Saturday, February 14, 2009

Guatemala -- here they come!

From the time my children were tiny, we've talked about ministry and serving God. As our kids have grown, we've encouraged them to think about summer ministries and opportunities. Last summer, one daughter and I went with a church team to the D.R. for a week and had a phenomenal time. She couldn't wait to do another trip, and her younger sister was ready to go with her.

We just assumed that they would go with our church again this summer. But they surprised my husband and I a month ago, and told us they wanted to go to Guatemala with a missions trip sponsored by Brio Magazine. We told them to pray, get us more information, and pray some more. We looked over the information ( and talked about it. We prayed with them and encouraged them to go ahead and send in the application -- knowing that if God wants them to be there, he would work out the details.

Well, yesterday both girls received word that they have been accepted! They will have 3 days of training in Miami, and then 10 days in Guatemala City. We are all so excited. . . I know they are going to have an awesome time.

But in the midst of the excitement is the reality: they each need to raise approximately $2,500 to cover the cost of the trip. I know in my heart that if God wants them there, he will work out the details --- including the finances. But my logical head is fighting a little --- for us, right now, that is a lot of money. A LOT! We have no way to provide the money for the girls, and that 's a hard thing for me to accept -- but it's a good thing. Because they have to know that the provisions come from God, not us! In reality, I know that it's not too much for God.

I'm excited by the prospect of the trip itself, but I'm also excited and nervous and a little scared all at once to see exactly HOW God will provide. I'm eager to have MY faith strengthened and even more excited to help my girls grow in their faith as THEY see what God can do.

And so a new adventure begins!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Facing Trials

At the Christian school where I teach, we start each day with a silent devotional time. Teachers and students alike have a simple devotional journal with a short passage to read each day. Recently our passage included James 1:2-4:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. - Passage Lookup: James 1
I’ve known these verses for years. In fact, as a teenager in the midst of my own “teen angst” I claimed them to help me weather the storms of life.

But as I read the other day, and looked out AT my 8th grade students and thought of my own teen-age children, a new perspective dawned on me. This passage suggests that the reason we can take joy in trials is the knowledge that trials bring perseverance, and perseverance brings maturity.

Logically then – weathering trials results in maturity. As adults, we look at teens and want them to “grow up”, to mature. But for them to really mature, as human beings and as Christians, they need to face trials.

Yet how many parents do you know who protect their children. How many well-meaning parents step in so that they child won’t face failure or suffer negative consequences? How many of us intervene to make life easier for our kids? How many of us pray that our kids WON’T face trials, that they will have a good day, that they will be loved, accepted, happy, zit-free, etc. I do it – I pray for good things to happen to my kids, because I love them and I don’t want to see them hurt.

But the question is if they don’t hurt, if they don’t suffer some, if they don’t face trials, will they ever really grow up? When I solve all my kids’ problems, do I make it so they don’t have to depend on God? Do I hinder their growth?

Could this be why there are so many 20 – 30 year old “teen-agers” out there? Their parents protected them from the trials of life SO well, that they never had a chance to persevere and to mature.

It’s one thing to consider it joy when I face trials. That I can handle. But to consider it joy when my children face trials? That’s harder. However, the outcome is the same: for we know that the testing of their faith brings perseverance. And perseverance must finish its work so they can be mature and complete Christian adults.

So now when I pray for my kids, I still will pray for them to have a good day and to be loved and to be accepted. But I will also pray that as they face the many trials that come from normal teenage life, that they will develop perseverance and maturity.