Troubled: Times of Refreshment and Renewal

I am tired this morning. I didn’t get enough sleep, and the sleep I did get was restless. My dog and a child were also up in the night, so most of my sleeping time was tossing and turning. I watched a movie before bed which often affects how I sleep, maybe that added to restlessness. I also have had a crazy busy week and my house is messy. My life is a little messy too…cares of family matters, business matters, financial matters and faith matters. My mind is cluttered with the cares of the world, disjointed just as this writing is…I carry it all and it makes me weary.

 

I know I am not alone in this. Our world, no matter where you live or what your economic standing, has trouble. Yes, in our First World nation trouble is often cushioned by nice homes, plenty of food and plenty of diversions to distract us, but Jesus was not being facetious when He said, “In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33). He had those of us privileged to live in First World countries as those in developing ones. “Trouble” can entail broad ramifications.

 

I am supposed to be writing about rest and refreshment. So how do we “get” from the troubles of the world weighing heavy on us to this refreshment? Jesus didn’t only confirm the troubles of the world, He gave us a way to have peace amidst the troubles. The rest of John 16:33 states, “But take heart. I have overcome the world!”

 

I love The Message Bible’s translation of Matthew 11:28:

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

 

So much can be unpacked from these verses!

 

First the questions, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out…?”

 

We need to acknowledge our weariness.

 

Jesus had just finished chastising the Pharisees for their unbelief and unrepentance and then turned his attention to the ordinary people who were hungry and attentive to him. He spoke their language, He knew their weakness, and He invited them to “come to me”, “Get away with me.” He does not want us to “go it” alone—He wants us to draw closer to Him.

 

He gives us instruction in this invitation: walk with me, watch me, learn from me.

 

When we draw close to Him, we see Jesus—God as man—who walked the earth with perfect intent, perfect purpose, living fully in what God would have him do. He ate, he slept, he prayed and rested. He tarried along the way and built relationships, healed the sick and encouraged the crowds. He did indeed walk in “unforced rhythms of grace”. Unforced, not striving but in tune with the Father, nothing “ill-fitting or heavy.”

 

Don’t we all at some time or another take on activities and projects and responsibilities that don’t fit us? Our personalities or our gifts and talents are then misapplied. We aren’t meant to take on our neighbor’s purpose or make our friend’s goals ours. We have our own path, which will often cross with others, but is well suited for us. When we stay close to Jesus He promises our purpose will fit us.

 

But, you say, “I know I am to walk the path I am on and I am tired and worn out and burnt out!” That happens too. Even when we walk on right paths, we may encounter struggles, temptations, and times when we are just plain tired. There is trouble in this fallen world! The invitation is the same; “Come to me.” Even better, “Get away with me.” We need times to draw away from the crowd and get a little closer to Jesus and Abba, Father.

 

When we are following Jesus we realize, as Jesus did, that we are in physical bodies that need rest and nourishment and relationship. Jesus rested from his work, took extended times for prayer and ate regular meals, as well as took time to fast. This is a model for us to follow!

 

As we walk with Jesus and talk with God we learn the unforced rhythms of grace. Quieting our hearts and strengthening our faith. Even in the midst of the activities of the day we can pause and “keep company” with Jesus. He is always with us and is standing at the door of our hearts waiting for us to let Him in. This doesn’t make all the troubles go away; it doesn’t always give us the answers or insight we crave, but this relationship can help us put things into perspective and give us refreshment. We gain a renewed eternal view having our minds, bodies, and spirits refreshed so we can enter back into the world with renewed purpose, energy and perspective.

 

Walk with Him today so that you, too, may walk in the unforced rhythms of grace.

 

Written by LOV Sister~

Martha Mason

 

 

Other Scriptures to ponder which talk of drawing close to God.

“Draw close to God and He will draw close to you.” James 4:8

“Here I am, I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Revelation 3:20

“Let us draw near to God” Hebrews 10:22

“Seek the Lord while he may be found, call on Him while he is near” Isaiah 55:6

Perseverance

I have been hard-pressed lately. Thankfully by God’s grace I can say, like Paul, I am not crushed. But, I am ever-more determined to press onward towards those goals put before me. (2 Corinthians 4:8)

 

~My friend Martha encouraged me with words about perseverance. I asked her to put pen to paper so you may be encouraged too. In whatever way you are feeling hard-pressed today, may you know that goodness and faithfulness are at your back prodding you forward. ~Nicol


Perseverance is a noun; it is something we possess, a character trait. It’s not a verb, not something we do, though persevering is the verb form and is what we do when we have perseverance. But, perseverance is something we have because of or in spite of difficult circumstances. It’s possessing the drive and motivation to move forward and through, not avoiding or giving up, but continuing, despite obstacles and setbacks.

 

Perseverance will look different depending on the difficulty: for the athlete trying to perfect his form it will be physical perseverance; for the student it could be physical (remember those late nights and the exhaustion the next day?) as well as mental; in relationships it will be emotional.

 

Suffering and difficulty provoke perseverance, but the reason we persevere—persist through the difficulty—is because of hope. We expect a positive outcome on the other side of our difficulty. It’s not just about finishing a task or completing a course of action, but it is about what we expect to gain because of our working through it.

 

Whether it is the hope of a college degree at the end of an arduous course of study, or the hope of establishing a successful career and financial security through long work weeks, or persevering through cancer treatments in hopes of putting it in remission, most of us encounter circumstances at some point in our lives in which we need to persevere. We find our strength to carry on through the hope we have. Without hope we give up or give in, we turn back or leave.

 

If you are a Christian you accepted, through faith, the forgiveness of your sins and the hope of heaven through trust in the work of Jesus Christ. This temporal life is not our ultimate hope but is the place for perseverance, for building our character, testing our faith and joining in God’s work. We are exhorted to rejoice in this process because of the hope we do share. Jesus endured the cross for the [hope of the] joy set before him. His hope and joy was not only heaven but our salvation and His glory. His life was lived as an example of perseverance for us; his death was endured for the propitiation of our sins.

 

There is much mystery in the ways of God and why He designed life and death and sacrifice to be the way to salvation and heaven and glory. Our faith and His Word tell us that perseverance is needed to “be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”. If you have lived through trials I am sure you can attest to the work of perseverance in your life. The rewards are not always tangible but seated in our souls and evident in our character.

 

How much more can we hope for on the other side of this life? This is what we cling to: “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I [Jesus] have overcome the world.”

 

(Consider these scripture about perseverance: Hebrews 10:32-39; James 1:2-4; Romans 5:1-6)

 

Martha Mason

The Opening of Asher Home: A House of Blessing

“Today there are an estimated 11 million souls who are enslaved, their bodies being used for someone else’s profit. This number does not include those who have been raped, molested, coerced, compelled and forced into unwanted acts of sex.”

 

THE MORE AWARE YOU BECOME OF A PROBLEM, THE MORE YOU SEE IT EVERYWHERE. WHETHER IT IS ORPHAN CRISIS, FOSTER CARE, SEX TRAFFICKING, POVERTY AND OTHER FORMS OF OPPRESSION, BECOMING MORE IN-TUNE TO THE INJUSTICE OF THE WORLD MAGNIFIES IT IN OUR HEARTS AND MINDS. THIS CAN BE COMPLETELY DISHEARTENING AND WE CAN BE TEMPTED TO JUST IGNORE IT, STAY INSULAR, AND CARE ONLY ABOUT OUR LIVES, BECAUSE, AFTER ALL, ISN’T THERE ENOUGH TROUBLE JUST GETTING THROUGH A DAY AND WHAT COULD I POSSIBLY DO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE? OR, WE CAN CONTINUE TO LEARN AND PRAY AND LISTEN TO SEE WHERE GOD MAY HAVE US DO SOMETHING, WHETHER SPREADING THE WORD, GIVING FINANCIALLY, JOINING OTHERS IN THEIR MINISTRY OR ACTUALLY STEPPING UP TO DO SOMETHING NEW TO END INJUSTICE AND HEAL THE BROKENHEARTED WHO HAVE GIVEN UP ON HOPE.

 

The Asher Home, in central Pennsylvania, is the first of The Lov Foundation’s safe homes in the United States. It is the fruition of a vision born in the heart of Nicol Epple, Founder of The Lov Foundation. It is open and ready to accept women who have been victims of sexual violence.

 

A couple of weeks ago I was able to see The Asher Home and marvel at the work being done there. LOV has been busy renovating to get it ready to house women. When I went for the workday two weekends ago we spent Friday night praying throughout every room in the facility. We broke into two groups and prayed together for the house itself and for the women it will serve.

We prayed for and thanked God for the work He will be doing in the hearts of the women who will come to The Asher Home, that they will be blessed (that is the meaning of Asher) that they will be healed, that they will be freed from bondage, that God will give a beautiful headdress instead of the ashes of mourning and heartache.

 

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
ISAIAH 6

 

The Spirit of the Lord was present and we all could feel His pleasure in what would be done in those walls. No part of the house was left unprayed for. Even the furnace room, the heart of the house, which works to keep the residents warm, was prayed over. Nicol prayed the fire of the Holy Spirit would place His healing fire in the women and a passion for God.

 

But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is
the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And
we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are
being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to
another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 
-2 Corinthians 3:16-18

 

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR FREEDOM IN THE HEARTS, MINDS AND BODIES OF THE WOMEN WHO WILL BE SERVED AT THE ASHER HOUSE?

 

MARTHA MASON
Long & Foster, Inc
508 East Market Street,
Leesburg, VA 20176
martham@lnf.com
571-291-1961 cell
marthamason.lnf.com

Martha and her daughter, Anna, were part of our LOV group at our first trip to Costa Rica.

Part 2-The LOV Foundation in Costa Rica

We stood at the edge of two hundred miles of dense cloud forest stretching from Costa Rica to Panama. It is a national reservation and home of the Cabecar Indians, Costa Rica’s oldest indigenous tribe.

We’d driven two and a half hours from the town of Turrialba where the St. Francis of Emmaus Center is located. The first half of the trip took us through curvy mountains on two lane roads where trucks, vans, and motorcyclists pass each other on blind curves like “chicken-playing pros.” As terrifying as that was, it was tame compared to the second half of our journey. An hour plus on dirt and gravel, pot-holed roads had our stomachs bouncing up into our throats.The experience was novel, which went a long way toward making it less uncomfortable. Colleen’s husband Greg loves his Land Rover and was an entertaining guide. He and Colleen had us hysterically laughing our way through the adventure. This wasn’t their first rodeo with a group of short-term missionaries.

We stopped for lunch in the remote town of Grano de Oro, where the Mitchell’s started their ministry in Costa Rica. It is also the site of the “rivers of healing” described in Colleen’s book, Who Does He Say You Are.

 

 

 


 

Another bumpy ride took us to elevations so high the foliage became scrub and the air thinned. Finally, we came to the literal end of the road. We gladly peeled our bodies from the bench seats of the Land Rover, stretched our legs and backs and necks, resituated various other body parts, and began to walk down the path where the Cabecars enter and exit the jungle.
 

 






A logging company recently exchanged the rights to harvest wood in the reservation for building a road. They’re gone now, and Greg told us the road they built won’t last more than one rainy season.

 






Two young boys passed us walking up the dirt road. One carried a bunch of bananas on his back to sell in town. The second laughed and ran up the hill when we said “Hola!” 


Both carried machetes half as long as them. I thought of my own boys and how they would have thrilled to exchange their pocket knives for a machete at ten years old.






 

After walking a few minutes down the mountain, we remembered our steep uphill return and decided to stop. We took photos that, for all our best efforts, couldn’t begin to capture the wondrous site before us and all it represented.

  
 




A Cabecar man approached behind us. Greg greeted him and explained our odd presence. He then pointed to our group and called us “missionarios,” a title I felt embarrassingly undeserving of.

I could tell Greg was telling the man about St. Emmaus and the care they provide for indigenous moms. The man asked, “Cuantos cuestan?” How much does it cost?

Greg answered. “Gratis,” the Spanish word for free.

“Gratis?”

“Si, gratis.”

Greg wrote his phone number on a piece of paper and gave it to the man who smiled and shook Greg’s hand enthusiastically.

Then he shook each of our hands. His eyes shown with excitement, as he said “Dios bendiga,” God bless you, to each one of us and hurried down the path.

We turned to Greg, and he explained that the man’s wife is four months pregnant, and now he will bring her to St. Emmaus when she nears her delivery date. He knows doing so will prevent miles of walking through the mountains and then hours of car travel during labor, as well as the risks of an unattended birth.

She will be literal minutes from the hospital in the loving care of the Mitchell family, an experienced doula (Colleen), and a community of women who have likewise been helped.

I looked down the path for the man but could see only a tiny dot far down the steep mountain.


 

The LOV Foundation has collaborated with ViBella Jewelry and the St. Francis Emmaus Center to provide sustainable employment through jewelry making for Cabecar mothers and other women at risk.

Here are some ways you can join us in this good work!
 
St. Francis Emmaus Center
– donate
– purchase founder Colleen Mitchell’s newly released book, Who Does He Say You Are?
The LOV Foundation
– donate
– get involved 
– purchase products and provide sustainable employment for women 
~Written by Kim Hyland, visit her blog at Winsome Woman. (small edits by LOV)

Care Pt. 1- The LOV Foundation in Costa Rica

 

 You have not lived today until you have done something
for someone who cannot repay you.
~John Bunyan
 
At two years old, Kenneth is severely underweight and has cerebral palsy. His mother Saida is due next month with another baby.

They are Cabecar Indians, the most isolated indigenous tribe in Costa Rica. Their home is a two hour drive and a day’s walk into the jungle, far from the medical aid a child with cerebral palsy requires.

 

After Kenneth’s birth, he and his mother stayed at the St. Francis Emmaus Center to recover. But when Kenneth’s father said to come home, they did. Weeks later Kenneth was dying of malnutrition. They made the journey back to the hospital where they received needed medical care. They stayed at St. Francis and have lived there ever since. 

 

Saida, Kenneth, and the soon-to-be-born baby’s future are uncertain to say the least. I think of the challenges my own daughter faces daily with an almost two year old and an infant . . . forget a life threatening disability, mountain jungle, inaccessibility to medical care, and instability of family life. How will they ever manage?

 
This week the women of our team have taken turns holding Kenneth so Saida can work. 

 

She is excellent at jewelry making and works with incredible focus. Of course! It’s a piece of jewelry to us, but Saida knows her efforts will earn her a fair wage and create life changing opportunities for her family.

Poverty is isolating and constricting (Proverbs 19:4, 7) but through The LOV Foundation’s collaboration with the St. Francis Emmaus Center, and ViBella Jewelry, Saida and women like her are being given options for their future and the future of their children. 
 
Your purchases and support of these organizations directly impact Kenneth and Saida and mothers and children like them. 
 
Here are some ways you can join us in this good work!
 
– donate
– purchase founder Colleen Mitchell’s newly released book, Who Does He Say You Are?
 
– donate
– get involved
 
– purchase products and provide sustainable employment for women
Find us on social media at #lovcostarica
Shared by: Kim Hyland

Community ~ The LOV Foundation in Costa Rica



The language veiled her words, but tears told her broken story. I understood the words abuse, hunger, and homelessness. All foreign despite my ability to translate. But there were familiar words too. Sorrow. Depression. Fear. Her story was a world apart in many ways, yet ultimately not unlike my own and yours.

In the end, every woman’s heart longs for the same love. 

 



Her moist eyes shined as she talked of  strength and friendship found with Colleen and the other women at the mission. Laughing, she said men don’t understand women like women do. How could they? 

A community of women who break and bind, cry and laugh, and live and love in the security and truth of their Father’s love is unsurpassed in its power to heal and empower.








 


It’s so easy to complicate it. 

Is the house clean enough? Is the couch new enough? Will they like the food? Is my outfit in style? Does my hair look okay? We can consume ourselves with fears of rejection and have nothing left to share.
 
How do we get community so wrong? 
 
When they measure themselves by themselves 
and compare themselves with themselves, 
they lack wisdom and behave like fools. 
~2 Corinthians 10:12
 
Jesus gives us another model, as He meets us at the point of our need. 
 
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, 
but in humility count others 
more significant than yourselves. 
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, 
but also to the interests of others. 
Have this mind among yourselves, 
which is yours in Christ Jesus, 
who, though he was in the form of God, 
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 
but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, 
being born in the likeness of men. 
And being found in human form, 
he humbled himself by becoming obedient 
to the point of death, even death on a cross.
~Philippians 2:3-8
 




There’s a freedom hidden in humility that is as rare and precious as gold. It releases us from the tyranny of trying to control the thoughts, opinions, and judgments of others—something totally outside of our realm. 

In this freedom and relinquishing our own interests, we discover community, compassion, and genuine care.



I ask Thee for a thoughtful love,
Through constant watching wise,
To meet the glad with joyful smiles, 
And to wipe the weeping eyes; 
And a heart at leisure from itself,
To soothe and sympathize.
~Anna Laetitia Waring
 


Collaboration ~ The LOV Foundation in Costa Rica

Find where God is working and meet Him there.

~Henry Blackaby
 
Sunday evening we gathered with twenty woman to hear Nicol Epple, the founder of the The LOV Foundation, share her passion to care for at-risk and exploited women.
 
 
The women were brought together by Martha Mason, who welcomed them by reading this quote: 
 
If you want to make a difference with people, 
you just need to find like-minded people 
who share a common goal for doing something significant.
You just need to want to make a difference together.
~John Maxwell
 


  Martha shared how she’d found encouragement in her own dreams and endeavors when attending Winsome two years ago. This year Martha heard Nicol speak at Winsome and contacted her soon after, expressing her desire to support The LOV Foundation. Nicol promptly invited her to “Come to Costa Rica with me!” Martha was surprised at Nicol’s invitation, but she said yes!

 
On Sunday, Nicol discussed the sobering statistics of sexual abuse and all its snowball effects . . . addiction, poverty, dysfunction, isolation, broken lives. The LOV Foundation will be opening a home in Pennsylvania to care for women like these in October. 
 
So why in the world are we in Costa Rica? You can read this post for more details, but the short answer is . . . collaboration.
 
Nicol and I met via the internet years ago. Two years ago, I met Amy Breitmann who works for ViBella and has partnered with Winsome the last two years. Last year, I introduced Nicol to Amy, and Amy introduced Nicol to Colleen Mitchell. Colleen invited Nicol to come to Costa Rica and work with the women she and her family serve at the St. Francis Emmaus Center.
 
That’s the short version. The connections form a beautiful tapestry that is almost too complicated to follow. It’s amazing how likes, friends, and posts on social media outlets can grow into kingdom work! <<< tweet this
 
We arrived in Costa Rica Monday afternoon and were greeted by Colleen and her son. 
 
 
As we made the two hour journey from the capital city to their mountain home, Colleen shared the story of how her family came to this mission. The windy, two-lane mountain roads, twisted and turned and went up and down as if in synchrony.
 
Colleen’s beautiful story is unique, but like most God-sized dreams, it contains some common threads . . . a dream born of struggle and pain, unexpected paths, and a mission way bigger than a single person. Collaboration isn’t a nice idea; it’s a necessity! <<< tweet this
 
Today, we gathered with another group of women. While many of the women we met Sunday evening were strangers, the diversity amongst this group is more significant—a different culture, different lifestyles, and most challenging, a different language.
 

Seated around tables, Nicol explained in broken Spanish what we’d be doing as we began our collaboration. It was a slow start, but the woman caught on quickly. And quickly surpassed us with all their skills!

 
 After lunch, Nicol shared how despite our different backgrounds, we are sisters in Christ and that is more than enough for friendship and collaboration.


 It’s said when you put two draft horses side by side, they can actually pull not double but more than three times what each could pull individually. Even so, the exponential effect of collaboration goes beyond production.


 To collaborate is to co-labor. Every woman brings unique strengths as well as weaknesses. Together each individual is strengthened and stretched as our hearts and minds are enlarged.

 

Are you wondering where God might be leading you? Find where He is working and meet Him there.

Chances are you’ll find some sisters too.

 
Follow the rest of our trip on social media with the hashtag #LOVcostarica

They are all someone’s daughters

Last month I (Nicol) spoke on writing about social activism at the Faith & Culture Writers Conference in Portland, Or. It was noted that any topic/headline/story needs viewed twelve times before one stops and considers it.  From that talk and that statistic my friend, Jody Collins, came up with the great idea for a group of bloggers to write a monthly post about sexual trafficking.   The more who write, the more often this topic will get notice. For all of those affected by trafficking we pray that you-the reader-will STOP while reading this and pray about your part. The following post (slightly edited for LOV) is from Jody Collins’s site- Three Way Light (@ threewaylight.BlogSpot.com) They are all Someone’s Daughters

This is not a Mother’s Day post about happy things: bouquets of flowers, gifts of chocolate, homemade greeting cards.It is a post about a horrific practice going on in the heart of this fair land–the practice of sex slave trafficking of young girls and women.  Girls who are all someone’s daughter. Last month I attended a workshop given by Nicol Epple from The Ladies of Virtue Foundation in Pennsylvania.  She shared a burning desire to bring light into the dark places where Sex Slave Trafficking is taking place.  I was overwhelmed with the information, astonished, really that the practices she spoke of were going on in our fair land. I felt helpless in the face of the statistics and information to do anything about it. Then I realized I CAN do something.  I can tell YOU, and together we can spread the light. God’s heart aches for the girls and women, someone’s daughter, that are trapped in the practice of sex slave trafficking in the U. S. of A. Daughters without mothers who are desperate and alone. In my backyard~Seattle~the practice is rampant. We are a port city and along the corridor of a major freeway. There are more than tires and couches and toys that travel in those trucks up and down the coast. Women are trafficked, too, like a commodity. A powerful work against this darknness is REST ministries, also here in Seattle.  Real Escape from the Sex Trade has made a difference in the lives of hundreds of women, but there are thousands more. The statistics speak for themselves.                                                                                                                        REST ministries is a valuable information resource–if nothing else you can read and be informed then TELL SOMEONE ELSE about these daughters….and find a way to help. Women who ARE rescued from this practice need healing–a life long process.  The trauma is so deep and the horrors so unspeakable they may not be able to process what’s happened to them. Engaging in the arts–dance, painting, drawing can help.

The work of The LOV Foundation can be found here. Will you visit these sites when you can, read, pray and maybe give?

Instead of buying flowers and chocolate this weekend, 
maybe send a gift in a mom’s name?  

The mom will thank you, guaranteed.  And so will these daughters who need help out of the darkness.

~Photo of Grace and Curtis Romjue by the Author, December 2014