Legacy of faith

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“I believe in God, the Almighty, Jesus his

son, born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus was

born in human form and lived and died as a human.

Jesus was crucified and gave his life for us.

He was sinnless and God raise him from death

to be the only Judge of us.

Jesus preached to all — good, bad, poor, sick

believers and non-believers. He heald the sick

and forgave sinners.

He believed all people equal, men, women, and all

races and creeds.

He asks us to live in peace + love each other as

He loves us all.

He asks us to pray for ourselves, other who stray,

for the sick, for him to have mercy on us all.

He asks us to live our lives serving him +

the Trinity.

God is the director of our lives and all that we do.

By our free acts, we need to be obedient in our worship

and service to him.

His life, as supported by the Old Testament writings,

is recorded by the New Testament witnesses of the

Apostles.

By his gift of Grace we will be forgiven of our sins

and be made whole

thru salvation and Faith we will be made acceptable

for the life hereafter — eternal life.

In God’s Name! — Amen! R A Little

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This is a copy of my grandpa’s statement of faith read at the memorial service. I will be framing this and hanging it in my house. He has certainly entered into his eternal rest, for which I am so grateful, though it hurts to have lost his presence here on earth.

A work in progress

Our theme for 2012 at Harvest is “Get it done”, based on Ephesians 2:10, which says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Works do not earn us salvation, rather they should be a product of salvation. In the shuffle of every day stresses, I get so consumed in my little bubble and how I’m going to get everything done.

I want to be focused on the eternal, but I cannot do it in my natural state. I’m selfish, arrogant, prideful. I get worried, anxious, and needy. I need a sanctifying work. 1 Thessalonians 5:23:

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

When I first got saved, and even years later I turned a lot of people off to Jesus. Heck, maybe I still do. I’ve made mistakes and taken wrong turns. I disguised myself from behind a mask of “miss goody two shoes straight A’s virgin church girl”. At least that’s how I perceived myself. When you make mistakes, you learn from them and I think I’ve learned to be more like Jesus and just love people.

This blog post by Jamie the Very Worst Missionary put things into perspective. I love  her blog because she’s just so real. I think she says what a lot of Christians are afraid to say. She cusses. She admits her failures. Publicly. No sin will ever get dealt with if it’s kept hidden. [Believe me, I know from experience.]

I want to love Jesus and love people, but I also don’t want to go off the other deep end and be all about loving and not about salvation or discipleship. We don’t need to be from the world to be relevant in the world.

To be honest, I’ve been doubtful lately. Gasp. What?! Doubting?! You mean, you haven’t been 100% walking in faith? Who woulda thought.

I’ve been wondering why bad things have to happen to good people. I found out this week one of my friends is starting chemo treatments… and it’s just not fair.

I’ve been wondering how people who did walk in the faith could be the furthest thing from it.

I’ve been wondering how to share Jesus with people without sounding preachy. Is being their friend enough? What’s the point of having “friendships” if it’s just a “missionary friendship”? Sorry, but I refuse to befriend people with the sole purpose of sharing Jesus with them. I want to actually like my friends, spend time with them doing things we like to do together, and just be friends.

I wonder how the Church has gotten so so so far from who the real Jesus was. The Jesus who talked to strangers, whores, lepers, preachers, tax collectors, fishermen. He never asked any of them to change who they were before they started following Him. He only asked for an undivided heart… so… what is with this judging and labeling homosexuals, potheads, divorcees, big wigs, abortionists, etc who don’t even claim to be Christians?! Who says that’s the “Christian” thing to do? It pisses me off.

I think God has done some sanctification in my life thus far. I’ve let him change my attitudes towards nonbelievers and believers alike. I still have a lot of bad attitudes to work through, and cussing up a storm is not the way to do it.

I’m sick of my inner dialogue being about myself and how I feel about things. It’s all about me, me, me. More than once in the past week I’ve felt on the verge of an anxiety attack… it’s a throwback to life four to five years ago.. and I thought I got through it.

Thinking on all the things that I need to be sanctified for or from can be overwhelming and depressing…. however, I am thankful for a Savior who loves me for me, Elizabeth, the Elizabeth that talks behind her boss’s back, the Elizabeth that lusts after attractive actors (it must be their fault, right?!), the Elizabeth that doesn’t pray or study the Word nearly enough, and the Elizabeth that picks fights with her husband.

There is so much that God’s planned for me to do, so with my undivided heart and His willingness to pursue and purify, we can get it done.

Work with what ya got.

Have you ever looked back in life to realize how much your past has led you to where you are now? It’s pretty cool, how things work out.

When I look back, I think of God as Jehovah Jireh. Don’t worry; it’s not a creepy name for God used by cultists, I promise. It’s the Hebrew name for “God the provider”. As I go into the next few weeks, I will see more hours on my paystub, more money in the bank, and just another manifested promise of God’s provision in our life (mine and Aaron’s).

I started teaching piano lessons when I was 14 because my current teacher was leaving, I was one of her best students, and they had no one else to teach. So there I was, teaching all ages and couldn’t even have my own bank account yet. I taught for six years, and taught all ages, from four to fifty-something. I also taught, unknowingly, the wife of my future youth pastor. Pretty cool! I also got experience teaching special needs because I had an autistic boy who couldn’t communicate, but he learned.

Six years later, I quit my job teaching piano because I needed something more stable. I was in college, working my way through and taking loans out the wazoo. I found an internship at a tutoring center. In addition to teaching piano, I tutored lots of students, including other college students at my university. I learned a lot about pretty much everything that there is in that position, and after graduation I worked as a teacher there for a little bit.

I started teaching full-time three Augusts ago (wow, that long already?!) and felt very prepared for working with different kinds of kids, needs, and even parents. When you do freelance tutoring, you talk a lot with the parents. They want to see results, or they’ll “fire” you. Then your “business” is hurt because you don’t have a good reputation by word-of-mouth.

Anyway. After working for a few months in retail last fall, my connections at a district, and my teaching certificate got me my aide job in first grade. Enter preconceived notions!! I never thought in a million years I’d enjoy working in a self-contained classroom with 26 whiny six and seven-year-olds. However, I loved it. I learned so much from the teacher about teaching phonics, spelling and reading, and how to relate to kids who haven’t hit puberty yet.

And wha-bam! Here I am in Texas, no teaching jobs are available, and I have about $350 and a few tests standing in between me and my Texas certificate. I felt really discouraged at first. I’d applied to about a dozen aide or clerical positions with no luck.

However, my previous experience at the tutoring center and being certified (my Illinois one is still valid) led me to the job I have now at a franchise of the same tutoring center! In the past couple weeks, we’ve gone through a lot of transition with one of the directors leaving, and I was slated for the position along with a couple other teachers. In a few weeks, I’ll be filling this position and working close to full-time hours (and getting a raise!). In a place where it’s hard for people to find a job, much less military spouses, I feel incredibly blessed.

The cool thing is that this was an answer to our prayer that God would give me favor with my boss. I believe excellence and integrity honor God, and then in turn, God honors excellence and integrity. I’ve had this inclination that I wouldn’t have to do anything extra to obtain a job in my field here in Texas, like throw down a few Benjamins for certification tests.

This is how God works: mysteriously. You don’t really know how things will work out, but you should continue to be faithful. These are the principles Aaron and I follow: Tithe. Be a good steward of what you have. Live within your means.

On several occasions in the past year or so, I’ve seen a rainbow at the perfect times. Once last summer, I was driving across the Illinois River and I was so mad and discouraged about not being in Korea and not knowing what would happen. But I tried my darnedest to pray and trust. That was hard. I saw a double rainbow here in El Paso shortly after we arrived, when again I was feeling hopeless and discouraged about my job situation. And yesterday, I saw yet another rainbow as I came out of the grocery store, picking something up on my way home from work.

This is what I’m not saying…

  • If you don’t have faith, you’ll be poor.
  • If you do have faith, you’ll be rich.
  • If you pray, things will always be easy.
  • If you don’t pray, things will always be hard.

Sometimes life just happens. However, we can be confident that God’s promises stand, and He provides everything we need. We just need to be faithful, obey, and trust. We may not always have excess. Lord knows we don’t right now! But we have what we need at the moment, and that’s all that matters.

One of the members of our small group mentioned that when he worked at an orphanage in rural Mexico, they had three rules about prayer:

  • Believe that you will receive.
  • Be thankful for everything you receive, even if it’s not exactly what you wanted. (Um.. ’96 Honda with 215K miles and no A/C and ’97 Toyota with 165K miles and paint rubbing off? Hey, they’re paid off and get us places!)
  • Be generous and give away something each time you receive.

I’ll end this post with a story he told about “El milagro de los pavos”.
In this orphanage off the beaten path in rural Chihuahua, they were approaching the winter season with very low food supplies for the orphans and staff. In their prayer time with all the children, a three-year-old boy wanted to pray for turkeys. Every week, he wanted to pray for turkeys. (In Mexico, it’s tradition that turkey is served on Christmas.) So, they prayed for turkeys. It seemed a little silly, but they prayed every week. They told God that if they got three turkeys, they’d eat two and give one away. Christmas Eve, people rolled in with turkey after turkey, never hearing that that’s what the orphanage was praying for. They received a total of forty-six turkeys!

Malachi 3:10 says, “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be enough room to store it.'”

Mercy triumphs over judgment.

James 2:12-13 says, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

This was the basis for Pastor Lee’s message today. I don’t know what it is about his sermons, but they really stick with me throughout the week. He really hits each point home, and it is a convicting word. I need it!

Lately we’ve been learning more about the Beatitudes. I love hearing well-known passages that I loved as a child rehashed as an adult with adult perspectives. It really puts the Word into practice; or, at least it should. I’m trying.

I love this quote: “Grace is getting what you don’t deserve; mercy is not getting what you do deserve.”

Being merciful is hard… it’s just not our nature. But when we read the story of the unmerciful servant, it’s easy to get upset at him! It’s a story told by Jesus to illustrate how mercy works. A servant was forgiven a huge debt by his master, but failed to forgive his servant of a much smaller debt.

The truth is, this is what we do, all. The. Time. I do it, all the time. I think… “Hmm, it would teach this person a lesson to do such-and-such or say such-and-such.” It’s not our job to “teach lessons”… it’s the Holy Spirit’s.

Jesus also teaches to forgive seven times seventy. Whoa. I don’t know if I’ve even forgiven seventy times in my whole life. The point is not the number though, it’s the “attitude of forgiveness”, as it was put this morning.

The way judgment was explained made sense to me. Like, if someone acts a certain way and I think, “Man, they must not be saved,” or “I hope they get what’s coming to them! They really hurt me,” or “No wonder that happened to them.. they’re a sinner.”

The problem I have is how to apply that in real life… but it’s best to err on the side of mercy.

I can ask myself these questions and answer them pretty quickly:

Who do I need to forgive? How do I show them mercy? 

I want to forgive more, and in turn, I will be forgiven more.

I need the peace that comes from forgiveness and showing others mercy. Without that peace, I am left to my own devices… my sin, my guilt, and will be tortured by them.

Praise God that we don’t get what we deserve.

So, here’s the deal.

I’m learning a lesson. A big one. And it’s calllllled…..

CONTENTMENT.

Sigh. This is probably the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn in awhile… and I’m actually relearning it, just in a different area of life. Last time I learned it was last summer when Aaron gallivanted off to Korea and the Army just.. left me here. So, I became content in my jobs, and living alone, and taking care of, well, everything. And I did it well.

Now the tables have turned a little bit. I have my husband with me, every day, every night and that in itself is pretty amazing. I mean, have you tried living the same zip code, much less the same house with your spouse before?? It rocks. I love that we can eat meals together almost all the time, and workout together, and all those other married things. Just sayin’…

But then there’s this part of me, that’s actually a really big part of me, that I can’t shake. It’s the part of Elizabeth that seems to only be happy when she has a title outside of “Wife” and is bringing home some bacon. Heck, it doesn’t need to be a lot of bacon, but some. And she also has to be doing something creative or worthwhile, preferably something that has to do with what she paid $50,000 to learn about… She has to be productive about 110% of the time, or otherwise feels like a failure.

I’ve had my ups and downs over the past couple weeks. Guess what? The grass isn’t any greener down here. I’ve felt guilty for racking up all this debt in a freaking private university education just to sweep the floor or wash a few dishes. I should be out there in the world, making money to pay off my debt.

However, my husband is the greatest gift ever. He doesn’t see it that way at all, and he encourages me to do whatever I want. If I work, fine. If not, fine. He reminds me daily that we worked hard to be able to live (not just survive) on one income… I have to remember that. WE worked hard. We BOTH worked hard. When we got married, everything became ours,  even our debt.

I had an interview earlier this week for a job I was actually on the fence about. I didn’t get it, and I was honestly a little relieved. It just didn’t feel right. Last night I filled out some more applications, including Sylvan, Starbucks and other jobs at a school district (clerical and aide jobs). I don’t feel an overwhelming need to teach full-time and have my own classroom, but I do feel a need to teach in some capacity. It is what I was made to do, I believe.

Aaron asked me if I could do anything, what would I do? I said that I would be a mom; however, I know it’s not the proper time yet.

Today I got a call from Sylvan. I have an interview tomorrow, and I would love to work for them again. The schedule is flexible and part-time if I want it to be.

A few things keep going through my head…

“God delights in exalting our inability.” ~David Platt

“God equips the called.” (Not sure who said it.)

The book of Ecclesiates… that all the toil under the sun is meaningless.. what really matters in eternity?

The thing is, I have to learn this lesson soon. I can’t move forward in life until I can be content with what I have right now. Life is too short, people are too precious, the weight of eternity is too great, for me to be whining about a perceived problem that I’ve created all on my own. So, here it is: No More Pity Parties for Elizabeth. I’m really really rreeaallllyyy gonna try. And pray. Maybe you should check in on my husband at some point soon…

Who knows what I will do in El Paso, but I do know one thing. At my funeral, my loved ones aren’t going to be standing around telling each other about that one time I didn’t work full-time and make such-and-such salary. They will talk about what kind of person I was.. my character, how I treated people, how I loved Jesus, how I nurtured my children and served my husband. Those are the things that matter.

Only two days??

We can’t believe it’s only been two days since we arrived in El Paso. So much has happened already! Aaron goes to work tomorrow for inprocessing. For those of you who don’t speak “Army” (sometimes I wish I didn’t!) that means that he’s getting acclimated to this post and will be learning more of what he’ll be doing while he’s here. Not to mention attending tons of briefs with a lot of useless information.. a lot of hurry up and wait.

I have driven everywhere we’ve gone. Aaron doesn’t care when I drive, normally, as long as I don’t try to kill us. Or maybe he sends us into oncoming traffic… yeah. That happened when on our way to church today. “If you swing out wide, you could make a left here and turn around.” Yeeeaaahhh. Okay. Or not.

So. We went to church this morning at Harvest Christian Center, which is an Assemblies of God church. I had been listening to the podcasts and doing research on this and other churches before we got here. We really enjoyed it and will probably be returning next week. People were very friendly and welcoming, and we met the pastor, his wife, and his daughter, who leads worship with a baby grand. The message was great… he spoke on 2 Chronicles 20 and standing strong through hard times. He also shared a very poignant story from Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala (pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle). I read the book last year and loved it.

After the service was over (it lasted about an hour and a half) we got coffee at their coffee bar and sat down for a few minutes. Silly us… we got hot coffee when it was probably over 90* out by that point!

We went on post because Aaron needed to get new rank insignia for his uniform and PC (stands for patrol cap… no more berets.. yay!. We wandered around the mall there.. looks brand new. We got lunch at Subway and ate the rest of it tonight for dinner.

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We came back to take a nap and for the life of me I could not fall asleep. I got on the computer and had a slight freakout about finding a job. I know, I know. Take it easy, Elizabeth. I’m still getting paid through August. And technically, I don’t need to work… but I want to. But I’m picky. I want a “normal” job, no retail, no food, no weekends or evenings (the only exception is Starbucks, naturally). I’ve looked a lot of places… school districts aren’t hiring for Spanish right now, or even aides, and it will cost around $500 to get certified in this state. I’ve looked at places like Sylvan… not hiring.  I have applied for a job on post, so we’ll see if that turns out.

Big sigh. I honestly don’t have an inkling right now what I should be doing, besides being a wife. I’ve been a “single” wife for two years to my “single” husband, so maybe it’s about time I focus on us and our house (but no kids!!).

I don’t know. I’ve been praying about it for awhile, and I got nothin’. Patience is not my strong suit… maybe it’s time I make it my strong suit.

I do know, however, that I need to spend more time in prayer, and more time studying the Word. I can be a judgmental person, and irritable, and rash, and impatient. I need to work on that.

I think I’ll start with that.

>Prayer is powerful…

>…and as Pastor Rick says, you can’t argue with real-life change. Ask the crippled beggar in Acts 3 if he doubts there is a God.. he was healed and could walk again! What else could he do besides praise the Lord?! “…He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” You can’t argue with real-life change, and this man was quite the contender!

As I sit here pondering the verses I want to pray over Carson tomorrow, I am blown away by the outpouring of love, encouragement, and prayer on this family. Like I said earlier, the body of Christ is a beautiful thing! What an engineer of true and real relationships God is. It’s pure genius.

I am praying these verses for Carson, and also for my relative in California, Liz Moffat who is battling cancer.

“…everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:7)

“…Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.” (II Tim. 1:12b)

“…Abraham believed God, and it was credited to Him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3)

Today Aaron’s brother Scott and his wife Anessa met with their five-year-old daughter’s heart surgeon to schedule her open heart surgery to correct sub aortic stenosis, which she was diagnosed with when she was only two. The surgery is scheduled for July 5, the day we were scheduled to begin our journey south. However, we will be staying until July 6.

Please begin praying for Zaia… and her parents, and her two siblings.. Joel, who is 11, and Rhianna who is 7. I am starting with this verse…

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (II Timothy 1:7)

Our nieces (Rhianna, Zaia and Lena) and nephew (Joel) (and Baby W on the way!!) make us a very happy Uncle Aaron and Aunt Lizbiz.