Tag Archives: gifts

Happy Fathers’ Day

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For Fathers’ Day I made a pan of home made brownies for Josh.  I hope he shares them with the rest of us.  🙂  We have another team here now, so tomorrow I will be feeding about 50 people at my house.  We’re grilling, ’cause that’s what Dads like to do, right?  Grilling 50+ hamburgers.  Josh will be happy because he’s the grill master AND the house will be full of people… two things he loves.  Happy Fathers’ Day everyone.  Here’s a little “gift” from a fb friend who posted this yesterday.  Good stuff!  Blessings!

How to avoid being robbed- part 1

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“I feel so guilty that I’m here enjoying this beautiful day at the beach and back home, I know my family is going through a hard time.”

The student who said that during our team devotions was affirmed in his guilt by several others who nodded their heads in agreement and murmured parallel emotions.  It kind of made me mad.  Right in front of my eyes I was seeing the subtle theft joy by our Enemy.  These kids had worked for a week here in Costa Rica and there were two more weeks of ministry ahead of us.  Today was our only day at the beach to relax.  They may not have recognized their need for it, but my husband and I have been hosting teams for years and we know that not only did they need a day of rest, but we did too.  We were running on empty.  Our Enemy would like nothing better than to burn us out and to rob us of our joy.

God is the Lover of our Souls.  He fills this world with wonder and beauty for us to enjoy.  It’s a gift.  And rest is a gift too.  He calls us to come away with him to a quiet place where he will give us rest and refresh our weary souls.  Not only that, God uses the beauty of nature to draw us to him and to show us what a wonderful God he is.

We should never, ever feel guilty about enjoying nature or needing rest.

I think about God’s wooing of my soul in this way.  He is like a Lover who brings a special gift to the woman of his desires.  God made her, so he knows what she likes.  He knows what she needs.  He knows exactly what will make her happy.  Imagine that when the Lover brings the Woman the gift, she felt GUILTY about receiving it.  That was not his intention at all!  He wanted her to feel loved and to feel special and to feel cared for! 

But her Great Enemy has whispered in her ear again- just like he did in the Garden of Eden– and he has told her God doesn’t really love you, he wants you to be “suffering for Jesus.”  You have to earn good things like this and you haven’t worked hard enough to deserve this kind of joy.  You can’t fully enjoy this and still be a good Christian.  What will people back home say?

Our Enemy has a mission, he comes to Steal, Kill and Destroy us.  He hates that God loves us.  He hates that God gives us good gifts, and if he can, he’ll steal your gifts right out of your hands.  Don’t listen to his subtle lies.  Don’t let him rob you of your joy.

Tomorrow’s blog talks about how to prevent Satan from robbing you of your joy, part 2.  

I am Anti-Religion

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“Are you tired?  Worn out? Burned out on religion?  Come to me.  Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.  I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me- watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  ~Jesus

I have to admit, this passage appeals deeply to me.  I AM tired.  I AM  worn out.  I AM  burned out on religion.  It’s like he’s talking directly to me!  I want to live in the unforced rhythms of grace.

For me, grace has been a learning process.  It’s not always been something I have valued.  I have learned how to have grace with myself and my failures, and by the same token, to give grace to others.  The burden of religion that I placed on myself was ill fitting and heavy.  I had to be perfect!  And if I wasn’t, no one else must see it!  Perfectionism is a heavy burden to bear.

Thankfully, that’s not where I am anymore.  Do I have it all down perfectly?  No, but I’m learning to live freely and lightly, comfortable in my skin, not overly caught up in my successes or failures.  I’m not always at peace with my daily cycles of work and rest and learning from God and applying to my walk.  But I see improvement.  I suppose that before I can extend grace to others, I have to first learn to cut myself some slack.  And for me, that is a very difficult thing to do.  I need Jesus to teach me the unforced rhythms of grace.

Clutter- Don’t give me any Crap!

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Do you ever watch the show “Hoarders”? I’m not sure I’ve ever made it through an entire episode without standing up to organize my living room and go wash my hands a dozen times. That show gives me the heebee-jeebies. I hate clutter.

But in my personality I have conflicting “likes”. I like things to be within reach and I don’t want to have to dig for anything. And yet I hate clutter. Baskets and plastic organizers are my solution to this dilemma. Just BUYING organizers makes me feel good. I can lift a drooping attitude quicker than anything with a gander down a RubberMaid aisle. Organization makes me happy.

In my life long battle against clutter I have also discovered the value of moving often. I now believe that everyone should change houses at least every 5 years because moving forces you to physically confront the back of your closets. You must put your hand on each and every item that you own.

When we went into missions 8 years ago we sold our house and most of our belongings. That meant having the garage sale of the century! I felt certain that we didn’t actually have so much stuff, but when I had to drag it all out and put it on tables in my garage I was embarrassed at how much JUNK I had accumulated in 10 years of marriage. For example, I thought I had maybe 3 or 4 baskets around the house. But when I collected them all and put them together I counted 20. I was shocked and horrified! That day I faced my basket-habit. They say the first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem.

In the ensuing years I have made 5 international moves and countless smaller moves from house to house. Those people who say, “A move across town is harder than anything” are ignorant. Try reducing your entire household to 15 suitcases under 40 lbs. each and then tell me which kind of move is harder.

Because of this global nomad lifestyle, I can make two observations related to clutter. First, I give careful thought before buying anything. When I stand in the store and debate on whether or not I should buy something, I ask myself, “Do I want to move or sell this in 4 years?” If not, I don’t buy it. Second, I have left a trail of abandoned clutter that flows from Minnesota to Mexico to Costa Rica. At some point you just give up and beg people to just come take whatever they want. Making that many “cut or keep” decisions just burns out your brain cells after a while. But I don’t know how many times I have said, “I used to have a [fill in the item] once upon a time. What did I do with that?” It was abandoned along the side of the road a long time ago.

For Christmas this year Josh’s family did a $3 secret Santa exchange. We protested. Josh told everyone, “I don’t want CRAP!” They thought he was being funny. We were serious. Don’t give me any crap because I hate clutter. Most of the gifts did not make it from Minnesota to Costa Rica. Global Nomads must by necessity live a clutter free, crap free, life. And it’s a good thing.

Emma and Rebecca

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Emma saved her birthday money for 6 months until our Christmas trip home to the United States.  It took her about 30 seconds to decide what she wanted to buy.  An American Girl Doll.  She has read many, many of the books… entire boxed sets.  She chose a Rebecca doll.  Rebecca looks like Emma, so it was an appropriate choice.

We did not take Emma with us when we went to the Mall of America.  I wasn’t sure what kind of seizure she might have at the sight of a two-story shop full of American Girls.  We had forewarned her that she would not be collecting dolls.  We would not be buying her doll furniture.  She could ask for clothes from the grandparents for her birthday, but we were not spending more money to dress the doll than we do to dress our real children.  One doll was IT.  Just one.

I seriously underestimated that store.  The moment I set foot in that store a wave of panic washed over me!  I have to find the right girl!!  I grabbed the first employee that I saw and blurted out, “I need Rebecca!”  I’m pretty sure this woman was under the same “happy spell” that all Disneyland employees are brainwashed with.  She had a crazed smile plastered across her face.  She spoke about the dolls like they were real people.  “Rebecca lives downstairs.  Let me take you to her.”  One the ride down the escalator she recounted the general theme of the Rebecca books.  As we entered the Rebecca section she pointed out the clothing and the furniture that was made for this doll.  I recited my creed:  One doll.  One doll  We are only here for one doll!  For a second she looked at me like I was a cruel and self deluded parent, then her crazy smile snapped back into place and she said, “If you need anything else, just let me know.”  We paid for the doll and ran like we had just robbed a bank!

The was no hiding the gigantic red bag from the American Girl Store.  As we walked through the Mall of America to our parking spot I was afraid that we would get mugged by some Christmas crazed parent who also needed a Rebecca doll.  “Let’s just get out of here!”  I thought.  I felt like all eyes were fixed on us and our big red bag.  Oooh, what did THEY buy?

When we got back to the house were we were staying, Emma and all her girl cousins rushed me like a herd of wild Beiber fans.  I raised the bag above their heads and landed it safely in the arms of my daughter.  Squeals and screams erupted!  I was a hero!!

I thought for sure there would be deep jealousy between my daughters.  But Emma, very generously, gave a miniature American Girl doll that came with one of her boxed sets to her little sister Lulu with detailed instructions about how to care for the little replica.  For a few weeks the girls played with their mismatched dolls with relatively little fighting.  Then a miracle happened.

A pastor from one of our supporting churches came down to Costa Rica to visit us.  He brought gifts from the ladies of the church.  The ladies had heard that Emma had recently got an American Girl Doll.  (One of the ladies was an employee of the A.G. store, I heard.)  I was totally shocked and humbled when my 4 year old Lulu, opened her present.  She had received her very own American Girl Doll… Kit Kittredge.  You should have seen the look of joy on her face.  Her excitement can not be exaggerated!  It was literally a dream come true for little Lulu.  That act of generosity and thoughtfulness took my breath away.  I felt so blessed and happy for my girls- now they both have their own doll to play with.  (The picts below include my girls and their friend Julia, also a missionary kid.)

It reminded me of the time when I was a girl and Cabbage Patch Kids were all the rage.  My sister and I, being pastors’ kids, did not have these dolls nor could we ever afford these dolls. A wealthy lady in our church who was a doll collector brought my sister and I over to her house and let us pick out any Cabbage Patch Kid we wanted!  It was a dream come true and something that neither of us have ever forgotten.  Children don’t forget these kinds of stories. Though they grow up and grow out of their toys, the warmth and love they feel from that kind of generosity is something that stays with them for a life time.