...running the course God sets before us, no matter the cost, no matter the task, to the end, for His glory

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Where Are You Going?

In our Latin studies we were memorizing the Latin saying, "Quo vadis?" which means, "Where are you going?"

And that set me to thinking. Where AM I going?

I need to know, because if I don't know where I am going, I can't watch for the signposts that tell me how to get there.

Think about looking at a map- with all its roads and symbols and towns and rest stops and state lines. You find your spot on the map- the place you are now.
You are going to figure out where to go. Next.
But if you don't decide WHERE that is, then your map is useless. Except for maybe letting you know where you COULD go. That is if you would decide WHERE that is!

And there is the crux of the problem.
There are just so many possibilities!
There are so many choices!
And I can't figure out the HOW to go somewhere unless I decide WHERE it is I am going.

Quo vadis?
Where are you going?
Where am I going?

I know where I want to go: TOWARD GOD!

But honestly, sometimes, it is hard to know which direction that is.
Life can sometimes look and feel like this:
Life ever feel like this you?
Or is that only me?

What do you do then?

Well, when I am smart, I hop right over to my travel manual and read some instructions like:
"..your ears will hear a word behind you, saying "This is the way, walk in it," when you turn to right or when you turn to the left.~Isaiah 30: 19-21 
That Voice is way better than the most updated and advanced GPS system.
That Voice is from the One who can see the beginning from the end and Who loves you enough to die for you.
That Voice is the One to listen to!

Listen to what else That Voice says,
"But just as it is written, 'Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love Him.'"  ~I Cor 2:9

Quo vadis?

I don't know about you, but I am going to go EXACTLY where The Voice tells me to go!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


I saw a great sign this weekend:

Wow. Both those words ARE spelled with the same, exact letters.

Coincidence? I think not!

In order to LISTEN I have to be SILENT.

My problem is that I like to solve problems.
I want to make things better.
I want to intervene before the mistake.
I want to divert catastrophe.
I want to share my hard learned lessons.
I want to make other people's lives easier.

If people (and by people, I mean my people- the ones who are stuck with me by blood relation!) would just listen to me, I could help them and fix them and make everything better!

But the reality is, when I have something difficult in my life, what I long for is a hug from someone who cares enough about me to take the time to LISTEN to me. The last thing I want is a bunch of fix-it information from a well meaning know-it-all.

So why do I think the people in my life would want anything different?

God knows our hearts and what we need. And what we need to NOT do. That is why He said:
"Let EVERYONE by quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger" Jms. 1:19
Which, in my vernacular, would be God saying, "Shut up and listen!"

So to all my "people"- I am sorry.
I am sorry I talk too much.
I am sorry I listen too little.
I am sorry I rush in with advice.

I am sorry that I don't take the time to listen and pray before I say ANYTHING.

Winston Churchill said:
"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."

So here is to having the courage to sit down and listen!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Miracle of Transformed Love

In honor of Valentine's Day, I am reposting this lesson about True Love.

True Love is not what is in our selves, or what we feel when our Honey walks into the room.

No. True Love occurs when the fleshly love that is in ourselves is transformed into something beautiful and joyful and valuable.

True Love is Love that has moved from water into win.

The sun sat just above the trees, …the music had played, …the mother of bride had cried,… and now the minister spoke, “Jesus, Himself went to a wedding, and blessed it with the first miracle, of changing water into wine.”

We have been to many weddings in the past few years. I have often heard this miracle mentioned when the minister speaks to the new couple. But as I sat at this wedding I had a totally new thought and realization of a deeper meaning in the picture this story paints for us.

Scripture is that way- so deep and layered and meaningful. Even a Scripture we have read and heard multiple times has more to teach us. It IS living and active.

The story of Jesus’ first miracle is found in John 2:1-10 and is a familiar story.

Jesus goes to a wedding and the wine runs out so His mother asks Him to fix the problem, because moms want to fix problems- even other peoples’ problems.

When Jesus has the servants fill the water jars with water I wonder what everyone was thinking? This was not the obvious solution to the dilemma. These were not even water jars for holding drinking water. They were special jars for holding water for purification. But when the water came back out of those jars, it had changed. It was not water any more. Now, it was wine.

The wine that came from the water that was poured into the purification jars was of excellent quality- the steward called it “the good wine”. The word for “good” can also mean choice and exceptional. Not the everyday wine. Not the cheap stuff, but the kind that is reserved for special occasions.

As I watched these two precious souls entrust themselves to each other I was struck that when we come to the marriage altar we bring our love for the other person and our good intentions. But that love is really an offering of water.

It gets poured into each others’ lives, but as all long-timed married couples know, the love you bring to the wedding, while wonderful and warm and lovely, will never be enough to get you through a lifetime of good days and bad days, of gains and losses, of triumphs and tragedies.

For that, your love must be transformed and multiplied. It must become the kind that is more about giving than getting.

It must become the kind that can bear all things.
That can believe all things.
That can hope all things.
That can endure all things.

But now we are no longer talking about a natural kind of love. Now we are talking about a supernatural kind of love. We are talking about a purified love.

What our love needs is a purification jar and Jesus.

In a recent ministry letter, a teacher I deeply admire, Dwight Pryor (www.jcstudies.com), wrote this about marriage:
Far more important than falling in love is the biblical mandate of growing in love, one toward the other. Only then can the highest goal of marriage be achieved: not satisfying personal desires, but sanctifying the name of God. If all this sounds more sacrificial than sensational, it should. Authentic love is never self-serving.”

Most of the “love” that we see in the movies coming from Hollywood is about what you get, not what you give. About if you are satisfied, not if you serve another. About finding “the one”, not about being “the one”. About finding a “soul mate”, instead of bringing to your marriage a soul satisfied and completed by Jesus.

So how do we move from self-serving love to authentic love?

Jesus speaks to us how we are to love one another:
Luke 6:32, 35: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them...But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back.”
John 13:34: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
I John 4:19: We love, because He first loved us.

In other words, we need to have a love that moves from water to wine.

The water kind of love continually needs to be drank over and over because it does not satisfy for long- so it continues to look for ways to be fulfilled. Instead, what the water kind of love needs is to be poured in the purification jars and be miraculously transformed by the Lord who not only is the only One who can work the miracle, but also the One who showed us what sacrificial, authentic love is all about.

So the next time you feel your “cheap wine” love running out,
and when all you have to bring to replenish the wine with is water,
then give it to Jesus and let Him transform it into love of exceptional quality…into authentic love…into the “good stuff”.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Thoughts Whitney Made Me Think

This is Whitney Houston.
She is gorgeous.
She can sing like the angels.
She has a range that most can not touch.
She is tall and slim.
She is an award winning artist.
She has made millions of dollars.
She has succeeded in multiple musical genres.
She has succeeded in music and film.
She is famous the world over.
On last Friday, Feb. 10th, 2012, she was 48 years old.
This is me.
I am average looking.
I can sing with great gusto if not perfect pitch.
I have a range of about 7 notes.
I am short.
The last time I won an award was in Camp Fire Girls when I was 10.
I have made very little money.
I have not succeeded in music, movies, books, or any other industry.
My family and friends know me.
On last Friday, Feb. 10th, 2012, I was 48 years old.

I always admired Whitney Houston. She had more talent with one vocal cord tied behind her back than any other singer I have ever heard. And for the first few years of her career she seemed to maintain a down-to-earth, girl next door attitude that gave me the hope that she could survive super stardom. But, unfortunately, that was not to be her story.

When I heard that she had died yesterday, I felt true sorrow.
Such talent.
So much waste.

She and I had very little in common, except our age.

But I think seeing that we were the same age brought me up a little short. How could a woman who was my age, who enjoyed so many privileges, who had unlimited potential, who had obtained amazing achievements.....how could she have been so miserable the last few years?

Maybe the things I wish I had more of, like money and talent and opportunity and travel and pretty clothes and, and, and.....the things I think would make my life "easier".....or that would make me "happier".....maybe none of those things really matter at all.

They really don't seem to make ANYBODY happy.
They really don't scratch the itch.
They really don't fill the empty places.
They really don't make life easier.

I think my wish should not be to have a better singing voice or to make millions or dollars or to grow taller.

Instead, I think this all has made me think deeper and understand better the Apostle Paul when he wrote to the Philippians:
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.      ~Philippians 4:11-13

I am truly sorry that Whitney Houston died. But I am grateful today for the thoughts her life has made me think.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Walking With The Lord

My sweet family on Christmas Day, 2011

The following is our Christmas letter for 2011.

Why (you may be asking)....why are you posting it now?

Because it just got done. Yep. It got finished and sent in February. Sigh.

I have many dreams. One of them is that I will someday get my Christmas letters out BEFORE Christmas.

Until then....my friends and family can read my Christmas letter in February!

Thus I will strengthen them by my power, 
and they will walk about in my name,”
says the Lord.  Zechariah 10:12
Ornaments are boxed up. The tree is taken down. Lights are stored away. New family friends’ pictures are on the fridge. Valentine’s products are in the stores. But even with all those signs that Christmas is definitely over there are still a few Christmas letters straggling in from the people who couldn’t quite make it all happen before the holidays. Don’t you wonder what is wrong with those people? I mean, it is called a Christmas letter after all? Don’t they know that?
                Well, since we are one of the “theys”, I can answer for all of us in the “Late Letter Club”.  We are all very aware that our letter is late, it just that we are also long standing members in the “Better Late Than Never Club”. So yes, once again, the Macias missive is arriving in your mailbox later than it should. Such is the way we travel down this road that the Lord has placed us upon. We limp, we sprint, we lag, we catch up, and we sometimes show up late. But we do keep trying to show up! Our walk down this road of life can be bumpy and occasionally treacherous, but it is also a walk made more beautiful by our companionship with the Lord and our friendship with each other.
But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength;
they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary,
they walk without getting tired. Isaiah 40:31
The Papa has faithfully walked the road set before him this year. Nathan has continued working on his company EduNation with the other two partners and while it has not been easy, God has faithfully led and taught in that. One new path Nathan has laid is a path over to Lackland AFB where once a month he gets to minister to Basic Trainees in a Sunday School setting. This has been a perfect ministry for him where he can teach, edify, equip, and encourage. There are also recently some new, exciting roads opening up, both with business and with ministry. For the business opportunities you will have to read next year’s letter to see what develops. As for ministry, he is looking forward to teaching in our church several times in the upcoming months, and will be helping with a new ministry to business men in our local area.

The Mama took an amazing road this year…one that landed her at the Mediterranean Sea! Some dear friends took Susan, Grace, and Leah along on a 21 day cruise that hit amazing spots all over the Sea. She was pretty bruised at the end as she had been continually pinching herself to see if she was dreaming! Besides that amazing highlight, she has also been busy this year with the “normal” road of real life- teaching the girls, organizing the home, juggling the schedule, and doing the next thing. In the “spare” time she taught at some women’s events this year, helped with several weddings, and wrote regularly on her blog, “Whatevermylord”. This fall God brought a new path for her to travel. She has begun working with a small Christian school, Summit Christian Academy, where she is assisting with the administration and development of the school. Walking with the Lord is never short of surprises!

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4
The Fireman has forged his own path with a mix of adventure, work, hobbies, and friends. Caleb continues to enjoy firefighting and the occasional moments of extreme adrenaline it can bring. Besides Luke, there are 3 other friends who share his house with him…think of a fraternity house, but without the fraternity. One of Caleb’s adventures this year was driving his motorcycle up to Colorado by himself in May. Besides increasing his family’s prayer life, this also gave him great opportunities for photographs. Photography is one of his hobbies and he has been Grace’s assistant at a couple of weddings. He has been playing soccer in a league with a group of old high school friends as well as coaching varsity soccer for a homeschool team. His personal situation has not been resolved but he is surrounded by friends and family who love and support him, and he is constantly accompanied by his two loyal, playful dogs, Toby and Tess.

The Politico has laid a new road for himself by starting his own company this year, a political consulting company called Macias Strategies. Luke has clients all over the state and is working hard on their campaigns. This involves lots of time on the road, lots of time on the computer, and lots of time talking…so, yes, it fits him perfectly! Luke, who has been full of opinions since he could speak, maintains several blogs and websites: lukemacias.com; effectualchange.com; theyouthchallenge.com. Besides all the hard work he also fits in playing soccer, traveling, being in friends’ weddings, and talking on the phone more than seems humanly possible.

The Bible Student enjoyed a year in the Rocky Mountains at Ravencrest Bible and graduated from his first year course. And then after a summer of working lawn maintenance in a record hot, dry drought in Texas, Aaron hit the road and high-tailed it back to Colorado for a second year of leadership training at Ravencrest. We aren’t sure what he sees in this life in the mountains with its low humidity, beautiful views, and opportunities to climb and ski, but apparently he enjoys it! We were glad to have him home over Christmas when he brought his jokes, puns, help, and hugs back to our house (as well as his laundry of course!). What does the road ahead hold for Aaron? As of now, he is not sure where God would have him go next, but he is sure God knows!

The Photographer has officially started her business and has shot two weddings as well as several other paying jobs. Grace is in her senior year of High School and is working hard to finish up her course work. Besides working her business and working on school, she is again participating in Speech and Debate and is the President of our local club. Our first tournament is right around the corner so she is feverously working on her new speeches for this year. This past December Grace turned 18 and is looking forward to voting in the upcoming elections. The Mediterranean turned out to be a perfect place to take lots of pictures! (Imagine that!) You can see them on her blog: gracefulview.blogspot.com. Her road is as busy as a city street at rush hour, but she seems to enjoy it!

The Almost Driver is just about to get her learner’s permit, and she can hardly wait. One reason is that Leah already has a car! God led her on a path, years ago, to the door of an elderly gentleman, a German immigrant named Mr. Scheffrahn, with whom she developed an incredibly close bond. The whole story is way too long for this letter, but amazingly, in October when he stopped driving, he gave her his car. Sadly, he died this year, but Leah is writing a speech about his amazing life and will use it in Speech and Debate. She will also be debating, which will hopefully be a good channel for her many opinions! Leah studied hard this summer and passed her second CLEP test. Her trip to the Mediterranean not only scratched her traveling itch, but it may have ultimately made it worse! So it will be interesting to see what other roads she embarks on in the future.

The ‘Tween is at the fascinating crossroads of girlhood and womanhood. Hannah is growing up every day, if not as much in height, at least in maturity. But she also has retained the joys of childhood and we hope she won’t rush out of them too soon. She loves to organize and is the first child of our family who has ever been told, “Please stop cleaning and go do school!”  She has made some great strides academically this year, and while she has to work extra hard learn things, she is willing to push through and do so. Hannah is also anticipating her big 13th birthday celebration this coming spring. She will be taking to the highway with us this year as she starts her first year of Speech and Debate competition which should be a perfect match for her well-developed dramatic abilities.

The Dancer has officially gone from being a living room dancer to an official studio dancer. Abigail began tap and ballet this fall and absolutely loves it. She has caught on quickly and can hardly get enough of it. She also loves her piano and continues to take lessons from Grammy. She likes school, most of the time, and usually finds it easy. She is a voracious reader and right now is devouring the old “Happy Hollister” series, a series Susan loved as a child. Abby still loves elephants the most, she still doesn’t like to sleep by herself, she still daydreams and keeps herself entertained for hours….…so we all keep hoping she might just stay a little girl. But alas, the signs are on the horizon that she will also travel the road to adulthood…just like all the rest.

He has told you, O man, what is good and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?  Micah 6:8
Well, there is a quick overview of our roads, paths, highways, and by-ways. God has been so faithful to our family on the many avenues He has allowed us to travel. Our goal has been to walk them, whether they have been easy or difficult, in faithfulness and in obedience to Him. And while we have sometimes succeeded and have sometimes failed, He has never failed. He has never failed to light the way, to come along side, and to carry us when necessary.

We pray His blessing, favor, and care will cover you on whatever road you find yourself on this year.
We can proclaim from experience: He Is Faithful!

~Nathan, Susan, Caleb, Luke, Aaron, Grace, Leah, Hannah, and Abigail

Thursday, February 2, 2012

When Do You Feel God's Pleasure?

We are watching "Chariots of Fire".

What a movie. The music just does something to me every time I hear it. It makes me want to go run. Fast.

Of course, I can't run fast. I am not exactly an athletic runner. I feel like I am accomplishing something if I break out of a trot. Maybe I should put the "Chariots of Fire" theme song on my ipod, put in my ear buds, and then close my eyes so I can't see what I actually look like running.

The hero of the movie, of course, is Eric Liddell. His brother tells him, "What we want is a muscular Christian." And that is what Eric is. A muscular Christian.

As Eric is trying to decide between running and returning to China his father says, "You can praise the Lord peeling a spud, if you peel it to perfection. Run in God's name, and let the world stand back in wonder."

That is the point.
It is not the WHAT you are doing.
Rather, it is the WHO that you are doing it for!

Which is the point Eric is trying to explain to his sister in the movie. He is trying to communicate to her why he NEEDS to run when she views his running as getting in the way of his ministry. He says, "I believe God made me for a purpose- for China. But He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure. To give it up would be to hold Him in contempt. To win is to honor Him."

And all that made me wonder:

  • am I a muscular Christian?
  • am I praising the Lord when I am peeling a spud or folding the laundry or making my bed?
  • am I living in the purpose that God made me for?
  • when do I feel His pleasure?

And that is the most important question of all: When do I feel His pleasure?

When do you?

I suggest we both find out and then do THAT with all our heart!