Monday, January 2, 2017

One Word



2016 ended with me very aware of my brokenness – I was completely caught off guard with a friend I had offended in so many ways. This thrust me into a domino effect of confusion, self doubt and condemnation about everything. Once it started I couldn’t stop it.

As a “Christmas nerd,” I was used to the holiday being filled with excitement, family, and fun outings. It didn’t happen this year.  My parents were unable to come, my husband was stressed and overloaded with work so he took no vacation time, and, our money tree was bare this year so gifts and things to do were very selective. To make matters worse, my patience for my children was at its lowest and I was “stuck” entertaining them Christmas break by myself. 

Are you hearing the violin? This was a “perfect storm,” which left me feeling even worse – bratty  - because given what others were going through in the world, my life was a picnic. So there you go.

Christmas this year wasn’t about Christ, 
it was about me and my worldly perspective. 
I knew it but couldn’t seem to do anything about it. 

So many times, this is where I find myself come December 26th
Broken, Bratty, and full of Shame.

Unfortunately, in a sick way, this is my old “comfortable.” It’s my default when I allow lies free range in my head and I choose to face life withOUT my Father, Savior and Strength. 

I was BROKEN … because, let’s face it… I am. It’s time for me to finally accept it. I always have been. And I hate to break it to you; if you’re not Jesus, you are too. That’s Truth, but not the whole story. If you remain here, you will not experience Joy. The whole truth is, I am broken without Christ.

JOY

This word was decorated and sung all through December, but let’s face it, I wasn’t feeling it. In fact, I was “feeling” lonely and … empty. How about you? Is this striking a chord with anyone?

Just like the world has commercialized Christmas, 
it’s also commercialized “Joy.”

It was missing from my Christmas. I was looking to relationships, not Christ, for joy. I was looking to circumstances, not Christ, for joy. I was looking to my own abilities and successes, not Christ, for joy. 

Joy is my One Word this year. I saw the world decorated in it this Christmas, but when I saw it in all its beauty, it still seemed empty. As I was jogging in my neighborhood one evening, it struck me.

Rotating difficulties!!!!

Without Christ in the middle of Joy, there is none. 
 It's an empty word. Christ is the center of Joy. 
Jesus came to this world as a baby to save us 
from our brokenness. 

Christ is our reason for Joy. The only way to Joy. 
 Everything else is counterfeit. 


For me, 2017 is not about being broken, bratty and full of shame. It's about allowing God to redefine the word, Joy, in my life. What it truly means and how to continually have it! I look forward to sharing what God shows me.


This is my response to those three joy stealing words left ringing in my ear at the end of 2016. 
 
Yes, I am broken, BUT more so, I am BLESSED! For Jesus did not leave me in my brokenness. In fact, I am called to boast in it!

2 Corinthians 12:9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

God loved me and chose me in spite of my brokenness. For this, He sent His Only Son, Jesus, and by His blood alone am I saved from it. Brattyness is simply brokenness manifested. And shame comes from not fully receiving Jesus sacrifice for my brokenness. Jesus, I choose you!

What's your One word for this Year - Find out here

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Death and Resurrection of Self

Matthew 16:24-25 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it."


A Beautiful Easter Prayer by Ken GireHelp me to realize what You are doing in my life, Lord, and how you are doing it. You are changing me into your likeness - and You are doing it day by day, decision by decision. Thank you for this incremental wonder. And help me, incrementally, to work with You in bringing it about.

May I FEEL
  • the WEIGHT OF THAT CROSS on each thought I THINK, so my thoughts could die and Yours be given life. 
  • the HARDNESS OF ITS WOOD over ever word I SPEAK, so my words could be silenced and yours be heard.
  • the ROUGHNESS OF ITS SURFACE against all I DO, so that what I do is what you would do if You were here. Because that is how You are here. Through me.

When I am TEMPTED to
  • THINK MORE HIGHLY OF MYSELF than I should, bring to mind that though You existed in the form of God, You did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Yourself - taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in the appearance of a man, You humbled Yourself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. 
  • RESPOND TO HARSH WORDS by returning the harshness, help me to realize the example You set for me on the cross, that while You were reviled, you did not revile in return; while suffering, You uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Yourself to Him who judges righteously.
  • ACT SELFISHLY, draw me once again to Your cross, where you gave so freely and so fully. To Your executioners, You gave forgiveness. To a thief, paradise. To Your mother, a son.

MAY I NEVER GROW WEARY of living like that, Lord. And may I never seek rest from the responsibility of that cross, understanding that dying to self is not a one time crucifixion but a way of life.

- Ken Gire

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Crickets and quotes...



You may be wandering why this is all you have heard from me for the last 6 months...Long story short, I have not allowed myself to post.

Let me explain -My whole life I’ve been a chameleon – not drastic but subtle….. Last year, God revealed to me that I "perform" as a living.



I perform  
  • so you will like me. 
  •  so you will think I’m okay.
  • because it’s comfortable.  
  • to prove my worth to you, to God, and to myself.  
  • because I don’t know how not to.
- Emily Freeman "Grace for the Good Girl"

So where have I been?  
Learning how NOT to perform and instead SURRENDER and simply RECEIVE. (i.e. placing an expectation on myself to post...perform... prove my worth. This is definitely a hard process for this try hard girl I've become, but let me tell you.. it's been quite freeing.) 

Freeman goes on to say "I care so much what you think... I desperately want to manage your opinion of me. Nearly everything I do is to convince you I am "good".  If I sense any hint of disbelief on your part that I am good, if it seems your opinion is other than what I wish it to be, it becomes my job to change your mind."

Here's another... I just can't help it... it's good stuff...
“The shape and intensity of our performance comes down to two things: expectation and definitions.  I have the expectation of myself to be 
  • a good girl 
  • a good Christian
  • a good wife
  • a good mom
 Not such bad things, until you understand my own personal twisted definition of “good.” 

Good means 
  • I never mess up.
  • I weigh the perfect amount. 
  • I can handle everything. 
  • I don’t look like a fool. 
  • I never lose my patience. 
  • My husband will never be disappointed in me
  • My kids will always obey
  • and everyone basically likes me. 
 Good means I am enough. My goodness is all about me. Not only do I want to be all these things, but I want to be them in front of God and everyone. I want to be good and I want you to know it. 
- Emily Freeman

Are you ready to buy this book yet??? If you can relate and these quotes speak to you, I encourage you to walk through this book with me! Grace For The Good Girl.

Until next time! No schedule, no performance, no expectations... just simply learning how to surrender and receive.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The New Nature ...


It is NOT a
better version of "you" 
that follows the rules.... 

.....the New Nature is 
"CHRIST" in you, 
living through and for you.


Ephesians 4:22-24 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. [NLT]

I have been deceived for so long. For me, it's all been about performance. Attaining the new nature through my right actions. Here I have been living so long trying my best to please my heavenly Father. Trying my best to stop doing "bad" things (put off the "old nature") and start doing "good" things (put on the "new nature:). All the while, God is grieving for me, as I condemn myself for falling short.

The MISTAKE: I take the action words in scripture and try to do them the best I can in my own strength.


The RESULT: I become a victim to LEGALISM and SELF CONDEMNATION. I take on the lie of "I have to be better" and "I'm not good enough."  


The TRUTH (What does God say?):

  • You are not condemned because it's not your power that has freed you Romans 8:1-2 
  • Stop trying to meet all the requirements of the law; instead, live for Me Galatians 2:18-21 
  • Do not treat My grace as meaningless. For if you could keep the law, then why did My Son have to die. Galatians 2:21


HOW DO WE CORRECT THIS?

Read this verse again, and look closely.
Ephesians 4:22-24 throw off your old sinful nature ... Instead, LET the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. [NLT]  Emphasis mine

What are we to be "doing"? How are we to be "performing"?
Did you catch the action word "LET" in the New Living Translation? It means allow, give permission to ... Other translations use the verb "to be" (remain).

The "action" is not in our deeds (the flesh). 
It occurs in our thoughts (mind) and attitudes (heart).



MORE TRUTH: 


THE NEW NATURE - It is not until, we renew our minds and hearts, that we can have the new nature. It is not earned but instead - received. It is not a better us, but instead - Him.

Our Heavenly Father dwelling among us!
Jesus Christ living in us!
The Holy Spirit flowing through us!

And from this new nature only will right actions flow. 

This is something Im still trying to completely grasp. Study for yourself.
Go deeper and reflect on Romans 8. What is God saying to you?

I would love to hear your thoughts. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Togo Trip 2014 Thank you, Recap and Picts


 Thank you to all who supported me prayerfully, financially and / or logistically in the February Medical/Ministry Mission Trip to Togo, West Africa. This truly was a team effort, not just of the 20 members who physically went, but all God’s people (you) who He invited to be a part of what he is doing there. You’re role was just as vital as mine and I pray that you will recognize and receive His blessings from your obedience.


I want to start off by apologizing in the delay of updating you. Truthfully, it has been challenging for me to write this letter and I’m not sure why. Could be….I’m still processing… or the enemy doesn’t want me to tell you what you were a part of… I believe it’s a little of both. But, in NO WAY does it have anything to do with the effectiveness of this trip. It was so successful on so many levels and I will do my best in sharing in a way that you get the whole picture – the “cliff notes” version. For the extended version, be on the lookout for upcoming blogs.

MEDICALLY
We were able to conduct 8 clinics in three Togolese villages for the Pioneers Togo missionary effort. During this time, over 1000 patients received care (medical consultation, glasses, medication, dentistry, consideration for surgery). The medical need is huge because few have access to any of these. The fact that we were able to stay in a village multiple days made it possible to see all those who needed to be seen… and It gave those who heard via word of mouth more time to travel (please note this is Togo Travel) to the clinic. This was a blessing because in the past we have to leave without many being
seen.

Highlights:
-          I extracted a tooth while assisting the dentist. Being non-medical, this was truly rewarding to be able to ease someone’s physical pain so quickly. Who would’ve thought I’d like looking in peoples mouths and not pass out! 
-          We witnessed a life saved (physically). A man had been unable to eat solid food for months due to a severe case of lockjaw. I was


honored to take part by helping to pry his mouth open wide enough to be given anesthesia and a muscle relaxer. The next day he was able to open his mouth wide enough and receive the treatment needed.
-          I came so close to trying to sneak a precious orphan into my suitcase and making her a part of our family. (Some may ask why I didn’t. Unfortunately, but sometimes fortunately, the adoption process is complicated in Togo… and I probably should discuss something like that with my husband first!)
-          Not a highlight, but just plain crazy. Who knew it rained in Togo!?!?!? It rained at least 4 of our 8 clinic days, and threatened to on more days. This posed extra challenges for us, but we made it through thanks to our excellent leadership!
SPIRITUALLY - We were able to place a huge emphasis on ministry this year with such a large team. It resulted in an impact well beyond the length of our trip.
1) Teaching resources (Men’s, Women’s and Children’s) were created, taught and left for the spiritual leaders of the village.  This time was much needed to pour into, pray for, encourage, and equip these anointed servants to continue their work. These brave men and women persevere through great hardships to fulfill their calling. 
2) We began each clinic with a skit (which amazingly broke through the language barrier).  Through this, the missionaries had an opportunity to speak to large crowds waiting and watching (well over the 1000 patients seen). Many came just for medicine or to see the Yovo’s  (white people) in action, but they received so much more! Lives were saved and seeds were planted before our eyes.
3) We raised $1000 and were able to purchase 140 translated bibles to take with us. You could see the hunger the believer’s had for Word. Something we so easily take for granted and don’t recognize as a need in America is HUGE nourishment for the Togolese. We have much to learn from them!
4) Being non-medical and working in a medical clinic was challenging. Each role I was placed in (triage, glasses, medicine teaching) was seen as a creative ministry opportunity that only He could have orchestrated! Ask me about this and the divine appointments.  I’d LOVE to share! God’s plan all along was for me to focus on the patient’s spiritual healing.

Highlights:
-       -   My very first patient to work with was the village chief.  God turned it into a 30 minute opportunity to speak about the circumstances he was facing and how God can heal the brokenness we have in any situation. He was planning to connect with the village missionary who I believe had just been given permission to return to the village.
- Being in charge of the glasses station can be a frustrating role because many times it’s a guessing game knowing the prescription they need. There were 5 instances where I was about to give up in searching for glasses. Each time, I prayed for the Lord to intervene and He came through – I reached into a random bag and the very next pair worked!

-          I cannot describe how honored and rewarding it was to worship and fellowship with the Christian women in the village. We are from two different worlds, but truly have the same struggles, desires and hearts!


ALL TIME HIGHLIGHT
 Seeing an elderly farmer’s look of intrigue, disbelief and acceptance after hearing the story of Jesus for the very first time! I had the honor of leading him and his family through the salvation prayer and connecting him with the local missionary.


Lastly, I've realized mission trips are not so much about the details of your trip, but instead, WHAT GOD TAUGHT YOU WHILE THERE and WHETHER YOU WILL BRING IT BACK WITH YOU. Be on the lookout for upcoming blogs on His lessons for me this year - 

1) He is so much bigger than my limitations

2) His yoke IS easy




           

Thank you for letting me share! In His Service, Christie 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Story of Love ...

In the Old Testament, all were separated from God because of their sin. For atonement, a sacrifice had to be made through a priest with all kinds of rules. When Jesus came to Earth, He became both our High Priest and Ultimate Sacrifice. What a beautiful Love story that only God could design. And the climax of the story happened this weekend. Wow, do we really get that? I know I get caught up in all the other stuff that I often forget. I CHOOSE, this Easter, to keep the focus on Him and what He did.

Application: This weekend while you’re dyeing eggs, hiding them, having family dinners, wearing your new outfits to a Sunday service, I urge you to do some soul searching. Do you really believe in the Easter story? How has it changed you? Have you stopped to think about what he actually did for YOU? If you haven't, what better time for you to do business with the Lord!

I went to re-post this old post (see above) and noticed a song link was no longer working. As I went to search for it, I found this. Please watch and allow yourself time to reflect - truly powerful
Happy Easter!!! He has Risen. He has risen INDEED!!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Prayer for Togo!

T minus 4 days, 16 hours and counting...

Hey Friends - I know you haven't heard from me much lately (which might be a good thing :)) - I've been busy listening and focusing on some things I know God has called me to - I do hope to return to writing more in the near future - the first post of course will be sharing my experience (what God teaches me and what he does) while on the mission field in Togo. We leave next week!!! As the body of Christ, I thank you in advance for interceding in prayer for us while we are away.

PRAISE REPORT!!!
My Fundraising  is complete - praise God!!! He stretched and taught me so much in this area. I hope to share that with you in the future!

However, as a team, there is still approx $7500 left to raise. Now that seems like a lot, but, if you look at the $60,500 that has already been raised, we are in awe of how good God is and His provision. (If God calls you to donate to the remaining amount - no gift is too small, click here.)

Will you join me in praying for the following:
  • SPIRITUAL Preparation & Protection
  1. The TEAM remains unified with a surrendered heart. I've sensed for awhile, with such a large team (20 people), the enemy will try to come against team unity. With so many personalities and the challenges/inconveniences we are not accustomed to as Americans, it is inevitable. Our team devotional spoke on this just yesterday. If satan can get us through complaining, disagreeing, and taking offense; than he can greatly impact this ministry while we are on the field. However, we can come against this by claiming these verses and having the heart and mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16).  1 Peter 4:1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourself also with this mindset. 2 Timothy 2:3 Endure hardship with us, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  
  2. The TOGOLESE hearts are being prepared this very moment to receive us and most importantly the message of Christ - We will be going into 3 different villages (Agou, Kouve & Kpove) and have been told that 2 of them have never heard the gospel of Christ. What an amazing opportunity!!! We will be "bringing it" in the area of evangelism and discipleship. Pray that WE will take a backseat and let God do all the work. There will be spiritual opposition (Ephesians 6:12), but God is much bigger (1 John 4:4) and He will show up (Isaiah 55:11)!
  3. The cultural and language barrier to be removed and there will be clear communication (Galatians 3:28) - We will, thankfully, be accompanied by translators to aid in this, but it is definitely still an obstacle to pray against.
  • PHYSICAL Preparation & Protection
  1. Travel - We leave Wed, Feb 26th at 4:30pm and arrive back home at 9pm, Sun, March 9th. Please pray that the team of 20 people and the 40 suitcases of supplies (this does not include our personal luggage that is our carry on) all arrive safely in Lome Togo, as well as the three villages - or wherever God may detour us. :)
  2. Team's overall Health - No sickness, exhaustion, dehydration or harm. While we have taken all of the necessary precautions, and will have access to doctors and medicine; things can happen.
  3. Togolese's Medical Treatment- able to treat as many patients as possible - While the Togo physician to citizen ratio is .05 to 1000 (most are located in the capital city), there is a good chance that the people in these villages have NO access to medical care / medicine. Please pray for the wisdom to see the right patients and for them to understand that we cannot see everyone (the team consists of 6 doctors, 1 dentist, 1 pharmacist, 1 psychiatrist, and 6 other medically trained personnel)
Ephesians 3:20-21  Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we could ever ask or imagine, according to His power that it at work in us. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever. Amen!