Category Archives: Encouragement

Of Missions and being called <3

I am sharing another note I dictated into my Blackberry back in 2012.

I am stretching you because the words you are reading below are from a season in my life when we only had one baby grandson…Russ’s sweet parents were still alive but declining in health and Sarah was working as an aid one on one with a little boy in Kindergarten who had numerous challenges to interrupt his ability to learn.

They were taking a field trip to a Cardinal game and she was going along with the class. We were praying for him to have a great day of fun and to enjoy a ball game with his family.

I might note that that little boy had to repeat Kindergarten with our Sarah staying one more year to come along side him.

She sends pictures of him now and then when she reconnects with him. He’s doing great in school. He’s amazing.

That’s what mission fields look like…enjoy this blast from the past….

Pastor Wayne talked in church this morning about going to our Judea and our Jerusalem and Samaria and to the farthest regions of the world and we sang “Here am I, send me” and my eyes landed on a precious woman in our church. 

A mom and grandma and I know well. And right now, where God is sending her is into a nursing home to see her daughter-in-law who slips farther away every day to the evil of what is Alzheimers.

 To be a mom again for this woman’s children and be the grandma and support her own son.

And I think how when our kids were little, they were my mission field. 

Now I go up and give our grown up daughter little breaks in her week and I spend time with our first grandson and that is my mission field.

Our adult children are my mission field. 

I have had the opportunity to go to Africa and the opportunity to send money and prayers to Thailand and to Africa and to Iraq and different places.

For awhile my mission field was to pick my mom up and take her to see my dad so she could fulfill her for better or worse vows, and then going in her place after she was gone. 

I think how Russ is doing that for his parents long distance in this season. 

Today our prayers are for a little boy in St Louis to go to a ball game and to have a great day and for God to protect him.

I think of the kids our kids have brought into our lives over the years to love and accept and care for. 

And we all just raise our hands and go forward, trusting that God is listening to us and equipping us as we serve Him wherever He has placed us. 

I was driving home from church when I dictated that and I will confess, I was crying through the whole thing.

We live in an age where empowering ourselves is becoming a very popular theme in both the world and the Church.

But in seasons of deepest ministry, as I look back on each of those circumstances I was commenting on – there was brokenness and helplessness and surrender.

Hands raised…Here am I LORD…send me.

I want to share a couple of books I am currently reading and marking up and committing to heart that I would recommend to particularly women who are wondering what their “mission field” might look like.

Missionary Mom: Embracing the Mission Field Right Under your own Roof by Shontell Brewer

Adorned Living out the Beauty of the Gospel Together by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

and Brave Moms Brave Kids: A Battle Plan for Raising Heroes by Lee Nienhuis

Buried Treasure <3

Happy Friday!

I have been pursuing a bent to purge this whole month and I am actually sticking with it.

As I pull out the innards of various cabinets, drawers and boxes we packed for our move…ahem…two years ago…I am unearthing all kinds of treasures. 

A couple of days ago I found my old blackberry phone.

Let me pause here and just share that I LOVED that phone.

I was a whiz at typing and without autocorrect and Siri’s surly personality I managed to communicate effectively and my phone didn’t micromanage my life.

I also loved the record feature because when ideas for writing came it was super easy to just click on that and record my thoughts. 

These are treasures from my heart back when all I sent was this email once a week and I looked for things to write you all to encourage you that God is personal in our lives. 

Today I am sending you the typed transcript of one of my “meditations” from May 13, 2012.

It’s still relevant right down to me being late to class and hoping I can get my copies made. Every. Sunday.

Okay as I am rushing to church and I’m thinking that I may have to ask somebody to make the copies of our lesson for me for our class.

And I am thinking when you need somebody to do something for you, the person that you ask a lot of times isn’t the person who can do the best job. 

Like my thoughts right now aren’t “I want to find somebody who is the best copy maker.”

Because that’s not who I am going to be looking for. 

Who I am going to be looking for is someone who loves me, who will do it because they love me, and who will do it because they believe the notes for our class are important. 

Somebody who I can entrust them to, who I know will get them to me and who will not be upset or mad with me that I am imposing on them.

They are just going to do it. 

They believe in what I believe in. Like Lisa Peck is who I am thinking if I can catch her. 

And if they can run a copy machine or not isn’t even an issue. 

I can either tell them real quick what they need to do or I know they will find someone who can help them get the thing started up. So they can get it done and get the copies to me while I get the class started and the prayer requests covered. 

And I’m thinking that’s how Jesus is.

When He asks us to do things it’s because He trusts us that we love Him, that we are going to do it, that we are committed to the same cause He is. Not because we are the “best” at what it is, but because we can be entrusted with His mission.

Because we are passionate about it, too; partly because He’s passionate about it and partly because we love Him and so we really are passionate about the same things. 

I am adding this footnote to my message from 2012…whatever you are doing today…cleaning up macaroni and cheese from the floor for the ten billionth time…taking a phone message down for a boss or co-worker who took the day off….writing…fixing hair…prepping people for surgery…whatever…do it as unto the LORD

Do it with the knowledge that God has entrusted YOU to be doing what you are doing. 

Do it well, my friend. 

Do it well. 

It all matters <3

Just stopping in for a chat <3
pc/Rachel Maxwell with gratitude for capturing this moment that captures my heart <3

Hello and happy Wednesday!

I didn’t post yesterday because I had an appointment at 9:00 and I am trying really hard to be punctual this year.

This means I have to factor in travel time which is a new concept for me but Russ’s reminder that I am not able to beam myself places has finally taken hold and I am actually arriving fairly close to start times so far this month.

It’s kind of scary.

For me and for the other unsuspecting souls who count on me being late. 

God bless the other late people who know to add ten minutes on to our meet up time and you know who you are…because I will still be running on that schedule for your sweet tardy self <3

Since I am fighting a vicious cold and it is viciously cold here in the Midwest, I am posting some randoms and I hope you have a wonderful day wherever you are and that you are safe and warm.

Random #1: We all know I am not a fan of most wildlife indigenous to our area. Squirrels, possums and raccoons are not my thing although they are drawn to me like a moth to a flame. 

I also do not have a warm affinity for birds who swoop over my head in the warehouse stores nor the ones who perch eerily close to the table when dining al fresco. 

A couple of years ago the shop where I work added a canary named Dublin and the little guy has kind of softened me toward his species so recently I thought it might be fun to get a bird feeder. Two days later, Russ suggested the same idea so we purchased one and a bag of seed. 

This morning, we have a wide range of diners outside. Male and female cardinals, house finches and what I think might be a dark-eyed junco. 


I actually have been googling “pictures of Midwest birds in winter.”

I may need intervention.

Random #2: I wrote a post yesterday that I was certain was the lamest post ever. 

I almost didn’t publish it. 

It had more responses than any I have written for quite awhile. 

I can only conclude that God knows what you all need to hear and so would you just stop, drop and pray that I would stay attuned to His voice and continue to be surrendered so that what I share is only and always for His glory?

Thank you.

Random #3: On Saturday we took the Fab Four and their mom to dinner after Graham’s basketball game. Their daddy was working and unable to join us for a relaxing meal at Buffalo Wild Wings. 

The adults were positioned between children and we were busily keeping drinks upright, guarding our eyes from getting poked with menus and picking up tiny remnants of the paper straw wrappers that were mounting up in the middle of the table when our waitress leaned over to Rachel and said she didn’t mean to pry but were all of these children hers?

God bless our Rachel who gets asked this question A LOT…as she smiled sweetly and said yes…yes they are.

To which the waitress said they were just darling and so well behaved. 

We all loved her instantly.

She may have gotten a bonus tip.

Random #4: I am out of randoms and need to get showered before my husband who actually had to go to work today gets home and asks me why I am ready for bed at 5:00….

Have a blessed day

Keep safe and remember you are loved and God is faithful. 

Remind each other of this….we tend to forget easily <3

We seem to be in a series all of a sudden….<3

What is this strange bright orb in the sky? Oh…the sun…ah yes…I remember it…Ha!

We have had some bleak days this week so I am opening all the blinds and letting the light in while we have it. 

I certainly had not planned on doing a series from our church’s study of Ezekiel but then I rarely plan what I am going to write so here we go!

Today’s passage was from 2:8-3:11. After God gives Ezekiel directions for what he is being called to do, He tells him to literally eat the scroll of God’s written word. 

I have had a book on the shelf for several years that grabbed my attention and because we are currently doing a series on how to study your Bible in Sunday School, I have been reading it finally. 

It just happens to be called Eat This Book and is written by Eugene Peterson. 

Just as the title suggests, the text is about ingesting God’s Word in such a way that it fuels us spiritually the way food gives our body the energy to move and function. 


I think not. 

The pastor who wrote our study material points out that Ezekiel is accepting the Lord’s message by eating the Scroll God hands him. 

God instructs Ezekiel to deliver the message without fear and to a group who will most likely be hard and unreceptive. 

And God then makes Ezekiel hard as well. 

It reminds me of Jesus when He set His face like flint and headed off to Jerusalem. 

Often I get this confused.

I think that because God’s message is about extravagant grace and unmerited mercy, I need to deliver it all soft and pretty and in a way that should in all intent and purpose result in pretty much a resounding nod of applause from any and all with whom I share the wonderful news of Jesus Christ. 

And when it is met with derision or opposition, outright confrontation or smug condescension…I back peddle and try to figure out what I did wrong. 

I forget. 

The success of the mission was my obedience to deliver the message I was given, not the reception of the message. 

So two things right there…

First, what message has God assigned me to deliver to what group?

And second is to evaluate if I am I doing it and if not, why?

Our study guide offered us some questions to get us thinking about this and one of them was to think of the ways God has equipped you to share His message. 

As I looked at that I was able to list several resources I have been blessed with and also gifts/talents/affinities that serve as vehicles for me to use in the areas of influence He has given me. 

Your list will look different from mine. 

Not better. Not worse. 

Our equipping is unique because our reach is specifically assigned by God. 

I will close with the same prayer suggestion that was offered at the end of our study guide today  – ask God to equip you to share the message He has given you. 

This will only happen when we humble ourselves before God and listen, receive and ingest His Word for us and then move out in obedience, trusting Him to go with us and leaving the results in His hands. 

Also…PS!! I had gotten behind on reading comments, but read them today and LOVED them!! Have answered you so check back to the post you commented on – riveting, trust me <3

The weighty things <3

It is my experience in my journey of faith that God always gives back way more than I think I am giving Him.

Sign up to go help people halfway around the world who have so little and find out how poor your land of plenty really is…and how much you can learn from people who have nothing and give everything.

Volunteer and give up a week of your summer to serve in Vacation Bible School so the neighborhood kids can learn about Jesus and as you sit and listen to the teachings, you find truth nuggets for your child-size brain.

Load up your car with stuff you had trouble parting with and find  yourself knocked to your knees by the sweet lady with scars on her face who helps you unload it all and thanks you so much and do you want a receipt for taxes…no thank you…this one is going unrecorded.

So last night we drug ourselves off the couch and out from under blankets to answer the call for prayer from our pastors and leaders. 

We drove on slick roads and navigated the parking lot, cautioning each other to be careful because we have heard the horror stories of people who weren’t and we don’t want to add that to our deductible this winter.

And as we approached the doors of the prayer meeting, we were told to select a rock from a basket.

I did what I always cringe doing…I made a quip about it…perhaps involving a reference to stoning people…and found out that I was one of many who had said the same thing. 

Dang I hate being a cliche sometimes.

Anywho…back to the prayer meeting…

We found some seats and gathered with others who just can’t resist when they open the doors of our church for any kind of service…and the prayers and praise commenced.

And God showed up.

Just like He always does when two or more gather.

It was old school church with a guitar and one person leading songs and I kind of loved it. 

We were led through various prayers, and for whatever reason I never put my rock down. 

I held it all the way through the whole event. 

To be honest, it felt comfortable in my hand and I often found myself just holding it to my heart. 

I guess since our sermon that morning had referenced 1 Samuel 7: 10-12, I was still associating the “Ebenezer…thus far” reference. 

But then one of our leaders took her turn in the service. Turns out the rocks were meant to remind us not of how far God has brought us, but how much we weigh our own selves down at times.

She talked about sin. 

Our sin and the sins of others against us. 

The weight of them.

Oh, I get it about my sin.

I carry it like a chain at times. 

And not like a martyr.


Like a woman who has underestimated the power of her God and overestimated the stain of her sin.

But as she led us through the prayer exercise, and she talked about the weight of the sins we have had against us…the hurt and the pain…and the way it has distorted us…hardened us…wounded us…that rock in my hand started getting pretty heavy. 

I thought back over the previous portions of the service and how at times I had held it to my heart as I participated in worship.

I remembered how I had to hold on to it with one hand which only allowed me the freedom to raise the empty one in a kind of affirmation. It had limited me from full on, both hands and arms raised in surrender praise. 

As she reminded us to forgive as Christ has forgiven us, I had to recognize that while I have forgiven the ones who this tangible weight in my hand represented…I still carry the pain of it because, in truth, I don’t know what to do with it. 

It has changed and colored both our past, our present and our future. 

I don’t know what to do with the memories that now look different because of other’s choices. 

It has stolen my joy many times and it has clouded and crowded out my joy for others who are experiencing what I would love to have.

It permeates so much more than I could have imagined and even as life goes on, I am left at times grappling to just stay afloat amidst the changes brought on by a fallen world and my own fallen nature that continues to rise up unbidden, even as I know and believe and declare that in Christ I am a new creation.

As we finished the exercise, we were given instruction to ask God to forgive us the weight of our sin and to ask Him for His help and assistance to forgive…let go…release…the pain and hurt of the sins against us. 

The service had come to an end and we were invited to share in one more song of worship and praise. 

We were invited to sit or stand.

Whatever posture seemed to express our heart to God for what He had done and our hope for what He will yet do.

In the fellowship of believers, sitting there with people I have known and shared so much of this faith journey with for so many years, I stood…still hanging on to that rock that fit so comfortably in my fist. 

And as we sang, I realized that somewhere along the way the pain has become such a part of me that I just assumed I had to hold on to it. 

I set the rock down on the pew and raised both my arms. 

I will have a choice to make in the days ahead when a photograph or a comment from someone triggers the feel of the weight of it once again, for most assuredly that temptation will always be there. 

I will have to choose if I will draw it close to my chest and hold on to it or lay it down. 

I pray I will remember His faithfulness.

The stone I laid down will be a reminder of the Rock I lean on. 

That all stones…all sins…those against me and those I have made against others… are laid down at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ…

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shem, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”   1 Samuel 7:12  <3