Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My wilderness - COUNTING IT ALL JOY???

I ran into a special lady this week who I haven't talked with in a long time.  I asked how she was doing - I was sad to hear her answer because she is normally one of the most smily positive people I know.  Her answer was, "We're alright, but not sending out Christmas letters this year because it would read a lot like the book of Nehemiah."  If you don't know what that book is, it's not exactly the book of warm fuzzies - not one you'd choose to read over hot coco wearing your cozy slippers by the fire. Nehemiah was doing some wall building with one hand, and fighting off bad guys with the other...that's the ultra quick version.  I break a sweat just thinking about that chaos.

The thing is, that's how my Christmas card would read too.  My friend was thinking the same as me - who wants to read THAT Christmas update, but isn't it a tiny comfort to know you're not alone in your fight & build?!

People would say to me, "Count it all JOY when you face trials of many kinds..." quoting James to me (as the life I once knew was disintegrating before my eyes).  They meant well, but can I just honestly say I didn't appreciate that.  But...if I am going to be truthful, I've said the same thing when people I love have gone through their own personal hell.  Let's not tell people that when they're in pain anymore.

You see...in a months time:
  • I lost our beautiful home I thought was mine forever.  
  • I lost my beloved Grandma who was THE family pillar in my life.
  • I had several people close to me bring DEEP betrayal to my life...one being my husband.  Yes, my husband.
COUNT. IT. ALL. JOY.  were the words I couldn't figure out.  How DO you?  When people ask how you are doing and you're an honest person like me, do you say, "WONDERFUL!"  Not so much.  I'm not feeling the joy.

Now I've gained a new perspective on "Counting it all Joy".  It's not a belly laugh when your heart is shattered and you feel like you have no hope - it's standing on the truth & promise that things WILL get better.  Jesus wasn't grinning ear to ear when he was hanging on the cross. Job wasn't snickering with his friends & playing monopoly when he lost everything and writhing in physical pain.  Nehemiah...up for the task, yes - but feeling the giggles, probably not.

The joy James was talking about is a KNOWLEDGE.  Knowing that ALL things work together for HIS good, even when we don't understand what that means or looks like. Just know the end will be BETTER.  

Counting it all joy is KNOWING God is not ignoring my pain - He did not ignore the pain of His SON on the cross, but was crying alongside Him and looking forward to the moment when this trial was over, and victory is HIS, and OURS.

The JOY of the Lord is our strength is also the simple reminder that HE is not some God out up in the sky that we are to revere.  Instead, when we put Him in the center of our heart & circumstances, we can hold onto JOY that whatever we are going through with Jesus as our guide, best friend, and rock, EVERYTHING will work out...so count THAT joy.

There were days that I felt like I got hit by a cannon ball - and each time I was hit, I had NO IDEA what to do in that moment...but I had the peace that passes all understanding; the unexplainable peace knowing somehow things were going to be ok.  My peace would leave when I would go into my natural mode of "problem solving".  That's when the anxiety, worry, and stress would creep in...because I'm trying to "fix" this big mess.  One (of the thousand) nuggets  I got from this season is to stay in the place of "I have NO IDEA what to do - but I know who does, so I'm just going to leave it to HIM."  That's where I can count it all joy.

The day of my Beloved Grandma's memorial I was terribly sad because I couldn't make the trip to be a part of the service. I was thousands of miles away, and my family was all together...but me. It felt like boulders had settled in my heart, but instead of sitting at home, we decided to have a family day.  We reflected on all the beautiful things she sowed into my life.  She loved being a mother & grandma (since we're dutch, she's my OMA)...so I spent the day being a mom, and I laughed with my daughters that much more.  The Joy of the Lord is my strength.

The Christmas season is upon us.  Now every time I hear the song "Joy to the World", I am reminded it's not always a fuzzy feeling type of joy, but a knowing THE LORD IS COME.  LET EARTH RECEIVE HER KING.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Join Us #2 "Meet Your Neighbor with YUM YUMS" and free download

In our extremely busy lives, how do we take the time to get to know our neighbors?  We have heard report after report that it is just one of the hardest tasks to get to on people's priority lists.  Our theory is that it's just ONE-MORE-THING to accomplish on our already very taxed schedules.

We ALL know it is important to form community, and know those among us...but HOW?

So we decided to come up with a 
 (Click on the Image for a free download)
Meet Your Neighbors Block Party

Step 1 - Choose a day for your BBQ event.  We suggest Sunday afternoon - most are off work, out of church, and ready for some GRUB!  All you need is a small place to set up (driveway, front lawn, back yard...) a grill or two, and a couple tables.

Step 2 - About 2 weeks before the chosen event, deliver your flyer to about 4 to 5 homes a day so it doesn't seem a daunting task to spread the word all at once.

Step 3 - ENJOY THE FELLOWSHIP!  It's not at all just for you to meet people, but for neighbors to meet OTHER neighbors they hadn't had a chance to get to know yet.

PS: Getting a bounce house was a HIT!!!!  It drew all the families with little kids that may not have otherwise participated.

Another thing the hosts passed out is our fun Neighbor Fridge Magnets. Email me at info@isaverb.com if you'd like any info on ordering these...our store is under construction right now.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Finding a Flower in the Mud

This past month we have experienced the death of 2 very close people to our family, the loss of most of my hubby's clients (therefore finances), the loss of our home, betrayal of people in our lives, and most recently the loss of heath (I know it's just a cold, but on top of everything else, life just feels just down right muddy.)

I have always been a big advertiser of loving people, and on the best of days it's pretty easy.  When you are feeling the weight of life crushing your body & soul, are you still a joyful giver?

Luke 6:38... Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”

Deuteronomy 15:10-11...Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God’s blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures. There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors.

Proverbs 11:24..The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.

Can the enemy muddy-up our lives enough to discourage us from being there for one another, or will we push past the crud and still foster community?  We are such a lonely society because when we hurt, we fold up, and try to "get through" on our own.  We know people around us have enough on their plate.  Life is BUSY.  We say, "I'll give____ when ____ calms down, or when ____ problem is fixed..." But can we push past the mud to give some flowers?

So one morning I prayed my pitiful "Lord help me put one foot in front of the other" prayer, and the thought that dropped in my heart was to buy some flowers for a very special friend.  Boy, that brought a smile to my face - it took my thoughts off the current crushed pieces that used to be my life (I mean, I can't put the shards back together anyways - so why stare at them?), and put my thoughts on how to bless my friend.

The flowers I purchases were not for me, but in a sense they were.  I was able to get past my feelings, and give when my heart still feels so hurt.  This act turned my day around more than I can describe.  When we take our minds off of our life, and put them on serving others, it just feels good.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Join us #1 - Sunshine In A Box

My amazing cousin said something very profound to me yesterday.  It's something I have always felt is the absolute truth - but I love how he put it.

"We are all on the blue marble together. With soo much negativity and fear, it is hard to make a difference, but necessary to try... if you are not part of a solution, then you are part of a problem"

This was said one day after our VERY loved, beautiful, and amazing Grandma passed away.  So during a time of life where it's easy to want to fold and say, "It's too hard", the message is to turn our energy into making a difference instead.

Life is full of grief & not just loosing people we love - I KNOW I don't even have to list what grieves people's lives...we ALL have a huge list of our own.  We COULD spend  ALL our hours, days and concentration processing and trudging through our own junk - but that will never end - because junk just somehow just keeps-on-a-comin' but instead:

Turn Grief into Blessing 
(a much better use of our time on this blue marble)

My hubbs & I started a group.  Call it what you will...a church?  A posse? A family? A community?  The goal is to make a small dent on this big blue marble; we're coming together as the body of Christ, making a difference - one beautiful life at a a time.

We all have much on our plates - loooong hours at work, kids to raise, school, families, meals to cook - so when someone says, "Take time to love one another" the question that gets slung back to me is "HOW?!?!"

One. Life. At. A. Time. Just like my laundry pile...it gets whittled down a load at a time; but there's always more to do. So I consciously, never-endingly chip away at it...so we don't stink.
Our amazing group/posse/family has done many outstanding things this past month - and this latest project is way too beautiful not to share.

A dear cousin to one of our members is struggling with terminal cancer in her 30s.  Of course the feeling of helplessness is overwhelming to our amazing giving friend.  "What can we do?" she asked me.
I had each person from our group bring something YELLOW.  From sunglasses, to nail polish, her daughter made a pennant, juicy fruit gum, socks, a lady made a fleece blanket, even a box of mac & cheese...YOU NAME IT, IT CAME.  We made a card expressing our support & prayers - and to Texas the box went!  So simple, yet filled with such love.  Most of us didn't even know her - but we wanted to be an extension of her cousin's arms. 

We love you, Leslie!!!!!
All packed and ready to go!
This is a time in our world where we need one another more than we realize or want to admit.  I know we were raised to be independent, strong, and goal oriented - but the true gospel is to link arms & love people.  That's what Jesus came to teach.  To be there for each other.

These last few days while processing & grieving the passing of THE most important person in my life (besides hubbs, my girls, and bro) - my Oma - I'm OVERWHELMED by the support of people who have called, brought gifts & food, took me out, texted me, and just generally went out of their way to be my support & community.  It's what has got me through.  The love of people.  Remembering I'm not on this blue marble all alone. My arms were being lifted when I couldn't raise them myself.

So JOIN US!  Put a box of sunshine together for someone who needs a smile.  Remind them they are NOT alone in this world This blue marble DOES have loving people on it - let's be the reminder of that...not matter how small the act of love, it's love indeed.  

All we need is love - John Lennon

Monday, April 14, 2014

Which are you?

So the question I continue to ask myself is:
Which one am I??? 
A pond 
 springs of living water?  

What IS a spring of living water?  It's when we are brimming, and FLOWING, and spilling everywhere with Jesus. Our water is always refreshing and doesn't stay in one place,

John 7:38 - He cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” 

Of course I want to be a spring, but it's SOO easy to get dammed up - build the rock wall bit by bit, and the water slowly grows bacteria.  Of course the enemy of our soul doesn't want us to be flowing springs of living water, so he's sneaky.

We were not created to live for ourselves, as a standing pond.

The first reaction when we realize our water is stagnant & dirty, is to "CLEAN IT UP!"  So we look for ways to fix the problem and make the water healthy.  But the simple solution is BREAK DOWN THE DAM, let the water flow.  Running water doesn't grow algae.

The 3 reasons we become dammed up are:

1. We're BUSY.  We've locked ourselves down to get our schedule accomplished.
2. We're STRESSED.  We shut down and say to ourselves, "I can't deal with any more."
3. We're OFFENDED.  We feel hurt so we build walls up to prevent further destruction.

When I get an amazing revelation of being the living springs of Jesus to either people close to me, people groups, church groups, neighborhoods...you can bet the enemy is going to push one of those buttons on me so my knee-jerked-reaction to is "dam up".


Push through the schedule, feelings, & hurts.

All through scripture, the answer to ALL our life problems is BUILD THE KINGDOM.  Here are just a couple references I have found, but I could list pages, and pages...

- "Seek ye FIRST the Kingdom and His righteousness, and ALLLLLLLL these things will be added to you."  Matthew 6:33
- "...Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."  Philippians 4:9

It is SOO easy to go on with our daily lives and consume ourselves with the troubles that just today brings.  But I know in my knower, and by reading the Word of God, that being purposeful in building the Kingdom of God plays a VITAL ROLE in being an over comer of our troubles.  When we are about HIS business, HE will be about ours.  So we need to be much more purposeful in being kingdom minded, using Jesus as our example, and flowing to the world around us with the Love of Christ.

Let's practice waking up, and saying, "Jesus, what can I do to work with YOU today to seek first & build the Kingdom?"

Why do we often wait for a tragedy to happen before reaching out to people we love?

SOOOOO...for the next few weeks, my girls and I are doing some servant projects. 

This week, we're going to PEEP IN on our neighbors.  
Since we just moved into our neighborhood, we're bringing these over to a bunch of our neighbors:  

Peep cakes & Neighbor Fridge Magnets!


 I hope you will do some with us.  Let's incorporate being the hands and feet of Jesus into our regular lives.

 If you want more information about our Neighbor magnets, you can read about them HERE.