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Craig and I returned home on Sunday night after a 10-day trip to Asia to teach a program about discipleship. We had a glorious trip. The trip required 16 hours in the air and involved 3 different airports and layovers. The whole team was upgraded to Business Class for the 2 hour leg. How kind of the Lord!

Craig and I continued on a fast train for 2 hours to reach our city.

For the next four days we were poured out in ministry, teaching, speaking, encouraging, and a ministry that we believe can be used by the Lord to radically change their county. We stayed in a wonderful guest room located inside the classroom.

We had a great group of students. Leaving our precious group was messy and emotional. Precious faces leaned up against the van windows. Hands were extended and then pressed on the window as we prepared to pull out and head to the airport. We left Asia with this group lodged in our hearts! An eight-hour delay at the airport proved to be a let-down after the great spiritual high we have been on, but we hunkered down, nibbled on Raman noodle meals, crackers, and Sprites. We got Oreo for dessert-so who can complain? Late that evening the weather cleared we were finally boarded. Weary travelers we, we crawled on the plane and headed to Beijing to reunite with our team members at 2:45 in the morning.

Several days of sightseeing and re-entry lead up to the trip home. We took a subway around the city.

Us and about 2 million other people.

We toured the Llama Temple.

And saw the prayer wheels. Worshippers of the Dahli Lama spin the wheel as they prayer, signifying their prayers have been spun up into the presence of their deity. 

On Sunday morning we boarded a plane to begin the trip back to the States. Sixteen hours on a plane and a trip across the international date line two times in 10 days causes unbelievable jet lag. Not just the fatigue from the trip, not the emotionally poured out passion for the people, not the spiritual power that has been expended, but a kind of physically crippling fatigue that sucks every ounce of energy out of you and makes you to lay down and assume the fetal position.

If you have never travel across the international date line, you will not understand this post. We arrived in Memphis on Sunday night. Good friends picked us up and whisked us out for a good old fashion hamburger at Red Robin. We tried to give them the highlights of the light as we recounted the many ways the Lord moved on our behalf. Sleep that night was hard to come by. I unpacked us, starting the laundry, and tried to process all we had done and seen.

Odd sleep patterns emerged. Sitting still for any length of time generally resuled in a unscheduled nap. The thirteen hour difference in time zones causes days and nights to become mixed up and time begins to merge into one big old confusing state of affairs. As the week drug on, the jet lag worsened for me. Sadly Craig had to go out of town on Wednesday for business. He returned today (Monday). I am glad to have my man home - jet lagged and all!

He recovers from these mega trips much better than I do. I just accept the fact that I will spend much of the first week home, asleep. I will sleep in the daytime. I will sleep in the nighttime. I will sleep. Now on Sat. we were celebrating Baby Grayson's birthday. He turned 2 years old! The party was at 3:00. I was to pick up my mother at 2:00 and drive her to the party. Craig would have to miss it due to his business trip. Bummer. I hated it for Craig but I would not miss it for anything!

On Friday night I slept a total of 3 hours. From 2:00 on I was wide awake. Around 6:30 I went out for a walk on our property for about 45 minutes. I came in drenched in sweat. I decided a short nap would feel great before I got cleaned up and went to he birthday party. I took my cell phone and laid it in the bed with me, but decided to turn off the ringer. It was 9 in the morning. I had 5 hours before the party so I did not think about setting my alarm. I dropped into outrageously sweet sleep.

The next thing I remember is hearing my friend Ray-Ray and her husband, Roy, "Jean. Jean. Are you in here? Are you okay?" I was SOUNG asleep, deep in some happy place far far away, but I was being called back by my friend's familiar voice. I grabbed my glasses and stumbled into the den. "Hey guys," I responded with enthusiasm. Ray said, "We have been worried about you. It's 5:50!" "In the morning?" I queried. "No," Ray responded empathically. "It is 5 in the evening and you missed the baby's birthday party. You mother is worried sick. We came over to check on you. I had a bad feeling about this. I knew you would never miss Grayson's birthday party unless something really bad had happened. We went to your back door first to see if there was any sign of forced entry." I could tell my sweet friend had been afraid for me and I know my mother must be beside herself with fear. Craig had been called and he had confirmed I had not shown up at Dawson and Kathryn's house for the birthday boy's party!!!

I am just sick that I slept through the birthday party! In fact I slept for about 7 hours - something I never do at night anymore. All I can say is that the level of stress created by our financial problems produced by the downturn in the economy must have intersected with the jet-lag of a very grand trip. The final result was coma-type fatigue that cannot be explained.

My family was gracious and forgiving, largely because they were relieved that I was okay. But I have had a hard time forgiving myself for missing such an important milestone in my baby grands life. I also regret causing so much angst for my family. It is hard to explain that kind of fatigue that could turn you into a zombie and disorient your sleep patterns, your appetite, and your brain. But it is true. 

The life I live is unbelievable. Simply unbelievable! Seriously. Unbelievable.

Posted: 6/29/2010 2:00:57 AM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

It seems that as believers we are preprogrammed to assume all suffering is God's judgment for sin. Why? Because a God who is defined by the essence of love could not possibly to allow His children to suffer on purpose. Could He? What kind of God would do that? The only conclusion is that sin is always behind suffering.

Well, here's a thought. All sin causes suffering, but not all suffering is a direct result of sin! But it seems to the be natural assumption when we see a part of the body of Christ suffer. We see suffering and we are sure sin is involved. It is the only plausible explanation. Surely the cause is a secret sin, deeply hidden behind layers of facade of spiritual compliance. We conclude suffering in the life of a believer must be the result of personal sin. It has to be. If not we would be forced to accept a part of God's character that we cannot explain. And we believers don't like to venture into such radical thinking. Could a God of love possibly not only allow, but ordain difficult circumstances and - all things - suffering. That does not compute. How could a holy God, a God of love, possibly ordain for HIs child to suffer apart from unconfessed or unidentified sin? We all get uncomfortable with such a notion. If we buy into this spiritual reality, who knows what God might allow to happen to us? If we sell out - I mean really dive in the deep end of spiritual truth - and commit to walk by faith in Christ alone, how can we ever trust a God who might sovereignly decide to send suffering our way, when we are committed to serving Him? No, it is easier and safer to believe that all suffering is the result of personal sin. It is the only logical explanation. Because if a loving God willingly allows His child to suffer apart from sin in order to work His eternal purposes- well that is just too scary to think about. So we retreat and we resort to a God we can explain.

My own belief system in what I believe God will allow in my life has been tested by the recent turn of events in our lives. The economic downturn has devastated our small family business and forced us to make some drastic lifestyle changes. Now this comes at a time when our commitment to walk in practical righteousness and personal holiness is at an all-time high. Many of you reading this do not know me personally so you will just have to take my word for it. But Craig and I are sold-out Christians. And God has used this season of suffering to create a crisis of belief to fine tune my understanding of who He is, and to enlarge our view of Him.

Can I explain it? Not hardly. This is one of the many divine mysteries of the faith that cannot be unraveled with our finite minds. Can I accept it? You bet. I learned a long time ago that faith-walking requires, well, faith - the evidence of things not seen. Do I welcome suffering? No way. No right thinking person would hope for a season of suffering. But I have determined to "thrive" in this season and not just "survive." And through my Father's eyes I see a eternal realities being built into mine and Craig's lives. The knowledge that God is at work in me is quite enough for me right now. I will admit this is radical thinking. And oddly, I think I like it!

So we are preparing this place to be home, sweet, home. The one-car garage is going to become our bedroom.

And this wall is coming down. It will be rebuilt and this will be my office. My desk will sit where this bed is.

And central air and heating is coming.

And these 2 boxers can't wait to move into the new place. All this work is making them "dog tired."

I cannot explain what God is up to but I cannot deny He is definitely up to something. And so we walk - at times on shakey legs of faith - with the King of Kings!

Thanks for walking with us. Blessings.
Posted: 6/25/2010 11:37:40 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

Our God is BIG. He refuses to be confined by our lack of vision or small-mindedness. He says, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa. 55:9). He simply cannot be contained. He is not required to explain Himself or include us in a divine dialog about His purposes or plans. Paul wrote, "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor" (Rom. 11:34).

God delights to do a fresh work in our lives. He longs to see us move out of our comfort zone of our spiritual expectations and do something new. Fresh. Unexpected. Holy. He is often limited by our unbelief. His work is stalled by our indifference or resistance to something we cannot explain by our previous life experience with Him.

At times God violently breaks into our lives and forces something new on us. That is the case with Craig and I. God is up to something fresh and unexpected in our lives. Something new. Altogether new. Shiny. Bright. Brand new. The natural response to a new work of God in our lives is cowering resistance. New is scary. It speaks of unchartered waters and few of us initially wade out into it without a bit of trepidation. So we start trying to "manage God", deflating His new work before it becomes a full blown eruption of the life we had become accustomed to. Because He knows our hearts and discerns our motivation, He either presses the trials associated with the new adventure or He retreats, recognizing our refusal to follow is not only premeditated but permanent.

As Craig and I sense a fresh work of God in our lives - complete with pain, fear, and trembling - we are earnestly making an effort to embrace it. Not because we are glutton for punishment, but because we knew these difficulties flow from the hand of God. We were convinced behind the trials and tribulations that we cannot explain, unravel, or understand, stands our God. And He was casting His shadow of grace over us.

In Mark 2:22 Jesus said, "No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one put new wine into fresh wineskins." Simple logic dictates that we do not attempt to put a fresh work of God into our old ways of thinking about Him. If we persist in doing things "the way we always have" the fresh breath of God's new work in our lives will be dissipated and lost. He wants to expand our view of Himself, enlarge our vision, and encourage the development of faith-walking spiritual disciplines.

God is doing a new work. We are desperately trying to put the new wine of His new work into His fresh revelation of who He is and what He has for Craig and I.

Thanks for joining on us in this new work of God in our faith-walk. I need to warn you if you continue on this journey with us. God will not let you merely stand on the sidelines and marvel at the many new ways He has orchestrated to thrash our nest without putting you to the test. He is in the business of preparing His bride, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless (Eph. 5:27). 

And did I mention this new work comes with a lake?

Posted: 6/24/2010 8:46:09 AM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

We just got home from the cottage. I have 5 little pots of paint to sample on the walls. I loved each one of the colors but not sure which one to use for the cottage. But we got some great samples!! I will write down all the names I have tried in another post. But we are making progress and at every turn we are sensing the loving heart of our Heavenly Father.

Getting the things moved over was the first step.

A heavy cleaning was in order.

This one car garage will be our future bedroom.

We moved out lots of stuff and gave the little cabin a good cleaning.

Slowly a darling cottage is emerging. Thanks for all the prayers and encouragement. I will post about the final paint choice when I decide, but I am starting to think of this new place as HOME SWEET HOME.
Posted: 6/23/2010 11:18:41 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

Personally I love routine. I find comfort in routine living. No changes.No surprises. No learning curve. But God is up to something new in our lives. New can feel threatening — uncomfortable even. Even if the normal meter of our life is full of pain, we often find comfort in the calming effect of the routine nature of it. I love routine. Consequently, ever since I have known the Lord, He has kept  me in a continual state of flux. He is well aware of the devastating effect the rythum that routine has on me. Routine causes me to  become complacent, spiritually dull, and saturated with "sameness." 

The Box
Whether we want to admit it or not, all of us put God in a box to one degree or another. I am as guilty as anyone. For me it is more of a sub-conscious habit. I believe I know God and how He responds to His children when they respond to Him or when they rebelliously resist His grace. So I put Him in a box. A BIG box to be sure, not a box nonetheless. We all do it. In our box we put our preconceived notions, our understanding of God, our spiritual training and teaching, our denominational belief system, our family's pre-programing, and our limited life experiences. We neatly arrange our belief about God, who He is and how He operates in the lives of believers and unbelievers, in our box.

Enter God and His "New Thing"
We put God in a box. Then we put the lid on and carry it around like our leather bound Bibles. We keep our box shut so we don't lose any of our notions about God. We refuse to even entertain the idea that God might act in someway that is outside out box. (Obviously I am not talking about doctrinal error or anything that violates God's divine revelation in His Word). And if we feel threatened by a "new thing"  — a new work of God, we tape the lid securely shut and say things like, "God's never done anything like this before" or "We've never done it this way before." We balk at change so as we dig in our heels and wrap our arms around our precious box.

When God recognizes we have put the lid on our box, there is has only one option for Him to pursue in the lives of those who are living faith with intention and endurance. He is forced to turn the box over and shake it rather violently.

Shaken, Not Stirred
Craig and I are having our world shaken badly. Our crisis of belief is forcing us to cling all the more to the revelation of Christ through His Word and the reality of Christ through His Spirit. Shaken, but we are STILL STANDING. I don't want to sound cavalier about God's "new thing" in our life. It has not been without pain and apprehension which has produced some tears, some anxiety, and some sleepless nights. But underneath it all, we are not afraid to be shaken. And shaken badly. Rattled. Uprooted. Thrashed. Disturbed and even distressed. Why? Because God makes all things new (Rev. 21:5). Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Cor. 5:17).

Enter Jesus Christ
I have discovered this new simple truth: When my world is rocked, I realize my Rock is my World!

Posted: 6/23/2010 6:54:53 AM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

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