Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Life is Short, Don't Miss it.

By: Deborah Coon

According to Facebook, and  judging by my lack of “hit like and share” effort, I do not love Jesus and I will be not be receiving any blessings.  My husband is not my best friend,  I don’t think my son is the greatest or that my daughters are the prettiest.   I don’t appreciate my mother, I don’t miss my father, I don’t think I have the smartest grand-kids in the world and I don’t wish we could go back and be a kid again.   According to Facebook, I am a faithless, loveless, unappreciative, negative human being.  Really? 

 My heart aches for the Facebook friend who buys into that, waiting quietly at their screen after they post that most annoying post, “I want to see who cares, and I think I know who does, if you care you’ll send this back.”   Really?   That’s what I’ll do if I care?     Thanks a lot Facebook. 

Bench marks that indicate our level of caring are nothing new, the world has been setting standards for decades to see if we care.  If we cared we’d send a Hallmark card.   If we cared, we’d call.  If we cared we’d send flowers… if only we cared.

            I am grieved for this generation with their nose pushed up against a screen, their thumbs swishing the screen up and down, searching for someone who cares.   Generally speaking, someone who cares is standing right next to them, either waiting patiently, or swiping their own screens.  Why does self esteem suddenly hinge on the numbers of thumbs up, little red hearts and “you’re so pretty” in the comment section?  We are being distracted from human connection and our spiritual connection with Christ and, the devil is in the distractions.  Instead of resting in the fact that Jesus cares, we are being trained to accept a superficial replacement and left to wonder why we feel empty, bored and lonely. 

            God did not design us to live and respond to a superficial life.  He has given us an earth that is alive with His creation and we bury our nose in our smart phones. Artificial intelligence is here and it’s robbing us blind.  God sustains us and gives us this day our daily bread, while we drink soda, eat pizza and play video games.  We have pulled ourselves out of the abundance of God’s gifts and settled for a slow retreat into the oblivion of hand held devices that blink, beep and tell us whether we’re liked or not.   We have retreated from the spiritual awareness and contentment that comes from a relationship with Christ.  We have forgotten that Jesus cares, that Jesus loves us, that Jesus is the answer.  

            My heart aches for what I am seeing in America.   I see a culture dazed by the flickering blue light of the television, dulled by the images on video games and hardened by the evil that is being mistaken for harmless entertainment. America is imploding, the enemy is encroaching and we’re busy programming our DVR’s.  If we can spend endless hours a day on computers, smart phones, video games and TV, then we can find a few minutes to spend in prayer, with our Bible open, away from our computers, looking up instead of down.

            The first step in regaining balance in your life begins with you.  Prayerfully consider the time you spend away from the life that  God has placed you in.   Look around at your children, take them by the hand and have them walk with you in the journey back to balance.  Turn things off, set time limits, rejoice in that smile in front of you and the person next to you.  Search after Truth as diligently as you search after the next level in a video game. 

            Life is short.   Don’t miss it. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

He Knows My Name

By: Rachel Martin

I recently was listening to the song “He Knows My Name”.  It is a worship song and this particular version was sung by the Maranatha Singers. This song has always moved me with the lyrics, He knows my name, He knows my every thought, He sees each tear that falls, and hears me when I call.  As far as I can tell it is based loosely on 4 scriptures in Psalms. Psalm 91:14; Psalm 55:17; Psalm 4:1; Psalm 102:2.

This song hits my heart so strongly because I can’t even count the times that God has intervened in my life when I was even unable to ask.  God knows who I am as a person that has accepted His Son as my Savior. God knows my thoughts and my heart for Him.  He sees the aches and pains of my life and he listens when I call out to Him.  God has looked down on my heart and given me what I needed or even desired so many times it is uncountable.  There has been countless times when I have received something or been given a learning experience that I had no idea I needed or even wanted at the time.  Often these are things that I never voiced to anyone, even God in prayer.

I first really took notice during the end of my first marriage.  For those of you that don’t know my first husband left me for another woman after months and months of cheating on me.  I remember sitting on my kitchen floor not understanding what was going on and just crying and saying God help me.  I didn’t know what was wrong, I didn’t know why I felt so horrible and my husband was so distant, I didn’t know anything but I knew I needed Gods help. I cried out and God not only heard but saw the whole picture.  God knew that my husband was cheating and would not return to me and therefore needed to leave and I needed time to grow before meeting my husband now.  What transpired in the next few years of singleness was me growing and changing and learning for the better and God saw that too.  Something I didn’t know I needed or wanted but would not change for anything.

There is a lot of talk about prayer and dedicated prayer time.  I am one of those people.  I have written blogs on the importance of it.  However what about the unspoken prayers?  What about the things that our heart desires that we can’t even talk about?  I might suggest upon thinking about it a bit that I have had God work just as much in my life with unspoken heart desires as with those I brought before Him. 

I think many people just pray and don’t consider that God sees their heart.  God knows what is best.  It is not just a, pray and things will happen thing.  It is a, pray and consider that God wants your whole heart thing.  When our heart is aligned with what God wants then He obviously is going to give us the desires of our heart.  I am not a perfect person by any means.  I sin just like everybody else in the world. As much as anyone, I do not deserve the things, lessons, and growth that God has given me.  God sees our heart, that is the point.  He sees what we need, what we desire, He gives us what we need so that our heart is in line with His and so then our desires will be driven by God not ourselves.

When my son complains about not having enough ice cream and questions why he has to eat his dinner,  What he really is saying is “I don’t get the value of vegetables”.  In the same way when we grow with the Lord we start to understand the value of difficulty and see the little blessings as what they are.  When I say blessings what comes to mind?  Is it things?  Because that is not what I am talking about.  Well sometimes it is, but sometimes it is a little epiphany about scripture, or someone giving you some encouragement or a hard time that has come to pass.  To me answers to my heart crying out are to me the most amazing, beautiful way that God let's me know he cares and sees what is in my heart and what I need.  A little nod from a God that knows my name, knows my heart, knows each tear that falls and hears me when you call weather it is out loud or not.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

June Newsletter

Hello from Stateside!

                We are on a short (19 days) trip home this month.  I spent the first week working, taking and editing pictures for the Oregon Coast Dance Center.  Some of you may remember that is the dance school I once owned and operated.  It was such a joy to once again see all the students that I taught and meet some new ones.  Every time I come home to do these pictures I am amazed at Lisa’s improvements and work at the school.  The students are truly blessed to have her as their teacher.  We have also been playing catch up like always when home.  Doctor’s appointments, board meetings, updating, visiting family, and just generally taking care of things we can’t do from Mexico.
The first of May my sister and nephew came for a visit.  It was such a blessing to have them around while Dan was gone.  We laughed, and talked, and the boys played and she helped me immensely.  It was a great trip for all of us.  Also at the beginning of the month Dan was gone in Sineloa on a mission’s trip with our church.  It was a very fruitful trip for all of them.  Their location is very much the home of the cartels and Dan said he felt like he was going to a closed country.  To see people quietly going about their faith for fear of repercussions if drawing attention to themselves.  He said it was a beautiful and humbling trip.  It is a place where the missionaries replace roofs made of branches with metal on cobbled together churches and people are beyond excited.  It is a place where so few missions groups go because of fear of the cartels.  I love that our church braves it and Dan is so glad that he got to go.  He said that he will go back possibly next year. Thank you for those that prayed for them.  I added just a few pictures below of his trip.

We had our little dance recital and it went very well.  Admission was 10 pesos and everyone including the dancers had to pay.  In the end we raised $200 for the churches next trip to Sineloea.  Everyone had a lot of fun and were surprised and pleased at the performance.  There is no performance arts in our community and the audience numbers doubled from last year.  I plan to do a very simple Nutcracker in December.  When I told the girls, they shared with me that they had never heard the story.  I acted it out and told the story and both parents and kids alike are very excited by the prospect of a Christmas show.  I wish you could have seen the face of the little girl when I asked her after recital to be the staring role.  I think her face made me happier then she was.
Our trip to the states was harried Dan took the bus and Arch and I took the plane and we all made it about the same time.  Dan met many different people, shared the gospel and said thing to me like. “I had a great conversation at 3:00 in the morning at the bus station let’s pray he gives his life to Jesus”. “We had to wait for 4 hours in the middle of the night for a new bus after ours broke down”.  And my personal favorite. “You should wash that blanket you sent with me I loaned it to a guy that had a gunshot wound”.   He fully intends on taking the bus back to San Diego as he says “it’s better than flying”.  Our ideas of better then flying is slightly different.  Haha.
This weekend we are staying at my brothers and taking care of my nephews while their parents are out of town.  It is great that the cousins all get to play together and it is just super fun ciaos around here.  We spend next week getting appointments and meetings done then a short visit with some friends and family and back home we go.  It has been really great to treat our home country as a mission field so to speak.  We go out and talk to people in our own language and God sets our path out to bring us to those that need him and or help. It has been a breath of fresh air to be with family and friends and fellow English speakers.
When we return we will be brining my grandmother back with us.  She is coming for a month and two days after we get home we turn around to go back to the states to pick up a young man at the airport.  We have three (potential) young people visiting us this summer.  Each are unique and will require different things in the way of encouragement and support. We appreciate prayer as we have these kids in our home.  Each will be doing vastly different mission work and require vastly different things for their lives.  Pray we would be able to meet those needs and find occasional break times as we have constant visitors.  We are super excited to be a part of their lives and God’s plan for them.

We would appreciate prayers of the rest of our trip. We have much to do and little time to do it.  For our trip back as I travel with my grandmother and Archie.  It seems daunting to get on a 6:30am plane flight and make it there with all our bags and carry-ons without losing something or someone.  For Dan to find more people that need the gospel and his bus be on time.  For Arch, he is sick and kind of crazy right now from all the input.  Thanks so much, l we appreciate your prayers and you taking the time to read our June letter.
Where the Missionaries stayed.

Money from my dance classes.

Dan and the one of the orphanage directors getting ready to remove the thatched roof on the church behind them.

Baptism they had while there.

Dan and others playing worship at one of the churches.