Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Goal for 2015 in One Word: Simplify

I have a friend who makes necklaces with a word printed on them.

A few years ago, I ordered a necklace with the word CONTENT on it, as a reminder to be content with what I have. I based it off of Hebrews 13:5-6.

At the end of this year, I ordered a necklace with the word SIMPLIFY on it, because that is my goal for the upcoming year.

I want to simplify my schedule. In the 4 years I have been married, my husband has shown me that spaces between activities are beneficial for both of us. While I can go all day from one thing to another, I am more relaxed when I have space between my activities.

I want to simplify my possessions. Matthew 6:21 tells us that where our treasure is, our hearts also are. I want to cut the ties to treasures that keep my heart focused on possessions. I want less stuff, so others can have more. I want to use what possessions I do have, not be controlled by them.

I want to simplify my meals. I read in a book recently that one homemaker has a go-to meal for company: a soup, a homemade bread, and a fruit-based dessert. There is a lot of room for creativity within these categories, but it is a simpler menu.

I want to simplify, so the noise dies down in my life, because it is in the silences that God speaks. How can I hear His still, small voice over the radio, the audio-books, the calendar, the stuff I need to take care of, the to do list, etc.? By quieting down the distractions, I can better listen.

As I think about the upcoming years, I have other words I hope to one day get: PEACE, HOSPITALITY, JUSTICE, but for today, for 2015, my word of the year is SIMPLIFY.

What would be your word, your goal for the upcoming year?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Answer to 2 Chronicles 7:14

Many churches quote 2 Chronicles 7:14 & apply it to the US: "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

This is a beautiful passage, with specific actions to do, but if we are fasting & humbling, why aren't things changing in the US?

I think Isaiah 58 holds that answer:
Our Complaint
"...they seem eager to know my ways as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God...‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’..." (verses 2-3a)

Our Problem
"Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?..." (verses 3b-5)

What God Wants When We Fast
"“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?" (verses 6-7)
God's Promise
"Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail...“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken." (verses 8-14)

New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

It's Okay to Have Doubts

There are sometimes things I cannot explain about my faith.

There are verses I do not understand and situations that baffle me.

There are times that I wonder why something happened the way it did.

I try to research & delve more deeply, but sometimes, I just can't reach a point of understanding. 

It's okay.

It's okay to have doubts.

It's okay to have questions.

It's even okay to share them with God.

If I could explain everything about God, I would have a limited god.

Questions are a method of growing.

It's alright to have uncertainty, even in your faith.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Snapshot of Gentry Life in Costa Rica: Fourth Quarter

Our last quarter in Costa Rica flew by...and we've been back in the States for almost two months I figured that I should post some pictures of our last quarter in Costa Rica.

We are an international group at SENDAS. Liz became friends with an Italian professor who was here teaching Spanish

Yeah, I love this guy

My mother-in-law & parents visited us in Costa Rica!!

We saw the beach together

It's easy to see the beauty of God's creation in Costa Rica.

We got to show our parents our world

We took our parents to our English class(es)

Our off-campus English Class

We showed them the sights

We held toucans!!

It was wonderful to spend quality time with our folks!

We showed them waterfalls.

One night we shared our testimonies at a local youth group, right after a guitar lesson.

Samples of Costa Rican money 10,000=$20 (top right), 5 mil (5,000)=$10 (top left), 2000=$4 (bottom right), 1000=$2 (bottom left)
Luke's video conferencing equipment

Our church prayed for us before we left

Sometimes Spanish class & cooking class aren't different classes

Luke taught an advanced English class

Here we are with our 3 Spanish professors.

Spanish Professors, Spanish Students, Spanish Program Director

We said goodbye to our friends/co-workers at SENDAS

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Submitting to Your Husband...When He has a Different Plan

Sometimes, I think I'm epic at submitting to my husband. I follow his lead without a second thought. I don't fight back, manipulate, or hold onto my way.

Other times, my husband has a different plan than mine and suddenly I don't want to submit any more.
I have my own plan. I think my way is superior.
Suddenly, it's a real struggle for me.
Will I insist on my own way?
Will I submit to his way?
Will I submit gracefully or resisting every step?

The other day, we were walking back home together. I wanted a taxi, but he wanted to walk, so I submitted and we started walking. But then he wanted to take a new route to get to our back gate; I wanted to continue to the front gate, because I knew the way there. Suddenly I had a choice. I could submit without complaining, I could rebel, or I could follow while complaining & hope for failure. We did find our way to the back gate. I may have complained a bit, but I did my best to submit.

"Submission" is easy when my husband is asking for what I want to do anyway. It's no challenge because he's asking for what I was planning on doing before he shared his plan. As long as my husband does what I was planning on doing anyway, I don't know how well or gracefully I submit.

Submission is real and it's hard when I have my own way I want to do things. It's a choice that I need to make. It involves swallowing complaints & judgments. It involves trusting his decisions & not gloating if things don't work out. It involves encouraging him as my leader, as my head of the household. It involves being a trooper when tired & not throwing his decision back in his face.

Submission requires effort when I would have done things differently. Submission requires sacrifice.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sermons in Spanish

I thought I had a short attention span when it came to sermons in English, until I started attending a Spanish church.

It's difficult to keep my mind focused on what the pastor says because I don't understand much. (Maybe I need to focus more on trying to understand, but it is easier to flip through my bilingual Bible than try to comprehend a sermon.) A word here, a word there, a prayer, a Scripture reference, etc.

Sometimes all I take home from a message is a sentence or two (or five), but sometimes those sentences are what I need to hear.

One day, I caught that God is always present.

Another day, I caught five main points:
1. We have a personal God
2. We need to know the context of our verses (surrounding verses, chapters, and book)
3. Drugs are bad
4. God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble
5. We are dirty, pretending to look nice & be acceptable

Another day, I learned that the cross speaks of the cost, but the empty tomb speaks of the importance of Jesus. I also learned we should examine why we celebrate the Christmas in the way that we do.

My take-home point from another sermon was this:
God is eternal.
God is a constant presence.
God is Jehovah.
We live by faith.
We believe in the Word of God.

Palm Sunday (there was a PowerPoint to follow along with)
Jesus the Liberator is humble & He came to serve.
He came to give liberty from sin & evil (Romans 7:24)
He came to give liberty to the captives & oppressed (Luke 4:18-19)
He came to teach the truth (John 8:32)
He came to give us life (John 10:10)
He came to give salvation via grace (John 12:46-47)
Do we believe in Him?
Do we trust in Him?
Do we know of Him?
Do we share of Him?
Are we completing our mission?

Another sermon, I learned that we need to plant to harvest fruits of justice.

Yet another sermon was on atonement, grace, and repentance.
1. Christ died for us.
2. We are saved through grace. Salvation is God's idea. (it's prevenient grace)
3. We need to return to God; repentance is the first step

These are snippets of our year in Costa Rica and they serve as a reminder that God can work through any means, even sermons in a second language.

Monday, October 20, 2014

As a Volunteer Missionary

As a volunteer missionary, I have my Mt. Carmel moments alongside my flights to the deserts discouraged. I have my Martha behaviors crowding out my Mary mannerisms.

I doubt like Thomas. I lie & deceive like Abraham & Isaac. I boast like Joseph. I judge & condemn like the Pharisees. I wander from God like the Israelites. I fear like Gideon. I sin like Adam & Eve. I am stingy like Nabal. I have pride like Aaron & Miriam. I try to replace God with myself like the devil. Ouch. I'm like the devil.

Yet, I also sing like David (just flip through his Psalms in your Bible). I weep with compassion like Jeremiah (or read Lamentations). I help like Abigail. I open my home like Mary/Martha & Lydia. I write like Paul (see Romans, the Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, the Thessalonians, the Timothy's, Titus, and Philemon)...(ok, maybe not quite so eloquently). I invite like Andrew. I encourage like Barbabas. I seek the truth like Nicodemus. I dance like Miriam. I work like Nehemiah.

It's funny how the 10 negative examples came so much more readily and easily than the 10 positive examples. I'm talking MAJOR brainstorming to reach 10 positive examples to go with my 10 negative examples. The 10 negative examples flowed out of the pen and off my fingers, but the 10 positive examples struggled to form.

As a volunteer missionary, I still reach the highs & lows of faith. As a volunteer missionary, God is still with me, just as He is with you.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

An Insider's Outsider View of the American Church

Dear brother or sister in Christ,
I'm sorry we don't see eye to eye on the state of things for the Church in the US. I see your fear, your very real fear, over situations you read about. I read the stories too. I get my news from the BBC instead of American newspapers, but I read global and American news 6 days a week. (Sabbaths aren't for news stories).

In fact, I may read more news stories than you do about persecution. I get a weekly newsletter from with updates about global persecutions. Sometimes American stories make the headlines, but the US isn't the only country to suffer persecution & many other believers suffer more than the legal battles in the US. I am praying my way through the top 50 countries with religious persecution this year with Spoiler: the US doesn't even make the list with its persecution.
I am a Christian & I was born an American citizen, so I am an insider, a part of your group, Christians in America. Yet, I'm an outsider too. For the past year I have been watching the American Church, as I've been serving as a volunteer missionary in Latin America. I have the perspective of an outside observer, but with claims to the inside of the American Church.

And so I write lovingly with a breaking heart this open letter (it may sound frustrated, but frustration is just the easiest emotion to detect when I hear what the American Church has been saying & vent to my husband).
The next paragraph is the harshest, the most difficult for you to read. I wrote this truth with love, but sometimes the necessary things are hard to hear.

American Christian on the internet, you have become very self-centered and inwardly-focused. You have an attitude of 'woe is me' that is not biblical. You're allowing the persecution & problems that you are facing to blind you to all other suffering except your own. This attitude is not glorifying to God nor is it attractive to non-Christians.

I hear you complain against rules that say teachers cannot publicly lead prayer in public schools. You expect Christians can publicly lead a class in prayer, a class with Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, and more. Yet if your child came home with news that their Muslim teacher lead them in the daily prayer to Allah that is a core of Islamic beliefs, you would be outraged. If your child was instructed to meditate & try to reach Nirvana by a Buddhist teacher, you would be among the first to call the school to complain. You expect that other religions cannot proselytize your child in school, but you still expect Christians to be able to do so.

I want to encourage you with the reminder that no government can stop a person from praying to God (who does not need our spoken words to understand us) unless the government kills them. Teachers may not publicly lead students in prayer, but that doesn't stop them from being able to silently pray to God whenever they feel the need. I hear the fear in your cyber-voice that the US will write off the amendment to the Constitution that gives us the freedom of religion. I see the worst-case scenario that the US will become anti-Christian & actively persecute believers (like other countries currently are facing and have been facing).
Let me remind you that God works in broken systems. God has worked through pagan kings & rulers actively persecuting the Church in the past. He still is able to work through these channels. He still works things for His Glory.

I hope to share with you a wider perspective. Wider than your problems and your fears.
Truth 1: Persecution is to be expected. Jesus was persecuted. He told his disciples to expect it since servants will be treated like their master. James tells us to expect it.

Truth 2: We are not to complain against persecution. We are to rejoice we can suffer for God. Jesus told the crowds to rejoice when they are persecuted because of him, because they would be rewarded in heaven. The early church were glad they could be whipped & suffer for Jesus.

Truth 3: The proper attitude to have when you face persecution is to have more compassion for other believers (brothers & sisters) with more severe persecution and to pray FOR those who are persecuting you.

Please don't allow the problems you are facing in the culture of the US to turn you so inward, so self-centered that you forget to pray for your brothers & sisters around the world. Please don't complain & whine about the persecution you see in the US. Thank God that you have the freedom of religion. Pray for those without this freedom. God is allowing us experiences that allow us to sympathize better with the persecuted church. React like the Bible encourages: Remember God is Lord of all. Expect it. Rejoice that we can suffer for Christ's name.
your sister-in-Christ,
Liz o' the Niche

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Giveaway of Messy Beautiful Love by Darlene Schacht!

As a blogger, I received a free copy of Messy Beautiful Love by Darlene Schacht in return for my honest review of her book. I read it, I enjoyed it, and now I'm giving away a free copy.

Here's how it'll work:
You can enter the giveaway below with Rafflecopter. You must provide your email so that I can contact you should you win.

By entering, you are giving me permission to contact you by email if you win to get your mailing address & to forward your mailing address onto the book's publishing company.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: Winner MUST have a valid US or Canada mailing address in order to be eligible to receive the prize. If you do not have a valid address in the US or Canada, you will forfeit your place to win the book.

I will provide the winner's name & mailing address to the publisher of Messy Beautiful Love so that he/she can receive his/her prize.

Note: The winner MUST respond to my email with their mailing address within 48 HOURS or he/she will forfeit his/her prize.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Review of Messy Beautiful Love by Darlene Schacht

Darlene Schacht has written Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages. I was given an advance copy in trade for my honest review (which is below).

Darlene has a website called the Time-Warp Wife. I found her blog right before this past Mother's Day when I read an article posted about Mother's Days & those who aren't mothers. I've really enjoyed reading her posts about marriage, packed full of Scripture & practical advice.

Messy Beautiful Love is her third book she has published. The other two are The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife: 18 Powerful Lessons for Personal Growth and The Good Wife's Guide: Embracing Your Role as a Help Meet. (As an aside, if you pre-order her book before this Sunday night, the 14th, you'll receive both of her other books, as well as 8 other books on marriage).

Messy Beautiful Love is a delightful book. Darlene gives a real look into her marriage & life. Instead of presenting a perfected family, she shares real struggles, mistakes, & feelings. That takes a lot of guts & I admire Darlene for that.

Her book is saturated with Scripture, prayer, & God's grace. Each chapter ends with a challenge for the reader to implement in their life. Her book has tough challenges on giving up your right to be right (chapter 4), stepping back and allow him to lead (chapter 6), praying for your marriage (chapter 15), and many more.

This is a good book on marriage & I recommend it.

If you wish to pre-order this book (& get freebies valued at over $50), you can learn how to do so HERE (but do so before September 15th)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Snapshot of our Mission Trip to Costa Rica: Third Quarter

Our time in Costa Rica is quickly disappearing. The knowledge of leaving brings out a nostalgic thread in me, so I've found 20 pictures of our third quarter in Costa Rica.

Once I started to notice the parrots, I saw them often

We started a Basic I class we co-taught in a local church, in addition to our own ESL classes we taught on campus

This is my favorite butterfly. It's call the blue morpho

We still admire God's power as shown in creation

At the end of April, we had a treat! Our friends from the States came for a mission trip & stayed an extra few days to visit us!!

Lucas got to help at the famous (to us) local church that's expanding to fit it's growing congregation

The church is called "La Finca" which means "the farm"

We heard a fellow co-worker give his testimony & give God the glory

Lucas is helping at La Finca by painting
Mustaches are popular in the States & Costa Rica

For Father's Day, a mariachi band came and played

They sang to the fathers

Liz is teaching her Basic 1 course on campus

Lucas is teaching his Basic 2 course on campus
We went back to Nicaragua to renew our Costa Rica visas and worked in the same school as before

Some of the students remembered us from before

We taught English songs in preschool through sixth grade

We rode in a "tuk-tuk" or bicycle taxi
Lucas is with a Nazarene superintendent, Gerardo

Nicaraguan Money (roughly 20 cordobas is $1USD)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Giveaways Galore to Promote the Release of Messy Beautiful Love

The TimeWarpWife has written a book!! Darlene Schacht has written Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages.

This book will be released on September 16th, but it is available for pre-order now with a special freebie package. (You can learn more about the freebie package HERE)

Darlene is also having one giveaway a week between now & when her book is released. You can enter HERE.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Messy Beautiful Love with Freebies!!

The TimeWarpWife has written a book!!

Darlene Schacht has written Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages.

This book will be released on September 16th, but it is available for pre-order now with a special freebie package.

If you pre-order the book, you can get 10 e-books, 31 prayer cards, and a free song!! This freebie package is valued at over $50!!

If you pre-order 5 or more copies, you get the freebie package PLUS a study guide, set of printable conversation starters, and 25 iPhone wallpaper backgrounds.


3 Ways to Order:
1. Go to to order Messy Beautiful Love as a physical book or an e-book. 
2. Go to to read more about the freebie package & pre-order the book.
3. Go directly to your book site of choice (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, iBook,, Family Christian, Lifeway, Mardel, Parable) (Links at

How to Get Your Freebies in 2 Easy Steps:
Step 1. Email a copy of your receipt or order confirmation number, as well as the number of books you purchased.
Step 2: Wait to receive your freebie package in your email. (It may take a day or two to receive it).

Provide us with your receipt/order confirmation number & the number of books you purchased, and claim your freebie package! Please be patient as it may take a day or two for the freebies to arrive. - See more at:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Snapshot of Our Time in Costa Rica: Second Quarter

Our time in Costa Rica is quickly disappearing. The knowledge of leaving brings out a nostalgic thread in me, so I've found 20 pictures of our second quarter in Costa Rica.

A rainbow smiles upon SENDAS
We scaled back to 9 hours of Spanish class a week from January through March
We learned how coffee is made & Liz got to try her hand at turning coffee beans in the sun.

Lucas got to see the volcano that he really was wanting to see.

We enjoyed hiking to see the beauty & power of God's creation.
Liz & Luke among "Poor Man's Umbrellas"
These darling parrots like to perch outside the window & squawk us awake in the morning.

Outside the gates of SENDAS with the flags a'flying
Liz & other Spanish students crossed the alligator bridge
Liz saw the beauty of creation in a seaside sunset

Liz & other Spanish students at the beach

Lucas helped survey for a bridge project in an indigenous region.

We joined our church on a picnic
The ping pong buddies at the church picnic
Liz joined the ladies of a Work & Witness team in ministering to women of a local church
Lucas got his hammock from the artisan market
Liz likes to use the hammock too
We reset our visas by helping in a Nazarene school in Nicaragua

Church of the Nazarene: Holiness to Jehovah

Liz learned how to make "gallo pinto" (beans & rice) in the Nicaraguan style