Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Do Everything!

On my way to work today, I listened to 95.1 Shine FM as I usually do.  For those not in the Baltimore Maryland area, that is the Christian radio station that my radio seems to never leave anymore.  Anyway, a quirky little song came on, called "Do Everything", by Stephen Curtis Chapman (who just happens to physically resemble my favorite redhead outside of my mother, Rob Kastens, but that's another story)...

From my first time listening to this song, it had my attention.  The first lines are "You're picking up toys from the living room floor for the fifteenth time today"...ummm...Stephen, are you peeking in on a single mom's home?  Such as my own?  Maybe not...my kids are older, and it would be video games, shoes and socks...but still....

Anyway, what really hit me was the chorus.

"It all matters just as long as you do everything you do to the glory of The One who made you, cause He made you to do every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face, tell the story of grace with every move that you make, and every little thing you do "

My sister (well, technically sister-in-law, but I'm not married anymore either...go figure that one out!) Stephanie lives by, and got me hooked on the motto "Jesus is Lord, and I work for the Lord!" If you know Steph, she REALLY DOES live by this! This song is a great explanation of that exact motto.

It makes me think of everything that I do on a day to day basis...from working to mothering to worshiping to living.  In the end, all that matters is "am I pleasing God?"

As I prepare for this missions trip, I hope to continue to live up to that, and please God in my preparations.  I have studied the Prague area, its culture, and religious background.  I have checked travel tip sites, mission trip sites, government guidelines, TSA regulations, and UNESCO.  I have studied websites that recommend packing everything in one bag (which I fully intend to TRY!), travel insurance information,  sites with information on how to control asthma in different parts of the world.  Whew!  I've done alot, and I still feel like there is so much more to do and know!

When I sit back and think about it, I am doing all of these things, and making these preparations and dotting I's and crossing T's so that I can go over there and so everything to the glory of The One who made me.  I am going to do His work; to be His hands and feet.  To serve in flesh where His word has not yet reached.  And believe me, there is MUCH to do! ...and I am more than willing to go and do*!

*Isaiah 6:8, Then I heard the Lord asking "Whom should I send as a messenger to these people?  Who will go for us?"  I said "Here I am.  Send me."

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Quick Check in...

I know its been a minute, but believe me, I am still doing his work.

I have gone to the doctor,and let him know that I am going on this trip.  He checked his information, and because the Czech Republic is well developed, I shouldn't need any special medications or shots or anything.  If I am feeling unsure, he referred me to a travel medicine center for a check up. (Unfortunately, this center isn't covered by my insurance, so unless a flex spending account would cover its payment, I won't be going.  Just being honest.)  He has put me on different meds for my asthma, to make sure that is regulated well, ensuring that I won't have problems while there.  Also, I have been working out, and he's put me on a strict diet and I've undergone blood work to rule out a few different issues within me.  Basically, I want to be as healthy as possible when I get there, so I can focus on what I need to: serving.

On Wednesday, I meet again with my team.  From what I've heard, we have grown from a team of 7 to a team of 10, and I am excited to meet the new members.  It was also mentioned that someone of these new members is a master carpenter, which is great...because I can put together IKEA products, and hang pictures well...but that's the extent of my carpentry expertise, lol.

I will also get an update on fundraising.  I have humbly mailed and emailed fundraising efforts, I have made a Facebook page; I have even added a link on this blog (in the upper left hand corner, check it out!) requesting donations.  It is my hope that in supporting this blog, you are also willing to give as you can to this mission trip.  I will be sending personal thank you's as soon as I am notified of my donors, and I look forward to writing everyone.

There is much to do!  Just looking at the date, 4months from today, my team and I will be there, and working for His good! EXCITING!

Again, I thank you for your support.  If there is anything you want to ask, suggest or if you just want me to know you've stopped by, please comment.  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Mark 1:17...when He said 'Follow Me", who knew I'd be following Him to Europe? 

Sunday, February 12, 2012


So today, I got up early, and decided not to waste any time.  I was awake already, and wanted to get myself to church.  I prepared myself, got dressed, and figured I'd let the kids sleep in, since the youth services aren't held until later in the afternoon.  I prayed to God, thanking Him for waking me again, into another day of grace and mercy, and thanking Him for awaking me early enough to make it to our 8:08am service.

I left the kids asleep (well, my middle son was up and watching cartoons already...), and drove to church.  As usual, I sang my heart out (I often give 'concerts in the car' as I drive), but this morning, I felt a cry coming on.  I was happy to be alone in the car, as my crying sometimes worries my kids.

The message Pastor Ben gave today was exactly what I needed to hear.  It was about Loving People.  We are in a new sermon series, entitles The Mountain (my church) Walk.  We have a new mission, which is simple"Love God.  Love People. Serve the World.", and this was the beginning of the Love People portion.

It really hit me when Ben said "We don't have time to live in quiet desperation.  We don't have to be isolated.  Sometimes the worst loneliness happens in a crowd."

WOW...(I'm having a moment here...)

I have come to realize that I am more than hungry for healthy relationships!  The last few great relationships that I have had with people have crumbled, and I've allowed them to do so.  I have things that have happened in my past that have taught me to just allow myself to quietly 'walk away' from these relationships, instead of facing reality, and owning up to my mistakes.  Typical conflict avoider; that's me.  Instead, I need to take a lesson from Matthew 22:37-40, and love people as I love God, in similar ways.  He loves me, no matter what I've done, do, or have yet to do.  Now, because of that, I need to go out and love people in the same way...and (the hard part for me) allow them to love me in the same way.

Love God.  Love People.  If one part of that is missing, then everything is wrong.

When thinking about how I can apply this to my mission trip, I think of my team, the Mudrik's and the people of Prague.  With my team, I need to allow them into my life, and go deep...be real enough to show them who I really am.  I need to care for them enough to "Carry (their) burdens, and in this way (I) will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).  We are a small team, but need to be a tight team, so that we can go and serve fully, together.  They need to know my weaknesses, and I theirs.  We need to know how each of us deals with conflict, so that they may be solved, and we can go on about our purpose, which is serving while on the trip.  As for the Mudrik family, their neighbors, and the people of Prague, we need to be hospitable.  Not only as guests, but as preparers of the feast at God's table.  We are there to invite them to share in meals with Christ, to get to know Him and love Him, so that they will one day serve Him as we are.  After all, 'the healthy people don't need a doctor; the sick people do' (Matt.9:11-12).  We are to be gracious guests, not becoming a burden on our host family, but there as friends to serve all of their needs fully.  When I think of this, I think about how, when we leave, I don't want the family to have been exhausted.  Instead, it is my prayer that they will have rested; that they have wonderful memories of our visit, and that they thank God for us being there, to provide whatever help and relief they have needed.

I am looking forward to building my relationships, with my team, and within my circles here in life.  This is something I will continuously be working towards, and would love it if YOU, dear reader, would help to hold me accountable.  Feel free to offer advice by commenting below...I am willing to consider anything you have to offer.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Marvel that is Technology

 A few days ago I posted THIS BLOG, asking for prayer from my readers, due to the major European snow storm that has taken over.  I mentioned there that I'd be contacting the Mudrik family, encouraging them with prayer, and trying to find out their needs.  I awoke this morning to find this response waiting for me in my email inbox:
Hello Yonna,

We are grateful for your prayers.  We are doing well, because we can hide in the warmth of our home. The main humanitarian concern is the homeless in our city. The temperature at night has been around 0 degrees F for the past week or so and some homeless people have died here as well as in the surrounding cities and countries.  People are rallying to get warm clothing, etc to the centers who distribute to the homeless.  There are simply not enough beds in the shelters for all of the homeless people.  The city has set up some huge heated tents and the police has been going around looking for the homeless and taking them there. 

Thank you for remembering us.  Our family is warm and well fed.  We are grateful.
Marek and Elaine
Sometimes, when I think of Europe, I think of this magical place across a giant ocean where everything is amazing, beautiful,  and historic.  I never really think about the issues that they may have over there that we experience here in America, and that included homelessness.  Of course, the homeless are never mentioned on tourism webpages, or travel brochures, and I will admit that it never occurred to me that the same things I see in Baltimore happen in Prague as well.

Please continue to pray for this region.  Pray that everyone can find shelter, and that their needs will be met.  I am grateful to hear that the Mudrik family is taken care of, and pray that in their wealth of food and warmth, that they can continue being a light to their neighbors, and are able to meet their needs as well.

God is so great!  His grace is sufficient (2Cor12:9), and His mercies are new every (snowy) morning!
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
   for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.
 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
   therefore I will wait for him. (Lamen3:22-24)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Storming the weather; Praying for the family...

I was just made aware of the weather over in the Czech Republic, and am currently praying for that area, as well as the family of missionaries we will be going to serve.

Being that I am originally from Michigan (US), I am quite used to blizzards of snow.  I would think that they are as well, since geographically, they are the equivelant of being located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Ontario Canada (here on the North American continent).  They have seen their fair share of snow is what I'm saying.

However, I am hearing reports of how within the past 2 days, they have received 5 meters (16 feet) of snow.  Even to a Michigander, that is ALOT of snow.  11,000 villagers in Serbia are trapped.  Deaths have been reported and are still coming in: on Thursday alone, 20 have been reported from Ukraine, 9 from Poland, 8 from Romania, and one each from both Serbia and Czech Republic.  You can read the entire story from The Charlotte Observer HERE.

When I heard of the storm, I immediately began to pray.  I prayed for the Mudrik's, who, while I have yet to meet them, mean so much to me already.  I've also been praying that God's will be done, for He knows the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11), even when it seems that natural disasters create chaos in our lives.  I pray that all is well with this family, and that they can be a light to their neighbors in this time of need.  I pray that the work that they have started is not stunted by the weather; that their hope is not diminished; that their faith is strong.

I will try to contact them shortly, offering my thoughts and prayers, and trying to find out if there is anything I can do to help...even if its just through prayer.