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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Some of you know that Shmoopy and I have decided to give up the safety of Suburbia and simply follow where the Holy Spirit leads…no matter the cost.  There are several reasons for this decision, but that’s another post for another day. (We actually intend to start a blog about this new journey of ours. Stay tuned.)  Well, we’ve been earnestly praying and seeking God’s will as to what He would have us do and where He would have us do it.  We feel pretty sure that we are called to live among the poor, but we have not known whether that would be in inner-city America, Cambodia, Kenya or somewhere else.  We’ve done massive amounts of research in addition to our prayers in the last month in hopes that a door would open.  We still don’t have an open door, but we may have been told today which direction to look in, which is a HUGE answer to prayer when you consider how big this world of ours is!

The answer began on day last week.  I was getting anxious and depressed because I felt like we weren’t feeling any direction for our journey.  I fell asleep one night praying, begging, that God would tell us where to go.  We didn’t care where; we would definitely go if He would just tell us where.  The next morning, I awoke with a single word running through my mind very loudly, very clearly: BRAZIL, BRAZIL, BRAZIL…

This had happened to me once before in answer to earnest prayer, but, again, that’s another post for another day.  Honestly, I kind of thought to myself that God wouldn’t make it that easy for me and I had probably just read something about Brazil and it was just a subconscious response.  Brazil wasn’t even on our radar; it wasn’t one of the places we had found possible opportunities.  So I dismissed the notion that God may be calling us to go to Brazil, and didn’t even mention it to Shmoopy.

Then this morning as we were in the car on our way to San Antonio for a house church conference, I was praying again, begging God to just tell us where He wanted us to go, and we would go.  All of a sudden, a picture flashed in my mind for the briefest of seconds.  However, brief, though, it was a very clear picture.  It was the huge statue of Jesus that overlooks Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  My thoughts were:

1. That was weird.

2. Hey, that thing’s in Brazil and I had Brazil on my mind the other morning. Weird!

3.Again, I’m just trying to make something out of nothing because I want so desperately for God to reveal our destination to us.

So, again, I dismissed the notion that this was possibly an answer to our earnest prayers and didn’t even mention it to Shmoopy.

Then, this afternoon, as we were on a hot bus taking a tour of house churches in San Antonio, I received the following message from my dear friend Kyle (who happens to be at the Q conference in Chicago with his wife this week):

“If you all are interested in being missionaries to a hot zone, research Rio de Janeiro. Home of the 2016 Olympics.  One of the most beautiful cities in the world and also one of the most dangerous.  And they need Jesus in a big way!”

Shmoopy and I were talking, I can’t remember who was in mid-sentence, but whomever it was stopped.  He could see the utter shock on my face and my eyes welling with tears, so he asked me what was wrong.  I tried my best to explain all of the above to him through my tears and hyperventilation.  It was as if God were telling met o “WAKE UP!  I KEEP TELLING YOU WHERE TO GO AND YOU KEEP ASKING AGAIN!!!  GO TO BRAZIL!”

I’m not sure what all this means, but I do know that Shmoopy and I will be fervently researching Rio de Janeiro while continuing to pray for the Holy Spirit’s continued leading.  Man, God is always so faithful to us, and I don’t just mean Shmoopy and I.  He’s faithful to all of us.  And what an adventure it is to finally trust Him with EVERYTHING!

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I’ve been depressed…for awhile.  I don’t know why.  I had a terrible childhood and every reason in the world to be depressed growing up, but I never was.  Now, I have a GREAT life.  I have the greatest husband of ALL TIMES, 3 beautiful, smart, funny, healthy kids, a great house, the ability to stay home with my kids, wonderful friends and family and I am part of a church that is not just church family, but I really consider them family.  I’m ministering to my neighbors like I never have in my life and get to help with this great non-profit call Retread where we provide basic needs for impoverished kids so they can focus on school.  My biggest problem in life is that we only have 1 car instead of 2 now, which complicates things slightly.  That’s it.

I have nothing to be depressed about and yet I have been for months now.  Frankly, it pisses me off.  I’ve felt like running away for many months now.  (Before you get worried, please know that I would NEVER actually allow myself to do that.  It’s just been an urge.)  I haven’t wanted to be around people.  I just want to stay in bed for days and do nothing.  I’ve come to a point where I just feel like a failure, like I can’t keep up.  I’ve been overwhelmed, drained…depressed.

This past Sunday, I finally shared this with my church and they gathered round me and prayed.  And they’ve been praying all week; I can tell.  I can tell because I feel different this week.  I haven’t had a stress headache yet this week, and that’s huge!  More importantly, I feel more positive.  I feel like maybe I’ve just been putting too much pressure on myself to do everything.  Maybe God doesn’t expect me to do it all.  Normally, that would scare me.  But Boss’s teacher (we’ll call her Ms. N) said something to me this week (that I feel God prompted her to say because He knew I needed to hear it) that helped me tremendously.

I was speaking with Ms. N about a form that Shmoopy and I had filled out regarding Boss’s testing for the Gifted & Talented program, and she shared with me that she had found the stories about Boss funny and inspiring.  She said that she told her boyfriend that she wants to do some of the things with her kids that Shmoopy and I have done with our kids.  She said she told him that Boss’s mom is a “Godly woman that [she] looks up to as a role model.”  She said they’ve found a church they are comfortable in and she wants to grow closer to God.

Whew!  That brings me to tears all over again.  You can’t comprehend how badly I needed to hear someone say that!  And not one of my friends or family-members, but someone outside of my circle who has no obligation whatsoever to offer such kind words.  It made me see that focusing every ounce of my time and energy on my kids is not taking away from my time that I should be sharing the gospel with others.  Right now, in this stage of my life, my kids are exactly where I should be investing my time and energy.  And I don’t have to feel guilty that I’m not out on the streets finding people who need Jesus to minister to them because the time and energy that I invest in my children is making an impact on more than just their 3 very special little lives.  It’s impacting their teachers, counselors, principals, etc…

Just imagine all of the teachers, the people, that my investment in my children will touch in some way over the next 17 years until Sissy graduates from high school.  Boss alone just in his first year of school has 6 teachers including the specials (P.E., music and art).  Not to mention the interaction I have with other teachers through being his room mom and my involvement with PTA.

So, while I’m not completely out of the woods, yet,  I see hope.  Church family, please keep praying…it’s working.  Shmoopy, keep supporting me and loving me; I appreciate you more than I could ever express.  Parents & friends, you’re prayers would be appreciated, too.  If you’re reading this and I’ve never met you, please know that God does answer prayers.  He does care about your state of mind and heart.  He will come through for you in sweet, unimaginable ways.

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girl-praying When I was probably 5-7 years old, I experienced a true answer to prayer that further substantiated my already strong belief that God is real.  I was staying at my Nanny & Poppa’s house, this was before I went to live with them permanently.  I was in the house with my Poppa, when we heard a crash outside.  He told me to stay in the house and he ran outside to see what caused the noise.  I witnessed the event from a bedroom window.

The crashing sound was made by my very drunk Daddy crashing his pickup truck through the chain link fence.  He told my Poppa, who was his dad, that he was there to pick me up and take me with him.  My Poppa, realizing this was a terrible idea with the state my Daddy was in, refused to let me go with him.  My Daddy could get extremely angry when he was drunk, and he didn’t take this refusal kindly and told my Poppa in words I won’t repeat that he was taking me whether Poppa wanted him to or not.

Poppa ran in the house, locked the door and retrieved one of his hunting rifles from his bedroom.  Then he ran outside and pointed the gun in his own son’s face.  He told him to leave and come back when he was sober.  My Daddy continued to insist on taking me with him, and my Poppa began begging him to just leave and come back when he was sober or he would have to shoot.

Now, while it was true that my Daddy was an alcoholic and could be very violent at times, he never once laid a hand on me.  He loved me and made me feel loved and special.  Somehow, that anger of his was never directed toward me.  I loved my Daddy probably more than any other person on Earth, and I did not want to see him hurt by my Poppa even though I knew that Poppa was right to not want me to go with him.  So when my Poppa told him he would shoot him, I ran into the living room and knelt down at the red floral vinyl couch and began to pray earnestly that God would keep my Daddy safe.  I believe my actual words were, “Jesus, please don’t let Poppa hurt Daddy!”

Then I ran to the window to see what was happening.  The shouting was escalating and I could tell that, while neither of them wanted to hurt the other one, they were both willing to do whatever it took to get what they were after.  So I ran back to the couch and prayed some more.  I begged and pleaded God to keep my Daddy safe from harm.  It ties my stomach in knots even now to think of how earnest and desperate that prayer was!

Then I ran back to the window to assess the situation.  The fight was getting worse.  Tears were streaming down my face and my heart was racing.  Then it happened…Poppa pulled the trigger just inches from my Daddy’s chest!

Everything stopped.

No more shouting.

No more movement.

Just silence.

Poppa had pulled the trigger, and it had jammed.  Both men, father and son, stood staring at one another in shock and disbelief.

Fortunately, the fact that his own father had just tried to shoot him sobered my Daddy enough to make him realize that he should leave, and he did.  My Poppa sat on the steps and cried.

I ran back into the living room, knelt at that vinyl couch one more time and cried my eyes out.  This time, my prayer went something like this: “Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you, Jesus!  Thank you!”

I know my God is real because He hears and answers my prayers.

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I promised a series about how I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God is real.  It took me awhile to get to it, but here is part 1 of the series.

When I was in third or fourth grade, I lived with my dad and stepmom in a run-down trailer house on the wrong side of town.  Daddy and his wife were avid bird lovers and owned over 100 birds.  Daddy was a carpenter and had built a green house that housed most of the birds right outside my bedroom window.  On colder nights, he would place space heaters in the green house to keep the birds warm.

One night, I was lying in my bed, which faced my bedroom window, sleeping when I heard a voice saying, “Jodi, wake up.  Wake up, Jodi.”  I woke up to a surprising sight.  It was Jesus surrounded by a bright light!  Almost as soon as I saw Him there, He disappeared.  I then noticed a flashing light coming from the window.  I got up and looked outside my window into the green house to see what was causing the flashing light and saw that there was a fire!

I ran out of my bedroom into the kitchen where my stepmom was sitting and told her.  She told me to go tell my dad, who was sleeping in their bedroom.  I ran in to tell him, and he got up and put out the fire before any of the birds were harmed.  One of the space heaters had started the fire because of an exposed wire.

This was very clear to me that God had woken me up in time to get the fire put out before it harmed anyone.  Trailers are notorious for burning very quickly.  If that fire had reached my bedroom wall, I most likely would not have had time to get out of my room because my bedroom door was directly adjacent to that wall and the only window out of the room was the one looking into the green house.  Say what you want, but that was proof to me that God is real, God cares about us and God has a purpose for my life.jesus

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0812-049Last night on our way home from having dinner with wonderful friends, Boss said, “Mommy, I want to be a Christian.”  There was chaos ensuing in the car since it was time for Sissy to go to bed; she was screaming to let us know what time it was.  So I told Boss that we wanted to talk to him about that at bedtime.

After showers, getting teeth and hair brushed and getting PJs on, we finally sat down for Bible time.  We asked Boss why he wanted to be a Christian, and he said he didn’t know.  So we asked if he knew what it meant to be a Christian.  He said, “It means that Jesus comes to live in your heart and you can tell other people about Jesus.”  My thought was, “Wow, that is so unselfish of a 5 year old!”

We asked if he wanted to pray with us to ask Jesus to come into his heart, and he said, “Yes!”  So we prayed a 5-year-old version of a sinner’s prayer (which, I suppose, would work for any age) and he repeated after us.  When we finished, he gave us the biggest hugs ever!

Then I got to do something I’ve been looking forward to for 5 years.  I read him the letter that our senior pastor at the time he was dedicated, Dr. T. Scott Daniels, wrote to him when he was dedicated to the Lord.  The questions Boss asked and statements he made, revealed that he really has given some thought to this.

I am so ecstatic.  At the same time, I feel an increased pressure now to nurture his relationship with Christ so that it will grow as much as possible!  This is such a sweet time in our lives!  I’m so thankful to God for blessing us as He has!  Thank you to all of you reading this who have prayed for Boss over the last 5 years; please keep it up!

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santa-bowingShmoopy took all of last week off even though we weren’t traveling.  It was AWESOME!!!  We spent much time together and accomplished a lot.  We spent all day Wednesday putting up Christmas decorations inside and outside.  I’m not much of a decorator throughout the year; I just don’t put much stock in it.  I feel guilty buying things for purely decorative purposes because I just don’t picture Jesus doing that.  Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have a beautifully decorated house, but I just can’t bring myself to do it without tremendous angst.  I have no curtains in my living room or anything like that.  I try to make my home comfortable without going overboard.

Anyway, I say all that to say that Christmas is the one time of year that I really get into decorating.  For me, it’s a celebration of Christ’s birth and I want my neighbors and visitors to know how I feel about the holiday.  I want them to know that I believe Jesus is the reason for the season, as they say.  I still decorate very modestly compared to most, but I think it looks nice and makes a statement.

In my Christmas decorating, I try to highlight the various nativity scenes that I have (one on the mantle, one in the entryway, one kid-friendly one in the playroom, a small one in a globe that was the first one my husband ever gave me, one near the kitchen and a large one in the front yard).  A couple of years ago, we started a tradition with our kids.  We let them set up the nativity in the playroom, but we intentionally leave baby Jesus out.  When they ask where Jesus is, we point out to them that Jesus hasn’t come yet.  We are decorating and preparing for Jesus birthday.  Then, on Christmas morning, one lucky person gets to open a present that is baby Jesus; then we all place him in the manger and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.  We hope that this instills excitement in our children about Jesus birth and an understanding that Christmas isn’t about presents and Santa.

Some of our other Christmas traditions are:

*Each child gets only 3 presents from us.  One is a practical gift such as clothes.  One is an educational gift such as a book(s) or learning game.  And one is a fun gift that we know they will enjoy.  This is another way of emphasizing to them that Christmas is not about gifts.  We chose the number three because that is how many gifts the wise men brought to Jesus.

*We open presents one at a time so that everyone can see and appreciate what each person gets.  The last person to open a gift gives the next gift to be opened.  This helps the kids to enjoy giving some, too.  This is a tradition passed down to us from my husband’s parents and I love it.  In my birth family, the kids all tear into the presents at the same time and it’s a melee of wrapping paper for 2 minutes that ends in whining for more presents.  It truly makes me sick to my stomach to watch.

*We read our children the story of St. Nicholas and explain to them that he was a man who gave presents to people out of his love for Jesus.  Our kids know that Santa Claus doesn’t exist.  Yet they can still celebrate what he represents because of St. Nick’s love for Christ.  Many don’t agree with me on this, but it’s more important to me to always be truthful with my kids and to emphasize the true meaning of Christmas.  To each his own, right?

What are some of your Christmas traditions?

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