Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Update on Prayer Request

So we came home yesterday after our "realtor open house" to find a note that said nobody showed. Somewhat discouraging. The Lord had been pouring into me the entire day. I had been dwelling on thoughts about His power, His love, and His ultimate sovereignty. I was in a pretty good place, but the note still shook me a little. I began to ponder: “maybe He doesn’t want us to go?”

Then I read some Oswald Chambers, the devotional for yesterday, April 29th, and the Lord poured in again.

“Our natural inclination is to be so precise— trying always to forecast accurately what will happen next— that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. . . . . . The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty. . . . . . We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. . . . . . Leave everything to Him and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in— but you can be certain that He will come. Remain faithful to Him.” (Click here to read more)

We need to live in “gracious uncertainty,” and believe me, that is what it feels like. We covet your prayers, please keep petitioning on our behalf.


For all the teens, tweens and young folk out there (or more importantly the parents) I'm not usually too excited about big fancy conferences but this one sounds a little more challenging and real. The conference is being held here in Portland on May 3 @ Rolling Hills. You can check out the Rebelution website here.
It was started by 2 Oregon kids and has grown- they are finding that kids CAN be challenged and CAN have incredible relationships with the Lord. I was excited to see this as I have seen this in many high school students.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mustard Seed Ministries Video

Here is our ministry video that my Dad put together Saturday night. He owns and operates a video editing business called Creative Video Designs. It turned out pretty good (thanks Dad!), I think it captures our heart.

A Call To Prayer

As many of you know, we still need to sell our home in order to begin on this journey. We are faithfully waiting on the Lord and believe that God will fulfill his promises. He is for us and not against us and if we are stepping out to do His Kingdom work, He will show us the way.

The morning after I mentioned to Serenity last April that we should sell our home, our possessions and travel the country intersecting the lives of the poor (and she said in agreement "YES!"), I woke up and tuned on the news (which I rarely do). The first piece I heard was about how the housing market took a nosedive and new laws were being passed to limit lenders, and how ultimately the end to this downturn was nowhere in sight. At that point I knew this was one issue the Lord was going to use to sharpen our faith.

Really it is quite funny to think about this earth, all of the creatures in it, the beautiful mountains, rivers and deserts, the intricacies of nature, of the human body, of the mind, all pointing to the glory and power of God – and then think that he cannot overcome a slumping housing market. Not belly laugh funny, but funny. Our house appraised at $265,000 – we have it up right now for $244,900.

So, our first showing is going on today. Realtors will be going through our house looking it over and then possibly bringing clients back. Pray that this will be the perfect house for one of them. Pray that the right realtors show up, and that in God’s perfect timing our house sells.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Its no big deal

Some of you know us well enough to know that the topic of "Kenobie and dog-owning" has forever been one of those bumps, in our marriage. I cannot tell you how many arguments/heated discussions we've had over our beloved dog, Kenobie. He is as big as life, he eats my underwear, treads mud over my clean floors, and for the last 6 years it has been a love/hate relationship between him and I.
Well, I'm not surprised that yesterday, Andy and I had yet, another big ol' fight over the dog. (Big sigh) But it turned out good. There were tears, loud talking, and lots of emotions. Plus, the kids were witnessing the whole thing and Avery was crying because we were talking about what we were going to do with Kenobie.
But during all of this I actually talked myself through some of my own garbage. Honestly, I was a blubbering mess and Andy was tired of hearing all of my emo complaining and ranting. But fortunately I have a husband who loves me enough to at least sit there and listen as best he can. And, PRAISE THE LORD, I figured out why I was angry about Kenobie! Yes, it has taken me 6 years, but wow, it is refreshing! I realized I was actually mad at myself for not ever taking the time to process what it meant to have a dog, that I never spoke to Andy about what my expectations might be, or better yet, that I didn't have enough courage to speak my mind 6 years ago. I have been mad at myself that I once again just allowed someone to speak for me and make the decision for me. Please don't get me wrong, Andy, even though he was set on getting a dog, would have listened to me. But because I didn't understand what I really wanted anyways and it would have been too hard to put my emotions to words, I just said "ok, lets get a dog!"
After I was able to hash through all of my "expectations" I thought I had and actually got to a point where I was being honest with myself, I wasn't angry anymore. God finally was able to shine the light on exactly where all my frustration and anger came from.
God took this moment to show me, once again, where He has taken me, what He is still teaching me, and who He wants me to be. See, my past is full of moments where I said, "It's no big deal." Not because that is what I really thought but because it was way too much effort to try and figure out what I knew to be true. Pleasing people became way easier for me than knowing myself. And because of that, I did a LOT of things I didn't want to do and I became the easy-going tough girl. Nothing bothered me on the outside, I was pretty good at acting. Speaking of acting, that was my favorite thing in high school. I was a Thespian, involved in all of the plays, took drama and even took acting lessons outside of school in Portland. After highschool I was going to be an actress! :) I really liked how I could be someone else in front of hundreds of people and please them. I could be bold, loud, and confident in front on stage, hiding behind my character.
Good thing God calls our bluffs. He's been calling my bluff for the last 9 years, asking me, "Is that really what you think?" He has helped me get through much of the garbage I was covering myself with. I can now get up in front of people, like Sunday, and share my true heart, my story, and my true feelings. I can confidently say that I am ready to be who God made me to be and follow Him with a pure heart. When I said, 'yes', to the idea of our family traveling across the country in an RV I was surprised to know that I was really saying 'yes'. My heart was ready to do what I've always wanted to do. Be bold, be confident, and follow Jesus with all of my heart.
It is so good to see my heart and mind through God's eyes. He IS the true Counselor. And he can choose whatever He likes to show us where our heart is stuck. He used a donkey, he has used my dog, His ways are definitely not like ours.
Thank you Lord, for putting your Spirit in my heart and teaching me how to listen to your still small voice.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tigard Community Friends Church

This past Sunday we had our first opportunity to share our heart with a church body. We began to prepare during our weekly Thursday evening meeting where we met and discussed what we would talk about. We prayed, and we began to prepare individually. One thing was evident, we were all a little nervous.

Without the Lord present, we would have sounded like a bunch of self-righteous idiots. I think our message was loud and clear, loving and full of grace. We shared our hearts, and since Christ is there, it was truly His message too. Without that we would simply be just a bunch of do-right church kids.

We crafted our message around stories, stories about addiction, about pain, about joy, but all of them about the amazing grace of God, and the power of Jesus' message of redemption and love.

As I sat in the church pew and prayed, waiting to be introduced, the nervousness was overcome by the assurance of His Spirit inside of me covering my own inadequacies with a supernatural understanding. When you begin to believe that the Lord is going to speak through you, and it doesn't matter what people hear, and that the Spirit is the only one who can penetrate their hearts, the nervousness melts away.

TCFC wrapped us with love. We felt that our message was embraced, that people understood, and that ultimately, they would journey along with us. Even though I am certain about our calling, when you consistently hear doubt from people, or interpret their looks when you tell them what you are doing - passionately following Jesus - your flesh occasionally creeps in and your mind begins to succumb to thoughts of doubt and the possibility that maybe you are crazy. I wasn't sure if sharing with churches was going to confirm that or encourage us to press on, but this time, at TCFC, we were all greatly encouraged. The Lord spoke to us. He confirmed our craziness - the craziness of following Jesus.

Thanks Jesus! And thanks TCFC for allowing us to share our hearts.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Prayer please!

Andy, Tim, Jen and I are all sharing about our downtown adventures under the bridge and our future plans with Mustard Seed Ministries at Tigard Community Friends Church tomorrow morning! This will be our first time getting up in front of a church and we are all a little nervous. We need the Lord to speak through us! Please pray that we would feel His Peace!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Who is my Jesus?

Tim and Jenn - thanks for the song. I've been meditating on the lyrics of this song - powerful, powerful stuff. Click on this link to listen to the song:

Todd Agnew - My Jesus

Which Jesus do you follow?
Which Jesus do you serve?
If Ephesians says to imitate Christ
Then why do you look so much like the world?

Cause my Jesus bled and died
He spent His time with thieves and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the arrogant
So which one do you want to be?

Blessed are the poor in spirit
Or do we pray to be blessed with the wealth of this land
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness
Or do we ache for another taste of this world of shifting sand

Cause my Jesus bled and died for my sins
He spent His time with thieves and sluts and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the rich
So which one do you want to be?

Who is this that you follow
This picture of the American dream
If Jesus was here would you walk right by on the other side or fall down and worship at His holy feet

Pretty blue eyes and curly brown hair and a clear complexion
Is how you see Him as He dies for Your sins
But the Word says He was battered and scarred
Or did you miss that part
Sometimes I doubt we'd recognize Him

Cause my Jesus bled and died
He spent His time with thieves and the least of these
He loved the poor and accosted the comfortable
So which one do you want to be?

Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet would stain the carpet
But He reaches for the hurting and despised the proud
I think He'd prefer Beale St. to the stained glass crowd
And I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud

I want to be like my Jesus!
I want to be like my Jesus!

Not a posterchild for American prosperity, but like my Jesus
You see I'm tired of living for success and popularity
I want to be like my Jesus but I'm not sure what that means to be like You Jesus
Cause You said to live like You, love like You but then You died for me
Can I be like You Jesus?
I want to be like my Jesus

Chalk Drawings

I'm not really even into art that much, but this guy's artwork amazes me, and I thought I might share him with some of you. Who knows, I'm so out of things culturally, that maybe everybody knows about this guy and I'm just now seeing his art.

Anyways, I came across this guy a few years back, and his artwork is simply amazing. His name is Julian Beever and he is an English artist who draws with chalk on sidewalks and other public spaces. He uses depth and space to give his drawings a realistic, life-like, 3D illusion.

The woman really isn't that small :)

People were actually walking around the "hole" in the ground.

The attention to detail even to the point of the ripples in the water.

I like this one the best. He seems to like to be in his own art.

The leg seems to be going straight up in the air. . . . .

But when you look at it from the wrong perspective it looks strangely distorted.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What have I learned most?

This weekend we had an opportunity to stay at a friends' condo over at the beach with Tim and Jen. The weather was perfect-no wind, 70 degrees, sunny and beautiful! Thank you Mallons for the great condo!
Slowly immersing ourselves into community living has been very good. Obviously, it was only a weekend and we all knew we got to go home on Sunday. But to tell you the truth, none of us really wanted to go "home". I believe the Lord has been knitting our hearts together over the last 6 months, as we have intentionally (that is the key word) made it a point to spend time with one another, eating together, helping out with kids, doing dishes, and talking and praying together a lot. It is starting to feel comfortable with them, like they are part of our family.
I've always been a "people person", so this community living thing is like my dream come true. I'm just so happy I get to live it out! Andy, well, he can speak for himself.... but I'd like to remind you that opposites attract.
Annnnnnyways! What have I learned most so far in this journey? It is hard to nail down one thing because it seems like everything connects somehow. But I'll try.
Last October sometime we were down at Transitional Youth, hanging out with some homeless teens/young adults. I was sitting with a young lady who had 2 children and I had a chance to talk with her a bit. Listening to her made me feel heavy. She was bouncing from house to house, trying to hold some sort of job, desperately trying to find someone safe to watch the kids while she worked, to provide food, clothing, and shelter for her small, sad little family. Very typical story of someone down and out. And when we got done talking, I felt literally drained and completely worthless. What can I do for this lady? And even if I was to help her with something, there would always be something more and more and more. So the Lord answered me with a picture that I will always come back to.
I have Jesus living in my heart. He is the One who gives me life. He is the One who covers my heart with His. My heart is dark, His heart is Light, canceling out all of my darkness.
As I pictured His heart over mine I thought of all the people out there who don't know this. They have their problems, their darkness, their past, their sins and they come to talk to me.
I suddenly saw that because I have Jesus living in me and have embraced His life in me I have an amazing gift to give people. As people sit with me, they get to sit with Jesus for a bit. I can either take all of their darkness, strife, loneliness and sin into my own dark heart and let them bring me down, OR I can feel the darkness for a moment in my heart and then release it to His heart, relieving me from any burden. Kind of like a recycling thing. As I listen/take on other peoples' stories, burdens and sins I can give it to Him to purify. And when I do feel their darkness for a brief moment, I feel a very small dose of what Jesus has done with my sin and shame. He took on everyone's sin. That is HEAVY and so wonderful!
Gosh, this is just barely brushing the surface. I could talk about this forever.
I will never take for granted Who I have living in me because He is my only Hope. Jesus has made me pure in my Father's eyes because His Light covers my dark heart. I now know that because we carry Jesus in our hearts, we can truly go to the dark parts of this world and not grow weary and burdened. We can give Rest to those who are burdened. What an amazing God we have! I am so filled with Hope because I know Jesus is alive and walking this earth, in me, in my husband, and in the rest of the family of believers. Now if we can just let go of our own hearts and lean on His, it will surely be Heaven on earth.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sava's Question

Picture in your mind this question being asked, with the most sarcasm and cynicism a 17-year-old can muster: "Hey Coulombe, what are you going to do when the money runs out, rely on Jesus?"

The Christianese answer is obvious (picture an older fellow, with a gigantic King James Version in one hand and flannel board in the other): "Why yes Sava, the Good Lord will provide."

My own flesh asks me what the heck I am getting into. But really we have no other choice, as my good buddy Seth has said a bunch of times, "if God is asking you to do something, you better do it."

I process a lot Sunday mornings during worship. God kinda puts "warp-speed" on, and the ideas and thoughts begin to run faster, then faster, until the stars start to blur and everything is going too quick for me to comprehend, the bigness of my God overwhelms me and a sense of peace flows down from the top of my head to my toes. It's like He downloaded new perspectives into me -- all of this while I worship a God that I cannot even begin to understand. Last Sunday during this time I began to ponder Sava's question, and then, not seconds later, the Lord placed the answer on my lips in the lyrics of this song:

Everyone needs compassion
Love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Saviour
The hope of nations

He can move the mountains
For my God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender

Shine Your light and
Let the whole world see
We’re singing
For the glory of the risen King

Mighty To Save by Reuben Morgan

Well, there is the answer, and to tell you the truth, I think Sava reads my blog.

Becoming Small

The Lord has continued to remind me of these verses:

Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:1-4

Painting by German artist Karl Schmidt-Rottluff
(1912) titled "Pharisees"

My own flesh desires to be seen, to be known. I seek humility one day and recognition the next. I am a "hypocrite in the synagogue." Forgive me Lord Jesus, to you be all glory, honor and praise. Amen.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Hope and Intimacy

Before I start writing, I should let you know that this is Andy's wife, Serenity, writing. I will be posting here now, so be forewarned. :)
I am crying right now. Feeling incredibly raw and emotional. I feel so thankful to have friends who are going through some transitions like us and we can comfort one another, even as we part our separate ways again. Take a moment to visit the Lockes. Heath just posted something that put my emotions and thoughts into words- thanks Heath!
As we get closer and closer to the ETD (estimated time of departure) the Lord has remained close to my heart. His presence has given me hope and has increased my intimacy with Him. I'm not really sure what comes first, hope or intimacy, but I know they both come hand-in-hand.
The thoughts of losing much of the world's security and what I have known for my whole life is scary. Our life right now is what Andy and I have always dreamed about- a beautiful house, wonderful neighborhood, a church family, steady job and income with great vacations, parks nearby, great schools, wonderful friends who live close- the American dream.
So as my mind frequently lands on these things and relationships I will be leaving the Lord tenderly takes my face to look at Him. He knows me. The intimacy that I have felt with Him as He continues to do this gives me hope which then gives me strength to keep allowing Him to take my face and speak to my heart.
Our friends, the Fidanzos, have had a very difficult week this past week. They just miscarried their first pregnancy. It is devastating. My heart broke when I heard the news and I instantly started praying against the enemy. Tim and Jen have battled this like true warriors though and I am SO proud of them. They have embraced this loss and have found the hope rather than the discouragement. God always intends for good, but it is our decision to sit and listen to the Great Counselor. If you have a moment, visit their blog, and give some encouragement.
The enemy intends to steal and destroy our hope.
There is a great quote in The Neverending Story by the scary wolf, as he explains why he is helping the Nothing destroy the world of Fantasia. He says, "Because people who have no hopes are easy to control. And whoever has control, has the power!"
No, this is not Fantasia. But Satan will do whatever he can to destroy our hope. And if we have our hopes in things that can be destroyed then we're in for a difficult and sad life. Real hope is eternal, cuz really, why would we put our hope in something that can die, turn to rust, or eaten by moths?
I have started to see something. As I take these steps outside my box into the unknown world, talking with homeless people, venturing off in an RV with three kids, leaving all that we've known, I am seeing the hope that I have a little clearer. And I know that there are so many out there who are putting their hopes in something that can and will perish someday. Knowing that my only hope is Jesus is hard to wrap my brain around. It has made me think A LOT lately. The hope that I have is a treasure that I want more understanding of. And as I meditate on what hope means, my intimacy with Jesus becomes so much more real. I couldn't say this a couple years ago, but I have now found God to be my best friend, my Savior, and my Father.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Inadequate? Yes I am!

I just finished reading John Perkins' amazing autobiography "Let Justice Roll Down." Here is the description on the front of the book:

"His brother died in his arms, shot by a deputy marshal. He was beaten and tortured by the sheriff and state police. But through it all he returned good for evil, love for hate, progress for prejudice and brought hope to black and white alike."

As he explains in the book, God has filled the hole that our flesh wants to fill with bitterness: "Ours is not a story of bitterness -- it is a story of love and the triumphs of the God of love. But it is a story carved out of the realities of violence and poverty, ending not in some sugarcoated sense of brotherly love but the deep conviction that only the power of Christ's crucifixion on the cross and the glory of His resurrection can heal the deep racial wounds in both black and white people in America."

What he experienced, not only in being falsely arrested and beaten, but growing up in a sharecropping family in the rural south, is simply amazing. I am assuming that much of his story is actually similar to the struggles many other blacks had to deal with growing up in the deep south, his reaction to that hate and prejudice is what is extraordinary. My own level of experience with different cultures, which is nearly nothing, makes me feel completely inadequate in my ability to reach out to African-Americans during our journey. Coming from a mono-racial, and mono-linguistic community, what do I have to offer? In many people's eyes -- nothing.

But that is exactly the point - I don't have anything to offer. It is "Christ in me" who offers something by the way of my flesh. I don't have to do anything except be obedient to his calling and reach out my hand to those in need. The crucified Christ will dole out the mercy and grace. I've never spoken to John Perkins, but I'm pretty sure he would admit that the feelings of forgiveness and grace he expressed to the Mississippi State Police after his beating at the hands of these men didn't come from some really nice place in his heart, rather they came from Christ, they welled up inside of his soul from the overflow of Christ's love.

Don't get me wrong; I know that I need to continue to learn about other people and cultures. I need to be sensitive to the hurt that white America has contributed to others in this nation. I need to keep reading and processing the thoughts and perspectives of African-Americans like Perkins, but building relationships with people who might happen to have a different skin pigmentation is only going to be effective if I let "Christ in me" overcome the power of hatred, and prejudice, and heal the wounds of racism by showing His love, and His grace through me. That's it, the simple Gospel. Am I, in all my whiteness, inadequate to bridge the racial divide and make meaningful relationships with others? Yes, thankfully, I am!