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

"Dreaming"

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



"Summer"

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,



  

My Real Family: Being a Part of God's Forever Family

"Blended Family" by Ruth Robbins
"He replied to them, "Who are My mother and My brothers?"  
And looking about at those who were sitting in a circle around Him, 
He said, "Here are My mother and My brothers!
  Whoever does the will of God is My brother and sister and mother." 
 Mark 3:33-35 (HCSB)

It has been heard around our house, especially in the early days, weeks and even months of a foster placement the term REAL used to clarify who is actually family.  For all intense and purposes foster parents and their kids are strangers.  Yes, we have trained and prepared.  Yes, we have waited.  Yes, we have prayed, but all of that is transparent to a child.  The idea of real to a child can also mean lasting.  A foster home is temporary.  Real also carries with it the weight of being blood related.  To both children and adults alike these definitions of real family run very deep in the conscience of how we think, act and relate to others.

Jesus takes this notion of real family and blows it up in Mark 3!  How stunned the crowd must have been in a society where your name and family were everything.  Think of his mother!  She had to have been crushed.  Some of his brothers may have been relieved to have Jesus, this quickly becoming black sheep of the family writing them off.  Stop here though.  Was he really writing them off, rejecting them as family or was he simply expanding the parameters?  He takes lots of our ideas and notions of how the world and life should work and turns them on their ears.
  
"Look at how great a love the Father has given us
 that we should be called God's children.  And we are!"  
1John 3:1a

It didn't take a court ruling or a marriage certificate to make us His, it was blood, His blood that made that bond.  It is a rich and REAL bond that all believers share.  We too live in an IF World and just as my foster sons struggle with the unknown and you and I wrestle with what is yet to be or could have been, we press forward with our feet firmly planted in a family that cannot be torn apart.  Rest in that peace today dear friend!
With love,


 





 


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Jesus The Rejected King

We are reading The Chronicles of Narnia as part of our school lessons.  I love all the rich meaning that C.S. Lewis has both hidden and highlighted in the pages of his adventure in this great series.  Most striking is the character of Aslan who like no other character I have ever read about, shines a light on the humanity and deity of Christ Jesus himself.  Imagining Jesus as the great lion Aslan helps the reader connect with both the beauty and majesty of our Savior.

Below are portions taken from my Pastor's sermon this last Palm Sunday

I love the scene when some of the children first meet the lion Aslan and they ask, "is he safe?"  And the answer is "no, he is not safe, but he is good."  We see Jesus gentle and humble riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and we are tempted to miss the fact that he is a king. (Matt 21:4-5)  Jesus is the gentle king promised in Zechariah 9:10 which says "Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!  Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."  But like Aslan reminds us, don't forget his power.  He is righteous and victorious according to Zechariah.  Jesus is gentle because he is the victor.  He comes in peace because he has all authority.  Nothing can be taken from him.  Nothing can threaten him.  While the people that day did not fully understand,  they did see something of his glory.  Psalm 118:25-26 says, "Lord, save us!  Lord, grany us success!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.  From the house of the Lord we bless you."  They didn't get it all, but they did get it right.  Jesus is the King.  He is not safe because he comes to rule and he will change the lives of everyone who receives him.  He is not safe,but he is good.
When the disciples borrowed the donkey--whose donkey was it?  It belonged to the King, not the King of a region or country, but the King of heaven and earth.  He owns it all.  It's His!
Whose is the path on which he rode into the city?  HIS
The palms people waved as they shouted Hosanna?  HIS
The arms that waved the palm branches?  HIS
The city into which he rode that day?  HIS
The temple he cleared to preserve a house of prayer?
It's His, He is the true King.  It's all from Him, its all for Him, nothing can be taken from Him.

The tongues that sang his praise?  HIS
The tongues that shouted against him and condemned him?  HIS
The thorns that pressed on and punctured his sacred head?  HIS
The whips that lashed and tore his royal skin?
The wood that shaped the cross on which he died?
It's all His.  It's all from Him.  It's all for Him.

This King Jesus on the day that seems like his coronation as he enters his city with shouts of praise and palm branches waving does not process to a throne but to a cross.  He comes in peace and he will bring peace.  But the cost of peace will be great.  He will give his life to rescue his people.  He will purchase us with his blood and with his tears.

1Peter 2:9 says, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."  Behold your King.  See him as he is and consider the kingdom he brings. He has a plan and purpose for all things for all things belong to him.

The voices we use today to sing his praise.....HIS
The voices we use tomorrow to speak with friends.....HIS
The hands we use today to wave palm branches......HIS
The hands we use tomorrow to work......HIS
The joys and pleasures of life.....HIS
The pains and sorrows of life.....HIS
The people who help us......HIS
The people who hurt us....HIS
The people who bless us....HIS
The people who persecute us.....HIS
Our finances.....HIS
Our career.....HIS
Our free time.....HIS
Our relationships....HIS
Our future.....HIS
Our bodies.....HIS
Our plans.....HIS
Our destiny......HIS

Do you see it?
 It's all HIS.  It's all from him and it's all for him.

He is not safe.  He's a different kind of King with a different kind of kingdom.  He didn't come to make all things better!  He came to make all things new!  He didn't come to help your life.  He came to claim your life.  He is not safe, but He is good!

To hear this sermon in it's entirety please follow the link to our church website.  The sermon is titled The King Nobody Wanted on March 20, 2016. 
Pastor Alan Hagar

I wanted to take this moment to thank my church and our staff who have been such a very great blessing to me and to my family.  They encourage and challenge me to live a life worthy of the calling Jesus has set before me.  I would challenge you that if you are not firmly committed to a church, find one close to you.  Get plugged in.  Get connected.  Be real.  Be discipled.  Be a part of God's family and the work of the church which is the sharing of the Gospel.