“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tree Tree Tree

photography by Anthony Kaetzel

We went tree tree tree hunting.  Anthony suggested that this year we each have our own Christmas tree.  (Love this idea!!!)  We went to a local Christmas Tree farm.  Picked our prey.  Stalked them.  And then cut them down!  All three were small enough to fit in the back of the station wagon.

photography by Anthony Kaetzel

The decorating of the tree tree tree.  It was each man (and woman and child) for themselves!  Whoever got to the trimming first got to use it on their tree.  Fortunately, no one else wanted my Hallmark Noelville Lighted Gingerbread Village Series or The Wonder of Christmas Holiday Angels Series or the Hallmark Illuminations Starlight Starbrights Set.  (I did however let Christopher use the Hallmark Illuminations Starlight Tree Topper.  Good mommy.)

The Firs - Noble, Douglas, Grand
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

Perhaps a new tradition in our family tree tree tree.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I've been thinking about... The Truth, Again.

 With having friends over for Thanksgiving... 
and starting a Bible Study in my home tomorrow morning... 
I have been thinking a lot about this previous post...

I think it is time you knew the truth about me.

Disclaimer: This post is not for the faint of heart. If you intend to keep me on a pedestal, please read no further!

I don't make my bed everyday. Okay, I maybe make my bed once a week. Well, the truth is that it might not really officially be called "making" my bed... It is more like straightening the covers.

I don't do the dishes every day. I like to let them pile up and then put them into the dishwasher at one time because I have a whole logical schematic as to which items go where.

I have piles of clutter around my house at this very moment. When-am-I-going-to-read-these-books pile. Where-do-I-file-these-papers pile. Need-to-put-this-stuff-in-the-car pile.

But if I knew you were coming over... I would most likely do the dishes. I would definitely throw all my piles of clutter into a laundry basket and shove it in the laundry room. And I might... just might... on a good day... straighten my bed, but most likely... well, the plain truth is... I would just shut the bedroom door.

I had some darling ladies over my home a couple months back. After having visited my home, one of my precious ladies told me that she saw my piles! She actually went looking for them. It relieved her to know that I had piles. Because she has her own piles, and she wondered what other people did with their piles.

Now, mind you, I don't always have piles. I'm pretty organized by most standards. Most of the time I have piles because I want to make sure everything ends up where I can find it at a later date.

I don't hide my piles because I want to impress you. I hide them because I don't want to be distracted by them while you are here. I don't want you to be distracted by them either. It's not that I'm trying to be someone that I'm not... It's just that when you are in my home... I want it to be a haven to you.

I guess I do this in other areas of my life. I may not always greet you with my piles in tow... I may appear to have things together... but I do this because... I want to be a haven to you... whether in my home or in my heart.

I want you to feel free to come over and peek in the laundry room and see my piles. I encourage you to do so. You can even take a peek into the sink... if you must. But in all honesty, when you peek into my bedroom... you'll find the bed unmade... because... well, isn't that what matching bed sheets were made for?

Friday, November 26, 2010

As of Late - November 26th, 2010

Snow Leaf

Lately, we enjoyed a little snow in November.  Before Thanksgiving.  This is totally unusual for Portland, Oregon.  It actually hung around for a bit because the temps were below freezing and it wasn't raining.  That has all changed, now.

Lately, I hosted Thanksgiving Dinner.  This is a stretch for me.  Going from having three people in the home to eleven is overwhelming to me.  Even though it was only for a few hours.  Even though we did almost all the prep work the day before at my friend's home.  Even though she did the shopping and her husband cooked the turkeys.  Even though my guests helped me set up the table and then remove the table and helped me clean the dishes and the kitchen.  Even though someone else picked the turkey.  Somehow it feels like a fault to have a big enough home to host Thanksgiving, but not relish the idea of being the host.

Lately, I have completed the Breaking Free Bible Study for the second time.  I wish I could share everything I learned with you, but I think the best thing is for you to go through it yourself... and take a friend with you.

Lately, I have been prepping for my winter Bible Study.  (My church takes a break from Bible Study  over the month of December and since I have to be in structured Bible Study year round... I schedule my own.)   Earlier this year I came across the Leader Kit for God Will Make a Way:  What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.   Regularly $150.  90% off!  I got it for $15.  DVD (and VHS) and a leader guide and a workbook and the book.  When it came time to start publicizing, I started to question the Lord about His choice for the study.  But then I remembered how He was right on about the Experiencing God study for the summer, so I figured I might as well obey Him.  If you live in the metro Portland area, please join me!

Lately,  I have not been compelled to blog.  But I have been prompted to spend more time one-on-one with dear sisters either on the phone or in person or via e-mail or FB.  Sometimes, it just has to be one-on-one.  And everything else can wait.

Lately, I have been cheering on Christopher at his basketball games.

Lately, I am cherishing having my hubby home.  (In November... 12 days in Ethiopia on a missions trip. Then 2 1/2 days home.  Then a quick 5 day jaunt to Israel for work... And yes, the photos are amazing!) 

So what have you been up to... as of late?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

1st & 15th Scripture Memory 2010: Verse 20

Israel, April 2008
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

They will rebuild the ancient ruins 
and restore the places long devastated; 
they will renew the ruined cities 
that have been devastated for generations.  
Isaiah 61:4

This verse is so meaningful to me.  Part of breaking the cycle of generational devastation is the hope in knowing that those ruins... those ancient ruins... will be rebuilt... and restored... and renewed.  There is hope and joy in that... and a future.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Irrational Rationalizations

Ethiopia, April 2010
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

Because of the extravagance of those revelations, 
and so I wouldn't get a big head, 
I was given the gift of a handicap 
to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. 
Satan's angel did his best to get me down; 
what he in fact did was push me to my knees.
No danger then of walking around high and mighty!

At first I didn't think of it as a gift,
and begged God to remove it.
Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough;
it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen.
I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift.
It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness.
Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer,
these limitations that cut me down to size—
abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks.
I just let Christ take over!

And so the weaker I get,
the stronger I become.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 MSG

Salty tears have been my companion today.  I am weak.  Perhaps hormones or weather or missing my man.  I see a slippery slope in front of me.  And instead of running from it, I am writing about it.  Because I am allowing God's power to be made perfect in my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

I won't stay here long... because I know better than to hang out by my slippery slope of depression... but I wanted to share something with you that surprised me this morning.  I know that I know that I know that I should not isolate myself when I feel this way.  I should call one of my precious sisters and have them come alongside me in prayer.  But I have totally rationalized why I should NOT call each one of them!  Perhaps this one is still waking up... or that one is at work... or that one has enough on her plate... or that one won't understand... or that one will try to fix me... or that one is in her own pit of depression... or that one has family in town...   SERIOUSLY!!!!?

Seriously.  It amazed me to see how I rationalized myself into isolation.  And I have a feeling that some of you who share this blessed thorn with me do exactly the same thing.  And I wanted to write while I was still deceptive in my thinking so that you could hear me clearly because this type of behavior resonates with you.

So speak encouraging words to one another.
Build up hope so you'll all be together in this,
no one left out,
no one left behind.
I know you're already doing this;
just keep on doing it.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 MSG

My words to you today... don't isolate.  Reach out of yourself.  Let someone speak encouraging words to you.  Build up hope in you.  We are not meant to do this alone.

And now I am off to heed my own advice.  Thank you for your prayers.  Thank you, Lord, for your strength moving in on my weakness... and for reminding me that we're all in this together.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Wow-A-Thon

...holding fast the word of life, 
so that in the day of Christ 
I will have reason to glory 
because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. 
Philippians 2:16 NASB


Earlier this year, I felt a prompting from the Lord.  Well, actually, a couple promptings... first was to be the president of the parent-teacher association at Christopher's school (our current president was ending her term) and second was to change one of the school fund-raisers from a gift wrap sale (something tried and true) to a jog-a-thon (a complete unknown).  The promptings were strong... and I knew if I were to ignore them I would not be following the leading of the Spirit that I felt inside.  Actually I would be squelching the Spirit.  Not following = disobedience.  Following = obedience.  And I have known the consequences of both, so I decided to follow the leading.

Although I was perfectly aware that I had the capabilities to do both jobs, I also have the ability of running myself into the ground when I take on a task that is new and especially time sensitive and involves the potential to cause others to become disgruntled with me.  I saw these two promptings having the potential of thrusting me into a full blown break down... and that is a no-no for me considering my thorn of chronic depression.

So, although I love my Lord with all my heart, I begged Him to release me of these promptings.  Reminding Him of how fragile I really am.  How I might ruin my reputation.  And definitely, how I might crumble to pieces.  I reminded Him that this was not a fit for the different ministries He has been developing in my life... and that perhaps there was someone else who would be more than willing to do the job.  Er, make that jobs.  But He reminded me that He has called me to obedience... and that if He has called me to a God-sized task the onus would be upon Him to see that it would get done.

And so, I obeyed.

And every time that I began to feel overwhelmed or burdened or alone, I would remind myself that I was to be obedient... and it was His responsibility to make the thing come together... the God-sized task.  That I didn't have to force it.  I didn't have to own it.  I didn't have to make it happen.  He would.  And He did.  There were times when I had to drop everything for the jog-a-thon because my family comes first.  I had to keep my priorities straight.  And with each step I saw Him bringing each piece into place.  Better than I could have imagined.  With creativity and funding and volunteers.  It was amazing.

The jog-a-thon committee had set our goal as $11,000... not knowing what to expect and considering that the year before we had raised $11,000 in product sales which net $5,500 for the school.  I agreed to the goal... but secretly, I had a smaller goal to at least match the $5,500 from the previous year,  and a dream goal of $7,500.  I thought $11,000 was too high of a goal... and that $7,500 would do just fine for the year.  There were some who thought that a jog-a-thon would not motivate the older middle school students... there were some who thought we had not done enough advertising... there were some who thought we should have just sold gift wrap, again.

The first day money came in we had about $3,000.  I figured that would be the biggest day of receipts.  Then the total went to $3,800.  Then $5,500... so you know I could breathe a sigh of relief.  But then came the total of $7,500 with two days to go.  And I thought, "Lord, you outdid yourself!  Thank you!"  And then I had to leave with two days left to go for a trip to Maryland.  I had to relinquish all control.  I had to leave my "baby" that I had nurtured.  I just had to.  Go.

And so, I waited to hear the totals... from 3,000 miles away.  Would any more money come in?  And I got the e-mail that on the last collection day about $3,000 more dollars had been received.  And I sent back a note indicating that I was crying my eyes out.  Within moments, I got a second e-mail that said I better just get a larger tissue because the secretary decided to pop into the classrooms to see if any additional donations had been turned in... and there had been... and we were at $11,100.  On the last day to collect.  We had met our goal... and have since went on to over $12,000 in donations received (which is 100% net profit).

I had struggled with the Lord about a jog-a-thon being so temporal and not spiritual.  That I was focusing on money.  But then He gently asked me what I had been praying for the last three years every Friday morning in our lower school conference room with other praying moms... and I said school-wide (including parents, church, school board, teachers, students...) unity.  And He said He was answering that prayer.  Not just with the jog-a-thon, but He would use that... and so with over 85% of our kindergarten through 8th grade families participating in raising funds... and how the students are asking when can we do it, again... and with a nay-sayer or two with their jaws on the ground... Well, I guess I see what He was talking about.

And it is all very humbling as I have received congratulations on a job well-done... and I just want to say...
It wasn't me... 
I didn't want to do it.  
It's all Him.  
I was just being obedient.

But now I get to enjoy the blessing of the fruit which He produced.  And marvel at the fact that He took a jog-a-thon and made it a wow-a-thon...

Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.

Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
Psalm 37:3-5 NLT

Saturday, November 6, 2010

"When Did We See You?"

Ethiopia, April 2010
photography by Anthony

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, 
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, 
I was a stranger and you invited me in, 
I needed clothes and you clothed me, 
I was sick and you looked after me, 
I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, 
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, 
or thirsty and give you something to drink?  

When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, 
or needing clothes and clothe you?  

When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, 
whatever you did for one of the least of these 
brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  
Matthew 25:35-40 
My husband, Anthony, is in Ethiopia with a team from our church (including one of his brothers who lives in New Jersey).  The team is training local missionary pastors as well as a food distribution and children's outreach through soccer.   Your prayers are appreciated... for them... for Ethiopia... and maybe a prayer or two for their families who are left behind...