Friday, June 1, 2018

Return To Candidate School - Dinner #88

The truth? Last year, I sat at missionary candidate school and I cried as I asked my husband, “Can we really do this?  Can we really do this to our kids?”  You see, deputation can be a daunting task.  Missions conferences all over the U.S., late nights, long drives, strange beds...

Yesterday afternoon, I found myself at BIMI’s headquarters, sitting in the same exact bedroom we had last year.  I’ve often thought about the 2017 training session where Mrs. Snyder had all the second-year candidate school ladies share lessons and blessings from THEIR first year of deputation . . . Now, here I am, myself.  We’ve only been “full time” since January, but oh how our lives have changed since this time last summer! 

What would I say to those following along behind us?  What would I share with the missionary mamas who are just about to embark on this deputation journey?


There will be “fewer” – fewer movies and TV shows, fewer possessions that you feel are “must haves”, fewer evenings alone with your husband . . . But there will be “more” too – more restaurants, more opportunities for creative romance, more road trip photos, more friends than you’ve ever had before, more preaching from God’s Word . . . Don’t be afraid to embrace the changes!

Psalm 65:11 “Thou crownest the year with thy goodness. . .”

You’re going to swap overwhelming “Mommy tasks”. Piles of dishes and meals to prepare will turn into packing, unpacking, and re-packing, and organizing things to occupy your children in the car for hours on end.

Psalm 61:2 “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Education for the children will switch from “at the kitchen table” to clipboards, and missionary encounters, and totally awesome field trips along the way.

Deuteronomy 6:7 “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, 
and when thou risest up.”

Be prepared for days you want to jump out of the van and leave your husband behind - LOL, and moments when you realize you’ve never been closer together as a family in your life. God’s blessings are always there if you look for them. 

Psalm 26:3 “For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes . . .”

Open your heart to love and be loved by ladies in churches all across America.  Open your heart to love and be loved by fellow missionary wives all over the globe.

Psalm 26:12 “My foot standeth in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the LORD.”

Psalm 122:1 “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.”

Don’t let your guard down in thinking that 15 or 20 “church days” in a month is “sufficient” or “enough” – You’re going to need your PERSONAL time with the Lord like never before.  You’re going to need some special-to-you deputation verses to cling to, as well.  God is the Only One Who can see you through this journey!

Psalm 119:2 “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.”

It is vital that you “love on” your children daily – hugs, snuggles, books, audio adventures, art projects (even in hotel rooms), puppets, funny songs in the car . . .

Genesis 33:5 “. . . And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant.”

Be ready to use some God-given creativity.  You may be making peanut butter sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls, when the sliced bread is running low.  You may be laying your kiddos crossways in order to fit three to a bed, or placing a sleeping bag on top of a deflated air mattress for added cushioning.  Make sure you have plenty of Bible songs, and coloring sheets, and washable crayons in your “back pocket”.  Ask the Lord to help you be flexible! 

Isaiah 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is 
stayed on thee because he trusteth in thee.”

Your children are going to love it more than you ever thought they would!  Sure, they’re going to have days when they admit, “I want to go home!”  You are too!  But most of the time they’re going to be begging to be the next one to push the elevator button, and asking if they can have waffles at the continental breakfast.  They’re going to be excited to sit beside the pastor’s wife at the missions banquet, and inviting other children to look at their display table.  They’re going to be telling others about cool places they’ve visited, and requesting to see your hostess’ talking parrot as soon as they wake up in the morning.  Deputation can be a childhood adventure they’ll never forget!

Isaiah 54:13 “And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD;and great 
shall be the peace of thy children.”

God can take care of any and every financial difficulty you’ll face.  You can truly leave every need and every want in His care.  You might be running low on gasoline or “Goldfish” crackers, needing a date night with your husband, worrying about how worn your girls’ church shoes are, or thinking how pleasant it would be for them to have a new book to read or a doll to share this journey with them, and the Lord will suddenly provide! Sometimes from a corner you never would have expected . . . When you’re doing God’s will, He truly DOES take care of you! He shows Himself FAITHFUL – again, and again, and again, and again . . .

Matthew 6:32 “ . . . for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.”

Are you about to “step out by faith”, as they say? Is the “road to missions” laying before you?  Rest assured that the Lord is by your side!

Psalm 121:8 “The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”

May the Lord bless you, Dear Ladies, as you seek to serve Him with your lives! 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

A Thought On Marriage

1 Peter 3 starts by speaking of the husband and wife in their individual roles, and then groups all together as they are in Christ - BRETHREN. Verses 8-11 were no doubt written for all believers, regardless of their marital status, but I believe it would do couples good to read this passage and to think of it as an ongoing discourse on marriage. Having compassion and courtesy, not seeking to “get even”, keeping our tongues from evil, pursuing peace ... We live in a day when Satan would like nothing better than to destroy our homes - May we “seek peace, and ensue it.”

Friday, May 4, 2018

Weary Pilgrims - Dinner #87

My husband purchased the classic Pilgrim’s Progress for my birthday this year.  It is a work that has long been on my “need-to-read” list.  As the main character makes his lengthy journey, I find myself wondering, “When is he going to reach the Celestial City? Shouldn’t he be nearly there by now?”  But author John Bunyan accurately portrays the Christian life – it is a series of defeats and victories, of valleys and mountaintops, of weaknesses and strengths.  Any number of things tries to hinder the pilgrim on his way – the Slough of Despond, lions, Apollyon, the Valley of the Shadow of Death . . . and so it is with us. 

It isn’t always easy to travel from one missions conference to another.  There are times when I feel the weariness in my very bones. 

“I didn’t volunteer for this,” my heart sometimes wants to say.

“Yes, you did,” the Lord whispers in return. “Don’t you remember that day as a teenager, when you kneeled beside your bed?  You told me you surrendered all your life to Christian service and that you would do anything I asked of you. This may not feel like ‘missions’ yet, but answering questions, sharing your testimony, riding in a vehicle for long hours at a time, packing, singing, home schooling on the road . . . this is the ministry that I have given to you, right now!  Are you still surrendered? Are you still willing?”

God reminds me of my book on the subject of miscarriage, as well.  “You’re listening to the tears of others who are hurting. You’re sharing the Gospel and the comfort that is found in Christ.  You’re in the business of rescuing souls from the power of Satan’s darkness – Do you think you won’t be fought?!”    

How about you, Dear Sister?  Do you, too, feel the battle raging?  There are days when we all wish to quit – our jobs, our ministries, our role as “mom” . . . “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall . . .”  Do you recall the remainder of that verse? “ . . . but they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:30-31)

God desires for us to Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.” (I Chronicles 16:11) The truth is, we can’t live even the “easy” days without Him! We need THE LORD if we are ever to “ . . . run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) 

There’s an old hymn that reads:

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater.
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase.
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half-done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men,
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.”

In Galatians 6, Paul writes “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” 

Have you been struggling with “continuing on”, as I have in recent days? Have you found yourself weary, even in the midst of doing GOOD things - the RIGHT things?

May we allow the Lord to help us and enable us as only He can do!

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (II Cor. 12:9-10)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Treasuring Our Children - Dinner #86

Without a doubt, there is a great amount of stress that goes into traveling with little people.  Toys and books drop in the van.  Clothing gets stained.  Voices become loud.  Jumping on hotel beds occurs.  Parental blood pressure rises.  And I suddenly catch myself gritting my teeth and saying, “Why can’t you all just be PERFECT?!” But they aren’t perfect, nor will they ever be, in this world.  And my heart is pricked with the realization that sometimes the problem is ME. Am I REACTING to the daily conflict and chaos, like I ought to be?

Psalm 113:9 speaks of “... a joyful mother of children...” On the difficult days, how easy it is to lose that joy.  When they’re still awake at 11:00 p.m. and asking for another drink of water . . . I know – I’m in the trenches myself right now.  But they are our REWARD – our BLESSINGS! How often do we neglect to treat them as such?

Psalm 127:3 “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”

Genesis 33:5 “And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant.”

Graciously given . . . They are a GIFT, My Friend!  Somewhere in the overwhelming stickiness of jam and the changing of diapers, we can forget that fact.  We can forget to truly TREASURE our children! I’m not speaking of idolizing them – not putting them first in our marriages or first in our lives, but CHERISHING them as God would have us do.

When was the last time we TOOK THE TIME – to read the book, to sing the song, to pull out the Play-Doh, to look up from our phones and see the little faces in need of us, once again?

Instead, in our frustration and annoyance, we can find ourselves mindlessly muttering, “Not tonight”, or “Not right now”, or “Not this time, Sweetheart - Mommy’s busy.” 

Matthew 18:10 “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones . . .”

Now I am a great believer in mothers “taking time” for themselves.  I’m not talking about refusing yourself the renewing that we so desperately need to keep going every day.  However, as parents, we can become guilty of laziness and selfishness, and of addressing our children with very little kindness.  We can interrupt them, can speak in frustration toward them, can ignore them – many of the same things we rebuke OUR CHILDREN for. 

James 1:19 “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath...

The Bible reminds us that we as parents have the ability to either anger or encourage our children by our parenting methods:

Ephesians 6:4 “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”  

This verse speaks of disciplining as well as warning, but without needless severity.  One commentator described this idea as placing them “under such discipline and instruction that they shall become acquainted with the Lord.” Are we remembering what an important role we play in leading our children to the Savior?

Perhaps this is a day to bow our heads and to ask the Lord to help us TREASURE our sons and our daughters, once more. Children will whine, they will argue, they will try our patience at times. They will, literally, climb over the back of the couch, like mine are at this present moment.  Our words, our actions, our attitudes toward our children are powerful, Sweet Mamas!  Are we seeing our Little Ones as God sees them, today? Are we THANKING GOD for them, and continuing to lead them to Him?

If it were always easy, then there would be no reason for Titus 2:4: “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children . . .”  Sometimes we all need instruction and encouragement in this area of our lives - myself included! And now I will calmly request that my children stop closing each other in the hotel closet . . . Because my little girls are sweet GIFTS FROM GOD.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Special To God - Dinner #85

The world speaks to us often of “self-esteem”.  The Bible, however, tells Christians to “esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3) and “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think . . .” (Rom. 12:3).  I, Kristen Kelley, am nothing but a sinner, and all my “righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Is. 64:6). I have no worth in and of myself – no goodness of my own – but I was bought with a price: the precious blood of the Lamb of God!  Therefore, I am WORTH something to the Lord!  My self-worth is found in my Savior!

Colossians 2:14 “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

We are special because we are special TO HIM!

What makes you unique? Freckles, fingerprints, facial structure . . . Your talents and abilities . . . Your past . . . Your heart – who you care about and love . . .

God made no mistakes when He gave you life.  Psalm 139:14 “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” The texture of your hair, the color of your eyes, your ability or inability to see, to hear, to speak, to walk . . . every detail was chosen by Him.  He had a purpose and a plan for each and every one of us, right from the very start. 

I’ve seen so many young ladies who have tried to “stand out” and to “make a statement” in this world.  Others so depressed by their appearance that they have sought to significantly alter it.  The world can be cruel and unaccepting - our Savior understands that fact.  He endured bitter mockery and even death at the hands of jealous, angry men.  He was not a man who stood out as being “handsome” by the world’s standards (Is. 53:2), and yet He was the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  You may feel as though you are invisible, but you, My Dear, are God’s princess. 

You are SIGNIFICANT.  Out of the billions of people in this world, God cares about YOU.  He formed you and gave you life! He saved your soul!  The Creator of the entire universe knows YOU by name! You are God’s child!

How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand . . .” (Ps. 139:17-18)

Yes, man DOES look at the external, and they often judge harshly by it.  This focus on appearance is evident all around us – plastic surgery advertisements, revealing clothing, expensive make-up brands, quick-fix weight-loss programs, etc.  But when God looks at you, He sees your HEART (I Sam. 16:7).  He knows every single thing that affects the exterior that others might judge you by – the blemishes, the scars, and the pounds in “undesired places” . . . And He sees you as BEAUTIFUL.  Because, you, Sweet Sister in Christ, are HIS. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Things That Truly Matter - Dinner #84

- Thoughts For The Homeschool Mom -

This past Sunday, we had the opportunity to participate in a “Parade of Nations” at a missions conference.  It was such a beautiful thing to take part in, and brought tears to my eyes.  I watched the various flags going by after our own, and thought of all the people, from all the nations, one day gathered around the Throne of God.  I watched our girls happily wearing costumes representing China, Canada, and South Africa, and I thought about the possibility of them embarking upon their own missions work in the years ahead.  I praised God that, from a very young age, they are getting a glimpse of the THINGS THAT REALLY MATTER in this life.

The fact is, there are days on this deputation journey when trying to homeschool on the road feels like a “lost cause”.  Every day is different, and the routine just isn’t there!  It is easy to become overwhelmed.  But the Lord knows how to encourage a weary mom!

Isaiah 54:13 “And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.”

A fellow educator recently asked me about the necessary homeschooling paperwork for our state.  When I pulled up last year’s letter to the school board, it immediately blessed my heart.  It reminded me of the THINGS THAT TRULY MATTER! I read the carefully thought-out phrases and the numerous Bible verses I had cited, and I sat there with the laptop and just rejoiced!  THIS – This is why we are doing what we are doing! This is a task that we feel GOD has given to us! He knows the plans that HE has for our children, and will continue to help us through every stage! Whether we are in America or overseas; in a house, or in a hotel, or in a van.  

As Christians, our beliefs are based upon the Bible, and affect every aspect of our daily lives – the words we say, the songs we sing, the books we read, the entertainment we allow in our home, the ministries we become involved in, and the very way we function as a family.  We believe that our children should accompany us as we serve in ministry. These opportunities are vital examples in the training of our children. Our prayer is that by homeschooling our children and raising them in a Christian home, we can impart our beliefs to our children, and help them to grow in their own personal walk with the Savior. 

Joel 1:3 “Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.”    

Homeschooling won’t look the same for our family as it does for yours.  That is the nature of homeschooling!  It is often as different and unique as the individuals involved. Home education can also undergo a variety of changes through the years – with the introduction of a newborn, the move to a new house, the discovery of a learning disability, the potty training of a toddler . . . The methods may alter a hundred times over.  But when my children leave my home one day, what will I want them to have learned?  Have you ever paused to consider that thought? 

Deuteronomy 6:7 “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

I Pray My Girls Will Have Learned -

To love the Lord their God.  To hide His Word in their hearts.  To share His Word with others.  To value life.  To be thankful to their Creator. To cherish the gift of salvation.  To appreciate their country’s history.  To be grateful for their country’s freedoms.  To see individuals of every race as souls for whom Christ died.  To stand up for what is right.  To serve without being noticed.  To work as a team with others.  To finish a task once it has been started.  To respect God-given authority.  To read fluently.  To know how to communicate thoughts and ideas through the use of art, and music, and the written word.  To use their talents and gifts for God.  To give cheerfully to the Lord and to manage their personal finances. To provide wholesome meals for their family.  To possess a sense of curiosity and wonder, as well as a keen imagination.  To have all the tools to pursue further education and training in any field to which the Lord might one day call them. 

This list could be ever so much longer. 
   How about your own?  You are your child’s mother as well as their educator.  Do you know WHY you have taken this task upon you?  Has God laid certain things on your heart that you need to accomplish for Him?  Your children are unique and special to God!  When you’re tempted to be overwhelmed in your homeschooling endeavors, I encourage you to hold onto your God-given goals.  Not your own ambitions or desires, but the priorities that HE helps you to set, each year as it comes. 

Psalm 127:1 “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it . . .”

As you finish out the current grades and choose curriculum for next year, I urge you to pray before purchasing.  If a workbook or a video does not suit your child’s particular needs, or your family’s personal goals, don’t use it next year!  Don’t feel confined to a curriculum. Don’t compare your child to someone else’s.  Don’t seek to please anyone but the Lord.  And don’t forget WHY you are doing what you are doing!  Our time with our children is short! May we use it for the honor and glory of the Lord. 

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Many Blessings!

Friday, March 9, 2018

A Channel Of His Love - Dinner #83

I am used to saying “goodbyes”.  I grew up in a military household, and have lived in several different states during my life.  But this huge lump I feel in my throat when the tears threaten – that is something new to me . . . There are times on this deputation journey when it is truly hard to say “goodbye”.  When God is at work in a congregation – when people’s hearts are tender – without a doubt, God can knit those hearts together in a truly beautiful, wonderful way. 

I John 4:11 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”

I have met so many dear Sisters in Christ, over the past few months!  I have felt God’s love poured out through the kindness of His people in a way I never could have imagined.  Ladies who have taken a genuine interest in me and in my family.  Ladies who have shared laughter and godly fellowship.  Women who have prepared lodgings, worked nursery, and cooked meals.  Fellow “Miscarriage Mamas” who have shared with me their own stories and have encouraged me regarding my book.  Sisters in Christ who have told me sincerely that they are praying for us and will continue to do so.  There are times in these meetings when my heart just overflows. 

Romans chapter 12 shows us that a people who fully give themselves to the Lord, can then genuinely give themselves to others.

Romans 12:1 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."

Romans 12:9, 10 “Let love be without dissimulation . . . Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love . . . ” Not hypocrisy, but true, genuine Christian love!

Romans 12:11, 13, 15-16 “. . . fervent in spirit; serving the Lord . . . Distributing to the necessity of the saints; given to hospitality . . . Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.  Be of the same mind one toward another . . .”

God has comforted me, and I will seek to comfort you.  God has blessed me with food and I will share my table with you.  God has provided me a home and I will give you a place to sleep for the night. 

The Bible tells us in Galatians 5:22, 23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance . . .  It is truly a beautiful thing when you see such fruit lived out in the lives of fellow believers!

I Corinthians 13:13 “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

The greatest of these . . . The very best.  “Charity” is LOVE – and oh how wonderful such Christian love is! We are a part of the family of God!

This journey of deputation has challenged me!   Am I being a channel of Christ’s love today?  Do I selflessly put the encouragement of others above my own needs and desires? Am I allowing God to lead me to the hurting, the weary, and the travel-worn? What an honor and a privilege to be used of God in such a way! 

John 15:9 “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.”