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Verse of the Day
Wednesday
Apr232014

Gratitude

I'm the type of person who sincerely appreciates outdoor time.  I used to seek it out at 5 a.m. every morning when I went running before my work day started.  Now I seek it out with a toddler at my side, and we get out whenever we can.  But when the day wears long, the walls seem to close in, and there are days when it's hard to find things to be thankful for.  I've been daily reminded, that there is much to be thankful for. 

Even when my skin hasn't seen sun for months. 

Even when sickness reigns through our home week after week. 

Even when all seems dark and cold.
 
There is a sunrise out the window today and the reminder of God's blessings.  My daughter draws Jesus on the cross on her Etch-a-sketch.  We have plenty to eat.  We are warm.  We have been given grace after grace.  We have God's Word to transform us, guide us, and teach us.  We have his love to sustain us.  We have his promises to uphold us and lead us through the valleys.
 
Let's focus on gratitude as we pray this week.

 

 
Thank you, Lord, for guiding us the in way to go.
Thank you for women willing to step up and step out.
Thank you for the boldness to love others well.
Thank you for the promise that you will not leave us or forsake us.
Thank you for the work you are doing in women's lives through Bible studies and small groups.
Thank you for enabling us to reach out to others and share your love.
Thank you for allowing us to carry one another's burdens.
Thank you for what you will do through the prayer.
Thank you for unity in the Spirit.
Thank you for loving us so that we might love you in return.
 
To God be the glory!

Stacey

Monday
Apr212014

Values

So many times we talk about the things that we take for granted.  I know I have taken so many things in my life for granted.  I have spent over 30 years of my life getting up early and heading to school.  It is just what I have done.  What has been expected of me, and my routine.  It has become so “normal” that most of the time I don’t think twice about it. 

But I have been struck in the last months how easy education was for me, and I’m not talking about the in-class part.  The teacher that I am most impressed with at the school is Miguel.  From the moment we interviewed him and prayed through that decision, I could see that he was different.  After watching him for a month, his patience in the classroom astounds me.  Yesterday I was talking with him about his own schooling.  To receive the classes he needed to earn a degree, he left his village at 1:00 AM to walk to the nearest place to catch a bus going to Coban.  It was an 11 hour trip.  He arrived late, slept on a dirt floor in the house of someone that he had met and then studied for 12 hours the next day.  He did this for 5 years. 

I wondered if I would have had the drive to do that, or if I would have found something easier. Most people settle for the easy route.  Those that we have must be motivated or they would not have reached this point.  And because they are motivated, I want to be able to give them steak instead of ground beef as their encouragement that they CAN accomplish this that is in front of them.

Many of our students have these same stories.  Although none of them travel 11 hours to school, we do have many that walk for hours to arrive at school.  Last week one of these students arrive at school with sweat pouring down his head.  I had assumed it was from his walk, but he pulled up his pants to show that a dog had attacked him on the way and he was bleeding. He had run most of the way to escape the dog. 

Another student comes from a family of 11.  She worked for 2 years cleaning houses to earn enough money to study for a year ($500) and her family continues to work extra to sacrifice for her education.  She came to this strange town, not knowing anyone or having a place to stay because she wants an education.  She goes to school all day, attends the three hours of remediation afterwards, and then studies all night.  Only to get up the next day to repeat it all over again.  And she loves it!!!!

Each one of our students has a story like this, although you would never know by watching them in class.  They never complain, always greet you with a smile, and do not ask for any special privileges.  For me the encouragement comes by the dedication these students have.  Miguel patiently and lovingly provides remediation courses in the afternoons.  I was expecting the students to come begrudgingly or only when they really felt like they needed it.  But each day 80% of the students are there, hungry to learn.  (The other 20% have to work to pay for their schooling).

And so we continue on – challenging minds to think beyond what they see in front of them into the future. 

This week I encourage you personally to look at how easily so many things are handed to us on a regular basis, without us even realizing that we are blessed. 

Pray for these students as the mountain in front of them is endless and the challenges that they face are beyond what I would want in my life.  It is our hope for them to be able to embrace this hope in front of them and cause a ripple effect in the community. 

Be blessed!

Adrienne

If you would like to know more about Adrienne and her work in Guatemala, visit her site mytrustfall.com

Friday
Apr182014

The Banquet

What if you were invited to a pot luck dinner and forgot your dish? What if the host said, "Nevermind, join us anyway. There's plenty of food!" I would feel like a total troll. Who does that? Evidently me. I would eat less than the other guests and make sure that I was close to the end of the serving line. In fact, I may even leave early or late so that no one knew I didn't have something to share. It would be difficult to fully enjoy the experience.

It is uncomfortable to receive when I have nothing to give.

But is it what we bring to the table?  Never has been.

But is it about what we bring to the table? Never has been.

The table has been lavishly prepared by the Lord. Even our gold-embossed invitations were orchestrated by His design and stamped my His royal hand. We have two feet on a body that walked to the feast, and even those were knit together in our mothers' wombs with His string and knitting needles. We had nothing to do with it.

So why not delight and rejoice in the beautiful bounty? Cast away the guilt and unworthiness; that is fact and He invited us anyway.

Throw off the stains of former selves; He loves anyway.

Look forward and not back; the aroma of the feast is calling and the arms of the host are open.

On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare

a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.
In that day they will say,
Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
Isaiah 25:6-9 (NIV)

Beth

Wednesday
Apr162014

Easter

With only a few days left until we celebrate Easter, here are some things you may want to incorporate into your celebration.  Most are easy to do and inexpensive, so take some time out to create something and spend time with the Creator!  

 

We have done quite a few subway art pics through the seasons.  If you haven't done it yet, purchase a nice frame, print out the different pics and change them for the seasons!  Since I finally have a fireplace mantel, I am displaying mine there along with a banner across the front.

Print and frame this picture by going here.


 

I loved these inexpensive treat bags you can make on your own!  Go here for the download and instructions.

 

 

A little bit of Mod Podge, some inexpensive peat pots, download the bunny and you have some pretty sweet little containers to fill with whatever your heart desires :)

 

What a fun way to spread the true message of Easter in your neighborhood and surprise some little ones - I LOVE this!

 

And one more printable for your mantel or wall - click on the pic and it will take you to the source website, then just print and frame!

 

There is no love better than this...

 

Remember the loving sacrifice our Lord made for us as you spread the Love of Christ to others!

Easter Blessings to you, my friends!

Monday
Apr142014

Jehovah Shammah- Practicing the Presence of God

(A special note: the blog post on Friday, 'Random Acts of Kindness', was published before it was completed!  I'm sure it made no sense, but rest assured we will finish it and repost it in the near future!  Thanks for grace :)

 

This year my name for God is Jehovah Shammah- The Lord is There.  

This past Fall I took on a new teaching position.  After five years out of the classroom, I was assigned to teach 4th grade, a completely new experience to me and not one without challenge.  As I studied the list of students assigned to me, I realized that surviving this year would take more than my own efforts. And so I earnestly began to seek God every day for the strength to do the job He had assigned me.

It was then that I realized the necessity of practicing the presence of God.  Jehovah Shammah became my name for God in 2014.  My prayer life deepened and expanded in new ways.  Each day, whether easy or hard, I would look for ways that I could see God's hand.  Ann Voskamp writes in her book One Thousand Gifts, "Wrestle with God, beg to see the blessings, and all the faces become the face of God". This became my deepest longing.  That each day I would see Him in the faces that challenged me the most.



But how to do this?  This is the question I struggle with the most.  How to keep myself in a place where no matter what comes my way that day, I see it as a gift and not a challenge to my peace?  The answer that comes is not always an easy one.  For in the midst of the stress and chaos of each day, the only peace can come from the Giver of True Peace-Jehovah Shammah.  God is there. He is there in my classroom.  He is there in my family.  He is there in the midst of whatever circumstance comes my way.  The giver of every blessing big and small is with me wherever I go and just waiting to strengthen me with every good gift.

Last year I got an iPhone.  When I got my iPhone it was sold to me by a not-so-great mobile phone guy who just wanted to make a quick sale.  It took me almost a year to realize that I had Siri.  All I have to do to do to find the answer to any question is ask Siri.  She will give me some type of response.  That is the way she is programmed.  It took me a year to realize that I had access to any question.........in my phone.  Then I realized an even greater truth.  I have more than Siri with me at all times..........I have Jehovah Shammah.  The Lord is There.  I never want to suffer needlessly simply by denying the power of God that is there for me as His child.  How do I draw on His power in my everyday circumstances?  By practicing His Presence as I go through my day, He becomes my Siri.  When I program myself to look to Him in the midst of every problem, then every problem becomes a gift, an opportunity to see God's power working in my day.  Just as Siri is programmed to give me quick answers, I need to be programmed to quickly seek the Giver of all answers for all of my needs.  

God is closer than my phone and never needs charging.  

Jehovah Shammah- The Lord is There.

Lisa