Kids Say the Darndest Things: Family Quotes and Happenings

12-year-old (quite immature) Jackeline answering my question as to whether she wants almost-11-year-old (extremely mature) Josselyn to attend church with her and the local family whom she goes with on Saturday evenings: “I don’t think so, because I don’t know if she’ll obey me in church.”


Three of our kids with Goliath, our Rottweiler


One day as my husband Darwin and I crossed paths in front of the schoolhouse on our property, he came over and gave me a peck on the cheek. Our 6-year-old popcorn kernel Gabriela, who was standing up on a wooden swing a few yards off, saw us, although we thought nothing of it. As Darwin kept walking in one direction and I headed over to say hi to Gabriela, she blurted: “Ain’t dat right dat he’s yo bofen?”

We all know that her pronunciation of many words is catastrophically terrible, but in this instance I literally didn’t have any clue what she was saying. I asked: “What? What’s ‘bofen’?”

She pointed with a finger to where Darwin had walked off to, and say, “He’s yo bofen.”

I finally realized that she was saying her version of ‘boyfriend,’ and I laughed and said, “No, Gabriela, he’s my husband, that’s like a ‘bofen’ for life.”


Gleny (age 11) giving Gabriela (age 6) a ride around our front yard


As I held 12-year-old Jackeline’s homeschool exam in my hands, ready to grade it, I saw scribbled across the top of the first page in her handwriting: “God help me [with this exam].” I laughed, well aware that she has not proven herself to be a very good student, and said: “I sure hope He did.” She ended up getting a 95%!




Josue, 7-years-old and with several developmental disabilities, tends to put himself between my husband and I when we get too close, points an irate finger at Darwin and says, “No! Mine!”, pursing his lips and tilting his head to the side in a very goofy but determined stance.

The other night when that happened again over dinner, Darwin said simply, “I think I’ll only be able to kiss you for about four more years.”

Me, perplexed: “What? Why’s that?”

Darwin: “Because Josue’ll be pretty big by then and he’ll really have the strength to do me some damage.”


Josue (age 7) and Jason (age 8), our two boys


Over dinner one night, 6-year-old Gabriela who has been living with us roughly 4 months and who is mentally and emotionally 4 years old due to severe abuse, begins shooting off all these questions in her usual loud tone about what grade everyone is in: “Dayana? What gray’s she in?”

Me: “Sixth grade.”
Gabriela: “Ah Dayana’s in sist grade. And Jason?”

And so on, until she had asked all 7 of our kids’ grades more than once, and, to derail the repetetiveness of so many of the conversations she initiates, I asked: “Gabriela, do you know what grade I’m in?”

Without missing a beat, she says with total confidence: “First.”


Our 2001 Toyota Tacoma trucked at about half-capacity


One night as we were doing after-dinner kitchen clean-up, Darwin wanted to give 6-year-old Gabriela a hug or a pat on the back or something along those lines, and she scooted away. He said something about how we all love her and are not going to hurt her, and then asked, “Gabi, do you love me?”

She answered with wide eyes and a big, fake smile: “No.”

Gleny, our 11-year-old daughter who’s been with us over 2 years, came around the corner and asked: “Gabi, you love my mom, don’t you?”

Gabi, without changing her deer-in-the-headlight look, said: “Yes.”

Gleny, exasperated by her new little sister, said, “Gabi, if you love my mom, you also love my dad because they’re like one flesh.”




A couple things that we heavily stress in our day-to-day family life are teamwork and initiative, and a few weeks ago we set aside about an hour or two for each person to really do a good, deep clean of their bedroom and belongings. Our eldest has her own room and is extremely clean and organized, so she had no problems. Our two boys (8-year-old Jason who’s quick as a whip and 7-year-old special needs Josue) share a room, and then our four younger girls (12, 11, 10 and 6) share a room. (I bet you can imagine where the majority of the organizational and emotional chaos is concentrated.)

Over dinner that night the boys and girls were reflecting on how their afternoon went with their roommate(s) in an effort to work together and clean their shared space. The four girls exchanged glances and began telling of tears shed and arguments had (alas, we were there with them to witness it all and help them work through it peacefully), each one still a bit altered after such a dramatic experience, and then out of nowhere 8-year-old Jason pipes up and says: “Oh, Josue and I did awesome! He helped me fold the sheets, and he was in charge of opening the windows and organzing the shoes while I swept and mopped the floor.” Josue, who can only say a handful of 1- or 2-syllable words and wears diapers, sat there with a big toothy grin and pointed at Jason across the table in affirmation that all he said was true.


Many, many people eat from our kitchen and many, many people work together trying to keep it clean!


One night over dinner several weeks ago after 12-year-old Jackeline’s birthday party, I told our kids to guess how many photos I had taken. Each person made their guess somewhere between 11 and 200, but 6-year-old Gabriela didn’t seem to understand what the guessing was all about, so 11-year-old Gleny tells her, expasperated as tends to be her style, “Gabi, just say a number!”

Gabi, looking around at all of us nervously, with a big fake smile says through gritted little teeth: “A number.”


Darwin at the helm of the daily homework routine around our kitchen table


After Gabriela had received a stark behavior report from her pre-school teacher (she attends a special class with only 4 students that serves to meet the psychological needs of special needs and/or children who’ve suffered traumatic pasts)  informing us that Gabriela had kicked and thrown herself on the teacher, ate the other kids’ snacks, lied, and screamed that she wouldn’t be obeying anybody, Gabriela came bounding through our front door the following day after class announcing triumphantly, Mom! Jennifer! I didn’t kick the teacher today!”


Everybody wants to play chess!


11-year-old Gleny tells me she needs to conduct an ‘interview’ with me for some fourth-grade writing assignment at her school. I get excited, put aside what I’m working on, and say, “Okay, shoot.”

Gleny, very professional: “What is your favorite animal?”

Me, utterly disappointed by the (low) quality of the question: What? Oh…Uh…my favorite animal would have to be…unicorns.” [I laugh nervously, afraid my answer might not be valid.] “Next question?”

Gleny, still very serious: “No; this is the only question. Why is the unicorn your favorite animal?” She’s got her No. 2 pencil in her hand and she’s ready to write down whatever I say.

Me: “Uh…What? You mean you need to know why I love unicorns?” Then, assuming the same serious demeanor as my interviewer, I furrowed my brow and said, “Oh, of course, because they are extremely cuddly.” I was satisfied with my answer and trying not to laugh out loud as she wrote it all down in her wobbly cursive handwriting.

Gleny, looking up at me from her notebook: “Why else?”

Me: “Huh?…Oh, they’re so magical and friendly, too.” Her teacher’s gonna kill me!

Gleny, writing down verbatim my answer: “I need one more reason.”

Me: “They’re…smart?

Gleny: “Ok, great! Now I’m gonna go interview Dad.”

[Later that afternoon…]

Me to Darwin: “Hey, did Gleny interview you about your favorite animal?”

Darwin: “Yeah, mine’s the tiger.”

Me: “That’s sooo boring…”


Jason in his school uniform. We just received notice that both he and Gleny passed their respective grades after a lot of rough starts and trying days in their first year in their private school!


In a drawing/card that 11-year-old Gleny made for me: “I love you a lot, Mom. God is always with you wherever you go, and where you are in any place. Keep strengthening your commitment to be a mom. May God guide you in the correct place. You are a very good mom. From your daughter, Gleny. It was a pleasure to give you this card.”



In Abundance and in Want

A couple nights after having returned from the mission to southern Honduras to install potable water and share God’s Word with a dynamic community of believers, I told Darwin and our seven kids that I wanted to be able to share with them some of what the Lord had taught me during the trip. They agreed, so after a long day we all shuffled into our almost-furnitureless living room after dinner, and I began lighting candles and setting them all over our tile floor. Our kids – several of whom are most likely undiagnosed pyromaniacs – quickly jumped in to ‘help’ with the lighting, and soon enough we had several dozen candles all over our floor as the nine of us took our seats cross-legged in an imperfect circle.

I began, not really sure of what I would say, but eager for the Lord to give me whatever words He wanted us to hear: “Does anyone have any guesses as to why we’ve lit candles instead of simply turning the lights on as usual?”

Jason, our 8-year-old, said, “Light in the darkness! Christ is the light?”

“That’s true, but that’s not the reason…Why the candles? Any other ideas?”

Darwin or our eldest daughter guessed that perhaps the number of candles represented the number of people who came to accept the Lord during our trip, but neither was that the reason.

After several more good guesses, I laughed and said, “It’s simply because in the village where we stayed, they have no electricity. Each night we were in total darkness unless someone turned on a flashlight or lit a candle. A lot of people around the world live like that.”

Each person had their Bible in hand as I began sharing of my experiences in a little mountainous town on the other side of the country where the men work all day on steep mountainsides planting and harvesting corn and beans while the women work over fire stoves to make corn tortillas out of what the men harvest. To enjoy any education after the 6th grade, I was told the villagers have to walk 2 hours down the mountain and then take a 45-minute bus to the closest high school.

As the Lord guided our discussion, we took about 10 minutes so that each person made a list of all the material blessings we as a family experience on a day-to-day basis, from beds with mattresses (rather than hammocks or sleeping on the floor) to having a simple indoor bathroom stall that is far more pleasing to use than a fly-infested outdoor pit latrine, not to mention our milking cows who enjoy our large, grassy property and don’t have to wander around roadsides looking for enough to eat.

It was amazing how each person really ‘got’ what we were writing about, and 8-year-old Jason was the first one to volunteer his list once we were winding down. His list included about 50 things like: windows (more than just a carved-out hole in the wall as many in the world have), sinks (another thing many people don’t have), his towel, his wooden dresser, the great variety of food we have (even though we eat a base of rice and beans 2-3 times per day!), among many other common items we take for granted or even complain about because we compare them with someone who has more than we do.

From there three of our daughters, Darwin, and I shared our lists, all of which were basically the same even though each person wrote theirs individually: a shower (rather than bucket-bathing in the front yard as those in the village where I was had to do), dog food (rather than feeding emaciated dogs with watered-down rice scraps or pieces of tortilla that fall from the table), our kids’ art and music classes, my computer, a car, an electric stove, basically flat roads that can be easily traversed (rather than slippery, extremely steep, rocky trails as were those of the village where I was), real shoes (not just plastic flip-flops), enough ‘extra’ to even be able to share with and bless others, more than one candle (a home I stayed at in the village had but one candle on hand, and when it melted down we were left in darkness), and so on.

From there, each person meditating on all the incredibly simple, taken-for-granted items on their list, we read Philipians 4:12-13:

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Suddenly, without having planned to do so, I folded up my list of abundance and held it over one of the many little flames that were around me. As my page of notebook paper caught fire, I sensed that several of our kids were exchanging glances with one another, eyes wide, like, “Cool! Mom’s burning things! … Does that mean I get to burn my list too? Whoa!”

I love moments like these, because there’s no traffic in my soul, nothing clogging up the Spirit of God or getting in the way of what the Lord might want to say or do through me. I (although it was not me at all) said, “This is our list of abundance; it is neither good nor bad. Paul says in his letter to the Phillipians that he knows what it is to live in abundance and in want, and in both situations he has discovered the secret of being content: Christ. So for right now – and we must recognize this – we are living in abundance. We may be tempted to look at those who have air conditioning or hot water or television or whatever it is that we don’t have and feel that we really don’t have much at all, but that’s simply not true. We have several toilets, paint on the walls, a refrigerator, everyone is in school, etc – but if some day all those things go away and we enter into ‘want,’ nothing really changes. If there is some world war or the economy crashes or our home catches fire and we are forced to move to a little shack with dirt floors and everything becomes really hard – who knows! – and our season of ‘abundance’ ends, nothing has really changed. All of the things on these lists can be taken away – or added to – and the Truth does not change, is not affected.”

So we burned our lists and a certain appropriate heaviness, the kind that comes with an undeniable understanding of Truth, settled over us and did not leave for several minutes.

“If the Word of God can be proclaimed and go forth in a remote, rocky village where there’s no running water, people bathe in a bucket in plain sight in their front yard, barely have enough calories to keep going and are in utter darkness once the sun sets, we do not need lightbulbs and art classes and pillow cases and doors that keep thieves out. If we are given them, fine. And if they’re taken away, fine; it’s all just abundance, and it’s not necessary for fulfilling God’s purposes or for finding ‘happiness.’ If we lose everything and are forced to hit the streets looking for a new beginning, nothing has really changed.”

From there we went to several other scriptures and meditated on the profundity of God’s love and jealousy for us, for our whole selves and our whole lives. I shared of my conviction to begin visiting homes in our own rural neighborhood perhaps a couple days per month to share God’s Word and pray with the people, and I asked who might be interested in accompanying me to do so. Everyone’s hands went up.

After closing with prayer, we blew out the candles, swept up the ash left behind by the bunt-up lists, turned on the lights with a flick of the switch, and each person went about their business to do homework, take a shower, go swing in a hammock or practice violin while that heavy, beautiful burden of understanding remained hovering over me like a weighty but welcome cloud as I prayed to God that I would never forget, or better yet that when and if the time comes that I would be able to humbly accept the Apostle Paul’s Words that ring with Truth:  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Water Projects, Anniversaries, Legal Statuses and New High Schools: November 2015 Updates

Water Project in Southern Honduras

During the first week in November I went to the department of Choluteca in southern Honduras with a dynamic group of Honduran, American, and ex-Patriat missionary believers to aid a rural village in the installation of a potable water system and to go house-to-house sharing the good news of Christ and praying with the people. Darwin held the fort down at home for the week, and everyone survived! It was truly a growing experience for all involved, and through the trip the Lord has planted the desire in my heart to begin going home-to-home with our children in our own rural neighborhood to share His Word and pray with our neighbors. (All of the photos on this post were taken during the water project).

Doroteo, a Mexican-American who came to Honduras for the water project, sharing his testimony of faith in Jesus with the villagers


Returning from a good hike up the mountain to see the spring that will provide the lengthy system of tubing with its water.


The men of the village will continue working roughly 40-50 more days in rocky, elevated terrain to lay the tubing of  their first potable water system.


Two-Year Anniversary as Family

November 1, 2015 marked our two-year anniversary with Dayana (age 15), Gleny (11) and Jason (8), the first sibling group who moved into our family roughly 4 months after my husband and I were married. It has been a mind-boggling journey deeper and deeper into God’s grace, into the riches of His understanding, and into a truly incarnate walk with Him in today’s world. Darwin and I are planning a 2-3 night trip with them to a neighboring city in December to celebrate all the Lord has done in and through us as family in these last two years, and we are looking to begin the legal adoption process in June 2016 once, by Honduran law, we have been married 3 years and are thus valid candidates for adoption. Please continue to pray for our growth and unity in the Spirit, and that the Lord would continue to prepare and equip us as a family for any good work that He may have for us.

Having fun with the village children — the great thing about leaving my 7 at home was that I could be silly with the kids without having to worry about homework assignments, discipline or bedtime routines!
I don’t remember what the game was, but it sure was fun…


I think I might have been the tallest kid there…


My competitive side got the best of me…


I still don’t understand why the other kids were so shy about participating…


Update on Legal Situation

A few weeks ago I wrote about the current legal situation we are in the midst of, and I’m here to report that we were able to get everything together within a week to pay the large government fine along with our lawyer fees, and our lawyer is currently working on the case and moving it forward as quickly as possible in a system that is generally bogged-down by tragic inefficiency. Darwin and I have planned to take the 7-hour busride to the capital city of Tegucigalpa (where our lawyer lives and where the majority of the legal jinking and jiving occurs in Honduras) the second week of December to be able to talk face-to-face with her and see the progress of the case. Please continue to pray for this situation as it is not yet resolved, and that the hit to our finances will not affect the stability of the mission the Lord has entrusted to us.

The men from the village and those who came to support the water project praying together before beginning a long day’s work in the trenches


Andy, from Minnesota, sharing his testimony with those present


An elderly man from the village who works alongside the younger men each day on the mountainsides planting, harvesting, and laying the tubing for the water system  just to have enough to feed his family


Our pastor/mentor/friend Larry Smoak leading the biblical teaching each evening

New Initiative: Living Waters Ranch High School

After having first received children and youth from our rural neighborhood into our government-registered primary-level homeschool program roughly one year ago, the Lord recently expanded our vision to include a secondary-level section in another room of our Education Building. We currently have 7 students in primary-level (1st-6th grade), 3 of which are kids who live in our home full-time and 4 of which are neighbors of ours in extreme poverty who had not previously had the opportunity to be in a school.

The eldest of the 7 children the Lord has placed in our home as sons and daughters, Dayana, is graduating 6th grade, which is the last grade of elementary school and will be entering 7th grade, which is considered “high school” because there is no middle school in Honduras (in the Honduran system students graduate in November and re-enter in February). After discerning the options for her high school education, Darwin, Dayana and I all felt peace about continuing to educate her in our home/mission for at least the next year or two so that she can continue her musical and artistic studies along with developing the different leadership roles she is taking on.

So, Darwin and I visited the 6th-grade classrooms in two of the local public elementary schools to spread the word about the new high school we will be starting in our small town, and we’re currently weeding through the 40+ candidates, making phone calls to parents, conducting interviews, and organizing informational meetings in the hopes that God reveals between 8-10 students who will be entering into our 7th-grade program alongside of our daughter in February 2016. It is an exciting process, and thus far we have 4 spaces already filled with young teens who are already heavily involved in our weekly Bible study, in Darwin’s choir, agriculture classes, and other activities in our home/mission. Having them in our home 5 days a week, 8+ hours a day will enable us to profundisize our relationship with them and our impact on their lives for God’s glory.

The purpose of the high school is to offer a discipleship-focused alternative to the extremely crowded, low-quality public high school in our town for students who are earnestly open to and seeking to walk with Christ and know his Word, all within a family-like environment that values discipline, integral development, and creative growth. Please pray with us that the Lord would guide us in the process of discerning which/how many students should enter the program, and that this new initiative would meet a felt need for the teenagers of our town who are looking to grow in the Truth.

Just this week after a process of interviewing candidates for the position of “7th-grade teacher” we found the woman who will hold the position alongside of Darwin and I. Praise God!

We’ve purchased new desks/chairs for the incoming students along with a large dry-erase board, and in the coming weeks we will be cleaning out the storage room to prepare the space to be the 7th-grade classroom. There are many decisions to be made, schedules to be created, curriculum to be organized, meetings to be had, student contracts to be written, norms to be established, and lives to be impacted for Jesus, so we ask once again that you would pray with and for us during this time.

A quiet morning before breakfast to reflect and pray


One of the homes from the village in Choluteca, Honduras where we spent the first week of November


Andy, Larry, Joel and I walking through the village with the rest of the group and villagers




Sheri, Adria and I playing “cheerleaders” for the men who were coming in after a long day of digging. We had spent the morning going house-to-house sharing God’s word and praying with the people.


More cheerleading


And still more cheerleading…although we never got around to doing the pyramid as we would have liked…


The Purpose of Things (Part 2)

So all of us, sitting there in our dining room in the foothills of the Honduran mountains, continued the search for the human purpose. How surprising (and tragic!) it is that we can quickly and accurately name the purpose of a pencil or a seed but have no clue as to what our very own life might be good for.

“If I don’t know the purpose of a pencil, I could very easily pitch it into the bonfire as if it were firewood, thus completely sacrificing its actual purpose as a writing utensil, and then I’m left wondering where on earth I could find such a tool that might be used to make visible my thoughts on paper. If I don’t know that my clothes’ purpose is to cover up my body for decency and protection from the elements, I could wad them up and use them as rags to clean the floor and then wonder why I’m naked and cold. Nobody butchers their Rottweiler for dinner or fills their shoes with potting soil because we know their purpose, and that knowledge guides us in how we see these things and how we utilize them.”

Some people began laughing nervously, as if the examples given might just be a little too absurd. What’s absurd? The fact that almost no one understands – and much less fulfills – their purpose as human beings.

I continue, excited to be able to shed a tremendous amount of light on a search that many are confused by their entire lives. “Taking Jesus Christ as our example – literally God made man – let’s see what His purpose was. Maybe that will give us a clue as to our own.”

So about a half dozen people with Bibles started looking up the verses written on the dry-erase board propped up against the wall, and we started reading the verses one after another, young and old, married and single, many of which would hear these words of Jesus’ for the very first time.

(Jesus in John 5:19, 30): “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does…I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.”


“So Jesus – who is all-powerful, has all wisdom, who had been with God Himself since before the creation of the world – did not say, “I’m here to eat and drink and be merry! Let’s enjoy the good life, folks!” or “My purpose is to acquire weapons and lands and armies and become the most powerful man on the face of the earth!” But rather, he said, “I am here to…?

(Jesus in John 6:38-39):“For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day.”


Someone from across the oblong rectangle of chairs, stools and benches said in a quiet voice, “…fulfill God’s will.”

“Yes! Jesus’ purpose – which he states time and again – is to fulfill not his own will but that of His Father’s. And we’re talking about Jesus – the man who worked miracles, who was given the power to be raised from the dead! If His purpose was not to glorify Himself, accumulate goods, lands, and earthly power, or have as many wives as possible, or maybe cheat the system to get ahead, who are we to do so?”

Many people’s faces display a look of shock, as if it is offensive to think that God might be greater than man, that even though Jesus emptied Himself so as to be filled with His Father, I-ought-to-have-the-right-to-do-as-I-want-because-I’m-me.

(Jesus in John 7:16-18): “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies.”


“And this is not meant to make us feel bad, but rather to liberate us from ourselves! Praise God! The Savior of the world did not come to make Himself great but rather to serve God’s purposes – He is our example of the ultimate human life, our laid-bare purpose as human beings.”

(Jesus in John 8:28-29):“When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I am he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. And the one who sent me is with me—he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.”


“Many people go off to the university or spend their entire lives ‘finding themselves’ or searching futilely for some ‘purpose’. I know because I’ve tried, and I know a lot of people who are still stuck without their answer either because they haven’t found it or refuse to acknowledge it! It’s like owning a pair of shoes and spending your entire life scratching your head wondering what they might be good for while you walk around barefoot, accumulating blisters and cuts on your exposed feet.”

(Jesus in John 8:49-51): “No, I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father—and you dishonor me. And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!”


“What’s the good news in all this? With God’s help, anyone can do this. Anyone can fulfill God’s will, living for His glory rather than their own. Men, women, children, someone in a wheelchair – whether you live in a palace or on the streets in England or India or wherever – even if you’re a slave in chains! – the ultimate human purpose is within your reach. You don’t have to have a certain amount of money or education – and neither are you excluded if you have too much of either.”

People are listening, and I’m praying that they ‘get it,’ that we all ‘get it.’

(Jesus in John 17:3-5): “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.”


“Jesus came as a poor man – his human dad was a carpenter, and he basically spent his days walking from village to village teaching the Truth, no strings attached. He didn’t eat exquisite food all the time, never got married, and we know He didn’t have a college degree. If His purpose was to fulfill not His own will but God’s, seeking to bear good fruit for God’s glory, then that’s an extremely strong indicator that we are to live the same way.”

(Jesus in Matthew 26:39): “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”


“We can lay aside all our own invented ‘purposes’ – “My purpose is to be as comfortable as I can be at all times!” or “My purpose is just to have a good ole time, to have some good laughs before I die!” or “My purpose is to be gay or to be ‘me’ or to be ‘different’ because no one can tell me what to do!” or “My purpose is to be the best at everything (or at least think that I’m the best) so that I feel good about myself and don’t damage my self-esteem!” It’s like a Rottweiler rebelling against its owner, saying in defiance: “My purpose is not to be a faithful watchdog! My purpose is to be a world-class ballerina!” or a helicopter deciding that it prefers to function as a submarine boat. What if the sun preferred to function as a light bulb in your living room? Everything in the known world functions according to its purpose; we know this well, and our daily lives depend upon this truth. Now that we have heard our own purpose, we may choose to walk in it to God’s glory, taking Jesus as our ultimate teacher and guide in doing so, or we may continue inventing other ‘purposes’ for our lives that in the end prove to be equally dangerous and ridiculous, like using a machete to brush your teeth.”

(Jesus in John 15:1-17): “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.”