Saturday, October 29

a political dialogue

Me: What do you think is on his sign? A field? A loaf of bread?
My Sister: It's a football!!
Me: What?? How do you know that?
My Sister: Because he's a football coach. His whole campaign is based on teamwork.
Me: Oh!...Clearly I missed that.

Tuesday, October 25

What is God like?

Lloyd: What do you think the chances are of a guy like you and a girl like me... ending up together?
Mary: Well, Lloyd, that's difficult to say. I mean, we don't really...
Lloyd: Hit me with it! Just give it to me straight! I came a long way just to see you, Mary. The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?
Mary: Not good.
Lloyd: You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?
Mary: I'd say more like one out of a million.
Lloyd: So you're telling me there's a chance... *YEAH!*
This quote is a favorite of mine. I often find myself silently thinking that last line, wanting to quote it to people but unsure if they'd recognize where it's from or judge me for knowing where the quote is from (Dumb and Dumber, in case you didn't know. Yes, I like stupid humor...moving on.)
There's a saying that if something is repeated, it is probably worth hearing! And perhaps the more something is repeated, the more important it becomes.

The last two years, while teaching the Old Testament books (Genesis-Malachi) to the middle school students, at church, I found myself coming across the same statement, repeated over and over, albeit slightly different wordings. A beautiful statement that tells us about God's character.

"You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity"
**taken from Jonah 4:2

Gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abounding (love this word) in love, the God who relents...all words that speak of His incredible love and mercy.

So what does Dumb and Dumber have to do with God? What thin connection am I going to create here?

The thing that became apparent over the last two years of teaching the Old Testament is the depravity of the people. Incredible amounts of wickedness, idolatry, and unbelief. No more than the depravity of our own times...I think that we just try to pretty it up. Time and time again, God sent his servants to speak truth to the people, including both the Israelites and the neighboring countries. And repeatedly His judgment was poured out against the sins of those people. And yet! There is this thread of hope...this thread of goodness and redemption that is intertwined throughout the Old Testament.

It struck me that no matter how bad the people matter how dark their hearts or sin-filled their deeds were, there was still a chance for forgiveness and salvation. Even in Jonah, the Assyrians (Ninevah was the capitol) had a horrific reputation...ruthless, bloodthirsty, powerful and fearless. Jonah may have feared for his life by walking into Ninevah but we learn in Chapter 4, that his greatest concern was that they would seek God and he knew what would happen if they did...God would extend forgiveness. The promised destruction and judgment would be cancelled out by God's love. The chance for salvation was always there, always available. Mercy would prevail over justice, if mercy was sought.

Such good news for them. Such good news for us.

Friday, October 21

Sleep therapy

Somebody upset me a couple days ago.

And the more I thought about it afterwards, the more angry I got until finally for my own sanity, I had to give it to God and think on something else.

That night, I dreamed that I lashed out at this person, venting all the things had upset me.

When I woke up, I realized that my dream had been therapeutic.
I got to voice my frustrations and wake up much more peaceful.

Oh that it always worked that way, amen?

Tuesday, October 18

You may be waiting for a call from God, and you missed the fact that He has already called you. You were created to reflect His image and to fulfill His purpose. You are the living product of divine intentionality. You are not an accident. You were made on purpose, and because of that, you can know that you have a purpose.

Chasing Daylight by Erwin Raphael McManus

Monday, October 17

God's handiwork

This past weekend, I flew into Seattle from the East.
Sitting on the left hand side of the the plane, the brillant sun shines on me, quickly heating me up. I push up my sleeves, trying to stay as cool as possible, while also enjoying this surge of heat. Peering out the window, I got to see the patchwork of fields, rivers, and trees, like a unique vegetation patchwork quilt...God's handiwork in green and brown tones.

As we approached our destination, I could see the Cascade Mountains in front of us, including the stately Mt. Rainier. Just east of the mountains, starting at the foothills, was a blanket of white cloud illuminated by the intense sun; as if God had shaken out the blanket over the land, stretching out to the ocean. Its beauty was equally amazing as the patchwork quilt.

As we flew above the white blanket, it was apparent that it was tightly woven, allowing not a glimpse as to what lay underneath. Lower and lower the plane descended and it struck me that while I knew the land was hidden under that blanket, there was an element of faith for what could not be seen.

Soon the plane was just above the blanket but no longer was it a soft even layer of white but individual giant puffy clouds; impressively designed and seemingly frozen in motion. Down we soar, quickly enveloped by the clouds, until we finally pass through, finding ourselves underneath the God-created blanket and once again home.

Moments later, I step out of the airport and look up in the sky. On this side, the blanket is grey, the tight weave still apparent, for no sun peaks through. Having just seen and felt the sun moments earlier, I know it's very much there even though it is now the hidden element. The cool air blows around me and suddenly once again chilled, I pull my sleeves back down and wrap my cardigan around me to keep warm, contented by this worship session with my Lord.

Friday, October 7

Our one-on-one chat

Good morning!

I'm sitting here with a cup of coffee by my side and am going to pretend that you and I are together, catching up with one another and/or getting to one another. I'm going to also pretend that I'm not at work but rather that we are comfortably relaxing on my red couch or at some coffee shop. After all...rainy days are perfect for coffee, one-on-one chats with friends, and daydreaming.

So how are you?
I wish I could hear your answer but since I can't, know that I'm praying for you regardless...thanking God for the joys in your life and praying for the struggles, busyness, and uncertainities that threaten to overwhelm you, at times.

This weekend, as in starting 4pm tonight, I'll be on my way to a ladies retreat, with my church. My friend, I love my church and I love the ladies at my church but I dislike retreats. So why do I go time and time again? Because my dislike stems from the fact that I am an introvert...did you know that about me? It's not a great secret. But yes, I'm an introvert and being gone from my apartment and around a large-ish group of loud women for a whole weekend, makes me want to crawl under my bed covers, with a good book, and not come out. But I sign up, approximately every other year, because I know the socializing is good for me and these ladies are so dear. Plus this year also carries the feeling that this is probably my last retreat with this I'm going.

I got my haircut last night. Mostly in anticipation of my interview in Toledo, Ohio next weekend. But it was getting long. Whenever I wear my hair up in a ponytail every. single. day. then I know it's time for a haircut. Another clue that it was time was the fact that I could put volumizing mousse in my hair and blow dry to eternity and it will still hang flat. So I got my haircut and I was in heaven, I tell you! I love haircuts. I love getting the shampoo and this gal even gave a scalp massage in the process. Then I go sit in that chair and start the process of being lulled to sleep. How do I almost get lulled to sleep? Well, I have to take my glasses off so that they can do all their stuff since I can't see anything clearly, I'm not concentrating on anything specific. And then, people "playing" with my hair relaxes me faster than a glass of wine. (Okay, that might not be true...I'll have to time myself one day and see!) If I trusted myself to not make silly sleeping sounds or to the head jerk thing when you sleep sitting up, I probably would have allowed myself to doze. However, since I'm prone to head jerking, I'd be one jerk away from an accidental bald patch in the back of my head. No thanks!

Okay, my coffee cup has been refreshed. How about yours?

My brother got a job yesterday; blessed be the Lord! He starts today. He's working at Les Schwab...a tire/car store. He doesn't have any background in this so he'll have to receive quite a bit of training but this could be very good for him...hopefully he'll like this job. I keep telling people that he was one week away from living in our (my younger sister and I) living room.

Okay, well I need to stop is beckoning for my attention. But this has been wonderful. We'll have to do it again some time, okay?

Enjoy your day and your weekend. Be encouraged...God is with aren't forgotten.

Thursday, October 6

A biblical narrative: II Kings 6

I know I've said this a few times but I sure hope there is a movie theatre in Heaven where we can sit down and watch Bible Stories as they happened. 'Twould be amazing!

One such story that I would LOVE to see unfold is found in II Kings 6. Let me share it with you!

The king of Aram decides to wage war on the king of Israel.
King A strategically plans how he will attack King I and send his troops in. But by the time the troops get to this place, the Israelites are gone. So they turn around to march back to their campsite to inform King A.

Not to be discouraged, King A goes back to the strategy table with his advisor and plans their next move. They get input from their spies on where the Israelites moved to and their excitement builds. The call to attack occurs and the troops march off.

However, once they get to the second place, the Israelites are once again about deja vu! So they walk back to their campsite rightfully afraid of King A's reaction. Infuriated, King A demands his spies to explain what happen. They humbly hold fast to their initial reports of the Israelites location just days ago. So King A sends them out again.

Once they return, assured of the Israelites whereabouts, King A implements his third plan of attack. The soldiers and their chariots move out, making the third trek and are dismayed to find the Israelites have eluded them once again.

Enraged, King A demands his officers to tell him what is going on. How are the Israelites finding out when and from where his people are going to attack? Was one of his trusted men a traitor, an Israelite spy?? One of his officers steps forward, fearfully hoping that by doing so he doesn't get killed, and informs the king that a man of God is telling King I when King A will attack and from which direction. This man of God is how they keep missing the Israelites.

So logic says...hunt down and take out the man of God first and then we can destroy the Israelites! And that is what King A's soldiers set off to do. The find where the man of God is located and circle the city around his house, at nighttime, preparing to attack.

The sun rises and peaks over the horizon. Pretty soon the city will be awake and alive with activity. But Elisha is already up! He awoke an hour ago to prayerfully start his day in presence of Yahweh. He could hear his servant moving about in the main room of the house, undoubtedly getting breakfast started. But the muted sounds would not distract his daily routine of prayer, beseeching the ever faithful Yahweh for His counsel and wisdom. Elisha knew that Yahweh was capable of anything and the Savior of any who follow and obey Him. How many times had Elisha witnessed that very salvation, of individuals and of nations?

As his prayers ended with the sun was rising, Elisha got up and left his bedroom. The servant quickly offered to get Elisha some water and moved to pick up their water jar to fill it up at the well outside. The servant opened the jar, saw the horizon and trembled in horror. There, framing the hillside, was row after row of their enemy soldiers, with spears and swords in hand and he knew they were after his master Elisha. Elisha turned towards the door when the servant began questioning, with fear and tears in his voice, what they would possibly do. Elisha moved to his doorway and saw the enemy lines, as if assessing the threat, before calmly turning to his servant to say, "do not be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them."



Elisha take a deep calm breath, holding back the knowing smile that threatens to break through, and simply prays. He prays that his servants eyes would be open.

And all of a sudden, the servant felt like what could only be described as a veil being lifted, and much to his astonishment, he saw those who were with him and Elisha. There, in between the soldiers and the town, was another army; row after row after row of soldiers, horses, and chariots all made fire! The fire army numerically far surpassed King A's army. The servant immediately knew that Yahweh was saving them once again.

The story continues but I'll stop here. It's rather quite a wonderful story. I would love to see that fire army! And to see Elisha's confidence in the salvation of God! Anyhow, I hope you've enjoy my little elaborated narrative. What Bible story would you like to see on the Heavenly big screen?

Tuesday, October 4

Lean not on what makes sense...part 3

**to read part 1, to read part 2**

As I mentioned, in June I said no to Ohio.

However, with the "pause" over continuing education, dare I hope that Ohio could actually still have an opening these couple months later? So I emailed the director...

And the next day I heard back saying that he still had one position to fill! I asked to be considered for that opening, if possible. So on October 15th, I'll be having an interview. I'm one of three girls being considered for this one position. And the funny thing is, they are only slotting 30 minutes for the interview. However, now that I'm slatted for an interview, I feel a bit ambivalent about this position. I think it's partly because if the job goes to one of the other two girls, it simply means that this is not the ministry for me. And a closed door is fine.

Side story: Before I actually contacted the director, I was chatting with my mentor/friend about this ministry. Like me, she thinks this ministry is completely complimentary of my personality. So she prayed that this ministry would contact me about an open position and even if I contacted them that God would make it clear whether or not this is the ministry for me. That night, after the prayer, is when I decided to just go ahead and email the director. Side story over.

But where the unexpected twist occurs, is that approximately 4 days later, the ministry in Maryland contacted me out of the blue! I get to work that morning, check my email and low and behold, there is an email waiting to be read, that asks if I am still looking for a ministry and interested in their program...if so, they one spot to fill. My initial reaction was stunned silence. In fact I didn't say or do anything about this for at least 24 hours. But nor could I ignore it. After all, my mentor/friend had prayed that the ministry would contact ME and while she wasn't praying about Maryland, here is a ministry that did just what she prayed for. So after prayer and thought, I emailed back to say that I was interested.

At the end of that week, we had two phone calls (because the first call had to be cut short since I needed to go to work) and talked all of 4 hours about the ministry and myself. I was honest with this gal that I was flying out to Ohio for an interview but wasn't sure how things would turn out. So anyhow, where things stand now with Maryland, is that I just sent in the rest of paperwork that they wanted from me with various other questions that were not covered in our interviews along with the references.

It's a bit of a waiting game. Waiting for my interview in Ohio (now 1.5 weeks away). Waiting to hear back from Maryland. Waiting for more of God's wisdom and guidance.

Where things get "messy" is that in addition to these two ministries, I was also made aware of a position in Thailand overseeing a guest house. I applied for that more spontaneously than was probably wise. While this sounds exciting and while I would LOVE the hospitality element, I think this position would be about half administrative, which I would DISLIKE. And then...yes I know, a plethora of friends in Mexico really REALLY want me to join them. I don't know how I feel about that ministry. Part of me genuinely wants to go but I wonder if that's the part of me that misses them and knows I would enjoy working with them. So I don't know. Another thing I keep thinking of is that for either Mexico or Maryland, I could always give it a try for a harm in that. Then if it's not for me, I could move on. But that line of thinking doesn't lead me any closer to an answer.

All I know, in that all of these options, my life will be changing soon! At some time from mid-November to February...I'll be moving onward and outward. (November is really really soon...eek!)

So that's my story, thus far. None of this is what I would have predicted or planned for my life. However I'm learning that the Lord doesn't always lead us onto the path that is full of understanding. But that is when trusting the Lord because a reality.

Saturday, October 1

Psalm 37:4

Delight yourself in the Lord
and He will give you the desires of your heart
Psalm 37:4

What does this verse mean??

It is commonly used, in Christian circles, as verse of promise and feel-good encouragement. A warm cozy blanket verse to remind the Christian that they are loved and cherished.

And yet, how many Christians out there feel cheated? That God has somehow overlooked them? Or how many Christians feel confused as in, since I don't have what I want, does that mean I don't delight enough in the Lord?

The verse obviously offers no time frame. So does this verse mean to delight yourself faithfully in the Lord, despite your current circumstances, and eventually God will bless you with the desires of your heart?

One teaching that I've heard over the years is that as you delight yourself in the Lord, your desires change to the things that are His desires, and then as they match, God will give you those things, bringing you much joy in the process...but they things may not be the same things as you originally thought you wanted. While I think there is some validity to this line of thinking, I'm not convinced that this is a completely accurate explanation.

For example...and I suppose this is my biggest "hang-up" as well...the topic of singleness and marriage. I've wanted to be married my whole life, more or less. Being a wife and mom has always been a part of my envisioned future and yet, it evades me. I will readily admit, along the lines of that previously mentioned teaching, that in my singleness there has been much delight and joy. The Lord has indeed blessed me every step of the way. I can even look at times of trial and see God's goodness permeating through those times. And I do believe that in my relationship with Him, He has planted some of His desires in my heart, making them also my own. But despite all this, the desire for a husband and a family remains. In fact, if anything, the desire has grown with time. Do I feel cheated or overlooked? No, not necessarily because I know that God is here with me, fully aware of this heart desire, and will be faithful to me, regardless of what my future looks like.

But I still struggle when I hear this verse. Am I understanding this verse incorrectly? Does it mean something more than what I think it says? If God doesn't provide a husband and family, does that mean that He has broken this promise? I don't know...

P.S. I don't like the thought that God might break a promise. The resason it doesn't sit well is because I know it is impossible...He has never broken one yet. But how do you explain this verse to the couple who remains childless, the person unable to find a job, or the person who never gets married. I don't know...

But what I do know and am thankful for is that my God's shoulders are big enough to handle my questions and dreams. So on this note, I'm signing off again and finally going to bed. :)