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.
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.
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. 🙂
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,
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!
On Sep 23, 2018 at 5:41 PM, Brynn Jezdimir wrote:
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!!!
I sent the story to Dr Kabot, along with a personal note to him:
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.
In 2013, when Joshua was 11, he and I were blessed to be able to go on a mission trip to Costa Rica with Joshua Expeditions through Kensington Church. I brought my iPad with me and sent email updates home every day to keep all of our trip supporters “in the loop”. Once I got home, I compiled all of the emails into a sort of “blog”, added pictures and sent out the PDF to all of the friends and family who had supported us on our trip through their prayers and financial gifts. I’ve always thought about sharing that “blog” here, but I’ve never really felt the push to put the work into doing so. Until now.
You see, I’m still shocked that I went on the trip in the first place. Looking back, it was an amazing trip, but it was also full of new experiences and uncertainty, which would normally put a person with my anxiety issues over the edge. When I first heard about the trip and read that it was “ideal for first-timers” and for those “11 and up” and realized that Joshua would be turning 11 a couple weeks before the trip, I knew we had to go. And it was that certainty that pushed me through all of the uncertainty.
But when we returned home and I thought about all that we had done, I couldn’t see myself going back. What if it didn’t turn out as well? What if I did completely fall apart? What if I didn’t have the energy to push through the challenges? So many “what if’s” (from the enemy, of course, as that’s where most “what if’s” come from), that I thought the only way I would go back was if John would come with us. So, for the past 3 years, we’ve casually talked about John and I taking Joshua and Jordan in 2017 when Jordan turns 11. But John really doesn’t have an interest in going, so it remained casual talk. Safe distance. No commitment.
Something changed last week. I had dropped Joshua and Jordan off at SpringHill Day Camp in Troy and was driving home. As I drove, I had this vision of taking Jordan to Costa Rica, just the two of us, or maybe the two of us with another mother-daughter team. And I knew exactly who that mother-daughter team was, I just didn’t know if God would give them the same vision, or if the vision was just to encourage me to take Jordan. A gift from God to light a fire under me. So, I came home, asked John what he thought of the idea, he loved it, and I sent an informative email off to my friend. Included in that email was this blog. I thought I would share it with you as well. It’s about time. 🙂
Friday 7-5-13 @ 10:24pm
We’re at the Marriott by the airport, getting up at 2:45am to catch our 6am flight to Costa Rica.
Night-night! Love, Beth & Joshua
Saturday 7-6-13 @ 2:30am
Got 2 hours of sleep, woke up, got ready and now I’m sitting here drinking coffee waiting for time for Joshua to get up.
Blessings to you! Love, Beth
Saturday 7-6-13 @ 9:42am
Feels like afternoon, but it’s 8:25 in Houston CDT. Costa Rica is on CST, so we will be 2 hours behind you. Our flight doesn’t leave until 11:30 (about 3 hours from now). We just found bacon and eggs for $14 for the 2 of us. Yikesters!
Love this Logitech keyboard. 🙂 Happy Mother’s Day to me.
Love you and talk to you soon! -Beth & Joshua
Saturday 7-6-13 @ 10:31pm
We are home from a lovely dinner and settling into our rooms for what will hopefully be a much longer night sleep than last night. 🙂 Two hours was not nearly long enough (nor was Joshua’s 3 hours), but I did manage to sleep on both planes (Joshua didn’t – he was too busy visiting with friends – can you imagine?).
We are at the Country Inns & Suites, so any contact info you had for the Radisson is not correct. That was a mix-up of dates. They had plenty of room at this hotel for this week and it’s the hotel they’ve stayed at all 7 years, so it is the natural choice.
You are all on the blog list, so you should be receiving a blog update each night. Now that we’re here, Joshua and I plan on putting our electronics away for a few days. It was great to talk to Ma, Papa, Jordan and John on Facetime tonight and also to Rick on iMessage. I’m glad we got to connect with you. But don’t be concerned if you don’t hear from us for a few days (other than the blog). I’m so glad that Rick was able to help Ma & Papa get Facetime working. Great job, Uncle Rick!! 🙂
Have a good couple days. Much love to you all! -Beth & Joshua
Monday 7-8-13 @ 12:42am
Or really good morning, as I think it’s 12:30 am your time. Getting out my iPad to set the alarm for the morning, and thought I’d send you and update. I don’t think a blog post went out last night and we just got home from dinner, so I don’t know what their plans are tonight.
Today was a great day. Long, but wonderful. The food here is so fresh and delicious and I had no idea that rice, black beans and scrambled eggs taste good together, but they’re fab! Joshua mixed his together too and agreed with me – yum!
We went to church where we’ll be working this week, they fed us lunch (delicious again!) and we started getting ready for the medical clinic tomorrow. SOOOO many medicines to unpack and repack (we could only take sealed containers through customs), but we got a big chunk of it done before it was time to go. We traveled all around San Jose in our 2 tour buses, briefly stopped at an open air market and road the buses up the steepest hills I’ve ever seen to get to our dinner destination. The view of San Jose was incredible – so many lights going on and on, twinkling and dancing in the distance. There was beautiful dancing at this restaurant and we didn’t leave until about 9:30.
We’re up at 6am tomorrow to meet with everyone at 7am, 7:30 breakfast and on the bus by 8:15, so I better sign off. It will be a busy day getting everything finished and ready to see 400 patients this week.
Love you all! Beth & Joshua
Monday 7-8-13 @ 11:47pm
I got to Facetime with Dad and Jordan for a few minutes before we left for dinner tonight. I tried John, but he had already left the store (it was 8pm your time). Jordan got to say hi to lots of people on our team of 57.
Started out the morning with a small stomach ache (I’m sure I ate some hidden gluten yesterday, but not much), running a few minutes behind (really tired still from getting home so late last night and not getting enough sleep), and a bit unsure of what our day would look like.
Our day turned out to be wonderful. I am on the welcome team for the medical team and our plan was to wash people’s feet and offer them a pair of flip-flops and maybe paint their nails if they wanted while they waited to see the doctor. We weren’t sure if anyone would let us wash their feet, but out of the approx. 50 people we saw (34 adults plus children), all except about 4 let us wash their feet. A couple women cried and I got to hug almost everyone. They don’t just give you a hug and a pat. They REALLY hug you and squeeze you. Really, I was the one who got to receive the hugs. It was just beautiful. I told them “Christo te ama” which means “Jesus loves you” and they all said “Amen, amen”. They were so sweet.
We spent the morning finishing up our 400 first aid packets, counting out pills and putting Spanish labels on everything. The first patients started coming around lunch time, so we stopped for lunch so that we could see them at their 1pm appt times (they were an hour early for the appts). Our original plan was to wrap up around 3:30pm, but it was just after 5pm before we were done with the last patients. Off to the hotel to freshen up quick before dinner (that’s when I tried Facetime) and then off to the restaurant. Everything is so fresh and wonderful. And when they say “fruit punch” it’s REAL fruit blended into a punch. Or they serve a wonderful peach tea that everyone loves (especially Joshua).
We arrived home about 8pm and shared together as a group until about 9pm. It was really neat to hear about everyone’s experiences on all of the different teams. The construction team got to meet the family today who is receiving the new house. We all get to go see the finished product on Thursday before we head up the mountain to go ziplining.
I better get to bed. They need us to come earlier tomorrow, so we need to meet at 6:45am. I got up too late this morning (too rushed), so I’m setting my alarm for 5:15.
Love you all! -Beth & Joshua (who is asleep up in his loft bed – hopefully he’ll get a full 9 hours tonight, from 9pm to 6am, as he was REALLY exhausted tonight. He even laid his head down on the dinner table when he was done and almost fell asleep there). 🙂
Wednesday 7-10-13 @ 12:10am
Started out the morning taking pics around the hotel and posting them on Facebook. I told Joshua he should be very proud of me for getting so much done on the iPad so quickly. 🙂 I tried to Facetime Mom & Dad (but I think I was too late – it was already 8:30 your time and I’m sure Jordan was already off to camp) and tried John, but he was probably busy with customers. Tried again tonight, as well as Rose & Mr Dean, but no answers. Thankfully, when we tried Rick & Delia, they were there and we got to chat for a few minutes before leaving for dinner. Tomorrow night we won’t be coming back to the hotel before dinner, so we probably won’t be able to Facetime at all unless we catch you early enough in the morning.
Today was a great day. We saw about 50 patients yesterday and I believe we saw 101 today. I didn’t wash nearly as many feet today, as I wanted to give other people a chance to experience it (VERY emotional for some people), but the couple people whose feet I did wash were very impactful. One dear woman kept crying every time I looked at her. We hugged a lot and one of our team members who spoke some Spanish came just in the perfect timing for me to ask her how to say that I am this woman’s “Sister in Christ”. When she told her, the woman’s face lit up and she grabbed me and hugged me even harder. She was so sweet.
I ended up making number tickets this morning and gave them to each adult as they came in to keep everyone in order better today. So, my job revolved around welcoming people and getting them set up with clipboards to start giving us their medical info. I also picked out a lot of flip-flops (matching up shoe sizes to what we have) and painted some nails.
Oh, Rick, I think the picture you saw of me in the blog was of me helping a woman pick out nail polish after having her feet washed. Our welcome area is a hallway, so it’s a bit crowded, but it works.
Our meals were all great again today and Joshua’s highlight of his dinner was having a lizard of some sort (which was on the ceiling in the restaurant) poop right onto his hand and his plate. 🙂 He laughed so hard that the tears were running down his cheeks. They offered him a new plate of food, but he was already done. And it rather spoiled his appetite too. 🙂 He wasn’t nearly as exhausted today as he was yesterday. He did manage to get about 9 hours of sleep last night, so that was great. My body just really wants to wake up at 4:45 (6:45 your time) and I don’t have time to fall back to sleep again, so I just get up. Makes for a more relaxing morning too having extra time.
We should be able to go see the completed house tomorrow after 4pm. It’s up and the roof is started. Our biggest challenge tomorrow is going to be something we have absolutely no control over – if people come on time for their appts. We are praying that they will come on time or early and that we’ll be able to see everyone before 4pm so that we can head to the construction site. I know we all want to meet the family and see the house. We haven’t finished until after 5pm today and yesterday, so we would appreciate your prayers for tomorrow. Thank you!
Sharing at our debriefing each night has been really special. And spending time with everyone through out the day has really bonded us all together. I really feel like we now have 55 more people in our family (plus Beth and Jimmy from Joshua Expeditions).
Mom – Beth is Beth Andersen, the sister of Don and Dennis Andersen. She looks just like Don when she talks! And Jimmy is from Costa Rica and tells us all about the country. We have decided that Jimmy’s bus (the smaller one) is the best bus and we all try to get on his bus whenever we can. No offense to Beth Andersen. 🙂 She’s great too.
Ok, time to go to sleep. Love you all! -Beth & Joshua
Thursday 7-11-13 @ 12:32am
I feel like these e-mails are getting later and later each night. And we just found out that we might be back REALLY late tomorrow, so don’t be surprised if there is no e-mail at all tomorrow night. Maybe I’ll just write quick to tell you we’re still alive. 🙂
Today was another amazing day. I spent most of the day charting kids’ heights & weights on growth charts. It was more relaxing that doing the welcome/intake/feet washing/flip-flop fittings and a lot of other people still wanted the opportunity to wash feet, so I was good with that. Later in the morning I had a chance to go up to the kids camp to see well over 200 kids in all different activities that our kids’s camp team had planned for them. I also took my camera today, so I got lots of great pictures of the kids and of people back in the medical clinic. I was really happy that I had waited to take pictures, as I really got to capture quite a bit of what I really wanted in a short amount of time.
Later in the afternoon, I got to go help out where the doctors work, filling prescriptions and saying goodbye to people as they left. Some of them had seen me at the beginning and the end and they looked confused – like I had a twin or something. 🙂 The pastor taught me to say “God bless you” (Dios te bendiga) the other day and I got to say that a lot as people were leaving, as well as “Christo te ama” (Jesus loves you). We’re all slowly building our Spanish vocabulary and it’s been really fun.
Sonja (our trip leader) and the camp director (Flory, which means “flower”) were leaving to go to the kids’ camp over in Guarari about 3pm and Nancy, our medical team leader, said I should go with them, as I was done with my job. Thank you Nancy! What a wonderful opportunity to drive over with a small group of women and one little boy from the neighborhood who Flory watches. We also called him Flory’s GPS, as he tells her how to get around that side of the city. 🙂 Joan (pronounced “Joe-an”) was his name and everyone loves him. When we got to Guarari, Joshua said, “Joan!” He was very happy to see him. What a special little boy. We all prayed for him later at the construction site, as Mariela really felt that he is going to make a huge impact in his life. He’s just that kind of kid. It was beautiful to hear Joshua join in on that prayer for Joan too.
We were only at the Guarari kids camp for a few minutes before it was time to head over to the construction site. The kids had been there since about 1pm and their time was up. We did get a few pictures before we left, but I can’t share them until I get home and can download them on the computer. When we got to the construction site, we were all overwhelmed by the fact that people live in these kind of conditions. Susan shared tonight that she’s been in a lot of proverty-stricken places in her life, but that city poverty feels much worse. Being in Africa out in the bush, at least you’re surrounded by nature. But in the city, it’s just filthy.
What a bright spot in the middle of all of this to see the newly constructed home. And we got to completely surprise the family with the furnishings. They had no idea that the house wasn’t empty. After everyone on the construction team had a chance to share, and the pastor prayed for them, they got to go into the house all by themselves. They screamed when they saw the inside. Screams of joy. We let them have some time and then came and knocked on their door as their first visitors. But it had rained through our whole ceremony, so our feet were pretty muddy and we didn’t want to dirty their brand new house, so just the construction team went in and the rest of us took pictures from outside. I’ll share those after we get home. It was just beautiful.
We went directly from the construction site to dinner and arrived back to go directly to our debriefing. Lots of people shared tonight and it was a wonderful meeting. The kids and teenagers commented that these people have so little, yet are filled with so much joy. Joshua agreed – why are they so happy? He concluded that it could only be the love of Jesus that fills their hearts with joy. I completely agree. Our “stuff” weighs us down, but these people are free to be generous with whatever God brings into their lives. It’s really beautiful to see.
Tomorrow is our last morning at the church and Beth Andersen warned us tonight that it will be very emotional saying goodbye and that we need to leave plenty of time to do so. She said “Saying goodbye takes a long time in Costa Rica”. 🙂 We have to leave the church no later than 1pm tomorrow to get to the zip-lining mountain on time. But God completely answered our prayers today and everyone who wanted to see a doctor got to see one and the rest of the medical team was on the bus by 4:05. Whew!! I know He will answer our prayers again tomorrow.
We got to talk to John on Facetime this morning and maybe we’ll have a chance to try Mom & Dad & Jordan again in the morning. We’ll see how it goes.
Love you all! -Beth & Joshua
Friday 7-12-13 @ 12:27am
As promised, I am writing to tell you that we are alive. 🙂 We did all 12 zip lines today and they were AMAZING! We finished up at the church this morning with a very emotional send off from the pastor and were off to the zip lines. Then we went from there to dinner & shopping and this time we managed to buy a few things (no bargaining this time).
We have to be on the bus at 6:30am, so I am going to bed now. Figure I need to get up at 4:45 to be ready on time. We take a tour bus 1.5 hours to the catamaran, then eat breakfast on the dock and then take a 1.5 hour catamaran trip out to Tortuga Island, where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. Tortuga means turtle. 🙂 We’ll be on the island for 5 or 6 hours and then we take the 3 hour trip back to the hotel. I’ll try to send another quick “we’re alive” e-mail tomorrow night. 🙂 We have a 6:30am flight on Saturday morning, so we’ll want to head straight to bed tomorrow night.
I just gave my SD card to Sonja for her to use pictures for the blog, so check it out Friday. You may see some of my pics from Thursday (the only day I took pictures). Just go to Sonja’s e-mail from a couple days ago with the link to the blog and then click “home” to get to the home page (which will probably show you today’s blog once it’s done). Please pray for Sonja. She looks exhausted. Too many late nights up working on the blog, thank you cards, and other trip details. No rest for a great leader.
It was great to talk to Mom, Dad & Jordan this morning on Facetime. I don’t think we’ll be Facetiming again until the airport, if I can find a wifi signal.
Love you all! -Beth & Joshua
Friday 7-12-13 @ 11:55pm
What a day! On the bus to Tortuga Island at 6:30, breakfast on the dock at 8:30 and to the island by about 10:30. Took more pictures today on my camera, so I’ll download those when I get home. The camera battery is now dead, so I’ll charge that at home too. It lasted just the perfect amount of time.
We snorkeled in the ocean (lots of beautiful fish!), road on a banana boat being pulled by a fishing boat (with a 75 HP Yamaha, may I add), ate a lovely 4 course meal on the beach (in the shade – very nice), rented a 2 man kayak for an hour so that the boys could paddle around and it ended up being used by about 6 people, which was really cool, played in the water, and watched as 9 people from our group got baptized in the ocean. Wonderful!
Then we got back on the boat for another 1.5 hour ride, which was really nice, and a 1.5 hour bus drive during which most people slept (you guessed it, I was talking the whole time). 🙂
Dinner, shower, packing and now heading to bed. Joshua was so exhausted that he took his shower and went right to bed with no dinner (he wasn’t hungry). I could only eat veggies, as we were having pasta tonight, but it was the perfect night for it. I wasn’t really hungry either.
Joshua fell asleep on my bed, so I’m up in the loft tonight. I just posted a quick pic on Facebook. Bittersweet tonight – happy to be going home, but really sad to leave. It’s been an amazing trip for everyone.
Should be home in about 24 hours if all flights go well. We should get into Detroit about 8:30 tomorrow night.
I wanted to share with you a video that we recorded at our new building a couple nights ago. It’s a “thank you” video to all of our customers at Sportsmen’s Direct, but it applies equally to our employees, founding ProStaffers, suppliers, friends, family, really everyone who has supported us over the last 6 years. It’s been a crazy ride and we wouldn’t have made it without all of your support and prayers.
I also wanted to wish all of my blog supporters a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for supporting me and my blog over the last 18 months.
Here’s our annual Christmas collage card:
If you see me live and in person, please ask – I have a hard copy version for you. 🙂
If you’re in the Metro Detroit area (or the Orlando, Florida area), please join us for one of 46 Christmas Eve services at Kensington Church (your choice of 7 different campuses). Free tickets are available by clicking here. If you’re not in the area, I believe Troy will be live-streaming their services: click here to live-stream.
And, lastly, I wanted to pass along several blog posts that have meant a lot to me over the past year. Feel free to check them out if they sound like they apply to you:
1) What in the world was God thinking when he created us? Worth It
Jordan Rose was unpacking her lunch box the other day and showed me the empty branch from the grapes she had eaten that day. She said, “It’s gotten all dried out because the grapes are gone.”
Was she right? Is that why the branch was dried out? Of course her logic was faulty, but I know I’ve made the same assumption. When I’m not being productive, my life feels “dried out”. But my logic is backwards. My life isn’t dried out because of my lack of productivity, it’s dried out because I’m no longer connected to the Vine. Jesus said it this way:
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NLT)
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Galatia, said it this way:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NIV)
Dr Bill and Anabel Gillham built a whole ministry in response to that one statement. Here’s what they had to say about “dried up lives”:
“The Christian life is not difficult to live; it is impossible. Jesus Christ is the only one who has ever really lived the Christian life. He is the only one who can live it today, and that is exactly what He wants to do – through you.”
When Jesus walked the earth 2000 years ago, was He expecting us to “try harder” to make this life work? Does a grapevine have to try really, really hard to produce grapes?
Let’s look at the words of Jesus in Luke 11:1-13. He packs so much into those 13 verses. First, he teaches the Lord’s Prayer (“Our Father, Who art in Heaven…” you know that one). Then he teaches us to be shamelessly persistent in asking for what we need:
“Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.” Luke 11:5-8 (NLT)
Then he continues with the following:
“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10 (NLT)
And if you’re someone who doesn’t know if Jesus is real, if God is real, I believe those words were spoken especially for you. Ask for what you need and keep on asking. Be shamelessly persistent. Ask Him if He’s real. Ask Him to show you evidence that, not only did He come to this planet 2000 years ago, but that He is alive today. Ask Him to show you how much He loves you. Ask Him to show you what it means to be a branch connected to the Vine. Ask Him to show you the fruit He wants to produce in your life. Ask Him to overwhelm you with His presence. He will.
Not sure how? Here’s how Plumb asked:
“I can’t do this by myself
I can’t do this,
I can’t do this,
Oh God I need Your help”
When you think of “Christians”, what words come to mind? Kensington asked that question on Reddit and here are some of the responses they received: “rude, ignorant, unthinking, thick-headed, delusional, gullible, doomsday cult, dummy, hypocrisy, cruel, blinkered, judgmental, stuck-up wealthy white people who work harder to preserve their image rather than their souls.”
Ouch. And why would I want to call myself a Christian? That’s why Kensington’s current message series is called “Christian Redefined” (click those red words to watch the first message from 3-1-15). When I found out that this series was coming, I started writing about what I think it means to be a Christian. I intended it to be 3 parts, and I wrote about training ourselves to say Thank You (part 1) and Bless You (part 2).
But whenever I started to write this third part, I couldn’t finish. Every time I asked, “Lord, what’s next? What is the best thing for me to do right now?”, the answer was never “write”. Three weeks ago, the answer was “pack for Disney World!” But now we’re home and caught up and it’s finally time to write.
The third area of training I’ve been wanting to write about is asking “what am I to do?” For me, that question isn’t about what to do next week or next year as much as it is a constant, moment by moment activity. Well, at least I want it to be that way. But my mind wanders and I forget.
I forget to count my blessings.
I forget to say thank you and bless you.
I forget that the world doesn’t revolve around me.
I forget that God loves me more than I could ever imagine.
Almost 300 years ago Samuel Johnson said, “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed” and I believe that’s even more true today. I get so distracted. I need God’s Holy Spirit to remind me to come back to Him. My goal is what Brother Lawrence called “The Practice of the Presence of God“. If I want to follow Jesus, I need to be aware of his presence every moment of every day. I need to remember that he is always with me. And I need to be asking what it is that I should be doing. There are so many good things that we could spend our time on. How are we supposed to know what the BEST things are? One word:
Jesus teaches us to be shamelessly persistent in asking for what we need in Luke 11:5-8 (click the red verse if you’d like to read what he said). He then continues with the following:
“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10
In John 5:19, Jesus said that he did nothing by himself, but did only what he saw his Father doing. He was in constant communication with God the Father. I believe he wants the same for us. He gave us his Holy Spirit so that we too can be in constant communication with God.
So, as I am reminded, I ask. Sometimes I hear things that I should do (help the kids get ready for school). Or things I shouldn’t do, or just shouldn’t do right now (don’t do the laundry right now – it will make you late for your appointment). Sometimes I hear things that I should say (send a note of encouragement). Or things that I shouldn’t say (keep your mouth shut, Beth). Sometimes it’s as simple as keeping focused on the task before me and not letting my mind spiral off into anxious “what if”s of future scenarios that may never happen (what if John dies and leaves me with two kids and a tackle store to run?).
What am I to do? How can I live my life so that the word “Christian” means what Jesus would have wanted it to mean? I certainly don’t have all of the answers, but I believe I know the One who does. But I need to slow down to hear Him. I need to be patient and listen. I have two ears and one mouth for a reason. I should be listening at least twice as much as I’m talking.
If you know the story of the woman caught in adultery from John 8, you may have wondered why Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust. The Pharisees (the “religious” scholars) were demanding an answer from him. They had their case against this woman and they were trying to trap Jesus by his words. He could have just blurted out an answer to the Pharisees, but he didn’t. He stooped down, drew in the dirt and waited. I believe he waited because he was listening for what God wanted him to say. And when he stood to speak, his reply was one of the most profound statements ever formed by human lips:
“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)
And, one by one, they all dropped their stones and walked away. What if Christians (the “religious” people) listened to God like Jesus did and responded with God’s grace and truth? Would we be called rude, ignorant, unthinking, thick-headed, delusional, cruel, judgmental, stuck-up hypocrites? Or would a whole lot of stones never get thrown?
“They’ve made me feel like a prisoner
They’ve made me feel set free
They’ve made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king
They’ve lifted my heart
To places I’d never been
And they’ve dragged me down
Back to where I began”
What is Hawk Nelson talking about? Sounds like a riddle between Gollum and Bilbo Baggins from “The Hobbit“. The first several times I heard this song, I didn’t listen close enough to hear the words. Then I found out that’s exactly what it’s about: “Words“:
“Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out”
Yep, our words are packed with power. Deuteronomy 30:19 says that we have a choice to make: we can bless or we can curse. I think that, next to saying “Thank you” (click on the red words to read that post), the next best habit we can develop is that of blessing. This post is about saying bless you:
Proverbs 18:21 says that “the tongue has the power of life and death” (check out Speak Life for more on that). Joyce Meyer spoke about this in her broadcast on 2-4-15 called “The Power of Words“. She said, “Your words can carry your faith to the Kingdom of God and release angels to help you, or your words can carry your fears to the Kingdom of Darkness and release more trouble in your life.”
I remember taking Jordan Rose to a service project in a questionable neighborhood a few years back. I parked my car and we walked to the house where we were working that morning. My mind kept going back to my car, worrying that someone might break in. I believe that God spoke to me through His Holy Spirit and said, “Do you want your worries to strengthen the power of darkness or do you want your prayers to strengthen the power of God?” A switch went off in my brain and I started praying that God would bless the whole area. Everyone was safe that day and our cars were untouched. Was that a coincidence? Or did prayer make a difference? I may never know, but I know I wouldn’t give up the peace I felt in offering prayers and blessings instead of being wrapped up in a bundle of nerves.
You might call me a “blessing fanatic”, as I’ve spent many years training myself to bless everything I can think of. I bless the house when I leave; I bless the dog and the basement; I bless the people walking down the street as I see them; I bless the car that’s tailgating me and the one that cut me off (hey, that could have been me and I pray that the person I cut off would bless me too); I bless the people I’ve met and the people I’ve yet to meet; I bless the people who can see the gorgeous sunrise and the people who can’t see the gorgeous sunrise because they’re stuck in a building at work (boy, I guess that covers just about everyone!). If you’re reading this, I’ve probably blessed you too. I believe that living a life of blessing is not only good for those being blessed, but it’s also good medicine for my brain. The more I can focus on blessing you, the more I get my mind off of myself.
Joshua just said the other day, “Dad yells at the traffic. Mom just blesses everyone.” I loved that. It was beautiful confirmation that it’s not all talk, but that I’m actually practicing what I’m preaching. And God bless my husband. May he learn to bless the traffic as well. 🙂
There was a time when I was really angry with God for creating humans in the first place. What was He thinking? If He really is omniscient, knowing everything, then He knew we were going to turn away from Him in the garden and go our own way (Gen. 3). He knew Satan and his angels would rebel and be hurled to the earth, where they would wage war against us (Rev. 12).
If God knew that we would rebel and that we would spend our lives tormented, battling an invisible army, why in the world did He create us in the first place? Are we just pawns in some sort of cosmic chess game? Are we here for His entertainment, like the gladiators of ancient Rome?
Or was I completely mistaken? Was there something else motivating Him? He had perfect community within Himself: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One being, three persons, in perfect and loving communion, submitting to One Another from the beginning of time, extending out into eternity. Why mess with perfection?
John and I asked each other the same question. It was just the two of us and the dog. Why mess with perfection? Maybe there was something more. Something that could be gained in adding another person to our family. Yes, there would be challenges. Yes, there would be times when we would wonder, “Why in the world did we decide to walk down this path?” I think most pregnant women, maybe even those who have prayed for a child for untold years, in the midst of morning sickness, sleepless nights, or childbirth itself, ask the question, “Why does anyone want to do this again?”
But we hold that baby in our arms, we gaze into each others’ eyes and we know. Yes, there are challenges and they are great. But the triumphs are even greater. Simple things – the smiles, the coos, the first time they sleep through the night. First teeth, first steps, the first day of preschool. It has been said that there is no greater frustration and yet no greater joy in life than parenting. I think God feels that way too.
In that time that I was so angry with God, I do believe I was completely mistaken. And, regarding God’s true motivation, I believe I received my answer. He had perfection in and of Himself, but He wasn’t looking for perfection. I think that’s why He doesn’t expect perfection from us. He already has that. He wanted to be a parent. He wanted to expand His family, just as a family with one child or two decides they would like to expand their family. “We have room in our hearts for one more.” God always has room in His heart for one more.
I was talking to my brother the other day about his cats. He and his wife don’t have human children, but they have an expanding family of cat children. They’re now up to four. The latest member, Fezzik, has come complete with one challenge after another. Rick was sharing with me the ups and downs of the latest challenge, which ended up affecting everyone in the household and their pocketbook. Definitely not something they planned on.
Rick stopped and said, “You know, even with everything we’ve gone through with Fezzik, he’s totally worth it. He’s so sweet. And he just checks in. He comes in, plops down on me and hangs out for a little while. He’ll leave for while, but sure enough, he’ll be back again to check in.” I could hear Rick grinning from ear to ear through the phone as he talked about his beloved and sweet little cat.
I got to thinking. If a human being feels that way about a cat, imagine how God must feel about us. Imagine God chatting with Jesus: “You know, even with everything we’ve gone through with _________, they’re totally worth it. They’re so sweet. And they just check in.” Put your name in that blank. Can you see God grinning from ear to ear as He talks about His beloved and sweet child? That’s you. If you haven’t checked in with Him in a while, maybe right now is a great time.
Love’s not a feeling
Love’s not convenient
But I know love will change your life
Love takes sacrifice
Love cuts like a knife
Sometimes love will make you cry
Love’s not easy
But it’s worth it
We walked into Miller Brothers’ Creamery last night at 4:55, not realizing that they close at 5 o’clock. Quickly, we got to the business of ordering ice cream to bring to the tackle shop to share with John. One more customer snuck in behind us, looking for two scoops of chocolate ice cream. Irene, the 89-year-old store owner, lifted her right arm with a bright pink cast on it, and politely asked him to wait his turn, as she would not be able to scoop his ice cream. I smiled at Irene, held up my purple-casted right arm and said, “We’re twins!”
While the gal scooped our ice cream, Irene and I proceeded to commiserate about being right-handed with casted right arms. Left-handed eating, teeth-brushing, face-washing, showering, dressing, etc. We also shared how thankful we are that we have friends and family to help us.
As we left with our ice cream, I said goodbye to Irene, and she said, “Thanks for the laugh!” Walking out to the car, the kids asked me, “What did she mean by that, Mom?” I explained that knowing that someone else is going through what you are, and being able to laugh about it together, certainly does ease the burden. Reminds me of the quote my friend Rita just shared in her blog that I read yesterday:
“Friends multiply our joys and divide our sorrows.”
The last 11 days have been full of ups and downs, joys and sorrows. Thankfully, there have been a lot more ups than downs, thanks to the wonderful people that God has surrounded me with. I apologize in advance if I miss your name, but I specifically want to thank my mom, my dad, John, Joshua, Jordan Rose, my brother Rick, the roller rink manager Cheryl, the doctors and nurses I’ve seen, all of the K-Rock families, our waitress at Louie’s Ham, Rita and her friends, Laura who called and chatted and laughed this morning, and of course Ms. Irene from Miller Brothers’ Creamery. You have all multiplied my joy and divided my sorrow. Thanks for the laughs!
I have to tell you how excited I am. I am dictating this blog post right now on my Mac. I can’t believe it! Thank you so much to Alex McManus for this wonderful tip!
I have been in the process of bringing this computer home for months. It’s been a really long process. And even when I brought it home, it wasn’t where it is right now.
You see, we have a bait and tackle store in Harrison Township, Michigan. The main computer at the store had a cracked screen. We put it off for as long as we could, but the crack started to travel and it was time to get it repaired. We had to purchase a new computer to replace it temporarily.
Once the repaired computer was back at the store, we then had an extra computer and I could bring one of them home to replace my very slow, very old home office computer. But even once it was here, I wasn’t comfortable moving it to where it is right now. I’m very comfortable with my space and where I work every day. So, I put it off.
Well, that old computer decided it just didn’t want to work anymore. So, 11 days ago, John and I tore apart the office and switched the desks. I now have the newer computer in the spot where I am comfortable. The old computer had no microphone and no camera, but the new computer has both.
Here’s why that’s so important. Four days ago I broke my arm. I broke my radius at my wrist while rollerskating. Actually, the rollerskating was great. It was my first time on skates in 30 years and I skated for over an hour. My problem was standing up after sitting and reading for an hour. I was down, backwards, before I hardly knew I was up. My instinct was to reach back and catch myself with my right hand. Ouch!
I now have a cast on my right arm and typing is very challenging. I needed to send an email out to let everyone know about the K-Rock performance tonight. In that email I mentioned my challenges with typing, working, writing my blog, etc. That’s when I received the tip about using Dictation & Speech on my Mac. I never knew that feature was there!
Who could have known that I would need a computer with a microphone just one week after setting up this computer? Who could have known? Only God. Thank you! Thank you!
The last few days have been very challenging on so many levels, but this shows me so clearly that God is watching out for me. He’s watching out for you too.