The only way home

You might wonder, why is she writing so much these days. Well I guess that is what “quarantine” does. Though our government here in Costa Rica has not made it a ‘law’ to stay inside, they highly recommend not going anywhere and stay put. I guess it is the same for many of you.

When you get more time at ‘home’ you get time to ponder, reflect, listen, evaluate and if you are like me, write it down.

I have lived in Central America since 1998. My husband is from Costa Rica, our children were born in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. This is home, but I grew up in The Netherlands. This is home, I could not imagine being anywhere else at this time and still yesterday I realized that within perhaps a few days or weeks, if things keep going the way they are, there might not even be a way to go to my other ‘home’, where I grew up. The place where my parents and sisters live.

Me and my dad spoke years ago that there might be a time when we would not be able to travel to see each other. Alas, here we are, we are living in such a time. Even if I wanted to go see my family and had the money, there still wouldn’t be any way to get there. There would be no way ‘home.

Where is home, what does home mean? 

Again, I was thinking of those in the Second World War. Many had to leave their physical homes to go into a ‘home of hiding’. They didn’t know whether, what they left behind, would be returned. Many understood they were most likely never going to come back home. Those who went into hiding had to create a new home. Filled with unknowns, filled with the fear of being hunted, this ‘enemy’ was coming after them to take from them, their very lives.

So many are faced with fear today. The fear that this enemy (virus) will reach them where they are in the safety of their ‘homes.’ It feels we are in ‘hiding’ in our own ‘home.’

Fear, anxiety and loneliness might be filling some of you as you think about staying ‘home’ for an indefinite period. For a few days we embrace this new normal, but for some of you things are starting to shift and feelings of desperation might start to set in.

Can I offer you another a thought of hope?

I was brought again to the Word of God. It is what I live by, what I hold on to as my foundation for life. It is what sustains me, now more than ever.

Hebrews 13:14-16 New Living Translation (NLT)

14 For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

Oh what a great reminder to me. This world is not my permanent home, the permanent place to depend on. As my personal physical citizenship has changed from one nation to another, I might not have a way back to the ‘home’ I grew up in, but what an incredible thing to be reminded that I can look forward to another kind of home, (city in some versions) even better than this one.

Philippians 3:20-21 New Living Translation (NLT)

20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.

And the book of Galatians reminds of this:

Galatians 2:20 New Living Translation (NLT)

20 My old self has been crucified with Christ.[a] It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Christ now lives in me. My new ‘home’, my citizenship, this place where I find complete rest is in Jesus.

In response I bring a sacrifice of praise to God, even amidst this current situation, I proclaim my allegiance to His Name. I am reminded to do good, to share with those in need.

Do you need rest while home? Do you need that assurance that you will be ok in the midst of the uncertainties?

Jesus is the answer, read His Word.

Just look for an online Bible, download “You Version” if you do not have a physical Bible. 

Write me a comment here if you want prayer and I will pray for you. 

The Cabin of Grace

Being a mom is a full time job, quarantine or staying at home does not change any of that.

We are a family of 5. That makes me a mom of 3 and this mom loves every one of them. I am a woman who leads a ministry with her husband (full time) and is passionate about that, and whose wonderful husband truly is a very sacrificial person and loves serving others. I am a foreigner in the nation I live in, though they have accepted me as one of their own citizens for a few years now. I’ve learned to speak the language, have learned to love this culture, and have “almost” accepted all of the things I can’t change in all these years of living overseas.

I am a foreign national, a world citizen, a woman who was born and grew up in a European nation, served as a missionary in East Africa as a single woman, found love in North America, married the Costa Rican I found there and embraced his nation as my own. My travels have taken me through Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, South America and Australia all for the sake of the person, the Truth I love and want to share with the world – Jesus.

When I first became a mom I also lived in a foreign land, the beautiful nation of Nicaragua. Though my husband is from Costa Rica and knew the culture, I was still learning to adjust to my new life in Central America.

With a little baby on the way, we packed our bags and 6 plastic boxes and waited patiently for Tica Bus (Busline in CA) to take us to our new home. New adventures were around the corner, a new home, a new ministry to be part of, a new family to embrace. So many memories of those first years.

God was with me every step of the way in becoming a mom, provided for every single detail, despite the fact that I never had any of my kids in my homeland (The Netherlands). All three were born in Central America and I have never regretted it. God provided, He gave peace about the decision every time.

Now our oldest is almost 18. I still can’t believe it has been almost 18 years since we lived in Nicaragua and walked into that brand new little hospital in Diriamba. I must have been the only patient that night as I was well taken care of and our little one was the enjoyment of the nurses with her bright blue eyes and puffy thick blond hair.

 

2004 when she was almost 2

Being a mom than was easy, I wasn’t leading a ministry, I only had one little one to take care of, we lived in a small 2 bedroom house and thus easy to keep clean.

Now 18 years in, 3 kids later (ages 17, 15, 10) and leading a full time ministry, being a mom is very different.

Moms are always busy, and it is not because they always want to be, life just happens and there are things to get done.

During this mandatory “stay home” rule from the government I thought; Finally I will get some time to do certain things, but I have yet to find the time to do them.

The first few days I had to come off this mayor energetic sprint in which we had to make sure all things for the ministry were taken care of before I could ‘stay home.’ Once that was done and I finally had my first full day at home, I never sat still for more than 20 minutes.

Woke up, showered, drank coffee, got kids settled with school work, put in a load of laundry, swept the floor, took clothes out of the washer to put them in the dryer, gave my kids a snack, mopped the floor, sat down for a moment only to realize that it was now almost lunch time. So I did that, ate lunch, did the dishes, cleaned up, took the laundry out of the dryer, folded the laundry, cleaned up my desk in my room (which had been a months long project on my list), drank coffee, spend the rest of the afternoon squeezing about 300 lemons, put them in ziplock bags so we can freeze the juice and have vitamin C juice for weeks (maybe)!! Then it was time for dinner again so did that, washed up, and finally around 7:30-8:00pm sat down on my bed ready to ‘rest’.

If you are a mom, you can relate, right? Today is day 5 and I realized moms in quarantine are still moms, still do all that needs to get done, don’t really get to ‘slow down’ or just sit and do nothing as some might think quarantine is.

Life is different, for sure, having kids at home all day is different for me, they are very responsible with their school work, which helps as they are also a little ‘older’. I am so blessed, it gives me the time to get the ‘other’ stuff done, but now I just want to rest.

I write all this to say; it is time to rest! How about you, if you are a mom, are you finding your rest?

If you are like me with so many things going on all the time, how do you find this rest? What can we do to find our new normal but also find deep moments of resting our heart and soul in the Lord.

Friends, this is a new season, none of us were ready for this, none of us were expecting this, but here we are. Here I am and find myself having to re-think how I do things, among the many things I normally do.

Last year the Lord allowed me to build this little Cabin. I call it my Cabin of Grace. When I go there I am entering into this special place with God. It is where I meet with Him, where I talk to Him about the deeper things. Where I receive grace to go through the things I walk through.

The Cabin of Grace

This momma needs some time in her Cabin of Grace this week. There is a gift that rarely gets given and that is the gift of time. Especially as a mom, this is a precios gift that when it is given, you tend to fill it with what needs to get done.

This season we are in right now can be filled with working from home, and trust me I can fill it with many important and good things, but this week I am going to take this gift that so rarely comes, to enter into the rest I believe the Lord wants to give me, but I am quite sure He wants to give it not just to moms, but to all His people.

So when you get a moment this week, I invite you to receive this gift of time and rest…

Rest in the arms of your heavenly Father…

More later on this subject of rest as I enjoy my scheduled visit to the Cabin of Grace this week and the weeks to come….

 

An enemy to humanity

Is it really a virus the one that is a posing an enemy to humanity? Seems that way doesn’t it?

Fear, troubled hearts, worry, uncertainty, anxiety and dread have all become part of so many lives where before perhaps there was none.

Today I was reminded of a group of people that faced these things for several years between 1940-1945. I walked over to my bookshelf and pulled out a very well known book. “The Diary of a Young Girl” – by Anne Frank. 

Remember her story? Remember history? If you don’t, it is time to take advantage of this ‘quarantine’ or ‘stay home’ time, in order to catch up on your reading.IMG_5232

Anne Frank, the Dutch girl whom, together with her family and several others, hid for 2 years in the secret annex behind her dad’s office on the “Prinsengracht” in the heart of Amsterdam.

As I opened the book, browsing and turning the pages, it was as if I was taken back in time. The personal stories of a 13 year old, penned down for the world to read. That wasn’t her plan, but it soon turned out that she herself realized that it could be published one day. Little did she know it would, but she would live to see it.

After reading a few pages I came across this part in which she describes what her people “the Jews” were no longer able to do: forbidden to use trams, ride cars, go to theaters, cinemas or any other form of entertainment, swimming pools, tennis courts or other athletic fields. They were only allowed on the street in the day, but after 8pm they had to be inside. Allowed to shop only between 3-5pm. Many things were now forbidden to them.

Today, all over the world, we are told a lot of “do nots” these days, due to an enemy out there that is coming after us.

Of course there is no way we can compare today with the suffering of the Jewish people during the World War, in which millions lost their lives at the hand of evil, expressed through human beings. That suffering was something we should never ever allow itself to repeat, yet are we paying attention to what is happening in our world today.

While there is a real threat to humanity with a virus that is causing physical casualties and bringing deep fear, worried hearts, anguish and uncertainty, it is also an enemy that is making us realize we have no control over it. Our fear doesn’t help us to control the spread, our worry doesn’t change the pattern of where it decides to go, our troubled hearts don’t cause this enemy to stay away. So what do we do?

How do we face this enemy to humanity? We stop doing things we normally do. We are told we can’t do this and we can’t do that. And we agree, right? We do what we are told, “wash your hands.” We do our best to protect those we love, praying it won’t ‘reach’ or ‘catch’ us. And yet we can not really see where it goes, we just know what it does and how it decides to travel.

Try to catch the wind, how do you do that? It goes where it wants, blows as hard as it wants, unannounced, unexpected.

Mankind has gone through so much, there has been so many enemies, some we rather not talk about or should we?

Today it is not an enemy, in the form of an army, seeking to kill one people group. Today we are faced with an enemy that seeks to take down humanity. Our lives as we know it. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, from this continent or the other. It just goes where it wants. It is disrupting life as we know it.

Don’t go here, don’t go there. Stay put, stay home, stay calm and change the way you clean yourself. If you washed your hands before, wash them again then wash them some more. Stay away from each other, keep a distance.

Not only lives, but the way we do live has changed within a matter of days. Jobs lost, social contact face to face lost (except for online), community lost, perhaps even relationships lost. How do overcome, how do we keep moving in this ‘new normal’? Or is there another enemy we need to be looking at as we try to stay ‘away’ from the one we hear about?

I ask, is it the virus that is the real enemy to humanity?

Hate, evil, anger, slander, gossip, murder, greed, idolatry, lust, power, pride, and probably a whole bunch of other ones, aren’t these a daily threat to mankind, to humanity?

Do we deal with these the same way we deal with this virus, do we look at how evil, anger and hate spreads? Do we try to stop it? Do we change the way we do life to stop evil? To stop murder, to stop greed, to stop pride? Do we?

I ask, is the virus the real enemy to humanity?

Agreed, the virus is a real threat, an enemy that needs to be stopped, before it stops us. But I would like us to remember that there are many deeply rooted issues in us, in mankind, in our lives that spread like wildfire, that cause death, that cause suffering, that cause affliction every day.

What if we worked on that as well? What if we changed our lives, instead of hating, we would love. Instead of greed we would be generous? Instead of pride we would practice humility? Instead of being right, we would ask for forgiveness?

Is that even possible? Yes it is.

There is an answer to those threats. His name is Jesus Christ. He lived his life in full view of man, humble, not self-seeking, full of love, giving up His life, so that we might have life.

We might not be able to stop a virus from affecting our broken lives, but we can stop having broken lives, by allowing Jesus to heal them.

save-image-1

He heals. He restores. He forgives. He raises up. He redeems. He saves.

May we take time, during these days of obligated ‘rest’, to reflect on what really tries to attack who we are, what poses a threat to who we are, what is a true enemy to our humanity. May we find grace and favor to go through these days. May He bring us fresh revelation on who He is, so we know who we are.

We are created by our Creator, one of a kind, unique. Loved by our Creator and anything that goes against how He created us is an enemy to our humanity.

Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life. He is the Word, He is alive. His truth penetrates our lives, our souls, our spirits and the attitudes of our heart.

Let’s allow Him in….

save-image

 

 

My Peace I give to you

We write to you, our friends and family who are just like all of us going through interesting times. Amazing how things can rapidly change and how, what you used to do, all of a sudden goes to the back burner and the concern for your family and those around you becomes top priority.

Here in YWAM San Jose and our immediate family we have experienced a great working together as a ministry and leaders to make all the necessary preparations to face the situation that our world is walking through.

Writing of protocols, walking our community through safety procedures and guidelines of the ministry of health took quite a bit of energy.

At this moment we have suspended all our activities, we stay in our houses or rooms and we have entered into a season of ‘seeking, praying, interceding, worshipping and resting.’

As we released our students to be with their families at this time we were able to close this season with them and God reminded me of these wonderful words of Jesus in John 14:27.

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As I read these words I was reminded of the disciples being somewhat distraught about the fact that Jesus was leaving. They weren’t really ready for that at all, but it was necessary. But like a normal greeting at that time they would wish each other ‘Shalom’, which is more  than just a ‘peace of mind’. True Shalom refers to an inner sense of completeness and wholeness, it has to do with the entire being, not just that you are at ‘ease’. A great article on the subject if you are interested in further study is here https://fullerstudio.fuller.edu/shalom-as-wholeness-embracing-the-broad-biblical-message/

As I shared with our ‘departing’ students, they weren’t expecting their journey to be cut short so abruptly, neither did we. This virus has caused so many ‘unexpected’ moments for so many around the world, but this is exactly what Jesus was leaving with His disciples. The peace that we need in times where things would be difficult, hard, challenging, unexpected. The kind of peace that would settle things in our inner being, a completeness, wholeness that the things that happen around us can not touch or take away.

Not just the work of Jesus on the cross, the inheritance He left us to purchased by his blood but He gives us Himself. He says “MY” peace I give to “YOU”. He gives us Himself. He himself is OUR peace. Not just what He did for us and the gift of salvation brings us peace, but He Himself, His presence within us, through His Holy Spirit, brings us this completeness and wholeness in the midst of chaos.

As a family we are at ‘peace’ about where we are, where we live and what we are doing. We know that God has called us to raise up a generation, right here in Costa Rica, to not just know God, but to walk intimately with this Jesus, who is Himself peace.

Though things around us are challenging, they take our energy, they call for us to trust in His grace, that He gives generously when needed the most, which is now. We are experiencing His grace.

Our kids are experiencing school through a virtual platform, we are experiencing a new way to be a community as we are all ‘separated’, but internet makes it possible to stay ‘connected’. We are calling our leaders and community into a time of deep prayer and seeking God for what is to come. Will you join us?

In the mean time we have progressed in another step with the building and sooner than later we will be able to host hundreds of people yet again to come together to seek His face, to worship ‘together’, but in the mean time we will worship him together while apart. Praise the Lord He is not contained to a building, He lives within us, His people, now that is powerful! A personal God, who has given us Himself, His peace.

In such uncertain times we know we have one certainty and that is that He is Lord, He is seated on the throne and He has not changed. He has not stopped knowing what to do, how to speak to us.

 

The world can not give the way He gives, it can not provide us with the happiness, the way He gives it, neither can the troubles of this world take it away. So receive the gift of peace that Jesus has and listen to his words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Shalom to you and your loved ones

 

 

A life lived by the Spirit

There are many things to do, to attend to, to organize, to take care of, but there is only one place that can provide ‘you’ with what you need, to be ‘you’, to be filled, to find your place…

That is in His presence, in Christ. To be found in Him, to be led by the Spirit. Today set your mind on allowing the Spirit to lead you, fill you, move you…

A life lived and led by the Spirit of God is a life that is alive. Walking in the flesh brings forth things that will die.

Living for God means allowing Him to choose the direction of your every day, your projects. If they are not led by him, they will not have the same outcome.

As Romans so beautifully shows us that the Spirit who lives in us brought about our adoption as sons and daughters. We will live, and not live in fear of anything.

Need an encouraging read today: romans 8 will help you further meditate on living life in the Spirit.

Be blessed…choose to live!

Something to die for

Brochure sent to me in 1995, written by Jeff Pratt

In 1996 I embarked on this adventure with God and it was this photo in the middle of a brochure that drew me into applying for this missionary training course.

Jeff Pratt, the director of the course write so well what J was experiencing in my heart.

“Waiting to be invaded by a fresh, relevant wave of the life that is Christ.”

I was captivated, awestruck by these words written on this page, but even more so, the image that is reflected.

Jesus hanging on the cross. While He was hanging there He had the multitudes in mind. And within that multitude was ME. He thought of ME. He thought of YOU.

I could not help but acknowledge a deep confirmation in my spirit that this was the place I had to be.

It was in the middle of the United States of America, Lindale, Texas. It was a place I had never heard of or ever had been.

As a foreign 19 year old from the Netherlands I set foot on a journey that would change my life forever. I would never be the same, the love of Christ, the life of Christ became my passion, my all and it has not changed after 23 years.

Upon arrival that day in late September 1996 I made a decision that He was going to have it all.

On September 28th, 1996 I wrote God a letter:

“Dear God….

I want to let you know why I am taking this course. I really believe you brought me here with a special reason. To be a missionary was not something I had thought of before until a year ago. I believe it was you that put this into my heart and mind.

I desperately want to know you more, know more about you and know what it is you want me to do with my life.

What I hope is that you will touch me so intensely and speak to me so deeply that it makes my relationship with you more meaningful and that I will know and feel you on my side every day……”

 

A small excerpt from my ‘letter to God’ and how prophetic it was without me understanding that. The prayer was answered. Jesus has become to me more important than any other thing. I have had to fight the darts of the enemy on several occasions in these 23 years, but I have overcome because He in me the hope of glory.

In the world we live in today, 23 years later people are literally laying down their lives almost daily as we watch the news. I pray our hearts of those of us who are in the west truly are embracing the surrendered life to Jesus in a way that He is worthy to be persecuted for.

I pray for the persecuted church, those who are being killed for their faith, churches being attacked almost weekly because of their faith. Lord have mercy, Lord stretch out your hand over their lives, Lord show us the way forward in this generation. You are worthy, You are worth it.

I have given my life in another nation for the past 23 years, there has been absolute hard times, struggles, learning to hold on to the truth of who Jesus is, but He is all worthy.

Today, hold on to the truth of who Jesus is. He is no longer on the cross, He is alive, but when He was there, he thought of YOU.