The Story of You

Don’t you love a happy ending?  I feel robbed somehow after spending my time on a book or movie that doesn’t end well!

My family and I were recently utterly underwhelmed by the disappointing end to a movie (if only the Hollywood movie moguls had asked us first…).  Such dissatisfaction made me wonder…will the story of my own life end well?  Will yours?

The Story of You

Fortunately, we have much to do with the writing of our own life story.   Each day pages are being added by the choices we make throughout our day, and all those choices will add up to – what?  A  beautiful tale of courage and sacrifice and a life well-lived, people well-loved, and a heart that pursued and obeyed God no matter what? What will the pages left behind say about us after we are gone?

Recently my Scripture reading for the day had me in two seemingly unrelated stories, one in the Old Testament and one in the New.  The main characters were separated by centuries, by station, and by gender.   One lived in infamy and one in relative obscurity.

But even in the least connected lives, common ground appears when the curtain is lowered.  Both lives ended, and the stark contrast shocked me.

Consider Jehoram, king of Judah.  We can read about his life in 2 Chronicles 21. He certainly had the potential to make a name for himself, to rule rightly and be a blessing to the people.  However, at the end of his days, we find that “He passed away, to no one’s regret” (vs.20).  Wow – to NO ONE’S regret.  He had wives, children, and a kingdom full of subjects, and not one person regretted his death?  What a sad commentary of selfish living.

Then in Acts chapter 9, we have the story of Tabitha, “who was always doing good and helping the poor”.  She became sick and died, and all the widows of her community gathered together, crying, and showing Peter the robes and clothing Tabitha has made for them.  One after another, the grieving women explained how her love had impacted their lives.  Her loss was so unacceptable to them that Peter raised her from the dead!

A simple woman who devoted her life to Jesus and others and touched the lives of all around her.  A king who devoted his life to himself and touched no one.  When the great and final (well…not for Tabitha) “The End” was unexpectedly written across the last page of their lives, the tally of their daily choices added up to two very different results.

Tabitha gave.

She allowed her schedule to be interrupted for the good of others.  She lived fully the live God had granted her and didn’t wait for “the right time” to make an impact.

Jehoram took.

He made his life about himself.  He had what we might think of as the perfect platform for effecting positive change and impacting lives, and he squandered his opportunity.

You and I might find ourselves somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, but the question still goes begging, “What kind of story are we writing?”  Perhaps we have some pages we’d like to tear out.  I know I do!  Let’s ask God for His help to start now, with no excuses, fully embrace the life He’s given us, and live well.  Let’s spend ourselves for His glory, and live for that “Well done, good and faithful servant”.

Now go live your masterpiece!

 

With love,

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How You Can Change the World

My son surprised me last night by asking me if there is human life on other planets.  I was already more than half-asleep and certainly not expecting a late-night discussion on the probabilities of life in outer space.  I told him people have been asking that question (and making movies and books about it) for a long time, but we can really only “know” so much about distances millions of light years away.  And what is beyond that?  Is there an end to the universe?  Does outer space run out?  We decided the world is a very, very big place.  Our tiny planet in our little solar system in one of countless galaxies seems utterly insignificant in the incredible vastness surrounding it, and our brains begin to hurt at even a casual contemplation of it all.

I think we feel that way sometimes about the deep longing most of us have to make a difference in the world.  “The world” is a very, very big place, and we can at times feel utterly insignificant in it, too.  Unless God has gifted and positioned us to be a person with far-reaching impact, like a Billy Graham or a Reinhard Bonnke, we may feel like there is no way we can make a difference on a large scale.

May I suggest today, that the microcosm in which you live IS your world?  Your world consists of the places you inhabit and the people you encounter.  Your world may consist of a tiny village in South Africa, or a town in Eastern Europe, or an apartment complex in a busy North American city.  It may include a school, some stores, your place of business, or a church.  It may be rural countryside, part of an urban sprawl, or a quiet suburb with sidewalks and parks.

Wherever we find ourselves, God has placed each of us there for a purpose.  And living our lives to fulfill God’s design for it is a choice to embrace the beginnings of our calling.  A choice to live on adventure with God, to take up our cross daily and follow Him, and experience the joy and challenge of living beyond ourselves.  I suspect the movers and shakers of this world lived high-impact lives on a very small scale before God ever enlarged their territories.  My kids and I recently finished reading Reinhard Bonnke’s autobiography, and he started off by seeing ONE salvation as a result of his preaching long before God gave him one hundred,  one hundred thousand, or one million.

I cannot tell you what exactly your calling looks like (more on that later), but I do know that God has already designed ways for you to start changing your world (“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph.2:10).

The funny thing about changing the world is, often WE are the ones who are changed the most.  Jeff Goins says in his bestselling book, The Art of Work:

“I used to think that your calling was about doing something good in this world.  Now I understand it’s about becoming someone good – and letting that goodness impact the world around you.”

So in thinking about making a difference in YOUR world, fulfilling your purpose/calling, and fully engaging with the life God has planned for you, I see two simple steps to take to get us moving in the right direction.  Like a toddler just learning to walk, holding on to a parental finger on each side – one wobbly step with the right foot, then one lurching step with the left.  That’s what this is: a step with the right, and a step with the left, and suddenly, we are on our way.  It may be a bit hesitant and unsure at first, but we are moving in the right direction.

  1. First step: Live a high-impact life, right where you are, right now.  Become who God wants you to become, and fully embrace the place and season where He has placed you.  Become who He wants you to become by pressing into Him, learning to die to self, and obeying His Word. Learn to love well the people He has placed around you.  Yes, even the difficult ones.  Especially the difficult ones.  Ask Him for help.
  2. Second step: Increase your impact immediately and give beyond your borders by investing in missions.  Storing up treasure in heaven is the best investment plan there is, and there are many exciting ways to accomplish that goal.  Our family has been able to do a variety of things over the years including supporting missionaries, sponsoring children, helping provide clean water, Bibles, farm animals, blankets, and other items where they are desperately needed.  There is great joy in giving and using what we have been blessed with to change someone’s life.  Some of the missionaries we are delighted and humbled to be able to partner with are Randal and Kendra Baird and their awesome family as they serve in Ireland.  You can read more about them and support them here!

Now, get ready.  Because I have a feeling that once you get started, there will be no stopping you.  There’s no telling where you will end up once you step into the path of intentional, high-impact living.  In the words of Bilbo Baggins:

“You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.”

Go ahead.  Be swept off your feet.  God is not boring, and neither are His plans for the beautiful journey of your life.  They may involve struggle, pain, and great cost, but they certainly will bring joy, fulfillment, and even greater reward.

With love,

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Forty for Forty! – Meet the Baird Family

Today, January 4th, 2017 is a very special day.  It is the 40th birthday of my beautiful friend and missionary to Ireland, Kendra Baird.  Happy birthday, Kendra!!  Even on her big day today, Kendra and Randal are at a missions conference, representing Europe and the great need for the light of the Gospel to penetrate what is definitely no longer a Christian continent.

Forty for Forty - Meet the Baird FamilyFrom what I have read it seems that Europe is the new Africa for missions.  Europe needs another Great Awakening!  There are many people there who call themselves “Christians” but have no understanding of the Gospel, and mindless ritual has taken the place of passionate worship. Personal, loving relationship with the Lord is not possible because they no longer know the One who inspires it.  Couple that with the reality of immigrants from all over the world now residing in Europe – many of them representing unreached people groups, and you begin to see the enormity of this mission field!

So what does one get for an itinerating missionary who is getting ready to return to Ireland in just a few months, but is still trying to raise the necessary funds?

Wouldn’t it be awesome if people plastered this all over Facebook and for Kendra’s 40th birthday, the Baird family got 40  new monthly supporters, or 40 existing supporters who raised their pledge by $40??

Will you help?

Let’s get the word out – “Forty for Forty” – and make this 40th birthday one that counts for eternity.

Check out their website here to learn more about Kendra and her amazing family.  You will also find a “Give Now” link at the bottom left of their page that will make giving right to their missions account a piece of cake (birthday pun intended)!

May you have a blessed 2017, full of the presence and glory of God, and may your life increase in fruitfulness in His Kingdom!

With love,

 

 

 

 

PS – Update: As of April 2017, the Bairds are on track for returning to Ireland this summer!  They are still raising their budget, so if you would like to support them, click on the link above and you’ll be taken straight to their website!

Even Elizabeth – The Queen of Lost Causes

I wasn’t really expecting anything new when I sat down with my coffee and Bible.  Not because I already know everything the book has to offer (far, far from it!), but because the story with which I planned to spend my quiet morning moments was so beloved and well-worn in my mind – comfortable and familiar, like an old friend.

December and Luke 1-2 go together like peanut butter and chocolate (unless you’re my husband, for whom peanut butter and chocolate do NOT go together at all), so I have been immersing myself in them once again.  I poured coffee into my mug and prepared to sit down to enjoy the familiar words once again, like savoring an exquisite, gourmet meal one glorious mouthful at a time.

Suddenly, I was startled out of my peaceful, drowsy, morning read by the words of Gabriel, who had most certainly just startled Mary (to whom he was speaking) as well.

Even Elizabeth – the Queen of Lost Causes

In response to Mary’s asking how it could be that she, a virgin, would bear the Christ child, Gabriel offered her evidence of the supernatural wow-factor of God.  “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.  For nothing is impossible with God.”

Even Elizabeth…”

How had I never noticed that before?

Have you ever felt like THAT person in THAT impossible situation?  The Queen of Lost Causes?  The one that if the miracle ever happened, you would be hailed as “Even _________” because it was so unlikely – no – so utterly impossible without God’s intervention?

Oh, Elizabeth.  The one who had prayed for a child until she was far too old to have one.  Her hopes were as dried up as her body.  THAT Elizabeth.

Like the man who was born blind until he encountered Jesus – perhaps this impossible “Even Elizabeth” situation had also been allowed to exist for the glorious someday when it would become the backdrop to the stunning, brilliant majesty of the One who would change it.

 

What has God spoken over your life that needs a fresh wind of faith to trouble the waters? Click To Tweet

 

“Nothing is impossible with God!”  Not even THAT situation that has sat gathering dust for so long that its edges are blurred in your mind’s eye.

Even in the midst of the Christmas rush, let’s encourage one another to keep declaring that the purposes of God WILL be established in our lives, and that our impossibilities are His opportunities to display His glory.  I pray for each one reading this who is facing an impossibility, that your faith would be increased to keep believing until you see the glory of God.

NOTHING is impossible with Him!

With faith, hope, and love,

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The Christmas Tree

The middle of December!  I feel like I blinked, and the sand in the hourglass of 2016 has almost run out.  Before the final grain is gone, I wanted to say “Merry Christmas!” to each of you, and pray that you are able to savor this beautiful season even while juggling the added busyness it brings.  Yesterday I had the rare treat of being able to clear a few hours of schedule and be with my wonderful family – husband and kids, mom, mother-in-law, and both awesome sisters-in-law!   We gathered for our second Poetry Tea, ate lots of scones and tea sandwiches, and shared favorite poems (and lots of laughs!).

Here is the poem I wrote for the tea – my Christmas gift to you.

 

The Christmas Tree

Shimmering light and colorful balls

A star on the top to shine

Piles of gifts placed under it all

Wrapped up and tied up with twine

 

I quietly sit and I gaze at that tree

And ponder the things that it means

As evening descends, the more brightly it shines

And its message takes shape like a dream

 

A manger, a stranger, a star overhead

Magnificent story unfolds

Angels and shepherds, a girl young and scared

Blessed good tidings are toldThe Christmas Tree

 

The wood of that manger, the wood of my tree

The same, but years apart

The joy of the season, the joy of His birth

Reflected inside every heart

 

A wood shop, a carpenter, a young boy is taught

The crafting and carving of things

Useful and beautiful, each one takes shape

As the music of hammering rings

 

The wood in that shop, the wood of my tree

The same, but years apart

The joy of the season, the joy of His work

Reflected inside every heart

 

Darkness descends on the hill of the cross

The Son of God hangs on a tree

Christmas red spilled out for all of mankind

He suffered for you and for me

 

The wood of that cross, the wood of my tree

The same, but years apart

The joy of the season, the pain of the cross

Reflected inside every heart

 

Now the carpenter King is working on us

Conforming us to His Word

Useful and beautiful each one in the hands

Of our glorious, risen Lord

 

The tree tells a tale for the listening ear

The tale of love unconfined

Of death and new birth and life evermore

A wondrous tale divine

 

Merry Christmas with love from my family to yours!

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