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Questions at Night

August 27th, 2009 Filed under Ministry 1 Comment

Are we turning the crisis of an unplanned pregnancy into an opportunity for growth for the pregnant woman? Are we really making a difference? The needs are so great!! How can two homes for 11 mothers and their unborn babies make a dent in the chaos and craziness that we see all around us?

These are questions that can keep me up at night… questions that roll around in my head after hearing some of the stories from those in need. One was from the friend of a pregnant 16 year old Spanish only speaking girl who already has a 2 year old and is in a domestic violence situation. Another came from Houston Independent School District administrator concerning a homeless16 year old with her 3 year old and she is pregnant again. Or another call from Star of Hope shelter (who are already busting at the seams) concerning 3 pregnant women aged 20, 21 and 30!!

When I begin questioning, the Lord is so quick to cause me to remember His faithfulness in the past and His equipping for the future. He reminds me of the residents who still call houseparents months and even years after leaving LifeHouse to “just check in.” He reminds me that some of Jesus’ most impactful ministry opportunities were done one on one (see the woman at the well or Nicodemus.) He reminds me that He has given us a vision to reach beyond our current services and provide a greater level of post-partum support.

These are exciting, and to be honest, scary times at LifeHouse but I often hear the words that the Lord spoke to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous.” My translation is “do it afraid!” He will never leave us or forsake us. I don’t know what questions roll through your mind at the end of the day but I pray you will be encouraged to remember Him! If you get the chance, let me know what you are doing afraid.

For Wives: Things To Do As You Wait On a Miracle # 5

August 20th, 2009 Filed under Bible, Intentional Living 1 Comment

A dear friend of mine write this and I thought it was worth adding it to my blog.

Play the Tapes to the End
It often looks much greener on the other side of the fence. Don’t allow yourself to look through rose colored glasses. If you’re struggling with the desire to leave your husband, take a long, hard look at what that really looks like. The enemy is the master of lies. Would life really be easier? Are you sure that you really want to be single? What do children of divorced parents really feel? Are you so sure that your marriage is the one thing that is impossible for God?

Can You Stay for Today?
Spending your time looking at the next 5 years or the rest of your life in a difficult marriage can make you run the other way. The Lord tells us not to worry about tomorrow because it has enough worries of its own. He wants us to live in today. Tomorrow is filled with what if’s. These things are not true yet and chances are they will never become reality. As you sit with the Lord and listen to His leading for the day, ask yourself, by the grace of God can you stay and do the right thing for today… Deuteronomy 30:11 says, “Now what I’m commanding today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.” You are not trapped. You can always choose differently tomorrow though I am confident that the Lord will amaze you with His grace as you choose obedience today.

Don’t Let Anything Keep You From Quiet Time with the Lord
There is no way to live as a godly life apart from the Lord. You need to hear how deeply He loves you. You need to express your love for Him. You need His Wisdom. You need His Counselor. You need everything that He’s got and willingly extending to you. He IS your peace. He is your Shield. He is the Truth and the Way. He’s freedom and He’s your Deliverer! Occasional moments grabbed throughout the day will never reveal the God that you need to know. He is your very Life! Large chunks of devoted time early in the morning are your recharging. Take the Lord at His Word. “Those that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up on wings as eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:11) “Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.” (Isaiah 41:10)

If you have little children, get up earlier than them. I know of a woman who had her quiet time in the middle of the night and then went back to bed. Yes, rest is important but the Lord will supply all of your needs, even rest, when we put Him first in all things. Try Him. Let Him prove it to you.

Ensure that you are reading God’s Word and not just about God’s Word. There are many useful tools and resources out there but they need to be supplements to a healthy diet of the Word of God. Ask Him to “Open your eyes to see wondrous things in His law.” He will not disappoint you!

The Lord knows that what He asks of us is not always easy. Sometimes, it may feel like it’s never easy but He is the Rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him. I can testify to a God who is WAY bigger than I ever knew – and I’m just seeing the tip of the iceberg! I can testify that I have come to know the Creator God for He created love where there was none left. He truly healed my broken heart and has made beauty where there was only ashes. For that I am eternally grateful!

For Wives: Things To Do As You Wait On a Miracle # 4

August 19th, 2009 Filed under Bible, Intentional Living 3 Comments

A dear friend of mine write this and I thought it was worth adding it to my blog.

Become Your Husband’s Cheerleader
I’m confident that somewhere inside every man is a doubt or anxiety of “can I really do this?” Be a good husband, provide for a family, be a good lover. Become his cheerleader. Make a conscious point of looking for things that you can praise him for. I understand that at first, it may take some looking. We are in the habit of seeing the bad. Genuinely thank him for every good thing you see. Tell him that he’s doing a good job of … I have been stunned by how much my husband has appreciated this. These are pleasant words that are sweet to the soul and bring healing to his bones like Proverbs 16:24 talks about.

Allow Yourself to Be Dependent on Your Husband
Depending on how badly you’ve been hurt, this can be very difficult. Even if you’ve never said it consciously, our tendency is to build walls so that we won’t be hurt again. 1 Peter 3:1 tells us to “be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them]…” Chances are you rebel against things that you would consider bad decisions on their part. The enemy tells us not to let ourselves “go down” with that sinking ship. A friend of mine taught me to say, “whatever you think is best, dear.” Rather than argue your side, if, after simply and calmly stating your opinion, you are of differing minds, winsomely say “whatever you think is best.” Be mindful not to be patronizing. Your husband will know the difference.

It is safe for you to submit to your husband even if you are positive that he is making the wrong decision because Jesus is the Lord of lords. You are not responsible for your husband’s decision but you are responsible for your response to him. That same wise friend reminded me that submission only occurs when we disagree. If I’m not of a differing mind, it’s called agreement. Submission is difficult and it goes against everything the world (and our unbelieving friends) tell us but it is richly rewarded by our Heavenly Father. It is even safe for you to submit to an unbelieving husband or one that is not walking with the Lord as long as what he asks of you is not immoral or illegal. That same verse in 1 Peter 3 continues to say “so that even if any (husbands) do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives.” I had to quit preaching and arguing my point and start living out my role as God intended.

We are to live as godly wives in “like manner” to how Jesus conducted Himself. “When He was reviled and insulted, He did not revile or offer insult in return; [when] He was abused and suffered, He made no threats [of vengeance]; but He trusted [Himself and everything] to Him Who judges fairly.” 1 Peter 2:23. Trust yourself to the One Who is faithful!

For Wives: Things To Do As You Wait On a Miracle # 3

August 18th, 2009 Filed under Bible, Intentional Living Comments Off on For Wives: Things To Do As You Wait On a Miracle # 3

A dear friend of mine write this and I thought it was worth adding it to my blog.

Make an 80/20 List – or a 60/40!
Make a list of things that attracted you to your husband in the first place. Make a list of good qualities that he has exhibited. Everyone has them. In fact, I believe we do have more good qualities than bad. It’s just easier to see the things we wish were different. Keep the list handy! Mine is in the back of my Bible and I purposely added to it whenever something would come to mind. Review the list often and thank the Lord for each quality.

Make Some Things Right, Seek Forgiveness
Perhaps your parents didn’t bless your marriage or you were engaging in pre-marital sex. Seek forgiveness. You can seek forgiveness for not honoring your parents or seek forgiveness from your husband for not waiting to have sex with the Lord’s blessing. These things are not easy nor do many people think they are necessary but once they’ve been dealt with Biblically, when the enemy throws out lies like “you should have listened to your mother” you can stand on the Truth of no condemnation!

Learn the Lesson “But if Not…”
I have found that in every major lesson life change/lesson that the Lord has taken me through there has come a point where I had to come to grips with the fact “but if not…” I’m still going to choose to follow the Lord in obedience. When I struggled with infertility and thought that the Lord was robbing me of a blessing, I had to come to the point where if He never gave me children, He was still Good. When my father was dying of cancer, if the Lord never healed him, He was still Good. If your husband never changes, God is still Good and it is the right thing to walk out your life in obedience. The other thing that I’ve found is that God is so gracious and generous!! He rewards our feeble steps in His direction!

My grandfather always used to say that if the Lord never did anything else for him but save his soul, it was worth serving Him forever. It’s the truth!

For Wives: Things To Do As You Wait On a Miracle # 2

August 17th, 2009 Filed under Bible, Intentional Living Comments Off on For Wives: Things To Do As You Wait On a Miracle # 2

A dear friend of mine write this and I thought it was worth adding it to my blog.

Everyone Needs a Day 17
Ruth Myers, in her book “31 Days of Praise” has written an awesome scripture prayer about being thankful for the place in life that we are currently in. The whole book is about praising the Lord when things are difficult. It’s put out by Multnomah and is worth purchasing for anyone – crisis or not.

Surround Yourself with Positive Accountability Partners and Prayer Warriors
If you are like me, it is easy to see the negative side of situations. You need people who will help you to see the positives. I needed someone who would stop me in mid-conversation if I was about to rant and complain about my husband. My friend would simply say, “have you taken this to the Throne?” or “have you tattled to Jesus?” Your friends and family don’t need to know all of the details. Whatever you spend the most time concentrating on is what is going to grow bigger. Surround yourself with friends that will say, “remember when…” and remind you of those good things that your husband has done. You may need to make a list. It makes it easier to remember when you aren’t seeing those qualities in the moment! If your friends aren’t currently operating in this way – ask them to! Tell them that it is what you need from them. It really is what you need from them. A word of caution – your accountability partners MUST not be of the opposite sex! That’s never appropriate and can lead down paths of destruction.

For Wives: Things To Do As You Wait On a Miracle # 1

August 16th, 2009 Filed under Bible, Intentional Living Comments Off on For Wives: Things To Do As You Wait On a Miracle # 1

A dear friend of mine write this and I thought it was worth adding it to my blog.

Pray Less For Your Husband and More for Yourself
This may sound totally selfish and inappropriate but sometimes, when a relationship is strained, it’s difficult to pray for your spouse without giving the Lord a long prescription of everything that you’d like to see changed in your spouse. Praying for your spouse can easily become a complaining session with the Lord and since the Lord knows better than us what is going on and what needs to be done, prayer sessions like that serve only to discourage us and remind us of everything that is frustrating or hurtful.

In a great little book “Get the Junk Out of Your Trunk: Let Go of the Past to Live Your Best Life” (by Duane Vander Klok) I learned that when we need to forgive someone who has hurt us, we need to pray blessing over their lives – with NO prescription! When we are praying blessing and not telling the Lord how He should do it, we are brought to the point of forgiveness and wanting to see good things happen in their lives rather than retribution.
Prayer is something everyone says and even assumes but we do entirely too little of it and even less effectively. God’s Word is sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Praying His Word, convicts us where we’ve fallen short. When we come into agreement with what He says and repent, it accomplishes His purposes within us (Isaiah 55:11). Our lives (and marriages) will be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).
Some great scriptures to pray daily for yourself are:
• 1 Corinthians 13:1-7, 12-13
• 1 Peter 2:18-25 (like the term or not, as married women we are “household servants” and we are the only one in our home with that job description)
• 1 Peter 3:1-6, 8-9
• Proverbs 16:24

I liked the way these verses were worded in the Amplified Bible. It put some teeth to some of the words that were either too familiar or vague. I prayed these daily for many months. The words became ingrained in my mind and the Spirit would call them to mind – often – when I would be tempted to insist on my own rights or add something to a mental tally sheet of what my husband was doing “wrong” (1 Cor. 13:5).

I printed my prayers out on recipe cards and keep them in a photo album that fits into my purse. I recorded audios of them and put them on my I-pod. Keep them handy and commit to doing what they say. It’s not enough to just read them or highlight them and visit them occasionally. You must do what it says (James 1:22).

The Next Right Thing

August 11th, 2009 Filed under Intentional Living, Ministry 3 Comments

For those of you who do not know me, I am the consummate planner! Making to-do lists is a joy to me which is only surpassed by checking off a completed task on these lists. As LifeHouse moves forward into its third decade of ministry, there is not a specific plan to follow or clear action steps to take. There is not a book at Barnes and Noble entitled “Running Maternity Homes for Dummies!” I am definitely in a place where I must constantly be on my knees asking God for directions. Can anyone else relate?

What I continue to hear from Him is, “Just do the next right thing.” One step, one decision, one day at a time. I believe this is not just a word for me but a word for the residents that live at LifeHouse. Just do the next right thing.

Through the teaching of our Houseparents, the advice of our professional counselor and much prayer, the teens and young women of LifeHouse will realize what is the next right step. Proverbs 4:18 says, “…the path of the just and righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines more and more (brighter and clearer) until…the perfect day.” (Amp.) As I take the next right step… as the residents take the next right step, the path becomes clearer and clearer. Of course the opposite is true also. If we do not stay on the path of justice and righteousness, the path becomes darker and darker.

Would you please pray for all of us to remain on the path of Truth? Would you pray that together we can do the next right thing?

May you, too, do the next right thing.

What is Success?

August 5th, 2009 Filed under Ministry 1 Comment

Many people have described me as a bottom line person. As the Executive Director, one of the hardest parts of my job is defining the success of the ministry. Is it babies saved? Is it decisions to follow Jesus Christ? Is it number of residents ministered to? Is it the number of residents who remain until the end of their pregnancy? Of course, all of these are great indicators of success but stories like the following about just one resident throws a wrench in my “bottom-line-ness.”

Sidney* had already experienced too many struggles in her first 19 years of life. Her mother had sent Sidney back and forth between relatives here in the states and in Africa most of her life. At 17, Sidney was kicked out by her mother and moved in with a friend, Sally*, and her family. When Sally’s mother found out Sidney was pregnant, she gave her a proposition:  leave the house or have an abortion. For Sidney, although this is not how she wanted her life to be, being pregnant was a blessing because she was told that she would never have any children due to a botched female circumcision that had occurred during her time in Africa.

Sidney thought on this for almost two months before returning to Sally’s mother with the decision to give her baby life. Sally’s mother found LifeHouse on the internet and brought Sidney for her interview. Sidney with her bubbly personality was a natural leader around LifeHouse. She had grown up eating fast food and using paper plates, so she did not know how to cook, wash dishes, or even how to use a dishwasher. By the time she left, she had a notebook full of recipes she enjoyed cooking. It had become fun to her! Her confidence began to grow.

Another area where Sidney grew in her confidence was in completing goals. She came to us feeling as if she had never finished a single thing that she had started. She had failed her senior year by just two credits so we enrolled her at Tegeler Career Center and learned she could complete her high school degree in just a couple of months. Sidney set high goals for herself and worked hard and completed her classes in under two months. She was excited to receive her high school diploma and see that she can finish things that she starts.

Lastly, but most importantly, Sidney accepted Christ while here at LifeHouse. During devotions at night, Sidney listened intently to every word the houseparents said and asked many questions later. One night, she decided to follow Christ and was baptized after church by one of her housedads.

Although Sidney left the LifeHouse before the end of her pregnancy, she was a completely different woman than when she stepped through those doors. She left on good terms and with dreams that she never thought could be possible before.

I may not be able to quantify in a neat little formula the “success” of Sidney but I do know that Sidney is just one of many lives that have been significantly impacted by LifeHouse. What a joy to be a part of a ministry were we are able to have not only eternal influence on women’s lives but we are affecting their day to day lives. May we all continue to find this type of “success.”

*Name changed for confidentiality.