Archive for September, 2011

Several years ago, my family and I were presented with a most incredible opportunity to move half way around the world and spend three years living in and experiencing an entirely different culture than anything we’ve ever known.  Today I will share some final thoughts on my experiences and how God has used them to increase my dependence on and belief in Him.

~Belief that God has gifted me with special talents- finding my place

 Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  Matthew7:9-11

There was always excitement and adventure to be had while living overseas. The expatriate community was welcoming, caring… and very busy!  Not wanting to miss a thing, I dove head-first into each new opportunity that came before me.  It was good to keep busy, meet new people, and do good things but was I doing what God wanted for me?  The answer to that question became very apparent as I soon spread myself so thin that nothing I was doing was bearing the fruit God equipped ME to bear.

You see, God gifts each of us in a way unique to us and with the intent that we will use those gifts, under His direction and in His strength, to bring Glory to Him.  I was so busy keeping busy that I had lost sight of what God had for ME to do.  What I was translating as exhaustion and stress brought about by the pressure I felt others were putting on me to “do it all” was really God trying to slow me down enough to see and hear what He had for me to do.  It wasn’t an easy time, but ultimately God did get my attention and I began the difficult task, under His guidance, of focusing on the gifts and talents He has given me and putting them to use for His glory in my new environment.

Do you believe that God has given you very special gifts and talents?  How can you use them today to bring glory to Him?

Over the past few days I’ve shared only a few of the many promises God revealed to me that have served to deepen my faith and belief in God.  It is my hope and prayer that my experiences will cause you to stop and think about God’s promises and that you will believe each and very promise He makes- He makes to YOU!  




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Several years ago, my family and I were presented with a most incredible opportunity to move half way around the world and spend three years living in and experiencing an entirely different culture than anything we’ve ever known.    Join me today and tomorrow as I share some of my experiences and how God has used them to increase my dependence on and belief in Him. 

~Belief that God will give me strength and peace- dealing with homesickness.


 Psalm 29:11 says: The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace. 

I was never one to want to be too far away from home.  As a child, I didn’t care too much for sleepovers unless they were at my own home, and can remember calling my Mom and Dad to come get me on more than one occasion.  As I got older, things didn’t change much as evidenced in a failed attempt to go away to college.  When I got married, despite my insistence growing up that I would get married but I wouldn’t move out of my parents home, I did- and that was a very difficult transition for me!

Fast forward through many more difficult moves with my new and growing family, and we arrive at the ultimate move- to a new country.  Homesick barely begins to describe the feelings I had when I had to say good-bye to home and board that plane.  I think I managed to hide my breakdowns on the flight to “be strong” for my family, but it wasn’t until after much prayer that I realized I didn’t need to be strong on my own- couldn’t in fact.  God promises to give us His strength and bless us with His peace.

Little by little, I was able to believe that God meant this promise for me and was blessed with a peace that could only come from Him.  I never stopped missing my family, my friends, my home… But God gave me the strength to get through each day with a peace in knowing that it was all okay.

What situation are you dealing with that can only be handled in Gods strength?  What peace is God offering you today?  Tomorrow I will share another of God’s revealed promises to me and how I chose to believe.  I hope you’ll be back!



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Several years ago, my family and I were presented with a most incredible opportunity to move half way around the world and spend three years living in and experiencing an entirely different culture than anything we’ve ever known.  The decision to accept this challenge did not come easily. Nor did it come without many, many times of questioning if we’d made the right decision for us and for our teenage daughters.  Over three exciting, and sometimes scary years, it became clear to me that we weren’t in this alone.  I knew God was working on each of us, and especially me.  Growing me, molding my faith, revealing my gifts and strengths, and also painfully exposing my weaknesses on many occasions.  Through it all, I learned to identify one very valuable fact. No matter what, God promised He was with me and my greatest challenge was to not only remember that fact but to rely on it.  I had to believe that each and every new experience was a chance to prove my growing faith.  A chance to show the world, and myself, what I truly believed- and to glorify the One I believe in.  Join me today and through the rest of this week as I share some of my experiences and how God has used them to increase my dependence on and belief in Him.

~Belief that God is always present- even half way around the world.

Romans 16:25-27 says:  Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him- to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

I remember arriving at our new home and feeling so lost. I have a pretty good sense of direction and acclimate to my surroundings fairly quickly but this time it was more than just logistics.  Being in a foreign country, away from family and friends, and unable to read signs or communicate with other people had thrown me for a real loop.  And yet, everywhere I looked I saw crosses on the tops of buildings. In this country, every church building has an illuminated red or white cross on the highest point so that when you look across the city you see crosses everywhere.  In a country with a strong Confucian and Buddhist history, I thought it was so cool!  I never did find out the reason for this, but for me it was a constant visual reminder that, even though I was half-way around the world from my family, friends, and church, I wasn’t alone.  God was always with me no matter where I went.  As Paul says in his letter to the Romans, God intends for all nations to believe and obey Him.  I knew this, but here in my new home God was giving me the opportunity to experience it- to experience Him- and in turn, to deepen my belief in His promise to always be with me.  If you are a believer rest assured that there is nowhere you can go where you apart from God.  Will you believe God’s promise to you today?

Come back tomorrow as I will share another of God’s promises made real for me through my experience in a foreign land…

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“The Lord opened her heart to respond…”

The above words are from Lydia’s Story found in Acts 16:14, but these words can also describe the stories of the women highlighted this week at Given the Time…modern-day women willing to hear new things from God and believe!  Let’s hear from our third modern day woman…

I found early on in my relationship with God that listening to God sometimes means you may not like what He has to say but that He always has your best in mind.

I came from a dysfunctional home that was filled with emotional abuse and threats of physical abuse. My mom divorced when I was 2 and married a man who would later adopt me and become my Dad.  Through circumstances he became alcoholic and abusive. I went through most of my childhood trying to escape his wrath and by the time I graduated high school I moved as far away from him as I could go.

After moving I met the Lord and gave my life to Him.  God started to transform my life and to work on major areas of my heart.  At this point I still had no relationship with my Dad. If he answered the phone when I called home I would just hang up and call back later. But God started to convict me and challenge me to respond in love.  I felt like He was asking me to forgive my Dad.  I said, “Okay, I’ll forgive him.” Then I felt God say, “Now love him.”  I thought, “No way. I hate him, there is no way I can love him.”  Then I felt God say, “You don’t have to love him with your love. Love him with my love.”

I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know how to respond. But how could I say no? God had loved me. Surely there was love for my dad as well.  I asked God to break my heart for my dad.  I asked God to show me how He saw my dad. God gave me a vision of a wrecking ball smashing into a wall, breaking it down.  He said to me, “Every time you love him with my love you break down the walls that he has built around his heart.”

In obedience I started to love my dad in action and word. I looked for ways to bless him and would tell him that I loved him. This knocked him back and took him by surprise. He didn’t know how to respond at first. Then slowly, bit by bit, God started softening my dad’s heart. The wall around his heart indeed started to chip away. Because God broke my heart for my dad I started to have compassion for him and pray for him and truly forgive him.

It has been about 15 years since this process started.  My dad is a completely different man. He still has his problems and has not yet come to know the Lord in a personal way but he has asked questions and is becoming more open.  I continue to pray for that and have faith that God will continue this work in him. I am encouraged that God speaks to us even about the hard things in our lives. He wants us to grow and change and become more like Him.

We love because he first loved us.  Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.  And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” 1 John 4: 19-21

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“The Lord opened her heart to respond…”

The above words are from Lydia’s Story found in Acts 16:14, but these words can also describe the women highlighted in this week’s devotionals…modern day women willing to hear new things from God and believe!  Let’s hear from our second modern day woman of faith…

16 years ago we began an exciting new journey…God tugged at my heart to foster children even though we had 3 already.

We went through the class to start fostering only to find out we were pregnant, so because of my own fear at this new direction God wanted me to take, I used the pregnancy as a good reason to not follow the Lords leading.   God, in his great mercy, did not let me have peace until I once again went through classes.  We became foster parents three years later.

What an amazing God we serve!  Our first placements were 2 siblings who were with us 4 days before moving to another placement, but we were able to see God in this new direction he was taking us.  Three months later we got a call to pick up a baby, born drug addicted and 4 months early.   I had never seen a baby so small and with so many issues.  But I smiled at him, and when I spoke to him, he turned to my voice and I was forever changed.  This child had so many health problems, 10 days after getting him, he crashed at the ER, in front of my eyes, as they worked to bring him back, my thoughts and prayers were, God where are you? How could this be happening? I thought this is what you wanted us to do?  These questions and many more filled our minds as the days went by, and we waited to see if he would survive.

My own pride has always caused me more problems than I care to discuss.  But this time I could not fix anything for this baby, all I could do was cry out to God and wait.  It was during this time, that my walk with the Lord would forever change!  One day while doing dishes and crying, I felt the Lord tell me to get on my knees before him (something I had never done), so I did, I had no pride left, nothing to do, but surrender everything.  When I arose from that prayer, my ability to see who was really in charge of my life and those whom I loved was very clear.

The Lord has continued to bless our family through his will for us to foster many more children and adopt along the way.   As we moved forward with each new child who entered our home, God expanded our territory just as I prayed “The Jabez prayer.”

God once again, stretched us beyond what we thought we could do!  We had a little girl in our home 8 weeks, to receive a phone call, she had a brother and sister born the day before and would we like to keep this sibling group together!  How could we do three more, God?  We did take them into our home and tried talking ourselves into how it would be better to let another family adopt them because we already had six.  Once again God showed us his will through prayer and this time also with a dream.   My husband dreamed that God asked him, Where are the three children I gave you?  He responded back to God, We found them a good home.  In the dream, God said to my husband,  But I gave them to YOU!  That morning we called and told the agency we could not let them leave our home, we needed them in our family.  We cried for days at how amazing God is when we believe his promises, and truly search the Bible for answers.

The day before the adoption of the three siblings, we found out we were expecting again!!  God in his glory gave us time to adjust to the news, and then 10 weeks later we found out it was twins!

God has brought our family from 5 to 13 children (new baby to arrive in November), in 19 years of marriage, and we are asked, why we have so many or are we crazy for the size of our family.  With each time we are asked, it gives an opportunity to tell others how we believe God and his faithfulness.

We don’t fit the standard family size, in our world view, but with God his plans are never to be compared to the world view, only what he can do through us when we are willing to surrender to him, and  believe his word.

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“The Lord opened her heart to respond…”

The above words are from Lydia’s Story found in Acts 16:14, but these words can also describe the women highlighted in this week’s devotionals…modern day women willing to hear new things from God and believe!  Let’s get started…

My lease was up and I was trying to decide if I wanted to renew since the price was going up and I really couldn’t stretch my budget to fit the new rent.  I prayed about it and in the week before I had to sign or move out, I called my grandma to see if I could visit and do laundry. 

Grandma lived close to my apartment, was generous with her washer and dryer, and also was nice conversation while I waited.  She mentioned that her income was not what it used to be and she would need to eliminate some gift giving.  Oh, that made me sad.  Grandma likes to shop.  I asked her to pray about my living situation and without a pause she said, “Come live with me.”  Uh, I was 27, single, and living with Grandma was not exactly the lifestyle I was going for. 

I told her I’d think about it.  Not a minute later a Scripture verse came to mind.  “Look not only to your interests but to the interests of others”.  What?  Seriously?  I have no idea what that has to do with my decision to move or not move… 

That verse kept coming to mind over and over during the night and the next day.   In conversations with my mom, she had mentioned how she needed to check in on my grandma more and more often with concern to her health.  Then, my grandma had said again that she wasn’t going to be able to buy gifts.  It was an “OH!” moment.  My grandma not only wanted me around, she needed me.  It was not just cheaper rent for me, but I could relieve my mom’s heart and keep up with my grandma’s health, and help my grandma buy things that she not only needed but wanted.  My living with her was not about me at all. 

I had to change my heart.  God needed me to do something for others.  He had to change my selfish heart and let it be open to something entirely new.  I needed to care for someone older.   To be honest, I had never really thought about the older generation all that much at 27, aside from grandparents.  After living with grandma and spending time with her, her friends and her like age family, I sure learned that the older generation has so much to offer us youngsters.  They have lived, made choices, seen death, life and all the in-between.  In my situation they saw God move and love them through the fires and calm.  They had learned to trust Him in a way I needed to learn.  Oh the change in my heart from listening to God that laundry day.  To this day I remember the years of living with my grandma as some of the best in my adult life. 

A change of heart can only come from the Lord.  My prayer is that you take the unexpected and look for God’s hand.  You may see that God has something wonderful in store for you.

“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done.  The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.”  Psalm 40:5

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Over this past week we have looked at the Biblical person of Ruth and taken four snapshot pictures of her journey of faith.  Action has been the defining characteristic we have observed in her personal faith this week.  Ruth’s faith was active!  Ruth believed!

“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.  Your people will be my people and your God my God.”  Ruth 1:16 (Ruth’s declaration to Naomi before they journey to Israel.)

From being a “pagan” Gentile from Moab, she stepped forward in belief of Jehovah God, the one true God, the God of Israel. We observed how her faith stood firm in the face of devastating loss, the death of her husband.  And then, Ruth moved in faith, literally and figuratively,  accompanying her mother-in-law to a foreign country to adopt it as her own land and people.

“I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband..May the Lord repay you for what you have done.  May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”  Ruth 2:11,12  (Boaz’s words to Ruth when he meets her in the fields gleaning.)

Ruth’s reputation among the townspeople in her new home  was one of faith complimented by the action of hard physical work that it took to survive.  Both her faith and her hard work brought her to the notice of an important man.

Ruth took action on the basis of Naomi’s advice to request Boaz to be her kinsman-redeemer.  It was a bold step to take but Ruth’s faith was not a timid one!

“So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife…and she gave birth to a son.  The women said to Naomi:  ‘Praise be to the Lord who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer.'”  Ruth 4:13,14

Ruth’s faith was rewarded as God indeed provided Boaz as the kinsman redeemer spouse for Ruth, which also provided for the widowed Naomi to be cared for as well.

Ruth’s faith was active and real.  She was a Real Woman, facing Real Life head on with Real Truth!  But she lived many years ago during Biblical times in a different culture.  Perhaps it feels like a person from so long ago is hard to relate to?  This next week on Given the Time we will introduce you to some modern-day women, who might live next door to you, and whose faith has led them to action just as Ruth’s faith was characterized by action.  These women opened themselves up to hearing new things from the Lord and it will be a great week to hear about their adventure.

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