27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery,
which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.
I am making this week an interlude of praise in the midst of
I am just home from a long weekend in a beautiful place. But the beauty of the world around is nothing compared to the beauty of Him. Lifted high in the midst of 200 middle and high school students from public schools in Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida. He is All the Glory and to Him Alone Be All the Glory Forever and Ever, Amen.
I give you a tiny peek into the small glimpse I had in the midst of partnering in this work through mothering and caring and being a family who loves and supports Daddy. And a friend to a beautiful one, so dear to my heart, who had the courage to share her own story in front of 100 or so young women.
He, my beloved husband, enters late at night. He’s closed the evening with five guys from the basketball team at the school where we’ve been ministering. These five sharing till nearly 1am about what God is doing in their lives. Hunger for Him. Experiencing the reality of community for the first time.
One who my husband convinced his dad it was where he needed to be…having been (rightly) disciplined by losing the privilege of this weekend away. But he trusted us as we believed that God would work deeply and He did. He soaked up the truth of what it is to live for He Who is Worthy and to live purely in a world wrecked—saturated with impurity. Giving my hubby a bear hug of thanks when the weekend was done…so full.
Two trusting Christ for the first time! Arrested by the truth of the Gospel in the context of community. Overpowered by the passion of those around to live for this One Thing Worth Living and Dying For! As others rejoice at what God has done.
Another, bold in using his gift of rapping for Jesus to bless others.
And the last, I don’t recognize because he’s grown so much since I saw him at last year’s end-of-the-year basketball banquet. Wrapping me in hugs (the others too)—loving our family. our children. Calling us family. He is growing so strong spiritually as his muscles bulge and smile widens. From freshmen to leader with the potential of impacting his generation being brought to fruition.
Then there are the ones who spent all last year in Bible Study at our house. Giving hugs and smiles and sweet son running to all for high fives and fist pounds and they go out and share their faith boldly. The afternoon when all of these 200 young people go out into the world to engage in spiritual conversation on beaches, at flea markets, in malls, on street corners…these two giving strength and courage to others. They’ve begun to multiply their faith into those coming behind them. They have committed with energy and passion to spend afternoons at their own school campus intentionally sharing the good news with fellow students. They both sense a calling to return to their own high school as volunteers with this same ministry that has changed them as they begin college next year. They are blessed to be a blessing.
I am able to encourage dear gift-of-a-friend as we live life together this weekend. She has been preparing for a special Girls’ Only time that happens at each conference. Laboring in the weeks and months prior in prayer and logistics. She waits on the Lord and walks in faithful obedience to share the insecurities of her life. her past. All that she gave away looking for love and how He picked her up and made her whole.
She invites others to join her. Four beautiful women who share what it has been to be set free from self-destructive behavior and dark, dark hidden places. I am overwhelmed by the power of story. One who shares years and years of sexual addiction that she promised in the dark would be shared with no one. And then He found her through the courage of another’s story. And He set her free. She walks in His power and the strength to be an Overcomer. Through her story many others are on the path to freedom.
And there is so much more…so many more who begin relationship with Christ, are freed from dark pasts of violence and addiction through confession and bringing it into the light of community formed in Christ. He shines His light and they are not afraid anymore. Lies are seen for the grotesque forms that they are and He is seen in His beauty beyond compare.
…And this is bittersweet. This interlude to Our Story is also a real time interlude as this weekend is our ending point in ministry here and the beginning of full-fledged transition to move overseas. And I fight the pangs of sadness that threaten to have final say. The sadness and grief are good for we have lived and worked with our lives invested and we would have been content to stay and love on these beautiful ones for a long, long time more.
But He Alone Receives the Glory. Though the leaving is hard, how can it but keep our hearts humble? It is His work entirely. He has loved and pursued these young people and we have had the awesome privilege to witness. And with every bit of me I claim this verse that says
It does not say, ‘as long as WE, the current tenders of this soil, are called to remain.’ It does not say ‘WE who have reached out to them began the work’. It does not say ‘WE are perfectly faithful’ in this work. But it is He who begins. He who is faithful. He who completes.
And so I end this interlude in the only fitting way…with praise and thanksgiving:
Good, Faithful, Loving, Amazing, Living, Almighty, Omniscient Abba Father God,
- for loving and seeking each and every one of these students
- for the way You pour out Your Spirit
- for how You lifted up many to pray for this weekend
- for all 18 who came from UHS
- for the many who came to know You, Jesus, in a saving way
- for the reality that their eternities are changed
- for the power of community
- for the power of story
- for the girls who came
- for these beautiful women with the courage to share
- for freeing many from self-destructive behaviors
- for the hundreds even thousands of angels in heaven rejoicing
- for a girl who you are drawing away from sexual addiction
- for renewed understanding of purity
- for this shelter of a weekend to the ones who do live for you
- for how they long for this refreshment
- for the reality that they are in the world
- for their deep longing to be light in it
- for the hunger in this generation
- for how YOU ALONE SATISFY
- for the undeserving observers we are
- for GRACE…AMAZING GRACE
- for a prophetic night many years ago when You spoke to my heart that I would ‘be a part of something so special’
- for the myriad of times since we joined this ministry that I have remembered that night
- for the calling to leave
- for the breaking of our heart in it
- for the humility that heals
- for one who had the courage to confess a dark, violent element in his life
- for how you are going to use it for his good even if there are deep consequences
- for the heart of Christ…a gift freely given
- for the JOY OF KNOWING YOU, JESUS
- for how you give us YOUR PASSION to labor in prayer and life
- for the little blessings in this weekend
- for a little buddy for our son
- for his miracle adoption story…and how he grows in love
- for their wild, running fun during meals
- for daughter’s wild, delighted pursuit of life
- for wobbly, determined steps
- for the wonder of balloons
- for superhero Son to hunt down and pop bubbles
- for two year-old word lisps
- for stuffed doggies that daughter entertains herself with
- for noise machines that help sleep while traveling
- for glorious weather
- for breezes that refresh amidst sun’s warmth
- for fire ants BECAUSE they remind me of THE BEST YET TO COME!
- for baby orajel when daughter is cutting her last molar
- for her chubby point to baby tylenol to help her pain
- for tub fun
- for little-miss-daring who wants to jump into the pool
- for her quick learning when I let her go under for an instant
- for how sweet Emily was there
- for how dear she is through the journey and overseas project TOGETHER
- for her to come on STINT in a few years
- for all that lies ahead in this GREAT ADVENTURE
- for a message from Nikki on fb saying how she misses
- for her reply to me that it will be her ‘best day’ when we move to Hungary (I want to remind that the best day is the day SHE trusted Christ at Speakout and now loves YOU so and leads so well)
- for dear Michelle’s cancer surgery going well
- for how she blesses all in US Student Venture ministry
- for Kelly’s cancer surgery going well
- for how she blesses all in student ministry in Hungary
- for the promise You will be with them in the follow-up treatment coming
- for Bible Gateway that allows me to provide links for all of these verses! and where I can look up the ones I don’t remember
- for how You increase our hunger and make us long, long, long, long for Home
#756-820 of the One Thousand Gifts of the Endless list of Gifts to Whom is All the Glory…
and sharing with Jen and the SDG Sisterhood that I absolutely love…
and with Laura’s really fun, joy-giving Playdates with God