Ecuador is on my Heart

This week, we had our first official team meeting for our Mission Trip to the Ecuador Coast. We’ll be taking nearly 30 people from Rocky Mountain Christian Church and LifeBridge Christian Church to visit our church families in Tambillo and Limones. My heart is already there…

As we discuss and prep and questions are asked and explanations are made, I can’t stop thinking about the faces of the people I’ve fallen in love with along the coast in Ecuador. And the reason why they are so easy to love is because of how much they love us before we even get there. You see, sponsorship is so much more important than what you realize. The way that they view us, their sponsors, is similar to the way someone here in the states would view a godmother or godfather – we are very important to them. We send our money to help clothe and feed our children there. Sometimes we write our families and do it more out of obligation than relationship. We feel good about ourselves. We’re doing something for “the least of these” and we’re making a difference – we know all this in our heads, but most of the time we don’t really connect the dots to our hearts. I didn’t. Not until I saw Jovany’s family for the first time and he cried because I didn’t bring Collin. Collin is his actual sponsor – the name Jovany always sees on his letters is Collin’s. Our Ecuadorian family also gave us gifts – lots of them. More than we brought for them. They were the most shy family in the entire program, but their hearts communicated so much toward us. It was the most humbling experience I’ve ever had. Last summer, I got to take Collin there so he could meet Jovany. What another amazing experience that was!

These are the reasons why I’m going back this summer. And I would love to be able to go back year after year. The week we get to spend with the families in our churches in Ecuador are some of the most precious weeks of my year and this will be my third year to go. I don’t want to just see all of them, I want to work alongside of them. I want to serve our families there and serve with the leaders there. I want to make sure they understand how much we love them. And now… we have another child there. Her name is Mery and she will see my name on her letters – not one of my kids’ names. She is the first one we’ve sponsored over the years that’s in my name. (Conner, Karis and Collin have always been the “official” sponsors of our children in other countries.) I can’t wait to meet her and get to know her family and watch her grow up and love her the way that Jesus loves me.

I’m coming, Mery. My heart is already with you.

pink-heart-150x100

 

Next Friday, March 4, 2016, Karis and I have a fundraiser for our trip. We’re hosting an event at La Vita Bella in Longmont from 6:30-8:30 pm with Kayla Gilmore – a silent auction, live music and awesome company! If you live local, I would love to see you and talk to you more about our efforts. I love the mission of Compassion International – releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name… And the partnership with Stadia, giving us the opportunity to plant the church where our children’s center resides to serve the community and children there – a beautiful design. It makes my heart soar.

Mercy Triumphs Over Judgement

Music speaks to me. And I know I’m not unusual in this, but music SPEAKS to me – like there are songs that have literally changed my life forever. There are particular songs that have come at certain pivotal times of my life that I’ll never forget – pretty much every 80’s song ever written has an experience attached to it for me. But through my spiritual growth, there have been songs that have changed my trajectory – either in the way I approach life, my identity in Christ or a profound thought or idea that becomes a new filter for me. The latter of the three is what happened to me most recently.

On February 4 I attended a Bethel Worship Night in Denver with my family. I went with anticipation knowing I would meet God there. I had had a rough past few weeks before that with relational tension in a couple of areas of my life and some things that had caused me deep pain and caused me to become self-critical. I was pretty depleted that night… One of the worship leaders started the song “Mercy” on Bethel’s Brave New World album and as she sung, she said this… “Mercy isn’t ‘pity’… Mercy is a replacement for the judgment we place on ourselves. You don’t have the right to judge yourself.” WOAH. WHAT?!? I don’t have the right to judge myself… I don’t have the right to judge others, but I don’t have the right to judge myself either…? I don’t have the right to judge myself. I’m still reeling… I don’t have the right to judge myself. That’s not for me to do. That’s not my place. I don’t have the right to judge myself. And it only creates a critical spirit, a downcast spirit, a broken spirit. It doesn’t allow me to embrace the reality of who I really am. WHO I really am. And I should know better. When my kids make a mistake, that’s the first thing I’ve begun to say over this past year instead of making them feel awful for their choices, I say, “That’s not who you are. That’s not’s who you are. That’s not who you ARE.” Mercy. Mercy replaces judgment. And I need to extend that same mercy to myself. Think about it. If we’re not supposed to judge others…. then, judging ourselves is just as wrong. And mercy isn’t because we’re pitiful, mercy is another gift from the Savior. It replaces the judgment we deserve with the grace that’s delivered. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

I guess I’m a blogger…

God put it on my heart several years ago to start blogging and I let it go… I’m not sure why I let it go other than this is another thing for me to keep track of and keep up with maybe…? So, I pushed it aside. The thing about God is that He doesn’t let things go. If He puts something on your heart, it’s a desire that keeps nudging you. So, here I am – really blogging this time. I’m not an expert on anything and I don’t have any profound A.W. Tozer-mind-blowing-thoughts that will grace the internet. I’m a down-to-earth woman that grew up in the mid-West, has had to grow through a lot of different circumstances and is head over heels in love with Jesus. That’s all.

Based on my career and life experiences, I think I will be posting things that fit into the following categories: inspiration, the real struggles of faith and some things I post may lend toward parenting. We’ll see what God puts on my heart! I plan on posting about once a week. Feel free to give me thoughts to ponder and write about.

More than anything, my prayer is that there will be things that might bless you along your journey. “The LORD gives his people strength. The LORD blesses them with peace.” Psalm 29:11