Washing dishes for Jesus

Colossians 3:17
And whatever you do in word or in deed, do it all in the name of The Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
I am used to the pressure from the world. I am actually quite immune to most of it. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am right where I am supposed to be. I feel no guilt when I pass the high school where I used to teach. Ten years ago I walked out door of my classroom. That night my water broke, and my life began. I have never looked back! Although difficult, I know that God has called me to this 24 hour job and its countless blessings.
Church pressure, however, is a different matter. There are so many verses that can feel pointed at me to make me feel guilty. So many needs in the world and in the body of Christ. And who will fill them if not me?
This past few months I have been made increasingly aware of my inability to meet these needs. With five children ages 10,8,6,4,2 we have been battling a cold, or a stomach funk, or a nasty cough the last 3 months without much relenting.

I have had 5 close friends give birth without be being able to bless them with a meal.

I haven’t served in the nursery once during this forced sabbatical.

Not to mention the women’s Bible studies I haven’t been able to attend.
I am just just trying to catch my breath all the while feeling guilty for breathing. One second I feel relief to be chipping away at Mount Laundrymore, and cleaning those breakfast dishes, but not for long. Within seconds I am reminded how I never made those meals for my friends and now there is another dear friend who could use a meal.
So I breathe. And try to remember my Lord. My savior.

What was his ministry? Discipling.

How many disciples did he have? 12.

Emmanuel had 12, and has entrusted me with 5.

That is a pretty tall order in my book. In theory, we know that Jesus left the 99 to reach the one. We have heard the story of the man throwing starfish back in the sea. “It matters to that one” he famously opines. Yet at the same time we are so focused on quantity. How many are in your church? How many in your Bible study? How many souls have you won? Meals have you cooked? Flyers have you passed out? Studies are you teaching? Work days attended? Aaaaaaaahhhhh!
Isaiah 40:11 says that the shepherd gathers his sheep into His bosom. Sigh. That sounds nice. But it gets better. It goes on to say that “he gently leads those that have young.” That’s me. I have young. And if he is gentle with me, than who am I to be so hard on myself. I am making disciples, I am feeding the hungry, I am caring for the wounded and broken-hearted, times 5, around the clock. And I am doing it in the name of The Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Don’t get me wrong, part of my discipleship program includes visiting the elderly in nursing homes, bringing the love of Jesus through cookies and smiles to our neighbors, loading up the disciples in the van to bring a meal to a family in need, or just showing them how to tell someone about Jesus in the grocery line. But when my discipleship program takes an unexpected turn, I will rest in the one that controls my path. I will rejoice in the mundane, and be content pouring love into my five. Guilt free!

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The Romans Road- What does the Bible say about how to spend eternity in heaven, with Jesus?

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Steps down the Roman Road to Salvation… Read on!

I consider myself a ‘good person’… won’t that be enough?

Romans 3:23 NKJV – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.>
Romans 3:10 NKJV – As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;
Romans 5:12 NKJV – Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned–
The creator of the universe is HOLY. God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 1Jn 1:5 (KJV) He has set laws in place for his creation to obey. What are these laws? They begin with the 10 Commandments. While you might consider yourself ‘good’ compared to most people, how do you measure up against God’s law? Have you ever told the smallest lie? Then you are a liar. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” James 2:10 (NIV) Disobedience to God is sin.

Is sin really THAT big of a deal? If it is… what HOPE is there?

Romans 6:23 NKJV – For the wages of sin [is] death, but the gift of God [is] eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Disobedience to an infinite eternal God deserves an infinite eternal consequence. God shows us His character and his laws in his creation, the world around us. He has also written his laws in our hearts… on our conscience. He has also given us his WORD the Bible. No good judge would let the guilty go free, the criminal go unpunished. Neither can a holy righteous God allow sinful man to go unpunished… but God LOVES man whom he has made in his image and He has provided a way of escape by sending his only son to die in our place.

After what I’ve done to grieve God… HOW could He willingly die in my place?

Romans 5:8 NKJV – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Jn 3:16-NKJV While he died on the cross, he was mocked, spit upon, and cursed. Yet Jesus cried out, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do…” (Lk 23:34-KJV) With such love, Jesus died in your place… knowing every evil act, word, and thought you would commit. What powerful love! He loves you unconditionally even to the point of death when you are at your worst!

HOW can I be saved?

Romans 10:9-10 NKJV – that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation
You can never be saved by trying to be a good person, nor can you be saved through any amount of ‘good works’. Ephesians 2:8,9 says “For by grace have you been saved by faith. And that, not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works. Lest any man should boast. (KJV) You and I can be saved only by confessing our sins and placing our faith in God’s son, Jesus Christ who died  and paid for our sins on the cross. We must also surrender our life to His lordship… placing him in charge of every area of our life because we now belong to him.

Did God HEAR me? Did He accept me?

Romans10:13 NKJV – For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
God promises that “to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (Jn 1:12 NIV) Yes, God does hear and accept ALL who come to put their faith in Him. There is no need to fear death any longer because Jesus BROKE the power of death on the cross with his own blood. The price has been paid in full and it is God’s promise to receive all who come to him by placing their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

What do I do now?
Romans 10:17 NKJV – So then faith [comes] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Your journey as a child of the King of Kings has just begun! You must begin by spending time daily in prayer and in God’s Word, the Bible. You must also find fellowship with other believers in a Church that teaches and preaches the Bible. You should also now confess Jesus, your savior before men. Share about your new faith in Christ with your family, coworkers and others whom God has placed on your daily path.

October 2012–The joy of not knowing.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 58:9

I hate not knowing. I blame my father! Hell hath no fury like my dad at the end of a show that displays those 3 words “to be continued.” I blame my mother. Christmas and birthday gifts were money. No surprise there.  I need to know. And now please. And thanks to google, I really can know almost anything right now! Gone are the days of that Ol’ phrase “I wonder what. (fill in the blank)” Nowadays that antiquated question is quickly answered with “google it.”. Wonder no longer. The winner of a reality show? Got it. The value of any house anywhere? Look it up. The day my child will be born? Plan it! But the question remains, is this always the best or most satisfying way? I believe that there is something to be said for wondering and discovering. God knows this. We want a plan written in the sand. “God!” we plead, “tell me, is he the one? Is this the job? Is this the house? Will i ever……I just wish it was written out in black and white.” But have you ever watched a movie knowing the ending? It’s just.not.the.same. Not as exciting. But have you ever watched a movie with someone that does know the ending? Just when you can’t take it anymore, you beg them “please, just tell me they end up together” or “please, just tell me they make it out alive.” the person who has seen the movie becomes your lifeline, your anchor. You are connected to them for hope. Because.they.know. God knows we need that connection to Him like a plant needs connection to the soil, like a baby needs connection to its mother. We need to stay connected to Him to survive, to thrive. And in His sovereign wisdom, He devised ways for us to see that we need Him. So stay connected, trust His love for you, hold on, and enjoy His story for you…………….to.be.continued.

disclaimer: for the record (and for my mom) I love cards with money in them……I don’t always need to be surprised 🙂

Cleft Team Time Machine***

dianna

It’s that time of year again for the Chastain family. No, I am not talking about summertime beach trips or vacation get away. But as summer starts slipping away, and school starts to look not so far away, Dianna and I take our own special trip to the Joe DiMaggio Cleft and Craniofacial team in Hollywood, Fl. Unfortunately, Daddy had to work this time, so its just me and my big girl. For those of you that don’t know, Dianna was born with a cleft palate. Only Dianna’s soft palate was affected, not her lip. So it isn’t visible unless you peek in her mouth.

cleft-palate-repair-surgery

But I digress. It is something we hardly think about. Except once a year for a check up of sorts. And suddenly, as we walk through the hallway from specialist, to surgeon to doctor, I am transported through time.
As my 7 year old big girl sits down for the speech therapist I can see her shrinking right before my eyes into a precocious little two year old:

“Say ‘ PEO-PLE’ ” the therapist asked while pinching Dianna’s little nose. My toddler stared at her silently. “Say ‘ PEO-PLE’ ” the therapist requested again to no avail. The reason for the request is simple. “P” sounds can be hard for kids with a cleft palate,  but regardless, Dianna was in no mood for this test. So after a few more tries we gave up and  my sister took her for a bathroom break. It was there,in the solitude of the bathroom, that sweet little girl pinched her own nose, looked up at her aunt with those big brown eyes and blurted out “PEO-PLE” with a little grin.

Now that she is bigger, there are more words to say, but thankfully, she is more willing to say them, albeit not perfectly. There is a bit of nasal air emission possibly requiring speech therapy, hopefully not more surgery, to strengthen those stitched together muscles on her palate that you and I take for granted.
Next we meet with the 69 year old pediatrician from Trinidad. This is my favorite stop. He was a young 62 when we first met and now he is training his replacement. We talk retirement, health care reform, and homeschooling, and he beams about how great Dianna is doing. But suddenly when he mentions his hospital visits I am no longer in his office. I am passing him in the hallway at the hospital right after Dianna’s first surgery, with a tear stained face and a pit in my stomach wondering how I was going to care for a 6 month old in recovery and a toddler at home.  The flashback ended as abruptly as it started, and just like that I was drawn back to his office hugging him goodbye and wishing him a happy and family filled retirement as he makes plans for more volunteer work with cleft teams oversees.
During this busy morning there is a lot of waiting between doctors. While in the waiting room, I overheard the coordinator extraordinaire and beautiful grandmother of seven Bobby Brasher talking with a new mom about some of the realities for her six week old baby who had the same exact condition as Dianna. “The doctor said the surgery is minor, maybe about 15 minutes,” the young mom said to Bobby, and with that I was back in the hospital , but this time I was in the recovery room. The surgery was quick, that was true, but nothing could have prepared me for the recovery. They led us to her bed, her little body, tubes still attached for pain medicine, face puffy, traces of iodine and blood still around her mouth that whimpered like an injured kitten. “Can I hold her?” I begged. I was sure that once she was in my arms those heart breaking moans coming out of her mouth would stop. But they didn’t. My sweet husband looked on with tear filled eyes and prayed. I rocked her and sang, but nothing would ease her sad and painful little cry until the nurse administered more morphine upon my request.

“I used to have a special bottle too” I heard my big girl say to the mom in the waiting room, as she rescued me from my memory, her confident and caring smile giving me strength.
“Just our annual check up,” I told a friend this morning, but didn’t I know better? Every year, every different doctor, every test can take me to a hundred different places in time. But there is one thing in common with every moment to which I travel. When I remember pain, I remember our Comforter. When I remember exhaustion, I remember our Helper. When I remember loss, I remember our Provider. On Dianna’s first birthday I wrote a song that has proved more true as the days go by.

All of these things,all I will treasure.
Deep in my heart, they last forever,
Through all the joy and pain.
I won’t forget one day.

There is One who knows what the future holds
And He’s got our world in His hands
He loves you even more than I do
And its in His strength I stand
(Below is a link to the song and video)

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy1OZwTcUv0

**Blog originally written August 2012

This is not my first post.

Ok, technically this is my first blog post. But I have been blogging to a few friends and my husband for some time now. You see, I have a lot of passions. I have a lot of opinions. But I do not like confrontation. Most don’t. I am most. And whenever I find myself in the middle of one of those situations, my stomach turns non stop until its over. Fully over.

I never liked roller coasters. I can’t even go on a swing without my stomach doing a little dance. (I know, that is so embarrassing.) My first roller coaster and every one after that I just get so nervous on the way up those stupidly slow ascents to the big drop. I promise myself I will not go on anymore. Why do I do this to myself? It’s so awful. This is the last time. Some people love roller coasters. They scream all the way down. I envy those people. I couldn’t scream. Ever. I don’t know the science behind it. All I know is that no noise comes out of my mouth. None. But for the sake of camaraderie, or some other noble cause, I keep doing it. And I could really do without it.

Did you know Newton felt the same way? Not about roller coasters, but about confrontation. You see every time he put out a new postulate or came up with a corollary, someone challenged him. And it got personal. And he hated it. He summed it up like this “….for I see a man must either resolve to put out nothing new, or to become a slave to defend it.”  He finally vowed never to publish anything on science again, and it is said that this detrimentally slowed down progress in England for almost a hundred years!

 Ok, let’s be clear. I know that I am not Newton, and my decision to blog or not to blog will not alter the course of an entire country. But I can point to so many times in my life when my path was altered by a new perspective someone was bold enough to share with me. And I am grateful, eternally grateful to those that stood at the crossroad of uncomfortable and easy and decided to speak truth into my life. I can also think of decisions I made when people that knew better stood next to me said nothing. So I am going to say something. I pray with all that is in me that I will not say anything that would not line up with the Word of God or with who He has called me to be as His disciple, a wife, mommy, daughter, and sister and friend. That is my only prayer.

Warning. I will make grammatical errors.