In preparation for celebrating the Resurrection this year (the 40 days of Lent), I asked God what He would have me do to prepare my heart to better know Him.  What I needed to “give up.”

I believe He told me to write.  What?  So what was I to “give up”?  I was to surrender my resistance to writing, my fear that I have nothing to say, and my unwillingness to share what I write with others (mostly out of fear of disapproval).

So, I have been writing almost daily, and sharing what I write when He prompts me to.  Today is one of those days to share, as I consider “revival.”

As I was studying Ps. 119 verse 25 (My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to Your word.), I was struck by the word “revive.”  Wasn’t that why I wanted to know God better, so I would have more life and vitality in my walk with Him?

I thought about how often, when I am in a church gathering whether here in Guatemala or in the US, I hear the call for revival.  We will never have revival if we don’t want it, don’t see the need for it.  Revival can only come when we ask for it.

I realized that I have listened to the call to revival as a call to the whole church.  Today, I realized that revival comes only when we, as individual Christ-followers want to be revived.  When we recognize just how “lifeless” (cleaving to the dust) at least some parts of our walk with God have become.  When we desperately want more of Him. Revival will only come when we admit our personal need for it.

I fear that I have given the whole responsibility for revival to the Holy Spirit.  I ask Him to come into our midst, to overcome us with His presence. But, do I really want this? Revival will only come when I am willing to pay the price to be personally revived.

Verse 26 of this Psalm revealed to me the cost for revival to occur in my life: “I have told you my ways and You answered me.” (NASB) That didn’t seem too hard until I started looking at other translations to see what it would mean to truly “tell Him my ways.”


The Passion Translation says, “I have poured out my life before you.”  The Good News Translation is even more pointed: I have confessed all I have done.”  If I really want revival, personally and corporately in the Church, I need to examine my walk, and let the Holy Spirit reveal to me every way in which my life is pleasing to Him, but also, and more importantly, every part of me which falls short of being who He created me to be. Revival starts when I stop looking at others and willingly reveal my whole heart and life to God.

From this verse I realized that true desire for revival is marked by a personal awareness of my sin, a sense of urgency to confess it before God (and possibly to another), and a desire to repent—to change what I have been doing which is not pleasing to God.  Can I do this in my own power?  Of course not; I have to depend on the grace of God through His Holy Spirit to do this. But first, I have to desire it, now just superficially but desperately enough to cooperate with Him. Revival happens when I stop singing about surrender and start laying down all I am before God.

Am I willing to honestly and openly lay bare my heart before God? Am I truly willing to surrender whatever He asks?  Am I willing to let go of who I am to become who He wants me to be?  Revival starts when I stop only praying and start willingly participating in being revived.

As I write this there are 28 days remaining until Resurrection Sunday.  My goal for these 28 days is to "pour out my life" before the Holy Spirit, a little at a time, each day.  Will you join me?

The Way of the Arrogant

Today as I was studying Ps. 119, God brought my attention to the attributes of the arrogant.  And I felt convicted.

The traits I identified were the following: 

·            They do whatever they need to do to prosper, even at the expense of others who are more vulnerable.  They defy God’s law if it benefits them.
·            They seek to satisfy their flesh, looking to feed their own appetites and satisfy their greed, even if it means ignoring the needs of others.
·            They are a law unto themselves.  They don’t see the need for God, or respect Him or His commands.

In short, they feel comfortable in the world, at home with its values.  They have a million justifications for why they live as they do, especially when they ignore God’s direction.

I immediately saw parallels to the (claiming to be) Christian church in America.  But God quickly brought be up short.  “Take the plank out of your own eye.”  I realized I needed to examine my own heart before looking at anyone else.  And if and when I address the Church, it needs to be out of recognition of my own sinfulness, not out of arrogance and anger.

It may seem strange that I, a missionary could be guilty of arrogance, but I think it is an ever present danger in our “profession.” So many people tell us how wonderful we are on a regular basis that we risk starting to believe our own publicity.  I am not amazing.  God is. And if anything is amazing, it’s that He choses to let me be a part of what He is doing. 

It is a constant temptation, too, to do what I think needs to be done.  To follow the needs rather than God’s direction.  How can meeting needs be against God’s will?  It easily can.  Oswald Chambers tells us, “The need is not the call.”  We can try to convince ourselves it is, but the enemy can use needs to distract us from what God calls us to do. When I am need-driven rather than God led, I become a law unto myself.

I constantly need to check to see if in facing a need, I am responding with what God would have me do, or trying to ease my own discomfort in the situation (my appetites).  I have to examine my motives to see if I am acting out of obedience, or from wanting more adventure and excitement in my life.  The mission field can easily turn one into an “adrenaline junkie” because we do get to experience so many actual miracles, but that’s not why we’re here. We are here to do God’s will; no more, no less.

I may even convince myself that, of course God would want me to do a certain thing, because it is a need.  But God may be calling someone else to meet that need and when I jump in and do something I am not called to do, I cheat the person who is called.  I give them an excuse not to respond to God’s call on their lives.

One way I am tempted to do this is, when there seems to be a short-fall of money, immediately jumping in with my small retirement savings to fill in the gap.  My Board is challenging me to let people know there is a need, while not pressuring or expecting them to do anything more than pray with me that the need will be met. God may want me to meet the need through my personal funds, but He needs to show me that (after all, why would I ask others to contribute to something I am not willing to support financially myself?). But I may be robbing someone who is led to meet the shortfall, by not even making the need known.  Ah, but I can do it myself.  (I have no need for God; I am self-sufficient.)

I confess my own arrogance. I confess my arrogance when I think I, because I am educated and from the US, know better how to address a situation than a Guatemalan national would.  I confess my arrogance when I feel the need to immediately rescue someone from their struggles, rather than looking for what God might be doing in the midst of their situation.

I confess my temptations to share stories which expose the lives of those I serve without their permission and without regard for their privacy.

I confess the temptation to share a story because it will “bring in donations” rather than to help others see what God can is is doing in our midst.

I confess my arrogance when I wish God had called me to a ministry that was more exciting and attractive, because that would make fund-raising so much easier if there were more “emotional appeal” to what I am doing. (Seeing prosperity)

I repent of my self-sufficiency, of my desire for security, and the temptation to make a name for myself when all I should desire is to make His Name known to men. 

Please pray for me, and I give you permission to hold me accountable in these areas.


Many of you may not know, but MY first plan to come to the mission field was to wait until I reached full retirement age, get my retirement and Social Security, and come to Guatemala as a completely independent missionary.  Not having to rely on God or anyone else to be able to do what God called me to do. 

You can see how that worked out.  God has provided in so many impossible ways to meet all our needs, and I would have cheated our donors out of the opportunity to be obedient in their giving.  I also would have cheated myself out of the opportunity to see that God will do more than I can ask or imagine if I obey Him. By the way, I would just now, this year, be coming to the mission field if God had not asked me to surrender my plan to His.

Becoming "Meemaw"

Having just returned from visiting my kids and grand boys, I am once again struggling with missing them, and feeling that in some way I have abandoned them for ministry.  I don't, for one minute, regret my decision to move to Guatemala, firmly believing it is what God had designed for me from all eternity.  (If that sounds pompous, check out Eph. 2:10).  But obedience comes with a price, and even Jesus advised us to count the cost.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple."~~Luke 14:26 

This is one of the times a Bible commentary can help us better understand what Jesus was saying.  To "hate" one's family is indeed shocking, and appears on the surface to contradict Scripture ("Honor thy father and thy mother.").  We in 21st Century America often write this off as hyperbole, citing the fact that Jesus often used exaggeration to get across his point.

In the cultural context of his time, however, those listening to Jesus would have been just as appalled at the idea of "hating" one's family as we are; maybe more so.  Social customs pertaining to family loyalties, when ignored or neglected, would have been interpreted as hate.  Family loyalty was crucial, coming second only to loyalty to Yahweh.

Sometimes, however, family loyalty took precedence over what Jesus asked a person to do (remember the man who wanted to bury his father before following Christ?) and what Jesus was teaching us is that our loyalty to him cannot be over-ridden by our attachment to our family, no matter how much we love them.

It is hard to be far from my children and grandchildren.  It is harder when I have recently been with them and have to leave yet once again.  What can make it almost unbearable is when someone says to me, "I could never leave my grandchildren."  As if there is a hardness in my heart that enables me to do this.  As if I don't think about and long to hug them daily, but know that if I return so I can feed my desire to be with them, I am actually cheating them.

The greatest legacy I can give to my children and grandsons is the example of obeying what I believe God desires me to do, whatever the cost.  To help them see that it is not selfishness on my part that has led me 1900 miles away, but surrender to the One who desires my best, AND their best.  That somehow, my being in Guatemala is part of God's plan and purpose for their lives, too.

But it's hard.  My God, though, understands this.  (What must it have been like for Jesus to break the supreme unity of the Trinity and leave behind the Father and Spirit to come to earth?). And Jesus promises He'll repay us, with a hundred-fold.  And he does.

When I left to come here, I had two grandsons Zach (now almost 13) and Nate (9), and thought they would probably be my only grandchildren.  I was in Omaha for their births, and could be intimately involved in their infancy.  Becoming a grandma was one of the greatest joys of my life (hence, "Guatemalagrandma").  And I was grateful to be part of their coming into the world.

However, God had other plans and in the last three years two other grandsons have joined our family: Eliy (now 3) and Owen (2).  I was not there for their births.  While I came to Omaha soon after to meet them, I could not be counted on to help as I had with Zach and Nate.  My kids came together and filled the gap, but I missed out.  And my greatest grief was my fear that they would not know me, or how precious they are to me.

God saw this hole in my heart.  And He responded.

All of my grands have called me "grandma."  We tried out other names, but that was the one that fit.

Until this trip.  When I saw Owen for the first time, my daughter Mikayla told me that he, at age 2, had decided I wasn't his grandma.  I was to be his "MeeMaw."  That is what he insists on calling me, and has no intention of changing it.  No one is sure where he got that name (maybe daycare?) but it is not one we have ever used even in our extended family (Bryan's mom is "Gigi").

So "MeeMaw" I am, and I embrace it proudly.  It was given to me by one of the people I hold most dear in this world, and shows me that though I am far from him most of the time, I am special to him.  And each time he calls me that, I tear up.

Where this becomes a true Godincident is not known to anyone in my family (at least until now). For I have a friend who I got to travel to Israel with.  I know her through her daughter and grandchildren and have always admired her for the legacy of faith I see run through her family.  She is an amazing woman of faith and prayer, and I consider her a role model.  The first time I heard the name "MeeMaw" was from the lips of her granddaughter.  It was said with such respect and affection.  I have to admit I was envious.  I wanted that type of relationship with my grandchildren.

Now, fifteen years or more later, Owen has christened me as his "MeeMaw" and I am humbled.  I believe somehow our God, who knows my ache to be with the kids, led him to this name to clearly show me He is with me and with them, no matter where I am located.  I am blessed.


Zach, I love you to the moon and back.

Nate, I love you heaps and bunches.

Eliy, I love you to infinity and beyond.

and Owen, I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always.

West Center Street bridge over the Elkhorn River.
One of the main routes linking Omaha and
smaller communities to the west.

My heart hurts. I look at the picture of the destroyed bridge over the Elkhorn River, which for three years I crossed twice daily getting to and from work, and I can’t get my head around the destruction taking place in my home town.  It seems other-worldly, impossible.  Yet, I lived in rural Nebraska long enough to know the destruction of spring flooding, though never, never anything even close to this.

And I ask, “Where is God in this?”  Not, “Why did God let this happen?” but “Where is He in the midst of this crisis?”  He is always in the middle of any tragedy. I saw this first-hand, saw Him move powerfully and continue to move in the wake of the volcano eruption.  I know He will do no less in Omaha.

Dodge Street just wests of the Elkhorn River
Transportation to the communities to the west
will be impacted for a long time.

If it breaks my heart to see the destruction brought on by nature, how much more must it break His? He, who knows how wonderful this world was meant to be must be broken-hearted to see the suffering.  He knows that the havoc of nature is the cumulative effect of what generations of sin have done to the perfect world He created.  He knows that we, as mankind, decided and continue to decide that we have a better plan for the world than He did. And we reap the results of OUR plan for creation, and have the audacity to blame Him for it.

If you are not a Christ-follower, this will make no sense.  Only those who recognize their own sinfulness and have recognized the consequences of personal sin in their own lives can begin to understand that death, destruction, pain and suffering come when we think we have a better idea than God.  And if I receive the consequences of the sin I have personally chosen (God forgives my sin, but does not rescue me from the effects of my choices), how much more must the collective sin of mankind progressively impact the world he created?

So, I ask you, please, if you want to blame someone for this suffering, blame the one who started it all, who deceived Eve, and continues to deceive mankind into believing that God does not want our best, but somehow has a secret plan to hold out on us.  The one who Jesus told us will come to “steal, kill and destroy;” the true enemy of my happiness and joy.

To those who would ask why God would let something like this happen, I believe the Biblical answer is simple if unpopular.  Mankind decided they knew better than God how we should live, and we are experiencing the logical and natural consequences of that decision.  Just as any good parent might forgive the offense of their child, they ought not rescue them from the consequences of their actions.  It is through these consequences the child learns to make better decisions.  So it is with God.  He uses these natural disasters to remind us just how far mankind has deviated from His original plan for us.

Where is God in this? In the middle of it.  Trying to use this to show individual hearts how desperately they need Him.  We see him in the peace and joy of those who have lost everything, but can rejoice because they know there is more than the life we see before us now. (Yes, there are those people.  I can’t name them personally in Nebraska, but I know they are there because I have seen them here in Guatemala, in the aftermath of our volcano disaster.)

Where is God in this? He wants to be in the midst of it through those who claim to follow Him.  To reach out as “Jesus with skin on” to those who are suffering, to bring not just prayer and encouragement but physical, tangible help to those who need it. He wants us, as Christ-followers, to do on earth what we can to point those to the reality of who He is and what He has for us.  

As Christ-followers it is not enough to pray, though that is first and most critical. 

Here are some specific prayer points suggested by Cindy Borden who leads the King's Garden ministry in King Lake, one of the communities completely destroyed by the flood:

  • Pray against fear, discouragement and loss of hope.
  • Pray for immediate needs to be met.
  • Pray for tangible expressions of love and encouragement--now and well into the future.
  • Pray for compassionate relationships and many hands to help.

Pray about what God would have you DO.  Then do it.  If you feel a tug to do something, that is probably the Holy Spirit trying to move you, and I encourage you to obey.  Serving is never a mistake, and as James points out:

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.~~James 2: 14-17                      

Let the church rise up and be the church in this situation.  THAT more than our words will show the world “where God is in this.”

Note: Many churches in Omaha are coming together with The Gathering Place (which meets in Valley, one of the communities hardest hit by the floods) which will be coordinating ministry and relief efforts.  For more information and to keep up with what they are doing go to their Facebook page.  You can donate online to support these efforts.  It is a great blessing to me to see the church in Omaha come together in unity.

You can check out the video of the community worship that took place this afternoon here.  If you can't watch the whole thing, watch 39:51 to 41:50--it's pretty incredible.