Dec 18, 2016

Since September

Wow!  So much has happened since my last update:


A few weeks before that last post in September, I was mowing the lawn here at the campus and heard a blood-curdling scream from Miles.  It was loud enough to hear over the mower.  I stopped, picked him up and saw a little yellowish-brown scorpion in his shirt.  I brushed it off and smashed it with my boot.  He was screaming and crying so loud I thought he'd been shot!  I handed him to Cassie, who was now nearby, and she said she would get him into the bath and put something on the bite to help him with the pain.  I fell terrible now...but I figured all was well and finished the last 15 minutes of mowing.  After putting the things away, I returned to our house and heard Miles still screaming!  I spoke with Cassie and she said, "I don't know exactly where he was bit.  I think it was his hand, but he won't let me touch him to see!  I gave him a bath, but he's not really any better."  She was beginning to get sad and worried, then something strange happened...Miles stopped crying for a bit, and started coughing up a thick mucus.  Cassie and I looked at each other, and knew it was time to get him to a doctor.  We threw the other kids in the car without shoes.  That caused a massive panic among them and they thought Miles was going to die!  Cassie had him in her lap as we sped to the nearby Red Cross.  During the ~2 mile drive, Miles started to have trouble breathing, his eyes started to roll into the back of his head, and he began to vomit.  We ran into the Red Cross Emergency Room and, in my best attempt at medical spanish, proceeded to tell them what had happened.  The doctor immediately began with an injection of scorpion antivenin.  We waited breathlessly for 10 minutes...no improvement.  The doctor gave a second vial in Miles' arm.  Another 10 minutes...Cassie is sobbing, Miles is maybe doing better...at least he's breathing between the screams.  Things were awfully tense that first 30 minutes.  Lots of prayer and then it seemed like he was going to be ok.  Thank you God!  We waited another hour after the 4th vial of antivenin, and he fell into a deep exhausted sleep.  The doctor said he would have a rough 2-3 days after that, "It's like being hit by a train!" He said before we left.  There was a part of me that was dreading paying the bill for the saving of my son's life, but Cassie took all the kids to the car, and I went to pay.  The total bill was $135 pesos ($7.50 USD).  Wow.  Thank you God.  I still can't believe it.  He is mighty to save!

The week after our 'scorpion-man's' recovery, we had to cross the border to renew our visas.  We had a YWAM Together meeting in Kansas City, MO and the kids got to stay the week with the grandparents.  That was such a blessing.  We learned so much about the national direction of YWAM and the importance of getting the gospel spread to every people, tribe, tongue, and nation. After the YWAM meeting we returned to Amarillo. What a wonderful visit with Cassie's folks and my parents as well.  I had to finish my continuing education for the optometry license, and there was a meeting in Ruidoso, NM.  Dad has a wonderful boss that shared his cabin with us and we took full advantage of it!







When we returned at the end of September, it was 'back to work' time.  We've had plenty to do outside the campus with the local villagers around us, and even more to do to get this place back up and running.  We've repaired a beautiful fountain that has not functioned for 5 years, a well that had been dried up, a septic system (yuck), numerous leaks, hot water issues, carbon monoxide venting, hvac repair on our walk-in freezer, chopping down trees, and Michael has been finding lizards everywhere!

I have been having breakfast (one-on-one) on Monday's with one child at a time, and we have cherished these moments.  It has given us the opportunity to share the Gospel with our favorite waiter, Nacho, too!  He has asked us for prayers for his belief and that of his family as well.  We also began blessing our children each Saturday night around the dinner table.  Marcus calls this "Family Fun Night", and we basically go around to each child telling them the wonderful truth about them and making sure we have apologize for any wrongs we have done to them.  This, humbling, experience has been a blessing to me as well as them.  Lord, may I never forget that my family is the primary mission that you have given Cassie and I.



We must train them up the way they should go, and they will know You by our love.

Dec 9, 2016

Dear Mr. Elf on the Shelf




Dear Mr. Elf on the Shelf,

Thank you so much for your diligent observance my children's' behavior. Thank you for showing up in funny, and sometimes inappropriate, places and bringing a smile to the faces of many, young and old, this time of year.

But, I have some bad news for you, my friend.

Christmas isn't about how good or bad my kids are. The gifts of Christmas don't depend on what they do, or what they say. Those precious gifts have nothing to do with whether they are right or wrong, good or bad, naughty or nice.

In fact, the worst of children are able to freely receive the gifts of Christmas.

Even the ones that scratch their hiney hole INSIDE of their underwear, and blow their stank morning breath in your face before breakfast, just to see the shudder on your face.

The ones that raise their eyebrows in distain at the mere existence their little brother.

Children who sneak candy after they've brushed their teeth, and then lie about it in the morning.

The ones who scream out mean names to their sister and threaten to never talk to her again because she is "SO STINKING RUDE!"

The ones who have hate in their heart.

The ones who are bitter . . . and angry.

The children who are self-absorbed and unrelenting.

The truth you need to know, you little red minion of Mr. Clause, is this:

Christmas is about the goodness of God, not about the goodness of children. 

 So, I'm sorry to tell you, you are completely unnecessary. In fact, you totally turn Christmas upside down and inside out (kind of like my son's underwear).

If you would like to be useful, please use your time to tell children about the goodness of God, instead of telling Santa about the goodness of children.

Sincerely,


Cassie Haney

The Struggle is Real: Legalism & Christian Living

Where do I even begin with this topic?

First, let me say this: living on a Christian Missionary Campus is THE PERFECT SETUP for legalistic Christianity. Many who come here are looking to the people here to see if they are 'holy' enough to be a missionary. Are they 'good' enough? Do their kids act 'right' enough? The men don't have long hair do they? Tattoos? Piercings? They don't listen to secular music, of course! Pokemon?? No way, those are little devils you know! The women aren't gossips, are they? Lazy? They don't get frustrated with their children, who are perfect and only watch G rated movies of course!

Although it's not hard to see how we get to this terrible, paralyzing place of slavery to 'right living'. I know I've been there, it's a slippery slope! It's the place where in my heart I truly want to serve and honor God, so I give up some stuff in my life. I might change the station I listen to, or start wearing more modest clothes. I might take up reading my Bible a little more often, or do any number of things to try to show my God that I am His, that I love Him, and that I want to live for Him.

Uh oh! Now I have something to be proud of don't I?? "I turned my life around because I love God so much. What did you do? I don't say that word or do that thing, but you do . . . maybe I love God more than you?"

GAG ME WITH A SPOON!

Here is the truth: I didn't turn my life around at all! Jesus turned my life around because He is so nice and good. He took pity on me because I was in dire straights, headed for destruction and He had mercy on me!

Lord, may I never forget where you brought me from . . . or think that I could have done it on my own! Forgive me for passing judgement on others!

Dare I say that the Pharisee leader's legalistic way of 'running' the church was Jesus' biggest pet peeve? Did anything else anger him so? Did anyone else (except maybe Peter "Get behind me Satan") cause him to speak so strongly?

The great burden the Pharisee leaders put on the Jews was so heavy, so burdensome, and so NOT in sync with the God that they 'served'. The Bible gives us many examples: "come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest", "cast all your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you", and "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free".

I truly believe the Lord does not want us to live burdened lives! We should be the most free, lightest, non-burdened creatures on the globe. All of our sins are forgiven and paid for. They are far away from us, and they can't find us out. How do we make God feel when we hand our burden over to him just to pick up a new one?

Please hear my heart here, I understand how tricky this is . . . the line is very, very thin.

When we become freed by Jesus, there SHOULD be a change in our lives! We SHOULD become 'better'. We SHOULD be compelled to start doing some things and stop doing others . . . out of a place of gratitude and affection for our Savior. We must, however, be so careful not to delude ourselves into the lie that we are better than someone else because of what we do or don't do. We are no better or worse than any other. Often our 'goodness' feels diminishing and demeaning to those around us . . . and that's not 'good' at all.

Legalism: Demeaning, demolishing, and diminishing by being a 'good' person.



My friend Jennifer wrote an awesome blog about the "Lure of Legalisme" here.



Oct 21, 2016

Mission Life Update

Life here at JUCUM Guadalajara is settling in to a nice pace. The kids and I have found a school routine that accommodates all our needs. They have resumed their gymnastics classes twice a week. We have started a weekly playdate on Saturday mornings which helps fill in some much needed time with friends, and we have implemented 'Family Fun Night' on Friday nights. Last week Marcus accidentally called Friday night 'Happy Kids Night' which made us feel great about the whole thing! We have found a church home that has a small group of young kids (mostly boys), and a women's Bible study I have been able to attend. I even found an organic market on Tuesdays (clearly the Lord loves me!!)  Luke is officially on staff here at the campus. Generally, he can be found doing something plumbing related (the fountain, the well, or the leaks), or computer related (the website, the printers, or the troubleshooting).  Most of my time is spent tending to the needs of the kids and the house. Last week I was able to make about 40 beanbags for the kids in Chapicolte (and some for my little hijos as well). I feel blessed to be able to take part in the kids ministry in Chapicolte, but lately I have really been convicted that my mission field right now is in my own home, with my own children.  The more I lean into what God wants from me during this season of our lives, the more I feel called to my 'domestic duties' as a wife and mother. It's amazing to me how the Lord uses the simplicity of being a wife and mother to draw out conversations that lead to Him.

On Tuesday I had all the children with me to take Mandie to her gymnastics class, and a woman approached me to ask the same four questions I seem to be asked everywhere I go: "Are all of these little blondies yours?", "Are you going to have any more?", "Do you live here?", "What brought you here?" At which point I was able to say how blessed I am by God to have all of these kiddos, and that I don't know if I'll be blessed with more or not. Then I get to tell them that we are living here at the mission because the Lord called my husband and I out here for the purpose of "knowing God better, and making Him known" (as they YWAMers say). It turned out that the woman I was speaking with was a Christian, and I believe that God was glorified in our interaction.

I hope the Lord will allow me and the kids more opportunities to give Him glory and to shine a light to Him as we school, work, and play here in Chapala. I hope I will be brave to point to Him every chance I get.

Luke's life as a missionary is probably much more 'missionary-like' than mine. He regularly leads worship here on campus, and he has even led worship at the rehabilitation center down the road. He attends / leads Bible meetings, gives his testimony, attends prayer meetings, and helps make future plans for this campus. He also works very hard to maintain the campus in the form of yard work, carpentry, mechanics, cooking, cleaning, etc. He is a hard working man, and I know there is nothing he wouldn't do. He is God's 'man on the ground' and I'm so proud to be his wife.

Right now our campus is sort of at a crossroads. The staff is new, the ideas are fresh, the calendar is flexible, and we are looking up to see what the Lord has for us and this place. We are wanting to fulfill the plans he has here, and we hope we hear a clear direction that we are all in agreement on as far as what our time, resources, energy should be spent on. Please pray that the Lord would use us to do His work, and that we would all be in agreement on what the future holds for this place. Also please pray that we would have the strength and courage to carry out the plans He has.

I am so grateful to be living this life that I have. I believe in my heart this is what the Lord wants from me, and I am relieved that my life is not contradicting my beliefs about God's will. I have lived with the contradiction before, and it was torture! He has freed me to live for Him, what a good God we have! Blessings to you all back home!!

Oct 4, 2016

Paper Tigers VS Lion of Judah

My friend Jennifer Lane at Citychurch is writing every day for the month of October about how we as Christians often fall before "paper tigers", as they are referred to in Galations 4 (the Message), instead of trusting and serving the one true God. This is my contribution to her blog.

8-11 Earlier, before you knew God personally, you were enslaved to so-called gods that had nothing of the divine about them. But now that you know the real God—or rather since God knows you—how can you possibly subject yourselves again to those paper tigers? For that is exactly what you do when you are intimidated into scrupulously observing all the traditions, taboos, and superstitions associated with special days and seasons and years. I am afraid that all my hard work among you has gone up in a puff of smoke!  ~The Message

Paper Tigers vs. Lion of Judah

As much as I wish it wasn’t true, many years of my life in childhood and as an adult have been spent fearing paper tigers. I was a huge people pleaser, parent pleaser, teacher pleaser, youth minister pleaser, coach pleaser, friend pleaser, put on a happy face, “everything’s perfect here I don’t need any help from you but I can help you if you need me” type of girl. This attitude served me well in my youth, I did well in school, had lots of friends, and my parents were generally happy with my behavior. However, these traits began to feel more like chains as I progressed into adulthood. I became a secret keeper (a.k.a. liar at times), because I was scared to bring to light the darkness that was in my house. I was a pretender, going on for many years as if I didn’t have any skeletons in my closet. I was an enforcer, requiring my children to uphold this pretend world I had created. The truth was that I was always afraid. I felt incredibly guilty about who I was, and how I was behaving. I knew I was far from God. The scariest part of it all, was the reality that I didn’t know my way back to Him, and if it depended on me, I was toast. 

At that time, with nothing to offer, no good deeds in my pocket, my family life was a mess, my heart was hard, my parenting was ugly . . . I had literally nothing going for me spiritually . . . that was when I cried out to God. 

Jesus saved me. 

Jesus saved my marriage.

Jesus saved my family.

He is no paper tiger, He is the LION OF JUDAH! 



When He moves, it is undeniable. When He creates, it is undestroyable. When He saves, there is no vulnerability. When He loves, there is no pride left in me. There is power even in the mention of His name. 

Wow.

My God pulled me up out of the slimy pit, I was rescued from myself . . . not because of my redeeming character qualities, or my good deeds, or my positive attitude. All glory to Him. 

Because of the way He rescued me, I understand that it simply doesn’t matter very much who I am or what I do . . . as long as I’m with Him. I don’t need to be “happy”, or “good”, or “cheerful” as if He needs me to be that way. He doesn’t need me. I hope that I would never bow my knee and serve a “god” who needed something from me. If He needed me, then I would be the god. NO! I need Him, He is worthy, He is Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior! If I am happy, good, or cheerful it is because He loved me first, not because I’m doing Him a favor.

Jonah wasn’t “good”. He didn’t cheerfully fulfil is Christian duty by happily going about with the “joy of the Lord” on him in service to God. He was no people pleaser. God used angry, spiteful, bitter Jonah . . . because God chose Jonah. God gave Jonah what he needed because God had what Jonah needed. Jonah didn’t have it . . . but God could use Jonah because God is more than able to account for our shortcomings. 

So why are we prone to make God so little and paper tigers so big in our hearts? Why do we let fear of men override fear of God. Why do we believe that the physical world is more real than the spiritual? Why do we allow ourselves to be slaves?? We are free, under the care and grace of our loving Father and Savior, the LION of Judah, the worthy one, Jesus Christ. I encourage you to bow your knee, look up, and find salvation!


Sep 16, 2016

What Are We Doing Here?

-by Luke

Perhaps that's a question on your mind?...mine too!  I'm going to try and answer it for myself and possibly for some of you too.

I was just sitting in front of my computer filing insurance claims for patients one day last Summer.  I still don't know how or what happened, but it was as if God had smacked me on the back of the head with His velvet 2X4 and laid some pretty thick stuff on my heart.  He asked me to do 3 things...very distinct, and very specific.  1: get out of debt ($68,000 at the time!) 2: get licensed to practice optometry in New Mexico??? 3: go on a mission trip.  Wow!  Ok?!  I might could do one of those things with what little was left of 2015, but where to even start?

Like all the massively important decisions that King David made in his battles, I decided to draw straws.  The first thing to tackle fell to #2: getting a N.M. license.  I had no idea why I was led down that path, but here we go!  New Mexico is one of the most difficult states to get licensed in, 100 question jurisprudence exam, 18 case studies presented by doctors that can ask any and every question they want, and a clinical skills eval that would throw a 4th year for a loop!  I studied everything I could get my hands on for an exam in August, and my sweet wife volunteered to be my patient for the clinical part.  August came and we went to Albuquerque for the exam.  It was even harder and more horrible than I could have imagined...but...purely by God's grace and the grace of the N.M. Board of Optometry, I passed!  Wow God!  I thought for a month or so that He was just trying to humble me more by making me take tests and fail...but I passed!  Great!...now what?  Why did He want me to do that?  Was it just a test of faith?  Was He checking His almighty microphone to see if I was listening?  So...I started to look at the other two tasks He set me on.

I started to look online for New Mexico missions, or charity work, or something that would be along the lines of His call, and stumbled upon a group called the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists.  They were not doing mission work in New Mexico, but they did have a trip pending for 'Old' Mexico.  I thought, "Ok God, I can send this guy an email and pray about it...what's to lose?"  I was right, there was nothing to lose, but I had no idea what was to gain!  God used a N.M. license exam to draw me into His hands to receive the calling that He had for our family from the start!  More about this trip in a bit...

The Optometry Mission was set for the end of December, but we still had the debt to deal with.  I'm sitting here a year later, and I still have no idea how we did it.  The first week in December 2015, we paid off every single penny of debt.  God had to have His hand in it and the orchestra of things that lead us down that road had His signature on every page!  He had brought about so many things in my life that I could not have done myself.  What a great Master we serve. Amen!!?

Debt free, armed with a Texas and N.M. optometry license, and called to do a mission, I headed to Mexico for 10 days.  I was the only Texan, there was one other doctor, 3 optometry students and about 15 members of a church from up north that I'd never met.  We ended up seeing around 800 patients in 9 days and even saved a few lives!  I had never felt more in tune or in-step with the Creator of the Universe then I did on that trip.  On the last day of the clinic, a 70 year old man stood up on our bus and asked, "By a show of hands: Who here wants to die as a lazy bum sitting on your couch watching T.V.?" No one on the bus raised their hands.  "That's what I thought," He continued, "Who here wants to die with boots on, doing God's work here on the ground?!"  Every hand went up with much 'hootin' and hollerin''.  Those words struck a chord in me, and, changed our life.


When I returned home to my exhausted family and shared the story, Cassie's eyes started to tear up.  "What's wrong?" I said.
"I...hmmm...I don't know what to say." She replied.
We sat in silence for a while.
"I have wanted to be a missionary my whole life, but I thought that God wanted me to give up that dream when we got married." As those quiet words fell from her mouth, I was amazed!
I said, "We've been married for 12 years now, and I've never known that...you could have at least mentioned it over dinner some time!" - We laughed, cried, prayed, and both decided to seek more of what He wanted us to do.

I sent out over 20 emails.  Emails to every christian mission organization that Google found that night until I was tired.  We prayed, and we waited.  By the end of January 2016 we had received a whopping 1 reply.  It was from a gentleman that worked with something called Youth With A Mission (Y.W.A.M.) in Guadalajara, Mexico.  I had wanted to do a week, possibly 2-week mission trip every now and then, but my God had much bigger plans for our entire family.  With Y.W.A.M. I would need to take a 5 month Discipleship Training School program to join their staff.  This was the 'game changer.'  Were we going to follow God's call to Mexico?

Cassie and I fervently prayed and prayed and prayed over this, and we both knew that this was the call of God.  He wanted us to meet Him there in Mexico for 'who knows' how long, which meant we would have to leave everything we had ever known!  We had to leave our home, sell our stuff, my tools!, our extra clothing, my new business!...everything.  That was quite the undertaking (I gained 20 pounds in three months from the stress!) but He brought us through it.  Doors opened, and the first week of April 2016 we took off with all we could stuff in a Suburban around our 5 kids.


The Discipleship Training School (D.T.S.) was intense!  It was a very difficult 5 months on our family, (I lost the 20 pounds!) but full of fellowship with one another, and times of amazing intimacy with Jesus.  During that time we were able to focus on getting Christ back in the center of our family, finances, relationships, works, everything.  We had gotten so off-course just living our lives in Texas.  It was easy in my job, church, and hobbies to 'get busy' and not pay attention to the needs of our family.  There in Mexico, with no connections, job, and in each others face all day, God revealed so much.  We were a broken family, and were in desperate need of that time to heal and God has healed us so much.  Don't get me wrong....there's much left to do!  I'm just glad He's not done with us yet!

I graduated from the D.T.S. on September 1st 2016 and we are spending a few weeks 'state-side' before heading back to the ministry full time.



Finally, here's what we will be doing: (tl;dr)

Our main focus at the Y.W.A.M. base down in Guadalajara is to teach people how to know God.  That is, how to have a relationship with the author of the Bible, instead of just reading the book!  We are working with several local villages near the campus, sharing weekly bible study and fellowship with them.  We work with a group of children from the area through a program called Kings Kids (Hijos Del Rey).  They come to the campus every month (anywhere from 60-100 kids) to learn more about the importance of an intimate relationship with Christ.  We host groups from all around the world on short term missions (2 weeks to 2 months), family conference weekends, worship conventions, and the Amish come down from Pennsylvania once a year to help us build homes for families!  The part I'm most happy with there, is that the whole family can be involved.  This isn't about Luke doing his thing with God...it's about our whole family helping spread the Good News and using what God has given us to bring Him glory.  It's all about you, Jesus!

This is my prayer, "Father, I'm done living my life.  I tried it, and it didn't work without You.  I need you.  Every day, every hour, every minute, I need you.  Take my life, form it to yours.  Everyday is a gift from you, and I want to use all I have to bring You glory.  You, only You, are worth my praise, my time, and my effort.  I pray that You would always stay the focus of my mind, heart, soul, strength, and family.  Keep me humble, keep me real, keep me in the shadow of your wings.  Thank you that we may become righteous through the gift of Your Son, and the strength of the Spirit that you've made available for everyone, everywhere.  I want to be a better witness of Your love, Your crazy, relentless, never-failing love.  To You be the glory.  Amen"






Aug 21, 2016

The Definition of a Missionary According to Mandie

Reaching people who have never been reached. . .
Telling people who have never heard. . .
Touching lives who have never been touched. . .
Talking to people who have never been talked to. . .
          About God.


Thanks Mandie!

Jul 23, 2016

Struck Down, But Not Destroyed (2nd Corinthians 4:8)

Life here in Mexico has been passing peacefully. Luke has finished the classroom portion of his school, and we have begun the "outreach" phase of his training. The outreach portion has been broken up into three segments. Segment one is hosting "Hijos Del Rey" camp which means "Kids of the King". It is a camp for local kids in the area who are Christians. My oldest 2 kids have been blessed to take part in this camp and I have been amazed by all that the Lord has done in their hearts during this time. Campers receive teachings, time for 'adoracion' (praise and worship), workshops (either music, dance, or drama), small groups, and more. We have been blessed to spend time with the kids and teenagers who are here. My little guys attract a lot of attention from the local teenage girls because of their blonde hair and light eyes. Often times I look into the crowd to find one of my  littlest three posing for pictures. They call my kids "guerito", I think it means "little blondie". Seems like I hear that word everywhere I go, especially from the sweet little Mexican grandmothers that we happen across.

The next segment of our outreach will last almost three weeks. We will be travelling to Puebla and Mexico City to do evangelism. The kids and I will join in for this portion. I am really looking forward to it. The kids and I are going to try to learn a few new christian kids songs in Spanish to sing with/for the kids on this leg of our journey. I will post more about this phase in the next few weeks.

The final leg of outreach will be in a city a few hours south of where we are here in Chapala. Luke will take part in this journey, but the kids and I are going to stay home. At that point, Luke will have completed his schooling. We plan to attend a meeting in Kansas after his graduation in September with another couple from the base, and then we will be in Amarillo (Lord willing) to visit our family and friends.

So what does all of this good news have to do with the title of this post? Well, I'm glad you asked.

To answer that question, you need to know a little bit of my back story. During my first pregnancy with my daughter, about 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. It completely rocked my world. I went from being a very active and energetic person, to a person whose fingers were to weak to pull up the bedsheets at night, and who couldn't stand up straight when I got out of bed. Over the past 10 years I have had my fair share of physical suffering. In the worst times, I couldn't walk or function. I was utterly miserable. The Dr. I went to at that time advised me to start taking a biologic drug that would prohibit me from safely having any more children, and that would certainly have negative long term side effects on my health. I was left asking myself some really hard questions.  Why me, God? Am I still important to you? Do you want me to suffer and struggle? Do you love me? Did you ever really love me? I had moments when I felt like I had been robbed of the healthy active life I had been planning on living. In many ways, I thought my life was over. To put it simply, I had been struck down, way down . . .

As the years passed, the Lord showed me how to care for myself in a way (mostly through diet) that all but eliminated my pain, without taking any toxic prescriptions. Not only that, He blessed my husband and I with 4 sons. I have been able to care for my home, my husband, and my children all with fingers that may not look exactly like yours but can get the job done just as well. He has used my arthritis to teach me humility, compassion, empathy, and more. He has allowed this disease to reveal to me that which is important in life, and that which is not. He has used it to make me thankful, and to reveal to me beauty that would have been overlooked before. Today, I am living a very active life in Mexico doing exactly what the Lord and I want me to be doing. Ten years ago I never would have imagined the life I have now was a possibility. My life was not destroyed by rheumatoid arthritis, in fact I am thriving.

A lack of pain and suffering in life does not equate to being loved by God. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Pain and suffering in life are to be considered "all joy" to the believer who believes that the struggle being faced is evidence of sonship to almighty God. Suffering is required to produce the character traits the Lord is trying to develop in His children to "make them perfect". Suffering makes us more like Christ. Suffering gets the attention of the world. Hard times have come, and more are brewing on the horizon. This is not a lack of love from our Father. When we find ourselves in the midst of agony, and the inevitable question comes to mind, "Do you even love me, Lord?" The answer is to be found on the cross, not on our personal comfort scale. At the cross He proved His love. At the cross He gave us new life that is being renewed by Him day by day, although outwardly we shrivel and waste away.

On the day I die, when I trade my temporary body in for an eternal one, I hope that God and I have a good laugh over the condition of my body. Some parts will be shrivelled from arthritis, others will be stretched from pregnancy and nursing, my brain will be full of our conversations, my hands will have been used to bring nourishment, comfort, and sometimes even to usher a new life into the world. My skin will have wrinkles and sunspots. My toes will not all point in the same direction. But I hope and I pray that every part of my body will have been made accessible to the Lord, no corner kept for myself, and God and I can look on my body and see that it was His more than mine. And on that day, all the pain and suffering will have been well worth it.

"Fallow Ground" by A.W. Tozer:   http://www.theprayerlife.com/tozerfallow.html
Sermon on suffering by Matt Chandler:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlGdmKYqfMI

Jun 23, 2016

Motivation from Montana

A group of mostly retired men and women from Montana arrived at our base a few days ago. Most are in their 60's, and most have sold their belongings to give God their retirement years working through YWAM. They are here helping out our base because we are understaffed. They have been pulling weeds, mowing, trimming plants, washing dishes, etc . . . you know, just serving.

How different they are than most of the retirees I have met. The ones who have always told me, "Work now so you can rest later"or "Save now, so you can spend later". I remember in my high school economics class doing the math: if you save $20 a month every month starting when your 18 then by the age of whatever you'll be a millionaire.

Well these guys aren't millionaires. Technically, many are homeless. They have given God it all, and their retirement is no exception. They want to serve God till the last day. They know that the only thing they possess is today, and today they have turned over to their master.

I want to live like them. I want to give God my thirties, my forties, my fifties, my sixties, my seventies, my eighties, my nineties. Lord knows I may be a crippled old lady for most of that time, but I'll be a crippled old lady in love with Him.

Why do they do it?

Because they know He saved them.

Deep down in their hearts they know who they are and what they have been saved from. They are happy to be doing what they are doing, they would be miserable doing anything else, they are humble servants doing their duty . . . because they know Him . . . and He's worth it.

He's so extremely worth it. Nothing could have ever been more deserved by any person at any time for any reason. Jesus Christ is worth every penny I have and every day I live. Life in Him is more lifelike than any other life I have ever lived. He's the author of life, and He knows how to make it good. If you don't love Him, you probably just don't know Him.

Thank you Father, for the motivation you sent here from Montana. What a blessing. Amen.

Jun 17, 2016

The Rain In Mexico

The Rainy Season has finally arrived here in Mexico!! I have never experienced the type of torrential flooding I have witnessed here! It comes on pretty quickly. The skies will be blue with soft, white, fluffy clouds all around, and then suddenly, in a matter of minutes, the black and grey clouds, heavy with water, will roll in. Large and loud drops will begin to plop on the arms and cheeks. Thunderous booms scatter over the sky. Finally, the heavens will open and the floods will commence. I planted seeds last week, and I'm pretty sure they are all washed away. I don't think it's even worth reseeding, because the water is so overwhelming. I don't see how they could stay under the ground. How these people farm from seed here is beyond me! Usually, it happens in the late evening or during the night. I believe it has rained probably 9 of the last 10 nights. The rain chases away the heat, cools the air and the earth; it revives the body. However, by late afternoon the heat is back, the sweat has settled under my arms and on my forehead, and I am grateful that this season has come! It's not always torrential. It's not always overwhelming. Sometimes it's quite peaceful, and very relaxing. Rain brings security to the land, and peace to my mind.

For weeks before the Rainy Season finally came upon us, it teased us relentlessly. There would be moments in the late afternoon when the winds would begin to stir. The clouds would start to cluster together over the sun, and even the air would be thick with the delicious smell of moisture. Those of us working outside during times like this would look at each other with excitement in our eyes, anticipating the release of the tension in the air, waiting for the storm that seemed so near. Often, staff members would dart out of buildings and sprint towards the laundry line in an effort to rescue their clothes. At times, a few drops would even grace the earth, but they would evaporate from the sidewalk almost instantly. Even though the ground was thirsty and desperate for a drink, the clouds would dissipate and the hope of rain would quickly relent to the reality that is the Dry Season. Only two seasons exist in this part of Mexico. The Rainy Season lasts from sometime in May or June to sometime in October, and the rest of the year is painfully dry.

In my mind, as I observed the coming of the rainy season this year, I was reminded of the church.

When I saw the clouds begin to gather, and I smelled the moisture in the air, it made me think of the people of the church beginning to gather themselves on a Sunday morning. . . the promise of worshipers arising to rain glory down on their King. I imagined what the Lord experiences as the people of the earth, who claim Him, wake up and begin to prepare themselves to gather together. He patiently watches as they eat their breakfast and dress themselves and their family. He feels the stir in the air as the car doors slam and the people are moving together, like droplets of rain beginning to stick to each other in a cloud. Does He smell the prayers that float up. Is He anticipating the outpouring of love from their hearts to His throne room? Is He awaiting the relief, the breaking of the tension, as his bride worships Him in Spirit and in truth.

Does the rain ever come? Do we depend on the few droplets of those who truly praise and worship to carry us through? Do we release to our God what He is due? Is it the Dry Season in the chapel?

FINALLY, the beautiful day will come forth . . . like the coming of the Rainy Season . . . when the true worshippers gather together and they pour out their love and admiration for their redeemer. They forget about their own lives, and plug into Him. They pour out their prayers, their songs, and their love to their Lord like a torrential flood that has been a long time coming. They confess their sins, they accept each other as sinners saved, and they truly give Him all they have. They make full use of their time together to bring glory to their King, to stand as a witness of who He is and what He has done.

When they do, the world is effected. Flowers pop up . . . the promise of fruit. Things that used to look dead begin to bud and show signs of life. Little trenches have formed in the dirt, and the gravel in the road has shifted. Everyone who wakes up the morning after a big rain can easily perceive the precipitation that occurred the night before.


And the King is pleased.

May 12, 2016

Laundry Lessons from the Lord

I will try not to make every post I write about laundry, but the Lord has really used all of this hand washing to teach me. I decided to share some of what I've learned here. . .



In America, I was happily able to hide many of my sins and shortcomings in the comfort of my own home. When I was impatient with my kids, or lazy, or not prudent to correct and discipline as I should, or just plain in a bad mood, I could hide in my home . . . and when I was in public, I would just pretend that nothing had happened. I'm sure I'm the only one who has ever done this . . . right?

Well, when we arrived in Mexico we moved into a beautiful casita that happens to be situated right next door to the classroom where the entire staff and all of the students gather each morning to worship and study for 4 hours. Did I mention that here in Mexico the climate is so lovely there are not AC units or heaters. Nope. Everyone just opens their windows and lets the freshness blow right on in. Which is great. . . unless you're home with 5 calm, quiet, happy, obedient, loving, gentle children who probably shouldn't disturb the important teachings going on next door :) Further, I never know when someone might knock on the door, or be standing by my window, or listening to the lovely conversation we may be enjoying inside ;) Suffice it to say my comfort blanket didn't make it with me to Mexico. All of my character defects are on full display. Honestly, when we first arrived, I was pretty humiliated humbled by us. We weren't being very nice to each other, to put it mildly.

The good Lord is cleaning us. Praise Him for it!! That's why we came here after all. For Him to teach us and mold us into who he wants us to be, so that we may be usable to Him. The first step for us was a good cleansing.

When He did, He didn't just ignore all the stains and throw us into the machine. He spot treated, scrubbed those spots, turned us inside out, covered us over with soap and began to scrub.
Up and down and up and down the washboard we went. Sometimes it left us in tears, sometimes it was kind of fun, definitely it was embarrassing.  I'll tell you the water that He rinsed off of us wasn't clear my friends. But I wonder, if He didn't take the time to clean us . . . would we really even be His.



I mean, I don't clean the clothes of people who aren't my people. I don't wash things that don't belong to me. If you've never felt the Lord working you over and scrubbing your sins away, are you sure you belong to Him? Does He know you enough to take the time to scoop you up and gently wash your sins away?

I also wonder, are His belongings that aren't clean valuable to Him?

If something in my house is unclean, I consider it unusable. I don't eat on dirty dishes, or cook in dirty pans. I don't wear dirty clothes, or sit in dirty chairs. I avoid dirty things. However, the things I use the most are the things I clean the most. After I have cleaned and cared for something, then it feels more mine than it did before. When the Lord cleans us, He makes us usable to Him. He is cleaning us for a purpose. We don't know what it is yet, but that doesn't matter. He knows what it is, and that brings us comfort.

Another point the Lord has revealed while I scrub the clothes is this: things can't clean themselves. My clothes can't remove their own stains. My floors can't mop themselves. They are at my mercy. Either I care for them, or I don't. Similarly, I do not have the power to make myself clean in the eyes of the Lord. I simply am incapable. But when I yield to Him, He cares for me.

Being the one on the washboard is uncomfortable, but it's worth it. If I were to continue to hide under my comfort blanket and pretend that all of my faults weren't there, or if I were to just explain them away, they would never actually go away. I'd never be free from them. The Lord tells us to confess our sins to each other, not to hide them away.

"Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? 
Who may stand in His holy place? 
He who has clean hands and a pure heart
Who does not lift up his soul to another, 
     or swear by what is false. 
He will receive blessing from the Lord.
And vindication from God His savior. 
Such is the generation of those who seek Him, 
Who seek your face, O God of Jacob. "
               Psalms 24: 3-10


"Lord, if you are willing you can make me clean  . . . "
"I am willing . . . be clean" 
               Matthew 8:2


"How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished before God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God." 
               Hebrews 9:14


Church, ask the Lord to cleanse you from your acts that lead to death. We all have them. None is without sin. And none is with excuse, because He is willing. Let yourselves be cleansed before the time is gone. 


" Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions. 
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions, 
and my sin is ever before me. 
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight, 
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgement.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, 
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, 
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation, 
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise. 
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
then will you delight in right sacrifices,
 in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; 
then bulls will be offered on your altar. "
               Psalms 51




Apr 16, 2016

El Lavadero (The Pictures are for you Maribel!)

This morning Luke and I took the kids into Chapala, here's a picture of the kids by Chapala Lake. 


This is Matthew standing in front of our house. 


This is the view of the Lake from the YWAM (or JUCUM as they say here) campus.


This is a picture of Mandie and Matthew on the way to the village we went to on Wednesday. 


Now on to clothes washing in Mexico!

This is a lavadero. The process is pretty simple. You fill the right side of the sink with clean water and you never allow any soap or dirty clothes on that side. On the left side, lay your piece of clothing on the washboard inside out, get it very wet, and rub your bar of soap over it until it is very very soapy and sudsy.

Then the fun part, you work your clothing back and forth over the washboard with great vigor until the soap is thoroughly infused into the garment. Flip your clothing and repeat.


Next, you use a plastic container to scoop water from the right side of the sink over to the left side thereby rinsing off all of the soap and dirt. Once the water runs clear, you squeeze the life out of it, and hang it to dry. 



Your clothing will be dry in no time! Simply gather your things from the line, fold, and put away. Finito!!

Now, there may be one of these near by. It may even have a shiny cover to keep it clean. Just pass it by (unless you are washing sheets . . . then use it by all means!!)


This is a picture of the drying area.


This is a picture of the squirrel they caught the day we arrived. Apparently this little guy had really caused some trouble. 


The pictures taken here are from the laundry area on campus. We have a lavadero in our house and some lines hanging inside. I have since used the one in our home. The pictures are from the day I learned. A very nice 16 year old boy named Isaiah did laundry by me and showed me the ropes. He was a very good teacher who speaks very good english. 



Bien Dia!!





Apr 14, 2016

What To Say?

There is so much that I could write about. There's no way I could possibly do everything in my mind justice, so I'm just going to hit the highlights.

     When we left Amarillo we stopped for a bathroom break in Plainview, TX. Luke and I broke out into song, "Have you seen Jesus my Lord? He's here in plain view". All the Church of Christer's will know that one. Anyway, as I was walking in, a Mexican man was walking out.
     Him: "Are you from Mexico?"
     Me: "No??"
     Him: "No? Well, do you speak Spanish?"
     Me: " Un poco. Lo siento"
     Him: "Poquito"
     Me: "Oh, poquito"
     Him: "You aren't from Mexico?"
     Me: "No."
     Him: "You don't speak Spanish??"
    Me: "No."
     Me: "I'm actually moving to Mexico right now. We are on  our way."
     Him: "Oh, spanish spanish spanish"
     Me: "No comprendo"
     Him: "Where in Mexico"
    Me: "Chapala"
     Him: "Oh, it's very nice down there. Have a good trip"
Then we shook hands and nodded heads and went about our business. NEVER IN MY LIFE has anyone ever asked me if I was Mexican before . . . but on the day I'm moving to Mexico, this. I just felt like the Lord was winking at me. He was telling me He is with us.

     We spent that night in Abilene visiting our great friends there. Marcus was coming down from their loft. He fell.,,broken arm. We weren't expecting that. Luckily we were staying with our friend who is a fireman who immediately splinted the arm and went with us to the ER.  The whole thing was pretty straight forward, but it could have been terrible. Marcus is handling it amazingly well, and he's great at making sure his cast doesn't get wet. I don't recommend you go around him with water of any kind ;)






     Then we went to Austin. My Aunt was there and we really enjoyed our time with her. Austin was very restful, we needed that!


     The next day we crossed the border and drove into Monterrey. Crossing the border was pretty uneventful. The hard part was finding the Cetev. Cetev is where you get your permit to have a car in Mexico. That part was interesting. All of the people watched our family like we were a circus act. I kept hearing people say "cinco hijos". It seems large families just don't happen around here, so we are sort of an anomaly in that respect. They peeked in our windows, it seemed like they were so overwhelmed with the huge amount of stuff in our car. I don't think they wanted to deal with it, so they just waved us through.

     Monterrey was cray-cray!!! Driving in Mexico is INSANE!  The streets are painted like our streets, but no one follows the laws. People drive in the shoulders, they drive down the middle line that separates the direction of traffic, they cross the double solid yellow to pass (which is terrifying!) . . . Trust me there is no texting while driving in this country, you'd be a gonner if you did!

 

  The next day we drove all the way to Chapala. The highway leaving Monterrey goes up into the mountains. The clouds were down over the mountains, so we had very very bad visibility! It was like driving in a cloud...very eery. The rest of the drive was great. We saw trees in the desert that looked like yucca on a trunk. Turns out that's exactly what they are! I guess if yucca plants in Amarillo got enough rain they would grow trunks, too! It was on this stretch we were pulled over by a police officer in AGUASO


     We were so happy when we finally arrived in Chapala! We were greeted by a very nice group of people who live here on campus. Our home here is lovely. More than I had ever expected. I'll take pictures and post about it later. Yesterday Mandie, Matthew, and I did the laundry by hand . . . I'll post about that later, too. Today after lunch we are going to a little village about an hour away that does not have a church. We will be helping the team we are with teach the children about Christianity. I'll post about that later, too.

We have made many friends here. The kids LOVE it here! The hearts of the missionaries here are in the right place. We feel that the direction and instruction we receive here is from the Lord. Luke will start his Discipleship Training class on Sunday, we are going to start our school on Monday.

     Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. Pray that we will continue to build our Spanish vocabularies, and that our kids will treat each other and others with love.

Blessings!! Cassie


**This was written yesterday morning.