DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?

Do you remember the childhood game of Telephone? One person would say something, could be a phrase or a joke or possibly an abstract sentence and they would whisper it in the ear to a person, who would then whisper it in the ear of another person, and down a line of people. When the last person hears the phrase or whatever it was that was whispered, they say it out loud. I would venture that 99% of the time, it was NOT the same as what the first person said.
We would crack up that this sentence could get so muddled over a short period of time and yet in ways not always understandable to us, we do this often throughout our days and lives.

How often when you are in a conversation with someone, that they say something and you completely misinterpret what they mean?
Or if there is more than two people in a conversation, there can be multiple versions of what was said.
This seems to happen frequently in my marriage or with my children; I will say something and they will take it in a way that it was not meant. Communication skill takes quite a bit of effort and we often don’t speak what we intended to say.
Why is that? Why do we hear things differently? Is it because as we listen, we are trying to conjure up a response? Why do we have two ears and one mouth, and we tend to use our mouth more than our ears? Often I am so guilty of this.

Having been an RN for 31 years, I often would tell patients to have someone with them when a doctor is talking to them, because too often, as in the case of a cancer diagnosis, you HEAR the word
“cancer” and your mind tunes out and you become so quiet because all you hear is cancer, and your mind goes in overdrive. To have a family member or friend present, who will take notes, so that nothing is missed is invaluable.

How often do we read God’s Word to us and misinterpret it? His Word is most often the way God talks to us. I have read the Bible through each year for so many years but how many times do I read something and think to myself: “wow, I have never seen this before”. And I know I have read it because I read the Bible each year, but this time a word or sentence or paragraph leaps out of the page and touches my heart and mind.

How often do we disagree on the Bible’s interpretation? Churches have split, people have left their faith because of something they heard. The biggest example of that today is the LGBTQ issue. Many have attempted to discern what God is saying and there are two huge differences of opinion. This post is not about that, it just is such a prevalent topic nowadays and ways we interpret what we read that God says.

But do WE REALLY SEEK TO HEAR WHAT GOD IS SAYING TO US?
Genesis 3 is the familiar story of the account of the first sin on our earth. God had told Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil but that they may eat of any other tree.  He also instructed them that if they ate it “they would die”.
Along comes the devil, disguised as a serpent, and described as “more crafty than any of the wild animals God had made”. And he questions Eve by saying:
Did God really say, “you must not eat from any tree in the              garden?’
Eve responded by saying:”We may eat from any tree in the
garden, but GOD did say “You must not eat fruit from the tree
that is in the middle of the garden and you must not touch it or
you will die.”

Right then and there is the first communication misinterpretation in our world. God specifically mentioned the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And He never said anything about not touching the tree.
So Satan, the enemy of God, being so crafty asks the question: “Did God really say?”. His tactic to make her question what God said, was unfortunately for all of us, a tactic that worked. The serpent then proceeds to tell Eve that surely she would not die, because if she ate the fruit, her eyes would be opened, “and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”.
Most of us know what happened next.  Eve ate the fruit and then gave some of it to Adam.
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized
they were naked,…and made coverings for themselves.”
How wonderful it must have been not knowing you were naked, and having no shame in that.

How often are we lured by satan’s lies of “Did God really say?”
We won’t know what God has said if we don’t spend time reading His words to us. How can we know what God is saying if we aren’t in the Bible? How often do we misinterpret the Word of God because we want to believe it says what we want it to say?

Again I bring up the LGBTQ issue. I have searched mightily for God’s answer on what He means. I have read commentaries and many books. I have looked up words in the original Hebrew or Greek. I have prayed and prayed that God would show me His truth. What I have come up with is that God wants me to love ALL of His children, regardless of race, sex, sexual preference. Is it OK for gay people to be married in God’s eyes? I don’t know. For some reasons known only to God, He has not chosen to reveal to me what His answer to that question is. I know both sides of how people feel, but do I know God’s thoughts? I know some of them but do I have His final say? I do not. And I am not sure any of us do, although many seem to think they do.

Being in my mid-sixties and having followed Jesus for 46 years, I still know I have barely scratched the surface of knowing God completely. But what I do know is that the most reliable way for me to hear His thoughts and words the majority of the time, is to be in His Word-reading the Bible daily if at all possible.
Because if His enemy (and ours) tries to trip me up by saying :
” did God really say?”, I want to go to His Word to see what He really said. I know I may interpret it wrong in my mind and heart, that is why I begin each time of reading the bible praying:
” Guide me in your truth LORD and teach me” (from Ps 25:5) and
“Open my eyes LORD that I may see the wonder and beauty of your law” (Ps 119:18).

I continually ask God to reveal His truth to me and I hope that you will to. We need to hear what God says and not others view of what He says.

AWAITING NEW PROMISES

I was almost horrified this morning when while talking to a dear friend, I realized that tomorrow is September 1st.
Not that September 1 is a bad day, it is just that it crept up on me without even thinking about what that day signifies for me.

Twenty years ago ( or maybe it was 19 and this will be my 20th year), the pastor of the church we attended, informed us that he prays a particular verse for each of his family members.
I was so impressed with this idea, that I began searching for a verse for each different family member. I believe he told us about this endeavor the first weekend in September.

So now for the 20th time, I will begin to look for verses for our family members. When I started it was just the six of us. Now with spouses for each child and three adorable grandsons, I will be finding 13 different verses for each member of my immediate family.

I can almost guarantee you that it will take me the entire month to find them; unless by some “miracle”, the LORD gives me these verses more quickly.
Truly it is an amazing time searching through the Bible looking, wondering, deciding (with the Holy Spirit’s guidance) which verse is for which person. This allows me to see Scripture in a whole new light as I get to review verses from the past that have ministered to me when I deeply needed them, see verses that I had chosen for family members at different times in their lives, and be grateful again that the Word of God is still so relevant for today.
I often have wondered why the LORD would lead me to a specific verse for someone, but have believed that this indeed was THE right verse, even when I didn’t understand; only to be amazed and grateful as the year went on and the reason was made clear.

This year will be the 20th year I have prayed verses for my family; specific verses for each particular member. It has been an honor and a joy to do this. It has helped me memorize Scripture; although I must admit that I can’t always tell you where it came from (book and verse), I do remember the actual words of the verse.

Yes, I was taken aback this morning that today was the last day of August. On the other hand, I am totally excited and looking forward to the month of September ( I always love this month because it is my birthday month!) because I am awaiting the new promises God will give me to pray for my family members.

When my kids were in school, they always started in September, that doesn’t happen much these days, when so many schools begin in August, which is why I always pick my verses in September. It was the beginning of a new school year and a perfect time for me to reflect on challenges they might face, milestones that could occur, and wait for God to reveal His particular word, for each of those that I love the most in this world.

It is a beautiful thing to see how God works through the years. It is an even more splendid thing to see God work in the lives of your family and watch them become who He has envisioned them to be.

My encouragement for you today is to find verses for your family. It may take awhile. You may not be able to do it now for the season of life you are in. But if you can do this, not only will your family be blessed, you will be blessed as you watch God’s Word come alive.

A very special thank you to Dave Sawkins for this wonderful idea!!

totally Out Of Sorts

I used to believe that Following Jesus meant being conservative, embracing conservative values and philosophies and being involved in my church, was all I needed to be who God wanted me to be.
But now I believe that the most important thing I can do in my life, for me, for my family and those friends I love dearly, and everyone else is quite simple: Follow Jesus.

So many times in the Bible, Jesus calls others to “Follow Me”.
And isn’t that exactly what He is calling me (and quite possibly you) to do as well?

It is not about being conservative; I don’t think I ever really embraced that. Although I was never hurt by the church, I know many who were. Perhaps being involved in a para church ministry my entire adult life precluded me from believing that the church was the end all, be all.
Quite possibly, we seemed to pick churches where we had friends and because of our own all encompassing ministry, we were not that involved in many church activities, except for me attending women’s bible studies for years and years.

For many, the church (and what exactly is “the church”?) has hurt -hopefully unintentionally-their members, whether it be for what they say is the “gospel truth”, or for the values they impose (ie we don’t drink, dance, swear or go with those who do). Maybe as you went for advice about doubts or why God says this in the Bible, you were told something that made you feel belittled, or that you weren’t the “christian” you were supposed to be.

Sarah Bessey(author of Jesus Feminist) has written another book, called “Out of Sorts: making Peace with an Evolving Faith.

This book is truly a gem. I have underlined and highlighted so much, that well, you might think I am a bit pen happy. BUT REALLY.
I have been on this faith journey for 44 years now and from the 19 year old college sophomore to the 63 year old Grammy, my faith has changed, shifted, grown and become much more compassionate, realizing much much more that I don’t always know the answers, and that GOD IS THE ULTIMATE GIVER OF ANSWERS AND JUDGE.

There are so many quotes I want you to see, but also realize that might take up another book in itself.
It would be hard to pick a favorite, but one that really captured me was:
” If our theology doesn’t shift and change over our lifetimes, then I have to wonder if we’re paying attention. The Spirit is often breathing in the very changes or shifts that used to terrify us.”

Looking back over forty plus years of walking with Christ, I realize it is really a journey. A journey that has its ups and downs. Those straight aways when you see clearly and are sailing ahead smoothly. Those windy mountains with the curves that can scare us and bring forth our fears, the ones that you don’t expect and blurs your vision for a time, and then there is the valleys. Those places where you have been blind-sided, where your hope might vanish, the doubts are debilitating, the grief unending. It could be from an unexpected loss; a death of a loved one, a spouse leaving, a pink slip, a broken relationship. It can be from lingering and unrelenting mental illness. In the valley, you just want a break. A brief respite from the deep pain and often there is nothing. God’s silence is LOUD.
And finally there is a break, you begin to trust God again, you make some forward motion steps, and you can see a road-any road, that might lead you out of the valley.

How I have viewed God for now going on five decades has shifted and changed. Some things have remained constant: I know He loves me. I know He is there, even in the deafening silence. I know He cares. But have I doubted? Yes. Plenty of times. Do I wonder if He hears my cries for help. I know He does, but His answers often take forever in coming (or so it seems).
I have seen His hand of protection over a loved one’s life when He spared them from a suicide attempt, but I wonder, why some others succeed.
I have wondered if God slept when atrocities are being committed all over and throughout history.
I have many questions that are unanswered.

What I have learned is that God doesn’t change. I do.
As the years go by, I have known Him better. Been the recipient of multiple and multiple graces.
I realize that I don’t have the answers. That only God does. And well meaning pastors have told me things that aren’t true, and then I wonder why God would place them over people.
My faith has changed; I have become more compassionate and way less judging of others.
I want to love and show Christ’s love. I don’t want to condemn, but I want to accept others and pray that they too will come to know the ONE who gave them life.

This is basically what the book, Out of Sorts is about. Navigating your faith through your lifetime.
Sarah Bessey gives us her reasons for choosing to follow Jesus day in and day out. In spite of the messiness. In spite of being hurt and lonely. Cheering us on to be what Jesus envisions us to be.
She considers the Church as a whole and reminds us that we are the church. We are Christ’s ambassadors here and now. Are we representing Him accurately?
She writes about the Bible, what we think and believe, how to ponder the questions we have freely and without guilt. She writes about the people in our lives, our community.
What she writes about is FAITH.
http://www.amazon.com/Out-Sorts-Making

Sarah Bessey is real and authentic. She is honest with her questions and how she has been hurt.
She is so genuine in her love for Jesus and others; this fact leaks out page after page.
If you have never heard of her, you need to.
She writes with honesty and conviction. And she blesses the socks out of me. I read her words with a pen in hand. I take notes and ponder her words.
What she expresses over and over again is Jesus’s words: FOLLOW ME. And invites and encourages us to do the same. Sarah isn’t perfect; none of us are. But she longs for Jesus with a heart that seeks Him diligently. And isn’t that what we all should be desiring.
Oh IF ONLY, I had this book at her age!!

DOUBT. LAMENT. and learning to SURRENDER

If you are a follower of Jesus, know that it is ok to doubt.

I have walked with Jesus for almost 44 years. I would venture that 42 of those were very consistent. Honestly, it was hard to figure what I could and shouldn’t do for a few years.

Less than two years after I began a relationship with Jesus, my mother died unexpectedly in the middle of the night. Not only was I devastated and shocked, I wondered if God cared. Looking back, I remember for about two weeks before she died that I had this real certain feeling, maybe it was assurance, that God was about to do something BIG in my life. Like bring the guy who was to be “the One”.
His big thing appeared to be taking my mom. I was confused and hurt and doubtful. I look back in hindsight (oh if we could just do that while we are going through trials) and see that because my mother was no longer around, I learned very very early in my walk with Jesus, that HE was the only ONE who would always be around. I leaned into Him because I didn’t know where else to go.

The next 40 or so years, I had plenty of times when I doubted Jesus. When my anger was the reason that my sons ran away; from me and from the LORD. When my teenage daughter developed anorexia and was hospitalized for 2 months. When another of my children was dishonest about a relationship that ending up causing them tremendous pain.

Doubting if Jesus was watching or even cared, came when my husband was laid off from a job he loved. And when mental illness was having its way in our family. When one family member became so depressed and despondent that they tried to end their life.
Yes, following Jesus has caused me quite a few doubts.

My brain knows that He says: “I will never leave you or forsake you.”, but my heart questions if God even sees the anguish, the tears, the fears that have enveloped my life at times.

And yet, I know He loves me, I know He loves you. That’s the cerebral part of me working. I have spent years in His Word. I believe it all to be true. I love the Bible because it comforts me when I need it. But sometimes I need proof; I want to see visibly that God cares. I don’t always get what I want from God. I imagine that most of us feel that way at sometime and it is in those times, that the doubt comes.

This summer has been one of those times for me.
I have been confused. I have doubted. I have been so angry at God that I have yelled at Him numerous times.

“Don’t you see we can’t take this?”
“Why don’t YOU do something?”
“How much more can she endure?”
“Don’t you care?”

Almost 44 years of walking with Jesus and this has been one of the most difficult spiritual crises’ I have experienced.
A dear friend sent me a paper on having Hope in Lament.
She too, is having a rough time of it.
I always knew that there were a number of Psalms that we called “psalms of Lament”, and this summer I have truly experienced lament.

According to Dan Allender,
“To lament-that is to cry out to God with our doubts, our incriminations of him and others, to bring a complaint against Him-is the context of surrender. Surrender, the turning of our heart over to Him, asking for mercy and receiving His terms for restoration is- impossible without battle. To put it simply, it is inconceivable to surrender to God unless there is a prior declared war against Him.”
That pretty much summed up in a nutshell what has been going on in my life. Have I waged war with God? Partly yes and partly no.
I have had active hostility in my anger. I have been in conflict with Him. I have contested His ways.
Oh I have been angry; so angry that my tears spill all too frequently out of my eyes.
I think I have surrendered to His will and then when things appear worse in this situation, I get mad all over again and my doubts are full blown.

The one advantage I have in walking with Jesus through all my adult years is that even though I don’t “feel” it now, I know He cares. I have experienced His faithfulness. I have relished His Grace. I have known His forgiveness in sweet sweet ways. And I know that in the end, His way is always the best way.
It’s just that now, I don’t see it.
I am confused. I am hurt by what seems His lack of involvement.
I know I am impatient, but I also know how very long (18 years) this struggle, this pain, this un-ending trial has gone on, and I just want to see some answers. I want to see His Hope again.

Yet through this hard time, I remember.
I remember through all the other very difficult times, I have known more of Jesus, I have been swept into intimacy with Him like never before. And so I wait. I wait for that to come.

In the meantime, I struggle. I doubt. I still get angry. I still confess my sin (over and over and over again).
And I know that God’s love for me has not changed. He loves me as much this minute as He always has. I have not fallen from His graces. He is still here. And He isn’t going anywhere.

So when your doubts come, please oh please, do not despair. Don’t give up. Get mad, tell God you are confused and frightened and angry. He can take it.
And then breathe in and wait.
Soon you will know more of Him than you ever have.

With Job, I agree:
“Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him” (Job 13:15)

Where else could I possibly go?

What a Way to End

Summer is officially over at Woodleaf. Our camping season ended Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, the last group of our campers and leaders left; and Sunday saw the goodbye of the third session Assignment Team and the Summer Staff and the WorkCrew.

I am so grateful for all who came to Woodleaf this summer and gave of their time, their service, all for the purpose of bringing high schoolers (and one 5 day session of Middle Schoolers) to the feet of Jesus.

EVERYTHING that is done at camp, from the program team entertaining our campers, the leaders who counsel their high school friends, the speaker who has the privilege of telling campers the greatest love story ever told, to the people who spend hours in the kitchen preparing the meals, those who keep you safe on the ropes course and tower, the lifeguards who watch you closely, the boys who empty the garbage, the gals who clean the toilets, the wranglers who keep you safe at the track and on the rides, the doctors and paramedics who are here to help you when you are sick or injured, to the crew that manages the sound system, the girls that served you delicious whirleys, or who helped you make a craft or sold you special merchandise at the store, along with the one who recorded your week to view again and again; EVERYTHING is done with the purpose of allowing our friends to hear the Good News of how much Jesus Christ loves them.

But there is a very special group of people who came for 13 weeks to help the property staff accomplish all that is needed to be done in order to have a fun and successful camping season.

This year we were privileged to have 17 young adults from all over the country serving here to make this place ” the best week of your life” to thousands of high school kids.

This group is called Interns, as they are here to learn what it looks like to work and live on a Young Life Property. Every Young Life camp has interns that come and serve for the entire summer.

This year at Woodleaf, Our Interns (affectionately dubbed “Winterns” by themselves) was THE MOST EXCEPTIONAL group I have ever gotten to be involved with.         IMG_0339

The entire group had such incredible hearts to serve Jesus wholeheartedly.  They always had a smile on their face, they worked ridiculously long hours without complaining and loved each other so well.

It was not a summer without difficulties. They endured tragedy and sorrow and comforted and encouraged each other thru some really hard times. But they also had FUN. They thoroughly enjoyed each others company, they developed deep and lasting friendships and experienced community like never before. They lived in crammed and tight quarters, but they cooked for each other and served each other. There was MANY late night discussions (and you think we didn’t know!) that were real, honest and vulnerable.

These Winterns worked tirelessly and they were playful too. They loved each other with abandon.

For eight different summers, I have had the immense privilege and opportunity to lead the amazing and talented interns. Each summer has been unique. Each group different but all here to serve Jesus. Each and every intern at each and every camp deserves our appreciation.

Thank you doesn’t seem to be adequate, but the gratefulness I feel, is one that words can’t fully express.

This will be my last time to be an Intern boss, and what a gift this group of 17 has been to me. Going out with the BEST.

WINTERNS FOR THE WIN!!

JESUS…WHERE ARE YOU?

THE NEWS OF LATE.

Hateful. Sad. Not comforting at all.

I still can not wrap my head around the immense hateful act that happened in Charleston.

I still can not believe that this country is racist. But it is.

The Civil War has been over for over 150 years and yet many states in the South still fly the confederate flag. Absolutely mind boggling to this California native. I am sickened, horrified and appalled at what happened to the nine people. But it just wasn’t those nine whose lives were cut short. It was their families, the members of the church and in reality our whole country. We grieve and mourn and lament. It is time to do something.

It is time to do something to end the atrocities we have committed agains African Americans. BLACK LIVES DO MATTER.

It is especially hard for me to comprehend the racism that exists. Having grown up in the 60’s where my father built low cost housing for the (then Negro) population of East Palo Alto. I didn’t know  there was a color difference. My dad’s foreman for his construction was a Black man who was part of our family.

And hearing the news of two Black churches set on fire by arson this week. Racism begets racism. Where do people become bigots? Doesn’t it usually start at home? And how is it possible that followers of Jesus can be racist? I don’t understand this at all.

The remaining brother of the Boston marathon killings issues an apology statement yesterday.

REALLY? 14 months after it happens? When you are hearing your sentence. This is hard for me to believe his apology is  sincere. But also, who am I to cast judgement?

This week also brought news of a fairly famous pastor admitting to an affair and then resigning from his church. It was unfortunate that he gave the reason that he was “caught” in this discretion, because his wife had an affair first.
This pastor has a very famous grandfather who has literally brought millions to Christ and yet he too, is capable of placing the blame of his sin on someone else.

For me, when I sin, I too, can try and rationalize and place the blame on anyone or anything but me. But when I stop and think about it, the reason I choose to sin is because I want to be the god of my life. I want to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. And screw the consequences.
Where do we come up with the idea that our sin hurts no one but us? Our sin, my sin, most of all hurts GOD who loves us so deeply. Who pursues us because He longs for us to know Him and His love. But always our sin hurts more than just us.

I can only begin to imagine how much just this weeks news has hurt Our Father. How He grieves and cries over what has transpired.
Will it get worse? I bet it will.
Can we do anything? I would like to believe so.
But what is one person to do?
Anything that you can think of to do will help.

LOVE PEOPLE.
Serve them.
Ask what you can do to help.
Give your time. Give your money. Give your talents.
Ask God for guidance, for wisdom, to do what you can.

Oh JESUS, where are you?
Show up in your people.
Give us the ability to do what YOU want us to do.

OPEN OUR EYES

What happens when you don’t recognize someone that you should?
Are you embarrassed? Taken by surprise? Bewildered?
Does it happen to you? It has happened to me and I think all three of those adjectives have described how I felt at that moment.

I remember looking at wedding pictures of one of my daughter’s friends. She was stunning and breath-taking beautiful. But I didn’t recognize her. She did not look a thing like herself. This bride was beautiful in her “normal” self, but with her hair and makeup done professionally, I did not recognize her at all.

There are those moments too, when you meet up with a friend that you haven’t seen in a long time, and they have either lost or gained weight, or their chemo treatments have re-shaped their looks and you are silenced by your lack of knowing them.

If you are my age, or if you know an incredible amount of people, you might see someone that you know, but for the life of you, you can’t remember their name or where you know them from, and quite embarrassingly they remember you. (best tip I ever received in dealing with this type of situation is saying something like I forgot your last name! and then hopefully, that will help you remember their first name!! and please God, don’t let it be somebody I really should know).

But don’t worry; you are certainly not the only one who has not recognized someone. Fear not, there is actually an example or two from the bible of this.
In John chapter 21, (this is after Jesus has died and been resurrected) a number of the disciples had joined Peter to go fishing. They had fished all night and not caught a thing. Meanwhile the sun comes up, and on the beach is Jesus. And these guys did not recognize Jesus.

Here is the story from the Message Translation:
1-3 After this, Jesus appeared again to the disciples, this time at the Tiberias Sea (the Sea of Galilee). This is how he did it: Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed “Twin”), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the brothers Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter announced, “I’m going fishing.”
3-4 The rest of them replied, “We’re going with you.” They went out and got in the boat. They caught nothing that night. When the sun came up, Jesus was standing on the beach, but they didn’t recognize him.
5 Jesus spoke to them: “Good morning! Did you catch anything for breakfast?”
They answered, “No.
6 He said, “Throw the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens.”
They did what he said. All of a sudden there were so many fish in it, they weren’t strong enough to pull it in.
7 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Master!”

So I read this and have questions.
1. Was Jesus’ resurrected body completely different from the body He had while living?
I assume that it must be different. Otherwise, Mary Magdalene would have recognized Him by the tomb. And these disciples, the ones who walked with Him for 3 years, day in and day out, they didn’t recognize Him.
2. Does that mean I often fail to recognize Jesus too?
Obviously yes, and you probably do as well.

Obviously, Jesus doesn’t appear in bodily form here on earth presently, (although someday soon He will!), but I wondered how often do I miss seeing Him in people, in situations?

We have a “thing” in Young Life that we call, “Jesus sightings”. These are the examples that we see Jesus in our daily lives, that normally we might miss or quite possibly never even thought that Jesus was in that situation.

Do I see Jesus in the homeless person I see on the street? That needs my help and more often than not, I ashamedly turn away from looking at them.
Do I see Jesus in those who might suffer from mental illness? Or do I view them as crazy and mixed up? Do I ever wonder what I would be like having that form of disease? Do I ever seek to understand them?
Do I see Jesus in the impoverished people of the world? Do I help clothe them or feed them as He has asked us to do?
Do I see Jesus in the members of my family? The ones who might need my help or support? Or am I bothered by them?
Do I see Jesus in the young mother, with screaming toddlers, seeming overwhelmed? Do I ask her if I can help? Or do I criticize her in my mind for not having children who behave?

Do these type of questions make you wonder how I could possibly link them to Jesus?
It is because this is what Jesus has told us we must do. In Matthew 25, Jesus told us:

34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

So I don’t want to miss Jesus.
I want to recognize Him in the faces of people I encounter everyday. I want to meet their needs if I can.
I believe that in doing so, I will see Jesus.
I will see how He has done similar things in my own life.
He wants me and you to be looking for Him throughout our days.
Ask Jesus to give you the vision to see Him each day, to recognize Him, to open our hearts to those we might normally not.

We might not see Jesus physically, but we can see Him everyday if we just keep our eyes and our hearts open to His leading.

Brandon Heath wrote a song just about this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5AkNqLuVgY

These words from his song, completely say what I wanted to convey:
Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see

May we each have the eyes of Jesus to see who He wants us to see.

WHOSE VOICE ARE YOU LISTENING TO

There was a time when I could not differentiate between two of my children’s voices. Yes,I said I couldn’t tell my kids voices apart.I think they were about eight and ten years old. I would call home from work to see how they were doing, and would listen to them tell me what they were up to, before I knew if I was talking to Kristi or Todd.
Indeed, it is strange for a mother to not know her own child’s voice, but I really could not tell them apart.
Thankfully, as they grew, it became much easier.

We hear so many voices. We are bombarded with countless voices that come our way. Whether it be on the radio, over the phone, on the TV or even through the internet, we are constantly hearing so many voices.
And what about the voices we hear in our heads. Our minds replay people’s voices over and over again. Some of them are great words to hear. Last night I went to sleep hearing again the voices of our dear friends Jimmy and Sarah. We spent a wonderful evening together, just the four of us for our last time when we live in the same place. There was affirmation and encouragement (and quite a few tears), and I know I must have had a smile on my face as I drifted off to sleep as I recalled things they said to us.

Mostly though, the voices we hear in our heads are not so positive. We tend to replay the negative voices. We remember how we have disappointed or failed someone. And it keeps playing over and over again in our minds. Why do we tend to remember and replay the negative words and don’t remember the positive? Wouldn’t we be so much better off if we concentrated on the good things people have said instead of the bad?

There are other voices we hear.
Often times we don’t know where they come from.
Is it our own thought? Is someone else inside my brain?
And it is in those type of thoughts, and the negative words of others, that we too often stay.
Are they real voices? We seem to believe that they are. Because we concentrate on them, dwell in them, and then fall victim to them, thinking they must be true.

EVERYONE in life fails.
We all make mistakes.
We all have heard negative comments.
But do we need to live in them? Believe them?
Those we view as successful have heard negative things, have doubted themselves, BUT the difference is they start anew, begin fresh and go after what they are pursuing.

The past two mornings, I have been reading in the book of John (chapters 9 and 10) from the Message translation.
In both chapters Jesus asks a question and makes a statement about His voice.
In John 9, Jesus asks:
“Don’t you recognize my voice?”

That is the question I now put to us.
Do you know and recognize the true voice of God in your life?
With so many voices coming at us, in all sorts of directions, do you know the voice of Jesus?
I am confident that if we don’t spend time with Jesus everyday, we may not be able to tell His voice from all the others. If you know me at all, you know that I am a HUGE advocate for reading the Bible daily. For me to know Jesus’ voice, I have to know His Word.
Because it’s in His Word that He most often speaks to us. I am extremely grateful for one woman who emphasized this to me (http://missyscud.blogspot.com/2015/03/a-huge-thank-you.htm)
You could also look at the Archives heading in my blogs and click on God’s Word to see how much it means to me.

But for me, to be in the Bible, to know God’s Word, helps me know the voice of Jesus, helps me discern whether that thought in my mind is actually true and from Him or from any of the many voices I hear.
In John 10, Jesus begins to talk about how sheep know the Shepherd’s voice and then He calls himself, the Good Shepherd.

“and the sheep recognize His voice.
He calls his own sheep by name and he leads them out…He leads them
and they follow because they are
familiar with his voice. They don’t
follow a stranger’s voice but will
scatter because they aren’t used to
the sound of it.”

Do you know the SOUND of your Shepherd’s voice?
Do you have trouble differentiating between His voice and others?
Are you a bit like me, wanting to hear more from my children, so that you can decide if it really is Jesus’ voice?

PLEASE don’t assume the voice you hear inside your head is from Jesus. Check it out. Look at His Word to see if it aligns with what it says.
LISTEN to Him. Spend time with Him, so that you can know His voice.
Don’t you want the true voice be the one you really pay attention to?
I for one, certainly do. And pray that you will too.
Too many voices vie for our attention. Be careful, very very careful. Listen for the Voice of Truth.
As Jesus has said: “I am the way, the truth and the
Life.”

The voice of Jesus will always be life giving.

Mother’s Day Revisited

Mother’s Day 2014
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day-you know the Hallmark manufactured day to celebrate moms in America.
I actually have always like this day because it is the one day of the year that is just for me. I know I am selfish-that’s a given. But I share my birthday with my husband-so birthdays aren’t really special-especially the last one we celebrated.

This year though, Mother’s Day seems a bit harder to accept.
I think about those who have lost their moms this past year, and how tomorrow just emphasizes the loss again; as if you weren’t grieving enough.

I think about those who have lost their child.
They may have other children, but they lost one and their lives will NEVER be the same again.
There will always be the empty ache of the deep longing for their child.
My heart aches tremendously for them.

There are some women out there who have given up their child for adoption because in reality, that was the most loving thing they could ever do. They didn’t have the resources to care for this child, and so they entrusted them to someone who could love and provide for them. They never stop remembering. This day brings again the sadness. Someday they might just meet the one they “gave up” but really “gave more” so that their baby could have life.

I think about the women who will suffer greatly tomorrow for they have lost their children to child slavery, or sex slavery.
The mothers of those sweet innocent Nigerian girls are aching and hoping.
Mothers throughout the world are missing their children who have become lost-or mostly kidnapped by very evil people for their own monetary gain. I am praying with you.

I think about the women who have suffered miscarriages and those who are unable to have a child.
Both are CRUEL. Both leave an emptiness that most of us can’t comprehend.
But I know how hard it is for you on this day. My heart really hurts for you.
I pray that God will someday give you a child-whether it be from your own body or thru adoption.
And until that happens, that you can “mother” others children. Afterall, one mother just doesn’t seem enough.

I have been gifted with four children, three from my body, one a gift from God.
They have blessed my life. They have challenged me and made me a better person.
I am so grateful for Kristi, Todd, Katie and Ryan.
Thank you LORD for letting them be their mom.

For those of you who are hurting and grieving, know that there are plenty of us, who will be praying for you tomorrow.
If you have a mom-thank her for her sacrifices and love.
If you are a mom, thank God for the privilege.

ONE OF THOSE NIGHTS

Last night was one of those nights.
Except last night was the end of an era.
It was the last night of my small groups.
For seven years now, I have left my home and made a 110-115 mile round trip to Chico, anywhere from one to three times a week to meet with college and post-college gals to talk about Jesus. To learn more of His deep love and concern and care for us. 30,000 miles on my cars, new tires, crazy mountainous driving, all to experience life with “my girls”.
I remember my first group. There were seven gals who were Young Life leaders in Chico that just wanted to grow in their walk with their Savior. We met in Christie’s apartment that she shared with Tiffany, who later joined us. We studied the Psalms and we got to know each other and share our stories. I remember vividly deciding to share my story first so that they would learn how to be vulnerable and not have to worry about “what will she think if I say this?”. Their leader had a sordid past, so they could be as honest as they wanted.

The following fall, we began a study of frosh girls that I asked Christie to help me lead. I had the name of one gal from a friend who was an Area Director in San Diego. That gal brought five of her friends from her dorm and we had three girls from Chico that stayed in town to attend college join us. We investigated Jesus and His claims to be God through the Nooma videos. Half of the girls did not know Jesus, so the discussions were lively and I tried my best to answer their questions.
I also continued to meet the gals that I started with in another bible study.
Sometimes we would meet at 7AM and other groups would meet at 7 pm and then I would try to meet with these sweet girls individually during the weeks as well.

Can you imagine what it would be like to meet for seven years with girls that are in college, really trying to figure out life for themselves, often for the first time? To share life, the ups and downs, the trials, the struggles, the questions, the joys, the happiness and the sorrows.
What a privilege I was given to walk with them, encourage them and offer suggestions when asked.
There were also the times when it wasn’t fun. When I had to confront them about areas in their lives that were contradictory to what their Savior desired and/or commanded of them.
It’s alot easier to be their friend than the bad cop. Sometimes I wish I could have ignored their behaviors, but that wasn’t what God had called me to do. But I also was privy to their secrets, their fears, their hopes, their questions about the future.

To watch these amazing, life-loving girls grow into the women God envisions them to be is one of the most wonderful gifts I’ve ever been given. To watch them fall in and out of love, to watch them marry their guy, to celebrate their marriages is a wonder to behold.
To help them pick up the pieces after a break-up or comfort them in the loss of loved one are examples of times where I could only rely on Jesus to give me words (when appropriate) and just hug and be in the moment present to them.

Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t always good times and wonderful.
There was heartache as I watched some of my girls walk away, instead of, to the Savior. Or see them choose to marry a man who didn’t share their faith. And then came the feelings of inadequacy and failure. Life is full of disappointments with tears, but also full of surprises and laughter and joy. Why would I not expect to encounter both in these years of sharing life with my college friends?

The bible studies we did (OH Beth! we your SISTERS love you!), the books we read, were all geared towards strengthening their individual relationships with Jesus, but also fostered community and vulnerability and deep friendships. What a blessing to see these young women form lasting friendships.

My drive home last night was etched with the memories of each small group, each girl. I was reminded of how full my heart is -even right now. What an awesome privilege I have had.

So to Christie, Erin, Co, Chomps, Sam, Hilary, Dana, Carlie, Morgan, Bri, Robin, Casey, Katie Mann, Emily Brooks, Cambria, Katie Mesa, Molly, Julia, Sarah B, Lauren, Katie Lee, Caitlin, Kristin, Kendra, Emily Green, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me the extreme privilege of walking with you through such critical and forming years of your lives. I will NEVER EVER FORGET YOU.