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Archive for September, 2009

WHO do I chooose to love?

One day this question popped in my head when Justin and I were running. WHO do I choose to love? I celebrated my 32nd birthday last week and it seems to be a natural time to reflect on your life and where you are in life. I couldn’t quit thinking about this question. WHO am I choosing to love? As I reflect on my life it seems that for the past 31 years of my life I have chosen to love ME over loving my Creator…my GOD! I see this choice in the way I spend my thoughts, my emotions, my time, my money…most everything points to the fact that I have not chosen to lose myself and LOVE GOD! So, as I talk to God about this, He keeps kindly & gently showing me things in my life that I must lay down in order to genuinely LOVE HIM alone. No claims on my life, my comfort, my dreams, my expectations…laying it all down in order to CHOOSE to love HIM. He has also shown me some things that are on His heart that He desires for me to pick up and carry with Him. I have realized that I have spent so much time loving myself that I have been desensitized to the things that break God’s heart! People ALL around me that desperately NEED Him! I can see so clearly these days how satan steals and destroys so much in our lives by tempting us to love ourselves and hold on to things that are not ours to begin with. I have felt SO MUCH freedom and abundance in my heart the past week or so as I am walking with the Lord in learning how to lose myself and LOVE HIM! It is hard and it hurts, but God brings so much ABUNDANCE in our hearts when we finally surrender…daily…minute by minute! I know one day I am going to get to see my Jesus face-to-face…all of the things that seem to fill up my heart and mind will seem so meaningless in His presence. I am trusting Him to walk with me and teach me how to CHOOSE to love Him…not myself. So, when I stand before Him I can honestly say that I spent my life loving Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength…and as an overflow of that love, I loved my neighbor as myself! Whew! What FREEDOM!

Jaxon started school a few weeks ago…Here are a few pics of this big milestone!

Jaxon with his teacher Ms. Amy

Jaxon with his teacher Ms. Amy

First day of school!

First day of school!

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This is how I have been feeling all week long. We came home from Romania on Sunday. I think back to May and it seems like we have literally been around the world and back again. Not just because we traveled to so many different places, but God has let us experience so many different “worlds”. We have had a pivotal summer…because of things we have been able to experience and places we have gone, but mostly because of what God is doing in our hearts. I could write all day about this summer, but it seems like so many things God has been working in us came to a climax because of our trip to Romania and an amazing book we read on our way home. So, here we go…

our team in Bucharest

our team in Bucharest

Us visiting the citadel in Sighisoara...this citadel is the only citadel in Europe where people still live!

Us visiting the citadel in Sighisoara...this citadel is the only citadel in Europe where people still live!

We left Austin Friday, August 21st to fly to Romania. We met up with our new friends, Kenny, Sarah & Glenn to go on a 9 day adventure. After 3 legs of flying & a 5 hour van ride we arrived in Sighisoara, Romania late Saturday night. We were blessed to spend the day Sunday worshiping with our new friends, eating some good food & resting up a bit from the long trip. Monday the fun began! We had 50 gypsy friends from 5 different villages come to have youth camp with us! If you don’t know much about gypsies they are originally from India, but have been in eastern Europe for a while now. They are BEAUTIFUL people with A LOT of life and energy. They like to celebrate and always have a song to sing…especially the girls! They have strength, courage & resourcefulness like I have never seen. They live in desperate poverty & are disliked by the Romanian people. It was fun to be a part of loving these kids with some Romanian brothers and sisters who are giving themselves to love the gypsies when the rest of their world does not want to have anything to do with them! We learned a lot from their love for the gypsies and how they are sacrificing to help them!

This is a gypsy village we were able to visit

This is a gypsy village we were able to visit

some of the kids...they were happy because we just gave them a big handful of candy!

some of the kids...they were happy because we just gave them a big handful of candy!

a "playgroup" in the village...sure looks a lot different than here!

a "playgroup" in the village...sure looks a lot different than here!

washing their clothes in the ditch

washing their clothes in the ditch

Pastor Florin and the bread oven his church as built in the village church to make bread for their gypsy friends during the cold winter months...opening many doors for them to share the LOVE of Jesus!

Pastor Florin and the bread oven his church has built in the village church to make bread for their gypsy friends during the cold winter months...opening many doors for them to share the LOVE of Jesus!

The basement of the village church that they want to make in to a soup kitchen...just waiting on God to provide the money!

The basement of the village church that they want to make into a soup kitchen...just waiting on God to provide the money!

O.k. back to our week at camp. God put together a GREAT team…translators, cooks, helpers & all our friends from Austin! We had 4 small groups that we did Bible study with about 3 times a day and then twice a day we had a worship service. All the other time during the day we were either playing, eating or sleeping. Justin had the younger guys who were 10 – 12 years old, but in maturity

Justin & Andre'

Justin & Andre'

and size they were about 6 – 8 years old. He had to share short and sweet tidbits of the Gospel because these guys did not want to sit still long! He did get to lead one of the boys, Andre’, to start a relationship with Jesus. YEAH!!! Kenny had the older boys and 12 of the 13 guys in his group chose to start a relationship with Jesus! Sarah had the younger girls, who also had a hard time sitting still. She had some great opportunity to use situations that came up to teach them about the Gospel. I had the older girls…14 of them, ages 14 and older. They were great…always listened intently, but shy when it came to spiritual conversations. We had to use translators, which was fun because WE LOVED our translators! But, hard because we couldn’t just hang out and get to know the kids. We always had to have a translator nearby. We each had a translator that helped us during our small group time. This was a great way for the our Romanian friends to really get to know what was happening with these kids spiritually. Worship services were interesting because the kids did not have long attention spans & we had to use translators. They did LOVE to sing, though! Justin did a great job explaining each song and going over it line by line. They were actually quite good at singing in English. They also

my girls

my girls

taught us some Romanian worship songs too, which usually had hand motions! These kids were so fun to get to know and just watch. One thing that I quickly learned was that they could find food anywhere! They found wild grapes, pears, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds. It was AMAZING! They know how to survive! They were happy with 2 swings, 2 ping pong tables, a tire swing & a soccerball. One of my favorite things we did was on Wednesday. We were going to have a bonfire that night and needed some wood for the fire, so they sent the kids to get some wood. As soon as the kids heard, they were so excited to go to the woods and find some wood. We walked about 1/2 a mile and up a big hill to the edge of the woods. We all hung out for a while..eating hazelnuts & sunflower seeds, picking flowers and just enjoying the view. No one told the kids what to do, they just started gathering branches from the woods and slowly everyone had one to carry back and we all went back to the camp. You have to see a few pics!

starting up the big hill

starting up the big hill

quick pic at the top of the hill

quick pic at the top of the hill

WHAT A VIEW!  The big steeple is right next to where we are staying

WHAT A VIEW! The big steeple is right next to where we are staying

I don't care where you are girls like to pick flowers...yes...those are wild flowers!

I don't care where you are girls like to pick flowers...yes...those are wild flowers!

The camp was over on Thursday after lunch and, boy, were we tired…and REALLY ready for a hot shower! Did I mention that they didn’t really have running water the whole time we were there, so most of us had not taken a shower since Monday! There was a shower outside beside the outhouse that had sheets around it. I was not brave enough to go on that adventure, but Justin did a couple of times! I was quite impressed! Everyone involved felt like the camp was a success! Sabin & Florin, our Romanian pastors, are already planning with Kenny to have another camp next summer! This camp was meant to be an experiment to see if it could work. Now, next summer we will know what worked and what needs to be tweaked. Here is a short video of the kids singing a song in English that they taught us.

We finished up our trip hanging in Sighisoara for a night and then off to Bucharest. In Bucharest we did some sightseeing, eating & debriefing. On the first leg of the trip Justin finished a book called Crazy Love. When he finished it, he told me he wanted me to read it before we got home.

the whole Romanian crew!

the whole Romanian crew!

these girls were my camp roomies!  Sarah was my team mate from Austin & Diana was one of our translators.  She was born in Romania and moved to Austria when she was 3.  What GREAT girls!

these girls were my camp roomies! Sarah was my team mate from Austin & Diana was one of our translators. She was born in Romania and moved to Austria when she was 3. What GREAT girls!

He wanted to talk about it when we got home. I couldn’t wait to read it because he was so stirred up about. We had been talking about all we had seen and experienced. We had been asking God what do we do with all of this? Being in the midst of so much poverty had really put some things in perspective for us and we were not quite sure what to do with it. We have SO MUCH! From material things, to amazing families & friends, to endless supplies of things to help us deepen our walk with the Lord, to good health, to a fun, healthy marriage, to an AMAZING son…I mean seriously! And I struggle because God is not giving me more…or because He is not giving it to me fast enough! We have been faced with some questions, “How much are we sacrificing with our time, money, desires, comforts, possessions in order to more fully love our God with all our heart, soul & mind…and tangibly love others as ourself, so they will desire to love God with everything?” “Are we making decisions based on the wisdom of the world or the foolishness of Christ?” “Are we giving God room in our lives to be big, or do we have everything figured out and planned for?” “If we are honest with ourselves do we love ourselves more than we love God? What do our choices about time, money, comforts, etc show about our love for ourselves and our love for God?” YOW!!! These are HARD questions that we are struggling through…seeking God about…straining our ears and hearts to hear what He wants for US! Everyone’s story is different! We are asking God to show us in our day-to-day lives how we can live more for ETERNITY and less for the here & now comforts that seem to so easily steal our hearts away. Reading Crazy Love on the way home helped us put our minds around some of the things we felt like God was trying to teach us. We are having some good, hard conversations and prayer times as we learn more and more what it means to love God with EVERYTHING!

I want to leave you with a video of a couple we met when we were visiting one of the gypsy villages. From what we could understand of their story it went like this: The husband was a successful musician who came to know the Lord about 7 years ago. Because of his new faith, he chose not to play professionally anymore. The types of places he was able to find gigs in were not going to work if he was going to follow Christ. Since then his health has suffered, so he has been out of work for about 7 years. His wife is working, but just doesn’t make much. They have, I believe 3 adults and 2 kids living in their small house. The wife said she would go out in the forest close to their house and find ruffage to make salads for their dinners! They are faithful to the village church. We went to their house with Florin and they wanted to sing us a song, Amazing Grace.

They sang Amazing Grace as they wait on God to provide their basic needs. What a beautiful picture of what He wants our lives to be…loving Him as He takes joy in meeting our every need!

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