My Fitness

Thursday, August 9, 2012

somebody's hero

I have thoroughly enjoyed going to church recently.

We've been going through a six-week long sermon series about Heroes. From the very first sermon I could only think of one person, Jennifer Erwin. And I hope she doesn't mind me sharing with all 3 of my readers why.

The first sermon was on John the Baptizer (also known as John the Baptist, but I would hate for people to think he was a member of some popular denomination of the same name). The points were made that he was created rather uniquely. If you're unfamiliar with his story, he was born to a barren, post-menopaus woman and he was filled with the Spirit of God since the womb. Rather unique! He was given a unique purpose to go be the forerunner (the person who came before Christ) of Jesus to prepare people of the day for Jesus' coming.

The pastor took this moment to remind each of us that we are all uniquely created and we all have a divine purpose on our lives.

Think about that.

God created you. He didn't just let you happen. He knew that he wanted you to be born and so he used your parents activities to let you be conceived. He shaped you and molded you. He didn't just let science take over. He used science and he used the natural order of things to bring you into this world. He wanted you to be born.

Why do any of us exist? Why did John exist? He was to prepare people for Jesus. He was to draw them in. He was to leave this place better off than when he entered it. That is all of our purposes. We need to leave things in better shape than what we found them in.

And that's what Jennifer is doing. And that's why Jennifer is my hero.

Hero: ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They inspire us. They believe in their calling.

In Ephesians 2:10, the Bible says, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." We are created for good works. God prepared us to do those good deeds. We are not defined by our good deeds. Rather because we find our definition in Christ, we are compelled to do good deeds.

Our preacher went on to point out that John the Baptizer was called. He had a very specific calling on his life. Because he was called to be the forerunner, he was qualified and divinely equipped to fulfill that calling.

Jesus said that no one was ever greater than John right before John died, but he said for all those entering the kingdom of heaven, John would be the least. If John was so great, and I am in the kingdom of heaven then I am great. But what is that greatness for? It is for those good deeds God has prepared me for.

Salvation is for more than just having sin forgiven. It is to do good works, it is to reach lost people, and it is to change people's lives. We are ministers, those of us who have entered forgiveness. How can I not share the greatest thing that ever happened in my life? I can effect eternity!

How do I do that? Right now my ministry may seem small and unimportant because it is a very small and focussed group: my family. My children and my husband. I may not be their hero, but I will hopefully be able to minister to them so they can find their True Hero in Christ.

How does Jennifer do that? Well, you don't know Jennifer. She is a single, godly woman. Age 25. Bachelors in Interdisciplinary Studies working as a middle school teacher in a rather scary ISD. And she loves Russia. She loves the Russian people. She loves them so much that despite being rather ordinary she is attempting the extraordinary. She is going to adopt a couple of boys from Russia in the face of opposition of many who mean well.

Jennifer is the very definition of hero. She is ordinary. If you were to meet her, you might not actually think "how ordinary" you'd probably more likely think "how fun! how happy! how godly!" But she is definitely trying the extraordinary. She definitely inspires. I often think, "I want to be able to draw others to Christ the way Jennifer does." And she believes in her calling so much so that she is willing to put the opinions of many well-meaing "mature" Christians on the line. These well-meaning friends have a social stigma against single people adopting. But what they don't realize is that Jennifer's calling is what qualifies her, not a husband. What they don't understand is that the Spirit will equip her, not a wedding band. Besides all that, the Bible very clearly teaches to take care of the orphans. And it never says that single people shouldn't adopt.

Our preacher's last point was that John the Baptizer was consumed. He had one thought, "Glorify Christ." At one point his own disciples even showed concern that everyone was leaving them to follow Jesus instead, and all John said was, "Yes, of course" (paraphrased) because he wanted people to follow Christ.

And that's Jennifer. Jesus Christ consumes Jennifer's thought, mind, and soul. She wants to adopt children just as she was adopted into Jesus' family. She wants to save those children physically so she can hopefully point them to Christ so he can save them spiritually.

That was Sunday 1. Remember there are 6 of these sermons. But I am only going through 3 here.

Sunday 2: Noah was crazy.
Remember that a hero is an ordinary person...and they're crazy. Maybe not clinically.

God called Noah to build an Ark. What's an Ark? Well, Noah didn't even know. It was just going to be this big, huge thing to hold a bunch of animals while it rained...a concept that was new since it had not rained in this fashion ever. Flooding had never taken place in the span from Adam to Noah (which we find out from scientific archaeological evidence is true). So Noah is probably thinking, "Um, ok..? Big boat? Here goes nothing." And that's Jennifer too. When you meet her, you'll think "how lovely! and crazy!"

And quite frankly, it is crazy to try to adopt children and raise them when you have no help.

"Crazy" is the term people use to describe people filled with faith. Even Jesus was called crazy. When there's a calling on your life, you're going to look crazy. Don't let the scrutiny of the uninformed majority deter you from the will of God.

One point of this message that I really needed to hear was about God closing doors. We've heard is said, "When God closes a door, he opens a window." And personally, I've not found that to be true. But what Noah demonstrates, and I can confirm retrospectively, is that when God closes a door, it's to keep you, and me, from drowning.

Whatever God calls you to do will seem bigger than creating an ark. But also, whatever you give up will pale in comparison to what God gives. You may not know where God is moving you, but if you start to move, God will guide. As an old proverb says, "It's easier to steer a moving ship."

What if God has not given you a blueprint? Which is what I was thinking through the entire sermon. I don't feel there is anything crazy in my life so I eagerly waited the answer. "Find someone who does have blueprints and help them."

Jennifer has blueprints. That day was confirmation (not that I needed any) that I needed to help Jennifer. I don't know how. I don't have money. I don't have space or much of anything. But what I do have I offered to her. If she's single, then she will most likely need to send her kids to school. But I offered her the option to let me teach them alongside my own children. That's my small way I can help. Plus I can pray and be a friend.

End of Sunday 2..

Sunday 3: Nehemiah, Rebuilder of the Broken.

Can you think of a better title for what Jennifer is attempting? She wants to rebuild those broken children! If you don't think they are broken, go read a bit about Russian statistics on orphaned Russians.

Heroes actions change lives without consideration to the personal risk.

Can you think of a better description of Jennifer? She's changing the lives of children who would end up dead or worse without considering that she might not be desired by many men because she decided to take children into her home. She's had to break off relationships because of this desire. She might be considered foolish for "losing" a man over these children who aren't even her own yet.

But remember, she's called...and she's crazy. And she's consumed. She's consumed with God and she can't turn her back on those children because God never turned his back on her.

To be like you know Nehemiah? He was a cupbearer for the King of Babylon when Jerusalem was broken and destroyed. He then lead a great rescue and rebuilt Jerusalem with the blessing and help of the Babylonian King.

So to be like Nehemiah, he first asked, "How are they?" How was Jerusalem? Not well. How are the Russian children? Not well. He then had faith to urge a response and ask the King for leave, which he gave along with protection and equipment to rebuild Jerusalem. And Jesus is giving Jennifer all the leave, protection and equipment she needs to rebuild the children of Russia. Finally, Nehemiah has faithfulness even when others tried to harm him and when he met resistance he did not turn to complacency. Jennifer has met more than her share of resistance and it's inspiring to see her resolve and unwavering faithfulness to God in this endeavor.

Sunday 4: Ruth, it's more about the journey than you think

A hero is an ordinary person doing extraordinary things and is a man or woman admired for achievements and qualities.

The one main point from this sermon that made me think of Jennifer was her similar trait to Ruth...they were/are both bull-headed! Ruth refused to accept no from Naomi and Jennifer refuses to accept no from her circumstances. They both know that God has called them and they are both pursuing God and allowing him to direct their paths.

But, I said only 3 days. So I must stop. I will end with this:

It is more about the journey than you think. Abraham was going to kill his son when God asked him to sacrifice him. God didn't let Abraham kill his son, but the sacrifice was still made in his heart. Abraham took that journey and sacrificed his son metaphorically and allowed God to have complete control of his life. This then allowed Abraham to be called the Father of many. Jews, Christians, and even Muslims. All because Abraham took a journey with God.

Now God has not forgotten Jennifer. While Jennifer had to sacrifice relationships to pursue what God has called her to do, God has something better in store for Jennifer.

Just when things seem to be lining up for Jennifer to take this giant leap of faith in her adoption process, God throws her a curve ball to challenge her acceptance of his will. Are those Russian children an idol in her life? If God suddenly said, "wait a minute, I want you to do something else first," would she listen? What if all this time on Jennifer's journey, God's been preparing her for someone special? What if all these trials and triumphs have been sanctifying her for Jeremy?

Who is Jeremy? I can't tell you that, yet, because I don't know. But one day (I hope) I will be able to tell you that he's her husband. And on another day (I hope) I'll be able to tell you that they just adopted a couple of kids from Russia together. And on any day (I know) I will tell you that they are both children of God in pursuit of Him and His will. And every day (I know) I can tell you that Jennifer is my hero.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Felipe is better than the TARDIS

...and the Doctor for that matter. Of course, my opinion may be a bit biased! I watch a lot of Dr Who and I was imagining how I might react if a man showed up to take me away in a blue box that was bigger on the inside. I just wouldn't care. I have all that I want right here.

So then I had to pretend that I didn't have Felipe and the kids. Where would I want to go? I can think of very few times and places in history worth visiting. First on my list would be the birth of Jesus. I want to see those angels singing and possibly help deliver my Savior...too cool to think about. Then I would want to visit him as an adult and ask him a bunch of questions. Then I'd go to 1983 and visit baby me...oh wait, that's not allowed. Well, I would visit young Mom and Dad and encourage them to buy into Apple stock...lots of Apple stock. and then?

But if given the choice between the secrets of the universe and sharing a life with Felipe, I'd choose Felipe every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

I really appreciate my husband. I came across this admonition earlier:
Some women take their husband's career for granted, and they show it in many ways. Do you "dump" on your husband at the end of the workday, or do you strengthen and encourage him with your words? A wise wife will make her husband feel that she values and appreciates his work. Let him know that you are glad he is a hard worker. Take opportunities to praise his diligence and resourcefulness to others. 

I'm not sure what that second sentence means. So I'm going to ignore it. I try to strengthen and encourage my husband with my words both to his face and in speaking about him to others. Felipe, if you read this, I very much value and appreciate that you work to feed and clothe this small family of ours. I am daily impressed by your diligence and self-sacrificing lifestyle you've embraced in the name of God to care for what He's given you - your wife and children.

It's a silly comparison, Felipe and the Doctor, real and fiction. But a fun one for a silly blog! Just like Rose Tyler loves her Doctor, I love my Felipe. Again, she's fictional, but I don't fault her for loving him. I don't want any other woman loving my man, after all!

If Felipe were a Time Lord, I think his name would be The Comforter because of how comforting and loving he is. He always makes people feel better. If I were a Time Lord, I think my name would be The Supporter because I like to think of myself as supporting others to fulfill what their calling is. What would your name be? Maybe it's silly, but it's fun!
Felipe and Micah discovering that it doesn't take much to get hired at Kroger's. "mutch"? really?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Felipe is so nice :)

Love is patient and kind; 
(1 Corinthians 13:4 ESV)

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:19 ESV)

Felipe loves me so much. He was at work just now and texted me to see if he could go to the store for me. I need sponges. So he offered to pick them up for me and he gave me the choice to either let him just get it on his way home or let me get out of the house and do it after he got home. He really is very kind to give me the choice. 

Felipe is so kind. 

God is kind too. kind [adj]: Having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature. 
God is friendly You are my friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:14 ESV), and Felipe is my best friend. God is generous in giving his own life to save mine (and everyone else's too). Felipe is generous. I'm reminded of him letting me buy supplies worth over $100 to make baby Mei Tais that are selling very slowly. But he still encourages me and is very generous in his praise of me. I know I don't deserve him or his praise. God is considerate in his thoughts toward me. Oh how he loves me! The proof is in his gift of Felipe to me. Felipe is considerate. He considers me in his decisions. He considers my needs and desires. And he's always asking how he can better serve me. He's a good husband.

God is Felipe's example. Felipe sacrifices his life on a daily basis. He puts aside his own desires to sit around doing nothing and considers his family. He takes care of us. He works hard at a stressful job so we can eat, drink, and be merry! 

I am constantly reminded of God when I think of Felipe. His love is true and overwhelming. What a great life!

Caleb as Batman...has nothing to do with the post.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Felipe is such an encouragement

through love serve one another.
(Galatians 5:13 ESV)

I have never heard of a person meeting my husband and not liking him right away. There's something about my husband that everyone seems to be drawn toward. I believe it is his loving disposition. He can't help but love everyone. 

Because of his salvation story happening later (I mean, he was still young, so not that late in life), he feels the weight of grace more so than many of us who started our Christ-fearing life at a very young age. Realizing what grace has been extended to him and feeling the love of God on his life fills him with love for God which overflows to love for others. 

He leads through love. He is not judgmental. He goes past people's sins and loves as God loves. When I first met him and heard that he had only been a Christian for a couple of years I was surprised because of how much he had already taught me about the love of Christ. I really didn't think that someone who was so spiritually young would have much to offer me who had been a Christian for a couple of decades already.

By his example he taught me that loving others is more important than any theological position or argument. Loving is deeper and more godly than knowing hermeneutics on eschatology or TULIP or any other "Christian-ese" doctrine. After all, what has been consistently and constantly shown to me by those closest to me is that knowledge fills people with pride and makes them look down on others but love builds each other up. By loving I make you feel better and I make me feel better. Knowledge doesn't do that. 
This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. (1 Corinthians 8:1 ESV)

My husband is very knowledgable too though. But his foundation is love. He teaches me a lot. More than most "mature" Christians I know. 

But I digress. All this wasn't even what I intended to write about today.

What I wanted to write about was how loving and encouraging my husband is TO ME. He equips me to be all that God wants me to be.

Specifically, he insisted that I go to yoga tonight. I've been missing due to sickness, pulled muscles, and  car sharing difficulties. I was feeling lazy and didn't want to go but Felipe equipped me by getting home early so I could get there early. And once I was there, I felt great. It was good to use my muscles again.

My husband loves me enough to not let me be lazy. My husband loves me enough to equip me to be more loving and generally a better person than I would be on my own. I am a better person because of him.

I have said before that my husband and I have "true love" but that love is not between us. The love that is between us is an overflow of that true love we have each found with our Savior God. God loves us. Because he loves us, we are even capable of loving him back. God is our foundation and our marriage is built on it.

My husband loves me.
I hope its okay that I put a pic of him sleeping...look how Caleb loves his dada!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Felipe is a Gift from God

The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
(Proverbs 31:11-12 ESV)

Felipe has a very stressful job. It's a good job. We praise God that he even has a job. I'm so grateful that God has given me a husband who is not afraid to work hard, who doesn't slack off, who takes his responsibility of husband and father seriously, and who is loving and kind on top of it all. I just wish there was some way that I could help him with his stress.

So we were lying in bed and he was just exhausted. I had a baby in my arms and was telling my husband how much I love and appreciate him. He is such a good man. I reached over and stroked his hair. And he says, "You are so comforting. Just having you touch me relieves so much of my stress." So while I'm lying there thinking about how I can help I was actually already helping. 

I'm so grateful I'm his wife. I really lucked out.