Tuesday, January 31

A humbling and fueling thought

This week is missions week at my church...probably my favorite week of the whole church year! Over the last four years, I've known or had connections to one of two visiting missionaries, three of the four years, thanks to my time in Germany. Love my little denomination family!

The missionary who spoke yesterday, serves in Mali and shared,
"52% of the population, in Mali, is under the age of 25."

And then, in the book Kisses from Katie, I learned that of Uganda's 30 million population, in January 2011, "approximately 50 percent of those people are under the age of fourteen."


But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."
Luke 18:16
Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Monday, January 30

A fearful thought

I was sharing with an acquaintance/friend, from my Black Forest Academy days, telling him about my heart dreams for ministry, about my desire to work among youth/children in need, about how my denomination didn't have the same God-commanded vision I had which baffles me. Then he asked...

"What if God is calling you to address this need with your denomination?"


But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?”
Then Moses said to the LORD, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”
Exodus 3:11, 4:10, NASB

Tuesday, January 24

Long distance calling

Part of my job requires that I call companies who are out of the area. I work with companies across the United States and often call Illinois, New Jersey, California, Tennessee, etc.

Because of all the many technological advances, calling those far-away states is a piece of cake and the clarity in our connections, is normal...in fact, it's expected!

And yet...

One company that I call regularly is Tree Top...who is located a mere 1.5 hours away...on the other side of the mountains. Ironically my connection with them is almost always sketchy. It's become quite comical. Most of the time, whenever I call over there, I end up calling from some distant land. My Tree Top contact has caller ID and has told me, upon receiving my call, that instead of my area code (425) coming up, it will show some other random digits. So far, I've called from Florida, California, Argentina (I think), and today, Ohio.

My call is going out and somehow being re-routed through another state/country to connect with a person who is hardly long-distance. Isn't that funny?

When she calls me, there isn't any problem so it only happens when I initiate the calling.
It's give us something to laugh about, for sure.

Monday, January 23

Where to go...

It has happened. Again.
The travel bug has bitten.
It comes around periodically and unfortunately I don't ever see it until after it's bitten. Do yourself a favor, if you see the bug flying around you, swat it before it bites...save yourself the agony.

In case you're not familiar with the travel bug, the symptoms are: increased distraction and unfocused thinking, an urge to grab your passport and run to the closest airport, clouded mind with thoughts of far-off places, an unease at staying put. It maybe confused with ADD or paranoia but if you find yourself looking at travel websites, travel books, or even cooking various ethnic foods, then it's probably the travel bug.

I know your next question is undoubtedly about the cure! So in you find yourself bitten by the travel bug, there are only a few options:
  • You could given in, grab your passport, and head to the nearest airport, taking a spontaneous trip to some place fun or exotic or interesting.
  • You could ignore and suppress the urges and distractions, doing your best to focus on the life you are in, until you find the symptoms are gone.
  • You could plan a trip for the future, which will satisfy your need to think on travel-related things and also give you something to look forward to, without the spontaneity of the first option.
  • You could give yourself a mini-holiday to see if that might cure the symptoms. There is no guarantee this might work but if desperate, or if you cannot afford a "large" vacation, a mini vacation might be helpful. Whether taking a day-trip, treating yourself to some pampering, or planning a small activity with friends...give whatever idea a try and see if that helps.
As for my current illness, I'm not sure what course of action I'll take.
I already plan to visit my parents in Arizona later on this year. And I'd like to visit my friend in Mexico again (hopefully). But neither are plan-able right now.

I'm definitely interested in going somewhere (see symptoms) and there are a slew of destinations that I've yet to visit (Prague, Italy, Ireland, Israel, India, Australia, Puerto Rico, Alaska, New York, Washington DC) but then my struggle is whether to visit some new place or re-visit places where distant friends are...clouded mind. But then another side of me wants to take a missions trip...a trip with a purpose instead of just sightseeing...which is something I'm considering (and looking into) and would greatly satisfy the travel bug but also is not plan-able at the moment as nothing has been determined. And even then, where would/should I go? Blah! It's this round and round thinking that is driving me crazy (see symptoms). I think I'll cook myself some curry and try to suppress the bug for the time being.

But grabbing the passport and making a run for it, sounds exciting...
Only where to go???

Tuesday, January 17

Snow, Bible Study, Books

It's snowing outside, which I'm watching in between blogging and working. I love snow...I love the laden down trees, blanketed by white. I love the quietness the snow instills. I love the delight that often comes with playing in the snow, taking a walk, or even marveling at the snowflake's intricacies. In fact, right now, more than anything, I'd love to bundle up and take a leisurely walk to a coffee shop, with a friend...that sounds wonderful. But I'm at work and really, I am significantly lacking in the snow-preparedness realm, despite my loving it. I was just musing yesterday that I really should buy a pair of rubber boots for tromping outside. Ah well...I'm content at the moment to just enjoy my cup of coffee, watching the snow fall, while streaming some jazz music...not a bad start to my work day!

For the first time ever, I joined the ladies' Bible Study at my church. I've participated in Bible Studies before but it was the "young ladies'" group which disbanded about 2 years ago. Then between work, my Master's degree, and volunteering as a youth leader, I haven't really had time and/or opportunity to be in a ladies' Bible Study, until now. Plus, we are doing Beth Moore's study on James! How could I turn down a chance to learn from James and Beth? I mean, really...win, win!!

I'm reading a book called Kisses from Katie, by Katie Davis. She is a 23 year old (I think) who lives in Uganda and had adopted 13 girls (I think). I'm half-way done with this book but it is breaking my heart, chapter by chapter. This is doing to my heart what the book Reckless Faith by Beth Guckenberger did: breaking my heart for the orphan and children in need and at risk. My heart is willing and my arms are empty, eager to be filled with many many kids. I am so grateful that even in this "waiting" stage, God is able to use me to bless to the orphan, through my money, prayers, and hopefully soon, my time. But this heart that God has given me wants to love, touch, speak and empower children, face to face. One day, I trust! Anyhow, about the book...actually both books...very good, worthwhile, ones you should read...so pick them both up and add them to your reading queue!

Happy Tuesday, my friends!

Friday, January 13

Central and South America

You know those stories where people say that they told God, "I'll go anywhere BUT Africa...please don't send me to Africa!" And then God sends them to Africa? And everyone chuckles at God's sense of humor?

My Africa is Central and South America.
The end.

(I have nothing "humorous" to share...this is just a partially-random thought.)

Thursday, January 12

The ebb and flow of emotions

The ebb and flow of emotions is a funny thing, isn't it?

One day or even one moment, you're completely fine and content
and the next day or moment, you're struggling with sadness, pain, grief, confusion, frustration.

I am mostly fine, content, trusting in my singleness
I am mostly able to celebrate with other's joys of marriage and babies, without hesitation
And I am so grateful for that.

However, at some point today, and I can't even define when it happened
Sadness and grief flooded my heart for the story I desire but isn't yet mine.
This too shall pass, and I'm grateful for that.

In the meanwhile, I am grateful that I can trust God
with my longings, with my emotions, with my prayers.

And one day or maybe even later today, I'll be content again.

Friday, January 6

The will of God, part 3

So why am I doing this mini-series on understanding God's will? Well, to be frank, there are times when I feel that God's will eludes me. I want answers...I want a destination in view and not just fragments...I want to feel and know that I am doing what God would have me to do.

But I recognize that I'm coming at this as if I just need to find the right clue that will reveal all to me. And that's not necessarily right. Anyhow, click here if you'd like to read part 1 (book thoughts) and part 2 (blog thoughts). In the meanwhile, let's dig deeper and this time, into the very book that hold the words of God. If we want to know God and His will, then we should start (and end?) with His own words, right? And actually, it's quite easy to find some statements that speak of God's will for me:
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice--the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you in a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.  --Romans 12:1-2

The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.  --Micah 6:8

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.  --Psalm 113:3

Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.  --Isaiah 1:16-17

Understanding what the Lord's will is...be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  --Ephesians 5:17-20

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.  --Luke 10:27
There so much more that I could add to this list and I'm sure you may have some Scripture that has come to your mind. Feel free to share such Scripture.

Oh, how could I forget this verse:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.  --Matthew 28:19-20
That another important one to remember and live by.

So where do these verses leave us?
  • Let God transform (I love that word!) your heart and mind, by giving up your own will.
  • Do what is right: fighting for justice, protecting and caring for the vulnerable.
  • Make disciples: help others become more like Christ.
  • And don't forget to love, praise the Lord, and be thankful!
Understanding God's will is much simpler when having a small list to focus on. Instead of feeling like I'm floundering or waiting, this list provides some elements that I can and should pursue. Right now! It doesn't matter where I am, whether here in Washington state or somewhere around the world, this list doesn't change...it remains constant and applicable. Always!

Thoughts? Scripture to share?

Wednesday, January 4

The will of God, part 2

I'm doing a mini-series talking through the idea of God's will. Here's part one where I shared a bit from Erwin McManus' book, Chasing Daylight. I'm sure there's other good books out there and perhaps I'll do a little research later on today.

In the meanwhile, I thought I'd continue this discussion of the role of God's will through sharing a couple of worthwhile blogs that have spoken on this topic.

One post that I read early last year was written by very Much Later, who discusses discerning God's will; a post that I think about often now. Here's the part I want to share:

He looked at me as though I had stuck another nerve. “What if God doesn’t want me to do it? I don’t want to screw my future up.”

“You think pretty highly of yourself, don’t you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Do you really think you can screw your life up while trying to serve God?”...

...Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. -Ecclesiastes 9:7-9

The word ‘approved’ in verse 7 is Ratsah in Hebrew. It means to be pleased or satisfied with, determined or favorable toward something. I don’t want to say that we can do no wrong, but I think it might be more difficult than we think when we’re in love with Jesus. If you’re trying to make a big decision, stop torturing yourself by superimposing your emotions or another person’s attitude over God’s will. As long as you don’t want something terrible and you’re not breaking the law, you’re probably alright.
How can I mess up if I have been called by God, which I say I have, and I have been equipped, by God, to serve in many ways? Instead of waiting for a divine neon sign to appear, can't I just step out in faith, trusting that God will make it clear if I need to stop or change directions? And EVEN IF I mess up and pursue a course that completely flops, is God not still sovereign and fully capable of using the mess for His glory? Heck yeah, He is!

Here's another blog (Jason Vana) that also has something to add:
For the longest time, I had this idea that God has a specific, detailed plan for my life: where I should go to school, what I should major in, where I should live, the line of work I should do, who I should marry, when I should have kids, when I should change jobs or careers, if I should pursue my master’s, if I should lead a missions trip, even down to how I should spend my day.

And if I made the wrong decision, if I made to move before God wanted me to, if I chose the wrong major, the wrong job, the wrong place to live…

…I would never get where God wanted me to be.

Abraham lived to be 75 years old before God called him to move to a country he didn’t know. Moses worked for his father-in-law for 40 years before he had his burning bush moment. David tended sheep for years before and after he received the call to be king. Even Jesus lived a pretty normal Jewish life for 30 years before being released into His calling.

These men made decisions about their lives, their careers, where they would live, who they would marry, when they would have kids, what they would study, what they would do with their lives, some were even ready to go into retirement, before they ever knew God’s will for their lives.

And God still used them – mistakes and all.

So maybe God’s will isn’t some path we have to have figured out.
Maybe it’s not something we get early on in life and follow through until we die.
Maybe it’s more than just blindly following a plan that someone else sets for us.
Okay...so what have we learned?

Since I had better just speak for myself, I think I'm learning that the idea of messing up God's will may be something that is a bit hard to do (or even possibly a fallacy), when you are serving Christ and genuinely striving to know and reflect Him. Please don't read that as solid theology...I'm still working on this after all. As we were reminded yesterday, I shouldn't let fear keep me from moving forward and from pursuing Godly things...to do so is a sin and can rob me (and others) of the opportunity to being where God has already called me. Lastly, Jason reminds us that God's timing may not be as we'd imagine but the wait shouldn't stop us from moving forward...God still desires to use us and maybe in the process of taking faithful steps, He will unveil a much greater calling or purpose.

Your turn...what's on your mind? Anything to add?

Tomorrow, I'll go the Bible...see what God says is His will, in His own words.

Tuesday, January 3

The will of God, part 1

Understanding "the call of God" on my life is a journey that I've been on since high school, really. I've heard many times that God called someone to something or to seek the will of God and He will answer. I've even used that verbiage before...for example, "God called me into ministry" or "I'm seeking God's will on this." And yet despite using that terminology, I struggle with this theology of "the call of God."

Where is the line between being "bold and courageous" and "wise and discerning"? And when or how does the "call/will of God" play a part of the going or staying process of making decisions? That is what I am ultimately trying to figure out. This is what I am going to talk through in a mini-series of posts. Today I'm going to share a couple thoughts that surfaced in reading Chasing Daylight by Erwin McManus...a good read!

Consider the people of Israel. They were called by God out of bondage to a land full of hope and a future. They were given an inheritance and told to go claim it, leaving behind the years of chains that had trapped them. And yet, besides Caleb and Joshua, they resisted in fear, which kept them walking in circles for 40 years, after they received their initial calling. "The Lord challenged His people to act on the promises He has made to them....Joshua and Caleb concluded that there could not possibly be enough giants to stop God from fulfilling His promise to them" (McManus, p. 157). The land was already theirs for the taking and yet fear kept a whole generation from seeing the fulfillment of that calling.

Consider Jonathan and this crazy story in I Samuel 14. The men of Israel were at war with the Philistines. King Saul, who just happens to be Jonathan's father, is too timid or fearful to boldly fight for the land that was theirs but in the middle of night, or during siesta time, Jonathan instructs his armor-bearer to join him in attacking the enemy saying, "perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf" (vs 6). Perhaps?? I think if I were the armor-bearer I'd tell Jonathan to wake me when he knew for certain. But instead, the armor-bearer basically says, "sounds good, let's see what happens" even though the only weapon they had was one sword that was in Jonathan's hands. There wasn't a clear directive from God to go provoke the Philistines. Jonathan didn't even have a guarantee of success or a certainty that God had ordained this mission. For all he knew, he could be walking towards his death. But he also knew that God was stronger and greater than any amount of soldiers and no matter if there was two men or two hundred, the enemy could still be overtaken. And that's what happened! Jonathan's mentality was to advance until God stopped him. "Jonathan understood that when you're moving with God, you must move with an advance mentality. You move forward unless God tells you to stop. You advance unless God tells you to wait. There are certain things that you do not need permission to do. You've already been commissioned to do them. There are certain things that you do not need a calling to do. You've already been commanded to do them....[Jonathan] wasn't sitting around waiting for a sign. He moved forward in everything he knew to do. Confirmation came in the midst of action" (McManus, p. 159).

So we have one story with a call/command and another story without. That's helpful, isn't it?
Tomorrow, I'll be sharing a couple blogs snippets that have spoken on this idea of "God's will." I'd love to hear any of your thoughts along the way.

Sunday, January 1

A breath, a pause, and a prayer

A step at a time.
Life keeps moving.
A breath, a pause, and a prayer.

It's always a bit disconcerting to feel a lack of control on life.
Moving has done that to me.
Well, really, the last month's events have done that to me.
First I'm looking towards Maryland.
Then I'm not.
And since that moment, nothing is before me except to keep on keepin' on.
But then I have to find a new place, which I did.
And last week I moved, cleaned up the old place, and handed in the keys.
But I've gone from a whole apartment's worth of stuff to just one bedroom.
And now my car holds the excess for which there is no room.
Even after getting rid of half my stuff.
And besides breakfasts, I haven't eaten at home because I'm too disorganized.

The holiday has been great.
Outside of the packing and moving bit.
Full of good times and lovely company.
Tourist excursions, fun movies and good food.
But work starts again on Tuesday and I'm not quite ready.
Not yet home in my new home.

Plus my heart aches and prays for my sister.
Whose new living situation has been rough thus far.
Is it going to work out or not?
What will she do?
And trying to not worry, I pray instead.
And pray some more.

Things will clear up and get worked out.
God is still here.
His mercies endure forever.