I Waited Patiently

In my book, “The Golden Key: A Parable of Prayer” (you can download it for free here), I dedicated a whole chapter to the very difficult process of waiting. No matter how far I walk on this journey…it is still one of the most difficult things to put into practice. These verses from Psalm 40 have been an encouragement to me, and I have found myself singing this song over and over throughout the past months. May this little Scripture song help you, too, to hide this important word in your heart. As with the others, the words and chords are included below for the musicians reading this who might want to play it during their own private worship time.

I WAITED CHORDS

Categories: Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Eyes

I cannot say it better than Charles Spurgeon. Here is some of his discussion on these two important verses, Psalm 123:1-2:

“We ought to be thankful for spiritual eyes. The spiritually blind of this world cannot see our God, for in heavenly matters, they are without sight. Yet, we must use our eyes with resolution, for they will not look up to the Lord by themselves. They are inclined to look down, or inward, or anywhere but to the Lord. Let it be our firm resolve that our heavenward glance will not be lacking.

…Servants stand at the end of the room, their hands folded, watching their master…the domestic fixes his eyes on the master, or he might miss a signal and fail to obey. In the same way, sanctified saints lift their eyes to God, endeavoring to learn the divine will from the Lord’s every sign. Creation, providence, and grace are motions of Jehovah’s hand. We should study them carefully to discover the divine will.

…True saints, like obedient servants, look to the Lord their God with reverence. They have a holy awe and inward fear of the great and glorious One.

…Perhaps it is profitable to ask this question, “Are you trained to serve?” Though we are children, have we learned the full obedience of servants? Have we surrendered our will to the heavenly Majesty? Do we desire to be at the Lord’s disposal?

…Waiting on a covenant God is sweet because He will show mercy…waiting on the Lord is a posture suitable for earth and heaven. It is, in every place, the right and proper position for the servant of the Lord.”

I pray that this simple little Scripture song will help you to memorize and live out these important verses. Chords are included below for those who’d like to join instrumentally in worship.

Blessings, Jeanne

EYES CHORDS

Categories: Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

O My Strength

Meditating on God’s love and God’s strength this morning…another Scripture Song for you.

O My Strength chords

Categories: Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

My Thoughts, My Ways

“The Man After God’s Own Heart” was ecstatic. A promise made to him so very long ago, when he was just a shepherd boy, had finally been fulfilled. It had taken years to see the fulfillment of that promise, and those years had been hard. The Giant Slayer had received accolades, yes, but he had also been hunted like a dog, forced to find refuge in the wilderness. And in the end, he had lost his best friend–the man who was closer than a brother, a loss that would pain him for his whole life. But the love-relationship formed between the Shepherd Boy in the wilderness, and his All-Loving God was unbreakable, and now, the boy was the King.

David was wise beyond his years and knew that the God of Israel  must be the center of his kingdom. The people must learn to honor, worship and praise Elohim, and David wanted to be sure that his reign as the King of these great people was one focused correctly, on God. His heart was right before Yehovah as he ordered the Ark of the Covenant returned to Jerusalem, that it might have it’s rightful place in the heart of the city of David.

The people were assembled, the ark was loaded on the cart, and the parade of celebration began. But who could guess that an ox would stumble? Who could know that a man would reach out to protect and steady the Ark? And who could have prepared for that horrifying moment when the man would be struck dead for that simple spontaneous reaction?

The joyous festivities were instantly transformed into a moment of shock, disbelief and terror. The procession was halted. The dead man was gathered into the arms of his people. The Ark was temporarily sheltered in the house of Obed-Edom, and the King returned to Jerusalem, devastated, angry, afraid and confused. How could he ever rule as King of Israel when his actions had caused a man his life? Everything he had done, he had done to honor God. How had things gone so terribly wrong?

We don’t know exactly what happened next, but I believe that someone wiser than David pointed him to Deuteronomy 17: 18-19, a passage written especially to the King: “When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees…” I believe that David did exactly that. He wrote for himself a scroll–a copy of God’s law, and in doing so began a love affair with God’s Word that would later be memorialized in the musical masterpiece that we know as Psalm 119. [We do not know who authored Psalm 119, but I believe it speaks David’s heart] For David discovered that, even though his heart was in the right place, he had broken God’s law. He had placed the Ark of God on an ox-cart, as he had seen the Philistines do (1 Samuel 6:7-8), when God had clearly stated in His Word, that it was to be carried only on the shoulders of the Levites (Exodus 37:5, Numbers 4:15). David had tried to honor God “man’s way” instead of “God’s way,” and the repercussions of that decision were deadly. But now, David could rejoice again, for the scroll written in his own hand would guide him, would teach him God’s ways and he would not make such a costly mistake again. It is no wonder that David loved the Torah so much, for it was a lamp to his feet, showing him how to walk in holiness before his beloved God. David was finally able to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem because his prayers to God had been answered. God taught David through His Word, the way to walk in righteousness. David declares to his people: “No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, because the Lord chose them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister before him forever.”  He told them also, “It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.” (1 Chronicles 15: 2, 13) The prescribed way…

When I first read this story, my heart broke for David. He truly was trying to do the right thing, and even Uzzah’s actions seemed to be meant for protection of the Ark. But the actions which seemed right in man’s eyes, were deemed irreverent in God’s eyes. There is a “prescribed way,” prerecorded for us in the Scriptures, a way that is higher than our own ideas, thoughts and ways. In Isaiah 55:8-9 we are told: ” ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ ”  This is a key verse that tells us we must constantly consider whether or not our actions are following God’s ways or man’s ways. To help you memorize it and hide it in your heart, I’ve set the Scripture to a melody found in the video at the beginning of this article. Read it, sing it, commit it to memory.

Since studying this moment in David’s life, I have found myself in the same place as the Shepherd King, forced to examine my actions in the light of this verse. Like David, I was frightened, for I realized for the first time, that even though my heart might be in the right place, my actions might be an offense to the very One I was trying to honor and bless. Like David, I dived into Scripture, searching for answers. And so began my journey of praying for discernment to understand and be obedient to God’s ways, rather than following blindly in man’s ways, no matter how long I had walked in those traditions, and how “right” they seemed because of their familiarity. I began to question why I was doing what I was doing in my Christian walk, in every detail, including my prayer life, how I worship Him, how I serve Him, how I “do” church, even how I eat and drink. Was I walking in a way that merely imitated what I saw the people around me doing (as David had done when he placed the Ark on the cart)? Or was I walking in a way that was clearly outlined in God’s own Word–His written declaration of how we are to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to Him?

Throughout Psalm 119 the reader is admonished again and again to walk in God’s ways, and it is imperative that we try to examine what that really means in our Christian culture today. For example, the 8th verse of the Psalm declares: “I will obey your decrees….” The Hebrew word used in this verse (and frequently in Psalm 119) translated as “obey,” is “shamar.” The root of this word means to exercise great and diligent care over, and to “watch,” “guard,” and “keep.” One Hebrew lexicon states that “The observance of God’s laws was not to be a matter of theory only,” but something “kept in the heart.” We are commanded to exercise great and diligent care over His prescribed ways—all that is written in His Holy Word. We are not to take them lightly, for it is clear that God doesn’t. Jeremiah declared that one day there would be a new covenant, one in which the Lord declares, “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.” (Jeremiah 31:30-34). With this new covenant comes the forgiveness of sins through the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Now, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, His law is in our minds and in our hearts, and He teaches us and enables us to walk in His ways.

So that is the question we must consider on our journey through life: are we quenching the power of the Holy Spirit by ignoring in disobedience God’s inner prompting to walk in His ways? Are we thinking our hearts are right, and yet continue to offend Him as we daily walk in man’s ways? Or are we daily, moment-by-moment, submitting our flesh and our will to the leadings of the Holy Spirit? Are we blessing our God through our obedience? The choice is ours…will we walk in man’s ways? Or God’s ways?

Categories: Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

The Wind

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Every October we are blessed with kaleidoscope skies–the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Rainbow colored tear drops rise from the earth and dot the heavenlies along with an assortment of cartoon silly shapes that bring smiles to every fiesta go-er. Mesmerized by the beauty above us, we sometimes forget what a risky sport it is. There is no way to “steer” a hot air balloon. The pilot can heat the air in the balloon causing it to rise, or release some air, causing it to sink. Other than that, the movement is completely dependent on the wind currents swirling above the earth. An experienced pilot observes the effects of this invisible power and can do his best to “catch” a current, but ultimately he or she is still vulnerable to the whims of wind and submits in complete surrender to whatever direction the basket will be carried upon it.

Several years ago, I felt compelled to open “The Golden Key,” (my ebook on prayer found here) with a description of the wind, for I knew that both the Hebrew and the Greek words for Holy Spirit are related to this phenomena. John 3:8 says, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

In this verse, the Greek word used for “wind” at the beginning is the same word used for “Spirit” at the end…”pneuma.”

Like a roller coaster ride on the wind, our lives are meant to reflect the exhilarating experience of a Holy Spirit led existence. Like the fragile kite, we can soar to the heights when we release control over to Him. It is frightening to surrender our control completely to an Existence that is by His very nature completely unpredictable, yet there is the promise of an indescribable adventure.

The Golden Key opens with an illustration of the wind because His wind-like presence blows through every page of the story.

The Truth expressed in John 3:8 has blown through every page of my own story, as well. I added a melody to this important Scripture so that I might memorize it, hide it in my heart, and walk it out in my life. I’ve included a video of this Scripture-song below, as you may choose to take this particular Scripture to heart, too, and maybe this little musical version will be of help to you.

For those who might like to play and sing this song during your own time of worship, I’ve included the words and chords below:

WIND CLOUD CHORDS

Charles Spurgeon tells us that like the wind, the movement of the Holy Spirit is unexpected, it is inexplicable, it is mysterious and wonderful. Spurgeon explains that the Holy Spirit is absolutely free in His operations, but He is not arbitrary–His will is Infallible Wisdom. And he encourages us thusly: ” If you have received the Holy Spirit into your heart, you cannot tell where He will carry you…Commit yourselves to it—be not disobedient to the heavenly vision. Be ready to be borne along as the Spirit of God shall help you, even as the dust in the summer’s breeze. And O child of God, you do not know to what heights of holiness and degrees of knowledge and ecstasies of enjoyment the Spirit of God will bear you.”

Here is what Walter Brueggemann has to say about the Holy Spirit Wind:

“We hear the story of the wind at Pentecost,
Holy wind that dismantles what was,
Holy wind that evokes what is to be,
Holy wind that overrides barriers and causes communication,
Holy wind that signals your rule even among us.

We are dazzled, but then – reverting to type -
We wonder how to harness the wind,
how to manage the wind by our technology,
how to turn the wind to our usefulness,
how to make ourselves managers of the wind

Partly we do not believe such an odd tale
because we are not religious freaks;
Partly we resist such a story,
because it surges beyond our categories;
Partly we had imagined you to be more ordered
and reliable than that.

So we listen, depart, and return to our ordered existence:
we depart with only a little curiosity
But not yielding;
we return to how it was before,
unconvinced but wistful, slightly praying for wind,
craving for newness,
wishing to have it all available to us.
We pray toward the wind and wait, unconvinced but wistful.”

May we somehow find it within ourselves to yield to the Holy Wind, and go beyond wistfulness. May our praying and craving be satisfied. May we all have the courage, like the pilot of the hot air balloon, to release our lives to the power of the Holy Spirit wind, in complete surrender, allowing Him to bear us on the breeze of His wisdom where ever He pleases.

Categories: Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

The Creation – Part 7

The Creation – God’s Word of the Creation Events

Genesis 1_Slide_001Through the years, I have studied many passages of the Bible, but these studies have invariably led me back to Genesis 1 and its narration of the Creation.  On a recent trip, I rediscovered a long lost interest in photography, and it became natural to merge the two into a form that perhaps can provide the viewer a new appreciation for this most fascinating chapter.

This is a seven part series, covering the introductory verses, followed by the daily events of forming and filling. Each of the photos are my originals.  They are here simply to enhance the amazing descriptions contained in Genesis in a way you might not have discovered before.  Enjoy God’s blessings!!!

Part 7:

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so. God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so.

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so.  

God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Gen. 1:24-31)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so.

Now God has created the remaining animals of the kingdom that walk and crawl on the earth, including man.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 

I have always found this verse a most curious statement – why did God give man rule over the animals (and specifically call out cattle)? Surely there are a number of reasons for this, but let me postulate something a little different here.

This little nugget starts in the third chapter of Leviticus, where “Now if his offering is a sacrifice of peace offerings, if he is going to offer out of the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without defect before the LORD.”  The peace offering has a very interesting process.  When the lamb is sacrificed and butchered, before eating the meat, two parts of the carcass are used in the peace offering – the breast is removed and waved side to side, and the right shoulder is removed and lifted up and down.  Side to side and up and down.  That sure seems like the sign of the cross to me.

So when Christ is holding communion with his apostles (Matthew 26:26), and says, “While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body'”, He was offering Himself up as the peace offering and the sacrifice on the cross – note that Jesus was referred to both as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), and as the Lamb of God (John 1:29).

So when God gave men rule over the beasts during the Creation, He was setting up the future chain of events that results in His ultimate forgiveness of our sins and an eternal relationship with the Prince of Peace in heaven. That’s a pretty awesome God!

This concludes Part 7 of the series and chapter 1 of Genesis.  I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts on this incredible chapter of God’s word.  Thank you for your continued interest. I would welcome any comments you might have.

Categories: Shane Page | Tags: , | Leave a comment
 
 

Visiting Orphans Update

Many of you have read my series posted earlier this year detailing my trip to Haiti with Visiting Orphans Ministry. I highly recommend that *everyone* considers taking a trip with Visiting Orphans. There are 63 million orphans in the world–63 million reasons to “Go. Be. Love.” Learn more below in this brand new video just released today.

Categories: Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Appeal: Part I

SP Praying hands

Appeal: Part I

by: Lori Hickox-Monjaras

Welcome to the second series of articles in my F.A.I.T.H journey.  This series will focus on appealing to God.  I want you to know that I was thoughtful in my choice of this word over the word prayer to describe this part of my own faith journey.  Appealing to God does involve prayer but it also encompasses so much more.  When you look at the definition from Miriam-Webster’s dictionary you see that appealing means to seek guidance in three distinct areas:  help for the needs of your life, corroboration that you are moving on the right path, and decision making.  I believe, as with everything else in my life, that God led me to use this particular word because of the layers of meaning that it carries.

Through prayer we cry out to God for aid or assistance.  God expects us to turn to Him in our hours of need.  He wants to lift us up through difficult times.  He never promises to take away those burdens from our life but He does promise to help us carry them.  As we become closer and closer to God we begin to turn to Him for all our needs, big and small.  I tell the story in my book about my first car, a Ford Pinto that toward the end of its life behaved a bit erratically.  On one particular night it decided to break down on a lonely stretch of backcountry road.  A friend and I were in the car returning from a youth ministry that emphasized the power of prayer.  “What the heck…” we both thought maybe if we pray God will get this car moving.  We laid hands on the dashboard and prayed.   To our delight the car began to move.  It would travel forward a little bit and die again and we would repeat the process.  Eventually the car died completely but just about that time a neighbor and friend drove up and offered us a ride.  I’ll never forget that experience because it taught me that no matter how small the issue God hears all our prayers and answers them if we trust Him.

As you rely more and more on God, your relationship with Him changes.  Your eyes are opened to His teachings in a new way.  Appealing to God offers corroboration of how God wants you to live your life and of the plan He has for you.  He will supply examples for how to conduct yourself through both his word and through the people that he brings into your life.  If you are seeking God, focus on Him you will find confirmation of his will in your life through these examples.  The closer we become to God the more in tune to His will we become but we need to constantly seek the corroboration through prayer that we walk God’s path and not our own.

Through God’s help and corroboration our spirit is built up.  Decisions that once might have overwhelmed us are now made in partnership with the Holy Spirit.  As we learn to appeal to God daily and he unfolds examples of faith for us we will begin to have the ability to make better, faith-driven decisions.  Appealing to God like focusing on God is about building that personal relationship with Him.  We cannot begin to imagine the hidden potential of our lives or to transform ourselves if we don’t first have that personal, intimate relationship with Him.

Through the work that I do with teachers I recently attended a workshop on becoming a better facilitator of collaborative groups.  In this training the attendees were shown the difference between dialogue and discussion.  Dialogue is talking to gain common understanding while discussion is talking to come to a decision about something.  So my prayer for you as you read through this series of articles is that you come to have rich dialogue with God in your life that leads you to a deeper understanding of the truths of your faith.  That you bring all aspects of your life to God for dialogue and that when a major decision is needed in your life you will have built your relationship to such a point that shifting from dialogue to discussion will be smooth and seamless.  That you will appeal with not just your mouth but with your ears as well.  Hear what God has to say to you and accept where he leads you.  I also pray these rich conversations with God transform your life as they transformed mine.

Have you ever lost your car keys, glasses, or something else you use on a regular basis?  Where did you find it?  Was it lost in the clutter of a counter or nightstand or was it lost to the clutter of the demands of your life?  Sometimes we get lost in physical clutter and sometimes we get lost in mental clutter.  Our lives often end up full of clutter that obscures every surface it touches.  We begin to lose sight of what is important because the clutter presses in.  God knew that our lies could become like this, which is why He wants us to focus on Him.  If we are focused on Him the clutter falls away.  The best way to focus on God is to develop a personal relationship with Him through prayer.  God not only expects us to have a healthy prayer life, He demands it.

Read 1Thessalonians 1:2-3.  God is often described in scripture as He is described in Malachi, as our “one father.”  Think about the relationship you have with your parents or with your children.  What are the qualities that make up a good parent?  Consistency, compassion, boundaries, patience are just a few of the traits that good parents possess.  Parents must set and maintain boundaries consistently so that children learn that there are limits to what they can do and rules that order their lives.  This helps to guide them into adulthood with morals and values that reflect those of their parents.  Parents must also be patient and compassionate when their children make mistakes, go through awkward periods, and rebel against the very rules they need in their lives.  Given that description of parenthood, does God fit the image of a good parent?  I would say yes, He does.  In addition, I would add yet another trait to the list of what makes a good parent and that would be the ability to draw close to your child, by listening to all their trials and joys.  This is the relationship that God wants us to have with Him.  He wants us to feel comfortable enough and to trust Him enough to share all our joys and trials with Him as if He were sitting in the armchair of our family room.

In both the verses of the Deuteronomy 4:7 and Psalm 34:18, the word “nigh” is used to describe the relationship that God has with the people.  He is near to them.  God is not some distant deity, sitting on a cloud looking down at us and passing judgment on our lives.  He is the living, breathing force that ripples through our universe shaping it and giving it purpose and design.  And He still has time to draw near to each of us as individuals.  He wants us to open up our hearts and draw near to him as well.  These verses assure us that no nation will be as great as the one that draws close to God and appeals to Him in all decisions big and small.  No one needs hold onto a broken heart if they draw close to God and appeal to Him to mend them and take away their pain.

In Acts 2:21, Psalm 119:2, and Jeremiah 29:13 God promises that if we call out to Him, appeal to Him with our whole heart He will hear us and save us.  It is so much easier to bear your heart to a dear friend than it is to a total stranger.  I call my friends frequently to chat.  I can tell them anything.  But for those people who I have lost touch with over the years I think that it would be difficult to share the difficulties my life has encountered.  This is true of God as well.  If we appeal to Him daily we feel comfortable telling Him everything because there is nothing hidden from his sight.  But if we only fall upon our knees once a week, or once a month or only when things are at the worst, it might feel as if there is a great distance between us.

There should be no distance between you and God.  Appeal to Him daily.  Let the embrace of the Holy Spirit wrap loving arms around you and keep you safe.  Draw close to God so that you can begin living a life blessed.  To end this first installment I hope that you will watch this video called The Prayer.  Enjoy and God Bless.

If you are interested in reading more of the message contained in Five Weeks Into F.A.I.T.H please download the book at Smashwords and keep following my blog each month as I discuss my journey into faith.

Categories: Lori Hickox Monjaras | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Shoutout to a Sportsman

images

A Shout Out To A Real Sportsman

By Lori Hickox-Monjaras

If you follow my blog then you know that I often include blogs on being a Christian Athlete.  I began these articles as letters to my own children to inspire and uplift them when they were competing.  It isn’t always easy to walk the Christian path especially when you are young and when there are so many conflicting messages being sent by your teammates and the world of professional sports.

I’ve often written about how poorly those our children look to as role models in the sporting world rise to this challenge.  But today I want to tell you about a story where everyone got it all right!  My kids came running in to me the other night grabbing my arms and dragging me out to the family room to watch a news show they had heard about.   I stood transfixed as Steve Hartman’s On The Road segment for CBS Nightly News was broadcast.

The story went like this:  A young man who was developmentally challenged was the manager on a basketball team.  His coach knew how important the sport was to him so in the last game he had the young man suit up.  Then, to the young man’s surprise, he played him. The coach said it didn’t matter if the team was up or down he would play because it was the right thing to do.  Unfortunately, the young man did not make a basket even though he was given several chances and lots of encouragement by his teammates.  But then a senior, from the other team took the ball out of bounds to throw it in and instead of throwing it to his team mates he called the young man’s name and threw the ball directly to him, giving him one last chance to make a basket.  He did.  And the crowd went wild!

We’ve all heard that Golden Rule:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Luke 6:31.  Well, here it was spontaneous and beautifully walked out!  I had tears in my eyes as I watched Senior, Jonathon Montanez, throw that ball inbounds.  He didn’t have to do it, really why would he, after all he played for the other team?  He had no real connection to that other student.  But I was so touched when he said he had been brought up to treat others like you would want to be treated.  In that moment when he could have thrown that ball to one of his teammates he made a different choice.  He thought about what it would feel like if that was him trying so hard to make the basket and not being able to see it through.  He wanted to give that young man his chance at glory.  No other connection needed except the human connection.  That is what being a Christian Athlete is all about, making a different choice, making a human connection, living with compassion and understanding and wisdom.

My kids saw and told me you have to write about that.  You’ve been telling people these things, mom, and this is exactly what you have been saying.  They saw it.   Jonathan Montanez just rose to superstar status in my estimation because he inspired everyone in that El Paso, Texas gym, and then he inspired me and my children to be more, to do more and walk out your beliefs no matter what the circumstances.  Well Done!

Take time to watch the segment and God Bless!

Categories: Lori Hickox Monjaras, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

The Creation – Part 6

The Creation – God’s Word of the Creation Events

Genesis 1_Slide_001Through the years, I have studied many passages of the Bible, but these studies have invariably led me back to Genesis 1 and its narration of the Creation.  On a recent trip, I rediscovered a long lost interest in photography, and it became natural to merge the two into a form that perhaps can provide the viewer a new appreciation for this most fascinating chapter.

This is an eight part series, covering the introductory verses, followed by the daily events of forming and filling. Each of the photos are my originals.  They are here simply to enhance the amazing descriptions contained in Genesis in a way you might not have discovered before.  Enjoy God’s blessings!!!

Part 6:

Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.”

God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good.  God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.

There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. (Gen. 1:20-23)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As a photographer, I really enjoy capturing the essence of nature – waterfalls, flowers, foliage of all kinds. The variety gives me a greater appreciation for the immenseness of God’s hand on creation. In particular, I enjoy photographing birds, especially waterfowl like ducks and geese. Not only am I photographing these creatures, but at the same time observing their actions, their instinctive behavior and their social patterns. Likewise, I’m also able to visit our local aquarium and watch the activities of multitudes of sea creatures there. This has led me to conclude that men and animals share a number of subtle behaviors, and that we are not so different from one another.

At first glance, this particular passage of Genesis 1 seems like a fairly mundane section of the chapter. But actually, I see a great deal of activity taking place here:

1.  God has begun creating the animal world.  No breathing animal had existed before this time.

2. The first animals, the birds in the air and the creatures of the waters, reside in mediums that are not controlled by man.  While man has certainly been able to domesticate some birds and fish to a degree, there are vast quantities and species of these types of animals that are quite independent of man’s reach.

3.  By observing these types of animals, certain patterns in their behaviors begin to emerge.  I certainly can see a correlation in the way animals behave and the way men act in God’s Word:

  • Some animals are very solitary (such as sharks). I can’t help but think of Zacchaeus, the tax collector, that Jesus encountered, as recorded in Luke 19: “And there was a man called by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. Zacchaeus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’ And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly.”  Here was someone who definitely was a loner and despised by the populace, yet Jesus was inclusive of him as part of His ministry.  Have you ever felt alone and not belonging? Just remember God always has His eyes fixed upon you and you are truly never alone.
  • Some animals, such as Canadian geese, have a very strong family relationship. On a recent trip to New England, my wife and I were able to observe two Canadian geese adults as well as their five little goslings. The little ones were constantly kept under observation by one of the adults, while the other was on the lookout for potentials dangers. In one cute moment, I shot a photo of the little goslings swimming directly in line behind the lead adult, receiving both a proper direction and easier waters to travel in, while the other adult goose swam behind to keep an eye on the little ones. It helps me understand how important the family is to God (think of Adam and Eve, Noah and his family, Abraham and Sarah, Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana).  Our efforts to serve God must include preserving the family institution.
  • Some birds fly in formations, some fish swim in schools. It has been determined by researchers that birds flying in a formation actually receive about  a 50% reduction in exerted effort by utilizing the air currents created by their associates during flight, as opposed to flying solo. Birds and fish also take turns in the lead, cutting the air or water resistance for the others during the travel. Have you found working in groups, rather than alone, can be more productive? Going it alone, certainly without the presence of God, can make for very tough sledding.
  • Smaller birds and fish often congregate in larger flocks or schools for protection. If a predator approaches, the sheer numbers and chaos from the escaping flights confuse the predator into an unsuccessful capture. I think of the multitudes that came to hear Jesus speak and the subsequent feeding of the 5000, recorded in all four of the Gospels. The mass of people led to some degree of anonymity for each person, but also afforded protection from imprisonment for simply being there.

I have included a number of photos with this message, some for your enjoyment, some to support the statements above. I encourage you to take time to watch animals and their behaviors.  We all can learn if we only will observe.

This concludes Part 6 of the series.  Next time, we will explore God’s work on the sixth day of creation, establishing the beasts of the fields and the creation and dominion of man.  Thank you for your continued interest. I would welcome any comments you might have.

Categories: Shane Page | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Living Water

Water Shots_009

I was born and raised in the dry deserts of the southwest. In the summertime we have a very short season we call the “monsoons,” when a rare rainstorm might suddenly be upon us. When it does happen, we all stop what ever we are doing. We sit quietly on the porch or stand in the garage with the door open and marvel at the wonderful, precious liquid! As long as it lasts, we sit in our chairs and watch the rain. We can’t take our eyes off of it because it is so rare, and therefore, it is valued highly. We pray for it and we are grateful when our prayers are answered.

Rain Play

I remember how as a child, I would run out with arms outstretched and face turned to the sky to fully enjoy the experience of cold, fresh raindrops!

Water Shots_Ireland

When I visited Ireland for the first time I told them about this practice and their reply was, “Oh my! If we stopped our work every time it rained we’d never get anything done!”  In the desert, however, we know what it means to have parched throats and to crave cool, clear water.

Water Shots_029

Psalm 143:6 reminds us in the same way of our thirst for God: ” I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.”

Water Shots_013

And Deuteronomy 32:2 tells us where to look for that which will quench our thirst:  “Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.”

Water Shots_030

Cool, clear, thirst quenching liquid. That is how Charles Spurgeon describes the word of God: ” Here is the well of purest Gospel undefiled—it springs up in this precious volume with freshness and sweetness unequalled. We who write upon it hand out that same sweet water to you in our own cups and goblets…Do not be content to drink from our small pots and our chalices, but come and put your lips right down to where the living water, with all the self-sufficient fullness of the deeps eternal, comes welling up from the very heart of God!  This is the way to find the Word—to read it for yourselves, to read it from the Bible…Its speech still drops as the rain, fresh from Heaven! Its Truths are overflowing fountains of ever fresh consolation.”

Water Shots_037

God’s Word quenches the thirst of your soul.

WAter Shots_016

And Spurgeon further explains that the flowing water of the Word is “safe enough for a babe to wade in and deep enough for leviathan to swim in.”

Water Shots_003

You may be a brand new baby Believer in Jesus but you can safely step in to the quiet stream. At the same time, an aging Believer at the end of a very long journey with Jesus will find deep, life-transforming revelations to explore.

Water Shots_004

And may we be reminded that Jesus, Himself, is the living water: “If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink…” (John 7:37). And ultimately, the Word promises that “the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water.” (Rev 7:17) May we look, then,  to The Word and the Word Made Flesh for sweet, refreshing relief to our parched souls.

Categories: Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Focus Part 5: From Idea to Action

10-27-12_Blog_23

Focus Part 5

From Idea to Action

by: Lori Hickox-Monjaras

The time has come to bring this series of articles to a close, so this will be my last blog on Focus.  Over the past few months we have looked at how hiding away from God and trying to cover up the darkest parts of ourselves shifts our focus from God onto ourselves.  We can also loose focus when we see the world from a worldly perspective instead of a heavenly one, and when we forget to forgive ourselves and others for the transgressions we commit.  There are many things in our busy world that pull us and demand our attention.  Things that keep us so occupied that we fail to focus on that which should be first and foremost in our lives, God!  But scripture gives us guidance on how to regain our focus and put our lives back in balance.

Consider these three simple things:

*Reading Scripture regularly

*Seek out and fellowship with other believers

*Lift up all of those who touch your life

Isaiah 34:16 reminds us to, “Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and READ…”  We are to look to the scriptures for guidance, comfort, and wisdom.  There is nothing that I’ve written that God has not revealed to me first through scripture and then through experience.  Focusing on the word of God builds your foundation of faith.  It helps you to see and understand that our lives have a plan and that when we commit to the plan we find ourselves less at odds and more content.  Seek God through scripture and use your daily devotional time to build up your spirit and nurture your spiritual gifts.  Like a father he wants to draw close to you and share his wisdom.  Allow him that opportunity by spending time with Him in the Word.

But reading scripture isn’t enough.  You must also talk about what you are learning with others.  As a teacher I spent many years thinking that the profession was one of isolation and solitude.  But when I came out of my classroom and engaged in collaboration with my colleagues I found that my practice was profoundly changed.  The same is true of the Christian spirit.  What we learn on our own is only the first step.  To truly understand and celebrate the blessings of our faith journey it needs to be shared with others. Through this sharing, or fellowship we refine our beliefs and understandings about God and his work.  We celebrate the blessings He has showed on us.  But even more important we build one another up in the body.  We nurture each other, catch one another when we falter and experience the joy of miracles in each other’s lives.  The body of Christ was meant to be just that, a body.  Acts 2:42 reminds us to continue “…steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”  So gather with fellow believers, share a meal and spend time in with one another and your Lord.

Finally, you should lift up the people around you in prayer.  Remember that the emphasis of this series of articles has been to move you away from things that distract you from God.  There is nothing more distracting than those around you who do not share your faith.  They chip away at your beliefs little by little with their petty gossip, annoying behaviors, and worldly pursuits.  But what if instead of cutting them out of your life you refocused your negative energy into positive prayers?  It is easy to pray for those we love, the difficulties lie in praying for those we find most frustrating.  Several years ago, when I began writing about my FAITH journey I really was convicted to put this into action.  I had particularly difficult group of students that year.  I decided that each day I would focus on one student and pray for them and their needs.  This practice did not transform my students but it transformed me and my attitude toward my students.  God was front and center in my classroom, in my public school classroom, and I was aware of His presence every moment of the day.  My actions became gentler and more patient.  I saw myself as His agent in my work and that helped me to become the teacher I was meant to be.  I wasn’t focused on me and my needs and what the students were doing to me; I became focused on how God could use me to meet their needs.  It was a simple shift of attitude but it made a world of difference.  Since then I have continued to lift up both students and staff as well as others in my life that pull my focus away from God.  Instead of feeling overwhelmed and frustrated I feel comforted and renewed because I don’t have to face everything alone.  “but exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast until the end…” Hebrews 3:13-14

There you have it.  Staying focused is our first step in building our F.A.I.T.H.  When we are focused on God we cannot wallow in self-pity, self-hate, or fear.  God is the light of the world illuminating all the dark recesses where self-recrimination can live.  To focus on Him is to commit to a life of moving ever forward toward an eternal plan that is perfect in its design.  Our focus will allow us to step into our place within that plan and to fulfill that calling that God has planted deep in our hearts.  Are you ready to devote your focus to Him?  Enjoy the music of Chris Tomlin as you think about it.

While Part 5 of Focus ends the discussion of how focus on God can transform your life I hope that you will continue to read my blog as I begin a new series of articles on Appealing to God.  This new series will look at how prayer transforms and heals us.  If you are interested in reading more of the message contained in Five Weeks Into F.A.I.T.H please download the book at Smashwords and keep following my blog each month as I discuss my journey into faith.

Categories: Lori Hickox Monjaras | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

The Creation – Part 5

The Creation – God’s Word of the Creation Events

Genesis 1_Slide_001Through the years, I have studied many passages of the Bible, but these studies have invariably led me back to Genesis 1 and its narration of the Creation.  On a recent trip, I rediscovered a long lost interest in photography, and it became natural to merge the two into a form that perhaps can provide the viewer a new appreciation for this most fascinating chapter.

This is an eight part series, covering the introductory verses, followed by the daily events of forming and filling. Each of the photos are my originals.  They are here simply to enhance the amazing descriptions contained in Genesis in a way you might not have discovered before.  Enjoy God’s blessings!!!

Part 5:

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.

God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. 

There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. (Genesis 1:14-19)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens…

The Hebrew word used here is “meor” or lightholder (think candlestick holder or menorah). Up to this point, the light upon the earth (v.3) was general and chaotic.  There was no need for it to be any other way. But now, after forming the land, seas and skies (establishing the expanses in the heavens in the forms of the various atmospheres described in the earlier posts), God could now give order to the light and heat sources in the form of the sun, moon and stars.

These elements needed to be in place, for our protection, prior to the “unveiling”  of these light holders. God’s Word gives us insight not only into this physical act, but the spiritual as well:

“But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” (2 Cor. 3:15-16)

“It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two.” (Luke 23:44-45)

let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years…

His continuing to provide order in the form of time – the first calendar.

God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. 

On a recent West Coast trip, I had a very unusual experience. Flying at dusk, I would normally expect to see the separation of light and dark on a horizontal plane (we call this sundown). But looking out the airplane window on this evening, I saw the separation of light and dark (day and night) as a vertical line, rather than horizontal. Now the weather was quite stormy and the clouds of the storm were oriented in such a pattern as to provide this phenomena.  But for me, this presented a visual example of God’s total control of the expanse.  As men, we like to view God as linear and sequential.  But that is limiting the omniscience of God.  Take a look at the photographs provided with this blog. The same subjects, but vastly different perspectives depending upon the atmospheric conditions (the expanses created by God).  I would encourage you to be more expansive in your relation to God.

One other comment here – the separate lights for day and for night are also significant.  The sun not only provides light and warmth to the earth, but also keeps the Earth on a steady consistent path (orbit):

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

The moon produces nothing but a gravitational force to affect the ocean tides. It does not produce light itself, but rather just reflects the light from the Sun (or even some light from the Earth).  Otherwise, the moon is a cold, dark, unproductive object in space.  Our sinful nature is much the same way – cold, dark, unproductive, contributing nothing to our well-being.

This concludes Part 5 of the series.  Next time, we will explore God’s work on the fifth day of creation, the filling of the earth with sea creatures and birds.  Thank you for your continued interest. I would welcome any comments you might have.

Categories: Shane Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

The Least of These – Part 7

“I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

“…I tell you the truth,

whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine,

you did for me.”

Providing food for the hungry and water for the thirsty…inviting the stranger in, clothing the naked, looking after the sick, visiting the prisoner…all of this He counts as doing unto HIM. May we never forget that we do it because we love Jesus. And we do it because we love our brothers and sisters in Haiti. We SO wanted to be a blessing to our Savior and to our new friends in Mirebalais, but every one of us who traveled there will tell you that WE were the ones who received blessing beyond measure.

Kellie

When Kellie Hurt first found her heart broken over the needs of hurting Deaf children in an orphanage in Haiti, she had no idea how many twists and turns this path would take that God would lead her on. She simply followed Jesus, taking “the next step” that He set before her and before she knew it He was preparing a place for a new orphanage to be built with a well of fresh water in place and cement foundations poured awaiting the building that we hope will be erected very soon. Out of that work a church was birthed and the people serving there began to reach out to the community around them. God continues to grow this ministry in ways that Kellie could never have imagined.

As for those of us who took this journey to Haiti in March–we have been forever changed. There are no words to express how deeply these experiences have impacted us. There was so much more to our trip that I didn’t have room for on these pages:

the Team

(1) The miraculous way that God knit our hearts together almost from the very first moment. I have never experienced a team of strangers coming together and being so like-minded and unified for a period of 9 days, 24-7;

ME and Addie

(2) How God revealed the gifting and purposes of each team member at just the right moment of need;

Twins and me

(3) How God allowed us to communicate seamlessly even through language barriers (and the humorous moments of teaching each other ASL, French, English and Haitian Creole–these twins tried so hard to teach me Creole!);

Haiti (57)

(4) How God allowed us to begin to prepare the community for the Deaf children He will be bringing to settle in their midst by teaching American Sign Language to the hearing kids (and the laughter that erupted when my attempts to pantomime a monkey to teach the sign was identified as a pig, a dog and a cat);

IMG_00057

(5) How God protected us with peace even through moments of intense spiritual warfare (this picture was taken just moments before God demonstrated His perfect peace to me);

Haiti Truck

(6) How God lifted our hearts in unity in song at the church, with the children, in the back of a pick-up truck!

ry=480-41

(7) How God connected strangers by the simple act of a child slipping his or her hand in yours and walking down a dusty road together.

Coloring

(8) How God orchestrated fun through the seemingly silly sharing of crayons and coloring books,

Nail polish

Hello Kitty nail polish,

tattoo

face paint,

ry=480-10

soccer balls,

balloons

balloons,

ry=480-37

and bubbles!

Haiti Proclaimer

(9) How God allowed us to share His Word through the gift of a Proclaimer: an audio version of The New Testament in Haitian Creole (donated by Faith Comes By Hearing ministry)

Proclaimer in Haiti

and how it would later be shared with a paralyzed man who had just given His life to Jesus and was thirsty to hear the gospel.

IMG_00086

(10) How four amazing young Christian men (Sam, SonSon, Samuel and Johnny) could bless us with their interpreting skills, inspire us with their servant hearts, and welcome us into their lives with Christian brotherly love. (11) How those same young men would touch our hearts with their stories of survival through the 2010 earthquake and their testimonies of how Jesus had brought them to the place they are today.

Leveque

(12) How we visited the amazing community of Leveque,

Pastor William

met the Deaf Pastor, William, his wife, Berthide, and their newly adopted son, Wilson, an abandoned baby…

Wilson

…who was rescued from a latrine just a week before we arrived.

Mackenson

How we met Mackenson, one of the Deaf leaders of Leveque…

…and learned the whole story about how this miraculous community was formed after the earthquake (here is an update video on some of the things happening in recent months).

ry=480-45

How God brought two communities together, Leveque and Mirebalais, in His perfect timing, in His perfect way, so that His perfect will could be walked out by these brothers and sisters in Christ.

And finally, how the whole church of Mirebalais, young and old, Deaf and hearing, Haitian and American,  joined together to sing and sign in ASL “Jesus Loves Me” –one of the simplest and yet most profound songs declaring our Savior’s love for us…

So very many God-ordained, Holy Spirit led moments that can’t be contained on these pages. But moments that forever connect us to a small village in Haiti–a village of people who are now and forever our family and friends, a true expression of The Body of Christ. We will continue the journey with them, even though thousands of miles separate us.

And we extend a hand to you and invite you to come along with us. We invite you to come be a part of the Grace So Amazing story. Join us as we serve “the least of these…”

Grace So Amazing…check it out here.

Categories: Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

The Least of These – Part 6

“I was in prison and you came to visit me…”

Prison

If you have been following these posts detailing our journey to Haiti, you will know that we had the opportunity to feed the hungry and provide them with clean drinking water. We were able to clothe the naked and tend the sick. While we didn’t visit a prison during our trip to Haiti, we did witness a situation that was just as heart breaking. There is a group of children who are currently in a place of confinement, and yes, in some ways you could call it a prison. They are in a kind of bondage that is difficult and complicated to free them from.

First, let me tell you that you will not see the faces of these children in this post. Our team has decided to keep their images off of the internet to ensure their safety. I can’t share too many details about their circumstances for their very lives are in danger and we are praying and praying that God will provide for their protection. But I can tell you this: a stay in a prison cell in the U.S. would be a huge improvement compared to the environment they are forced to suffer in and the stiffest punishment we might give a disobedient prisoner is kinder than the abuse they are forced to endure. Awareness of their plight has changed the lives of our team forever. Our hearts are  now broken beyond belief and our sleepless nights are haunted by what we  learned and witnessed.

What I can tell you, is that there are people working hard to come up with a solution. Much is going on behind the scenes, and much is needed to bring the situation to a joyful resolution. MUCH prayer is needed so I would ask anyone reading these words to pray for these children. I am trusting God to take care of these kids in His way and in His time. It’s so important that we hear HIS voice and follow Him obediently.

So while I can’t share details of their story I can assure you that God has already protected their hearts. Their dispositions are so sweet, their smiles so real and genuine, their eyes full of hope, their hugs so warm and heart felt. One doesn’t live through what they have lived through without gaining some serious scars. But we know The One who binds all wounds loves them and cares for them.

These are the children that are our first priority at Grace So Amazing Ministries. The money we are trying to raise will be used to establish a safe place and environment for them. A place that will truly be a “home.” We long to do so much more than just visit the prisoner. We long to be used by God to help set them free. And so we ask you one more time to prayerfully consider how you might support this ministry if God leads you to. Hopefully we will be able to share more of their story in weeks to come.

hands

THIS is what I want these precious children to know:

May they hear Jesus whisper into their hearts,” You are loved….”

You can support financially and/or prayerfully by going to the Grace So Amazing website here.

The final installment describing our Haiti journey, Part 7, will be posted tomorrow.

Categories: Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

The Least of These – Part 5

“…I was sick and you looked after me…”

IMG_00080

I have already shared with you how amazing our very first experience in Haiti was, participating in a joyful worship service with the community. What I haven’t yet told you is that after the church service we all trekked out to a tiny hut near the grounds of Grace So Amazing Ministries to visit Rosemary. Rosemary had been very, very sick in the weeks prior to our arrival and had finally been diagnosed with HIV.

Kellie entered her tiny hut first and asked for permission to bring us in. She gladly agreed and we all crowded into the space that was smaller than many American bathrooms. Kellie questioned her…how was she feeling? Had she taken her meds? Was she eating even if she didn’t feel like it? What could we do for her? It was decided that ingredients for chicken soup would be purchased at the market and delivered to her son to prepare for her. Her supply of clean water was checked, and it was confirmed that she had enough meds to continue the healing process. During their conversation I couldn’t help but notice how small Rosemary was…lying on a thin mattress on the dirt floor. A light sheet covered her, but still, we could see the bones protruding beneath the material. We squeezed tighter together to make room for the three Pastors of the church to stand beside her bed and they prayed bold and confident prayers over Rosemary. Then they led several Haitian hymns, that her heart might praise her beloved Savior. Some days before, she had told Kellie that although some of her friends had deserted her when they heard her diagnosis, Jesus would always be with her. He would never leave her. Rosemary knows her Redeemer. We asked if Rosemary would like to be moved outside where she could sit in the sunshine and she said yes, so the men lifted her from her bed and placed her in a wicker chair under a shade tree.

IMG_00019

In the days that followed we checked on Rosemary periodically.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We also checked on Jack, a man who had been dragged by his cow and had suffered a 12 inch gash on his thigh. Our young team mates, Addie and Mary Elizabeth, crouched next to Kellie and learned how to clean the healing flesh and how to dress the wound. It would be the first of many examples of torn flesh that they would care for during our stay.  We would check on a young man with sickle cell anemia, and witness an aging, paralyzed man being led to Christ as we visited him while he lay on his mat on the dirt floor. Health care is sometimes difficult to obtain in rural Haiti and people often just do the best they can on their own. We had the opportunity to see the local clinic after meeting Estella, a 73 year old woman with a cancerous growth on her foot and a lump on her inner thigh. We transported her and her family to the hospital because they had no way to get her there. Again, the clinic is doing the best they can with what they have, but seeing the conditions there and comparing them with what we have so readily available here in the U.S. made me ashamed. We are so blessed, yet so demanding of what we consider our “rights.” And all the while a people just miles off of our American shore suffer alone and in silence.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On the last day before we headed home we visited the hospital in a nearby town. I was looking forward to visiting the children’s ward on this visit and also the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). You see, I have twin two-year-old granddaughters that were born prematurely. Eva, the larger one, was just 1 pound, 12 ounces at birth, and Abigail, the smaller of the two, was just 1 pound, four ounces. My tiny grandbabies survived and are thriving largely because of the wonderful care they received in the NICU for the first three months of their lives. I witnessed the cutting-edge machines with all of the bells and whistles that every day give preemies a real shot at growing up and having a normal and healthy childhood. The babies we visited in Haiti’s NICU have a real chance for survival, but they didn’t have the same access to the latest and best that medicine has to offer that Eva and Abigail did. I longed for this NICU to look the same as the one I had visited so often to rock my grandchildren to sleep, even while they were hooked up to oxygen and monitors through a tangle of color-coded wires. While the alarms going off were frightening at first, I was grateful that they alerted the attentive staff to the emergency needs of each precious little life in the room. I pray that progress will continue to be made in Haiti, and that health care will get better and better  for our neighbors in need.

Elundy

Before our team arrived in Haiti, a very sick little girl, Elundy, was in need of heart surgery. The GSA team was able to make arrangements for her to be transported to the Dominican Republic for the necessary procedure. Even now she is recuperating at the GSA compound where she can be monitored in a clean and safe environment.

Jesus calls us to look after the sick, and this is what the staff of Grace So Amazing tries to do with what they have. They don’t have much, but what they do have, they share with their neighbors. First aid and medical supplies are needed and there is a vision of providing a health clinic on the site. We pray that the vision will become a reality. But the most important thing that the GSA team offers is the prayers over the sick. We believe that Jesus has the power to heal, and the team never failed to ask if we could pray for the person that was being tended.

Please consider supporting the efforts of Grace So Amazing in what ever way you are led. Financial help for medical supplies is needed, and prayer support is even more important. If you’d like to donate towards that need or you would like to join the Grace So Amazing Prayer Team, please do visit the website here.

Part 6 of our story tomorrow…

Categories: Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

The Least of These – Part 4

“…I needed clothes and you clothed me…”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Just hours after we arrived at the Grace So Amazing compound we had the honor and privilege of organizing a huge pile of clothes that had been donated by friends and family of the Visiting Orphans team. We had such fun separating the boys from the girls clothing, and sizing them for easy distribution. Piles of t-shirts, shorts and Minnie Mouse and Sponge Bob underwear were sorted and stacked along with the beautiful pillow case dresses that teammate, Erin, brought with her.

ry=480-39

Her mom and others, I believe, had spent a good while sewing these pretty little dresses made from pillow cases that the little girls in Haiti love to wear. If you are good with a needle and thread and would like to donate some of these dresses (they are SO easy to make), follow this link to see the pattern and directions. Donated craft and school supplies also filled the kitchen table as we organized and sorted.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Each day that we headed out to the GSA property, we  tried to take clothing to hand out to kids as needed. On the first day we handed them out rather indiscriminately and we found that some who really needed the clothes didn’t get any while others who probably had less of a need, did. Our team captain, Frank, suggested that we be especially attentive to try and pick out those kids that had a real need for clothes and try to target them to give items to. That day we were all piled in the back of the truck and as we drove up to the play area one little boy ran up, stark naked. “Whoa!” Frank laughed. “I think we have a candidate!”  The ladies set about finding underwear, shorts and t-shirts for the little guy and then continued to hand out to those most in need.

One day we headed to the market in town to do some shopping with one specific goal: to buy shoes for some homeless street boys that Kellie and her team have befriended. These boys were some that we particularly wanted to focus on as far as providing clothes. One sad fact about the clothes distribution, though, is that we had to be particularly careful what we gave to these children. You see, since they are living on the street, they are targets for abuse and theft. As much as we wanted to give these sweet boys the nicest, newest, best of what we had with us…we knew we could be putting them in danger if they were seen with something that looked like it had real value. So clean, less conspicuous items was the safer choice for them. It broke my heart not to give them the very best, but we wanted to help them, not hurt them, and so we had to carefully consider our choices for them.

When some older boys showed up at the GSA compound and we had no clothes in our pile to fit them, our younger gals on the team raided their suitcases to find athletic shorts and shirts that were non gender specific and would fit the guys. Those boys were very excited to get shirts with USA team names and colleges emblazoned across them. And it was fun to be a part of the “trying on” party.

When we departed at the end of the week, there was still a stack of clothing for Kellie and her team to continue to distribute as needed.

The Visiting Orphans team wants to take this time to thank all of our friends and family who donated clothes for us to carry with us to the children of Haiti.

If this is an area of need that you feel led to give in, please visit the GSA website and learn more about making pillowcase dresses or donating clothing for the needy. Or better yet, consider donating dollars that can be used to purchase clothes and shoes there, and in doing so, give a boost to the local economy of Mirebalais. Check out the Grace So Amazing Ministries website here.

Part 5 of our story tomorrow…

Categories: Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

The Least of These – Part 3

“…I was a stranger and you invited me in…”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The first thing I noticed about the “Grace So Amazing” compound when we arrived was that it felt like a true community resided there. A large kitchen/dining room is always abuzz with work and good conversation. The patio next to it is a good place to kick a soccer ball against the wall or sit in the sunshine for a quiet devotional. Three bedrooms with plenty of bunk beds and two baths make it possible for large groups of visitors to stay for an extended period. But the most important part of the GSA compound is that you immediately feel not only welcome, but that you are family.

We were strangers to Kellie and her team, but they invited us in. Not just into their place of shelter, but into their lives and their hearts. My Home Fellowship group has been reading and studying Jerry Bridges’ book, “True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia.” This kind of Koinonia is described as “Christ-reflecting, gospel-fueled community,” and says that it “takes people who are spectators at church and turns them into life-giving participants in the Body of Christ.” Bridges’ definition of Koinonia is a group of Believers, living out a common life in the context of fellowship, partnership, sharing, supporting, suffering and serving alongside one another. And this is exactly what life at Grace So Amazing in Haiti is–Koinonia in action.

Grace So Amazing Ministries is always ready to welcome visitors to their home, to learn, to share, and to walk alongside them. But there is another kind of stranger that is invited in as well.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Let me introduce you to Dominique. I don’t know much of his story–you see he was one of the many homeless kids in the area and he just showed up at Grace So Amazing one day and began hanging out. He was a stranger and they welcomed him in. At the moment, he is living with the team at GSA. We had the opportunity to spend all of our time with this precious boy when we were in Haiti, and needless to say, we all became extremely attached to him. We were originally told that he was 11, then someone said 13, so I’m not sure of his age. I’m not sure that HE is sure. But it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Dominique is no longer alone in this world. There are people who feed him, shelter him, hug him, discipline him and love him. I don’t know what the future will look like for Dominique. But God does. And for the moment, God has placed him in the arms of the Grace So Amazing team.

Not only is Dominique currently finding shelter at GSA, but now two other boys have joined him. These young men were in an abusive situation, and were chased from the only shelter they know, tossed out onto the streets. They are safe now, but help is needed to keep them safe. They were strangers, but they were invited in.

Currently, GSA ministries is working on setting up a sponsorship system so these individual children can have the assurance that their daily needs will be met. You may not be able to physically take a homeless child into your house, but you can take him or her into your heart…and provide for sustenance and shelter. You can be the hands and feet of Jesus from afar. I hope you will prayerfully consider supporting GSA ministries, and in doing so, welcome these strangers into the Family of God.

Or you, yourself, can be the stranger that is welcomed in. I strongly encourage you to consider visiting the Grace So Amazing site in person. Teams of visitors are a great blessing to the people of Haiti in more ways than I can describe, and though you may be a stranger upon arrival, you will be family by the time you exchange farewell hugs and prayers. Please do contact Grace So Amazing Ministries if you would be interested and willing to take the journey to Mirebalais. Medical teams, sign language teams, or teams of people just ready to love on kids are all needed and welcomed.

For more information check out their website here.

Part 4 of our story tomorrow….

Categories: Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

The Least of These – Part 2

Matthew 25: 35 “…I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink…”

IMG_00177

My new friend, Jodie, remarked to me at the end of our trip to Haiti, “I will never be able to say ‘I’m starving’ again.” It is true. At the first indication of a hunger pang becoming a wee bit insistent, we are quick to announce that we are starving(!) But when you have looked true hunger in the face, it is difficult to be dramatic about a growling stomach again.

As in many 3rd and 4th world countries, many of the people of Haiti are truly starving. Kellie Hurt, the Founder and Director of “Grace So Amazing Ministries” recently shared this story:

“Late yesterday evening we got a call from one of our community leaders letting us know there was an emergency; a very elderly man named Kouli and his wife had their roof blown off their tiny mud hut. Wind and rain storms blew through a bit earlier and as Madame Kouli said “the rain chased us from our home”.

As I walked inside to assess the damage, my heart was yet again pierced at the realization of how little so many have and how much I continue to take for granted in my own life. Dirt floor, mat on the ground, a few bags of personal belongings and a sick piglet in the doorway were the sum of their belongings.

We headed into town and found a place open late that sold tarps and thankfully we were able to get most of the roof covered with the little tarp we purchased. As we returned and the guys set about tying the tarp down, Kouli and his wife couldn’t stop thanking us for what we had done, though I was nearly in tears by that time because I felt like we hadn’t done enough. The evening ended well for them as they were able to settle back inside their home away from the rest of the night’s storm.

ry=480-16

As we left, John Wesley and his brother met us at the main road. It was after 9 p.m., so I was curious to know where they were headed so late. They explained they were going to buy bread; they hadn’t eaten since early morning and their mother just came home with enough money to buy some bread to make bread soup, which is essentially mushy bread, water and a few seasonings.”

Our most basic needs (other than the very air that we breathe) are water, food and shelter. And it is these most basic needs that are being met whenever and wherever possible through Grace So Amazing Ministries. Plastic tarps to protect the tiny hut roofs are needed, especially with the rainy season fast approaching, as this story so graphically illustrates.

And the hunger…bread soup is a blessing for two hungry boys who haven’t eaten all day.

Throughout our stay we saw this need being met continuously. As we visited the tiny huts dotting the landscape around the GSA property, there was always a bag of rice, a few cubes of chicken bouillion, or bags of fresh water to share when needed. An ailing woman needs some chicken soup–the only thing she can stomach during her recovery, and a note is made to go to the market for ingredients. Back at the compound we are joined by children and friends and the simple meal of tuna or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches is stretched so that everyone present is fed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And I cannot neglect to mention two beautiful Haitian ladies who chopped, and sliced and cooked all day to provide a true Haitian feast for us in the evening, again, feeding the whole GSA family and visiting friends.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One day a plan was made to go into town and pick up a handful of homeless boys living on the street and drive them out to the compound to feed them. We first brought the boys (about a half dozen of them) to the GSA property and some of us stayed to hang out, play games, and break out the crayons and coloring books. Kellie took one of her interpreters and headed out to make a couple of house calls at neighbors’ huts, and then to pick up some plates of rice and beans for the boys. As it sometimes happens, Kellie was delayed by the needs she encountered while out, and in the mean time more children showed up at the site. Frank, our team leader, contacted Kellie and let her know that we now had a group of 25 kids. Kellie assured us that she’d get 25 plates instead and feed all the kids that were there. We had a great time, the kids played (not once mentioning their hunger) and before we knew it, it was past 2pm, and now the crowd of children had grown to about 75 kids.

Frank and I discussed what to do. Only 25 plates of food, and 75 hungry kids. What should we do? We wanted to make sure the homeless kids were fed. Should we drive them back to town and feed them on the way? How could we fairly distribute the beans and rice to such a large group? Would we lose control? The potential for an unruly crowd pushing and shoving crossed our minds. How wrong we were.

Kellie and her team drove up with the 25 plates and while the situation was discussed one of the Haitian youth leaders stopped the conversation by saying, “No. We will feed them all and they will share. They must learn to share, even when they are hungry.”

Haiti (23)

We immediately supported his decision and watched as he sat all the children down and divided them into groups of three. They waited patiently and quietly and not one child complained. The plates were handed out to 25 trios of children and we were amazed that the plates were actually quite full and there was plenty to share. It was a real fishes and loaves moment.

Haiti (22)

One little boy, who looked to be about five, was paired with two younger girls, one on each side of him. The team watched as he fed one girl, and then the other, then the first girl, then the second, and then finally taking a spoonful for himself. He gave them two bites for every one he took. Such a young child exhibiting such loving and selfless behavior put us to shame for each of us was thinking how very different this scene might have played out in our own culture.

ry=480-17

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

At the end of the meal, the bags of clean water were broken out and parched throats were soothed.

Once again, we were humbled by what we experienced and knew that God was at work in the lives of these precious people. The darkness of hunger and thirst was pierced by the bright shining light of love, kindness, sharing, community, and sacrifice. It became a daily occurrence to witness the Grace So Amazing team live out the Scripture, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,” and also to see “Love your neighbor as yourself,” demonstrated amongst the people of Mirebalais.

The needs are great. People who are truly starving are being fed every day. The Bread of Life is being shared. Thirsty people are receiving drink and learning about Living Water. But more resources are needed to continue the work.  Long term efforts are in the works, including the establishment of a garden on the property to go along with the community well that has recently been drilled to provide clean water for the people surrounding the GSA property. I hope you will prayerfully consider donating to “Grace So Amazing Ministries.” We know that HE will provide.

You can learn more at the website here.

Part 3 tomorrow….

Categories: Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

The Least of These – Part 1

Matthew 25:35-36, 40 “…I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me…I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Palm trees, tumble-down shacks, bare-footed children, the smell of a local brew of alcohol permeating the air, the rumble of the truck’s engine as we sped down the road…we soaked in all of the sights and sounds and smells of Haiti on our way to finally meet the people of Mirebalais. We were a group of strangers the day before, but God had brought us together under the “Visiting Orphans” banner and knit our hearts together instantaneously–we were now ONE, with a common purpose: to love on the people of Haiti by being the hands and feet of Jesus. My first impression of Haiti as I had stepped off of the plane, was that the natural landscape reminded me of my home in New Mexico. The poverty and devastation still evident from the 2010 earthquake did not. One can’t help but feel an immediate gut punch as you drive through the streets of Port-au-Prince, the area most severely hit by the disaster. It is a shock to the system. After leaving the city limits, though, the atmosphere begins to change.

It had taken our team of eight almost 24 hours to complete the journey (with a stop over in Florida and a “tap tap” drive up the mountain) and it seemed surreal that we were finally on the ground and headed for a church service already in progress in the village of Mirebalais.

We turned off of the main road onto a winding, bumpy gravel path and caught our first glimpse of the “Grace So Amazing” property that we had only seen in pictures up until this point. A large, grassy area used for impromptu soccer games, two slabs of concrete poured–ready and waiting for the building to come, and a structure of crooked wooden poles supporting a palm branch roof. A dozen or so long benches were lined up beneath the structure and my heart was lifted. ‘This,’ I thought, ‘is what church ought to be!’ Recently I have become less enamored with the American concept of what church is supposed to look like (huge sanctuaries, campus-like surroundings, coffee shops serving expresso and latte, and book stores filled with Christian knick knacks) finding myself, instead, longing for a simpler time when it was all about the people. Here, in a tiny village in Haiti, was my dream church. A simple open, wooden structure for protection from the sun and rain in the midst of God’s glorious creation. Ahh…heavenly!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Unlike our churches, there was no way to “sneak in the back” unnoticed. Our truck roared up to the service and as we piled out we had the full attention of everyone.They stopped in the middle of what they were doing and waved and greeted us, clearing room on a bench for us to sit. Then we were introduced as a group and also individually. I felt underdressed in our jeans and t-shirts for everyone here was obviously in their Sunday best–men in dress pants, white shirts and ties, and the ladies in beautiful, brightly colored dresses. Coming to church was clearly special to them.

The Preacher finished his teaching, dynamic and passionate in Haitian Creole, with many “Mesi, Senor’s” and “Amen’s” shouted out in response, and then the worship began–heart felt, wild, loud, exuberant, raw and wonderful! No stage or electric guitars and keyboards, just voices raised to the Lord on High. No hymnbooks or words projected on a screen–the words were all held in the hearts of the people which gave the freedom for much hand clapping and dancing. I was moved to shed joyful tears. And then the service was over.

Some stared openly at us, some shyly approached us and shook our hands with a polite “Bon Jour” greeting. And one tall, regal, elderly saint in a flowery dress and straw hat  stepped forward and hugged and kissed each one of us on both cheeks while speaking Creole blessings over us. We all knew that these were our precious brothers and sisters in Christ and we were so very glad to meet them.

ME and Stef

I turned to my teammate, Mary Elizabeth, and was a bit surprised that someone had already placed a cherubic black baby in her arms and she was grinning from ear to ear. This is why we had come.

We milled about for a few minutes, feeling a little awkward because of the language barrier but wanting to connect with this family of God, and then something holy happened. I noticed a commotion and cluster of children around another teammate, Jodie. She had taken out her little spiral notebook and pencil, and crouching down on her knees to be at the children’s level, she began asking them their names. As each one came to her, she stopped and looked full in his or her face, giving complete attention despite the crowding of others around her.  One little boy proudly announced his name and she tried to repeat it back to him. He laughed and corrected her and she tried again. All of the children that were huddled around them giggled at the scene of this new white woman’s attempts to speak his name. Back and forth they repeated it, smiling, laughing, not breaking eye contact, until she got it just right and then she wrote it down in her little book. He watched in wonder as he witnessed his name added to the list. For that brief moment in time, Jodie and that little boy were in a world all their own. She thanked him sincerely, and then the next child would excitedly step in to place, and Jodie would draw that child into her world, too. At that moment I knew that God was doing something BIG and we were going to experience Him in ways we never dreamed of. Jodie and the crowd of children around her could have stayed there in their own little world all day long. And by the end of the week, each of us was feeling the tug to stay in our own little Mirebalais-world for the rest of our days. For it was there that we learned what it really means to “be the hands and feet of Jesus.” We witnessed Matthew 25:35-36 lived out on a daily basis, and our God-assignment, now that we are home, is to continue the work He started in our hearts in a little village called Mirebalais.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We had the opportunity to return for church that evening, sharing songs and Scripture, and then again for a Wednesday night Bible Study which concluded with the crazy Americans teaching the congregation how to do the “Chicken Dance!” We laughed, and sang, and hugged and at the end of the evening we piled into the truck (22 of us all and all) and headed down the gravel road back home to the Grace So Amazing compound. The children ran behind us, (barefooted on the gravel road!) shouting with joy, trying to keep up and I couldn’t help but look heavenward, thanking God for this wonderful place and people. Millions of stars were splattered across the night sky, like diamonds strewn across black velvet and I was reminded how many more are visible when you are in the country, away from the bright city lights.

During our stay in Mirebalais we would witness the harsh realities of poverty, illness, hunger and loneliness, but in contrast, we would also experience community, love, joy, humility, peace and deep abiding faith. Sometimes it is in the places of deep darkness that the stars shine the brightest. In the coming days I will share with you some of those dark images of Mirebalais because it is important to understand the difficulties that these people struggle with on a daily basis. But I also hope to share with you the quiet beauty and light that pierces the darkness and speaks of faith, hope and love in ways that are harder to see in our own culture of loud music and bright flashing lights. The contrast is what is so memorable about our trip to Haiti. For in the midst of the difficulties surrounding the people of Haiti, God is speaking. The Good News is being preached and lived out. This Body of Christ, led by a team of dedicated Pastors, is a shining beacon bringing The Light of the World to this beautiful island. Grace So Amazing Ministries is simply a fellowship of Believers, sharing their lives and the love of Jesus with every person they encounter.

As you read our story, I ask that you prayerfully consider supporting Grace So Amazing Ministries. Our team returned home with a God-assignment: to tell others what we had seen and felt, so that others might hear God telling them, too, to be a part of this “Grace So Amazing” story. All I ask is that you pray…and listen…and obey. God will take care of the rest.

To learn more about Grace So Amazing Ministries, visit the website here.

To learn more about Visiting Orphans Ministry, visit the website here.

Part 2 of our story will be posted tomorrow.

Matthew 25:35-36, 40 “…I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me…I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Jeanne and friends

Categories: Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments
 
 

Drawing Closer: Focus Part 4

10-27-12_Blog_23

Drawing Closer

By: Lori Hickox-Monjaras

            I’m sure that we are all familiar with this verse, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way that you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2   This is both a prudent warning and a provocative idea.  It might seem to some that in searching out the sin in our world and in our own lives in order to live a life free from such things that judging is just a part of the game.  “Of course I’m judging after all how can I presume to identify flaws of character unless I examine them and then render them either sin or not sin.” One might say.  Isn’t that judging?  Why then should The Bible caution us against judging?

Let me begin by saying that this whole series has been about focusing more closely on God in order that you might live a more fulfilling and emotionally confident life.  Confidence is not something that comes from you although we are often tricked into believing that it is.  Confidence comes to us when we are filled with God’s grace.  We are not confident in ourselves but rather in God and his ability to lift us up and out of whatever mess, emotional entanglement, or sin we find ourselves in.  That is FAITH my friend, faith in God not in self.  So what does judging have to do with drawing closer to God and finding the sort of confidence I’m speaking of?  Take a look at this movie clip or you can read the story at John 8:1-11.

There are two things that I want to point out about this story, first the scribes in their self-righteousness have brought this woman forth and condemned her to be stoned to death.  But they want to trap Jesus as well and so they look to him for support in carrying out this sentence.  Ironically, Jesus tells them that the person who is without sin should be the first to cast a stone.  Suddenly, the men are left standing around looking from one to the other.  No one could throw a stone.   Each man turned and slipped away.  Sometimes we are so full of righteous indignation that we can’t see clearly.  We cry out for justice quickly and firmly sure that we know what would be fair and reasonable punishment.  But how can we be so sure?  Jesus took this situation to teach a valuable lesson about judgment.  He pointed out the ugly truth, we are all guilty of something and we have to offer up forgiveness if we are to receive forgiveness.  When we are called to focus on God we have to look at how his son lived on earth.  To be Christian is to follow in those footsteps.  It wasn’t that Jesus was blind to the woman’s sin, he saw it clearly, but he also saw that the others who would be her accusers were covered in sin as well.  Matthew doesn’t tell us not to judge it tells us to be careful about the measure we use to render judgment because that measurement will be used to judge us as well.  When the men took an honest look at themselves they found that they were not so righteous as they had assumed.  Tarnished themselves, they could not deliver punishment and so they walked away.

The woman, however, remained and that brings me to the second point of the story.  This woman had been brought through the streets and accused in front of many witnesses.  She was humiliated, beaten down.  I’m sure her self-esteem was as low as it could get.  I imagine she stood weeping, face lowered, unable to look up, her sin heavy upon her.  But when Jesus approached her he did not chastise or condemn, he asked her where her accusers were?  When she looked around there was no one there.  God isn’t waiting to beat us down, kick us when we are at our weakest.  He lovingly opens his arms to us and welcomes us home.  To be truly focused on God we have to let go of the things that pull our focus away including our own self-recrimination.  When we look at ourselves honestly it is easy to fall into a well of shame.  But that really isn’t where God wants us.  He wants us focused on Him and His forgiveness.  Grace promises us a clean slate; we just have to embrace it.  Our work in our Christian walk should be like the adulterous woman, we need to face our sinfulness truthfully and then faithfully remain with Jesus, walking forward away from our sin and into God’s embrace.  God has only one desire for us, NEW LIFE.

You are a new creature in God.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past.  It only matters what you choose to do as you move forward.  Consider these words from Isaiah 43:16-21 as you shift your focus to what really matters in your walk with God, “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!”

If you would like to read more about this topic may I suggest you take a look at Provocative Christian Living and If you are interested in reading more of the message contained in Five Weeks Into F.A.I.T.H please download the book at Smashwords and keep following Lori’s blog each month as she discusses her journey into faith

Categories: Lori Hickox Monjaras | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

The Creation – Part 4

The Creation – God’s Word of the Creation Events

Genesis 1_Slide_001Through the years, I have studied many passages of the Bible, but these studies have invariably led me back to Genesis 1 and its narration of the Creation.  On a recent trip, I rediscovered a long lost interest in photography, and it became natural to merge the two into a form that perhaps can provide the viewer a new appreciation for this most fascinating chapter.

This is an eight part series, covering the introductory verses, followed by the daily events of forming and filling. Each of the photos are my originals.  They are here simply to enhance the amazing descriptions contained in Genesis in a way you might not have discovered before.  Enjoy God’s blessings!!!

Part 4:

Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them”; and it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good.

There was evening and there was morning, a third day. (Genesis 1:9-13)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”…

God is continuing the forming of the earth to make it habitable for man and beast.  This is where topography, the shaping of the mountains and the valleys, deserts and jungles, volcanoes and plateaus, becomes so important.  Previously, I had discussed the water cycle and its impact on climate.  This water cycle actually works in conjunction with the topographical nuances of our lands to create hot and cold temperatures, precipitation, humidity, etc. for the various locations on earth.  This is significant because it demonstrates God’s orderly preparation of the lands prior to the creation of man.  But there are additional factors that also need to be present prior to the introduction of mankind, as we will see in the next passage of the chapter.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them”; and it was so. 

God has already provided the elemental contents of the atmosphere (in the establishment of the “heavens”) conducive to life.  What are these necessary elements?  Certainly oxygen (normally 20.9% of the atmosphere) is vital for human and animal existence. Too little oxygen (at around 14%) can begin to cause physical and mental impairment, and too much oxygen (in excess of 23.5%) can propagate fires and increase excessive surface temperatures on the earth.  But God has placed just the right amount of oxygen into the atmosphere to promote the breath of life. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, ozone, methane and others are also necessary to provide the balance within the atmosphere necessary to sustain life.

These had to be present prior to the earth sprouting its vegetation in the forms of trees, grass and plants.  But then God goes further to create a balance of the plants absorbing carbon dioxide emissions and respirating this back into oxygen for humans and animals to breath and regenerate the earth’s atmospheric conditions.  God has also provided many different and unique grains, fruits and edible plants fit for our consumption.  Each of these plants has a unique purpose in God’s plan for this world.  This is borne out in Jesus’ words about the lilies of the field:

“Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace,will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:28-33)

What a marvelous order God has provided for us to exist. We should take confidence in that God will continue to provide that which we need, both physically and spiritually, if only we place our trust in Him!

This concludes Part 4 of the series.  Next time, we will explore God’s work on the fourth day of creation, with the forming of the sun, moon and stars.  Thank you for your continued interest. I would welcome any comments you might have.

Categories: Shane Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

HE IS RISEN!!

HE IS RISEN

Categories: Shane Page | Leave a comment
 
 

Anger Management

Smashed-racket

BY: LORI HICKOX

Recently I was watching the results of an international tennis tournament.  A changing of the guard was unfolding on the court as a young and brightly shining star did the unthinkable in her first appearance in the tournament; she unseated the champion, Serena Williams.  As Serena struggled, fighting back pain, she faltered and the younger player took the advantage.  In a fit of anger and frustration Serena threw her tennis racket, destroying it and earning a penalty.

In the days that followed the incident I talked about it with my family and colleagues.  There were two different fields of thought that came up; one group felt this was terrible behavior and her penalty was not nearly enough and the other group felt that everyone needs to vent their anger and that it was better to abuse equipment than to take it out on another person.  Hmmm, while I understood and even empathized with the train of thought of the second group my gut told me that God would not be pleased with such a display of anger.  My gut feeling was definitely backed up by scripture.

As Christian athletes we are held to a high standard.  James 3:1-12 warns that, “we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.  For we all stumble in many ways.”  When you reach a certain level of competition and you do well as an athlete people will be looking to you as an example.  They will immolate your technique, your training routine, and your attitude.  That is a heavy responsibility.  So with all those eyes on you how should you behave?  Ephesians 4:26-27 tells us, “Be angry and do not sin, and give no opportunity to the devil.”

You will become angry, that is human nature.  We will be angry with ourselves for not playing our best, we will be angry with officials who make poor calls, we will become angry with our opponents when they out maneuver us.  However how we respond to our anger will say so much about our character.  Ephesians warns us to avoid sin.  Allowing that anger to fester, to overwhelm or to gain voice is not desirable in the Christian athlete.  Instead we need to give that anger over to God so he can calm our spirit and give us a fresh perspective.  Why?  Here are a couple of reasons to contemplate.  First, “a man of quick temper acts foolishly…” (Proverbs 14:17)  When we act in a moment of anger we do things that we end up regretting later.  This is the enemy’s opportunity to come in and tear us down.  We don’t want to give him such opportunities.

Another reason we should avoid allowing anger to grow is because “wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy.” (Proverbs 27:4) Where does anger come from?  It is not something that builds you up spiritually, so its source can’t be spiritual.  It springs from the deepest, and most unattractive of human emotions; hatred, lack of patience, and jealousy.  While these emotions exist in the flesh they need to be given over to God for control because only with God’s help can we master these strong and overpowering emotions.  That is why I always advise my children to begin their game with prayer, giving over every aspect of their game and their emotional state to God will help them act in a way that would please and honor God even in the face of adversity.

So when your gut tells you that something is wrong, listen.  Seek out answers to why you feel that way in scripture.  Pray then play.  And always practice anger management in your sport and in your life.  Let your goal in all you do be to grow in spirit and to honor God.

Categories: Lori Hickox Monjaras | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Through God’s Eyes: Focus Part 3

10-27-12_Blog_23

Seeing the World Through God’s Eyes

By: Lori Hickox-Monjaras

            Have you ever met someone who was immobilized by what might happen?  Or perhaps you know someone who sees the world through an extremely narrow lens.  Either way these types of people limit their own emotional fulfillment and tilt their view of the universe out of focus.  I am as guilty of that as anyone else.  I’ve let fear of the possibilities hold me back from taking chances that might have opened wonderful possibilities.  I’ve also been guilty of letting my own indignation, frustration and anger so color my perspective that I could not focus on what was important.  When I originally wrote the series Five Weeks Into F.A.I.T.H. I looked at the story of Jonah to illustrate how we can limit our focus by thinking that we know what is best, by trying to side- step what God has called us to do or worse yet, presuming to know the “mind of God”.  I still see this story as an illustration of those principles but in the two years since I wrote that chapter I have come to some different understandings about Jonah and indeed about all the stories that the Bible uses to unveil God’s truths to us.

Let’s begin today by taking a look at the story of Jonah  as told by a little girl.  One of the concepts that the Bible illustrates over and over again is the concept of the family.  The church is the family of Christ.  We are all the daughters and sons of God.  We function as a family.  We seek to be in the presence of our father, we don’t like feeling as though we are separate from him.  When we do find ourselves apart we begin to feel distressed and at odds.  Our perspective changes and we are less sure of ourselves.  When we are close to Him, when we choose to be obedient to his commands we grow in wisdom and understanding and also in confidence.  As we travel this path of obedience and searching for God’s wisdom things that were fuzzy and out of focus before become clearer and more sharply viewed.  What may have seemed a coincidence before now becomes a work of God, a miracle.  God enlarges in our lives and our encounters with him multiply.  This pursuit of God is what brings us to a fulfilling Christian life.  And it lives within the structure of our spiritual family.

Families are imperfect things because humans are imperfect creatures.  Jonah, by all accounts a man of great faith was still just a man.   He did not want to offer Nineveh a chance to repent.  In his opinion they were too far gone.  But Jonah wasn’t looking at the Ninevites as God looked at them.  Where Jonah saw only sin and disobedience, God saw possibility.  As a mother I find my view of my children is colored more by what I know they are capable of than of what they are actually doing.  My daughter may be a teenager, wearing socks that don’t match on purpose, carrying a turquoise blue unicorn backpack to school and talking in “likes” and “OMG’s” today.  But when I look at her I see the woman she may become; the compassionate woman who heals sick animals, the artistic photographer taking nature photos or the thoughtful and patient golfer who sinks every putt.  She has moments of all of these things in the midst of all of her giggles and girlish silliness.

That is how God sees us.  He sees us as a parent would see us.  He sees the moments of greatness that live in our souls.  He believed in Jonah’s ability to deliver a message and gave him every opportunity to do so.  He believed in the ability of an entire city to repent of their sinful ways and he offered them an opportunity to do just that.  He sees what we are capable of even when we can’t see it ourselves.  Even when we are too frightened to move or too self-righteous to have faith.  God does not expect perfection within His family, but he does expect us to strive to see the world as he sees it.  We still have the free will to walk any path we choose.  God knows the outcome of every path that we could possibly walk, that is why He wants us to choose His path, because while it may not always be the easiest it is the one that ensures that we end up right where He wanted us to be.

In Colossians 3:12-21 Paul tells us to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient.  We are to take on the attributes of God when dealing with others, and also when dealing with our own short-comings. The first step in seeing the world as God sees it is to look at ourselves as God see us.  He isn’t blind to our flaws but he can use them.  If we are willing to seek Him first he will use everything we offer, the good and not so good, to his purpose.  We may not understand how or why, as Jonah didn’t understand how God could offer forgiveness to Nineveh, but we must trust that we have value in God’s family.  As children we need to honor our Heavenly Father and the faith he places in us.  We need to respond to his callings, be obedient.  It is okay to be afraid, He will either use our fear or wipe it away.

Be careful of your self righteousness, however.  Every teenager comes upon a time when they think they know what is best.  They strain and pull away from their parents.  Most, in time, come to discover that parental restrictions are boundaries of love and protection.  Some however, harbor bitterness and anger toward their parents.  Those are ugly seeds to plant and they grow into a cancer that can eat you from the inside out.  God calls on us to avoid bitterness least we discourage those around us, not to mention ourselves.

As a member of the family of God let us remember; “Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and preserves himself from them.  When he prays he is heard….”  Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14

If you are interested in reading more of the message contained in Five Weeks Into F.A.I.T.H please download the book at Smashwords and keep following Lori’s blog each month as she discusses her journey into faith

 

Categories: Lori Hickox Monjaras | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

The Creation – Part 3

The Creation – God’s Word of the Creation Events

Through the years, I have studied many passages of the Bible, but these studies have invariably led me back to Genesis 1 and its narration of the Creation.  On a recent trip, I rediscovered a long lost interest in photography, and it became natural to merge the two into a form that perhaps can provide the viewer a new appreciation for this most fascinating chapter.

This is an eight part series, covering the introductory verses, followed by the daily events of forming and filling. Each of the photos are my originals.  They are here simply to enhance the amazing descriptions contained in Genesis in a way you might not have discovered before.  Enjoy God’s blessings!!!

Part 3:

 Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. (Gen 1:6-8)

Genesis 1_Slide_012

… separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse …

Much has been written about the expanse (or firmament) of the skies and heavens, and science has established five distinct layers in the Earth’s atmosphere that separates the earth from outer space.  But I would rather look at another phenomenon of God’s creation within this passage, climate.

Water is such an amazing compound, so vast in its quantities – 3/4 of the earth’s surface is covered by water, with 97% of all water held in reservoirs we call oceans.  Water exists readily in three states, solid, liquid, or gas, and in even the driest, harshest environments on this planet water vapor (unseen by the human eye) exists in substantial quantities.  Water provides the medium for quenching thirst, cooking, cleaning, bathing, transportation, recreation, energy generation, and many other uses.  Water is truly the one resource that provides sustenance to life itself.

The “water cycle” describes the continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the earth.  The water moves from one reservoir to another, such as from river to ocean, or from the ocean to the atmosphere, by the physical processes of evaporation, condensation, precipitation, infiltration, runoff, and subsurface flow.

The water cycle involves the exchange of heat, which leads to temperature changes. For instance, when water evaporates, it takes up energy from its surroundings and cools the environment. When it condenses, it releases energy and warms the environment. These heat exchanges influence climate. By transferring water from one reservoir to another, the water cycle purifies water and replenishes the land with freshwater. Does this not also seem like the life cycle that God offers to us? – Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:10)

The change in temperature is also responsible for the creation of wind, either the gentle breezes that can provide a pleasing coolness to the day,  or harsh winds that produce stormy conditions, such as that which the apostles feared while in their boat on the sea: He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matthew 8:26-27)  Whether gentle or fierce, God can use the forces of nature to instruct us as to His power and will.

Genesis 1_Slide_014

… and it was so.

This phrase is repeated six times in Genesis 1.  It describes, not by conjecture, but by fact, the certainty of God. Spurgeon writes:

Whatever it was that He willed, He did but speak the Word, “and it was so.” In no single case was there a failure. There was not even a hesitation, a pause or a demand for a more powerful agency than the Divine Word. In each case, Jehovah spoke, “and it was so.” Nor is this first week of Creation the only instance of the kind, for in no case has the Word of God fallen to the ground—whether of promise or of threat—the Word has been confirmed and fulfilled. “As it was in the beginning, it is now, and ever shall be, world without end.” Whatever the mighty God decrees, foretells, declares, or promises shall, before long come to pass.

This concludes Part 3 of the series.  Next time, we will explore God’s work on the third day of creation, with the separation of the land and waters.  Thank you for your continued interest. I would welcome any comments you might have.

Categories: Shane Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

The Sufferings of Christ

orphan“Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:14-16

We received the Spirit of sonship. We are adopted into The Family. We are God’s children. But what does it mean to be adopted?

Just a few years ago, the Ivey family completed the process of bringing their newly adopted son home from Haiti. Take a few moments to watch this short documentary that captures those final moments.

But there is a deeper story to be told. The story that happens after the cheers at the airport die down. The story that happens when we are called to “the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings.” (Philippians 3:10). You see, the verses in Romans 8 continue with the results of becoming adopted as a true child of God: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

Aaron Ivey goes on to tell “the rest of the story,” in this honest and powerful sermon that you can find here. I encourage you to watch or listen to every moment. You may think it is a sermon for those who are interested in adopting children, and it is…but it is so much more. I’ve watched the whole thing multiple times and shed tears every time. For as Ivey explains that we are all called to orphan care (in a variety of ways), he also explains that we are called to suffer along with the orphan. This is a powerful description and depiction of what Jesus suffered that we might have a Heavenly Father, and what Ivey is discovering through his own call, to suffer alongside his adopted son, that he might know the reality of an earthly father, and ultimately, his Heavenly Father.

As Ivey describes the sufferings of Jesus a most profound picture emerges. He says there are three ways that Jesus suffered in order to make us adopted children of God. (1) Jesus suffered with longevity–He still suffers alongside us and He calls us to suffer alongside the orphan continually. (2) The crucifixion was Jesus’ invitation to be wronged, to be wounded. Only in Jesus taking our wrongs could we ever be made right. He calls us to experience the suffering of the orphan and allow him or her to scar us. It is an excruciating invitation to be wronged in all the ways they have been wronged. And (3) Jesus suffered by losing what He had so we could gain what we did not have–a Father. Jesus lost His Father on the cross. When He took our sins upon His shoulders, the Father looked away, and Jesus gave up the relationship that he had enjoyed for eternity. When we suffer alongside the orphan there will be loss…you must sacrificially surrender and watch hopes and dreams die as you submit to the difficult journey of loving a child with a broken heart.

Ivey tells this story in the context of the challenges his family is facing as they suffer alongside the orphan. I encourage you again, to listen to this powerful sermon, and consider what it means to you as an adopted child of God.

I am blessed to have several families in my little corner of the world, who have made this deep commitment and sacrifice, to suffer alongside the orphan. Those parents are learning in a deeper way that I cannot, all about the Father’s heart towards His adopted children. But we are all called to orphan care in one way or another. I think I’m finally beginning to understand why.

Categories: Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

The Pursuit of Happiness: Focus Part 2

10-27-12_Blog_23The Pursuit of Happiness

By: Lori Hickox-Monjaras

            What makes you happy?  Are you content with what you have or are you constantly looking for more?  For the Christian these questions are just as relevant as they are for the non-Christian, however the framework of the question changes.  Instead of asking are you content with what you have, ask yourself are you content with what God has provided for you?  Are you content to be a servant who is given only what the King allows?  If you have chosen the path of Christ you have chosen the path of servitude.

In the last article I wrote about how our focus on things other than God can cause us to be distracted from our walk in FAITH.  Distraction or lack of focus can manifest itself in many ways.  Sometimes we want what we feel we deserve, or we desire what is just out of our reach.  For King David his desire for something that didn’t belong to him led to sin, deception, murder and separation from God.  As servants, God is our life.  We live to serve so isolation from Him is the ultimate punishment.  Of course we know that this isolation is self-imposed because God never withdraws from us.  But our own hidden sins can be as dense and thick as any physical barrier and the results are to feel alone and isolated as David discovered.

But it is so easy to get distracted, isn’t it?  We chase after so many things.  The world tricks us into thinking we can’t survive without this thing or that thing. We feel the need to buy the latest this, use the latest that.  Our kids hound us, our neighbors compare us, the world labels us by what we have or do not have.  But the world is offering us only false idols and ideals.  We need to stop thinking about the idols of man as those golden statues that the ancients worshiped and start looking at what has replaced them in our century.  We have magical boxes that provided instant news and entertainment, technology that delivers the world to our fingertips, games and toys and machines that move us from here to there.  Our world is filled with things our ancestors would not have believed possible and all of them can become idols if we allow them to.  We have replaced sculpted images of animals with computers and smart phones.

Ezekiel 14:3 says, “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces…”  Ask yourself, do the things you do cause you to stumble?  Do they keep you from worshiping God as you should or from appreciating what He has provided for you?  Are you feeling the worldly pressure to buy the next best thing?  Then perhaps you have set up an idol in your own home that you weren’t even aware of.  If your deepest desires, the ones that live only within your heart are not the planted seeds of God, then who planted them and who will reap the benefits when those desires come to flower?  Our pathway to happiness is laid out by God, himself, as are the paths of all servants laid out by their masters.

Think about this, Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., in the article “Five Pathways to Happiness” , lists the following as our gateway to happiness:

  1. Using your strengths
  2. Gratitude
  3. Savoring
  4. Flow
  5. A Meaningful Life

Let’s look at how this can apply to our Christian walk.  The first pathway is to use your strengths.  We know that God has equipped each of us with gifts of the spirits.  These are the strengths he has given us.  Ephesians 4:7-8 tells us that as Christ ascended to heaven what he left behind was the Holy Spirit and as that took residence in the human soul it brought with it special gifts of the spirit.  Have you discovered your gift?  Are you using it to strengthen the body of Christ around you?  If you haven’t then take the first step onto the pathway and find your gift.

Next, Tartakovsky says we need to live a life of gratitude.  David, the same king who isolated himself from God through sin found a way back to Him through gratitude.  He filled the book of Psalms with his agony as well as his thanksgiving.  For David it was a constant battle between what drew him away from God and what brought him close.  This is true of our lives as well.  Spend time looking at all that has been provided to you and you will find that what you can’t have isn’t really as important as you thought it was.

Along with gratitude comes savoring.  The definition of savoring is to delight in something.  What happens when you delight in the Lord?  How does that transform your day?  Can you savor your morning prayer time?  Can you savor the answers to those prayers?  Can you savor the little moments of life that God provides you to build you up and fill you with happiness?  Moments like hugging your son/daughter, looking into the eyes of your spouse, the feeling you get when you help someone?  If we are using our strengths, looking for things that we are grateful for and savoring the little moments in life our lives become much more full and we feel more fulfilled.

We have to accept in turn that our lives have a flow to them.   We are born we, learn, we grow, we become adults, we move on into old age.  Ecclesiastes 3 describes these as the seasons of our life.  Tartakovsky uses the word flow to describe them.  Our lives move likes the tides rising up to meet the challenges that overcome us and ebbing away to quieter more tranquil moments.  This is God’s design.  He has equipped us to live in this way never giving us too much or too little, but rather just enough to live the life he planned for us.  If we can accept and embrace all that God has offered us, and use those things that he has given us to build up our own faith and the faith of others then we have taken the last step onto the pathway of happiness, we have found a meaningful life.  Without God the Christian life has no meaning, with him we have purpose, we have focus and we find happiness.

To watch a short video about the seasons of our live please use the following link: “Turn, Turn, Turn–To Everything There is a Season”.  

 

If you are interested in reading more of the message contained in Five Weeks Into F.A.I.T.H please download the book at this link  and keep following Lori’s blog each month as she discusses her journey into faith. 

 

Categories: Lori Hickox Monjaras | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

The Orphan

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27

Did you know that there are 163 MILLION orphans in the world? I didn’t. But I am quickly learning. There are 163 million reasons to GO. To LOVE. To be the hands and feet of Jesus. Please take the time to watch this short video:

In a few weeks time I will head to a village in Haiti to spend a week visiting orphans. I can’t even begin to imagine what this experience will be like and what God has in store for me, but my heart’s desire is that His heart will be gladdened when He sees the love that can only come from Him flowing between and amongst all of His children. We pray, that no matter what the circumstances will be, that He will be glorified through it. My mind knows that there are physical, emotional and spiritual difficulties associated with a trip like this, and one can never really prepare other than to stay deeply rooted in His Word, to immerse oneself in His comforting Omnipresence through prayer and praise, and to set one’s feet on the path of His commands, being sensitive to the leading of His Holy Spirit every step of the way, ready to obey. I’m sure I’ll have much to share when I return.

Have you ever felt your heart drawn to reach out to these kids? To just take them in your arms and love on them? To be Jesus’ hands and feet and introduce the fatherless, to their Heavenly Father? For more information about Visiting Orphans Ministry check out their website here. If you’re wondering what a trip like this might actually look like, and what a blessing these children can be in your life check out this video:

It’s not hard to get started. Just go to the website and start exploring the many trips that they have scheduled this year to orphanages in Uganda, China, Haiti, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Kenya, Rwanda, Ukraine, Ethiopia, India, and El Salvador.

There are 163 million reasons to go…to love…to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Start praying about it now.

Categories: Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

Empathy

A message appeared on my facebook page the other day that read, “Lance Armstrong cheated and then lied about it over and over again.  And now he wants our sympathy?”  My initial reaction to this was to agree, how could he ask for our sympathy?  But then I thought about my own young athletes.  What should I tell them when they look at Armstrong and his mistakes and his plea for forgiveness?

Everyone makes mistakes.  It is unfortunate but in the quest to win at all costs many athletes feel a need to cheat or act in a way that is less than sportsmanlike.  How will we respond to them when we encounter them.  I want my children to grow up not just as good athletes but as Christian athletes.  That means that they look to God to determine how to respond when they run across those that would cheat or lie to win.Image       So what would God do?  Well, God forgave Jacob for deceiving his father to win his inheritance.  God forgave David for lying about Bathsheba and covering up his lies with murder.  God forgave Jonah for running away and refusing to do what he was called to do.  Should I go on?  If God can forgive all of these people and many more for their human frailties and sin who are we to do otherwise.

Empathy requires that we put ourselves into the position of someone else and try to understand what they are going through, feel what they might be feeling.  God does this.  Jesus walked on earth to live as a man, to feel what we feel, experience what we have experienced.   When we are faced with lying and cheating on the playing field, we need to try and see things from that person’s perspective.  We need to try and feel what they might be feeling.  We can hate the sin and still love the sinner.  There may be any number of reasons for their fall from grace, it isn’t our place to render judgement.  I know of a couple who are so determined that their children excel at athletics that they have used wireless devices to coach them from the sidelines even though this is not allowed by the tournament rules.  What values have they taught their children when they do this?  What can we expect of those young people as they progress in their sport?  If they cheat to win it might be because they were never taught anything else.  As athletes my children have a unique opportunity to set a different example for those competitors.  But it is my responsibility to make sure they are aware of what God expects of them so that they are ready when the time comes.

I don’t know why Armstrong did what he did.  He has given me no reason to trust either his words or his deeds but he still has my empathy.  In my journey I’ve stumbled many times.  Each time I wanted someone to empathize and forgive me.  I have to offer Armstrong the same forgiveness.  He has done some remarkable things.  He has also done some remarkably misguided and selfish things.  Haven’t many of us?

Categories: Lori Hickox Monjaras | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

The Creation – Part 2

The Creation – God’s Word of the Creation Events

Through the years, I have studied many passages of the Bible, but these studies have invariably led me back to Genesis 1 and its narration of the Creation.  On a recent trip, I rediscovered a long lost interest in photography, and it became natural to merge the two into a form that perhaps can provide the viewer a new appreciation for this most fascinating chapter.

This is an eight part series, covering the introductory verses, followed by the daily events of forming and filling. Each of the photos are my originals.  They are here simply to enhance the amazing descriptions contained in Genesis in a way you might not have discovered before.  Enjoy God’s blessings!!!

Part 2:

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness he called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Gen. 1:3-5)

“Let there be light”

Photographers love light – obviously without light there would be no such thing as photography.  Light is the medium to provide intensity, contrast, color, warmth, coolness, shadow and highlights to that which we observe on a daily basis.  Photographers learn the tricks of the trade to manipulate light into something that is pleasing to the eye, but they also marvel at the capacity of natural light to unveil intense blue skies, incredible sunsets, the deep red of an apple and all of the other amazing sights revealed to us daily.

For centuries, science has debated the behavior of light – does it consist as particles or as waves?  In the 1600’s Isaac Newton proposed that light consisted of a series of particles, and that view remained as the dominant theory until the 19th century when research showed that light could behave as a wave, countering Newton’s earlier theory.  However, a wave generally has to propagate through a medium of some kind, an “ether”. At the time, no such ether had been found to exist. So the debate continued.

In 1905, Albert Einstein, theorized that light traveled as discreet bundles of energy – and no longer was an ether-like medium necessary for light to travel. But this still didn’t explain why light was observed as a wave, so questions still remained as to what is the behavioral form of light.

The current conundrum for quantum physicists is this: light functions as both a particle and a wave, depending on how the experiment is conducted and when observations are made. But why is this?  This “duality” of light both intrigues and perplexes current scientific research.

God had no such problem with this duality, and I believe that, in 1:3, God was commanding the light to come forth in the form of Christ Jesus, and that He was being revealed to the world in a dual form.  During his days walking on the earth, Jesus ate, slept, laughed and cried as would any person.  But He also performed, through God the Father, many miracles to demonstrate his deity at the same time.

John captures this beautifully in his gospel, relating the story of how Jesus heals a blind man (what a fabulous way to demonstrate how He can reveal light from darkness).  After restoring the man’s eyesight, Jesus takes the next moment to teach us a valuable lesson:

“While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” (John 9:5)

How fascinating is it that, within the first three verses of Genesis 1, we have already been presented the Trinity for the world to see.

God separated the light from the darkness …

Even at the earliest stages of Creation, God is demonstrating the concept of “separation” – the light from the dark, the sacred from the profane, the holy place from the holy of holies (by using a veil).  Only those that choose to follow Christ can enjoy the benefits of this separation:

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12)

And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

Notice that the day starts in darkness and is completed in the light.  Man as unsaved starts in darkness, and only by the grace of God and the belief in Christ Jesus, can the Light be displayed.

This concludes Part 2 of the series.  Next time, we will explore God’s work on the second day of creation, with the forming of the heavens above and below.  Thank you for your continued interest. I would welcome any comments you might have.

Categories: Shane Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Faith Comes By Hearing: Digital Bible Platform

fcbh-bible-technology-projectAnd we finally reach the last chapter of this 40 year story of “Faith Comes By Hearing” ministry. But it is only the beginning of a whole new chapter as we enter the era of digital media. In this installment you will see how the staff at Faith Comes By Hearing believes that technology is the 21st century Roman Road and that the longevity of their work is secure, “because we’re thinking digital.”

According to their website: “To reach people with God’s Word in the midst of this digital age, Faith Comes By Hearing created the Digital Bible Project, which includes the world’s largest standardized digital library of Bible text and audio recordings. The Digital Bible Project makes the Bible available to people around the world through Internet, social networks, and the Bible.is app. Users in nearly every country in the world are accessing God’s Word in their own language via streaming, downloads, and podcasts–all at no cost to the user.”

It’s clear that this new direction for the Faith Comes By Hearing ministry promises an exciting journey for the next 40 years and beyond. For all the details check out the video below and their website here.

Categories: Faith Comes By Hearing, Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

Faith Comes By Hearing: Military BibleStick

service-memberWe are nearing the end of this journey through history–Part 6 of “Faith Comes By Hearing’s” story. Again, for more info go to their website here. In the last installment we learned of a man who made a huge impact on those in the ministry through both his life and his death. With a new determination, the staff at Faith Comes By Hearing continue in their calling, this time to one of the youngest people group they have ever focused on–the United States Military.

Categories: Faith Comes By Hearing, Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Faith Comes By Hearing: Romulo’s Story

peru-runa-simi-lucia

Romulo’s Legacy

Welcome to Part 5 of our focus on the 40th year Anniversary of “Faith Comes By Hearing” ministry. You can visit their website here. We’ve learned much about how God led founders Jerry and Annette Jackson from a rural ministry in an old school bus to finally focus on the pure Word of God in audio format. They experienced failure and difficulties along the way, but God used those difficulties to lead them in the direction of His perfect will. It had been hard, but it was about to become even harder. A man in Peru with a passion for his people would become the first martyr in this important journey and the staff of Faith Comes By Hearing would understand in a very personal way that there is a price to pay for getting the Gospel out. They would learn the hard lesson of “standing your ground against the enemy.”

Categories: Faith Comes By Hearing, Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Faith Comes By Hearing: The Proclaimer

The Ministry prays over the first shipment of Proclaimers.

The Ministry prays over the first shipment of Proclaimers.

Welcome to Part 4 of our series focusing on the history of “Faith Comes By Hearing” ministry. You can check out their website here.

We’ve learned so far of the journey that Jerry and Annette Jackson have taken from a rural ministry in an old school bus through failure and difficulties to finally arrive at a place where Audio Bibles became the main focus of their work. But getting God’s Word to people was still a challenge. Jerry shared with his staff a vision of a door with two locks on it. And those locks were labeled “illiteracy” and “poverty.” The entire staff spent three days in fasting and prayer searching for God’s leading on the matter. And they heard from Him loud and clear…

Categories: Faith Comes By Hearing, Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Faith Comes By Hearing: Focus on The Word of God

ENGESVN2DAWelcome to Part 3 of our “Faith Comes By Hearing” 40th Anniversary series. We learned in the first two videos that God started founders Jerry and Annette Jackson on a path that step by step took them to a place of focusing on the pure Word of God through audio ministry–to respond to the “famine in our land of Biblical literacy.”  But it was only through four years of failure and difficulty that the ministry could be streamlined to bring them to their current mission. (To visit their website go here.)

Categories: Faith Comes By Hearing, Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Faith Comes By Hearing: The Bible as Drama

orality_group

Welcome to Part 2 of our series on the history of Faith Comes By Hearing Ministry! (Learn more about this ministry at their website here.)

“Faith Comes By Hearing is committed to reaching the nations with the Word of God in audio, offering the Bible in a format that will connect with the world’s 50% illiterate population. To accomplish this enormous task, the Lord has assembled a group of committed leaders and dedicated servants of His Word to develop into a reality the vision of bringing His church together and making disciples.”

In our first article we learned that Jerry and Annette Jackson were called to walk away from the life they had begun as a young family and travel on an old school bus, ministering to people along the way. After praying over the city of Albuquerque, though, Jerry clearly heard the Lord tell him to bring His people together and to make disciples. Thus began the Hosanna tape lending library, a collection of audio recordings for the body of Christ. God had even bigger plans though….

Categories: Faith Comes By Hearing, Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Faith Comes By Hearing: The Bus and the Beginning

fall-2012-web

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

This year Faith Comes By Hearing Ministry celebrated their 40 year anniversary, and it has been quite a ride! Little did Jerry and Annette Jackson know that when they obediently piled their little family into an old school bus and set out to minister in rural areas, that God would lead them to become the largest Audio Bible distributor in the world.

According to “Faith Comes By Hearing” Ministry:

“We could see the Great Commission completed in our lifetime! This could be the generation to bow before our Lord and offer Him the inheritance of the nations.

For the first time in history, every language (or ethnos) group has been identified and there are 6,809 in our world today. Faith Comes By Hearing’s goal is to record and provide Audio New Testaments in every translated language, making the fulfillment of the Great Commission a reality in our lifetime!

Currently, Faith Comes By Hearing offers 703 languages, reaching more than 5 billion people in more than 186 countries. “

We will be running a seven-part series over the next couple of weeks to share the history of this amazing ministry because in the coming months we will also be sharing so many of the amazing things that God is doing to bless people through them.

We begin with the call to get on that bus….

Categories: Faith Comes By Hearing, Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Hidden Sin: Focus Part 1

Several years ago I had occasion to reflect on my own spiritual journey as I watched my young son struggle in his own walk.  As I watched him navigate the difficult balance between a desire to be who God wanted him to be and to be the person that he thought others wanted him to be I recalled those difficult pre-teen years of my own life.  I was moved by his struggles because they were so painful for him.  Of course hind-sight allows us a vantage point tempered by survival and lessons learned.  In the midst of the hurricane it is often difficult to find your way.  His struggles prompted me to ask God how I could be proactive in helping him through this difficult time.  Out of that prayer Five Weeks Into F.A.I.T.H. was born.  I would like to share with you some of the insight that God shared with me to support my son.  My prayer is that God will use it in your lives as he has used it in my and my family’s lives to draw you closer to Him in every way.

In Five Weeks Into F.A.I.T.H God showed me five steps into a deeper understanding of what separates us from Him and what can draw us closer to Him. God’s desire for us is that we live full lives closely walking by His side.  When we allow ourselves to become distracted from that purpose we find that we feel alone, sad, and depressed.  Drawing closer to Him allows us to heal.  The steps are represented in the acronym F.A.I.T.H.  The “F” in faith stands for Focus and that is where we will begin our journey.

Our first step into living a more faith filled life is to learn how focusing on things other than god can lead us into emotional distress and even depression and away from the lives that God had for us to live.

In looking at Focus we will explore the warning and encouragement that God has given us in the Old and New Testament about focusing.   These are the lessons that I have learned personally and want to share with you.  Remember that F.A.I.T.H. steps are the deep roots that bind us to God and allow us to live purposeful and God-centered lives.

Have you ever had a secret?  Something that you were sure was hidden deeply,  something that you believed, when revealed, would change others’ opinions of you?  Do you remember what it felt like to harbor such a secret?  Did it grow and become something you could not escape?  Did it pop up in your mind when you least expected it or welcomed it?  If so, you aren’t alone.  We’ve all experienced something similar and so did people in the Bible.  David is one good example.

Look at the story of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11).http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2 Samuel 11&version=NIV

Here is the story of one of our greatest Kings caught in a very human trap, the trap of desire.  After giving into his desires he is ashamed and tries to hide his sin, first by deceit and trickery and finally through murder.  His sin separated him from God.  But rather than turning back to his master, confessing what was in his heart he acted on his desires.  This compounded matters.  There was more to hide.  In David’s desire to hide his affair with Bathsheba he continued to pull further and further away from God and to sink deeper and deeper into the abyss that sin can become.  David’s focus was on his own needs through out this period.

It isn’t any wonder that David wrote so many Psalms about separation and suffering in the search for God.  Look at Psalms 32 for example.  http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm 32&version=NIV

He laments that he feels that he is growing old, crying out day and night and feeling the hand of God heavy upon him.  He is describing the depression that was coming over him as he struggled with the obsessive thoughts about his own guilt.  By holding onto his sin, hiding it away from God he allowed it to grow and consume him.  It weighed heavy on him and it caused a drought in his soul.  He had isolated himself from God.

This was not where God wanted David and it isn’t where he wants us either.  Remember God did not withdraw from David.  David’s actions separated him from God.  Luckily God knew our human hearts so well that he was prepared for this.  While He doesn’t want us to sin, when we do, and we all do, God is ready to catch us and take our sinfulness away.  All we need to remember is one word MERCY.  If you read Psalm 32 to its conclusion you will see that God has laid out this plan for us.  If we confess our sins we can seek forgiveness.  God will shelter us and wipe away our guilt and shame.  Once we accept God’s mercy it will work like a soothing ointment taking away the stinging wounds and emotional scars of our sin.  They are wiped away, blown away like the clouds and God forgets them as if they never existed.

We need to bring our sins into the light of day.  We need to let the light of God’s love destroy them and allow his mercy heal us.  This is the first step in focusing on a God centered life.

God wants to be the center of our lives.  He doesn’t want us to be distracted by other things.  If you are not focused on that truth then it is time to shift your focus.

If you are interested in reading more of the message contained in Five Weeks Into F.A.I.T.H please download the book at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/35388 and keep following Lori’s blog each month as she discusses her journey into faith. Take time to watch the YouTube Video “Hidden Sin” that accompanies this post at  

Categories: Lori Hickox Monjaras | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

The Creation – Part 1

The Creation – God’s Word of the Creation Events

Through the years, I have studied many passages of the Bible, but these studies have invariably led me back to Genesis 1 and its narration of the Creation.  On a recent trip, I rediscovered a long lost interest in photography, and it became natural to merge the two into a form that perhaps can provide the viewer a new appreciation for this most fascinating chapter.

This is an eight part series, covering the introductory verses, followed by the daily events of forming and filling. Each of the photos are my originals.  They are here simply to enhance the amazing descriptions contained in Genesis in a way you might not have discovered before.

Part 1:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. (Gen 1:1-2)

In the beginning, God created…

 This is the key point of the entire Word.  If you believe that God is the Creator, then everything else in the Bible falls into place.

There has been a concerted effort in the last two hundred years (Charles Darwin, Thomas Malthus among others) to advance the idea that scientific discovery can replace or, more sinister, remove the existence of God.  It does seem paradoxical that scientists who, by the nature of their work, should be receptive to any and all ideas, but instead limit themselves to preconceived notions.  Evolutionists tend to mock those who have a God-based faith, but actually it takes more ”faith” to hold to the rudimentary (compared to the wonders of God) scientific subsystems! A substantial amount of research is being done in the areas of molecular biology, geology and astrophysics to validate a particular area of “this proves the evolutionary concepts”, but yet there is no integration of these fields into a comprehensive conclusion.  That will be impossible, of course, because there is only one master planner.

It is interesting to note that God establishes a beginning and yet no ending (spoken of as “eternal life” – 44 times alone in the Gospels and Acts we are given this promise).  Science provides no certainty of the beginning (it is estimated that the universe is 13.7 billion years old, give or take a billion years – that seems a rather larger margin of error), and views physical death as the definite end, defined as “natural selection” or “survival of the fittest”.

Formless and void…

 It is a very humbling truth of God, that the best man that mere mortality ever produced is still “without form and void” if the Spirit of God has not come upon him. All the efforts of men that they make by nature, when stirred up by the example of others, produce nothing but chaos in another shape.

Only one other time in the Bible is this phrase used, Jeremiah 4:23, “I looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless and void; And to the heavens, and they had no light.”   This prophecy provides insight into spiritual void of the Israelites before they entered into their seventy-year captivity.

God provides another warning for man to try and usurp His authority, Isaiah 45:18, “For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), “I am the LORD, and there is none else.”

The Spirit of God moved over the surface of the waters.

Charles Spurgeon writes this beautifully, “The first Divine act in fitting up this planet for the habitation of man was for the Spirit of God to move upon the face of the waters. Till that time all was formless, empty, out of order and in confusion. In a word, it was chaos. And to make it into that thing of beauty which the world is at the present moment, even though it is a fallen world, it was necessary that the movement of the Spirit of God should take place upon it.”

This concludes Part 1 of the series.  Next time, we will explore God’s work on the first day of creation, bringing light to the world, and separating night from the day.  Thank you for your continued interest. I would welcome any comments you might have.

Shane Page

Categories: Shane Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Starting the New Year Off in a New Way

Happy New YearHappy New Year! And welcome to 2013! It’s been more than a year since we posted here at Seeds to Sow, but the Contributors have decided it’s time to crank it back up!

So here we are…the first day of a brand new, spanking year so it’s obviously time to think about Christmas!

Christmas?

Seriously?

Yes.

Seriously.

Year of PlentyOne year ago, as we kicked off 2012, I found myself leading a small group study focusing on the book, “The Year of Plenty” by  Craig Goodwin. Here’s how the book opens:

“Our story begins on December 27, 2007, in the wake of a post-Christmas funk. This season of hyperconsumption somehow managed to leave us flat, disconnected from the stuff we were buying, and no better connected to family and friends than we’d been a month before. Instead of a thoughtful exchange of gracious gifts, Christmas felt more like a warm-hearted system of payoffs and buyouts…”

As the author works through his discontent with the season he has just been through he realizes that, even as a Pastor, “there seemed to be no meaningful connection between the rhythms of faith and our life of consumption. Not only that, we didn’t seem to have much of a grasp on what was driving our consumer lives…We had been swimming in mindless consumerism for so long it was hard to imagine other options…As of Christmas 2007, we thought we were doing everything right. We were dutiful consumers in the marketplace doing our responsible best, and  yet there we were on December 27, worn out, angry, defensive and disappointed.”

“The Year of Plenty” is the story of Goodwin and his family as they try to make daily decisions that will better express their faith. Although their starting place was Christmas gift-buying, their decision to be intentional about all of their purchases took them places they never would have dreamed of.

To learn more,  check out Goodwin’s blog here.

Feeling much of the same disconnect as Goodwin and his family, I resolved to make changes in my own life and consumer choices, and I will share some of that journey with you in the coming months. But lets start with the idea of gift giving, since we are just a week past that national tradition and obsession.

A year ago I resolved that Christmas 2012 would be different. You see, back in 2011 I had wandered the aisles of the chain stores looking for just the right gifts for my grandchildren, wanting to be sure I didn’t get them something that they would already be receiving from another family member (because we all shop with the same rubber-stamped options to choose from). Oh, I was so tempted to spend and spend and spend and buy them anything that would bring smiles and squeals of joy from them, but held myself in check (sort of). Even though I spent hours inspecting shelf after shelf of brightly colored plastic items, I knew that what ever I picked would not truly express my heart for them.

After reading “Year of Plenty,” I chose several themes to guide my gift giving this year. My gifts would be simple, meaningful, purposeful, handmade and/or homemade. I didn’t want to communicate to my grandchildren that gifts were “the reason for the season,” so if I didn’t want the Baby Jesus to be overshadowed by it all, my gifts would need to be simple. So I did buy them each one simple toy to enjoy. When considering other items, I wanted there to be some meaning or purpose behind it, and that’s why I did shop in places where I knew the money would go directly towards a charity that I supported, and hoped that might one day connect my little ones to the idea of service and sacrifice. Below is an example of one way to give a meaningful gift of purpose. Listen to this mother’s heart as she explains the very same frustration she has with our current expression of this holiday. And then learn of another way to focus your family’s attention on the reason for the season.

And then there is the idea of gifts that are handmade or homemade…well this was the best part of all! I knew that whatever I handcrafted for them would be unique, one-of-a-kind, and made especially with them in mind…a real gift from the heart.

Anna stuffed toyHere’s a photo of my oldest granddaughter, with a simple stuffed toy she found in her stocking.

My husband, a photographer, decided to take pictures all year long, so that each child would have a photo book to herself–all about her daily life in 2012. Below are some photos of them each enjoying their own special collection. I cross-stitched a fun little bookmark to go with each book. Add to that a few little home made puzzles and games and the stocking stuffers were completed.

Now, I had many more plans that didn’t come to fruition in 2012, mostly because I let time get away from me and as Christmas Eve approached, I just couldn’t get everything done that I had hoped to accomplish. So, is that why I am starting my gift planning on January 1st? Well…yes. And…no. Sure, I want to give myself a head start so it doesn’t all pile up on me in November and December. Staying stress-free is part of the plan, too. But here is the real reason that I am starting today to work on Christmas gifts to be shared 12 months from now.

Something beautiful happened as I worked on those little gifts. Rather than focusing on my loved ones while window shopping at the local mall in November, the recipients were on my mind constantly. I would find myself smiling at the mere thought of things that might bring them joy. I had such fun planning and creating with their personalities in mind. And more important, I found myself praying deeply for each person as I worked on those gifts. With every stitch, I sowed a prayer. Prayers for their protection. Prayers for their spiritual growth. Prayers for the difficulties they were experiencing in life. Prayers for their futures when I might no longer even be around. Sowing seeds of prayer all around their lives.

By the time the bright, colored paper was removed and the gifts were actually in their hands, it was no longer really about the present itself. The gift had simply become a physical expression of a whole year’s worth of prayers lovingly brought before the throne of God. What a joy and unexpected blessing those hours of prayer had become! And that’s why I can’t wait to get started again. I can’t wait to thread the needle and begin my intercessory journey for 2013. I pray that this year, you, too, will sow seeds of prayers in the lives of your loved ones. And may God help you be a blessing in their lives, not only in December, but all year long.

Jeanne Page

Abigail book

Eva book

All three with books

Categories: Jeanne Page | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 44 other followers