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

Follow Me to The Place I Will Show You

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I can do that.

My husband and I both had the same reaction at the same moment in church. A guest speaker was sharing of a need he had, and the Holy Spirit whispered, “He’s talking to you.”

I love when this happens. Holy Spirit talks. We listen. The we listen part is key. So many opportunities are lost because we didn’t act on the words we hear from Him. Hearing and listening are not the same things.

Years ago, we made a move that was very unpopular with our then twelve-year-old. She cried and complained for weeks. One of the times when she was being quite vocal about her discomfort over the whole thing, she asked her dad why we had to move. He simply told her, “Because God said so and we do what He says.”

It was a little bit like the story of the Calling of Abram found in Genesis 12. One day God said, “Leave what you know—your country, your friends, family, and all that feels safe and secure—and go to the place I will show you.” Right there in the midst of God’s challenge to Abram is a gift. Do you see it? Abram was not striking out on his own. God was going to lead the way. He would be with him. And Scripture says, “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.” Smart man.

I think of how God did just that for us when we relocated and every other time he has called to us to do something outside our comfort zone. He led the way every time, and oh, the adventures we have experienced following Him just from being willing to do what we’re told.

Our daughter listened to her dad that day. His statement has impacted her life since when faced with hard or challenging decisions. It has become a family legacy of sorts, so when God told us to say yes, we did.

The mission we decided to accept doesn’t appear to be hard or challenging or even out of our comfort zone. (At least I don’t think so, but God might have other ideas.) It is actually in our wheelhouse. We will be traveling to New Jersey to help with the remodel of the Liebenzell USA Retreat Center. We have no idea what to expect or what we will be asked to do but our hearts and hands are willing. Many of you know we work with a ministry called Hands of Mercy that constructs small homes for the people of Mexico. The skills we have learned there along with the recent renovation of our own home are sure to be put to use in this new project we’ve been called to. We are excited to see what God is up to in that part of the world, and we will keep you posted.

If you would like to pray for us while we are following where God is leading, please do. We want to make as many people as possible part of what God is doing. For every one person heading out to work, many are needed to support them in prayer. Like the root system of a forest, we intertwine creating a strong foundation that will keep us connected, allowing us to work together in strength. Please sign up to receive new posts in your email.

This portion of Scripture written for the Israelites as they were crossing into the Promised Land speaks to me when thinking of listening to God’s voice. Perhaps it will speak to you as well.

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.  It is not up in heaven so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees, and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

Deuteronomy 30:11-16 NIV

Choose Life. Follow God’s Lead into the Land of Promise.

 


As with anything, there will be a certain amount of expenses to going on a mission. If you are reading this and the Holy Spirit is saying to you, “This is for you,” and you would like to help out with providing money for our transportation costs, go here to make a donation. Thank you so much for coming along on the journey with us.

 

On a Mission: The Art of Pulling Together

https://pattyschell.com/2017/06/30/on-a-mission-karen-sanchez/

 

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”
Hebrews 10:24 NLT

Karen Sanchez has the unique ability to get people together. . .

to get things done, and her involvement with uniting the community with Hands of Mercy (HoM) is no different. In fact, this agency’s purpose has a special place in her heart. By teaming up with HoM, Karen, whose life’s work as a realtor is to pair families and houses together, has the opportunity to extend this passion to the underserved of Mexico. What’s more, she wants others to get involved and join the fun.

How does helping families in Mexico can make our high desert community a better place to live?

Hands of Mercy works through groups in the US who sponsor the building projects with their resources. They purchase the building materials for a small 12’x12’ loft house and then gather community members to partially assemble the house before delivering it to its permanent place in Mexico. This whole process gives people an opportunity to serve others by giving money, swinging a hammer, or providing a box of household goods to welcome the family to their new home.

But it doesn’t stop there.

It also builds community here through working side-by-side to accomplish the task. What is even more exciting about Hands of Mercy is they have made the entire process family-friendly. Young and old can come together to provide a family with a basic structure that will give them security and raise their standard of living. Relationships are built as neighbors serve together. It empowers them to think beyond their front door, giving them a much larger worldview.

Karen serves as a catalyst in this endeavor. She has organized fundraisers and has spread the word through her various connections, encouraging people to get involved in not only giving money but also in the actual building process. If that’s not enough, she and her husband organize lunch for all who participate. In the end, well over three hundred people have had a hand in making a family’s life better while forming connections in their own community; now multiply that amount times four.

Just this past April. . .

the fourth house made its way down to Baja to its permanent location. The recipient, a woman who had been homeless for ten years, will now have a safe place to call her own. This is much in thanks to Karen Sanchez. She has taken her talent for making connections and used it to bring people together in a significant way. And through that, families, friendships, and communities are strengthened, making the world a better place to live.

Above all, put on love–the perfect bond of unity.
Colossians 3:14 HCSB

 

To contribute financially to the next loft house build and be part of something pretty great, go here.

To learn more about Hands of Mercy and the work they do, go here.

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/