Chinese holiday

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It's that time of year....time for another Chinese holiday. Not that I'm complaining, I love the way Asia (and a few other countries I believe) celebrate holidays -- week(s) at a time! Don't get me wrong, I love our American holidays, but one day at a time just doesn't seem long enough! Anyway, this week the Chinese are celebrating their National Holiday. It was on October 1, 1954 (I think that's the right year) that Chairman Mao declared the creation of the People's Republic of China. So every year on October 1, the people of China take a week long holiday to celebrate this historic occassion. What does that mean for foreigners like me? It means we "get out of dodge"!! With 1/3rd of the world's population taking a week long vacation this is NOT the place you want to be. Everything pretty much shuts down and organized chaos reigns. Just to give you an example, last year they picked up 40 tons of trash in Tiannamen Square EACH DAY of the holiday week! That's a lot of people and a lot of trash!!! To avoid all that rubbish (as everyone here says), my daughters and I are heading off to Thailand for a week. My sweet hubby has to stay behind as this is his holiday to be on call at the plant. Despite his absence, we are very excited about going...we will spend 3 days at the beach in Phuket, 2 days in the northern city of Chiang Mai, and 3 days at an elephant orphanage in the jungle of northern Thailand (yes, I will be picking up elephant dung as part of my vacation!!). I will look forward to getting back with you when I return and life in China has calmed down from all the holiday excitement. Oh, and if you can say a prayer for us during the week, that would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and we'll talk again soon......

A call to holy living

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I am broken hearted today -- broken hearted for the unbelieving people around me. I know that I have mentioned them to you many times before, but it seems now more than ever, things are getting out of control. The enemy is definitely protecting his territory and turning his own against each other. There is so much bitterness, hatred, unforgiveness, slander and gossip plaguing this community, all masked under a facade of camaraderie. It shouldn't surprise me really, but it does break my heart that they live this way. I have been praying for them fervently that they would come to know Jesus Christ. I even bought books this summer on becoming a contagious Christian and how to better share my faith! But things just seem to keep going downhill. I'm not sure what to think or what to do about all this, but I know I have to keep bringing it all to God and let Him work things out in His way and in His time.

Recently God has been emphasizing to me just how important His Word is to a person's salvation (of course I know that it is the Holy Spirit that moves a person to repentance, but God has been showing me this new insight as well). I have wrestled with this because I know that these people I am around are not hearing or reading God's Word. And knowing that "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17), I wonder how will they ever hear? How will they come to faith? I've prayed and asked God these questions. His answer? Me. I am to be the Word of God lived out for them. At first I was confused by this because a few months ago I felt as if God was not going to use me to witness to them. There never seemed to be any opportunities to share the gospel with them and they certainly weren't beating down my door asking questions or longing to go to church with me! I felt as if my light was a faint spark in a very dark world. Just when I thought the spark was about to extinguish, God rekindled the flame and dawned a new light into my spirit. This is the Word that He gave to me, "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14). That's when I realized how God wanted me to be the living Word for them. He was calling me to a new level of living; to a life that was holy(and wholly) above and beyond what I was already living. That was not an easy thing to take in. I asked God "Don't I already do that? What more do you want from me? I'm doing the best that I can!!" After several quiet times, His answer came to me in more than one way.

"Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody." - Romans 12:17
"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity." - Colossians 4:5
"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders."- 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 and
"Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." - 1 Peter 2:12

Needless to say I was blown away! I could no longer deny what God was asking of me. I have to step it up a notch. If that is what God is asking of me, regardless of the difficulty, I am willing to do it. Of course, it took some time for me to absorb all this and what it all means. But this is the conclusion I've come to: I've wanted to be a light to the lost people around me for the last year but have not had much success. However, I'm learning that I have to be salt to them before I can be light. In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus tells his listeners to be salt first and then light. What does salt do? It makes people thirsty. I have to make people thirsty with my life so that they will want what I have. I have to live a holy life so that they can see God.

I'm still brokenhearted for these people, but not as discouraged now. I know that God is going to do an amazing thing for all of us and through it all He will be glorified! What more could you ask for?

Watching the Time

Friday, September 07, 2007

Amidst all the craziness going on in my life recently, I managed to observe another birthday. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate another year of life. However, this year my birthday happened to fall when my husband was extremely sick, we had been traveling to Shanghai for 3 days to visit doctors, and it was our daughters' first day back to school. Celebrating was the last thing on my mind! But all was not forgotten as my daughter, Kayley, surprised me with a gift that she had purchased while we were in the States this summer. It was a beautiful cross with a clock in the middle of it. My girls know I love to collect crosses so this was a wonderful addition to my collection. At first I wasn't sure where to place it, but I finally decided to give it a home in my office. I couldn't have picked a better place.

First you have to understand that my office is my personal sanctuary. It's the room that I can retreat to when I need quiet and calm. It's also the space where I spend the most time with God. I have my quiet times and my personal study time in there as well. It was during one of my quiet times that I realized the significance of that cross clock. Actually two things dawned in my mind that profoundly impacted my outlook.

The first realization I had was that time is ticking, meaning we don't know how long we have until Jesus' return. Jesus himself said in Matthew 24:36, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." We may not have been given insight into this divine moment in time, but we have been given instructions on how to live in expectation of it. We are to be on guard, watching and preparing (Matthew 24:42,44; Mark 13:35-37). Too many times, however, I discount that Christ's glorious return might happen in my lifetime, so I don't live with anxious anticipation of it. That is unwise thinking because when I live with this mindset then I take for granted the opportunities before me, especially when it comes to reaching the lost. And God has not only placed family and friends who are lost in my life, but he has also dropped me into an entire community of non-believers that I am currently sharing life! As I think about the time ticking, I can't help but feel a sense of urgency to reach these people before it's too late. I'm just grateful we have such a loving and patient Heavenly Father who "does not want anyone to perish, but for everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). Having my cross clock in my office where I spend time praying is a helpful reminder of who I need to be praying for and how!

My second "clock" realization about time was this: Am I using my time to the best of my ability for Jesus and what He is calling me to do? It is so easy for me to become lazy and distracted or even procrastinate from what I feel God is wanting me to do. I am constantly having to remind myself of Ephesians 5:15-16, "Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." My cross clock helps me to keep going, to discipline myself even when my flesh wants to be doing something else, and to live out the priorities I have set for myself. It is my beautiful encouragement to "not grow weary in doing good for in the end it will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 5:9). I need to make sure that I am a proper balance of Mary & Martha as I seek to follow Jesus and His plans for my life.

When I look back at my 37th birthday (yes, I'm not ashamed to tell you how old, I mean young, I am!), I may not have memories of a grand celebration, but I will have a timeless treasure that will continue to have me watching the time for grander purposes.

Back to Blogging!

Hello again blogging world! It's so good to be back. We had a WONDERFUL time in the States this summer and enjoyed spending time with family and friends. The 7 weeks went by faster than I thought, but in the end we were ready to head back home to China (I was missing my hubby and having Chinese food withdrawals!). Thanks to each of you who made time for us, or opened your home for us to "crash". It was precious time and we will look forward to it again in the future! I had hoped to post some photos of our trip to my blog, but that is still a work in progress. As soon as I have the photos up I will happily share them with you!

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." - 2 Corinthians 4:17

So you may be wondering what has taken me so long to get back to blogging - we've been home a month! I wish I could say I was lounging around and getting back into the groove of things at my leisure, but that has not been the case. As soon as we got over our jetlag, we were bombarded with a host of "challenges". I won't bore you with all the details, but we have faced physical, financial, and time issues at every turn, some of our own doing, others not. These "challenges", as I am calling them, have kept me so busy that I honestly just haven't had the time. However, I decided that I could no longer allow my circumstances to dictate my time or my plans and that I was just going to write! In addition, God has just kept giving me ideas and showing me things that I cannot keep quiet any longer! I look forward to sharing them with you soon.

I hope all has been well with you and yours over these last 2 months. I wish I could check your blogs and find out, but our internet has been one of those "challenges". I cannot log onto anything that has in the web address, including my own blog page! Thankfully I do not have to use that type of address to post a blog or else I would be in really big trouble!!

I really am looking forward to meeting with you again here on the blog page. Thanks for being patient with me and for checking back! I'll talk to you soon....