The life verse…

Do you have a life verse? I have more than one, but this verse in Habakkuk 2:3 has long been one of my favorites.

“This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fullfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. “

It was the verse I clung to when I knew God was calling us into full time missions all those years ago. It was difficult to be patient and wait and trust like this verse tells us to do. We knew He was calling us to Honduras and we wanted to sell everything and go right away! But there was a long process to follow. At the time it felt like forever. We needed patience. We needed to trust and rest in the fact that what God had put in our hearts would come to pass when the time was right. And now here we are again in a new season where He is calling us back home and out of this country we love with all our hearts. Our assignment has come to an end. And if I am completely honest, when I first had that sense in my spirit, it caught me off guard. It actually was a while ago..before the pandemic, which may have sped up the process. I may have told the Lord I didn’t want to leave Honduras and I had no desire to move back to Canada. But I knew it was Him and I eventually warmed up to the idea. There are really a lot of things to look forward to. And I never, ever want to be out of His will or say “No” when I know He is asking me to do something. Even if what He asks isn’t easy. (Often it isn’t) Even if it’s painful. Even if it’s life altering. Because His plans for us are good! Just like it says in the theme verse of the ministry we served with…Schools of Hope.

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” Jeremiah 29:11

So you see, we’ve known for a while this change was coming, and once again, we needed to be patient and trust that He would work everything out. Not in our timing, but His. It was difficult to have the patience to keep it quiet until we could tell everyone and not just the select few we told.

This verse was also part of the message Sunday morning at church. (Isn’t that just like our God to confirm the things already spoken to our hearts? Where we can look back and and reflect on His goodness and faithfulness to us, what He has done in us, and where he has brought us?)

Photo credit “Ministerios Dios salva al mundo Tegucigalpa”

What are you believing God for? What dreams has He put on your heart? I encourage you to trust Him to bring them to pass. Rest in Him. If He has said it, it will happen. Of that you can be sure. There are so many verses in the Bible that speak of His faithfulness. Have patience in His timing.

I am going to end with this verse that I read in my morning devotions the other day. “Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God has come true. Not a single one has failed!” Joshua 24:14b

Saturday thoughts…

It was about two years ago that I taped this little sticky note into my Bible. Verses on anxiety I could refer to quickly when needed. There were times back then I felt I was fighting a losing battle. We had been through a lot of loss in a few short years and there were things going on that were emotionally exhausting and hard to process. Everything seemed overwhelming and dark. But God is good and gracious and kind. He hears us when we cry out to him and he knows our innermost thoughts and secrets. No matter how complex or troubling. Nothing is hidden from him. Nothing. His Word is life. It gives us strength and nourishment when we need it most. We really need to be reading it daily. We need Him. Desperately. I can’t imagine living my life without him and his presence in my life.

I honestly do think I probably should have had counseling or even meds and feel no shame in admitting that now looking back. At the time though I did feel embarassed with my inner turmoil and how dark my thoughts actually were. I didn’t know where to go for help or how to go about making it happen, so it didn’t. And again…it was kind of embarassing so I didn’t really even try to seek out help either. . .

I can tell you though, there has been healing in this area which can only be God, because…hello…pandemic, moving back to Canada. So many unknowns. So many changes. Yet, I am at peace. I do feel sadness because leaving a place we love so much is difficult. But there is joy ahead in knowing without a doubt it is God leading and guiding and we are safe in his hands and under the shelter of his wings. (Psalm 91)

When anxiety fills my mind, your comfort brings me joy. Psalm 94:19

The Lord your God is living among you He is a mighty saviour. He will delight in you withgladness. With hislove, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. Zephaniah 3:17

Back to church..

I am so grateful for this place and that we are able to gather again in person to worship and hear the Word. I honestly didn’t think we would be going back before we returned to Canada. We can clearly see the building from our upstairs windows and I would look out and feel a wave of sadness thinking we would never have a chance to return. But God is good, and the last few weeks to be back in church have been such a blessing in my life. And in a way an end of a chapter of our life here in Honduras. Closure.

I remember the first time we attended DSM in November 2018. The presence of the Holy Spirit was so tangible. So real. I remember weeping through the worship. There were many times in the last couple of years that the Word taught was spot on to what I was facing or it challenged me in different areas, especially in what I believed. One of them being the way I unknowingly limited God. I truly believe it was the Lord who directed our steps there, because it was literally by accident that we even found it, even though it is so close to our house. That is how God works. He is faithful and knows exactly what we need even if we don’t at the time. He has done a work in my heart. My faith has grown.

We have but a few weeks left in Honduras, a few more goodbyes, but this place will always have a place in my heart.

Empty rooms

Everything echos…our house is emptying out. Almost all our furniture and other belongings are gone. Those things which remain are either sold, waiting to be picked up, or are being shipped to Canada. I’ve literally given away more than half of my clothes mostly due to health struggles/pandemic weight loss. In the beginning when we first began to sell our stuff to our neighbors, I shed a few tears as each item sold. It was like watching our memories walk out the door. One by one. There were a couple chairs I especially liked. Chairs where I once sat each morning during those precious quiet times with the Lord. I probably cried the hardest when they left. Now I sit in a lawn chair that we brought in from the outdoors and dusted off. I know it’s just stuff, but to me it marks the end of a season which is very quickly coming to a close. We love Honduras and it will always hold a very special place in our hearts. It was a place that God once called us to, but is now calling us out of. It is incredible how things have fallen into place, like pieces of a puzzle. I’ve had good days and bad days. So many emotions. Days where I’m grieving more than others. But at the same time there is joy and excitement for this new season and whatever lies ahead. So much to look forward to. Being closer to family is at the top of the list. In so many ways we have seen His hand in this. His provision. His faithfulness. We know we can trust Him.

Ezekiel 37:14 “I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return to home to your own land. Then you will know, that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken.”

Everything has a season…

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

If there has been something I have felt the Lord teaching me during this season…it is to be patient in the waiting and to trust. It hasn’t been easy. Not by a long shot. It’s been dark and oftentimes lonely. Nonetheless, God is so faithful. So good. He has given me peace and inner strength each day. I know though I may not understand, I can trust Him. In all things. In every season.

Before we moved down to Honduras there was a verse that stood out to me. I held onto it while we waited more than a year for the final approval to leave Canada. I remember how hard it was being patient during that season of waiting. And how hard this season of waiting has been. So this verse still applies even today. It’s like it has come full circle.

This vision is for a future time. it describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. Habakkuk 2:3

More than a year ago I began to feel the winds of change. The sense that the Lord was calling us back to Canada. Usually with me, that is how the Lord works. Maybe because he knows how badly I struggle with change, he gives me advance notice or heads up. Summer 2019 passed, and then fall changed into winter, and I knew it wasn’t the time …yet…And then Covid happened. All that we knew ministry wise came to an abrupt halt as the country went into complete lockdown. We got creative. We began to post lessons through Whatsapp that our Bible teachers sent out to their schools, and now they are going out all over Honduras, parts of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Columbia. God is faithful like that and the Bible tells us His Word doesn’t return void and it always produces fruit. I was excited that the gospel was going out to literally thousands of more children each week. But for me, there was still that deep sense of loss. A grieving of what once was. The loss of identity and purpose.

We truly sensed a change of direction was coming. I did a lot of weeping. Tellling God I didn’t want to leave Honduras! This has been the home of my heart for more than seven years and we both absolutely love it here. We didn’t want to leave because we were sick of living in lockdown, or because of missing our kids. We truly wanted it to be God who was leading us back. Not our emotions. Not our desire for freedom. We didn’t want to get ahead of Him. Because when we do that, it causes even more grief and heartache. Like with Abraham and Sarah, Hagar and the birth of Ishmael. I heard an analogy recently that my friend Terri shared during a devotional from Movement church…that if you open a cocoon before it’s ready, it is messy and it stops the process. We didn’t want that to happen…for things to be messy or to stop God’s process because we tried to force his hand into making things happen in our timing. We needed patience while we waited in isolation. Patience when things felt kind of dark.

I did reach out to the Spanish church we attend (DSM) and asked the Pastoral family to pray, that God would give us wisdom and clarity in regards to staying or leaving. I felt we needed prayer desperately, and they are prayer warriors. I knew I could trust them with that part of my heart and with the information. I wasn’t ready to share how we were feeling with anyone back in Canada or other missionaries here for fear of the the word accidently leaking out that we were considering leaving.

Over the next couple months different things happened began to confirm that what we were sensing was indeed God moving us on. It was just a matter of waiting…and trusing God to bring it to pass. In His timing. It was difficult to wait not knowing when or where. Dale kept saying we would be leaving next Spring but I sensed in my spirit it would be by the end of the year. Also, I told Dale that I could not survive another nine months of living like this. Dramatic I know, but emotionally and mentally I just felt done.

One day Dale and I made a rather silly birthday video for a Pastor friend of ours turning 50. That Pastor responded with something like that we had too much time on our hands and that he was hiring a children’s pastor if we were interested. It was meant as a joke! But the fact that he was hiring was true. Dale replied back with an email explaining how we were feeling which totally shocked the Pastor. But it got the ball rolling….and long story, short, Dale has been hired on as their Children’s or Family Ministries pastor. We are leaving Honduras the end of October to go to Sarnia Ontario.

We have begun selling our things through our neighbourhood WhatsApp and there is almost nothing left to sell. Just a few odds and ends. It is truly such a blessing. I would never have thought during a pandemic people would have money to buy furniture and other things. It has been incredible to me all the details that God has taken care of. How quickly things are falling into place.

We have been forewarned by another missionary who served in Malawi for more than twenty years, that it is harder leaving the field than it is going. Because of the loss of identity and purpose. I believe it. A hundred percent. However, I do feel though that God has already been using used this pandmeic to prepare and transition us. For the last six and a half months we have not been able to do what we do ministry wise. Like I said at the beginning of this post, there has been already been the loss of identity and purpose. I shared these thoughts with another Pastor who said it was actually like we were moving or transitioning into purpose. Because we are coming off the field with a place to land, a job and new ministry. I do know it won’t be easy. I know there will be moments where the tears flow and our hearts ache for our beloved Honduras…but like I always say, God is faithful! He will be with us and see us through this next season of our lives.

You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Psalm 139:5

If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me Psalm 139:9-10

Come close..

It is so important to spend time with the Lord each day. Time reading His Word. Time talking to Him in prayer. Even more so during these times of uncertainty when our world is being shaken and there are so many unknowns. So many reasons to be anxious or afraid. I can say for me personally, I have wrestled with deep sadness on and off and over time as I adjust to a new normal. And yet at the same time…I feel strengthened in my faith. I am not the same person I was at the beginning of 2020.

God is our hope. He truly hears us when we cry out to Him and will give us the strength to continue on and an inner peace that can only come from Him. He is a good and faithful father who keeps his promises. We can trust Him. He loves us unconditionally. He is with us and for us in every season, even in times when it may seem He is far. But I can assure you, He is near. Maybe we just need to be still in the silence for a while to be able to hear.

1 Kings 11b-12 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by and a mighy windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn lose, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a sound of a gentle whisper.

Did you catch the significance of that? Elijah heard God in the whisper, meaning that God wasn’t far…He was right there beside Him.

So come close to God and God will come close to you.

Identity…

Yesterday my friend posted something on Instagram that really hit home. So I messaged her and told her why. To be honest, I am hesitant to write this post let alone share it, but she said I needed to do it…so here we go.

First of all, I want to make it clear that by sharing this, I am in no way having a pity party or fishing for compliments. I do want to be real though and honest. Below in bold is her post..

I’m really bummed that girls look at the sky and think, “Wow. God is so amazing,” but look in the mirror and think “ugh” as if He didn’t make them both.

How many times are we guilty of doing that? How many times do we declare God’s goodness and then look in the mirror and then criticize what we see? How many times do we measure our worth by comparing ourselves with others instead of being who God created us to be, who He anointed us to be? Even at my age I sometimes struggle with comparison. You’d think I would have it all figured out by now, but once in a while it rears it’s ugly head. And I’m telling you ….Comparison is a killer. It destroys our joy. Our confidence. Our self worth. Our identity.

Just a few hours before reading that quote, I was washing my face and not liking my reflection in the mirror. I saw all my flaws. I looked old and haggared, thin and tired. During this pandemic I have lost about ten pounds unintentionally and I feel it has aged me. Plus, I also have NF (neurofibromatosis) which seems to be getting worse. I may have even said that I was the ugliest lady I had ever seen.

Immediately I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit as I uttered those horrible words. I knew I had grieved Him. The words I spoke were words of death. Not words of life. Calling something that He created ugly. Listening to the lie and voice of the enemy…. when His word tells me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my should knows very well. Psalm 139:14 NKJV

Here is another translation of that verse.

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—-how well know it! Psalm 139:14 NLT

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

When we start to feel less than, or not enough, we need to remember whose kid we are…if we have accepted Him as our Lord and Saviour, we belong to him. We are His. He is our Abba Father, the King of Kings. We are His sons and daughters.

John 1 :12 But all who believed in Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.

Galatians 4:-7 Now you are no longer a slave, but God’s own child. And since you are His child, God has made you His heir.

Think about it for a moment. How many want their kids feeling less than or bad about themselves? Not good enough. Ugly. Too fat. Too thin. Or a host of other labels, they may have given themselves. No. It would grieve us, would it not? I have to wonder how it must make the Lord feel? The maker of heaven and earth. Our creator. The one who made us in His image, when we speak that kind of negativity over our lives?

So I have a challenge for all of you who may be struggling with feeling less than….When you have a negative thought…stop it in its tracks and replace it with a scripture that counters it. Say those scriptures outloud. Declare them over yourself. The more you do this the more you will believe it.

He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. The sea belongs to him, for he made it, His hands formed the dry land, too. Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for He is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today! Psalm 95:4-7

He can handle it…

God is a big God and He can take it when we are honest with Him about our feelings. He can handle our emotions. He is isn’t going to walk away when we are real with Him. He can handle it when we tell him our doubts, concerns, our struggles, our fears and the things that weigh on us and overwhelm us.. Infact, He wants us to come to Him about everything. We weren’t meant to bear it alone. In 1 Peter 5:7 we are instructed to Give all our cares and concerns to Him because He cares about us.

This morning I was sharing with Him that I didn’t know how much more I could take of this. The isolation. The feeling of being unproductive and without purpose. I want him to use me. I truly do. It’s my heart’s desire….but I am unsure how when we’re inside and rarely allowed out of our homes. I felt His care and compassion. I felt His words upon my heart.

“Trust Me. Trust Me to work out my plan and purpose for your life.”

I was then reminded then of the verse in Psalm 138:8 The Lord will work out his plans for my life…for your faithful love endures forever. Don’t abandon me for you made me.

And so in His strength I wait and trust in His faithfulness. The God I know will bring it to pass.

Wait…

All this week there has been a recurring theme in the things I have read or heard and that is to wait and to be patient in the waiting. When this happens multiple times over and over in our lives it is a pretty clear indicator that God is trying to get our attention.

Lamentations 3:28-30 MSG When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions. Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full face. The “worst” is never the “worst”.

I think all will agree this season has been heavy. It has been hard. Life has been on hold so to speak for more than 135 days since we have been in lockdown in Honduras. The loss of life from the cornavirus has been absolutely heartbreaking. There are hopes, dreams, visions and promises that are yet unfullfilled. It would be easy to ask “God, where are you?” Or, “How long, Lord?”

And yet….

God is faithful. His promises are yes and amen. But sometimes we need to be patient and wait for the fulfillment of those promises and not give up. Not even when the sadness is overwhelming. Not even when this season of loss, grief and uncertainty seems to have no end. His timing is not our timing. His ways are not our ways. Keep leaning in to Him. Keep trusting. Read your Bible and remind yourself of these promises and declare them to be true in your life. Find scriptures that give you hope and read them outloud. It will build your faith. Faith comes by hearing. 2 Corinthians 4:13 tells us “I believe and so I spoke”

Habakkuk 2:3 This vision is for a future time. It describes the end and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

Hebrews 1:1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will atually happen. It gives us the assurance about things we cannot see.

“There is no indication that God explained to Joseph what He was doing through those many years of heartache or how the pieces would eventually fit together. He had no ways of knowing that he would eventually enjoy a triumphal reunion with is family. He was expected, as you and I are, to live out his life one day at a time in something less than complete understanding. What pleased God was Joseph’s faithfulness when nothing made sense. ” James Dobson

He is with us. He is our strength and our only hope. So wait for hope to appear..

Hebrews 6:18b-19a Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.

Seven years ago

Seven years ago today our family (minus Jacob, who would fly down at a later date) boarded a plane to Honduras with fifteen hockey bags, leaving everything and everyone we loved behind. So many memories. So many highs and lows. So much loss and yet so much growth, both personally and in ministry. So many changes. One of them being all three of our children have all since returned to Canada. Really only one thing has remained the same on this journey and that is the Lord. Time and time again we have seen His faithfulness, goodness and provision in our lives and without a doubt we know we can trust Him in ALL things and in every season. Even in the unknown.

Arriving at the team house…our home for the first couple weeks.
Family photo taken summer 2019…

Psalm 118.29 Give thanks to the Lord for He is good! his faithful love endures forever.

Hebrews 6:18b-19a Therefore, we who have fled to Him or refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.