Category Archives: Guest Post

Insights from Kenya 2017 guest post by Megan Peterson

So Megan would be one of Russ’s girls.

One of a trio of young ladies that insisted on riding with Russ on any and all outings the youth group took when these lovelies were in high school.

And I have witnesses who know that as they ran across the parking lot to our Tahoe at least one would stop, look back at me kind of disappointed-like and say…

“Oh…are you going with us too, Laura?”

Kind of like … the opposite of an invitation.

And we would all laugh as I would hold up my hands and assure them I would not mess with that magic.

NO way.

Now those girls are all grown up and as beautiful as ever and in a world that is so very mixed up about what a lot of things…Miss Megan gets God’s love right…right here <3

Stillness in the Midst of Rush Hour by Megan Peterson

Photo credit to FCC Kenya Team 2017 

Do you ever have a plan A, B and maybe even C.

And often wonder how’d I ever get here, and then feel that you’ve missed everything in between?

This has been myself the last 5 years.

Consistently striving to figure out this adulthood thing, being content with experiences and directions of life.

Still, there is a yearning for peace, sense of self and trusting in His ultimate plan.

God has placed a notion on my heart for the word LOVE.

This word is often associated with an extravagant feeling, yet it can also be integrated within one’s lifestyle.

To love as a Christian, is to give to other’s those things that you would want them to give to you, if you were in their situation and not expect anything in return.

Done, marked that off the list; help people get back their independence by working in the medical field. Yet—there is so much more to this Love.

This past July, a group of 23 people ventured to Kenya, Africa with Decatur First Christian Church for a Medical Mission Trip.

Travelling hours along barren and bumpy terrain in vans to serve people with medical attention.

Certainly, serving others, along with the appreciation of western culture resources changed our lives.

However, there is one thing that impacted and shaped this weary heart.

The expression of Love through communication; both non verbal and verbal.

Example 1:

These three girls.

We gazed at each other with such curiosity: neither of us could verbally understand one another. However, the world language of a girl is to twirl with her skirt, smile and giggle.

This was our conversation.

The understanding of one another and connection to the Love of our God. No words, but being still and present His Divine plan.

Example 2: One of our Maasai Van Drivers and translators, Stonic Kopiah.

A man who dresses very “Western”, has a gentle, but strong spirit, yet he has very traditional tribal upbringing.

He is a man who became a Warrior to fulfill his family’s wishes and legacies. This means he went into the wilderness for 2 years, lived off the land and killed a Lion in order to return to his tribe.

Fast Forward, after various jobs, now drives safari vans, has 1 wife (very rare in traditional Maasai) and two children. His oldest, a girl, 25 years old and single. He made clear that he wants to give his daughter the choice to pick her spouse (Again, very rare in traditional Maasai).

This man has experienced much, was challenged often and now continues to love through many humble actions (supplying women with simple work of doing his families laundry, giving his Daughter a voice with a choice and translating to help the people in his community for the betterment of their health) and expects nothing in return.

Though, his love is clearly outlined above, he touched me with the time spent in conversation during long van rides to/from medical clinic and sitting shot gun next to him at the end of safari.

We talked about life in general, desires, morals, importance of relationships, how to drive the vans on the road and to be open, while listening to others.

Towards the end of safari, the radios sounded and a female lion and cub were spotted.

We arrive, he pulls over with the lions on my side, turns off the van with the windows down.

I quietly and hesitantly signal “the window is down”.

He replied, “Have confidence in yourself, they will not hurt you. I wouldn’t have let you keep the window down if I’ve known that they would harm you.”

Simple, yet very powerful words of Love.

Often, we rush through the day. Forgetting to simply listen, be still and communicate with God and others around us.

Trusting that the interactions of the day are meant to fuel the human souls and fortify His promise that he will provide.

For in his Word, he states, “Let all that you do, be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV

 

A big thanks to you, Miss Megan, for opening your heart and sharing how Kenya touched and changed you. Thank you for sharing part of the journey with us today  <3

Sending out the Twelve…Did I do enough? Guest Post from Rachel Maxwell <3

I can well remember sitting in the parking lot of the Lutheran Preschool, pregnant with Sarah and bawling my eyes out as I realized that I had just ushered our first born into the beginning of a lifetime of arenas that would be hers…not mine. I am puddling up even as I type those words to introduce this beautiful piece our Rachel sent me a few weeks ago as a guest post. Grab a tissue and enjoy the gentle pondering of her tender heart <3

We sent our oldest to kindergarten this year.

The tears are hot on my cheeks as I recall the shortest and longest walk I have ever been on as his younger brothers and I escorted him to the door of his new school.

He was met with the welcoming, smiling faces of teachers and staff as they helped him find the right line to sit in. They called him by name…thanks to the nametags his teacher mailed us in early August.

He stood in the kindergarten line and looked back one last time.

I held it together…until I saw the back of that cute little head and red Spiderman backpack heading into a new adventure.

One I wasn’t going to be a part of every day…One I could only hear about later and second hand through the tidbits and stories he chose to share.

It’s an adventure I know I can’t push him to share…but thankful for each small nugget of his day I get to be a part of.

And like so much of parenting…I thought of our Father.

I thought of Him sending out of the disciples…did the ‘Mary half’ of Jesus wonder as I wonder? Did he question the humanity of the ones who followed Him?

I wonder….How will Graham represent our family name?

                        How will Peter represent the name of Jesus?

Will he be kind and known for his servant hands?

Will Levi be known for his generous heart?

I’ve taught him how to break bread and share meals with others…will he?

Will My disciples remember Me feeding the thousands?

Will he invite anyone to sit with him at lunch or will he be invited to sit at a table?

Will you feed My sheep?

Will he bring Jesus into every conversation?

Will you make disciples of ALL nations?

Will he stand up for the Truth in a world of non-conviction, opposition, and falsehood?

Will you remember My actions before and on the cross?

Will he continue to ask me for help, to seek my wisdom?

Will you remember My prayers shared with you in My Word?

I am in no way comparing my sacrifice as a mother to the great sacrifice of Jesus…please hear me.

But in my earthly stumbling’s along the way, God has graciously allowed me to become a mother and share in the lives of each of my children.

And I know He has spoken to me about Himself in this way…over and over again.

I labored for each of them before they were born…in different ways, but labor all the same.

We loved them before they were considered worth anything by the standards of this world.

Their lives had purpose and value…from the very start of their creation.

And so far…all of Graham’s life has led us to this point…is he ready to be sent out?

Have we done enough?

I think of Jesus walking alongside, performing miracles, teaching lessons, exemplifying prayer and petition to His Father all in front of His disciples, knowing His death, resurrection and ascension lay ahead of Him and He would leave them with what they had learned.

As I walked back down that long sidewalk back to our car…I cried.

Jesus knows that pain…He wept too.

The God who made the entire world with His spoken word wept on this earth.

The kindergarten teachers had the parents kiss the palms of our children’s hands and tell them to place it on their cheek when they were sad and missed us.

When we did this with Graham, his eyes lit up with the realization that he could do this at school and still ‘feel’ us and our love in the palm of his hand.

I may have placed the palm of my own hand to my own cheek as I thanked my Heavenly Father that I can feel the love from the palm of His hand.

He knows…He knows my heart and He loves me all the same.

The scars prove how far He is willing to go.

And you’d better believe I was ready and waiting for that final school bell to ring…and I got to look on the face of the child I love so dearly.

And then I had a glimpse of that reunion in heaven…

when I’m the child craning my neck so I can find Him and finally put that beautifully scarred palm on my cheek with a physical touch and I can look into His eyes and know I’m okay.

I’m home.

Guest Post – The Wonder of it All

For my last guest post of the week, here is a familiar face to this blog, our own daughter Rachel Maxwell..IMG_3313Rachel is our oldest daughter. I have often joked and said I hope to be like her when I grow up, but in truth…she is, in so many ways, a role model for me.

She is light years ahead of me at the age I am … and at the age I was as a young mother. 

If I can have a moment to brag…she is a wonderful wife, mother, sister and daughter who is also accomplished in her field of nursing and has been known to do some pretty impressive crafting.

I know you will be blessed by her gentle wisdom today.

She blogs — when she has time!! Check her out at : ourmaxwellmoments.blogspot.com

The Wonder of It All…Guest Post and photos by Rachel Maxwell 

Hello “Journey Onward”!

It’s me again…Rachel…the eldest daughter but more importantly the mother of the two boys that create and appear in so many of our “Lola’s” posts.

Mom has asked me to write again…so here goes… I pray it brings some refreshment to your soul today.

If there are any Point of Grace fans out there…you might have sung along with the title like I did when I wrote it.

If you don’t know the song…I’m sure YouTube has it! It’s a song I haven’t heard in years…but has recently begun popping into my head as I watch my two young boys explore the world around them.

They are so amazed by all that’s there.

As adults, we forget that there was a first time when we saw a butterfly take flight,

butterfly

caught a frog,

Untitled

tasted a S’more,

ccwalk

twirled in a dress,

skinned our knee,

burned our tongue,

saw a rainbow,

rainbow

saw hail in the front yard,

went down a water slide or splashed in a pool,

pool

built a fort out of couches and bed sheets,

tent

connected with a ball on a tee,

jumped in a puddle,puddle

saw animals at the zoo…llama

We forget the joy that this life our God has created can bring!

And for legitimately good reasons…

our chores don’t get checked off, our toilets overflow, our loved ones face horrible diagnoses and surgical recoveries, our parents age (not mine of course!), we face separation and divorce, we punch the clock at a job watching the hours tick by, our kids rebel, young ones pass, we turn on a news channel and are bombarded with pure ugliness, our social media news feed is filled with links that direct us away from the task at hand…

We’ve forgotten the Wonder of It All…

The fact that God Almighty bends his ear when we call His name.

That our Father created this world for us to enjoy –

to feel the warmth of the sun on our face…boat

That we can rest in His never ending peace that He works all things together…

sleep

That no matter what our view is of what humans have done to portray God in this world…His TRUTH will always prevail…He is who He says He is!

The God who provides…

The God who is our Hope…

The God who can’t be seen face to face without a dramatic change…

The God who loved us enough to send His son for us that in choosing Him, we will never be separate.

We are a chosen people, set aside for His purpose, set aside for His pleasure, set aside as His bride!

Despite what the world is throwing at you today…may you cling to His promises and wonder in His glory!

Take your shoes off…walk (or run!) across the grass He created…ginrain

Take your sunglasses off…feel the sun on your face…

car

Turn the radio off…listen to the music of this life…

Take your Bible out…fall in love again with who He is…with the Wonder of our God!

Blessings…Rachel

 

 

Guest Post – Bump Ahead

Today you are hearing from a friend to many…IMG_3927Leslie Kent is known to so many in our community in her role as wife of our lead pastor, her prison ministry, and her work at NLPC. She is often asked to speak and sing at different events around the community and country. 

From the tiniest tot to the senior-ist saint and all ages, stages and conditions in between; we all affectionately call her “Ma Lamb” because she somehow manages to see all of us the way the Shepherd does…His little lambs. 

Les and I have been friends for 20 years now and her kind, generous and sweet nature have been a consistent source of encouragement to me every day. 

While we normally are blessed with her musical and speaking talents, today she is sharing a writing from her heart <3

BUMP AHEAD guest post and photos by Leslie Kent

Our world or at least our little part of the world is under road construction.unnamed Two lanes become one.

No one wants to let me in. Road traffic has slowed to a literal crawl while traffic lights cycle two or three times. The damage of winter weather and usage can take its toll on the condition of the road.

Crews work day and night in the heat and in rain (which has been frequent) repairing the places I frequent each day.

Recently I counted at least 100 “orange things” that were road constriction related in about a 2 mile stretch and that was not on the highway! Ugh😩

Sitting patiently (I jest) at a complete standstill I looked closely at the pot holes, cracks and condition of the roads being repaired. I thought about the “what if” they weren’t going to be repaired?

The damage to daily travelers could be severe and costly That idea took my mind and heart to a different place.

I’m a traveler in this world who thanks God daily for the way He speaks to me through events of life.

His voice speaks louder than the beeping of a construction vehicle in reverse. His Spirit penetrates to the core of my soul with more force than a jack hammer breaking through the cement of our streets.

Oh how I need repair.

Years ago I saw a sign on the side of the road while taking a road trip with my husband. It simply said, “BUMP AHEAD”.

I knew it was there to let the driver know that there was soon to be a bump in the road . . . there was.

Yet, there was no indication the bump or uneven place was in the process of being repaired then nor would it be in the future.

The sign wasn’t orange which meant this wasn’t a construction sight. It was just a regular sign to warn me about the location of the bump. It was such a bump that the sign would have better served the public if it had said “DRIVER BEWARE!”

So often my everyday life can be a mirror to the deep places of my heart and soul.unnamed-2

I too am under construction. The work crew is lead by a loving, “hands-on “ God who is not finished with me.

Being under construction can be painful, and oftentimes I just want the work done and finished.

NOW.

I want to prematurely place a sign up and leave it to warn folks . . . THIS IS WHO I AM . . . unnamed-3THERE MAY BE A FEW BUMPS BUT GET OVER IT.

The cold winds of my flesh, the frozen places of my heart and the depth of my sin need daily attention for me to live as GOD directs. He’s the One who makes the rough places smooth, but only from the inside out.

God’s love is personal.

So from this work-in-progress person, to each of you: if you see me and I’m wearing “orange” I’m under construction.

May the One who began a good work in each of us be faithful to complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Phil 1:6

Guest Post: Fishing with Papa

On Monday, I wrote about being thankful for the people God has blessed me with on this journey.

This week you are going to meet three precious women who share their hearts so beautifully through words. They are helping me out on a very busy week by guest posting some of their thoughts…

Today, I want you to meet my dear friend with whom Russ and I share grandchildren <3

IMG_0961Tammy is my friend and sister in heart…but also our Zach’s momma! We have prayed over and loved each other’s children since our two started dating over 16 years ago.

We can pull off Lucy and Ethel pretty well, but have also strapped on armor for some serious battles in the heavenlies.

I know you will be blessed by her writing and I encourage you to visit her blog at tammymaxwell.blogspot.com; where you may see a couple of cuties you recognize from here! 

Fishing With Papa    guest post and photos by Tammy Maxwell

*Original Post April 17, 2015

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people”…Matthew 4:19.

Last summer, my husband had the extreme pleasure of taking his grandsons fishing on different occasions!IMG_3918You can only imagine how excited he was to spend time with his grandsons (and their fathers) doing something that he absolutely loves!

One of these exciting excursions took place at Pittsfield Lake.IMG_3920My daughter and I already had planned to thoroughly clean their home that day (as they were anticipating the arrival of Baby Gabe and wanted to be ready), but we were able to head down to the lake and catch a glimpse of the boys as they were wrapping up their fishing outing!

I’m not sure who was more excited…IMG_3917

Papa or the grandsons!IMG_3919

It was a blessing to see grandfather, father and sons enjoying their outing!

And though we didn’t have fish to fry for dinner that night, we did hear all about their time at the lake!

Another fishing expedition took place in Bloomington!IMG_3921My oldest son, Graham’s father, shared with me that every time Graham passes by the fishing pond where they went fishing, he says…”That’s where Papa and I went fishing”!

I was blessed to hear about their adventure as well!

I know Papa Don is already looking forward to more fishing trips this summer!

However, my husband, sons and grandsons are not the only important fishermen!

Jesus recruited fishermen to join him in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Scripture tell us that…As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me, “Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him…Matthew 4:18-20.

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him…Matthew 4:21-22.

As Christ began to preach, he also began to gather his disciples. They would witness Jesus’ miracles, and later preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The first individuals that Jesus chose to join him were fishermen! They were not educated men. They were not considered to be important figures that stood out among other men.

So why did Jesus choose these simple fishermen? Why did Jesus choose men who appeared not to be qualified to fill their new roles?

Why? So, all would know that their gifts were from Jesus! He wanted His power…His glory in them to be revealed!

Jesus used ordinary men to do extraordinary things! All they had to do was follow Him.

If Jesus could use fisherman to preach the gospel and perform miracles, He can use you too!

Is Jesus asking you to following Him in a certain area today? If so, you may need to set down your nets and follow Him?

Following Jesus may take you out of your comfort zone…it might be a little scary…and you may wonder if you can do what Jesus is calling you to do!

I remember teaching my first Jr. High Sunday School class…and a few years later, teaching my first Sr. High Sunday School class. I was nervous…scared…and wondered if I would be able to relate to this group of teenagers.

It would have been easy to say, ”I’m too busy”…or “I don’t think this is where God desires me to be at this time”!

However, I would have missed the opportunity to follow God where he was calling me to go. After saying yes, I spent the next 18 years in Youth Ministry!

Hopefully, God used me to touch the lives of many, but I know for certain, those teenagers touched my life more than I could have every imagined.

Dear ones…if Jesus is calling you to step out and follow Him on a certain path, not only will HE guide you on that path…but he will also equip you for this new role! He is faithful!

Dear Heavenly Father…forgive me for the times I have let fear keep me from stepping out and following you. Help me…and others…to pick up our poles and be fishermen of men! Use us for your glory, Lord!