What Makes It Worth It?

I’ve said it many times to my friends, family, and those who ask about my missionary life … this job is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I’m not saying that to complain. I’m saying it because that’s how I know it’s God’s doing. I have never in my life been the person to go after a challenge. I know people who love a challenge, and honestly, I don’t understand them! I want the easiest, most efficient way to do something. And if it’s not easy, I’m probably not going to try for very long. So when I say this work is hard, I’m saying, Thank you, Lord, for the strength you give me to do it! Because I certainly could not do it on my own.

So what makes it worth it?

Being hugged by a child?

Being told by a Dominican that they’re blessed and honored that I would come here?

Seeing a child’s attitude change after an encounter with Jesus?

All these things make it worth it.

But …

What if no child ever hugged me? What if no one told me, “Good job!” What if I didn’t see anyone come to Jesus? Would it still be worth it?

I’m not the best about sitting down and having a long prayer time with God. But, I am definitely talking to him all day. Questions, praises, requests, and just conversation. And I find myself telling him sometimes, “I just need something. I need to see You working. I need to know You’re in this.”

It’s me, doubting.

It’s me, needing affirmation.

It’s me, being HUMAN.

The truth is, God asks for my obedience, no matter the outcome. My obedience is being here. My obedience brings honor to God. And that is what makes it worth it. My purpose is to glorify God. That is where my worth is found. And if I never see any results of my obedience on Earth, it really shouldn’t matter. My responsibility is to glorify God, and I want to do that through obedience.

I’d end there, but I confess I’m so thankful God understands our humanness and does give us what we ask for, even when we really don’t need it, or deserve it. I’m glad the children hug me. I am honored by the kinds words of the Dominicans. I rejoice that one of my students has been changed by the power of the blood of Christ. Thank you, Lord.

My baseball boys

For the last few months, I’ve been going to the baseball field to help coach the 6-9 year old group. I quickly learned that teaching in a classroom is so much easier for me! I love my boys. They bring smiles to my faces.

I didn’t know if they’d think it was weird to have a girl working with them, but they high five me and hug me and sometimes they listen to me!

Jhonny and Joel

Jhonny and Joel

Waiting for their chance

Waiting for their chance

Carlos Juan is 8. He's a stud baseball player. He's so small that we usually play him with the 6-7 yr olds, but lately he's been playing up because he's too good for the little ones.

Carlos Juan is 8. He’s a stud baseball player. He’s so small that we usually play him with the 6-7 yr olds, but lately he’s been playing up because he’s too good for the little ones.

Berny ... I taught him how to catch a ball. He hasn't perfected it. "How do you know so much about baseball? he asked me.

Berny … I taught him how to catch a ball. He hasn’t perfected it. “How do you know so much about baseball? he asked me.

These kids are my Wednesday afternoons and my Saturday mornings. And now they are my heart. I’m grateful to know them and to be able to be here with them.

A Little Post for a Big Cause — also, COFFEE!

Hey coffee drinkers, The Timothy Center, an organization I’ve known for a while, is selling Haitian Perle coffee, gourmet coffee from the Caribbean mountains of Haiti. $9.00 from every $12.00 bag of 12 oz. coffee goes to help lift people out of economic and spiritual poverty. Coffee with a cause!

http://thetimothycenter.org/index.php/what-we-do/item/40-timothy-center-coffee-club

Love God. Love others. Then drink coffee!

Those Parents of Mine

My friends, my family, and even those who may not know me very well, know that my parents are kind of crazy. My brothers and I spend a lot of times telling stories about their lives and ours.

PARENTS1

But, for today, I want to tell you some of the pretty cool things about my mom and dad, who are still together, after raising 3 crazy children, and going through a whole lot of LIFE.

parents2

My dad always took care of us financially. He worked and worked and worked. We were really poor when I was younger, but I never knew it. We had our needs met: food, a home, a car, and even some new K Mart clothes for school each year. I’ve heard stories of alcoholic dads or gambling dads losing the family’s rent or even the house. That wasn’t my dad.

My dad is generous. His dad was not generous to him, and I think he made sure that didn’t happen to his kids. We earned $5 (sometimes $10!) every other week for our allowance. Looking back, I appreciate it more now, because really, I didn’t have any chores. He just gave us the money. Once in a while, we’d get a task, and that’s when he’d double it. There were a few times in my life where my dad came across some extra chunks of money, and without hesitation, he split it among us. He didn’t have to do that, but he did, because he’s generous.

I think my favorite thing about my dad is the time he spent taking us to sporting events. I’ve been to Detroit Red Wings games, Tigers, Lions, and Pistons, all with my dad. I didn’t know until I was older what a special treat it was to go to the professional games. It was just part of my life! From 1991-2005, I went to at least one Red Wings game a year. Maybe now you understand my love of sports a little more. :) It was time spent with my dad.

My mom took care of us. She did our laundry. She cooked our meals. We ate meals at home together as a family for most of our young childhood. Once we were in junior high and had sports, the schedules changed, but dinner together as a family at the dinner table was a regular thing for us.

My mom worked. My mom went back to work so that my brother and I could go to a private, Christian school. And so she could get her nails done. Just kidding, Mom. Even when I went to college, my mom worked and helped as much as she could to pay for my school. That was huge. I have no idea what it’s like to pay my own way through college. My mom sacrificed so I could go through school without that stress.

My mom kept the house clean all the time. She was up early every morning to clean the house (I hated when she would vacuum at 6 in the morning!). If we got up early enough, we’d see her sweating to the oldies, doing laundry, or reading her Bible.

She was faithful to church. Once we started going to church, we rarely missed. She taught me a lot about commitment in that way. She was always in the Word, and always praying.

Today, I was listening to a pastor and he said, “Give your dad a break. He did the best he could with what he had.”

Sometimes, I forget that my parents are human. :) So, today, I’m giving them a break. I’m saying thank you for doing what you could for me.

I love you.

That one time I saw a bunch of MLB players!

A couple months ago, my friend told me about a baseball clinic happening at the stadium. I walked to the stadium to check it out. She mentioned there would be some MLB players. Then, a friend of mine was on the field, so he brought me on the field, too. Then… I wandered and took pictures. Living the DREAM.

See the photos here.

Some of the people I saw…

Big Papi — David Ortiz

Encarnacion

Pedro Ciriaco

Santana

Nelson Cruz

Robinson Cano

Jordany Valdespin

Jean Segura

 

Now You Know How I Feel

I love love love my students. They laugh at my really stupid jokes. They give me huge, painfully strong hugs. They forgive my faults. They smile a lot. They make me laugh.

But what about when they’re not doing those things? What about when they forget their homework, or talk during quiet time, or fight with each other? What about when they talk back and disobey and get angry?

Do I love them then?

This week, I was praying, “God! They don’t listen to me!” And He calmly and quietly said, “Now you know how I feel.”

Oh.

His simple response has challenged me in two ways. First of all, it has helped me to realize why I am loving these kids. I’m not loving them with the primary purpose of conforming them into obedient creatures. I’m not loving SO they will listen. If that’s my goal, I would surely give up.  I’m loving them because God has commanded me to love one another. My love for them isn’t dependent on whether they obey me or not. My love for them is unconditional. And in those moments where I might want to give up, I have to remember the purpose! Love because Jesus loves. It’s not really love if I’m only “showing love” to get something in return.

Second, his response has chastised me in my own disobedience. When I don’t listen to God–when I know what is right to do, and I disobey, how frustrating that must be for Him. How hurtful. I use that “How would you feel?” line all the time with my students when they hurt someone else. Now God is showing me the same. He knows what is good and best for me. And I don’t listen. And it hurts Him, not because He wants me to be an obedient creature…but because He loves me and knows what is good for me.

Lord, help me to love unconditionally.

Lord, help me to let your love be my motivation for obeying you.

While You Were Sleeping

Luke 22:39-46

Jesus and his disciples went up to the Mount of Olives. When they arrived, Jesus told them, “Pray that you do not fall into temptation.” Then He left them to go pray to the Father. He was going to pray about what He knew was coming: his death. He prayed, “Father if you are willing, take this cup from me, yet not my will, but yours be done.”

An angel came and strengthened Him. He was in such agony, his sweat was filled with blood.

When he returned to his disciples, they were sleeping, exhausted from sorrow. 

“Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

So let me explain this the way I read it this morning…

Jesus and his disciples go up to the Mount of Olives. He gives them instructions on what to do. Then He leaves them. Instead of obeying his directions, they go to sleep because they are sad. Meanwhile, Jesus is praying, pleading with God because of His love for those sad, sleeping disciples. He’s in agony, sweating drops of blood, needing to be strengthened by an angel, because of His love for those sad, sleeping disciples. And He’s God, so He knows they are back there sleeping and not doing what he said. But he’s praying. for them. He’s going to die for them. What kind of loves it that? Unconditional!

So He finishes pleading with God, going through the agony, sweating drops of blood (all because of His love for his people), and he returns to his sad, sleeping disciples. You know—his best friends. His very best friends didn’t do what He said. And he just says, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

He wants them to pray because it will help them. The directions He gave them were for their good. He went away to pray, for their good. How great is that love? Amazing. Infinite. Indescribable.

~~~~~

So let me explain this again, from a little different perspective…

Jesus came to earth, and he gave us instructions, and then He left. He left to intercede at the right hand of God the Father for you and for me. And guess what we’re doing? We’re sleeping. We’re not obeying. We’re sad and tired, and we’re sleeping. We’re weary because this life is hard. And while we’re sleeping, where is Jesus? Talking to God about us. Why? Because he loves us. He loves us so much.

How great is our God? How awesome is my Jesus? How much love does he have for me? I can’t even begin to describe it.

But I can tell you this… the more I see and understand his love, the more I love him. And the more I see and understand his love, the more I can handle this “hard” life.

Think about all He’s doing for you. Right now. While you were sleeping.