Month: October 2015

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 21

I’m far from living the faith that Abraham demonstrated.  He was a willing and obedient servant of God.

By no means was he perfect but he believed.  He was seventy-five when he first heeded God’s call to uproot his family and leave his homeland.  At this moment, God promised the land to Abraham’s offspring.

He heard this promise and believed….and waited.  And waited.

So he figured he should take matters into his own hands.  At eighty-six, Abraham had a child with his maidservant.

At ninety-nine, Abraham hears God speak, ““I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”

By 100, Abraham’s promised son, Isaac, was born.

I have a hard time waiting.  I was that kid who eagerly gave my dad a Father’s Day gift and before he could unwrap the first edge, I would yell, “It’s a tie!”  Patience isn’t my strong suit.  Let alone faith.  I’m quick to forget what God has said.  I easily get sucked into the whirlwind of doubts.

It’s easy for me to self-condemn because I have doubts in the first place.  What I love about Abraham’s story was that he didn’t have it all figured out, made his own path of what he thought God meant but God reminded Abraham, “I am God…I will make my covenant.”
Augustine in his, Confessions, stated “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless within us, until they find rest in you.”  The temptation is to wrestle, stir and agonize over the pursuit of happiness and rest, even as Abraham might have.  Though we may try to fight it, God alone is the one who will complete the promise He has made.

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 20

In my thirty plus years as a Christ follower, I’ve believed that I have lived by faith.

Yet Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s recently challenged my reality: “We have lived and believed too strongly the idea that it is possible, by considering all possibilities in advance, to make life so certain that it then happens completely automatically.  Only too late have we learned that the source of action is not the idea, but readiness for responsibility…Our being Christian today will consist in only two things: prayer and in doing justice among people.”
Is this what I hope for–to spend my days in prayer and doing justice for others?  Sure, I might pray in desperation.  Or what if the motivation of my prayers is to ensure that my life falls in line with my plan?  If I’m praying at all, that is.
So if I’m trying to control and seek certainty, what does that reveal about my idea of faith?  Faith is defined as “(1) fidelity to one’s promises; (2) belief and trust in and loyalty to God.”  Scripture also reminds us, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
Often Christians are mocked for such faith–“It’s blind.  You’re weak and not intelligent if you believe that.”  I would argue that it is certainty.  And I want it.  Yes, I have it, as a believer.  But I want to live with it as a daily confidence.  Daily, moment-to-moment assurance that above all else that God IS who He says He is and He has fulfilled His promises.  Faith is choosing to believe that what God has said is true now and forever.

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 19

Do you have truth sayers in your life?  The irony is that I want them in my life but I’m not always accepting of when the truth comes.

Today I’m told by one of them, “Anxiety is ruling your life.”  Of course, my immediate response was to dismiss these words. Yet, after letting them sink in, I wanted to dig deeper.

What is anxiety?  Fear.  But fear of what?  As Webster defines anxiety as “(1) fear or nervousness about what might happen; (2) an abnormal and overwhelming sense of…fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.”  So in other words, fear of…anything.

What does anxiety look like in my life?  As I further self-examine this trait in my life, I notice it has emerged more clearly since moving here.  What I was once used to–convenience, stability, comfort, predictability–has all gone.  So here, whether I’ve recognized it before today or not, anxiety has reared its ugly head anytime I sense a lack of control.  Pretty much daily.  It may not show with signs of sweat or an increased pulse but it can often come as Webster stated, through doubt of a situation or self-doubt.

What is the opposite of anxiety?  Peace.  Something I want more of but know I weakly demonstrate it.  Yet another reason to doubt.  Yet, there is hope.  The Bible addresses anxiety throughout the Old and New Testament.

Psalm 34:4  “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all of my fears.

Psalm 56:3  “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

Isaiah 41:10  “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Luke 12:25  “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

John 14:27  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Where does anxiety come from?  Fear that I cannot control a situation.  In anxiety, my hope and trust is in me alone.

Where does peace come from?  When my hope is in Christ alone.  No one else.

Proverbs 12:25Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”  May the good Word encourage you today to choose to walk in peace!

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 18

We recently had our property fumigated in hopes to save the trees infested by pine beetles.  For years they have gone undetected.  They remain below the bark, secretly eating away at the healthy part of the timber.  Once they devour a tree that they have inhabited, they fly to the next tree to continue the cycle.  Unfortunately, weeks later, we needed to cut down eight of our trees.

It’s not always easy to catch what is below the surface in our lives.  Often times, we don’t see the problem or we choose to ignore it.

I tend to be an all-or-nothing person.  Also, an optimist and an idealist.  These don’t bode well for the slow-gnawing issues of life.  I don’t like to address them.  Or when I have to, I go “all-bad” as my husband reminds me.  With this approach, I am tempted to skip the “fumigation” process and jump right to the extreme, tree-cutting stage.

The good news is, and I’m still learning this, that life isn’t black and white.  Unlike the tree, for us, life is fluid.  This is freeing, if I apply it!

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 17

When I began an interest in writing, many folks asked, “What will you write about?  Who is your audience?”  I let this paralyze me.  The most helpful advice was from another author, “Write for yourself.”  These simple three words are what started me to share my writing this year.  My hope is that as I process through my own journey that some of my lessons would be useful to you.

Before intimately sharing all my life in marriage, I thought most addictions fell under the “substance” category.  Of course, there are so many more addictions–spending, eating, gossip, lying, work, laziness, apathy, anxiety, anger….

Either way, we don’t like to talk about addictions, let alone admit our own.  Webster summarizes the definition best, “(1) a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble); (2) an unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something.”

I find the latter definition most interesting.  I can’t say I’ve spent much time reflecting on my need to do or have something.  Yet as I’ve been writing daily, I’ve been more aware of my responses and reactions.  Recently, I’ve observed that when things don’t go “my way”, I get upset at someone or the situation.  It may just been an internal response but nonetheless, it’s anger or frustration.

As my parents always wisely taught, “anger is a response to a deeper emotion.”  Again, I don’t stop and think about what is below the surface.  But I see anger hiding a deeper sense of fear or insecurity.

So if my response to not getting my way is anger–is my addiction selfishness, fear, insecurity or anger?

What is your addiction?

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 16

Marriage.  New country.  New language.  Unemployed.  Move away from family and friends.  I’d say those are a lot of changes to do all in one year, let alone one day.  Not only has it created stress in my life but it makes it more difficult to isolate which one of these factors is affecting the greatest amount of stress at any given moment.

Most of our dating life was long distance.  Needless to say, we had a big learning curve once we began to share our lives together.

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer states, “There is a battle in the world that is without comparison, a war of the highest powers in which everyone is involved: the war of death against love, of love against death, two opponents that in their majesty are worthy of each other.  but love is as strong as death (Song 8:6b), for love is from God…Death is strong in the world, but love is strong in eternity.”

As I look at marriage, I see how easily we can be short-sighted.  We live for today.  We want happiness…NOW.  If we don’t find it, if it doesn’t come as quickly as our fast food delivery, we’re out.  Done.  It’s much easier to think that our spouse should be serving us than the other way around.  Why do we not think of the long-term?  Or about how today’s choices influence tomorrow’s lifestyle?  My mom just told me of her friend, who was counseled by friends in her early days to leave her husband.  He wasn’t “cutting it” by the Disney fairy tale standards.  Yet, she choose to stick with him and keep her commitment to their marriage.  Years later, when she developed dementia, she counted on her husband to daily visit and care for her.  He was faithful when it mattered most until the day she died.

Jesus reminds us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life,and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

How can you choose your spouse today?  Choose life to the full?  Choose what Jesus promised?

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 15

In the various places I’ve lived, I’ve always learned that finding community is the most important priority.  One way I tried to do that here was to start a small group/Bible study at our church.

Looking back now, this was a lofty goal, considering I was hardly fluent in the language.  Each Wednesday night, I wandered my way through the unlit streets to find the hostess’ home.  I really didn’t realize how much I relied on Google maps in the U.S. until I tried to find my way around without any technological assistance.

One particular study, I sat awkwardly waiting for the group to start, as the women filed in and rattled off their day’s anecdotes at lightening speed.  I felt like a child lost in a store.  I gazed around the room, hoping to catch a word or two I understood.  It was more like trying to jump in to double-dutch–when do I enter?  So I sat in silence.

This was why I needed to type up each lesson that I prepared ahead of time.  Chris was gracious enough to help me with edits but I could not veer from my script.  A little difficult to experience community when you can’t improvise.

Most of the women in our group were single or divorced.  I was the newlywed.  I was out of my element in more than one way here.  But this is what finding community is about, you put yourself out there in hopes of finding a shared connection.  I began to read my way through the study about reading the Bible to find daily encouragement.  As I closed the lesson, I went off script.

I wanted to challenge the women with a tangible way to put the lesson into practice.  I urged them to write out their favorite verse on their “esposo”.  I meant to say my newest learned vocabulary, “espejo.”  That’s right, I urged these single women to write their Scripture on their husbands, not their mirrors.

I guess laughter is a shared connection!

(**In November that year, I moved to Guatemala for a month to improve my Spanish.)

Enter today’s raffle:

*Raffle made available through

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 14


I never thought that autumn day when I left Ohio would lead me to start over more than once—with my geography, my career, my friendships and interests.  Though I can’t plan for the next logical step, I have certainly enjoyed the ride–from visits to Ambassadors’ residences or dining with former Honduran presidents.  Yet, one of the added bonuses is that I’ve now traveled to more countries in six years than I had in my entire life before that.

Among some of my favorite travels have been to South Africa (2010) and Brazil (2014).  As if going to one World Cup was not already a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I had the opportunity to go to two!  There is nothing like attending something like this in person.  I felt that rush just yesterday, as the Cubs won!!  These trips not only highlighted the beautiful game of soccer but also included visits to local wineries, safaris, mountain trails and more.  In Brazil, we squeezed into a local bar to watch the Brazil-Germany game, donning our German gear.  Before the game started, Brazilian fans glared at us, the outcasts.  They were not subtle with their finger-pointing and judgmental comments.  Within 25 minutes, Germany had scored 4 goals. Silence and shock fell upon the bar. Our thrilled shouts diminished to quiet fist pumps.  By the fifth goal at minute 29, the bartenders starting giving us free caipirinhas.  By goal six and seven, the now drunk, to drown their disappointed sorrows, fans were asking for our photos.  They must have assumed we were German.  What started as a rivalry morphed into a shared celebration.  It’s amazing to watch how something as simple as a game can unite people all over the world.

I eagerly await my next adventure!

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 13


Webster defines it as “one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual.”  I was always told character is who I am when no one is looking.

When I see what people endure here, I can’t help but further examine my own character.  If I describe it as the latter definition, I don’t have much.  Since moving to Honduras, I’ve tried various volunteering opportunities.  I’ve worked as a tutor and teacher at local private schools.  I’ve also worked with our sales team.  See?  It’s much easier to define ourselves by what we do which is why this season has been so difficult for me.  My work over the past 5 years has changed and nothing seems to click or stick.  Not to mention, I have felt like it’s been a journey of wearing someone else’s skin since I moved here.

So, this is why this season has been good for me.  Prior to moving out of the country, I prided myself in my successes and thrived on my achievements.  I drew energy from the compliments and accolades of others.  But here, I am no one……at least not for what I do.

It’s been over five years that I’ve wrestled with God on this.  I’ve begged Him for clarity and a chance to use my gifts and do what I love.  I’ve fought, I’ve stomped, I’ve cried, I’ve given up.  And now, years later, I’m finally ready to listen.  What I hear God saying (that He has been since I moved here) is that I am enough as I am.  I am His.  He cares more about who I am and my character within than what I do or what others see and the praise I receive.

Until now, I’ve pretty much viewed this as some kind of “timeout” that God has put me in, a punishment.  But He has shown me in the stillness and the quieter life here that He has given me a precious gift.  He has removed the glitter and fame of what I was so easily distracted by and put me in the quiet of His presence.  If only I treasured this sooner!

So who am I when no one’s looking?

I am the one whom God loves…no more, no less…based on what I do.

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 12

As I look back to those early, hardest moments for me, my eyes were quickly opened to what life is like for those around me.  Having spent my latter LA days working for an anti-human trafficking organization, I immediately saw what trafficking looked like much closer to “home”.

In late 2010, we were looking to expand our workforce and hire more factory employees for the holiday season.  With several employees referring family members, due to the high unemployment rate, we interviewed several hundred workers.

After the first round, our team started the second interviews.  One particular woman, a cousin of two of our employees, was asked to come in for another interview.  When it came time to make an offer, she did not return any of our calls.

As weeks went by, and we had completed the seasonal hiring, we received a tearful call from the cousins who worked with us. They were told their cousin was killed in Mexico, with 70 others, while trying to cross into the U.S.  I watched them on the news as they sobbed their heartache.

Two months later, they received a call from their “deceased” cousin, stating that she was healthy and arrived safely in the U.S. “Please send money,” she begged.  As if the initial news of her death was not painful enough, they then discovered this gruesome prank was simply a scheme to rob them.

In that moment, I realized why we were here.  In creating jobs, our hope is to offer more opportunity, here, within their home country, so they don’t feel the only option is to leave, putting themselves and their family at risk.

Five years later, these brave women still work with us and have taught me so much about courage and what true faith in God looks like in this dark world.