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  • Colossians 3:15 November 22, 2017
    “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

Sue Engelman

Silent Screams

There’s a commercial running lately that I truly hate (but again, the advertisers goal is this..because I DO remember the commercial!). It has all these people screaming… LOUDLY. It is so loud and sends me into an immediate pursuit of my remote to push the MUTE button. Sometimes, I picture this is what church is like! So many are screaming, and either they are pushing the mute button, or others are.

Since Phil is no longer the teaching pastor at a church, our roles have significantly changed regarding the church at large.. We are now visitng other churches on some Sundays when we can’t be at our home church, and I love to people watch.

A few weeks ago, I started noticing how many media devices were going at one time. The pastor had his Ipad, the screen up front flashes words or pictures during worship times, and then during the message, I looked around and saw the nooks, the kindles, the smart phones glowing. In the midst of all this, I looked over and watched a mom with her adult son.

Body language from the mom said “let me connect with you”.He dismissed her comment or gesture by pulling away, crossing his arms and gazing to the front – like an invisible slap. I watched her face… a repressed sigh, and a silent scream of pain. He glanced at his smart phone, searching ‘connection’ through facebook or some other email he was reading.

All this happened while the pastor was teaching, and I looked around the room, still seeing many glancing at their smart phones (don’t’ get me wrong here, it COULD have been downloaded versions of the bible, so I’m not judging here- I happen to have one on my phone!) But it all seemed a caricature to me of life.

So many come to church, in silent pain, and leave the same way. Unaffected by what they took in. Unmoved by worship songs that they may have pushed ‘mute’ to in their hearts. They come, they sit, and then leave.. all while there are screams everywhere.

The scream of loneliness, broken dreams, heartache, shame, and myriads of other emotions all tangled up like a spool of yarn..knotted, tangled, waiting to be freed by a Master detangler.

I did see one guy with his smart phone, endlessly glancing down looking at his emails, and replying. … the pastors points were powerful, and potentially life changing. He continued to read his email, and occasionally glance up to appear interested. I admit I was distracted just watching the whole scenario, but finally got caught up in the message. Later, I looked over, and his phone was off, and he was leaning forward, obviously engaged in the power of the moment. My internal smile grew as I watched more respond..some with tears, others making their way to the front- unashamedly broken..their silent cries releasing into someone praying with them.

Each week at my home, I see clients who come for what they think are just ways to ‘get healthier and lose weight’. Many are unprepared for the unveiling that the Holy Spirit does while they are talking with me, as I ask questions related to their food journals and the reasons why they chose what they did. I’m not surprised when the Lord gives me ideas of questions to ask that unlock some of their silent screams that had been neatly packed away.

Many of those I now see are Christians, pastors and wives, ministry or staff workers. All of them need a safe place to come where they can be vulnerable. One woman (a former missionary) told me that the time she spent talking with me about her food journal and her life, had radically confronted her with underlying issues she’d never deal with in a therapists office. “The difference” , she told me “is that my therapist never asked to see my food journal”. She realized there was a bigger connection between her eating habits, her emotional eating, her eating scripts, and her relationship with God. She recognized that her ‘go to’ was often food.

Many silent screams are stuffed, numbed out, for at least a few minutes, with a chosen food or drink people have. Just like when the Dr’s rubber hammer hits my knee to test my reflexes, I see so many numb their pain by a reflex eating script. They feel pain, they don’t like it, they drink, or choose a food to pleasure themselves. This cycle repeats for years, and as aging, hormones, environmental toxins, emotional life issues happen, the margin is narrowed in their bodies and minds, and then there’s a moment of truth. For some, it takes longer than others. The truth moment is when they say “this has got to change!” , especially after a shocking blood work panel, or Dr’s visit.. Then if they choose to surrender to some process, and accountability, we eventually address the underlying screams that have been there so long.

Please pray with me for the wounded and broken that I seek to listen to. Pray that I will be wise, and only speak when prompted. Pray that I’ll have boldness to be assertively ‘gracious’. I also appreciate prayers for me as I navigate an increasing client load, and balance my schedule to have time for renewal, rest, and ‘filling up’.

I too have to give my silent issues to the Lord, and then follow through in obedience. I celebrate all He is doing here. I am so excited and filled with joy that it’s been hard for me to contain it, thus I’ve had trouble sleeping!:-) Thank you thank you, for praying for all of u s at Grace Valley. My wellness coaching is just an arm of Grace Valley. There are so many hidden things going on. Please continue to pray for all of us on the team.

Present but not Visible

Right now I am sitting by our crackling fire with the seasoned red oak giving off blue flame warmth. Started my day with hot chocolate and watching frost cover the ground like snow in the 32 degree temperature outside. Yes, we definitely don’t live in Florida anymore!

I continue to get lost, but at least I’m finding some places a little easier. Have found a few healthcare people, all of them an hour away with the drive through gorgeous rolling hills, and horses grazing in neatly fenced fields as I head down the winding roads.

Another adjustment has been a house with several levels. We had this when we lived in Chicago too. The funniest part is that Phil and I have to call each other to ‘find’ the other one since some of the back rooms you really can’t tell if someone is up there unless you GO upstairs. Sometimes our daughter and grandkids, who live downstairs, will come up and we don’t even know they are there if we’re in the back room upstairs.. they have to call and call until we finally realize they are present. We are there…but ‘invisible’ 🙂

Do you ever feel this way about God? .. that you know He’s there, but just ‘not visible?’ I do. I can see Him in all sorts of ways if I look.. but I have to be looking .. and listening.

I read this thought today from one of my devotionals on the You Version Bible on my phone..it’s called ‘Active Word devotional”, written by a pastor Bob Coy who founded Calvary Chapel of Ft. Lauderdale. I loved the analogy and thought of how I experience this physically in my house when I’m ‘upstairs’..and yet I am not as available as God is! I hope you find this as encouraging as I did.

He referred to Psalm 61:2 From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety.”

“God was not localized or confined to any particular place. He was everywhere at once…universally available and accessible.

We tend to take universal accessibility for granted these days. It’s a tenant of our faith that’s been grandfathered into our theology. God is everywhere all at once. But stop a moment to appreciate it. You don’t have to make a pilgrimage to a particular place to pray. You’re not limited to living in a certain state, country, continent, or even hemisphere! No matter where you’re at on this planet, God is always within range.

Unlimited access. Universal availability. What an unfathomable blessing we’ve been given! To think that there’s not a single spot we can be in, not an inch on earth, where God can’t hear our hearts with perfect clarity. In life, there are many sacrifices we’re forced to make, but we’ll never be forced to sacrifice our communication with God for our location in this world.

Creator of the ends of the earth…thank you for being everywhere and for hearing our hearts from anywhere.

Unlimited access. Universal availability

No matter where you’re at on this planet, God is always within range. God’s answer to “Can you hear me now?” is always a resounding, “Yes!”

Home Preparations

The next step in the vision of Grace Valley begins this weekend. We will be housing our first ministry couple (along with their two children). The Lord, in His kindness, is allowing this couple to be our own flesh and blood- our daughter and her husband. They have been through a year of constant demands, pressure, wounding, financial pressure, health challenges, and a work situation that was unhealthy. They need a time of healing, rest, and time to reconnect as a couple. We want to just love on them the way Jesus would. This is true whether they were family or not.. This is what God called us to do here. To be a place of healing, safety and restoration for people especially those in ministry.

The other day I was shopping for all the items that you need to furnish an apartment. I was in Target, since that is where we created a ‘gift list’ for those who would also want to help furnish this apartment, since it is ‘first phase’ of the Grace Valley desire to house ministry couples. I enjoyed choosing things that were good quality and value for the price. We want this to communicate to others that they are loved and treasured.

I picked things of course that I would like in my own house. It brought me to some memories of when Phil and I married 40 years ago. The things we received as wedding gifts were so essential since we had nothing and were going to Bible college. I remembered the melmac daisy plates, and how I became the ‘contact paper’ queen on our cabinets in the tattered apt we could afford for about 80dollars a month!

Anyway, each item for this apt is hand picked with a purpose and intent. I started thinking of all the people who will stay there, what there hands will touch, what their needs might be, and try to go above and beyond what they would expect. I thought of how excited I am to show different ones the apartment and I anticipate the looks on faces when we tell them they can stay there and just rest.

Then, it hit me- I am so excited about preparing this place with just the right touches. But God is preparing a place for me in heaven with this same excitement, attention to detail and with His purpose and love in mind.

John 14:1-3 NLT ” Dont let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”

Isn’t that amazing??? God is preparing a place that will be hand crafted for us to enjoy with Him for all eternity. The same care that I am taking for detail in this apartment, He has even more attention to detail in my heavenly dwelling. Just as He ‘knit me together in my mothers womb’ He is crafting a masterpiece of living space for me. Wow!

I pray today, as you see the news of all the debt crisis, wars, and weather conditions- that you will not fear. God is preparing a place for us. I pray that you will keep us in prayer as we minister to the broken and wounded, or those that simply need some quiet and rest.

May you trust fully in Him to supply your needs, and know that what may be lacking here on earth, will be abundantly supplied in heaven. Eternity is much longer to enjoy those pleasures than the seeming ‘speck’ of time we have on earth. God in His goodness, is allowing us, at Grace Valley, to love on His kids one by one, this side of heaven.

So may this apartment be a true picture of the love and care He has for us!

There are still many needs that if you pray and would desire to meet some of them , then you can either look at the Target List under Grace Valley, or you can contact us. We could still use outdoor chairs and tables for the deck, a nice grill, landscaping and landscape planning, or just dollars that would go to off set the costs of this ongoing ministry.

Thanks most of all for your prayers and love. We feel so blessed. Thanks to many of you who have already given! It’s been fun to come home and see a package on the front porch and open up the gifts you are sending for the apartment! You will ‘be there’ in each thing you donate. Thanks for partnering with us in this great task to minister to the tired , broken and weary.

Do You Feel You Have to Perform to Be Loved?

I came across this devotional and it spoke to my heart but also to all those who seem to feel guilt and shame and wear them like a coat. God continues to teach me daily about His unconditional love. I am posting this for those who need to feel His love today, and for all those in the future that we want to point to this love.

Just Because You’re Mine- by Anabel Gillham of Lifetime Guarantee
Isaiah 43:1
1 But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!” – Isaiah 43:1

Mace could sing one song with great gusto — just one: Jesus Loves Me.

Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak but He is strong.

He would throw his head back and hold on to that first “Yes” in the chorus as long as he could, and then he would get tickled and almost fall out of his chair.

Sometimes — when I think back on those days that seem so long ago — I can still hear him giggle. How special that memory is to me. . .

I never doubted for a moment that Jesus loved our profoundly retarded little boy. It didn’t matter that he would never sit with the kids in the back of the church and, on a certain special night, walk down the aisle, take the pastor by the hand, and invite Jesus into his heart. It was entirely irrelevant that he could not quote a single verse of Scripture, that he would never be able to reason or to comprehend God’s love, that he would never be a dad — I knew that Jesus loved Mason.

What I could not comprehend, what I could not accept, was that Jesus could love Mason’s mother, Anabel. I believed that in order for anyone to accept me, to love me, I had to perform for them. My standard for getting love was performance-based, so I performed constantly, perfectly. And I was convinced that if anyone ever really got to know me, he or she wouldn’t like me.

Mace could never have performed for anyone’s love . . . but oh, how we loved him. His condition eventually deteriorated to such a degree — and so rapidly — that we had to institutionalize him when he was very young, so we enrolled him in the Enid State School for Mentally Handicapped Children.

We drove regularly the 120 miles to see him, but on this particular weekend he was at home for a visit. He had been with us since Thursday evening, and it was now Saturday afternoon. As soon as the dinner dishes were done, I would gather his things together and take him back to his house. I had done this many times before, but today God had something in mind that would change my life forever.

As I was washing the dishes, Mason was sitting in his chair watching me, or at least he was looking at me. That’s when it began — spinning emotions, tumbling stomach, the familiar sickening thoughts of separation and defeat: In just a little while, I’m going to start packing Mason’s toys and his clothes, and take him away again. I can’t do that. I simply cannot do it. I stopped washing dishes and got down on my knees in front of Mace. I took his dirty little hands in mine and tried desperately to reach him.

“Mason, I love you. I love you. If only you could understand how much I love you.”

He just stared. He couldn’t understand; he didn’t comprehend. I stood up and started washing dishes again, but that didn’t last long. This sense of urgency, almost panic, came over me, and once more I dried my hands and knelt in front of my precious little boy.

“My dear Mason, if only you could say to me, ‘I love you, Mother.’ I need that, Mace.”

Nothing.

I stood up to the sink again. More dishes, more washing, more crying. But now thoughts, foreign to my way of thinking, began filtering into my conscious awareness. I believe God spoke to me that day, and this is what He said: “Anabel, you don’t look at your son and turn away in disgust because he’s sitting there with saliva drooling out of his mouth; you don’t shake your head, repulsed because he has dinner all over his shirt or because he’s sitting in a dirty, smelly diaper when he ought to be able to take care of himself. Anabel, you don’t reject Mason because all the dreams you had for him have been destroyed. You don’t reject him because he doesn’t perform for you. You love him, Anabel, just because he is yours. Mason doesn’t willfully reject your love, but you willfully reject Mine. I love you, Anabel, not because you’re neat or attractive, not because you do things well, not because you perform for Me — I love you just because you’re Mine.”

Incredible! Unbelievable! I had struggled for so many years, hating my performance patterns and yet living to perform, driven to perform, searching out the praise of people and thirsting for the love of God that I thought could come only to those who performed well enough to merit it. Yet God had just shown me that He loved me in spite of anything and everything, and He had shown me in a way that I could understand — through my dear, sweet Mason.

Do you understand? You don’t have to do anything for Him; you don’t have to be something for Him. You can know that there is Someone who loves you not because of the way you do or don’t look, or because of the talents you do or don’t have. All you have to do is accept it: He loves you just because you are His.

Well, that’s not the end of Mason’s story. It wasn’t long after that Sunday with him that Bill, our son Preston, and I went to visit him in Enid. We held his hand, stroked his hair, and talked to him. And then we prayed. God, by Your grace we’ve lived victoriously and have used Mace’s little life and influence for Your glory . . . but we feel that he has suffered enough and that all the influence for Christ that can be realized from his life has pretty well been exhausted. God, if it be Your will, we ask that you take him to be with You.

We kissed Mason goodbye and headed home. It was the very next morning when the school called to say that Mason had “unexpectedly passed away during the night” — and we knew that he had slipped away to be with Jesus.

The Far East Broadcasting Company in Cheju, Korea, received a letter from Bill a short time later: ” . . . there was some insurance money. It belongs to God. We pass it along to FEBC for use in the China-Cheju Island project. . . .”

Mason’s gift helped build a transmitter building for the 250,000-watt radio signal that now beams the gospel of Christ to China, Russia, and Japan. And it is because of Mason that people will continue to learn of Jesus, of His saving grace . . . and of the fact that He loves us just because we are His.

Yes, Jesus loves me . . .
Yes, Jesus loves me . . .

Disoriented and Blessed

 

Our move happened a little over 6 weeks ago. We recently visited Florida, stayed in our home there (our son Dave and his family will move in there in August.) I slept in a ‘blow up’ bed in our bedroom, ate from our kitchen, visited family, went to Dr appts, hair appts. Life truly felt like we’d never left… and yet we had.

Six weeks of unpacking, exhaustion, elation and organizing felt like they’d never happened! Life has moved on. People who sometimes think their life will just not be good if you’re not in it, have adjusted and when you come to visit they also feel like you’re just around the corner. Six weeks just isn’t long enough to really feel like you’re gone. But sooo much happened in that time.

When I come out of stores in Georgia, the first thing I do is get my GPS on and punch ‘recent destination’ so I can find my way back home.:-) I still feel disoriented. I am so used to getting into my car and not having to really ‘think’ to get to places, let alone my house. I use visual cues when I drive. So being surrounded by trees throws me off. I can’t ‘see’ where the Target or Publix are because they are all off exits that look the same!

I think of 1 Peter v1 that refers to the people of God as ‘strangers in the world’. I live so metaphorically. So when I feel disoriented in my world, I take comfort that God understands. He doesn’t want me to feel so comfortable that I don’t have to seek Him..my true GPS.

This move contines to show me how small my faith is. How easily I can drift and if not challenged, get ‘weak’ spiritually. Living by faith means submitting myself willingly to change. For us, that meant being willing to give up family, friends, and familiar surroundings and financial security (whatever that is!). Missionairies do this far more when they move to foreign countries. I only had to move to Georgia where one salon  can refer to ‘blonde season’ (yes, they said I had to book way ahead due to blonde season!)

I remind myself often that Psalm 91 says ‘The Lord is your dwelling place” and I will always have a compass North in Him and in heaven. He is my GPS pointing me step by step in this life of faith.

Much of the excitement of the move is over. I have most of the boxes unpacked, and feel more ‘settled’. But I feel like I am on a nice long vacation in the mountains, and only reminded its not ‘home’ yet when I long to just pop over and visit with my kids or grandkids.  I am thankful for this journey He has us on though. I am learning that disorientation helps  fire up brain cells that need it..haha. I also learn that as I get closer to my 60th birthday, that these final years are marked by change.

You see it every day when you look in the mirror. You feel it when your last workout takes longer to recover from OR get up from:-) . You feel it each time you want to call your mom or dad and know that you will have to wait for that conversation with them in heaven. Change, just like the seasons, comes without asking. I can choose to embrace the changes and be grateful or complain and become one of those older bitter aging people you don’t want to be around!

 

 

I choose gratitude, laughing at myself getting lost without my GPS, embracing the unique beauty of each area I live in (even the weeds have their beauty in each part of the country), and opening myself to new friends, long talks on the phone or skyping with others. I choose the adventure of faith and where that leads me. Praying for His provision for each need, each time I feel loss or grief.

So, I am disoriented, but truly blessed and belong to God. My true home is Him.

I Peter 1:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God…”

Comfort and Cuddling

Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an EVER PRESENT help in trouble.v2 therefore, we will not fear….”

When you were a child, did you have a security blanket, or ‘blankee’? One of my children did, and when it was time to ‘give it up’, we had a little ceremony kind of celebrating their growing up and we then got rid of the blanket. It was no longer ‘present’ each day to stroke or hold. They had to move on.

There is one security blanket I will not give up, and that is the comfort that the Father is my daily, moment by moment refuge and source of comfort..He is the ‘ever present’ source. Psalm 46 also follows up verse one by reminding me that ‘therefore’ is the reason WHY I need not fear! He never leaves me. He goes before me. I know He is the one who put the vision of Grace valley in all of our hearts. We are moving ..physically and also in faith toward His vision of Grace Valley. The land is there, and though with our human eyes we see no buildings, in His mind and heart it is already there. I truly believe that. ..so strongly, that by faith, we are picking up all our belongings (and I do mean ALL..yikes!) and moving into where He wants us.

The next few days are going to be filled with goodbyes..to family, and to friends. Goodbye to Florida, to places of comfort we found here. Goodbye to the family estate home we remodeled and now our oldest son Dave and his family will move into the space that Maca and Papa (Phil’s parents) and Tim once lived in. We are facing challenges on every front..but we have a deep abiding peace inside us driving us on.

 Though there are many goodbyes..on the other side of this move we face hellos. Hello to Georgia, to a beautiful home God blessed us with that is currently being remodeled so the downstairs will be the beginning of where we’ll house people who need some help and healing for a short time. Hello to our youngest daughter Abby and her family who live only an hour away, and our oldest daughter Holly and her husband who also live an hour away. Hello to looking for a church home for the first time in our married lives! For me, it is hello to another ‘pastor’ in my life. Hello to me having my husband sit next to me in the seat beside me, and to having him around a bit more often. Hello again to my friend Cheryl who years ago had walked with me through many trials.. and who knows how many other new friends in my life. So as I face the goodbyes, I look toward the hellos .

My security blanket can’t be something I grasp in this life. It has to be Him. He is my refuge. He is my strength and ever present portion. Bella, my first grandaughter, loves to ‘snuggle’. We love just sitting in silence together and holding onto each other. I love the scent of her hair and just feeling her slow breathing. I try to let her know that though we will miss our ‘snuggles’ as often as we do now, we have planned visits to look forward to, but more than that, we can both go to the Father for His comfort that surpasses any blanket or cuddling here. She’s eight, so this concept is bigger than what she can grasp, except on smaller levels. As I approach my 60th year, I ‘ve had more time of ‘practicing’ this truth.

I hope you find the same comfort in the Father today. I don’t know what fearful things you are facing. ..or what ‘hellos’ or ‘goodbyes’ you have. I do know, that you can crawl up on His lap and ‘snuggle’ with Him. Blessings to you today!

The Twilight Zone

As we prepare to move in 11 days, many things are happening. I feel a ‘tsunami’ of emotions, and now I force myself to just keep putting one step in front of another. The goodbyes increase. Reality of the comfort zones I have in my life here are fading into the land of the unknown in this faith journey.

Yesterday when I was trying to pack, I felt a familar ‘disconnectedness’. I tried to identify what it was. I felt it when I said goodbye as each child left home for college. I felt it walking down the isle 4 times as the mother of the bride or groom. I felt it with each birth of my children, and now with the grands. I felt it when I remodeled each home we’ve moved into. I felt it when I planned for weddings, making flower arrangements, decorating, and photo albums for the child marrying. When you see the last breath of all of your parents, sit at their memorials, go to the services for dear friends that have passed..you feel a certain numbness. Almost a ‘disassociation’ in many ways, because what you are encountering is so ‘big’ you can’t fully comprehend it.

I think of this sensation as a heaven sent anesthetic in some ways. The enormity of all you are encountering emotionally can’t be fully processed at that moment, so you press on, doing tasks. You function , at times, zombie-like, in a ‘twilight zone’ of sorts. The aging process gives you a deeper lens to see life through. You become more reflective (or at least I do.) You understand that in your youth, choices you made that you didn’t think twice about and changed your life forever, you now KNOW choices of today can do just that. Change your life forever.

Moving is right up there, in terms of stress scales, with death and serious health issues. I think it’s because worlds collide during a move. You dig up the past..pictures, memories, items collected that you  uncover from some knook you put it into and you just find it again. The valley of decision is there every day.. each drawer you sort through remembering you said “I’ll put it here “just for now” and it remained in the junk drawer and now you are sorting through it. You have to get new mailing info, phones, find new stores to go to, new rhythms of life for everything including when you take out the trash!:-) New drivers licenses, bank accounts.

The lovely home we bought in Georgia is being remodeled, so we have been doing it all ‘long distance’ with the incredible help of Dan and Cheryl our minstry partners, and others. In eleven days, I will walk into a home that is already a symbol of the love of Christ. He has put people into our lives that not only painted the house, met contractors, opened the home to delivery people, but also ‘staged’ our home for my first live- in visit weeks ago when I came to firm up details.

 One night, Cheryl and I sat in front of the fireplace, tearful as we sensed the promises of God and His goodness and faithfulness . A desire that has been on our hearts (Phil and I) for 21 years was beginning to be realized. A desire place in Cheryl’s heart for years was also being fulfilled. We sat in wordless awe before God, thanking Him.

So there are moments in this journey, where I ‘tap’ into the pain, the joy, the wonder and allow myself to go there. Lately though, as I say goodbye to my dear family and grandkids here, to our church that God allowed us to partner in planting 15 years ago, I tend to push through so I can get to the next step. I force myself knowing that sometimes, you have to do this to get to what God wants you to do next. It’s not denial really. It’s living in the moment..and some of those moments I will later have to process emotionally, but just have to push through right now in order to do what He’s called me to do.

I know this journey is just beginning. It’s amazing to me that God is allowing us, at age 60, when many think of retiring, to start something so new. I cling like a child holding God’s hand. I guess the ‘twilight zone’ is really just a faith zone. You fix your eyes on Him, and believe He will accomplish what He’s called you to do. Part of that process is death..death to your old comforts and way of life, so the new life He’s calling us to can be ressurrected. I embrace this today.

Thank you for all your prayers and support. I know it is His calling and He will fully surround us , and already has. Your prayers mean more than we can ever relate. I pray we can encourage you to do something bold and full of faith, no matter what age you are.

Blessings to you..Sue

So

What Gear Have I Shifted Into?

Psalm 27:13,14 “I am still confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

I am not one of those people who loves watching the news… it kind of kicks me into ‘fear gear’ sometimes. I guess my empathic heart can sooooo ‘go there’ with each scenario I see that it takes mental discipline for me to pull myself from it. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to stay informed. I like to turn what I see into prayer, so if I’m in that place of rest and peace, I can see some things and just be in a spirit of prayer. Ultimately, I know God is sovereign, in control, and not surprised.

Lately though, the enemy is trying his best to kick me into fear gear. Just one scene of the earthquakes, the threat of nuclear plants blowing up, the spreading radiation in Japan and winds blowing across the world..the scenes of poor devastated families who’s villages and loved ones were swept away in an instant weeping and crying…well..that stuff just goes soul deep. I do believe we should be broken -hearted over the things that God is broken over. So prayer is key in joining Him in petitions, prayers and groaning with words that can’t be uttered except by the Spirit .

As we pack and prepare to take the next ‘dive’ into what Steve Furtick in his Sun Stand Still book would say is ‘audacious’ faith, I admit some rising moments of fear. In fact, people who are courageous are those who may be fearful, but go ahead and obey anyway! But to stay in a fearful anxious place is not where God wants me. Tim Keller, a well known pastor, mentions that fear is actually pride. That was new thought to me. I agree though.. because when I’m fearful, then I start thinking that ‘whatever’ is up to ME, and how I must manage, control or manipulate things so that I’m NOT fearful. Okay so now I’ve probably confused everyone because on one hand I’m saying courageous people may fear but move ahead, and on the other I’m saying its pride. I admit I’m a bit ADHD thought wise. Bear with me.

My point is that our human spirits will go through times of fear. Even my sweet little 8 year old granddaughter Bella was feeling it. She spent the night last week, and when I have my quiet times, I’ve given her a book that she can journal her thoughts to God and a little devotional book. When she was little, I recognized a bit of a kindred ‘fearful spirit’ so we made the verse in Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation..so why should I be afraid?” into a little song.

Back to last week…. I was having my quiet time, and I told her to come and sit on my lap.. and in that peaceful moment I felt such love for her, and then to know I was leaving and wouldn’t have my Friday night sleepovers as often, or going ‘garage’ sale-ing on Saturdays sometimes… well, I just started to weep. She looked up at me with those beautiful big hazel eyes and I said “ Bella, I just want you to know that even though Mimi is sad, let’s remember that the Lord is our home. He is our Rock. He is the one I want you to go to when you feel sad and He is the one we must lean on. Sometimes God calls us to do hard things, and we must always remember He loves us and will give us the strength to do what He’s called us to do. “

Dave and Beth told me later that in the evening, she was asking them to make sure the doors were locked, and she seemed very clingy. She is a very perceptive smart little thing. She already knows that her whole world is about to change, and the only way her little fearful heart knew how to deal with it was to make sure ‘the house was locked’. Funny thing is..this is EXACTLY what I used to do at that same age! I would go around the house at night, in the Indiana moonlight, checking the locks on the doors of our house. I mean logically, it seems it would take more courage for an 8 or 9 year old to get up in the dark when everyone else was asleep and go around and check the locks, right??? But that’s all I knew to do at the time.

So ‘fear gear’ is when I think its up to ME to ‘get safe’. I have learned now, to try to pass on to her and others, that when we do experience fear, we can acknowledge that to the Father, and then rest in Him..he is the ROCK I run to. Let’s face it, if we are going to do kingdom work, we need to let go of the idea of safety! It’s risky, and wonderfully awful, joyful and challenging to go where He wants you to go.

In order for unbelievable blessings to happen for the kingdom, I need to let go, get out of ‘fear gear’ and claim Him as my stronghold. Each tearful face I look at these next few weeks as we prepare to move, I want to ‘set my face like a flint’ and believe God for His strength.

“Ps 27:3 “Though an army besiege me, my heart WILL NOT FEAR, though war break out against me, even then will I be confident…v14 ‘wait for the Lord.. be strong and TAKE HEART, and wait for the Lord.”

So this weekend, as I pack, hug on my grandkids, and live my life to His glory, I will remember that He is Peace. I think I like the ‘peace’ gear better!

If Only You Asked

Have you had situations when you ‘wished’ someone had ‘asked’ you about something? Maybe it was a special event for someone you love and you weren’t invited to the party. Maybe a close loved one or friend did something that hurt you because they had no idea you cared. Numerous ways that you have felt quietly hurt, yet you spoke to no one about it.

Sometimes this happens when we are insecure and don’t feel ‘safe’ with some people, so we don’t speak openly about our desires and needs. This of course is an issue we need to address and assess. Some people are just plain toxic, self absorbed and not ready for us to ‘share’ our vulnerable deep thoughts. There were times when Jesus spoke and times, even though He knew people’s thoughts,  he knew their hearts and decided against talking with them. Of course, we don’t really know people’s hearts..after all, we don’t even know our own! (Jeremiah says our hearts our ‘desperately wicked’ and who can know them?) Only God knows our hearts.

Which brings me to the point… God is a pursuer with a capital P! He LONGS for us to have relationship with Him, and for us to ‘circumcise’ our hearts (Jer 4:4)- to tear back the flesh that toughens over our soul hearts that keeps us from the vulnerablity and openess we need with Him.  God wants us to ask! He wants us to pour out our desires, hurts, fears and failures. He knows our sins and yet still loves us.

When Jesus was on earth, I am so intrigued by the times when he would approach the broken or physically hurting and ask questions. He asked.. “what is you want me to do for you?”. He knew what was in there hearts, so He really didn’t need to ask, yet He did, because He wanted THEM to understand what was in their  hearts!

So as we enter this new chapter in our lives, I want to lay before God all my requests daily, asking Him, with ‘audacious faith’ as Steve Furtick refers to in his book “Sun Stand Still’.  I want to ask for things that only God can do- impossible things in my view, yet nothing in His. I know His storehouse is full of gifts that He is waiting for me to ask for. If the great prophets can ask for things like the sun to stand still- then I want my heart to be full of that kind of faith.

To some, when I explain where we are going and what we are going ‘to’..some respond with questions that challenge my faith. That’s good for me. When I actually ‘say out loud’ what we will be doing, I see again that this is His God sized task. To raise our support for daily living, to give us more land to build on, to supply the money, materials, and people to help His vision for Grace valley come into being. I know He breathes life into us. . and He will bring to life, the buildings, the people and all that we believe He’s called us to here at Grace Valley.

I’ve been attending quite  a few funerals lately. As I see peoples in power point slides before me in their ‘flashbacks’ of the person’s life, or they recount personal and tender stories, I become increasingly aware that this life truly is a vapor. Phil and I will  both be 60 this year. We are now entering into an age when most think of ‘retiring’- whatever that means!… and we are starting yet another ministry venture.. maybe our last.  I am both terrified and excited at all the things this will mean. But one thing I want to make sure of. I want to be fully submitted to God, and be sure to ASK Him for all that He desires here. I want to come to the end of my life knowing that I asked audaciously for all He wanted to give!

He Goes Before Us (that’s what Shepherds do!)

As our move gets closer each day, it is so tempting to get two steps ahead in my thinking… and of course, that then leads to anxiety. Some moments I think I’m completely trusting, and other times my brain just goes on the roller coaster ride of what-if land and that is trouble for my soul!

Yesterday I was talking with someone who does not yet know Jesus Christ as their Savior. They know OF Him, but have no deep down assurance that Christ died for them, rose again and that they can have full assurance of their sins forgiven and a new abundant life ahead of them. They live day to day, struggling with the realities of life.

So they began to question our move, and no matter how I explained it, they looked as if I were speaking a foreign language. The language of faith is just that to unbelievers..but Christians can also be just as clueless.  Believers who have stayed in an infant state, daily drinking their bottles and being ‘swaddled,’ never grow or mature in the faith walk. Their puzzled looks when I describe our ministry, why we’re going, and what we see God calling us to is followed by “and WHY do you believe you have to move?  Why can’t you do ‘it’ here in Florida?  Why Geogia? and you have NO paycheck coming in?”

So this morning’s reading in one of my favorite devotionals – Streams in the Desert was just what I needed. Maybe you need it too. Maybe you are facing the Olympics of faith in your life and this is for you. I pray it blesses you as it did me.

“Streams in the Desert” –  Jan 14, pg 32:
John 10:4 –  When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them.

This is intensely difficult work for Him and us – it is difficult for us to go, but equally difficult for Him to cause us pain. Yet it must be done. It would not be in our best interest to always remain in one happy and comfortable location. Therefore He moves us forward. The shepherd leaves the fold so the sheep will move on to the vitalizing mountain slopes. In the same way, laborers must be driven out into the harvest, or else the golden grain would spoil.
But take heart! It could never be better to stay once He determines otherwise; if the loving hand of our Lord moves us forward, it must be best. Forward, in His name, to green pastures, quiet waters, and mountain heights! (Ps 23:1,2 –  The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want, He makes me lie down in green pastures- he leads me beside quiet waters)  So whatever awaits us is encountered first by Him, and the eye of faith can always discern His majestic presence out in front. When His presence cannot be seen, it is dangerous to move ahead. Comfort your heart with the fact that the Savior has Himself experienced all the trials He asks you to endure; He would not ask you to pass through them unless He was sure that the paths were not too difficult or strenuous for you.


This is the blessed life-not anxious to see far down the road, not overly concerned about the next step, not eager to choose the path nor weighted down with the heavy responsibilities of the future, but quietly following the Shepherd, one step at a time.