The Story We Tell

Every picture tells a story…or in this case, every family video creates conversation, reminiscing, and a lot of laughter. At least it did for my Dad’s siblings and a few of my cousins as we sat and watched old family films. Just a week prior to our family gathering, my sweet Grandma had passed away and while the family was together at the funeral my cousin suggested we dig out these old family memories. I recalled watching these precious family flicks as a child, but had not given them much thought for many years. Thankfully my grandparents had all their old 35mm films put on VHS tapes years ago which made showing the films, some sixty or so years later, a bit less challenging than it could have been.

A couple days after Grandma’s funeral, my family gathered in our shop for supper. As the meal was wrapping up and everyone’s belly was full, my cousin and I rolled out an old VCR and projector. We got a few strange looks as we were pulling out our surprise, especially when the vintage projector screen was set up. Once everyone was settled in we hit play and the laughter and sharing of good times began. I was able to watch my dad blow out his candles on his third birthday, see my beautiful grandma smiling as her young children opened their Christmas gifts, and catch a glimpse of an uncle I was never able to meet. One detail I had forgotten about these tapes was my Grandpa narrating the videos, and the sound of his voice made my heart smile even more. I was a little sad when the last tape ended, but I am thankful we have these special memories to treasure for a lifetime.

My Grandpa was notorious for lugging his huge video camera around on his shoulder when I was young. Why? I’m not really sure, but maybe it was his unique way of documenting our family for future generations. Not only did my grandparents leave behind some wonderful family films, they also left behind a legacy of teaching their children and grandchildren about their Savior and King. Honestly, if you had met my Grandma you would think Proverbs 31 was written about her. Each stanza seems to speak of her character perfectly and her actions always mimicked the scriptures she would read to us. Each in their own way, Grandpa and Grandma told us of God’s faithfulness, sovereignty, and love throughout their entire life.

In Psalm 78 the author retells the history of the Jewish nation to the people of King David’s time. The stories were told over and over again to each generation so each would know how God had cared for their ancestors. Perhaps my Grandpa filmed many events so we would not forget pieces of our history and the faithfulness of God through the hills and valleys of life, much like the writer of this chapter. 4We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. 5He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, 6so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. 7Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. (Psalm 78)

I pray the same may be true of my generation as my cousins and I raise our children to remember and tell Grandpa and Grandma’s stories of God’s love and faithfulness. Children are a gift entrusted to us by God Himself and with it comes the responsibility of teaching of our Father’s love, commands, and promises in all we do. Not for happy videos to watch one day, but so the story of God’s love and faithfulness will reach generation after generation. So while you walk down the path of life, be diligent in teaching your children of their Savior in all you do. Not teaching them to simply be good little humans, but rather to live a godly life of noble character, loving all they encounter as they mimic their Savior’s footsteps in this dark and broken world.

May it also be so of all of us as we joyfully raise our children and our children’s children to love and serve our God and Savior.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Be Still

One step forward, two steps back… Add a little tune to this phrase and you could have a depressing country western song. You may even have a greatest hit on your hands because it seems to sum up the way many feel these days. This short phrase has been playing like a broken record in my head lately as I have adjusted my plans to meet the reality of each new day.

I’m a planner and this year has not been an ideal year for planning much of anything. Scheduling any type of event has involved thinking outside the box, being creative, and always having a contingency plan. (And writing in pencil, not pen.) I handled it pretty well at first and found my energy in being creative and trying new things. When Plan A wouldn’t work as smoothly as I had thought, I quickly opened the playbook for Plan B…then Plan C…Plan Q…

I had navigated all the twists and turns this season has had to offer fairly well until a few weeks ago. As I was washing the dishes one afternoon, in the quiet of my kitchen, my heart was burdened with sadness and defeat. My mind had been drifting through the many emotions swirling through me when I looked up to see a small scripture card hanging on my window. The gentle whisper printed on the card said, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still. Exodus 14:14.” The words punctured my soul as I considered the fact I had perhaps been trying to fight a battle myself in the days prior.

Moses confidently spoke these words to the Israelites as they stood on the bank of the Red Sea. After leaving Egypt they had found themselves caught between an army who wanted to do great harm and a raging sea without a bridge. Instead of holding fast to the Word of God and remembering all His promises, the Israelites were fixated on the obstacles surrounding them. Perhaps we feel some of the same fears and anxieties now as we stand here wondering how we will ever cross this sea of division and virus talk. I don’t know about you, but I have heard and done my fair share of whining and grumbling, much like the Israelites. Energy all wasted on complaining about the problems around us, rather than simply being still; faithfully trusting our Sovereign God’s timing. As the Israelites anxiously waited on the shoreline for what was next, the Lord spoke and Moses obediently reached out his hands. As he stretched his arms over the water, God fought the battle as the sea opened and a path to freedom was given. Step by step the Israelites put one foot in front of the other all the way to the other side – on dry ground, no less!

I took in the words on the small card as I continued my task in the kitchen. Shortly after, my mind turned to praise and thanking God for the many battles He has fought on my behalf, even the ones I’m unaware of. The burdens weighing me down were lifted from my heart and I was reassured all would work out in His perfect timing. The next several days I stayed focused on what God was doing in this situation and did my best to be obedient to His leading – step by step. As I did I still encountered obstacles and doubt, but I surrendered it all to Him. Want to know what happened next? God fought the battle and not only did He take care of the situation, He provided in abundance!

May this be so of us today as we faithfully trust God’s plan in this time and place. May we hold steadfast to His promises and find our hope and strength in Him alone.

“The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” Exodus 15:2

Becky Ossefoort

 


A Servant’s Heart

Life has a way of turning on a dime, doesn’t it? All week I’ve been meaning to begin this little article for our Sunday publication but somehow kid’s events, work, and a driver’s test scheduled in Marshall kept me from getting it done. (Marshall is not convenient, but he did pass!) I did, however, take the time to start a new Bible study and was sure my article would focus on Genesis 1. But as I said, life has a way of turning on a dime. Early Thursday I was startled awake when Josh’s phone began to ring. We all know a phone ringing before the rooster crows is usually sad news, and it was. My mother-in-law had called to deliver the news of Josh’s sweet Grandma Ossefoort passing away during the night – just shy of her 96th birthday. As my day went on I knew I had to get this little message written so I could get it turned into the office on time, but all I had on my mind were sweet memories of Grandma O.

The first time I met this little gem of a woman was at a Christmas party when Josh and I were dating. She was busy in the kitchen making her famous chicken and there were swarms of people I had never met. The size of the crowd was a bit intimidating and it had everything to do with the nine children she had raised. I could tell each person meant the world to her just by the beaming smile on her face. Her welcome made me feel very special, but over the years I learned it was nothing out of the ordinary rather, just the way Grandma O treated everyone. As the years continued Josh and I were married and soon lived a short block away from her. Some of Kaylie’s first words were ‘Bamma O and our children were spoiled and loved with every encounter. From time-to-time she would watch them for an hour or two, each Sunday she hosted after church coffee for crowds of people, and she worked every day serving lunch at the elementary school until she officially “retired” at the ripe age of 85. After her retirement, she had a little more time to relax but you knew to call before you visited to make sure she was home. She stayed busy visiting and helping friends around town and serving coffee to the “old folks” at the nursing home – many who were younger than her. Grandma O was a very simple and humble woman who never had much, but trusted there would be enough. She worked hard her whole life, found great joy in serving others, and loved well. In turn, she was loved well by many and she will be missed.

As I said, the topic of my article this week changed from my original thoughts and ponderings. It was supposed to be based on Genesis 1 where we find the story of Creation and my focus would have been on the gift of rest after a good, honest week’s work. The timing could not have been any better – after all, it is Labor Day weekend. But instead, God’s reminder of Grandma O’s servant heart among her daily work seemed to speak louder to me today. (Her apple bars she made each fall come to mind as well. ☺) I’m reminded of several scriptures as I reminisce of her beautiful, kind heart, but perhaps Philippians 2:1-4 fits her life the best. “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”

May it be so of us too, as we go about our daily tasks and routines that the humble and gentle love of our Savior would pour from us as we look to serve those around us with a true servant’s heart.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Heads Up

Our family was able to escape to the Black Hills for a little getaway in July. Instead of the normal sights and busy tourist traps, we decided to pull a couple ATVs out with us and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. We rode through bumpy terrain, trees, and cliffs for two full days. Each of the 200 plus miles ridden was spectacular, but there was one area of trail that left my stomach in knots. The trail itself was not steep, bumpy, or on the side of a cliff. In fact, it was quite the opposite; a nice, gentle, flat, gravel path through the bottom of a canyon. What created the uneasy feeling in my gut were the devastating effects of a tornado that had ripped through the forest about 10 days prior to our adventure. The evergreen canopy which had once dressed the top of the steep canyon walls was now laying on the floor of the canyon. In addition to the splintered trunks left at the top of the walls, thousands of dainty birch trees on the lower slopes were bent on their sides doing everything in their strength to reach for the sun once again.

We wound our way through the shattered canyon and selected a path to take us to an active fire lookout station. The view from the top of the peak is breathtaking and you can see four states in the distance as you scan the terrain. As I was taking in the view I heard a woman’s voice from the fire tower above me ask if I knew what I was looking at. After a short conversation about different landmarks miles away, the forest ranger and I started talking about the tornado that created so much destruction along the trails. She had been at the tower all day observing the storm, but once the wind picked up and there were lightning strikes all around, she headed down the mountain to seek shelter. Thinking about what that must be like up there, higher than the mountain itself, in a small shack built in 1941, I can’t say I blame her!

In the days following the storm, her job from the tower was not only to watch for fire in the distance, she was also the emergency crews “eye in the sky.” She said it was critical for someone to be up there on the peak watching for approaching storms as the crews worked “heads down” in the canyon. Because of the tall canyon walls, one working with their head down (or up for that matter!) would not know what weather was approaching until it was directly overhead, making her job essential for their safety in the event of a severe storm.

Just a few days after the tornado there was another storm and without her in the tower, crews would have been left in great danger. As rain and lightning moved in she reported to crews, “Lightning approaching 8 miles from my location.” As she prepared to move down the mountain to safety, she made the call. “Heads up. Heads up. Move out and seek shelter immediately. Strong thunderstorm approaching 2 miles from my location.” was sent over the radio waves, giving crews ample time to move out of harm’s way.

I found our conversation fascinating and could have listened to her all day, but there were miles of trails to explore. In the days following our trip, I’ve thought about what she shared with me and it has reminded me of the active role the Holy Spirit has in my life. All too often I meander through this life with my head down participating in the things of this world and unaware of what is coming at me, yet the Holy Spirit will send me a warning message, much like the sweet woman at the tower, saying, “Heads up! Pay attention to what Jesus is doing!”

The last several weeks we have been exploring the Holy Spirit with Mike during our Sunday morning worship. As I have done some of my own studying I was reminded in John 16 of Jesus teaching of the Holy Spirit with His disciples. Jesus pointed out to them that after his death they were scared, lost, and “filled with grief.” (vs. 6) Then he shared He would be leaving again, but this time He would send a helper to them. I suppose I was like that in the past. As a child I had grown to know who Jesus was, but when faced with realities of this life, I was scared and full of fear because I felt lost and didn’t have a relationship with Him. Then, one day, I caught a glimpse of Him at work in my life and decided to trust all those words I had heard long ago. Now I live with Him in my heart and His Spirit guiding my steps just as He promised. “13But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; he will speak only what He hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”

May it be so of each of us as we walk through this journey, with our heads raised, that we may trust the Spirit’s leading each and every moment of our life, sharing His Kingdom with all we encounter along our trail.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Swamp Monster

If someone offers you a free pool, you take it! At least I did a few years ago. My husband would argue the silly swim hole is anything but free, but he knows better than to say anything negative about “my pool”. He has learned when I come home after a long day and take fifteen minutes to float in silence things will go better for all involved. I sometimes feel a little guilty as I float around, but I can actually stop and be still when I’m not looking at laundry, dishes, and the couch pillows everyone seems to think belong on the living room floor. The worries and struggles of the day seem to disappear as I listen to the birds chirp, a pig or two squeal in the distance, and breathe in the fresh country (cattle yard) air.

A few weeks ago the crazy, tornado like winds we experienced threw my water balance off and I soon had a pool with green water. Because of commitments to organizing and helping with the mission week in town, work duties, baseball practice, serving as the executive of mom’s taxi service, and less than ideal weather other days, algae began to grow and I didn’t have the time to get it cleaned up before it got a little out of control.

The Service Over Self week filled me and created a great sense of joy and accomplishment within and I actually forgot about my murky tank of water for a little while. Watching students give up their summer vacation to love on others, expecting nothing in return, is incredible to witness and be a part of. But when the devil sees joy, he seems to work overtime to destroy. I’m not sure he even had to work overtime because by Tuesday morning I was a crabby mess. My pool was a swamp, I had a full schedule for the week, someone had aired their concern over a situation, and not to mention the other day-to-day hiccups of life. By the end of the day I had had it, so I got out some pool equipment to get my retreat in tip-top shape. Once again, the pool turned out to be more of a place of therapy than activity.

In order to get the gunk off the bottom of my pool, I first need to raise the water level with fresh water. The newly added water ensures there is ample water to suck the yucky stuff off the bottom through a brush and hose and out of the pool. The pool guy calls this very simple device a vacuum and it does wonders in just a matter of a few minutes. Once it was all hooked up and ready to go, I climbed in the pool and started vacuuming. As I went about my work, I thought about the things that had me down and crabbed to myself in my head. When I was about half done vacuuming, I looked up to check the water level and heard a voice say, “Remember, you need to put the good stuff in to get the bad stuff out.” I froze as guilt flooded my body and I recognized my lack of filling up with God’s goodness over the last few days. The things I had been so frustrated with caused me to shift my focus away from the eyes of my Savior and my heart had quickly become a green, smelly swamp just like my pool.

While I did quick finish the vacuuming, as soon as I got out of the pool I sat down and filled up on the words God had for me in His scriptures. My little retreat on the patio was just what my soul thirsted for and I’m happy to report the condition of my heart looks a lot less gross than it did just a few days ago.

How about you? Do the things of this world have your heart turning into a green slime monster? I beg you to stop and feel God’s presence today. Find a place to retreat in silence and just be still before Him. God’s voice will speak and be a comfort to you.

I’m out of space to share the verses I read on my patio, but below is a list of a few to help get you started. While it may feel easier and a little faster to simply read the scripture from this page, I can promise digging into the Bible and seeking God for yourself is way more fulfilling than anything I can retype!

Exodus 15:2; Deuteronomy 20:4; Psalm 19; Psalm 23:3; Psalm 27:1; Psalm 46; Psalm 51:13-17; Psalm 63:1; Psalm 73:26; Isaiah 12:2; Isaiah 40:31; Matthew 6:25-34; Matthew 11:28-30; John 3:16; Acts 3:19-20; Romans 15:13; Ephesians 6:10-12

Enjoy your retreat!  Becky Ossefoort

 


Whoomp, There It Is!

“Whoomp, there it is! Whoomp, there it is! Whoomp, shaka-laka-shaka-laka-shaka-laka-shaka” If you are a ninety’s child like myself, you are probably singing this chorus in your head as you read. (You’re welcome!) It was a catchy tune and now nearly thirty years later I honestly had to look up the lyrics before writing this little article. I’m sad to report the lyrics aren’t the most wholesome and I found much more comfort in the Kidz Bop version! My young, naive self probably had no clue what the original lyrics meant and the other half of the lyrics, well I’ve never been able to understand rap music. Regardless of what I heard or didn’t hear, it was a catchy tune and was played on the Discman connected to the cassette player in our cars as we cruised the loop in Edgerton. (Students, you’ll have to ask your parents to explain this entire paragraph to you. J)

While I haven’t heard the song in years, I often say, “Whoomp, there it is!” in my head or occasionally out loud. We all have our quirks, right? I usually save it for special occasions like a grand slam hit in a baseball game, a dramatic breakup scene in a movie, or I even once uttered it out loud when my husband grounded our daughter. (Oops!) It’s my 90’s version of the more modern “Mic Drop” moment.

So what does this have to do with anything for our church Archive Article? Well, nothing really other than I have now cleared 200 words which will help me fill this page. I’ll get to the point – The other day I heard myself say this little phrase in my head when I saw the verse Micah 6:8 for like the hundredth time in just a few days. Growing up Micah 6:8 was our theme verse at Calvenettes and at each meeting our leader would prompt us with “What does the Lord require of us?” and in unison the group of girls would say, “to act justly and to love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. Micah six verse eight.” It’s just one of the many verses I hid in my heart as a young girl. But, as I said, it’s a verse I have seen repeatedly lately as I have read my devotions, scrolled through my Facebook feed, and the familiar words even caught my eye as I was looking at wall decor the other day. “Whoomp, there it is! Again!” I thought to myself.

Do you ever see or hear something repeatedly and finally realize maybe God is trying to get your attention? For me it means it’s time to pause and listen carefully because God is about to say something. I trust God has something for me with this scripture just as he has before. Maybe it’s a simple reminder to stay calm in this ever changing and challenging time we find ourselves in. What started as precaution a few months ago has turned to frustration, loneliness, and lots of opinions. The last couple weeks we have watched protests and riots reveal what seems like an even greater divide among many and deepening heartache within our world. So what is it the Lord requires of us when times get tough like this?

I’ve been asking myself what it means to act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly each day. Not just what it means, but rather what it means for Becky. Whatever I am doing, I wonder if I could do it with a more generous and honest heart, love more deeply with no strings attached, and how to simply be a brighter reflection of my Savior to everyone I encounter. And I pray, as I shine my Savior’s light in this ever darkening world, I may do it in complete obedience and humility.

Are you up for the challenge? Let’s all keep our eyes and hearts open to grow in how we act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. After all, what does the Lord require of us? (Whoomp, there it is!)

Becky Ossefoort

 


What Are You Learning?

I started a study on 1 Corinthians a while back and let me tell you, for such a time as this. As I’ve read about the culture of Corinth in Paul’s day, I see so many similarities to our modern-day culture – highlighted even more because of the current reality in our world. The city of Corinth had many travelers and businesses because of the location on the water route through the country of Greece. The people were proud of their city and you could find anything your heart desired because the Corinthian culture was full of indulgence, idolatry, and immoral living. It was a culture that thrived on self-importance, ambition, and status. Sound at all familiar?

In the book of Acts, we read Paul spent eighteen months in Corinth, “teaching them the word of God.” (18:11) I imagine Paul spent countless hours sharing the Gospel and gently correcting their habits and patterns of life in contrast to the Good News. A few years after Paul’s departure from Corinth, he receives word the Christian Corinthians have fallen into their old destructive habits in his absence. Instead of a good old fashioned written lecture, Paul simply affirms their identity in Christ and reminds them of God’s truth. Once again we see Paul’s gentle teaching and correcting as we read the words penned in his correspondence we have come to know as the book of 1 Corinthians.

As I think of the things God has been teaching me during this pandemic season, I can’t help but think of the things I have been learning in my studies as well. Paul spent a lot of time teaching the Christian Corinthians about the Messiah and living as part of God’s kingdom. But, after Paul departed on his next journey, the people quickly turned to their old habits. As we slowly begin to turn the corner of our social distancing, sheltering in place, and homemade mask-wearing, I wonder how quickly I may fall back into my old and regular patterns of life pre-Covid. Will I begin to fill my schedule with the things I didn’t miss or that lack real value for my life? When classes resume, will my children’s schoolwork turn into more of the teacher’s responsibility, rather than my own? This slower pace of life has allowed for an extended quiet time at my Saviors’ feet each day; will I continue to crave the time spent with Him or will extra time fade into what once was, as well?

See, deep down there is a part of me that hopes we never fully return to “normal”. No, I don’t mean keep things locked up tight downtown; those are my friends and it is good for us all to work and make a living. I am just as excited as everyone else to see friends and the smiles of our church family, but I am going to miss some of this season as well. I feel as though I am entering this new season of familiarity with a much different concern than when we entered the unknown – shelter in place way of life. During this time, God has shown me ways to minister in a fashion I never imagined and many blessings in the slower pace. I have found a deeper passion for worship, a greater desire for less, and patience I didn’t know I had just six short weeks ago. I don’t want to fall into the old habits and patterns of life before Covid like the Corinthians did as they waved goodbye to Paul.

We would likely all agree the lasting effects of this time will continue to be felt for many months to come. For some, this season has or will bring great heartache and loss. Perhaps it’s a time of life we wish we could simply erase. Yet I also believe God never leaves a season without revealing Himself to His people. In this time, may it be true of each of us that we lean into our Father fully trusting Him and all He has for us – both the good and painful – each and every day.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. [While maintaining a distance of 6 feet.] All God’s people here send their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 11-14

Missing each of you, Becky Ossefoort

 


Good Is Good All The Time!

“God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.” It was a phrase uttered regularly after the release of the “God’s Not Dead” movie a few years ago.   Such a simple statement I have believed in my heart since I was a little girl. I still hear people say the phrase, but perhaps not as often as I did when the movie was first released. Yet it is something I have reminded myself, and others, of in this season.

The COVID-19 virus has certainly stopped us all in our tracks in one way or another. To think how drastically our daily tasks have changed in just a few weeks is somewhat mind blowing. Many things we once took for granted look different right now, and I think many are ready for everything to return to normal. But what if our normal never looks…well, normal again? Could it be God is drawing us to something new? I get excited to think of a new, clean, fresh outlook on the ways I have allowed my life to become mundane and stagnant. Yet, every ounce of the human within me wants nothing more than to go about my regular daily tasks again without having to think so hard and reinvent what once, just was. It’s those moments when I cling to the phrases and scriptures I have come to know.

God is constantly at work to bring about good. On our Jr High Youth Group Zoom meeting this week we talked about just that. We dug into Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” All his promises are available to anyone who proclaims the name of Jesus! God uses everything and turns it to good for those who trust in Him, rather than the things of this world.

God is our Good Father. Whether it is the lyrics of the song “Good Good Father,” or God’s gentle whisper through the scriptures I am constantly reminded of His love and faithfulness to His people. While we will never be able to explain why God allows things like the Coronavirus to spread across the world like it has, we can fall back on the truth that He is in control and He is good! The scriptures are full of God’s goodness, one of my favorites that I am claiming in this season is, “They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty – and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works – and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.” Psalm 145:5-7

Ultimately, God already has a plan and knows exactly how this season will end. He stands in the middle of all the chaos, holding things together, and preventing anything from spiraling out of control. I would agree many things feel a little uncertain and as though we are venturing into the unknown, but God is all-seeing, all-knowing, and all-powerful. There are so many verses to find the comfort of God having all things held together, but today I leave you with this familiar one from Philippians 4. “4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Becky Ossefoort

 


Continue In What You Have Learned

“In the beginning God”…that’s where a group of Pioneer Club kids and I started this past Wednesday night during activity time. For a few weeks this group has been experimenting with different science projects, doing their best to understand why things react and do the things they do. The final lesson of the unit was about the Creator of all things along with what was supposed to be a brief discussion of Genesis 1:1-2. It was Awards Night so we did not have much time, but these first four words in the Bible grabbed the boys’ attention and sparked many questions and deep thought. Soon the room was full of curiosity and the leader and I smiled as we heard things like, “Wait! God was there before time…like always was…but…wait! How was He there before anything? That’s mind blowing!” “It took God six days to create everything and then He rested on the seventh day. So, shouldn’t the Sabbath be on Saturday?” “How did there get to be more people. Adam and Eve only had boys.”

While we didn’t exactly accomplish what I had walked in the room to do, I left filled knowing they could not get enough of learning about their Creator. The Holy Spirit was among us and it blessed my heart to watch them soak in what we shared in those brief fifteen minutes. I have promised to return with some information next week as I did not have a good answer for a question or two and I’m already looking forward to our time together!

At one point in our discussion someone asked how I knew so much about God, so I turned the question back to the group and had each of them to tell me something they knew about God. A few were hesitant with their answer and others rattled off several facts. I then asked, “So how do you know those things?” While there were a variety of answers, they all agreed most of their knowledge had come from listening to their parents, teachers at church, and reading the Bible.

While I was flattered they thought I knew so much, I told them they could know as much or more if they did one simple thing each day – spend time with God while reading the Bible. I shared how God speaks to me through His Word and I feel fresh and renewed after our time together. As I’ve grown to know God, life’s challenges seem a bit clearer, there’s been more peace in the storm, and I have experienced great joy in serving my Heavenly Father each day.

After our conversation Wednesday night it caused me to pause and consider how I am doing at home with my own children. Have I put as much effort into sharing Jesus with them this week as I have stressed the importance of completing their homework for school? Each morning they see me sit and spend time with God, but how am I doing at encouraging them to do the same on a regular basis? What do I need to change in their schedule to allow time for them to find rest at the feet of their Savior? Parents, we are our children’s greatest example and with a burning desire they are looking to us to lead them to their Creator. We may not have all the answers, but we can find those answers together when we dig into God’s Word and actively allow Him to walk alongside us in this journey of life.

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Becky Ossefoort

 


Perfect Plans

God has had a plan from the very beginning of time. His plan included a beautiful creation and, what I imagine to be, an unexplainable union of love with His people. When sin entered the world, it separated us from Him. While sin may have affected God’s plan, He continued with the plan of Salvation to reunite the perfect companionship with His people once again. We are all pieces of His plan and within it, He has a plan for each of us as well.

Plans. Life is full of them. Academic plans, health care plans, house plans, emergency plans, exercise plans, strategic plans, short-term and long-term plans, diet plans, contingency plans…the list is endless. We each have a plan for our day, our week, and our life. As hard as we try to carry out our plans, inevitably we run into snags, interruptions, and often detours.

I’ve been pouring my heart into a project for a while now; a plan I’ve been working towards for nearly a decade. I invited God to be a part of the planning process from the beginning and asked Him to not allow me to go ahead of Him as I worked steadily towards it. As the project has continued to come together, friends have been invited to help in the process. My friends have invested a lot of time, talents and advice into it, all for me. I’ve prayed over my project and with each step found clarity and peace in moving to the next step, instead of over analyzing every detail as I tend to do. The project was coming together beautifully when suddenly I felt God close the door – *click* – just like that. I wasn’t prepared for the door to shut and as it did there wasn’t a loud slam or a painful blow to the face, rather a soft, gentle close. One may think I would be very discouraged and disappointed, but in reality, I have actually found greater peace, joy and even excitement in my project since the door closed. I know and trust God’s plan is far greater than anything I could ever imagine and as beautiful as my project was coming together – I’m very excited to see how lovely it will become in His timing.

I was listening to a podcast the other day and the speaker said “Life gets out of balance when we quit before God moves,” meaning when we veer off the tracks of His plan we won’t experience the immense blessing of following His perfect plan. In other words, when we invite God to lead and direct us and then take over with what we think is best; we may still end up with something good, but not great. So knowing my future may hold some turmoil and trouble or simply a lesson in patience, I am thankful for God’s provision and protection, because in the end it will be worth every second of the wait.

Lamentations chapter 3 offered me this word, it goes like this:

22Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” 25The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. 27It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.

True contentment and peace won’t come by chasing our dreams; rather it comes from the willingness to chase the one who gave us the ability to dream.

Be blessed, my friends, as you wait on the Lord God and Creator of all good and perfect plans,

Becky Ossefoort