You Make Me Brave

God is the One who makes me BRAVE.  It is almost ironic because brave is not an adjective I would naturally find next to my name.  Vanita the Brave is not going to be in any history books.  But when I decided to follow God into the world of full-time missions he began to call me into crazy adventures with Him.  These adventures are voluntary and I’m not usually required to go, but when I say yes amazing things happen.

This is my most recent example of how God made me brave.

I started with fear of the zika virus and ended on the top of Machu Pichu literally walking on the clouds.  Are you curious yet?!?  Keep reading.

My husband had committed to one of his roles in missions that has become routine and some what easy for him to do.  It is the role of leading youth groups from the United States into unfamiliar terrain to serve God on the mission field.  This role requires logistical planning, translation and of course lots of energy-all things my husband is great at!

Suddenly, they needed another person to join in this team to lead this group down to Peru.  It would not just be one week but three.  I was asked to join.  I immediately said no way because I had a list that was too long to ramble off of reasons why it would be a bad idea for me to go.  Included in this list were the usual ones,  “I have two kids, I can’t go!” and “We don’t have the money for that!”

I was told that our whole family could go and that our organization would cover two of the tickets if we could cover the other two.  By that point in time I was already decided and my fears had already taken root in my heart and they would be tough to pull out.

Our organization, YWAM-Minneapolis, continued their search to find another translator and they couldn’t find anyone.  They came back to me and I continued to stand firm that it was too hard and I couldn’t do it.

psx_20160512_162445.jpgGod began to soften my heart through passages in His Word-The Bible and different words of encouragement from people who are influence in my life.  There was a worship song by Bethel Music that I have been listening too alot over the past year.  During this time it had my attention in a new way and as I sang in my kitchen and in the shower I believe the Holy Spirit was working.  Here are the lyrics.

You Make Me Brave by Amanda Cook with Bethel Music

I stand before You now
The greatness of your renown
I have heard of the majesty and wonder of you
King of Heaven, in humility, I bow

As Your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in

I have heard You calling my name
I have heard the song of love that You sing
So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore
Into Your grace
Your grace

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

My husband informed me that we had the finances to cover two tickets because God had already provided the extra money.  I realized that this trip would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for our two boys and our family as a whole.  It seems silly looking back now, but God even gave me peace about the Zika virus and those annoying mosquitos.

The final push was when God used my husband to get through to me, yes it does happen!  Sometimes we need to really be willing to listen to our spouses.  The next morning I woke up puffy eyed, because I was crying before I fell asleep, and I told my husband “I’m ready for our family to go to Peru for three weeks.  I’m ready for us to take this next step in ministry and do missions as a family!

13568986_10101944467837967_2167173470349071561_o

Our boys building houses

Wow God!  You made me brave!

We had a great time working with the team of 36 people.  Together we built three houses for people who were using a hung sheet for their wall.  And did six kids programs where kids had the opportunity to have fun and learn about Jesus, and my kids were there too!

 

 

When we were done with the ministry our family had the opportunity to see Machu Pichu!  god didn’t just make me brave, He went above and beyond my expectations.  How could I not join Him for more adventures in the future?!?

 

 

20160707_073631-01 (1)

Our family at Machu Pichu

 

Advertisements

Creative Bible Journaling

Are you looking for a new way to engage with your Bible?  Recently, I came across this idea of Creative Bible Journaling and I LOVE IT!

The basic idea is that you read your Bible and doodle in the margins.  You draw pictures, draw designs or add titles with fancy lettering.

20160714_180447.jpg

This has been great for me because it helps me process what I’m reading in my Bible.  It causes me to take time to think about what stood out to me in the passage I read.  As I come up with a creative way to display what God spoke to me, I am processing God’s written word which then helps me actually remember what I read.

My journaling is basic yet I am enjoying it and my Bible is getting a makeover in the process.

If you are looking for a new Bible study tool you can click here to find out more.

It may seem simple but I look forward to my Bible reading time more now than I ever have before.  All it took was a sharpie, some crayons or colored pencils, stickers and a little creativity.

20160714_191853.jpg

 

If you have any experience with creative Bible journaling please comment below!  I would love to get some pointers.  🙂

Vanita

The Many Hats of a Woman

Last spring my husband and I went to Rome, Italy.  We were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary.  It was a beautiful time for us.

11247962_10153153171115589_1821274716_o

I found this picture of me and it made me think about hats.  Have you ever heard anyone say that women wear a lot of hats?  These are not Downton Abbey hats,  but they are the different roles that one woman has in life.  It’s the idea that in one day a woman wears many “hats” as she goes from wife to mom to CEO to cook to chauffeur etc.

I was thinking about how God made women to be multi-taskers and He knew this would help organize our hats! 🙂

We have nights where we are making phone calls, cooking something from Betty Crocker (which includes cleaning the kitchen), helping our kids with the new way of adding 3 digit numbers which we pretend to understand all while we help our husband find another misplaced item.  Sigh!  We should wear capes every day because we are AMAZING!

But, when we finally have a moment to rest and think about life we feel overwhelmed and torn between which hat is the most important.  Which hat should I prioritize?  Which hat is getting dusty just hanging out on the shelf?  Which hat does God want me to wear?

In a moment of sanity, I realized that we go through different seasons in life.  In each season the hat that needs to be worn the most will change.  We need to embrace the hat and work the runway.  That’s right ladies, we need to enjoy each hat instead of being jealous of the other hats our friends are wearing.  Or what about the hats that only the public sees, and we think that is the same hat that matches their life at home.  Reality is that at home they are in yoga pants and a comfy baseball cap.  

For me, I have been noticing women who are in the public eye more and more.  I’m not talking Hillary Clinton.  I’m saying Christian women who are musicians, public speakers and authors.  I had one of those “WOW!” moments when I went to look at one of their blogs.  I was trying to find things that I could apply to my own blog.  What does it look like?  What do they tag?  What are their headlines?

This is what I read on Angie Smith‘s blog under booking….

Due to the season of life I am in and the priorities I am constantly wrestling to keep intact, I have decided to drastically reduce the amount of time I’m away from my family. With that said, I’m still very prayerful and will certainly assess each event to see if it’s a good fit, but my desire is to do very, very few travel dates. While I’ve loved the past few years partnering with amazing teams like Women of Faith, I’ve realized that it is simply too difficult to balance that kind of travel schedule with everything that is required of me as a wife, mommy, and writer.

Even famous writers and speakers have a hard time juggling their hats and knowing how to prioritize family, life and ministry!  

I am not alone in this struggle and  you aren’t either!

Let’s support each other with words of encouragement.  How have you felt alone in this struggle or what has helped you organize your hats?

Is That Really You God

image

Many times it is hard to know if God is speaking to me or if I’m just going off of my feelings.  It has been a journey for me to recognize if God is speaking to me.

I grew up in a traditional church where you never heard things like, “Let’s pray to see what God tells us to do.”  Or this is another one I heard even less, “Let’s pray for Joe and share the words from the Lord with him”.  Don’t get me wrong, the people in my church prayed and believed God would give people guidance it just wasn’t done that way.

When I got to a different phase in life and actually needed to make some big decisions, I tried to ask God.  I wanted to follow His will.  I wanted to “hear” a response from Him.  I didn’t expect it to actually be an audible voice telling me what to do, but it just never seemed like a got an answer.

Years later, it occurred to me that God was speaking to me but I didn’t recognize His voice.  I hadn’t learned how to recognize when He was speaking to my soul.

I was alot like like Gideon in the book of Judges in the Bible.  God was speaking to me and I was willing to listen.  The problem was I didn’t know it was Him.

In Judges 6,  you can read the story of how Gideon went back and forth “testing” God.  The angel of the LORD sat down next to Gideon and he still wasn’t sure it was God.  Something I noticed in this story is that Gideon doesn’t just sit back and say, “I’m not sure so I just won’t do anything”.  He took action.  He did something to find out if it was really God.

Many times we hear that doubting God isn’t okay.  We need to walk by faith.  Yes, this is true.  What happens when we don’t know it’s God in the first place.  If we wrestle with this idea, we see in Gideon’s example that God was patient with him.  He continued to communicate back and forth with Gideon until…

“Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!”

I believe God speaks to all of us differently.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple formula to find out how He speaks to each of us.  In my personal experience, we just need to be like Gideon-willing to follow God!

If we are unsure if it is him, test it!  Give someone a word of encouragement that you think might be possibly from God and depending on their reaction you will see if it encouraged them.  Slowly you will become more bold and more familiar with how God normally speaks to you.

I tend to get all sweaty and I can’t stop thinking about what God is placing on my heart.  If I speak up I feel at peace!

Becoming more familiar with God’s voice is worth the effort so we can recognize it’s Him on the other end of our calling!

It would be so fun to hear how God has spoken to you or where you are on this journey!  

-Vanita

Leather Purses

A good friend of mine posted this on her blog!  I love the way God speaks to us through every day items like a purse!  Read what she has to say.

At age 24 I look back at the last 10 years of my life and realize how much I have experienced and the knowledge and wisdom I have gained. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for my experiences and those who walked through them with me. Many small and large moments have shaped who […]

via Womanhood and a Leather Purse — From The Inside Out

Delight Yourself In The Lord

image

Psalm 37:4 which says, “Delight yourself in The Lord and He will give you  the desires of your heart” has been one of my favorite Bible verses of the last decade.  The interesting thing is how the meaning has changed over the years. 

When I first began to memorize this verse, (proof of my love for it since I don’t memorize many verses) I liked it because I wanted God to give me the desires of my heart.  I wanted many things like a career, husband and lots of other things.  I thought this verse was confirming that God would take care of my long list of desires.

A decade later I love this verse even more because God has revealed the fuller meaning to my heart.  He has taught me that it isn’t about me and my desires.  IT IS ABOUT DRAWING CLOSE TO GOD SO THAT MY DESIRES ARE HIS DESIRES, and then He will fulfill them in the perfect timing.  It’s not about me, but about a Father who has better plans and desires for me then those I can imagine for myself and the only way to know what those plans and desire are is by spending time with Him so he can share his dreams with me.

Paris at Our Dinner Table

In 2011, my husband and I were blessed to be able to go to Europe for two weeks!  We began our journey in France, then to Belguim, Holland and then returned to France.  Our final few days of our trip were spent in Paris.  What a beautiful city!  The Arc de Triomphe, la Tour Eiffel and the chocolate croissants- YUM!

381903_10150454749420465_2020668084_n

This weekend our family was talking about Paris once again.  Not because it won some invisible competition for the worse thing that happened around the world, but because my parents flew into Paris Friday morning!

Yes, my parents who are in their sixties and were excited to go to Europe for the first time.  Yes, my parents who were looking forward to getting a break from some of the stress back home.  Yes, my parents who needed a romantic week to themselves which was long over do.

I was confident that my parents were fine, knowing that they were staying outside of the city and would have cleared the city by the time the violence broke out.  The difficult part for me was that something that happened on the other side of the world was now that much closer to our family.  We could no longer claim that we were safe here in the United States.  We were reminded that we live in a small world where even things on the other side of the world affect us.

The biggest challenge I faced was talking to my kids.  As people called to make sure I had heard from my parents, my kids were overhearing the conversations.  When I realized my kids heard me talking about their Grandma and Grandpa I decided to talk to them about what happened in Paris.

How do you explain to a 7 and 3 year old that there are bad people in the world that want to hurt others, with out scaring them too much?!?  I remember the look on their faces as their young innocence struggled to understand what I was saying.  Finally, I came to the point of saying, “We don’t have to be afraid because we know someone who is stronger and bigger than the bad people in the world.”  My boys responded, “Yes! God is the strongest person in the whole world!”  I replied, “Yes and He was protecting your Grandma and Grandpa.”

11903564_10153397175545589_1839980485_o (1)

My 3 year old looked at me with a puzzled look on his handsome little face,

“Mommy, What about the other people that died?!?”

My heart broke.  These are the questions that are not just difficult for 3 year old boys, but for grown ups too.

I am sure that the violence that happens around the world is not part of God’s plan!  But I am also sure that God can use even horrible things to bring people to His LOVE!  This is what I want my children to put their faith in!

How do you talk to your children about these tough issues?  Comment below if you are willing to share your pointers.  Thanks!