Thursday, July 24, 2014

Every Coin Has Two Sides

(from Flikr: Martin Fisch)
In our travels, we have accumulated all sorts of coins.  I am not even sure where some of the coins are from.  One thing each coin has in common is that they all have two sides, and each side is different.  Usually one side indicates how much the coin is worth while the other side might have a picture or symbol unique to that country.  If it is a coin from your country of origin, most people know what the coin is by just looking at one side or even by the size of the coin.  

Just like coins, each story has two sides (and with stories sometimes more than two sides).   Each side is different but both represent the same story.  Often in my life, I only see one side.  I make a judgement based on the side I see, and I jump in.  I say or do something that reveals my ignorance and often end up putting my foot in my mouth.   For example, I will launch into a lecture with my son over something I think he has done wrong only to find out I was wrong.  There was another side to the story.  I misjudged.  It was an innocent misunderstanding.  With my teenagers,  I am learning to be more cautious.  I see an area of concern that needs to be addressed but instead of jumping to conclusions, I need to ask some questions and listen to their side before I make a judgement.  Maybe this why James reminds us to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.  When I am quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, it gives me time to see the other side of the story.   

If we looked at both sides of the story, we could avoid a lot of disagreements and misunderstandings. Has anyone ever told you a story that involved a friend of yours that wasn't very flattering to your friend?  Did it affect how you felt about that friend?  What if you found out later that there was more to the story?  Each person saw and felt something different.  Maybe a friend was really short with you but then you later found out that your friend was going through a rough time in her marriage.  Or maybe a friend is distant with you, and it makes you feel like your friend doesn't like you anymore?  But maybe your friend was distant because he had a bad day at work that day.  Things aren't always as they seem at first.  

When I was little, my mom always told me to stop, look, and listen before crossing the street.  In life, I am trying to do the same before coming to a judgement.  I need to stop, look and listen.  

Do you ever have trouble seeing both sides of the story?  What has helped you do a better job of seeing both sides?  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Quotes-Summmer 2014

This summer I am slowly working on my to-read list for the year with some fun reads mixed in.  I have been challenged and inspired.  It has also been a blessing to have conversations with friends about what I am reading and learning as well as what they are reading and learning.  Here are a few of my favourite quotes from the books and blogs I have read so far this summer.

From Susan Cain in her book, Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking:
"It's not that I'm so smart," said Einstein, who was a consummate introvert. "It's that I stay with problems longer."
From Daniel Henderson in his book, Transforming Prayer:
Worship-based prayer seeks the face of God before the hand of God.  God's face is the essence of who He is.  God's hand is the blessing of what He does.  God's face represents His person and presence. God's hand expresses His provision for needs in our lives.  I have learned that if all we ever do is seek God's hand, we may miss His face; but if we seek His face, He will be glad to open His hand and satisfy the deepest desires of our hearts."
From Dee Henderson in her novel, Undetected:
"Think of normal as being what God intends for your life, " Mark said. "Un-normal is everything that's something other than His plans for you. Life gets easier that way, Gina. Go ahead and stress about what you should care about, but ignore the rest." (p. 127)
From Francis Chan in his book, Erasing Hell: What God Said about Eternity, and the Things We've Made Up:
But the New Testament writers didn't have the same allergic reaction to hell as I do.  Perhaps they had a view of God that is much bigger than mine. A view of God that takes Him at His word and doesn't try to make Him fit our moral standards and human sentimentality.  A view of God that believes what He says, even when it doesn't make perfect sense to us. (p. 108)
From Leo Tolstoy:
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
From Randy Persall in her article in the Thrive Connection titled Gold Refinement :
Yet in reality, both the house built on the rock and the one built on the sand experience the tempest.  Maybe it would be better to face the inevitable and understand the reasons for our storms.
From Ann Voscamp in her post How to Keep Going When the Storms Keep Coming That Might Rend You in Two:
Sometimes God will calm the storm for you, but sometimes God will calm you for the storm. Sometimes God calms the storms-and sometimes the storm will still swirl and He calms our fear.
It's never the storm that is your enemy, its always the oversight to be prepared for the storm that's your enemy. 
What is something that you have read this month that has stayed with you?  Maybe a quote or verse or thought?  

(Just so you know affiliate links are used not that I have ever earned anything off of them.  :) )




Friday, July 18, 2014

Changing Our Cravings

(photo from Classroom 2.0)
What do you crave or cling to when stress, loneliness or hard times come your way?  Food?  Sleep?  Media?  Busyness?  Exercise? Or maybe even something else?   I often crave a nice cold glass of coke with lemon, a fluff book, or maybe a TV show marathon with my kids.  Okay, maybe I should add dark chocolate in there too.  This summer via Skype,  a friend and I have been bible study on the Psalms together.  This week our topic was Psalm 63 and clinging to God.  In this Psalm, David cried out to God.  He was thirsty for God.  He knew that only God can satisfy his deepest longings.  He clung to God during the hard times.  This was not just a one time thing.  The Psalms reflect the words of a man who turned to God and worshipped His God.  He craved God.   Did he always do that?  No, he wasn't perfect, but there is a reason he was called a man after God's own heart.

This spring we had a lot of crazy things going on which resulted in the kids and I leaving Central Asia for the summer.  I found myself clinging to God like I never had before.  I can't take any credit for it.  All I did was take the first step.  Before all the craziness happened, I had established the habit of spending time with God each day.   So when things were tough,  I kept on doing what I did everyday.   Some days it was hard to concentrate.  Other days I had to force myself to do it telling myself that I couldn't do this or that until I had spent time with God.  Many days the worship was sweet and the words seemed penned just for me.  Everyday I was able to pour out my heart and what I was going through at the feet of Jesus.  I had a peace that I can not explain.  The promise is true that when we seek God, we will find Him.   In the process, I found God changing me.  I no longer felt I needed to seek comfort from books, TV shows or food.   I still read, still watched TV, and still fixed and ate fun food, but my motive for doing so had changed.  It was not an immediate transformation.  My appetite for books that were not fluff grew.  Reading books in the evening before bed became more common.  I didn't feel like watching TV as much.  It did help that when we came back to the states that there was nothing good to watch, and there was too many commercials.  Even my children were more interested in other things.  Through the summer, we have had a mini marathon or two but our TV watching was much improved over previous summers.  

My last hold out or craving was Coca Cola.  I was still drinking more coke than I thought was healthy.  Okay, maybe I had a slight obsession with coke especially if it was the fountain variety with a slice of lemon in it.   So I decided not drink any soda for a month.  It will be a month at the end of next week.  I have been surprised that I have not missed it more.  Will I give up Coca Cola permanently? Probably not, but I will hopefully use more moderation. The hard part will be when I start back to school where I always liked to have a Coke with my lunch.  Once again, the why I am drinking Coke is important?  Is it a fun drink to have once in a while, or is it something I think will make me feel better?

As my friend and I talked about Psalm 63, we talked about how easy it is to turn to TV or other things instead of God.   Satan likes to tempt us with things that distract us from God.  Many of them are good things, but when they are used as comfort instead of seeking God, they come up empty.  The amazing thing is that when we take that first step of seeking God, of clinging to God, He hears and answers our prayer.  He will give us a peace that passes all understanding, and our lives will never be the same.  If we let Him,  He will begin to change our habits and bring us to a healthy place where we can better serve Him.