Saturday, April 27, 2013

Raising Up Foundations

In my last blog I talked about a website called Live58.org.  I found Live58 because they posted an article by the With This Ring founder, Ali Eastburn, on their website.  Here is the link to the post "With This Ring, I... Change the World" (it so clearly explains her heart and gives insight into the ministry... I love it!).

As I have learned more about how Live58 came into being it has brought me back to reading Isaiah 58 repeatedly.  I printed it out and taped it to my mirror in my bathroom so that I can see it multiple times a day.  Usually when I read something over and over different aspects and parts stand out to me at different times.  That is not the case (at least not yet) with Isaiah 58.  I continue to come back to one sentence and that sentence seems to be taking root in me.

"And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
    the restorer of streets to dwell in."  Isaiah 58:12

It is almost strange to me that this is what continues to stand out.  I mean, the whole "share your bread with the hungry" part is pretty awesome but the idea of raising up the foundations of many generations is burrowing deep into my soul. 

I believe so strongly in the ministry of With This Ring that I am volunteering for it on a regular basis now.  What started as a few hours here and there has turned into a passion to serve Jesus through sharing about radical giving.  As I have dwelt on the idea of raising up the foundations of many generations I think about the villages that are receiving a water well through the radical gifts received by WTR.  I think about how it is changing the lives of those living in that village now but how it is also giving potential for the generations to come.  It has literally restored the streets of these villages that were destitute and without hope.  It provides for the widows who would walk miles in order to collect water (which was still usually teeming with parasites).  It provides hospitals with clean water for patients so that they do not leave the hospital more diseased than when they arrived (can you even fathom leaving a hospital more ill than when you arrived due to polluted water?!). I think about the children that will grow up hearing things like "Jesus loves us so much He sent these strangers to our village to bring us water" or "there are others who love Jesus and us more than their own comfort and gold and silver" and it makes my heart smile.  

Then the next layer peeled back and my understanding grew.

Raising up the foundations of many generations is as much (if not more) about those on this side of the equation as it is about those on the other side of the world.  Harriett Tubman said "I freed a thousand slaves but I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves."  This is so true of many of us that live with the abundance of having our everyday needs met.  In many ways we are enslaved and we don't even know it.  We don't seem selfish or materialistic but somehow we find the money to go out to eat multiple times a week (guilty!) or buy new clothes even when we really don't need anything.  Meanwhile there are others dying without their basic needs of water, food, shelter and clothing being met.  I believe that by living out the idea of radical giving, sharing it with others and then watching those people share it with their children that we will truly raise up the foundations of many generations.  I pray that we can become a people that is so enamored with Jesus that the shiny things of this world no longer lure us away.  I pray that as we learn that Jesus is our prize and our treasure that our children will learn that there is nothing in this world that is worth more than following Him.  I pray that the generosity that He stirs in us will only be the beginning and that our children and our children's children will grow up learning and watching what it looks like to give with a grateful heart and then they will go forward and do even greater things.  

I truly pray that we can raise up the foundations of many generations (our own, our communities and those around the world) and restore the streets to dwell in. Please Jesus show us Your path to accomplishing these things for Your glory and Yours alone.

I love you Jesus.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Unexpected Guests

I have so much to catch you up on it isn't even funny.  The last week and a half have literally been a blur.  I attended a Bull Sale for my job and I flew clear across the country to work and speak at a Gala for an amazing ministry.  Where to begin...

As I was packing late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning (I had this great idea to only have a carry on, umm..what?!) I realized that I had 2 stowaways.  My darling little Bug had packed some toys for me in my ridiculously over sized "purse" carry on (yes, I know I was cheating).  What stopped me in my tracks was what she had packed.  In one pocket, laying side by side, was a goat and a lamb.  Immediately my mind went to this story...

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’  Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’  And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  Matt 25:31-46

As I looked at these two little figures in my hands I thought about the ministry I was going to be a part of that started when someone listened to God's tug on her heart and she gave sacrificially.  I thought past the hectic, not sure if I can get out of the door moments and I thought, once again, about the true "WHY" of giving.  Although it is amazing to see little ones rescued from the dangers of dirty water, it is touching to see mothers cry with relief for their family and it is powerful to see whole communities come to life through giving, the why, the real why, still remains that it is all for our sweet Jesus.

If we can quiet the world around us long enough we can hear Him calling to us.

There are so many different ways He says it in the Bible but it all comes back to the same place.  Make yourself a servant, love your neighbor, the least will be the greatest, die daily... Basically give it all up and make Me your prize. Stop trying to be the best, stop amassing for ourselves, actually touch the lives of those around you, give a cup of water, share your tunic, grieve for the state of the world and the child that dies every 15 seconds from diarrhea.

I'm not sure how I had missed it for so long but over the last few months I have been reading the New Testament through and I have to say I was shocked at how clear Jesus makes it. And then if it wasn't clear enough in the gospels James comes through and makes it so clear you can taste it. The Words of Jesus on practically every page of the Scriptures point to the same place. Love God with our whole hearts and give to others. Period. I was so busy picking and choosing the verses that matched my lifestyle and the ones that would assuage my guilt (ahem, the poor will always be with you) that I didn't take the book as a whole. It is abundantly clear. Dangerously clear. Fearfully clear.

I still feel so far from accomplishing these things in my life but I know that God is moving and that He is faithful.  Yes, small things have changed like the way I view shopping and spending.  Some habits have a deeper hold than others (like spending on my child) but even those have the roots exposed now and the ax is being sharpened.

One site that is doing an amazing job of bringing poverty to light (and the goal of ending it) and providing some real stories of others that are working through the struggle and finding ways to impact their world and their family is Live58.org. I highly recommend checking it out.

Are you struggling through any of this too?  Post a comment... share a story...

With a Thankful Heart,
Amy

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Here is a smile for Friday!

Hi!
I thought I would share the picture that I have on my desktop right now.
                            
I just love this face.  Love, love, love!  What a sweetie-pie!  The verse resonates deeply as well!

I am thankful that I have been able to begin volunteering with With This Ring who partners with Living Water  International to make more moments like these possible.  If you would like to learn more about radical giving check out withthisring.org.  I hope his sweet face puts a smile on yours! :)

Happy Friday!

Amy

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Seven Update... Media Free Month

Hi there!

It feels like it has been a long time since I have blogged even though I think it has only been a couple of weeks. I have around 4 drafts that you will probably never see.  Sorry but I think they were really just for me :).  

Normally when I blog it is late at night when the house is quiet and I have a burning passion to share something that God is working on me about.  I hope you know that I share, not because I feel like everyone should be on my path, but because my hope is that in some way it encourages you on the path that you are on.  I also hope you know that I am in NO WAY patting myself on the back.  In fact, usually my blogs are about the ways that God is opening my eyes to my epic failures.  I blog because He is so amazing and patient with me and He is bringing me through these amazing places and I have a heart to encourage you if you are in the middle of something too.  It even feels weird blogging about fasting since the point of fasting is for it to be a hidden, closet event but since most of you really do not know me you cannot give me any glory and I pray that I have shared each step in a way that gives HIM all the glory and honor. Anyway, it is neither late at night nor do I have a burning need to share right now, this is just an update on Seven progress (what's Seven, read here and here) and a desire to chat with you.   

Seven.  Oh Seven, how I mourned (actually shed tears) when I finished this book.  I was trying to read it slowly so that I could digest.  I rarely do that, I usually prefer to swallow a book whole without chewing.  I have always sped read and I know that at times I miss important details because of it.  So, I was purposeful with Seven and I believe that it enhanced the comprehension and retention greatly (I guess time will tell).  I am currently on my Media month fast.  I would have to say that, other than the Food fast, I was pretty stinking worried that this would be one of the worst months.  To me Facebook is the best communication tool in the world.  "Did you know that I just ate Chocolate with Salt in it? Yumm..."  "I am heading to Walmart, pray for me"  "The Bug just _______ (insert any number of adorable things she does in the day)."  I communicate with family that live out of state this way, I follow the posts of precious people with children that are battling for their life on Facebook, I find out what is going to be on the next episode of my favorite show and what my girlfriends are making for dinner on there.  How does one live without that vital knowledge?!  (Does it sound like I am addicted to you?  Ya, I agree.)  So for the Media fast I am doing without Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Fun Blogs, YouTube (I listen to lots of sermons during the day - this is not for silly cat videos, scouts honor), TV shows (other than one that is my quality time with hubby once a week) and Radio/iPod.  I am truly living a quiet life (if possible with a 3 year old) until May 1st.  

Do you know what?  I am a week in and it is FABULOUS.  Just like I have found in the last two months, doing without something that seems like such a part of me opens up lots of space for God to move!  The food month was tough because of how monotonous it was (just eating 7 foods without condiments and only water to drink is boooooring).  However, I learned about the how and why I overeat and that God is truly able to satisfy those deep places of longing much better than great tasting food.  Plus it was a daily reminder to pray for those that would have been thankful for the small food choices I did have.  It really kept my mind on the poor of this world.  The clothing month was difficult only in my need to actually think ahead to make sure my only pair of jeans were clean (insert funny story about the day I had to run out in my hole filled sweat pants and I wasn't supposed to get out of the car until my child told me poop was coming out of her bottom.  Embarrassing moments at Captian D's? Ahh I love being a mom!).  No, seriously I actually loved the fact that my decisions were as simple as "what shirt will I wear today? Oh, the other one."  I also realized that I put a lot of importance on the  jewelry I choose to wear and I try to reflect important things about myself through them.  However, the best way to share (ahem, cross necklace) is to actually talk to someone about my Jesus.  You mean they cannot tell I am a Christian from my bling? Are you sure?  I know, not rocket science, but somehow these things were not as crisp and clear as they are now.  

So back to Media free month.  Yes, I miss getting to see the day to day goings on of my friends and I definitely miss the quick texts that I exchange with my Bestie about our days but I do NOT miss the interruptions.  The need to stop what I am doing and share a picture or thought with the world.  The buzz and dings of my phone going off constantly.  The fact that it takes my eyes off of my little girl and even more so how it takes my eyes off of my Heavenly Father.  Why have I created such an idea within me that everyone needs to know what I am doing all the time anyway?  I think that the view I have of myself is skewed/blown up because I really do feel the need to share everything I am doing.  Ya'll, I am just not that important!  The self aggrandizement snuck in so quietly I didn't realize it was there, really.  God is really shrinking my puffed up self this month and it's a good burn.  I can honestly say I really do not miss the TV that much but I do miss my YouTube and music but even doing without those things for a time feels wise because I can be so busy listening to the things of God that I forget to stop and listen TO God.  

What I love is that this month is falling during a time when I will be out of town for a few days for a very special event.  A ministry that I have started to volunteer with called With This Ring (due to my deep love and appreciation for their mission to share the idea of Radical Giving) has asked me to come be a part of their 2013 Gala.  I will even have a few moments to share from the stage about where God has me in my journey.  I cannot tell you what a blessing it is that I am having a break from the noise of technology so I can focus on the Still Small Voice as I beg Him to give me His Words for these special people.  I would greatly appreciate your prayers for this event.  There are many things that seem to be battling the preparation and I absolutely believe this battle is spiritual.  Please join us in praying against any plans formed against the ministry and for us to honor God in every way possible with this event.  If you are interested in being a part of it or learning more or even donating so that others can attend visit http://www.withthisring.org/to-the-nations-2013-gala/.         

I hope this post makes sense and even somewhere in it you have been encouraged.  The idea of fasting from different things in my life for a month has been a beautifully difficult blessing.  I look forward to repeating these fasts again later in the year and learning even more about myself and my God.  I highly suggest talking to God about what areas in life He may want to prune in you so you can tune in more clearly.  He is faithful to complete the work He is doing in you (Phil 1:6-7) and I am so glad that He is for all our sakes.  Thanks for stopping by and catching up.  I would love to hear what God is doing in your life... feel free to leave a comment :).

With a Thankful Heart,
Amy