Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Hopeful Valentine's Day

"Graffiti Valentine" Original art by Ruthie Robbins
Whether you are in love, out of love, wanting love, hating love or perfectly lovely, you are more loved in this moment than you can ever imagine or grasp. Whenever I read the 1Corinthians 13 passage on love I usually compare how I love with God's standard of what love is. I don't measure up. I don't love that way. Sometimes I do, but more often I mess it up.

Love is patient.
Love is kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
Love does not demand its own way.
Love is not irritable.
Love keeps no record of being wronged.

So when I read very familiar passages I try and ask God to show me something new and fresh, not because I am bored, but because I believe that His Word is living and active and able to speak truth to my soul. Friends He does not disappoint. He speaks words of life through His Word and He reveals glimpses of His nature through the words on the page.

Christ is patient.
Christ is kind.
Christ is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
He doesn't want what others have or act all puffed up, even though he has every right to.
Christ does not demand his own way.
He does not make us follow him. He does not make us puppets. We have a choice.
He is not irritable.
Christ does not keep a record of being wronged.
Scripture says He has removed our sin and cast it as far as the east is from the west.
He does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 
He is a champion for the weak. He isn't interested in the most popular idea, only the one that is true.
Christ never gives up.
Hear that again, Christ never gives up. He never gives up on you and He never gives up on me.
Christ never loses faith.
He is always hopeful.
And Christ endures through every circumstance.
He endured the cross and the grave and He will endure with you and with me because He IS Love!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, January 15, 2018

What Does it Mean to be a Christian?

"Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as  a believer, always be ready to explain it." 1Peter 3:15

As the team of leaders I partner with at Hope Church prepares for our Sunday night youth group I ponder the question and a proper response to the question, what does it mean to be a Christian. The answer is not supposed to be a philosophical answer or a 10 page college essay, but a personal response to a real person with serious interest or even mild curiosity. So I got to thinking what would I say, what's my short honest answer?

To me being a Christian means that I believe that there is one God, creator of all life including mine. When I look around me I see a lot of brokenness in the world He made and in my own life. BUT I still have HOPE. I have HOPE that God will set things right. I have HOPE that there is more to life than what I can see. I have HOPE that God keeps all the promises He made in the Bible. And because of Jesus's {who is God's perfect son} life, death and resurrection I trust all of this to be true.

So that is my short version. I can practice it. Memorize it even. I can have it handy. I can remind myself when I am struggling to find hope. I can teach it to my children. I can wear it on my sleeve. I can anchor my life on it. I can be ready to give an answer to whoever might be asking or watching because you see if you believe those things and you HOPE those things then I will bet that your life will look a little curious to a watching world. You will live a little different. You will act a little different. You will HOPE a little different than those around you. And maybe, just maybe someone will ask why.

With love,

Friday, September 22, 2017

Provision: Ziploc bags, Panera Pastries and Tally Marks

The number was 125 and my word is PROVISION. I was so struck by God's exacting provision I took a picture of tally marks and a box of sweets just to capture the point. I didn't want to forget how perfectly He answers prayers even in the little things.

Now that I may have lost you I will fill you in on the details. Chris and I pick up Panera Bread twice a week for our church. This bread goes to local food banks, a homeless shelter, school staff, a home for single moms and lately for children living in hotels in our community. I found out that a man in our church wanted to feed kids that live in the hotels in town. He set an ambitious goal of  feeding at about 125 kids 2 times a week for the whole summer. I offered to share the bread and sweets we get to support this ministry.

 As one of our VBS directors I was a little busy gearing up for that and was just delivery the bread to him. In the midst of this we end up with tons of kids at VBS, several with special needs we were not equipped to meet. I prayed. And I prayed and I prayed. It is all I know how to do other than stress when in great need. I have found praying a better and healthier alternative. Day after day of VBS volunteers walked through the door, not too many, not enough to make us comfortable, but just enough to meet the need. It was a beautiful thing to witness God's provision first hand.

Original abstract art by Ruth E. Robbins "Morning Dew"
VBS and all the cleanup that comes in the aftermath was winding down and Rex, the man with the plan and a food truck left to go out of town for a couple weeks. I offered to continue bringing bread for his group of volunteers who would pack lunch bags rather than cook meals while he was away. You can see where this is going right? God put in on my heart to stay, to play a bigger role. I had the time and I love being in the kitchen cooking and of course I like kids! It was a well suited match. So for the next 2 weeks I brought bread and sweets and helped to lead the folks who came to help. I enjoyed it so much and still had the time because I had not started school back up that I asked Rex now that he was back if he wanted any help. Who would turn down help? This guy didn't and me along with other volunteers came twice a week to prepare food.

Help wasn't the only thing we needed. It is not cheap to feed that many people twice a week all summer. So I asked Rex if it would be alright to ask for help on social media. The morning I made the post I got a call from an old friend that wanted the address to the church so she could send in a donation. I knew from that call God was showing He would provide what we needed. And He did. Within a week we had just over $900 to finish out the summer and have some leftover to feed these kids during the upcoming school holiday breaks.

As if this were not enough God continued to meet exact needs I think just to say to me, "Ruth I care. I am here to meet your needs and the needs of others. Ruth I am your Provision." I heard this loud and clear one morning when my oldest son and I were bagging pastries before taking them to church. Remember the magic number we shoot for is 125. Well that morning as we are bagging, keeping track with tally marks and almost running out of bags, we end up with just enough and exactly 125 pastries.

I stopped what I was doing and almost cried. I prayed a prayer of thanks and went to my computer to start making a list of all the prayers God had answered over the summer.

  • the $900 God provided
  • the exact number needed provided
  • the helpers for VBS
  • renters for our house
  • answers to my health questions
  • a reliable car
  • a consistent word in my prayer life
  • a consistent answer in my life
  • eyes to see it
  • worry turned to praising
  • doubt turned to faith
  • need turned to blessing
So you see even though this list is more than a month old, it is fresh in my mind. I want to remember. God is working on transforming my heart so that what I long for is Him, not simply a need met or a worry eased. It is Him I long for. It is Him I need. It is He that is the answer to my prayer. I just didn't know it at first.

The number was 125 and my word is PROVISION.

With love,

Weaker Is Better

 "On the contrary, those parts of the body 
that seem to be weaker are indispensable." 2Cor. 12:22

Original acrylic abstract by Ruth E. Robbins "His Masterpiece"
I scratched my head a little when I read this verse this morning. Indispensable. REALLY? I am quick to admit that I tend to see weakness first both in myself and others. I tend to see it as such, as weakness. After reading it I knew why God had lead me to it. I don't know how much I have shared about my relationship with Toby, but it is a huge challenge. He had finally started to show some progress right before VBS this summer and since then has been back downhill. I struggle to show him love. I struggle to find the motivation to keep caring. He mumbles when he speaks to me, but clearly speaks to others. He lies and disrespects me and is sweet to others. He is disconnected and distant and it hurts my heart and yet God wants me to value and care for him. Life in an orphanage and a life rejected and devalued by others has brought him to this point, but I know that God values him and desires us as his family to reflect that. It is hard for me to see how the weaker parts of the body of Christ are indispensable as Paul wrote, at least at first glance, but then I see how God has used a kid like Toby to teach me. I would never say that I have enjoyed going through this, but I would never trade who I am today and what God has taught me through this for a more comfortable life. I am more patient. I love more deeply and with purpose. I give of myself more freely. I see value in weakness. I can even see value in my weakness. I appreciate more fully my adoption as a child of God and what lengths He went through for me even in the face of rejection. Like Toby I am a work in progress and whether weak or strong a integral part of the Body of Christ. So I will gladly boast like Paul did after praying for God to remove his struggle.

"He [God] said to me, 
"My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness."
 So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, 
so that the power of Christ can work through me." 2Cor. 12:9

With love,

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

New Opportunies

Original graffiti for youth room
As our kids grow and we age we develop new skills and the time in which to foster them.  It is rather a strange place to be with neither really little ones and kiddos not yet in high school either.  I guess it is the middle years for us.  To be honest I really enjoy it! 

With our oldest being almost a teenager he is finally old enough to participate in youth group at our church.  This has of course propelled us from working with the little children of the church to serving in Youth Ministry.  A shift that has at many times found me stumbling and humbled.  It is not easy or comfortable, but I find that at this time in my life, no longer being a young adult and certainly not a kid I am in a position to mentor those of that age.  They are at a time in their lives when they need adults that can be real and available.  Now that my kids are no longer in diapers and a little more autonomous I have the time to venture out.

Last summer I was privileged to chaperone our middle school youth to summer camp in Pennsylvania.  Between my husband and a wonderful friend the five kids I left at home survived without me.  Though many of our students had never been away from home like that before I was the only one that got teary eyed and homesick!  Being able to connect with these teens and begin to form relationships beyond small group time or Sunday night youth group confirmed to me that God was indeed leading me in a new direction of serving.

Not only have our kids grown, the look of the family has changed as well.  In November our foster sons returned home to their parents.  It was an incredibly painful change that has eased into a place of peace as we settle into a new norm.  God has been faithful to tend to our hearts and help us to heal.  Even when He says no to us and changes our trajectory His love, care and character remain constant.

I had shared in my last posts that I was also dabbling more and more into art.  This is in large part thanks to my mother-in-law and her encouragement and gift of art classes at a local studio.  It is a gift I cannot repay and one I will be grateful for for many, many years!  Art has been an incredible outlet and even a gift I have been privileged to share with my church family.  Two of my most recent and largest works are currently being displayed at church.  One of them was used as a promotion for serving within the church to encourage our members to use their own gifts and resources to both serve others and to honor God.  Again like working with our youth it is both challenging and humbling.

Original art for Hope Church

Don't be afraid to step out in the new seasons you find yourself.  Each of these new places is a new opportunity to see where it is God is shaping, pruning and leading.  We each have something unique to offer to those around us and don't let the fear of not knowing where it will go keep you from taking that first step.  And remember above all everything we do is for the glory of God, soli Deo gloria!

With love,

Friday, August 26, 2016

Therapy Through Poetry: A Journey to Hope


Journey to Hope

Dare to hope
of what could be
of what could last.

Dare to dream
of things not seen.

Imagining a life
beyond these days.
Not allowing strife to seize
a moment's joy
from these present days.

A hope.  A dream.

A promise I'm not for sure.
But hoping maybe we could be
a family soon someday.

By Ruth Robbins

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What Art is Teaching Me

"Wash Over Me"
Though my writing has taken a backseat to our hectic lives of raising 6 boys; my creative side has found an additional avenue in which to express myself.  Creativity comes in many forms.  We can express ourselves through cooking, writing, teaching, design, lego building, VBS decorating, music and that is not even thinking outside the box.  It comes out in many forms because we were created by a creative God.  His attributes come through in His creation albeit a distorted and imperfect version, but nonetheless His.  You and I have this built in desire to create something in the unique fashion of how we ourselves were designed.  Just take a look around you.  Notice your neighbors flower garden, the bridge you cross over to go to work, even the way your kids play or dress.  We all express our creativity in unique and interesting ways that speak to who we are.

And not only that, but art and the practice of making art is teaching me so much!

1.  I am braver than I realized
2.  Pushing through a rough patch is worth the result at the other end
3.  It's ok if I am the only one who likes it or appreciates it
2 Corinthians 4:6
4.  My creativity can only get better from here
5.  Beautiful things take time
6.  There are many many layers to a work and a life that is rich
7.  We can cover our less desirable parts while highlighting our most attractive
8.   It takes courage to create something new
9.  I can express my faith in what I do with color
10.  Art like words tells a story, my story

"Elijah's Mountain" 1Kings 19


I plan to share more of my art after I get a watermark.  Thanks for taking time to stop by today.  While your at, make something, take time to create and see what you learn.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

With love,