The Maxfields

The Maxfields

Friday, August 12, 2016

O My Soul

Bless the Lord, O my soul
Worship His holy name,
Sing like never before, O my soul!
Worship His holy name.

The two huckleberry-eyed kids were in the backseat again, and it felt right.
My heart was full: they're back.

But the oldest sat frustrated and depressed next to his sister.
The music kept playing. The chorus started.

Bless the Lord, O my soul
Worship His holy name


He looked at the ground, still upset, and his low voice sang.

Sing like never before, O my soul!
Worship His holy name 

 
His little sister looked at him and at me, watching our mouths, her words delayed and mimicking the ones we sang. He looked at me in the mirror, no smile, his voice still singing. The Lord understands far more, far greater.

The Lord hears his children glorifying Himself, even when we can't smile - and the kids know it.

Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Heavenly Fellowship

Summer 2016 is officially over on the Rez. 

After my second full summer in Yakima, I have begun to realize how often I say “I miss you!” to so many people. I miss friends and family in Seattle, I miss the wonderful group that we went through Missionary Training with in Colorado, I miss teams and interns that I have met each summer and bonded with, and I miss kids from the Rez that I haven’t seen for a while or that have moved away.

Specifically, saying “see ya” to the intern team of Summer 2016 was very difficult. I’ve bonded with the 20 interns that were here from the end of May until this morning, and it hurts to think that we may not all see each other in the same room again.

Before moving to the Rez, I never really experienced that longing of missing someone. All of my friends and family were within a small radius in Seattle. It’s been really hard to stretch my heart to so many people and places these past two years.

However, the Lord has been reminding me that our time on Earth is only a glimpse of our eternal lives. As believers in Jesus Christ, we have the comfort of knowing that we will all be together one day in the most glorious kingdom above. 

It hurts to say “See ya later!” and “I miss you!” but we’ll only be saying that for a time.

John 14:2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

One Sunday Morning

I knew she walked in with a buzz cut, I had to glance twice to realize she was a girl. I knew she sat a couple seats down, squirming and whining. I knew that she was becoming one of the biggest struggles on my Sundays. Little did I know that the five year old had arrived that morning on a train from Montana and jumped on the church bus. Little did I know. 

Leading the kindergarten through second grade girl group on Sunday mornings in church has become my favorite thing about Sundays. Teaching them about Jesus, answering their questions, and building relationships keeps me thrilled to be here. However, I’d be lying if I said that it’s easy. From just a couple to nearly sixteen girls on occasion, I never know what my morning will look like. Sometimes I get anxious when I see certain girls walk into church that I know I will be fighting small battles with all day. The now six-year-old from Montana quickly became one of those girls.

I knew her hair was short because of the bugs. I knew she acted out because of things beyond her power that had happened in her life. What I didn’t know was that this crazy girl would become my favorite face to see every Sunday. 

Now, I know Jesus had her in his hands.

Now, my eyes sting when I see pictures of her.

Now, I hope that our relationship had a purpose.

The Montanan six-year-old got back on a train to Montana only weeks ago. I was warned by her cousin a week before that she would be leaving soon. She came to church for two more weeks and then her cousin came without her.

“Did she go?” 

“Yeah. She left on Monday.” 

‘Cause that’s how life is on the rez. They move from house to house until they find somebody to stay with for a while, and when that falls through they’re sent away. Some stay for decades, some stay for years, some for a month.

I often think of her raspy laugh and our race to the playground after church. I told her every week that her hair was getting longer. She ran into church every week and I drew pictures with her before church. My favorite part was telling her about a God who held her in his palm and loved her more than I did and washed away sin because he cares that much. 

I don’t know where she is or who she’s with, but all I know is that God wanted her at Hope Fellowship for the eight months that she was here. All I can do is pray.

My Sundays are a little bitter sweet now. 


July 2015

January 2016


Monday, March 28, 2016

A Strategic Time

We recently had three Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) groups from UCLA, Cal Berkeley and Standford on a spring mission trip. RUF is our denomination's, the Presbyterian Church in America, college ministry.

It was a really great week. These young men and women are smart, generous, courteous and fun to be around. Many have come two or three years in a row during their spring break. They could be doing almost anything and they chose to come serve on the Yakama Indian Reservation.

As I spent time with them this week I was thinking back to my college years and the decision making process of trying to determine a major, career, employer and all those strategic decisions that time in life brings.

The world would ask us to answer these questions when making these kinds of decisions.
  • Do your skills match up with the requirements of the job?
  • What type of income will you earn in this field?
  • Is this a stable career choice or will there be major changes coming?
  • Will you be able to provide for a family, buy a nice house, live in a nice neighborhood?
  • What are your friends doing?
  • Will you live up to your parent's expectations?
I think I could make the argument that all those questions are irrelevant when determining how best to serve Christ in His ever expanding Kingdom.

Unfortunately, those were the exact questions I asked when I was making these decisions.

These questions and the mindset behind them often lead to living for self, materialism and keeping up with the Joneses. It is so easy to get caught up in the "security" that a job, bank account, and a normal middle class life offer. The pursuit becomes maintaining that "security" and the "glory that comes from man." John 12:43

Ecclesiastes has much to say about this type of thing. The Preacher pursued pleasure and wisdom and ". . . became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun." Ecclesiastes 2:9-11

We pursue wealth and possessions. We are killing ourselves establishing a career and a reputation. How often do we consider why we are doing this? Are we truly serving our Master or are we serving mammon?

Should we not instead ask questions like:
  • How can I use my gifts and talents to serve God and His Kingdom?
  • I know the harvest is ripe and the laborers are few, so how can I be a laborer for Christ?
  • Does a large bank account really provide security?
  • When will my retirement account begin to look like barns built to store grain so we can say: "relax, eat, drink, be merry?" (Luke 12:19)
  • Does being a Christian in the workplace only mean seek out opportunities to share your faith with your co-workers?
  • What does it mean to love my life and to hate my life in this world so that I may keep it for eternal life? (John 12:25, Matthew 16:24-26)
  • How much do I value the glory that comes from man rather than the glory that comes from God? (John 12:43)
  • What does living a life of risk look like in the Kingdom of God?
I can't answer any of these questions on your behalf. Only you can as you pray and immerse yourself in God's Word. But I can tell you that the world is trying to deceive you.

I spent from 1993 through 2013 pursuing a career in public accounting. I had "made" it in my field. I was a partner in a CPA firm. We owned a home in a new housing development and were making more money than I ever would have expected when I started my career. I was an Elder in my PCA church and my family was following the Lord. When looking at the first set of questions as a reference point I had accomplished everything I wanted.

But then I came to the Yakama Reservation.

There is so much more to life that keeping up with the Joneses. What a waste of time, effort and life! God calls us to so much more. The Lord calls us to serve Him and He will make it clear where He wants us to be. But too often we succumb to the pressures of this world and those around us. When I look at Facebook and I see what we are spending our money on, how we spend our time and what we treasure in our hearts (Matthew 6:21), and the things that make us speak up about something -- I'm a bit sickened.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33

I challenge you to take a risk. Risk your life that God will provide in ways you cannot imagine. Trust that Jesus is greater than the treasures of this world.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Why, O Lord?

How bold are your prayers? What are the specific things you pray for?

My prayers are often feeble. I pray for health, the next day or thank God for His provision. Honestly, I would probably be better off not praying sometimes. How often do you see David praying for his health in the Psalms?

The men of Hope Fellowship have been going through the Psalms the last several months. Rather than be comforted, I've been increasingly frustrated.

These prayers of David (mostly) are things that I increasingly think and pray:

  • "Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?" 10:1
  • "Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted." 10:12
  • "How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?" 13:1,2a
  • "In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help." 18:6
Before coming to the Rez, I read all these passages and spiritualized them. If I could identify with them at all -- it is hard to identify with a person that suffers when you remove yourself from any opportunity to live life with those that suffer -- they turned into prayers about how lame my devotional life was. 

It is impossible for me to read these passages the same way now. There is much suffering in this world. Suburban America does all it can to insulate itself from suffering. But God calls us to seek out those that are suffering and show them the love of Christ: we are called to visit orphans and widows in their affliction (James 1:27). 

I see suffering now and my heart breaks. Almost daily I have the good fortune to interact with people on the Reservation that have suffered in ways I cannot imagine: children without parents, children living with whomever will take them, drug and alcohol addiction, physical, sexual and emotional abuse. I see how kids act that go through this, I see their lack of emotion, in others their anger, their mistrust. We spend a few hours with them each week and then we send them back home to trauma and chaos.

And I ask "Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?"

The current theme of our youth group is "walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7). There are days I'm sick of that verse.

My hope is in the Lord. I know Christ will return to judge both the quick and the dead. I have no doubt that Christ is the All-in-All and one day, when He returns, all things will be made new.

But I want to see it. 

Now. 

I want to see suffering end. I want to see families made whole. I want to see people turn to Christ and grab hold of the life saving Gospel. 

So, I'm changing the way I pray. Hebrews tells us "with confidence draw near to the throne of grace." With confidence. Other versions say "come boldly."

The Creator of the Universe wants us to come to Him boldly, bringing our cares and concerns to him. Can I pray as confidently and boldly as David?
  • "Consider and answer me, O LORD my God." Psalm 13:3
  • "Hear a just cause, O LORD, attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit! From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right!" Psalm 17:1-2
  • "I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me: hear my words." Psalm 17:6
Or what about Daniel? Can you imagine being this bold in prayer?

"O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have because a byword among all who are around us. Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his please for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name." Daniel 9:16-19

It is my hearts wish that my prayer might elicit the same response Daniel's did:

"While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel . . . made me understand, . . . saying, . . . "At the beginning of your please for mercy a word went out." Daniel 9:20-23 

I long for the day when the Father answers and says:
  • "'Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,' says the LORD; 'I will place him in the safety for which he longs.'" Psalms 12:5
  • "In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry." Psalm 18:6-7

Friday, January 22, 2016

then suddenly the rope would begin to catch you

I've spent twenty minutes every Tuesday afternoon this school year reading Charlotte's Web to eight first, second, and third graders. By now I've hopefully mastered Charlotte's calm voice, Wilbur's frantic concern over being turned into ham at Christmastime, and Mr. Zuckerman's amazement at the words in the web. And of course I've also mastered getting out of character just long enough to spot paper airplanes in the making, get them into my possession, and promise to give them back when reading time is over.

Yesterday we all watched the movie together, even the older kids. One little girl, one who hardly ever answered the questions I asked after each chapter even when I called on her, crept up behind me to remind me which words Charlotte was about to write her web above Wilbur's pen. A first grader next to me looked over with wide eyes and a frown as Charlotte passed away. I even saw my rambunctious paper airplane makers whispering to themselves the next major event in the story!

Sometimes I read ahead enough to be able to put a few words into my short term memory which allowed me to look up at the story's listeners for a quick second. I still remember how they sat on the edge of their seats, pausing from their coloring, and looked intently at the front cover of the book as I read the passage about Fern and Avery swinging in Mr. Zuckerman's swing:

"You climbed the ladder to the hayloft. Then, holding the rope, you stood at the edge and looked down, and were scared and dizzy. Then you straddled the knot, so that it acted as a seat. Then you got up all your nerve, took a deep breath, and jumped. For a second you seemed to be falling to the barn floor far below, but then suddenly the rope would begin to catch you, and you would sail through the barn door going a mile a minute, with the wind whistling in your eyes and ears and hair."

At the end of that chapter, I asked them if they liked swinging too. A couple of them didn't answer and just looked at me, at least two or three kept on coloring their pictures of Wilbur and Charlotte, and several nodded quietly.

I only got one enthusiastic yes, from my most loyal paper airplane maker. He didn't draw very many pictures during reading time, and the ones he did draw he wanted to take home so I never saw what they looked like. But I saw his eyes shine with excitement and comprehension of Fern and Avery's thrill in that barn when I asked that question. I've held onto that yes.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Snapshots

Here are a few snapshots of some of what has been happening here on the Yakama Reservation.  Thank you for your continued prayers and encouragement as we serve with Sacred Road.

The Sunday School class I teach is a real highlight of my week.  I teach the 3rd - 5th grade girls and we average about 10-12 girls each week.  I love these girls so much!  We have a Bible story and make a craft related to the story. We are also learning some verses together.  Please pray that each girl might know Jesus personally, find their hope in Him and understand He has a special plan for their lives.

Working on crafts in Susie's Sunday School class








Emily and I both volunteer in the after school tutoring program (Kingdom Kids) each week. This is Jesse Dempsen who coordinates this ministry.  The children loved this science experiment!  


This cute kid really enjoyed the science experiment too
This is Ray, one of the Kingdom Kid volunteers, helping a young boy learn to use a saw.  The children participate in workshops each week where they make projects or learn something new.  Darren is currently leading one of these workshops called "Money & Spending" on Wednesdays in the Kingdom Kid's program.    
Even my mom made it over one day to visit the Kingdom Kid's tutoring program!  
Everyone got to carve a pumpkin at Kingdom Kids!



The children LOVED Darren's spiderman mask he wore to the Fall Festival at Sacred Road.






This is a special little girl dear to Emily's heart. They made paper snowflakes together.   
It was a blessing to have her around during Christmas.








This little preschooler was an angel in the story of the Nativity at our Christmas service.  The children acted out the story and loved participating in this way.  It was a very special morning with a delicious Christmas meal we all shared together afterward.



We have enjoyed lots of visitors in our home including this little cutie who stayed with us for a week and really took a liking to Rachel.


This is an early morning sunrise from our front porch.
The beauty of God's creation here on the Reservation is breathtaking.