042515 Gina Update

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I think this is a nice photo of Paul at a recent campfire we had. The property that we are staying at has a tiny hollow that has been turned into a campfire. It has a very large pit where many people can sit around. It also has many wooden benches too. The other night we were sitting there and saw about six deer come through the clearing next to us. They are large animals that are graceful and majestic. It’s darn near impossible to sit there and not think about Jesus and what heaven will be like.

I’m still very much seeking God on this journey that I’m on and trying to find out what his will is for my current life. For today, I see his will as us helping the beautiful widow that we are staying with. She is generous and kind. She is a lover of the Word. She is relational and I’m missional so it’s a good fit. She is fifteen years older than me but that doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. We never tire of sharing with one another and some of her most attractive qualities have to do with the grace she bestows everywhere she goes, in particular to her adult children and their families. I would say that she is the picture of Biblical grandmotherhood if there is even such a word.

You know… this business about relating to each other that are close to us in age, have similar interests, come from a similar background… all of it ISN’T Biblical thinking. The truth is that when it comes to the family of Christ, it should be more like, “I love Jesus, you love Jesus, and that’s more than enough for me.” One of the things that would be on my bucket list of all things has to do with “What is thinking Biblically and what isn’t thinking Biblically?” For some reason it feels as if there are times when I’m surrounded by sisters and brothers that seem so comfortable in not thinking Biblically and it has grieved me. Mind you, I often miss the mark when it comes to this but I can honestly say before the Lord that I want to get it right. I’ve often wondered if others have a deep desire to “want to get it right” too? Sometimes it’s pretty hard to tell.

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041715 Gina Update

Yesterday was nothing short of a tragedy for two of my closest friends who experienced a sudden and unexpected death in the loss of not one but two dear friends- a father and his 18 year old daughter. We praise God that both knew Jesus intimately and we grieve for the loss that his dear wife, remaining children, and ministry are now experiencing. I praise God for the words below that have brought peace and comfort during this difficult time of trial. To God be all the glory, even when we can’t begin to comprehend these circumstances. Still, we know he is a good God, a loving God, who never leaves us. I praise God for that understanding and what it means deep in my soul.

There is strength within the sorrow
There is beauty in our tears
And You meet us in our mourning
With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting
You’re sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding
You’re teaching us to trust

Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

You are wisdom unimagined
Who could understand Your ways
Reigning high above the Heavens
Reaching down in endless grace
You’re the lifter of the lowly
Compassionate and kind
You surround and You uphold me
And Your promises are my delight

Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good
You turn it for our good and for Your glory
Even in the valley, You are faithful
You’re working for our good
You’re working for our good and for Your glory

Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

[Words by Michael W. Smith, music by Aaron Keyes]

041515 Gina Update

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 

He is our friend and he consoles us. When a person’s heart is broken there is a tendency to think that God is farther away but that is actually when he is closest to us. Our eyes can’t see him standing with us and living in us even though he is near. And so our flesh seeks peace in everything but God. Sadly, these are temporary fixes that pale in comparison to the help we receive by resting in our faith. Blessings flow as we walk in moments of brokenness and repentance. As we walk in condemnation the Giver of Life brings freedom. Biblical grief brings conviction in a way that leads to lasting joy regardless of our circumstances.

Truth:

Life is often hard for Christ followers. He doesn’t make it easy for us but he always brings us help when we are seeking him even in our darkest hour. Thank you Lord. Amen.

041115 Gina Update

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The view is lovely from one of the windows on the farm. It’s very peaceful here and the scene is to die for. Over the course of the last week I’ve had the opportunity to stop, look, listen, and feel more. “What are you doing that for?” some might ask. Simply put, I’m hoping to come across Divine appointments that God might be calling me to. In Biblical terms I’m wanting to make my ears attentive to wisdom and incline my heart to understanding- Proverbs 2:2. One thing I am certain of is that God is wanting me to develop my “listening skills” in a new way.

I believe that as I develop this skill with the Spirit’s help I will have increased faith to trust in God. Several of my sisters in Christ have called asking me how I’m adjusting to the situation? Sometimes I want to say, “What situation?” I think they are referring to the fact that we decided to leave Florida for a season, surrender Paul’s job, and seek Jesus in a different place. Strangely enough, it seemed perfectly normal to us. Maybe I should say that it appeared to be the natural outflowing of everything we had been reading and gleaning from over the last few years.

Somewhere along the way we were led to understand that radical obedience to the Father should not be equated with an easy life, good health, or wealth as according to the world. Instead, Biblical obedience realizes that living for Jesus puts all of those things and more at risk. Still, from an eternal perspective, our reward is unfathomable. The real question then becomes “Is Jesus more than enough?” to which I would respond, “Yes Lord, you are more than enough.”

Knowing Jesus intimately involves radical trusting without knowing what the future might bring. Many of our friends spoke wonderful words like “I just know God has a wonderful plan for your life.” Their thoughts and well-wishes were very encouraging but we were coming from a very different place in our thinking. It was more like “I know I’m an enemy of God. I understand that I am dead in my sin and my heart is inclined to rebellion. Therefore, I choose to depend on God more fully to do something with my life that I could never come close to hope to doing on my own.” I can’t help but wonder if suffering must be involved in this but I know if that happens, God will be at the center of that too. He is so good!

Gina Update 040915

Yay! Thanks for your prayers. We made it to our final destination in Blacksburg, VA, and had a good night of sleep. Now time to adjust. Thankfully the Word of God is helping us do just that. Travel so far has been a blessing and God has protected us along the way. I’ll write more soon to share what God is doing.

040815 Gina Update

Fortunately, God has blessed us with being able to see one of my beautiful sons who is a member of the United States Marine Corps. We had a beautiful dinner together at a great dockside restaurant. Paul and I shared the best ever fish and chip platter. We also received a personal tour of Parris Island and walked through memories of my son’s graduation from Basic Training five years ago. These experiences are filled with opportunities for me to seek Jesus or seek ME. I was newly divorced then from someone who I loved deeply and yesterday I could see myself standing in various places on base trying hard to keep my broken heart pasted together enough to make it through my son’s graduation. How I praise God for better memories now that I’ve since been blessed with concerning his provisions and gifts of love in my life to help with healing.

Therefore, we are on our way from Beaufort, SC to Blacksburg, VA now. It will take approximately 6 hours which doesn’t sound long but does present a slight challenge with a vehicle following behind a motorcycle, keeping pace with one another, and staying away from texting drivers.

In closing, I continue to find myself contemplating and thinking about keys to discipleship and how to be a better Biblical Counselor in the future since I’m asked how to do it all of the time. As is true much of the time, there is little need to re-invent the wheel so I’ll let a great man of God say it best instead.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke of the need to practice “the ministry of holding one’s tongue”: “Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be expressed in words…. It must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him.”

In closing, I pray that God would give each one of us as women the ministry of “Holding One’s Tongue,” and learning to listen better Biblically. If only we realized how ineffective our advice giving is as compared to the wisdom contained within the pages of the Bible and the power that can be afforded as a result of one’s prayer life. To God be the glory. Amen.

040715 Gina Update

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What a beautiful memory this will be for us on our last Friday in Sarasota for months to come. We were blessed to be able to help someone from church with a small project. I couldn’t help but think the following as Paul carefully tackled the job.

She’s a woman of integrity. She has about a million jobs. More than a million hats if you include taking care of her handsome son. It takes a lot of effort to do what she does. She cooks, cleans, and works day in and day out. If you stayed in her house, you’d know what she is about. It takes all she has to provide such a warm and happy home. But what makes it even stronger is that she does much of it on her own while giving all the glory to God. Bringing her son up the best way she can. And teaching him how to be a loving soul in a difficult and challenging world. Respect, determination, and honesty is what this woman is all about. I am extremely proud to call her my friend.

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44