All posts by BethBac

New Online Parenting Classes

It all started with a little boy named Kyle.  His parents had asked me and John to babysit, even though we had no children of our own and had no idea what to expect.  They explained that Kyle was very predictable and assured us that it would be an easy way to earn a few bucks.  They were absolutely correct.

Kyle’s parents laid out the whole evening for us when we arrived.  We would give him his last bottle of the night, keep him awake to play for a while, and then when he got cranky, it was time to put him down for the night.  They explained that he would lay in bed and cry for just a few minutes and then would fall asleep and we probably wouldn’t hear from him again.  We could spend the rest of the evening watching a movie, and that’s exactly what happened.

How did they know this about their son?  Were they just incredibly “lucky” to have been given an “easy baby”?  Or was it something else?

Turns out it was a program called “Preparation for Parenting” (aka “Babywise”).  And when we found out that we were expecting our first child, we knew that we would be signing up to take the same class.  And when Joshua was born on 6-14-02, we applied the same principles that Kyle’s parents had and Joshua turned out to be another “textbook” baby.  He slept 8 hours at 5 1/2 weeks and 12 hours at 8 weeks (and still does, at 17 years old, when given the opportunity).  🙂

We went on to take “Preparation for the Toddler Years” and “Growing Kids God’s Way” and then started leading classes at our home.  We were surrounded by like-minded parents, not only those who came to our home for classes, but also with fellow class leaders who got together once per month for dinner, training and fellowship.  Everyone’s kids played together at these monthly gatherings and our community grew stronger together.

Jordan Rose was born in 2006 and she was not the “textbook” baby that Joshua and Kyle had been.  However, the fact that she wasn’t sleeping helped us to figure out that she had food allergies.  If we hadn’t known what was “normal”, it would have been much more difficult to figure out that something was “abnormal.”

In 2007, we moved from Clawson to Clinton Township and continued to lead classes.  But it seemed that it was getting harder and harder for families to find babysitters, carve time out of their busy schedules and fight the traffic to get to weekly classes.  In 2011, we opened a bait and tackle store and it became impossible to keep leading classes with John working two jobs.  So, we stopped leading, but we kept applying the principles we had learned and occasionally we were able to attend National Conferences held by Growing Families International.

2018 National Family Camp. So thankful for all that we have learned from Gary and AnneMarie Ezzo. Our family wouldn’t be who we are without you!

In 2017 and 2018, we attended the National Family Camp in Carlinville, IL.  In 2018, they announced that all classes would now be available for free on their brand new website:  https://growingfamilies.life .  That was a beautiful step in the right direction, but something was missing.  Watching videos from the comfort of your own home is great, but what about the community of like-minded parents?

Well, just 2 weeks ago that issue was solved.  Now you can join a Growing Families class from the convenience of your home (or anywhere you are) using a phone, tablet, or computer:  https://growingfamilies.life/find-a-class-home?rq=Find%20a%20class

“Participants watch each week’s video lesson prior to class time and then come together online using the Zoom® group meeting platform.  Class time is dedicated to discussion, questions and answers, and additional teaching from experienced, certified class facilitators/mentoring coaches.”

Yipppppeeee!!!  No more issues with babysitters, busy schedules and traffic!  🙂  Below, I’ve listed upcoming classes available as of today, 8-20-19.  Please use the following link to find the most up-to-date class info:  https://growingfamilies.life/on-line-find-class-by-course?rq=On%20line%20Find

And while you’re waiting for your class to start, check out the on-line videos here: https://growingfamilies.life/parenting-video-master-page

Scroll down that page to get to “Most Popular/Viewed Short Segments” for information on  the interrupt courtesy, couch time (preventing childhood insecurities), the five minute warning (encouraging first time obedience), gaining self control (folding hands), emotional touchpoints (love languages), choice addiction (“Red cup, blue cup”), bribing, threatening and repeating parents (“Are you listening to me?”), encouragement for dads, potty training and much more.

Here’s a little preview of what you’ll find there:

https://growingfamilies.life/twenty-one-most-popular-segments-blog/2018/7/3/hey-mom-today-mps-02-1

Blessings to you and your families.

UPCOMING CLASSES:

Preparation for Parenting

  • Thursdays beginning October 17, 2019 at 7pm EST

Babyhood Transitions

  • Tuesdays beginning August 6, 2019 at 7:30pm EST

Toddlerhood Transition

  • Tuesdays beginning September 3, 2019 at 8:30pm EST

Tree of Life, Part 1

  • Sundays beginning September 8, 2019 at 5:00pm EST
  • Mondays beginning September 16, 2019 at 8:30pm EST

Growing Kids God’s Way

  • Tuesdays beginning October 15, 2019 at 7:00pm EST
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Karelo

NoChild.org just posted this on their Facebook page and I wanted to share it here.

We often hear from our Sponsors about what sponsorship means to them. This message from Beth Baumhauer Bacarella was so special that we just had to share. Thank you Beth & John for caring so deeply for Karelo. His life will be forever changed because of you!

“There is something to be said for the simplicity of life in a third world country, as long as your basic needs are met. And isn’t that exactly what we’re blessed to be able to do for these kids? How much clearer can they hear from God than we can with all of our “first world problems” and distractions?

I look at Julius Murgor and all that he has accomplished because he had an education, he had his basic needs met and he had a strong enough relationship with God to persevere when it looked like nothing he was doing was making any difference at all. Little did he know that God was working the whole time and preparing him for what was to come. That’s what I want for Karelo: an education, his basic needs met, and a strong relationship with God to persevere. I believe that’s what he’s getting through NoChild.

I could make excuses and tell you that “I don’t have any money” because I live paycheck to paycheck. But that’s not true. I am blessed beyond measure. I have a business and a home and a yard and food and utilities and 3 vehicles in my household and 2 dogs and books and toys and Netflix and phones and computers and appliances and on and on. I have all of my needs met and a whole lot of my wants met as well. I am blessed. We are all so blessed. And I believe we are blessed to be a blessing.

And who better to bless than someone like Karelo? He’s a good investment.   He’s an amazing investment in the Kingdom of God. And I believe that he knows that he is also blessed to be a blessing. I believe he’s going to pay it forward and make this world a better place. All of these kids are.”

Here are two photos of Karelo. The first one was taken in 2010 when Beth & John began sponsoring him and the second photo was taken this past year.

Karelo 2009:2010

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If you feel led to help change the world by changing a child’s future, I invite you to check out one of the many child sponsorship programs available:  NoChild.org, Compassion International, and World Vision are just a few that I know of.  If you already sponsor a child, if you’ve adopted a child into your family or if you’re a foster parent, THANK YOU!  You are a blessing.  You are making a difference.  Don’t ever forget that.

Little Victories

“The right answer might not be the best thing you can say.

Perhaps it would be better if you could help your friend take action instead. The acts of finding and doing are almost always more useful than getting good advice.

Inciting action is often better than contributing insight. Better to move forward and figure it out than to stand still and believe you know the right answer.”

-Seth Godin,”Inciteful“, April 27, 2018

I’ve always wanted my blog to be about encouraging, contributing insight and hopefully giving good advice.  But Seth is saying that’s not good enough.  And he’s right.  If my words don’t incite action, then what am I writing for?  I keep hearing the word “action”. So today, my 47th birthday, let’s talk about action.

I want to be an encouragement.  I want to be someone who takes action.  But, many times, I don’t believe I have the energy to accomplish what needs to be done.  Do you ever feel that way?  Like you want to make an impact and you want to enjoy the journey, but you end up feeling like you’re just trying to keep up?  

How can I be creative, productive, helpful, encouraging and inspiring, when I constantly feel like I’m falling behind?  I want to learn how to catch up and stay caught up so that I have excess energy to share. 

In her book “Come Matter Here: Your invitation to BE HERE in a GETTING THERE world“, Hannah Brencher talks about the lies she struggles with and how to defeat them:

“Action steps are my favorite thing because we live in a world where people try to make their words count for works.  There’s a difference though.  Either you talked about being there for someone, or you actually showed up for it.  Even when the lies in your brain are deafening, you can make them weaker by stepping out into action.”

I love that.

“Even when the lies in your brain are deafening, you can make them weaker by stepping out into action.”

Yes, there are lies in my brain.  I bet there are lies in your brain too.  So, let’s dig a little deeper into the power of stepping out into action.

A few weeks back, our Pastor, Chris Zarbaugh, said that “Love is fundamentally more action than emotion”.  He quoted what is probably the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16, stating that it doesn’t say, “God so loved the world that He felt it in His heart.”  What good would that have done?  No, it says “God so loved the world that He GAVE”.  He did something about the love that He has for us.  He gave His only Son.

The Apostle James said it this way:

“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  -James 2:15-17 (NIV)

James continued:

“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” -James 2:26 (NIV)

James clarified further, using Abraham as an example:

“You see, his faith and his actions worked together.  His actions made his faith complete.” -James 2:22 (NLT)

I think it comes down to awareness (faith) and action (deeds).  First, we need to be aware of what needs to be done and then we need to do it.  We probably won’t do it perfectly and we certainly won’t be able to do it ALL, but we absolutely can do SOMETHING.  Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ -Matthew 25:40

Thankfully, Craig Mayes clarified this by asking if Jesus said to help ALL of the least of these?  “No, He said whatever you do for ONE of the least of these.”  Just one.  If we each take care of one thing at a time, one person at a time, it’s all going to get done.  We need to see what’s in front of us, ask God what He wants us to do, and do it.  Take action.

No wonder we’re exhausted, trying to do it all.  No one is asking us to do it all.  Joshua Becker, the creator of the Uncluttered** on-line course, addressed this very issue in his recent blog post, How to Craft a Life You Don’t Need to Escape From:

First, Joshua quoted Seth Godin:

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”  

And that quote incited action in Joshua.  Check out his post (click the orange title above) where he explores 9 ways that we can craft this life:

1. Make Relationships a Priority.

2. Remove Unneeded Possessions from Your Home and Life.

3. Make Your Work Your Job.

4. Or, See Your Job as Part of Your Work.

5. Guard Your Time.

6. Take Care of Yourself.

7. Appreciate Your Season in Life.

8. Understand the Reality of Trials in Life.

9. Find Happiness in Your Every Day.

In point #6, “Take Care of Yourself”, Joshua says that “an empty cup cannot pour into another.”  So, how can we take care of ourselves?  Well, we know the answer probably isn’t taking a vacation.  Maybe it has more to do with a “Stay-cation” (click on those orange words to read the article about “reclaiming the place you already chose to live”).

I’m so thankful that my “Stay-cation” this May, June and July included Joshua Becker’s 12-week on-line Uncluttered** class.  I was astounded by the results.  Our very first assignment was to formulate our “why” and this was mine from 5-1-18:

I long for the day when the energy and inspiration I receive from my “clean spaces” is more than enough to fuel what I need TODAY to accomplish those energy-draining tasks that I continually look at and say “not today”.”

One of the best parts of this class is the real-time interaction with participants from all over the world via a closed Facebook page.  On 7-21-18, I wrote this response to a fellow-De-clutterer’s celebration Facebook post:

“Just goes to show how de-cluttering truly creates energy!  Yes, I know that energy is neither created nor destroyed, but only changes form.  So, let me restate that.  De-cluttering takes the energy that was wasted on telling yourself that some day the mess would be gone, and turns it into energy you can use today.  Yippeee!!”

In one of the class Webinars, I remember Joshua Becker saying, “Don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “better”.”  Every single “better” is a little victory that your future self will thank you for.

So, here’s where we get to the action.  What have you been thinking about but haven’t acted on yet?  What one action would your future self thank you for?

Signing up for a class?

Returning what you borrowed?

Making that phone call?

Volunteering and/or giving to a worthy cause?

Turning on some uplifting music?

Apologizing / asking forgiveness from someone?

Cleaning the shower?

Requesting a payment plan on that bill you’ve been dreading?

Telling someone you’re proud of them?

Finding a home for one item that doesn’t belong where it’s at?

Cutting up vegetables for a salad instead of eating that ________?

Donating an item that someone could use right now instead of keeping it in case you might need it some day?

Taking the dog for a walk?

Scheduling the doctor’s appointment that you’ve been putting off?

Balancing your bank account?

Visiting a friend?

Recycling the bottles and cans?

Asking her to marry you?

Putting away the laundry?

Cooking a meal for someone in need?

Getting out of bed?

One step.  Accomplish one thing, grab onto the energy that brings and take the next step.  It builds.  It grows.  And it’s not just addition.  It’s multiplication.  It compounds, like interest.  But it all starts with one action step.  Just one.  Let’s take that step.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life.  Let’s make it count.

And if you’ve never put your faith in Jesus Christ, maybe that’s the most important action step you could possibly take right now.  Accepting the gift that God so freely gave, thanking Him for His forgiveness and putting your faith in action.

 

**When I wrote last October’s birthday blog post, “The Best is Yet to Come“, I had no idea that “the best” would start with the Uncluttered class.  I’m so glad my 12 year old Jordan Rose encouraged me to pay the $89 to take the 12 week class.  But you don’t have to pay $89.  Now that I’ve taken it, I have permission to share with you the discount code to take the same class for 25% off: FF25.  Now that I’ve paid once, I never have to pay again and I will definitely be taking the class again (for free).  Join me!  Truly, the best is yet to come.  🙂  https://my.becomingminimalist.com

 

Previous birthday blogs:

2014:  Moment by Moment  (all that junk – yep, Jesus redeemed that)

2015:  Through Heaven’s Eyes  (what does God see when He looks at us?)

2016:  Treasure Hunting  (can we really live every day better than before, or is this as good as it gets?)

2017:  The Best is Yet to Come (encouragement for the road ahead)

Braces from Heaven

We’re in the middle of a series at church called “Intentional Acts of Kindness” and we received “Pass It On” cards to prompt us to be thinking about who we could bless.

I came into church last Sunday to usher at the 2nd service, but my kids volunteer at all 3 services each weekend, so they had been there all morning.  My daughter Jordan came up behind me and handed me this card (see picture below), saying that it was from one of her 4 year old’s mom, Dr Brynn.  I thought it was her info so that Jordan could babysit for Brooks (the 4 year old), but then I read the card completely.

I’ll let the following emails tell the rest of the story.  Jordan thought that, somehow, Dr Brynn had found out about her story, but we hadn’t told anyone about it.  It was simply the prayer of a 12 year old young lady.  🙂

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On Sun, Sep 23, 2018 at 3:12 PM Beth Bacarella wrote:

Hello Dr Brynn,

When Jordan brought me your “Pass It On” card this morning and I realized that it was for an orthodontic scholarship, we both started crying tears of joy. Then we told my parents (who were ushering with me this morning), and they started crying tears of joy as well. Let me tell you why.

Jordan has been seeing Dr Kabot in Clawson for the last 4 1/2 years. She has been wearing a retainer for all of that time and she gets it checked every few months. When we saw Dr Kabot in August, he said that she has done such a great job and “rocked that retainer” and that she’ll be done in December and could move on to braces, with much less work to be done due to using the retainer faithfully.

We knew that when we made the appointment to see Dr Kabot this coming December, we would have to tell him that we can’t afford braces. We used to have dental insurance that helped with the retainer, but now that my husband works full time for our bait and tackle store (and no longer has a job in the auto industry), we no longer have dental insurance.

When we got to my parents’ house in Clawson after seeing Dr Kabot, we had a long discussion about braces. Jordan was trying to figure out if she could some how finance them herself, maybe from babysitting jobs, as she had just taken a babysitting class at Henry Ford Hospital in August. But the more she thought about it, she wasn’t comfortable with committing to such a heavy financial responsibility, so she decided that she would go without braces and she would be ok. I told her that she could certainly pray that Jesus would give her braces if she really needed them.

And then you walked up to her this morning. Wow! Thank you!!! I can’t tell you what this means to Jordan. She’s been crying off and on at church all morning as she continues to share the story. We are all just blown away.

So, my question is, what’s our next step? We don’t need to wait until December. We can come see you whenever you’d like us to. I see that your office is in St Clair Shores, which is really close to us in Clinton Twp.

Looking forward to talking to you!

Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart,

-Beth Bacarella

 

On Sep 23, 2018, at 5:08 PM, Brynn Jezdimir wrote:

HI Beth and Jordan,

I am so happy to hear that you “accept” my scholarship! I am so excited that I had to stop making dinner and message you back!!!

Jordan…. since we started coming to Kensington Clinton Twp 3 1/2 yrs ago you have been so helpful with our kiddos (Brooks and Violet). We were able to come to church consistently when Brooks was a year old because you held him and as you saw today he still likes that! We have been touched by your serving in KKids and have always thought you were special. For a couple of years I have had the thought “wouldn’t be great if I could be Jordan’s orthodontist”… as a way to thank you for all that you do for so many.

I am an orthodontist today because I was a pre-teen with crooked teeth that was not able to have braces when recommended. I was crushed and felt really self conscious about my smile. Once I was able to go through the experience I was amazed at how my teeth and confidence could be transformed. Being able to help others in this way is a passion of mine that I get to live out. God is so good! And so today, I felt the nudge loud and clear during the service to use my card as a way to “gift you your orthodontic treatment”.

You can call my office in the morning and schedule a new patient exam with me 🙂 We can evaluate your development and best time to start. Bring your retainer in from Dr Kabot too! 🙂 Yeah!!!! I am so excited to help you and for you to meet my team!

Brynn

 

On Sep 23, 2018 at 5:41 PM, Brynn Jezdimir wrote:

Hello again,

I should add that I am so impressed with the gifts God has given to you, Jordan. Just from my outsider perspective… he has equipped you with kindness, a giving heart, dedication, and faithfulness. I am so grateful to be a part of your smile journey. May God continue to bless you!!! 

Brynn

 

I sent the story to Dr Kabot, along with a personal note to him:

Dr Kabot,

Here’s the rest of the story.  🙂

We were able to see Dr Brynn on Monday 9/24 after school and had her evaluation, pictures and impressions done.  It was decided that Jordan would start with carrier appliances for her top back teeth with rubber bands, along with a clear retainer to keep the bottom teeth in place and 4 braces on her top front teeth to get that process started.  She went back on Thursday 9/27 to have all of that done and the attached picture is her “after” shot with Dr Brynn.  🙂  Jordan is in pain, but she’s doing a great job.  And we know the pain will subside soon.

Dr Kabot, we can’t thank you enough for your part in this story.  If it weren’t for those 4 1/2 years with you and Jordan’s retainer, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.  We’ve always enjoyed coming to see you and we’ll miss that.  But your office is very close to my mom’s house, so we will be sure to stop in here and there when we’re in the area.  🙂

Please do share this story with the ladies in your office (and with anyone else you’d like to!), as we will miss coming to see them as well.  Everyone in your office has been wonderful and we’re so thankful for the care and encouragement you’ve given all these years.

May God bless you, your family and your practice!

-Beth & Jordan

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Dr Brynn, Jordan Rose & those braces from Heaven 🙂

Want to hear more of Jordan’s story?  Check out Fresh Eyes: Jordan Rose and Dr Chub Andrews.

My Week 12 “Uncluttered” email assignment

You haven’t heard from me in a while.  Why?  Well, I’ve been taking an on-line class.  I’ve been posting a bunch on Facebook too, but you most likely haven’t seen those either, because I’ve been posting in the closed “Uncluttered” Facebook group.  What a concept.  Truly, that’s where the magic happened.

Tomorrow is the last day of this magnificent 12 week class.  Part of our assignment for this week was to write a “looking back” email to the class creator, Joshua Becker.  I wanted to share that email with you, along with the before and after pictures that I posted on Facebook today.

Hi Joshua,

Thank you so much for this class.  Wow.  I hardly know where to begin.

How about here?  I spent most of 2013 in a Celebrate Recovery step study, focusing on untangling the ties of co-dependency, depression and anxiety in my life.  I spent a lot of time writing (and reading out loud) in that step study, and my “step-sisters” really liked what I had to say.

Then, in 2014, after many, many people over the years had told me, “You should write a book!”, someone finally said, “You should write a blog!”.  Oh, I can do that.  I started my blog on 7-16-14 and after a few posts, changed the tag line to: “Sharing everyday miracles to encourage those who struggle with depression and anxiety.”

The big break-through happened on my 43rd birthday, 10-19-14, when I wrote and posted “Moment by Moment.”  After I posted it, I shared it with each person on Facebook who wished me a happy birthday.  And then I continued to share it for the next year on each Facebook friend’s birthday.

Ever since then, I’ve written a “special” post for my birthday, following the same pattern I started in 2014.  My post last year was “The Best is Yet to Come.”

And I just shared this on Facebook earlier today, along with some before and after pictures:

“When I wrote last October’s blog post, “The Best is Yet to Come“, I had no idea that “the best” would start with this class.  I’m so glad my 12 year old Jordan Rose encouraged me to pay the $89 to take the 12 week class. But you don’t have to pay $89. Now that I’ve taken it, I have permission to share with you the discount code to take the same class, starting September 4th, for 25% off: FF25. Now that I’ve paid once, I never have to pay again and I will definitely be taking the class again (for free) on September 4th. Join me! Truly, the best is yet to come.  🙂  https://my.becomingminimalist.com

When I found out that your class was $89, I had told Jordan Rose, “I have Peter Walsh’s book, “It’s All Too Much”.  Why don’t I just read that and do what it says?”  Well, I got that book in 2007.  How’s that plan been working for the last 11 years?  Jordan, a true un-clutterer at heart, thought it was wise for me to spend the money on the class, because then I would actually do it.  I likened it to spending money on Weight Watchers, which has worked very well for me in the past.  Get some skin in the game, and you’ll be motivated to take action.

And take action, we did.  🙂  Thank you again for offering this class.  I already know what my 2018 “special” birthday blog is going to be about.  🙂

Blessings to you,

-Beth

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My “why”
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Kitchen “before”
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Kitchen “after”
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Living room “before”
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Living room “after”
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My desk “before”
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My desk “after”
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Printer area “before”
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Printer area “after”
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File cabinets “before” (and Charlie’s behind)
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File cabinets “after”
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Mail & shredding area “before”
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Mail & shredding area “after”. I am definitely not a minimalist (yes, the American Girl dolls are staying), but I LOVE the clean spaces.
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Bedroom dressers/clean clothes “before”
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Bedroom dressers “after” (where are the clean clothes? Put away!). 🙂
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My closet “before”
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My closet now during “Project 333” experiment
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Basement family room area “before”
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Basement family room area “after”
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Front hallway “before”
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Front hallway “after”
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Just one of the VVA donations

Twenty-Four

24 years ago today, a 22 year old girl and a 28 year old guy were married.

Beth & John 1994

They weren’t going to have kids, and then they changed their mind.  They had two kids, they started a business, they had their ups and downs.  Lots of ups, but, boy, there were a lot of downs too.  From a temperament standpoint, she’s a melancholy “quitter” and he’s a choleric “commitment freak”.  Thank goodness he’s committed.  No matter how many times she wanted to give up on life, he kept her going.  But it certainly hasn’t been easy.

Thankfully, they kept up with date nights.  It helped to get out and unwind.  Six months ago, date night was a Switchfoot concert.

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And after that Switchfoot concert, they waited to see if Jon Foreman would play an after show.  Sitting in the car, refreshing Twitter, no updates, they decided to leave Meadowbrook and head home.  Jon must be spending time with his Michigan family tonight.  However, on the way home, one more Twitter refresh, and the after show was announced.  And this guy, he turned the car around.  What a guy!  🙂

They arrived in time to catch the last 2 songs out of 3.  And the third was “24”.  She grabbed her iPod and captured the moment.  The video and lyrics are posted below.

Today, on this 24th wedding anniversary, the words of this song are so perfect:

I am the second man now
And You’re raising the dead in me

Second man?  Who is that?  Well, Adam was the first man and Jesus was the second man.  Adam brought death, but Jesus brought life.  Like Adam, we are physically born into this world just once.  But we can be born again, a “second birth”, a spiritual birth.  This is raising the dead in us; Jesus Christ living inside us.  All we have to do is ask.

You see, Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good.  He came to make dead people LIVE.

The girl and the guy, they weren’t bad people.  But they were still people.  Human beings, born in the spiritual deadness of Adam, ruled by pride and selfishness.  Jon Foreman says it this way in “24”:

Twenty four reasons to admit that I’m wrong
With all my excuses still twenty four strong

Sounds like marriage to me.  I don’t think that girl and that guy would still be married today, 24 years later, if they hadn’t asked that Second Man to come live inside of them.

Is there dead inside that needs raising in you?

Ask Him.

He will.

That’s why He came.

That’s why He died and rose again.

To raise the dead in us.

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
-The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, Chapter 8, Verse 11 (English Standard Version)

And if you’d like to read more about what happened between 24 years ago and now, check out this post:  Joshua the Prophet 

“Twenty-Four”

Twenty four oceans
Twenty four skies
Twenty four failures
Twenty four tries
Twenty four finds me
In twenty-fourth place
Twenty four drop outs
At the end of the day
Life is not what I thought it was
Twenty four hours ago

Still I’m singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
And I’m not who I thought I was twenty four hours ago
Still I’m singing Spirit take me up in arms with You

Twenty four reasons to admit that I’m wrong
With all my excuses still twenty four strong

See I’m not copping out not copping out not copping out
When You’re raising the dead in me
Oh, oh I am the second man
Oh, oh I am the second man now
Oh, oh I am the second man now

And You’re raising these twenty four voices
With twenty four hearts
With all of my symphonies
In twenty four parts
But I want to be one today
Centered and true

I’m singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
You’re raising the dead in me
Oh, oh I am the second man
Oh, oh I am the second man now
Oh, oh I am the second man now
And You’re raising the dead in me

I want to see miracles, see the world change
Wrestled the angel, for more than a name
For more than a feeling
For more than a cause
I’m singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
And You’re raising the dead in me
Twenty four voices
With twenty four hearts
With all of my symphonies
In twenty four parts.
I’m not copping out. Not copping out. Not copping out.

-Switchfoot, from the album, The Beautiful Letdown

 

The Best is Yet to Come

Is there any way to fully capture the feeling of falling in love?  Any way to adequately describe it?  To really do it justice?  It stirs the soul.  Joy-saturated energy rises up from somewhere inside and overtakes you.  In that moment, you can conquer the world.  You can take on any obstacle.  You can overcome any fear.  You can be fully alive.

I just listened to “Love Alone is Worth the Fight” by Switchfoot from their film and album, “Fading West” and that’s exactly what I felt.  Fully alive, overflowing with that joy-saturated energy.

I always enjoyed Switchfoot’s music: “Dare You to Move”, “Meant to Live”, “This is Your Life”.  Good songs.  Great anthems.  Powerful lyrics.  Strong.  Motivating.

But in the summer of 2014, when I first watched the film, “Fading West“, I fell in love.  Not with the guys (although they are adorable), but with the feeling behind this film.  The breath-taking scenery from all over the world, watching the guys surf monstrous waves, play concerts, interact with fans, each other and fellow bands on tour.  And the music.  Oh, that music.  It lifted my soul.  This was actually the beginning, the spark, of everything that happened in the fall of 2014.  My miracle started here.  If you don’t know that story, you can find it here:  My Story

That particular story concluded on my birthday, 10-19-2014.  And here I am at another birthday.  I always post a blog on my birthday.  Sharing these posts has continued to be a daily joy and I can’t imagine 2017/2018 without sharing a new one with you.

It started in 2014:  Moment by Moment  (all that junk – yep, Jesus redeemed that)

It continued in 2015:  Through Heaven’s Eyes  (what does God see when He looks at us?)

And this was 2016’s installment:  Treasure Hunting  (can we really live every day better than before, or is this as good as it gets?)

And for the entire month of September 2017, all I heard was “the best is yet to come”.  Everywhere I went.  Here are just three examples:

  1. Craig McGlassion of Paradox Church gave a message on 9-10-17 called “Plan for Rain“.  Craig told of hiking the Grand Canyon and finding himself wanting to stop and camp at every turn, so beautiful, massive and enchanting.  Thankfully, Craig was with people who had gone this way before and they encouraged him to keep going because they knew what was ahead.  Every stop was more amazing than the last, and he was thrilled that he listened to them and kept going.  Craig tied that story to our lives today and said, “Our best days are yet to come….  Your best days will always be in front of you instead of behind you….  Don’t be satisfied….  Don’t spend more time reminiscing about what God did than dreaming about what God is going to do.”
  2. I was blessed to be able to attend Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live Simulcast in person in Toledo, Ohio on 9-16-17.  Beth spoke on regaining our vision.  She said that we may have had an “initial vision”, but something happened along the way and we lost it.  Maybe we gained an “unwanted vision” in the process, and saw the darkness in the world and in ourselves, which lead to cynicism.  We wanted our eyes to be opened to good and evil (like Adam and Eve did), but we weren’t expecting to see our nakedness.  We wanted to see grandeur, not gore.  So, maybe we lost our vision.  And now it’s time to “Re-Vision” our future, which may include our original vision, but it will most likely transcend it.  This new vision will probably be harder, but it will also be more meaningful.
  3. And then on 9-24-17, during the first week of the message series called “Leave a Mark“, at exactly 1 hour 15 minutes, Chris Zarbaugh said, “We are incredibly grateful for all the past stories of success and life change, but THE BEST IS YET TO COME.”

So, why all of this encouragement to keep going?  Craig McGlassion put it this way:

“Where are you camping in your walk with God?  When the past of what has been satisfies us more than the future of what could be is driving us, we’re camping.”

Camping.  Yep, I’ve been camping.  Actually, I think of it more as “coasting”.  I’m 46 today and I’m coasting.  If my great grandmother, Willie Katherine Saylors, had lived three more weeks, she would have been 96 years old (February 13, 1908 to January 20, 2004).  So, at 46, if I live to be 92, I’m only half way there.  Coasting?  For half of my life?  Why?

Christopher Cook answered this for me.  On 10-5-17, I received an email survey regarding Chris’s podcast, “Win Today”.  In the process of completing the survey, we were asked to read the story behind his company, which included this statement:

“I was safe and stuck in my very small world, with arms wrapped tightly around every aspect of my life in an attempt to control and prevent further pain.”

Why am I coasting?  Chris said it: “To control and prevent further pain.”  If I stay safe in my own little world, maybe I can protect myself from pain.  But notice that Chris said he did this “in an attempt” to prevent pain.  In practice, it doesn’t actually work.

At the simulcast, Beth Moore took a deeper dive:

“We can so protect ourselves from being hurt that we protect ourselves from JOY….  We think it isn’t worth the risk….  Lord, grant us courage to live.  To really live….  Awake me to the wonder of You, finding wonder in the every day….  Wonder cannot be held.  These are moments.  But they are worth it….  We live in the Now and Not Yet.  The world is a mess, but we’re still called to rejoice in it and to love each other with His Love.”

Back on 5-13-17, I received a “Whole 90 Devotional” email written by Cliff Johnson, our Birmingham campus pastor.  Cliff expands on Beth’s thoughts:

“In Ephesians 2:8-10, Paul reminds us to remember not only how we were saved:  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not of works, so that no one can boast,”  BUT WHY WE WERE SAVED, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He has prepared in advance for us to do.”

I have not only been saved FROM something—like death, sin, hell—but I have been saved FOR something.  God actually has moments waiting for me to boldly engage to advance His Kingdom.  For those of us longing for new stories, this truth should be music to your ears.  Although the journey has been painful at times, sharing the story that God has crafted in me through both heartbreak and healing is part of the future He has laid out for me.”

And that future is worth living for.  The Prophet Isaiah said it this way:

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.”
-Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

In 2016, Jon Foreman, Switchfoot’s lead man, did a TED Talk at the University of Nevada called Live Your Song.  Check it out.  It’s nineteen minutes of pure inspiration.  After the first of three songs, Jon encourages us to keep on keepin’ on:

“You matter.  And there is a void in the symphony of life when you are silent.  The pain, the anger, the frustration, the dissonance.  Be brave.  Sing through it.  Be brave and sing the truth, one note at a time.”

Don’t be silent.  We need you.  Fill the void with your song; a song that only you can sing.

And join me in falling in love, letting yourself be overcome by the exhilaration of being fully alive, belting out “Love Alone is Worth the Fight“:

We’re only here for a season
I’m looking for the rhyme and reason
Why you’re born, why you’re leaving
What you fear and what you believe in

Why you’re living and breathing
Why you’re fighting it and getting it even
Let’s go headed down the open road unknown

And we find what we’re made of
Through the open door
Is it fear you’re afraid of?
What are you waiting for?

Love alone is worth the fight

-Switchfoot, “Love Alone is Worth the Fight“, from the film and album “Fading West

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”
– Colossians 1:9-12 (NIV)

In Pursuit of Fullness

Whether you’re a follower of Christ or not, I bet you’ve heard this verse before:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
-Philippians 4:13 (ESV)

I’ve generally seen this verse used in the context of being strong or able to accomplish great things.  But do you know what it says right before that verse?

The Apostle Paul writes the following in his letter to the church in Philippi:

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me.  Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.  11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
– Philippians 4:10-13 (NIV)

You see, read in context, this verse is really not about being strong or accomplishing great things.  It’s about contentment.

Contentment.  Yeah, maybe 2000 years ago, but in this day and age?  What is that?  In this “gotta have it now”, smart-phone-driven, “just Google it” world that we live in, what value is there in contentment?

Let’s back up a bit.  Earlier this year, before I started back on the Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet**, I was really struggling with the concept of “fullness”.   It didn’t seem to matter how much I ate, I was never full.  I was so frustrated that I sat down at my computer and pounded out a big, long rant about the futility of the pursuit of fullness.  I felt better after ranting, but it still didn’t solve my problem.

Thankfully, I remembered the Carb Addict’s Diet, bought the book again (I must have given away my old copy) and got back on it.  Turns out that insulin is one of the most powerful “drugs” available and it’s manufactured right here inside this amazing human body of ours.  I’ve heard it said that food addiction might be the most difficult addiction to deal with because we can’t just go “cold turkey” and stop eating.  It must be managed and it’s crazy hard to do.

I had been on the Carb Addict’s Diet for five years (2008 to 2013) and loved it, but in 2013 I found out that I had a gluten problem.  I was in so much pain that I hired a Functional Medicine doctor and a health coach and I completely changed the way I ate.  If you’re interested, you can read more about it here: Salsa Chicken

Through that whole endeavor, I solved my gluten issue, but I created an insulin monster that was getting harder and harder to tame.  Thankfully, in April 2017, I had enough knowledge, along with a gentle reminder from Jesus, to put myself back on the Carb Addict’s Diet, without the gluten madness, and the insulin monster has once again been tamed.  Thank you, Lord!

But that process got me thinking about the concept of fullness, or the pursuit of filling that “hole in our soul”, instead of living in contentment.  And I came to the conclusion that, on this planet, we are always going to feel a little empty.  We’re always going to want one more thing, one more toy, one more taste, one more nap, one more show, one more laugh, one more hug, fill in the blank: one more, one more, one more.

Vince Antonucci from Verve Church in Las Vegas said that God longs to fill us because He knows that we leak.  No matter how full we are, we leak.  And we need to be filled again.  Vince’s solution?  Go to God and let Him fill you.  But don’t stop there.  Vince encourages us to ask God two questions, every day:

“How do you want to love me today?  Who do you want to love through me today?”

I love it.  I love the focus.  But if I may, I would like to tweak those questions just a bit.  Because I think that asking one time per day isn’t enough.  We lose focus much too easily.  And it seems that the more challenging our day is, the faster we “leak”.  How about:

“Lord, how do you want to love me right now?  Who do you want to love through me right now?”

If we could ask those two questions over and over again, all day long, listening for the answer and doing what He says, what kind of world would we live in?  If we were to let God fill us and then take that love and pass it along to someone else, I bet we’d feel a lot more full, a lot more complete, than filling ourselves by our own devices.

So, let’s do it.  Let’s let Him love us and pass that love along.  Let’s not fill ourselves completely, but leave room for God to fill us.  Let’s not focus on what we don’t have, but instead thank Him for what we do have.  I believe God wants us to want what we already have.  We may not feel like it’s enough, but it is.  We can do this through Him who gives us strength.  This is contentment.  This is enough for now.

King David said it this way, a few thousand years ago.  I think it still applies today:

“Delight yourself in the Lordand he will give you the desires of your heart.”
– Psalm 37:4 (ESV)

** Update from 1-1-18: One thing I didn’t mention in this post is that the Carb Addict’s Diet is the only low carb diet I know of that lets you eat whatever you want for one meal per day (as long as you’re done, first bite to last bite, within one hour).  You eat low carb/ no carb the rest of the day and your insulin levels stay steady.  I am living proof, as a former hypoglycemic.   I hope this is helpful info!  Happy 2018!!

IMG_1731
“The Lord Bless You and Keep You” – Numbers 6:24 on my favorite coffee mug in my 1951 pink and blue bathroom.  I am Blessed and Loved.  And so are you.  🙂

Meet Your Maker at “The Shack”

If God is so good, why did He allow my little girl to be murdered?  That was the question that haunted Mack and kept him stuck in The Great Sadness.  How many of us are stuck in a great sadness of our own, brought on by one tragedy after another, day after day?  Would we jump at an opportunity to have our questions answered by God Himself?  One day, Mack received an invitation to meet God at “The Shack” to do just that.  I would like to invite you to do the same.

Have you ever invested hours and hours of your life in great book, only to go to the movie theater and be completely devastated by how a wonderful book could be turned into such a disappointing use of two hours?  This is not the case with the movie “The Shack”.

I spent much of the summer of 2013 listening to “The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity” by William P. Young on CD in my car.  I listened to it a full three times before the library insisted that I give it back.  And when I found out that the movie of “The Shack” was going to be released on Friday, March 3, 2017, I grabbed my print version, which I had never actually read, and dove in.  I’ve invested a good 25 hours of my life in this book, and the 2 hours and 12 minutes that I spent on Saturday, March 4th watching it unfold on the big screen did not disappoint.

Actually, the only criticism I’ve heard about the movie is that “Father God”, also known as “Papa”, is played, for most of the movie, by a an African American female actress.  If God is our Father in Heaven, why is He portrayed as a woman in a dress?  That’s another question Mack wanted answered.  Papa responded:

“To reveal myself to you as a very large, white grandfather figure, with a flowing beard like Gandalf, would simply reinforce your religious stereotypes, and this weekend is not about reinforcing your religious stereotypes.”

I would say this entire book (and movie) is all about challenging our religious stereotypes.  How many of us struggle with God as a Good Father simply because we have no earthly example of a good father?  Might it be freeing to see God through fresh eyes?

Consider Genesis 1:27:

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

If God made us male and female in His image, then His image contains both male and female attributes.  God demonstrates this throughout the Bible by referring to Himself not only in “fatherly” terms, but also in “motherly” terms.  Here’s just one example.  The Apostle Matthew records Jesus lamenting over His children with a Mother Hen analogy:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” – Matt. 23:37 (NIV)

Papa has full knowledge of Mack’s “father wounds” that keep him far from a Fatherly God, and so He presents Himself as Mother.  And this is just one example of God’s goodness and kindness portrayed in “The Shack”.

Another example has to do with the rest of the Holy Trinity and another character known as “Wisdom”.  Papa is an African American woman and, later in the movie, a Native American man.  Jesus is a Middle Eastern Hebrew man.  The Holy Spirit is an Asian woman.  And Lady Wisdom is a Hispanic woman.  What a beautiful picture of God’s Kingdom:

“Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
Clare Herbert Woolston

So, if you’re red or yellow or black or white or purple, if you have questions for God about good and evil and why He allows such things, I urge you to go see “The Shack”.  And if you want to know more, read “The Shack” (or take it out of your library on CD and have it read to you). Eugene Peterson, who wrote “The Message” paraphrase of the Bible, is quoted on the front of my print copy of “The Shack”:

“This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his.  It’s that good!”

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Treasure Hunting

I haven’t written a lot in the last year.  Why not?  Well, I’ve been medicated, which is a beautiful thing (thank you, Jesus, for good meds!), but the same mechanism that stops the downward-spiral of anxious thoughts also stops the creative process of writing. So, you could say, my muse has gone on vacation.

But it’s my birthday and I always post a blog on my birthday.  Sharing these posts has become a daily joy and I can’t imagine 2016/2017 without sharing a new one with you.

It started in 2014:  Moment by Moment  (all that junk – yep, Jesus redeemed that)

It continued in 2015:  Through Heaven’s Eyes  (what does God see when He looks at us?)

And for 2016, I’d like to take a little deeper dive.  Let’s start here.  This fall, my best buds and I joined a Bible study by Angela Thomas-Pharr called “Redeemed: Grace to Live Every Day Better than Before”.  That title intrigued me.  Can we really live every day better than before?  Really?  What if this is as good as it gets?

I’ve been a Christian for 22 1/2 years and today is my 45th birthday, so I’ve been a follower of Christ for exactly half of my life.  After all of these years, why don’t I have this down yet?  Why am I medicated?  What is there to be anxious about?  I know my identity:  I am in Christ and Christ is in me.  “If God is for me, who can be against me?” (Rom. 8:31)  So, why can’t I just calm down and enjoy my life?  What am I missing?

CS Lewis once said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) said it this way:

“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and unchangeable object; in other words by God himself.” (Pensees 10.148)

Pascal’s quote has been summarized/ paraphrased as, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator.”

That’s actually the quote that Dave Wilson used in his message in April of 1994, during my first visit to Kensington Church.  That’s what got my attention.  Yes, I had been trying to fill that God-shaped vacuum with all kinds of created things and none of them were working.  And for the past 22 1/2 years, my focus has changed, but I’m still searching for something.  What am I searching for?

Angela Thomas-Pharr took a considerable amount of time in her study to teach about the three unique stages of redemption.  I’m so glad she did, so I could share them with you:

  1. The day you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are redeemed, “changed from an unbeliever to a believer” (salvation/justification).
  2. As you live out your life from that day forward, you are being redeemed, “being changed into the image of Christ” (sanctification).
  3. When you leave this earth and go to be with God in Heaven, you are finally and completely redeemed, “eternally changed into the likeness of Christ” (glorification).

The writer of the Book of Hebrews defines Jesus’s sacrifice this way: “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” -Hebrews 10:14 (ESV)

We are being perfected (sanctified) every day we’re alive, but we won’t be completely perfected (glorified) until we get to Heaven.  It’s crazy that I spend so much time and effort trying to reach perfection (or at least perfect contentment) here on earth, because I’ll never get there this side of Heaven.  And why would I want to?  Adam and Eve had perfection in the Garden of Eden and they must have found it so boring that they chose to disobey God.  Hmmm, maybe that’s a big part of the deception.

Deception?  Yes, there is an enemy of our souls, the deceiver, the “father of lies” (John 8:44), and his job is to keep us from God, the Father of Truth.  But if we’ve already accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, what’s our enemy to do?  If he can convince us that we need perfection on earth, we’ll keep striving for it, wasting our time, wearing ourselves out, running in circles, looking in all the wrong places.

Do that for long enough and a new lie begins to surface.  Beth Moore has said that we can be so paralyzed in our pursuit of greatness that we do nothing good.  If the enemy can keep us busy, distracted, beaten down, ineffective and exhausted, we just might stop trying all together.  Angela Thomas-Pharr describes this way:

“Maybe you know this.  When you are tired and your spirit is heavy, the heart begins to mumble the saddest word:  Whatever.”

Yes, we are being lied to.  If we believe the lie, we’ll get stuck.  It’s an effective tactic.  It works.  And our job is to fight against it with truth.  The truth is, whether we “feel” it or not, we are actively being redeemed by the God who perfects us as we live and breathe.  The Apostle Paul knew this truth and he explained to the philosophers in Athens, ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ … ‘We are his offspring.’  -Acts 17:28 (NIV)

Offspring.  Yes.  We are not children of the enemy, that we should obey him.  We are children of God.  Living “every day better than before” is about knowing who we are and Whose we are, growing closer to our Father until we get to Heaven.  And isn’t that what Heaven is: the place where we are completely and eternally redeemed, fully in the presence of God?

Isn’t that how Jesus brought Heaven to earth, perfectly connected to the Father?  That’s what he wants for us.  Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  -Matt. 6:10 (ESV)  If we allow Jesus to live through us, connecting us to the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can bring a little bit of Heaven to earth.  And as children of God, we need the encouragement of our brothers and sisters to keep our focus.

The Apostle Paul taught about this spiritual battle and he encouraged the church of Galatia:  “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” -Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

Don’t give up.  Don’t quit.  Stay connected.  Stay awake and pay attention to every little miracle.  Be a treasure hunter, hunting for every scrap of joy, every gift, every moment, fully engaged.  And be a treasure hunter for others too.  Help them to see the gifts all around them.  Life is hard and we need each other.

That’s why it’s so important that we stay connected to a community of believers; other people who can point us to the truth.  No church is perfect.  How can it be?  The church is made up of imperfect people.  But if all of us, in our imperfection, can point each other to our Perfect Heavenly Father, then we have hope.  And that’s why I love my church.  That’s why I go every week.  Not because I’m a “super Christian”, but because I’m not.  None of us are and we need all of the encouragement we can get.

A few weeks back, my church started a new series called “Heart & Soul”, exploring seven core values that can define our lives.  If you missed the message on the first core value, check it out here: Heart & Soul: Identity

Towards the end of the service, Chris Zarbaugh reads Max Lucado’s “You Are Special”, Danielle sings “Out of Hiding, Father’s Song”, followed by a video called “Identity”, by Dan Stevers.  It was so powerful with each piece building on the other.  And the words of the video tied it all together:

Before Christ
I was a different person
This person was my old nature
My old self
But that person died
And my life is now hidden
With Christ
I am in
Christ
And He is in me
I am a new creation
This doesn’t mean that I will never stumble
Or fall back into old patterns
But I will call them what they are
Old patterns
Old habits of the old person
I will confess them
I will thank God for his forgiveness
I will make amends
And then
I
Will
Move on
Not because I am taking sin lightly
But because I am taking seriously
Who God says I am
Holy
Pure
Unstained
Without blemish
Not because of anything I’ve done
But because of what God has done
For me
He has wiped my slate clean
I am blameless before God
Therefore shame
Has no place in my life
Because I am
A new creation
And all of the ugly parts of my story
The parts I want to pretend never happened
Have been redeemed
And they have become
The moments in my life
When God’s grace is most on display
Thank you God
My mistakes do not define me
My past does not define me
Because God has defined my identity
I am his beloved child
In whom He is
Well pleased
This is my identity

–Dan Stevers, “Identity” preview video (click the red words to see the video)

In Angela Thomas-Pharr’s study, she tells of a man who was asked, “How long have you been redeemed?” He answered:

“I was redeemed by Jesus Christ more than 2,000 years ago when He gave His life to atone for my sin. But I only found out about a year ago.”

Comedian Jeff Allen was on Smile FM a couple weeks ago.  He said he spent a lot of his life waiting for an explanation from God, but what he really needed was a revelation from God. I think that’s what the man in the quote above received: a revelation from God. He is redeemed. I am redeemed. And if you’ve received the gift of Jesus’s forgiveness, you too are redeemed.

I pray that today we might receive a revelation from God.  A revelation that we are redeemed and our identity is in Christ, but it’s going to take a lifetime of “day in and day out” to walk this thing out, together.  Grab your best buds, the ones who point you to the Truth, and hang on tight.  We are brothers and sisters and we need to keep reminding each other:

keep going
keep treasure-hunting and
keep focusing on Dad, our Abba Father.

We are His beloved children and He is well pleased with us.

Want to know more about my “revelation day” back in 1994?  Here’s my story told through the story of my son:  Joshua The Prophet

And those meds, why do I take them?  Well, they help me to drown out the voice of the enemy and to focus on the One and Only voice that matters.  They help me “come out of hiding” and connect with others who can encourage me, so that I can encourage them, and we can treasure hunt together.  We’re blessed to be a blessing.

“Baby, you’re almost home now
Please don’t quit now
You’re almost home to me”
Out of Hiding, Father’s Song by Steffany Gretzinger and Amanda Cook

Want to know more about the power of community?  Check out Heart & Soul: Community