March 2017 Newsletter

MOUNTAIN HAVEN- MINISTRY AT A GLANCE

March 2017

Financials: Monthly Revenue Required: $7,100.00 and Monthly Revenue Received: $2,258.00 Remaining Need:  $4,842.00

Current Ministry/ Ranch Projects: 1.) Journeys group is concluding after two sessions this month.

2.) Mountain Haven is in need of one-time donations to supplement the monthly support in order to continue to stay consistent with the budget, complete projects and maintain the property. We have a few projects you can sponsor if you would like:

                        a.) The final shower in the retreat area downstairs needs to be completed.  We need to pour the floor, and tile the entire enclosure. (about $3,000)

  b.) The tile in the entryway needs to be pulled up and reset, it is cracked and broken in multiple spots. (about $1,000)

  c.) A deck needs to be built in the back retreat area to put the hot tub into and a cover needs to be purchased for the hot tub. We also will be building a wood boiler designed to heat the hot tub exclusively so it will be available for retreating families and couples when they would like. (about $3,500)

 d.) The rock needs to be finished on the two corners of the house. Most of it has been applied by students or by us, we would like to hire those last little bits out so the exterior of the house will be complete. (about $2,000)

 e.) We need to purchase a pellet stove for the retreat area and install it.(about $1,000)

 f.) We are continuing to pay for our cabinets which are installed and look exquisite. (still owe about $3,100)

Something Interesting or Unexpected that Happened Last Month: 1.) The whole family took a road trip to Iowa, and enjoyed our niece and the girls’ cousin’s wedding. We got to see our son Brandon and his beautiful wife, Emily, and enjoy a short, but sweet family reunion with some of Chris’s family. 2.) We brought the cows over to Mountain Haven so the hillsides are bustling with the sounds of the heifer calves that were born last year in February and March.

Top Prayer Requests: Healing for young ladies and men. Our young people are facing lots of challenges regarding their identity and  they need breakthroughs on how to talk to their parents or trusted adults for support. Families need healing with their kids. Parents need to step up.

     Being “The Image of God”

Newsletter March 2017

 I want you to consider for a moment your image in a mirror? Go look in the mirror and say out loud what you see. Wrinkles? Old? Young? Vibrant? Tired? Frazzled? Overweight? Underweight? Satisfaction? You get the point. Many things come to mind when you look at yourself in a physical mirror. But, what happens when you shift the lens and take a spiritual view of yourself? Do you see attributes and characteristics of God? Do you envision that when others see you, interact with you, listen to you or watch you that they are getting a glimpse into what God may be like? I hope so. But, the prospect of what people see when they look closely at me is daunting. It is hard enough to age and see the wrinkles, the weight, the fatigue wearing on my face, but there is a deeper reason to take pause that is not at all physical. It is stopping and asking what do people see in my soul and spirit? Do people see the “image of God?” More importantly than what the outside world sees, what do our partner’s and/or spouse’s see? What do our children see? Let’s explore deeper the idea that we are created in the almighty creator’s image, and let’s explore ways we can display that image more clearly to our family.

Imago Dei (“image of God”)

(“image of God”): A theological term, applied uniquely to humans, which denotes the symbolical relation between God and humanity. The term has its roots in Genesis 1:27, wherein “God created man in his own image. . .” This scriptural passage does not mean that God is in human form, but rather, that humans are in the image of God in their moral, spiritual, and intellectual nature (emphasis mine) . Thus, humans mirror God’s divinity in their ability to actualize the unique qualities with which they have been endowed, and which make them different than all other creatures: rational structure (see logos), complete centeredness, creative freedom, a possibility for self-actualization, and the ability for self-transcendence.

Imago Dei – Longer definition: The term imago Dei refers most fundamentally to two things: first, God’s own self-actualization through humankind; and second, God’s care for humankind. To say that humans are in the image of God is to recognize the special qualities of human nature which allow God to be made manifest in humans (emphasis mine). In other words, for humans to have the conscious recognition of their being in the image of God means that they are the creature through whom God’s plans and purposes can be made known and actualized; humans, in this way, can be seen as co-creators with God. The moral implications of the doctrine of imago Dei are apparent in the fact that if humans are to love God, then humans must love other humans, as each is an expression of God. The human’s likeness to God can also be understood by contrasting it with that which does not image God, i.e., beings who, as far as we know, are without self-consciousness and the capacity for spiritual/ moral reflection and growth. Humans differ from all other creatures because of their rational structure – their capacity for deliberation and free decision-making. This freedom gives the human a centeredness and completeness which allows the possibility for self-actualization and participation in a sacred reality…..Striving to bring about the imago Dei in one’s life can be seen as the quest for wholeness, or one’s “essential” self, as pointed to in Christ’s life and teachings. http://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/theogloss/imago-body.html

 Don’t get too lost in the big words there, ok? We are basically saying, “how can we be more like God here on earth?” Now as easy as that sounds, it’s not. For instance, let’s name a few attributes of God’s character. Sacrificial, long-suffering, patient, loving, completely just, and merciful; to name a few. When we hold God’s mirror up to examine our spiritual and soul image, I am afraid we see more than a few pounds, wrinkles or age. We fall short. We all know that, and that is why we have a savior. But, there’s more to this story than just our brokenness, and coming to terms with it. There is hope for change, and faith for growth. We have been promised that we can bring God’s kingdom, His plans, His character here on earth. So therefore we must try. We have to be challenged to look in that spiritual mirror and see where change is necessary. How much time do we spend obsessing over our physical image, and yet neglect the seeds of anger, doubt, brokenness, resentment, secrecy, and hurt that is seeping out of our souls? This translates into poor, suffering, hurting, superficial, disconnected, hypocritical and lost relationships with a spouse or your child (ren).

Examine your relationship with your spouse right now. What do you see? Are you harsh, sharp, busy, neglectful, selfish, tuned out, disconnected, bitter, resentful, spiritually abusive, judgemental, condescending, unteachable, and unavailable? These attitudes are displayed through a variety of behaviors worth examining. Things like tone, how you use your time, eye contact, how many secrets you have, how you spend your money, how you talk to your spouse, your attentiveness to your spouse’s hurt, lack of sexual intimacy, secret addictions; like porn, overspending, gambling, food; how often you may pray together or attend church, how many excuses you make for not keeping commitments, and your willingness to sacrifice.

If you were to ask your spouse today if they see that “image of God” shining out of you, what would the answer be? I am not talking about all the time; after all we are human. But, is it our quest to be attentive to ourselves, mindful of our choices and our words as we interact with our spouse? Or are we going to continue using the same techniques we are used to. No eye contact? Staying busy? Forgetting things instead of planning ahead? Not learning anything new, or trying anything new because “it just isn’t us”, and “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” And blaming it all on life and how hard and how busy it is? Staying stuck instead of making that counseling appointment you need? Staying in that affair, or the addiction, because the temporary feels better than the permanent? We have a choice, just like with the physical image; we can exercise, stay out of the sun, use lotion or face cream, get a massage; whatever it is, we can take care of the physical body so the image is beautiful. We too can take care of the spiritual image in our sacred covenant relationship in more profound ways than we have been.

Examine your relationship with your children right now. It doesn’t matter if they are still young babies at home, or grown children with children of their own. What would they say about the image of God shining out of you towards them? I am not talking about how much scripture you know, your status in your church, or how long your prayers are. I am talking about being sacrificial, long suffering, patient, generous in ways that speak to your kids, showing up for them in ways that matter. Treating their dad or mom with honor, sacrifice, and love. Seeking after their hearts the way our Father God seeks after ours? The way our Father shows up on the scene of our life, and turns our story into something more meaningful than the mess we made? This is displayed in very different ways, and each relationship will look differently. But, I think it starts with listening. Listening to the cries of your children, staying quiet enough that you can put your own selfishness, style, and personality aside to see them, and uniquely know them.

I know for me, I work long hours and I get very tired, I run my kids around a lot; like many parents. It is easy to get home and want quiet, to want obedience without a complaint or a shred of their humanity showing through, to not want to listen to the emotional struggle one more time my girls may have. But, I remember my kids get one shot at knowing our God here on this earth, and that starts with their dad and I. So I snuggle down and listen; again. I arrange the playdate, I show up to the dance studio, I do a lot of holding but most importantly I do a lot of asking. “Do you feel loved.” “Do you feel judged?” “ Do you see your value?” There is a lot of apologizing because I am sharp, tired, imperfect and weary. I ask forgiveness, and I pay attention. This one is an introvert – give her space; this one likes tons of hugs – so hug no matter how you feel, or if her attitude is good, this one likes gifts- buy a few, this one is carefree- take it easy on rules today.  Again, it is not about creating a world of entitled spouses’ or children where their every need is met by a human. It is about striving to show, through our actions and sacrifices, that agape, sacrificial love to the people in our life that are desperately trying to see Jesus here on earth. Having children far away brings this point home to me quite often. There must be conversation about what they need, how they need it, and ways we can show up. They don’t get to define the expression of my love, but they do get to participate in the growing of that love, by being in relationship with me, and being heard and known in their story.

So, the challenge is inherent in this conversation. We are God’s image bearers. It’s not a burden, it is a gift. A profound way to express His character here on earth. What will we do with that gift? It’s not too late. If you are estranged from your spouse, or your children, or the relationship is hurting; you can turn it around. The way God seeks our hearts; He sacrifices, He woos, He waits, He offers love with no expectations of reciprocity (even though that comes naturally). Ask yourself today what you can do? What choices you can make? What change you can make? What words you can express? What habits you can let go of? More importantly ask your spouse, or your kids, what shows them that image. Make that change today…. And everyday hereafter be committed to changing the image you are putting out there to your family. Let it be the beautiful image of God.

 

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