Wednesday, July 01, 2015

What I Learned in June (2015 Edition)

Two years ago I did my very first link up ever with Emily at Chatting at the Sky on things we had learned that month.  I was recovering from a broken foot and the other links were fun entertainment as I recovered.   Even though I don't know any of the other bloggers join in the linkup in person,  I have enjoyed getting to know them through their posts plus learn a few things in the process.   Living overseas it has also helped me feel a bit more connected with my home culture.

This month has flown by.  I finished school with my students, purged some of our stuff, did lots of cleaning, and took a few language lessons.  Tomorrow Big D and I leave and head for the states.   It will be hard being away from my husband for a month,  but Big D and I have a fun road trip planned. It will be good to have this extra time with Big D before he heads to boarding school in the fall.
So what did I learn this month?  Here are just a few things.

1. My son is better at scrabble than I am.

It all started when I was playing Words with Friends on my iPhone.  Big D would jump in and help from time to time but became really good at finding hit point words by stacking his words, using two letter words, and taking advantage of high point squares.   Big D and I have been scrabble almost every day.  Currently we are tied 3-3, but I have a feeling today he will break that tie and come out on top.  Of course, I might have a chance if I can just get a few of those high point letters like Q, Z and X.    Whether I win or lose, playing scrabble has been a great way for us to spend some time together.  

2. Purging is Good.

This month was a great month to get rid of stuff.  Both W and Big D are going away to school in the fall so we are pretty much getting rid of anything that they aren't taking back to the states.  With the kids leaving, it is a good time to downsize in case we need to move to a different house or location.  How did we get so much stuff?  I have no idea.   It feels great to get rid of things we don't need or use and bless some of our national friends with our stuff.   A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine who is amazing at keeping her things to a minimum shared three rules that she and her husband use when deciding whether to keep, give or throw away an item.  I didn't follow these religiously,  but they were helpful.  Here they are...
1. Do I like it?
2. Do I need it?
3. Do I use it?
If the answer to all three questions is yes then definitely keep it.  If the answer to just two is yes, maybe keep it.  

3.  Faith allows us to see our circumstances totally different from those who don't have faith.  

Our family has been listening to the podcast sermons for a series about being in the wilderness from our home church.   Last week's podcast was on walking by faith and timely for this season without flight permissions.  The pastor talked about the twelve spies and how some saw the situation through eyes of faith and the others did not.    Caleb and Joshua claimed God's promise that God would give them the Promised Land.  They saw God as big enough to handle the situation.  The other spies could only see the giants in the land.  Right now we are trying to see our situation here through eyes of faith.  God can help us get flight permissions if it is part of his plan.  We are not in panic but in prayer for what God wants for us here.   This is a different place than I was in a few years ago when it looked like the kids' school might not get funding.  I was in panic mode and lost some sleep over it until it was all resolved.   Pray with us that we will continue to walk by faith and that we will have some resolution to the situation soon.

4.  Bible study bonds women together.

This month 3 others ladies and I finished up Beth Moore's James study.   I mentioned last month that I wanted to go a deeper in some of my friendships.  This study helped me do that as we shared, prayed together and kept each other accountable.  Two of the ladies are empty nesters with lost of wisdom.  One is a new mom with an excitement for God's word and learning.  Then there is me.  We are hoping in the fall to do another study.  Any suggestions on what to do?

What have you learned this month?  If you are interested, here are more fun posts at Emily's.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Between the Rains

Rain is a beautiful thing.  It gives us water for life but also brightens up everything around us.  It makes it possible for rainbows and cools the air.  In the OT, rain is equated with blessing.  If the Israelites were obedient then the rains would fall at the appropriate times for their crops to grow.  When they were not obedient, the rains were withheld as punishment.   It couldn't rain constantly because then the plants would not be able to grow.  Between the rains, the farmers worked hard at taking care of the plants so they would grow to their full maturity.  They worked knowing that the next rain would help get their plants ready for harvest.   The farmer trusted that God was working to grow his plants even before they broke the surface of the ground.  He couldn't see what is going on but he know something was happening.

Two weeks ago in our James study, Beth Moore (James study session 7) talked about living between the rains.   Right now as we fervently pray for our flight permissions, I feel like I am between the rains looking in the distance for a small rain cloud to appear.  This affects not only us but other organizations that we fly to remote places in the country where we serve.  As I listened to Beth that day, I was encouraged as she shared these five things:

1. Accept the beauty of the process.

God sends the rains but in order to truly grow we need times without the rain.  It is a process.  I pray that I will embrace the process and grow as God wants me to grow.

2. Actively acknowledge God's faithfulness.

God has been faithful to us throughout our lives, but we have especially seen his faithfulness in our time here.  This is our first time without permissions in the five years we have lived here.  He has been faithful in providing permissions, visas, and the needed staff.  He kept us safe in uncertain times.  He provided a great team and great school for us.  We have seen prayers answered time and again.  There is no doubt that He is faithful.  

3. Avoid a caustic undercurrent.

This means don't grumble.  I have been blessed during this season to be a part of team that is weathering this time with grace and faith.  So far, we are keeping things positive.  

4. Ignite fresh resolve through the stories of others.

A few weeks ago, a couple from headquarters was here.  As they talked about their time in Albania and other places, I realized that we are not alone.  Every place has its challenges, but God uses those challenges to his glory.   Whether it is reading about the stories of faith in the bible or another book, I find myself encouraged to persevere.  These stories also remind me that God's ways are often different that mine.  

5. Ask of God like much is at stake.

Just like Elijah prayed for rain, we are praying for permissions.  For us, our future is at stake.  For others, it might mean their project closing down or people in remote areas not getting the help they need.  In the end, it hurts the people we most want to help.  We are looking for the rain cloud on the horizon that rain in on its way.  

Pray with us for our flight permissions and God's guidance during this season.  

Sunday, June 21, 2015

God's Good and Perfect Gifts (James 2 Verses at a Time +1)

I can't believe it has been a month since I last posted about the verses in James I am memorizing.  The last month has flown by and somehow I was sidetracked from working on memorizing James 1.  On a positive note, my bible study group has been studying Beth Moore's bible study on James, and today is our last day.  The study has given me a deeper glimpse into both the life of and book of James.  My prayer is that as I get back on track with my memorization that the lessons I have learned from this study will be reinforced.

I love receiving and giving gifts especially those gifts that are just because and just what the person needed or wanted.  It could even be something simple as a chocolate bar or a coke left on your desk by a friend.  In my last James post,  I wrote about how our desires can lead to sin which leads to death and listed some ways to help steer our desires in the right direction.  Today we pick back up with James 1:16-18 with James warning us to not be misled.
So don't be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.  Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.  He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.  He chose to give birth to us by giving us His true word.  And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. (NLT)
It is so easy to be misled into thinking that we can find good and perfect in the world.  Why not?  They find it in the movies with their happily ever afters.  It goes back to my last post and where my desires are leading me?  What are my desires?  Are they from God?  Am I seeking to fulfill those desires from the world when they can only be fulfilled through God and His ways?   Am I seeking good and perfect from a source other than God?

As I memorized these verses, I thought about all the good and perfect gifts from God that I have taken for granted.  In these verses, James reminds us of a few of those gifts.  God created the lights in the heavens to make our night beautiful.  God  never changes or casts a shifting shadow.  What he says today is still true tomorrow.  He is not a fickle god who changes his mind on a whim.  He is trustworthy and faithful.  Lastly God chose to save us, and we are his prized possession.  What more could we ask for?   For the past few years, I have kept a journal where I record the things I am thankful for.  It has been a good exercise for me so I won't forget what God has done and is doing in my life and those around me.   When I focus on what God's good gifts are, I am less likely to go looking for whatever is good and perfect from another source.  I am also more content in the place God has me during this season.