Preparing the Soil

November 21, 2014
by Janet
1 Comment

Through Their Eyes

Last week, as I watched the weather forecast predict plummeting temperatures in the near future, I decided to take the kids out for what might be one of the last nice days of fall. I had just done a senior shoot the day before and the senior’s mom had recommended visiting Duke Gardens as a potential photo location in the future. I decided I should check it out before I go into hibernation.

One of my old cameras is still in fairly decent shape and I love to let the kids use it. We affectionately call it the “kid camera.” It’s a DSLR, and I love that the individual kids can use it on a setting they are comfortable with. Some use it an auto, some on a semi-auto mode and Alaina, my oldest, loves to practice shooting in manual. It’s fun for me to see them get excited about something I love so much. Even more so, however, I love to see the world through their eyes. Photography has done amazing things in my life. Primarily, it has taught me to be thankful. When you look at the world in front of you and stop long enough to see the beauty, gratitude grows. And gratitude is something I want to pass on to my kids. The world is filled with so much goodness, so much beauty, so many gifts from the Lord. Unfortunately, most people are too busy to even notice. Seeing, stopping, clicking: It makes the heart swell.

As I downloaded their images, I couldn’t help but smile at how they see the world. It was even more fun to try to guess who took each photo (they took turns for the afternoon). When I see the things that excite them enough to capture it on the camera, it gives me insight into who they are and what they find beautiful. And I hope when they look through my photos of their childhood, they will learn about what I find beautiful.

All images taken by Alaina (11), Caleb (10), Levi (8) and Katie (6) and edited by me.

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November 14, 2014
by Janet
2 Comments

I Don’t Know How You Do It

I Don't Know How You Do It

I hear it often: “I don’t know how you do it.”

I hear it almost as often as “Oh, you’ve got your hands full.”

In this 28 minute audio post, I share my thoughts on the comment and what I share with those who make it.

Please excuse my still-raspy voice and the occasional sniffle. I think my body is revolting against the temperatures that drop below 50˚. Living near the equator for years will do that to you.

 

As always, you can listen to it here or download below.


November 11, 2014
by Janet
2 Comments

Treasure This Moment

We were waiting for our friends to come for dinner and a photo shoot. The sun was starting it’s late afternoon descent, but the air was still warm. Convinced her friends would come sooner if she waited outside, my sweet Bethany eagerly watched in the driveway. I’ve said it before: I love three. I love this girl and all her amazing three-ness. I love her still-fine baby hair that she loves to wear in braids. I love her sweet smile and her too-big-for-a-three-year-old-words. I want to remember this. I want to treasure today. I want to stop my busy life of laundry and dishes and school and ministry and truly embrace each moment. I spend a lot of time thinking on what Jesus meant when he said we are to have faith as a child. What does it look like? I think it looks a lot like this: eager with anticipation, not worried about tomorrow, wanting to just be. Bethany isn’t concerned about what others think of her. She isn’t fretting over what she will wear. She isn’t focused on where we’ll live or what we’ll be doing. She just is. She’s happy. She’s healthy. And she’s mine. I want to treasure this moment, and all the ones like it.

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November 10, 2014
by Janet
0 comments

An Attitude of Thanksgiving

An Attitude of Thanksgiving

 

Our words reflect the attitude of our hearts. The things we think and dwell on have a profound effect on the words we speak. In this 16 minute recording, I share some thoughts on giving thanks and dwelling on all that is good and right and lovely. In addition, I share some concerns about popular attitudes toward those who do practice thanksgiving.

My apologies in advance for the audio quality. Unknowingly, I had my headset turned off and my computers internal mike was on. The audio plays just fine, but there is more of an echo/empty room type sound than I would prefer.

You can listen here on the site or download below. Thanks for listening!


November 5, 2014
by Janet
4 Comments

The Fruit of Our Lives

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This audio post is a little longer than most — about 20 minutes — but I pray that it will give you something to think on deeply and to go to the Lord with. He’s so loving and gentle and gracious. I love that He gives us ways to check ourselves and our spiritual health and I love that he often uses our own family to do so.

You can play it from right here or you can download below. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!

 

October 28, 2014
by Janet
1 Comment

To Be Your Mama

To Be Your Mama

“I’m so glad I get to be your mama.”

It’s a phrase I use often. It’s true. It’s intentional.

Of the things I want most for my children, nearing the top of the list is a feeling — a knowledge — that they are delighted in. That they loved, that they are cherished.

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“Preparing the Soil” wasn’t a name pulled out of nowhere. When I read the parable of the sower with fresh eyes and realized that the seed thrown (the Word) was the same in each of the four stories, I sat staring…realizing even more the incredible power in parenting.

We can throw the Word at our children. We can bring them to church, put them in Christian schools or teach Christian curriculum at home, we can buy them Christian books, send them to Christian camps, and pray for Christian friends.

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But if their hearts (the soil) has not been tended to and is not ready to receive the truth of the gospel’s great love and freedom, our attempts at growing our children up in the Lord will be in vain.

A farmer tends his soil. He waters it. He plows it. He prepares it. Before the first seed is planted, the ground is made ready to receive.

In the same way, we must tend to our children’s hearts.

“I’m so glad I get to be your mama.”

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I say it with words. I say it with actions. I say it with the things I say yes to and the things I say no to. I say it with the food I make, the trips we take, the choices we make. I say it with the tone of my voice and the feel of my touch.

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“You are loved. You are delighted in. You are a blessing in my life. You are not a distraction or a hindrance to my life. You are part of the abundant life God has given me and I’m so glad I get to be your mama.”

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October 27, 2014
by Janet
2 Comments

A Colorful Life

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Sometimes even I don’t believe it.

In our short fifteen years of marriage, we’ve done a lot of things.

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  • We moved to India having been married only six months.
  • On our first anniversary we spent 7 weeks traveling around North India, including a three day camel trek in the desert.
  • We dorm-parented 19 11th grade girls (and had a blast) the same year we welcomed our first child into the world.
  • We’ve welcomed five more children into the world in three other countries.
  • We’ve worked with children (and adults) from all over the world and have seen the beauty in the diversity of culture and country.
  • We’ve had adventures in India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Japan, Netherlands, America, Thailand, and more.

We’ve done a lot. Seen a lot. Lived a lot.

And yet, in all the color we’ve seen — from the streets of Mumbai to the color of fall in the US —we’ve never seen this before.

And what is this you ask?

The dream of seeing translated Bibles for each and every one of the approximately 2000 languages that are still waiting for their FIRST WORD of Scripture.

We’ve never seen something we believe in so deeply, something we are committed to so whole-heartedly, and something that makes us want to focus so intently.

My greatest source of blessing, encouragement, and hope in my life has been through the powerful words of the Bible. From the time as I child I wept reading, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed your transgressions from you” to the time this week I spent smiling and snuggling my three year old as I read, He makes the barren woman abide in the house As a joyful mother of children,” my Bible has been my nourishment, my sustenance, and my refreshment. 

As we spend our days in training as part of the newest class of members of Wycliffe Bible Translators, we become more and more excited (and more and more humbled) to be part of a group who long to use their individual personalities, passions, and plans to see a vision come alive. Vision 2025 is a dream Wycliffe and its partners around the world have to see a Bible translation project started for every language that needs one by the year 2025. And each of the people with us this week, as well as each of you, has a unique role to play. God has equipped each and every one of us to be part of Vision 2025. It’s Wycliffe’s vision and it is our vision. It still amazes me that Jason and I can use our particular skills and passions to accomplish something so beautiful.

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Can you imagine something more amazing? More astounding? More colorful?

Revelation 7:9 & 10 give us a glimpse into the colorful beauty we have to look forward to:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

What a celebration that will be!

I cannot think of anything I would rather give my life to and I can think of no other dream I could have in my heart that would compare to the joy of seeing people with the word of God in their own language for the first time.

We’ve lived a colorful life, but it pales in comparison to the color we’ll see on that glorious day.

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And in case you couldn’t tell, my kids live a colorful life as well ;)

 

 

October 21, 2014
by Janet
1 Comment

God is Writing Your Story

I had three minutes.

Three minutes to articulate what God has been doing in my life over the last 37 years. Three minutes to share how God took a little girl who was hurt and broken and molded her into a woman with a passion for the Word. Three minutes to share all God has done in our family over the last few years to bring us to this exact moment. Three minutes to share God’s goodness and graciousness.

We’re currently in Orlando, attending the first our our training courses with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Our course is called Equip and it is designed to do just what it says: EQUIP us as we start on our journey of sharing with others about the needs of the Bibleless people around the world.

On Sunday we spent most of our day listening to the stories of how God has led each individual, couple, and family to this point. It was amazing to listen to the myriad of experiences that paved the way for people to give their lives to advocating for, supporting, and working for those who are still waiting for the chance to read the word of God in a language that speaks to their heart.

Over and over again we listened to stories of God weaving together experiences, dreams, disappointments, conversations, encounters, opportunities, and passions to bring each of the people to a point where they could say “Yes!” to Bible translation. Each of the stories was unique, and yet there were common themes: themes of God’s goodness, His patience, His love, His direction, His healing, and His creativity.

I spent most of the day thinking, “God is such an amazing story teller!”

He wrote the stories of each of the people here. So many seemingly insignificant moments blend together in a way that only makes sense when you step back and look at the whole. A broken heart here. A conversation there. A mission trip here. A shattered dream there. A calling here. A lost job there.  An invitation here. A sermon there.

All of these moments are part of the story that takes one person to the place in their own heart where they can answer the call of God on their lives.

God is writing each of our stories. He is using every moment, every conversation, every fear, every disappointment, every opportunity, and every dream and is preparing us to say “Yes!”

I don’t know that your “Yes!” is. It won’t look the same as mine. It won’t look the same as anyone’s. But there is a “Yes!” that God wants you to say. In the spirit of Romans 8:28, everything in your life is leading to that yes. Moments don’t just happen, they are ordained.

As you go through your day, as you mull over your years, as you think on the trials and triumphs of your life, know this: God is writing your story. He can and will work all things together for good. If you will give your unbridled “Yes!” to Him, He will take all of your moments and experiences and show you that it was all “for such a time as this.”

Your hurt isn’t meaningless.
Your dreams aren’t purposeless.
Your hopes aren’t in vain.
Your conversations aren’t by chance.
Your failures aren’t hopeless.
Your trials aren’t for discouragement.

Your life has meaning and purpose. God created you to be His unique image-bearer. He wove you together in your mother’s womb and your days were ordained before there was one of them.

Don’t despise what He is doing in your life. Don’t fret over the years of the locust. Don’t let yourself believe for one moment that He has left you or forsaken you.

Instead, set down the pen and let God write your story. You never know where it might lead.

October 8, 2014
by Janet
2 Comments

…But I Trust in You

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I mentioned it back in the spring…I am a slow writer. It’s why I tend to either just post photos here or I don’t post at all. It isn’t for lack of words and thoughts…it’s a lack of time to write them in a way that they mimic what I feel in my heart. I have found that recording my words is a much faster process for me…and much more raw. Someone asked me this summer if I plan these audio posts out and have things written. No. Not at all. I plug in my microphone, press record, and just start talking. It’s not edited. It’s pure and raw me. In fact, in this post, I had planned on sharing a completely different passage of Scripture, one that I just read. But the words take over and I pray that the Lord would have me speak what He wants. Listen with grace. I am a verbal processor and since these thoughts and words aren’t planned and not edited, they may be rough around the edges. I hope, though, that you will find encouragement for your weary soul.

As a P.S. — I recorded this last Friday, and like often happens, to Lord brings the same lesson in other means. Check out this post on the Desiring God website: When God Feels Cruel.