The Upcycled Life

I have spent the better part of a week painting objects found at the thrift store, alongside the road, and tucked inside of barns and storage sheds. No longer wanted or needed by their owners, these things have been cast-off and forgotten. But Susan, a volunteer at Liebenzell USA, saw their potential. She has taken the old furniture, picture frames, and lamps and breathed new life into them then using them to create inviting spaces for visitors to the Guest House. She is very good at it. Lucky me. Not only have I experienced the spaces she has decorated in my own apartment, but I feel like I have been on a DIY/Fixer Upper retreat over these past ten days. Mission work is rarely boring and this time has been no exception. It has been so fun to work alongside Susan creating something beautiful.

As usual, God does not just allow my hands and feet the joy of service. He also whispers a lesson to my heart as well. As of late, I have been reading in Ephesians and chapter 2 starts like this:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins. Ephesians 2:1

How? There is a whole list of reasons that follow in verses 2 and 3. (Read here for yourself.)

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in our transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5

Sounds a little like those cast-offs Susan has found. Junk really, ready for the trash heap, but she stopped to look and considered the beauty they could bring. God does the same. He finds us where we are, messed up from worldly living and feeling good for nothing, but because of His great love for us, he gave us new life.

I can attest to this myself. Those who knew me before the upcycle will tell you the same. God’s great mercy has transformed me. It’s His personal touch that has made all the difference in my life. He took me from dead in my worldly lifestyle to alive in Christ and how amazing that change has been. No longer do I feel worn out, used up, and hopeless. I live with joy and confidence knowing I am valued by God. This is what He does for us.

But there is more. We not only have a new life, we have been raised up with Christ so that others can see the beauty of the incomparable riches of God’s grace, expressed in His kindness to us. (Ephesians 2:6-7)

One thing to remember when considering this passage of Scripture: We did not have the ability to upcycle ourselves. It was God. He saw the potential and He did the work. It wasn’t we who made the change. Even our faith to trust His work is a gift to us.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not of yourselves, it is a gift of God—not of works that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

As it should be, God should get the glory. That is what our lives should be about anyway, making God known to those around us. We have the potential to make this life following God appealing and beautiful. Let Him make it so. He has the best plans when it comes to upcycling. He makes us something entirely new.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10


 

Our time serving at Liebenzell USA has been wonderful. We have met so many great people and helped in a small part to create a place of sanctuary for visiting mission workers, churches, and other various groups. This a beautiful place to retreat and we are thankful for our time here.

A few pics of the Guest Houses.


Our apartment.

kitchen at Liebenzell

 

 

 


 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. ” Jeremiah 29:11

How’s Your Spiritual Life Going?

 

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Argh!

Once again, I was ripping out all the stitches on my sweater project. My work was all wrong according to the gauge, and when that happens— well let’s just say—things don’t turn out like they are supposed to. In my case, if I kept going, I would end up with something that wouldn’t fit. My only solution was to admit my mistake and start again, this time using the right gauge.

Gauge: something that could be used to measure or judge something else

Have you ever been working hard at life and found that you used the wrong gauge to measure how you were doing? I know I have. I have been caught up in tasks and feeling overwhelmed with everything I have to do.

We live in an accomplishment driven world. When asked about who we are, we often answer with what we do—a parent, a teacher, an entrepreneur, an artist, etc. When asked about how we’ve been, the word ‘busy’ is on our lips. Sound familiar?

So, how is your spiritual life going?

You know, the one you share with God. Do you answer with who you are in ministry or what you are doing to serve? There again, we like titles and accomplishments. They’re tangible. When was the last time you answered that question with, “I have been spending a good deal of time sitting at the feet of Jesus?” Perhaps never.

Perhaps a new gauge is in order.

There is a story in the Bible about a gal named Martha. Maybe you have heard of her. Check out her story here. She was a close friend of Jesus, providing hospitality to Him and His entourage when they came to town. Martha was good at what she did, and she filled a role that was needed. You might even say it was her calling.

There did come a day when she was a bit overwhelmed with the preparations for an event that was happening. I can identify. Just before everything comes together, there seems to be a moment when it feels like it’s just too much. Do you know what I’m talking about? Martha’s solution was to demand that Jesus do something.

Here’s Jesus’s answer, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.” Luke 10:41 NI

I’m sure Martha is thinking, “Yes, and what is needed is for someone to help me!” But that is not what Jesus was referring to. That one thing she needed was to spend time with the Guest of Honor. She, like many of us who have gotten busy doing many good things, had forgotten Who the party was for. Have you been there?

How IS your spiritual life going?

As you think about your answer, consider what you are using to measure it with. The best gauge to set your life to has nothing to do with accomplishments, status, or giftedness. That’s the world’s appraisal of success, and boy, do they ever keep us distracted. Jesus says time spent with Him is BETTER than anything.

With that in mind, perhaps it’s time to start fresh, using a new gauge to measure what’s important. The thing is, when we get that in order, we feel less overwhelmed because we have invested in something better—time spent with Jesus. With our spiritual lives intact, life seems to fit better. It’s worth the time to make it right.

If you’re wondering where to start, reading the Bible stories of Jesus found in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John is a good place. Then, if you want to go deeper, my last post No Connection contains a method of Bible study that I have found very effective. It is my prayer that you make space to meet with Jesus regularly. There’s nothing better than sitting at His feet.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing comes through the word of Christ.

Romans 10:17

 

 

 

Cheerful Satisfaction

pattyschell.com

I meet with a group of wonderful women to study the Bible. We are currently looking into the book of James and his advice on how to live a successful life following Jesus.

James wastes no time getting right to the point—

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2NIV

I have to admit, this verse makes me cringe a little every time I read it. Perhaps it does the same to you. It’s a good thing it is followed by verse 2 and 3 which tell us—

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (NLT)

Here is a short devotion I wrote a while back on finding joy in our trials. I hope you enjoy it.


 Cheerful Satisfaction

Groans could be heard throughout the airplane as it bounced and dipped. Turbulence. It was going to be a long flight. Each jerk of the aircraft caused a new round of complaining from its passengers with one exception. From seat 27D could be heard squeals of delight. A small, blue-eyed, blond-headed mite of a girl cheered with joyous abandon. To her, this flight was more than she could hope for. Her ‘sit in your seat and just be quiet’ ride had turned into an exhilarating experience. I couldn’t help but smile at her happiness. In the midst of a less than satisfactory situation, this little one had found great pleasure.

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.

 Galatians 5:22-23


Joy

Greek: chara khar-ah

Meaning: Cheerfulness, Calm delight


Joy’s very definition can make us smile. The idea of being full of cheer lightens our mood. But there is one more definition we should consider.  Delight means an extreme level of satisfaction, and satisfaction means a source or means of enjoyment: Contentment

Ahhh. . .Who knew that joy bubbles up right from satisfaction and is quickly followed by contentment. Out of the list of attributes of the Spirit found in Galatians 5, joy is the one that shouts out “This is pretty great!” If this were fruit we were eating, joy would be the part that would make us want to take another bite, savoring every bit of its lip-smacking goodness.

Joy is the optimist, bringing with it the knowing that hope is still alive. Joy is the spark of a smile mingled with tears as we remember God is near and He has a plan. Joy is the light that brings new perspective.

So when you feel joy slipping away, just think of little Miss 27D and her infectious giggles. No matter what you are facing, God is in it with you and that is cause for celebration.

“A cheerful heart brings good healing. . .”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭17:22‬ ‭NET


I hope joy finds you today wherever you are today.
Do share.
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Are You All In? Trusting God Completely

girlonadventure.com

It was a long night spent sitting in cramped quarters. What was I thinking? About half way in, I began to think my traveling days were over. I reached my limit of “discomfort by choice.” And then there was a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. The Hours to Arrival ticked down and anticipation of reaching my destination began to build.  You see, I got on this plane because I believed it would transport me to the place I wanted to go and even in the midst of exhaustion brought on by a long flight, a sleepless night and thoughts of “Are we there yet?” I never lost faith that I would eventually find my way to the Arrival Gate.

What is your definition of faith? Webster’s defines faith as:

a firm belief in something for which there is no proof

COMPLETE TRUST

something that is believed with a strong conviction.

It is something believed but not only that. Webster uses words in this definition such as firm, complete, strong when it comes to that belief.

In air travel you cannot “sort of” get on the plane. One foot on land with the other in the air is just not going to work. You have to get completely on the aircraft to reach your destination. That is also the way with faith. You have to be ‘all in’ to get where arrive at the place God is taking you.

There is, however, an element of faith that is also a continuous journey. When flying, there are always a few fellow passengers wrought with anxiety. They believe with certainty that this time may just be the time they will crash and burn. They pace the aisles or pop a sleeping pill just to get through. This may not be too far from the truth in how we treat our own lives. We get up each morning and tentatively set our feet in route to see if God’s promises still apply to today’s set of problems and worries. We struggle with the pain and discomfort as we wonder if this part of this trip through life will ever end. And then, as promised we see the glimmer of hope that God is indeed delivering us safely to our appointed destination.

I think that destination just might be a complete faith; one that firmly, completely and with strong conviction puts our confidence in God’s word and his ways. I believe God is developing in us a habit in which we trust him on everything. He proves Himself over and over that there is nothing outside his power to bring the best possible outcome in us. As we go, we develop more and more assurance in Him with a confidence that He will do He says he can do. Each day that we plant our both feet firmly in that confidence brings us closer to arriving at Complete Faith.

In Romans 4:18-23, Abraham is described with the words “against all hope…he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised.”

It goes on to say, “This is why ‘it was credited to him righteousness.”  These words ‘it was credited to him righteousness’ were not written for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness–for us who believe in him…” [Emphasis added.]

Righteousness. Now, that’s a pretty great perk. Let your faith grow. Be “all in” when it comes to trusting the Lord. You do not want to miss out on what God has for you.

As for me and future travel? I will continue. Living would not be as satisfying if not for the lessons God teaches through the sights and sounds of this great excursion called life.

 The Lord will indeed give what is good…” Psalms 85:12

You count on it!

 

Something to Ponder

Best beauty treatment ever –

SOAK in the essence of Jesus.

  • Scriptures – Write them on your heart.
  • Observe the words and ideas.
  • Apply their wisdom.
  • Kneel. Communicate with an open and obedient heart to the One who has shown us how to live well. Spending time at the feet of Jesus will give anyone,  men included,  a healthy glow. Try it. You won’t be sorry.

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Proverbs 31 ESV

http://bible.com/59/pro.31.30.ESV

On a Mission: Not Your Typical Teenage Dream

I’m happy to announce a new feature on my blog. On a Mission will feature women who have taken on Jesus’ command to reach out to their communities and into the world beyond to love others. I hope that you find the stories encouraging as you get to know these extraordinary Girls on Adventure.


I would like to meet Madison Lamb in this very inspiring post by Beckie Lindsey.

 

Not Your Typical Teenage Dream

Madison Lamb

What were you interested in when you were sixteen-years-old?

Friends? Clothes? Music? Sports?

Madison Lamb enjoys many of the typical things most teenage girls do. She likes hanging out with friends and drinking coffee. But Madison has also found a love for something that is not so typical for a young woman of her age. She desires to go into full-time ministry serving as a missionary.

It all started when Madison was in eighth grade—except she didn’t actually know it then.

She signed up for her first mission trip.

Her first mission: a six-day trip to Mexico. Madison and a group of other kids her age along with several adults helped construct walls and roofs for houses. On the fourth day of the trip, her group visited an orphanage where many children had been taken to live by their own parents because they lacked the means to care for them. However, a heartbreaking fact Madison learned, was that some of the parents still came and visited their children in the orphanage, but leave them in hopes for a better life than they could provide.

“I’ll always remember the sweet little girl named Bethlehem that stole my heart,” Madison said. “After the orphanage, we visited the dump where many locals go to scavenge. We took hot dogs wrapped in tortillas to share. It was life-changing to see how these people live.”

orphans-411949_1920Dump

Each night Madison’s group listened to powerful missionary speakers from all over the world. One guest speaker named Brad had served as a missionary in Papua New Guinea. He stayed long enough to learn the language and translate the Bible for the locals.

“I learned so much. It was amazing, but I still wasn’t really sure if it was something I wanted to do. So, I didn’t tell anyone, but I was thinking and praying about it. I wasn’t ready to be accountable, I guess.”

The Lord was using the experience from this trip to plant a seed.

A year later when Madison was in high school, she was asked to go on another mission trip, but this time as a teen mentor for the junior high students. Madison agreed and the Lord was busy planting more seeds.

“I got to give a twenty-minute speech to the students about my mission experience. I didn’t realize how much they would look up to me.”

When Madison got back from her second mission’s trip, her heart was completely changed.

“I need to do missions! This is what God wants for my life!”

The future plan is to go to college—hopefully a Christian University with study abroad possibilities and major in Literature and Christian studies. She is also researching missionary training schools and looking into teaching English.

While Madison is still in high school, she intends to explore more missions and reach out to other teens. She says a major concern for teens is a lack of confidence and poor self-image.

“Unfortunately they are looking for attention in the wrong places. Society tells them so many things that conflict with God’s message,” she said. “I used to struggle with body image like a lot of teens my age. But then I read and understood that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. God, the creator, loves me and made me beautiful. I want others to know this too!” (Psalm 139)

Everyone needs to know they are loved by God.

Madison believes that if teens understood more about God and the Bible, they would be better equipped to handle the many pressures they face today. “When I put God first, my whole life changed. I love my Bible! I write verses on my hand to help me through the day. Others can see it too.”

Madison has some special people in her life. She says most of her close friends are Christians which helps her. There are also adults that have helped her relationship with God grow as well. “My parents are great! I have met many leaders at church too. My small group leader, Emma, taught me how to pray. I can call her and she’ll meet up with me for coffee. It’s so great to have her support.”

At the age of sixteen, Madison has learned some fundamentals and essentials that every Christian can benefit from, no matter their age.

  • Read your Bible and share it with others.
  • Memorize scripture. It helps keep you on track.
  • Prayer is powerful. Do it every single day.
  • Find your value in God, not society or anything else.
  • Surround yourself with other Christians.
  • Find a mentor.
  • Be a mentor.
  • Look to God to find your purpose.

Thanks for the inspiration, Madison!

Madison Lamb

COMMENTS AND PRAYERS WELCOME!

What do you think about Madison’s dream? Did it inspire you?


Beckie headshot

Beckie is a wife and a mother of three grown children and two adorable cats. She is an award-winning poet, published freelance writer of magazine, website and newspaper articles as well as devotions and studies. She is the editor of Southern California Voice, a division of One Christian Voice, LLC., a national news syndicating agency. Her desire is to see others not only know the truths of the Word of God, but to also experience them personally and practically in everyday life.

To learn more about Beckie:

Blog: https://beckielindsey16.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindseyBeckie

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/beckie.lindsey.5

Southern California Voice: http://socal-voice.com/