Archives

Learned Helplessness

I mentioned in my last post that my husband and I were starting a Bible Study with a young lady who is new to our church. We have been able to do a couple of lessons with her and through the Lord, I believe that we are off to a good start. It is a blessing to be able to teach with my husband. In the past when I have taught Bible Studies I have done so on my own so I am keenly aware of some of the subtle differences. We are able to play off each other’s strengths in Bible knowledge to give a more well-rounded approach to the Scriptures. Where I might forget or overlook an important detail, he is able to jump in and offer additional insight. I appreciate his love for the Word and for this opportunity to be able to partner together in ministry.

The young woman we are working with is tormented by fears and anxiety. Her need for constant reassurance is heartbreaking. She wants to call and text at all hours of the day and night. The amount of free time I have in my schedule is very limited so these constant interruptions can be taxing. I have had to set boundaries with her as far as when and how often I can talk to her. She has a deep-seated fear of abandonment so I want her to know that we aren’t going anywhere, but also establish appropriate parameters so that I am not too drained to be a benefit to her spiritual walk.

What we’ve learned about her story is disheartening. The state removed her from her mother’s custody as a toddler due to abuse and drug addiction in the home. She then bounced around in the foster care system for the next six years. These were not always the best environments for a young child. Finally, an aunt took her in. Her aunt did her best to love her and help her, but because of her past she was not always the easiest child to raise. At sixteen years old she got involved with the wrong crowd and ran away from home. She moved from couch to couch living with friends and boyfriends, suffering abusive relationships, and experiencing many things that she harbors deep shame over. After a few years of this, she eventually returned to her aunt’s house.

She has a number of learning disabilities and mental health issues so the aunt was quite overprotective of her at times. Over the years she essentially learned from her aunt that she isn’t capable of doing anything on her own. The aunt constantly reinforced her learning disabilities and did everything for her to the point that she genuinely believes she isn’t capable of living on her own. She now lives with a sister that she only met a few months ago and readily admits that her sister has to take care of her almost as if she is one of her children.

It won’t happen overnight, but I truly believe this girl is capable of living on her own. It’s going to take some work, a little faith, and a lot of Jesus, but this is not beyond her. With God, all things are possible! She will need some help to learn some basic skills such as applying for a job, how to cook, and how to do laundry on her own, but it’s not as if these things are beyond her intellectual capacity. Yes, she may have some learning challenges that will have to be taken into consideration, but there are people with significantly more severe disabilities that live independently. Her main obstacle is not her ability to master these skills, it’s with her ingrained belief that she can’t.

The God we serve is a God of transformation. He is well able to take an anxious insecure girl and turn her into confident and capable woman. As she grows spiritually, I expect to see that she will also grow toward independence in the natural. It is my prayer that her learned helplessness and dependence on others will shift to an unequivocal and faithful dependence on the Lord. I am excited to see where God will bring her on this journey. I am not sure where my husband and I fit into her spiritual walk, but I am humbled to have an opportunity to witness even a tiny part of it.

Dear Readers, if you have read this far, I would like to ask you to take just a moment of your time to say a prayer for this young lady. Pray peace over her life. Pray for spiritual discernment and a deep abiding love of the Almighty. Pray the Lord would send her helpers that don’t hinder her by doing everything for her, but rather help to do it on her own. If you’re feeling particularly generous, say a prayer for my husband and I that when we feel drained that God would supernaturally fill us up. Pray that we generously give of ourselves in love and service to our wonderful Savior, Jesus the Christ.

We serve an amazing God!

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

Advertisements

God Provides

testToday at work I received a payroll check for one of our employees. The check was a replacement for one that was originally issued more than three and a half years ago that was somehow never cashed. The employee had no idea this check was coming. I live for these moments.

When I saw her I exclaimed that God had sent her a blessing as I handed her the check. Bewildered she stared at it and of course inquired what it was for. After I explained, she nearly broke down. Recently, she has been struggling financially as she had to take a cut in pay last year. She told me that her bank account is currently $33 in the negative. She said that she had committed to sending $100 to a missions work in Cambodia and even though she didn’t have the money, she sent it anyway. She told her father that God would provide the money. Her father was skeptical and said, “How is He going to do that?” She said she didn’t know, but she believed He would. The check she received today was for more than $1200!

Let me be clear that I am not advocating for anyone to be financially unwise. We need to budget and plan accordingly. However, if God places it in your heart to step out in faith and give, and you make a commitment to do so, don’t back out of your commitment. Trust that He will provide!

I live for these moments. It is wonderful to watch God provide for His children and strengthen their faith. She stepped out in faith and God opened His windows of heaven to pour out a blessing! Yes, it was technically already her money, but it was money that she didn’t need or miss at the time (nearly four years ago) and instead it arrived exactly when she needed it! God’s timing is impeccable. She kept her commitment to the souls in Cambodia and put her trust in God. He provided. It is a testimony to her father and it is a testimony to me. To God be the glory!'GOD' 'ALWAYS' ‘PROVIDES' - Philippians 4 verse 19

Thank you, Jesus!

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

PS. Please share your recent testimonies with us.

We love to hear them!

Learning to Love like Jesus

LI have this little problem. I love hard. I love deep. I love people too much. Rather, I love people too selfishly; with too many expectations. I get frustrated when people don’t love me the way that I love them. I find myself feeling disappointed when I don’t receive love back the way that I give it out. Even when people actually love me better than I love them, I have trouble recognizing it when it comes in a form that is unfamiliar to me. In my disappointment I have often told myself that the solution is to love them less. If I didn’t love them so much, it wouldn’t hurt so much when things don’t happen the way I think they should. I have tried countless times to love people less and I fail miserably at it. Why would I try to love someone less? Because the more neutral your feelings toward someone, the less the things they do (or don’t do) affect you. I’m tired of feeling hurt and disappointed. I am tired of hoping things will be different and finding they never are. I’m tired of feeling like I love people so much and they don’t love me back. It’s a lie from the enemy; People do love me. I’m just not that good at recognizing it.

Thank God Jesus is not like me! The truth is that I don’t need to learn to love less; I need to learn to love differently. I need to love with a pure love. A love that doesn’t ask for anything in return. A love without expectation. When the people didn’t love Jesus the way He loved them, did He give up on them or walk away? Did He try to love them less so that it wouldn’t hurt so much if they didn’t love Him back? No, He loves unconditionally. He loved us so deeply that He hung on a cross and died for us. That’s the kind of love I need. I need to learn to love more, not less. I need to learn to consistently be compassionate, turn the other cheek, and forgive. I need to learn to love like Jesus.

Lord, teach me to love like you love. Teach me how to see people the way that you do. Teach me not to view things from my selfish perspective, but to always see them through the mercy and love of the Lord. Teach me to love like Jesus.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

His True Face

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.” ~ 1 John 4:11-12

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…..The King will reply, ‘truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these you did for me.” ~ Matthew 25:35-36; 40

When we move in love, especially when such a walk is new to us, one question reigns supreme. How do we love a God we cannot see? How do we love a God we have never seen, and will never see until our time on earth is done? Sure, we worship. We praise. Hopefully our hearts and spirits are stirred by such things. But to actively love on a God we can’t see? I mean it isn’t like we can go up to the guy and just give Him a big hug, you know?

But there is an answer. See, even if we have a God we can’t see, we have a person standing in front of us who we can see, and see clearly. Love on them. When we do, God’s love is made complete in us.

Note how this verse doesn’t say ‘made complete in you.‘ No. This act takes two. When we love one  another His love is made complete in us. When you love another, your spirit stirs. But His is awoken and made complete in both you and the person you’re loving. And since God Himself is love…well there’s your answer, isn’t it?

How do you love a perfect God you can’t see? By loving the broken one in front of you that you can see. Look closely into their eyes, let yourself see them, really see them. The eyes of Jesus Himself are staring back at you. He is truly residing in the least of these – don’t miss His presence just because it’s cloaked in shabby clothes. Don’t miss His beauty because it’s masked by a not-so-beautiful smell.

The face of Jesus is young. It is old and weathered. It has a gaze of brokenness, bearing years of pain and loneliness and abandonment. It is sometimes hidden behind a mask of hostility because at its core it is a vulnerable face. It is a face that remains hopeful despite all circumstances; or it is a face that reached its breaking point long ago. It’s a face you pass every day without a thought; it’s a face you’ve never seen before.

It’s the face in front of you.

God bless!

~Rebekah A

Reaching for Souls

“You have one business on Earth – to save souls.” — John Wesley

This past Sunday evening, my god-father had the opportunity to preach to a few Chinese immigrants. A pastor and pastor’s wife in our church district have been reaching out to these young men for a while now, but their English is extremely limited and the pastors don’t speak any Chinese so communication is difficult. Since my god-parents are pretty much the only Chinese speaking people in our little district, they were the logical choice to help assist in this endeavor.  I so appreciate the fact that they have a heart for God and are eager to serve in whatever capacity they can. They were more than willing to make the long drive for the sake of a few souls in need of the Lord.

The young men came to the church with trays and trays of food! So typical for Chinese to not come empty handed! 🙂 We were all blessed with dinner after it was over because of their generosity.

My god-father was able to share his testimony with them and my god-mother sang a Chinese worship song. We had planned to have several Chinese worship songs, but technical difficulties and time restraints prevented that. Never the less, there was a mighty move of God!

There were also quite a few Americans in attendance at this service.  Even though they couldn’t understand most of what was being said, their hearts were stirred by what they were witnessing. Their pastor and pastor’s wife were the ones who reached out to these young men even though they know nothing of the language or the culture. It was a powerful statement to the church not to be afraid to reach out to people you don’t know. Be available for Christ and He will use you! If you have a heart to serve, God will send people your way. If you can’t communicate with them, God has a plan for that! If you don’t know their culture, God knows how to handle it!

If the Lord is willing, there is a plan to have another Chinese service again soon. Say a prayer that these young men will come again and bring their friends and loved ones. The pastor’s wife also plans to invite a few other Chinese people that she’s been reaching out to to come to the next one. There is a growing Chinese community where they live and I believe that God wants to see them saved!

Don’t write people off just because you don’t know how to reach them. Keep a Christian spirit, be friendly and believe God for the rest. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Keep believing Christ for new souls and keep reaching, keep reaching, keep reaching!!

Caring for Mother

1100587_hospital_hand

My mother had surgery last week. She lives in another state, but it’s less than a two hour drive away so I packed up a suitcase and drove up to spend several days caring for her after she was released from the hospital. It was physically and emotionally exhausting.

Helping her out of bed in the morning and to the reclining chair is a monumental task. Getting her out of the chair for any reason is as well. I’ve learned how to bend down, tip the chair forward, get the brunt of her weight under my arm, shift her weight onto my thighs while still keeping the chair tilted and use my hands to steady her, all the while holding her JP drain, catheter bag and tubing out of the way.

Caring for her has included wound care and dressings, emptying blood and fluids from the JP drain, emptying the catheter bag, dressing and undressing for the day, assistance showering, making sure she gets all of her medications (and there are a lot!) on schedule, cooking and cleaning for her, as well as feeding and walking the dogs etc… Most of this isn’t particularly difficult, but it is time consuming. Most of the difficulty lies, not in the tasks, but in my mother having to lay aside her pride and be very vulnerable and dependent. I know it’s humiliating to her to have to have her daughter help her with such personal and intimate parts of her life.

Honestly, prior to this week, the thought of having to help my mother shower or assist her with a bowel movement was horrifying to me. It is one thing to assist a patient, an acquaintance, or even a friend with these things, but having to help a parent brings a different level of emotional involvement. Our parents are the ones who cared for us when we were younger and to see them become vulnerable is a reminder that they are aging, that they aren’t invincible, and that life is fleeting.

But you know, sometimes such a reminder isn’t so bad. We need to be reminded that we are human and that our lives are short. We need to remind ourselves that our experiences here on earth are temporary and what matters is eternity. Additionally, caring for an ill or aging person is an opportunity to practice the love of God.

I’ve learned that I have much more to give than I realized. My mother and I have never been particularly close and I’ve often felt I am a failure in her eyes, but none of that mattered when she needed me. I’ve learned that when you love someone you don’t think about how awful it is to have to bathe them, you just do it. And you do it because you love them. I think of all the things she did for me when I was young, not because she wanted to, but because it was the right thing for me at the time. And I think of all the things the Lord has done for me. Not because He had to, but because He loved me.

Every blessing we receive is because our heavenly Father loves us. He was willing to do the dirty work in order to rescue us in our time of need. He came down to this degraded, unholy place as a helpless child because He loved us enough to overlook the sacrifice it would take. He didn’t just sacrifice His time and resources, He sacrificed His very life. He looked down and saw that we were sick and injured and put in motion a plan to bring us back to health. He saw that we were lost and dying and He picked us up and gave us life! He is the ultimate caregiver. He is the One I want to emulate and the One I want to praise all of the days of my short life on this earth and for all of eternity.

In His love,

Rebekah L.

Are You a Goat?

goatAnd before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. […]Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. ~Matt 25:32, 41-46

As I was driving earlier today with my God-sister, we started talking about how our church had such a tendency to focus on some really important truths, but one BIG lacking thing we noticed across the board was reaching out to the needy in our communities.  It is SUCH an integral part of why I want to be a doctor- “I was sick and you visited me.” When I think of how so many churches don’t focus on that it breaks my heart. Where are the soup kitchens? Where are the can drives? Where are the coat drives? To have so many things right but not have any real community outreach just seems so wrong.

There are other churches with the flip side- they have tons of community outreach, but forget fundamentals of salvation or a true Christian walk. They’ll have soup kitchens galore, but people lack daily prayer lives. Anyone who needs an extra coat in winter will find one there, but saints don’t daily read their Bible.  We can become so busy in doing things FOR Christ, we forget HIM.

We’ve got to find a balance. We cannot forsake the foundations of faith and once we have an established daily foundation for our faith we must extend and grow. So my question to all of you (and to myself) is on judgement day, will He find you a goat or a sheep?

Lord Jesus, 

Help us be Your sheep. Help us walk where You lead us. Let us visit those who we should visit and minister unto others as if we are ministering unto You.  May we look into their eyes and see Your reflection there realizing it is a mirror of ourselves when we are allowing YOU to work through us.  Let me be Your hands and Your feet. 

Rebekah M.