Friday, June 15, 2018

Marriage, Misfits, and Mission Completed (June Reads 2018)

What do you do on a morning when the electricity is off.  For me,  it as a great excuse to sit with some iced coffee and read before we head to the airport to go see our son graduate from boarding school.  But first, I thought I would write about some of the books I read/listened to this month.  

1. Marriage: A Lifelong Love by Gary Thomas

Today my Prince Charming and I are celebrating 26 years of marriage, but we are still learning how to be better spouses.  I liked how Gary uses stories to explain his principles for having a lifelong love.  He starts off reminding the reader that God is our father-in- law because our spouse is His son or daughter.  I am accountable to God for how I treat his son.  

My biggest takeaway from the book was when Gary wrote how our biggest need is not to be loved but to learn how to love.  We are already loved by God.  I can love because He first loved me.  So simple but yet profound.  How can I love my husband better today?

I also appreciated his section in the appendix for those who are in abusive situations  and those counseling them.  His strong words to leaders were much needed as he said the church has erred for too long in encouraging wives to stay when they needed to go.  Instead, the church should make a better effort to work with those husbands to treat God's daughters better.  

2. Misfits: Blessed are the Misfits: Great News for Believers Who are Introverts, Spiritual Strugglers, or Just Feel Like Something is Missing by Brant Hansen

The title sums up the book pretty well.  The book is full of funny stories, much needed truth, and encouragement to love people.

Here are two of my favorite quotes so far.
"Emotions are very human.  But faithfulness, in spite of emotion, and in the absence of emotion, is beautiful.. "

"We've been taught in many ways that struggling is a bad thing, that "success" is all that matters.  But it's through struggling that we learn, that we get stronger, and that we change.  I'm less concerned for friends who are struggling than friends who aren't."

3.  Mission Accomplished:  The King's War (The Kinsman Chronicles Book #3) by Jill Williamson

Why mission accomplished?  Because there is something satisfying in finishing a trilogy especially one that ends well.  I loved the twists and turns of this book as well as seeing the characters grow and interact.  What will it take to defeat evil?  Will Arman and good win?  There are a lot of characters in this series but by the end you know them all well.  You might even like some and hate others.  If you are looking for a fantasy series that is engaging and clean, this trilogy is for you.  

(This book releases next week.  I was given an advance copy for an honest review of the book.)

What have you been reading this month?  For more book reviews from other bloggers, head over to Modern Ms. Darcy in her month quick lit reviews.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Between the Rains

This is a repost from a few years ago when we lived in Central Asia.  As our nights and some days are rainy since we are not in rainy season, I thought it would be fun to post this again.

Rain is a beautiful thing.  It gives water for life but also brightens up the world around us.  It makes rainbows possible 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  disobedient, the rains were withheld as punishment.   

It can't rain constantly or plants would not be able to grow.  Between the rains, the farmers work hard caring for the plants so they will grow to their full maturity.  They labor knowing that the next rain will help their plants be ready for harvest.   The farmer trusts that God to grow his plants even before they break the surface of the ground.  He can't see what is going on but he knows something is 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 the 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.  (Added note: The team did end up getting flight permissions after a year and a half. )

Sunday, June 03, 2018

How To Live Loved: Advice to My Younger Self

Dear Younger Self,

Remember how as a kid, you loved going around singing Sunday school songs at the top of your lungs with "Jesus Loves Me" being your favorite?  Did you believe it then that Jesus loved you?  When did you stop believing it?  When did you let your insecurities and what others thought start dictating your actions?  

Living loved seems so simple yet so foreign.  Living loved is more than head knowledge.  It requires a knowing in your heart and soul.  It is trusting that what God has said is true all the time and in all circumstances.  

You almost got it when you read Lysa TerKuerst's book Uninvited.  Your heart recognized the truth, but the roots didn't go deep.  When Lysa wrote,
Here's the secret shift we must make: Do I walk into situations prepared with the fullness of God in me, free to look for ways to bless others?  Or... Do I walk into situations empty and dependent on others to look for ways to bless me? (p.45)
Sadly, you saw yourself in the first scenario and tried to fix it.  The trouble was you couldn't fix it.  You couldn't just make it happen.  

"Living loved is sourced in your quiet daily surrender to the One who made you." (TerKeurst, p.34) It comes from sitting quietly in your favorite chair  with listening ears.  It comes from drinking in the word and letting the truth grow roots deep inside of you.  Don't give up.

One day, you will be listening to a marriage book and hear the author talk about how your greatest need is not to be loved but to learn how to love.   You already loved by God.  Somehow on that day, it will click.  You will start asking God to show you how to love others better.  The focus will shift off of you.  It will slowly become less about you and more about Him.  

Then the day will come when you attend a social event and realize that it was okay.  You were able to love because you are loved.  Your insecurities while not completely gone were not at the forefront.  You didn't second guess each conversation.  You just loved.   Maybe you saw how you could have related better but deep down you know it will be okay because you are loved, loved by the creator of the universe who gave his only Son for you.

So hold tight to Jesus.  The light switch will turn on.  It could happen in a quiet place or on a long walk.  Or it could be when you take a step of faith and just love because... because God said love one another.  And in the loving, you come to see that you have been loved all along.

Your Future Self who doesn't have it down perfectly but trusts in a God who loves perfectly.