Category Archives: My kids

Posts about or inspired by Joshua or Jordan Rose

Costa Rica 2013 / 2017?

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.

Beth on the catamaran heading to Tortuga Island
On the catamaran heading to Tortuga Island

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.

Joshua at sea
Joshua at sea, heading to Tortuga Island

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.  🙂

 

All 57 of us in front of the church - 57 Heinz Varieties
All 57 of us in front of the church:  57 Heinz Varieties

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

Some of our 11 year old boys at the airport in Costa Rica
Some of our 11 year old boys at the airport in Costa Rica

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

Joshua drinking Costa Rican coffee at the hotel with his buds
Joshua drinking Costa Rican coffee at the hotel with his buds

Saturday 7-6-13 @ 9:42am

Good morning!

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

Good evening!

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?).

Country Inns & Suites - home base
Country Inns & Suites – home base

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

Beth and Joshua in front of the church Sunday morning
Beth and Joshua in front of the church Sunday morning

Monday 7-8-13 @ 12:42am

Good evening,

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.  

Lunch! They fed us so very well every day. Yummy!
Lunch! They fed us so very well every day. Yummy!

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!

Counting and sorting pills for the medical clinic
Counting and sorting pills for the medical clinic
View of San Jose lights from the restaurant up on the mountain.
View of San Jose lights from the restaurant up on the mountain.

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

Part of our medical team and patients patiently waiting in our hallway "waiting room"
Part of our medical team and “patients waiting patiently”  🙂

Monday 7-8-13 @ 11:47pm

Good evening!

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.  

So many flip-flops waiting for new owners (thank you to all who donated them!)
Flip-flops waiting to bless some feet (thank you to all who donated them!)

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.  

Painting nails in the hallway waiting area
Painting nails in the hallway waiting area

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).  🙂

Beth and fellow foot-washer Rosemary
Beth and fellow foot-washer, Rosemary

Wednesday 7-10-13 @ 12:10am

Good evening!

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.  

Me and my Sister in Christ
Me and my Sister in Christ

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.

Some of the medical team - love these ladies!
Some of the medical team – love these ladies!

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

Joshua and Seb, having fun at the kid's camp
Joshua and Seb, having fun at the kid’s camp

Thursday 7-11-13 @ 12:32am

Good evening,

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.

The boys with their new buddy Joan
The boys with their new buddy Joan

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.

I love this picture of our team leaders, Sonja and Dean, in a huge embrace after a long day of hard work
I love this picture of our team leaders, Sonja and Dean, in a huge embrace after a long day of hard work

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.

The construction team getting ready to present the family with their new home
The construction team getting ready to present the family with their new home
Setting the table, waiting for the family to arrive
Setting the table, waiting for the family to arrive

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.

Waiting outside with the pastor while the family sees their new home for the first time
Waiting outside with the pastor while the family sees their new home for the first time

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.

They've got the "joy, joy, joy, joy, down in their hearts"
They’ve got the “joy, joy, joy, joy, down in their hearts”

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 

Joshua and lots of new friends
Joshua and lots of new friends at kid’s camp
Beth & Joshua with "poor man's umbrella" leaves behind us in the rainforest
Beth & Joshua with “poor man’s umbrella” leaves behind us in the rainforest

Friday 7-12-13 @ 12:27am

Good evening!

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).  

Beth & friends after zip-lining through the cloud forest
Beth & friends after zip-lining through the cloud forest

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.  

Sonja and Joshua hanging out after dinner - this place was amazing!
Sonja and Joshua hanging out after dinner – this place was amazing!

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

Hello from Joshua, Tortuga Island
Hello from Joshua, Tortuga Island

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.

Joshua and Jack kayaking off of Tortuga Island
Joshua and Jack kayaking off of Tortuga Island

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! 

Dean Maletta, Joshua Bacarella and Beth Andersen enjoying lunch on the island
Dean Maletta, Joshua Bacarella and Beth Andersen enjoying lunch on the island
Joshua on the catamaran ride back to the main land
Joshua on the catamaran ride back

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.

Taking a picture of myself up in the loft before bed. Capture the moment.
Taking a picture of myself up in the loft before bed. Capture the moment.

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.

Love you all and see you soon! -Beth & Joshua

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Thank you and Merry Christmas!

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:

2015 Christmas

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

2) Does life feel like one problem after another?  Life That Really Matters

3) Ever feel like you’re too much and too little all at the same time?  Won’t You Be My Love?

4) What does true love look like?  Grace, Truth and Audacious Dreams

5) What does God see when He looks at us?  Through Heaven’s Eyes

6) How can we really “let go and let God”?  Moment by Moment

7) Can I brag on my kids?  My Kids (including K-Rock’s 2015 Star Wars production)

Merry Christmas to you and your families!
-Beth, John, Joshua, Jordan Rose & the Charlie dog

2016 Update:

Here’s a link to the 12-30-15 C&G News article on Sportsmen’s Direct: C&G News article

Here’s a link to the 1-14-16 Michigan Out of Doors episode, ice fishing on Lake St Clair with a visit to Sportsmen’s Direct and an interview with Justin Clark:  Michigan Out of Doors

Branches, Vines and Grapes

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”

-Plumb “I Can’t Do This”

What to do, what to do… (“Christian Redefined” part 3)

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:

Ask.

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?

 

 

Bless You (“Christian Redefined” part 2)

“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.  🙂

Worth It

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.

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That’s Fezzik plopped on top. Aren’t they sweet?

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

-“Worth It” by Francesca Battistelli

Thanks for the Laugh!

Miller Bros. Creamery, 149 Dickinson St, Mount Clemens, MI
Miller Bros. Creamery, 149 Dickinson St, Mount Clemens, MI

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!

Miller Bros. Creamery's owner, Irene, with a very happy customer on his birthday (courtesy of Facebook)
Miller Bros. Creamery’s owner, Irene, with her young friend on his birthday in August 2014 (courtesy of Facebook)

The One Who Knows

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.  

So thankful that God knew about my broken radius before I did
So thankful that God knew about my broken radius before I did

 

 

Give us this day…

If you grew up saying “The Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father”, you know this phrase very well:

“Give us this day our daily bread”

I knew it, and I thought I knew what it meant.  It reminded me of the Israelites gathering manna in the wilderness and being told not to gather more than they needed for one day.  If they did gather more, it would be smelly and full of maggots by morning.  Yuck!  That lead me to believe that this “daily bread” had to do with guilt, not having more than our fair share, not taking more than we need.

What I didn’t realize was that, when the disciples asked Jesus how to pray and Jesus gave them “The Lord’s Prayer” and told them about daily bread, he was quoting Psalm 30:

“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.”
-Psalm 30:7-9

When David wrote that Psalm, he was asking God for two important things:

1) Lord, please don’t give me too much, otherwise I’ll forget You
2) Lord, please don’t give me too little, otherwise I’ll steal and dishonor You

This had nothing to do with guilt and shame over having too much when others have so little.  This had to do with keeping our hearts right before God.  Very simple – don’t forget Me.  Don’t forget that everything you have I freely gave you because I love you.  And don’t forget that I will take care of your needs, even when it feels like I won’t.  My timing is perfect.  You may feel like I’m too slow to answer, but know that I am always working for you.  I am always right on time.  Please be patient.  Please don’t turn away from Me while you wait.  Please keep your focus on Me.  Hold My hand and let’s wait together.  I love you!

Thank you to Steve Norman for pointing out the “daily bread” distinction the weekend that K-Rock performed “Monopoly” at Kensington’s Troy campus.  I’m so glad I got to hear it four times that weekend so that it would sink in.  It’s so easy to forget.  It’s so important that we remember, so much so that I wrote about it here: Decide to Keep Deciding

And John Waller wrote a beautiful song used in the movie “Fireproof” about the importance of waiting, knowing that God is working:

“I’m waiting, I’m waiting on You Lord
And I am hopeful, I’m waiting on You Lord
Though it is painful, but patiently I will wait”
While I’m Waiting by John Waller

The Miracle Worker

I grew up in Clawson and John grew up in St Clair Shores.  We decided to settle in Clawson after we married, as John’s job at the time was in Clawson.  We bought a bungalow in 1994 and it worked very well for us and our German Shorthaired Pointer, Mandi.  Adding Joshua to the family in 2002 was a wonderful blessing and there was plenty of room for everyone.

When Joshua was about 18 months old, John found out about an opportunity at Lear Corporation in Roscommon, MI and we started looking at homes in the Houghton Lake and Higgins Lake area.  That job was put on hold for about 18 months, and then the home search started up again.

We were looking for a brick ranch with an attached garage and enough space to bring a trailer around to the back yard.  Many ranches with attached garages are smack-dab against the house next door and getting a trailer to the backyard can be a huge challenge.  We were also looking for a wood-burning fireplace, which you would think would be easy to find up north.  No such luck.  They either had no fireplace at all or they had been converted to natural gas.  In all of our searching, we never did find a home we could agree on.

Thankfully, that job never materialized.  We found out later that the plant closed up and, if we had sold our house and moved up there, John would have been out of a job.  I can’t tell you how thrilled we were that we never moved.

Along came Jordan Rose in 2006 and our bungalow in Clawson got a little tight.  Exer-saucer, play pen, high chair – it all takes room and in 2007 we decided to start looking at homes again.  In the 13 years that we owned the home, it had doubled in value and then started declining.  By 2007, it was still worth about 150% of what we had paid in 1994.  Good time to cash out.  John was then working at Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, so we really could live in either Oakland or Macomb County and still be close to John’s job, but Macomb County had several advantages:  1) We had a 19 foot Starcraft, so living closer to the lake was a draw;  2) We could get more for our money in Macomb County; and 3) since John grew up on the east side, he was ready to get back to his stomping grounds.

Kimberly Tomko, real estate agent extraordinaire, worked her magic and found us lots of good prospects to look at.  And when we walked into the house on Remick Dr, we knew we had found home.  It was being sold by the original owners who had built it in 1951.  Actually, it was the children who were selling it, as their mother had recently passed away, having raised her whole family in that house.  Her kids now had their own grandchildren and it was time to say goodbye to Mom’s house.

The woodwork was all original and had never been painted.  The kitchen and bathrooms were original and we loved all of it.  The plaster coves and original tile work would cost a million dollars to replace at today’s wages.  You just can’t get craftsmanship like that any more without paying a pretty penny.  It was a brick ranch with an attached garage and the lot was double-wide, so you could get trailers around BOTH sides.  And, I think God was showing off, because this house didn’t have one wood-burning fireplace.  It had TWO.

We had to do a contingent offer on the house, as we needed our house in Clawson to sell before we could purchase the house in Clinton Twp.  Did I mention that Kimberly could work magic?  She brought the family a picture of our family, explaining who we were and how much we loved their mother’s house.  They not only accepted our contingent offer, but they accepted the price that we offered.  We were astounded.  It took about 2 months, but Kimberly also sold our house in Clawson and we were off to Clinton Twp.

When we came to do the inspection, we noticed a large painting in the basement.  I’ve attached a picture of it below.  It’s 5 feet wide and 3 1/2 feet tall.  I don’t know who created it, but I do know that it was done for the owner’s retirement.  He must have been a shipping manager, as it shows him juggling phones, shipping quotes, tracer paperwork, trailer numbers, and there are boats, planes, trains and semi’s drawn all around the edge of the painting.  The top has a scroll with the title “The Miracle Worker” written on it.  It’s quite a piece of work.

Before I continue, I must tell you that I LOVE my birthday.  I was born on October 19, 1971.  Whenever we see 10:19 on the clock, everyone in my family has been trained to say, “10:19, Praise the Lord!”  Just my little way of acknowledging God’s part in my birth.

I found another poster in the basement that said “Good Luck on Your Retirement John” with the dates 1929 – 1972.  Upon closer inspection of the large painting, I noticed a calendar page on the front of his desk with a palm tree and the date, October 19, 1972.  The owner of the house retired on October 19, 1972.  He retired on my first birthday!

That was exciting, but I was even more excited when I realized two more important details.  The mother who had passed away was named Suzanne.  Her husband was John.  My name is Beth Suzanne and my husband is John.  So, John and Beth Suzanne bought the house that John and Suzanne had raised their children in and lived in for the rest of their lives.  And who is “The Miracle Worker”?  I’ll let you decide.

John the "Miracle Worker"
John the “Miracle Worker”