Thursday, November 26, 2015


My posts have been heavy lately.  I know.  Some riddled with politics.  Others with opinions.  Others with things God is teaching me.  Deep things.  Although it has not been hard for me to find the joy in life or be grateful, there have just been other pressing matters, things I have felt prompted to say, in the hope's of encouraging, edifying, sharpening, challenging or reminding whoever may read this blog or follow me on social media.

God is taking me to this new place.  I believe there is a reason for this season.  I believe he is preparing me for something.  I believe I am preparing for battle.  But today is Thanksgiving.  And even wars stop for a time when reflection and gratitude is needed.

Today, I am thankful for...

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{My Jesus}
I know, cliché right?  Most of you don't know my story, my testimony.  And right now isn't really the place that I will share all of that.  But when the Bible says things like, "...rescued from the muck and mire," it was talking specifically about me.  He rescued me.  I don't really know how it happened.  Or why He pursued me like He did but my entire life changed because of Him.  I am who I am because of his radical love for me.  I do what I do because of His example written in the pages of the New Testament in The Bible.  I am compassionate toward this world because he was compassionate toward me.  He changed me.  He's still changing me.  And if you don't know Him, I would highly recommend you start your investigation.

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{My husband}
If there ever were an Earthly example of unconditional love it is wrapped up in the bodily form of Michael Anthony.  I believe with everything in me that God created Him specifically for me.  When he gave Mike the parents he did, He was thinking of me.  When he formed him in his mother's womb, he was thinking of me.    When He was preparing Him to be the man he would become, He was preparing him to be my partner in this life.  There is no one who puts up with my crazy like him.  There is no one who points me to Jesus like him.  There is no better father in this world than him.  He has loved me in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, in times of plenty and of want and I hope that our 12 years together is only the appetizer to another 70.  (Yes, I plan on us living to be over a hundred and Jesus will return before either of us die.)  I love you, Michael-y.

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{My first-born}
Landon Joseph introduced me to the one thing in life I aspired to experience: motherhood.  When they handed him to me, it was as if I had never experienced deep love before that moment.  There is no way to describe the things that happen inside a mother when she lay her eyes on her child for the first time.  He has grown to be a sweet, compassionate, tender-hearted young man.  He is constantly concerned for other people's well-being.  He prays for the hurting, the sick, the lonely...all.  the.  time.  He prays for Hope House every night and thanks God he gets to help little kids have a home one day.  He calls them his "brothers and sisters."  God has given this boy a special purpose.  And I am blessed to take a front row seat to his extraordinary life.

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{My middle}
Nohemi Ruth is our healing baby.  She came into this world at a time when our family was drowning in grief from losing Mike's father, Joe.  From her very first moment in this world she has had the ability to light up a room.  Her smile is infectious.  Her laugh is contagious.  She is a fighter, and stubborn and hard-headed which is difficult to parent at times, but I know without a doubt, that those same qualities God will use to change the world.  She doesn't give up.  She never settles.  She will argue the color of the sky just to see if she can change your mind.  And amidst all of that, which can be exhausting at times, she has this ability to curl up in your lap, nestle herself in and completely change whatever the mood you are currently feeling.  She has my heart and I can't wait to see the ways God will use that spunky little thing.

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{My baby}
Levi Frank may be little but he holds a very big role in this family.  He is absolutely hilarious and lives to make people laugh.  He is the definition of the word mischievous and in the middle of eating dog food, or coloring on the floor, or standing on our office desk, he will turn around, bat his eyelashes, smile and say "Te Amo" (I love you).  He reminds me how quickly this life flies by, how quickly they change, how quickly they grow up.  He has these enchanting blue eyes (that i prayed for for 9 months, by the way) that can say everything you need to hear with just a glance.  He adores his brother and sister and wants to be big just like them.  He loves big...will give you a huge hug and then slap you across the face just to make someone else laugh :)  Oh, his teenage years will be fun.

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{My parents}
You may think you have the best parents in the world but you would be wrong.  Frank and Rita are the best there ever was, ever is or ever will be.  They supported me, encouraged me, challenged me, prayed for me and loved me despite all the hell I put them through.  Even when things were difficult, between bills and kids and marriage and jobs, they never, ever stopped making us girls a priority.  And they never, ever stopped pointing us to Jesus.  Their marriage is an example of how, although not perfect, is a beautiful reflection of Christ and the Church.  There are no two people in this world I miss more on this day than them.  Sitting around their table, watching football, holding my Daddy's hand...if you get to be with your parents today, hug them.  There is nothing I would want to do more than hug Frank and Rita right this moment.

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{My sisters}
There is no one I took for granted in my life more than my sisters.  It is just one of my biggest regrets.  When I look back and think I could of had four best friends when I was growing up during all the tumultuous middle and high school years, it makes me so incredibly sad.  We were all SOOOO different.  And we lived in very tight quarters.  And we had hormones.  So we fought A LOT.  But I am so thankful that Jesus brings redemption and second chances because I love those four girls more than the air I breathe.  I am happiest when we are all together - our crazy kids running around us.  They are the most beautiful women I have ever known.  The strongest, kindest, most loving women and I am blessed to call them my own.

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{My Family}
There's a WHOLE LOT of people missing from this photo but we are all hardly ever together at the same time.  But let me just tell you, the Jensen/Goodwin clan are an incredible bunch.  We have endured some very difficult times over the years and a lot of really amazing ones but this group of people, this family, there is no way to say Thank You sufficiently for how you guys love me and one another.  We all have different careers, different beliefs, different genes - but when we are together - my heart is completely full.

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{My friends} 
The only problem I have - that's not really a problem - is that I have too many friends to name in one post.  I.  Am.  Blessed.  From childhood to college to adulthood, God has brought the most amazing people into my life to pour into me during different seasons.  You know who you are.  You know how you have shaped me into the person I am today.  I can only hope I have blessed you the way you have blessed me.

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{My In-laws}
You all have made me feel like I grew up in the Basham/Braisted clan.  From the first visit to Grandma and Grandpa B's house, you accepted me as one of your own.  I know so many people can't even stand to be in a room with their spouse's family and I can't relate even one bit.  Debbie, you are like a second mom.  I can't even tell you how much I love you.  Josh and Tim, you are the brothers I have always longed for.  Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins - Man, you guys are seriously the awesomest!

{My/Our Supporters}
Mike and I have been missionaries for 9 1/2 years.  We are lucky if we get to see our supporters once a year.  And we even have supporters we have never met!  You guys have been the driving force behind this journey God has us on.  We LITERALLY could not being doing this without you.  Financially, spiritually, emotionally - we have survived and thrived because of your love and wise counsel.  The future is about to get completely awesome, buckle up, we are all in for a wild ride and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone.  Thank you for letting me be a part of your life.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

One Syrian Refugee's Hour of Need

Copyright - Magnus Wennman / Aftonbladet / REX Shutterstock

I was running this morning.  It's generally a brainless activity.  I think about the events of the day just starting.  I think through to make sure I sent the kids off to school with everything they needed.  I send up a few prayers.  But this morning was completely different.

Syria was on my mind.  And not just ON my mind, it took OVER my mind.  There is no question that this topic is a hot one.  It's a difficult one, a complicated one.  What's even harder is the difference of opinion between Christians.  We expect the "lines to be drawn" between Believers and Non-Believers but this is a whole new ballgame.  I don't take sides.  At least not public ones.  I NEVER say my way or the highway.  I am just not wired like that.  But God has been stirring me to have a voice.  Not to tell anyone that they are wrong and I am right, but to maybe help us seek out wisdom on how to respond.

Since the beginning of time The Enemy - not ISIS or Terrorists - The Enemy of God and mankind, has launched a campaign with a very large army to do one thing...kill, devour, destroy.  Do you want to know what his number one weapon is?  Fear.  There is no other weapon in his armory that has as much power.  There is no other tactic that is as effective.  Fear is a game-changer, whether you are a Believer or Not.  The only difference between a Believer and a Non-Believer who is fighting the war against fear is that we, The Church, are called repeatedly to NOT fear.  The Bible mentions the phrase "Fear Not" or "Do not be afraid" more than 300 times.  The only phrase that is used more than that, is "Love" which is used more than 2,000 times.

This road is narrow.  It's crooked, it's scary, it's unmarked.  Does it sound like another road we all know well?
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." -Matthew 7:13-14
Maybe you are hoping I will take a stance.  I will say they should come or they shouldn't.  Sorry to disappoint you.  Church, you may not know this but you are not really fighting over what is right or wrong.  The reason there is so much unrest is because none of us really know what the right answer is.  There is conflict in our hearts between protecting what we hold sacred and showing compassion toward hurting people.  So let me tell you the conclusion I have come to--

Stop debating and prepare to respond.

We can all think we have a say in this, but in reality we do not.  Ultimately, our government is going to do what they think is best.  And as we submit, yes submit, to their authority we need to prepare to respond the way Jesus would if he were confronted with this same issue.

My words and my actions are not governed by Obama.  Or by Ben Carson.  Or by the Constitution of the United States of America.  The only thing that governs my daily decisions BASED on sovereign wisdom is God's Word.  And do you want to know what The Bible says?  It says love God, love your neighbor, love your spouse, love your children, love the unlovable, love the homeless, love the orphan, love the widow, love the sick, love the naked, love the addicted, love the prisoner, love the hurting, love the refugee, LOVE OTHERS -- more than 2,000 times.

If it happens - if the government begins the process of shipping Syrian refugees to our borders, the debate stops.  We can stop ranting on social media.  We can stop unfriending those "liberal Christians."  We can stop filling up our Newsfeeds with articles trumping our co-workers beliefs.  The debate is over.  They are here.  What you do next is what matters.  How you respond is what the world is waiting to witness.

I'm not pretending that this is an easy response to a complicated situation.  But I know one thing that I keep coming back to when how I feel in the moment conflicts with what i know to be true - when I was in the pit, running from all the hurt, running from the war waging inside of me, Jesus loved me.  A radical love.  A life-altering love.  And I will NEVER, EVER withhold that same love He lavished on me, from another person.  Whether they arrived through the womb of a home-grown American or on a rubber boat.

I realize this is messy.  We want there to be a lot of grey area.  There's lots of questions about funding, and taxes and economical effect.  And there's a real, legitimate concern that some of the refugees are coming with plans to hurt our country.  But, honestly, I refuse to turn my cheek from the 99% of INNOCENT people OUT OF FEAR of the 1% of them that have plans that may or may not come to fruition.  And if this 1% really strikes fear in your heart, then you better not go to work tomorrow.   A disgruntled, AMERICAN, ex-employee might come to shoot up your workplace.  And you better not send your kids to school either because a mentally unstable student might come and massacre their classmates.  And actually, you should probably find a new home, too, because when you come down to get your morning cup of coffee an intruder might take you out without hesitation, over your TV and your iPhone.  Do you see what Fear does?  It gives POWER to The Enemy.  It strengthens his cause.  It robs us of life and our purpose during our short stay on Earth.  That is what ISIS wants.  That is what Satan wants.

I would suffice it to say, that across history, the people that go from a loving, nurturing, thriving human being to a destructive, hateful and vengeful one, have one difference between the rest of us -- ONE PERSON who was there for us during our desperate hour of need.  A grandma, a friend, a parent, a coach, a dance instructor, an army sergeant -- one person showed us love, attention and worth and it changed our whole world.

This is one Syrian refugees' hour of need.  The world is watching WHO you will represent and HOW you will respond.