Monthly Archives: May 2013

Arise, Shine…

Have you ever found yourself doing something that looks like drudgery? Have you worked at a task that seemed like it was just eating up your time? 

I can. There are times when the kids have made a mess of the house and the dishes need to be done. There are times when I am stocking bananas at Trader Joe’s and I think, “I have a college degree! I can fly airplanes! What am I doing stocking bananas?!?!?!” There are times when weeds need to be pulled, the grass needs to be mowed, diapers need to be changed, and you know the rest.

But, this is not the attitude of Christ! In John 13, he performed a huge act of service by washing the dirty, dusty feet of his closest friends! He then goes on the say, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (vv. 14-15) 

I was reading through My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers and he comments on this chapter in John.

Drudgery is one of the finest tests to determine the genuineness of our character. Drudgery is work that is far removed from anything we think of as ideal work. It is the utterly hard, menial, tiresome, and dirty work…In some cases the way a person does a task makes that work sanctified and holy forever. It may be a very common everyday task, but after we have seen it done, it becomes different. When the Lord does something through us, He always transforms it.

I love what Paul says in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,” Whatever I do…

Whenever I start to complain or to wallow in self-pity, I remind myself that I can meet God in this menial task and He can transform it. It may be stocking (and restocking apples because they always fall) but I am going to stock as best I can. It may be washing dishes but I am going to use that time to think of Scripture or pray. 

Isaiah 60:1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.”

I will choose to arise out of the drudgery of life, for Christ’s light has come! Let us transform our days as we do every task with all our heart, joy, and thanksgiving!!!

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Aunt Lynnae
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DAD, LOOK OUT!!!
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BIRDS!!!

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Fun with Mirte and Brady
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Kinda Happy
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And…I’m out!

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Making The Most Of Our Time…

Lina's Dance Class
Lina’s Dance Class

We know we don’t have all that long here in Reno.  We aim to get the very most out of our time here and, of course, that all boils down to relationships and faithfulness.

Last week we had one of the funnest and fullest weeks we’ve had in a long time.  Our good friends Rian and Rachel had us over to dinner and while supping on Rachel’s amazing homemade pizza we learned that our friend Rian has a gift for asking really, really good questions.  He asked us questions that got us thinking and really made us feel known; something I (Jess) value and treasure more than almost anything.  The Lord used his questions and their genuine interest to encourage and bless us in a big way.

Later in the week we had two graduation parties and two birthday parties to attend, and with all that running around and all that cake you’d think we’d be running on empty.  But, the opposite is true.  At each event, we had some rich moments and rich conversations.  A highlight for me was taking Adelina to a party at a bounce house where I (forgetting somehow that I am 7.5 months pregnant) ran around like a three-year-old with my daughter and laughed carelessly as we twirled, bounded, bounced, slid, and ran around like a bunch of crazies.  It really was the best.

Then tonight, on our way to LIFE group we listened to a bass-heavy dance song called, “Good Life” by One Republic in which I took a moment to look at each of my family members and smile with my soul; this really is the good life.  (In that exact moment Adelina was wearing super-fabulous sunglasses and finishing an ear of corn from supper.)  Summer fun!

In our LIFE Group amid a sea of rambunctious children we had deep and meaning conversations about our true identity in Christ.  We came to agree that the things we “know” the most about our faith are indeed the things we need the most reminding of.  Oh yea, I am loved.  Oh yea, I am forgiven.  Oh yea, I am a new person in Christ.  The message of the Cross will never lose it’s wonder.  And somehow in these fragmented conversations with other worn-out parents, the love of Christ flows one to another in true abundance.  And again, I feel known.  Heck!  I even feel loved!

You know you’ve left a place well, when it’s time to go and there are tears.  I hope and pray that as we fellowship, invest, worship, and pray alongside our friends this summer and over the next few months we reap a harvest of gut- wrenching love as we are sent out to share the Good News with the ones who need it most.

Speaking of aviation (nice segue, I know) Phil got a hand drawn card from a young man he took flying for his 14th birthday.  It read, “Phil! Thank you sooooo much for taking me flying! This is by far the best birthday present ever!!! Thank you!  Nathan”  We met Nathan’s parents while sharing a meal with our next-door-neighbors a few weeks back.  Yesterday, Nathan, his two brothers, his mom and dad climbed aboard a Cherokee 160 as Phil flew them over Reno, Tahoe and Spanish Springs.  The family was delighted and the birthday boy was thrilled to try his hand at the controls.  The family thanked Phil profusely for a stunning flight experience.

Each of these things is an extension of God’s grace, far greater than we deserve.  So with all our hearts we attempt to live in gratitude and obedience all the while knowing that all that matters is relationships and faithfulness.  All that matters is Jesus.

Thanks for your love and support!

Jess, Phil, and Kiddos

Dancing with Grandma
Dancing with Grandma
Jeremiah at Dance class
Jeremiah at Dance class

Get Into The Word…

For the word of God is alive and active.

– Hebrews 4:12 NIV

I used to think that I wasn’t someone who could listen to the Bible on a CD. I had heard versions where someone read through the Bible in a monotone voice. I could see myself getting bored and possible nodding off to sleep. So, it came as a surprise when I was given a mp3 player with some worship songs and the Bible on it. I was offered a one day job doing some landscaping work and I had nothing else to listen to while I worked. I listened to the Bible and found that it was extremely powerful. There were times when I was fully engaged and there were times when my mind was on my work, but it turned out to be huge blessing. The reader spoke with a monotone voice but it was still effective.

After I got home, I checked on-line to find a Bible on CD. I was hooked! I finally settled on “The Bible Experience” and have been listening to it as I work at Trader Joe’s. All I can say is that I was about to cry for joy and gratitude while stocking cheese in the morning. (No, I wasn’t as excited about the cheese as I was thankful for the grace of God.) I never would have thought that I would enjoy listening to someone read the Bible, but I was so excited to be able to listen to the Bible 5 days a week and simply let it wash over me. It reminds me of Ephesians 5:26 which speaks of how Christ washes and cleanses his bride (the church…US) with the Word of God. I can feel God with me as I listen to the Word in the morning. I can sense God stirring up things in my heart and convicting me about my sin. What a blessing to live in such a time as this!!!

We had a great last week! We celebrated Mother’s Day, dedicated Jeremiah and pledged to raise him according to the faith, and Jessica served at a women’s conference at our church. We continue to find ways to serve and make the most of the opportunities that God gives us. We invited our Muslim neighbors to play in our kiddie pool and we all ended up soaked. Their favorite part was splashing Jessica!!!

We hope that all you Mother’s had a wonderful day of being celebrated! Have a great week and God Bless!

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Jessica making Shrimp and Grits for Mother’s Day
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Peek-A-Boo
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Jeremiah’s Dedication
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Love these kids
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Mother’s Day Brunch!!!

Better Than I Deserve…

Birthday Girl
Birthday Girl

I once asked a teacher how he was doing. He replied, “Better than I deserve.” I like that answer. It has stuck with me. In my job at Trader Joe’s, I ask and am asked dozens of times each day, “How are you today?” I often reply with the words of my teacher, “Better than I deserve.”

I do this for two reasons. The first is that it is TRUE!!! And when I say the words it reminds me to stay humble. I remember that I do not deserve the blessings and good things that God has given me. They are the gift of grace, not something I have earned. I remember I deserve to die for my sin and it is only because of the sacrifice of Jesus that I now have life and will have life evermore.

The second reason that I use this phrase is it is a subtle way for me to proclaim the good news and give a person a glimpse that I follow Christ. I know it is not much but I believe that it is effective in getting someone’s attention and causing them to think. Maybe they are a disciple of Christ and say “amen” in their heart. Or, maybe it causes them to remember to be thankful for what they have as well. I don’t know. But I say, with complete faith and humility, I am doing better than I deserve every day that I spend with Christ.

Speaking of being better than I deserve, I have some wonderful and amazing news. A friend at church told me that his cousin has an airplane. My friend told his cousin about my family and what we are trying to do with missionary aviation. The cousin offered to let me use his plane for cost of fuel!!! WOW!!! It took a few weeks to get together but I was given the keys on Saturday after a quick trip around the airport. (Anybody wanna go fly? 🙂

The airplane is an Piper Cherokee 140 with an upgraded engine. It is nothing fancy but it performs well and I can fly/teach instrument students. This is a huge blessings because my neighbor is interested in learning how to fly and this might open up the door for some new students! Yes, God certainly has been and is better to us than we deserve!

We are blessed beyond words and striving to be faithful during our time in Reno. We are having fun spending time with friends, serving in a variety of ways, and celebrating Adelina’s 3rd birthday this last weekend!!! Thank you for your faithful prayers and keeping up with us on this journey. All glory to God!!! Have a great week and live with the knowledge that you have it better than you deserve!

Who doesn't like whipped cream?
Who doesn’t like whipped cream?
No, it doesn't get any better than this!!!
No, it doesn’t get any better than this!!!
Maybe it does for him!
Maybe it does for him!