Friday, October 13, 2017

He Loves Me…..

For many of us middle aged (or slightly older, ha, ha) we remember the days of our youth picking Black-eyed Susan’s (daisy) and playing He (or She) loves me or loves me not. Usually, the flower looked like the one in the picture having only 13 petals. There are daisies that have more or less petals and come in all kinds of colors, but this is the one we usually found growing in the fields around us. I may have been a slow learner at this, but eventually, I figured out that whichever statement I started with, he loves me or he loves me not is also what I ended with as I plucked the petals away. So naturally I started with he loves me. (smile) You know, even as youth, we knew that was just a silly game.

But today I see people all around me doing that with real life and it’s not a game. He bought me something… he loves me. He didn’t get me something… he doesn’t love me. He called me 3 times throughout the day even though he is working… he loves me. He didn’t call me 3 times today while working… he doesn’t love me. She washed the dishes… she loves me. She didn’t wash the dishes…
she doesn’t love me. She cleaned the house and did laundry… she loves me. She didn’t clean the house and do the laundry… she doesn’t love me. She cooked, she didn’t cook, he put gas in the car, he didn’t put gas in the car, etc., etc., etc.

 “Spurgeon Daily Quotes” 
Christ Jesus has no quarrel with his spouse. She often wanders from him, and grieves his Holy Spirit, but he does not allow her faults to affect his love. He sometimes chides, but it is always in the tenderest manner, with the kindest intentions: it is ‘my love’ even then.


Have you allowed your spouse, children, family-member, friend and or co-worker’s faults to affect your love for them? Go back to the start, remember the Black-eyed Susan. Forgive them and start with ‘love’ (His Love) which ends with ‘love’ (His Love).

Costa Rica last lap before departure…
Ok, I am confident we are in the last lap before leaving the country a week from this Saturday. How do I know this? Because my brain is on overload of thoughts. The other morning, I put my mom’s oatmeal in the cabinet to heat it up, instead of the microwave, and I plugged the hairdryer in instead of the iron for my shirt. Yep, I’d say I have a few distractions in my brain. Ha,ha,ha.

All that to say…this is the very last week of preparation. Trunks are and have been packed. So it is now to the finite details for each team member to address to be ready to step on that plane. So, Pray for us!!! And my brain! Ha,ha,ha

He Loves Me…

His,
Vickie

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Restoration...


Recently my brother and his wife moved from Houston, Texas back home to Arkansas.  Well, I should say they are mostly moved, he still has another month or more at his job before official retirement.  Therefore, my sister-in-law is here while he goes back and forth.
Last week my mom went to spend the week with my sister-in-law to help her unpack and help where needed.   Now let me just stop a minute and say we are unpacking things and organizing.  Why would this require any type of trip to flea markets?  Why? Ha,ha,ha,ha!  However, it did I suppose.  Because, when I checked in on them one day they were restoring a dresser they picked up at one of the flea markets.  Well… the very same day my mom was telling me about them restoring that dresser, I read something very interesting in one of my daily devotionals.  It was encouraging to my soul and a good reminder of a truth.  The quote was from A.W. Tozer, and reads, “The supreme work of Christ in redemption is not just to save us from hell, but to restore us to Godliness again.” 

Romans 8:29 (ESV)
 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

So, I got to thinking about how God has redeemed those of us that have placed our faith in Jesus Christ (literally, paid the price for us). Just like my sister-in-law bought that dresser.  It now belongs to her and my brother (just like we belong to God).  She bought that dresser with a picture in mind of what it could be. (He redeemed us knowing the plans He had for us.)  They went to work on the restoration process.  (Just like He began a good work in us.)  They didn’t finish the restoration process in one day.  (Just like we are not restored to godliness in one day.)  I’m sure she has had to do some cleaning, stripping, sanding/buffing, filling, etc., etc. (Just like God has to utilize different circumstances and situations in our lives to restore us to godliness.)  All this to say to you dear ones, be patient with yourself and others.  It is a process. (smile)

1 Timothy 4:8 (ESV)
....for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Prayer for Costa Rica (Hit by tropical storm)
Costa Rica is Red Alert today (Thursday) meaning the potential for mudslides, flooding, electrical outages, etc., is high.  There have already been some deaths related to mudslides and flooding.  Please pray for our missionaries that might be in some of those areas, as well as the locals.

Restoration in process,
His,

Vickie

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

“Take God Off The Stopwatch”

Yesterday, as a friend was praying over me,  she made a statement during her prayer that went something like this, “Lord, help Vickie to take you off the stopwatch.” It was one of those things you have heard me call a “heart hanger”. You know what I’m talking about. When God through His word, others, the Holy Spirit, and/or circumstances won’t let you get away from something until He has revealed Himself to us in it. Well, that idea of “take God off the stop watch” was a heart hanger. I’m still allowing God to work it out in me.
 
But, can’t you just see this picture, us standing with a stopwatch in our hands saying, “God, You gave me this promise, this word, this assignment, this calling, this ministry, this husband, these kids, and this job. You say You equip the called, will finish the good work in us that You began, will never leave us nor forsake us, work all things for good, etc., etc., Ok, Go!” Then we click the stopwatch and expect Him to complete those things according to our time frame and we don’t even realize we are doing it. We measure Him according to our stopwatch and when He doesn’t show up in our set time we question Him, His word, our ability to hear His word, His voice and slowly lose footing regarding His truths and promises. All because we have tried to bring an infinite God into our finite system. “Click”

Costa Rica is only 3 weeks out! Please pray for us as we begin to look at distribution of weight regarding our trunks. The team is spread out between 4 different states so it makes it kind of crazy getting the right weight distribution to get everything we need in trunks without going over our weight limit. Yesterday I mailed 11 lbs. to South Carolina. That doesn’t seem like much until you add more to it. But a few lbs. here and a few there add up. Yeah, like we don’t know that as women! Ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha

Have a great week!  Love you all!

His,
Vickie

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Costa Rica

First, I want to start out by giving a big Praise to the LORD for each of you that has contributed to the sponsorship of the 50 missionary women that will be attending this conference. We don’t take lightly any donations made to this trip and the ministry of Pure Joy International.

As we continue to prepare for our departure in less than 5 weeks I am reminded of the verse God gave me for the ministry of Pure Joy International.  

Hebrews 3:13 (ESV)
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.


The whole purpose of this ministry is to bring encouragement to our missionary women/families on their field of service… that they may continue to serve the LORD in the areas He has called them to serve. Our time spent with them there is precious. The one prayer I consistently have prayed over the years is that we would show up as encouragers and leave the fragrance of His knowledge (the Word) and the aroma of Christ when we depart.

Nothing gives me more joy than to hear from a missionary that has attended one of the Pure Joy Conferences over the years who says, “The things shared during that conference have continued to help me in my journey with Christ and on the field.” That tells me that we left the fragrance of His knowledge (the Word) and the aroma of Christ with them when we departed.

So, I would be remiss if I didn’t leave you with something to ponder this week. What kind of fragrance/aroma are you leaving behind when you leave your family in the mornings, leave a ministry situation, or job situation, etc.? I am ashamed to say as I have been writing this blog that I suspect the fragrance/aroma I have been leaving behind this past month is more of a fleshly smell than the fragrance/aroma of Christ. I have not been a good patient on these crutches. So, at the conviction of my own blog writing (ha,ha,ha) I am seeking His forgiveness and choosing the fragrance of Christ, not my flesh! I know my mom will be happy about this! ha,ha,ha,ha 

Keep praying for all the details for Costa Rica. Lots still to be done in preparation in the weeks ahead. Lots of churches still working on things that will be going with us when we leave the country. (smile)

Choosing the Fragrance/Aroma of Christ,

His,
Vickie

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Crutches and Life ......

This past Wednesday I began a six week stint of no weight bearing on my left leg (knee). I actually started having problems with it a year and a half ago. Over time it has gotten steadily worse to walk without pain and/or to not have pain all the time even when I’m not on it. I finally was giving in to the idea of a torn menicus but an MRI revealed that I have something that can best be described as Bone Marrow Edema meaning fluid in the bone marrow. Not a quick fix. Ortho Dr. suggested staying off of it for 6 weeks to see if that would allow it to heal. He told me it came from a trauma to the knee. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what it was and/or when I did it. Hard to believe it took a year and a half for it to get to a place that I couldn’t handle it any more.
 
Isn’t that like us in real life, we handle things until we just can’t handle them any more. I really don’t know what would have happened if I had gone in sooner to address the issue but the truth is like most of us my line was “I don’t have time for this.” And honestly it ends up costing us more time than if addressed sooner.

I think that is true in our walk with God. I think there are seasons when we know something isn’t right. But we keep it to ourselves and don’t say it out loud to anyone because we don’t want anyone to see us as weak or unspiritual. We keep trying to handle it ourselves, independent of help. But, before you know it, we are in over our heads in a situation regarding marriage, families, finances, ministries, careers, etc. To be honest with you, most people never make it to a counselor, financial advisor, their boss, pastor, etc., until they are in so far over their head they have to ask for help.
 
God’s word is clear as it tells us where to place our concerns when overwhelmed:

1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.


Psalm 55:22 (ESV)
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.


Psalm 34:17-18 (ESV)
When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.


Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)
...fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.


Isaiah 46:4 (ESV)
.....even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.


Psalm 9:10 (ESV)
And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.


Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Costa Rica Update.....

Just a quick note to let you know that we have 4 more missionary women sponsored as of the last blog! Praise Him! We only have 6 more to go. Keep praying and giving as you are led. Thank you to all of you that are on this journey with us to Costa Rica!!
 
Have a great weekend and week ahead..

His,
Vickie

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

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Voices...

This past weekend my great nephew had his first t-ball game. If you are a parent you either remember those days, are in those days, or are looking forward to them (if your child will be playing ball someday).

Our team went to bat first. The young man hit the ball off that tee with gusto as it rolled heartily past the pitcher and over second base. Immediately, the voices rang out, “Run!”  Which he did... towards the same direction the ball went. (Ha,ha,ha,ha) Which made the voices ring louder, “Run to first, Run to first, Over here, Over here!” You could see the little guy experiencing sensory over load from all the voices which became nothing more than noise to him. Then finally, he saw the coach and heard his voice above all the noise and made it to first! Priceless!
 
My other favorite moment came when another one of our players hit the ball and all the voices started their chant of, “Run, Run to first” as the little guy just stood there in a daze looking at everyone. I could imagine it was like in the movies when you see the people’s mouths moving and their hands waving at a ballgame but the sound has been muted. Almost as quickly as all this was taking place, one of the batting coaches scooped him up underneath his (our little batter) arms and carried him to first base. Again, priceless.

I suspect we experience the sensory overload of voices some days in our life. Whether it is coming from our own self-talk, others (spouse, kids, family, peers, the world) and/or the enemy and his lies. I believe those voices can also leave us dazed and overwhelmed. When that happens, seek Him, listen for His voice and trust/know that He has you. Even if He has to pick you up and carry you to first.

Psalm 105:4 (ESV)
Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!


Psalm 34:4 (ESV)
I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.


Psalm 9:10 (ESV)
And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.


Psalm 34:10 (ESV)
The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.


Psalm 34:19 (ESV)
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.


Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)
....fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.


Psalm 3:3 (ESV)
But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.


May your week be blessed.

His,
Vickie




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Easter is only a few weeks away ...

As we begin our journey to remember the cross this Easter we will see the normal things that take place every year. People that have not been to church since Christmas and/or Easter of last year will come through the church doors. Church people will put their signs out in their yards inviting people to the Sunday Easter Service. Others will verbally invite someone to church because for some unknown reason it is ok to invite people to church on Easter Sunday and/or Christmas without feeling uncomfortable about doing so. Children, along with many adults, will be dressed up in the colors of spring. A sense of celebration will be in the air. Grills will be fired up with hamburgers and hotdogs accompanied by Easter Egg hunts in many parks and back yards.

However, Monday following Easter life will go back to usual for most and the celebration will be over till next Easter. Why? Why is this so true for so many in the body of Christ! Because, we lose sight of what the power of the cross and the resurrection means to our daily lives! 

Just to remind us... Here are just a few of the basics: Eternal life, a new heart, a new identity, a new foundation to build our lives on, a bank account of forgiveness, and the list is endless! Please consider, for a believer Easter should be a climax celebration of living out these truths that proclaim the victory and hope that are ours daily from year to year.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

 John 3:16 (ESV)  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

John 1:12-13 (ESV) But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,   who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

1 Corinthians 3:11 (ESV) For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

John 1:9 (ESV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Thank you to those that I have talked with about where God would lead us in the fall. We will be meeting as a staff the second week of April to talk more about the opportunities and to seek His will.

Have a Great Week!

His,
Vickie

Friday, March 10, 2017

Would you consider...

Earlier this week on the way to the office, I was deeply impressed to pray for a friend that I had not really had much contact with in a while. She attends my church and I see her from afar on Sunday mornings. We smile and say hi, and move on.

After lifting her family up in prayer, I sent her a short text message telling her that I felt impressed by God to pray for them and wanted her to know He had led me to pray for them.

She quickly wrote me back sharing with me that I had no idea how timely that text was. I am reminded how much the enemy tries to keep us distracted with the things of this world so we are not sensitive to the person of the Holy Spirit giving us direction through the day. How many times during the day would God use us to step up and walk alongside someone, if only for a few meaningful steps to encourage them because He see and knows their struggle, journey, needs, etc.

How amazing that God sees all and directs us, His vessels, to show up on His behalf. Nothing is more exciting than to know we are being used by Him, for His Glory.

Take time to quiet your soul (mind, will, and emotions) today from the distractions of this world so you can hear His voice through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Someone may have a need that God would like to meet through you, His vessel.

Praying that we walk beside one another more often instead of running ahead or behind.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)

Also, would you join us in praying about where He would have Pure Joy International to serve Him in the Fall of this year? Thank you so much. And if you sense it is in your part of the world, please contact me.

Blessing to you this upcoming week.

His,
Vickie

Friday, March 3, 2017

No Words...

What an incredible time we had with all the ladies in Central Europe! Everyone always ask about the trips and how they are different. Wish I could explain that to everyone but I can't. Each is uniquely its own entity. 

What I personally enjoy is the different themes God gives us for each trip. He Knows All and the messages prepared around the theme touch many lives.

Thank you all 600 plus people that were part of the Central Europe trip!  Praying, gifting, giving and going!

Now, we look ahead to where He is leading us for our next trip. I know it is hard for some that we don't just pick a country and go. However, God has seriously taught us He will lead. His timing is perfect! Our next trip on the books is Spring Eastern Europe 2018. I do believe we will be in one or two other locations before that but we are waiting on Him.

I want to give a big shout out for all our contact people in our local churches! Thank you for doing your part so well!

Have a great weekend and remember to "Consider Your Ways"! Haggai 1:7.

His,
Vickie

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Day 8 Athens Greece...

We are on the last leg of our flight from Atlanta to Arkansas as I write this blog (Sunday Night). The other team members are headed to Oklahoma, Texas, North Carolina, and Tennessee respectively. 

For those of you reading this, that attended the conference, what a sweet time we had with our LORD.

I have asked Mary to post some more pictures of our last day with the women. Enjoy!

His,
Vickie



Saturday, February 25, 2017

Day 7 Athens Greece.....

We finished up our last day with the ladies. It has been an incredible week! It is always hard to leave the ladies at the end of the week wherever we are! Only God can knit hearts together so quickly and sincerely. 

We are all packed up and waiting for the bus to the airport to pick is up at 2:30 a.m.

Everyone is excited to get home to families! Please pray for safe travels for all!

Below are some picks if our final time with the ladies.

His,
Vickie





Friday, February 24, 2017

Day 6 Athens Greece ...

Hello Pure Joy International Friends,

Mary B. here. Vickie asked me to write the blog tonight and send more pictures.

I am always amazed how God meets us all right where we are and He is doing that mightily at this conference! We have heard powerful messages from Sharon, Vickie and Nikki today. The worship and prayer has moved us closer to our Lord and the fellowship and gifts have been encouraging to each of us.

Thanks again to all our partners back home. Please keep praying that we finish strong tomorrow morning and carry all He has blessed us with home to bless others.

Counting it all Pure Joy!
Mary B.





Thursday, February 23, 2017

Day 5 Athens Greece ....

Wow!!! God is so showing up in our time together with the ladies. The spirit is incredible!!

Today, Sharon, Jerry Anne, Debbie M., and Aleksey shared with the ladies! They all did such an incredible job!! 

And friends so much has been said about the gifts you have made and given. Robin and Rona are doing a great job keeping them wondering what will go on the table next.

Worship continues to grow stronger towards Him!!!

Thank you for your prayers for the three ladies trying to catch a flight from another country! They arrived late this morning so excited!!!

Pray for us as we head into Friday. It is our tough day because we are all getting a little physically tired.

His,
Vickie

Enjoy your pics for the day.






Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Day 4 Athens Greece....

Most of our ladies are here. One group of 3 missed their flight out of their country and are praying for another flight out tomorrow. May not be able to afford it so please pray for them.

The team did a great job greeting and registering the ladies. Worship was sweet, fellowship and dinner went well. Amy W. gave a powerful testimony and God allowed me to share a couple of times with them from His Word.
 
Pray for rest for all tonight!

Love you all and covet your prayers.

His,
Vickie



Beautiful and yummy snacks for the ladies,














Registration table













P. S.  We are including a couple of good pictures from yesterday that made it in late last night!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Day 3 Athens Greece Sightseeing...

Today we had an incredible day of sightseeing and a great meal at an authentic Greek restaurant. Two of our missionaries arrived early and joined us for dinner. Hope they still want to attend the conference. Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha,
Please pray as the women begin to arrive tomorrow and the conference starts.
Enjoy the pictures it’s time for bed! Long day here!!
His,
Vickie
 
 
 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Rule # 1 in a foreign county...."you must be flexible!" (Smile)

Today after devotionals and prayer time we headed up the hill to the Acropolis to start our sight seeing. Read Acts 17:16-31.

Also, we were to see Mars Hill where Paul spoke to the people of their unknown gods. Then to see the market place area discussed in the reading. Well, for whatever reason the Greeks working at the Acropolis decided to "strike" today. So today we ended up doing a little shopping and spent the rest of the time on preparations for the retreat.

Basically, we flipped our Monday and Tuesday schedules. All is  well and we will see Acropolis tomorrow I am believing!

Continue to pray for us and the women. Some of us still have a little jet-lag going on! ☺

The team is doing well and continuing to gel. (Yea!)

Here are some pics of our day!!

His,
Vickie