Archive | August 2011

Spotlight on Missions

Sundays with Cindy will be short and simple today.  Life got crazy this morning and my time is especially short today for writing while the house is quiet enough to think!  I love, love, love having my family around, but these beautiful kids are a distraction and
the sometimes-chaotic noise and activity are not conducive to getting much writing done these days!

Besides that, I have a big Powerpoint presentation to finish pulling together today for my church.  It is our monthly Spotlight on Missions, in which we focus on one of our missionary families and remind the folks of their ministry and needs in order that they might better pray for them.  This month it is the Leonard family in Brazil who will be highlighted.

I have my own missionary family living with us and they are always “spotlighted” around here!  I had a special blessing this week
because of that.  Laurie was asked to speak at the Ladies Missionary meeting of one of their supporting churches and she invited me to go along.  It is a church that is close and dear to our family—the one, in fact, where I grew up and in which my whole family was saved.  The people there dearly love Laurie’s family, and they are special to her, as well.  That is why when the Lord asked her to truly share her heart with these dear ladies, she felt compelled to do so, knowing it would not be easy.

Most missionaries are glad to share the victories and fruit of their ministries in their reports or prayer letters, but we do not often hear about the heartbreaks and failures and personal struggles they endure except in the most general of terms.  They do not want to come across as negative or discouraged not trusting God.  But believe me, on the front lines of this spiritual battle we are in, they all face those times of discouragement and even despair.  Moses, David, Elijah—if the great men of the Bible, great servants of God cried out in distress to Him when they felt like they could not go on, why should we be surprised that our pastors and missionaries and Christian leaders should feel the slings and arrows of the enemy, as well?

Laurie shared from the depths of her heart the struggles she had suffered this last year, likening it to a time wandering in the desert, and how the Lord carried her through and provided His living water to quench the dryness of her soul.  Where there had been distress, He replaced it with delight in Him and in discouragement He made His desires to be her own.  Her dry spirit was fed by devouring His Word.  The desert began to bloom once more as the Lord cared for her in what seemed like an empty, forsaken place.  There was not a dry eye as we listened to this sweet missionary wife pour out her heart and truly share what it is like to be on
the front lines far from home and the spiritual support and fellowship of family, friends, and church family.

My message today is simply this:  As we pray for our missionaries and support them in other ways, let us spotlight those spiritual and emotional needs they all have, whether they talk about them or not.  Like Moses, David, Elijah and the other great men and women of the Bible, they are only human and suffer loneliness, weakness, exhaustion, depression, discouragement and even despair.  They may be people of great faith and leaders that God has chosen for His work, but that puts an even greater target on their backs for Satan knows if he can bring them down, he’ll bring many others down with them.

I leave you with this plea from Paul the great missionary:  Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;” (Romans 15:30)

Pretty as a Picture

Fair warning—If you don’t like it when grandmas pull their little “brag books” out of their purses and gush on and on about their grandchildren, then perhaps you’d better stop reading right here!  I will try not to “gush,” but I am claiming my bragging rights today—and I have the pictures to back up my words!’

The Naranjos got their family picture taken this week for their newprayer cards.  The last one, done in 2004, is missing their
two youngest children and has outdated information on it.  Now that they have joined a new mission agency and will be visiting their supporting churches in the next few months, it is time to produce a new prayer card to pass out as a reminder to pray for
their ministry in Ecuador.

Laurie spent a lot of time and effort in pulling together color-coordinated clothes for their family of eight and all the little accessories (hair bows, barrettes, jewelry, etc) that all those girls seem to need.  Even Matthew, though, got his accessory—his first “big boy” belt.  He was so proud of it!  “Look, Grandma!” he said to me as he rolled it up in a tight little ball.  “This is
how cowboys roll their belts!”  Laurie did not take kindly to him rolling his new belt!

The day of their photo session was a beehive of last-minute preparations.  Hair had to be curled or straightened or cowlicks plastered down, lip gloss and a touch of blush applied on the teens, new clothes proudly donned.  I stood in awe at the finished products as one by one the kids came to show Grandma how they looked.

Beautiful!  That’s how they looked—and so grown-up!  Every one of them was amazing and I thought once again that this particular mix of Ecuadorian genes and American genes sure turned out some gorgeous kids!  And once again I thanked the Lord for giving me these beautiful children as my grandbabies.  I am so blessed!  And to think, I have three more equally beautiful and amazing grandchildren in Alabama!  My cup runneth over!

They went out the door with a towel draped over the baby so she wouldn’t spit up on her dress and strict instructions from their father to Matthew and Katie to sit very still in the van so they wouldn’t get messed up.  I began to pray that the photo shoot would go well.  You know how it is trying to get eight people to all look at the camera, smile naturally and not blink at the exact moment that the camera snapped!  Someone always has a goofy smile or no smile at all, has their eyes closed or is looking at someone else! We wondered how the baby would do.  She’d been tired and fussy all morning.

Bless his heart—their photographer had come out of retirement just to do this photo session for Laurie and Fernando as a ministry to them and to the Lord.  He has become quite physically challenged this last year, and it was difficult for him, but Art took over 120 photos of the family and each of the kids individually.  He did a beautiful job and put all the photos on a disc for them to bring home with them.  I was tickled that I got to see them right away.  It was hard to choose my favorites.  There were so many wonderful
pictures and the kids looked like models in each one of them!

As beautiful as I think my grandchildren are, I have to remind myself that true beauty is not what shows on the outside, but what God sees on the inside.  It is so easy to get caught up in the mindset of what the world sees as “beautiful”—the pulled-together and stylish outfit; perfect hair, nails and make-up; all the right accessories; brilliantly white teeth; slim and trim figure, and so on.  I smile as I watch the teenagers primping in front of the mirror, the little girls twirling around to make their pretty new dresses pouf out, the little boy proudly striking a pose with all the male ego that God gave him on display.  I pray, though, that they will remain as beautiful on the inside as they grow up as they are right now—and grow even more beautiful as they walk with the Lord throughout their lives.

God appreciates physical beauty.  He created it, after all.  We see it all around us in His awesome creation, and He instructed Moses and Solomon in the building of the tabernacle and the temple to make them beautiful.  He instructs us, however to be sure that we
have an inner, spiritual beauty about us.  He Himself is beautiful.  Psalm 90:17 says, “And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us…”  He is holy, and the Bible tells us that holiness is beautiful.  “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.”  (Psalm 29:2)  We are made in His image and He tells us to be holy, for He is holy.  (I Peter 1:16)

To women especially He gives this reminder: “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)  He goes on to tell us in I Peter 3:3-4, “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not
corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

We spent a lot of time this week in our house on outward beauty and that is fine occasionally for something special like this.  There’s
nothing wrong with beautifying our “temple.”  May we always be just as concerned, though, and spend us much time on our inner beauty!

Sniffling, Snuffling and Sneezing

Yep, I’ve got a summer cold, alright.  It’s almost a foregone conclusion when you have kids in the house that you’re going to pick up “bugs” and that is what happened this week.  Several of the Naranjos came down with little colds—not bad, and they didn’t seem to last too long, but enough that I managed to catch it, too.  Of course, my biggest concern is for Robbie.  A cold can quickly turn into pneumonia and a trip to the hospital for him.  So far he seems to be okay—a few sneezes, but not much more.  Please pray with us that he remains well, will you?

As for me—I’m feeling pretty punky this morning.  I seem to have it a little worse than the rest.  I don’t feel much like writing today, so I am going to leave you with just a verse of Scripture.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  (II Corinthians 12:9)  Praise God that we don’t have to be strong or at our best for Him to work in us and through us!  Can’t say that I am exactly glorying in my infirmity today, but I am glorying in His love and grace!