Rollercoasters, Australia, and Les Mis

Wow, was last week a rollercoaster of emotions!  From the passing of Jenny Groothius, the storms and flooding to Andrew leaving, not hearing from him for two days, then finally getting to SEE him thanks to Facetime, I was EXHAUSTED!

God was amazing through it all.  I have to share what a sweet, wonderful Lord we have.  Andrew left on Friday, July 4th.  We were able to talk to him as he made his way to LA and waited for his connection to Sydney.  He flew out at 11 PM.  We expected him to text or call when he arrived, using open WiFi.  The flight was 15 hours, so we knew it wouldn't be until sometime Saturday afternoon. When we didn't hear from him right away, we figured he had to get through customs and get to his transportation pick up point, but he would let us know soon that he arrived safely.  I thought we would hear from him by dinner time.

Brian and I had tickets to Les Mis Saturday night, and I thought it would be a good distraction.  Our son Aaron is Gravoche and we have several tickets to see him. When we hadn't heard from Andrew by intermission, I was beginning to worry.  My imagination began cooking up all sorts of sorted possibilities and by the time the show was over, I could not wait to get home and check email for news.  Andrew has an app to use for free international texting and calling, but he has to have Internet to use it.  The app tells you the last time he has been online, and he wasn't online since LA.  We tried calling him, the YWAM base, and the transportation company, but because it was Sunday there, we could not reach anyone!  We sent the base, his contact person, and the transportation company several emails asking them to reach us. Shortly after 1:30 A.M., Brian made me go to bed because there was nothing more we could do.  Brian reminded me that Andrew is in God's hands and he was safe. So.....we went to bed, sure we would hear something in the morning.

Well, up at 7 AM and still NOTHING.  I had rushed to my computer, sure that there was an email waiting to be opened that confirmed Andrew had arrived. When there was no news, we tried making contact again, but by then it was the middle of the night in Newcastle, and we just had to WAIT.

When we went to church, I desperately was praying. Here is Tracy, the "great woman of faith", being forced to WALK the TALK.  I am the one forever encouraging others to trust God and His plan, knowing that He is sovereign over everything. In knew in my HEAD that Andrew is in God's protection, that God called him to be there, that God was in control.....but the sick feeling in the pit in my stomach gave me away. I had been gripped with fear.

 During worship, praising God, singing the words, "I have been set is for freedom that I have been set free...." I released the worry... the questioning... ANDREW... to the Lord.  God loves Andrew even more than I do.  And, IF the worst of all my imaginary circumstances actually came to pass, then God was weaving them into His plan and purpose for something greater.  I heard in my head the same words I had spoken to Brian on our Grand Canyon road trip.  We had been stranded in the Colorado Rockies during a blizzard.  The hotel where we were was full, the roads were closed and we had nowhere to go.  As Brian worried that night going to bed, we prayed, and I reassured him that God wasn't going to bring us all the way out west on this awesome trip to leave us stranded in Colorado. In the morning, a room had opened up.  In church, while singing,  I heard those same words, "God is not going to bring Andrew all the way to Australia and leave him stranded somewhere."

I immediately felt peace!

And, this is where God's  TENDERNESS completely blows me away.

Take 2 on Les Mis.

The night before I had NOT enjoyed the show one bit....I was worried about Andrew.  I just wanted to be home.

Sunday's matinee was completely different.  I felt peace about Andrew.  Grandma and Grandpa were there to see the show.  We had AMAZING tickets center and just a few rows back.  But, as we were being seated, we realized we were one seat short.  I had somehow only ordered 6 instead of 7! The usher graciously told us Abby could sit on my lap or I thought I could watch down in the green room.  But, to our amazement, the lady behind us told us she had an EXTRA SEAT!  Someone in her party could not make it at the last minute and the seat directly behind us was available!  Isn't God so awesome????

The show was amazing!  Every song perfect...Aaron did his BEST performance yet.

Then, at intermission, I received a message that Andrew had gotten to YWAM base safely and he would contact us soon.  We went in to enjoy the rest of the show. During the story, Jean Valjean 
sings an amazing song, "Bring Him Home."  This song will bring tears to your eyes, but as Valjean prayed that God would bring this young son home safely, I bawled my eyes out.  This was my prayer and Jared Rogers had me completely weeping as he sung the exact words I was feeling.

As we were walking into the lobby, my phone began vibrating, and as I looked at the front, I saw Andrew's smile.  He was calling from Australia!  The auditorium was clear and I was able to talk to my sweet boy. He had not had Internet access until then since he had arrived on a Sunday. We were able to laugh and cry and it felt GLORIOUS!  How good God is!


Four Days....

OK, so it has been a LONG time since I have written any NEW posts.  I occasionally get on to tinker and repost some old things, but  since beginning homeschooling, I just haven't had the time to write like I used to. With Andrew leaving in four days for Australia, I am needing to just exhale and put "pen" to paper about how I am feeling. So here I am.

When I think about him going, it is I am watching from the outside.  Just how far is Australia from Iowa exactly? 8,990 miles.

Is he prepared?  Will he be ready?  Will he find his way through LAX OK?

I have been looking forward to him going, excited, thrilled for him and what God is going to do in him and through why am I having a hard time breathing right now?  Why is there such a lump in my stomach moving all the way up through my throat and stinging my eyes?

Lord, I trust You and what You are going to do in Andrew's life.  I know You have good plans for him.  I know he is under Your protection.

But, the reality is beginning to sink in.

Of not being able to talk to Andrew any time I want.

Of real possibilities of real danger.

Of him being gone. For 6 months. Gone. 8,990 miles gone.

Lord, I know you will be teaching all of us many life lessons through this experience.  And, you are showing me what it really means to truly follow You.  Anywhere.  Everywhere.

Chasing the Moon

As I walked in the still, quiet air, I was delighted by God’s glory. It was one of those rare mornings that the moon and the sun were sharing the sky. The sky was beautiful, with blue/gray and pink hues. There were clouds sweeping around the sun, making a breathtaking sunrise.

But, the moon was incredible! It was a huge, perfect golden circle in the sky. As I walked, I tried to keep that moon in sight. I knew it wouldn't last much longer, the later it became and the more the sun rose.

As I turned the corner and went on my usual path, and as the moon made its journey, it was now behind me. It began hiding behind houses and trees, and it became harder to find. As I continued to walk, I kept looking behind me, stretching my neck, trying to catch those last glimpses of the beautiful moon. When, I finally turned my head, and looked straight in front of me,there it was! The moon had been there all along, as I kept looking behind me searching for it.

I instantly thought of Paul’s words, “Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. " (Philippians 3:13-14)

 I thought how often in life we keep looking behind us, chasing the moon! We may have had a success in life that we keep remembering and trying to imitate. Or, we may have had a failure that we keep thinking about, and wishing we could change it. “If only…”

But, Paul tells us to forget what is behind us! Forget about the mistakes and failures of the past. And, although we rejoice in our successes of our past, instead of being stuck in those, look forward! He says he is “straining” toward what is ahead. That means that it may not be easy to go forward, to keep our eyes ahead. But, we are to “press on” toward the prize- our supreme and heavenly prize in Christ Jesus. Don’t be foolish like I was- trying to find the moon behind me when it was in front of me all along. Jesus is right in front of our eyes. Keep your eyes on Him- straight ahead, pressing forward!

Father, we praise You and glorify Your holy name. We thank You for Your creation- the sun and moon and beautiful mornings when we get to see them both in the sky. God, help us to forget what is behind- the failures that we keep reliving, the regrets of yesterday, the mistakes we have made. Your Word says “there is no condemnation in Christ, and that Your compassion is new each morning.” Help us to let go of those things, God. Also, help us to see that Today is a new day. We rejoice in the successes You have brought to us in the past, but we also want to focus on the new challenges of Today. Help us to strain toward what is ahead. Help us God to “press on” everyday. Thank You for Your love, Lord. Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for life experiences that help us see Your Word in our lives. I pray we all will have eyes open to You, Lord, so that we can see how You are working in our lives everyday. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Those shoes!

2Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” NIV

We had been talking about being “kingdom minded” at Bible Study. How meaningless things of the world really are when your focus is on the Kingdom of God. My friend, Kim, had been telling us that she was trying to look at life in comparison to eternity. She asked, “Does it really matter that much that my son’s room isn’t picked up perfectly? Do I need to get upset over it? Is this really going to matter in the Kingdom?"

In light of eternity, does this matter?

Well, the next morning, as I was picking up my husband’s shoes, AGAIN, to replace them on the shoe rack, I was starting to grumble and complain. Then, God reminded me of the previous night’s conversation about keeping our focus on the Kingdom of God, and not daily trials and irritations. I thought, “Does this really matter that I have to pick up my husband’s shoes...again? In light of eternity,  is it really important?”

And, God said, “Yes!” But, the messy shoes weren't important to God in the way I expected. In fact, the lesson God taught me was the opposite of what my flesh wanted to hear.

God spoke scripture to me right away. “Do everything (EVERY THING- even picking up someone else’s messes) without arguing or complaining so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-16).

Messy shoes ARE important to God, at least regarding to me, because He is watching my reaction to them.

God also reminded me of the scripture, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion (or with a complaining heart) for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2Corinthians 9:6-7.

I have decided in my heart to give grace, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and love and to give them generously and cheerfully. It is my heart’s desire to please God. I want Him to say, “Well done My good and faithful servant.” I want to live my life for Him (with Him and through Him). So, although messy shoes don’t or won’t matter much in the Kingdom of God, my response to them will!

My Prayer for Today:
Father, I love You and praise You. I pray that I will “do everything without arguing or complaining.” I pray that I will become more like you- full of love and rich in mercy. Help me to give grace to others freely, in the way that You have so generously given to me. I love You Lord, and I thank You for Your goodness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Who is Jesus? I AM Part 7

I am the Resurrection.

Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus, were distraught.
They were without hope.
Hope did not come.
They were confused. They did not understand why Jesus had not come.
"He healed the blind man. Couldn't He have saved His friend?"
Their brother Lazarus, who was loved by Jesus, had fallen ill. The sisters sent for Jesus.
They had seen Jesus heal lepers.
He opened the eyes of the blind.
He healed the lame and told them to walk.
He had stopped a woman's bleeding who had suffered 12 years.
These had been strangers.
Surely, Jesus would come to heal a friend.
But, He did not come.
Lazarus died.
It was over.
Hope did not come.
But, Jesus did come. When Jesus heard about Lazarus, He PURPOSELY stayed away for two days. When Jesus knew that Lazarus had died, He tells His disciples that it is now time to go to him. Jesus knows the miracle He will perform.
He chooses His friend to work this last, amazing miracle.
He chooses His friend, to draw many new believers to Him.
"When Jesus arrived, He found out that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was less than two miles to Jerusalem. Many Jews had come to Mary and Martha to comfort them because their brother was dead. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet Him." John 11:17-20
Listen to the pain in Martha's voice.
"Lord, I know that if You would have been here, my brother would not have died!"

Jesus said to her, " I am the Resurrection and the Life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even if he dies. And those who live and believe in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

Martha affirms that she DOES believe.
Hope DOES come.
Jesus calls Lazarus from the grave.
He who had been dead four days.
Death that had such a stench that Martha balks when Jesus tells her to command the stone to be rolled away.
A man who had been dead walks free from the grave.
Jesus promises us that we, too, will have life instead of death.
We, who were dead in our sin....
have LIFE in the Son.
Jesus can RAISE any dead thing. Nothing is without HOPE.
Is there something dead in your life?
A dream?
A relationship?
Jesus can RESURRECT it.
He can bring life back to anything you are sure is dead.
Martha was sure that her brother was lost to the tomb. That she would not see him until the Last Day when all would be resurrected. She didn't think she would talk to him, eat with him, hold him, see him....
But, HOPE, did come.
And, Lazarus walked free from the grave.
Jesus can do the same for you.
Trust Him.
Trust His words.
I am the Resurrection.
Because of Lazarus, and this miracle, many people come to Jerusalem and are there to experience Holy Week. They want to see Lazarus with their own eyes. What they see is even more amazing. Because of Lazarus, many people come to believe in Jesus.
Jesus can take the dead thing in your life, raise it, and use it to bring many more to Him.
Lord, help me to trust You. Help me to proclaim, believing in full assurance of faith, that You are the Resurrection and the Life. Thank You, Jesus that You bring hope to what I see as hopeless. Praise You, Jesus!

This is part 7 in a series of who Jesus is.... The earlier parts are posted below. Please scroll down. This series