Thursday, December 19, 2013

Merry Christmas from the White's!!!

Before the last two years, I was able to send out Christmas cards or letters wishing all of our family a Merry Christmas. The last two years, we have been in the process of moving during the Christmas season, so the cards were never sent. I just do not have it in me to add one more thing to my to-do list, and for this I must apologize.
In December of 2012 we moved to Hermiston, OR with the hopes that Kyle could get healthier, and that God would give us a new work in ministry through the church here. Both of those things happened, just not the way we thought they would. Through various circumstances in the church, Kyle and I were left wondering where God was taking us. Our lead pastor retired, the church brought in an amazing interim pastor, then the church would look at a full time pastor for the long term. We kept asking God if He wanted us to stay here and help the church through this difficult time, and that is when Zillah Church of the Nazarene called to meet with us about a ministry position in their church.
Through lots of prayer and seeking, we decided to accept the position in Zillah, WA. It was a very difficult decision to make, but since making it we have seen how God went before us in all of it. We do not regret our time spent in Hermiston, since Kyle was able to begin managing his asthma and has lost a total of 62 pounds since we began the Atkins diet last February. I have also lost a total of 40 pounds, and we both feel fantastic!
Gracen is nine years old and loves math, science, reading and writing. He has had a bit of a rough year at the school here, with many adjustments that needed to be made. He could really use prayer for the move to Zillah, but we are looking forward to a much smaller school district.
Payton is seven years old and loves PE class and reading. He is just a funny, silly, absent minded boy who loves to run and play.
Braden is four years old and began preschool at the beginning of this year at the Lutheran school a block away. His teachers say he is very easy going and easy to have in class. He loves to play with Legos, and copy Gracen in everything (he has a bit of hero-worship going with Gracen).
Kamden is two years old and is just a sweet, lovable, cuddly little boy. His favorite things include Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, playing with a football that Pastor Terry gave him, and annoying his brothers. Really just typical two year old stuff.
I went to Arequipa, Peru this summer with Love to the Extreme, where I witnessed over 500 people come to Christ. The church in Arequipa now has a permanent building, a new full time pastor, and the Extreme program is now moving to Quito, Equador where God is going to do even more amazing things!

Kyle spent his summer at teen camps and youth events, which is normal for him. We were able to squeeze in Nana (Sharon White’s) visit and a two week vacation to the Oregon coast thanks to amazing people in the church who let us stay in their beach house for free. No matter where we go, no matter what we do in ministry, God goes before us and shows us the way we need to go. For this we are thankful! We hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Hope of Christmas.

I cannot wait for God’s kingdom to come. It’s more than just heaven, more than just eternity with Christ, more than seeing those I have loved and lost, and more than being able to forever worship the Father face to face. What I long for, what I weep for, what I yearn for in the coming Kingdom is to see broken hearts healed. I want to see stomach’s full, bodies that have never starved, hands that are never broken, minds untouched by sin. I want to see men and women living out holy, godly lives, in loving and caring families.

I want to see children who have never been hurt, who have never been sexually/physically/emotionally abused. I want to see animals living together in perfect harmony with one another and the world. I yearn for the time when people care about the earth not because we worship the created, but because we worship the Creator and want to take care of the good things He has given us. I want to see the end of poverty, cancer, disease, war, and all suffering that takes place so consistently on this earth. I want to see the life of peace in the new hope of Christ’s glorious return to live on earth for eternity with us, reigning and transforming and renewing and redeeming all of creation under the mighty power and work of the Holy Spirit. I want to see the potential of people’s lives lived to the fullest in light of who God created them to be.


This is what I am reminded of during the Christmas season. This is the hope I long for, the joy I find in serving others, the peace I feel in the presence of God and the love I know the Lord has for all of us. This is the Holy Spirit living, moving and breathing in us now, so that we can continue to move toward fully giving ourselves over to God in every part of our lives so that one day, we can see the fullness of the Kingdom of God reigning on earth. 
Most importantly, God promised to do all of this and more than we could ever think or imagine. This is my hope. This is my peace. That in the end, God's love will reign, redemption will renew us all, and we will return to what we were originally created to be and do. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The end of the summer!

I have pretty much taken an unintended hiatus from my blog over the last couple months, mostly because I needed a break from constantly being on the computer. Between full time school work (I begin my senior year this year) to blogging and Facebooking, I was spending too much time on here. There are many times I have attempted to think about posts I would like to write, but there was absolutely no motivation to do so until today. That being said, during my time away I went to Arequipa, Peru, Kyle went to teen camp, we went on a family vacation, both older boys started school, I started school, and today Braden starts preschool. Whew! Who said summers are relaxing? Not in this house, anyway.

My time in Peru was amazing. There is just so much to tell, that I feel a little overwhelmed to begin the process. It was truly a transformational experience, not only being able to minister the Gospel to people there, but them ministering to me as well. Although I have always known Christianity existed outside my bubble, for some reason my heart was not where my head should have been. Interacting and being with people like Ellie, Brenda, and the many Extreme 40/40’s (long term volunteers) that were in Arequipa changed me in a way that is almost indescribable. Their passion, love and grace for and to the people of Arequipa grew my faith in a way I did not think possible. Yet, I have come to realize that we can never stop growing as Christians. We can never stop learning, living, and gaining new revelations from God each and every day. We all just have to have our eyes and hearts open to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Gracen and Payton have had a good first week of school, but it seems as though they are making few friends. This is hard to hear for this mama, because I see how wonderful and incredible they are each day. It is difficult for me to fathom why anyone would not want to be there friends, but again, I am their mom. I am slightly biased about this.

The church here in Hermiston is going through some difficult transitions and growth, and Kyle and I have been in continual prayer about this. We are unsure of what God is doing, but we are excited to see what will happen. We continue to pray and seek God’s insight and wisdom in this.

As this post comes to a close, I want each of you to remember something today. God reveals himself in new ways each and every day, yet there are times we cannot see that revelation until we have gone through it. His mercies are new every morning. We must remember this, and look to Him to guide and sustain us in every situation. When we are happy, we praise Him. When we are sad, we praise Him. I am glad to worship the God who gives so much to His Creation. Are you glad? 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Another Reason Why Millenials Could be Leaving the Church

As a youth pastors wife for the last ten years, I have seen many teens leave the church as young adults. There are many reasons for this, and one amazing article on this phenomenon is by Rachel Held Evans, "Why Millenials are Leaving the Church." While I agree with her points, I would like to add more to it.
When we bring our children to church when they are young, babies even, we separate them. We put them in another room with a nursery attendant where they cannot be heard so they do not disrupt the service. This is quite helpful for most parents, since it is difficult to keep children quiet at all, let alone for an hour and a half all in one chunk.
Once they move up, out of the nursery, they come in for a small portion of the service, then leave and go to children’s church where they sing, dance, and generally do “children’s” things.
There is always a difficult transition between 5th and 7th grades, since they do not quite fit in with the little kids, but do not fit in with the teenagers either. They do not quite know where they belong, so these kids are often left to awkwardly wander the church getting in trouble just because they are bored. And we do not really know what to do with them, since they do not fit into the molds we have formed.
After that weird time of transition, comes youth group. We have the teens all sit in the same row on Sunday mornings so mom and dad can keep an eye on them, while the youth pastor is expected to be sure they remain in service. But they all congregate together and the parents and youth pastors push this. We want them to connect and like one another.
Once they graduate high school, they again enter this weird area of transition. But the expectations are completely different! We then expect them to jump right into the “adult” role of the church; attending multi-generational events, services, and classes. For small churches, we often do not have enough resources to have a young adult Sunday school class, so these adults have to go into classes that many of their mothers and fathers are in. And we wonder why they do not connect with these older adults. And we wonder why they leave the church.
One of the main reasons young adults are leaving the church is because we have not created a church environment for them to grow up in that reflects the environment they will be a part of as adults. We segregate, separate, and contain children into their various age ranges, being sure that they are only with other kids their age at all times. Christians are generally afraid that big kids will taint, corrupt, and cause the little kids to sin in ways they would not sin if they were around them. We place each age group in its own little bubble, but once they become adults we expect that bubble to pop.
And we wonder why young adults do not want to mix with a congregation of adults ranging in age from 30-death. Really? It seems like common sense that if we put our children in specific environments for their entire lives that is what they are going to seek as adults. Humans like to be comfortable, and it’s not always comfortable talking to an older adult that has differing cultural and generational experiences and opinions than you. This is one reason why I see “church starts” popping up that are made up almost entirely of young adults. These adults are creating their own environments, because it is what we have programmed them to do.
It may seem to be an idealized notion, but it seems to me that we must create multi-generational ministries. The Church can cultivate learning environments that have the old and young take part in discipleship that benefits everyone. The older generations may feel as if there is nothing to learn from the young, and the young may feel like the older generations ideas are outdated and extinct, but it does not really matter. What matters is that they learn to listen, speak, and live with one another, regardless of their age. If we want to see a Church that is made up of every generation, we have to teach our children from a young age how to be a part of every generation. 


Saturday, July 6, 2013

In Plenty or in Want

I must admit, I am not the most faithful person on the planet. Please do not get me wrong, I have faith that God exists, that Jesus died and rose again, and that the world will be redeemed one day along with God’s people. Those things I have no problem believing. What I am not good at having faith about is the ways that God will take care of me, which is ridiculous because He has always taken care of me.

When I was in college choir, we sang an old gospel song called, “He’s Never Failed Me Yet.” I always wondered what the “yet” part meant, and every now and then when I think about my own faith, this song will pop into my head. What did the writer mean by the “yet” part? Were they waiting in expectation that God would someday just up and stop providing? What happens if the food is not there, the money is gone, and all 
earthly provisions are lost? Is God still faithful then?

I can look back on my life and see the work of God in each day, each moment, and in every part of my being. I can remember the times that God provided, that God gave me what I needed or wanted, and all the times He gave me more than what I could ask or imagine. But what about those times that I did not get what I wanted? What about the times that He said a firm, resounding, “No!”?

I am not very good at listening to the “No’s” that God gives me and still choosing to be at peace with that. I have spent time in anger with the Lord, not understanding why He did not give me what my heart’s desire was. As I sit and think about a specific time that comes to mind, I remember how hurt and terribly frustrated I felt. For so long I wondered why God did not give me what I wanted because I felt that I deserved it. I felt like I was a good Christian, a godly woman, and someone who always served Him, so why couldn't He give me what I wanted?
I am not going to share exactly what that was, because it was a highly personal experience. Yet, once I got through it, I realized that God had not given me what I wanted. But it was okay. It was better than okay, it ended up being what I needed.

I know exactly what Paul means when saying that he was, “Thankful in plenty or in want,” (Phillipians 4:2). Sometimes it is easy to think that if we do all the right things, that God will only give us good things. But what if those good things are hiding under layers of not so good things? What if the bad things do the job of keeping us faithful, regardless of the circumstances we may find ourselves in? If I lost everything today, would I still be faithful, thankful, and peaceful with God?
I would like to say yes, but I know that life is never the same. It throws us curve balls, gives us hope and lets us down, sin and suffering is all around. I am praying that God will help me be faithful. I know He can give me strength although I do not always lean on Him first.


As I travel to Arequipa on Wednesday, it is a reminder of God’s faithfulness. But even if He had not supplied the funds to go, I know God is still good. He is faithful when I am not. And THAT is something I can have faith in. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Boy Named Payton

This is a living eulogy speech that I wrote for my Intro to Speech class, and I had so much fun writing and speaking it, that I wanted to share it on my blog. I love my Payton boy! 

There is a boy named Payton, who sees the world from a different view. He takes his time with everything, and often sees the things we may have missed. From the time he was a little baby, he would sit and watch the world go by, and with great intensity, seek ways to learn about what was happening around him.
Payton was born with bright orange hair, but it did not look so much like hair. It looked a lot more like fuzz. He was a large baby since he decided to take his time being born. (His mother did not realize this was an example of his entire life until later!). He was nine days later than the estimated due date! And even when he was being born, he decided to stop and take a break. The doctor’s thought there was something wrong, but really it was just Payton, taking his time.
He was a whole ten pounds, five ounces when he was born! The midwife exclaimed, “This is the biggest baby I have ever delivered!” He did not cry, he did not scream, instead, with his intense (and at that time, blue eyes) looked seriously upon his mother’s face. Payton had the face of a serious old man, and all through the first two years of his life, his mother worried that there was something wrong. But we will get to that in another part of this story. His parent’s even decided to add a name to his name, since this huge baby needed an extra-long name! So, Payton James David was born on May 24th, 2006.
Payton’s family would go get pictures taken, and would Payton ever smile for the camera? NO! He would give his serious, old man face, and watch what was going on intently. He was not all that interested in playing with toys, but the one person he liked to play with was his brother, Gracen. People at church would ask to hold him, cuddle him, and play with him, but his mother would have to tell them that all he would do is cry. He did not like strangers holding him, but was happy and content to watch them.
As Payton grew, his mother became scared. Why did Payton act so differently from Gracen? Where Gracen would smile, laugh, kiss and hug his mother and father, Payton just preferred to be held. Where Gracen started talking at a year old, Payton did not say a word. Was there something wrong with him? His mother would ask. Does he have autism? His mother prayed and prayed over her little boy. She prayed that she would have the strength to parent a special needs child if he was one; she prayed that God would heal her baby. His mother took him to the doctor the first time, and the doctor said, “If he doesn’t say at least 15 words by his next checkup, we will have to get some testing done.” But his mother knew there was nothing wrong with him. She saw the understanding in his eyes, the intelligence behind the quiet side. She knew, somewhere deep down, that Payton was going to be okay.
When his mother took him to his next checkup, Payton said nowhere near 15 words. The doctor gave his mother a referral to a speech therapist. She said, “Since his hearing is fine, there may be something more wrong with him than we realize.” But his mother knew that God would provide.
Their family moved soon after that, the referral was put on hold. His mom and dad were busy packing, unpacking and learning a whole new city. But Payton still would not talk! Although the doctor’s appointment was put on hold, it was still in the back of their minds. When is Payton going to talk? It took Payton longer to sit, crawl and walk, so maybe the talking thing was a part of that “lateness,” too.
And then one day, to his parent’s surprise, shortly after his second birthday, Payton just began to talk! He did not start with a few small words, which would have been too easy. He started with full sentences! Out came all the words that had been stored up in that brain. Big words, small words, words everywhere! All the time! He may have taken his time to speak, but once he spoke there was no going back!
Payton then took his time writing his name, riding his trike, running and playing and learning to read. To this day he takes his time getting dressed, he takes his time cleaning, he takes his time eating and walking and running! He takes his time making his bed in the morning, and takes his time putting on his shoes. There is an entire world to explore, walking from the front of his house to the van when leaving for anywhere! He is always trailing behind, never in a hurry, always the last to get to where his family is going.
But you know what? He gets there. He learns so much taking his time, listening before speaking, and thinking before talking. He may take more time than what his parents would like (in some instances), but the time he takes is time he learns. It is time he absorbs the sounds, words, sights, and feelings of those around him. Payton may seem oblivious to what is happening, but his personality and character show who he is every step of the way.
I think we can learn a lot from the “Payton’s” of this world. We can learn to slow down, enjoy the beauty of the world around us, and listen to those who need listened to. I cannot wait to see how he grows up, listening and learning and becoming a man of God. How many of us should learn to listen before we speak, learn to think before we talk? I am sure there would be a lot less hurtful words spoken or actions taken.

You see, I am this Payton’s mom. My personality may be the exact opposite of his, but I have learned so much from this little boy. His patience, care, and gentleness amazes me. His loving, compassionate heart astounds and humbles me. His faith is real and he clearly hears God’s voice speaking to Him, because he takes the time to listen. The biggest lesson I have learned from this handsome, red headed boy, is to stop and enjoy the world around me and to be patient with others around me. I thank God for this amazing boy every day of my life, and look forward to seeing who he will become in the future. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

An Update on the mission trip to Arequipa, Peru this July!

Hi everyone! I just wanted to share an update on the mission’s trip I am taking part in this coming July.

If you did not know, I am attending Extreme South American from July 11th through 23rd. This is my first trip out of the country and I am nervous but excited at the same time! So far, I have raised around $1,000.00 for the trip! I am waiting for an exact number to be sent to me from Extreme, which I should receive soon. This means I can buy my plane ticket!

A teenager that may be interested in serving with Extreme after graduation is going with me on this trip, and her name is Savannah Kinswa. Please be in prayer for her as well, as God directs and shows her the call she has on her life for missions and where He wants her to go. She is an amazing Christian girl, and I look forward to being a part of this experience with her.

All of this amazing news comes with some things I am sure the Lord will work out, but that I must share so that His people can be in prayer with me about them. I found out today that my insurance does not cover the cost of the travel immunizations which about to $350.00. (GULP!). I am faithful that God can and will cover this cost, but with the appointment made for June 11th, He has to do it quick!

That means I still need to raise an estimated $800.00 for the trip! God is good, and He will do it! Can you please pray for me about this money coming in?

I am so excited for the work that I will be doing in Arequipa. I found out that friends of my husband and I from college are working in Arequipa for two years, and I will be working with them while there. If you would like to know more about the work they are doing there right now, follow this link to their family’s website:


We are also in need of the following items to be donated for our eBags (supplies for the event when we are there).

Highest-Priority Items:
·  1 plain white t-shirt brought by EVERY short-term volunteer to be tie-dyed.  We will be attracting locals to our events using the tie-dye shirts. 
·  1 Tablet, new (iPad or Samsung Galaxy).
·  1 Smartphone--Unlocked, new (iPhone, Samsung Note, or Blackberry).  To help fill the 2,000 seat performing arts center we are publicizing give-aways of a Tablet and Smartphone.  Obviously these are expensive items, but the hope would be that an entire congregation could pool together to sponsor them.  
Other items:
·  3 size-5 Soccer Balls
·  3 Volley Balls
·  50 jars of peanut butter (for project sack lunches)
If you are able/willing to donate any of these items, please contact me with what you would like to donate or pay for at vwhi81@gmail.com
.
That is all for now! Your prayers are so greatly appreciated! God bless!

Valerie

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lord, Show us the Way

I must preface this blog post with the fact that I am not a poet... and have never been. But I love to write and as I was walking from dropping my son off at school the same refrain kept playing in my head. Lord, show us the way. With every step of my foot, more words kept coming. So I am writing them down. I hope they help your faith today as they did mine. 

Lord, Show us the Way
We cannot see what’s coming
Not sure how things can change.
Yet we have seen in the past that
You have moved in every stage.
The money is not there
The time is always gone.
And somehow things still come out
Better than we could ask for.
We remember the times you have saved us
The times you have answered prayer
Our doubting hearts are troubled
Not seeing what you have in store
Not sure what step to take from here
Or where you want us to go
Lord, all we can ask you is to
Show us the way.
It may not come today
May not come next week
It may not be what we think we need
But you, we always seek.
Help us to be faithful
Even when we are weak
Hold us, guide us, shape us
Until we know it is you

Lord, show us the way. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Reflection on Les Miserable


I am sitting in my office listening to the Les Miserable’s soundtrack, specifically the song “I Dreamed a Dream,” I cannot help but wonder at the loss of hope and desolation the lyrics bring to mind.
I keep reflecting back onto the story of Les Mis and one thing comes to mind: the depth of desolation of the women in this movie. Perhaps while meaning to or without meaning to, Les Mis gives an astounding portrayal of the struggles women live with each and every day throughout the world. While men can hit rock bottom and work hard to make it back to the top, women often have no other future than to sell their bodies, clothing, or hair just to support themselves or their children. Jean Valjean is not only able to support himself, but live a well off life after spending time in a prison camp that nearly killed him. After one priests offer of mercy, Valjean is transformed into a man willing to live his life in the grace of God and offer that to others. This is no small thing.
And yet the stories of the women in the movie and theater production are much different. Although Fantine attempts to live a good life and work hard, her beauty sets her apart from the rest of the women in the factory where she works. She quickly gets picked on and hated by the other women, while the boss sexually harasses her while she tries to refuse him. It comes to a head when she gets fired for refusing him.

I do not want to spoil the story if you have not watched the film or seen the production, but to say the least, there is no grace or mercy given to Fantine until the last moments of her life. Jean Valjean happens upon her, broken, bleeding, and used up, and takes her to the hospital. He tries to save her, but at this point there is nothing that can be done. She asks him to care for her daughter, Cosette, and then dies shortly after.

Cosette had been sent to live at a less than reputable hotel type establishment, and was being emotionally and physically abused. Valjean lives up to his word and takes her in as his daughter, and through him she is able to live a happy and care for life. Yet, what irritates me about this story is that Cossette’s only hope for redemption is through Valjean. Her life is hopeless, most assuredly set on the track of her mother’s life, and Valjean (thankfully) comes to the rescue. But without him, would her life had amounted to much? Most likely not.

Through these women’s lives, I see a picture of true poverty. Most middle class Americans assume that if you work hard enough, pray hard enough, and do the right things; it will all work out in the end. We will all end up with the big house, shiny car, and food to feed our children. But this is not always the case. There are the “Fantines” in the world whose dreams get broken; dashed upon the rocks like so many broken pieces of glass. For these people, there is no way out. There are no job opportunities, warm beds, or places to be able to “work hard enough.” There comes a point when they are ready to give up, and hit the lowest of the low places in their lives. Just as Fantine does in this lyric from “I Dreamed a Dream:”

There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong

I dreamed a dream in times gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung
No wine untasted
But the tigers come at night

With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame
He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came
And still I dream he'll come to me
That we'll live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
I had a dream my life would be
So much different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed
The dream I dreamed.


Fantine's dream changed, to the dream that one day her daughter would be able to choose not to live the life she had lived. Her brokenness brought a simple dream to her, and without the aid of Jean Valjean, Cossette had no hope, either.

Once Valjean takes Cosette in, it changes her whole life. She is loved, cared for, fed, and clothed. But without his help, Cosette would have been destined to a life of poverty just as her mother was. The sad part of this story comes when I realize that without the aid of Valjean, Cosette had no hope. She had no future, and she had few dreams. But this man came along and affirmed her life, her heart, and her call to a future in his life. How many men are doing this for their daughters, wives, and women in their lives?
This is not a feminist rant against Les Mis, it is a plea to men in this world to stand up for what is right. To begin valuing women for their God-createdness, the intrinsic value that God has placed in them as their Creator. Women need men to rally behind them, so they can work hard and live lives that are free from the poverty that Fantine experienced.

How can we help women worldwide? There are amazing organizations out there helping women become educated, make money, and pass that education and funds on to their own children. This work is not done for just the good of the woman, but for the good of her children, her children’s children, and their children. When we help change the life of one woman, we can help change the future of all her offspring. Men and women need to stand up and help people live better lives, ebbing the flood of poverty that saturates this world.

 Visit www.girleffect.org to find ways to help women all over the world gain opportunities to educate and feed their families. 


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Learning to love in confrontation.


What is your first reaction when confronted justly or unjustly by someone? For most of my life, my reaction has been to defend my position. I have always felt very strongly that justice would be upheld, because truth would be found. The person who was right, would win that argument. But what happens when there is no clear right answer? What happens when no resolution can be met?
What does it mean, and how do we proceed in reacting like Christ would?
I have to admit that reacting this way has never brought me the best results other than broken relationships. There are times when it is easy to just give up and walk away, and then there are times that it isn’t so easy because it is a person we have to deal with day in and day out. A person we care and love deeply, where resolution needs to be made.
I do not have this all figured out, but through a situation in the church this last weekend, I have learned much. And through the wise words of my Pastor, I learned more. I had been sent a nasty email and had no idea how to respond. I began in defense of myself, telling my husband just how ridiculous the situation was. I began with defending my position, my personal life, and many other points beyond that. I did not begin in love. I did not begin in Christ.
Thankfully, wisdom spoke in my life and because I was not particularly emotional about the problem, I decided not to respond. I waited and prayed. I read Scripture. And prayed some more. I never emailed, never said anything in response.
I then went to my pastor with the problem. I began telling him how ridiculous it all was, yet again defending myself. Yet again attempting to prove I was right. And his response stopped me in my tracks, “I wonder what’s going on in his life. This just doesn’t seem like him.” Wha?????
We chatted for a few more minutes, then he had business he had to attend to. But I kept thinking about that sentence, and about that statement. It was not meant to convict my heart, but it did. It cut deeply, to the marrow, and sent me on a totally new course of reaction.
I still did not respond to the email. Instead, I prayed. I prayed that God would let me love this person. That God would give me the grace and mercy that constantly receive. And guess what? It happened. My heart let go of the defense, and in its place was love. There is no room for defense, hate, anger, and fear when love is in the heart and mind.
After thinking on this, praying and asking God to intercede, Sunday morning service came along. But I am not going to share the results of this prayer just yet. First, I wanted to share with you the notes that I wrote down after thinking about this some more. When confronted or attacked by someone, these are the steps that I will choose to take:
1.     Stop thinking about myself.
I know, it’s hard. But I had to remove my emotions, the control I sought, and myself from the situation. I had to stop and set myself apart to be able to see and pray clearly.
2.     Stop thinking in defense.
I am one of those people who take a conversation and roll it around in my head over and over again. What I should have said, what I would say in response, etc. This never helps me. It just makes me anxious and afraid. Stop doing this immediately!
3.     Start Praying.
Seek the Father’s heart. Ask God to indwell your heart, life, and mind. Ask Him to help you love this person. Pray God’s blessing upon them. Continue to do this until you begin feeling this for them.
4.     Communicate to that person that you recognize their need and their position.
Most the time, people just want to be heard. They just want their point, no matter how crazy, recognized as valid. This is important.
5.     Seek reconciliation without defending anything.
This may not be needed. To conclude the above story, this morning this person came and apologized to me. This person had been having a difficult couple weeks, and felt shame for what had happened. I was set free from the situation, completely! By the grace of God!
This happened only because I sought the Father’s heart first, instead of seeking my own defense, because God can move and work in people’s hearts and minds much better than I ever will be able to. When God’s will goes before, we can travel lightly and easily because His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. Can I get an amen???
How can you think through the hurt and turn your heart and mind to Christ?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Walking away from fear: Being called to lead men.


Throughout the history of the church that I attend, the Nazarene Church, women have been upheld and encouraged to be in leadership and become ordained clergy. Many of the first pastors who built the church’s holiness foundation, were women. A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine who is also going to school to become an ordained minister, asked me this question: If our church started out with all these women, fourteen percent were women clergy in the early 1900’s, why is there less than 2% in the church today?
As I was talking with yet another female future minister, she kept saying things like, oh, I can’t talk to men about this or that or referring to the various women’s ministries that she is a part of in leading.
Through both of these experiences, it dawned on me that although we believe that we have been called by God to fulfill His purpose for our pastoral leadership, we are afraid to step into the realm of leading men. We back away from heated conversations, hold our tongues around men who assume they know the best way to do something but in reality are not seeing the whole picture, and keep our thoughts to ourselves to allow them to lead first. Are we doing these things because this is the godly way to do them? Or are we just afraid to differ and perhaps argue our points to men?
I have been guilty of this same thing myself. As a woman, physically I am vulnerable to men. I fear for my own safety when leaving a building at night, or even my own home. I avoid confrontation with men outside my husband, because I am vulnerable. Just by being female, I am vulnerable to the physical impact that their strength could have. Regardless of whether or not I believe those men will actually hurt me, I still hold myself back because I have been taught that one never knows when  a person could snap.
I have also had this kind of reaction inbred in my life because of how I grew up. I lived in a home where my father was incredibly verbally abusive, and would use his size and strength to intimidate me. He never hit me, but there were times I was very afraid of him. Since I grew up with a man who used his strength and size to intimidate me, I still expect this to be the case years later, when my husband has never done the same. I hate this reaction, but it is still there all the same.
Through the journey that God has set me upon, I have come to realize that if a person, male or female, is called to pastor people, they can be called to pastor both sexes. All races. There is not an issue under the sun that God cannot and does not equip people to pastor in, regardless of what gender they are. I was highly cared for when in labor with my first two children by our pastor who was not afraid of the laboring woman, and came to pray for me and our children. Male pastors have mentored and disciple me in many ways, why is that different when the pastor is female ministering to men?
All women in ministry need to stop holding themselves back specifically for women’s or children’s ministry, and begin seeing that God calls us to minister to all people. Yes, there are times that we are specifically called to minister to certain groups, but do not pigeon hold yourself. God can and will open many doors that we are meant to walk through. The main idea here would be that we must stop being afraid to step on a man’s toes in ministry. We must learn to be confident in God’s call for our lives, regardless of what gender we are.
On a side note, we must be careful to not put ourselves in dangerous positions to be hurt by someone physically or emotionally. If a female pastor or female community member is being discipled by a male pastor or community member, it is always smart to have other people around the building. We need to know that God calls us to minister to men and women, but that we must protect ourselves from gossip or slander as much as possible as well. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Today, I mourn not having anymore babies...


Part of being a mom means mourning the fact that we must, at some point, stop having babies. Really, I love babies. I waited most of my life to have them, had four in seven years, and now my youngest baby is two. It is surreal to me that the time went by so fast. While I was pregnant, people kept telling me to enjoy it because it goes by quickly, but in the fog of being tired, I forgot to savor it. I forgot to stop and press those memories upon my heart. Now I look back and wonder what I could have done to make the time go slower, but there is nothing I could have done.

As a woman, there will always be a part of me that longs to hold a sweet, little, newborn bundle. I love the warmth. I love nursing. And changing diapers did not bother me. The worst part of the experience for me was being pregnant. I had four really big babies, all between eight and ten pounds, so carrying that around for nine months was not easy. All these other women were working out a week before they delivered, and I was lucky to be walking a week before I delivered. There are times I miss the feeling of a little one kicking and squirming, but that would be about the only thing I miss.
So, to all of you having babies or with newborns, remember, it goes by very quickly. One day, you will blink and your baby will be a nine year old that can wrap those long arms all the way around your waist and squeeze tighter than you can handle. Your three year old will walk happily away one day, off to preschool because that is where he would rather be than in your arms. I have one that is happy and content just doing his own thing, and it makes me sad that he doesn't need mom or dad very often. I have been lucky with a two year old who likes to cuddle, kiss, and love on mom all the time, and it makes my heart happy. The best part about having four boys? Little boys never stop needing their mom’s. Boys grow up to be men who still need love and support from their mom’s. This does not make the mama’s boys, it makes them well rounded, loving men who know how to treat the woman in their lives.

Although I mourn my babies, I also look forward in hope and joy for who they will become in Christ. I gladly hand my heart, my sons, over to the Father who has a much better plan than I could ever have. Because, in reality, they were His boys long before they were ever mine. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sometimes, being Jesus means keeping our mouths shut.


For our Good Friday service at church last week, we viewed the Passion of the Christ film. It was only the second time I had seen it since it was released, and yet it was no less powerful for me. As we were watching it, I could not help but notice how much Jesus did not say. He never stood up for Himself; He never fought for justice because what was being done to Him was unjust. Instead, He went willingly to His own death and persecution.
It was during that time that the Supreme Court began proceedings on deciding whether or not to allow homosexual marriage. I have friends on both sides of this issue, and please realize that I am not starting a debate about it on my blog. What I am trying to point out in mentioning this is that as Christians, we have made standing up for our opinions and biblical beliefs more important than the people we are trying to help spread the Gospel to. I am guilty of this. For most of my life, I have attempted to prove myself right about issues and topics that were not altogether that important. I used to think it was very important to be right about things, and that everything was either black or white.
But through one particular relationship I had that quickly blew up in my face, I realized that sometimes it is less important to be right, and more important to love. You see, Jesus didn't tell us to “Go into the world and prove God’s moral issues.” God doesn't ask us to “Go, and teach other people how to prove their morality.” Both of these things sound ridiculous when I state them that way, but really, that is what we are trying to do. Glenn Packiam points out in his book, Secondhand Jesus, that “First, we cannot curse the darkness for being dark. Sinning is all a sinner knows to do, or is able to do. It does no good for the church to beg the world-or berate the world or beat the world or legislate the world-into better behavior. Sin is the best they can ever do.” This does not mean that we cannot attempt to vote for our morals and beliefs. It does mean that we cannot force other people to be or do what we want them to be or do. We cannot make people live morally.
Sometimes, being Jesus means keeping our mouths shut. It is learning to know when and where we share our thoughts and beliefs, and this does not mean that we are compromising those beliefs. It just means that we want to share who we are in Christ, we choose to share His love, more than we choose to share our interpretations of the Bible.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

To Suffer Is to Be Human: Is Suffering A Necessary Component of Humanity?


Is suffering a necessary component of humanity?
Jesus went through more physical and emotional suffering during His time on earth than most people could withstand in their lifetimes without wishing for their own death. And yet, Christ did not wish for His own death. His faith remained strong, and He sought the Father’s love through it to the end.
Many people have asked why Jesus needed to suffer, to save us from sin. If God is really God, why couldn’t He just take away the sin, and we could be done with it?
But as I sit here tonight contemplating the death and resurrection of Christ, I keep asking myself; if Christ had not suffered, would His humanity have been believable? If Christ had not suffered, as countless people suffer each day throughout the world, would reconciliation to the Father have been possible for all of humanity?
We often view suffering through the eyes of evil, which most suffering is a product of. And yet, Paul gives us a different picture:
8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10.
Paul, during his lifetime, as many of you know, was persecuted. He was not only persecuted for what he believed, but for who he was within early Christianity. It was in those times of suffering that Paul was able to give us a glimpse into God’s will for our relationships with the Lord. It was through that suffering that a theology that was divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit was shaped and formed in the mind of this man who was abused for being a follower of Christ.  
It is an unpopular opinion, that suffering would encourage and bring faith to the heart of the believer, but I have realized that in my own life, this has been true. During the easy times, during the times when I think I have it all together and life is going well, I tend to lean on my own understanding. I tend to begin believing in my own confidence, my own ability, and stop leaning on who God is, what He is doing, and His will for my life. When the suffering comes along, it brings me back to the feet of the Father. It leads me back to the foot of the cross, which in turn places me back into the suffering that Jesus went through on that cross. Through His suffering, I can see that I am not alone. I am not crushed. I do not despair. Because God is with me. And I can share in the suffering of Jesus on the cross through His death, so that God can make new life in the body I live in today.
This does not mean we need to seek out suffering. It does not mean we must put ourselves in positions that cause suffering in our lives to find our way back to God. It does not mean that God ordains suffering, because through His Son’s suffering, God is giving us another way out. He is extending grace so that we can have reconciliation with Him. It does mean that God allows suffering, and although we cannot and do not ever understand it or wish it to be in our lives, it does mean that He will be with us through it. It does mean that we can seek the Lord’s face, and His Will, will be done in the earth. And that “the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies…” 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Body Confidence No Matter What Size


As I have shared on my blog before, I love going to Zumba. I really love working out, but it is something I do not get the chance to do all the time. With a family of six, dad working full time as a youth pastor, and mom going to school full time, our time is limited. Luckily, I have found a Zumba class in town that meets twice a week in the evenings. I have been able to go the last month or so, and it has helped my anxiety and stress level recede tremendously, which I am thankful for.

Although I love going, I have noticed some attitudes with the other ladies in class about my presence. It is not that they have said anything about my weight before (at least, I would not know because half of them speak in Spanish), but it is the way they look at me. Many of the other “big” women in the class stand in the back corners, all in black, hoping that no one see’s them. They love coming, and they are great dancers, but the majority of them are trying to hide.

If you know me at all, you know that is not how I operate. I am not a hider, and I have been on stage since the age of nine as a singer. I have always loved being the center of attention (sad but true), so being up front does not bother me at all. I can see the instructor better, see myself in the mirror and see if I am doing the moves correctly, and I just like up front better. It is just who I am, who I have always been.

The problem comes when other women in the class expect me to hide like the other women. They seem completely confused as to why I am confident in my body and willing to look like a fool no matter what I am doing. Both gyms I have attended were this way. There was just a general sense of them not really getting why I could care less about being in front of other people as a big girl. Big girls in movies are funny when they want to be up front (Big Amy in Pitch Perfect) but people are not really sure what to do with that type of person in real life. They are not sure how to respond, since most of our self confidence and body assurance tends to come from what we look like.

I pray that at some point, I can point out that my confidence does not come from myself. I cannot and do not do what I do of my own accord, because without the help of a Father who loves me no matter what size I am, I know that I would completely avoid the gym forever. When I go to Zumba and shake it, I am doing it to look good in front of everyone else there. I am going because I love to dance, I love feeling good, and I love to work out. No matter what size I am, those things are true. I thoroughly enjoy living outside their stereotypes, and being the woman that God created me to be: fearless, sure of myself because of whose I am, and am willing to look like an idiot because it is fun. I will continue to do these things whether or not I am 500 pounds or 100 pounds, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I know whose I am, and that’s all that counts. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Anna: How God Reminded Me to be Faithful


Last night after a particularly hard day, I warily went to bed around 11 to go to sleep. I was exhausted and ready to crash, but for some reason had a very unsettled heart and mind. The Lord pushed for me to go read my Bible, and if any of you know me well, being up until midnight is not my usual cup of tea. I do not often stay up past eleven, and if I do it is for something specific. Anyway, God told me to stay up and read, so I did.
I have a study Bible with various themes to study in the back of the Bible, so I chose to study the women of the New Testament. Most of them I have heard before; Mary, Mary Magdalene, Elizabeth, etc. but the first name on the list was Anna. I was left wondering who the heck Anna was, and then looked toward Luke 2:36 through 38. I read through the small area about her and then decided to read through the chapter to get a better idea of how and why she is introduced in the story.
When Simeon is mentioned in Luke 2:25 he is described as righteous and devout… a good Jewish prophet who expected the return of the Messiah and felt his life had been fulfilled by seeing Jesus and proclaiming “He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and He is the glory of your people Israel!” (32). Simeon is the one that is seen in all the movies proclaiming Jesus as Messiah. I had never noticed how Simeon’s proclamation as a Jewish man, is followed by a proclamation by Anna, the Galilean woman.
After further research, I find that by this time there was an incredible amount of tension between the Gentiles and the Jews. They did not like one another, let alone worship together at the temple. But Luke, in writing this book of the Bible, had to have seen an opportunity to demonstrate who Jesus came to save. Through both Simeon and Anna, God is telling us… He did not just come for the Jewish man; He came for the Gentile woman as well. This demonstration of Christ’s love for all of humanity is certainly powerful as Jesus was just an infant at the time.
Although this is part of the story, I also noticed that significance was placed on Anna’s widowhood. She had been married for seven years as a young woman, but never married again. They are unsure if the text means that she lived until eighty four years old, or if she had lived for another eighty four years after the death of her husband, but either way that’s a long time to live alone and unmarried as a woman in this cultural context. There was no possible way for her to own land, make money, or be considered a significant part of society. As a woman of that age, she was completely dependent on the men in her life for her survival. And yet, she chose not to remarry.
Instead, Anna (meaning grace and also the same as the name Hannah) (Ward) decided to practically live in the temple, praying and worshiping all hours of the day and night. She did not leave when everyone else left, she continued to pray and worship. Once she saw Jesus, she continued to tell everyone about his presence, that He was indeed the Messiah.
Through this story, I believe Luke is showing us just how faithful Anna was. She depended on God for everything, giving all of her time and energy to fasting and prayer. Simeon was righteous and devout, but Anna the Gentile was faithful. She never strayed from her worship, but steadfastly lived a life of worship as a prophetess.
As I doubted what God was doing in my life last night, and in my family’s life, God gave me a not so subtle reminder to be faithful, regardless of the circumstances that we may find ourselves in.  Through fasting and prayer, and steadfast dedication to Jesus Christ and the will of God in our lives, we will be doing exactly what God has called us to do. There is no promise of health, wealth and prosperity, but there is the promise of the coming Messiah. And just as God sent His Son the first time and chose to take our sin upon Him, God will send His Son again. We must remain faithful, steadfast in prayer and fasting, and continue to worship Him regardless of the hardships we may find ourselves in throughout our lives. If Anna can do it during her lifetime, I know that God can give me the strength to do the same.

Works Cited

Ward, Doug. Anna the Prophetess and the Hope of Israel. 28 Dec 2006. 16 March 2013.



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Me? Perfect? Ha ha ha ha ha...


I am still becoming the woman God wants me to be. I think there are times that everyone looks at me, the youth pastor’s wife, and thinks I am all perfect and petrified. I have areas of my life together, but there are still ways I mess up on a daily basis. One particular instance comes to mind from last week when I reacted to criticism exactly like my father, which is not a good way to react. I am not going to share the details, but realizing how I had reacted directly after I had done it was a humiliating experience, to say the least.
It seems as though when I feel that things are going well and I have it together, past problems, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities spring up inside me. I may not have done or reacted like that in months, yet somehow it just happens out of nowhere. It’s frustrating, humiliating, and completely annoying. It does not help that it happens more often when I am feeling yucky or sick, and then it just seems like I tend to use a million excuses to make the responsibility anyone’s but mine, which is the worst part of it all.
I am working hard to take responsibility for my faults and problems, while taking them to Christ so that He can help me change them. It takes prayer, scripture, and the continual ability to say I am sorry whenever the snake that is sin turns its head in my direction.  
Thankfully, I believe that there is hope in these situations. Just as Paul comments in Romans 7:15, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate,” (NLT). I realize that what I want to do is not as powerful as what happens. But with Christ, I know that there is hope that one day this power will have no place in my life.
As I continue to look forward to that day, there is a simple remedy to when I realize that this happens. That remedy is to just be willing to say I am sorry, when it happens, and to be willing to go to another person in humility. It is a difficult, embarrassing thing to do, but it is absolutely freeing. Once that apology happens, I can let that incident go in my head and heart, and know that I did what Christ asks me to do.
I think more Christians need to learn how to fess up to their faults in every way, and simply ask for forgiveness. We cannot pretend to be perfect any more than we can pretend to be walruses… people are going to see that it’s just an act. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

My Purpose Fulfilled in the Creator


As a woman, who is a stay at home mom pursuing a ministry degree, and has been a stay at home mom for nearly nine years, I am irritated by anyone telling me what I can and cannot do. I am frustrated that male leadership in America has continually attempted to tell women what their “role” is. I am frustrated that women place restrictions on one another based on what they feel the feminine role is. I am seriously annoyed when anyone claims to have the down low on what every person of a certain gender should or should not be. It is entirely ridiculous and completely untrue.

I just finished watching the PBS documentary Makers: Women Who Make America and I suggest each of you watch it. Yes, it tells the story of the women’s liberation movement, but it also tells the stories of countless women who disagreed with them. I found it particularly refreshing that they showed both sides of a problem that continues to grow today, and once it was finished I kept thinking about how the problem really comes from certain people, telling other people, how to be human. We think we have to define humanity by what we do, by what we believe, and by who we are. But I would like to suggest a different alternative; let us be defined by WHOSE we are, and ask God to lead us.

Men, women, children, and all races are capable of doing what God will call them to do. As a human being, we all possess the inherent relation of being a child of God, regardless of whether or not we believe that is the case. When we talk about what women should or should not do, we attempt to define that on human terms without really ever asking God for input, while turning to a few specific bible verses to proof text our opinions. In this way of interpreting the Bible, we do not begin with asking God how to interpret Scripture, we are telling God what our opinion is then seeing if the Lord agrees. Is this Biblical? Is this what the Bible was written for? Again, this is not asking God who He is, but instead telling God who we want Him to be. The God I serve can never be so small.

Just as God is unfathomable to the human mind, I believe that humanity can be anything that God has created it to be. Women can be leaders, mothers, teachers, CEO’s, or choose to be at home with their children. Men can be these things as well, while caring for their children just as well as their female counterparts. Just as God can be our Father, Mother, Brother and Sister, humanity reflects God’s purpose in this: we can be anything that the Lord calls us to be. My purpose is fulfilled in my Creator, not in the role I play with the created.

For reasons I cannot explain, I grew up believing in my inherent ability to do what God calls me to do. I never felt pressured to be or do certain things, or fulfill certain roles. I pray that I can raise my children to be the same while unapologetically living out this truth in their lives; that God can and will equip them for every aspect of godly living no matter what “role” they may find themselves in. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Being Set Apart.


Sometimes it’s hard being set apart for God’s purpose. There are times I feel so close to the church family that I feel they are my family, and yet the times I am with my real family, feel so completely separate and on the side. I am not as fun as other family members, in their opinion, and not worth spending time with, because all I do is go to church. It is a hard thing to be in ministry, when the rest of your family does not seem to be interested.

I suppose I am feeling sorry for myself, and I know that there are worse problems in the world. And yet, it has been searingly hurtful for me. I feel like I am participating in a dodge ball game and constantly getting picked last, while I am the only one providing water and Gatorade for the whole team. I am always the one serving… without ever receiving the same love and consideration in return.

Which makes me wonder how often God feels that way from me. Have I been giving Him the time He deserves? The praise He alone is worthy for? Giving adoration to God just because He created me? If I feel this hurt from humans just because they are my blood, how much pain does God feel for those He Created who choose to walk away from a relationship with Him?
These questions do nothing to lessen the hurt I feel, but it is easier when the burden is shared. It makes walking this (at times) lonely road that much easier, to know that God feels that times a billion for His children who choose to walk away. I can share that pain with Him, and He understands and knows my heart. It really comes down to wishing they could love me as I love them, but without Christ, is that possible?

Do any of you have difficulty with your familial relationships in feeling disconnected because of your faith?   

Thursday, February 28, 2013

My First Time Preaching!!!

Hello everyone. I posted this a little while back on my Facebook page, but I thought I would add it to my blog as well. So, here it is! I hope you listen and enjoy it. =) Oh, and sorry about the bad camera angle.
Just Click on the link below to go to Vimeo:
http://vimeo.com/59769562




Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wesley's Theology of Unreasonable Love


There is a long way to come before I feel “perfected” in Christ. This morning in Sunday school, the senior high teens and I were studying through the second chapter in the book, The Story of God, by Michael Lodahl. In this chapter, he talks about John Wesley and three things that are the hallmarks of a theology of Wesleyan Holiness. John Wesley never set out to start a new church, he never intended to begin a movement; he was a man possessed and encompassed by the love of God and love for others. It really was as simple as that. His theology is a love that encompasses every person that he came into contact with and that meant even loving those who disagreed with him.
Wesley’s example of love in this light is difficult to find in our theologies of today. So many Christians are caught up in all the ways we differ in opinion instead of being closely intimate with the one way we all agree; that we must first love God with all our hearts and minds, and love others with our lives. We have missed the boat when all we do is argue about who is sinning, who is unrighteous, who is misguided and going the wrong way. How can the people of this world see the love we have for them, when we are hardly showing that love to one another as Christians?

This has specifically come into context within our ministry here in Hermiston. The former youth pastor and his wife are still in town, and it seems as though most the church here is wondering how we will respond to their presence. This couple worked hard in the church, loved the teens deeply, and went through devastating loss during their ministry here. They have and will always have a strong connection with these people, and after meeting this particular lady, I really like her. I have yet to meet her husband, but I am sure he is just as nice. You see, they are in the ministry still. They do not really fit the context that I describe above, but it seems as though everyone is waiting for us to be mad about them, and honestly I have no idea what we would be mad about. We love them, just like we love everyone else here. We pray that God blesses and creates for them a place in ministry that He is specifically calling them to. As Christians, there is no us vs. them thinking here, it is all of us.

The problem comes down to is that people fear the unknown. They are afraid that if they have to do something awkward, and be someone they are not completely comfortable with and know from the past, then they do not want to be that at all. But God has called us to be different. He has called us to love unreasonably, extend unmerited grace, and show mercy to all. I am going to choose what God is asking for me to do, because I have discovered through the years that the way I want to do it, often fails miserably.

How have you been asked to love when everyone else is expecting something else? 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

So thankful.


I cannot even begin to say how thankful I am for the church family here in Hermiston. God has been so good to us through the years, and although there have been hard times when we could not figure a way out; the Lord has always shown us a way.
Moving to Hermiston was a decision of faith for me… I love our home in Lebanon. To think of other people living in my house, makes me a little angry at times. My whole life has been moving from one city to the next, and my adult life has been no different. The biggest prayer I have prayed in my lifetime is just being somewhere long enough to not feel like a stranger anymore. But, thankfully, no matter where we live, in the church I do not feel like a stranger.
I have felt so cared for; from cleaning and readying our house before we came, to stopping by just to say hi, I have been so blessed here. It is a difficult thing for me to admit, to be honest, because I am a very independent person. I like to believe I can do everything myself without the help of anyone else, but without the help of the church here I am not sure what would happen.
So, thank you Hermiston Church of the Nazarene. You have blessed our lives so much in the short time we have been here, and although I have not been able to give each of you a huge thank you card for everything you have done (I am horrible at doing this), I am SO thankful for each and every one of you. I pray that God will let me bless you in a similar way in the near future.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ready? Set? Go! Arequipa, Peru!


Hi everyone! This is Valerie, and as many of you know, I am a student at Northwest Nazarene University getting a degree in Christian Ministry with a minor in Family Ministry. I look forward to graduating in spring of 2014, but to do that I must complete a mission’s trip.
Even before I knew that it was a requirement of the degree program, I felt God calling me to go on a mission’s trip, but I had never had an opportunity to do so with four little ones at home. Kyle was able to go to Arequipa, Peru in summer of 2011, and had an incredible experience promoting, ministering, and experiencing over 6,000 people come to Christ.
This summer is my first opportunity to go on a mission’s trip and I cannot be more excited! I am registered to go to Arequipa, Peru with Extreme South America from July 10th through July 24th to continue the work that Kyle and Lebanon Church of the Nazarene and many others, began during their time there. The biggest need that I have is prayer. Would each of you be in prayer before, during, and after the time I am in Peru? I am also working on fundraising for the trip, with the first expense being the cost of my plane ticket which is around $800-1,000.00 depending on the time frame of purchase. Outside of that, the cost for the trip is around $2000.00. I already have the deposit paid, and am now raising funds for the rest of the cost for the trip. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated! Included in this letter are ways that you can give.
If you are able and willing to give to help support the evangelism efforts in Arequipa, Peru, please send checks to my home address, but made out to Extreme Ministries. 

Please make all checks out to Extreme Ministries. 

My address is:
552 West Orchard Ave. 
Hermiston, OR 97838

Your prayer and generosity is greatly appreciated! 
Thank you for your time,
Valerie