Spend July The Right Way

Last week our church, Community Fellowship, showed the movie “The War Room.” Before the movie played, I had the privilege to talk about hosting a Spanish teen through Young Life USA. I know I’ve recently posted about this opportunity but we are STILL IN NEED of host families so I want to share the words I spoke on Tuesday.

“The War Room,” has a lot to do with prayer and the spiritual battle that we are facing.  So as I was reflecting over our experience, I realized our family was able to see first hand the power of prayer, and the spiritual warfare that may come, when we step out of our comfort zone and do something that we don’t necessarily want to do, but we know God wants us to do it.

Last year, with A LOT of hesitation, we decided to host a teen through Young Life. We have four children of our own and we have a revolving door of cousins, friends, and neighbors, coming through our house all the time. But, hosting a teen was something different. It’s one thing for cousins to come over, but an entirely different thing for a stranger to come from another country and live with us for a month.  I wasn’t sure I was up to this task.

However, in January of 2015, when CF showed the promotion video for Young Life, I felt a nudging from the Holy Spirit. At that moment, it didn’t matter how I felt or what I thought, or what doubts or hesitations I had, I knew that God wanted our family to be a part of this program. So, in February of last year, without knowing our schedule in July, we filled out the forms to host a teen. I was excited and nervous at the same time. As I hit the send button on the forms I was filled with an unexplainable peace knowing that God was in control. But then I thought, what now? God simply nudged me again and said, PRAY. Pray for your teen, and for your family, for his family, for his country, for his Salvation, and for My message to be spread through Spain and Andorra. So that’s what we did. Colossians 1:9 become our verse for our teen and his country, and it still is. In fact it has become our verse for Young Life, for all the teens that will come this summer and in the years to come. It says, “from the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”

It’s SO easy to under estimate God’s power through prayer and it’s SO easy to forget the spiritual battle that we are in. During the months from February to July there were many times I was tempted to listen to the phrases inside my mind that were telling me, “What were we thinking!?” “Why did we sign up to host a teen!?” “We have problems, big problems!?” (Who doesn’t?) “We argue!?” (Who doesn’t?) “Our kids fight!?” (Whose don’t?) “How can God use our family to reach this teen!?” These questions and doubts were from the enemy. He was trying to frustrate us and worry us – because of course he didn’t want us to sign up to host a teen. He didn’t and still doesn’t want families to make themselves available. He doesn’t want Spanish teens to come to our country and hear the message of salvation. He would rather have us stay in our comfort zones and believe the doubts he’s putting in our minds. Thinking, we can’t do it or we don’t want to do it. It will be an inconvenience. Someone else can pick up the slack. Don’t let the enemy win. If you are thinking about hosting a teen do it! As soon as you make the decision, realize it’s in God’s hands. You and your family just need to PRAY, pray for your teen, pray for his or her family, pray knowing and believing that God will place the perfect teen in your house. TRUST, that God has BIG plans. He always accomplishes more than we can ever ask or imagine. If we open up our homes and hearts, give God our doubts, and step into the unknown, I promise you that God will do an amazing work, not only in your family but in the life of your teen and possible in the life of their family and country.

When we signed up last year we were so concerned about the unknowns and worried that it was going to be hard. It’s not hard. In fact, it was pretty EASY and so much FUN. God is in the process. He is working and we are just allowing Him to use us as His vessels to spread His message.

These teens are so excited to come to the US and to live with an American family. They don’t need to be entertained every second of every day. In fact, if you have kids, it’s amazing how easily the kids connect and bond and entertain one another. It’s also a lot of fun to plan activities with your family and your teen, such as taking them to Chicago, or to a baseball game, or out to eat. However, what they really LOVE is just being involved with a Christ-loving Christian family.

Last July was one of the BEST months our family has ever had together. I am so excited to see what God has planned for us and for Young Life USA this July. I am praying that there will be an ABUNDANCE of teens that sign up for this program, and I am also praying that their will be an OVER-FLOWING, OVER-ABUNDANCE of host families.

If you are thinking about it, do it! Don’t doubt, SIGN UP! If you have any questions please check out Community Fellowship at http://www.commfell.org and there you can watch the testimonies of the host families and the teens.  I promise you, if you do this it will definitely be worth it!

 

Words To Ponder

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“Thus, if we think we require some good thing that God has withheld from us, in reality we don’t absolutely need it. It also means that if we feel our life has been ruined by some bad thing, in reality it is playing some very important role in our lives. It is teaching us, molding us, enriching us, humbling us, and so on.” (Timothy Keller Romans 8-16)

After Christmas the Best Gift Remains

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Did you find the Gift so tiny and small?
It’s easy to miss in the midst of it all.
The crowds and commotion were busy and loud,
while Mary and Joseph by Love’s manger bowed.

 

The Morning Star, a Newborn King, the Holy Child.
Heaven-sent, The Word in Flesh, His wounds to reconcile.
A Precious Babe, the Perfect Infant, wrapped in Grace,
Redemption, and Rescue to stand in my place.

 

Holy, Holy, Holy, now our sin upon His shoulders,
it was His death that bought us life.
Creator, Perfector, Alpha, Omega, Mediator, Advocate,
The Only Way, The Truth, The light,
The Sacrificial, Spotless Lamb of God,
The Lion of Judah, man’s Good Shepherd.
God’s Beloved Son, Our Savior, Messiah,
slandered, mocked and led to be slaughtered.

 

The cross He bore, our sins erased,
don’t miss this gift, it’s freely offered.
Immanuel, God with us, the grave it is finished,
death He has conquered,
And if we wish to live for Christ,
our lives we must
surrender,
when in eternity we see our King
we’ll praise His name forever.

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Living the Young Life

July 2015 changed our family forever. Starting in the month of February 2015, our family stepped out of our comfort zone and took a leap of faith. Little did we know what an incredible impact it would have on our family. We will never forget the experience, and if God allows, we will never pass up the opportunity to do it again. It not only brought our family closer together but it taught us that when we let go, and give God the opportunity to work, He will do far more than we can ever ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)

Our Church, Community Fellowship, partners with Young Life USA, enabling Spanish teens to travel to the US, live with host families, and attend a Young Life Camp. It literally brings missions into your own home.

This year, during the month of July 2016, we are hoping to have at least 15 host families sign up to be a part of this program. All it takes is a family that is willing to share Christ’s love and open up their home and hearts to a Spanish teen who dreams of visiting the United States Of America.

A few months ago I had the opportunity to share our family’s testimony at Community Fellowship. We want to spread the word about this program.  It will make a tremendous impact not only on the teen but on the host family as well. Below you will find the short video of our testimony. Please watch it and prayerfully consider if this is an opportunity you would like to experience.

Suzanne Ryan Missions Story

 

Pictures from our month with Jan. He will always be a part of our family.

If you want more information about this program please check out a short video about Young Life USA Camp, found at http://www.commfell.org/ylusacamp or you can email Gordon Spahr at gspahr@commfell.org. Also, feel free to contact me personally at Suzryan123@hotmail.com.

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Our Family – July 2015

What Road is Next?

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When I was a little girl, my dad, without even realizing it, was inspiring a dream within my heart. My dad was my hero, there was no better man on earth. He was the kindest, hardest-working,  strongest, bravest, fastest, and most adventurous father a daughter could have.

Whether we were at home or at our cabin in Wisconsin, I remember  watching him get up early to go for a run. He would come back from running excited to tell us his estimated time and distance. In those days, he didn’t have the luxury of a GPS, so later in the week when we were in the car, he would drive the route and clock his distance. He knew how many miles it was from our house to main street or from our house to the high school. He knew it was only a mile from our cabin to the dock or five miles from our cabin to the closest farmhouse.

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Watching him run created in me a strong passion to run. I would ask my dad to time me with his stop watch to see how fast I could run down the street in front of our house. I was so excited when I was old enough to join him on his early morning runs, and I couldn’t wait to be old enough to compete in track meets.  And my dad was there every step of the way. He was at every track meet, cheering me on, telling me to keep pushing, to keep going, to not give up, to run hard all the way through the finish.

Unfortunately, my younger running days consisted of running track only during 7th-9th grade. It was around my sophomore year that I let loose of the dream of running and breaking school records. I left the race. I wandered off the course and for a while I lost sight of the finish line.

My dad was still there, waiting for me, encouraging me, and cheering for me. And years later, I found the race again. However, this time it wasn’t around a track but on the roads. The wide-open roads that held every distance from the mile to the marathon, and I loved them all. But now the roles had switched, my dad was my biggest fan, and he was watching me run and telling me to go after my dream.

Running wasn’t just running to me, it was a gift that God had given to me and an ability that I could use for His glory. I felt that God’s platform for me was being a Christian athlete. I never wanted to use my running to focus on me, but I wanted it to point to God. I wanted Him to use my talent and abilities to make His name known.

That’s why, sitting here this morning, still injured and logging almost nine months of not running makes me tempted to give in to feelings of discouragement, sadness, anger, frustration, and disappointment. I don’t understand why God, in this season, is asking me to die to the race. I don’t understand why He would take something away from me that I longed to use for Him. I know that He could easily heal my foot and I could wake up tomorrow able to run. I don’t understand why He won’t change my circumstances.

Once again, God reminded me to stop and open my eyes and see that He has let me run the race. Time and time again, along the course, He has blessed me with friends, faith, and lessons-learned through wins and losses. But now He is asking me to step off this course. I don’t have to understand His ways, but I need to stop questioning, and I need to surrender and trust that He has a different road for me to follow now. For the time being, I have crossed the finish line and there is a new race ahead. But, I won’t find it if I keep holding onto a dying dream.

This type of surrender is a struggle and if I had my choice I wouldn’t let go of the unfinished business I have on the roads. My dream was to make it to the Olympic Trials. I don’t want to give that up. But, God is asking me to do exactly that, so I must.

In the book “Whatever the Cost,” David Benham says, “stop worrying about where you thought I was going to get you. You’ve made that an idol in your life. Just be faithful to Me. I had made an idol out of the promise, purpose, plan, and platform God had given me for my life. So when things worked out differently than I had envisioned, I found myself reeling, trying to find my identity. All along my identity should’ve rested solely in the Person of God – not in His plan for my life.”

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Although it’s a struggle, I’m walking off the course and waiting to see how God will lead me to the next road.

“God is not going to give you what’s in His hand until you let go of what’s in yours. The issue isn’t, what’s in God’s hand. The issue is, do you trust God to let go of what’s in yours?” (Whatever the Cost)

 

 

 

 

 

You Don’t Want To Go To Disney?

 

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Rachael has been waiting for over two weeks for this up-coming Friday. She was invited, with a few other girls, to a friend’s house for a sleep-over, to celebrate the beginning of Christmas break. They each drew Secret Santa names and Rachael immediately wanted to go to the store to pick out the perfect present. It’s been hard for her to keep it a secret. In fact, yesterday she had a friend over, and I heard them whispering about Secret Santas. I have a feeling it might not be so secret anymore. Rachael is more than thrilled about this! She thinks this will be the best way to spend the first day of Christmas Vacation!

Until…I deflated her excitement by telling her she couldn’t sleep-over, nor stay at the party the entire time. For Rachael, this was the worst news ever. Why, wouldn’t I let her stay!!?? It wasn’t fair! I was mean! I ruined everything!

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Rachael’s mad face when she was two

The reason she can’t stay  is that we have a family trip planned. She doesn’t know this. She thinks we are simply going to Indiana to visit her grandma and grandpa. So, Rachael, is upset. She told me she could, “care-less about going to Indiana, we were just there!” “All I want to do is go to the Christmas party!!” “IT’S NOT FAIR!!”

What Rachael doesn’t know, is that we are by-passing Indiana and going to Florida and not only Florida, but to Disney World. The Magic Kingdom. A place were she has begged and begged to visit. A Christmas wish put on her gift list year after year. And this year, it will not only be a wish but a reality. Something far better than a one-night, Christmas party, sleep-over, is waiting in her future. But, she has no idea, so she would rather, without knowing, settle, for the sleepover.

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This made me think, how many times have I had my heart set on something, an athletic dream, the perfect job, a relationship, a new house; there are so many things that can fill-in that blank. I’ve desired them with all my might only to have God close the door on what seemed to be the perfect opportunity. I hear God say, “No, not that!” “Not this time.” And,  I’ve reacted with anger, hurt, sadness, disappointment. I thought that, my plan was the best and that it wasn’t fair that God wasn’t allowing me to take hold of it! I wonder how many times He has had to pry my hands open to get me to let go of a “dream,” because I’m too stubborn to give it up.

Isn’t this what Rachael is doing with the sleep-over. She can only see so much, she only knows so much. She has no idea what’s ahead. If she knew we were going to Disney World, she would easily let-go of the sleepover to grab hold of the “grand-prize.” But, she doesn’t know what’s down the road. So, there’s a battle, a fight, she doesn’t want to give up the party, she wants to win.

How many times do I do this with God?  I don’t know why He closes doors that look like excellent opportunities. I don’t know why He says, “No,” when the situation looks perfect. But, I have to trust Him, because He sees the path ahead. When I let go of what looks like the excellent opportunity, it is only then when He can show me what really is the ULTIMATE opportunity. And it is then, when I realize what I was so stubbornly  holding on to, pales in comparison to what He desires to give me.

I know that Rachael wants to celebrate the start of Christmas vacation with a Christmas party, Secret-Santa sleep-over, but if she lets it go, she will find that there is so much more joy and surprise waiting for her down the road. She will be so thankful that she gave up the party to receive something so much better. I hope that I can learn this lesson in life. I want to be willing to let go of what I want and allow God to lead me on His perfect path!

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

 

 

Why my kids don’t believe in Santa

Why my kids don’t believe in Santa…

Because one quiet Christmas morning when my sweet and innocent children woke up to open their gifts they realized that Santa had not visited our house on Christmas Eve.

It was not Santa who stuffed his big belly down our chimney and indulged himself with the Christmas cookies and milk that my children had left out for him. It was not Santa that left presents under our tree. No, the gifts my children were tearing into were NOT from Santa at all!!

However, they were from a man who also wears a red-suit, but this man does not have a big round belly, nor does he have a soft white beard, or a deep joyful laugh of “Ho-Ho-Ho.”

Instead, this man, carries a pitch-fork and adornes his head with horns. It was not SANTA who left presents under our tree that year, but it was SATAN, himself!!

You see, I had been up late on Christmas Eve and having three young children at the time, my eyes were heavy with a tiredness only a mother can know. I was quickly  addressing my children’s gift tags, one after another, and in my hurry I signed each one,

MERRY CHRISTMAS, LOVE, SATAN!!

I did not realize my mistake until half-way through the presents when my husband said, “Suzanne, stop for a second, and SLOWLY read the gift tags, are you dyslexic!? Are they all suppose to say Satan or did you mean to write Santa?” My poor children were opening gifts delivered from Satan!? What kind of mother secretly puts presents under the tree and pretends that Satan was the generous gift giver!?

It’s amazing how one can mix up a couple of letters and change the entire mystery of the Christmas experience.

However, like a good parent, I have worked this mistake into my favor! For now, when the Holiday season rolls around I can tell my children that, “they better not shout, they better not pout, they better watch out, I’m telling you why, Satan…will surely come back to town!

Disclaimer – Satan did not really visit our house and no children were hurt or have experienced emotional long term effects by this mistake.

NO ORDINARY KING

Crimson shades of tattered white,
a moonless night yet all is bright.
An ordinary man who had a dream,
of impossible things, or so it seemed.

A child bride, a mere servant girl,
carrying a baby that would change the world.
Two relatives startling an unborn Son,
only to prove what had actually begun.

A cousin set apart to lead the King’s way,
to turn back hearts that have gone astray.
An order to travel to one’s own town,
a difficult journey with a belly so round.

They could stay in the stable or so they were told,
each innkeeper said all the rooms had been sold.
Shepherds and wise man each brought a gift,
to lay at His feet our sins He would lift.
The King of all kings was born in a manger,
humbled and quiet did his parents realize the danger?

A king afraid of losing reign,
a baby born to carry the pain.
A spirit of death upon the earth,
what Man has come with second birth?

A Godly man holds The Christ,
warning Mary that there will be a price.
A prophetess sees God’s Salvation,
and spreads the hope to a desperate nation.
A mother pondering all things in her heart,
God’s Son would bring joy, but first torn apart.

His life lived for only one reason,
He’s why we celebrate this Christmas season.
A baby born, to live to die,
it’s tempting to ask the question why?

His story doesn’t stop at His birth,
He died on the cross to give our lives worth.
But our story doesn’t end at His grave,
He’s risen again our souls He can save.
So let us bow down our lives to give,
we need to die to fully live.

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“For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“Mom, Who Do I Look Like?”

“There was a little girl, who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead,
And when she was good, she was very, very good,
But when she was bad she was horrid.”
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

This is Rachael, my ten year old, blond-haired, blue-eyed little girl. She has one of the biggest smiles and personalities I know. She wears her heart on her sleeve and it’s never hard to figure out what she’s thinking or feeling. And if you can’t figure it out, she’s sure to tell you in her sweet and kind ten year old voice, or her madder than mad, you better get out of my way or you’ll end up hurt, voice. (We are working on the latter aspect of her personality) There’s never a dull moment with this child and she’s never afraid to speak exactly what’s on her mind. In fact, just the other day, after making her lunch she told me, “Mom, you should try out for that show, “Worst cooks in America, you’d have a good chance of winning $25,000 and a new kitchen set from Kohls!” I couldn’t help but laugh because she was one-hundred percent, sweetly serious.

A few years ago, in the morning, while I was blow-drying her hair to get her ready for pre-school, she stood in front of the mirror, studying herself, and said to me, “Mom, who do you think I look like?” Instead of responding I decided to ask her the rhetorical question, “Rachael, who do you think you look like?” Without a moment of hesitation, she simply stated, “Well, mom, I think I look exactly like George Washington!”

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Ok, I’m going to admit that kind of took me by surprise!? I knew for certain she wasn’t going to say she looked like me. But George Washington was the last person I would have considered. I thought she would state the obvious, that with her blue-eyes and blond-hair she looked just like her dad. Or maybe even her older brother, Steven, who has the same color hair and eyes, but I definitely wasn’t expecting George!!?

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This conversation still makes me laugh today and I like to tease Rachael and ask her if she still thinks she looks like the Father of her country. But this conversation also makes me think, who do I want Rachael to look like? Who do I want people to see when they look at Rachael, and not only Rachael, but my other kids, and myself included. Wouldn’t it be great if they could look at us and say, they look like their Father, they have His eyes…

“Eyes that find the good in things
When good is not around
Eyes that find the source of help
When help just can’t be found
Eyes full of compassion, seeing every pain
Knowin’ what you’re going through,
and feeling it the same…”
(Amy Grant – “Father’s Eyes”)

Rachael, I think it’s great that at one point in your life you thought you resembled George Washington. I don’t think there are too many little girls who have stood in front of the mirror and announced, “I look just like George!”  It made me laugh. You make me laugh. And I pray that as you grow in your relationship with the Lord that you will desire to strive to look just like your Father in heaven.