Thursday, March 28, 2013

...BUT GOD!


Welcome back to our friend, Jessica Honegger. Jessica lives in Austin where she enjoys dance parties with her three littles, 2 biological and one from Rwanda, long dinners with her husband, and good wine with her girlfriends. She spends the majority of her days running Noonday Collection, a business born out of the adoption process, that creates sustainable income opportunities for vulnerable populations. It is a dream so amazing she could have never thought of it herself. You can join the story by visiting www.noondaycollection.com


Noonday is doing a little give away on our blog! Share our blog on facebook and then leave a comment either here or on our facebook page
letting us know you did and we will enter you to win The Chimes Necklace. This piece is handmade in Ethiopia using recycled nickel, copper, and bronze melted down from previous war weapons. Most of the artisans who created the pieces are HIV positive and receive healthcare and literacy training in addition to job training. Their disease does not define them.
This is a beautiful necklace made by beautiful people!
We will pick our winner Thursday, April 4th, so stay tuned!


What If...?
Around 2.5 years ago, we not only started our adoption journey, but God put a business idea on my heart. It combined fashion, poverty alleviation, mobilizing women in the US, and stepping out in LOTS of faith. My biggest fear was not failure, but success. What if I started caring about what other people thought more than what God thought? What if I wanted recognition more than giving God recognition? What if it became so consuming that I would start bowing down to the business and not to Jesus? What if it became so successful it would turn me away from Him?

Impressed with God!
As I was processing all of that with God, I heard him gently say, “You are far more impressed with your ability to sin than you are with the power I have to overcome sin.” I thought that meant, “Don't worry, I am going to keep you from falling into all those traps.”  So I jumped, and here is what happened. Two years later, in many ways, this little business idea called Noonday Collection has garnered some pretty cool successes. I mean, thirty people are OUT OF poverty in Uganda, women now are putting their kids through school in Rwanda, and countless others in the most vulnerable places of the world have the opportunity to work with dignity. We have advocated for adoptions, helped bring kids home, and over 150 women (and growing every week) in the US are now business owners, advocates and influencers in their communities. It has been crazy amazing to be a part of this.

And here is what has happened to me. I have cared about what other people thought more than what God thought. I have wanted people’s recognition more than God’s recognition. And I have become so consumed at times that clearly I was on the throne and God was not. I have this psychotic problem with self reliance (don’t you love how I use the few times that 2 of the most respected women in my life ask me to blog as a huge confessional? I mean you should read my last post for Hope at Home, The Day I Asked My Houseguests to Move Out of My House!). I have craved the approval of other women.

God is NOT Impressed with My Sin
And guess what? God is NOT IMPRESSED with all of this failure. 2.5 years ago, when I stepped into this crazy adventure, I thought God would some how keep me from falling into the sin I was so afraid of. Instead, I have learned that God is not impressed with my self-reliance and my need for other people’s approval. Instead, He is impressed with His Son Jesus, who covers all my yucky idolatries, turns away every accusation, and clothes me in absolute perfection. He is impressed with His sufficiency to always turn my gaze back on him. He is IMPRESSED WITH ME because when He looks at me, He sees his perfect Son.

Impressed with Jesus and His Finished Work! 
I was talking to one of my besties the other day, and she confessed, “I have this sense of pride when I tell others I am foster mom. Like I am somehow a better follower of Jesus than them.” Another friend, who just brought home her little with special needs was confessing something to me (I can’t even remember what it was!), and I could tell by the look on her face she was thinking “Can you believe that? I mean, that I would be doing THAT?” 
I just said, “Not impressed.” I am not impressed with your pride or your whatever, but I am infinitely impressed with Jesus’ work on the cross for you ! My bestie later shared Eph. 2:3-4  "All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God's anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved."  Her new favorite phrase is now BUT GOD. Yes, we can be idiots, BUT GOD is rich in mercy, for He has made me ALIVE WITH CHRIST!

Fix Your Eyes on Jesus
God has given some of you an idea, a dream, an action item. Like me, you may be worried about your sin. The good news is- you ARE going to struggle with the very thing you are worried about BUT GOD, who is rich in mercy, is still asking you to go for it. So quit worrying about yourself and fix your eyes on Jesus!  The author of Hebrews encourages us to run with endurance the race GOD SET OUT FOR US. But how? "By keeping our eyes on Jesus, the CHAMPION who INITIATES and perfects our faith" (Hebrews 12:2) When we see Jesus literally running towards us, pursuing us, and loving us, the Spirit within us (the Hope of Glory) adjusts our vision to fixate on Him. When our eyes are fixed on Him, it is pretty hard to fixate on ourselves. 

Some of you get to the end of your day and are far more impressed with all the things you did wrong than you are with God’s mercy. He knew every mistake you were going to make today and His desire is still…. YOU. Every part of you, every piece of you, all the good and all the yuck, you are now IN CHRIST and, because of that, God is incredibly impressed with you. Let our new phrase today be “But God”! Let us preach that to one another until we find ourselves gazing into His perfect love. Let us be far more impressed with the cross than in our tendency to bow down to our own affections. When He said, "It is finished," He meant it.

Oh Jesus, THANK YOU that we are "the righteousness of God in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:21) and that You are so not impressed with our sin! Teach us Lord how to be impressed with You and Your finished work on the cross, for we are alive in You this day, and every other day of our lives, and dead to sin. Amen. 

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Save the Date: Hope at Home 2013, September 27-28, Atlanta, GA!  




Monday, March 25, 2013

FINDING TIME

It's so good to hear from Kate again from One Flesh Marriage for our MARRIAGE MONDAY post this month. At Hope at Home we believe that giving attention to our marriages is a primary source of strength for our children, so building up and enjoying our marriage relationship is totally a parenting issue! 


Do you remember the time when you were first married and time was all of your own making? As a couple you chose what to do and when, no little ones to run around here and there. I remember thinking when we were first married that we were soooo busy and yet now when I look back on that time and wonder what we actually did with all of our time. We are in the phase of life where we are running kids to activities each evening as well as serving in church ministries during the week as well as Sunday’s. We limit our three children to ONE activity at a time and yet with three of them that still seems to take up much of our free time. 
Time is elusive, it slips through our fingers as fast as grains of sand and yet finding time for our marriage is incredibly vital. It is vital to our children, to our one flesh connection with our spouse and to our intimate relationship with our Abba Father. Yet, while it is important to all of these things, time is the first thing to go MIA when life and schedules are full to the brim. So we know it is important and we know we need to prioritize it, but how do we actually flesh that out in this hectic life?
Learn to say No
I am sure you knew this was coming . . . but you need to learn to say no to things so that your spouse can be a priority. Sometimes this will be saying no individually and other times as a couple. It may be saying no to work, to friends and even to church. All of these things are amazing and important in our lives, but God has asked us to keep our priorities in order-God first, spouse second, children third and everything else after those three. Learning to say no will truly help you. You can do it; it won’t always be easy but it will be worth it!
What do you do in your free time together?
So you are home with your spouse and have free time-- I know it doesn’t happen often but when it does what do you choose to do with that free time? Do you check Facebook, or watch a game, or fold laundry? Or do you forget all of that for a glorious hour and spend that time with your spouse? 
Our plates are so full that naturally we like to lighten the load when we have free time; I totally get that and fall into the same routine. Yet when you have your spouse with you, make that time about them. It will be an incredible blessing and I assure you that your laundry will still be there when you are done. No laundry fairy here yet, but if you find one, send them our way!
Sneak moments often
When you have those little moments of time to sneak a hug or a kiss or a snuggle-do it! Those moments, though short are good. They are bonding moments and are important to staying close and connected. Don’t be tempted to just skip right over those moments, embrace them (and your beloved) often throughout the day.
10 minutes of the day talk
Decompressing and unwinding from the day is a gift that often times can seem like a task, especially when there is a lot of other things that need done. When your spouse gets home from work, or if you both do, take 10 minutes to sit down together and just talk about both of your days. If you kids are still little, this is a great time for them to watch a video or to be in the high chair getting a snack. This time helps you to understand each other’s day, stresses and joys. It truly is connecting you and husband and wife to share about your day.
Schedule date nights weekly
Yup, weekly! You may be thinking I am crazy. Who has that kind of time or money? I hear you and agree. One of the things we have done that has been incredible is something we call “dinner date nights”. We feed the kids dinner and sit and chat with them as they eat, then after we have tucked them in bed, we have dinner just the two of us in a nice quiet kitchen. If your kids are older and you have the funds, then by all means go out together once a week. These dates don’t have to cost anything really, unless you choose to. Taking time to be close and alone will nurture intimacy. And since I mentioned that, remember to seek out sexual intimacy with your spouse each week too-it is a need in marriage, not just a want. 
Pray
Pray together sometime during your day. Seeking God together is such a wonderful thing. Aren’t sure? Give it a try and see if you are not blessed in incredible ways. There is nothing like your spouse praying for you and for your family. 
These are just a few ways you can begin to find that time once again for your marriage. God wants good things for your marriage and he desires for you to know the fullness of His plan for one flesh. Seek to find time in each day and each week to nurture your marriage together. You will find that all areas of your life will benefit from prioritizing your marriage. Once you carve out that time, it will become so special that you will find you want to carve out more. God will bless you in that. 
What other ways have you learned to carve out time in your marriage? We would love to hear them!

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Monday, March 18, 2013

WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU RATHER BE DOING?

From Beth Templeton:

Complaining
Sometimes a mom just has to have a good complaining session, you know what I mean? Well, at least I know I do. It's never fruitful or helpful to let the session last too long, but sometimes I just have to "get it out." I remember driving my big extended 12 passenger van one day fully engaged in one of these "sessions." I was concerned about multiple issues with our children, all of which were either rooted in adoption issues or were exacerbated by them. At that point all seven of our children were living at home and in school, and I remember feeling simply overwhelmed by all the needs. So, I'm driving the van, painfully aware of all that was not right in our family, and completely unaware at the moment of all that was good! And that led me to thinking how I just wished I could just go away-- by myself! Anyone else "out there" know that feeling? 
The "I'm DONE!" feeling? 

The Lord's Response
I'm sharing this with you because I'll always remember that particular complaining session. I remember because of the Lord's response to me. How kind of Him to listen to my complaints that I had not even turned into prayers. He asked me one simple question. I find that He has a way of doing that-- of asking a question instead of giving an answer. And somehow the question, coming from Him, releases the freedom I so desire and so need to move forward. 
(You'd think an answer is what we need, but somehow the answer with all its multifaceted beauty is tucked into the folds of the question. I think God enjoys my process of discovery! Proverbs 25:2 says that "It is God's privilege to conceal things and the king's privilege to discover them.") 

So in the midst of my complaining He asked me this:
"What would you rather be doing?" 

As I am typing this I find my eyes stinging with tears once again at His kindness to me in that one question. For hidden within that simple question were great depths of His love, both for me and for my children. 

A Work of Powerful Love
Adoption is a beautiful thing. Not the kind of beauty that is soft and gentle, butterflies and bunnies. Its beauty is rugged and powerful and sometimes even frightening in it's scope. What a glorious thing to be a part of! What a privilege to co-labor with the God of the Universe as He pours out His love on these children. Indeed, what would I rather be doing?! To be an intimate player in a work of eternal significance is too lofty a thing. And yet, God has called me and many of you reading right now to partner with Him in the miraculous transformation of an orphan into a true son or daughter. That He would condescend to allow me to partner with Him, that He would call my name to join Him in His eternal purposes and will-- I am overwhelmed at such an invitation. 

A Work of Rebuilding and Restoring Love
Adoption is a beautiful thing. It is the work of rebuilding and raising up, of repair and restoration. It is the very work that Jesus gave His life to make available to us. Again, what else would I rather be doing? To have the awesome and deeply humbling opportunity to participate in putting an end to what are often generations of destructive living, resulting in great pain and disfunction, and to then be a part of the restoration work made available through God's love found in Jesus. For many of our children (certainly not all adopted and foster children fit in this description, but most it seems) there are generations of ancient ruins and age-old foundations that God wants to rebuild, and many whose inheritance apart from adoption is not one of wholeness and abundant life. How amazing is it that we can be a part of the giving and receiving of a new inheritance, of a complete legacy shift, so that future generations no longer inherit abandonment, rejection, survival and pain. To see our children embrace love and then have the freedom to give love, to see them learn to enjoy life and to make plans for their future with excited anticipation-- this is just incredible! Oh what a shift adoption is making in the trajectory of a generational line. Is this not amazing to be a part of?! It is the gospel at work and it is powerful and oh so good!!

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. (Isaiah 58:11-12)

A Work of Intense Love
Adoption is a beautiful thing. What other occupation would I prefer? Yes it is a work that is difficult and sometimes overwhelming. And I am thankful for the trend in the adoption community to share some of the harsher realities of adoption. Indeed, it is necessary that we not "sugar coat" the more intense nature of this beautiful occupation. But I also see that in the authentic sharing we can sometimes lose sight of what it is we are actually doing. 
Gotcha Day for the Templetons
For it is a beautiful thing to be a part of. And I don't mean just those amazing moments when you your child comes home for the first time and there is great celebration and joy, or when your child calls you mommy or daddy for the first time, or when she seeks you out for comfort rather than retreating into herself, or when he pats your cheek and tells you he loves you more than anyone in the world, or even when she thanks you for adopting her. I also mean those tough and sometime cutting moments when she says she wishes she never was adopted, or that you aren't his "real" mother, or when she goes into a violent rage causing the whole family to retreat from the pain of it all, or when he shuts you out, unable to accept your love. All of these scenarios are beautiful I believe. Beautiful because it is for these situations, both the 'good' and the 'bad' that God brought our children into our homes. 

Dear friends, if you are in a difficult season with your child think of this-- was it not for this very situation you are dealing with that God Himself brought your daughter or son into your family? Did He not look ahead into time when He saw the plight of your child and say to Himself, "where can I find a safe place for this precious child to live so that I can go about my work of restoration and rebuilding? It will be a costly work, and it will be years in the doing. Who can I trust with the messiness of such a work? Where is a safe place where I can pour out my healing love and where this sometimes trying work can be accomplished?" He looked to His people and saw you and me. He saw His servants who know how, when sun-scorched and weak, to enjoy the "spring that never fails."

A Work of Enduring Love
Adoption is a beautiful thing. For in it we participate in God's enduring love. The scriptures are full of this phrase, "His love endures forever." There is a story being told in the kingdom; it is the story of this enduring love. And you and I have been invited to enter in to the story. We have been given the shocking honor to participate in the kind of love that is solid, immovable and patient. Not our love-- for those adjectives don't describe the quality of my love! No, this is the story of God's love that I get to enjoy and share. 
To endure is to hold out against, to sustain with out yielding, to last, to bear with patience. It is lasting and it is permanent. What else would I rather being doing with my life than to join into the telling of this love story?! What price is too great for the opportunity day after day to participate and co-labor with enduring love?! 

So, when I get started in one of my complaining sessions it is best for me to step back and ask myself the question that sets me free from whatever disappointment and discouragement is in the now-- 
For indeed, What else would I rather be doing?

Oh Lord God, nothing else. Thank you for allowing me to walk alongside my child and to be a well-watered garden, a source of life. Teach me how to receive the sustenance You are for me when I feel sun-scorched and weary. What an honor it is, Father, to be allowed a role in this amazing story of restoration. And thank you that you are busy doing a work of enduring love in me as well. So, Father, I invite you to keep telling your story of enduring love in my home, in my life, in my family, in my heart. For it is true Lord, adoption is a beautiful thing.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

CONNECT THE PILLARS


From Susan Hillis:
It was early Friday morning when I felt directed to diverge from my typical reading for the day (usually I follow a plan that takes me through the Bible in a year). But that day I felt the need to study the word pillars. My mind went back to John Eldredge's book, Walking with Godone of my favorites, and his stories of asking, "God, show me if there is something special you have for me to read today." 
Do it! I dare you! :). For me, that day, it was pillars.
Connect The Pillars
Now, for me, pillars are leaders placed by God to accomplish His express purposes for a defined group of people. These pillars may, for example, pillars in a family, or in the global call to care for vulnerable children. I have known for years that one of God's calls on my life is to "connect the pillars."  In fact, one of our kids drew a picture of it years ago. I had initially assumed the "connect the pillars" call was primarily focused on me helping to connect those moms and dads and other leaders called to love orphans to each other. 
Then it became clear, the principal connections are NOT horizontal, but vertical.  Each of us pillars seeking to strengthen each other in God, to fortify, as it were, each other's connections to our heavenly Father....to be connected upwards more than sideways. 
Pillars-- Upheld, Ablaze, Reflecting
As I searched the word pillars in my droid app, these verses jumped out with fresh life:
1. Ps 75:3 ...when the earth totters and all its inhabitants, it is I who holds up its pillars.

This means for me, as a mom and wife at home, and in my service at work and church, I do not hold myself up--God holds me and you up! This frees us from disappointment when others do not support or appreciate us in the way we expect, in my family or church or job or friendships. I am NOT looking to them to hold me up.  I AM looking to the Lord to hold me up.                                                                        WE BEHELD THAT WE COULD BE HELD
2. Exo 13:21...and the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they may travel by day and by night....the pillar of cloud and fire did not depart from the people.
The majority of verses about pillars refer to this clear manifestation of the visible presence and leading of God.  And this truth was impressed on me as I listened before God:
TO BE PILLARS,
MY PILLARS
MUST FOLLOW MY PILLARS

In other words, to be the structure of strength and security and stability in our home and God's world, God's pillars must be intent on living in His presence and direction....on following His modern day pillars. We are embraced and enveloped in His love and we pass it along, like that river of living water flowing from our innermost beings.
3.  Rev 3:12...and the one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of our God...and I shall write on him the Name of my God. 
What Name is this? Emmanuel, God with us, and Jesus the great forgiver. May this Name be written on me so that my children and others sense that I am with and for them, and that I accept them fully, unconditionally, with full forgiveness, calling forth by my words, the treasure in them, speaking to them words of life and hope and love.
Lord, ever make us Your pillars! 
Pillars upheld
Pillars ablaze from following the pillar of fire so closely
Pillars reflecting the essence of the One who adores us all.
Amen.



Sunday, March 10, 2013

"I'M NOT SIGNING FOR THAT!"


From Beth Templeton:
It has happened to me quite a few times over the years. The first time was in high school, and then it happened again in college. I get these packages delivered to me out of the blue. They have my name on them, and my address. Even when I lived in Texas, then North Carolina, and here in Georgia, I hear a ring at the door and when I go to answer, this delivery guy is standing there with a package addressed to Beth Templeton. He says something like, "I have a package you need to sign for." The crazy thing is, it even happens sometimes when I am on vacation! 

In the early years, I just did what you have probably done many times as well-- I signed for the package. It had my name on it, for heavens sake! Of course it is mine, right? And when these packages first started coming to my door it simply never occurred to me to do anything else but sign my name and take that package as my own. 

I Did Not Order This!
Then I would, of course, open up this package addressed to me, but inside was something I definitely did not want. I surely did not order this! Inside my package, the one with my name on it, the one I signed for and accepted into my home, was something I had become quite familiar with-- Anxiety. Like I said, for years when the delivery guy arrived, most of the time completely randomly it seemed to me, I just figured this package of anxiety was mine. 
I was anxious. I dealt with anxiety. Anxiety is a part of who I am.....
It seemed that signing for it made a sort of sense I suppose. Because I had bought into the lie that if it is delivered to my door and if it has my name on it-- for no doubt, there were always things to be anxious about!-- then I would have to accept it and deal with it as a part of my life.

I'll always remember when I heard this analogy, shared in a sermon at a revival meeting many years ago. It was then that I realized that, actually, I did not have to sign for this package of anxiety. As a matter of fact, I thought, "What in the world?! Just because it has my name on it does not mean it is mine. I am not signing for that!"

Standing at the Door
And ever since then, if you could hear the things I say to myself, you would hear, "I'm not signing for that," repeated many times over the years. Because what I have learned is that the enemy will take any opportunity to offer a package that has a certain perverse attraction for us. For you it may not be anxiety, but some other lie rooted in an experience or way of thinking from your past. Perhaps rejection, or out of control anger, or fear, or depression, or hopelessness.... 
But, my friends, there is great freedom and power in realizing that we get to choose whether or not we receive these packages. You and I have authority in Jesus to stand at the door of our homes and authorize entry to those things that are True and Good from the Father's hand. And we have authority likewise to de-authorize those packages that contain lies and deceptions from the enemy. 

I Am Not Signing For That!
Certainly, as adoptive and foster parents, there is much we could be anxious about for our children. And if you are like me, you will find that the delivery guy will still try to trick you into signing for that old package you used to receive at will. My guy seems to like to drop by and try his old tricks at different times just to see if I might sign this time. He's pretty persistent. Sometimes he won't show up for years, and then sure enough, the door bell rings and I find myself getting ready to sign for that package with my name on it. Adoptive parenting has certainly provided some prime delivery opportunities for sure! But no, I know better than that these days. That package is not coming into this house, this heart!

So, I want to encourage us all today to take a second look at those home deliveries. Is this package really yours? Does the return address say,
from: Father God, Heaven
If not, I invite you to say as I do, in a loud voice, with the authority that is ours in Christ, "I AM NOT SIGNING FOR THAT!" 





Thursday, March 7, 2013

WHOSE STORY ARE YOU IN?


From Susan Hillis:
I absolutely love to read, and I have read 2 books recently that have me ON FIRE with excitement about loving big and anticipation about praying big!  The first book has helped remind me that there is a way to live FREE FROM STRESS- 
I Am Not but I Know I Am, by Louie Giglio. The second has inspired me to believe God to continue to do immeasurably more- The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.  Or, to put it differently, the first inspires me to LOVE BIG and the second, to PRAY BIG.  These have been themes the Lord has had on my heart for these early months of 2013.

Free to LOVE BIG!
In his book Louie Giglio explains how, as he was meditating on Moses at the burning bush hearing the voice of God say, "I AM WHO I AM," it becomes clear that if God's name is "I AM," then our names, yours and mine, are "I AM NOT."  If God's Name is I AM All-powerful, All-loving, All-present, Self-sufficient, etc., then the corollary is that your name is I AM NOT all-powerful, all-loving, all-present, self-sufficient, etc.  But the clincher is this: your life is about you living inside God's story, not about you trying to convince God to come live inside your story. 

This revelation has brought me so much joy and freedom amidst life's concerns in my family and work and ministry:
  • do you face strained relationships?  God is all-powerful and all-loving and it is His story we are in. 
  • do you face a wayward child?  God is all-powerful and all-loving and it is His story we and they are in.
  • do you face more work to accomplish than there are hours in the day?  God is all-powerful and all-loving and it is His story we are in
  • do you face concern over a health or financial problem:  God is all-powerful and all-loving and it is His story we are in
  • do you face a bleak future for someone you care for deeply: God is all-powerful and all-loving and it is His story they are in
When you realize you are in God's story, then you also realize it is not your job to fix yourself and to fix the people and problems in your life; rather, it is your job to allow the love of God to accomplish what He will in and through you and others and in all of our challenges and problems. 
In other words, we love big because we are loved by a big God, who is FOR us and FOR those we care about. 

I particularly have seen this in our daughter who struggled with reactive attachment disorder; she is doing so well now, but her teen years were quite tumultuous for her and for our family. She ran away several times, at times sleeping in the tree house in our back yard; when she would run away, Brian would run away with her, sleeping in the freezing rain at the base of the tree house. She would holler down something like this: "I am running away from home!  Why are you following me?!"  To which Brian would reply, "This is what daddy's do when they love their children; they stay nearby to keep them safe and protect them from harm; sleeping outside all night in treehouses is not safe, so I am your daddy who loves you and will  stay close, so that I can protect you." She was still in his story, even though she was running away. Your children and everyone you love is still in their Father's story, even when they run away. And none of us ever leaves our Father's story!!!

Inspired to PRAY BIG!
So if Louie's book inspires me to love with reckless abandon because I am inside of God's story, then Batteson's The Circle Maker inspires me to PRAY BIG because God supernaturally and mysteriously uses prayer to influence His story!!!!!  This is AAAMAAAAZIIIINGGGG!! The theme of this book is this, "God honors bold prayers and bold prayers honor God." 
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
"The Israelites didn't conquer Jericho because of a brilliant military strategy or brute force. They learned how to let God fight their battles for them." (p.31)
  • quoting from Conrad Hilton's (the hotelier) autobiography:  "In the circle of succcessful living, prayer is the hub that holds the wheel together.  Without our context with God [there it is again...His Story!], we are nothing.  With it, we are a 'little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor.'" (p.150)'"
  • "Prayer is the way we escape the gravitational pull of the flesh and enter God's orbit. It's the way we escape our atmosphere and enter God's space....without prayer, there is no escape. With prayer and fasting, there is no doubt." (p.174)
  • "Parents are prophets to their children. And part of our prophetic role is knowing the Scriptures and knowing our children well enough to know what promises they need to circle... So we circle Scripture by praying it. Then Scripture encircles us."  (p. 104)                                 (This reminds me of the story of when one of our children, in the teen years, was hopelessly in love with the wrong person....someone who was noble, with great aspirations, yet missing faith; I knew my child well enough to know this was not the right one for any permanent future; at one point the danger became very apparent and I felt directed to enter a liquid-only-fast until the attraction was severed. The fast didn't even last a week, before my child shared with me, "I don't know what has happened; I was sitting today at lunch with xxxxx and I suddenly realized that all my attraction to xxxxxx had disappeared." It was only at that point that I shared about my fast and that I was not surprised and I praised God for this protection.)

Ready to RECEIVE BIG!
Passion 2013
On January 1 I was sitting in the Georgia Dome for the opening night of the Passion Conference, along with 60,000 college students and young people. Louie Giglio challenged everyone there to believe God wants to do 'immeasurably more' and to ask God in prayer for one or two big prayer requests - the immeasurably more kind. I had two immediate requests: 

1) that I would be able to attend the Presidential Prayer Breakfast in February (because I see He has called me to work both within the government and within the church on behalf of the world's vulnerable children)  and
2) that God would be placing a loving believer in the life of every orphan, to help them see their value and worth. 

Susan with her daughters and granddaughters.
I was both surprised and thankful that the first prayer was answered, and now I am waiting on the second one. For the second one, leaders from governments and churches and businesses will have to work together for the common goal of caring for the world's vulnerable children, who are, in fact the world's future. I have personally seen in our own family that the cycle of sadness and vulnerability can be interrupted -- as our granddaughters thrive in the loving arms of their mamas and daddies. I am praying and believing that, together, the cycle of despair and vulnerability can be interrupted and reversed for the children of the world, because it is true what we used to sing-- Jesus loves the little children,all the children of the world.

We, my dear friends, have great trust: PRAY BIG AND LOVE BIG, for those who are with us are IN GOD'S STORY

Sunday, March 3, 2013

LAW VS. GRACE

From Beth Templeton:


THE LAW
1. shows you what is wrong with you (sin-conscious)
2. relies on external controls
3. focuses on sin/sin prevention
4. focuses on the outward behavior
5. is rigid
6. works in the context of rules 
7. controls 
8. punishes
9. is backward looking
10. withholds intimacy/creates emotional distance
11. stimulates shame, fear, hiding, bondage
12. is conforming
13. requires/forces performance

GRACE
1. reveals that you are the righteousness of God in Christ (Christ-conscious)
2. trains in Holy Spirit control
3. focuses on Identity/Destiny
4. focuses on the heart
5. gives Spirit-led choices
6. works in the context of relationship 
7. empowers 
8. trains/disciples
9. is forward looking
10. reveals and enjoys intimacy
11. produces openness, encouragement, freedom to make mistakes
12. is transforming
13. yields and expects fruitfulness (as a natural consequence)