Category: Uncategorized

“Fire & Ice”

Persecution. Not a popular word; however, it’s a reality in countries like Iraq and Sudan. Raised up in the Mennonite Brethren church tradition, artist Faye Hall knows the denomination is no stranger to persecution. One story in particular inspires Hall and others to “love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44 NLT).

Winnipeg Artist Faye Hall next to her painting "Fire & Ice"
Winnipeg Artist Faye Hall next to her painting “Fire & Ice”

Read full story here.

 

Is it just a job or is it more?

I have purposely not mentioned my job or any aspects of it in all my years of blogging. I don’t plan to do it again. This is an exception.

L'antic poble de Santa Creu / Abandoned medieval villageCreative Commons License SBA73 via Compfight

 

I have been at this job as church office administrator for over 11 years. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly in a church’s life. I’m happy to report that the first outweighs the latter two by far.

This week I have been wondering whether I should switch on the auto-mode
and concentrate on the business side of this job. Read more

Live Your Life Purpose Now

I met Tiffany at last year’s She Speaks conference. We both found it funny that we kept meeting each other so many times over the course of the conference. That in itself was a miracle when you think that there were over  600 women at the conference.

Since She Speaks 2013 we kept in touch via email. Today I’m honored to be part of a group of women sharing on how to Live Your Life Purpose Now on Tiffy Talks. To read it, hop on over to Tiffy Talks

Thank you, Tiffany, for initiating this talk about Living Your Purpose Now.

 

A New Year – A New Blog

It has taken me well over five months to finally get to this point where I can present to you my new blog/website. I’m still working on it, so if you notice any changes in the next few weeks, that’s the reason for it. But I thought I would not wait until it’s perfect, I’ll just start up blogging once again on a regular basis even if it’s not perfect.

Image: shutterstock

I’m so glad it’s 2014! I couldn’t wait for 2013 to be over. Read more

How Do I Know God’s Voice?

Lately I have been thinking about the job I once held. I was called the executive assistant to one of the executives, let’s call him Mr. X. There were tremendous responsibilities attached to his position. It was an international corporation, and some 25+ general managers from around the world reported to him. His inbox was overflowing with messages, and there was never enough time for him to answer all his mail/email by himself. To lighten Mr. X’ load I would answer most of his correspondence. 
How was I able to do that?
Because I knew Mr. X. I knew the sound of his voice, his vocabulary, his maneurisms, even his mood he was in the day I was responding to the letter or email.
How did I know Mr. X so well?
I was constantly in contact with him. We had a meeting first thing in the morning to go over the day’s details, we discussed the meetings’ contents before and after his meetings, many times he would ask me to sit in on the phone calls he would make. We also spent many lunches to update each other, and the work day would usually end with another meeting or if I had to get home “on time” we would have the meeting on the phone. 
It might seem like an intense day schedule. Remember: this was at the beginning of this century when cell phones and texting were fairly new and internet and email were just a few years old.
Yet this experience reminds me of a spiritual truth: I can only know the voice of God by being in constant contact with God. 
If I don’t spend time in prayer and neglect to read my Bible, I forget what God’s voice sounds like. It’s a very simple truth but one that I need to be aware of. There have been times in my life where I did not pick up my Bible for months at a time, or didn’t really take time to pray. When I would get back to it, I felt like I needed to get reacquainted with God all over again. Like with a friend that I haven’t seen or spoken in years.
The Gospel of John reminds me of this truth. Jesus is pointing to Himself as the good Shepherd:
“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, 
rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! 
But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 
The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. 
He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 
After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, 
and they follow him because they know his voice. 
They won’t follow a stranger; 
they will run from him because they don’t know his voice…

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep… 
I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 
just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. 
So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.”
John 10:1-5, 11, 14-15 NLT
How well do I know the voice of Jesus? What priority do I put on getting to know His voice?

"Look Into Your Past"

I have not been able to shake one experience from the She Speaks conference. It was the last session before dinner on Friday, July 26. I was tired, frozen (yes, that’s no typo! The hotel was so cold that some of us were shuddering and shaking because of it. Many of us would use every little opportunity we had to get outside to warm up. And then I would dread coming back into the deep freeze. And trust me, I know about deep freeze, I live in Manitoba! When women were saying on the She Speaks Facebook page to bring a light jacket or a light sweater, they sure were not kidding… Personally, I could have used a proper winter sweater…) Well, that was a rabbit trail…

Image: shutterstock.com

But back to my story. It was the last session before dinner. There was no way I was to miss Tom Davis’ session “Writing Out of Your Passion.” I was curious to see what Tom Davis would say about this topic. I had not googled him like I had done for the other speakers. I went into the room with no preconceived opinions, not knowing anything about this man. I was in for a treat!

Tom Davis spoke with passion, his hand gestures displayed passion, his whole body language conveyed passion, and after I heard his life story, I must say he lives passion. Currently he is the president and CEO of Children’s HopeChest, a global advocacy organization serving orphans and widows around the world. He is also the author of 5 books.

Listening to him speak I couldn’t help but see a man who has totally surrendered to God’s call and God’s will. “It is all about God using you in His Kingdom,” was one if the first sentences he said. He had a 10-point presentation. But his third point caught me off guard: “Look Into Your Past.” I felt his question “What are you running from?” directed at me personally.

What am I running from? Yes, the past is one of them.

I do not like my past. I try to avoid talking about my past. But over and over again God seems to point me there. It feels like God is weaving a spider’s web out of my past’s experiences around me. I do feel a bit trapped in it.

Look into your past! I’ve learned that my past is part of my destiny; my past is part of my calling. I’ve had a few experiences where someone came up to me and shared a struggle or hurt they were experiencing. And I couldn’t help but have to look into my past. Because what this person was going through was very similar, and in one case just the same as I had been through. Creepy, right?

Not really, if you believe there are no coincidences in life, if you believe there is a purpose for every  hurt, every pain you have ever felt. I didn’t see much purpose when I went through the pain of persecution in Moldova. As a kid you just want to fit in, and if you can’t fit in, than at least you want to be left alone. But when you are constantly afraid to go home from school because you don’t know if there will be those kids again who spit in your face and threaten you daily, you don’t see much purpose for your pain. And all this harassment only because you had the courage to say that you did believe there is a God, you did believe the Bible stories your parents and grandparents had been telling you.

The pain was real, the harassment was real… Today as I look into my past I still don’t understand the whole purpose of this experience. When I hear of Christians being persecuted for their faith, I can identify, I know the fear they feel, the questions they have. Was that the purpose for me?

At the end of Tom Davis’ session he talked about his work with HopeChest, about the orphans they have been able to rescue. Now guess what country he was talking about? MOLDOVA! I sat frozen in my seat, this time not because of the cold hotel meeting room. No, because God was connecting a few more dots from my past to my present.

At the end of the session Tom announced a giveaway, a fully paid trip to Moldova with HopeChest in October of this year. After I recovered from my initial shock I went to the HopeChest table in the foyer and started talking with two of the staff. I wanted to know what city/cities they were working in. And I saw the box for the giveaway entries. After a long debate with myself I did put my business card into that box, silently hoping my card will not be pulled…

There are many happy memories from those five years of life in Moldova. But there are also many painful memories I have avoided for many years. I don’t know what will become of this encounter with my past. But I know there is a reason I was supposed to meet Tom Davis in that cold hotel meeting room, tired and weary from a long day of intense learning, during the session “Writing Out of Your Passion.”

“And we know that God causes 
everything to work together for the good 
of those who love God and 
are called according to His purpose for them.” 
Romans 8:28 New Living Translation

Look into your past! What do you see? Is there anything you are running from?

She Speaks 2013

As indicated in some previous posts I participated in the She Speaks 2013 conference in Concord, North Carolina. I don’t even know where to start describing what I have seen and learned last week. I keep going back to my notes – and believe me there are many, many notes!

The event was very well organized. To keep some 730+ women moving from session to session was no small thing. And when I think about all the excellent speakers I heard, I know that it will take a few more weeks for all the great stuff to sink in to my brain and put into action.

During my last session on “platform building” I started writing down some goals that I would start working on as soon as I got home. After all, a goal without a plan is just a wish, right? My excitement is growing as I look to my list and see possibilities beyond anything I could have imagined!

I’m sure I will be blogging about some of the topics I’m still processing. But here is one thought that I can’t shake: Follow God, but do not run ahead!

I’ve heard it over and over again during those three days. It started with Sharon Glasgow’s opening on Thursday afternoon and it ended with Lysa TerKeurst’s final speech on Saturday night: If God has called you to do a certain job, do not rush it, do not run ahead. Trust His timing!

Just because things are not falling into place, or not working out immediately are not an indication that you heard wrong. The calling, the start, the middle, the ending – it’s all part of a journey God has for us. The middle stretch of the journey is the part where we can get impatient, we might question what we are doing and we want to give up. We’ve come so far , but we still can’t see the end. That’s where trusting God gets a whole new meaning!

As I’m looking at the goals I’ve written down, I know it will not always be easy. But what an adventure to trust the One who knows it all!

A Lesson on Family Calamity

I am away this week at the She Speaks conference and have decided to re-post my second most viewed blog post (according to the stats!). It was originally posted on March 20, 2012. I’m reposting it after some edits.

I’ve just come home from our Women’s Bible study: “David – Seeking a Heart Like His” by Beth Moore. And today’s video lesson was on “Family Calamity”. First thing I did when I got home was to look up the word “calamity” in my english-german dictionary. It’s simply “Katastrophe”. It all makes sense now (big smile here!) I hate it when I have to sit through an hour long lecture and then wait until I get home to look up a word that was the center of the lesson. Well, now I know it!!!

To give you a little background: we are studying the life of King David, and we’ve come to the chapters that talk about his family dynamics. His firstborn son Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar. Absalom, Tamar’s brother, hated Amnon for what he’d done to his sister. David had heard about the rape and was furious. But he did nothing. Nothing… 

And so Absalom carried this hatred around for many, many years – at least eleven years. He harbored and planed revenge for a long time. It’s amazing how patient he was with his plan. He waited for the perfect moment. And that moment came. He tricked Amnon to attend one of his parties, and while at the party Absolom had Amnon killed.

Absalom then flees from his father and stays with his grandfather for a number of years. Then, finally, Absalom is allowed to return to Jerusalem, but King David still refuses to see him. After being in Jerusalem for two years, King David finally receives his son Absalom. But instead of a reunion and reconciliation it seems to be a King receiving his servant, and not a father receiving his son. I found the following picture of what could have/should have been. But sadly it was not.

Absalom then gets the people of Israel to like him and they try to crown him as king. In the end it all backfires. Absalom dies in battle. And the hatred he harbored in his heart for so many years ends up costing him everything.

Talk about drama…

The thing that hit me most in this video lesson: Family Calamity “doesn’t have to be irreparable”. With humility and willingness to forgive, relationships can be restored. But if a family “relationship is irreparable, the individual need not be.”

I learned God restores a person’s honor and dignity. That’s where God’s grace comes in. Only by God’s grace am I restored. Some relationships in my life have turned out to be irreparable. But I am not!!! God has restored me, he has crowned me with honor and dignity. That’s grace, pure GRACE!!!

Psalm 103:10-13; 22b says,

“He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great
as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
The LORD is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him…
Let all that I am praise the LORD.”
I do know that some relationships are only for a time, especially some friendships don’t last forever. For whatever reason, friendships can get damaged or they change because of moves and changes in our lives, and sometimes they are beyond repair.

But it’s different with family relationships. It’s so different. And since I cannot escape family, I’m kind of stuck there. BUT I don’t have to stay stuck as an irreparable individual! Thank you, Jesus!!!