The Devil’s Not Sleeping and Neither Should We

This past week has been a week full of obstacles and challenges to say the least. It all started a week before we were to leave for Romania. I will fill you in on the latest happenings.

Early last Tuesday morning my brother’s car got stolen from his driveway. It was crazy. We all felt terrible for him and his family. We felt helpless and prayed that his car would turn up. Later that same day as Liviu was on his way to work in Chicago, he was attacked at the local Dunkin Donuts. He could not believe this was happening to him. The man wanted Liviu’s money and the keys to the car. Liviu told him no and that is when the fight began. Liviu got cut on his arm and then he took the man’s arm to stop him and head butted him at the same time. The man fell to the ground and Liviu got a 2×4 from the trunk and started beating him, this did not make the man happy.  Liviu grabbed a screwdriver and pointed it at the man, until he finally ran away. Liviu went to the hospital to make sure his hand was not broken and to get the wound checked out. It could have been worse, but the doctor advised him to get blood work to make sure he was not infected from the blade. Liviu started to head back home when the car broke down on the highway. Such a crazy day for so many reasons.

A couple days later we attended some very important meetings talking about our ministry here in Romania and all of them went extremely well. So many exciting things for the future and helping the people here. This just shows that everything that happened up to that point was Satan trying to distract us and get us down. We know we are in God’s will and that terrifies the evil one.

That weekend my brother’s family came up so we could spend quality time together before we would leave. The second day we were together, my sister-in-law saw that her son had bumps around his mouth and wondered what it was. As the day went on the same bumps were on his hands and feet. Low and behold the poor guy had hand, foot and mouth disease. It was a sad day, but he never complained once. It was only a matter of time before our daughter would get the same thing since it is highly contagious. And yes it happened as we traveled to Romania. Poor little thing is not feeling too good. We just have to wait it out and let it take its course.

Needless to say, Satan does not sleep and neither should we. He is out to steal, kill and destroy. That is exactly what he has been trying to do to us and my family back in the States. We are all actively serving in ministry and Satan is not happy about it. First he attacks the men of the family and then goes straight for the children. No way is he going to get away with this! We are coming back stronger than ever, ready to stand against his evil schemes with the blood of Jesus.

It can be very easy to separate the spiritual world from the physical world. It is easy to act like the spiritual realm does not exist. But let me tell you one thing, IT REALLY DOES EXIST. Satan is active and ready to pounce when he sees a weak spot. Do not let him get you down. You know you are in the right place when opposition comes your way. Keep going strong after the Lord! Extending the Kingdom of God is worth the struggle against the evil one. Even though it has been a rough week for all of us, it makes me that much more excited to see what God has in store!

Pray for your Mate

It is easy to go day to day thinking of all the reasons why our mate is not holding up to their end of the bargain. I can be very critical towards my husband without even realizing it. I get upset when he is not home for dinner on time, gets a call to meet with someone when we just put the baby down, does not help with the dishes, forgets to take the garbage out and the list goes on. But then I hear that ever so gentle voice in my ear saying, have GRACE.

I must admit I ignore this voice at times because I would rather be angry instead, but what good does that do? When I step back and think instead of letting my feelings get in the way, I realize how hard my husband is working to provide for our family and reach out to people who need Jesus. Instead of making a list of all of the things he’s not doing, I need to take time to pray for him. It can’t be easy being the leader of the home and a leader at the church with the weight of the world on his shoulders. As a wife I need to be his main support not his main critic. Life is too short to have petty conflicts and at the end of the day we are both doing what God has called us to do in this season in our lives. I am a stay at home mother and also very involved at church and my husband is the head of our house and a pastor at our church. Life in ministry is not easy but it is so worth it!

Take time to think of all of the good things your mate is doing. Let them know how much you appreciate and support them. It makes a world of difference bringing encouragement to the home instead of criticism to the home. Pray first and then speak.

Looking Upward + Onward

I feel like the Lord has been revealing so much to me this summer. In a spiritual sense I have been coming up against some road blocks that satan has been trying to put in my way. It is clear that we are in a daily battle. Satan knows where our weak spots are and does everything he can to get us to give in and give up. I have been feeling this way the past couple of weeks in my own spiritual life. I came to this realization this week and I am so thankful that my eyes have been opened to this, instead of going on feeling defeated. Throughout this battle the Lord has been sending specific people to speak into our lives, prophecy over us, and bring encouragement to us. 

Never give up on the calling God has placed on your life. Never give up living each day in His presence. Actively seek the Lord and see what He shows you. God has orchestrated every little thing in our lives from the family you grew up in, the job you had in high school, your roommate from college, the mentor you had in your twenties, the falling out you had with a close friend, the spouse you married, the prayer group you were in, only for you to find out that this whole time He was preparing for you to be a part of something greater. God has been a part of every detail of your life leading to where you are now and where you will be in the future. Instead of feeling stuck, use that as a stepping stone to even greater things. All of us have different stories and will have different outcomes, but when we put every piece together in God’s Kingdom, it becomes a beautiful piece of art.

Do not keep going on with life letting the devil have a foothold. Kick him to the curb and believe what the Lord says about you. He sees your greatness even when you don’t. These lyrics keep coming to mind as I write this:

I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

All you need to do is take hold and believe.

 

Overcoming Offense

There are many times in life when we have misunderstandings with others. Whether they are loved ones, friends, authority figures, colleagues… whoever it may be, misunderstandings happen. When this occurs we can either be offended or try to look at this situation in a different light. In my case it can happen often because I am living in a different country across the world from where I was brought up. There are many cultural barriers that I try to leap over them instead of letting them block me. But trust me it is not always a walk in the park.

In ministry there are many times people get offended from both sides, from the leadership to the congregation. It happens because we are all flawed humans. We try to follow Christ and His example to the best of our ability but there are days when it is just plain hard and our human senses take over.

Recently, I was offended by a misunderstanding that happened in my life. When I woke up in the morning I was so upset and wanted to try to plea my case to the person that misunderstood me. I wanted to call, email go to them and explain the situation so that I would not be offended by what had happened. I wanted to call a few of my friends to explain what I was going through and tell them what had happened and get advice for my problem. But then it came to me. The thing I needed to do first and foremost was to go to God and read the scriptures. I looked up “Scriptures on not being offended” and went from there. Once I actually started to read the Word of God all of my walls came down. Sometimes it is easier for us to build a wall instead of building a bridge.

I then realized that I wanted to go to people instead of going to God. It seems so obvious right? I mean we talk about going to God for all of our problems and seeking Him for comfort but how often do we actually do that? How often to we take time to sit with Him and seek peace instead of running to a parent or friend for advice? I know for me I forget to follow this basic principle that I have lived by for years.

Being offended by a misunderstanding does not help anyone. It is similar to un-forgiveness. When you are offended by someone and stay offended, it hurts you more than the other person and can cause a bitter root to grow. Usually the other party is going on with their day not even knowing that you were hurt by them. We have a choice to make and that is to stay un-offended.

One of the scriptures that stood out to me as I was reading today was this:

 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,  because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 

James 1:19-20

It really does take effort to look over misunderstandings and bypass being offended but trust me it is worth it. Of course if it is a major problem, go to the person and talk about it but do not stay offended without at least making an effort to think through the situation logically and spiritually instead of emotionally. Our emotions are different from day to day, even hour to hour, so be careful to judge a situation based on that. We can all have peace and guidance from the Lord if we actively seek for it.

T H U N D E R

When I was eighteen years old and ready to go to college, the Lord gave a word to my mother. For those of you who know my mom, you know that when the Lord speaks to her, you better listen. She wrote it down in church one Sunday and gave it to me. I normally do not share these personal moments, but for some reason I feel like I need to open up about how the Lord can speak to His children. Here is the excerpt:

“The world needs Chelsea, to bind up the broken hearted, to heal the sick and sadness. Chelsea is a light from heaven. She has been fearfully and wonderfully made. I love her. Every time you hear the thunder know that I am blessing Chelsea. I Am overwhelmed with and delighted with Chelsea. She is lovely inside and out. I have her in the palm of my hand!! I am the Psalms.”

When I look back on this note, I think of the past eleven years. I think of the days where I would read this note and feel like I am not able to live up to this or God does not really feel this way about me, or when will these things come to pass? I have had my moments of doubt but it has also made me look at God’s faithfulness throughout the years and to see how His promises never fail. During the past eleven years I have had to face some major life decisions, from when I was in college, to when I found my husband, to being in ministry full time, to having a daughter, to moving to Romania. In all of these things I have prayed that the Lord would guide me and help my family and I make the right decisions in order to follow His plan. I will admit there have been times where I had no idea what to do or what path to take, but I will say in all of the major life decisions, God has given me a clear sign that I am going in the right direction. Do you want to know what the sign is? The sign is thunder. No joke. Every single time I have been at a cross roads, that very day there would be a major storm with the loud sound of thunder. It just happened last night as I was seeking the Lord and thinking about some decisions our family needs to make.

The Lord showed my mom in the letter, “Every time you hear the thunder know that I am blessing Chelsea” and this has been true every since 2007. I know that when I hear the thunder, God is showing me confirmation. My mom gave me this letter knowing that she had to leave me in Minnesota to go to college at age eighteen, and deep down she knew that someday I would be doing ministry overseas. She was able to let go because she knew God had me in the palm of His hand.

If you want to believe God for the impossible, if you want a clear sign from Him, just ask. Seek Him and find out how He wants to speak to you. The amazing thing about having a relationship with God is that He speaks to all of His children in different ways because we are all unique in the way He created us. God knows you better than you know yourself. Just as the Lord confirms His promises to me in moments of struggle, wonder and victories, He can do that for you too! Claim those promises and go deeper with Him!

 

Earthly Mind vs. Spiritual Mind

Trusting in the Lord is something that I am constantly pursuing and something I want to become better at. I feel like having big faith has been the theme of my life the past year.  I guess I thought it would be a short phase that I would go through and then move on to the next thing God wanted me to learn. Clearly I was wrong. I am still in the season of trusting when I cannot see the final outcome or knowing how everything will work out. When my spirit mind thinks of this concept, I have complete peace but when my earthly mind thinks of this, I get stressed and feel out of control.

Why is it that when we feel out of control, we feel nervous and uneasy when really that is the exact place God wants us to be. He wants to be the one to form our steps and to lead us down the right path. Once we relinquish control and let God take over, it does not mean that life will all of a sudden be easy and perfect but we will have peace and that is something money cannot buy. I have learned that being in God’s will is ALWAYS where you want to be. Some may be wondering how do you know if you are in God’s will? How do you know what decision to make when all the decisions can have a good outcome? How do you know??? Well to be totally honest with you, I have been going through this myself. I have been going through these questions and putting pressure on myself to make sure I am in God’s will and making solid choices. And trust me, it has been at the forefront of my mind lately, almost to the point where I feel like I am going crazy. But when I get down to the nitty gritty facts, I do know without a shadow of a doubt that I am indeed in God’s will. How do I know this? It goes back to having peace. Peace that surpasses my earthly understanding. My earthly mind will spin in circles, asking so many questions and then at this point I come to a complete stop. I need to realize that God’s ways are higher than mine, who am I to doubt Him? I mean seriously… why do I put myself through this crazy cycle? His promises never fail!

A friend recently told me that if the theme of faith keeps coming up in my life, then there is a reason for that. There may be a situation down the road where I will need bigger faith than ever before and whenever that day comes, I want God to see that I will not doubt in Him. I am believing for big things to happen in not only my life but those around me. We need to start believing for the impossible. We need to take those steps of faith even when our eyes cannot see.

Life Isn’t Easy

This week was by far one of the toughest weeks we have had to face so far in ministry. We had a situation where we tried to help someone time and time again, but in the end, they went back to their old way of life. I had such hope that this person would come around and surrender their life completely over to the Lord, but that did not happen. I have never felt so helpless.

A wise friend told me that as hard as it is to be going through this, she often wonders if this is how God feels with us at times? Does He grieve for us when we keep going back to our old ways of living? Does His heart break when we turn our backs on Him time and time again? I think we all know the answer.

When we have these moments of hopelessness and feeling in the valley because we cannot help someone, we need to turn our eyes to Jesus and know that He has this world in His hands. Only God can mend this broken heart of mine and heal the souls of the lost. He is never too far. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep hoping.

It is a privilege to see through the eyes of Jesus, as hard as that may be.

Christmas in Romania

Celebrating Christmas in Romania was definitely not what I had expected. I thought I would be sad and depressed that I was not in Wisconsin with my family to celebrate Christmas with the traditions we have created over the years. To my surprise, Christmas held a whole new meaning for me here. I realized after twenty-eight years of living that Christmas is not about traditions, opening presents or caroling throughout the neighborhood. No, Christmas is about giving. Yes I know we have all heard this our whole lives but how many of us actually practiced it? I guess it took me moving away from America to see that Christmas is about helping people in need whether we receive something back in return or not. This last month has been packed full of events, traveling and tons of ministry. Many eye opening moments for me and many hard moments.

We delivered Christmas shoeboxes to some children in the mountains, held a Christmas lunch-in for underprivileged children, gave a poor family of ten food for the holidays and handed out hot meals to a homeless community. I am not sharing this to brag or to say look at everything we did, I am saying this because each of these moments made me have a different perspective of my life. To think that I complain about so many things and then to realize that I should be keeping my mouth shut because I am blessed more than I realize. God opened my heart to these hurting people, God showed me what Christmas is really about and now I finally see what God sees everyday. He sees people who are broken, hungry, naked, lonely, afraid, helpless, needy, lost… He sees them all and for me to have the privilege to see that too will be something I will carry in my heart the rest of my life.

Home

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It has been quite a whirlwind of crazy and good since we arrived to Romania. The adjustment to Romanian life has been an easier transition than we had anticipated. God has really been our comfort and joy. Abella has been great and of course been making friends wherever she goes. She really is one of the friendliest people I’ve ever known.

The Lord has been stretching both Liviu and I as we’ve been venturing into life at Harvest and ministry here. Liviu has been extremely busy with getting caught up with the ministries he is leading (Young Adults & Middle School students). There is a lot more structure here at the church that he is still getting used to. It is very organized and spirit led, which is a great thing! I have been getting more involved with the worship team and had to audition in order to make the cut. I was extremely nervous and stressed. One of my first services, I led worship in Romanian. I swear I was having an anxiety attack over it, having so many insecurities before the service. But the Holy Spirit took over and once I got on the stage, I felt overwhelmed by His presence and it overtook me. God is always there for us even when we feel so inadequate. All He wants is a willing heart.

There are days when I feel so homesick and nostalgic, thinking of all the great memories from back in the Midwest. I’m always thinking of my Grandma, who passed away a month before we had to leave. She was one of my best friends and was always there for me. I miss my parents and their constant support in my life. They are such an encouragement to us and our ministry. I miss my brother and sister-in-law, my sweet nephew. I miss my incredible friends! I miss so many people and so many comforts of “home”. But through it all I have been realizing what really matters in life.

Our home isn’t here on earth, our home is in heaven. We need to keep our eyes on high with a vertical mindset. Things of this world seem like such a big deal to us, we get full of ourselves and our “needs” that we neglect to think of our eternal place in heaven. What is the point to living on this earth? Really? Is it to gain all of the good things this world has to offer? Is it to get a good job and be successful? Is our main goal to live a comfortable life or to find the “perfect one” for us that will make all of our dreams come true? Come on people! Life is about reaching the lost. Life is about extending the Kingdom of God. Some people, like us have gone across the world to do that, but that’s not how everyone’s story will be. You can do this at your workplace, your local coffee shop, or the market. We need to wake up and see the dying world around us. Take a moment, look to the Lord and ask Him how He wants to use you, not what you want to do, but what He wants. His dreams for us go far beyond what we ever thought could be possible.

God’s love for us is so wide and great, that it is hard for us to comprehend. Take a moment and think of His goodness and faithfulness.

 

The Beginning 

We have officially started our work at Harvest. It has been an amazing and very busy first week. When we arrived last Monday evening, we were greeted by the team we will be working with in ministry. They came with flowers and groceries for us and all I could do was cry. It was such a humbling and overwhelming feeling to know that God brought us to this church, to work with these amazing people. 
We have been introduced to so many people, that I am just hoping to keep everyone’s name straight. We have met with the staff, pastors, elders, our small group, young adult team, middle school team and so many more. This last weekend we had the opportunity to attend “Open Door” that Harvest presents to people who are interested in planting a Harvest Church. The sessions were informative and full of amazing testimonies of how God has been working through this church. 
Liviu has been doing great with entering into his new role as the Young Adult Pastor. He has a lot to do and a lot to catch up on, but he is excited to get started. This Friday will be the first meeting for all of the youth (middle school, high school & young adults). 

Our daughter, Abella, has also been adjusting really well to the change. Her sleep schedule is finally starting to get back on track. She is still reaching out and making friends with everyone she meets. She brings a smile to everyone’s face. 

I have been praying that God shows me what ways I can serve here at church besides doing what is expected of me. I don’t want to force anything to happen, I want God to show me what He wants. It has been pretty easy adjusting so far but I think Abella helps out a lot, with keeping me so busy. I do not have time to think about how I am going through culture shock. When she is sleeping and it is still, that is when it hits me. I am going to call this place home. I need to make it feel like home. I miss the familiarity of my home back in the States but soon enough Romania will feel familiar to me. All good things take time and I need to constantly keep that in mind. 

The crazy thing about all of this, is that I get the feeling this is only the beginning.