Monday, March 30, 2015

Traveling Today!

Today's the big day we are traveling back to Brazil!

  We are flying out of the Carolinas this afternoon, making a quick stop in Florida, and then we are taking an overnight flight arriving in Belo Horizonte, Brazil tomorrow morning.

We have been counting down the days until our return to Brazil.
A photo Felipe captured as we were organizing to pack our suitcases.

Please pray for us!
Please pray for traveling mercies as we travel during the next 24 hours, and also pray for our adjustment back to life in Brazil.   The last few weeks have been the hardest on our girls with many goodbyes and lots of traveling.  Please say an extra prayer for Sophia and Jessie concerning all the recent and upcoming changes.

Today we go to Brazil, with much joy and expectancy! We are super excited about seeing our Brazilian family and friends, and in a few weeks moving to Sao Paulo, Brazil to establish a ministry to children at risk.
We are ready to begin this next new chapter in life as missionaries and as a family!

See you in 2 years USA... 
Brazil, we are coming home! 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Thank You Body of Christ!

As we are preparing to leave the United States, my heart is extremely full of gratitude for all the Lord has done during this special furlough season!

I want to take a moment to say,
Thank You Body of Christ in the USA!

Thank you for:
loving us,
praying for us,
sharing life with us,
supporting us emotionally,
supporting us financially,  
cooking meals for us,
providing housing for us,
giving us clothing and various donations,
listening to us,
giving us opportunities to share our hearts,
caring about our work in Brazil, 
and caring about us, the Matias Family. 

As I write this, I am reminded of a story Jesus tells in Matthew 25. 

“Then the King will say to those on his right,
 ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
 I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
 I was a stranger and you invited me in,
  I needed clothes and you clothed me,
 I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me...

...Truly I tell you, whatever you did
 for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for Me.’
 ~Matthew 25:34-36, 40~

I truly feel that all that the body of Christ has been doing for us - the least of these - the body of Christ has been doing as unto Jesus.
Thank you, family of God, for all the ways you have humbly and generously ministered to our lives, and ultimately thank you that in everything you did, you did it for Jesus -for His glory, for His name, and in His love.  From the depths of our hearts, we thank you!

We want to recognize and specifically thank these church families:

Bethesda Presbyterian Church - York, SC
Bethelehem Baptist Church - Knightdale, NC
Covenant Church International - Raleigh, NC
Crabtree Valley Baptist Church - Raleigh, NC
New Path Church - Raleigh, NC
Jordan's Chapel Baptist Church - Mount Olive, NC
Covenant Presbyterian Church - Wendell, NC
Radiant Church - Raleigh, NC
Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church - Lancaster, SC

Thank you for allowing us to share our hearts in your midst and for embracing us with open arms.
We appreciate your continued loving support and prayers!

I also want to honor my parents who put up with having a whole family of four crash in their home for extended periods of time.

And, I must mention that my parents very graciously let us borrow their mini-van for almost 5 months. Mom and Dad, we truly appreciate all the practical ways you bless and support us. Thank you!

I will end with a photo of some cute thank you notes (I recently purchased to send to many of you), as they express my heart so well. Your giving hearts have truly been beautiful to see!

Thank you Body of Christ!
You make it possible for us to go and fulfill what God has placed in our hearts to do.
Thank you for all you have done,
and for doing it as unto Jesus.

Monday, March 23, 2015

When Life Gives You Lemons

Last Saturday I was the guest speaker at a ladies retreat at my parent's church, Bethesda Presbyterian in  York, South Carolina.  The theme of the retreat was:


Speaking at this retreat was an opportunity the Lord placed before me, and I knew He wanted me to do it.  I am not the most gifted public speaker, so when I was presented with this chance to share, I knew God wanted me to step out of my comfort zone, and speak from my heart for His glory. During my preparations for last Saturday morning, God continually encouraged me and was faithful to give me the words to say. 

Today here on the blog, I would like to share a few highlights from my message notes.  I pray this encourages you, as the Lord has used it to encourage me.

 I began by showing a "lemon" situation that had happened to us in Brazil just after we had painted the inside of our house.  A wall space near our kitchen table very quickly becoming splattered with spaghetti sauce, milk splashes, and other food accidents by our two girls.  Our lovely, freshly painted wall was swiftly ruined in just a matter of days, and that was frustrating to say the least.  So what did we do with this lemon?  We made something new with the wall. Take a look at what we did!

When life gives us lemons, what do we honestly do?

What are our reactions to the lemons in our lives?
Do you get frustrated and angry and throw your lemons down and stomp on them?
Do you complain?
Do you cry and wallow in your problems, your discouragement, your lemons?
Do you blame God? 
Do you call someone else?  Depend on a person to help you, or to come to the rescue?
Do you stuff it down, ignore the lemon, and keep bulldozing forward?
Do you let our emotions rule and take over?  Do you ride and surf those waves of emotion?

Take an honest moment and think… What do you do when life gives you lemons?

Jesus himself said, “There is much trouble in this world, but I have overcome…” John 16:33
 It is a fact. We are going to face LEMONS in life.  It is unavoidable! 

Now, when life gives us lemons it is difficult, but the Lord so desires for us to be able to deal with these lemons in a healthy and loving way. To take the LEMONS and do as the theme of the day suggests, to make LEMONADE out of our lemons, so to speak.  God loves us ladies!  He wants the very best for His daughters.

When preparing and praying for this retreat.  I was reflecting on the theme and I read the title… “Lemonade, When Life Gives You Lemons…” and I thought, “When life gives you lemons… what should you do?”  

And this suddenly came to me strongly,  “When LIFE gives me LEMONS, I need to LOOK to JESUS!"

We need to stop focusing SO MUCH on the lemons of life, and FOCUS on Jesus and do as Hebrews 12:1-2 says.
Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.

I want to encourage us all to turn our focus off the problem, the trial, the pain, the tribulation, the challenge and LOOK to GOD,  We need to look to our great and loving God, His character and who He is instead of the lemon. 

On the mission field we have had to face many lemons! (I then read this past blog post called, "Kids We've Known.")

We know Jesus has called us to the mission field, and we continually face many lemons there.  Yet, in the midst of these lemons, the challenges, and the hardships, if I even hope to make lemonade out of my lemons, if I want to see good come out of a situation, then I MUST look to JESUS!

When we look to Jesus, He gives us new vision, new perspective, and helps us to make lemonade out of the trials, problems, and challenges of life. And most importantly, Jesus is right beside us, never leaving us, never forsaking us.  He is faithfully right there with us in the trenches, in His great love. He is a faithful God! 

Now, that we have talked about what we should do with the lemons, let's think about this:  

What does God do with lemons, the lemons He sees in us, His beloved children?

Well, He does something amazing!!!

2 Cor. 5:17 says:  "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold the new has come."

Another version says, “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone, a new life has begun.”

As I was meditating on today’s theme verse, I was reminded of how God makes us into a new creation!  He does not just leave us as we are.  He sees the lemons in our lives.  He sees our sin.  He sees our struggles.  He sees our minds, and our negative thinking.  He sees us, the complete mess we are without Him, and then He does not just leave us that way.  He loves us and wants the best for us -  God does as this beautiful verse proclaims.

He shows up, and He makes us into a new creation.  He makes us new!  In and through Christ, we are new!  Isn’t that SO encouraging?  Doesn’t that just give you HOPE?

God just does not leave us with our lemons, but He comes and makes us new, and in a sense He takes our lemons and makes some LEMONADE!

I want to talk about some of the specific ways that Christ makes ALL THINGS NEW in US!

1.       God makes us new through His FORGIVENESS!

1 John 1:9
 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

In our sin, in our mess, He comes and cleanses us and makes us completely new again.
I am so thankful that God forgives! Need His forgiveness continually in life…

2.       God gives us NEW CHANCES, NEW MERCIES every day!  

Lam. 3:22
 22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.
23 Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.

Every day is a new day to start all over again.  It is another chance, a frest start to live life to bring Him joy, glory and honor!   

3.       God gives us NEW MINDS!

As we read the word He renews our minds.  He shows us truth and He transforms and changes the way we think about things.

Romans 12:2
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 Phil. 4:8- 9
 8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

For me personally, this has been a big journey.  To learn how to proclaim truth over myself.   To encourage myself in the LORD.  To learn that the WORD of GOD is truth, not what I may feel or what the world tries to throw my way.  The word of GOD, what GOD says is truth and HE gives me a new mind through reading His Word.

Last week as I was finishing up preparing for this retreat it was almost as if I was being tested on exactly what I am sharing.  I had a horrible Monday.  Probably one of the worst days I have had during this time in the USA.   I felt like I was being attacked with lemons, as if lemons were just being thown at me, one after another.   And in the midst of it all, I honestly just cried and cried, and cried some more…  But it was also an opportunity to put into practice what I am sharing today, and that was a CHOICE I had to make.  I had to CHOOSE it! 

When LIFE gives us lemons we absolutely must do the 2 things I have talked about today, and we have to choose it, whether we feel like it or not. It is a choice to do these two things!


1. LOOK to JESUS! 
We must go to Him, pray, seek Him, turn our eyes on Him, focus on HIM not the lemons.  In doing this He will meet us in an intimate and special way.

In Christ you are a new creation. In our struggle with the lemons of life, God is there present, Jesus died on the cross for our sins, for our lemons so to speak.  He loves us, He cares.  He wants to forgive us, give us new minds, and new chances every single day.   He wants to take our lemons and make something beautiful out of us!

JESUS is ALWAYS our greatest Example...

Jesus was a man who faced many “lemons” in life. 

Jesus came from a poor background.
He was God in the flesh. 
Jesus lived among us and experienced humanity.
He faced temptation, yet he never sinned or compromised.
Jesus was betrayed by dear friends.
He was arrested.
He was beaten.
He was mocked.
He was accused.
He carried a cross and then was nailed to it.
He endured great pain.
He hung on the cross and took the weight of the sin of the world upon Him.
He bore our shame.
He died for our sins.
He died for me, and He died for you.

Yet Jesus conquered the grave.  He rose again!
He was resurrected and because of His resurrection we can have new LIFE!
We are a NEW CREATION because of JESUS!

A "lemon" that was dealt to Christ, was actually God’s way of bringing a glorious victory to us all.

Through Jesus Christ we have forgiveness of sins and new life.  The old has passed away and the new has come! Through Jesus Christ we are made NEW! 

Thanks be to God!

Monday, March 2, 2015

February Memories

February was quite an eventful and fun month!  We have TONS of photos from this month, so here are some of my favorites highlighting what an amazing month February was! 

A beautiful shot of our sweet and messy Jessie - with food in her hair!

During the month of February we had the priviledge of sharing about our work at Jordan's Chapel Baptist Church, Bethlehem Baptist Church, NewPath Church, Covenant Presbyterian in Wendell, and Covenant Church International.   Also, our dear friends Tom and Amy hosted a sharing time in their home one Friday evening.  We really had a fruitful month of spending time with friends, old and new, and sharing about what the Lord is calling us to do in Brazil. 

I loved this old photo showcased at Jordan's Chapel Baptist.  The church is over 100 years old, and it is beautiful to see the history documented through photos in the church.
Sharing at a Senior Citizen's gathering at Bethlehem Baptist. 
Sharing at a small group at Covenant Church International (CCI).

Other than sharing about our work in Brazil, we also served using our gifts.  Felipe took photos one Sunday at Covenant Church International (CCI), and I also helped out through singing on the worship team and leading worship times at various small gatherings.

At the ladies Bible study at CCI.

 Personally we were extremely blessed to have special time with friends, and we even went on a few fun outings. We made some wonderful memories! 

Sophia's first time roller skating!
Making Valentine's Day cookies!
The fairest cookie maker in the land! 

Lydia and Sophia's flour covered hands!
Our Valentine's Day date!

We even went on an extra fun trip to the Museum of Life and Science in Duham, NC with Jim, Leila and Sarah Cloud! We had the best day with this family!

Visiting my dear friend Peggy - we taught together at Swift Creek Elementary!
A coffee date before an amazing Bethel worship night with some girlfriends.

Did I mentioned that it snowed a few times during February?  This created many scheduling conflicts for us, and unfotunately we could not visit as many people and churches as we would have liked to due to the snow and icy road conditions.  We did make some fun snow memories as a family though.  See more snow photos here.

To end this post I will share one of the cutest things that happened this month.  One day, while mommy was busy preparing for a speaking opportunity, Sophia and Felipe decided to create a super hero called Broccoli Girl!  Together they made a costume and also drew some pictures of Broccoli Girl and the evil villan named Trash Man.  They acted out various scenarios and Sophia had a blast pretending to be Broccoli Girl.  Felipe and Sophia are currently working on a little Broccoli Girl video, so stay tuned... 

March is our last month in the USA and we have much to do!
Please pray for us as we end our special season stateside.
To God be the gloy for all He has done and all He is yet to do!
Life with Him is truly the best.  Our God is a faithful God!