Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Priestly Prayer and a Common Call to STAND OUT


I re-dedicated my life to Christ when I was 26 after a long hard fall away.  As excited as I was to feel ALIVE, and even though I had my beautiful children to look after, I longed to be done with this hard place called 'life on Earth'. I couldn't understand why God wouldn't spare me from the brokenness.  Surely, now that I had Jesus in my heart, I was ready to go... right?  It didn't take long for God to deal with me on humble service and shining His light!

In the final hours before Jesus' arrest He takes time to leave His followers with words of hope and encouragement... and a powerful prayer, one I look to often when my strength in this broken world fails me.  One part in particular speaks loudest in my heart:

But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
John 17:13-18

 Jesus doesn't wait till heaven to encourage them, no, he speaks to them in the world and why?  That they may have His joy fulfilled in them... right at that moment, not to be delayed.  But Jesus' Joy isn't the only thing planted in the hearts of His followers, God's Word has been seeded as well.  This implanted Word has set them apart, profoundly...

...and the world hated them because they are not of the world...

It is so easy to strive for the acceptance of those around us, but that isn't God's plan for the implanted word and Joy from Jesus... no... it is that we should STAND OUT, and they aren't alone: Jesus set the example as he walked and lived counter-cultural His entire life!  Not once in Scripture do we see our Savior attempting to fit in, say the right thing, or be accepted.  His eyes were on the Father, walking the path He laid, regardless of what the World wanted of Him.

Having walked in all the hard places, endured all the ridicule, spoken boldly for the truth and persecuted as a result... all the broken places.... He prays not that they should have early leave, but rather, that God would keep them from evil for as long as their time should continue here. He calls on God to sanctify them in Truth and then.... he sends them.

Easter is on approach, resurrection season is coming to a triumphant close... I should be celebrating.  But week after week this year has brought trials and strife.  Going Home looks so good in this moment but this is where I am to stay... not to sit and absorb like Zacchaeus the Tax Collector pre-dinner with Jesus... no, to shine and issue and give back like Zacchaeus the Redeemed post-dinner with Jesus. 

Jesus didn't let the world get Him down: He didn't quiet His living, He lived OUT LOUD.  Jesus didn't blend in, He STOOD OUT.  And a few short days later, he didn't stay in the grave, He ROSE AGAIN.... for us.  For redemption, yes, but also to blaze a trail we may follow so that the world may see and join our ranks.

To read more of Jesus' prayer for His followers in John, visit chapter 17.  It is beautiful and powerful and I pray you may be encouraged as you walk through a troubled world.  Yes, look to the cross this week, but also remember the empty grave and be strengthened: you can overcome the World because Jesus went before you. He doesn't want you to blend in... He calls you to STAND OUT.

Blessings,










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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Devotedly Reviewed


I love pouring over compilations of old journals and letters popped out of pivotal moments in history.  I will never forget reading a portion of a book series containing the well chronicled diaries of westward women.  One particular set of entries recounted hikes among sandstone cliffs along the Platte River, not far from Fort Laramie in what is now Wyoming, and the women carving their names in the soft stone as a way to say "we were here!".  This region was a milestone for these early travelers, a brief respite and refueling junction before laboring through the towering Rockies.  The concise collection of day-to-day scribblings was further embedded into my memory when I was blessed with an opportunity to visit the Wagon Rut State Park in Eastern Wyoming and found myself walking in their very footsteps, seeing where their wagons rode, climbing those same cliffs and seeing their names amongst the countless others etched for eternity.  These women's diaries, though mundane at times and occasionally lacking in desired details, always seemed to fall into place and bring to life the re-telling of their stories in a way which never felt incomplete or lacking but was instead as trans-formative as it was informative.


When I had the opportunity to read Devotedly, The personal Letters and Love Story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot as compiled by their only daughter, Valerie Elliot Shepard, I jumped at the chance.  As with the westward women's journals, I was excited to discover greater details and relive the treasured history of these two Christian icons: one remembered for his martyrdom, the other for her unwavering grace and faith. I had not read any of their previous books or compilations, though I'm well aware of how revered Elisabeth Elliot's work is.  I have watched a few documentaries on their lives and, as we prepared for missions work some years ago, a portion of our training was done through a video series taught by Steve Saint so I am very familiar with the background and context.

With all of that said, hopefully my thoughts on this title will make some sense...


... as I read Devotedly I had mixed feelings.  It began quite well and made a declaration to use the Elliots' story for the purpose of highlighting what good, Godly relationships should look like, as the author feels substantive Godly relationships are lacking today.  My hat's off to her for this thesis.

The 'story' sets into motion with the couple's final years at Wheaton College in Illinois where they met and recognized their first sparks for one another.  It moves forward with each chapter centering around the consecutive years ranging from this point in 1948 all the way until their nuptials in 1953.  Jim and Elisabeth's story is chronicled with excerpts from both journal entries and letters they exchanged.  Images of some of their correspondences and pictures are included as well. 

After the initial introduction I must confess to struggling with reading the bulk of this text because I felt too many critical details were being left out while various redundancies occasionally carried on.  Often only parts (not entireties) of the couple's letters and journal entries are included leaving gaps of information and making it difficult to discern what exactly is being said or intended.  Mrs. Shepard seems anxious to communicate memories, summaries and translations... which can be helpful at times as her parents seemed to write in King James style (!) but can also be inhibiting to the flow of their story.  I feel more could have been discerned by the reader if full letters and journal entries had been included and, when further explanation was required for un-written nuances, commentary could be inserted at their close.

If you are a huge fan of the Elliots and have read ALL of their previous works, this book will likely be a wonderful supplement to complete their 'story'.  If you are new to the couple, the deepening of their faith as it pertains to their relationship is still inspiring.  Mrs. Shepard's devotion to her parents and desire to share the key points of their story is apparent in her writing.  I felt as though I was sitting across the kitchen table from her as she pulled out pictures and letters and shared tidbits of the lives of these two people whom she loved and admired so much.  She gives an insider's scoop to a story often reported on from the outside. I only wish I could have jumped in and asked a few questions from time to time!!

As for me, I do like more details and first-hand accounts with minimal commentary.  It is a personal preference and nothing against the author of this book.  Reading the title, I expected more of Jim and Elisabeth's voice so I will admit, I should have switched gears in my expectations upon realizing the actual context.  Still, I did feel too much time was spent on the tumultuous early years and not enough time was spent on the blooming points of the later.  However, Devotedly IS a good book and I would recommend it to anyone interested in knowing more about Jim and Elisabeth Eliot or the trials and tribulations of walking out a Christ-centered relationship.


Blessings,






I received a complimentary copy of this book from Lifeway in exchange for my review. This review is my opinion alone.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

HMJ: Impromptu Changes

I want to thank those who popped over to encourage me last week as I fumbled with plugging ahead on these regular "Journal" entries.  I will try to check in as often as I can just for you!! 

We have been reviewing our budget lately and, upon talking things over with Brooke, we have decided to plan on only one or two classes  at the local Christian college this next school year.  Currently she is hoping to pursue a full degree there when she graduates. In the mean time, even at the discounted rate she can enjoy as a high schooler, a full-slate of classes is quite spendy.  Also, this coming fall, they are only offering two of the classes she needs to complete her high school graduation requirements (it's a very small college).  Not sure if they will add the others in the spring, however, to be on the safe side we have decided to switch gears.  Surprisingly, Brooke was actually excited!  The plan....

College campus:
Speech
College Writing

Home Campus 😃:
History/Government
Economics/Civics
Music Appreciation
P.E.

I need to double-check if this list will cover all the requirements remaining.  Only History/Gov is a full year class, the rest are one semester.  She has decided NOT to take French senior year and, naturally, would prefer Speech on campus with peers.  After doing Speech with her brother and sister just at home, I agree with Brooke... more people would make the class more fun!  Also, if we can keep going with a minimum of 2 classes on campus for spring, we will look at College Writing II and Psychology as these will be good basics to have out of the way as she launches full time in fall 2020 when she will qualify for the FAFSA.  (She is looking at studying Biblical Counseling)

This week we unexpectedly declared "NO SCHOOL" in sight of our gas-line problems.  If you haven't caught some of our Instagram feed and other articles on the site here, we were without gas for 8 days while a leak was repaired.  Each day was wait-and-see mode hoping THAT would be the day the job was done... very difficult to get any schoolwork done with the buzz.  Brooke proposed the week off, which I was reluctant to oblige since it would put us behind in finishing some subjects before our designated "last day of school" at the end of May (can you believe that's NEXT month already???) BUT, she also proposed we forgo our 4-day school weeks and add the missing days back in with 5-day school weeks between now and the end of the school year!

Done.

So, wow.  Plugging ahead, 7 more weeks (minus a possible pre-planned week where we will be gone at the beginning of May).  THEN... senior year.  Wow.  I'm actually relieved we can't afford the full slate at the college this coming fall.  Is that bad?  I'm looking forward to one more year to wrap-up and find closure with the exit of this 25+ year stage of my life!  I feel hopeful for what lies ahead.
 
As for the rest of miscellany tidbits from the past week...
Brooke logged a bunch of drive time last week as we explored the outskirts of our county for "406" day.  It's a Montana thing!  One of only a few states with a singular area code, 406.  Many locals geek out in celebrating April 6th (4-06) as "Montana" day and we joined in the fun!!  Her driving has improved sooooo much.  I'm actually planning a blog post for later this month with some tips on teaching teens to drive if you don't want to/or can't afford to put them in Driver's Ed.


Went to see a play with her sister and a friend at a local college in it's 80+ year old playhouse!  The production was an ancient Greek themed play and these were all the pictures I took because, well, it was an experience only needed ONCE.  The actors worked hard but the content... well... like I said, an "experience"!

I'm going to miss our coffee shop hangouts when her life post-grad takes her away.  For now, I enjoy every single minute even when I am on here writing and she is in a cozy chair across from me drawing or doing some other crafty thoughtful thing!  These have become our Tuesday night norms while her older siblings are at an adult church group hang-out!

How has your school week been?


Blessings,






P.S. I DO keep my Instagram updated if you want to see our latest escapades, especially when there are post delays!  Follow the link in-text.



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