Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bulgaria Baby!!!

          So everyone is asking if this trip is spur of the moment, everyone except Kenne. That is because Kenne and I have been praying about me going for about 2 months. But neither of us have heard God. Things started to happen to me, like my bank going under and not even having enough money to buy a gallon of milk. Vance's sister has been fighting cancer and I wasn't going to leave her, especially if she was to continue chemo. And Christmas was coming so the flights would be to expensive even if I could find some money. So I laid my desire to go before Christmas at the foot of the throne and left it at God's feet.
          Then we got some money in the bank and I felt like I would rather use it to send Brad to Calvary Chapel Bible College, I always want to support my kids choices. Jan's tumor had shrunk, to where they were possibly going to operate on it soon. And we just made a big move from one apartment to another. And I always wrestle about going to Bulgaria, is it just me wanting to go is it God sending me? I never book a ticket until I know it is Him and not me. So I figured since I hadn't heard Him on the subject, it was me and not Him this time and I resolved myself to the fact that for the first time in 9 years I will not go to Bulgaria this year.
         Then my birthday came.  Every year on my birthday a sweet friend gives me a "message" from God. Sometimes it takes a while for me to understand it, this time it only took less then 24 hours. God had said to not be afraid of making a wrong move, that He is guiding my path and because I am seeking to please Him, whatever I do in His name will be used for His glory. My heart has been in a really good place with God, I will share more about that as I blog this trip. God had told me to do what was in my heart. So as I went to bed I prayed for God to show me what is in my heart to do.
        The next day in the car I asked Vance if he wanted to hear what my message was this year, and he said yes. So before I told him what the message was I told him there have been 3 things in my heart.
1.  Is this Calvary Chapel home for us, should I make the commitment to be a part of this body or keep looking for a church?
2.   I have been thinking about starting a kids club here in the apartment complex, a club where I can be with the kids once or twice a month doing fun stuff and building relationships with them in hopes of sharing God's love outside the walls of a church building.
3.  I was still longing to return to the land that I love, Bulgaria.
        So I read the message to Vance and said to him what do you get out of this? And he said to me "What do YOU get out of this?"  Well it is time to commit to this body, I have heard God talk to me there, I have felt his spirit move, so Calvary Chapel Westbrook is home for me now, and I should make myself part of the family. Also I need to approach the management here about starting a kids club. I can't even describe the next thing that I felt, it was my words, but it was God's Spirit saying to me I AM GOING TO BULGARIA. Vance says "What, when?"..... I said I think monday, if I can get the ticket at a good price, I am going monday. Vance says "Good luck getting a ticket at Christmas time for that price.".
         In the next 8 hours, I found a ticket $500.00 cheaper then when we fly in July. As I was checking dates I could hear God tell me go Wednesday. Wowsers, that made it so I would be in gone just shy of 3 weeks which was the maximum time Vance would endure me being away. But what about Jan, I can't leave her, she needs me. 30 minutes later she called to say she is not having surgery. It was like I already knew that deep down from the moment I heard I was going. Me being me, struggled with booking that ticket on faith alone, (Vance said just do it God is gonna give you a place to stay) I needed to know I had a place to stay. I received an email only a few hours later that I had a place to stay.
        I jumped, I laughed, I screamed,  I hugged my sweet supportive husband so tight, and cried. Because I thought when I left Bulgaria the last time that I would be back soon to stay a year, and instead I was moved to the foul-brown city named Bakersfield. I thought when I moved to Bakersfield I would never see Bulgaria again. That it was only for a season, and I could accept that except I didn't get to say goodbye to those I love so much. I have been crying all day, when I think of the moment I see Bistra, and Raisi. At the thought of laughing and joking with Gencho and Georgie. At the thought of sweet moments of hospitality with Nikki and Tvseta, Kali and Viki. The moment I will see my bulgarian birthday twin Iva. At being with Christina when she prays and talking with Vinci, Yoanna and Niki. I know I will weep when I worship in Blagavest with my bulgarian family and when I listen Pastor Ludmil feed my heart from God's word. And when I see all the beautiful little orphan smiles. and when I get to love on the kids in Stolnik. My heart just can't contain it all. Dobie, Eti, Raya, Eli, Nikki, Mila, Mina, Moni, Ani, Tsetska, Stefcho, Ivo, Dani, Miki, Chrissy ....the names and faces go one and one and I love each one.
      haha they will think i am a big cry baby but I don't care, because yesterday morning I wasn't sure I would ever see them again in this life, but tomorrow morning I will board a plane to Bulgaria, and I will treasure every moment there as a beautiful gift that God has given to me. He has blessed me with the desire of my heart, to return to the land and the people I love one more time.

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desire of your heart. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path. Ps. 37:4-5

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Seek opportunities to give - Romans 12:9-13

 I was so blessed this week by a phone call I received from a friend asking for help. The hardest kind of help to ask for, money. In a country where we have so much in abundance, that our homes can not even contain all that we store up,  we in the church can be so blinded to the people around us in financial need. We feel the money we make is for our consumption or for us to stock pile for retirement so we justify not giving to the people we see in need. Oh sure we love to give at Christmas time to the children who need food or clothes. But what about the friend that has to rent a car to go out of town? What about the friend with babies or elderly who needs the AC fixed in the summer? Or the one who can't make the electric bill this month. Or someone called to the mission field who needs the whole ticket paid for. Aren't these needs? How much is to much to give? Consider this devotional from "One Year With God" ......

      "Our spiritual gospel has far-reaching, material implications. It commands us to focus on eternal realities rather than temporary provisions. It calls for an increasing detachment from the things that once griped us. And one of the ways to cultivate such a focus and detachment is by a radical and voluntary meeting of needs.
      The Bible commands us to share. We who have much are to notice those who have little. The implication is not that we will grudgingly give when confronted; the New Testament context implies that we will seek opportunities to give.
      Why is this such an imperative in Christian fellowship? Because our fellowship is meant to reflect Jesus' kingdom. We are to be a taste of heaven on earth. We are to reflect God's glory, and His glory is displayed when He meets our needs. That means our reflection will involve meeting the needs of others. The generous God calls us to be generous. The hospitable God who will welcome us into heaven with open arms calls us to welcome others with the same spirit.
      It is our divine mission, given us by the One who called us to follow Him in every area of our lives. How did Jesus display heaven? He touched and healed, fed and watered, taught and cultivated, forgave and poured out his life. His followers can do no less if we are in fact to be His followers. Share on earth as you will share in heaven. Let the hospitality of heaven define your hospitality here. Let His kingdom be demonstrated in you."

I love that I have friends that know they can call me and let me know their need. I love that I have the reputation of being a giver, wether it is to borrow my vacuum, or borrow my car, wether to ask for money, or ask help. I especially love when God gives me the ability to give when someone hasn't asked, wether it is  a ticket to Bulgaria or a computer for Bible college, or paying the electric bill or giving something to someone instead of selling it to them.

Now that the economy has gotten tighter it will be easy to make even more excuses to not give. But having gone through a year of severe downsizing, and 3 months of living in Bulgaria, I will tell you, if you make some simple changes in your lifestyle you will be able not only to give but to give big. And as hard as it is to be the one giving, it is even harder to be the one receiving. Because in our culture we value self-suffientcy, we expect it from others as well as from ourselves. But the kingdom of God encourages us to be dependent on God and to be dependable for others.

So I challenge you...... 1. Look for opportunities to give 2. Ask God to show you what life changes you could make in order to give more  3. Strive to be that person others know they can depend on 4. Give big and trust God to meet your need.

Friday, September 24, 2010


My word for today is "Marvelous" it means:
1. Exciting wonder or surprise, astonishing, wonderful
2. Partaking of the character of miracle or supernatural power, incredible, so improbable as to defy belief

Revelation 15:3 ..." and they sang the song of Moses, the bondservant of God, and the song of the Lamb saying "Great and MARVELOUS are Your works, O LORD God, the almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of  the nations!"

Gods ways are Marvelous, surprising, miraculous, He loves to surprise us, to do the impossible!

I love my kids birthdays, and I love Christmas. These holidays are like a treasure hunt for me because I am out for the "Wow factor" I always want to surprise them with something awesome that they didn't think they would ever get, or something I know they will love but they themselves have never seen before. I love the anticipation of the delight they will have when the gift is revealed. The eyes get big, the voice gets a little higher, their delight just bubbles over and I feel so happy and content to "Wow" them. We can always tell how much they love it by the amount of "thank you's" we get. It is all they can do to express their gratitude with a hug and a thank you and a wow and another thank you.

I think I inherited this trait from my Heavenly Father. He plans on ways to "Wow" me. He gives me things I didn't expect from Him, like a marriage healthy and whole after being destroyed by addiction. Like 2 healthy babies after years of drug addiction and abortion. Like sending me to Bulgaria year after year and even being able to go as a family. That was a huge MARVELOUS gift to all of us. And lets not forget the "little' things. Like the year we went whale watching and spent hours on the boat and saw nothing, then on our way back in, towards the end of the day, it was as if God said to the angels "watch this" and a bunch of dolphins came up and swam the way back to shore with us. I could just sense the big smile on God's face cause He knew we would all go "WOW". There were times when we didn't know how the bills would get paid, we didn't have money for milk, we didn't know if our wayward child would go head long into self destruction. I have seen friendships restored, family reunited, dark and broken places in my heart healed. And each time I went "WOW' and poured out my "thank you's" to the LORD..... BUT I forget.

I forget in the midst of my need, in the midst of my struggle that God delights to do the impossible. That He loves to surprise me with His MARVELOUS ways, and I fret. What if He won't come through for me, what if I hope for something He won't deliver, what if He wants me to learn a lesson so He makes me suffer with no way out? What I am really saying is "What is God lets me down?" and how silly that sounds to me when I say it out loud.  Because He has done the most MARVELOUS thing of all. He has adopted me into His family and He has made the way for me to be set free from my own selfish nature. He prepares a home for me, that is better then the best this world has to offer.

I don't give my kids everything they want. Sure when birthdays and christmas come I ask them what they want and I take it into consideration, but I don't just go get what they want and say there you go.  Instead I search for those things that do more then give them what they want, I search for those things that bring a sense of celebration to the holiday. Maybe a trip, or  the making of a memory, maybe a gift, or something that they can use to grow as a person, to improve on a talent.  God does not give me everything I want for His own good reasons, but He does do "great things, unfathomable, and wondrous works without number" (Job 9:10) in my life. And it just wants to make me say thank you over and over!

How about you? Has God done MARVELOUS things in your life recently? Are you hoping for what you think is impossible? Hoping for a miracle? Do you believe He can do the impossible but are afraid He will let you down? Do you know that "Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him" do you believe it to be true for you? (1 Corinthians 2:9)

I can see Him now, planning the way He will surprise you, at the moment He reveals His MARVELOUS work, He is saying to the angels "watch this" as He waits for the huge smile on your face, (or the huge sigh of relief) and the many "thank you's" you will say to Him, when He delights your heart with the impossible.

"For nothing is impossible with God" Luke 1:37

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Birthday Month

Both of my kids were born in September, only 2 weeks apart, so this is always a month of celebration and reflection for me. This year my daughter turns 20 and my son 18. From the first time I held each of them I wondered to myself, who is this person inside this tiny body, and what will she/he be like when they are grown. It has been the greatest thing I have done with my life to raise these 2 wonderful people. Both of whom are gifted, talented, caring, generous, and responsible.

Today they left for their first road trip on their own. They picked up some friends and went to the beach. I feel a small sting of being left behind, but mostly I am so happy that they are able to go out and be with friends and find their way in the world without me. After all, I knew all along this time was coming and tried  my best to make sure they were prepared to fly when they got their wings. Something I didn't do so well at their age.

When I was my son's age, I had left been on drugs for 3 years, been married for 1 year and had been out of the house for 2 years. I didn't have hopes for the future. I was just trying to get through another day. I didn't see any value in me and didn't see that I had anything to contribute to this world. I was just running in the cycle of disfunction I had been raised in. But my son, he has a goal, he has a hope, sure he doesn't know what he wants to do with the rest of his life, but he doesn't have to, he has time. He is smart, and funny, and loyal. He has a love of music and a thirst for knowledge and he is always willing to lend a helping hand.

By the time I was my daughter's age, I had left my husband, moved in with a drug dealer and was raising his 3 kids. The power of addiction was controlling my life and I knew I was killing myself slowly, but was helpless to stop. I was angry with my parents, angry at the world, and didn't see a hope for the future, in fact didn't care if I lived or died. But my daughter she has a job, and friends, and passion to draw, she knows what she wants to do with her life. She is sensitive, and caring, smart and gifted. She has a determination and a strength in her that makes her able to face difficulties head on.

I never knew what it was like to go spend the day at the beach with friends, just spending time hanging out without a care. I am so happy that life is different for them, it's good. I am thankful to God who reached down and took me into His arms and taught me how to break the chains of dysfunction so the cycle would not be repeated in our home. As I stand here at the finish line, I do have some regrets, some things I wish I had done better. But I love who they are, and I love that by the grace of God they are able to live free from addictions. I love that they care about people, and love the Lord with all their heart. What more could a parent ask for?

Thank you Lord, for the most beautiful journey of my life and for entrusting these 2 beautiful souls to my care. Thank you for changing me, and guiding me and making me into the mother they needed me to be. And now I just can't wait to see what each them will do with the life you have given them. Amen

Saturday, September 11, 2010

If I were a cartoon, this is who I would be!

Barbara Ann "Babs" Bunny (voiced by Tress MacNeille) is the lavender pink female rabbit. She is a clown who will do nearly anything for a laugh. She is good at improvisational comedy, and is a comedic impressionist in the vein of Robin Williams. .......... In "Born To Be Riled", her friends become annoyed with her accurate but unflattering impersonations of them and they retaliate by impersonating her in turn. Like Buster, Babs is usually willing to go out of her way for her friends, such as when she sabotages a troupe of swan ballet dancers who are trying to thwart Shirley's debut....
 She often does quick costume changes, usually achieved by spinning quickly in a circle. Babs also can speak in a deep, sultry voice, often used to seduce Buster. She distinctly hates being called "Barbara Ann", preferring just "Babs".......
Her catchphrase is "I just can't help myself!" which is endemic to her frequent inability to exercise self-control, ultimately leading to trouble for herself, Buster, and/or anybody else around her......
She is 14 years old and tends to seek adventure, rather than wait for it to be thrust upon her. Babs will often interject in Buster's speeches, usually in a less then flattering way, in order to annoy him. (Taken from Wikipedia)

And there you have it, I love hanging out with teenagers, cause I feel like I am 14 inside and I love a lot of things 14 year olds love. I am always up for an adventure in fact I long for it. I tend to annoy my husband just for fun. (but only if it makes him laugh) I tend to find myself in trouble, for not looking before I leap, I hate being called Barbara, I especially hate being called Barb! My full name is Barbara - Ann, my closest friends call me Babs, You can to if you want! Most people call me Barbi.
I LOVE TO LAUGH, I can definitely be a clown, to the point of getting myself and my companions in trouble, and yes I have been in trouble a few times for doing  impersonations of people, and have since discovered most people take themselves waaaaay to seriously. I have had others do unflattering impressions of me, but really I don't care. I love to dress up and go all out in costumes and I love to be on stage. I don't have many close friends, but the ones I have are closer to me then family. I love them dearly and there is nothing I wouldn't do for them. If fact knowing how difficult it is to love me makes me appreciate them so much more.  If I didn't know better I would think this little bunny was based on me! 

LORD, why can't I hear YOU?

LORD, why can't I hear YOU?
Take off your headphones, God has something to say to you