Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Krapina, Croatia

About 10 years ago I had the privilege of going to Croatia with NorthCreek Church for several summers in a row. We worked with a church there in Zagreb doing outreach into the community with conversational English. The pastor took me and his daughters on a day trip to this little town called Krapina, to encourage the believers there. This little trip changed my life. Never had I been in a place that was so spiritually dark. I had read about these places where there was little to no church established but the actual experience of being there really touched my heart. There were only a handful of Christians there and I knew we had past numerous towns on the way, that were in the same spiritual condition. We could have driven all day and not found one church. I equate this experience with reading about starving children in a magazine, but then to actually holding a starving child in your arms is a totally different experience.

I came home from Croatia with a new passion to take the gospel to places Jesus' name has not yet reached. I was given the opportunity to speak at NorthCreek about my time in Croatia and this experience of going to Krapina was my focus and passion. "Imagine if even some of our church (of thousands) brought the gospel to a place like Krapina!!" I said to my missions minded listeners and prayer worriers. My heart was on fire to make God's name known in places like this and I let everyone know about this little town. I also mentioned it to my supporters in my return letter.

Today, 10 years later, I headed over to Every Woman's Grace at my church, 300+ miles from the church I went to Croatia with. I was attending the Mindset for Missions fellowship. Little did I know, as I took my seat, what was about to happen. The missionary was from Croatia and started with a presentation about his ministry. It turns out that he is a lives a short distance from Krapina and is a seminary instructor IN KRAPINA at a seminary there!! The first class of the seminary graduated in 2004! I did not keep up with the news of Krapina, but of course I never forgot about it. It felt like years since I have thought about this little town. How amazing that right now, a time in my life of such uncertainty in my future, and facing the very real possibility of leaving all my family and friends, God would send me this not so subtle reminder. It is a reminder that when we pray for workers in the darkest harvests, God will hear and answer. When our passion is God honoring, He will confirm it to us. Out of all the places in this world... God chose to let me know, today, about a seminary that has started in.. of all places.. Krapina.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Our Ski Weekend!

We had an amazing weekend in Tahoe snowboarding!! Kalena was too short for the smallest snowboard so we rented her some little skis and she did really well!! She went up and down the little hills and inclines outside our condo. Myia, Casey, Lisa, Maria, Jus and Don had full days of snowboarding fun with only minor injuries. (Lisa- hows your head?) I even got a half day of boarding with Lisa and it was amazing!! We loved every minuet of being with our wonderful family, from Myia's cooking to a vicious game of "Scene It" the days were filled with laughter and love.


Dear Sisters,
I would like to tell you about what the resolved conference is all about. This was a conference that doesn’t have a fancy location, there is no gourmet food prepared for you, and there are no fun games planned. This is a conference for only those who would like to be bombarded for an entire weekend with the Word of God by some of the best theologians of our day. It seems the more we hear scripture speak about the Lord and serving Him, the more our souls are impacted and changed, and the fire inside our hearts burns brighter for HIM. Resolved for me was a bombardment on my soul for true change and true determination and “resolve” in my life to live entirely devoted to Christ every minuet. Nine amazing sermons in one weekend hit my heart like a ton of bricks, and I walked away a totally changed woman. My resolve has never been so strong for Christ. I don’t attribute this entirely to Resolved, but I say thank you to my pastors (John McNeff, Chris Brunzyleele, Doug Stolhand, Kirt Gebhards, Adam Chiappelone and John McAurther) for bringing me to a place were this conference stirred in my heart a RESOLUTION to live for Christ that is now more than ever, impenetrable.

-Written after Resolved 2006, the weekend I found out I was pregnant with Kalena. The following 4 months were some of the hardest times I have ever faced in my life. God had prepared me!

Praying Daily for our Husbands

Adapted from Making a Difference in Ministry by Betty Morgan


1. That he would be faithful in public and private worship, delighting in God and His Word. [Ps. 1:2; 37:4; 119:24; 77,92,143: Provo 23:26; Song of Solomon 2:3]
2. That he might grow in holiness, humble in prayer, mature in the Lord, ever growing in his knowledge of God. [Eph. 6:18; 3:16-19; Col. 4:12; I Thess. 5:23; 2 Peter 3:18]


1. To take every thought captive, to not be conformed to the world's thinking, but to think Scripturally. [Romans 12:1,2; 2 Cor. 10:5]
2. That he would not depend on things, people or circumstances for happiness, but would depend on God alone - consistently feeding upon God's word to nourish his soul. [Jer. 15:16; Hab. 3: 17-19]


1. That he might daily seek God with all his heart, walking worthy of the Lord, growing in his trust and obedience on Him. [Ps. 27:4; 63:1,2; 119:1,2; Provo 3:5,6; John 15:5]
2. For increased strength in the midst of his busy schedule, that the Lord would infuse him with strength to labor faithfully in his area of service. [Isa. 40:31; Eph. 3:14-19; Phil. 4:13]


1. That God would enable him to be fruitful and faithful, by precept and example, for building and strengthening God's kingdom. [Eph. 5:1,2; 1 Tim. 4:11,12]
2. That he would learn to love God and others Biblically. [Romans 12:8-10; 1 Cor. 13:4-7]


1. That the Lord would give him wisdom to lead his family physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually; that he would lovingly give teaching, exhortation, encouragement and discipline as needed. [Eph. 1 :17-19; 6:4; 5:25-31; 1 Thess. 2:11-12; James 1:5-7]
2. That the fruit of the Spirit might be exhibited more and more in his life. [Galatians 5:22,23]


1. That he might not be deceived into sin, that he would be uncompromising with the world, the flesh or the devil. [Matt. 26: 58-75; Gal. 6:7; Eph. 5:11]
2. That he would continually be faithful to examine himself in light of Scripture; recognizing, confessing and repenting of all inward and outward sins. [Ps. 32:1-5; 51:10; 119:130; I John 1:9]


1. That he would submit joyfully to the Lordship of Christ in his life. [Eph. 1:1:11; Dan. 4:35]
2. That God would give him favor with others, opening doors of opportunity to have a godly influence in the church and community. [Ps. 133:1-3; Provo 21:1]

Visit with G-Ma and Poppa

We had a wonderful visit with G-ma and Poppa while Justin was in Lebanon!! We ate many blackberries (Sara won the prize) and played all day long. G-ma stayed overnight with us then we took her to the train the next day. It was so much fun waiting on the train platform with G-ma. We were amazed again at how big the trains are when they pull right up next to you on the platform. We wanted so badly to jump on the train with G-ma but we had to hurry back home and continue our extreme makeover of daddy's room. What a wonderful weekend!!

The Good News about Jesus Christ!

All people have sinned against God and are separated from Him:
Romans 3:23
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

God in His justice punishes sinners
Romans 6:23a
For the wages of sin is death,

We cannot save ourselves
Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Romans 6:23 b
but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord

In the OT, the way God declared someone could be cleansed from their sin was to sacrifice animals. God accepted that as an atonement (exchange) for their sins. God then sent Jesus to be the perfect ultimate sacrifice for sin… God provided a new covenant with man that if we believe in Jesus and receive Him as our sacrifice we will be cleansed from our sin and able to enter a relationship with Him.

John 1:29
The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"

Jesus is the only way we can come to God and have a relationship with Him. God provided Jesus because of His love for us.
John 3:16
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

John 3:36
"He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

We must repent of our sins and make God the Lord of our life
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness

Hebrews 5:9
And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,

John 14:15
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.


Discipleship is cultivating in yourself, and reproducing in others, measurable spiritual progress through the vehicle of Christian friendship. -Kurt Gebhards

Matthew 19"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Spiritual progress is detailed in 2 Peter 1:3-8, "seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. "

So, spiritual growth includes:
(1) increasing in your knowledge and understanding of God's Word,
(2) decreasing in your frequency and severity of sin,
(3) increasing in your practice of Christ-like qualities
(4) increasing in your faith and trust in God.
Perhaps the best summary of spiritual growth is becoming more like Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of what it truly means to be spiritual.

Spiritual growth is a life-long process of manifesting the acts of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21) less and less and producing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) more and more. God is the one who causes all growth, so we should ask him to cause us to grow as we are obedient to His Word. What does spiritual growth look like? Galatians 5:22-23 has the answer, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." If you are becoming more loving, more joyful, more kind, more self-controlled, etc., then you can rest assured that spiritual growth is genuinely occurring in your life.

God works in different people in different ways. Some people grow rapidly, while others grow slowly, but steadily. Our focus should not be on comparing ourselves with others, but on comparing ourselves with God's Word. The Scriptures are the mirror to show us what we are like spiritually and to shine light on the areas that need to experience and learn spiritual growth. James 1:23-25 declares, "Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does." –Some of this taken from

Verses for Physical Suffering

I learned a lot about myself and about God when I was in the first trimester of pregnancy with Kalena. I have never suffered so much physically and it really opened my eyes to an entire new dependence on the Lord. The only thing that made me feel better was reading through this list of Scriptures, and meditating on the fact that God is in control. I had Justin type these out for me because at times it was even too taxing to open my Bible. This list of verses stayed right beside my bed and I also had them in the hospital with me during the labor...however I can't say I stopped to read through them during contractions... but Justin memorized some and recited some for me during the labor, especially Romans 8:18. He was an amazing support through both deliveries, I am so thankful for him!! I will never forget him singing "Mercies Anew" to me on the way to the hospital (as we got caught in pedestrian traffic at UCLA and the extra 10min of driving seemed like 10 hours to me :)

Verse list helpful for trials and suffering:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy
to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Cor 1:3-4

“…The Lord gave
and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord."
Through all this Job did not sin
nor did he blame God.
Job 1:21b-22

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while,
if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of
Jesus Christ;
1Peter 1:6-7

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let
endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4

Before I was afflicted
I went astray,
But now I keep Your word.
You are good
and do good;
Teach me Your statutes.
Psalms 119: 67-68

It is good for me
that I was afflicted,
That I may learn Your statutes.
The law of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
Psalms 119:71-72

I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
O may Your
lovingkindness comfort me,
According to Your word to Your servant.
Psalms 119: 75-76

Accountability Questions

This is a list of accountability questions my core group has gone through on a regular basis, and has been really helpful to us. We all praise God for what He has done in our lives this past year and how we have grown. I am very open to suggestions on how these questions could improve or be more comprehensive in any way! :)

Christianity is not about a set of rules to follow, or about what you do or don't do. It is about a loving God who wants to have a loving relationship with you. It is about loving Him back with every breath, action, word and thought. In order to love Him we have a passionate desire to live a life pleasing to Him.

Matthew 5:48
Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

James 5:19-20
My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

James 5:16
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Accountability Questions:
1.Have you lied, cheated, deceived, stolen or been in any other way dishonest this week?
2.Have you desired anything or anyone above God or made anything else besides God your #1 priority? Have you put your time with the Lord above all else this week?
a. Have you done your quiet time with the Lord every day this week?
b. How many days this week did you set aside time to study the word and pray eliminating all distractions?
3.Have you had an attitude of jealousy or covetousness towards anyone or their possessions this week?
4.Have your thoughts been completely free of impurity/lust this week? Have you placed yourself in any tempting situations regarding lust? Have you had any thoughts of dissatisfaction with being single or married? Have you acted inappropriately to anyone else causing them to lust or sin sexually? Have you treated everyone else as a brother/ sister in Christ?
5.Have you been angry or harbored bitterness towards anyone else this week?
6.Have you been afraid or anxious about anything this week?
7.Have you gossiped this week?
8.Have you been lazy or gluttonous this week?

Our little Clepto

Sara is an amazing baby. Since she was really little she has had amazing dexterity with her fingers. She can grasp just about anything, get things open, out, off... you name it. While walking around the house holding her, it is not uncommon for her to surprise me, having something in her hand I didn't know she had picked up. She has even pulled glued labels off and is very agile in reaching far under the couch and other furniture to find things to eat. Once Sara was sitting too close (unknown to me) to a nicely prepared dinner at the table. I looked over and saw her with a big chicken breast in her hand, chomping away. To my shame I have a list of things we have found Sara eating... a common phrase around the house "SARA... WHAT ARE YOU EATING??" (as we rush to her and do the dreaded finger scoop through the mouth) Some things we have found Sara eating, and I believe she has actually ingested: Tags, tissue, string, recipes, a glued label she picked off a snow sled, a lemon stem (she picked off herself), leaves, dirt, hair rubber bands, hair (and yes... I have found a hairball in her poop), magazines, coupons, book pages, and toilet paper. Sara is a little bundle of energy and joy that keeps us on our toes!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Singing in the Rain

Although it has been rainy outside Kalena and I enjoyed the warm L.A. weather in our rain jackets today. We walked and splashed in the puddles, then made boats out of rose petals. I finally found a good use for those roses on the side of our house. They make excellent little boats and Kalena and I pulled apart about five beautiful pink, white and red roses, tossed them in the "river" that was flowing in our gutter. We then ran after the petals as they sailed down the street. It seems that since L.A. doesn't get much rain they don't have then need to clean the storm drains regularly. This can pose significant problems while driving (Shennelle, Kalena and I almost drowned... while in the car :) but makes for some wonderful splashing fun!