Thursday, October 24, 2013

How do you give God your life?

I've heard all my life that I need to "Give God my life". And I would say "Yes, that's something I'd like to do." but how on earth do I do it?
Can I just say "God, here's my life?"
It is, in a sense, just that easy. The problem is when you say that and then you sit down to watch something Jesus wouldn't watch. Or you go participate in an activity He would hate.
Unfortunately, when we offer our lives, we seem to immediately forget the idea of "No take-backs!"

For many years I desperately wanted to be used by God. I looked into several things I thought He would like, and nothing came of them. I did other things and they succeeded, just not nearly as quickly as I would have. Other things, happened quicker than I expected and took me completely by surprise.

Overall, I vehemently objected to anything that looked like "doing nothing".

And I made a lot of mistakes.

This past year, deciding on India has been the easiest decision I've ever had someone else make for me.

I knew I was going somewhere.. but not where.
I prayed God would show me where.
God had the words India come out of my mouth.
I prayed if India was it, He'd confirm it.
God confirmed it, but we didn't know where in India.
We started praying for an exact location in India, God gave us "Pastor John"
Who is not only going to be our exact destination, but the help we never imagined in order to make it there.

In all this time there was no rushing, not anxiety as to "what am I going to decide to do for God" just a simple "wait... God will tell me."

All I had to do was be still, be quiet, and listen.

I play the piano with my 2 1/2 yr old Precious. She sticks out her pointy finger and I cover her hand and finger with my own, and we play a song together. It never starts out easily. She's always too excited to be playing. She yanks her hand from me sometimes to pound the keys, she'll keep control of her hand and while I"m trying to move it her hand is stiff because she's trying to hit another note instead of moving on, sometimes she just wants to use her whole hand instead of the one finger I'm intending to control.

It usually takes a couple of attempts before she finally settles down from the excitement that has her yanking around, and allows me to simply "have" her hand and her finger. And we play. That's when her sweet voice almost always announces "I'm playing a song mommy!" 

She doesn't say that while we struggle. Even though we're hitting notes and mangling our way through a song... she doesn't ever say "I'm playing a song" until she's given over her hand. Not until the melody becomes sweeter as she allows me to play through her tiny little finger.

I learn so much from watching my children. God is not like me. His love is different, His thoughts are different, His ways are MUCH different. But I still think I get a glimpse of Him, and of how to be a good child of God, by watching my daughters.

I recorded the following video several days ago, almost immediately thinking about how to write this post. It wasn't until a bit later that I realized the significance of the specific song that we ended up playing.

You want to give your life to Jesus? Say the words "All to Jesus I surrender. All to Him I freely give. I will ever love and trust Him; In His presence daily live."
And mean it.
But be aware, that "all" means, well, it means ALL: Children, family, time, energy, love, hopes, dreams, hobbies, money, pride, peoples good opinions, and so much more.
But when you let go, and you simply rest in His presence, confident that He will open the door to the next destination, decision, direction that He wants you in and that all you'll have to do is listen to Him in order to find it? Let me tell you friends, it's a pretty sweet spot to be in. And you find that the important things you put 2nd to God, only get better, richer, sweeter, happier. And you'll also find that the unimportant things tend to just fade away. And life becomes more full and wonderful than ever before.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Surely I should be more miserable.

188 days till I move to India and life changes dramatically. 

I'm giving up my house. It has a backyard, paid water, and low rent for the neighborhood and quality of house.
I'm giving up my BBQ grill, my piano (again!) the couch God gave me 12 years ago and my big fluffy brown chair.
I'm giving up my pictures on the wall, the few pieces of art I've really enjoyed through the years, the poster I designed that a friend I worked with 2 years ago had HER friend make for me out of sermon notes.
I'm giving up the picture of the man standing in the rain with the words "HOPE CAN SET YOU FREE". I've had that picture over 15 years, and small children ripped the bottom of it so I had to cut the letters out and glue them to make the picture what it looks like today. I'm not artistic, so this picture always makes me proud I can do something and not have it turn out looking like a pre-school project. I also like that it makes me see hope every time I look at it.

I'm giving up my country. America. Where I can hop into my minivan (that I'm also giving up) and buy a hamburger anytime I want, 24  hours a day, 7 days a week. I'm giving up knowing the language and culture around me. I'm giving up knowing what's expected of me and how to not offend people. I'm giving up knowing what is good manners and what is bad manners. I'm giving up the freezer aisle at Wal-mart.

I'm giving up my city that sprays for mosquitoes.

And I could be wrong, but I'm pretty well sure I'm giving up warm, buttery, yeast rolls.

And a few people have told me how hard it will be, that I don't know what I'm doing, that I'm not doing right by my children because of this, or that I'm such a good person for being willing to go. I've been told I shouldn't be going without the backing of an organization, and that odds say I will fail at what I attempt without the training an organization would have required.

The odds are even good that I won't be able to afford the plane ticket home if I did fail.

It seems like the situation couldn't get more dire.


It's not.

It's not dire at all.

It's so far the opposite of dire that I could fill the next  2 paragraphs with different adjectives describing how "undire" it truly is. And yes, I know undire is not a word.
Boundlessly wonderful - those are real words. It's boundlessly wonderful.

The things I'm walking away from are so small compared to the joy that is waiting for me. A family, a family of Christians. A family of Christians that LOVE each other like no one I know loves people. They actually are concerned if you're unhappy. Whether happy, sad, sick or healthy - when they ask "Yela Vunnaru?" (How are you?) They actually want to know the answer.

I have the profound honor and joy to be asked by God to go somewhere. I'm so excited at the people, the children, the culture, the joy...

A cause.
A purpose.
Used for Christ.
Sheesh, I might even be living in a palace. (The house our friend in India has found that he is wanting us to take is... beyond our imagination.)

I'm breathless. When I stop and think about the future, it takes my breath, my eyes fill with tears, and I wonder how it's possible to be so very happy. Our countdown is at 189 days right now. 189 days till we go. It seems so long.

I am so thankful to live this life. To be able to walk THIS walk. I've written in this blog for many years now, and many many changes have come since the start. But when I started this blog, I never imagined what God could have in store.

It reminds me strongly of a song we used to sing in church that says "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has known what God has in store."

I feel like I must be living someone elses life. This is too good. I know the person I once was. Goodness, I know the person I am now. No way am I good enough, smart enough, loving enough, Christian enough to have God send me to these wonderful people. Me Lord? Surely God is only proving His loving kindness and mercies.

Which brings me to the title of this article - I'm not miserable enough. I thought when I gave God my whole life, and He sent me off to some foreign place... surely I'm supposed to be sad, distraught, challenged, fearful, worried. Surely, I like Jonah, am supposed to run in the other direction. It seems I would feel more "Christian" if I didn't want to go but did so as a great "sacrifice" for my King. I feel utterly selfish and as though I am tricking people by doing something they think is so...hard... when I'm so utterly happy about it. So over my heels with happiness, and joy, and as a enthralled child being told that her Father wants her to go to Disneyland.

If this is giving your life to Christ - by goodness - every single person I know that has not done this is an idiot. Give it to Him. Give Him your every day, every moment, your rest of your life, your school plans, your dreams, your hobbies, your bedroom furniture. Whatever it is.. give it. He takes it, makes something mind-blowingly wonderful and leaves you astounded.

At least that's what He did for me.
I am so thankful for Jesus.

Friday, October 18, 2013

My daughter loves me.

Precious is two years old now. She is... a bundle of personality, and hair, and a vocabulary that sometimes leaves me wondering what on earth she might say next.
She's also in that little section of life that some mothers might call the "terrible two's". I'm trying to not use that word around here much.
But.. um.. wow... she's...possibly losing her mind.

I love her dearly, and wish I could figure out what all is going through her head when she looks me dead in the eye and begins screaming bloody murder because I asked her to take off her shoes, or sit down, or go to the car. 

I've tried every cure I know. I've time-outed, I've given her a small swat or a pinch on the leg, I've even tried ignoring it, I've also tried the screaming "YOU WILL NOT DO THAT AGAIN YOUNG LADY!!!" that I never thought I'd do. Still.. the insanity continues. Sometimes it's stubborn willfulness. Other times, there's legitimately something causing a problem for her. Sometimes it's because the light is off and she's scared of the dark, or.. of course, she's scared of the snow and doesn't want to walk to the car by herself (I didn't say the legitimate reason was rational). But sometimes there's something...

Meanwhile, I'm the crazy mom. The one who starts on with the "You're about to die" voice that tells her the behavior is inappropriate. I'm the one who puts her in timeout until she thinks she'll die in the corner. I'm the one who refused to give her another food of any sort until she finished her broccoli.

I'm also the mom she loves.

I've realized something about that.. it's not about her making a decision to trust me. It's not about her being okay with all of my choices while I stumble through this thing called "motherhood". She just loves me.While we both lose our minds. 

I love her too, but I was the guaranteed love. Hers is the one I always wonder about if I've "earned" it.... but while I've failed hundreds of thousands of times in her short lifespan, I'm the one who loves her most on this earth. I'm hers. And she loves me.

So for all my failures, my love her for is what sticks. That's the part that sinks into her little skull in a way that "Don't poke your sister in the eye" doesn't. For the billion and one lessons I show her each day, the lesson she learns best is the hug in the morning, the kisses and tickles at nap time, and the countless squeezes all through the day.

Being loved is enough to change your life. To change your heart.
All that to say that tonight the words are ringing in my heart:

"Oh how I love Jesus
Oh how I love Jesus
Oh how I love Jesus
Because He first loved me."

Saturday, October 12, 2013

When God says move you move.

It has been a long time since I last posted.
And there is so much to write to update this blog on what I've been doing.

It's now October 11th. I'm still as unemployed as I was the last time I wrote. Somehow, all this time, God has provided money for us - despite the fact that two different people that owe me money each month have failed to pay me. EVER. My God is so good.

But here, is the true story that I want to tell

When we moved to Colorado, I felt very confident that we were not here to stay. I didn't even entertain the idea. This was short term.
Months went by and I continuously felt the urging that we would be going to a foreign country.
The main countries that we had contacts with were Uganda, and Haiti, and I was also interested in Liberia. But for some reason, none of those ever felt right. I sat back and just waited. I knew when God was ready to tell me where to go - He would.

Then one day I was talking to myself and I heard myself say that if Jennifer (a friend I have witnessed to -a lot - didn't get saved, she wouldn't be able to go with me to India.

I stopped - what??? India?

I knew nothing of India.

A month or so later, it happened again. Out of nowhere, India came out of my mouth.
Ok God - if it's India it's India.

I'm moving to India?
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (1 Cor 1:27)

So on June 27th I emailed my brother. And I said, other than the countries we've been talking about, has any other country come to your mind?
Nothing had that he had recognized as a future destination.
Then, on July 7th, both our families sitting around the oblong tables of Pizza Hut, he leaned forward and said "Hey, do you know David I*****? He's been posting on Facebook that he's needing workers to come to India and help him."
My heart stopped for just a moment. Is this for real?
I explained that India, was the country I had been asking him to confirm just a week or so before.
Next, I emailed a trusted former pastor of mine. I told him my story and said "I don't know anything for sure, but please pray." The next weekend he kept trying to call and we constantly missed each other. I almost emailed him to make sure he knew that everything was ok and I was not planning on shipping off to India next week, but something kept stopping me. In my mind I kept laughing at the idea that was stuck in my mind "No.. he needs to call me because he's going to call me back and tell me that he knows someone going to India".
Then finally his call came through. I waited for the words...
Sure enough. He tells me that just a week or so ago a family friend come to his church and she spoke about her upcoming trip to India.

Next, I went to a Christian bookstore and rented a movie called "This Is Our Time". It's a movie about 4 college students graduating and searching for Gods purpose in their lives. I sat and wept as I watched 2 of the people sit down and tell their friends that God was calling them to India.
It was hard to breathe.
Could this really be true?

I'm moving to India?
And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: (1 Corinthians 1:28)

I'm Jeanette...crazy girl... pastors daughter...someone who fails...A LOT... no way God would bother calling someone like ME to another country of all places. Right?

I'm moving to India.
That no flesh should glory in his presence. (1 Corinthians 1:29)

So we all started making plans. It's a big country.. where to go? So we aimed toward Chennai and started planning. All the while, I kept praying for the next step of direction. We need someone to work with. We need someone in India. We need someone to help us. I didn't want to just "go to Chennai" because I had no other idea where to go. Where Lord?

I went to a website, and I searched for people in India. I found a man who said he lived in India and loved the Lord. I sent him a message and said I was looking for someone that could answer a few questions about India and moving and the culture there.

What I got was above and beyond my wildest expectation. The man was a leader of about 20 churches, with only 10 pastors. He is the coordinator/originator of a children's home that currently has 18 children in it. He's been praying for help for many years.

He's also spent the last month teaching us the language (Telugu), he's answered hundreds of questions about the pastors, culture, customs, clothing, food, church, and so much more.
He's worked incredibly hard to help us Skype our way into participating in 2 of his pastors meetings.

Tonight, before laying my daughter into bed, I held her in my arms and rocked her. We sang our ABC's, Twinkle Twinkle, and then a children's song in Telugu. It was heart stopping to me how my life was about to change.

I'm moving to India. 
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (1 Corinthians 1:30)

I'm going to encourage people that need to be encouraged. I'm going to help those that need help. I'm going to love people who, from what I've seen so far, know how to love better than anyone else I've ever met. I'm giving away, selling away, discarding all of my worldly goods (Except for about 3 suitcases full) and I am going to gain something so profoundly valuable. Another family. A large family that loves God and lives out their faith in the truest sense of dying to themselves every single day.

 I wish that you could hear them speak. I wish you could listen to their blessings and prayers. I wish you could know how my heart catches to know that their every celebration is filled with prayer. I wish you could know the encouragement it is to see pastors, living on so little, yet serving God with all their hearts every single day.

I'm moving to India!
That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.(1 Corinthians 1:31)

I offered my life to my God, and He has accepted it. I will never be the same.