Are you making Disciples?

At 24 years old, I was out of school, looking for a full-time job in my field of biology, and getting involved in a new church. I wasn’t really sure who God was, even though I had been brought up in a Christian home.

I was confused.

I was told most of my life I had to be good, wear the right clothes, act godly, and watch my language. None of these helped me have a relationship with Jesus.

God sent the most amazing woman into my life who showed me who He is and how much He loves me. Her name is Marilyn. Although we don’t live close anymore and I don’t get to talk to her like I used to, she has been my spiritual mom and friend.

She has lived, breathed, and walked out the love of Jesus. She was exactly who I needed. She was so patient with me even when I showed up at her house entirely unexpected. She prayed with me and for me. She modeled how to be a follower of Jesus.

This is precisely what our world needs today as well. It’s what our teens, college kids, and young adults need. Like us, they desire to have someone love them for who they are, to come beside them, and walk out life with them.

No judgment, no criticism, just acceptance, and love.

I pray my children meet someone like Marilyn one day. Someone who will be Jesus to them.

I want to be like her to the college-aged and young-married people in our church.

Our children live in such a different world than we did. They need direction, love, and the truth of Jesus and His Word in their lives. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus commands us to go and make disciples of all the nations.

We may not be called to another country in our lifetime, but making disciples in our families and right in our own backyard is a great place to start.

 

Seeking Him

If you are anything like me, you set goals and make plans for the new year.

Among those plans is a writing project I want to finish early this year,  a vacation for later in the year, and because we have goats, I start planning for kids (babies) as well!

The Lord has plans for us too. He has promises and dreams to fulfill in us and through us. His plans are not like ours. They are carefully laid out to work towards our future and to give us hope. While the verses in Jeremiah are full of promises, there are several requirements that the Lord has of us.

The first one is to call on Him, the second is to come to Him, and the third is to pray to Him. He wants us to come to Him, and He wants us to pray. I don’t believe this kind of praying is while we stand in line somewhere or while fixing dinner or reading or watching TV. (There’s nothing wrong with any of this). The type of praying He refers to in this verse is coming to Him whether on your knees or in a quiet place. He wants our full attention on Him.

Then He promises to hear you! The God of Heaven and Earth promises to listen to you.

This is not the type of hearing we do…He does not listen to us the way we “listen” to others when we are on the internet or Facebook, or sitting on a pew Sunday morning. The kind of hearing God does means He will do something about what He hears.

Lastly, God wants us to SEEK Him!

Seeking Him is looking for Him in every situation, and seeking His will and His face. Seeking Him is pursuing Him like you pursue someone you really want to get to know or the way you might pursue a job or career.

He wants us to seek Him with our whole heart as well. Not half-hearted or until we get what we desire, but seek Him with all you have like your life depends on it.

Because it does, really.

The last promise is amazing. He promises us that when we seek Him with our whole heart HE WILL BE FOUND.

You will find God.

He is not hiding from you because He wants to be known.

Who doesn’t want to be known? We all want people to know us, to understand us, and to see our gifts or talents. That’s why shows like The Voice and American Idol are so popular. People seek to be known for who they are and what they can do.

God wants you to know who He is and what He can do, but mostly how much He cares for you.

Join me this new year in seeking God with your whole heart.

I can promise you, you will find Him.

 

John 3:16

We don’t often think of John 3:16 as a Christmas verse. This verse focuses on God’s love for the whole earth and what He was willing to part with so that the world could have life.

Have you ever considered what it was like for the Father to give His only Son to an evil world that would try to kill Him before He was two?
One of the hardest days of my life was leaving my premature twins in the hospital after I was released to go home. My heart ached worrying if they would be well taken care of. Did the Father’s heart ache when sent His Son into the body and arms of a young mother?
I can’t imagine what it would be like as a parent to give the life of my child for that of a stranger.
However, God did just that! How bittersweet it must have been for Him. By giving His Son to this world, a way would be may for us to be with the Father forever. Prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus, no one but angels dwelled in Heaven with the Father. Now there are millions of His children with Him forever because of One Son.

John 3:16
How did God feel giving His Son to us?

Miracles from Heaven

This year my fraternal twins turned 21 years old. This was quite an accomplishment!

Twenty-one years ago, my mother-in-law was having knee surgery. It was a Tuesday. Our family,  my husband, Mike, father-in-law, Ted, my sister-in-law and her husband, my brother-in-law, and his wife were all there to be with her. After her surgery, we went to lunch. No, it wasn’t in the hospital cafeteria, it was over 5 blocks away, and we walked there and back.  I was 27 weeks pregnant (but looked full-term) and was supposed to start bed-rest that weekend. It was a rough walk to get lunch!

The next morning, I woke up to pain down my legs and thighs. I thought the walking had been too much and I was feeling sore. However, by the time I got to work, my water broke, and I was taken to the hospital about 45 minutes away. I was so naive I didn’t know to be scared.

I was assured by the nurses and doctors that they would stop the labor, but I would have to stay in the hospital until the babies were 34 weeks old to be safe. Didn’t happen. One of my babies had decided he was coming into this world regardless of what anyone else thought.

At 3:00 that afternoon, my twins, Matthew and Alexandria, were born weighing a little over 2 pounds and 14 inches long.

They were taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where they were hooked up to respirators, pulse-oxygen machines, and heart monitors. They had more needles and lines going through their little arms, feet, and umbilical cords than I could have ever imagined possible. A mask was placed over their eyes to protect them from the lights. Their skin was translucent, making it possible to see and feel bones and blood vessels. They were literally skin and bones. Muscle had not fully formed, and there were no rolls of baby fat on their tummies or thighs.

I could only sit there talking to and praying for them because their little bodies were sensitive to touch. I was told they would be in the NICU until their due date. That was 13 more weeks! My heart was breaking into so many pieces….I already loved them so much!

For the first few weeks, they had bad days and worst days. Alexandria’s lungs were weak and would collapse almost daily. Both developed staph infections and needed blood transfusions every other day among other things. I hated leaving every day.

I prayed and prayed that God would keep watch over them and that His angels would surround them and protect them while I was gone.

On one tough day, Matthew’s pulse and oxygen rates kept dropping into unsafe territory. At one point the nurse started bagging him because he was not responding to anything else she tried.

As I paced, my mind yelled at the doctor to do something!

I started praying for God to intervene so this baby of mine would live.

Suddenly, it was as though a gentle weight on my shoulders was guiding me to my chair. I heard a voice in my heart that said, “Matthew will go home with you.”

That was all I needed to hear. Matthew would go home with me! My son was going to be alright. I was able to settle down and let God do His thing. Matthew’s numbers began returning to normal, and his skin turned pink again.

Alexandria had the worst time. She developed pneumonia in both bronchial tubes going into her lungs. She was unable to breathe on her own. The staff had to give her various drugs to paralyze her body so she would not fight the ventilator. Her skin turned gray from a combination of pain meds and the air forced into her lungs by a machine. All I could do was rub her head.

But she was a fighter!

Before she was 24 hours old, she had pulled the intubation tube out of her throat. The nurses would have to replace it 3 more times before she left that hospital.

After 10 weeks in the NICU, my babies came home. It wasn’t all that easy. They came home on heart monitors, and Alexandria still needed oxygen. But they were alive, and they were home!

God took care of my babies. He was faithful, and He had mercy on us.

He taught me that He loved these two babies more than I did. They were and are His. I am their caretaker, but He is their Creator and Father.

My husband and I surrendered all our rights to these two babies and gave them over to their Maker.

He gave them back to us. We have been loving and parenting them to the best of our ability for 21 years. We have made mistakes, but we have never forgotten who loved these two children first!

 

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness

We have all been in that occasional lousy relationship or had hurt feelings from a spouse, friend, or family member. You may have even been in an abusive relationship with a parent or spouse. These feelings can run deep with memories that replay over and over in our minds. Marooning us in time, they make us unable to move on or can serve as triggers in other relationships. Clinging to resentment, pain, offense, and bitterness can be similar to shackles that bind us and hold us captive, making it impossible to function as God designed us. There is a way out!

It’s called forgiveness.

First, let me tell you what forgiveness is not. It is not condoning wrong or evil, it is not blindly trusting, and it is not returning to an abusive relationship. On the other hand, it is letting go of a debt, leaving that person in the hands of God, and being free of all that keeps you captive. It is the way to healing! Being able to forgive is removing yourself from the Judge’s seat.

The Bible tells us in Matthew 6:14-15, that if we forgive what has been done to us, then God will forgive us for everything we have done as well.

Have you ever opened up a jewelry box to get out a necklace and found a tangled mess of chains, watches, and bracelets? This is the way our memories and emotions can get. Unforgiveness entangles our hearts, souls, and minds (or memories) with the person who has offended, hurt, or traumatized us. God, by our forgiveness of others, will untangle us and give us freedom. Through this freedom, we can now receive healing for our hearts, souls, and memories.
God is the only one who can separate our pain from our memories! Ask him, and he will do it. Once he does, there is healing!

A gift from God

20170516_162416My husband, Mike, and I went to a marriage retreat this past weekend with friends. There were great speakers and nice rooms.  We laughed, talked, and ate a lot! We are both glad to have gone, not because we have a terrible marriage, but because there are things you need to be reminded of sometimes.

The first thing that was made clear was “Your spouse is a gift.” Forgetting that is easy.

Mike and I met through friends on a blind date. I knew almost nothing about him before agreeing to this rendezvous. Frankly, I didn’t realize he was Greek until dinner. The Greeks I knew were a bit difficult at that time. It didn’t help that the guy I had just broken up with two months before was Greek as well. His mother was a Greek immigrant and did not like that I was not Greek.

It wasn’t love-at-first-site,  it took a couple of weeks for that to happen. Mike was strong physically, (He had great muscles), but also spiritually, and emotionally. He also worked hard and owned his own business. He was exactly what I was looking for!

The other men I had dated seemed weak spiritually and let their mothers control them! No thank you! Mike was and is not that kind of man. His mother was kind and accepting of me although I was not Greek. That was definitely a bonus! She was a wonderful woman.

Fast forward to marriage, infertility problems, premature twins, finding out we have a child with Cerebral palsy, years of physical and occupational therapy, homeschooling, business troubles, selling the business, the death of in-laws, and adding goats and chickens…this is LIFE as we know it.

It gets hard to remember all of this came about as a gift from God.

We have made it through many things, sometimes not so quietly or peacefully! We have ups and downs which lead me to another point made at the marriage retreat:  Your spouse is NOT your enemy!

In the midst of difficulty and bad communication, it is easy to make your spouse the enemy; the reason your life is hard!

In the last 25 years, everything I went through, Mike was going through it as well. As we continually look to God for help and answers to our life situations and challenges, He was there. He is the reason we are still married!

Yes, we have an enemy….it just isn’t each other.

Relationships can be hard. Any relationship, whether it’s with your mom, dad, sister, brother, friend, co-worker, or spouse can go through difficult seasons. God is the Great Restorer. He will bring healing to any relationship we allow Him to control.

My Calling

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You may have visited my last blog site, In the Heavenly Places. I moved to WordPress because it is user-friendly and I needed a change for the better. I hope you enjoy this site and maybe even learn something!

It’s a cold morning here in Ohio and I am tired today. Like many of you, this is going to be a busy day. I teach biology and anatomy, and today I have both classes plus a Bible study to teach. I teach homeschooled students, so we meet in places like the library and church. I have small classes and my students are eager to learn. We can be relaxed and casual and go the pace that is needed for each student.

I have a biology degree which focused on the pre-med route. I never made it to Medical school, but I am not upset about that. I had a college professor who wanted me to become a teacher. I had NO desire to do that in college. It wasn’t until I had 4 and 6-year-olds, that I decided to homeschool. Shortly after that, the Lord called me to teach women’s Bible studies. I realized how much I loved to teach.

Whether it is biology or the Bible, I see our Creator in it. I love teaching; it is my passion! I hardly feel as though I know it all. Actually, I feel as though I know very little sometimes. But I seek God’s wisdom in everything. He knows it all. All we have to do is ask. He gives wisdom freely.

So, if you are reading this, let me know what you would like to read on this blog. How can I pray for you and encourage you? What questions can I help answer or what subjects can I research for you?

Did I tell you I love researching things? Instead of becoming a doctor, I went into medical research. These days I research scripture, the biblical languages, and spiritual and physical health. (But that is for another blog)

Have a great day and know that the Creator of the Universe loves YOU and knows your name.