Lengthen and Strengthen

In Isaiah 54 God instructs us to spread out our tent, to lengthen our cords and strengthen our tent stakes.  As school begins, I see multiple Facebook posts from parents having to lengthen the cords as their children grow and enter Kindergarten, start to drive or leave for college.  Parents look forward to the empty nest time only to be much surprised by the myriad of emotions they experience.

When Randy and I were first married, we cried out to God that He would use our family as a battle ax in His hand to aggressively advance His Kingdom. Like many others, fell on our face before God asking how to be good parents.  Throughout the years I have reminded myself that God loves my kids more than I do, even when that seems impossible to comprehend.  He not only loves them, but He perfectly loves them. It was during one of those prayers; I realized Randy, and I don’t own our kids, we are stewards of THE Father.

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In The Heart of the Refugee Crisis

You know there are many things I love about PI, but I think each trip I take I cherish the stories of how God is using PI students to reach the forgotten places of the world. Let me paint a picture for you of Sarah’s* journey.

Political unrest and severe drought have combined to create a dire situation for millions needing work in Africa. Currently, there is a mass exodus of people heading to Vredendal, South Africa, with the hope of finding work so they can send financial support back to their starving families. Sarah is a young, 18-year-old girl desperate to feed her 1-year-old son. She makes the painful decision to leave her baby with family in Zimbabwe to travel roughly 1,200 miles to find employment.

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Letters of Love

There are those people who cross your path and leave you changed forever. They can pass for a moment or for a season, but the impact is the same. Last year, I met a young girl who left an impression. Someone who would leave a God-print on my heart. And with great anticipation, I looked forward to reuniting with her as our PI team traveled to the Czech Republic to assist several of PI’s partners by leading a creative camp for youth.

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Sabbath Comes

I know you’ve heard this before but I stand amazed at what the Lord Jesus Christ is doing with this tiny group of individuals known as Prepare International around His world.  What a Jesus! What grace to take broken, immature people and do wonderful things!  What power to use the weak to reveal great strength!

We’ve never been in such a powerful position as we are now:

The team is at an all-time high with great new additions this year

Our office area has recently been upgraded tremendously

Our teaching team around the world has grown rapidly and are being so fruitful

Our footprint in 24 nations is growing and the doors are open like never before

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Playing Around with PrayGround

It was much fun and an honor to write Playing Around with PrayGround. I wrote for both parents and children’s ministers. In Matthew, Jesus gets very upset with His disciples for setting up obstacles that the children could not readily come to Him. He instructed them (us) to not only make the way clear but to strongly encourage the children to come to Him. The scripture says that He rebuked the disciples and called the children to Himself and ‘laid’ His hands on them to ‘bless’ them.

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Belgium and Romania

Belgium: What a wonderful experience getting to know Ministry Partners Conely and Madaline Annandale’s hearts for Belgium as well as their dedication to Christ! Their great relationships with the people created an eagerness and hunger for the PI training on Faith. While in the region I had the opportunity to preach in a church for another couple in Belgium.

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The Journey Begins

It’s great to be rejoining the PI team as part of the challenge God has placed in front of us.  Over the past 4+ years, I have had the privilege of serving as the missions pastor at Beltway Park Church in Abilene.  During this season, we saw immense personal growth in both of us, and we feel the time is now to jump into the mission field.

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Reaching Africa, Nepal and Peru

You guys are incredible! The overwhelming response to this year’s Prepare International Pistol & Clays Competition and Banquet was literally out-of-this-world!  We had more sponsorships and teams than last year which made a huge impact to our fundraising efforts.

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Gathering Stones: It’s a Diamond

There are so many other stones that I have collected for the Alter of Remembrance.  A friend told me that she saw the makings of a book in the gathering of my stones.  So I will, I will write a book on transitioning and the gathering of stones, after my two books on children/families are published.  But as of right now I’m gathering a diamond, the final stone I will write about before I stand on the altar.  God impressed in my heart that PI Family Camp, these next two weeks, will be my altar.  I will be on the mountain top like Abraham and Isaac.  I am excited to see what God will do in and through me during this time.  I believe my trust in Him will be challenged. I will let you know how the process of standing on the altar of remembrance and offering myself afresh as a living sacrifice goes!

But for now let’s talk about the DIAMOND!  This is a rock of remembrance for my marriage, my husband and how God loves me through Randy.  It is an incredible blessing to me.  

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Gathering the Slippery Stone of Time

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping . . . (a line in an old song).  During transition time is critical and time seems to always be slipping, slipping away.  Matter of fact, it is quite humorous that this blog is on time and I am two full days late at getting it up. 🙂  The next stone that I am taking to the Altar to stand on is time.  

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Gathering & Celebrating the PRICELESS Stone of 50 years with God

This month 50 years ago, as a six year old, tagged as shy, I gave my life to Jesus.  I asked Him to clean my heart and to make me forever His.  My dad would bring an old mattress that was hidden under my bed in to the living room.  Sometimes we would do gymnastics, sometimes we would have Bible stories, but this night we were watching Billy Graham on TV.  When Billy Graham asked for those that wanted to give their lives to God and have Jesus cleanse them and to live with God forever, my tender heart was pierced.  I gave my life to Jesus that night.  The next Sunday I couldn’t wait to walk down the aisle and show everyone I was His. And being baptized was the icing on the cake!  It was a first act of total obedience, pushing past all my fears.  I couldn’t put it into words but it was real and it took! This was not expected or normal for me – I was told I was shy (I really hate that word).  I marched down the aisle with my eyes on my pastor to the song, “No Turning Back.”  As a six year old I told the Lord that would be our theme song.  “Though none go with me, still I will follow.  No turning back.”  And as a six year old I received the keeping power of grace to walk these 50 years without ever turning back!  That is a big cause for celebration to me.  I am collecting the Stone of Keeping Grace.

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Gathering Stones: Kids All Grown – They are Solid Stones

This May marked the year that our youngest, our baby girl, graduated from the university.  She graduated from Dallas Baptist University, Suma Cum Laude in a degree of Elementary Education with various certifications from what is considered one of the top universities for Education in the US.  Then just yesterday she signed her contract to teach at Terrell ISD, just south east of Dallas.  Today as we travel she is debating living arrangements. —- All grown up!

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Gathering That Little But Very Heavy Stone

How can God use something straight from the pit of hell?  Alzheimer’s or Dementia affects people in various ways.  Some revert to a child and gentle, some become the complete opposite of their former self – where they were sweet, grumpy, or some like my mom, become fearful, delusional, and wander.  Horrible fear fuels their behavior is sometimes violent.  This is my perspective on  the journey I had with my mom in her last years.  I cannot speak for my dad, Randy, my brother or my kids.  We were all changed in various ways.  This is just my story with my mom and God.

Last week’s blog, I honored my mom and who she was in my life and many others.  This week I am strive to be even more transparent and let Jesus shine through some of my weakest moments.  This stone is very small but very heavy.  It could seem insignificant in contrast to a lifetime of living, but any event, any moment in the hand of God can become monumental.

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Gathering the 1st Stone – My Mom

The early part of this past May, my mom died, went to be in the arms of Jesus, after a bout of Alzheimers!  The 1st stone I am gathering is my life with her, my relationship with her, how God used all that she was and all that she wasn’t to shape me and bring me to the promise of His Kingdom in my life.

I am actually going to collect two stones dedicated to my mom.  The first is before Alzheimer’s, the second is after Alzheimer’s.  I want to be honoring of her and at the same time transparent.  I am praying that I accomplish this and you can take some of what I learned, apply it to your specific situations and reach higher in God.

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Gathering Stones —- God’s Presence Makes a Way

So as I was asking God about how to ‘survive’ all the transitioning in my life right now.  I felt like He took me again to Joshua as they started transitioning into the promised land.  They were to purify themselves which we talked about, but they followed after the presence of God.  When the priests carrying the ark of the covenant, the presence of God, touched the water, the water rolled up on itself a long ways off and let the Israelites walk across.  So I think of two things:

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Gathering Stones —- before the first step

My feet are unsure, the river is swift and the stones slippery!  How do I get across these rivers without falling, getting soaked, scraped up or swept away in the currents.  I see where I want to go, but there is a lot of maneuvering and obstacles between here and there!  Several times I while hiking, I have found myself at a river crossing. 

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A Trip of Nostalgia – Little Seeds Grow Bigger Than Life

Randy and I just arrived in the Czech Republic (Czechia).  This is the place where missions was planted in the heart of our whole family.  This is where we as a family were ruined forever for the Kingdom.  Our world got smaller and our hearts got bigger.  Normal would never look the same again What a great time to acknowledge God’s goodness and remember His works.  So lets take a nostalgic walk down memory lane. (Old picture – the 1st team we led to Kadan with some Czech leaders & friends –  a life changing trip!  Team members, do you recognize yourself?)

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Tag You’re It – No Touch Backs

Kids playing tag in the yard just makes me smile.  Often you hear a voice rise above the laughter, “Tag your it!  No touch backs.”  That phrase “No touch back” ensures the person who was formerly ‘it’, a secure time to run away before he is tagged again.

As Randy and I ventured into parenting our ever changing, ever growing children, we found ourselves in a continual game of “Tag! No touch backs!”  Every year we would encourage the kids to take on more responsibilities, more self discipline, more self-control.  Maturity is the act of being responsible.  We knew we couldn’t just dump responsibility on our kids.  We had to train them to carry responsibility little by little, getting stronger in character, critical thinking, strategy, and maturing as people with each added responsibility.

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Release the Warrior Within

This is an excerpt from my new book, Playing Around in PrayGround, that is presently in edit, soon to be published.

According to John Eldredge in his book, Wild at Heart, there is a warrior in every little boy. I agree with John Eldredge.   We need to train and release these young warriors for battle in prayer, emphasizing that Satan is the enemy and Jesus is their Commander in Chief!  These young warriors can be heroes for the whole world as they fight for the Kingdom.  Likewise, in the heart of every little girl, there is the heart of a future mother.  A mother is the fiercest of warriors when her children are threatened.  We need to nurture the hearts of these little girls to love people as God loves people.  They need to be angry at what the enemy does to God’s children and potential children.  We need their ‘mother bear’ claws to come out toward the enemy.

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IF We Enter Into Their World, They Will Readily Enter Into Ours

Kids all over the world, in every situation of life, have a longing to PLAY!  In an earlier blog that is posted in the navigation of  Perspectives, I wrote on the the Language of Play.  It is true, I have seen it.  Every four years PI designs a Family Camp where we invite leaders from the 20 different nations in which we partner to join us for a week of encouragement, refreshing, relationship building and corporate worship of God.  They bring their children. Obviously, the children are speaking different languages and it sounds like waves of indistinguishable sounds, but they all speak the language of play.  They soon cross all barriers of nationality, skin color, language, size, background; it all disappears as they play!  

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