Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Let Go of the Rope.......and Costa Rica Update!

There was a mountain climber who desperately wanted to conquer the Aconcagua and began climbing it after years of preparation. But he wanted the glory to himself, so he went up alone. He started climbing and it became later and later. He didn’t prepare for camping, so he decided to keep going. Soon it grew very dark . . .

Night fell with heaviness at a very high altitude. Visibility was zero. Everything was black. There was no moon, and the stars were covered by clouds. As he was climbing a ridge at about 100 meters from the top, he slipped and fell. Falling rapidly, he could only see blotches of darkness that passed. He felt a terrible sensation of being sucked in by gravity.

He kept falling . . . and in those anguishing moments, good and bad memories passed through his mind. He thought certainly he would die. But then he felt a jolt that almost tore him in half. YES!! Like any good mountain climber, he had staked himself with a long rope tied to his waist.
In those moments of stillness, suspended in the air, he had no other choice but to shout, “HELP ME, GOD! HELP ME!”

God replied, “Do you REALLY think that I can save you?”
  
"OF COURSE, MY GOD!”

“Then let go of the rope that is holding you up,” God said.

There was another moment of silence and stillness. The man gripped the rope even tighter. 
The rescue team says that the next day they found a frozen mountain climber . . .
hanging strongly to a rope . . .TWO FEET OFF THE GROUND!
    
                                                                                                               (author unknown)

I like this story. It reminds me of ourselves. We want to let go and trust God with that marriage, kids, finances, ministry, job, family, friend, etc., etc. The list could go on and on. We cry out to God in our circumstances. We want to cut the rope and trust God, but we are too much like the climber. We keep trusting our own strength, intellect, understanding, wisdom, abilities, and once again, the list goes on.
 
God knew the ground was only two feet away when He asked the climber to cut the rope. God sees the fullness of our circumstances, literally! He sees, He Knows, He Acts. But we have a part… obedience! So even in our darkest hour may we learn to obey Him, even when what He requires of us makes no sense! Cut the rope!

Costa Rica Update.....

I am excited to share with you that we have 40 missionary women sponsored as of today! Only 10 more to sponsor! Thank you so much! Keep praying and giving!!

We are just about 9 weeks out from leaving the country. That seems like a long time but not really!! Continue to pray for us as we prepare worship, messages, testimonies, activities, gifts, etc. Mostly I would ask that you pray that we as a team would be bold about spending time in His Word and prayer in preparation before leaving the country. It is our genuine desire to bring to the missionary women nothing of ourselves, but all of HIM!

Please know also that as your eyes are reading this blog you have been prayed for. Yes, I may not know you all personally, but I do know many of you. You are all being lifted up in prayer by the God who KNOWS!

Hope you have a wonderful week as you seek first His kingdom and righteousness!

Let Go of the Rope!

His,
Vickie

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

God’s Workmanship

Weekly I pray for our board, advisors, and staff of Pure Joy International. I have assigned a specific day to each one of them. I send them a text that morning asking for prayer request. Last Monday one of our staff sent a prayer request and this is partially the request.

"Please pray for God's wisdom and His perfect peace for both of us (her husband) as we deal with a workmanship issue on the house that just came to light late yesterday."

She and her husband have been in the process of building a new home. Last week they were down to the final home stretch before moving in and obviously there were some things that weren’t happening the way they had designed them or wanted the outcome to look.

When I read her request that morning the word “workmanship” really jumped out at me. And immediately the verse from Ephesians 2:10 rose-up in my spirit. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

The builder in their case had an opportunity to hear their concerns and change things to their desired results. But can I ask you something? How many times have we complained to our Builder, God? I ask that question because to be honest with you this is what pierced my heart when I saw the word “workmanship”. My Builder is PERFECT! I have no grounds for a workmanship issue. (WOW! That is a profound thought if you can wrap your mind around it!)

So, perhaps it is time to meet with your Builder. Not because there is a workmanship issue but because there is a lack of knowledge concerning the Builder. I pray you think on this truth. Amen.

Costa Rica continues so be at the forefront of the hearts of the team members! We have 32 of our missionary women sponsored with only 18 to go. Word has it that by next week we could see another 8 of them sponsored. That would be totally awesome! Please join us in praying that all remaining 18 get sponsored.

Just a reminder as you pray for the team and missionary women, our theme is “Crossing the Jordan”. The verse is Joshua 3:5.

We already have groups of women signing up to make gifts. If you are interested please let me know at vickie@purejoyinternational.org

Love you all and praying for you as well!

His,
Vickie

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Body That Works........

So,  two and half weeks ago my mom and I started working out at a local gym called “Body that Works”. After the first day, my body did not work so well for over a week. (ha,ha,ha) In fact, the most laughable part of the first week was my inability to utilize the ladies room without handheld objects around me to lower myself to the seat. Obviously I had some extremely sore muscles. (ha,ha,ha) Those of you that have been there are having great empathy for me at this moment. However, the second week was much better and this week was going well, until I kind of sprung my big toe doing jumping jacks. (Try not to think about how that happened! Ha,ha,ha,ha). I did, however, go ahead and pay for the next two months in advance to motivate myself to stay the course! (ha,ha,ha) Also, I am motivated by the improvement I am already seeing in my energy level and that I am gaining more stamina. Balance, well not so much, as I ended up in a rollout flat on my back after trying to do a two point squat stance with leg extended back and arm extended upward. Seriously, I have not laughed at myself so hard in a long time. So those of you that are reading this that live near me.... if you want some cheap entertainment and are willing to work out at 5 a.m. in the mornings you should come.

Do you want to know about the part of this that isn’t fun to me? I know that if I don’t continue going to “A Body That Works” that I will eventually have a body that isn’t working again. I am either at a desk on the computer, in a chair counseling, or driving somewhere to counsel or speak. Therefore, I really don’t get the exercise I need to be healthy for someone my age. So, if I plan on this temple being a vessel for God to use I need to discipline myself for the journey. So, there is no turning back if I am going to be a soldier of Christ fit for duty physically.

But, am I a soldier of Christ fit for duty mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well? This may seem funny to you but to be fit for duty physically is a lot easier than being fit mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Because the only way to be fit in the other 3 arenas is to: Lift the Word of God daily and apply it to life circumstances. I’m not being legalistic with you here. I’m just saying that reading the Word of God and digging into it should be a habit in our life versus a vacancy. Why? Because the Word of God is perfect and complete, giving us all we need to know about God, Christ, Man, Salvation, Godliness, and the Enemy. While all of the Bible is profitable for us, it does not give us exhaustive information on every subject on the face of the earth. However, in every subject on which it speaks it speaks only what is true. And in that truth we have all we need to turn from sin, recognize our Savior, know God, grow in our walk with Him, understand others and ourselves, make good decisions, address marriage issues, parenting issues, work related and ministry issues, sexual issues, the enemy and how to stand against him, and the list could go on and on. HIS WORD IS SUFFICIENT and the end result is we grow in FAITH and it is evidenced by how we live our lives.

So, why is the body of Christ so impotent as Christian soldiers? We are not lifting the Word of God daily; therefore we are not living out lives that reflect kingdom work. So how do you become a Christian soldier that is fit for kingdom service? Word Lifting!

2 Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV)
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.   All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

And finally, Costa Rica registration opened up this past week. We have already had to go to a waiting list. How exciting to see God move. Please pray for the team as we begin our preparation time this next week going forward until we leave the country. We have 29 missionary women sponsored to my knowledge as of today. Only 21 to go. Keep giving and praying.

His,
Vickie

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Subtle Deceptions...

“Tag, you’re it,” I say as I touch him on the shoulder, or catch him with a swoosh of my hand across his back. Immediately, I take off running and he is in chase. Just as he is about to catch me and I see no way out I put my hand up as if to say wait a minute (which slows him down a bit) and then I look off in the trees, sky or across the room (if we are in the house) point and say, “Look! What is that?”, which gives me the fraction of a second that I need to adjust to get away from being tagged. I run off laughing and allow him to make the tag within a short period of time, considering he is nearing only 5 years of age. Ha,ha,ha! The funniest part is watching him quickly turn around and use the same tactic. It is worth the laughs!

However, subtle deceptions in the spiritual realm, used by our enemy daily to distract us from the things of God, are not so funny. Let me say it to you this way. If you woke up this morning and your focus was on God, I can promise you the enemy has done something subtle to deceive you into shifting that focus away from God. Maybe the enemy used your spouse, children, neighbor, boss, peer, and/or one of the news channels to say, “Look! What is that?” Just enough distraction to get you focused on something else, which could end up being anything on a spectrum of bad to good, while he sits back and laughs at the results. Yes, I said, good. Because the enemy is crafty, and if he can get your focus off God by bringing something good into your life, he will. Just because something is good doesn’t mean it can’t be used for bad.

So, as you go through your week keep an eye out for those subtle deceptions that keep you from God’s Word, prayer, fellowship and intimacy with God.

Tag, you’re it!
Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

His,
Vickie

P.S.  Please continue to pray about giving to our Costa Rica trip. The team is coming together and already prayers are being lifted for the missionary women/families that will be represented at the conference. We are fighting spiritually for these women/families as they prepare to enter the war zone spiritually in the days ahead. If your church has a missionary and/or missionaries serving at home or abroad please be lifting them in prayer weekly! They are fighting a battle that far surpasses what we see in the physical realm.

 Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)
...but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Celebrating His Faithfulness... Sharing their Words...

First, let me start out by singing His praises! We have 26 missionary women sponsored for our Costa Rica trip and only 24 more to go! What a faithful God we serve! This is His ministry and He makes provision for it! Amen! So, keep praying and give as He directs.

We will be opening registration for the missionary women at the Spanish Learning School towards the end of June. Some of you have adult children going through the program and it is our prayer to be able to be an encouragement to them and keep them headed toward the field of service God is leading them to.

In our last blog, I told you I would share some of the stories or comments from previous missionary women and their journey while at language school. Here is one to get us started... This is from the wife’s blog while in Spanish Language School. We at Pure Joy International  believe God has called us to travel overseas to remind missionary women and families of His faithful love and concern for them. To encourage them to stay the course and “keep walking”.

His,
Vickie



Pura Vida!

MARCH 15, 2014

So, I got this sign the other day at the artisan market as a souvenir and memory of our time in Costa Rica. Literal translation: pure life. Here in Costa Rica, it’s a phrase used by the people to basically say, “It’s all good.” I’ve been reflecting on this phrase, and our experiences here, for the last 7 months. In fact, I used this as the theme for my Spanish devotion presented on Friday in my language class.

As a Christian, there is just so much meaning packed into this little phrase, and what a great tool for evangelism in the streets of San Jose. In reality, if you’re a believer, you are truly experiencing “pura vida” every day, all day, no matter what circumstances surround you because you’ve been justified! You’ve been set right with God, and this status never changes. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8: 1,2)

In reality, though, we are living anything but the pure life. My life could more accurately be described as “la vida loca”! And on this side of heaven, we will never be free from failure and disappointment and struggle and pain. Our journey is marked with a continual movement towards His perfect plan for us. And that journey is one of purification.

What does the Bible have to say about the process of purification? In Isaiah 48, entitled “Israel refined for God’s Glory”, God says this to His people in verses 10 and 11: “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” (The beginning verses have some very applicable and interesting things to say about the kind of people we are…obstinate, rebellious, worshippers of idols…I know I could see myself reflected in those verses. And the remainder of the chapter talks a lot about who God is and His character. Read and reflect on the whole chapter if you have chance to.)

If God were actually writing a chapter in the book of Cosner, this period of time in language school could appropriately be titled: The Furnace of Affliction. Since day one, we’ve been experiencing hardships and trials. And we’re not the only ones, so this isn’t meant as a way to express self-pity. It is just the ugly reality of missionary life. Over the last 7 months, we haven’t expressed much about these struggles, because processing them has been a struggle in and of itself. There is also the inner fear that if we truly shared how hard all of this was, that people would think we weren’t fit for service in His kingdom, or worse, that we had lost our faith. Neither of those is true.

What is true is that we are imperfect, impure people that God has called to serve in Belize. And He is using some very painful means at times to prepare us even further for our time there. Strip away all the distractions in your life, and you might be surprised at what rises to the top. And I’ve certainly been blindsided by the sin that was living deep within my own heart, and the sin revealed in the hearts of my family.

I could choose to focus on the sin, mine and theirs, and slip into a pit of despair and depression. And to be transparent, that is where I have lived many times since August. I feel worthless, or useless, or like a complete hypocrite. I see extreme selfishness in the mirror, and in the faces of my husband and children, and feel deep disappointment. I’ve never felt lonelier, and rather than banding together, it’s as if we’ve all built our own walls of reinforcement and we’re not letting anyone in. And sometimes, we’re even lobbing grenades over the wall at each other. This experience has left me feeling quite hopeless, to be honest, and questioning everything I thought I knew before.
I need to be reminded of the first verse I mentioned above. THERE IS NOW NO CONDEMNATION IN CHRIST JESUS! I am in Christ, that I know. And He is in me! That means, even if I fall completely apart here, there’s no condemnation. Even if I’m a complete failure as a wife and mother, there is no condemnation. Even if I’m the worst Spanish student ever and fail all my exams and sound like a total gringo when I talk, there is no condemnation. Even if my kids are not exactly what I pictured, there is no condemnation. Even if we can never raise enough support and we never make it to the mission field, there is no condemnation.
Our afflictions have been many.
  • Sibling conflicts, to the point of fist fights (on our FIRST day of orientation, we ended up in the principal’s office.)
  • Accidents (my unfortunate hammock incident resulting in a 6 week concussion, Mike’s severely twisted ankle)
  • Sickness (weird allergic reactions, chronic stomach issues, Mike’s kidney stones and surgery)
  • Marital conflict and long counseling sessions
  • Isolation and loneliness, feelings of being forgotten
  • Loss of friendships, or unexpected changes in friendships
  • Continual conflicts with teachers and administration at our kid’s school
  • Not being able to worship in a language we understand
  • Losing financial support and not gaining new support
  • Extreme fatigue, like mind-numbing, eyes painfully trying to stay open, need a nap every afternoon kind of fatigue
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Arguments with our kids
  • Weight gain
  • Struggles with the kids’ grades
  • The reality of our pride and selfishness
  • Personality differences among the many missionaries
  • Doubts and questions about our call
The list is actually a mile long, and I’m sure it’s not yet complete…we do still have 5 weeks left, plenty of time for more afflictions. But I also know this. The Bible says in 1 Peter 1: 3-7, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith- more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
So what would my list of blessings look like right now?
  • I am saved by grace through faith, and I’m justified completely in Him, and there is now no condemnation.
I’m trying to be honest, and the reality is that my list isn’t very long right now. And not because good things don’t exist in my life, but more because I just can’t see them. I’ve been so focused on my suffering, and on confronting and facing my sin and inner battles, and on the things I don’t have. However, that ONE thing on my list is enough. It’s a hope and a truth I can cling to. And even though it seems like a short list, that ONE thing could take me pages and pages to explain all of its implications in my life.
And the encouragement from 1 Peter is that my long list of afflictions is temporary. It isn’t forever. It’s for a little while. But my eternity is just that…eternity. My inheritance is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, and it’s being kept for me until I reach the arms of Jesus. In fact, I believe it IS the arms of Jesus.
And yes, there are wonderful things about being a missionary. We’ve met some fantastic people along the way who are now a part of our journey forever. We’ve had experiences, and our kids have had experiences, that most people don’t get in a lifetime. And we are living, every day, doing exactly what it is that God made us to be doing. The contentment that comes from knowing you are fulfilling your calling is beyond anything I could ever describe to you. (See my previous blog post about Purpose.)
I’m not the person I was in August. I’m being refined in the furnace of affliction. And I know that the Lord is going to use this impure, unrefined person for His glory because He tells me so. In the end, that’s what this is all about…His glory.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Trips on the Horizon...

Many of you have been asking what trips are coming up next. So, as of now we can share what we know. In October, we will be headed to Costa Rica to do a conference very specifically for the missionary women going through The Spanish Language Institute in San Jose. After 3 days of registration for these ladies, if the conference isn’t full, we will open it up to other missionary women serving overseas outside of their country of origin that have been sent by a mission sending organization or a sending church to which they are accountable. We will keep you posted as we get closer in.

Please begin now to pray about giving towards sponsorship of the missionaries that will be attending. Any amount is always considered a blessing from God and I pray He doubles any of the giving that comes in. For those of you that like the details up front, the cost is $600 per missionary for hotel and meals for 4 days, three nights. Thank you in advance for seeking God on this opportunity. (There is a button on this page to donate.)

Also, do not be deceived by the words Costa Rica and start getting the idea in your mind that our missionaries are over there hanging out at waterfalls, volcanoes, zip lines, butterfly parks, the jungle, etc. Well, some may actually be serving in the jungles (smile). Don’t misunderstand me, Costa Rica is a beautiful country. However, our missionaries in language school, and serving in that part of the world aren’t there to sightsee. They are there to learn a language that will hopefully equip them to be sent out to Spanish speaking countries around the world to share the Good News....and that preparation isn’t always pretty. The enemy does not want them to make it through language school! Some won’t make it through language school! Not because they couldn’t learn the language, but because they couldn’t make the transition from leaving the U.S., families, friends, and resources, to tight living quarters, children not adjusting, marriage issues, etc.

This conference will give the missionary women a place of refreshing. A place to get away and regroup, a place to be washed with the Word of God specifically chosen by God to be poured out on them, a place to worship with other English speaking missionary women, a place to be encouraged, affirmed, convicted and challenged. Counseling will be available along with times of fellowship, rest and free time. God has clearly affirmed to us at Pure Joy International that we are supposed to be in this location, at this time, with the team He puts together, for His purposes.

For those that remember the hardship of language school in preparation for your field work,  please feel free to share some of your stories. I would love to allow our readers to have a reality check about the ups and downs of your journey in language school wherever you attended.

We will be making our way to Moscow, Russia in April of next year. Exact dates are not set yet, but I will let you know when they are. Please be praying to discern if God would have you be a part of these teams, or if He will have you be a part of the praying and gifting for the trips. Let me hear from you at vickie@purejoyinternational.org.

Counting It All Joy,

His,
Vickie 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Our Way Home, Back to The Father

I suspect that most of us reading this blog could tell a story about being lost. I’m not talking spiritually right now, I’m talking in the physical. It’s funny about being lost. You never realize it until you have that moment of “epiphany.” (Usually defined as a sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something.) There are, of course, lots of thoughts that accompany that “epiphany.” Such as: “What was I thinking?” “I told you not to turn this direction!” “If you had listened to me instead of that GPS we wouldn’t be sitting here right now!” “How hard would it have been for you (me) to ask directions?” “If you had been paying attention instead of talking on your cell phone!" Etc., etc. ... Emotions tend to rise up as soon as we experience that “epiphany”. Emotions such as: frustration, anxiety, blame, anger, confusion , fear,  and helplessness to name a few. After all those things we settle down to rethink our decisions that got us lost and begin the process of getting back on track. Sometimes we can figure it out on our own and other times we have to call someone for help.
    
Easter Sunday morning as I was journaling during my quiet time, the following dawned on me about Easter. I had been journaling word statements about what it meant to me that He Is Risen! They were going something like this: Our Hope, Our Sovereignty, Our Strength, Our Provider, Our Rock, Our Redeemer. But then these two word statements rose up out of me, “Our way home,” “Our way back to the Father.” Before I had even lifted the pen from the pages I was moved by those last two statements. Had I ever really thought of The Resurrection in that way? I had thought of it from the standpoint of His return to the Father. I had thought of it from the standpoint of our salvation. I had thought about it in as many ways as we do think about it. But, I had never thought about it in those simple, tender words of truth, “our way home” and “our way back to the Father.” Our way home because it is the “only” way home for a lost person, and back to the Father because Adam and Eve had cost us our relationship with our Father in the garden. But the resurrection gave us the choice to have it back. When we are lost in the physical and/or in the spiritual, there is nothing like “finding the way home.”

Next week I will be sharing with you about our next conference which will take place this fall. So, be praying as I prepare the details to share with you. This is somewhat of a unique opportunity and I want to be clear in my communications about it.
  
Have a blessed week and remember... If you know someone that experienced the power of the resurrected Savior through the Easter Holiday, please make sure to welcome them home!

Love you all,

His,
Vickie