I found God in Chicago

Weary, beaten down and discouraged, I boarded a plane headed to Chicago. I wasn’t convinced that I even wanted to go. Self defeated before I even began, I was ready to quit. The good news, as God often orchestrates it, I didn’t have any other options. This was the open door of opportunity and I was walking through it.

I say I found God in Chicago. Although I had lost sight of Him, He had not lost sight of me. It’s not that I had quit looking for him, or turned my back on Him. I just couldn’t hear Him. His voice, that has often been so clear to me, now seemed silent. I prayed, read my Bible, cried, pleaded and it seemed like my prayers hit the ceiling and just ricocheted to the floor.

Last week it had become clear to me that not only had I lost me identity, but also my purpose. So much of who I am has been wrapped up in the title Missionary. Since I was 12, I wanted to be a missionary. After 16 years in Mexico we agreed with the advice of our board, to take a sabbatical. We knew in doing so that we were on the brink of a new season, yet it was unclear what that season would look like. We had some opportunities come our way and open doors that we decided to walk through, but I still couldn’t see God leading me.

For years my prayer has been, “Align my heart with Yours and let me walk in Your will.” But still I felt like I was meandering blindly with no specific destination in mind. Over the last months, I have asked God why I am here and where I am going. During this time, God has used others to encourage me. The most recent being a friend’s comment that “Often we have no idea that God is leading us and then we look back and realize He’s been there along.” Although, I knew there was truth in that statement, the knowledge had not moved from my head down to my heart. It wasn’t until the other morning when I was reminded of the donkeys that my ears were unclogged & my heart came alive with knowledge.

I love how in moments when we least expect it, God’s Word comes alive and brings clarity to our circumstances. The story is found in 1 Samuel 9, I’ll let you read the details, but it’s safe to say that someone else was going through the motions of life & had absolutely no idea that God had orchestrated the whole scene: The Donkeys, The Servant, The Trip, The Seer, The Anointing, The King. And in that moment, I knew I had found God in Chicago.

I don’t know your story, where you are, your struggles & inner battles, but I know that our God is so big & powerful that you can’t ruin His sovereign plan. He DOES make all thing work for good, even when we think we’re just out trying to find the donkeys.

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Not Guilty

I really can not, and do not want to live life feeling guilty. Does anyone really want that?!? I know that God has brought us to this place, it’s ok that we are here, in fact, it is part of His plan. So I decided to spend some time alone with God in prayer and fight this battle of guilt.

It’s amazing how therapeutic prayer can be! Spending time alone with The Almighty: praying and listening, as well as reading His Word always help to bring clarity. During my unhurried time with God, I pondered the Apostle Paul’s words from Philippians 4:12 & 13- “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him (Christ)who strengthens me.

Whatever season we are in we can rest assured that this too is a part of God’s big plan. He allows difficulty and struggle, times of rest, times when we know where we are headed & times when we don’t. Guilty feelings do not come from God. He convicts and leads, heals & encourages. Whatever difficulty you face, trust me God cares. He cares about you and me and if we allow Him, He will take away the guilt and set us free. After all that’s why Christ came!

KD

Learning Contentment

(This blog was written as a response to the August 14 devotional found in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.)

Oswald, You never cease to speak to me! Oh if you had know how mightily God would use you. More than a century has passed since your homecoming with Our Lord, and still He uses you to speak to me and so many others. Today, your words cut deep into my being. “Don’t be blind to this point anymore-you are not as far along spiritually as you thought you were.” As I tread new waters, this statement resonates with me.

After years of struggle on the mission field, being a Christian had become easy. Trials made life such, that calling on The Lord was second nature. Everything in my life there moved and found its being…its purpose in God. But here, there are so many distractions. Abundance of things, ease of life and constant entertainment via for my attention and I find myself once again in God’s school. I am learning again to cling to The One who sustains me.

As a missionary, I learned and practiced lessons of clinging to God through difficulties and adversity. When Faith died, I learned to breath God’s breath of life in the midst of great sorrow. Through the pain of Fibromyalgia, I learned to embrace God’s comfort. When we started Hope House, I learned that God will provide all of our needs according to His riches in glory and that He is the defender of orphans. But this battle is much different than those I experienced while living in Mexico. Here in the United States, the playing field has been changed. Here, I must learn to shut out the noise and run to the “secret place”; to avoid distractions and choose time alone with God instead of the countless options that constantly come my way. The battle to not get derailed by the levity in life but instead remember that any ease we experience is only because of God’s grace.

I can so identify with the psalmist David when he said, “When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken!”…but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.” (Psalm 30: 6 & 7) It is not that God has hidden his face from me; but in the crowd, sometimes, it is difficult for me to see Him.

Oswald goes on to challenge me with a question. “Am I fully prepared to allow God to grip me by His power and do a work in me that is truly worthy of himself?” Then he drives the question home when he reminds me something about the process of becoming holy. “Sanctification, is not my idea of what I want God to do for me. Sanctification, is God’s idea of what He wants to do for me.” You see, the integrity of my spirituality is only strong, if it holds in all circumstances. Like the Apostle Paul, I must learn to say, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance.” (Phil 4:11) By default, that means that God must place me in new classrooms and circumstances for my learning to be complete.

Do you find yourself in a new classroom? If so ask God what new material He has for you to learn.

KD

The Process

It’s a process: learning to live here…learning to be ok with this season…this chapter of my life.

Like a glass with residue on the sides to prove it was once full but has now been depleted, my emotional cup is empty. In my eagerness, I would like to skip the cleaning process, but to fill my cup now would only result in a murky mess. This cup needs to be cleaned…and cleaning takes time. In the book of Ephesians there is a phrase that comes to my mind, which talks about using The Word of God to wash and cleanse. (Eph. 5:26) So that is what I’m doing. Sunday afternoons I spend in the rocking chair on our porch. My goal? Wash the glass! Think, Contemplate, Read, Write, Pray, Sing, Listen. It’s all part of the process.

And as much as I would like to snap my fingers and have a clean glass, I know this is a processs which will take time.

I appreciate having time, and I appreciate having a God who loves me even when my glass is messy. Eventually it will be all sparkly again: clean, filled with pure water and ready for a new season of pouring.

And that too will be part of the process.

Before and After

Before-

Last week we were in Mexico. As I prepared for the trip I wrote….

I’ve spent every summer in Mexico since 1998 except the summer of 2000; the year when Genesis was born. But this summer, I’m not looking forward to being there. It took a lot of effort, prayers, godly counsel and muscle to get our family of 6 along with two of our dogs to the states and now after being here 2 months, I must return South of the Border. As far as I can remember, this is the first time since September of 2004 that I have not wanted to return.

I remember traveling with Rodney and 3 of the girls. Zion was only 8 weeks old and I did not want to return to Mexico. Life there was difficult, we didn’t know the language, we didn’t have many friends, the house we were renting was moldy. In fact, there was a time when Rodney, Trin and I all had mold growing under our fingernails. We were poor, felt alone and life was tough.

After spending a few extra days at the boarder wrestling with our negative feelings and with God, we decided to return to Mexico. We didn’t want to spend our lives wondering what God would have done through us had we only been faithful.

Over the years the hardships and struggles only served to strengthen our faith and deepen our relationship with each other and our Lord.

This week as I struggled, once again, with my feelings of not wanting to return to Mexico, I read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

It didn’t take long for me to adjust my attitude. I have so many things to be thankful for. And now after all these years I can look back with thankfulness at all that God has accomplished in spite of the difficulties that we faced.

After-

Fast Forward to the end of our trip…..

Lord-I thank you for this trip! I did not want to come, but I’m glad I did. You have blessed us and loved on us while we were here. Thank you to our friends LeAnna and Jerry who have blessed us with their “little house”. Staying here has given us privacy and precious downtime we both desperately need. While here we have gotten to visit friends and loved ones, we have shared laughs and tears. Thank you, Lord, that we were here to be able to comfort our friend Lucinda as L.C. passed into glory. Thanks that I got to sing once again with my friends, who I’ve missed, in the LCBC Choir. Thanks for Hope House! Annel and Ismael are doing a FANTASTIC job, much better than Rodney and I could do at this point. They are standing on our shoulders and advancing God’s Kingdom and changing lives. Investing 15 1/2 years in her life was worth it! Thank you that she and Ismael embrace the vision You Father gave us for Hope House and they are not only maintaining in our absence, but thriving. This trip has reassured me that we are exactly where we need to be, doing exactly what we need to be doing. It has brought much healing to my weary heart. Thank you for blessing me with peace that YOU have got this under control. Thank you for encouraging me to rest in You.

Thought-

There are times when life is difficult and there are times when we just imagine that life will be difficult. I know that God has a plan and purpose in each of them. I pray that God gives us the wisdom to know the difference and to be thankful for both seasons.

A Letter From God: Oh That You Would Understand. 


It hurts Me to see the walls you have built around yourselves. You sit high in the judgement seat piously looking down on others. I’m sorry you don’t understand.
The more you separate yourselves from the world, the more you isolate yourselves from those I love. How will they know My love if it is not for you. You were intended to be an expression of Me to the lost, hurt and dying. But that expression has become distorted. Instead of showing My love, you have become callous. It is not Me that you are portraying. It is your distorted, sin stained view of who I Am. Oh you look good, all shiny and put together on the outside, but inside you are messy. You attend church every time the doors are open. And you cling to the ritual of a lot of mandatory events (and rules)! You wouldn’t think of missing a service, but who are you when you are all alone? Are you like Me?
After all of your busyness, do you have any time left to share Me with those outside the church walls? Do you have time for the lost, the hurt, the ugly, the smelly, the broken? Do you think that miraculously the lost are going to step foot into your meetings? Would they even be welcome if they did? 
While you have a members only party in My Name those who need Me most are kept at an arms distance. How are they going to meet Me?
You have such potential! Oh I know you mean well, but even within the church you do not express love one to another. You are not an attractive representation of Me. Your aroma is not compelling. Instead it serves to push those who need Me farther away from Me. 
I am different than you. I met people on their turf and I loved them when they were unlovable. It wasn’t until after they experienced Me that they were changed. Do you remember how you were before I called you to Me? You were waist deep in the muck of sin, some of you were even blissfully swimming in sin. But then I found you and you were forever changed. 
I did not save you to be judge and jury, to separate yourselves so fully from my creation. No I saved you to love Me and share that love with others, who like you were, they are lost and blind. Oh that you would understand. 

KD

Make Me Like You

“God, I asked for You to make me more like You. While I was waiting, our baby girl died. It was a difficult time and I was angry with you for allowing that to happen. Then one day I remembered that You also lost a child and I began to realize that through loss, we had something in common. Without me even realizing, You had answered my prayer.”
Kina Dutro-20?? 

Written sometime as I began to come out of the fog…

Our daughter Faith would have been 11 years old today. I am not trying to start a theological debate about God’s perfect will versus His permissive will, by what I wrote above. I just remember it was a great confort to me when I realized that Father God could genuinely identify with my pain and my loss. 
Last year some dear friends of ours also lost their daughter just after birth. As they navigated the pain and bewilderment of the situation, I faced my own memories of giving birth to a still born daughter. One can never imagine the emotional pain that accompanies such an experience, nor can one going through it imagine the pain will ever end. But after 11 years I can promise…the pain does end! It does not last forever. 
In John 16:33 Jesus warns us that in this world we will have trouble. Later in the first chapter of James we are encouraged to count it all joy when we face various trials because they produce in us steadfastness. Rest assured we are never promised an easy life. We will experience difficulties, but through those dark times Christ promises to never leave us nor forsake us. 
As you walk through your own difficulties I pray that you will find hope in knowing that you are not alone. God too has suffered and through your suffering you are becoming more like Him. 
One day as I walked through that dark season a good friend looked at me and said, “Your face is smiling, but your eyes are not.” After 11 years, this I can promise you. You will begin to smile again and it won’t just be superficial. 
KD
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2-4
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die…

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2