Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Unmerited, Undeserved Favor

I've shared a story, "He Owns the Cattle on a Thousand Hills,' not too long ago. It is an article about how I had prayed for a leather couch set for my home and how the Lord provided it. Sounds simple, and actually it is rather simple for God, who owns everything, to give away a leather couch set, but for me it was much more complex.

The God of the universe heard my prayer. My silly, little prayer for a couch set for my family. I prayed and then surrendered the thought because I even realized how absurd my prayer was when their are missionaries, the lost, and the dying around the world who need God's hope.

I let it go...
I moved on...
I didn't pray for the leather seats again.
Two days later the Lord spoke to my heart. "Today you'll find your couches." I still cry thinking about it. Why me? Why does He love me? I've never known such love before knowing my God.

Fast forward to this summer. My daughters are getting bigger and their room seems to be getting smaller. The girls and I realized that we needed to do some purging, but when all was said and done, still the room was small. Then I had an epiphany! Why not get rid of the two dressers in the room and somehow get one large, tall dresser for them to share. My girls loved the idea. I told them to begin to pray.

Monday morning my daughter said, "Mom, today is the day." We drove just a few blocks and sitting there waiting for us was the dresser.


I cried.
What else does one do when the Lord Himself presents you with an answer to prayer? How else do you respond to the awe and amazement to such a loving God?

With much excitement, squeals and bubbling over of emotions, we got to work. Cleaning out drawers, purging more clothes, cleaning the new drawers and setting up the girls room. My daughters and I are still in shock and one of my boys each day has commented on how much God loves us. BUT if that wasn't enough love from God, He decided to go even further.

Two days later, after the house was settling down, I realized that some of the drawers looked a bit empty. The girls have grown, and we have given away the clothes that were too small, but there was not much left for them to wear! Shopping day was upon us. I told the children that we could only get a few things each. Our first stop was to our local thrift store. We walked around the store and found some great deals.

We stood in a long line of customers, and as my turn in line came up, I gathered my items and put them on the counter. The cashier, with tears in her eyes, looked at me and tried to hand me money. I  was so confused. I explained that it wasn't my money, but still she reached over the counter and tried to place it in my hands. I tried to refuse again, but she said, "The gentleman before you in line told me to tell you that he wants to pay for your things today." The children and I looked up and around and could not find him. I looked out to the parking lot and there was no one there. I looked back at the cashier and began to cry. She smiled and just began to ring up my items. The children were bouncing up and down, and yet all I could do was cry. Tears streamed from my eyes.

"Why, Lord, do you love me so?"

When the total came, a lady who was in an aisle looking for clothes for herself, came up and handed the cashier a coupon for 25% off my total bill of sale. I didn't ask her. I hadn't even noticed her before she came up to us. Then, I saw the red digital amount come up on the screen of the cash register and it was the exact amount of money the man gave to me...

What do you do when the God of the universe pours out His love on you?
I'll tell you...
You tell the world about Him.
It has nothing to do with me. It's not my prayers. It's not a strong faith. It's simply my God, my Father, who adores His daughter. He loves me for no other reason, than the fact that I am His and He wants to bless me.
HE is Good!
He is Love!
HE is my Daddy! and I love Him so! 

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Fears, Corrie ten Boom's Strength

One day as I laid on my bed, curled up with a book, written by Corrie ten Boom, tears began to stream from my eyes and dampen my pillow. I could not stop reading and the tears would not stop flowing.

"I could feel Betsie's bony hand touching my face. It was pitch-black in Barracks 28 where seven hundred other prisoners were asleep. Each day hundreds of women died and their bodies were fed to the ovens. Betsie had grown so weak, and we both knew that death was always moments away.

"Are you awake, Corrie?" her weak voice sounded so far away.
"Yes, you wakened me."
" I had to. I need to tell you what God has said to me."

"...God showed me, " Bestsie said, "that after the war we must give to the Germans that which they now try to take away from us: our love for Jesus."

Bestsie's breath was coming in short gasps. She was so weak, her body wasted away until there was nothing but her thin skin stretched over brittle bones. "Oh, Betsie," I exclaimed, "you mean if we live we will have to return to Germany?"

Betsie patted my hand..."Corrie, there is so much bitterness. We must tell them that the Holy Spirit will fill their hearts with God's love."  (Tramp for the Lord, Corrie ten Boom: page 39)

The tears filled my eyes so that I could no longer read. As I put the book down, wiped my tears, I cried out to God, "I'm too afraid to go alone." I was not crying because Corrie and her sister Betsie were in Ravensbruck, Concentration Camp during World War II. My eyes did not create tears of amazement over Betsie's unconditional love for God and even her tormentors. I cried because I knew that as Betsie said those words to Corrie, they believed they were both going to live and travel together sharing the love of Jesus with the world. But Betsie died a few days after she spoke her God given vision to Corrie. Corrie lived. She was freed from the concentration camp. She returned home to an empty house, reminded that her family was killed by the Germans in the camp. She took hold of Betsie's vision and traveled the world alone for thirty years humbly sharing the precious love of Jesus with anyone who would listen.

I cried because I couldn't do it. I laid there thinking how afraid I would be to be all alone.
No father. No sisters. No home.
Only Jesus and a vision.
Could I obey?

"Now my father was dead. Only my Heavenly Father remained. I ran my hand over the door, letting my fingers explore the cracks. It was no longer my hiding place. Others lived here now, and the world was my classroom, and my only security came in knowing that underneath were the Everlasting Arms. How thankful I was for my Heavenly Father's strong hand around mine." (Tramp for the Lord, Corrie ten Boom: page 32)

"Thank you, Jesus, that I am alive," I said,
In my heart I heard Him reply, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." (Matthew 28:30).
I stayed there for long minutes as the hands on the face of the cathedral tower pealed forth once again, this time with the sounds of Luther's famous hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." I listened and heard myself singing the hymn, not in Dutch, but in German: "Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott."
"How like You, Lord, "I half-chuckled, "that You would remind me of Your grace by letting me hear a German hymn."
A policeman passed, looked at me, and spoke a friendly word.
I said, "Good-night, Policeman. A mighty fortress is our God. "
I was free."   (Tramp for the Lord, Corrie ten Boom: page 33)

I cried thinking about Corrie going home to Holland to see her empty childhood home. Her father, sister and relatives all dead. She was alone. Alone for the first time in her life. Alone with a vision planted in her heart by her sister who was no longer with her. I cried thinking about how sad, lonely, afraid she must have been, and yet, she moved. And yet, she stirred. And yet, she obeyed.

My own fears have crippled me many, many times. I think, "There is no way I could have traveled the world alone especially when Bestie's dream had been the two of them side by side sharing the Gospel." People have told me how brave they think I am. People have told me that I am a woman who can do anything I set my mind to. I have even been told how courageous I am. But I just laugh. I am afraid of my own shadow! The only times, and I mean the absolute only times, that I have forged through my forest of fears and completed a task was simply because I was convinced that God had asked me to do it. Without God I am nothing. Without God I can accomplish nothing.

I cried thinking, "What if God asked me to travel and spread the Word of God and His love to the nations all by myself?" I really do believe I would obey, but I know too that the fear would be so terribly great and I hated to even think of it. I know God wants me to think  about my fears, put them before Him and deal with them. He may never ask me to travel alone, to speak to large crowds, to love my tormentors, but He wants me ready to if He should ask.

Dear Lord,
My life is in your hands. Make me as clay to be shaped by the Potter. Form me, and change my heart to be ready to follow you and obey you no matter what fears I may have. Deal with my fears. Reveal them and may your perfect love drive them far from my heart. Build in me a stronger faith, a stronger trust in who you are, My Father-A Mighty Fortress. I love you, Jesus.
Your girl,
Ellie


Monday, July 7, 2014

Godly Girls Christian Summer Camp: Forever Christmas

DAY 1
Forever Christmas
is the theme of our camp this year.
Each day we will be focusing on a part of the Christmas story,
learning about it and applying it to our lives.


Here is my team of helpers!


The title for today was:

We read from John 1, 1 John 1 and Acts 13.
We learned that Jesus is the Light and 
He calls us to be a Light to the world.

So, their 'place cards' this year are...
'light' bulbs! 
I painted their name on each one 
and now it is an ornament and memento!



Each girl seemed quite excited to receive one!


We start our morning with our Bible Study time.
Here are the journals I made for the week.



After Bible time is Snack time.
Christmas Tree Brownies!
(We put 'lights' on a real Christmas tree).


Next was Craft Time...
My 'girls' made Pine cone Christmas trees...



and my 'gals' made a Christmas Wreath.
(We put 'lights' on wreaths too).


 In the dining room were my Godly Girls
working hard...



I had two, three year olds working hard too!


and in the kitchen were my Godly Gals.


























and here I am at the end of the day. 
Still smiling! 
God is Good and He is exalted!


Day 2

Today we read about ALL the angels 
that took part in the Christmas story.
The angels said some wonderful things:
"Do not be afraid."
"Your prayers have been heard."
"I stand in the presence of God.'
and we learned that God commands His angels over us
from Psalm 91.

Our theme for today:

Our snack was ANGEL cake, of course!


And our craft today was ANGEL ornaments.
The girls were taught how to sew the angel's dress together.
They did such a great job!



The room before all 15 girls arrived!



The finished product.




My friend, Jody (who helped me out today) and I were so busy
threading needles, making knots and teaching that I didn't 
take one picture of the girls!
Day 3


Today we read about the birth of Jesus.
He is God with us.
We talked about how Jesus came to be with us
and experience all that we go through.
He knows what it is to be poor,
to be rejected as a child and even as an unborn child,
and what it is to have a step-father.
Jesus knows how we feel.
He loves us and welcomes us and 
we welcome HIM!

Our snack was a birthday cake!







After snack we headed straight into Craft time.
Today the girls made shadow box nativity ornaments.




 I gave them the material, some ideas and they got busy.



Even the little ones!




















 The older 'gals' added many more ideas to their ornament. 





Another great day celebrating Jesus!


Day 4

In today's Bible lesson we studied the three wise-men.
I believe their wisdom and understanding that a King was to be
born came from the Holy Spirit. 
Yes, they were wise, but they recognized that 
Jesus, was "born King of the Jews" and worshiped Him.
They had wisdom given to them from the Holy Spirit. 
And so today our theme was...


 Here are my little ones, ready for Bible study time!

Although it is hard to see us all in this photo,
I tried to take a panoramic picture to get us all in-16 girls ready to read the Word of God!


After reading about the Three Kings who gave their treasures to Jesus,
our snack was 'Treasure Chest Cookies!'


And our Craft for the day was to make "Cookies in a Jar."
Treasure chest cookies, of course!
(As the wise men gave presents to Jesus, this craft was made to be given away).

Here are all the supplies.

And here are the girls working to create a gift for someone else.



Older girls helping younger girls.













 The finished product!


I found "wise men" fabric to cover the Treasure Chest Cookie jar 
and Star ribbon to go around it! 





Here are all 16 jars to be given away! 


And here we are! 
I am so, so, so proud of all my Godly Girls and Gals! 
They love Jesus so much. 


Tomorrow is our last day together.
Some of the girls are studying hard to memorize our verse for the week!
I can't wait to surprise those who memorize their Scripture verse 
with a present!



Day 5 

Today our lesson focused on the story of the shepherds.
The angels came to the shepherds and told them that the
Savior has been born for ALL people.
After the shepherds saw everything just as the angels had said,
they went around telling everyone the Good News!
We are called to tell others, welcome others, into the Kingdom of God!


Our crafts for the day were two different kinds of ornaments.










The 'gals' learned how to make a cross-stitched ornament.
It was difficult for some of them to learn, but they got it!







It was an amazing week!
I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to 
touch the lives of these girls with the Word of God. 
A big thank you to all the moms!
See you next summer =D