Quick Takes, 11/26/2015

Between starting my new job, working on a broken computer and photography clients waiting very, very patiently for me to hurry up already and get their pictures done, I’ve felt like I’m barely treading water over the past few weeks and today was a welcome pause to come up for air!  Before I run off to start working on pictures again, here is a very quick post on this beautiful thanksgiving day…


The kids and I spent this thanksgiving with good friends who not only cooked almost everything, but also brought it all over since we’re still house-bound for now.  It was a beautiful day and the kids played football in the yard, while we ladies got to know each other better.  It was so special and I am SO thankful.


I started training with Amazon on Monday and so far it’s been like trying to sip water through a fire hose!  I had no idea there could be so much to learn about customer service!  We’ve had three ten-hour days in training, so far (I’ve actually had a few hours more, since the only skill I seem to be exceptionally good at is failing the tests at the end of every course) and we’ll have one more training day before we start taking live calls on Monday… CYBER Monday.  Yesterday, a fellow trainee and I had the following conversation, summing up our “self-directed learning” experience, so far:

Me: There may or may not have been tears.
Friend: Oh, there were definitely tears.
Me: hahahaha!!!
Friend: The kids get scared when I scream and throw things.


Despite how difficult training (or I should say: remembering what we’re learning in training) has been, working with the people at Amazon has been wonderful!  Their customer service definitely plays a role in their massive growth over the years, and they treat their employees wonderfully, too.  EVERY SINGLE PERSON I’ve spoken to about anything has gone out of their way to help me, and they’ve all been incredibly kind.  For a company this big, I was really surprised!  I just hope they continue to be this kind and understanding after I start working the phone lines on Monday!  ;)


Some friends and I are working to plan a special activity for some of the refugees here in Bowling Green.  More details on that, soon, but for now, if you’d like to know about some ways you can help, please email me: Rina [at] RinaMarie [dot] com.  Thank you!


Related Articles:

A Mom’s Resume
Holocaust, 2015

The Syrian refugee crisis, we all have a choice to make
The part that loves Him well
Goodbye, Fiff (a letter to the Ford Motor company)

Posted in PERSONAL, Seven Quick Takes | Leave a comment

How can they know if no one goes and tells them?

One question particularly troubled me after each suicide bombing, one I’d been asking for years: Did anyone present Jesus to that young person who blew himself up?  Who was going to the terrorists?  Was anyone prepared to confront them and give them a reason to live that was greater than their motivation to die?  How can they know the Prince of Peace if no one goes and tells them?

–  Brother Lawrence, Light Force


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Holocaust, 2015
The Syrian refugee crisis, we all have a choice to make
The part that loves Him well

Posted in Evangelism, Fear, Love, Salvation | Leave a comment


056 refugee5

Today I went to our local refugee center to find out how I can help.  There is no way I can describe the gratitude written all over the directors face.  I get the impression that they don’t have many people volunteering to help there, especially now, in the wake of the Paris attacks and all the fear that has been generated.  But I’d like to tell you something about that fear:

Americans aren’t the only ones who feel it.

The refugees also feel it.  A few weeks ago, they gathered together to have lunch at a local church and the police had to guard them, because someone called a bomb threat in .  They kept asking “are we safe?  Will we be safe?”  They were terrified.  Of us.

I heard a story about a nine year old little girl who, after being threatened, bullied and called names like “terrorist” and “killer” by her peers at school, came home and told her mother “We can’t stay here, we need to go back to Syria and die.*”  Nine years old.

When I left the refugee center, it was with a heavy, hurting heart.  My children and I ran our errands and as we were leaving a store, we saw a Muslim family walking in and I felt Jesus speaking to my heart.  I grabbed the kids, went back in and approached the family asking “do you speak English?”  The mother gestured to her daughter, roughly nine years old, indicating that she understood.  I put my hands on that little girl’s arms, looked her in the eye and said: “I want you to know I’m glad your here.  I’m so glad you’re here.”  The expression on her face was indescribable.  Her gratitude was tangible.  I gave her some money and then looked her mother in the eye and repeated myself.  I smiled at them both and turned to leave.  Just before walking out the door, I looked back and saw the little girl watching me.  I blew her a kiss and she smiled.  The whole world was in that smile.  Her father then looked at me and I blew him a kiss, too.  He raised his hand in acknowledgement.  It was one of the most beautiful moments in my life.

Afterward, we had more errands to run and I made it a point to approach every Muslim person I saw to tell them I was thankful they were here.  Once more, I was touched by their gratitude.  In one case, two older women were shopping together and couldn’t understand what I was trying to say.  I kissed my hand and pressed it to the first woman’s face, but she still didn’t understand.  She asked “help?  You need help?”  I shook my head, and then I put my arms around the second woman in an embrace.  She froze for a moment, but when I pulled away, I saw surprise and recognition in her eyes.  She grabbed my hand and said “THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!”  I smiled and said again: “I’m so glad you’re here.”  Later, when we ran in to her again, she blew me a kiss.

How often as they go about their day are these refugees subjected to hate and criticism by the people in my city?  How often are they scowled at, frowned upon, even yelled at?  That simple act of recognition, the simple act of saying to someone “I see you.  You are not anonymous.  You are not hated.  You are loved” …  It means the world.

We refer to the refugees collectively as “they.”  We talk about what “they” might do.  But we don’t know them.  We don’t know their stories.  We don’t know their wounds and their hurts, their hopes or their dreams.  Today, I looked “them” in the eye and I saw a hurting people.  I am giving myself to this cause.  I am giving myself to the Muslim people.  As of this moment, I will do whatever I need to do, whatever Jesus asks me to do, whatever I can do to help them.

If you are in or near Bowling Green and would like to do the same, please contact me.  Rina[at]RinaMarie[dot]com.


*(I cannot remember which country this little girl was from, so I used Syria as a general reference.)


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Posted in Criticism, Daybook, Fear, Friendship, Love, PERSONAL, Politics | 7 Comments

The part that loves Him well


It’s been an emotional week around here.  I want to share what has been going on, I want to invite you into my mind and my heart and my home and describe what has been happening, but I can’t find the words.  I feel like last week took place one hundred years ago and everything has changed since then.  That sounds idealistic and melodramatic, but it’s true.  My children are also feeling it.  My three oldest daughters each had dreams about caring for orphans last night and my first-born told me that when she woke from her dream, God spoke to her saying: “this is your life’s work.”  I get chills thinking about it.  I’m just not sure how to talk about it.  But I wrote these words in the comments section, and I wanted to share them with you here.  It is the cry of my heart:

I am not unafraid.
I am not brave.
I stand before Jesus,
A coward.
Praying that He will raise up in me a holy passion. 

That He will do whatever it takes to make me brave.
That He will do whatever He must to bring me to the place
Where I count my life as nothing
And am truly willing to lay it down for Him.

It is a frightening prayer
I can only pray with half my heart,
But I speak the words,
Confident that Jesus will honor the cry
Of the part of me that loves Him well.

My husband has been going through an awakening of his own.  He was able to find words to share:

Build Walls, Guard them, Eliminate any threat from the Orphans and the Widows


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Posted in Anxiety, Faith, Love, PERSONAL, Politics, Serving Others, Spiritual Warfare | 1 Comment

The Syrian Refugee crisis: we all have a choice to make

056 refugee3(photo source)

At various times in our lives, my husband and I have looked at the decisions other families have made in their walk with Jesus and said – “NOPE.”  Not us.  Not ever.

To our friends who left the United States as foreign missionaries:  Nope.  Not us.  Not ever.

To our friends who regularly bring strangers into their homes to give them a place to stay indefinitely:  Nope.  Not us.  Not ever.

To our friends who have taken in older children from the foster care system:  Nope.  Not us.  Not ever.

We recognize the dangers to our children in these scenarios and are absolutely not going to put them in this position, no matter what good could be accomplished.  This morning as I was meditating on the Syrian crisis and the very real dangers of allowing refugees into our country (and, more importantly, into our homes), I was struck forcibly by Jesus’s words on the matter:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.”  – Luke 14:26

My first thought – honest to God – was “well, thank God it doesn’t say we can’t be His children, or that we don’t belong to Him.  It only says we can’t be His disciple.  Whew!”

And then… heartbreak.

Is that how I want to live my life?  Never fully invested, never completely committed, a believer in Jesus, but not a follower?  Throughout history, Christians have lost their lives to follow Jesus.  They’ve lost their homes, their spouses and, yes, their children.  From the moment I was saved, I always said I wanted to live passionately for Jesus.  Jon and I have lately been talking a lot about “finishing well.”  Will we now allow the love we have for our fathers, mothers, spouces, children, brothers and sisters keep us from the call of Christ?

My heart hurts… I feel sick with the knowledge that I’m standing at a crossroads, with a decision to make.  THERE IS NO OTHER WAY.

Will I lay it all down for Him?


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Posted in Evangelism, Faith, Fear, Love, Parenting, PERSONAL, Serving Others, Spiritual Warfare | 4 Comments

Holocaust, 2015

056 refugee4(CLICK FOR VIDEO)

*Western Kentucky Refugee Assistance in Bowling Green, KY:

I’ve often wondered what I would have done, had the holocaust happened in my own country, in my own lifetime.  Would I have been one of the people who hid the Jews?  Would I have put my family at risk, to become part of the underground?  I know myself well enough to have never flippantly answered that question.  I’ve always known that I don’t know.

The world is now being asked the same question.  In light of the Syrian crisis, how will we respond?

The Germans feared Hitler and what his military forces would do to them if they harbored Jews or interfered in any way.
We in America fear ISIS and the remote possibility of unknowingly harboring a terrorist.

Both of these are/were real possibilities (although the second significantly less so.*)  How will we respond?  How will I respond?  Currently, my response is one of omission motivated by one thing:


The answer to my long-asked question is now clear to me.  Had I been a German during the Holocaust, I would have done nothing.

And now God is tapping me on the shoulder, nagging me with another question – one that I don’t want to hear:

“Who am I?”

Is God really my provider, my protector?  Can I trust Him, in that capacity?  Can I trust Him with my safety?  Can I trust Him with my children?  When I open the pages of my bible, this is what I find:

  • “You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:19
  • “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2
  • “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress…” James 1:27
  • “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” – Matthew 25:41-45

Although there might be many political, financial, and logistical reasons for citizens to reject the influx of global refugees, there are no theological ones. – (Read more Here)

055 refugee

We are living in a time when we’re being asked to do the least of these things.  When people’s lives depend on it and those who believe in Jesus, who claim to put their trust in Him, ought to be first in line to help.  Instead, we cower in fear and ask our government to close its borders.

Rachel Held Evans put it well when she wrote:

The question isn’t whether Jesus would embrace or reject refugees. Jesus *was* a refugee (Matthew 2:13 ) and *is* present among refugees today (Matthew 25:35). The question is whether we will turn away Christ Himself when he comes to us in this “distressing disguise.”

Might we unwittingly harbor members of ISIS?  Perhaps (please see links below for more information on this.)  Had we lived in Germany during the Holocaust, we might also have been caught.  These are the kinds of fears that made the murder of six million Jews possible, while virtually every country in the world – including ours – stood by.

refugees2(For other sobering statistics, click Here.)

Satan wants to divide humanity — to instill fear, hatred, and distrust. So he’ll attempt to demonize the innocent and falsely accuse them of being violent, evil, and dangerous. We’ll be provided with an infinite — sometimes even logical-sounding — amount of excuses to do nothing, to protect ourselves, and to withhold the love of Christ.

But imagine if Jesus limited his ministry based upon the conditions of comfort and security:

There would be no traveling through Samaria — too hazardous. No interacting with foreigners — too dangerous. No helping strangers — too risky. No healing the sick — too unsafe. No attracting crowds — too insecure. No performing miracles — too perilous. No public speaking — too unprotected. No giving to the poor — too wasteful. No interacting with outcasts — too socially unacceptable. No disciples — too untrustworthy. No generosity — too wasteful. No grace — too weak. No forgiveness — too soft. No death on the cross — too painful (to say the least).

If Jesus used the same stipulations for love that we do, the gospel never would have existed, because almost every single experience Jesus put himself in required risk, sacrifice, and vulnerability. And instead of being fueled by fear, Jesus was fueled by hope.

(Read more)

In the end, no matter which way I spin this, there is only one answer I can find Jesus in:

“Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for Me.”

056 refugee2

A woman named Shannan Martin shared this over on Jen Hatmaker‘s facebook page. It’s so true, it hurts:

We just want a way around this part. This one is too hard to even allow ourselves to think about. I want a pass on a lot of things right now, but I know this to be true: the way of Jesus never makes sense. It never allows us to position ourselves or our safety above others. It is so obvious and it makes me want to run away and cry.

Following Jesus has always been about sacrifice.  Out of twelve disciples of Jesus, ten were martyred.  The early church suffered persecution unlike anything we’ve ever seen and foreign missionary work has always been rife with danger.  And yet, Christians all over the world – from the day of Jesus’s Resurrection until now – have been willing to make the sacrifice.

Right here, right now, we have the opportunity to minister to hurting people from across the world in our own back yards.  Not in the traditional American way of dragging them to a megachurch to repeat the “sinners prayer” but in serving, supporting and caring for those who need it most.  As one commenter put it: “What is the point of sending missionaries over sea, if we are not willing to care for people when they come over seas to us?

For years and years and years it has been nearly impossible to get missionaries (even sneakily) into parts of the Middle East. It’s so dangerous, some, assuming they can even get in, are likely to be killed so quickly they can’t do much evangelizing. And now, hundreds of thousands of beaten, hurting, orphaned, widowed (google “pure and undefiled religion) and broken people are trying to come to US.

Is it possible that a small percentage of them want to kill us? — Let me counter that question with another question:

Does it matter?
(Read More)

It’s true that it may be dangerous.  Some may even lose their lives.  This has been the way of discipleship since the beginning.  We have the chance to minister to a people in dire need of Jesus.  Never in our time has the need been so great, never has the call been so important.

How will we answer?



One last thing…

In addition to the arguments against bringing Syrian refugees in due to the remote possibility that they are ISIS members, I’m seeing sentiments like this floating around a lot lately:


Although I can understand the sentiment, it comes from a faulty worldview based on lack.  In truth, America has resources enough to care for both.  But more importantly, my question for those who share this mentality is this: What are you currently DOING about the poor in your own back yard?

To sit in the comforts of our own homes and complain about the poor in our own country accomplishes nothing – for ANYONE.  With all the love I can possibly muster, I say to you:

Don’t say another word, don’t post another picture.  YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM. 

If you are not actively caring for the poor around you, then you are passively contributing to the problem and your opinions on this matter are worthless.  I love you, but I don’t want to hear from you.  However, should you wish to actively love the poor around you, here is what I propose:  You focus on the poor in your own country, city, back yard.  While you’re doing that, someone else, who has a heart that burns for the refugees, will do all they can do to care for them.  Meanwhile, those who have hearts for orphans will open up their homes, and yet others will care for the poor on the other side of the globe and between us all, people will be fed, clothed and sheltered and above all loved.  Personally, I don’t believe our efforts have to be either/or. But if you do…


Find the homeless in your city, take in a foster child, donate money, help the refugees. If you feel passionately about only one of these things, then DO THAT THING. Other people will do their thing, and together we’ll make a difference.


*The American refugee program has been in place since 1975. In that time, we have been home to over three million refugees and not one – NOT ONE – has ever committed a terrorist act on US soil. Of the 859,629 refugees admitted since 2001, only three have been convicted of planning terrorist attacks (on targets outside of the United States,) and none was successfully carried out. That is one terrorism-planning conviction for every 286,543 refugees that have been admitted. That’s over 200,000 desperately hurting people to every ONE terrorist. To put that in perspective, about 1 in every 22,541 Americans committed murder in 2014.

Contrast this to the thousands who were caught and jailed or killed helping the Jews during the Holocaust.  Many have accused me of being unfair in my comparison of the refugee crisis to the Holocaust, and they’re right.  Those who helped the Jews were much, much more likely to lose their lives and those of their families than we are by helping the refugees.


Related Articles:

The Syrian refugee crisis: we all have a choice to make
Greater Love

Outside links:

Syrian refugees don’t pose a serious security threat

5 ways to stand up and be the church in the world’s worst refugee crisis since WWII

Rejecting refugees, rejecting Christ

3 facts about the Syrian refugee crisis that many Christians overlook

6 reasons to welcome refugees after Paris

Syrian refugees are not a threat

US Governors are wrong: Syrian refugees are no threat to national security


Posted in Faith, Fear, Love, PERSONAL, Politics, Serving Others | 193 Comments

Greater Love

“I could have got more.  I could have got more.
I threw away so much money.  You have no idea…”

  • 780 million people around the world lack basic water sanitation, which results in disease, death, wastewater for drinking and loss of immunity.
  • Americans consume twenty-six billion liters of bottled water a year and spend more annually on trash bags than nearly half the world spends on all goods combined.
  • Fifty-seven million children worldwide work every day instead of go to school
  • Four out of five Americans are high school graduates
  • The poorest one-fifth of the world owns 1 percent of the world’s cars
  • The richest one-fifth of the world owns 87 percent of the world’s cars
  • Roughly forty million people (the equivalent of about seven Jewish Holocausts) die annually from starvation, disease, and malnutrition
  • 69 percent of US adults and 18 percent of children and adolescents are overweight or obese
  • Of the six billion people on planet Earth, about 1.2 billion live on twenty-three cents a day
  • Half of the world lives on less than two dollars and fifty cents a day.
  • The wealthiest one billion people average seventy dollars a day.
  • If you make thirty-five thousand dollars annually, you are in the top 4 percent.
  • If you make fifty thousand dollars annually, the top 1 percent.
  • Roughly 1 billion people in the world do not have suitable housing, and 100 million are entirely homeless.
  • Someone dies of hunger every 3.6 seconds.*

[Jesus] will say to those on his left: ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.”

I’ve been a Christian for nearly 15 years and somehow I missed one of Jesus’s most important messages.  I’ve lived a life of affluence, without thought.  Central heat and air, running water, disposable diapers.  Three meals a day, refrigeration and fifteen different appliances/gadgets/do-dads with which to prepare food.  We pay for and eat meals without ever leaving our cars, we wear a different outfit every day of the week, we poop in drinking water.


That’s the thing that makes me capable of such waste and consumerism.  I’m not standing in a room full of people who will die over the next few months because they don’t have enough to eat.  I’m not bearing witness to the mother who will give her child up for adoption next week because she can’t feed him.  I don’t see the young boy working all day, every day in the factory so that I can have the latest gadget.  I don’t see the girl sold into slavery to feed her family.  I don’t see the man with frostbitten fingers because he has no place to live.

So I don’t think about them, and I don’t do anything for them.

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.

I’ve always thought of the rich man as selfish and greedy.  He had so much excess, and yet he refused to give to the poor.  But what if Dives didn’t have any excess at all?  What if he was just like me… using all of his wealth to maintain a lifestyle he’d grown accustomed to, with none left over for charity?  By the world’s standards, I’m wealthy – filthy rich, in fact.  Jon and I are in the top ONE percentile, enjoying luxuries much of the world can’t even imagine.  Would you like to know how much money we budget (above our tithe) to give to the poor, the starving and the destitute each month?

Nothing at all. 

Sure, we help people here and there when we know of a need, but we don’t budget for it, we don’t plan for it and we don’t make giving to the poor part of our monthly expenditures.  And yet, we plan and budget for so many unneeded “extras” that contribute to our own comforts and desires.

How many lives could my (not so) “necessary” purchases save?  How many human beings would still be alive on this planet, had I given up some of my luxuries, long ago?  When just a few dollars a month could literally put food in the mouths of starving people, how many lives have been lost to my negligence?  How many people have died so that I could have cute clothes, fast food, nick-knacks and entertainment?  Jesus gave us a commission and a responsibility and I am ignoring it.  I’ve missed one of the most important, central themes of the bible – LOVE.  Is there a greater or simpler manifestation of love than to give FOOD to the one who is hungry?   Yet I don’t.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

What if we just lay down the disposable diapers, the bottled water and the remote control?

How many lives could we save?


*Statistics are from Jen Hatmaker’s book, Interrupted

Posted in Evangelism, Love, PERSONAL, Stewardship | 2 Comments