Sunday, July 21, 2013

All In.

Home again!  The National Vineyard Leaders Conference was basically amazing awesomeness wrapped up in wonderfulness.
Best.Time.Ever.  I loved every second of it.  

Truth be told, I was a bit nervous heading into this conference.  I may, or may not have shed a few tears over it in nervous anticipation.  Ha!  I wanted Jed to be the one to represent us, but he had to work, so he sent me instead.  He's the "connector extraordinaire".  I'm usually too busy herding kids to do much connecting.  But, God definitely had a plan for me this week.  I'm still reeling in the wonder of it all.

This is an absolutely amazing time to be a part of the Vineyard family.  God is calling the Vineyard out in the areas of justice, mercy, and compassion like never before. 

"If we're Kingdom people- believing that God's kingdom is coming to earth right here and now- than we should be the frontrunners in justice, mercy, and compassion ministries"  
-Tri Robinson

YES!!!  Oh man, I loved it when I heard those words spoken.  To see a room jam packed with Vineyard folks wanting to know how their body can better serve the lost and forgotten did my heart good. I won't soon forget it.  

The theme of the conference was "All In".  "All In" has two meanings.  One meaning is that all ages are "All In".  All are needed for God's full purposes to be accomplished.  We don't just need the young- forgetting about the wisdom of the old.  We don't just need the older- forgetting about the energy of the young.  No.  ALL are needed in this movement.  We honor what each age can bring to the table.  Everyone gets to play.  

The second meaning of "All In", is that we are ALL IN.  Not just dipping our toes in the things of God, not just testing the waters. 
No.  We are ALL IN.   

"We believe that if the pursuit if the Kingdom of God is worth anything, it's worth everything."  
-Phil Strout (National Director, Vineyard USA)

He is worth everything.  EVERYTHING.  
Why not?  
What have we got to lose?  

One speaker that I loved was talking about the fear of the Lord.  He said that what we fear most is what we love most, what we want most in life.  We should fear losing sight of Jesus more than anything else.  More than fear of failure, fear of change, fear of losing my kids, fear of giving everything up...we should fear the Lord above all else.  

We're giving up just about everything to move to Ukraine.  We're all in.  But what do I fear?  I find myself fearing how my kids will do.  I find myself wondering if our kids will hate us for this decision.  I find myself fearing failure.  But, why?   If my kids are perfectly safe and comfy, but I have lost sight of Jesus, than it's all for not.  We must step outside of our coziness, our need for safety and control and fall into His arms.  ALL IN.  Fear losing sight of Him over fear of losing control, fear of being unsafe.  Jesus never called us to safety.  He bid us come and die.  Only then will we know true life. Oh boy, I want true life so badly.  I want to be all in- holding nothing back.  What have I got to lose?  If He is my reason for being...why not spend myself for Him?  

All In is saying yes.  Step, by step, by step we say Yes to Him. Comfort, my expectations, safety, all move aside in order that I might keep Him in my sights.  

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it."
Matthew 10:37-39

Will you dive ALL IN with us?  What if you stayed on the same path you're on for the rest of your life?  Would it lead to Him?  What if? What if you said yes to Him today, and the next day, and the next day?  What have you got to lose?  Whatever it is, He is worth it.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

Good Gifts

"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  
He will take great delight in you, 
he will quiet you with his love, 
he will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17

You know that feeling when you're about to surprise your kids with something they really love?  I don't know about you, but when I know I'm about to bring my kids joy I can hardly contain myself.  I get so excited, looking forward to their reaction- the squeals (or screams) of joy, the huge smiles, the knocking-over-with-force hugs.  The fun things in life are that much more fun when I get to watch my kids enjoy them.  I delight in my children.  Greatly.

Yesterday I learned that no matter if my kids are small or grown, that delight in watching their joy won't end.  The same with our God.  He delights in us, His kids.  He LOVES bringing us joy and giving us good gifts.

So, I'm here in Anaheim for the National Vineyard Conference.  When my dad heard I was heading to Anaheim for this thing and we would be arriving a couple days early, he asked the burning question, "Are you going to Disneyland?"  Well, if you know me at all you know that I absolutely ADORE Disneyland.  I can't even adequately describe to you my love for all things Disneyland.  I love everything about it.  It's my most favorite place ever.  But, we were just given a trip to Disneyland in March and we're trying to pinch every penny to save for our big move, so I didn't think I could justify spending the money for a day in Disneyland.  My dad, delighting in his grown-up daughter simply replied, "Oh, you're going to Disneyland!"  He said if I could find a way to get there he would pay my way to spend the day.  You should have seen the grin on his face when he saw my joy.  Dad's love giving good gifts to their kids.  

So, the question remained, "how would I get to Disneyland?"  I was coming to the conference with our pastor (Lanny), his wife (Anne), and their two grown daughters (Christen and Abby).  I knew I wouldn't have a car, so I would just have to wait and see if it worked out.  We arrived in Anaheim and realized the little condo we are staying in is literally RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from Disneyland!!!!  Shut the front door!!!  Case closed.  Disneyland was definitely happening on Sunday.  (Plus the wifi password at the condo is "TO DISNEYLAND".  I took that as another sign.)  ;) 

On Saturday night as I prepared for Disney I was super excited, but a tad bummed that I was going by myself.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I could enjoy Disneyland alone- no problem.  But, I did realize it's much more fun to share your joy with someone else.  Annnnddddd the love of parents stepped in again.  Abby, Christen, and I were in the bedroom chatting and Anne walked in and asked the girls "Do you guys want to go to Disneyland with Kim in the morning?"  You should have seen the looks on their faces.  "Ummm OF COURSE!"  Anne let the girls know they would pay for them to go to Disneyland in the morning.  No matter what the age, parents love delighting in their children and giving them good gifts.  (I may, or may not have been jumping on the bed with joy...)

I know you might find it cheesy for me to use Disneyland to talk about the Father God's love for His kids, but if you do, you don't know me well enough, or understand the extent of my love for Disneyland.  :) When we were on Space Mountain I was just laughing- out loud!  I could not believe God gave me that opportunity before we head to Ukraine.  Before heading to Anaheim I actually had quite a bit of nervousness and anxiety about attending the conference.  I felt like "Who am I?  What business do I have attending this conference and chatting with other missions folks?  What makes me think they'll be interested in what we're doing?"  Well, Jed put me in my place about that.  He reminded me again that it's not about us or our abilities.  It's about obedience to The Lord.  All we have to do is say yes and tell our story.  The rest is up to Him!  This has never been about our abilities or lack thereof.  This is about what God is doing and His ability. 

When I was on Space Mountain I felt like God was saying, "Look at what I've given you today!  I am taking care of every single detail.  I love you and I love delighting in you and watching you laugh.  I delight just as much in my children in Ukraine in their cribs.  I'm their Father and I want to give them good gifts.  You don't worry.  No one will stand in my way.  I'm gonna give my babies good gifts and delight over them with singing- and I'm going to love every minute of it.  The joy you feel right now is just a glimpse of the joy that's on its way." Oh my word.  It brought me to tears.  I don't care how cheesy it sounds, God spoke to me on Space Mountain in a big way and I won't be the same.  

Today, wherever you are, whatever you're doing, know that YOUR Father in heaven delights in you.  He loves you.  He rejoices over you with singing.  Maybe things are rough for you.  Maybe you feel like you have nothing to be joyful about.  Maybe you think "Easy for you to say, Kim.  You don't know hardship!"  Maybe I don't know your hardship.  Maybe I've never experienced the pain you've experienced, but I've experienced the delight of the Father- and He is your Father too.   I know His Word is true.  If He can bring joy and delight to children wasting away in cribs, and He promises to do that, He can bring joy and delight to you.  Fix your eyes on Him and allow Him to father you.  This is not about your ability.  This is about God's ability and His great, never-stopping, overflowing, abounding love for you.  I see Him with a big ol' grin on His face.  That grin is for you just as much as it's for me.  

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." 
James 1:17

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The New Digs

We have some pretty fantastic news to share!

We know where we get to live in Zhitomir!!!!!  THIS IS HUGE!!!!

When we were in Zhitomir in May we stayed in a house that we talked about in this post.  Let me jog your memory.  We stayed in a house that is owned by a Ukrainian who lives in Israel. The house was renovated to be used as a small guest-house, or hostel for people who are coming to serve Mission to Ukraine (MTU), like mission teams, and people like us!  The house has 4 bedrooms and is literally like a 4 minute walk away from MTU.  People can rent the house out by the night, or just rent a room.  We loved staying there, and while we were house-hunting my smarty pants Mother-in-Law suggested we ask if we could rent that house for a year while we're living in Zhitomir.  Duh!  Great idea!  So, we asked Ira, the director of MTU if she would talk with the owner about us renting.  Ira, being the wise one that she is, was already a step ahead of us.  She had a feeling we would like the house so she had already contacted the owner.  :)  Well, we found out just a few days ago that the owner said yes!  Thank you Jesus!!! AND, he's renting it to us for well within our budget.  THANK YOU JESUS!  God is so good to us.  

It would have been so super smart of me to take pictures of the house while we were there, you know, in case the owner said yes...but of course I didn't.  We thought it was such a slim chance we would be living there- kind of like a pipe dream, I guess I just didn't think of it.  Lame.  Oh me of little faith, right?  So instead I guess I'll try to describe it to you.

The house isn't it's own free-standing structure, it's kind of connected/a part of a big building that I *think* is other houses.  You walk around the back of the building, along a pathway of 2x4's covering rubble, and our entrance is there in the back.  There's an un-used shed back there...hmmm, not sure if that comes with the house or not.  

When you walk in it's a pretty nice open space.  To the right is a dining room table and the kitchen.  The kitchen is one counter with sink, a little counter space, stove, and fridge.  What I love is that the kitchen is open to the dining area and entryway!  Most of the other kitchens I saw were a small separate room.  Having the kitchen in an open space will help us tremendously with homeschooling, and with just the fact that we have 4 kids.  :) To the left of the entrance is a bathroom with a tub, shower, and clothes washing machine (ooooooh so teeny tiny! Haha!).  Right next to the bathroom is a bedroom.  The house has no living room, so we'll turn that bedroom into a living room.  And then directly in front of you when you enter the house is the staircase leading upstairs. 

Upstairs is so great!  You walk up the stairs to an open hallway.  There are 2 bedrooms to the right and then on the left is a bigger bedroom with a shower in it.  Also on the left is a small bathroom with just a toilet.  Straight at the end of the hallway is an enclosed balcony where we will hang our laundry to dry.  We're thinking our kids will all share a room, like they do now, and we'll use that third bedroom upstairs as a guest room (hint hint)/Wide Awake International office space.  

Quirky things of note:
-The kitchen cupboards are made of bright purple metal.  Yesssssssss
-The stairs in the house are hazardous.  We're taking bets now on who's going to be the first Johnson to take a tumble down the ol' stairs.  They're like just a little too short for your feet, so you have to turn your feet sideways to walk down them.  They're also slippery, shiny wood.  This should be interesting...
-There is a drying rack for the dishes in a cupboard right above the sink.  So smart, right? 
-There are no closets in the bedrooms.  There are wardrobe thingies.  Addy is pretty excited about having a wardrobe.  Can you guess what book she's been reading?

Amazing things of note:
-It's a hop, skip, and a jump from MTU.
-It's like a 10-15 minute walk to the city center of Zhitomir where there are fun things to see, nice places to walk, and easy access to bus lines.  
-It's ground level; as in, it's not a flat 9-stories up.  YAY!  
-It's clean.
-It's furnished!  We were anticipating having to buy everything needed for a home when we arrived in Ukraine.  Now we can slowly accumulate the things we'll need for a future place over time.  The kitchen is stocked with the necessities for cooking, there are beds, linens, towels.  All we'll need to buy at the beginning is the fixin's to make the downstairs bedroom into a living room.  Easy peasy.  

What a huge answer to prayer.  This is just another way that God is laying out the path before us.  What a blessing that I can picture where we'll be living.  We can describe it to our kids.  We won't have to take a bus to MTU.  I could go on and on.  We are just so extremely thankful to the Lord.  He is too stinkin' good!!!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Something's stirring. 

We only have one chance at this thing called life.

We have one chance to live- truly LIVE.

The things of this world will pass away.

What if we gave our lives away?  What if we stopped grasping for what our society, our neighbors, our friends, even our family tells us is important?  

What if we gave our lives away- all the way? 

What if we spent our lives completely on Him?

It's His breath in our lungs- there for purpose- to live this life for Him alone.
"For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it."
-Luke 9:24

There's something new stirring in me.  Something more radical than before.  What do I hold on to that doesn't really matter? What do I worry about for my kids that is of no eternal importance?  

I want to live radically for Him.  I want to give my whole life away- holding nothing back.  
Why would we not?  That's what we were created for! 

My world is turning upside down again and I'm not sure what that means, but I'm pretty sure it needed to happen.  

He is worth it.  He is worth giving our lives away.  He is why we were created.  He is why.