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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Compassion Sunday

One of my prayers for Spring Break was that God would speak clearly during this time. That it would be a time free from clutter where I could hear His voice and grow a little. In an attempt to help facilitate that I have been on a liquid fast. (I have the worst craving for a good steak!) God is good and in many small ways I feel that I have heard His heart. So far it hasn't been anything huge, just glimpses of things through "God glasses." Nothing that I felt the need to sit and write about.

Until today. Today was Compassion Sunday at First Prez. Wess Stafford, president of Compassion Internation was scheduled to speak at our church. There have been few presidents of companies that I care to hear speak. Great business men rarely make for what I would consider a good speaker - at least on a heart level.

My tears started when Sonya began to sing a song about a Somalian woman. The song was accompanied by a video presentation. The Mr. Stafford stood up to speak. He spoke of growing up on the mission field and how everything he knew about how to run an international company was learned around the campfires of that small, poor village. He spoke of poverty as if it were a person or spirit working to steal hope from people all over the world. The service ended with some of our talented keiki singing. My tears, however, are still near the surface.

There are so few things that Jesus asked us to do. Make disciples. Feed the poor. Clothe the naked. Visit the prisoner. I would venture to say that most Christians spend most of their time focusing on making disciples - if that.

Something else happened Friday that impacted me greatly as well. I went to a Cancer Clinic to pray with patients. One of our members is a radiologist in the clinic and they advertise that there will be healing prayer for those who need encouragement each Friday. I heard about it for the first time on Friday and decided that I needed to go. Our shift was only for 45 minutes and we spent most of that time with one woman. We prayed with her, but God opened the door for us to talk and learn some critical things about her. Things like she moved into a new house just before she was diagnosed with cancer and they began treatment. She is a single mom of 4. She sleeps on a mattress on the floor. They have no microwave in the house and she has felt too week to go to church during her treatment cycle. She felt shame to ask for help and therefore has no one providing meals and/or words of encouragement. God opened the door for us to be able to begin meeting some of this woman's needs.

How many more hurting people must their be out there? And how do we find them? Is it reasonable to expect that we live our lives to purposefully be in certain places at certain times? To try to allow our paths to cross with the hurting? If so, how do we do this?

One of my roommates feels a burden for children in the sex trade. Another one has a heart for the children of Africa. In fact, she is there right now. Trying to do whatever she can to make a difference in their lives. They are my heros. People who refuse to turn a blind eye to what is happening around the world.

Obviously this begs the question, what should I be doing? How do I respond? Contribute? I do have the opportunity to influence a number of children through my job. And I think that is good. But I don't think that is all.

I used to speak a lot in different churches. I have only done this a few times in the past couple of years and may be a bit rusty, but I just can't shake the desire to do just that. I can teach and I can pray. While I do want to see and help first hand as many as possible, my heart is actually in building an army. I long to go to churches, missions, parks, whereever God might lead and share what He has shared with me.

1) God sees you free. From whatever binds you up. God sees you as if you were already free. He knows your potential and longs to work with you to see it come to pass. No matter what your prison, it is not a barrior God can not work through.

2) God sees others free. As we learn to walk in freedom, God calls us to see others through His eyes of freedom. To see the potential hidden within. To love no matter the cost or the loss. He wants us to become vessels for His freedom.

3) God longs to empower us to be those vessels of freedom. On our own, there is little we can do. But if we learn to allow God's power to flow through us, there is nothing we cannot do.

So how do I combine those desires? How do I live in an intentional way? How do I communicate these things to my kids? How do I incorporate these values into teaching music? How do I organize my life so that the most important things do not get left out?

I am rambled out for today. Feel free to share your thoughts on any number of items I rambled on about today. :-)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Life As a Story

Tonight my pastor, Jordan, introduced a new sermon series. It centers around our stories, not necessarily our life stories but rather stories we have gathered throughout our lives. The series sounds quite interesting and I am looking forward to hearing these stories.

In his message, Jordan mentioned that a good story is full of unexpected turns, pain and suspense. He then asked us if we were interested in having our lives be a "good story." It got me thinking. You see I feel like God has been challenging me lately with the question, "How is your life different than it would be if you were working at a Mission Station in a foreign country?" "What things would you be doing there that you are not doing here?" etc.

I have stories to tell, but things have been rather comfortable since I started teaching in September. I have a couple weeks off to think and pray (among other things.) Maybe God will have inspired me with new ways to get out of the "comfortable zone" by the time it is over.

One theme that has repeated since I was in college is a faith-based Family Life Center. It has never come to pass. But I wonder if one day God will open the door. I don't really see it as being for families, but rather a place for Family to grow - not necessarily related by blood. :-)

And then this Friday I was reminded that our island is limited in what it has to offer children with learning or behavioral difficulties. Hmmm. More to chew on.

Who knows where God will lead.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Happiness Is . . .

I was getting ready for bed tonight and a song I learned as a child was running through my head.

"Happiness is to know the Savior
Living a life, within His favor
Having a change in my behavior
Hapiness is the Lord."

I had to chuckle. The first couple of lines are okay, but the third one made me laugh. "Having a change in my behavior" Wonder if it was written by a frustrated parent or Sunday School teacher? hehe

Monday, January 22, 2007

General Update 1/21

As I entered the date, I realized that I put a REALLY wrong date on my tithe check today. I think I dated it January 16. Did I miss a week somewhere? Apparently.

So what is happening with me? Well, we have started the 3rd quarter at WNA. It should be a fun quarter as I am attempting to teach instruments to all my classes. Kindergarten and 1st grade are learning to read rhythm cards. They did quite well with the quarter notes and rests. This week I will throw half notes and rests into the mix and see how they do. By the end of the quarter they will be playing basic rhythm instruments. 2nd and 3rd grade are playing glockenspiels (I never spell that word correctly, but it is German and means "strike the bells.) That is fun. For them it is fun to get to hit something and make noise. For me it is fun that they are reading musical notes to know which bells to hit! 4th and 5th grades are playing the dreaded recorders. Their parents will love me this quarter! 6th grade is playing the ukulele, which is the most interesting class since I myself really don't know how to play the ukulele. I am picking up tips here and there and trusting that my violin and guitar experience pays off! 7th and 8th grade are practicing reading notes using a variety of instruments and the music to one of the songs for our Spring Worship Musical. We are only two weeks into the quarter, but I am happy so far.

I have been absolutely inundated with dreams as of late. I try to journal them in the morning. Sometimes they are vivid and clear, but not always. I wake up with them in my head, but sometimes I am just so tired I fall back asleep. By the time I wake in the morning, those ones are pretty much gone. I know we all dream every night, but it is interesting to have such a long span of remembering my dreams each night. My roommates and I joke that I must get more REM sleep than anyone I know. Sauni believes that sometimes I fall into REM sleep even when I am awake! hehe

I have also had many reminders of how many lost and hurting people there are in the world. People who are desperately searching for something that makes sense. Something that will set them free from the hell that they have been living. It has certainly given a bit of an edge to my prayer life. :-)

Sauni, Becca and I are settled in our new place. We haven't had a house warming yet. Guess we will need to plan one soon. It has a beautiful view from all sides. I wake up each morning looking out on the majestic Koolau mountains. I refuse to put a curtain on that window!

I have decided not to come home for Spring Break in March because I want to work a bit an try to save up some money for traveling this summer. I would still like to travel up the Pacific Coast Hwy. For those of you who live in that area, I would love some tips on cheap, yet clean places to stay along the way. I am also interested in finding info on any ministry groups that meet along the way. I would love to visit as many ministries as I can - churches, small groups, missions, shelters, whatever. I am working on finding a way to visit family in Iowa (and possibly friends in Colorado) before I come back to Hawaii. I am guessing this will all happen in June.

Well, it is 12:15am and I am out of things to say. So I will sign off for now. Be Blessed!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Power Equation in the Exodus

For those of you who have never heard it, my pastor (Jordan Seng) has come up with something called the Power Equation to explain how we get power to do miracles.

Quick lesson: Gifting + Faith + Unction + Annointing = Power for Miracles
Gifting refers to your God-given spiritual gifts, Faith is a collective faith of those around when you are trying to work the miracle, Unction is basically dying to flesh so the Spirit can move freely through your spirit and Annointing, well, it is Annointing, but it is pretty much a result of our obedience to God.

If you would like to know more about this teaching, I would encourage you to go back to my website and listen to Jordan's teaching "Introduction to the Supernatural." (If that is not the title of the teaching it is close.)

As I was reading in Numbers Saturday, I was bothered by some of the things I read. The moments in the Old Testament where God seems to waiver back and forth as if He doesn't know what He is about to do bother me. Why would an all-powerful, all-knowing God waiver?

Well, this weekend, I read Numbers 14 in light of the Power Equation and saw things in a whole new light. If the power equation was true in Jesus day and is still true in our day, then it was probably true back in Moses's day. For reasons that can be debated later, God has chosen to work through the above-mentioned things to work miracles. Granted, there may be exceptions when God simply steps in and does things on His own without any of the other things, but generally with humans he tends to work that way.

Reading through the Exodus story, we find it full of miracles. God's presence is with them in a very visual way. They miraculously have food provided for them each day, seas part for them, water comes out of rocks for them, poisonous snake bites are cured, etc. I imagine that the Isrealites needed to possess some type of the Power Equation for things to work the way God planned. Especially when it came time to enter and take the promised land.

So, let's look at Numbers 14.

The Isrealites have been whining and complaining for much of the time they have been traveling in the desert, but here we hit an award winning lack of faith. Moses has sent 12 spies into Canaan to check things out. 10 out of the 12 come back with nothing but tales of future gloom and doom if they try to enter this land. Unfortunately the Isrealites believe the gloom and doom instead of Joshua and Caleb's words of hope and faith. They go into mourning and plot to go back to Egypt. Again.

So, let's inventory their faith equation. Let's rate each item on a scale of 1-10.

Gifting - 10 I am giving them a full score here because the Holy Spirit hadn't fallen like in New Testament times and I figure since the gifting is completely from God anyway, He can provide all he needs for the Isrealites to perform miracles.

Faith - 0 I am afraid I can not give points for Caleb and Joshua when the rest of the Isrealite camp is so faithless.

Unction - 0 These people are quite consumed with things of the flesh. Again, Caleb and Joshua are exceptions, but I don't see any dying to the flesh happening in the rest of the camp.

Authority - 0 The nation is going directly against what God told them to do. I give them a 0 in Authority.

They did not score very well.

Now, you may still think I am a bit crazy for going down this road, but stay with me just a little longer and watch what God does.

In verse 11, God says to Moses, "How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?" Then God tells Moses that He will strike them all down and give him new people to lead into the promised land.

Do you see what God commented on? What got him to the point of finding new people to use? It was lack of faith. God is basically saying, "Why do you still not believe?! I have done everything to show you my presence and offer you hope. Why do you stilln not believe?"

Moses goes on to plead with God using the arguement that the Egyptians will just think that God was not able to bring His people into the land He promised so he slaughtered them.

Contrary to what some may say, I don't think that arguement did much to change God's mind on anything. I doubt He cared how much power the Egyptians thought He had. (I don't think that He would want to be known as a God who slaughtered His people, but that is another story.)

God doesn't interrupt at this point, so Moses goes on, "The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion." He goes on for a few more sentances, ending with a plea for God to forgive the people.

The first thing God resonds with is, "I have forgiven them as you asked." Notice that God did not say, "I will forgive them as you asked." Moses's arguement was not what caused God to forgive. Rather it is almost like God is taking that fear off the table. "Don't worry about forgiveness. That has already been done." God's forgiving - or not forgiving them - did not seem to be the problem. God seems to address that first off and then shove it to the side. "They are forgiven, no worries. Now let's get to the real problem."

This is where God tells Moses that none of the people over 20 will live to enter the promised land except for Joshua and Caleb. I find it interesting to see that God refers to Caleb in this way, "My servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly." Unction and Annointing, anyone?

Toward the end of this part of the story, the original 10 spies who were messengers of gloom and doom, the ones who caused everyone else's faith to plumet, had to be killed. I don't see this as an outpouring of God's wrath, but rather a type of insurance that they will no longer be able to kill the faith of this people. In fact, the death of the men in and of itself appears to sire faith in the people.

Maybe, just maybe, God is working to stack the deck for more miracles in their midst. I am anxious to read through the rest of the Exodus story with this in the back of my mind.

And just a side note - I don't think God did change His mind. He didn't strike down the entire nation with a plague, but He did strike down the instigators - AND he did raise up a new nation, at least from one perspective. He literally raised them up from childhood. And as I stated before. I don't think God forgave the people because of Moses's petition. I think God had already forgiven them. I do believe that Moses's petition showed faith in who the LORD is and in His character. A nice "faith statement" for God to latch onto.

So, those are my thoughts. Yours?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

1/6 Thyroid Biopsy

So I finally got the results of my thyroid biopsy. Guess what? Not conclusive. Apparently they either did not get enough tissue or the tissue was not good enough for them to use for the biopsy. Go figure! Thankfully, the surgeon said that, really, those findings still back up what he suspected. Apparently the non-cancer kind can be rather stingy at giving up pieces of themselves. So, I don't have to redo the biopsy. Yeah for that. However, I do have to go back to having checks every six months for a while. Oh, well. The ultrasound guys at Kuakini are friendly enough.

So, all things considered, not a bad outcome. Although one would think that the least the could do after having put a needle in my thoat multiple times would be to give me a for sure all clear! Ah, well. That has never been the way with my body. It likes to keep the mystery alive . . .

Hope you all had a great first week of 2007!

12/25 Merry Christmas

It is the evening of December 25th and I finally have a few moments to send out a Christmas Greeting. I hope that you all had a blessed day today, but more so I hope that you have found yourself blessed in general.

Some of you may know that Friday night I got sick with the flu and I was supposed to fly out on Saturday afternoon. I wasn't sure if I would be able to get on the plane (and stay in my seat!). I even called to see if I could postpone my flight, but no deal. So Becca helped me pack and took my sick self to the airport. I was sore and uncomfortable, but I was able to make the trip uneventfully. There has been a crowd at Mom's ever since I got home, just as I knew there would be. Lots of commotion, but it is good commotion. Last night we went to the Christmas Eve service at my sister Donna's church, Trinity. It was a beautiful service and I remember thinking that, even feeling junk, I was grateful for the opportunity to be with family and to have a few minutes to reflect on why I celebrate Christmas in the first place. An old song entitled, "Through It All" ran through my head.

The tag goes,

"I thank God for the mountains,
And I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms
He brought me through;
For if I'd never had a problem
I wouldn't know that He could solve them,
I'd never know what faith in God could do."

I don't always appreciate the storms. I don't like fighting to move forward in the face of a body that feels junk or emotions that are down or situations that seem hopeless. But each time that I see God come through, my faith grows stronger. It doesn't mean that God solves every problem immediately or that He keeps me from them in the first place. It does mean that He always has my back. He pushes me just past where I am comfortable and after I go, He swoops in and puts together the things I was sure would fall apart forever.

Believing past what I can see. This Christmas I am celebrating that I serve a God who is big I am allowed to believe past what I can see. I need to research this myself, but I have been told that God had been silent (at least in the eyes of the Jewish people) for approx 400 years before the birth of Christ. Can you imagine how amazing the news of "God with us" must have sounded after such a long silence?! For generations Jews were asked to believe what they could not see.
I hope that you all find a few minutes of time to reflect on whatever God lays on your heart this Christmas season. "God with us." Yeah!

11/14 Still Without a Voice

Kind of sounds like a political cause or something, doesn't it? hehe But it is true. I am well into day 4 without a voice and I am about to go buggy! :-) Over the weekend it wasn't too difficult to keep quiet, but now that I am in school it is more difficult. Partly because I teach music. Partly because I just have a lot to say and now it all has to build up inside of me. If I don't get my voice back soon, my head just might explode from all of the information that is not coming out of my mouth.

Makes me wonder, hhhmmmmm. Is this the only way God could get me to shut up? If so, what might he be teaching me through this stuff? To listen? To hold my tongue? To allow Him to work while I sit by quietly and trust? Surely God wouldn't need to teach me any of those things!! hehe

And this is a good time to learn. There is a lot of struggle at work right now. I kept wondering what was wrong with me. Everytime we would get together to pray for Nightlife community, I couldn't get my mind off of the school. I think now I might see why. For confidentiality reasons I can't say much, but it is like the entire school has been thrown into the fire - and it is hot! I am one of two teachers without a voice and we are probably among the best off right now. Sitting quietly and praying quietly while I am watching all of this going around me is certainly a challenge.

Anyway, I need to go teach, but thanks for letting me "talk" with you all for a while! :-)

10/16 Hawaii Welcomed Me Home with a Bang

I think most of you on the mainland already received the word that all is fine in Hawaii - and those of you who live here, well, you already know as well.

Christmas Break was just a tiny bit stressful with all of the surprise adventures I got to experience on the side. Some of the adventures I knew about in advance, the whole issue of my grandparents in the nursing home and auctioning off their things, for example. I was also pretty sure I would make my first post-Jay visit to Kansas City and it was a given that my emotions would be stirred. I wasn't expecting my neice, Holly, to have emergency surgery nor my sister to elope, nor my Grandma to act out badly enough for them to have to put her in the dementia ward. I would like to say that I didn't expect to be greeted my first morning back with an earthquake, either, but that is not completely true.

I needed to run just a few errands after I arrived home from the airport Saturday evening. As I pulled in off the street and began to back into where I would normally park, I felt strange. For whatever reason, I didn't feel clear to park there. Then I stopped and looked through my car, the question, "Is there anything in here that you are not ready to loose?" ran through my head. I didn't even really think it odd at the time. I gathered together everything that might be important and put it into my bag. I did the same thing with my luggage. Anything that I might need, I put together in one place. Usually it takes me a week or two to completely unpack, but Saturday I just felt the need to do it all. I finally thought about the weirdness of what I was doing, and wondered if we were going to have a flood or windstorm of some sort. I fell asleep knowing that something would be different in the morning, but not exactly sure what.

After active dreams (Denise I will email you the gist of them as most of them concerned you - don't worry, they weren't bad!) I woke up around 5am and drifted between this world and the twilight world until my rude awakening around 7:07am.

After the initial shaking, I went and stood in the doorway to Kate's bedroom and asked her, "Did I just experience my first real earthquake?" Before I finished my question the rolling part of the quake started. That was a weird sensation! Once it finally passed, I checked the radio stations and just as I realized that none of them had live coverage, our electricity went out. Silly me, when I get nervous, I have to go visit the restroom - which is exactly where I was when the 6.0 aftershock hit. hehe (I later found out that one of Kate's friends on the Big Island had his toilet blow up. Yikes! I am glad that mine didn't!)

The loss of cell phone coverage freaked us out for a few minutes as we pondered the possibilities - Were we bombed? Did Mauna Loa blow? Was this just a run of the mill earthquake?

Well, by now everyone knows that we had a 6.7 earthquake, followed by a 6.0 aftershock and many other smaller movements of the earth. Most of Oahu has electricity, although our neighborhood does not. I am typing this from school. It has been overcast for the past couple of days and today it is raining pretty good. Other than that, there is a lot of cleanup happening on the Big Island and, obviously, we still have some cable and electricity issues, but nothing major.

I really need to get to work, but I thought I would send a shout out to those of you who might be wondering what is happening down here.

Pacific Coast Hwy Trip

Been thinking a lot about this summer and possibly traveling. I am thinking about the possibilities of taking a trip along the Pacific Coast Highway, with a possible detour through Colorado (major detour!) I am thinking a two week trip. Anyone interested?? Thought it might be kind of fun with a group. Let me know if you think you might be interested. It would probably be in June or early July while the bulk of us are out of school.