Monday, October 30, 2006

My Isaac

The ladies' Bible study at church has been studying The Patriarchs by Beth Moore, and I have always been captivated by the story of Abraham offering Isaac on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22). One thing that Beth said in the study was that "our hardest tests involve our dearest loves." I know that is so true, yet I was unable to put my finger on what was my dearest love that the Lord was testing me over. And today I discovered what it is.

I got a card in the mail advertising the Children Desiring God Conference coming up next April (we use their curriculum and it is GREAT!). Silly me, I eagerly opened the card an
d read about the cost and workshops available and dreamed "maybe Johanna and Mandy and I could all go together!" before I caught myself. The next thing I knew, I had burst into tears, walking home from the post office. You see, I will be moving away in a couple months, and of course it is so silly to dream that the children's ministry team I work with would be doing that together because I will not be in children's ministry anymore!

My ministry -- the kids at my church, in my classes, in my small group, the children of my friends -- is my Isaac. I do not say my ministry is my idol -- no, it is a precious gift that He has given to me just as He promised. This is what God is asking me to offer to Him. To sacrifice it boldly on the altar of my life. To give it up freely, gladly glorifying Him in the process. Tears are streaming down my face as I type this, a sign that the trip up Mount Moriah is not yet compl
ete! I cried all afternoon, really really wept like I have not done for a long time. I was thinking about the girls I minister with and how blessed I am that we are so likeminded.

Mandy, Johanna and Janice -- I appreciate you! You are such a wonderful team! I know you will be able to flourish without me because God is your focus, not the kids, and God is growing you all in a deeper relationship with Him. (I unfortunately have no pictures with Johanna or Janice, but this is not the best one of me and Mandy!)

Kids -- I LOVE you!! I have the best students in the world -- from the 4 year olds who love to show me that they brought their "sword" (little reminder, Steph!), to the 1st and 2nd graders in my Sunday School class (here is a picture of our African class party yesterday -- it's me with Zalira and Akeyla -- their Swahili names), to the older kids who are great leaders in our small groups on Wednesday nights (for instance Rachel who is more Christ centered at 11 than I was at 18).

It is by no means easy for me to leave this thriving ministry. But I take comfort, indeed, great joy in the verse from Hebrews 11:19 "Abraham considered that God was able even to raise Isaac from the dead". Christ sustains me with the faith to look ahead at the ministry He will have for me in the future! And so I fearfully obey and make my sacrifice, and look to the day when He will raise a ministry for me again someday.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Here are a couple of pictures of last week when my family and I visited Southern Seminary for the Boyce College preview weekend. We had dessert at Al Mohler's house (the President of the seminary). WOW!! It was quite the mansion!

We were most in awe of his library, spanning room after room in his basement, housing his own private collection of 50,000 books! It was incredible, sort of an awesome feeling to be surrounded by all those books!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

My friend Trish

Please pray for my sweet friend, Tricia. She is, (quite obviously) nearing the end of her pregnancy with a precious, much longed-for little boy. She is having a scheduled C-section on Monday, October 23rd, because this pregnancy is high risk.

Two years ago, on October 21st, she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Braden. She was overdue, and in the process of labor, her uterus tore, and Braden was severely brain damaged. He was precious and whole and darling, but he lived only one week because of the brain damage. Trish and Joe (her husband) have been an unbelievable testimony to all who know them of God's grace and lovingkindness through loss. I can actually say that a revival of sorts broke out at this time, at least for me, and the children I minister to (including Trish's other kids).

Now she is a walking testimony that we serve a God of miracles! Everyone who sees Trish's
halarious tummy is once again reminded of what they lost, and how God has changed the way we see Him, and life, and everything pertaining to it. (I recommend the book: A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot which I was reading at the time).

Please pray for these important last few days! I am crying out to God on her child's behalf, that for His Name's sake, He will safely bring this child into the world. It is no accident, in fact, an unbelievable miracle that this little boy will be born between the date that Braden was born, and Braden died. It is because of Braden, in fact, that this child has life! Please pray that Trish and her family might stand before God with their hands open, ready to let God give and take away, and through it all, be able to say "Blessed be His name!"

Monday, October 09, 2006

An Series of Unfortunate Events

I am so hooked on the Series of Unfortunate Events. For those of you whose lives are not as steeped in children's fiction as mine is, this is a series of 13 books about 3 children who lead quite unfortunate lives. These books were made a bit more famous a couple years ago when a movie came out loosely based on the first 3 books (starring Jim Carrey). The first book begins when their house burns down, killing their parents, and the series continues as they are bounced from guardian to guardian, each more pathetic than the last. They encounter all sorts of frustrations and frights such as man-eating leeches, working at a lumber mill, an austere boarding school where you learn only the metric system, nearly being fed to lions, and most of all, being chased by the horrid Count Olaf.

Why on earth would kids like these books so much? Well, for several reasons. For one thing, they are unbelievably funny! Lemony Snicket (the author) peppers the unfortunate tales with hysterical quips and definitions. My friend who teaches ESL told me that ESL kids really like this series, because they are not accustomed to assuming life will turn out just fine. I think many kids today are like that. . . they know what hardship is. They have endured horrible things, so they like reading about other kids that encounter way more horrible circumstances and endure them, bearly slipping through every time. That is the reason I like these books. I have always loved stories in which the kids are the heroes! And the orphans here are pure genius! They adore reading and learning, and can always invent something clever. And through all the trials, the brother and sisters are always loving and devoted to one another. I just love it!

This Friday, the final book in the series (#13!!) will be released, hopefully solving all the mysteries in the previous 12 books. At the bookstore I work at, we are having "An Evening of Unfortunate Events" to celebrate! I am pretty much planning the shibang, so I am really excited. Here are some of the things we have planned:

1. An unhappy and wretched movie filled with misery
2. A Series of Unfortunate Letters: "The Horrible Hunt" (this is my favorite part!)
3. Dull and tedious tasks to complete such as measuring items using the metric system
4. Distasteful treats such as Leech pudding and root beer float punch
5. A costume contest judged by Esme Squalor (a mean lady always telling people what is "in")

Doesn't that sound like a blast? :)

Monday, October 02, 2006

He leads me beside waters of rest. . .

I love my ESV. Josh bought me a beautiful little two-tone Bible in the English Standard Version for my birthday this summer, and lately I have been noticing what a special translation it is
. I have been reading really familure passages in a whole new light with this beautiful new version. For instance, Psalm 23 becomes fresh with these words:

"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside waters of rest. He restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for His names' sake. Even though I walk through the valley of deep darkness, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You annoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Only goodness and steadfast love shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall return to dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

A girl in our youth group and I were discussing these verses (it was our assigned reading in the WOL Quiet Time) and really enjoying ourselves as we envisioned being sheep. It was so refreshing and precious to discuss what all the Blessed Shepherd does for us! I especially liked thinking about the "waters of rest", most often quoted as "still waters", becasue I was feeling really overtired and strained last week, just from all the special events we had going on. I know that when I need it the most, the Lord will lead me to the waters of rest where I can truly rest, knowing He gave me this time, I am not wasting it (does anybody else feel like that? I bet you do!).

I always like Sunday to be a day of rest, really and truly, but it doesn't always end up like that! Somehow Sunday gets way overbooked, just like the rest of the days, and when it is over, you feel like you need a weekend! But I hung on to these verses, refusing to collapse and give in to grouchiness, because I knew my rest would come. And here it is! I had a nice long night of sleep last night, and all morning helping Josh to meditate on scripture, and pray. I feel serene and peaceful, knowing that the Lord, to whom I "lift up my soul" will provide what I need in His timing.