Friday, November 18, 2016

Compassion for Starving People... I don't have it.

Matthew Chapter 5 contains the story of feeding the 4000, but something jumped out at me differently this time. Jesus is teaching the people and its time to go home. Jesus says in verse 32 "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry or they may collapse on the way." Two major thoughts.

1. These people had been listening to Jesus for three days without food apparently. They were more spiritually hungry than physically hungry. That shows how dedicated they were to hearing him and being in his presence. No excuses. I have probably never been that desperate to be with Jesus. I come up with excuses all the time not to be with Jesus, and they aren't even good excuses. I need to do laundry, cook dinner, empty the dishwasher, get on Facebook, check my email, on and on and on. These people were starving, not just for food, but more starving for Jesus. 

Psalm 63:1 The Message "God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts"

Oh that that would be my prayer.

2. Jesus had been teaching and healing for three days at least. He had to be worn out. I can't imagine how worn out he was, but he didn't just say, "see ya people. I'm out. Y'all are on your own." He had compassion for them. As they were leaving him, he wanted to make sure they were ok. His compassion didn't have an end to it. My compassion and love for people needs to grow! Even when I'm tired and tired of people.   

I Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

Teach me how to be compassionate Lord, even when I'm worn out. 



Monday, November 14, 2016

Are you Weary?

I am weary. Have been for a few weeks. Not just tired physically, but lots of other ways. The verse about coming to God if I was weary floated through my head a few times, and Praise be to God, it was part of our L3 Saturday. So God and I camped out there for a while on Saturday night, and as He usually does, He taught me some new things in a verse that I've read a hundred times.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I was thinking about the yoke part. One of my commentaries says "A yoke is a heavy wooden harness that fits over the shoulders of an ox or oxen. It is attached to a piece of equipment the oxen are to pull..." Here's a picture in case you aren't sure what that looks like. 

Image result for image of yoked oxen

Poor guys, strapped together. Can't go anywhere on their own. They have to work together or let one of them lead and the other follow. Oh wait! That's what I'm supposed to do! Jesus says to take his yoke, and his burden is light. If I let him lead me, then the burden is even lighter. I don't have to make those decisions about which way to go. Just walk with my Savior who is yoked to me. 

The part that really struck out to me that I have glossed over before is "learn from me". He wants to teach me how to live, how to deal with my daily circumstances, and how to grow in Him. And he is a gentle, humble teacher, not harsh. When I am yoked with him, it can be easy and light, not that my circumstances will be, but the joy and strength and peace I can feel will make it feel lighter. And I can find rest! Just that word makes me want to take a deep breath and relax. He is a good, good father who wants to help me!

The end of that commentary statement above says "The rest that Jesus promises is love, healing, and peace with God, not the end of all labor. A relationship with God changes meaningless, wearisome toil into spiritual productivity and purpose."  That sounds wonderful.

Of course the hard thing about being yoked with someone is, you lose your independence. You are now dependent on that person you are yoked to. That's how its supposed to work with God. When I'm stressed and tired because of my circumstances, its usually because I've been doing it on my own strength, and not placing my dependence upon Him. 

Father, thank you for being willing to be yoked to me! I wouldn't want to be yoked to me. Help me learn how to be dependent upon you, to walk with you, to lean on you, and let you lead me. Thank you for your rest, your peace, your joy and strength! You are my good Father!



Friday, November 11, 2016

What a week...

What a week, right? Election 2016 will go down in history as, well, a mess. I have had great self control over the last few months, and even more this week, to not give my opinion on the election or who I voted for, and will try not to in this post. Why? Because like Paul, I want to say  "I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some." I have lost some respect for a few people through this process because of what they have said. I don't judge them, they are entitled to their opinion, I just didn't know that was their opinion, and I don't think they gave it very gracefully. I don't want anyone to lose respect for me or to label my character by who I voted for. Some battles are worth fighting for and standing up for truth. But in this election, I didn't think either choice was worth me losing respect from anyone. 


I have been reminded of a few things through this process though. I know God is still in control, still sovereign, and not surprised by any of this. And I trust Him. 
I have also realized that the darkness of the world is getting darker, and therefore my light must get brighter. I was driving the other night, and because of time change, realized it had been a long time since I have driven at night. And my eyes were killing me! The brightness of the headlights and street lights were glaring and painful, so much so that I had an vision checkup yesterday, and I will be getting glasses to wear when I drive. 

Its good to get a vision checkup once in a while spiritually too. Think about yourself as a light. Is your light so bright that to those living in darkness its glaring? Not that we want people to be in pain when they look at us, but we do want there to be such a difference in the way we are living they have no doubt that we are not dwellers of the darkness. We need to be shining our light in this world through how we love others, no matter what their labels are to the rest of the world. We need to show grace and love when they disagree with us. Why would anyone want what we have in Jesus if we seem hateful, judgmental and angry when people disagree with us. We need to be a light in this dark world, showing people the way in the darkness to Jesus, the light of the world, who will welcome them with open arms, no matter what label the world has given them. 


Lord, help me be light!


 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16






Tuesday, November 01, 2016

All Staff Today


Once a month, all the staff from all five of our campuses gathers together for worship, teaching and meetings. I love these times. I sometimes miss some because we have childcare during that time for women's Bible studies that are on campus, so if it gets crazy then I have to sneak in the back. Our Senior Pastor Chip usually teaches us out of the L3 for the day. I try to read the passages before we get in there and guess which passages he will teach on and I got it right today.

Ezekiel 18 Your Soul Matters to God

Main points for me...
I matter because God gave me a soul, my soul belongs to Him, and he knows what is going on in my soul. He gives it, He watches it, and He requires it.
Matt. 10:28, 16:26, Luke 12:20, Psalm 34:22

God wants us to have soul health.
1. The health of my soul is not inherited.
We might be exposed to evil, but we can choose to be different. We might have a propensity to the evil, but we can overcome that. Generational sins can be broken! My soul health is not inherited! I can be chain breaker! Amen!

2. Your soul health has to be maintained.
Righteous people can drift, but they can repent and depend on the Spirit of God to help them by creating a clean heart, restoring their joy. Psalm 51:10

I took three pages of notes, so this is truly a summary.
Its my responsibility to take a stand against the generational sins that have been passed down to me, and make the decision to not take that path. And I can pray and ask God to help me with that path, because goodness knows I can't do it by myself. I can strive for righteousness because I am righteous because of his forgiveness. I do not strive for righteousness to try to become righteous. I already am righteous in His sight.

I had a friend once say that because of his parent's divorce, he felt that he wouldn't really have a choice not to get divorced himself. He felt trapped in that destiny. Because of my parent's divorce, I am determined to not get divorced, and it brings freedom to me because that is not a choice. I know I am breaking chains and passing that onto my children. I am thankful!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Let's try again..

It's been over a year since I've blogged. I would apologize, but there is no reason to. I've been in a wonderful routine of work, ministry, parenting, school and sports, and blogging just didn't fit in. But its been on my heart to start again, mostly just sharing my journal entries as I have my quiet times. Don't be deceived. I'm not in a great routine with that, and I'm hoping by sharing some here that it will hold me more accountable. Some days it may be a stream of consciousness, so don't judge me by my grammar or sentence structure. And I won't always be able to post here, because not everything is for public consumption. But maybe something will help someone.

Most of the time for my quiet time I do our church's reading plan. You can go to pinelake.org and look at the L3 reading for the day if you want to join me. You're welcome to! And then we can talk together about what we've read.

Psalm 130:3-5 "If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope." NIV
4-5 in the Message "If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings, who would stand a chance? As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit, and that's why you're worshiped. I pray to God- my life a prayer- and wait for what he'll say and do."

NIV notes in my Bible on "feared" - "honored, worshiped, trusted and served as the one true God. If God were not forgiving, people could only flee from him in terror."

Praise you God for being forgiving, no matter what I do. You're love for me is not conditional. It doesn't run out. I can't do something so bad that you check out on me. Forgiveness is your habit. The fact that you have the power to forgive makes me fear you. Forgiveness is hard. But its not hard for you. You don't struggle to forgive me. Its who you are. Thank you Father.

My soul waits, my life a prayer, waiting for what you'll say and do. I want to live in expectation of what you'll do in my life and the world around me. You are good and your love and forgiveness are amazing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Guatemala! Part 2!

This post is a little harder to write, partly because the artisan organization is more complicated to explain, and partly because of my response to meeting them. When we left the girls home of Casa Hogar I was full of joy and excitement seeing how these girls are flourishing. The other artisan group left me a little confused, but I think I have come to an understanding about it. But let me back up and introduce you to these beautiful people.

Years ago a man named Edgar was working for an NGO, helping people get micro-financing loans to start their own business. But he was frustrated at the fact that either the people didn't know how to take care of the money they were making or didn't have a place to sell their products. So he started his own organization and has employed people all over the country of Guatemala. On Wednesday Edgar brought some of his artisans to us and explained the process. 


This is Edgar and Rosa. Rosa leads a group of artisans who go all over the area and buy these shirts that are called Huipil (pronounced wee-peel). They are works of art and each design represents a different group of people in the country. Her group finds the used Huipils and gives them to Edgar.

This is Marta and she leads the group that buys traditional skirts from all over the area and gives them to Edgar. Marta was telling us that she has 4 children who have gone through university. Even Edgar was amazed at that. Only 2% of Guatemalans graduate from universities. 
Edgar then takes the skirts and shirts to another group up in the mountains and they cut it all up into pieces and gives the pieces back to Edgar. He then takes the pieces to another group outside of Antigua who make our products. We got to go visit them. 







These artisans sew our Turtle Backpack, Mosaic clutch, and Mayan clutch. Each Mosaic clutch you order looks completely different because they are made out of the Huipil shirts, so they are all beautiful pieces of art. They were working in the home of one of the artisans and it was the worst living conditions I had ever seen in person. That was the part I had a hard time with. It made me wonder if we were doing enough? Paying them enough? Setting them up for success? But these people were proud of what they were doing. They dressed up nice for us because we are their business partners. Most of them don't work there actually, but work in their own homes, which is great for the mommas and their babies. One of our founders on the group said this was her third visit there, and even though it looked very sad to us, she could see improvements they had made. They had a stove now in the kitchen instead of an open fire. They had built onto their home, and even though it was tin walls and dirt floors, they were renting out space to another family to make more income. One of our CE's was carrying her personal Mosaic clutch and those ladies were so excited to see that an American lady loved their bag.  

Since I've been back, I've been thinking about them the most, wondering if we are really making a difference or not. I'm reading a book called A Path Appears by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Its a book all about the different things people are doing around the world to help others. The chapter I read last night really helped me understand that we are helping these artisans get out of poverty. Researchers have been looking at groups who are entrenched in poverty, and noticing that many are spending what little money they have on alcohol. They are depressed and stressed because of their situations and see no hope. Their depression leads to a lack of cortisol in their brains which leads to a lack of energy and sharp thinking, which keeps them from wanting to work hard to change their lives. But when researchers offered the gift of hope, whether that took the form of livestock,
a monetary loan or simply encouragement and job training, their lives literally changed. They worked harder, had more energy, saved money instead of spending it on alcohol, sent their kids to school, and began climbing the upward cycle of success. Now their financial situations may still qualify as poverty levels in our eyes, but the hope they had changed their whole demeanor. 

"When lack of hope creates a 'poverty trap' the proper response is to inject hope." (p 124)
"The best three letter weapon against poverty is spelled not AID, but JOB." (p 128)

These artisans are working hard to make our products because it gives them a purpose, they make something beautiful they can be proud of, and there are people depending on them. They set the price they want for their products and when they earn it they can be proud of what they are doing to take care of their families. So while parts of this trip made me sad at first, I can see the difference we are making and I am more passionate about what we do. 

I'll have one more post with the fun stuff we did! Chocolate and coffee!
.




Monday, October 05, 2015

Guatemala! Part 1

Last week I was honored to join 12 other women as we traveled to Guatemala to visit our artisan groups who make products for Trades of Hope. These trips are called "Vision Trips", hopefully giving us as Compassionate Entrepreneurs a bigger picture of what we do, and how it truly is life changing for the people we partner with. I'll be honest, the week before I was petrified and really had to ask myself why. I finally decided it was because I didn't know what to expect and wouldn't be in control of the situation. And face it, being with a group of women for a week that you don't know can be a scary situation. But all my fears were for naught, because it was an amazing week, I made great friends, I learned a lot about being flexible and taking what comes, and meeting our beautiful artisans in person was so eye opening and comforting in many ways.

We spent the first two nights in Jalapa, which is not a nice place to visit. It is on the path that the drug cartels take through the country, and we had extra security. But the hotel we stayed in was beautiful, and took very good care of us. Our reason for going to Jalapa was to visit Casa Hogar, a home for girls. It is not an orphanage. Most of these girls have parents who love them very much, they just can't afford to give them the life they desire. Some of the girls are there because of abuse in their families and the government has put them there to keep them safe. It is a very safe place. They are loved there with a passion by Madre Claudia and the other nuns helping her. They run a tight ship, though. Each older girl has a younger girl to take care of and each girl has chores to do. They wash their own clothes. They learn how to make tortillas. They keep their rooms with rows of bunk beds spotless. The older girls braid everyone's hair and that's how Madre Claudia can tell from far away if each girl has been cleaned up for the day. The younger girls go to school there and the older girls take a bus to school each day.

There were some very sad stories. The profile picture on Facebook right now is me holding a baby, and many have asked me why I didn't bring that baby home. Well, since her momma was standing right next to me, that wasn't necessary. Her momma is a teenager who was raped by someone but she and her baby are safe and happy in the home, and are healing emotionally, physically and spiritually. I won't post the picture, but we met another girl who is 12 years old and 8 months pregnant from a rape. The evil in this world just boggles the mind sometimes and breaks my heart. But those baby girls will now grow up in the home where they will be safe, and hopefully not ever have to experience that evil. I prayed for that sweet baby girl that I was holding, that God would protect her from evil, that she would grow up knowing love, and safety, and that she would one day live a full productive life, and be a world changer in her community. God has great plans for her!

So how does Trades of Hope play into this amazing place? Some of the older girls who are doing well in school and are responsible are picked to either work in the jewelry room or the sewing room where they make our products! The money they earn goes back into the girls home or pays the oldest girls who have already finished school and are actually hired to run the sewing and jewelry programs. They make our Identity bracelet and Julia necklace, as well as our Susy bag and headbands. They are working on some new products for us too! They are earning enough to give a very large check to Madre Claudia each month which supports the home, and she so appreciates the consistency of the money coming in. Because of the amount of sales we have been making, they are also about to hire three more girls who are finishing up school to work there more full time while they begin university. They are very excited to be a part of this program. It gives them job security, confidence, pride in their work and skills that will help them in the future.

I can't really put into words the experience of meeting these girls. They met us as we got off our bus, singing, and each girl gave each of us a hug! It was a long line of hugs, and I treasured every one. They were excited to braid some of our hair. We gathered in a big circle and the girls went around to tell us what they hoped for their futures. Many want to be doctors, lawyers, teachers and business women like us! At the end of they day they did a program for us with singing and dancing, and then we had a dance party and even though we didn't speak the same language, the language of music, dancing and laughing is universal. The sweet girls were so excited to show us their work. We got to do some shopping and purchase some products they make other than the TOH ones, and I spent entirely too much money. But to have a young lady get so excited that you are buying the necklace she made, well, it was money well spent. CE's who have been with TOH for awhile have a charm necklace, and they gave each of us a charm they made of the calla lily, the flower of Guatemala, and a charm of a silver fingerprint that they put our initials in. I am so proud of those charms! And then when they left, they all lined up and waved goodbye. I wanted to cry.

That was just one day of my trip. It was a sad day, but when we left the home, we all commented that we weren't sad at all. We were joyful, and excited for the future for those girls, and for what we could do in our businesses to help them. They had joy, and that joy was contagious!


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