Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Breakthrough

Fighting harder than I had in a very long time, I was determined to see change and this mama of 3 was going to give it her all. With sweat dripping down my rosy red face, I could hardly catch my breath.

Every single muscle in my body was SCREAMING for mercy, surely this was the end, but then I heard the instructor say, "don't give up now, I need you to focus". I squeezed my eyes shut, my first thought was, "you have got to be kidding me," but then the fierce, competitive and very determined woman within me roared (okay, maybe it was more like a groan) and I made the choice to push even harder to the very... last ...second, it was not pretty BUT, I did it.

What happened next totally caught me off guard. Yep, I inhaled tears, you know when you start to let out a very ugly cry but instead try to quickly swallow it? Seriously...wish I was joking but the workout DVD made me cry! I know this sounds ridiculous but  let me tell you, it actually was intense.

  I tried to reprimand myself as my muscles were trembling, "good grief Jaime get a grip". However in the midst of my unforeseen emotion I realized something much deeper was happening...these were not just feelings of relief and gratitude because I was finally done with never ending push ups, lunges and squats, but believe me, I was sincerely thankful!

 In that moment I conquered the challenge, feeling the sting yet realizing, I CAN do this! When I physically pushed harder than I thought I was capable it connected with me spiritually and emotionally.

Honestly, there are situations (that have nothing to do with exercise) that seem to drain every ounce of my strength one painful drop at a time. I have been engaged in battles that I thought would have been won ages ago, but instead of a distant memory and seeing a victory, here I am...feeling raw, throbbing with pain and a temptation to surrender. 

As the moisture bombarded my eyes (and I began to breathe more normally) there was truth taking root in my mind, body and spirit, when I persevere, I experience breakthrough. Though I feel the sting, I CAN do this.

I felt something. 
I felt like a princess of the King, a warrior standing with courage in spite of wounds. I felt the focus and strength of a woman  determined to fight to the end, knowing that the victory HAS been won and breakthrough will be seen as I  persevere. I had felt tempted to let go, but now I had...Hope.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 
Romans 5:3-5  

A new determination has risen to endure, lifting my bloody knuckles back up, knowing there will be more pain in the battles, but I am choosing to focus on the King and keep fighting.  I have renewed hope because the victory has already been won

If you find yourself feeling hopeless, drained or wounded, don't you dare give up, stay focused on the One who will sustain you, give it every single breath you have, persevere my fellow warrior...breakthrough IS coming!

  Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 

James 1:12


When we persevere we experience breakthrough.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Choose to Love


  Valentines day has the potential to stir up a barrel of emotions for some people. My oldest son has been counting down the days with great excitement until he could open his candy...I mean valentines at school. My middle son is hoping for a sweet treat and pretends to dread any thought of hugs or sappy expressions of love. Though his mama thinks he secretly deep, deep down inside likes my hugs.
There are some who plan sentimental meals to share with those they love and buy sweet confections and fragrant flowers. For others it is a reminder of pain, betrayal or loneliness. 

When I read through stories of Saint Valentine and the roots of the celebrated day, the one that stuck out to me was this account in Wikipedia :
 " Saint Valentine was persecuted as a Christian and interrogated by Rome Emperor Claudius 11 in person. Claudius was impressed by Valentine and had  a discussion with him, attempting to get him to convert to Roman paganism in order to save his life. Valentine refused and tried to convert Claudius to Christianity instead. Because of this, he was executed. Before his execution, he is reported to have performed a miracle by healing Julia, the blind daughter of his jailer Asterius. The jailer's daughter and his forty four member household (family members and servants) came to believe in Jesus and were baptized."

 He prayed for and healed the daughter of the one who was guarding him in jail, knowing he would soon lose his own life. This story may be a legend,  but  there is a treasure of truth that seeps from it. 
Seriously, if I was in prison facing death would I be thinking about others I could help? 
We are often faced with a decision in the trials that come our way. 
We can choose to love unconditionally, or we can choose to isolate ourselves and become bitter. 

Have you ever felt you were in a prison cell with a heaviness settling in as you looked at the future? 
Has someone whom you expected to protect you and love you instead caused you pain? 
Something amazing happens when we choose to lavishly love and extend grace to others regardless of our feelings, right in the midst of our very own pain. 
God moves in mighty ways, releasing freedom, genuine forgiveness and life changing healing takes place. 

The Bible tells us that,    
"The Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." 
2 Timothy 1:7
  
Saint Valentine is not remembered in his accounts as a timid man but rather one who loved God with a passion and power that compelled him to love others more than his own life. 
This Valentines Day I am doing a little soul searching, reflecting on truly loving God with everything in my being and the powerful way my affections and love towards others seem to follow when I choose to do so.

I love the colors pink and red and I think most everything looks better with a splash of glitter. I love the rare photos we have of just the two of us.
 Valentines Day is a fun season that allows the little girl inside of me that refuses to grow up, beam with smiles and creative expression. 
However love is not limited to one day, there are so many with in our reach whom crave the love and freedom that we have to offer. 

So regardless where we may find ourselves this Valentines Day weekend,  on a mountaintop of love and pink hearts or grieving in a valley and feeling unloved...choose to love. 
Choose to love the One who loves you  with fierce passion no matter what! 
Choose to GIVE love that you are so freely given.
Someone is waiting for healing, for freedom from the chains that bind them, find them and love them.

Happy Valentines Day


Monday, November 3, 2014

But Even If

There was a furnace blazing with flames, one could not even get near and live. There were 3 men who loved God with such deep passion that they would rather burn alive then give their worship to anything else. When faced with the choice these incredible words they spoke,

  "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, o king. BUT EVEN IF he does not we want  you to know, O king that we will not serve your gods." 
 Daniel 3:17-18a

But Even If

The first sight of blood sent chills up my spine, I knew that I may lose my first baby. Most of that day and season of lament is a blur to me but one thing I remember with clarity, kneeling on my bedroom floor begging him not to take the life within me, weeping with fury, raising my shaky hands to the heavens and declaring, "Even if I lose my baby, God you are faithful!"

The choices we make here on earth define who we are and who we are with. I choose to follow Christ and the reality of that does not equal a life that is always filled with happy fuzzy feelings.

I did lose my first baby, in fact in the past we lost 3 cherished little ones. My grief is stirred when asked at various doctor offices how many pregnancies I have had. Each time I answer, the deep ache is felt. I have had six pregnancies, three healthy deliveries. BUT, God does something so amazing, he gives us grace to follow him in the midst of the blaze, when the heat of the flames are felt.

 "The fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched and there was no smell of fire on them."  
Daniel 3:27b
These men did not even smell like the fire!! Seriously how can you not just stop and be in awe of God?!

There are also stories of believers who were burned to death because they refused to serve anyone else, they felt the heat of the flames. Does that make God any less powerful or their faith any weaker?

I feel challenged to raise my children understanding truth, not a sugar coated ideal that if we follow Jesus and if we are good that we will always feel happy. This will not produce mighty warriors for God! 
We will face heart ache and we will face death. We have an enemy that will do everything in his might to tempt us into serving ANYTHING other than Jesus Christ. 
BUT, we serve the Almighty God who has already conquered death!

The words below are not just passionate statements of faith they define whose side we are on.

  "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, o king. BUT EVEN IF he does not we want  you to know, O king that we will not serve your gods."
Daniel 3:17-18a

When you are so deep in a battle it feels like a fight to find the breath to pray. When you feel the heat of the blazing flames, God IS ABLE to save you. The truth is, he already has. I believe in faith for miracles here on earth and I have experienced them in powerful ways!  BUT even if we lose what we long for here on earth, He is still faithful.   

BUT EVEN IF

Sunday, September 21, 2014

building a house

  Written on a scrap piece of paper and hanging on my fridge for more than a year have been the following words from Proverbs. 

"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down."
Proverbs 14 :1

A bit sobering right? I knew I had to scribble this down as a reminder and daily focus.

With wisdom I can build and nurture my house, should my choices be foolish it is with my very own selfish hands I also have the power to rip apart my relationship with the One who created me , those dearest to my heart and the precious ones I am called to love.

As I continued to read, the challenge grew....Okay so how do I build my house? .

"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established: through knowledge it's rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures."
Proverbs 24:3-4 


This "treasure" of mine is a vase from Costa Rica with my Papa's tie chain that lays on it.

Speaking of treasures, I happen to love design and decorating, we are s-l-o-w-l-y renovating an older home while we settle back into the States. I so enjoy flipping through magazines and design websites, dreaming about the possibilities for our house.

This dreamy mirror happens to be one that I had seen in a magazine and spent months thinking of ways to capture the same look for less. My incredible husband surprised me and came home one day with it in his hands! 
It's a gift I will forever treasure, it represents love and a sacrifice made for me. Hard earned money spent by the one who labored to earn it, for something that is not in any way practical and with only one motivation, to bless my socks off! 



My desire to add sparkle to life has only grown since my grade school years with all things hello kitty and of course the way cool bedazzler's.


 While I totally dig the bling, let's be real, someday (as my mama often says) it's all gonna burn. Hmm, that is truth that needs to soak in and keep me focused too.

I sincerely long for a house (my life, family and the church) that is established in Him. "Through knowledge it's rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures". Now that is the kinda bling worth every single investment of time.

Knowledge is developed as we dig deeper into relationship with God. As we do so, our lives will radiate HIS beauty to the world. A beauty that cannot be found on pinterest but rather a breathtaking beauty with eternal value, by the ultimate designer.

Those are the treasures I want to collect and for that house, I will give my life to build.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Called to be here

After receiving yet another request to apply for a professional ministry position we sat and looked at each other. Our eyes engaged and both knowing what the other person was thinking. We are called to be here

 "Follow the way of peace" this advice was given to us years ago, from a dear mentor as we were making life changing decisions, this continues to be a principle we want to live by.

At the moment the way of peace for us is right where we are at. Not because it is easy but because we believe it is where we are called to be.

A great teacher once said, "If you are not a missionary you are someone's mission field." Though we are not paid to be missionaries or pastor's, we still embrace the calling in our daily lives.

For over 8 years we served in professional ministry roles. Now we have been given the gift of living out what we taught others to do, with out the title that requires us to do so.

 It is challenging at moments and also refreshing. What an adventure it is to follow Jesus. Not sure what he has in store next. God knows, we trust him!

As a family we want to be faithful and obedient to God, so we are resting in peace and seizing moments given to us. We choose to live a life of intentional mission wherever we are, empowered by His Spirit, walking in humility and knowing we are called to be here!

Micah 6:8
" And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

Monday, September 8, 2014

It's time

It's time. 
It's time to write again!
I have missed it greatly but felt I did not have the time or energy to do so. 

I have spent time (um like 2 years or so) debating the purpose and value in it. Today I realized something. 
I need to write, I need to discipline myself to remember and to tell of God's goodness in our lives. I love being a mama, it brings me such joy and I feel the moments of my time at home with little ones slipping through my fingers so quickly.

We really enjoy looking back on this blog and reflecting on the past stories and photos. Recorded here are stories of God's goodness in our lives that we may not have recalled had I not taken time to scribble them down.

I also need to make time to do something for myself that is fun. Scrapbooks stress me out, I gave it a good try but all the tiny little gadgets, stickers and papers and fighting with my perfectionist tendencies..whew, it is a mess. So this blog spot will soon have new updates with our latest adventures. 

We are in a season of life that is so busy within our home, 3  bundles of boy energy that buzz around wildly until they fall asleep. Our days often feel like a whirlwind, I do not want it to blow by without taking the time to remember and testify to God's incredible faithfulness in the midst of the lovely and challenging winds.

 It's time!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A new journey begins

Simeon woke up early and came running out of his bedroom, "Is it time for math now?" He could hardly wait to kick off his first day of Kindergarten. We headed out to Dunkin Donuts for a special treat to celebrate this milestone.
 Once we were home again and had snapped a few photos we opened our missionary photo album. I told Simeon he could pick anyone he wanted to pray for and we would find the country they live in on the globe as well. He chose a family who we served with in Costa Rica and he knows right where that one is on the globe!
Next was looking through the new pencil box ...
 ... and then preparing a notebook for his first Kindergarten worksheets.
 We got to work and had fun with the much anticipated math too. He did not want to stop so we did 4 days of math on our first day! Something he is looking forward to is Bible class with his Grammy and joining a co-op this winter where he will have classes once a week with other children his age.
As we finished up the lessons and games on our first day Simeon said something to me I will never forget. "Mama, do you know what I like about Kindergarten?" I was thinking he was going to say his new pencil sharpener which he used over and over, just for fun, but instead with a sheepish smile he said, "You."
I am so deeply grateful for the extra time with Simeon this year to teach, play, disciple and simply be with him! And so a new journey begins for our family.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Settling in

Catching fire flies, playing in the tree fort, splashing in the sprinkler, I can't tell you how precious it has been to watch my boys enjoying their new home. Are we settling in yet? The plan was to paint our bedrooms so we could "feel settled" more quickly and then we would chip away at the other projects as we felt ready to do so. BUT our basement flooded just 2 short weeks after we moved and that opened a WHOLE new set of things to be done as soon as possible. We took a break the other day to play in the back yard, the boys LOVED the slip and slide and loved playing with Daddy and Mama too!
Yes Simeon crashed into me just after I snapped this photo.
  And Titus with a little encouragment from his brother decided to give mama a BIG sopping wet bear hug after one of his rides down the slide. But hey I will take hugs from my boys whenever they are willing to share them! 
 Our children are trying to settle in too and for them, settling in is not something that happens once the to do list is done. The color of the walls are less important to them, they are craving consistency, security and attention.
 It is easy for me to get wrapped up in the overwhelming list of projects around here, but what I truly love the MOST are the moments when we set the list aside and work on settling in as a family.

We are so incredibly grateful for our new home and for the family God has given us to share it with.

Monday, May 7, 2012

balance

 I love raising boys, it brings deep fulfillment and joy, my heart seems unable to contain the love I feel and it oozes from every seam. Parenting also brings unique challenges and countless chuckles too. Serioulsy I do love being a mama!
"I want to be a rock star." Simeon said with such certainty last week. His favorite song (which he calls rock music) is King of Glory, which is on one of our Jesus Culture albums. I love it when my boys are jamming and singing to their Creator, it is awesome. Oh if I could bottle up those precious moments!
  As we were finishing up our bedtime routine, I began to sing an old hymn, one I sang to the boys when they were babies and that they often still like to sing with me. However this is how it went last week...

"Great is thy faithfulness" I started to sing and then stopped. "Simeon keep your hands off your brother." Then I sang, "Great is thy faithfulness." I stopped again. "Simeon do NOT put your hands around your brother's neck!" After a deep breath I start to sing again, "Great is thy faithfulness.." yep stopped again. "Titus do not put your fingers in mama's nose."  "Great is thy... Titus stop picking mama's nose!"
And then mama finally got the not so subtle hint, my boys were not really in the mood to sing and insisting they do so was not going to be productive in that moment.

There ya go a peek into real life, ha ha. Balance is a word my husband talks about often. We pray, read and sing, we also roll on the ground and wrestle, tell cheezy jokes, pretend to burp (yep I have boys) and just act plain ole silly.
A very wise woman told me there were moments she sensed the Holy Spirit laughing as she giggled in delight with her son. I love that and I try to remind our children that they often bring a smile to God's face.
So back to the song. I could huff and puff and insist on singing while I correct my boys or I could let go of my expectations, be sensitive to the balance they need in their lives and perhaps the short attention span they have being the young preschoolers
that they are.
 In each of these moments they are growing and becoming the mighty warriors they were created to be. We rely on God for wisdom in how to pour the right ingredients into our days with balance in teaching, disciplining and playing. We pray for grace in the moments that can feel challenging and with full confidence and lots of joy I can sing, "Great is Thy Faithfulness!" Being the mother of young boys that I am, I can even choose to smile and sing it with a 3 year old trying to pick my nose.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What's new?

These last weeks have been filled with GREAT change for our family. Jed has been working for his new employer for over a month now. We are so incredibly grateful to the Lord for the way he has guided us and opened the door for the right employment. The timing was amazing, we recieved the last "paycheck" from our Costa Rica term in February and Jed recieved the first paycheck in March from his new job. We continue to be in awe of God's provision for our family and the generosity of those around us.

Also on the list of changes...a new house! It is not quite ours yet, but assuming all goes as planned we will be closing in May. Looking for a house is such an adventure, there are some specific things that God has been stirring in our hearts about this new season for our family (more to come on that later) and this place seems to fit so perfectly into the mix of what we feel drawn towards. We are super excited about the home and the neighborhood as well. I have spent lots of time recently dreaming about paint colors, curtains, floors, landscapes and the list goes on and on. Here is a street view in the neighborhood we will soon move to. (A very quiet street too! Thank you Jesus. )
Settling in will officially conclude our season of transition, which began towards the end of last summer. Our surroundings and routine in Costa Rica were so vastly different from our lives presently. Not sure I can accurately express in words the range of emotions I feel as I think about settling in and closing one chapter to begin another. I feel like I am living in a massive whirlwhind of change in so many areas of my life, yet my reality is one of deep peace.

Recently I have been reading through the New Testament with one of my sister's and there is a verse in Luke that I keep coming back to. In chapter 22 verse 32 Jesus says to his friend knowing that he is about to face intense testing, "...I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail." The idea that Jesus is now living in the midst of heaven and yet at the same time fully engaged with me here on earth just blows my mind and brings me great encouragement. Have you spent much time thinking about the fact that Jesus is praying for you? Through all the life changing decisions that we have needed to make and through the ones that others made which greatly impacted us, Jesus has been interceding for us...how awesome is that? 

And now we find ourselves once again in the midst of many changes, new country and weather (for our boys), new job, new house, new cars, new food, new relationships, but something that is NOT new, Jesus leading us one step at a time!

Romans 8:34b
"The Messiah has died and he is risen, he is at the right hand of God and he prays for us."


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

By the tree

This tree will forever mark a special place to our family.
 Just beyond it's branches is a road that vehicles rapidly zoom by.
And standing at the edge of this road is where I found our 3 year old...wanting to cross and see the ducks that had just flewn by.
I did not realize the strength my vocal chords harnessed until the moment I saw my little boy standing just beyond this tree. Tractor trailers have recently been clocked racing by at 70 mph. And there my Titus stood, trying to cross with little caution, his gaze fixed straight ahead at the ducks. It seemed to take forever for my legs to sprint across the grass to my son. With great haste I cradled him in my arms, ran as fast as I could into the house, locked the doors and clinging to him I explained the dangers of the road and then listened to his thoughts as well. "Mama, I not hit by cars, I want to see ducks."
We then both sat with tears trickling down our cheeks, neither one of us letting go, neither one talking, we simply sat there together and watched vehicle after vehicle drive by the tree.
For the first couple days I could hardly talk about that moment, it was almost a week later that I took some photos and then videos of the surroundings, with hopes that I would never forget the sounds and sights of that experience. And now, I hold him a little more often, savoring the precious time we share together.

I vividly remember where I was in Costa Rica and the feeling of the breath being knocked out of me when we received news from the States that a family whom we deeply care for, lost their daughter, she too tried to cross a road. I do believe that God always saves his children and sometimes safe landing means in heaven into His arms instead of on earth into ours. Another memory that will forever be with me is watching the memorial service via internet and there stood the grieving parents, hands in the air, choosing to praise their savior in the midst of their indescribable pain.

 With each sound of another tractor trailer zooming by my body has felt weak and my mind is easily flooded with all the what if's and the reality of what could have taken place on the road by the tree.

Etched deeply within me is the embrace of Jed and the look on his face when I shared with him all that had taken place. His eyes locked on mine without one single hint of judgement for letting our son out of my sight, he only lavished me with forgiving and loving affection. It was later after many gracious moments of encouragement from my dear husband that my weary heart began to feel convicted. I was spending far too much time focusing on the pain of the what if's and allowing them to haunt me with a relentless and overwhelming fear.

I felt challenged to change the framework of my thinking, choosing to walk in gratitude and not fear. When I hear the rumble of the trucks coming each day and the the sound of the cars at night and when I look out the window and see the tree that has started to bloom I want to let go of my fears and say, "I praise you and thank you Jesus for my son was rescued and I can hold him a little bit longer!
As Easter now approaches we have been preparing to celebrate, and little Titus likes to say, "Jesus is Alive!" Reflecting on this experience I find myself dreaming of the moment when my son has a divine revelation, that the same Jesus who is very alive, died on calvary and it is he who also longs to hold him and it is he who saved him by the tree.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I want my tears to count

One morning earlier this month as I was singing and worshipping I was abrubtly caught off guard, without warning tears burst out of my eyes. I tend to fight that urge...especially when my little ones are around.

The boys and I have had some special moments singing songs to the Lord together, their desire to genuinely worship is growing and that has been so amazing to share and nurture. As I was singing, I was praying for someone dear to me. I felt like the Lord helped me to see another tiny piece of the much bigger picture, and granted grace to intercede while focusing more on God's power and less on my feelings.

Just as I was processing this my 5 year old son asked why I was crying? He then quickly added with red teary eyes, "Mama, why do my eyes water when you cry?" Oh my sweet boy...I love his sensitive heart. Not wanting to say too much but desiring for him to understand I simply said, "Sometimes I cry when I am praying because I want so badly for people to love Jesus. I want them to follow him making wise choices and I hope they will live in heaven someday." Then he asked something that really struck me,
"Our tears make people go to heaven?"
Hmm...no, our tears do not make people go to heaven. But I do believe that when we cry out in prayer, Jesus who is surrounded by the light of eternity yet fully engaged with us here, is listening and interceding for us. I can hardly fathom this thought, HIS perspective is so much greater than ours as he is fully in both places, knowing that our time on earth is crazy short yet imperative to our life in eternity. And he actually prays for us and with us. Such a humbling and inspiring thought.

I believe that when we pray and do so boldly that we can move the heart of God. Just as Moses pleaded with Him on the mountain (in Exodus 32), he cried out with boldness and passion, and the Bible says God relented and did not destroy the Israelites.
He hears our prayers.

So the thought that is stirring within me today is this...I want my tears to count!
There are many reasons that tears may stream down our cheeks. Does God care about how we feel? Absolutely! My desire is to chose spending more time weeping with Jesus, then focusing on how I am affected by situations or others choices.
When I cry out to God on behalf of someone I love, I want the devil to run when he sees my tears, knowing that I am passionately talking with the ONE who is at the right side of God, He hears me and He answers prayers.

Psalm 107: 28 
 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Titus is 3

Happy Birthday to our Tito! We started out the special day with our family tradition of birthday pancakes. This year they were made with love by Grammy.
Our little explorers wearing the vest's Grandma Lola made them and ready for the jungle party.
This was Titus' very first birthday party in the United States. Grandma Debra, Aunt Rachel, Uncle Justin and Aunt Abbey joined us from Va and Jed's siblings along with our nephews and nieces here in Pa also came. Since we are living with Jed's parents as we transition back from Costa Rica they graciously welcomed everyone to their home for the party.
The little jungle creatures who partied with us.....also known as Titus' cousins.
Cuddle time with cousin Lily as they check out the bday craft.
It totally warms my heart to see him smile.
The birthday bite.
Titus is a best friend to his big brother, our firecracker, cuddlebug and delight! He loves to sing, wrestle and dance showing off his famous "Tito twitto" moves. His little words in both English and Spanish are precious and his determination to make us laugh is adorable. I cannot imagine the last 3 years without little Tito and we will be forever grateful to God for giving him to our family.

James 1:17a
"Every good and perfect gift is from above."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

In light of eternity

Heaven, it is the theme of many popular books right now. I picked one up and read some bits and pieces trying to lay my glasses of natural skepticism down. Something that resonated deep within me was a reality I knew to be true but I was in need of a fresh revelation. Our life on earth is so very short and something magnificent awaits those who obey God. We hear it all the time and we read it in the Bible, yet somehow it is still so easy to become tangled up in life and lose perspective.

The Walters family were missionaries in Costa Rica who
we visited with a couple times, we hosted them in our home, explored the city a bit and also went fishing tico style and swimming in a waterfall together.
The mother and wife Traci, passed away this week. I emailed Traci just a couple weeks ago, her spirit seemed so strong even though her body was incredibly weak. She fought a rigorous battle of cancer and did so with unbelievable faith.  

It is a slippery slope to losing perspective in the midst of grief, watching children lose a mother or hearing that young people are literally starving to death and the list can go on of tragic and unbearable moments. But I come back to the thought that Jesus is watching and waiting for us. He knows in a way that we cannot begin to wrap our brains around, that life on earth is so outrageously short and eternity awaits us. I believe that the things that grieve us, grieve him in a way we cannot comprehend.  I also believe that he provides power to fight and grace to endure as he eagerly awaits our arrival. This is truth that I must grasp and live out.

As I would face painful challenges or even small decisions growing up my mom would often say, "In light of eternity what is most important?" Am I living my life with the reality that every second counts and that every thought, word and action will be answered for someday when I meet my Jesus? Lord forgive me for questioning why so much pain and tragedy run rampant among us, I know there is a enemy that is fully engaged in battle on this earth. I know you see even more than I can. I choose to trust you. I want to make the most of each moment, following you, walking in your power and living my life in light of eternity.

James 4:14
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Philippians 3:14
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Our God is Greater

It was a Sunday morning and I felt like butterflies were swirling in my stomach as I prayed and waited for the Pastor to invite us to share a portion of our story. Before going up Simeon said to me,"Tell the people how much God loves us and that he protected us." Sharing in different churches since we have returned from Costa Rica has been a crucial part of our journey. The opportunity to stand up and testify to what God has done has been powerful in my own life and for our Simmy too as he informed me recently that once when we shared, his eyes were dripping tears a little bit.
The theme has been God's love and faithfulness. We are overwhelmed by the love God gave us for so many in Costa Rica. And we left with a even stronger awareness of His love for our family.
We have shared stories of the awesome things we were able to be a part of, leading a discipleship school, hosting teams, embracing a new culture and people who became part of our family...just to name a few. And then there were some challenging moments. Such as when we found ourselves stuck in our vehicle in a flood of rising waters.
The realization that our family could be swept away any second, taking my boys out of their seatbelts, rolling down the windows and praying with tears streaming down my face...oh my.  But God is BIGGER than the flood that trapped us.
Months later when we drove down the same road that once was covered in water and where we thought we may take our last breath, we saw something beautiful. Signs of growth along the roads and even in the cemetary that was once under water.
 With music playing softly and memories of the day we were in the waters, weighing heavy on our minds, we drove down the road soaking in the vibrant colors. The song "Our God" came on, the words were..."Our God is greater, Our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other. Our God is healer, awesome in power..Our God." One of my favorite songs that I love to hear my little boys singing and worshipping too! We cranked the volume up and with more tears we sang.

It was in that moment that I felt God stirring in my heart these reflections: There were some that did not survive the flood, though we were rescued. And EVEN if my family had been swept away in the water, I believe that our God would still be GREATER than the flood. Our God would still be stronger! This is truth. Sometimes things do not go as planned. During our time in Costa Rica there were things that were absolutely nothing like what we had expected them to be. Yes, there were moments of incredible outreach, ministry, generous provision, love, healings and answered prayers. However there was also crisis in our health, in the ministry we served with and in our family back in the States. There were moments and months when I chose to claim God's faithfulness though I struggled to see it. Our God is greater than our circumstances. That does not mean he always changes them or that we are always physically rescued, but the truth remains he is.

As we looked at the repaired roads and homes, growing trees and flowers, I was reminded of the extensive growth in my own life through the thrilling experiences and through the deeply painful ones too. This is the spot where we had entered into the deepest waters.
As the sun was shining I asked Jed to stop the car, I hopped out and collected a small bucket full of rocks from the area where we had been in the deepest waters, months before. We added a cross to each one and we gave them to some of our family and support team as a reminder and a celebration of  God's faithfulness in our lives. 
We do not always understand why things happen the way they do and there is a easy explanation for that, we are not God.  I have witnessed unbelievable healings and I have fasted and prayed and seen God move in jaw dropping ways, I have also grieved tragic loss, un met expectations, and believed in hope for miracles that I have not yet seen on this side of heaven. But even so I choose to believe and I proclaim that, Our God is Greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other, Our God is healer awesome in power, Our God! Our God!

And so we praise Him and we thank Him for EVERY moment in our lives the ones we planned and the ones we did not. I will forever cherish our time in Costa Rica and continually thank Him for each person He brought into our lives, for what He did through us and what He is doing in us.
And now the journey continues as we follow Him one step at a time.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The little lime

We just spent the last month celebrating the birth of our King, who is the answer to centuries of prayers a miraculous and unbelievable sign of God's power. What a special and incredible Christmas season it has been. We celebrated this year in the States surrounded by family and we watched our children soak in countless hugs and kisses from their grandparents and so many others who love them. They also recieved presents that they were thrilled with and had really been hoping for.
 Have you ever prayed and fasted for something and wanted it so badly that you ached as you cried out to God? Have you ever spent month after month hoping in desperation that when you recieved the answer your inner most being released tears of outrageous joy?
 We prayed and proclaimed truth, as a family we kept on believing month after month and then the moment finally came, I recieved a call from my sister Abbey, she is postively pregnant! Our answer to prayer is the size of a little lime. If you were able to see my response when I heard from my sister or see my face as I thank Jesus over and over again different moments through out my day, I think I may reflect the photos of my little boys above as they recieved a special present. I am so very overwhelmed with gratitude
Through out christmas I took oodles of photos, this one of my sister is especially significant for our family as it represents to us answered prayer, a miracle and yet another reminder of God's power. Thank you Jesus for this "little lime." 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

silly faces


I love learning how to use my camera and it has become a delightful hobby for me. It is stress relieving and something I simply want and feel like in this season of life I need to enjoy.
We recently took family photos with the Redcay gang it was lots of fun....though I do confess I was stressing before hand and  even tried to (in a panic) hire someone last minute to take our photos....ahem. But after a couple 'pull yourself together and stop worrying about if I am good enough' chats with myself, I chilled out and went into the photo session more relaxed knowing that the photos may be a flop or wonderful but either way I wanted to choose to have fun.
 Though it was not perfect with lots of photos to choose from, I did get a few good snapshots of our beautiful family so here is a sneak peek at a couple.

One of my lovely nieces.
Pop and Grammy's grandchildren
  I set up the timer and ran back and forth a bunch of times trying to hop into the  pose for the Redcay family portrait. We were about done when Simeon said, "let's do silly faces."  It made since to give it a whirl, since we had our sweet kiddos sitting there with smiles plastered for quite a while. Guess which photo everyone wants to hang on their wall??
Yep, the silly Redcay's it is. Maybe that is because the photographer did not get many good shots or maybe this is a photo that we relaxed, had fun without formal posing and as a result this is the one we really want to keep and remember.  In the past I have been known to delete "good" family photos due to the not so good memory of bribing my boys or snapping at them to sit up and smile, which by the way was not a proud parenting moment I wanted to savor, and then later hang on my wall. So Jed and I try to be in tune with how our boys are doing (which is not hard to pick up on since we have rather dramatic and not so quiet little ones). No doubt we save the whole family grief when we learn to chill and make silly faces such as this one after trying countless times to get a family shot for our newsletter in Costa Rica.
And there are other times when we lay down the camera and decide to try again later.

We like to look for natural moments to capture in a photograph and sometimes my husband lovingly reminds me to just put the camera down and enjoy the seconds with mental snapshots, really being all there.

Another confession, I can easily be tempted to pose. Trying to get the perfect photo or even more transparently trying to meet what I perceive others expectations are of me as a returning international missionary. Jesus constantly taps me on the shoulder though and reminds me to toss those thoughts in the trash and enjoy being the Jaime HE created. I have found freedom, peace and power as I share about what God did in our lives in Costa Rica and what He is teaching us now, no posing just being real.
Yay a family photo with both boys smiling! And a memory too...because we know that the boys are actually smiling at their Uncles, Aunts and Grammy who are jumping around making them giggle.

Moral of the story for me... stop "posing"  ~  Be real, making memories, smiles, tears and silly faces that I do not want to forget, embracing who God created me to be and cherishing the mere seconds we have together as we follow the calling on our lives.