Friday, June 29, 2012

Missionary Marshall

Dear Marshall,

This entire year, you have been learning about the great missionary, Paul, through the book of Acts and the letters Paul wrote to the early churches. One morning, while you watched me straighten my hair, you just started chatting.

Sitting on the edge of the bathtub, you said, "Mom, I don't know if God wants me to be a missionary." I asked what you thought. You said, "Well, I've been thinking about it in my bed at night. And I think He does." You had never brought up the subject with your dad and I before that day. You'd just been pondering it in that amazing brain of yours.

Then you asked, "Mom, do people still go to jail for talking about Jesus? They don't, right?" Before I could even answer and tell you that, yes, in some countries they do, you blurted out: "Well, if I go to jail for talking about Jesus, then I will just do what Paul and Silas did. I will pray for an earthquake and when the prison doors open I won't run away. I'll tell the guards and the prisoners all about Jesus."

I didn't even know what to say. Your fearless faith amazes me.

It also drives me to Jesus. Because you are my baby. I don't want to see you go through trials or suffering, pain or tears. Selfishly, I want your life to be safe and comfortable, easy and pain-free.

But, I know that you are God's before you are mine. You belong to Him. Your dad and I have the tremendous privilege of raising you and training you up to walk in God's ways. Those ways include a life of faith. Those men and women remembered in God's Word for living by faith "acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth . . . they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city." (Hebrews 11:13, 15-16).

There would be no greater honor than to have raised you up to live each day by faith in Jesus Christ. To have you know with certainty that eternal life with Jesus awaits you. That you are only a stranger here on Earth. And to have that truth drive you to live for Jesus with reckless abandon.

Your favorite missionary, Paul, said this, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."(Ephesians 2:10).

Sweet Marshall, you are God's workmanship. You were created in Christ Jesus for good works. Good works that God prepared for you from before the creation of the world. Good works that He created that you should walk in them.

Whatever those works are, buddy, I hope you remain as fearless as you are today. Confident that God is Who He says He is. I want you to step out in faith. To go where God calls you, and to do what He says, because you trust what He says in His Word: that He will work out all things for your good and His glory. My desire is that I, too, will trust God so much, that I will be able to rest in Him, no matter what He calls you to. To rest in the fact that He is good, and that He loves you more than I do. And that He will work out all things for your good and His glory. Whether you're a businessman in America or a missionary in Africa. Wherever He may lead.

My prayer for you is that, at the end of your earthly life, you will have experienced the reality of God's words about Himself in Isaiah 46:4:

And right up to old age I am the same. 
And right up to grey hair I will myself shoulder the weight
It is I who made,
and it is I who will carry,
and it is I who will shoulder the weight 
and rescue!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

I'm RELATED to those people?

One big family gathering.

Eric's cousin, Susie, and her husband, Jacob, live in Florida with their two adorbs kiddos - Truett and Brynn. We heart them. And we wish that they still lived in Salem. But Jacob's seminary is in Florida. So, away they moved. We are thrilled that they are where the Lord wants them. We just miss them here.

Praise the Lord that we live in 2012 and airplanes exist. It makes it easy for them to come home to visit. I mean, as easy as it gets for them, traveling across the country while wrangling a pre-schooler and a toddler, maneuvering through security, enduring a flight with two little people, and dealing with jet lag.

But, we are glad that they endured all of that so we could see their sweet faces.

Susie's mom, Eric's Aunt Janie, had a party at Salem's Carousel so the Compton side of the family could all see them in one fell swoop.

From 7:00-7:30 we had the entire carousel to ourselves. And, Aunt Janie had hired a photographer to snap photos of our family. Ommygoodness. We felt like the Kardashians. You know. Public place all to ourselves. Followed around by papparazzi. With the photographer, it all kind of felt like we were filming our own TV show.

As I tucked Marshall in bed that night, we talked about the party. And I mentioned how blessed he is to have all of that extended family. To be related to so many people who love him.

Marshall sat straight up in bed and shouts, "I'm RELATED to those people??"

After all of the family gatherings we've had-- holidays, birthdays and visits --Marshall had not really ever pieced together that all of his relatives were, well, his relatives.

Now, let me clarify. He was NOT saying that they are all so crazy that he can't believe he is related to them. Although, Comptons/Collins/Liedkie crew, maybe some of you feel that about each other (just kidding, right?). But that is not what Marshall was saying, and I don't want anyone to have hurt feelings.

We ended up having a long discussion about who is who, and how everyone is related, and what all of the women's last names were before they were Comptons. And, who used be be a Compton until they got married. And why he has second cousins. And first-cousins-once-removed (had to Google that one). And why he has aunts and great-aunts. Whew. Glad to have clarified all of that. So, Marshall now knows that this bunch of monkeys is made up of second cousins. But, aren't they cute monkey second cousins?

Thanks for flying "home" to Oregon, sweet Liedkie crew! It was a blessing to spend an evening of your trip with you. Come back soon!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Weekend in Review

Final t-ball game of the year. Most adorable third baseman. Ever.

Sharing snacks in the sun

Pineapple Thief

Phone Thief too

I am one lucky wife and mom. Blessed that our kids call this man Daddy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Trails, Hot Tubs and Baby Deer

One fabulous and fun weekend in Sunriver. 

A trail half-marathon was run. So proud of the hubs. Eliza says "I think that it was really fun for daddy running in the forest." 

Our family attempted the most ridiculously difficult craft EVER. That's not saying much - seeing as I have almost no craft-ability. Knowing my craft-deficiency, I scoured Michaels's for an easy craft to do in Sunriver. A foam rocket and a foam princess castle. Not sure why I thought these seemed easy? Ugh. Thankful that everyone was cheerful and good sports about the whole thing. Thank you, Eric, for spending your morning crafting.

Meals were shared. Marshall says, "it was really fun eating outside on the patio at 10 Barrel, even though it was really hot. It was really fun playing on Daddy's phone on Angry Birds Space. If any of you know about Angry Birds, I would want you to know that Angry Birds Space is out. I have done almost all of the levels."

Kids had fun.

Marshall says, "It was SO fun jumping in the hot tub at Sunriver, and going to the pool at Sunriver even if there's no photos of the pool."

Eliza says, "It was So So So So So fun that I got to be in the hot tub with my friends, the Ventis - Mila and Nolan, and my brother. We all love being in the hot tub, because we all have fun jumping in and out. Because we just have SO much time being together."

Marshall and Nolan turned a pile of firewood into a drum set while Eric and Conrad were at the race. Kari and I wished that we could listen in on their conversation while they were setting it up and playing the drums together. They were just a little too far away from the house for us to eavesdrop. After the boys practiced for awhile, they set up seats for everyone to watch their show. Notice their "drum sticks." Have you ever seen a better-looking audience?

The show. Marshall says, "Me and Nolan rocked out really loud like Na Na Na Na Na Na Na! Boom Boom Boom Boom Boom Boom and a Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark! And that just made me laugh."
We also had the privilege of "baby-sitting" a fawn for the day. A sweet mama deer left her baby under a tree at the edge of our yard for the day. So sweet. We had an interesting lesson (thank you, Google) about the habits of mother and baby deer. It turns out, deer will often leave their baby for a good portion of the day while they forage for food. Which means we did not need to care for an abandoned baby deer, adopt it and bring it home to Salem,  or call a wildlife refuge to come pick it up (not that any of those things went through my mind). 

Marshall says, "It was so so so so so so so good seeing the deer, even though I didn't get any pictures with my Nintendo 3DS."

Eliza says, "It was very very fun seeing the deer. And even though I got way up close, it was still sniffing the second time I got way up close to it. And I love deer, even if I see a baby. And I love love love love love seeing deer. And I want to be a zookeeper some day with only deer in my zoo."

Eliza says, "The baby deer followed the mom and it was so funny and so cute. For the first time in my life I saw a baby deer walking with its mom."

Eliza would like me to end this blog with pink words. THE END. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Happy Weekend and a Bonus Recipe

It's Friday!  Woo to the Hoo!

Our family's Friday was yesterday. After Marshall's t-ball game last night, and a stop at Walery's for pizza, we headed to Sunriver for a long weekend of fun.

Oh. Wait. The main reason we are here is for Eric to run a trail half-marathon on Sunday with his friend, Conrad. Right. We are here with a purpose. Eric gets to run 13.1 miles on a trail. At high elevation. He has a buddy to do it with. And, they are excited about it. It is fun for the two of them. (Oh, and, the race starts and finishes at some guitar place called Two Old Hippies. Yes, we do live in Oregon. Uhthankyou.)

 And, Conrad's wife, Kari, is one of my best friends. This situation works out fantabulously for me. (By the way - if you enjoy real, from the heart, honest blogs from women who love the Lord, Kari's blogpost from this morning is where it's at.

Things like donuts for breakfast are fun for the rest of us.

I hope all of you have a fantastic weekend. To make it a little yummier, here is one of my new fave recipes for Double Chocolate Cookies. Now, when you look at this recipe, please do not say "eww, yuck" just because it calls for ground coffee and chili powder. (Not that anyone would do this, in particular one of our neighbors . . . ahem). Because after you make them, and eat one warm, you will not say "eww, yuck." You will say "" (Again, not that this happened with anyone we know in real life - LOL).

Double Chocolate Cookies  (originally posted by my interweb friend, Jami Nato)
What you need:
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla

1/2 tsp ground coffee
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips

What you do:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
In KitchenAid, cream butter and sugars together. Add vanilla, coffee, chili powder, salt and soda. Mix on speed 2 until incorporated. Add egg and mix. Add cocoa powder and mix. Add flour and mix. Now stop using your KitchenAid. Add chocolate chips and mix with a wooden spoon. Place in heaping spoonfuls on cookie sheet. When I make them, the recipe yields 16 cookies perfectly. This allows for some amount of cookie-dough eating. (Not that I'm suggesting you eat the dough. Because you're not supposed to. You know. Raw eggs and salmonella and all. Psshh.)
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Enjoy them warm. Magically.Delicious.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Guest Bloggin' it Up

Blogging over at Mom4Life today. Check it out! 

Friday, June 1, 2012

More Wind and Rain

I'm lacking in eloquency this time around. And if I wait for the perfect words, this post will never get posted.  So, let's just jump right in and pick up where we left off in my post about being fearless. The disciples stuck it out with Jesus and soon found themselves in another storm.  But this time, Jesus wasn't with the disciples. He wasn't in the boat. The disciples battled this storm by themselves for about nine hours.

[By the way, what is it about Jesus and storms? Why did he choose storms to teach his disciples? Maybe because life on Earth sometimes feels like a storm? It's such an easy metaphor. And Jesus knew it would end up in His Word where He would use it to teach His disciples on earth in the present day.]

Photos courtesy of our fave Mag Mag, who baby-sat and cleaned my downstairs today, all at the same time. :)

Back to the story ... as the disciples are battling the storm, Jesus comes walking on the sea. In the storm. He calls out to the disciples "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid." (Matthew 14:27)

Peter wants to walk on the water with Jesus. He can see Jesus, and he answers Him. He says "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." (Matthew 14:28).

And Jesus says, "come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me." Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." (Matthew 14:27-33)

There are moments where I feel fearless. Like Peter, it's as if I'm taking steps on the water in the storm. I fix my eyes on Him. I can see the miracles that He does in me and for me. I know I was meant to live for Him. I'm surrendered and ready to hand everything over to Him. Willing to do anything He calls me to.

But then I start looking around at the swelling waves and the rolling sea . At the what-ifs and the if-onlys. At what this person is doing over here. And what that person is doing over there.

And I look to this side and see this person who doesn't approve, and this person who thinks my priorities are skewed, and this person who says I'm doing this wrong, and, oh, I dropped the ball here.

Just like that, I'm not walking on the water anymore. I take my eyes off of Jesus and I start to sink. I get flustered, overwhelmed, and frantic. I start trying to put out all of the fires at once. Do this to make that person happy. Oh, wait, do a little of this to make this person happy. Oh . . . and one more thing to prevent this person from being upset from me.

But really. really. Is that what God wants for me? Is that what He calls me to? Does He say, "make sure that everyone is happy with you all of the time?" Does He say that He will give me His approval only when people around me are happy with me? NO! God's affections for me do.not.change. Because I am in Jesus, I have His righteousness. And this is what is true about God:

The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save;
he will take great delight in you;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

He gives me His approval. He rejoices over me. He delights in me. When people have me running to and fro trying to gain their approval, God's love actually quiets me. Isn't the One who treats me with such steadfast affection the only one who is deserving of all my approval-seeking?

He tells me to stop looking at everyone else and trying to figure out how to gain all of their approval. God is a jealous God and He wants all of me. Paul says it like this: For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10). Plain and simple, God wants my eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. (Hebrews 12:2).

I just recently finished a book entitled Anything, written by Jennie Allen. Read.This.Book. Jennie says this:

"When I get still and hear the loudest thing in me, it is often that I am chasing everyone but God . . .  Love is jealous . . . especially God's love. He wants me and I want everyone else. ...

Every time I sit by the banks of my sin and my other loves, right as I think He is about to wipe me out because my heart feels so out of control, He steps into the river and redirects it. "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will." (Prov. 21:1). It is only God who moves my heart. He chases me down and lures me back to him; while I am running after everyone else, he runs after me. God brings me back to the place where it fares well with me, reminding me he is my husband. There is no spinning, no fear, only perfect acceptance and peace. 

I can let other people down. If God is for me ... the God of the universe for me ... who could be against me? Who else do I fear?"

If all of the Gospel is true. If Jesus died for me . . . if eternal life is real . . . if Jesus is the one who saved me from eternal judgment . . . then how can I limit Him to a little box of religion in my earthly life? How can I be grateful that He saved me from eternal death, and not let Him invade every corner of my life and my heart? How can I not put my desire for His approval above all else? How can I give Him lip service of praise with my mouth and not hand over every other part of me and the stuff around me?

I've been tied up for much of my life desiring people's approval. Everyone else has come before God. Because the only way I was at peace with myself was if it seemed like everyone else was okay with me.  I wouldn't have said it with my words, but I didn't have to. My life said it for me. It gave me away. There was a time when I knew that God had called me to ministry as a career. But not everyone thought that was the best idea. So, I stuffed it. I set it on the shelf and never went back to it.

And, I have no one to blame but me. It wasn't anyone else's fault. I was the one who was choosing not to trust that God's approval was enough. And not to let Him have everything no matter what other people thought. In many ways, I had conformed to what seemed to be sensible, culturally acceptable, or the most practical and logical according to human thinking.

But God says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways . . .  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8).  God's Word says that our "spiritual worship" is "to present our bodies as a living sacrifice . . .." Our spiritual worship manifests itself in a physical way. Paul goes on to say "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind . . ." (Romans 12:2).

God's ways are higher than mine. His thoughts are different than mine. He wants me to follow Him. And in doing so, to offer my body . . . my life . . . my plans . . .  my dreams . . .  my expectations . . . all of who I am, everything I have, to Him as my act of worship. It means doing things in a way that is different from the way the world says to do them. Which means laying other people's approval down on the altar.

Am I ready? Ready to lay people's approval down on the altar? To walk with Jesus on the water through the storm of disapproval? Lately, I feel a lot like Peter, as if I'm looking around and starting to sink. But when Peter started to sink, Jesus didn't leave him there to drown. Rather, "Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, 'O you of little faith, why did you doubt?' And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, 'Truly you are the Son of God.'

The other eleven disciples knew the reality of who Jesus really is as they watched Jesus walk on water, let Peter walk on water, and pick Peter up when He started to sink. They proclaimed Him to be the Son of God. I know I'm not going to walk perfectly with Jesus. As much as I desperately want to live for His approval, and His alone, I get distracted by a desire for others to approve of who I am and what I do.

But like Jennie Allen said, He lures me back. He changes the river of my heart. He transforms my mind. The more I study the Word, the more I know Him. Which causes me to trust Him. And, in turn, trust that His approval is enough. And as I try to fix my eyes on Jesus alone, and imperfectly walk with Him on the water in the storm, maybe others will see who Jesus really is, worship Him, and call Him the Son of God.