Monday, January 23, 2012

Adapted from the New Life Blog

We always love the final Sunday that New Life church is here in Los Anonos. Worshiping together, Gringos, Ticos, and Nicos side-by-side is always great. This past Sunday, however, instead of worshiping at the church, New Life helped take the entire congregation to a local club house and pool. We filled 1 bus and 2 cars!!

So right there in middle of families gathering for a pleasant day at the pool we had a worship service. Musical worship, a message from I Thessalonians on "How to Live in Community" and then the highlight of the day...
BAPTISM!! 9 adults, teens and children (from a grandmother to an 8 year old)followed Christ's example of proclaiming their faith publicly as they were baptized in the pool. It was still early in the day and the water was VERY cold!! Amazingly cold for this part of the world!! So this was a challenge.

Each was asked 2 Questions:
1. Have you received Christ as your Lord & Savior?
2. Why do you want to be baptized?
Following their verbal answers, they were baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As they came up out of the water, the congregation applauded their step of faith. This is ultimately what partnership with Los Anonos is all about -- people coming to know Christ and taking steps to obey Him in all things.

Then came the FIESTA!!! For the next 3 1/2 hours, everyone swam, played soccer, ate lots of food! This was a great time of fun and relationship building -- very much an important goal of trips here.

This year really showed how the relationships have grown over the last year. This year Dona Francisca invited many of the New Lifer's over to her table where she had prepared an abundance of food! (This was a new step!) People also seemed to mingle more. It was really neat to see people forming long-term friendships.

As always, here are the photo highlights!!!

 Doña Fransisca and Katy were the first two in the pool.

 Carlos (above) and his wife Carmen (below) were baptized together. First Carlos, and then he participated and helped baptize his wife.

 After the baptism, all bets were off. The guys had to show off their mad belly flop and jumping skills.

 No picnic is complete without juicy watermelon!! 
Chi Chi (left) and Itzel (right) sure enjoyed it!!

 At the end of the day, it was time to get back on the party bus and come back to Anonos. What a great day!!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What a Difference a Year Makes!!!!

 We went to Club Cubano again this year with the New Life team. We went last year at almost the same time. This was one of my favorite pictures from last year, so I asked Kevin and Pipo if we could re-enact the same photo. 
We've grown a lot in a year!!!
(So has their hair!!!)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Out of the Mouths of Babes!!

Seidy and I have been going up to Carmen's every day to change the bandage on Carmen's foot. I always use my Coconut Line Verbena hand sanitizer to wash my hands when I'm done. I keep a little thing of it attached to my bag. It gets me by until I can get home to use soap and clean water. Itzel, Seidy's granddaughter, usually goes with us but she didn't yesterday. On our way home Seidy commented that her hands smelled like the medical gloves, so I gave her some of my hand sanitizer. Seidy said when she got home yesterday Itzel looked up at her and said, "You smell like pure Julie!" Seidy asked what she meant. Itzel grabbed her hands, took a big whiff, and said, "MMMM! Pure Julie!!" 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Princess Club: Beading

This week in Princess club we had the pleasure of the company of three princesses from the United States. Princesses Cindy one, Cindy two, and Krista came down to help work with the girls. What a treat!!!! We continued our discussion on dreams from last week with the story of Joseph interpreting Pharaoh's dreams in Genesis 41. The United States princesses brought special beads, colorful bracelet floss, and blank hair pins for the girls to craft and create to their hearts content. The girls were thrilled with the craft project and conversation flowed as they spent time making beautiful creations. Here are some of the highlights!!♥ ♥ ♥

♥ ♥ ♥The girls dig right in to the beads. 
Some tried braiding or twisting the bracelet floss, too♥ ♥ ♥

 ♥ ♥ ♥I jumped in, too. Most of the girls knew what they were doing. I taught some other bracelet designs, but pretty much left them to make their own creations...♥ ♥ ♥
 Gotta love those crowns!!! ♥ ♥ ♥ Such fun!

♥ ♥♫.♫♥ ♥♫.♫♥ ♥♫.♥♫.♫♥ ♥♫.♫♥ ♥

Our littlest princess!! Joccelyn brings her baby with her to group. Fortunately we had Kevin to baby sit!!! :)

 Princess Deborah from Nicaragua and 
Princess Abigail from Costa Rica.
♥ ♥♫.♫♥ ♥♫.♫♥ ♥♫.♫♥ ♥♫.♫♥ ♥♫.♫♥ ♥

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Hebrews 13:2
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

This has always been one of my favorite verses. When I was little I used to imagine meeting all kinds of angels just by meeting some one I didn't know in the street or in a store. I've also always lived by the philosophy "Be kind to every one you meet, you never know if you'll meet them again or what impact you may have on their lives."

Has that ever happened to you? You cut someone off on the freeway only to realize they are going to the same parking lot as you? Are been rude to some one in a store and they show up at your church? I think we've all had awkward moments like that, or at least know stories about when it's happened to friends or family members.

But what about when some thing positive happens? Have you ever had some one pay it forward? Like buy you a meal or let you cut in front in line in the store when you've only had a few items and they had a cart full?

I think one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me in my life just happened yesterday because of something like this.

So yesterday I was in with the kids having a VBS with the team from Ohio. I was sitting eating ice cream, Keylin on one knee, Antoni on the other, Joshua in the middle, when a man showed up at the Casa Nueva door looking for me. When I turned around I thought it was some one from the community, so I sent Dago to see what he needed, since the three children on my lap were quite settled. Nope, the man needed to talk to me. When I went back there he was talking in English!

Our VBS time with New Life Church

I didn't know him, we had never met, but several months before I sat next to a man on a plane back from Costa Rica the work that our Vineyard church is doing in the community, as well as the new ministry in the church related to the princess club. With church support, I am focusing on teaching the girls about their identity in Christ and their value and worth in the Kingdom of God. I had given this man the web address for this blog and that man passed it along to the man who was now in front of me. He was on business from the States and the Lord impressed on his heart to donate to this ministry. 

Here's the cool part of the story. My blog doesn't have our church address. Or phone number. Or really any other contact info for that matter. This man simply went on faith and pray that if this was what God wanted him to do he would be able to find the church...So he started driving. And Rodney happened to be in the street and he recognized Rodney from my blog. And asked if I was here. Rodney directed him to the church where our VBS was in full swing. Where he proceeded to hand me an envelope with a donation to help with the ministry with the girls! God is so good and so faithful! And what an answer to prayer! Abigail, Carmen, and I have been praying since before the club began that God would bless our girls and show them His divine, healing, faithful, kind love. Abigail was with me as this all happened. Her eyes were as big as saucers when I introduced her to the man and told her the story. 
She was blown away that God would think of us and use some one to show us his love in such a visible way. 
She recognized it as an answer to prayer!!! 
We are now excitedly planning a special event for the girls! 
I will keep you posted!!!!!

Of course this story has multiple lessons. 1. Be kind to every one you meet, because you really never know what kind of an impact it may have on you or others. 2. When you hear the voice of God tell you minister and show love to others in a crazy way, be obedient! You never know how BLESSED and ENCOURAGED the people on the other end will be! That man could have brushed off the voice of God as ridiculous! (How will I ever find the church? Did I really hear God tell me to give to this? Etc.) But instead he took a step of faith and my girls were so excited and encouraged and reminded that the Lord really does care about them! 3. In God's kingdom, expect the unexpected. Ask big. Ask boldly. Because you never know how God will answer your prayers!!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Princess Club: Dreams

Dreams. Dreams. Dreams. We all have dreams. We don't all remember our dreams, but we all have them. Last week during the middle of our craft, one of the girls started telling a dream she had. All the girls became fascinated with it and were talking about what it could mean. I asked if the girls wanted to talk about dreams. YES! Was the adamant reply. So this week we talked about dreams. Where do they come from? What do they mean? Why do we dream?

The Bible is chuck full of stories about dreams...Joseph and the dream his brothers would bow down to him (Genesis 37), Joseph the father of Jesus warned to flee the country when Herod was going to kill the babies (Matthew 2), God talked to King Abimelek about Abraham's wife in a dream (Genesis 20), Jacob dreamed of the ladder to heaven (Genesis 28), the cupbearer and baker of the king of Egypt told Joseph their dreams (Genesis 40), Pilate's wife had a dream about Jesus and asked her husband not to do anything to him because of how much it affected her (Matthew 27), etc., etc. Job's friend told Job that God can send answers to our prayers in dreams and God will make sure we get the point by telling us one, two, or even three times (Job 33:29)!! Acts 2, in the NEW testament, repeats what is written in Joel 2 in the OLD testament...that when the Lord pours out his spirit...the Holy Spirit...we will dream dreams.
One of my favorite books on the topics is called Understanding the Dreams you Dream: Biblical Keys for Hearing God's Voice in the Night by Ira Milligan. I highly recommend it if you are a dreamer. It has great insight into the Biblical background of dreams and highlights key verses and references to look into if you're curious about what your dreams mean. I used much of the introduction of this book in talking with the girls. Carmen, one of the mothers of my younger princesses, is helping me co-teach this club. She talked about the dream that King Nebuchadnezzar had in the book of Daniel and how God gave Daniel the interpretation to the pagan kings dream to bring glory to God (see Daniel 4). PS if you think the name Nebuchadnezzar is difficult to say in English, try saying it in Spanish. I ended up just calling him El Rey Dinosaurio (King Dinosaur). It was so much easier to say!!!
 Here are just a few things about dreams that I shared with the girls:
1. Not all dreams have symbolic meaning. Not all dreams are important. BUT some dreams are. Many dreams are us just processing our day and what's happening in our lives. But some dreams can be from God. Some can also be influenced by the demonic.
2. The images in dreams may be interpreted literally or symbolically. This is where discernment and knowledge play a role, to know the difference between the two.
3. If the dream is from the Lord, it is often presented symbolically, like a puzzle (Proverbs 25:2) It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.). We can use knowledge of scripture and symbolism used directly in scripture to help interpret the dream. Dreams from the Lord never tell us to do things contrary to the Word, which is why it is very important to know the Bible, so you can tell whether or not the dream is from the Lord. BUT we also need to be careful not to take scripture out of context to make up our own interpretations, either. Dreams from the Lord will always equip us to walk in truth and righteousness.
4. Dreams are individualized and specific to that person only, so some times the symbol in one person's dream does not have the same meaning as that same symbol in some one elses dream. For example, if I dream of a pitt bull, most likely for me that will represent that there is something fearful in my life or something is trying to terrify me. Whereas is you have a dream and you own a pitt bull and it's your favorite dog in the world and your best friend, most likely the dream will mean something related to your own dog or close friendship/companionship. 

A sum up of what we talked about:
  • Pay attention to what you're watching and listening to, because these may influence your dreams.
  • Learn the voice of God. This is done through personal relationship with him by pray and reading the Bible. This can help recognize his voice in dreams.
  • Pray!! Ask for more dreams! Ask the Holy Spirit to help you interpret your dreams. Ask the Lord questions about what you're dreaming. Keep in constant communication with the Lord because if he gave you the dream, he will help you figure it out!!
  • Write out dreams in a journal. Watch them over time. See what patterns can be found.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Year's Resolution: True health

So it's that time again....The new year. It's a time of resolutions and changes. One of my long standing resolutions is living a healthy lifestyle when it comes to spiritual food and health. While I just wrote about physical resolution, this has a direct parallel to our spiritual health and growth as well. This is a year for change. It is a year for challenge. How is your spiritual weight?? Are you fit and light in the kingdom of God, strengthened with joy and light with peace, or weighed down by life's obstacles and the heaviness of fatigue, stress, fear, pain, and the past? Here are my tips for living a spiritually healthy life in 2012:

1.We can look at the spiritual life like a diet, too. A diet, in the general sense of the word, is what we consume to maintain our nutrition and keep our body healthy, living, and able to do work.  Just like most people hate even the very mention of the word "DIET" they also struggle with the concept of needing the discipline to get into the Word of God through daily devotions. What is needed is a lifestyle change. I feel that is an important key. If our spiritual weight is also looked at as only "diet and exercise to a goal" (I need to get back into reading the Bible, I should pray more, maybe I should listen to some worship music instead of the secular radio), when that goal is reached there is a significantly higher possibility of putting the weight of the world right back on. Why? Once that goal is reached and the goal high sets in, just like with the physical body, the idea of regular, regimented diet and exercise slips the mind. Instead, if you look at spiritual weight as a lifestyle, "I choose to live my life as healthy and balanced as I can," it makes daily choices much easier. You can weigh what you're eating spiritually against the rest of your life and not just what you need to do to get to your 30 day Bible diet finish line. For example, instead of saying "I am going to read a Proverb a day for the month of January", which has 31 days, another way you could look at it is, "I am going to meditate on 1 verse from Proverbs every day." Instead of saying "I never have time to read the Bible" there are creative ways to make more time: wake up even 5 minutes earlier to start, read during your coffee break, listen to the Bible on audio (you can download it now on iTunes or even order it on CD or cassette tape to listen to in your car on your commute!!!).

2. DRINK MORE WATER!!! Water is your spiritual body's most essential nutrient, and I dare to say it is involved in every spiritual function. Do I really need to explain what water is in our spiritual lives? I hope it's obvious. Water is mentioned over 600 times in the Bible (in various contexts, of course). One of the most famous, and applicable verses, if from Jesus in John 4: Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Where can we get this water? Directly from Jesus, directly from the Word.

So what does water do in our spiritual body? I think much the same as in our physical body. Water helps maintain our spiritual body temperature to feel out what is hot and what is cold, metabolize what we are eating (both from the world and from the church and the Holy Spirit), aid in the digestion of spiritual food (what you hear in sermons, on the radio, from other Christians, from your job, etc.), and flush toxins of the world from your spirit. What if I told you that being dehydrated actually promotes the increase of spiritual body fat? What does that mean? Without the Word of God and living water in your life, the things of the world begin to stick to stress, fear, anxiety, depression, poor self image, etc. With accumulation, these things begin to weigh you down and make you heavy. I think you know that feeling....By adding living water to our spiritual diets, we are better able to flush or not absorb the toxins the world tries to feed us.

3. Chew your food more. Really? You don't say. Trust me. This was part of my spiritual therapy background. How do we do this with our spiritual lifestyle? I think it comes in a few ways: Meditation, prayer, and quiet/silent times with the Lord. That is where we chew over what we are reading about and drinking in of the Word. Next time you're reading the Bible, see how much of it you're inhaling...Do you read a whole chapter and call it good? Or do you take the verses apart, see what they're saying, and ponder them closely. Do you take life as it comes and chalk strange events up to coincidence? Or when you hear the same Bible verse or some one say something that makes you pause 2 or 3 times do you sit and ask why you're hearing or seeing those things? Are we meditating and pondering on life events and Words from the Lord? Are we like Mary, that when she heard the angel's news she pondered it in her heart (Luke 1). So next time you take a bite of spiritual food, chew it more. Savor it. Enjoy the flavor. Figure out all of the spices and seasonings God has in it for you!!!

I think just like with physical food, spiritual food takes time to sink in and provide nutrients to our souls. How often have you read a particular Bible verse? Many the same verse over and over for years? Yet that ONE time it actually clicks, sinks in, makes sense? I think that's where pondering and meditating on verses comes into play.

4. Make healthier food choices. Cut out processed and convenience foods. They're full of unsatisfying, empty calories that only taste good in the mouth, but leave the digestive system seriously lacking. What do these look like in the spiritual life? Filling your time with meaningless, mindless activities instead of ones that increase and bring value to life. Wasting time. Procrastinating. These are the sugars and fats of the spiritual life. Movies that are full of sex, violence, and horror. Increase your intake of good foods, like being with people who encourage you and bring joy to your life, Bible studies, small groups, books with a positive message, listening to worship music, taking walks in nature and seeing the beauty of God, having coffee with a friend and encouraging him or her, taking time for yourself to be alone with Jesus (like a date!!!). Leave anything negative behind. Magazines that make you feel fat and insecure, music with negative messages, movies with messages of witchcraft or violence. Opt for the positive. Books that lift up your mood, music that empowers, movies that make you feel good about humanity and God!!! "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (Philippians 4:8)

5. Exercise your faith in unusual ways. Pray for someone at work who is sick. Walk around town and look for some one who is hurting. Write out an encouraging Bible verse for your friend or co-worker. Stretch your faith. Some areas are more conducive to exercise, like within your church or group of friends. But this doesn't give an excuse. Need to lift some spiritual weights? Find a mentor who is willing to train you spiritually. Look for a walking partner, take a friend to go pray with you for others. Get moving. Watch iBethel TV (from the Bethel church in Redding, California: their worship sets and sermons)  for inspiration, motivation, tips and tricks.

6. Figure out why you're spiritually over or under-eating and not exercising and make a mental make-over. Do you seek mind numbing games when you're bored? Tired? Stressed? I used to watch tv when I was bored. When I lived alone, especially at night, I would sit and watch TV. I decided enough was enough! I joined the gym, I started drawing and painting again, I picked up new books to read, I started calling up friends to hang out and found a mentor. Is stress a culprit? Stress wrecks HAVOC on the spiritual body as well. Some times just taking a 10 minute walk with Jesus to burn off that nervousness can make an amazing change in mood and help bring focus back to the situation. Plus it's like 10 minutes. You can do anything for 10 minutes and it's really not going to impact your schedule. I mean, you probably spent more than 10 minutes procrastination on facebook to escape facing the situation anyway, you could have talked to Jesus in prayer for that same amount of time!! If you can't figure out why you over eat or don't want to exercise, working with a pastor or counselor can really help.

7. Find your motivation and make it visual. Do you want to have more peace? Find verse about peace from the Bible and tape it to your fridge. Want more joy? Find pictures that make you feel happy and find a Bible verse to go with it. Meditate on it. Want to get rid of stress and anxiety? Write the verses out that are promises that God is in control and can handle any problem and put it as a post-it note in your car. Want to have a more positive attitude at work? Change the station on your radio or buy some music from a new Christian author (if you want suggestions, let me know! I can get you hooked up with some great artists who can sing to whatever you want to work on!!!) Do you want to just be healthy and live a long, full life uncomplicated by health problems and frequent illnesses?? Write out motivational sayings and promises from the Bible for your car, in your closet, and in the kitchen. Don't ignore them!!

8. Don't beat yourself up if you slip. Find pleasure in the little things and don't use excuses when you make mistakes. If you're doing really well on your new life style change and the holidays roll around and your whole extended family is in town and you missed your morning devotion, don't give up! Just get right back on to your life style. Or better yet, include your family in it!! Draw them in. Teach them how to have a healthy lifestyle, too!! If you're following it regularly that extra bulge or worry slips in, bring it before the Lord and it will disappear.