Saturday, June 23, 2012

God Is Able to Turn a Woman's Heart

Hillsong cover image from Wikipedia
Having candidly aired the not-always-so-illustrious working out of my own faith, I was curious about how it was for another woman from middle-class America to pack up her family and consider a move to a foreign field.

Today, Kris Gnuse, the woman I mentioned in the previous post, is gracious enough to give us a glimpse into her heart as she and her family prepare for a move to Hogar de Vida (Home of Life) in Atenas, Costa Rica.
My Way or Your Way: Trusting God

Kris gave me a little back story which I think represents a huge issue for wives, regardless if it concerns the mission field or the finances: To trust God enough with your own well-being that you are able to support your husband’s conviction of God’s call—even if it terrifies you.

Back in 2006, all was well with the Gnuse family. Kris and her husband, Matt, loved God and believed they were following him, that is, until the Lord seemed to give Matt direction which had not first cleared Kris’s spiritual radar. When Matt announced he thought God would have them go on a team trip to Guatemala, Kris balked. What would they do with their two small children? And how would they raise the money?
One night, after weeks of holding onto her, “no,” and yet another “verbal tangle” with her husband, Kris heard the Lord ask, “"Do you want my way, or your way?" 

 The realization (that she wanted her way) sobered her and shocked her out of her disobedience. She prayed the prayer that is often the only one it takes—"Lord, help me to want your way."

She says, “I was in tears most of the first (team)meeting.  But the Lord came alongside us and blessed us. He provided such abundance that we not only covered our own costs, but those of another team member as well. The Lord had even provided for our children's hearts. Our four- year- old daughter came to us as we lingered over goodbyes at her grandparents’ house and said, "I want you to go now."  She was impatient to begin her special time with people she loved. 

You continued to go on mission trips and are now planning to spend time in Costa Rica this summer before moving there in 2013. What made you decide God was calling you to this time and place?

When we were in Costa Rica as a family in 2008, the Lord spoke to Matt about us living there someday.  Matt was ready to move as soon as the Lord gave us clearance for take-off, but my heart was rooted in a secure income, a nice house, comfortable routine.  Slowly, over the last few years, the Lord has been moving me to let go of these temporary things to take a greater hold on Him and His eternal treasures.  

Last summer, after Matt and I led a team to Hogar de Vida in Guatemala, we realized our hearts were in Costa Rica, and that was where the Lord was calling us.God continued to give confirmation, and when Connie, our global outreach pastor, suggested a two year launch period with us beginning language school in August of 2013, it resonated with what we were each hearing separately.

We are incredibly blessed to be part of a church that has a sending arm, Shelter of Light, to launch and support their global workers.  They are walking us through the process and will provide our spiritual and authority covering as we serve in Costa Rica.  

 How do your children feel about it?

They are all excited, but it can be hard to tell what is going on in their hearts, especially with the boys as they are young.  Our 10 year old daughter is the one who best understands what she is releasing for us to go.  Part of our prayer is that the Lord would make a special place for each member of our family in this new life He's calling us to.   

What fears or challenges are you facing now in anticipation of your move?

 Trusting the Lord for provision to this extent is new ground for us. Some of our biggest concerns are selling our house in a tough market and raising up a community of prayer warriors and financial supporters. Mastering the Spanish language is another hurdle that can feel pretty high. 

I certainly feel overwhelmed at times.  For instance, when I look around our house and see all the stuff that we have, I'm daunted.  Sometimes these four walls of our home feel much more real than our electronic tickets to fly and the still small voice calling us to go. 

 But we have seen how the Lord changes lives through global journeys, and we pray that He would give others a heart for that process and for our family as we step into a place of receiving teams at Hogar de Vida in Costa Rica.  We hope to be a blessing as we act as a bridge between the two cultures. 

What are some things that helped prepare your heart and courage?

The Lord has been kind to provide encouragement and inspiration through the mentoring and leadership of our church family, the testimonies of people who have been there (often through books like yours), and the faith walks of those around us. 

One verse in particular was prayed over me a while back and continues to speak peace to my heart, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight" Proverbs 3:5-6. 

Also, being a part of our church's worship choir has ministered to my heart more than anything else. One Hillsong song, "God is Able," seemed to appoint itself as the theme song for this part of our journey. The words of the chorus especially encourage me: 

                  "God is with us.  God is on our side.  He will make a way. 
                   Far above all we know.  
                  Far above all we hope. He has done great things."

Our prayers and blessings go with this family in their walk of faith.
If you'd like to keep in touch with news from the Gnuse family, please visit them at .

Financial support can be made out to Shelter of Light and mailed to: (Memo:Gnuse Family)
 Shelter of Light
15555 West Dodge Road
 Omaha, NE 68154

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Counting the Costs

Little did I expect the divine connection waiting for me as I followed the link from a Google alert of my book.

The blog post , Full Heart Moment, began, “My heart is full tonight. The last two months have been a flurry of activity. . . . In a quiet afternoon of leisure at my in-laws’ pond a few weeks ago, with the sun shining down and the warmth of camaraderie all around me, my heart suddenly felt a pang.  I was leaving this. And a season of counting the cost began.”

I could almost see the writer squaring her shoulders, breathing deeply as she lovingly touched each of the “costs” one more time before laying them down—security of paychecks, homes and gardens, comforts of friends and family, holidays with parents and Mom’s signature dumplings.

I wondered where this writer was going that she needed to sell off her children’s toys, and get her house in order. What decision had she made that caused her to feel so reflective about “counting the cost.”

As if the word Guatemala wasn’t enough to get my attention, combining it in the same sentence with Costa Rica certainly was. I scrambled around her blog site and discovered that not only had this woman been to the same village in Guatemala as we had, but to the same ministry in Costa Rica.

 In fact, she and her family were preparing to move there for full time ministry with our dear friends, Tim and Dena at Hogar de Vida!

And then the gift: someone had lent her Call of a Coward. In her time of weariness, from the comfort of her chair, she was able to travel familiar dusty paths with me, to face shared fears, to rejoice and be refreshed at the fountain of grace.

Two ordinary women, half a country apart, on a similar journey, linked by a story.

 I was one in spirit with her as I read her conclusion:

“Tonight my heart is full with all that the Lord has in store for us.  The cost is real, but so is the blessing of trusting him more fully.”

Please join me again later in the week as I interview Kris Gnuse about her family’s upcoming move to Costa Rica.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lessons From a Rule-Breaker

A brand new believer who is staying with us was excited when he came downstairs the other morning. “I read the gospel of John last night,” he said. “Wow. God’s not really that complicated. He basically wants us to believe Him.”

Ah, yes. The beauty of meeting Jesus, of having a relationship rather than a rule book. Of believing He is who He says He is—approachable God. 

Although the way to Him is one—through His Son, His ways of dealing with us are many.

Having walked with the Lord for many years, I am still surprised and delighted at the myriad of ways He meets us and directs us.

Today I am sharing some lessons I’ve learned about trusting God with my writing. Please scoot over to Novel Rocket and check out Lessons from a Rule-Breaker.

I pray you’ll be encouraged today that the Lord both knows your situation and is able to pull from his pocket of plenty a way for you to go.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

In the midst of a million things to do, there is One Thing

I’ve been noticing a reverse in the swing of the proverbial pendulum lately, a shift from the Give Me More things to have, stuff to do, friends to follow, books to read mentality, to a Do One Thing Well, Finish What You Start, have Fewer but Truer Friends one.

Well, maybe it’s not a universal movement. Maybe it’s just a message I hear wherever I go; you know how it is when you keep hearing or seeing the same thing, as though the One who directs your path is saying, “Do you get it now? how about now?”

I think it was the pile of unread books by my bed, and in my quiet corner, and on my work shelves that did it. An occupational hazard gone wild. I either buy and read so many books so fast that I don’t even remember them two minutes after I finish, or I don’t read them at all, but plan to—until another catches my eye.

Enough, I said. From now on I’m not buying another book until I finish what I have and review what I promised. And furthermore, I am going to learn—really learn, as in practice and do— at least One Thing from each of my nonfiction craft/life/whatever books.

As though to fortify my resolve, this idea about doing fewer things well and finishing what I start, began showing up all over the place.

For example, at a recent writer’s conference, the marketing class I took focused more on building smaller, more meaningful relationships based on reciprocity than ones focused on “it’s all about me. Marketing plans fill me with fear, but building meaningful relationships one person at a time, now that I can handle.

 One instructor, Torry Martin, inspired the idea of affirming or encouraging a certain number of other people each day before beginning my own pursuits. Hmm, have I heard something like this before—“think on others . . .”

And although I know lists are ever popular, two particular challenges came my way on the heels of each other. Although totally different topics, both are disciplines which reinforce the idea of finishing a few things well rather than starting a gazillion aimlessly:

Jeff Goins’ online challenge (15 Habits of Great Writers)and Kent & MacGregor’s  40 Ways to Get Closer to God.(I’m not very far along in this book because you can’t go on to the next day unless you’ve completed the first day’s focus. Not that I think of myself as a spiritual sluggard, but I did commit to their specific recommendations for forty days. )

Even Ann Voskamp with her powerful book One Thousand Gifts, reduces her search for God’s joy down to the pursuit of one thing: thankfulness. Now that’s doable.

In each of the above mentioned pursuits, there is an underlying need to be free of clutter and chaos. Perhaps it has something to do with my becoming a Woman of a Certain Age who is losing her multi-tasking skills, but I think it has more to do with not wanting so many distractions. 

Because I know that in the midst of a million things to do there is really only
                                                       ONE THING

I have asked of the Lord that I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.—Psalm 27:4

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Dawn Song for Sunset People

Sean Mac Entee, creative commons

When the pastor asked how many had seen the dawn this past week, I was surprised to find myself in such a small camp. Night people far outnumbered those of us who wake up fully powered.

Although I’m sure the nocturnal ones have their times of worship and wonder, one of my favorite moments in the day is that pre-dawn moment when, as though waiting for the opening wave of the conductor’s wand, the woods surrounding my house explode in a symphony of song. 

I almost feel the leaves themselves vibrating like cello strings with the chorus of calls, as all of nature praises the Light Giver.

My soul longs to contribute to this transcendental tribute but often feels woefully inept. Self awareness stares at me as stubbornly as a hound dog on a couch. 

In order to nudge the big I and all of its concerns out of the way, I have ready a paraphrased collection of bible verses, a pieced together litany of whispered praise that I can contribute to the dawn song. 

May I share some of these with you for those moments your prayers are heavy or your spirit is stuck:
The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands—Psalm 19:1.
Send forth your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to the place where you dwell— Psalm 43:3.
My soul exalts in the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior . . . for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name—Luke 2: 46-55.
Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?—Exodus 15:11.

He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the king of Kings, the Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light—to Him be the honor and power and glory—1Timothy 6:15.
Behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness and treads on the heights of the earth—the Lord, the God of hosts is his name—Amos 4:13.
 Your steadfast love extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. We take refuge in the shadow of your wings, and feast on the abundance of your house, and drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life. In your light do we see light—Psalm 36:5-9.
 Lift up your gates and be lifted up O ancient doors that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle—Psalm 24:7-8.

You are the Alpha and the Omega, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty God, King and Redeemer, Bight Morning Star . . . who is able to do exceedingly abundant beyond all we ask or think,

 The Lord is your name

 Immanuel, God with us