Saturday, March 30, 2013

Because of.

I used to feel as if God doesn't answer or walk with people through things sometimes. If I didn't see someone experiencing deliverance in a tough situation, I sort of assumed He wasn't involved much. But thanks to Miss Beth I have been understanding a lot more lately about how God delivers. In any situation, there are 3 likely scenarios:
1. God may deliver us FROM it
2. God can deliver us IN it.
3. He can deliver us THROUGH it.

Say I get cancer. He can deliver me FROM it with healing me completely. IN it by healing me over time with chemo and radiation and doctors. Or THROUGH it by welcoming me with open arms into my new home and body. In all scenarios, He's delivered me. (BTW.....I believe there are countless times we're delivered FROM things and never even know what He's spared us from!)

Take Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When Darias ordered them thrown into the fire, God could've easily stopped any part of the operation and delivered them completely from the flames altogether. But He didn't. Instead, they were thrown in and survived, coming out without so much as a scratch. I've often wondered if they were to come out unharmed why they had to go INto the fire.

Taking another look at it, I see that during their time in the fire, they had a protector join them and walk among the flames with them. Many historians believe that this could indeed be a pre-incarnate Jesus Himself. And when they emerged, scripture says not a hair on their heads was singed, but the bonds that had once been around their hands and feet were turned to ash. Yes. BECAUSE of the fire.

So, you see, when we and up having to walk IN the middle of a trial, it may be a whole lot better of a scenario than we imagined. We just may get to walk side by side with Jesus, have some bondage burned right off in the process, and remove from the fire unscathed.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

That dreaded word.

It leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It causes the most pleasant of people to become short and snappy. It can be the factor between two very similar people that causes one of them to be extremely wise and effective. The world doesn't understand it. The church has lost their knowledge of what it means. Our culture has deleted it from it's vocabulary.
Ick. It lingers unpleasantly, doesn't it? I've been hating the fact that this word is popping into every devotional I pick up, every message a pastor speaks, every book I'm reading, most of my conversations, and even a majority of the songs that come on the radio. I clearly see that The Lord is commanding it of me, but I've been grumbling all the same.

I boldly asked Jesus the other day why I must wait any longer. And then? I logged onto my Bible and this was waiting for ME:

Monday, March 25, 2013

The one about Dance.

Since my earliest memories, I've always loved the art of dance. I find it deeply moving and beautiful. My grandmother used to take me to the ballet, and for years I'd fall asleep every night listening to The Nutcracker while playing all the scenes in my head. Pretending to be Clara. However, I've spent most of my life overweight and sitting at a piano. Dance was one of those things I would admire and long for from afar as I pounded out Beethoven's fifth.

Recently, a renewed or re-discovered passion for dancing has been a huge part of my life. I'm not sure if it has to do with instructing Zumba or not, but I have longed almost more than ever to be a dancer. To study and learn the art. Modern. Ballet. Even ballroom. And for the first time since being very young, I have finally become fit enough for this to be possible.

Last week, I was feeling particularly down about wanting to take classes but having a lack of time and finances. I was venting about this to Jesus, knowing He understands my emotions more than even I. I told Him my heart hurt because I just wanted this so badly.

The next day, as I was leaving the gym, a lady who's in Zumba with me caught me in the parking lot. She told me "I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoy watching you dance during Zumba. When you free-style, you have such rhythm & natural movement. And you love it. I don't know what dance background you have but it's beautiful." I couldn't believe what she was saying. I had to choke back tears as I realized that Jesus was showing me that in His way-not mine-He's always answering my prayers. Just because it doesn't look a certain way doesn't mean He's not doing something incredible. Or caring about what matters to us. We just need to stop insisting that it all look as we want and see how much better He paints it to be. Open eyes. Open heart. Look.

Monday, March 18, 2013

My name is Elisabeth.

One of the small groups I'm in is reading an amazing book called Godspeed. Last week's chapter spoke a great deal about how we so often stigmatize people. In our mind, We place them in a particular group of people. This agitates me to no end. And I think the church does this almost more than the world sometimes.

My friend Kate's family recently spent a year in Kenya working with Agape. She says she's now in the "missionary" category. When she runs into someone she knows, she doesn't get asked questions any other 17 year old would. Most of the time the response is "Hey, you're that chick who was in Kenya. So how's Africa? That's what you do, right?" No. She doesn't do that. She's a teenager who works and plays and loves and is looking at college. But people don't ask her about that.

I too often don't feel "known." When people approach me, they constantly say "Liz the clown! How's the clowning world?" Or "Hey. You still teachin' Zumba?" And there's always "So, got another trip planned to Disney?" While I do love these things, they aren't me. They aren't my deepest passions. They don't make up some of my largest enjoyments, desires, & talents. But it's not too often others take any time to learn about the rest. So in their minds I am a clown. A fitness nut who spends all my time at the gym. Or a Disney freak who talks about the parks all day. Okay. Maybe that last one's happened. But still........I'm much more than the categories people often place me in. Those things always get tacked onto my name as if they're part of my identity. But I'm not those things. My name is Elisabeth.

We don't take time to get to know some of the other things that may be important to someone. We simply see something about them and place them in a category. Let's take more time to listen to each other's lives.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Midnight half-awake thoughts.

An imperfect girl.
Loved by a perfect God.
Saved. Remade. Debts payed.
I want all to know Him.
I'll travel the world to show them.
The widow shamed in the east.
The hungry African who's diseased.
They are very deeply loved.
God sees no other above.
The enslaved. The poor. The hungry. They have no food, no clothes or money. The homeless American ignored by all.
He hasn't had a job since last fall.
Who will give them food to eat?
Who will stoop to wash their feet
I don't deserve to represent you,
But if not me going, how and who?
Here I am.
Send me.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Thought of the day.

This is an important lesson that I've learned but struggle to follow:

Whether we're talking physically or spiritually: healthy, confident, secure people don't get that way by accident. No. They fight and work hard for it. And health is such a rare thing these days, that when people see it they are drawn to it and desire it around their lives. When you fight with everything in you and become healthy, you will notice that suddenly everyone seems to want a piece of you, your time, your wisdom. And unless you're diligent and learn to say "no" sometimes and keep boundaries, you will slip out of being healthy before you know it.

Be very careful.
Be very wise.
If you've worked hard, protect it.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The short of it.

I don't believe anyone thinks that someday they'll end up halfway across the world living a highly unconventional life. Growing up, I tried so hard to just do what everybody else around me did. Find a job. Work my behind off. Stay away from debt. Be smart. Be simple. I was "normal". I poured myself into mentoring high schoolers at my church. I became assistant director of the theater department at a local high school. I got involved in Zumba at a gym, I lost 80 pounds and became an instructor.

Then God reached down and took hold of me. He radically shook up my life. He gave me an unusual joy. A spirit of youthfulness and wonder. A sense of humor. And a mind that thinks out of the box. And He did all this when I was 28 years of age. I became a completely different person.

As these changes occurred, my desires and personality completely transformed. Or maybe they were just finally beginning to show. Either way, a new person in the old life I once had wasn't working out so well. I tried to ignore this for as long as I could; until one day I found myself leaving a meeting at work in which I was being promoted and crying the whole way home. There was no logical reason for it; I was finally becoming successful in my job. But something just wouldn't settle within my spirit.

I wrestled that night with The Lord. I felt something wasn't right. And He clearly showed me that He's been preparing me for years for what was about to happen and then revealed to me what it is He had planned. And I knew right away that I would end up living in Africa. That moment life as I knew it changed.

Within a week I was asked by my church to go on a short-term trip to South Africa. (Without them even knowing what had happened!) I looked at this as the perfect opportunity to try things out. Sure enough, by the time we were there for 24 hours, my heart had leapt out of my chest and into the hands of Africa herself. The people. The culture. The land. The music. The animals. I lost my heart to her the day I arrived and she'll hold onto it for eternity. I didn't even want to come back home. And as soon as I did, I began speaking with and searching out various organizations to work with. It happens that my parents have been supporters of Agape Children's Ministries for years- a modesto based organization bringing the hope of Jesus to the street kids of Kenya since 1993. I know some of their missionaries. So I began a dialogue with them. Within 2 days of chatting, everybody felt I could possibly be a great fit for Agape.

So here I am. A normal, youthful girl involved in normal things, ready and willing to give up normal for a life of sharing the hope of Jesus in Africa. I have been invited to visit Kenya for a month in May. The ministry and I will be checking each other out. If it looks good, the next step is applying for a long-term position in which I'd be going back to Kenya in September for 6 months of language (Swahili) and culture school, and to work I go! Of course, I will be living and working on full support, so everything depends on the raising of finances. But God owns it all, does He not?

Check out to see what they're up to. And to get involved in my adventure with a tax deduction, you can donate on the website or send them a check at:
Agape Children's Ministries
P.O. Box 5062
Modesto, Ca 95352
Just type "For the ministry of Elisabeth Netjes" in memo line.