Saturday, July 25, 2015

What do you do when life changes?

Ok, so a lot has happened since my last post!

I mean, it is as if we are living a completely different life since January 12!

Which leads me to ask the question, "What do you do when life changes?"

After re-reading my last two posts, I am (but shouldn't be) astonished at how God puts to test what you say.

For example, 5 days after my post about giving God the glory no matter what happens, our vehicle was stolen. Yeah, so God really put me to the test and I had to live out my own words. I don't believe in the "name it, claim it" philosophy. But I do believe what the Word of God says, in Prov. 18:21…"Death and life are in the power of the tongue…" How was I going to respond to a situation that I had to walk the talk?  I had said it, but was I willing to live it?

Recently, I was talking to Micah about his dreams of playing soccer professionally and I told him that God wants him to give all of his dreams to Him, lay them at His feet and put Jesus first. If God chooses to give those dreams back to him, then he can know that God is going to use those dreams for His glory in and through Micah's life. But God wants Micah (and all of us) to want Him first. What I stressed to him is that it is easy to SAY that we are giving everything to God, but LIVING out what we say is another thing altogether.

When I look back at my January 12 post, I see someone who was in the midst of a huge stress moment, yet hesitantly willing to give it all back for the better. It reminds me of the picture below…

I love this picture because it perfectly describes our lives and our unwillingness to part with our little for the bigger and better that Jesus has for us, only because we can't see it yet.

Stepping into the unknown of missions life is hard, the not-knowing is not my favorite thing. The struggles along the way...the giving up of tangible things, the letting-go of hurts, the loneliness, the doubts, the fears and all that can't be named...are all very real and can't always be explained.

But Jesus has something so much greater in store. I wrote this on January 5...

But what I want most is to remember that…
whatever comes our way this year…
whether our plans work out the way we planned or not…
in the midst of the hard and the easy…
if we don't know what is next…

FROM Him are ALL things

TO Him are ALL things

He Deserves the Glory!

I still believe every word, but when I look back at what I wrote then and what I have experienced so far this year…I wonder if I really wrote that or did Jesus write that through me?

Because there is no way that I could have known that…
...our vehicle would be stolen 5 days later,
...we would have to leave Venezuela 4 months early because of new Visa regulations,
…our lives would be in limbo as we wait for answers concerning many things, one of which is the granting of our Visas.

We recently shared this in our July monthly update…

Moriah introduced us to the song, "Trust In You" by Lauren Daigle. You can listen here
The words of the song spoke volumes to our family and the ups and downs of missionary life. 

God doesn't always work things out like we want Him to, 
yet we trust Him.
He doesn't always allow us to follow the dreams we originally planned for ourselves, 
yet we trust Him.
And just like the lyrics to the song say...

Even when He doesn't move the mountains we need Him to move...
Even when He doesn't part the waters we wish we could have walked through...
Even when He doesn't give the answers as we cry out to Him...

We will trust...We will trust...We will trust in Him!!

Because there is not a day ahead, that He has not seen 
or a place where we will go, that He has not already stood!

Apparently, God loves to use songs to teach us life lessons. :D

And He obviously has a lot to teach us this year. Just like the fireworks they shoot off all over the city of Caracas on New Year's, He started our year out with a bang! ;D

Whatever God has in mind for my life and yours, He is teaching us valuable lessons along the way.

TRUST is one of the hardest, but one of the most rewarding, if we are willing to give Him our desires, dreams and plans for His bigger and better ones.

Oh, and if you are wondering, Jesus did give us a bigger and better vehicle in less than a month after the first one was stolen! :D

Monday, January 12, 2015

My First Ring

I was in the first grade.

I had received my first real gold ring with my birthstone in it from my aunt.

I wore it to school one day and a friend asked to wear it and I agreed.

Later, I asked for it back and she asked to wear it longer.

After recess that day, I again asked for it back and she told me that she had lost it on the playground.

I went home that day heartbroken.

My special ring was gone.

My mom told me something that I have always remembered:

"Sometimes God gives you things that He only allows you to keep for a season.
If He gives them back, then Thank Him. If not, Thank Him for the time He allowed you to keep them."

I Thanked Him for my ring and the time He had allowed me to keep it.

Several weeks later, I went to put my new backpack on its hook at school.

My old backpack, the one with holes all in the bottom of it, was still hanging there…empty.

I opened it and looked inside.

At the bottom, in the midst of all the holes, lay my ring.

I still have it to this day…as a remembrance of God allowing me to have my ring back.

…as a remembrance of God showing me His faithful love for a first grader.

…as a remembrance that God heard and answered my prayer.

…as a remembrance that God does miracles.

During my lifetime, not everything has been given back.

And when they were, it was definitely not as memorable.

It is just a reminder to me that ALL things are From Him, To Him and He deserves the Glory!

On Saturday, January 10, 2015, our Toyota Land Cruiser was stolen.

Just like my ring, we Thank Him for the time He allowed us to have and use it.

That truck was From Him and we give it back To Him and now…
…whatever happens
…whether we recover it or not
…whether God gives us something different in its place

…Jesus deserves all the Glory!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Three simple remembrances

With every new year comes new thoughts, ideas and sometimes, even...resolutions. ;D

As we rolled into 2015 (sometimes I feel like I did that literally with all the good food I have been eating over the holidays), I began to think about what I want this year to be representative of…

…better health
…ministry expansion

I could go on and on and while I want this year to represent all those things, I feel like God gave me something special for our family to live out this year...

For months, we have been singing a song at church that has quickly become my favorite. Although I understood its meaning in Spanish, I had never heard it in English, until Moriah came running up to me one day a few weeks back, shouting, "I found our song in English!"

Now, at different times around the house you can hear different ones singing this song in English or Spanish or both. :D

You may think I am crazy and way behind the times, but we aren't always able to keep up with what is current in the Christian music scene down here in South America, so this song could be old news to you.

The song is…Worthy of it All...

All the saints and angels bow before Your throne 
All the elders cast their crowns before the Lamb of God and sing

You are worthy of it all, You are worthy of it all 
For from You are all things, and to You are all things, You deserve the glory

Day and night, night and day, let incense arise

Coming home from the farm last week, I felt like the Lord was speaking to my heart about simplifying my life, not in the amount of things we do, but in our reactions to those things and life in general.

From this song came...Three simple remembrances…

FROM Him are ALL things

TO Him are ALL things

He Deserves the Glory

I believe that Jesus wants me to stop focusing so much on all the details, and instead remember to react to life around me with the attitude that everything comes from Him, everything belongs to Him and He deserves the glory for all those things. 

This year will bring lots of 
 - transition and we begin a new ministry here in Caracas.
 - we finish paperwork and receive approvals for our move from Associate to Career Missionary along with our move back to the States for itineration in the fall.

We will also need and want health and peace and the Presence of Jesus as this year progresses.

But what I want most is to remember that…
whatever comes our way this year…
whether our plans work out the way we planned or not…
in the midst of the hard and the easy…
if we don't know what is next…

FROM Him are ALL things

TO Him are ALL things

He Deserves the Glory!

To hear Worthy of it All, click here.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Favorite Ornaments - Maple Grove

Wow! This is my final "My Favorite Ornaments" blog post!

When I started this series, I had no idea how fast it would pass or that I would even have enough to say for all 31 days. (I know you are all shocked by that revelation!) ;D

But I did it. And I am ending it with my all-time second favorite ornament, after The Nail!

Maple Grove…

Built in 1883 by Adolphus Lafayette Shuford, this house holds a rich heritage for us, as Adolphus was Scott's great, great, great grandfather on his mother's side. 

Below are a few pictures and a short history of the house and its occupants. 
Maple Grove
Maple Grove
542 2nd Street, NE
Maple Grove (1875-1883) was the home of Adolphus Lafayette Shuford and his family, and is one of the oldest remaining houses in Hickory. It is a simple but handsome representation of the Italianate style. A.L. Shuford was a prominent early citizen of Hickory. When in 1863 the first attempt was made to incorporate the village of Hickory Tavern, Shuford was one of the six founding commissioners. He was also the first agent in Hickory of the Western North Carolina Railroad, and he played an important role in the founding of Claremont College. Shuford is credited with having imported the first Jersey cattle to Catawba County. In the early 1870s Shuford began acquiring acreage near the town of Hickory in order to begin a dairy. On the farm Shuford began building the nucleus of his Jersey herd and a house large enough to accommodate his wife and children. With the growth of Hickory, Shuford's house became part of an increasingly urban area. (It is now part of the Claremont High School District.) After A.L. Shuford's death in 1885, members of his immediate family occupied the house until 1912, when it was sold to D.H. Boyd. Around 1970 Mrs. Wade H. Shuford, widow of one of Adolphus Shuford's sons, donated the house to the Hickory Landmarks Society, ensuring its preservation.
Maple Grove is a two-story frame house with weather-board siding, a pedimented-gable roof, gable-end brick chimneys, a three-bay fa├žade, and a two-story rear ell. One of the most distinctive features of the house is its two-tier front porch with paired chamfered posts, bracketed cornices, and decorative sawnwork balustrades. The main body of the house has a center-hall plan with simple detailing. One of the most striking interior features is the closed-string stair with its heavy chamfered and molded newel and unusual sawnwork balustrade reminiscent of the front porch balustrades.

The house is beautiful, both inside and out. I even had my wedding portraits taken there. It is truly a amazing piece of history that we cherish.

What makes it even more special is that we received this ornament as a wedding gift from Scott's Aunt Jean and Uncle Don, his father's sister. 

Enclosed in the beautiful red box was this note. It reads…

Thought this might be something of your past 
to help you start your future. 
May God bless and keep you.
Aunt Jean and Uncle Don

Aunt Jean went to be with Jesus in 2013, while we have been here in Venezuela. And although we miss her greatly, we know that one day, we will see her again. We know she is enjoying her time with Jesus because she loved him dearly.

She could never have known how special Christmas ornaments would be in our family, or maybe it is because of this ornament that the tradition was started in our home.

Either way, she gave us something tangible to remember the past while looking toward the future.

As this year ends today, and we move into 2015, we have plenty of memories of the past, both good and bad. But I think we should allow the past to spur us on toward the future and all the plans that God has in store for us there.

My prayer is this:

Jesus, please help me to use what I have learned from the past to make me a better servant for you. May I continue to grow and mature as I spend time with you in prayer, in Your Word and with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Lead me daily and guide me with your Holy Spirit. May living in Your Presence and knowing You be my first priority. Help me to see others through Your eyes and love my neighbors, the Venezuelan people, as myself! In Your precious name, Amen.

I pray that God will bless your 2015 with His richest blessings and use you for His glory!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Favorite Ornaments - Oh Course, There's Sports!

In this house of soccer lovers, our tree would not be complete without soccer ornaments!

These two ornaments are, of course, Micah's.

And there would be more if they made more soccer-related ornaments!

But unfortunately, American football, basketball and baseball tend to rule the day when it comes to sports ornaments.
That's okay! We celebrate our love of soccer just by being in a soccer-saturated nation. ;D

Although Venezuela ranks second (behind the DR) in Latin America for sending baseball players to the Major Leagues, soccer is still beloved here.

One of the greatest thrills for our family was watching the World Cup this past summer while living in VZ. Every TV in every house and every store and every mall was tuned to the World Cup. Wherever we went people were wearing the jerseys of their favorite country's team. We saw mainly Germany, Brazil and Argentina jerseys being worn here.

We happened to be at a local mall one day when one of the Brazil games was being played. The jumbo screen in the food court was tuned to the game and it was standing room only with a sea of yellow and green jerseys filling the entire foot court.

If any of you have watched a soccer game in Spanish, you knew that when a goal is scored, the commentators, and of course, the fans yell, Gooooooooooooooooooool! forever!!
So, you can imagine the roar that went up with each goal Brazil scored.

When we were at home, we could hear that same roar from our neighbors' houses as their favorite teams played, as I am sure they heard the same roar from our house.

We had neighbors, both adults and kids, come to watch the games with us, and even if we couldn't communicate well, our love of soccer and our common teams brought us closer together.

It is like the body of Christ.

We don't have to look alike, or speak the same language, our common love for Jesus and our commitment to the same goals as Christians brings us closer together.

It makes us family!

And even when we are miles upon miles away from one another, we are still one in the Spirit.

We serve the same Creator, whether we live in Venezuela, or the US, or somewhere in Africa or Asia.

And each time we hear about another brother or sister joining the family, we should all yell, Gooooooooooooooooooool! :D

We must not forget to encourage or cheer on our brothers and sisters in the faith as we all serve Jesus and win others to Christ!

Now, let's go win the world for Him!

Monday, December 29, 2014

My Favorite Ornaments - Princesses & Barbie

If my tree has Super Heroes on it, then it must have Barbies and Princesses too.
There has to be some sort of balance in a house with 3 boys and 2 girls. :D

We have Cinderella, Belle, Aurora, Rapunzel, Ariel and Snow White in the princess category.

And we have Barbie in some of her famous movie roles like Three Musketeers, Island Princess and the Princess and the Pauper. We also have her decked out in several high fashion dresses.

That reminds me of all the times our girls played dress-up with their princess dresses, crowns and high heels. Moriah has long since left those days behind and Merci is not too far behind, although they both still like to wear heels.
I would love to keep them little forever, but at the same time, I am enjoying seeing them grow and mature into beautiful young ladies, both inside and out.

I want them to always remember that, not only are they “Daddy’s (and Mommy’s) Little Girls,” they are the daughters of the King of kings!

All those princesses and Barbies have nothing on my daughters and yours too!

We have girls that represent the greatest King of all time. 

Now, we must remember to teach them...along with about a million other things... keep their eyes on Him. allow Him to guide their lives. ask Him first about any decision. serve Him always.
...that they are to always remember that they are daughters of the King!

He loves them more than we could ever imagine.

Thank you Jesus for loving my babies, both my boys and my girls, more than I ever could!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

My Favorite Ornaments - Super Heroes, Villains and…Hoops & Yoyo

What tree would be complete without a few super heroes and villains?

With three boys, our tree has its fair share.

From Batman to Spiderman fighting Green Goblin to Tron to Lego Darth Vader and don't forget to add in Mr. Incredible and Iron Man, our tree is securely protected and defended. ;D

And every tree must have a couple of Veggie Tales ornaments…

...and a Hoops and Yoyo ornament! This one sings to us, classics like:

"Shake it shake it shake it shake it
Shake it shake it shake it shake it
Shake it shake it shake-a your Christmas gift
That ain't all we're gonna do,
We're gonna rip the wrapping too
Woohoo! Hahaha!"


"We got a present, shake shake shake
Its sorta fragile, break break break
What's inside, we don't know
Uh, uh-oh, we gotta go
Woah! Hurry! Sorry, Mom!
Uh-oh, Don't tell Santa!"
I know you are familiar with those two songs, especially if you have little ones! :D

Just like our lives…
...we have the villain, the devil, always lurking around waiting for an opportunity to bring us down,
...while we have our heroes; our Christian brothers and sisters, the Word, and most importantly, our Savior ready and able to protect and defend us,
…and we have the crazy fun moments of life where we can let ourselves be silly for a little while and recount the joys of life.

This past month has been a great time to recount the joys of Christmases past!

And while our lives aren't perfect by no means, the good far outweighs the bad and the glorious reason we celebrate Christmas remains the reason we live and serve!

Thank you Jesus for being our ultimate Super Hero!