Thursday, March 27, 2014

out with the old; in with the new

to all my kind and loving followers... i've moved.  not literally (well, at least not in the last four months) but cyber-ly.

i've started blogging, today, at a new blog titled, "clothed in His righteousness". 

you can find me at: http://stephpatten.wordpress.com/.

hope to see you there!

in His grace.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

musings about lent


yesterday, i had the pleasure of stopping by to see a dear friend.  one of those "quick" stops.  ya know the kind?  not a whole lot of time to chat but just enough time to hear each other's heart.  and, usually, it's me unloading and my sweet friend listening.  but this time.  this time.  i got to listen. 

and as she shared, i noticed a ring on her finger.  the same ring that i wear on my left finger.  and seeing that ring on her finger took me back to those days, years ago (7+ years), when a rowdy/not so rowdy, motley crew of Jesus followers gathered to seek Him.  to seek His face.  to read through a book called, the vision and the vow.  to ask Him what would it look like for each of us to "love God. love others. and take the Gospel to the nations".

and it has looked different for each one of us that gathered all those years ago.  we have all journeyed through some sort of "hell" and back...maybe even journeying through one right now.  and maybe we've questioned whether or not we really meant it when we took that vow and placed that ring on our finger.  and maybe we've even wondered whether that was the right thing to do.  and maybe we've even taken the ring off our finger because of it's constant reminder of it's meaning, and the words, and the promise.  and the God we love.  and how we've failed.  and the constant reminder of the greek words inscribed on the ring, "none live for themselves".

i share this with you because as i enter into these season of lent and hear talk and read articles about "what are you giving up for lent?" this thought occurred to me this morning after reading 1 Samuel 15:22, "but Samuel replied, 'does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD?  To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams'."

to obey. is better. than sacrifice.

those words went straight to my heart. 

this verse comes from the story of saul and the LORD commanding saul to wipe out ALL of the amalekites for what they did to the israelites after leaving egypt.  do you know what saul did?  he did wipe out all of the amalekites, everyone except the king.  and he did wipe out all of the livestock, everyone one of them except for the good ones worth keeping for sacrifices.  do you know what saul did not do?  and why samuel was so angry with saul?  saul did not whole-heartedly obey the LORD.  he sorta obeyed Him.

and this is what He whispered to my heart as i finished reading the rest of the chapter, "in what areas are you, my sweet daughter, sorta obeying?"  and then He gently challenged me to obey whole-heartedly. 

lent. to live by "none live for themselves".  to live out the Shema.  to be a disciple of Jesus.  all of these things require one thing, first...obedience.

because what would lent look like or easter look like if Jesus did not obey?  or only half-heartedly obeyed? 

i am forever grateful that Jesus whole-heartedly obeyed.  because when i mess up and find myself or my life turned upside-down, i can always go to the truth that the Son of the Living God obeyed the call to come to this earth, live a life worth following, to give up his life - obediently- even to the point of death, all because of his love for Father and Father's love for me.  and you.  and all of us.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

what's your scorpion?

i don't remember exactly where we were.  somewhere in israel.

and i don't remember exactly when it was.  about midway through our 10 day trip, give or take a day.

but i remember the parable.

it was told by our shepherd/rabbi/pastor/leader's wife.

and it went something like this...

"there was once a man who had to journey up a mountain.  as he began his journey, a scorpion stopped him.  the scorpion asked the man, 'may i join you on your journey?'.  of course, the man's first response was, 'no, you are a scorpion.  why would i want you to join me on my journey?'.  the scorpion quickly replied, 'well, i, too, have to get up the mountain and i can keep you company along the way'.  after the scorpion convinced the man that he would not sting him or harm him on their journey, the man picked up the scorpion and set him on his shoulder and continued up the mountain.  the journey seemed to go quickly and the hike wasn't as hard as the man thought it was going to be.  he was glad he brought the scorpion along to keep him company and help pass time.  finally, the two arrived at the top of the mountain.  and the scorpion took his stinger and stuck it in he man's neck.  as the man lay there on the ground dying, he reminded the scorpion, 'you said you wouldn't sting me.'  the scorpion replied, 'i said i wouldn't sting you on our journey.  but our journey is done and i don't need you anymore.'

okay.  so i may have paraphrased a lot of it.  but the lesson of the parable is this...just like the man in the parable i tend to want to make my journey, on this side of heaven, easy and comfortable.  and when things get hard and are only going to get harder, i look for something to make it easier, a.k.a. my scorpion.

and just like the man who carried the scorpion and missed out on all the sights, sounds, quiet moments...i too, when carrying my "scorpion" miss out on all that Jesus has for me and the opportunity for Him to shine through me.

why?  why do i want to make it easier and more comfortable?  because i think i deserve it.  truth is i don't.

as i sit and type this, a pastor is being held in an iranian prison under what is said to be deplorable conditions all for the name of Jesus Christ.

as i sit and type this, a video can be seen online of a group of pro-abortionists in argentina raiding a catholic church but are met with a blockade of praying men.  and the rage of the pro-abortionists is taken out on the men...spray paint in their faces, spitting in their faces, bras wrapped around their necks...all for the cause of LIFE.

i am not trying to minimalize my struggles or your struggles...but i needed this parable reminder to help me put things into perspective.  again.

the hikes in israel up mountains and over rough terrain were and are a true parallel to life.  to life as a follower of Jesus Christ.  while in israel we never knew where we were going, only our shepherd knew.  it was physically exhausting from the heat and constant moving up, down, up, down, scaling the side of mountains.  spiritually, some days you felt so close to God and other days wondered, "where in the world are You?".  emotionally and mentally, trying to do battle between what you know as truth and what you see right in front of you (i.e. hezekiah's tunnel).  and while there i didn't need or even want my scorpion.  as hard as some days were, all i wanted at the end of the day was more of Jesus. 

but now, almost six months later, i've gone back to my old habits, my scorpions.  instead of wanting more of Jesus at the end of the day, i would look forward to a drink or two along with a couple of cigarettes.  just enough to take the edge off of what i considered to be a "hard" day...middles fighting/raging, littles learning defiance, olders secluding themselves in their own rooms when not helping with the littles.  i deserve a little relief, right?

no.  i am tired of using alcohol or cigarettes as my crutch as my scorpion.  i never really understood how somebody could say, "i want to live wholeheartedly for Jesus" and actually do it, 'cuz we're all sinners.  but, can i tell you something?  He is doing something in my heart.  He is asking me to live wholeheartedly for him.  to praise Him when my mind goes to a drink or a smoke.  to cast all my cares at His feet and watch Him move.

if brothers and sisters in Christ are standing up for their faith to the point of being persecuted almost to death, then who am i as a Christ follower to give a scorpion a ride on my shoulder as i journey through life this side of heaven?

i'm broken and desperate and in need of my Saviour.

in His grace. and. always. everything for His glory.







Saturday, November 23, 2013

one month and 11 days...for the love, ninevah?

not too long ago i shared a bit about grief...ya know...how i cried every sunday at church after finding out we were moving to ninevah.

and since that post, i've shared about God's goodness to us here on the farm.

all of it's true.

all of it.

but before i share what's been stirrin' in my heart this week, i feel like i need to let y'all know that i have NO doubts that God wants us here. 

none.

and i have not even one single doubt that He has a plan.

He does.

that doesn't mean i'm not gonna to wrestle with Him and hold onto Him until He shows us why in the world we're here in ninevah.

okay?

okay.

so...let's go down memory lane, shall we?  remember back to your first week as a freshman at college.  remember?  the excitement of it all.  the week was full of new classes, new acquaintances, new freedoms.  everything was new. new. new.

and then the weekend came.

the weekend...when you asked yourself, "do i go home or stick it out here on my own?"  and you would go back and forth battling it out in your mind until you reached a decision.

some weekends you stayed and toughed it out on your own.  alone.  no real friends yet.  no real community yet.  just you in your dorm or apartment wrestling with what it's supposed to look like now that you're on your own.

and the other weekends you would go back HOME.  HOME.  we're everything was familiar.  smells of yummy food.  sounds of laughter.  friends.  family.  HOME made you feel like you were part of something big or small.  but you felt connected.  you could be yourself and be received with love and grace.  no matter what. 

well, for the patten8, over the past month and 11 days, we all very much feel like a freshman in college. 

we're all feeling the lack of community.  and we're all dealing with the grief of moving away from that sweet community of people and fellow followers of Jesus.

so we have eight people (minus mo and j) dealing with grief in six different ways.

there's the:
"i'm goin to my room"
or
"let's be snarky to our siblings"
or
"feelings easily hurt at school which leads to MAJOR meltdown at home"
or
"let's bully the other kids at school in order to have control over something"
or, how about,
"crying every sunday before and after church"
or
"bury myself in my work"

so, yes, "for the love, ninevah?"

now i know it's not ninevah's fault.  heck, it's no one's fault that we are having such a hard time with it all.  except maybe our own. 

'cuz if i sit quietly and listen to Him, i know He is working something out of my heart in order to make room for something better.  because He knows what's best.  for me.  for us.

and when i sit quietly and listen...i can feel Him carefully and gently loosen my grip on what I SO BADLY WANT and He whispers, "i know you're hurting and sad.  but I love you.  I love your family.  and I have plans for all of you.  trust ME.  love ME.  okay?"

okay.

i suck at surrender.  but He doesn't.

He is faithful.  trustworthy.  full of grace and mercy.

and if you go back to your first week as a freshman and then the weeks that follow, you remember that eventually, you gain new friends.  new community. new connections with people who accept you with grace and receive you in love.

oh, how i need Jesus.

in His grace. and. always. everything for His glory.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

a time to share

i wanna share this article with you about adoption. 

why?

well, first off, it's national adoption month.

secondly, it just needs to be shared.

the other night my hubby and i had the privilege of sitting down with a lady from bethany christian services.  she came here to our farm with camera and questions in tow asking us to share our story.  and as the questions started coming and the answers started flowing, so did the tears.  from me.

every time i'm asked to share our adoption journey story there's always a part that chokes me up...that brings healing to my momma's heart...it's the part about how hard it has been BUT God's faithfulness to us throughout it all.

so, even though i don't know katie davis personally, i am pretty confident she would testify to God's faithfulness.  to God's redemptive work in her not because of who she is but because of who God is.

adoption is redemptive. 

but if you have the notion that you are going to put on your superman cape or fancy, red superwoman boots to rush in and save a child from utter despair...please.  please.  rethink that notion.

only God. can. save. through. Jesus. and what He did for each of us on that cross.

in His grace. and. always. everything. for His glory.

amen.

Monday, November 4, 2013

little ole me? a guest writer? who woulda thunk it?

so november is national adoption month.

and bethany christian services asked if i would write a blog post, share our story.

and here it is, folks.

in His grace. and. always. for His glory.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

settlin in on the patten8 farm

this farm...

has brought healing. bless the Lord oh my soul!  i see a difference in our children, especially our k.  she is completely and utterly thriving since we've settled here.

has brought freedom.  to run and jump and yell and scream and ride the quad and put on our shitkickers and sit outside at night on the front porch and look up at the stars and watch the amtrack train whiz by on the track across the road.  (run-on sentence is intentional.  freedom, right?)  {smile}

has brought all things good.  breakfast in the morning with my olders which i haven't done in a long time.  along with a little "jesus calling for children" and prayer to start the day before they venture out to the bus stop.

is a gift.  undeserving gift given from our Papa to us...eight broken, desperate, messed-up people some of whom have surrendered their hearts and lives to Jesus and some of whom are being discipled to walk in the way of our Saviour.

has brought life.  to breathe one breathe and think one thought without the chaos.  or doubts.  or fears.  i see fruit, real fruit that i haven't seen before.

has brought laughter...laugh out loud, laugh-til-your-tummy-hurts laughter.  whether it's outside running and romping around or inside rolling around on the floor.  it's a sweet sound to this momma's ears.

has brought tears.  happy tears because it's seems so unreal that we are HERE.  on this place with all this land and barns to explore.  sad tears because friends and church family are missed.  a mini meltdown may or may not have taken place in my bedroom sunday morning while getting ready for church.

has brought back old memories of summers at my grandparents farm...the smells, the sounds, the wallpaper.  and it fills my heart.

has brought work.  and will continue to bring work.  a majority of the rooms upstairs NEED some sort of work to be done if not the entire room.  and next year, Lord willing, we will have animals roamin the acreage...which will require work.  (i can't wait!!!)

has brought shalom.  a banner of shalom.  each corner of the banner tent-pegged into the four corners of this property.  it's here.  not by anything we have done.  but He has done and is doing.

has space.  and lots of it.  that we want to share with y'all.  we want to share what He has done.  we want to share this gift with you.

"The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy." - psalm 126:3





in His grace.  and everything. always.  for His glory.

amen.