The Maxfields

The Maxfields

Friday, September 16, 2016

Church family here too.

I went to United Reformed Church of Nampa for the second time yesterday. They're my new church family and the worship already feels like home and the rest will soon. I got home from church and pulled off my dress that I never used to wear to church because I knew I'd hold toddlers. I changed into jeans and a tshirt as fast as I could so that I could FaceTime my kids. 

The first held the phone from the beginning to end and I saw real smiles and heard her laugh, "Emily, there's something I need to tell you" and "I have friends in my class" and felt at home as she walked me around church home. She let me feel the wind on the swings and go down the slide. She told me about Gideon and his 100 men who helped him win the battle, and I told her that I'm taking a class at school so I'm learning about the Bible too.  

She asked me when I'll be done with school.
"I'll be here till summer." Four years seemed like an awful answer.
"When will I get to see you?"
"I'll see you at Christmas, and I can't wait."  

Then the phone got shaky for a second and I saw another set of huckleberry eyes behind little rectangular-rimmed glasses as she climbed on the monkey bars. She balances now and controls herself and my heart swelled with joy for her as she smiled.

"Do you remember me?" I hadn't seen her since July.
"HEY I remember you! Where you at?"

The first took the phone back and told me that she was going to look in the jumprope line for her brother because he usually jumps rope after church.
"Hey Emily! How's it going?!" were the first things out of his mouth and I barely had time to answer before little sister took the phone back.

I'm thankful for the love of these little friends. I'm also beginning to love worshipping with a new church family here where I'm blessed by all ages and thankful for the kind people who invite me into their home for lunch on Sunday.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Memorizing Scripture

I get really, really excited when I hear someone is memorizing Scripture.  Having Scripture in our hearts and minds is life changing.  The Word of God is living and active, as you know, and I believe our lives can be transformed when we have Scripture stored up within us.

This past summer the BYGE Hope Fellowship youth group (BYGE means Best Youth Group Ever) began memorizing Scripture.  I was pretty excited to hear they would be doing this.  Chuck Clevenger (he oversees the youth of Sacred Road) picked 11 verses for them to learn.  Each week there was a lesson at youth group and a verse to memorize that corresponded with the lesson.

The youth blew me away.  They began learning the verses.  Each week Chuck would review verses at the beginning of youth group and hands would shoot up around the crowd.  The youth would recite the verses aloud.  They were hiding God's Word in their hearts.  It thrilled me and brought a few tears to my eyes more than once.  Interestingly, school can be a challenge for many and some youth struggle to read, but they were able to retain some Scripture.

Love these gals from BYGE
At the end of the summer, the youth were rewarded with prizes depending on how many verses they could say.  In fact, there were 6 or 7 youth who quoted all 11 verses.  It was incredible!

Here are a few of the verses they learned:

"All who call out to the Lord will be saved."  Romans 10:13

"There is nothing truthful about the devil.  Everything he says is a lie."  John 8:44

"God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won't stop before it is complete."  Philippians 1:6

"Christ gives me the strength to face anything."  Philippians 4:13

God is doing great things in the hearts of these youth.  Please pray that the Scripture they now have in their minds and hearts will transform them, encourage them and bring them hope.

Romans 15:4 "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Valentine's Day Party Recap

I have been meaning to write this blog post for a long time.  I know some of you prayed for the Valentine's Day party for my Sunday School class and I wanted to share with you how it went.

On a Monday afternoon, Darren and I drove one of the church vans around the reservation and picked up girls for the party.  As we drove, I looked over at Darren and said, "Aren't you so glad to be driving this old van around picking up these precious girls for a party -- rather than sitting behind a desk doing tax returns ?"  We both teared up a bit and agreed this is where we are supposed to be.

There were six girls who were able to come and we drove to our house where we frosted cupcakes, had pizza, made a craft and played a game.

During the party, one of the girls noticed our piano and asked who played it.  I said I played and she asked if I could play a song.  There was a hymnal open on the piano and she asked me to play that song.  The song was, "Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners."  I began to play and sing and she began to sing along with me.  Here were the words we sang together.

Jesus, what a Friend for sinners!  Jesus, Lover of my soul.
Friends may fail me, foes assail me, He, my Savior, makes me whole.  
Hallelujah, what a Savior!  Hallelujah!  What a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving, He is with me to the end.

My heart was so grateful that the Lord was allowing this special moment in the middle of the party. This girl's parents are both in jail.  She lives with her grandma and a bunch of children in the home. The house seems chaotic and stressful.  I looked at her sweet face as we sang together.  My heart was full. It was a moment I don't ever want to forget. 

Thank you so much for praying for this party.  I praise the Lord for how He orchestrated the whole thing.  Please continue praying for the girls in my Sunday School class.  Pray that they would truly know Jesus and what He has done for them.  Pray that they would have a strong faith and be deeply rooted as they face daily struggles, stress and pressures to follow the world.  I love each of them so much.

Singing around my great-grandma's piano

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.