Jason & Kara, Thank you

Image courtesy of jenlintsphotography. Kara had sent me some pics about a year ago and this was one of my favorites and how I remember them both. Jason's kind face and Kara's beautiful smile.

Image courtesy of jenlintsphotography. Kara had sent me some pics about a year ago and this was one of my favorites and how I remember them both. Jason’s kind face and Kara’s beautiful smile.

Over the last two years, but most especially in the last couple of weeks, I have been challenged, encouraged, and shaken by the lovely life of two old friends from summer camp, Jason & Kara. (Read their incredible God story here).

I will be forever changed by Kara’s courage.
Her hope in Christ.
Her example of God’s overwhelming grace in her life.
Her flawless fulfillment of the role our Father has given her.
Today’s post is the reflection of the stirring in my soul because of the story of this beautiful sister in Christ and her faithful and loyal husband.

Dear Jason & Kara,
I have been overwhelmed by you and the God story that He has chosen for your lives.

I really don’t think of myself as a person who gets shaken up by much. Because unless someone messes with my husband or children, I just don’t get rattled too easily. But this story – YOUR story, God’s STORY has shaken me to the core.

Our family was out in Colorado Springs in 2013 visiting the Stricklers and Eagle Lake Camp when they shared the devastating news. When we returned home I quickly began to read and catch up on your story and was quickly hooked to your blog. I do have to admit many times I needed to postpone reading in order to muster up the courage to read your hard and truthful words about the reality you were facing.

I prayed.
I cried.
I hoped.
I felt.
I keep reading.
I continue to pray.
And not that it is even my business, but I did ask God, “why?”

“Why Jason and Kara, Lord?
They are serving you the best way they know…planting a church to reach the lost.
They have four little people Lord.
Oh Lord, why the Tippets?”

Then softly He spoke.
And I, slowly began to understand…just a little.

Jason and Kara? I chose them.
I chose this family for this road.
They are being carefully cradled in My Love which is overflowing to others.
“No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you slaves anymore because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father. You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. This is what I command you, LOVE one another.” (John 15:13-17 HCSB)
 I am extending to them, My Peace…that cannot be found elsewhere.
“PEACE I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.” (John 14: 27 HCSB)
Their hard road is elegantly and perfectly wrapped in My Hope to share with those they will touch.

“…and always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the HOPE that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15 HCSB)

Hmmm…
To fill others with His Hope.
To give others His Love.
To show those around them His Peace.
Friends, you both have knocked it out. of. the. park!

The story He has woven into your lives is certainly not one you thought about or would wish for. But its the song He desires you both to sing. And what a tremendously difficult song this is. But wow! Have you both fulfilled your roles.
He knew you could do it.
He knew you were the ones to be His voice through this journey.

You have been His hands and His feet.
You have touched those He wanted you to touch.
You have given His love away to those who needed it.
And none of this comes at no expense to you. For you have learned the price. You have accepted the demands on your lives.

Because, unfortunately, to be a follower of Christ, does not equate “easy life.”
In fact, it requires our complete abandon of our own lives in order to live out His.

Each of our abandons look different and I can not even fathom the cross you both have had to bear, but here is what I know…
Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior.
He has written a beautifully difficult story which many of us have had the privilege and honor to have a small peek into.
Through your story many other stories have been started, challenged and maybe brought into the light…why? because you both have allowed God to invade your heart, soul and minds. You have allowed your lives to be enveloped into His bigger story.

As the end here on earth draws near keep looking to Him.
Continue to look to Him for your words, for your strength, for His peace that passes all understanding. I know you will.
He knew you would.

But just so you know, your story has compelled and shaken me…it has challenged and encouraged me as I know it has many, many others.
And because of this God Story so eloquently written before me and your submission to be used by Him,
I am sharper. I am pruned. I have been changed…for the better.

I will continue to pray for Jason and your lovies, but I will not mourn or pity you.
For that would be dishonoring to you both as well as to our Lord.

However,
I will remember.
I will be changed.
I will choose to have “big love” when its hard or when I think I can’t do it.
I will respond with His Mercy, with His Grace, and with His Love.

Thank you Jason and Kara.
Thank you for sharing a little bit of yourselves.
Thank you for being exactly who our Omniscient God created you to be.
Thank you for being true life examples of what “remaining in His love” practically looks like.
Thank you.
And I look forward to seeing you again, when He carries out His promise and will make “everything new.” Our God is an awesome God.

 

Link We Like: 5 Ways to Fight Entitlement in Your Kids

We all want the best for our children, no doubt. However, somewhere in the messiness of raising and “loving” our children we cross a line to overindulgence. It’s not hard in our culture. In fact, sometimes we are blind to the fact that we give our children their every ask, want, need and desire. In the natural relationship of caring, providing, and fulfilling our task as parents it’s difficult to help our children think outside of themselves, to fight that urge of thinking everything is “mine” and that the world exists to meet every want that is voiced.

It comes quickly friends. Before you know it you have an, “I want it! That’s mine! I need it!” monster on your hands and you sit in surprising awe of the whining/screaming/throw themselves on the floor little person that belongs to you.

So what do you do?
First, you must check the mirror.
How do you act, speak, relate to stuff that you posses or don’t?
Are you being an example to your children?
Are you content with what you have or are you constantly looking on the other side where you think it’s greener?

Today’s post will give 5 more ways you can help this entitlement phenomenon that has plagued your children and mine. Check out today’s Link We Like: Orange Parents.

Choose Jesus

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net / cross and light by geww

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net / cross and light by geww

Matthew 19:16-22 (HCSB)

The Rich Young Ruler

16 Just then someone came up and asked Him, “Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?”

17 “Why do you ask Me about what is good?”[a] He said to him. “There is only One who is good.[b] If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” he asked Him. Jesus answered:

Do not murder;
do not commit adultery;
do not steal;
do not bear false witness;
19 honor your father and your mother;
and love your neighbor as yourself.[c]

20 “I have kept all these,”[d] the young man told Him. “What do I still lack?”

21 “If you want to be perfect,”[e] Jesus said to him, “go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”

22 When the young man heard that command, he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.

If you are like me, it would be easy to read this passage, point our finger, while shaking our heads, judging this “rich young ruler” and thinking, “what a dumb choice he made, choosing riches over following the Master of the universe”. Unfortunately, I think I am more alike to this young man than I think.

The Holy Spirit has a way of revealing our true heart, and as I have read this passage since I was young the Lord over time has shown me my true wicked self.
As an adult, I no longer read it and separate myself.
I no longer read this passage and frown upon his choice. No.
I read these verses and I see what Jesus is trying to explain to me in this short yet complex story.
Greed, covetousness, desire, call it what you will. It’s my sin…pure and simple.
I am the rich young ruler.

In a culture that screams, “YOLO. Have it your way. You deserve the best today. The customer is always right.” It can be difficult to discern on what and where our hearts should rest.
Being natural born sinners it can be difficult to make wise choices with our money, our time, and our thoughts.
In addition, I have four sets of eyes and ears watching and listening to me as I go about my day.
Watching where I spend my time. Watching where I spend my money. Watching what gets me excited and happy.
Listening to the words I use. Listening to how I verbalize my dis-contentedness with what I possess or don’t.
The enemy wants to destroy me…and you.
It would be easy for you and I to get bogged down by these things, because naturally we can’t win this fight by ourselves. The desire for things, more this, less of that, can become overwhelming and cause us to throw up our hands. But don’t give up just yet friends.

You see, Jesus has already won.
After 40 days and 40 nights of no eating, in His weakness, the enemy twisted God’s words and tempted Him with things that for you and me would have been easy to act like Esau, in Genesis, and give up our rights for some lentil soup and bread.
After sweating blood and counting the cost in His human tiredness He still carried out His blood offering of Himself for you…for me.
He has already won.
He has conquered death.
He has victory and in His graciousness has offered it to us.

Yes, you and I will still struggle with being greedy, being selfish, being discontent.
And yes, your children will struggle too.
But instead of being defeated, instead of getting frustrated at your children because they are selfish and egocentric, rather be encouraged.
Remember the man/woman in the mirror, the rich young ruler, and make a better choice than the one he did long ago.
Choose Jesus today.

Link We Like: Marriage on the Edge of Eternity

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.com

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.com

God started the human race with a wedding and He will finish it with one.

Friends, if you are married, its important.
If you are single, its important.
If you are divorced, its important.
Marriage is important.

No matter what status we have on the matter, no matter what we have been through, as believers, we need to uphold the sanctity of the covenant of marriage.

Today we share a link we like by Francis Chan.
Take a few moments and be encouraged and challenged friends.
Check out the link HERE