Saturday, October 04, 2014

What Digging Cisterns and People Pleasing Have in Common

It all started with a pumpkin coffee.  Someone had sent me some pumpkin coffee, and I was sharing a pot of coffee with two young ladies who have been volunteering at the school where I work.  One lady had pretty much grown up here, but the other lady new to this country.  I asked the lady who had only been here a month what was the hardest thing for her.  The conversation went many directions, but she ended up sharing  how the craving for approval was something she was having to fight here.  Everything was new, and she was trying to find her place.  Even though I am not new, I can relate to her struggles.   I, too, am finding that I am craving others approval and finding my places amidst the many changes.   I am wanting someone to say good job.  You are on the right track.  After they left, I put the conversation to the back of my mind, but God wasn't finished with me and this topic yet.

The other night before going to sleep I started reading a book called A Woman and Her God by various ladies.  The chapter I was reading was by Beth Moore.  She wrote how in Psalm 63, David craved time with God.  Discipline and having a daily time with God was good but if we don't crave God it is often going through the motions.  If we don't find satisfaction with God then we will look for it in other places like the approval of others.  She advised going to God each morning and emptying our cup before him-giving our troubles, sins, and insecurities.   Next, we should admit to God that He alone is our sole satisfaction, remind ourselves of how His love never fails and ask God to satisfy us.  I really liked this next statement from the book. "One thing that is so incredible about allowing our Father to meet our needs first thing in the morning is that if our husband or friend showers us with love later on, our cup overflows.  But it's not their job to initially meet the needs of our soul." (p.10) Wow!  My time with God sometimes becomes an item on my checklist when it really needs to be a meeting with a Father who can satisfy the hidden places in my heart.

Then yesterday morning as I was reading in Jeremiah, I came across this verse.
"For my people have committed a double evil; They have abandoned Me, the fountain of living water, and dug cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that cannot hold water." (Jeremiah 2:13 HCSB)
Once again, God was telling me that I am seeking satisfaction in places that don't satisfy.   Looking back on the past week, I see where my speech was drawing attention to me or wanting others to say good job.  I am craving deeper friendships but seeking it the wrong way.   I need to be going to the fountain of living water first.  Not only will my soul be satisfied but then I will also have something to give to those around me.   Why do we work so hard finding satisfaction in things that don't satisfy?  I have no idea but know I do it more often then I would like.

Thanks for letting me share with you.  Somehow writing all this out helps me process what I am learning but also keeps me accountable to friends who read this blog.  Blessings, TJ

Dear God, Thank you for not giving up on me.  May I crave my time with you each day and seek to fill my cup with the living water that comes only from you.  Forgive me for seeking approval and satisfaction in other things.  Satisfy me with You.  May I then go about my day with a servant's heart ready to love and serve those you send my way.  In Jesus name, Amen

Thursday, October 02, 2014

What I Learned in September 2014

This month has been like a roller coaster for me.  Our family has been busy with school, good byes, and just doing life here.   My emotions have been all over the place.  Our flexibility has been tested, but in all the craziness, God's grace was sufficient.  September was full of lessons that I am still working on.  Here are just a few.

1. I need to be intentional with my time.  This month I had some unrealistic expectations. I found I didn't have the time or energy to do some things I wanted to, like inviting friends who were leaving over for supper.  I also seem to have more women knocking on my door wanting to sell me things such as pictured above.  How can I minister to them best?  Figuring out what I can and can't do in this season is challenging.  Even more important, finding out what God wants me to do and not do is something I am still seeking to find out.  I found myself going back to a book called Intentional Woman.  Now if I can just find a balance to all my roles during this time.

2. I love the promises in Isaiah.  Two of my favorites are ...
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.   54:10 NIV

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  49:15 NIV
I like the no matter what part.  This impossible thing might happen but He will never stop loving me or forget me. 

3. I like to dance but I am not very good at it.  
This month we had an opportunity to go to a national wedding.  It was fun dancing, watching the dancing and festivities, and eating delicious food.  Weddings here are a pretty big deal and are very expensive.  The bride will usually have two dresses with one of them being green instead of our western,traditional white.  It can be a long evening with the food not being served until 10:00.  We didn't get home until midnight so I was grateful when the next day ended up being an unexpected holiday so I could sleep in. 

4. Giving pop quizzes on my birthday might still be a good idea but not giving my students a bonus question to guess my age. I guess I look 56 years old.  

5. Good byes from a distance stink.  It didn't work out for a few of my friends who are leaving to come back and say good bye.  It is just now hitting me that they aren't coming back which has led to many tears shed this month.  I am learning that I need to take time to grieve but also remember that good byes with these friends aren't forever.

6. Flexibility is a must for survival right now.  To be truthful, I am tired of being flexible.  Due to unscheduled days off at school, I find myself planning and re planning and craving a routine.  I am trying to remember that it is all in God's hands and to make the most of each day. On the plus side, things have been more peaceful around here than was predicted for this time.

7. I can't keep up with my husband's reading pace.  In our home, I am usually the one that reads the most and finds books for everyone else to read.  I can't keep up with finding books for my husband.  We are reading more which is good.  I have a list of books for me, but most of them are not ones I think he would enjoy.  If you have any good suggestions on books for men?  Please list them in the comments.

What have you learned this month?  A favorite verse, quote or book? 

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

My Long Brown Coat

Some days I hate it.  My long brown coat, I hate it.  Why should I have to put on another layer?  I am tired of getting home from school all hot and sweaty because of my coat.  Why is my freedom infringed?  Other days I love my coat.  It give me a certain anonymity, unless of course, you look at my shoes which are truly western.   I can blend in better.  With my brown coat on, I can walk on the streets in my neighborhood.   In the summer, I am often able to wear short sleeves underneath making it cooler to move about.   My coat is a blessing and a curse.  It gives me freedom yet takes it away.  

On the days when I am frustrated about my brown coat, God often reminds me about why I wear this brown coat.   I wear this brown coat because God has asked me to.  He has asked me to come to this place and to love this people.  When I look at the big picture, it is a small thing.  I am not being persecuted.  God provides for all my needs and many of my wants.  This small thing of wearing the brown coat allows me to work and serve here in a way that respects the culture and the people here.  I don't always like it but it comes with the territory of life here.

My brown coat is something obvious.  It is a physical thing that I take off and on.  In my life, there are other small things that God asks me to do that are much like this brown coat.  I don't necessarily like them.   I think I have certain rights.  I want it to be about me.  Why should I have to do it?  It might mean extra patience and time with a student who has been absent.  Or it could be playing wii tennis with my son even if I have no chance of winning.   It might even be hearing a sewing ladies story and trying to figure out a way to help her feed her children.   Or it might mean redoing my lesson plans for the third time because once again we either have a day off or half a day.  I don't like dying to self.   To be truthful, I am not very good at it.   

God's work reminds me of these things.
Gal 5:24 (Jer) You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires.
Gal 5:24 (TEB) And those who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death their human nature, with all its passions and desires.

1 Pet 2:24a (Phi) And he personally bore our sins in his own body on the cross, so that we might be dead to sin and be alive to all that is good.

Jesus did a big thing so I could do a small thing.  What a gift that is.  What small things is God asking you to do today?