Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Making of a Missionary Family

I was asked the question again, "To what do you attribute your children being around the world sharing the gospel?"   I often don't have an answer.   It's not exactly what I planned.   I probably don't need to tell you that there's no one set formula, and I probably also don't need to tell you that God doesn't call every family to this kind of mission work.  Missionaries we all must be, but 'where' is the  question.
But, as I was sitting at our dining room table with this friend, I started to recount some events that contributed to the making of this particular missionary family, the Litchfield tribe.

Not necessarily in the order of importance!  But all crucial in our situation!

1) Grandparents with a vision......Grandma Schultze was going to be a missionary nurse and Grandpa Schultze a medical doctor.  God didn't grant that specific desire, but the desire was sensed and passed along (on fire godly aunt and uncle didn't hurt anything either!)
2) German grandfather/pastor - No nonsense.  Black and white.  No excuses.  God speaks....you obey!!!  It doesn't matter what people think, how much it will cost you or even what YOU think....get over whatever it is and obey!!!
3) Marrying in God's will (again not essential for everyone but it sure helps!)  My parents and Don and I endeavored to marry who God wanted us to marry
4) Knowing the purpose of family.  Before I even married, the  question was on my mind.  Why have children?  To be honest a lot of them didn't look very enjoyable!  And to my teen mind they were an inconvenience.  Do we have children just so they can have children and so on?  I didn't have all the answers at the time, but as God unfolded our lives, we learned that children were to be born and raised with the purpose to serve God.... not us. 
5) Separateness from the world and much godly instruction.  In our family, home schooling and much training were involved.
6) Denny Kenaston's Godly Home Series.  When I would listen to these audio tapes, I would become so stirred by Denny's vision to send our children out to the far corners of the world to share the gospel.  My children heard me exhorting them after I would hear some of these messages!
7) Missionary biographies.   Most of our children's reading was educational in some way and that which was spiritual.  Missionary biographies were required reading as well as reading biographies of other great men and women of the faith.
8) Mission trips.  We took them on mission trips.  They went on some on their own.  They saw me weep when leaving countries because we couldn't do more.  They saw their father invest in lives of people he didn't know.  They ministered in song and deed to spiritually hungry people.  They sang with their grandpa in the open plazas in Europe and people would gather.
9) Honest hearts.  Okay.  This one could be essential.  We tried to have honest hearts and to respond to the Spirit even when others around us saw things differently.  We wanted Gods will personally and we were willing to make changes where necessary.
10) Heart ties.  We endeavored to love, understand and enable our children.

Probably not a comprehensive list.  But it's a start.  These 10 factors contributed greatly to what our children doing today.


 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Home and Family

Our homes and our family have played crucial parts in our lives.  Of  course, our children have entangled their way in our hearts, but also the homes that have been the framework for great memories.  First of all, the children.  We have invested much in raising our family.  It takes time, energy, patience, finance to home school.  And we felt the call of God to make that sacrifice.  Along with the investment came heart ties.  As the Word says: where your treasure is, that is where your heart will be.  We also felt the call to include them in ministry.  We took them with us to prayer meetings, local outreaches, and to mission trips overseas.  Again....more heart ties.  We invested in their physical bodies in the way of being involved in select sports activities and tried to develop gifts by taking them to special classes and to music lessons.  So much of our lives were spent....and with joy we did so.
Then God began to take our investments....away to other places.....ouch.  Too soon it happened.  The children were beginning to sound really good in their string ensembles.  Our maturing voices were blending well in song.  Their bodies were strong enough and capable enough to be helpful around the house and homestead.  Yet, there they went.  What we had built began to change form and to be reconstructed in other environments.  My footing was being shaken.  My grasp loosened on what I loved and gave myself to.
Then there were the homes.  The main home is the one we visited a weekend ago.  We spent most of our child raising years there.  The hands of our children had helped Don build an addition on the home.  Their hands had pulled nails out of the hardwood flooring we had installed.  They had nurtured baby goats, chicks, lambs and donkeys on the acres there.  The boys had helped string the fencing and stack the hay.  We had sung in the music room we had added on and they played instruments together.  In the living room, the Word had been opened for family devotions.  Youth groups had gathered.  We had family meetings planning how we could better serve the Lord and others.  A treehouse was built and a natural fort existed under the large, overgrown junipers.
The basement was used for friends to frolic in adverse weather.  We snuggled on the couch in front of the VHS movies we used for math.  We had wonderful believers to worship with.  The children's grandparents were nearby.
(This is the rear of the house now overgrown and vacant)


We had bought hand shovels to dig our pond in the side yard.  The front yard was used for soccer, volleyball and football with friends.
The dining room with it's cathedral ceiling was a gathering place nearly every week for fellow believers to fellowship as well as the setting for birthday dinners.
We dreamed of our grandchildren experiencing the same joys on that land.
Then God said, "Go."
Again what had become entangled in our hearts....through investment in the Kingdom things....had to be torn away.  We were leaving it for....we knew not what.

What is God doing?  Why doesn't it feel right?  In times like these, we learn what it really feels like to forsake all and follow God.  We learn what it means to not love the world or the things of the world.  We start to feel what God is saying when he says not to love your children and your family more than Him.  It hurts.  It's an adventure.

In retrospect, I can see how God is leading  and working.  Leaving this home brought us in contact with people that we needed to meet.  Our children found their companions through venturing away from us and home.  They found their callings.  I thought they should find all this right there in that home we had loved and worked in!!  Couldn't God do that?  But, no, it wasn't the way I imagined it or how I had planned it.
If we leave houses, lands and people, God will provide more in His time and His way.  But...I liked the ones I had.  Why did I want to leave them?  I didn't want to, but God called us out and He has given good fruit out of the obedience.

When I visited this former home a few weekends ago, our son, Jake, told us that the homestead where he has been living with his mother-in-law and family will most likely be sold when they move to Thailand.  Double grieving that weekend in my heart!  Look at this place!  
I'm not trying to be overly negative....I just want you to feel the cost.  A shaker shingle barn.

 A cabin on over 100 acres of woods.  Moose and bear coming through the pasture.  An old greenhouse to start plants in the cold springs of Maine.  Cousins for our grandkids walking distance down the lane.  Warm wood heat in winter and a wood stove for cooking and heating water. 

Going is leaving what is comfortable...but also it is a forsaking in the heart.  Yet, Jake and Naomi are gearing up to leave what is precious of this earth for eternal rewards....which they do not know yet what those will look like.   Are the rewards worth it??  Oh, yes!!  The people, experiences and spouses for our children are soooo worth it.  Yes, I would have preferred these things be provided WITHOUT me leaving what I loved.  But, that's not how God wanted to do it.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Discipling Those Arrows

I've been reading "Radical" by David Platt.  Yes, put it on your 'must-read' list!  If you've already read it, then you understand what I'm saying!

I'm one of those who has struggled with 'evangelism'.  I'm not good at cold turkey witnessing.  I want people to move in with me and then I can best reach them!  Thus we did foster care and other reaching out.  But, I felt like a failure because I wasn't winning more people.  Platt's book is helping me be more encouraged....and challenged.  The type of discipleship I prefer is the kind He encourages.  The challenge to me is to do more of it and make more of a conscious effort to pursue the deeper relationships that I feel more comfortable sharing the gospel inside of.

Platt reminds us that at the end of Jesus life, He didn't tell the Father how many people He had healed or how many huge crowds He had spoken to.  He told the Father how He had been faithful to the 12 men that God had given them and only one had been lost (Judas).

Maybe this is a good sign that we need to quit putting ourselves on a guilt trip that we haven't performed miracles or preached to thousands, and start trying to disciple those God has put across our path.

Read this quote:

"The more I read the Gospels, the more I marvel at the simple genius of what Jesus was doing with His disciples.  My mind tends to wander toward grandiose dreams and intricate strategies, and I'm struck when I see Jesus simply, intentionally, systematically, patiently walking alongside twelve men.  Jesus reminds me that disciples are not mass produced.  Disciples of Jesus - genuine, committed, self-sacrificing followers of Christ - are not made overnight.
Making disciples is not an easy process.  It is trying. It is messy.  It is slow, tedious, even painful at times.  It is all these things because it is relational."

Now reread the quote above, and think about it in relation to raising children for the Lord.  Are our own children not multiplying the Gospel?  Isn't it messy and trying at times?  Should we be dreaming about reaching the world and neglecting those young branches He has put right in our home?

Here's more:

"He spent three years with twelve guys.  If the Son of God thought it necessary to focus his life on a small group of men, we are fooling ourselves to think we can mass-produce disciples today.  God's design for taking the gospel to the world is a slow, intentional, simple process that involves every one of his people sacrificing every facet of their lives to multiply the life of Christ in others."

Praise the Lord!   It's more 'doable' than we thought!  And it's more 'tedious and systematic' than some of us thought too.  What a great example Jesus was! 

What if we don't have arrows to whittle and refine?  Get to know your neighbor....WELL.  Co-workers, cousins, acquaintances at church, etc.  Platt's book will give you more ideas and challenge you to use your gifts globally to 'make disciples'.

Praise the Lord for Jesus training those 12 disciples!  Then the Holy Spirit took them and Christianity has spread like wildfire!  Let the Holy Spirit take the discipling we've done and bring the increase!

 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Missing Those Arrows

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
Psalm 127:4,5

I am happy with the arrows the Lord has given me.  One in Northern Ireland, one in India, one in Guatemala and one soon to go to Thailand.  And then one arrow still being whittled and carved into straightness.  And, oh! how I'm thankful for the beautiful arrows which have entered our family through marriage!

Yet, lately I have really been feeling the loss of the arrows that I did not put into my quiver.  After bearing four children, I listened to the worldly culture and the church culture and chose to put an end to Don's and my childbearing.  My husband was not wanting to quit, but I yielded to my own fleshly fears and to the pressures of others.   Let's face it, having babies and nurturing them is hard work!!  Yet, I have had to seek forgiveness for my lack of belief.

If God would have granted us more arrows, where would they have gone?  Perhaps they would have been helpers to their older siblings in other lands.  They could be helping the needy around home.  There is an elderly woman or two that I could be sending children to help.  My husband could have a 'young helper' on his construction projects.  Perhaps they would be an encouragement to other young people in our church.  At Operation Save America, I kept thinking of how some extra arrows would be good in the battle for life.  Not to mention countries afar that may need a missionary.  

I'm not intending to wallow in regrets, but I believe the mourning is appropriate for a time.  It's probably a bigger loss than I even realize.  That said, I believe and see God working out His alternate plan in my life.  He's giving me other children to watch out for and to influence.  He is showing me ways to use my extra time in ways that glorify Him.  I'm thankful for His mercy and grace.  But, perhaps on judgment day, the glory I gave up in missing those arrows will be revealed to me and those tears will have to be wiped from my eyes.

Until then, I choose to rejoice in God's grace, praise God for the arrows I have, pray for the grandchild arrows I've been given, love and serve other's children that are in my life, and continue to use my gifts and time for the Kingdom.  I rejoice that with our present children/grandchildren, we have been able to propagate over a dozen times!  And Mikah and Ariana haven't even begun to help us out yet! :-)  The work of Christ must be multiplied by the lost being saved, but also by believers training up a godly seed.   What a mighty God we serve.  I mess up and fail, but He does all things well!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Understanding Anger

I recently listened to a message by Tim Keller on anger.  It was so helpful to me as I knew I wasn't satisfied with some Christian's beliefs that anger is always wrong.  This message brought clarity and definition.   Here is a link for the message in it's entirety.  http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/forgiving-and-forgiven
This post will just be notes that were significant to me from the message.

In Mark 3:5, we see Jesus becoming angry and sorrowful at the stubborn hearts of the people.  Thus He reaches out and heals the man's hand.

Here we see anger that is appropriate and that is used for good.

We often feel anger is not Christian.  Therefore we may try to cover it up.  We may say we are depressed or worried when really we are angry.  But, there is no emotion that is wrong in itself.  Our emotions can go bad, but they are not essentially wrong.  Like concern is good....but it's gone bad when it gets to worry.

The Bible even says to "Be angry".   This indicates that there are times when it's wrong not to be angry and that anger can be required.

There is a sinful anger.  This can take the form of :

1) Bitterness
2)Blowing up with rage, brawling, slander
3)Clamming up

Blowing up tears other people up.  Clamming up tears you up.

When we are angry, we are either attacking something or defending something.  It is important to ask, "What are we attacking?"  and "What are we defending?"  Don't attack or defend the wrong thing.  We need to be aggressive to the problem, not to people.  Anger is to be used and directed in a constructive manner.  Redirect your anger toward the problem.

Keller used the example of a father who is so looking forward to a quiet time when he gets home from work, and his children know it.  His children get rowdy and disruptive of his quiet time.  If he gets angry at them and tries to make them feel really bad by demeaning them then he is using his anger in a wrong way.  He should direct his anger toward any sin of insensitivity  that they may have and instruct them in how to act.

Bitterness is wrong and can be defined as wanting evil things to happen to others to punish them for their errors.  Bitterness imprisons you and contradicts the behavior of Christ toward us.

God is angry without ill will.  This doesn't mean He doesn't bring judgement, but He most loves to bring people to restoration with Him and to bless them.

Living without bitterness and improper anger is not easy.  Obedience is hard.   Disobedience is impossible.

Forgiveness is powerful and is a natural byproduct of being forgiven.

Some won't accept forgiveness from God because their pride wants to earn their forgiveness.  It is a gift!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Marriage is So, So Much More Than Gray

This week we went to a Marriage Matters Retreat in NE Ohio.  It is a marriage seminar put on by the Bible Methodist Connection.  There were 28 couples there.  It was held in a lovely hotel nestled in the rolling hills of Amish country.

The first half, we heard sessions on the colorful and deliberate differences between men and women - just as God created them; and on forgiveness.  Some of the differences are soft pastels.....baby blue, soft yellow, dove gray.....and others are significantly brighter in neon green or cobalt blue!
 We learned how the strong, dark strokes of sin and offense can hurt and wound us, but there is an appropriate way to repent and to bring healing.  We must be humble, specific and open about how we have wronged our spouse....this lightens and brightens the darkness bringing out rich shades that are deep and meaningful to us.  Because of this, the dark strokes become a strengthening bond in deep purple and embracing, fiery orange.  Fierce and strong are the ties that bind.  Full of passion and energized through obedience to God's design.

We had a Q&A session which tackled tough issues both in our own lives and in the lives of friends and family.  From how to find time for our family in the midst of ministry, and how to have fun on a budget to what to tell a friend whose husband is caught up in pornography or infidelity with women.  These wounds can simmer in black heat with bubbles of red in the midst.  The four couple panel offered such wonderful wisdom.  They gave a challenge to wives in such situations to take a stand for help ....demand counseling or to separate themselves from the damaging situation.  A challenge to friends to stand with the offended one and to offer help.  Even God can't forgive until there is repentance.   We were told that anything can be forgiven.....but not everything should be tolerated.

Then Henry and Jan Miller shared how it has been to walk together for over 45 years.  They've had their struggles with Henry from an Amish background and Jan from a conservative holiness.  Now in their  mid 60's, we were stirred to tears as they passionately shared of their love for each other.  They told of a recent walk they had in the woods  and he pulled her under a tree and said, "This is our kissing tree."  As they kissed, they tried to take selfies of the two of them kissing.  :-) They said the pictures didn't turn out too good, but the kissing did!  Henry told about some nerve problems in his hands where he can't button his shirts or hook his pants..  and how Jan helps him.  Someone in the crowd had the audacity to call out, "She's your 'hooker'!".  Henry immediately said she's done that for him and made us all roll in laughter.  Henry exhorted the men to not be insensitive if their wife has a weight problem.  Don't make jokes, don't give suggestions....just love her.  Both of them spoke directly from the podium to their spouse how passionately they loved each other and how fulfilled they were by the other....Henry emphasizing how Jan was the most beautiful woman in the world to him, and the most beautiful woman in the room.   God was all over those moments, and it was like a gorgeous sunset that had unbelievably rich colors swirled together that can only be imagined, not described....and that kind of a love can only be built through the test of time and faithfulness to God's ways.  A determination to treasure and to love exquisitely.

Finally, we had a group renewal of our marriage vows.  Henry and Jan sang a love song they had written for each other.  The couples all stood and faced each other holding hands as we spoke vows again.  To be honest, it was about as hard on my introvert personality as my wedding day was, but it was sweet.  I didn't want to take my eyes off of Don, but for a moment, my eye caught the look on the couple's face next to us and it was so beautiful, I had to glance across the room at others and see the dedication and enjoyment coming from eyes/countenances across the room!  Oh, my!  So much more than gray!!  This wasn't young, virgin love as beautiful as that is.  It was love that had been tested and tried by a few years to many years of love and had chosen to give, sacrifice and to continue to commit.

Through these sessions, I was humbled and reminded how much WORK it is to have a beautiful marriage.  I was challenged and struck with how deep and meaningful it could be if we're vulnerable and pay the price.  Praise God for the extravagant color spectrum He has put into marriage!  Don't settle for less.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Sumgum and Shopping

Yesterday, we arose early and drove to where there is a Hindu holy site where the Ganges River and another two rivers meet.  Hindu followers will come at sunrise and wash in the river.  They will buy flowers and candles and ;put those on the river.
 This is a platform that they put where the rivers meet (Sangum) so people can buy their flowers and dip in the river.  It's a shallow area.
 You can see the two different colors of the river here.
 More platforms with a man in the cold water beyond.
 Vendors in the area to take advantage of the many visitors.  In January and February, there are hundreds of thousands.  Andrew says India really only has one God.....money.
 Aren't these two guys adorable?
Yesterday, Morgan and I had some time together.  We went out for coffee and then some shopping.  Have I said I LOVE shopping here?  That's only because I don't do it all the time probably.  As Morgan has said, you have to go to many little shops to get all your shopping done.  But, I love the narrow streets full of rickshaws, animals, bicyclists, pedestrians....We went to a kitchen shop.  It was one aisle where you could only sqeeeeze by someone else.  Goods hanging from the ceiling and packed into every nook and cranny there is.  The lady asks what we want.  We tell her and she sends her son here and there and in the back of the store getting what we need....laying it out for us and then starting over if it isn't just right.   Then we go to a clothing shop.  The clothing and fabric is folded neatly on shelves on the wall.  At the base of the shelves is a platform that the shopkeeper stands on. In front of the platform is a row of benches  which we, the customers sit on.  We then point at different pieces/colors we want to see.  He pulls the items down, unfolds them and lays them out on the platform for us to look at and handle.  If we say no, he tosses them in a pile to the side to refold and put back on the shelf.  We say,  "too fancy"...."sleeves too short"  ....."too much blue in that green" ....."too expensive"...."I want a fuller skirt"....and all those picky things that people who can be choosy say!!  Of course, Morgan helps put things in Hindi when the English of the shopkeeper wears out!  And usually that's very quickly!

Today we are packing to go back home.  Our flight leaves Allahabad this afternoon.  We will spend half the night in the Delhi airport and fly out of there around 3:30am.  It has been a wonderful trip, and we appreciate your prayers for good travels home!