Jesus Thinks About Me

This is an article I wrote over a year ago, but never ‘published’.  The family information is outdated, but the message remains the same.  I’ve added a family update at the end.

The other night I caught myself thinking about my children….again. And I began to realize that my thoughts turn towards them multiple times a day – without me even realizing it.

Family

Trae, my oldest, is married to Christi – which blesses me with another child to think about. They are teaching English in South Korea and are expecting our first grandson in a matter of weeks. I’ve already spent lots of time ‘thinking’ about him!

Trae and Christi

Tanika is just finishing her junior year of college, studying special education.

Tobi lives with us in Niger and is almost done with 7th grade. He attends an international mission school in the town we live in.

I appreciate that I’ve seen where each of them are living life right now. It helps me when I’m missing them to picture them where they are.

As I lay in bed thinking about my offspring, I realized that I wasn’t really thinking about them, I was praying for them. And I do that often. And then I heard the Lord whisper to me,

“You think your thoughts turn towards your kids a lot? You have NO idea. You – you’re my kid. And you’re always on my mind.”

Then Psalm 139: 17,18 popped into my sleepy head.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.

And here I am thinking that I think about my kids a lot!

God’s thoughts towards me cannot be numbered. I live in a desert, so I can tell you from first hand experience, grains of sand cannot be counted! NOT possible.

Neal & Tobi in sand

As I see Tanika in her dorm room or standing in line at the salad bar, and I picture Trae and Christi leaving their cute (tiny) apartment to get on the bus that takes them to their job and the classroom they’ll be teaching in, or I see Tobi playing soccer with his friends, Jesus sees me. Me! He knows exactly where I’m living my life. The creator of the universe spends time thinking about me!

And more than that, He’s praying for me. Romans 8:34 tells us that not only did Jesus die for us and return to life, but he is sitting at God’s right hand….interceding for us! As a Scottish friend of mine says, ‘Have a think on that’! Jesus himself, praying for me!

Why do I think about and pray for my kids? Because I love them. Why does Jesus think about and pray for me? Because He loves me. And I love him – because He first loved me! I hope you’re following my logic here.

The Bible says, if you love me, you will keep my commandments. So that got me thinking (guess I’ve been doing lots of that recently) about how I could show Jesus my love. The answer is pretty straightforward.

By keeping His commandments. There are multiple scriptures that talk about this. Here are a few:

  1. Jn 14:15 If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
  2. Jn 14:21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me
  3. 1 Jn 2:3 And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments
  4. 1 Jn 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.
  5. 2 Jn 6 And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.

But I particularly love I Jn 5:2 –…. His commandments are not burdensome. He wants us to succeed in obeying Him.

Hausa Bible

He’s not expecting something impossible from us. One of the main reasons He wants us to keep those commandments is so He can bless us.

Now let me go one last step with my thinking. What are His commandments? Well, as a missionary the first thing I think of is the Great Commission.

Probably the most well known version of the Great Commission is Matthew 28:18-20

The Great Commission

…18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19″Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The Bible is full of examples of both God’s heart for the lost and His instruction to us to reach them.

village church

And His heart cry is clearly shown in the Gospels. In Matthew 23 Jesus is preaching to his disciples and to the crowds. He preached this message just a few days before he was crucified.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.”

Isn’t that how we feel when our children face danger, discouragement or difficulty? Or when we see them walking a destructive path? We want to protect them. To gather them to us and shelter them. It grieves us when we have the answer to their problem and they reject it. It can cause us to shed tears.

Do we shed tears over the lost?

2 girls

Jesus was weeping over the tragedy of the missed opportunity of salvation. Their answer was walking right there among them and instead of receiving him, they crucified him. This hurt his heart.

In Luke 19 He starts to weep as he approaches Jerusalem and says almost the same thing He said in Matthew 23.

Why was Jesus weeping? He was weeping because He is not willing that any should perish. The Bible clearly says this.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Pet 3:9

church praise

He was thinking of me. He was thinking of you. And He expects us to think of, no, to reach the lost. He’s given that responsibility to us. He wants us to finish what He began. Honoring and loving Jesus by obeying His call to reach the nations is something He has equipped us to do.

Are you thinking about the unreached? Are you weeping for the lost? Are you reaching them? Are you rejoicing when they find salvation?

Danette & lady

If you love Jesus, you will obey his commandments.

FAMILY UPDATE:

Trae and Christi have our precious 1 year old Judah Neal Childs, and have just announced officially that #2 is on the way (major happy dance here).  They are living in Baton Rouge, LA and are working for Pastor Larry Stockstill and Bethany Church.

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We were hoping to take the little guy with us…

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Tanika has graduated from Oral Roberts University with her degree in Special Ed/Elementary Ed and will be going to Nigeria to teach school in Benin City Nigeria in August.

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Tobi is getting ready to start High School at Sahel Academy in Niamey, Niger – he’s an awesome kid.  Here he is with his nephew.

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Clearly, we are blessed.

The Seed is in You

I’ve had lots of people ask me when I’m going to add another blog post.  As I’ve said before, I’ve written lots of blog posts – in my head.  But until I make time to write a new one, I’m going to post an article I wrote for Daring Daughters in 2012.  So though it’s 3 years old, it’s still relevant.  And it also answers another question I’m frequently asked.  “How did I know I was called to missions.”

The Seed

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 15 years!  I’ve been a missionary in the West African country of Niger since July, 1998.   There are two questions I am often asked: Did I always know I wanted to be a missionary? Did I always know God wanted me to be a missionary?  No, and no.  But God knew.  Here’s my story.

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.  Before you were born, I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”  Jeremiah 1:5

I was saved at the age of 7 and was raised in a Christian home by wonderful Christian parents.  I’ve walked closely with the Lord since but it wasn’t until adulthood that I became  acutely aware of God’s grace.  I used to think that I didn’t really have a ‘story’.  But a revelation while singing ‘Amazing Grace’ changed my mind.  I did have an amazing story.  It was the grace of God that saved me.  He not only saved me from my sins, but He saved me from the powers of darkness of this world and kept me walking in His light all these years.  It wasn’t my personality or my own determination or discipline that spared me from all the world had to ‘offer’.  Simply put, it was God’s amazing grace.  Now, the older I get, the more I see… and the more I see, the more thankful I am for that grace that saved me.

But I wasn’t just saved to be saved, I was called.  So are you. My calling was to be a missionary, reaching the unreached.   But fulfillment of that calling wasn’t going to just drop in my lap.  I had some responsibility.

The seed was in me – as a 4 year old.

Danette 4 years

The Bible is full of instruction for our lives.  There are a multitude of passages that talk about the blessings that follow us and our children when we walk in the way of the Lord.

We see in 1 Kings 2 where King David is at the end of his life and is giving instructions to his son Solomon.  Solomon was called to succeed David on the throne.

“Now the days of David drew near that he should die, and he charged Solomon his son, saying: 2 “I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. 3 And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn; 4 that the Lord may fulfill His word which He spoke concerning me…”

Solomon’s calling came with requirements:  Keep the charge of the Lord, walk in His ways, keep his commandments…  Then you will prosper and the Lord will fulfill His word concerning you.

 For God’s will and plan to be fulfilled in our lives, we must walk in His ways.

After high school, I attended Oral Roberts University.  My sophomore year I met Neal.  I was a chaplain and he was a freshman on my brother wing.  He came straight from Nigeria, where he was raised as a missionary kid.  He intrigued me.  He was, as I like to describe him, ‘bush’.  He spoke with a Nigerian accent and he thought downtown Tulsa was a huge metropolis.  As the girls’ chaplain I had the responsibility of pairing the brother and sister wings with prayer partners.  I did this by drawing names from a hat, but not before first pairing myself with Neal.  Sneaky, I know.

A friendship began to develop into something more and on our 2nd official date Neal informed me that he was going to be a missionary.  My thought?

“Whatever.  He’s a business major.  Once he gets going in his field, he’ll get over the missions thing.”

It’s not that I was opposed to full-time missions, I just wasn’t awakened yet to my calling.  I had a natural trust in God and a desire to do exactly what He had planned for me.  The seed was there, but it remained dormant.

Our relationship progressed as did Neal’s intensity for missions. I continued to trust God and prayed that if this was the man for me, that an actual desire to do missions would surface.  As an upperclassman I would get frustrated when I would hear my friends talking specifically about their careers, how many children they would have, the type of home they would live in –  all the way down to paint color!  I didn’t have specifics on any of those things – and I didn’t really care about a white picket fence.   All I knew for sure was that I wanted to do what God wanted me to do.   I later realized that if I had predetermined my exact job and house color, it would not have lined up with Neal, and I may have assumed he wasn’t the one.

Here we are at ORU, the seed in both of us. Any guesses to the year? Hint: Big hair.

Neal & Danette

Our love grew and in 1989 we married.  I graduated with a degree in Social Work and Neal, Management Information Systems.  We both got jobs in our fields, while still pursuing ministry.  We found a church home and were asked to be youth pastors.  It wasn’t missions, but it was something that our hands found to do and we were determined to do it with all our might.  It was preparation time.  During our 5 years as youth leaders we sent kids on more than 30 summer mission trips, while patiently (sometimes) waiting our turn.

God continued to lead us and 8 years of marriage and 2 great kids later, the Lord directed us to attend Bible School to officially prepare for the field.  During Bible School we received confirmation that the country of Niger would be our field.

We spent 10 months raising our support and during that time an amazing thing happened.  I was sharing in my mom and dad’s church about how I had recently come across some of my elementary school papers and discovered that I had written a report on the country of Nigeria the same year Neal moved there.  Coincidence?  I think not.  It was a germinating seed.  I told also of a report I had written in junior high titled ‘Understanding Africa’ where I wrote that I wanted to be a missionary in Africa.  I don’t even remember writing it, but my name was on it.   The seed was there.

Later that evening my mom questioned me.

“Don’t you remember the prophecy spoken to you when you were 12?  That you would be a rose, blooming in the desert?”

It wasn’t until she said that that the memory came back.  Mom continued.

“What about the time I found you crying because you couldn’t understand why everyone couldn’t know Jesus?”

I was 7.  The seed.

Our family in 1998, just before moving to the 10/40 nation of Niger, Africa.   Trae, Danette, Tanika, Neal

Family

Our family in 2001 with Tobi, our new addition.

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The amazing thing about a spiritual seed is that it won’t die.  It’s in you.  Even if you haven’t been pursuing God as you should or are new in your walk with Him, it’s not too late!  God’s seed, His plan for you – it’s in you.  Even if it’s dormant.  Wake it up!   Begin germinating it by pursuing hard after Jesus and by walking in His ways.  In Jeremiah 2:21 God said to the Israelites,

“Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality.”

You are full of high quality seed!  

Exercise is Good for the…Body.

Four blog posts in a span of 11 days?  I’m on a serious roll! I said I was back…

I exercise for 2 reasons.  Well, there are probably more – but 2 that I know of.  One, because the Bible tells me my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and I need to take care of it.  And two, because I don’t want to get old.  In that order.  Hopefully.

I’d like to say that this post will now transition to how I exercise spiritually, but then I wouldn’t be telling the truth. And that is certainly not spiritual! (Let me be clear. I do believe in and practice exercising spiritually – but that’s not the topic of this post!) What this post is about is a new workout I’m doing.  And I’m writing about it because I’m rather proud of myself.  (Insert photo of me patting myself on the back).

I’m not athletic.  At all.  I’m not coordinated either.  And no one would look at me and go,  “Oh well look at her.  I bet she works out every day”.  And I’m probably not the best advertisement for consistent exercise if you base it on shape/weight alone.  But what you can’t see are my insides.  I can’t see them either.  But I know they’re healthy.  My heart is healthy.  My muscles are healthy.  I’m pretty sure my blood is healthy too.  Oh and my bones.  All of these years of working out are surely going to pay off with me not having osteoporosis.

It all started when I enrolled at Oral Roberts University (ORU).  ORU’s vision is ‘Educating the whole man – spirit, soul and body.  And that meant aerobics points. Every week.  I suspect at some point someone will probably find this blog post with a search term such as ‘how many aerobics points do I get for walking up 3 flights of stairs’.  If that’s you, I’m with you.  I feel your pain.  Or at least I feel you grasping for every point you can get for every movement you make.  I’m pretty sure running to the elevator should count for something!

While at ORU, I did get a vision for exercise.  In spite of the fact that what terrified me most about attending ORU was the required 3 mile field test – every semester!  I used to get sick in junior high on presidential fitness testing day when I was required to run 600 yards.  A measly 600 yards would make me sick to my stomach!  I’m not even kidding. That’s how much I disliked running.  That’s why my first year at ORU I ran my first (OK, my only) 10K.  Yep.  From panic attack at 600 yards to a full blown 10K.  Our PE teacher offered us an A on the field test if we signed up for and ran this 10K in under 75 minutes.  I knew good and well that it would be the only way I could get an A on the test.  It was that, or fail the 3 mile test.  So, the night before the 10K Run my friend Patti and I signed up for The Tulsa Love Run.  Love my foot!   To be honest, Patti and I had been running together pretty regular like – but we’d only run up to 3 miles.  And slowly.  Never more than that.  Long story short, we did that run.  And we did it in 74 minutes flat.  No laughing guys – we got our A!

So from that point on, I have exercised pretty regularly.  Oh there have been hiatuses of different lengths.  Mostly when having babies.  Like the time Tanika was born – my first C-section.  After that, I seriously thought my body would never be normal again and I would certainly never exercise again.  But 1 month later, to the date,  I started my aerobics video back up.  There was another C-seciton – Tobi.  In South Africa.  I was even in ICU after that one.  But I was able to get going again not too many weeks later.  Part of my motivation was because while in South Africa, I had the luxury of an actual gym to join.  That was fun.  Kind of.

Fast Forward to today.  My friend Sharolyn who knows I like to work out gave me a new set of DVD’s this past summer while we were in the US.  (Thanks Sharolyn, I think).  I didn’t really look them over until we were back in Niger about 3 months later.  I had been on one of my exercise hiatuses for about a month due to team hosting and children’s camps, but knew it was time to get started again.  I knew because of how my clothes were feeling.  If I’m not exercising, my clothes shrink.  It’s quite odd really.  I like to start new things on Mondays, so Monday, September 15th was my day.  It took my almost a week to talk myself into this.

The new workout is called Rushfit.  I had never heard of it and part of the reason it took so long to get started was because it seemed so complicated.  Running, as much as it is not my friend, is so much easier. And when I’m in the US it’s really easy to do – logistically speaking.  I can just step out the door wherever I happen to be and run.  And I do use the word “run” loosely.  I think to be fair I would have to call what I do a slow jog.  A slog, lets say.  When we’re in the States, we’re never in one place long so I can slog and look like a dork anywhere.  It’s not my neighborhood.  They’re not  my peeps.  They’re not likely going to see me again. Oh, and it’s not 100 degrees. In Niger, it’s not that simple. I can’t just step out my door in my shorts and running top.  Well I could, but it would be extremely inappropriate and offensive.  And that wouldn’t be good at all – given that we’re here to reach and influence the people with the Gospel.  And it’s often more than 100 degrees.  I’ve run in that – it’s not fun.

Back to Rushfit and its complications.  It’s 6 DVD’s.  Six!  You follow a particular 45 minute workout 6 days a week for 8 weeks. Every day is different. Then you’re supposed to be buff.  Not sure what happens after that… Being that I’m not a novice to exercise, and not having a clue what Rushfit was, I chose the intermediate plan.  What was I thinking?  I pushed play on September 15th and  when I finished the first workout, I felt like jello.  I don’t even like jello.  By that evening, I was sore.  Really sore.  The next day?  Let me just say doing basic things (like sitting on the throne) were almost impossible.  I spent the better part of that week literally hobbling around.  I have NEVER been that sore from any exercise I’ve ever done.  But I kept pushing play – through my pain!  Now I can’t stop because if I do, I’ll get sore all over again.  That can’t happen. What have I gotten myself into?  The warm-up is 10 minutes.  Warm-up they say. Right.  You’re thinking loosening up, stretching – right?  Wrong!  The warm up consists of multiple sets of squats, lunges, push-ups, plank thingys, and sit ups.  Not a single stretch!  He says, “This is to get you ready for the work to come”.  Seriously?  That should have been my first clue.

I’ve never not been able to do something in a workout.  At least 1 time.  There are at least 2 things in the various workouts that I cannot physically do.  Instructions are given.  I know what I’m supposed to do, but I can feel that my brain does not make the connection. It’s tempting to include some picture or video here of me doing some of these crazy moves.  But I’m just vain enough to stop at a description. You’re on your knees.  Without using your hands, you jump your feet forward out from under your body and then jump up. Back down and repeat this move for a minute.  Can’t do it.  At first I didn’t ever want to.  Now – I think I might try. Eventually.  Because as I said, I”m almost finished with week 4 of Rushfit.  It’s growing on me.  And though my fitness will not be rushed, it is there.  I can feel it in this 49 year old body.  Most days.