited the home office of the EFCA ReachGlobal for the very first time. It’s crazy to think about all that has transpired since that time and how faithful God has been. He deserves all the praise and glory . . .
December – was officially accepted as a full-time, long-term missionary with EFCA ReachGlobal.
January – wrapped up my time as women’s ministry director for my church and celebrated the nine years of ministry God gave me with these beautiful amazing women. Reflected where I was just one short January (2016) ago when I chose the word DARE for my Word-of-the-Year, knowing without a doubt that my life was going to be completely different come January 2017 but not really knowing how.
February – Resigned my position and had my first exposure to ReachGlobal missionaries in Thailand at the Asia Conference. Was profoundly impacted by these simple unassuming missionaries- their sacrificial living and commitment to following Jesus; forsaking home, family and all that is comfortable to follow!
March – Returned to EFCA headquarters for Ministry Partner Development training. Something in this new job I was dreading. I had never had to raise money before in my life – not for a mission’s trip, not for camp, nothing. Was encouraged and challenged through the training but still overwhelmed!
April – Despite my apprehension I hit the ground running raising support and developing ministry partners. And in the process God totally flipped the tables on me! One day while meeting with a single mom, newly divorced and struggling, she asked me to share with her about my new ministry. I shared with her some of the details and how excited I was to be ministering to women all over the world. When I finished, she exclaimed, “So how can I help?”
Normally, I would’ve said, knowing her situation, “would you pray for me?” But I felt God prompting me to say something else. So I looked at her and asked, “Could you give $5 a month?” She replied, “Umm, that’s a coffee.” “Yep” (We were at Starbucks and had just spent $5 on a coffee.). Then she got this big grin on her face and said, “I can do that!” She was so excited. She never dreamed she would be able to be a part of something like this and now she could!
That’s when I felt God whisper to me, “This is way bigger than you, Kristi! This is what I’m doing. You’re just offering people the opportunity to be a part of what I am doing around the world.”
Prayer: God would provide $1,000.00 per month for month of April
Prayer Answered: $1000.00 per month for April.
May – Dinners. Lunches. Coffees. Sharing the dream.
Prayer: God would provide $1,000.00 per month for month of May.
Prayer Answered: $1000.00 per month for May.
June – change for CHANGE, a young family’s dream to invest in this ministry to women around the world and to encourage others to join. Visiting Greenville Missionary Church in Greenville, Ohio and deeply touched by their generosity and willingness to join with me in ministry.
Prayer: God would provide $1,000.00 per month for month of June.
Prayer Answered: $1000.00 per month for June.
July – Honduras, a time of encouragement, experiencing a new culture, engaging with believers young and old and ministering to women. God confirming in my heart – this is what I was made for!
Prayer: God would provide $1,000.00 per month for month of July.
Prayer Answered: $1000.00 per month for July.
August – meeting with old friends and new, sharing the vision and watching God build the Grace Tribe!
Prayer: God would provide $1,000.00 per month for month of June.
Prayer Answered: $1000.00 per month for June.
September – Kenya, vision trip and CHE (Community Health Evangelism) Training in Women’s Cycle of Life in Nairobi. Life changing two and half days with the Maasai women of Namanga. Connection with a young woman doing ministry in Kenya that I hope to partner with in the future.
Prayer: God would provide $1,000.00 per month for month of September.
Prayer Answered: $1000.00 per month for September.
October – Biblical Worldview Conference and CHE training – where God expanded my horizons and opened doors for future ministry!
Prayer: God would provide the last of my funding $700 per month for October
Prayer answered: $567 per month (Just $133 left to be FULLY FUNDED!)
My heart is so full of all I have seen and experienced in this incredible year of change.
God is GOOD.
God is FAITHFUL.
God is AWE-MAZING.
May He be Praised!!!
For Your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth. Psalm 57.10-11
Spilling His Grace,
My heart cries out, “Will this be what it is like everywhere I go, Lord? Will my heart be torn into a thousand pieces and left in different parts of the globe? What will I have left? Will there even be a me?”
As I sit amongst these beautiful, engaging Maasai women, I can’t believe how dear they have become to me in such a short time! Was it only just two days ago, that we had tumbled out of bed at the crack of dawn, crammed into our tiny van and traveled three hours to this place?
It seems like I’ve lived a lifetime in just this short space of time.
I will never forget my first glimpse of these warrior-like women dressed in brilliant colors with many beaded necklaces and bracelets walking across the arid plain to the aluminum-sided church building. The mountains stand tall in the distance. Dry brush and acacia trees cover the landscape. Beautiful blue and orange birds chirp and flutter from one tree to another. Termite hills dot the countryside, an antelope grazes nearby and a dog wanders aimlessly looking for food. The absence of city sounds is striking, I only hear the laughing and chatting of women and birds. No car motors, no honking sounds, no airplanes flying overhead.
And now, it’s time to leave. How can you feel like you’ve lived a lifetime and yet not lived even one hour?
How precious and how beautiful these Maasai women are! My heart is so connected to them in ways I never thought imaginable. So much as transpired in these few short days . . .
I witnessed the pain that their culture inflicts upon them. I heard the trembling voice of a young woman unveiling her heart to me about the pain she endured in her home. I laughed with them, sang with them and tried to mimic their amazing dancing. I listened to them arguing, discussing and singing in a language that wasn’t my own. I drank Maasai smoke tea and was given a window into their hidden world of giving birth. I experienced the darkness and evil of the vain traditions that hold them captive and powerless. I witnessed the spark of light brought through God’s truth. This tiny remnant, of powerless women, now awake to the power of God’s Holy Spirit ready to bring about change in their culture!
Jesus said in John 10.10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
And for a long time, the thief has had his way amongst the Maasai but NO LONGER! It has begun and my heart is so hopeful for them!
As we drive away, I know I have left a piece of my heart there and the pain is excruciating.
I wonder . . . Is this even a little hint of what Jesus felt for me? Was His heart torn into a thousand pieces when He saw the brokenness and pain of this world?
Then Jesus said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?” (Luke 9.23-25)
This is the beauty and mystery of grace. It is the backwards, upside down way of living in God’s kingdom . . . giving to receive, denying ourselves to find our true self, dying to find life!
What excruciating pain and yet what joy! What sorrow and yet what beauty! As I give my heart away, I trust God will patch up this broken heart with His love – a love that knows no bounds and has no limits!
And in this process of patching and refining I find LIFE, LOVE and new STRENGTH to give my heart away again.
Spilling His Grace,
All spring and summer I have been actively raising financial support so that I might be able to do this God-given dream! And now, what I have been praying for, hoping for and working towards is finally here!
I’m on my way, to Nairobi even as I write this! I’m sitting in a Starbucks in Amsterdam waiting to catch my connecting flight and head into the UNKNOWN. I’m not super clear on what I will be doing, where I will be staying, who I will be connecting with but this crazy faith journey has forged within me a courage I never thought I had.
I’m learning that even in the courage there’s a whole lot of SCARY too! I find myself asking questions like, “Can I do this? Am I up to this HUGE dream? What if I fall flat on my face? What if no one likes me? What if I can’t make connections?”
There is a lot of scary when we have a God-given dream, because it’s usually way too big for us. But then isn’t that where God wants us to be? – uncomfortable and dependent. Where there is weakness and inadequacy there is room for dependency and trust. There is freedom for Him to move and breathe in our lives making it possible for us to do way more than we ever dreamed possible.
Scary is uncomfortable! Scary is where we often quit. Scary has the potential to drive us to our knees or make us turn tail and run. On the road of Scary we will always come to a crossroad: will we give in to our fear and let go of our God-given dream or will we choose to trust in the One who gave us the dream in the first place?
In the wise words of “theologian”, John Wayne: “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway!” Emma Donoghue said, “Scared is what you’re feeling, brave is what you’re doing.”
I’m discovering, courage is not the absence of fear but the fortitude to push past the fear and trust in the One who first stepped into scary for us!
We don’t have to fear because WE DON’T GO IT ALONE! We have the One who gave us the dream –emboldening us with the power of His Holy Spirit living inside of us. This power drives us to dream BIG God-sized dreams, and removes the power of fear that leads us to give up or to dream smaller, more socially acceptable dreams.
Look what Paul says, 1 Corinthians 2.9 . . .
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.
We often see this verse used for our hope of heaven, but what if it is also what God wants to do in and through the lives of His children here on earth?
What if He wants to take our breath away even as we step out in faith and trust Him? What if we’re blown away by what He does because we’ve said YES to Him?
What if He’s just waiting for us to step into the scary to astound us with His glory?
Spilling His Grace,
This summer has been a journey of highs and lows, of big miracles and little, of blessings and trials, of disappointment and encouragement, of fear and learning to trust. Even as the threads of discouragement have wound themselves around my heart, God has torn them away with the power of His love. He has shown me in so many ways that He is God and I am not. That He is BIG and He is ENOUGH. That He’s got this! That I no longer have to let fear hold me back from doing what He has placed in my heart. What a ride it’s been and what a ride it will be!
But what if I had let my fear stand in the way of this God-given dream? What if I had chosen to stay where it was comfortable? What if I had refused to embrace the adventure and stayed where it’s safe?
I would’ve missed seeing the greatness of God. Missed the miracles. Missed the confidence I now have in my heart that God doesn’t call me to something without making a way. I would’ve missed KNOWING Him and seeing Him move in astounding ways. Even as I sit here, I feel my heart crying out to remember His good deeds, to reflect on how He has answered and I stand amazed . . .
How He provided all the needed funds for my trip to Honduras. For beautiful ministry with my California friends and the new friendships forged.
How a single mom now gets to be part of God’s work around the world through her sacrificial gifts of $5 a month and how excited she is to be a part of it!
How a woman who pledged $100 per month but had a huge obstacle to overcome in order to keep good on her promise and how God removed the obstacle the next day!
How a family was forced to think creatively because of a sudden financial deficit and “change for CHANGE” was born!
How a friend’s teenage daughter’s heart is being expanded beyond herself. How she is moved to invest and pray for women around the world.
How a beautiful friend jumped at the chance to join with me in fasting and praying every Monday. She sends me Scripture every Monday morning to encourage and focus on for the day!
How month after month God has met the $1000 per month goal!!! (April, May, June, July and August is really close! And I just have one more $1000 per month to be fully funded!!)
How this weekend, my husband and sons were pick-axing our driveway – needing to replace worn out black top and cracked cement and a random guy drives by in our suburban neighborhood on a Saturday morning with a mini-backhoe. What? He stopped, drove the backhoe off the truck and began breaking up the huge blocks of blacktop and concrete. What would’ve taken our family probably six-eight hours to do and a bucket load of sore muscles, he did in just thirty minutes!
How in April I stood looking at the mountain of support for this ministry I needed to raise and called it my Mount Everest and now I’m I can see the summit! What?
How I feel like such an ordinary girl and this dream is WAY TO BIG FOR ME! And yet God reminds me every day, He is EXTRAORDINARY and He is the GOD OF THE IMPOSSIBLE.
How He has met me in the deepest places of discouragement and taught me to trust in Him. You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock. Isaiah 26.3-4
Let me ask you. What is your God-given dream? Are you going for it or are you allowing fear to hold you back from doing what God has placed in your heart? Are you choosing to stay where it’s comfortable, where it’s safe?
Well then, what could you be missing out on?
Mark Batterson in his book, Wild Goose Chase, says this, A part of us feels as if something is spiritually wrong with us when we experience circumstantial uncertainty. But that is precisely what Jesus promised us when we are born of the Spirit and start following Him. Most of us will have no idea where we are going most of the time. And that is unsettling. But circumstantial uncertainty also goes by another name: adventure.
Why not join the adventure with me and follow your God-given dream!
Spilling His grace,
But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. Jeremiah 17.7-8
I’m right smack dab in the middle of fundraising so I can travel the world and share the love of Jesus with women from all different walks of life and empower them with the gospel.
It has been one of the hardest and most rewarding seasons of my life!
I have never felt more like I’m on a rollercoaster ride than now (and that’s saying something since we had four teenagers!). One day I’m UP because I have had a friend I haven’t seen in a long time commit to partnering with me and the next I’m DOWN in the dumps because another friend who I’ve poured my life into has opted out. One minute, I’ve experienced God throwing open wide the doors and the next minute it seems like they’re all closed. Sometimes, I feel like I’m just going AROUND and AROUND– trying to set up appointments and rescheduling cancelations. UP and DOWN, AROUND and AROUND, never knowing what might happen next. I’ve seen huge answers to prayer and then experienced the silence of God. I have wrestled with disappointment and been amazed by His works! It’s exciting and yet completely terrifying!
But in the middle of it all, I can feel God deepening my faith like never before. I can feel my roots growing deep into the water, finding life and love and joy! I’m discovering He is ALL I need. I find my heart rejoicing in the middle of my struggle. Words like fortitude, tenaciousness and strength have become my prayer as I ask God to do His work in me. I feel Him preparing me for what is to come. Chiseling me into His masterpiece. I’m realizing I need Him like I need air to breathe. I’m learning what it means to place my complete trust in God and I want Him to be my hope and confidence! He is who I look to, He is who I depend on and He is where I put my hope – a hope that, Paul says in Romans, DOESN’T DISAPPOINT! (Romans 5.5 NLT)
I want to be this tree, Jeremiah speaks of . . . to be planted by the river of LIFE, so my roots will grow down deep into the water. I long to be healthy and fruit producing regardless of my rollercoaster journey.
This is what I want! So when someone sees my life, they don’t say, “Wow, look at Kristi.” They say, “Wow, look at her God and what He can do with a life!”
May it be so.
Spilling His grace,
Honduras a beautiful country with beautiful people. Mountains that seem to go on forever.
Countryside’s dotted with grazing cows and horses. Corn and coffee bushes growing on valley floors and mountain slopes.
The lush jungle forests and the loud calls of the brilliant colored Macaws.
There was so much I loved about Honduras.
I loved watching the way the clouds would roll in and cover the tops of the mountains,
the abundance of butterflies and how the light reflected off their wings,
the varied colors of green in the jungle forests, the quaint little towns built on the hillsides,
the beautiful canopy of trees glimpsed from high atop the Mayan Ruins.
I loved listening to the rain hit our metal roof and our morning wake-up call from the friendly neighborhood rooster, who we fondly called, Rodney
and the sound of my Honduran friends speaking Spanish.
But more than all of this, I loved Honduran’s beautiful people and more specifically the women! They were the reason I was there. They were the reason I had left the comforts of home and all that was familiar.
I loved experiencing our differences; the language, the food, their homes, their ways of worship. But even more than that I loved discovering how we are the same . . . The same concerns; safety for our kids and health for our family. The same desires; financial security and wanting to be loved. The same struggles; trusting God and finding time to pray.
Life in Honduras was different and yet the same.
I loved getting to know them. Hearing their struggles, seeing their joy, watching their reactions and sharing their pain.
I sat across from a woman who had eight boys! And I thought my four boys was an accomplishment!
I knelt down next to a pastor and held her hand as we prayed over she and her husband. These two beautiful people were barely keeping their heads above water. The weight they carried was overwhelming and suffocating. This pastor had lost her father and mother in the space of one year and the care of the church had fallen to her. She also took over caring for her special-needs sister, dealt with her husband’s brain tumor and resulting handicaps from surgery, and held the weight of faithfully ministering to her church family day in and day out. I saw her deep pain as the tears poured down her face, and listened to her uncontrolled weeping as we laid hands on them and prayed. It was a holy moment as we joined as one in carrying their burden, lifting the weight off their shoulders and renewing their hope. We were The Church, the Body of Christ, doing what God intended His children to do. Galatians 6.2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Life is different in Honduras and yet much is the same. We serve the same God, read the same Bible, sing many of the same songs and ALL of us, whether we live in Honduras, Africa or North America are called to disciple, to tell others about the Good News that God sees, God knows and loves!
Spilling His Grace,
“The person who expects nothing will never be disappointed.” (Alexander Pope)
This new journey of faith walking feels more like a narrow winding up and down, black diamond hike than a meandering smooth easy path. One day I’m ecstatic over the answers to prayer I’m witnessing and the next I’m in the depths of despair, disappointed and discouraged. It’s why I resonated so deeply with this quote when I saw it. I’m expecting God to move in big and small ways to make this ministry happen. But “His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts,” (Isaiah 55.8) and I might add, His timing is not my timing. I expect great things from God and He doesn’t let me down, He just doesn’t do things in the way I think He should or in the time I think they should be done!
The other day I wrote in my journal, “I feel discouragement knocking at my door. BUT I refuse to open it! I REFUSE TO BE DISCOURAGED. I REFUSE TO BACK DOWN. I REFUSE TO QUIT.”
Jesus said in Matthew 7:13, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult and only a few ever find it.”
As I tread this difficult road I feel it making me stronger. Deepening my faith. Teaching me dependence. Stripping away the peripheral. Narrowing my focus. Grounding me in truth. Forging a stalwart heart.
So today, once again, I choose the difficult road. I choose to follow His way. I choose to put my hand in the Hand of the one who laid down His life for me. I choose to follow wherever this difficult road takes me.
I know I’m not the only one choosing the difficult road. My road may look different from yours but our roads are difficult just the same. Hang in there. Never give up and don’t back down. Refuse to open the door to discouragement. Turn to your Savior, He gave His live so you might have life, true and abundant life!
Remember, if you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time. You won’t struggle with disappointment but you won’t accomplish anything of value either.
Spilling His Grace,
Spreading light through Storytelling
Because He first poured His grace on me . . . Ephesians 1.6
Because He first poured His grace on me . . . Ephesians 1.6