• Jenni

(This was inspired by some observations I made of other people, but as I read it again it rings just as true for myself and my family. No offense or judgement intended!)

I’ve seen the way your children walk. Stiff, awkward. As if they’re afraid to miss a step or move outside of the cage they’ve been taught to live in. Like animals who’ve been raised in captivity: their cage has become their comfort and their curse. I am convinced that the wilderness still excites them. When they smell the fresh air and see the wide open fields or big blooming jungles; I’m certain their hearts skip a beat. Their imaginations start to spark as they see other animals running wild and free. Their physical bodies miss the sunlight and movement; the challenge of trying new things and discovering that they’re capable of so much more than they (or you) ever thought possible.

The cage, that cursed cage, is tricky.

It hasn’t been all bad, you see. The cage offers comfort, protection, a familiar environment. There is food, shelter, even games to play for entertainment. They can easily live the whole of their lives in captivity and not notice the lack (if they’ve been sheltered enough)… or maybe get so good at ignoring it, that the feeling disappears completely. I know the feeling as a deep, underlying drone of sadness and frustration. It goes on and on and never stops and eventually it’s familiarity makes it almost unrecognizable, or worse… ‘normal’.

And that cage, that cursed cage, is tricky.

Because you never meant to harm them. You only wanted to protect them and keep them safe from the dangers of the wild. I mean come on, it’s called “wilderness”… a place that’s uncultivated, uninhabitable. You’ve experienced life in captivity and you know it works, look at you! You’re healthy and safe, some might even say stable and down-to-earth. It’s only logical that your kids should stay there too. There are too many unknowns out there… where will they find food and shelter? How will they stand up to other wild animals? No, no, no. Freedom has become synonymous with fear… fear makes your decisions for you now. And you’ve done your part on educating your children in that school of fear. “Out there” is dangerous; “in here” is safe. Unknown is risky, so better stick with what’s familiar.

We all know what it’s like to watch someone stumbling over their feet as they try to dance. You’ve tasted the food of someone who is (oblivious to the fact that they’re) not gifted in cooking. You’ve heard the screech of an unskilled voice that is trying with all their might to reach that right note...

We’ve also seen the beauty of paint on canvas, a masterpiece created by an artist. You’ve ridden in a well-built train that was designed by the genius engineer who knew exactly how things needed to fit together. We can learn many skills, but there is a great difference between a skill that’s been learned and an inborn gift. You can sense the flow, ease, comfort of a person who is doing what they were created to do, be it singing, sewing, dancing, designing… you can revel in their excellence. We often say, “they make it look so easy”, and in some way it is easy for them… because that’s what they were created for!

I believe that awkward, stiff posture of your children is a sign that they are not living life according to their talents. They’ve been gifted with (inclined to, excellent at, proficient in) freedom. They were not built for a cage. They can manage in one, yes, but they will never reach their full potential, find full joy and truly live, until they are free. I know that you love them in the way that you’ve learned love, but I want to challenge you to learn a new kind of love. Your fear of what “could happen” is more dangerous than any harm that might overcome them. Roughly said: it’s better to die free than to live dull in captivity.

I know that you might feel powerless to change. Maybe you feel unable to take control over your fears, to move in a new direction. But He has come to set the captives free. You are His target area. He wants to get rid of that cursed cage and let you and your children taste the pleasure of freedom. Listen and see if you can hear… is there a drone of sadness in your ears?

“Wake up, wake up!

You’ve been sleeping for too long!

All of these fears, they are silencing your song.

Wake up, wake up!

Don’t close your eyes and turn away.

The light of the dawn is signalling it’s time for change…

Don’t stay the old way."

______________________________________

I’ve come to believe that all mankind has been gifted with freedom, and if we don’t use it, we’re going to live awkward and stiff lives, marked by the underlying drone of sadness and frustration.

Unfortunately I can lead you only this far and no further, because the coming journey is new also to me. I’ve become aware that I was made for freedom and not captivity. I’ve heard His voice calling me out. I am unsettled in my cage and have even explored the wilderness many times. I’ve felt the rush of the wind and the beat of my heart as I discovered new abilities I never knew I had. But still I seem to return to my half-broken cage, sadly finding comfort in the bars and confinement…. nonetheless I hear Him continually calling…

“Speak up, speak up!

Your words create your destiny.

Say what you think and let the others be free to dislike you if they want to.

Sing out, sing out!

The world is waiting for your song.

Light up the way, and let the eager come along to discover their hidden treasure.

For light has come,

so stand up and run in wide open spaces!

Come now listen here, just say no to fear…

do you hear what I’m saying?”

#freedom #observations #abundantlife #personalgrowth


As you all know (if you've watched our last video), God miraculously gave me the €6400 I needed to record a CD in a real-life studio! :-) Things are progressing well, and the next step is to have it mastered and printed. I'm considering releasing the album/EP on a USB stick in addition to (or instead of) a CD and all of this costs extra money! I now want to raise about $3500 (€3000) to pay for these expenses.

I've started an Indiegogo campaign and I have 40 days to raise the needed funds! Please consider helping me get these songs from the studio to the masses!

#music #impact


Discipleship Summer Course 2016 • 22 students, 12 staff, 14 kids

8 nationalities • 5 topics • 3 weeks

Wow, what a whirlwind it was! As a staff team we started one week before with preparations. Praying & worshipping God together, talking about the schedule, preparing handbooks and welcome baskets. Saturday: the students arrive. All a bit wary and wondering what the coming three weeks will look like. Two families with 4 kids (and one of them on a strict gluten-free diet), a family from England, a single mom, some couples with grown-up kids (who were not present), some single ladies, a man from Turkey, a young girl from Italy… they all arrived and started to acquaint themselves with their new “home”, fellow students and staff. We did a round of introductions and everyone is curious to see what God has for them in the coming three weeks. Play some games, eat some food and start to settle in.

Monday: first day of lecture. Worship together on the base and there are “new” songs and a different style of worship for many. Some come from a very traditional reformed Christian background and they’ve never worshipped God with their hands in the air or with these kind of songs. Some are used to the style and feel comfortable. The “foreigners” try to follow along when we sing in Dutch and do their best. First lecture begins, theme: Holy Spirit. Wow, what a whirlwind. For many it was a very new topic that brought many questions. Second half of the week, a new theme: Father heart of God. WOW, another whirlwind. Many have never heard of this concept before. Of course they’ve known “Father God” but to really comprehend all that that statement contains is new for most. Unconditional love and acceptance… empowerment… some students struggle to receive the message fully. There are so many new things. Some walk out of class crying, we follow them and listen. Encourage them to not quit: being challenged to open up our (often closed) minds and spiritual worldviews is never easy, but it’s necessary. God is too big for us to have Him figured out already. The children’s program has a rough start, the kids need to get used to the new surrounding and schedule. But as the week continues, things run smoother.

Victory, the ones who struggled had an encounter with God. They heard the information and experienced the truth. More tears, but this time of wonder and awe. Can God really do that? Yes dear, yes He can. Campfire and singing and the week comes to an end. Second week begins….

Theme: Identity. If last week was challenging, this week is ten-times more hard to swallow. What? I can hide behind different masks like piety and arrogance, timidness and humor? What? God calls me to come out of hiding and enter into intimate relationship with Him? For one student, it was too much. The person decides to go home. We pray, send cards of encouragement, and trust God that He is at work no matter what. The week gets more intense as there is a “family camp” running at Heidebeek at the same time and they have an outbreak of the flu. One by one people start getting sick… still God is at work, students and staff break the power of lies that have held them back and embrace the truth that God says about them. A week of breakthrough… and sickness. Thursday night seminar about evangelism with an outreach to the market on Friday. Unfortunately our family was hit by the sickness too soon and we weren’t able to participate, both kids and momma throwing up. Thankfully it went over fast, and by Tuesday we were back in class for the last week.

Third week theme: Missions. What a transition from identity to missions… felt a bit awkward for some, but it was well thought through. When you discover who you are (and who Jesus made you to be when He died for you) then you have so much more reason to share it with others. Our speaker was a man who had been a missionary in the Middle East for more than 20 years. He didn’t communicate head-knowledge, but he shared passion and people were inspired. But it was also quite a challenge for many, it’s never easy to get out of our “comfort zones”! Thursday we round off with a “love feast” and our wonderful volunteer cooks make a special Indonesian meal for us: Gado Gado. We ate with baskets as plates and celebrated by blessing each other with gifts. A few days earlier we put all our names in a basket and we each drew them one by one. The assignment: ask Holy Spirit how you can bless this person. It was wonderful to see how Holy Spirit really did lead people to buy gifts that were encouraging, confirming and blessing the receivers. Friday: evaluation, cleaning and goodbyes. Wow, what a whirlwind!

Three weeks can be so long and so short at the same time! God did so much in peoples’ lives, and we were so busy that the time just flew by! One student decided to do a full 6 month Discipleship Training School because they feel God is really calling them into missions. There was another student from a very traditional reformed Christian background who wanted to receive more of God but was held back by the fear of the “unknown” (things which were not common to them or hard to comprehend with their minds, mostly things about the Holy Spirit). At the end of the school this student stood in front of class and boldly proclaimed how much God had done in their life over the last three weeks. How free and full they felt, and that they are open for wherever God will lead them. Wow! Another student who was Christian but had an Islamic background shared that they felt so much peace when they were with the group. They said sometimes it was hard to follow God because they learned so many different ways, Islamic and Christian, and were sometimes not sure what to do with it all. But after being in the school this student said that when they pray to Jesus they really feel it’s different and have peace, they now know for sure WHO is the truth!

Wow, what a whirlwind! Turning lives and worldviews upside down, turning people inside out and taking off masks and the whole time God with his love is blowing around and inside of all of us. It was an incredible 3 (4 for the staff) weeks. Papa God is so good and faithful to lead us into the truth that sets us free! We know and stand on the promise that God will bring the good work He started to completion (Philippians 1:6), in the students lives, and in our lives as staff.

This was the first school/course that we staffed together since we became a family. It had some challenges, tired children and tired parents, but we made it and we really enjoyed it too! Ezra took his morning nap in a camping bed in the hospitality office, Nora played with two of the other younger kids in the “creche”. As parents we took turns who would attend the afternoon/evening activities and had a babysitter a couple of times so we both could attend. We held most of our staff meetings in our living room so that the kids could have their afternoon nap. We’re tired and thankful that it was a short course and not a 6 month school (haha!) but we really loved it! Being able to see how much God can do in a three week period of time is faith-building. And of course as He worked in the students’ lives, He worked in ours too. We both came away with some new insights and (beginnings of) breakthroughs.

Wow, what a whirlwind! Discipleship Summer Course 2016.

#YWAMHeidebeek #fun #life #impact #truthtransparencytransformation

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