A simple reminder

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sometimes it's the simple things that teach us the most.

A simple reminder: Those who stay in the "Son" grow the most!

"Come, let us walk in the light of the LORD." - Isaiah 2:5

My Spriritual Navi

Thursday, June 25, 2009

You cannot live, or survive for that matter, in Europe without a "Navi" (that's a GPS in American lingo). It is an essential asset for anyone who drives and without one you will not find your way around! As helpful as my Navi is, after 6 months of using it, I have developed a love/hate relationship with it.

It doesn't matter how exact the navigation system is, I still manage to mess up the directions -- I underestimate how far 200 meters is until I have to turn and then turn on the wrong street; I take the wrong exit when the exit forks in two directions; or I go the wrong way on the highway. It is so FRUSTRATING!! Granted, I've never gotten completely lost while following my Navi since it automatically recalculates for me, but I still get upset that I can't follow simple directions and ultimately waste time trying to reach my destination. I mean it provides both audible and written instructions -- how hard can it be??? As much as I love the help that my Navi offers, I can't help my hostile feelings towards it either.

But ranting and raving about my Navi is not the main reason for this post. I couldn't help but think about all of this in a spiritual sense.

Driving down the autobahn, I heard an advertisement on the radio, "Wouldn't it be nice if we could have a GPS to steer us through life?" I thought to myself, for those of us who are believers, we do have one -- the Bible. It is all we need for direction in life. But what if you are like me and have trouble following the GPS to reach your final destination? Are we hopeless?

Like driving with my navi, the Bible is my main guide. It has clear instructions, both written and audible (through the Holy Spirit), that I need to follow. But if I don't understand it, can't interpret it, or don't apply it, then I will continue to go around in circles trying to reach my goal of Christlikeness. When I get confused down the path I'm going I can't blame the manual, it's an operator malfunction! And the only way to overcome that malfunction is to pay close attention to the instructions, know exactly what it says, and then follow it precisely. Doing these things with my Bible, and my Navi, will get me where I want to go without any problems!

I'm always amazed at how God will use mundane things to get my attention (maybe because my brain can't move beyond that), and I'm thankful that He does. Since I have to use my Navi most everywhere I go, then I constantly have a reminder of learning from God's Word and trying to navigate it properly.

Yes, there are still days when I mess up on the physical road and the spiritual one, but on those days I just need to remember that life's a journey and to sit back and enjoy the drive.

I could have, but...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Have you ever had an opportunity to help someone but didn't? Or maybe you had the intent to help, but something else kept you from doing it? I know that both of those times have happened to me.

Just last week a terrible rainstorm rolled in while I was at the grocery store and unfortunately, my umbrella was in the car. Observing the other people waiting in the store, I wasn't the only one who had this problem. As I ran to my car and unloaded my groceries the thought occurred to me that I should help the ladies with little kids, who were standing in the doorway waiting for the storm to pass, to their car. Did I follow that prompting? No. Not because I didn't want to, but because it would have been difficult explaining myself and what I was trying to do (language barrier excuse), because I would be late in picking up Kayley from her tutoring lesson (time excuse) or because they might have thought I was just strange (no real excuse). As I drove off, I knew I had missed an opportunity to help someone.

Proverbs 3:27 says, "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act." There are many things I could say about this verse, but I think a poem I came across last week reinforces it better than I could.

"The Sin of Omission" by Margaret E. Sangster

It isn't the thing you do, dear
It's the thing you leave undone
That gives you a bit of heartache
At the setting of the sun.
The tender word forgotten,
The letter you did not write,
The flowers you did not send, dear,
Are your haunting ghosts at night.

The stone you might have lifted
Out of a brother's way;
The bit of heartsome counsel
You were hurried too much to say;
The loving touch of the hand, dear,
The gentle, winning tone
Which you had no time nor thought for
With troubles enough of your own.

Those little acts of kindness
So easily out of mind,
Those chances to be angels
Which we poor mortals find -
They come in night and silence,
Each sad, reproachful wraith,
When hope is faint and flagging,
And a chill has fallen on faith.

For life is all too short, dear,
And sorrow is all too great,
To suffer our slow compassion
That tarries until too later;
And it isn't the thing you do, dear,
It's the thing you leave undone
Which gives you a bit of heartache
At the setting of the sun.

The poet didn't mention passing out umbrellas or offering to help during a rainstorm, but I'm sure that fits the category. I pray that I'm more sensitive and obedient to the leading of the Spirit the next time an opportunity arises and not be found guilty of the sin of omission.

How about you?

Not today, not again

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

I just finished purchasing what I believe is the best Christmas present for my children that I've gotten yet! I was so thrilled to be able to get this for them, as it usually sells out very quickly. After purchasing it online I walked around the house giddy with excitement trying to figure out how I was going to keep this a secret for the next 5 months. I played different scenarios in my mind of how Clint and I would reveal it to them and tried to imagine the joy on their faces, the shrill of their screams and the pure happiness we would all have in that moment. I couldn't help but think how God must feel when we respond the same way to the great gifts He gives to us, His children. Those 30 minutes were the highlight of my morning.

However, as I sat down in my office to work, my mind started raging against me. Thoughts that hadn't dawned before now began to creep through in full force. Did you really get the best that was available? What if your choice ends up not being that great and your kids are disappointed? What if you made a mistake? Panic and despair washed over me and the joy I had moments earlier disappeared. How could this have happened?

I was struck down in the blink of an eye and couldn't even fight it. Rather than wage war against the enemy who battled against me, I sank into worry. I called Clint and talked to him about it, but with no success. Despite his encouraging words, I sank deeper into despair aligning myself with my mind and it's negative thoughts. I couldn't work, I couldn't respond. All I could do was sit there and ponder those questions over and over again.

But something within me wouldn't let it go. Something within me wanted to fight back. I couldn't get the words out of my mouth, so I just started writing in my journal:

Just as easily as it came it went. My joy and excitement that is. I was elated about the Christmas surprise I had just gotten for the girls when fear and doubt robbed me. Questions about my choice of purchase overwhelmed me. My joy and excitement will probably not return soon.

Why? Why this constant battlefield of my mind? Why am I not stronger, more prepared, better equipped to handle it? Why do I know it's happening and succumb to it? Why??

I know what I need to do - refuse the enemy and stand up to him and praise God and thank Him for this wonderful opportunity to bless my children. That just seems so contrived right now, but it's what I need to do.

Devil, I refuse to allow you to rob me of my joy and excitement in this moment. I will not play into your game of fear, doubt and double-mindedness. You have trapped me in that game many times before but I won't allow you to do it to me again! You want to play on my need for perfection -- that I have to have the absolute perfect situation and that anything less is failure and cause for disaster and disappointment. But I won't let you do this to me. I won't!

God gave me an opportunity to bless my children with one of their hearts desires and I am going to rejoice in that. Rather than focus on your twisted thoughts, I will think upon what their faces will look like when we give them their gift. I will thank God for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, that doors were made open for me. I will thank Him for the wonderful picture He is giving me to see how much a parent loves to shower a child with good things, and how much more so our Father in heaven! (Matt. 7:11)

I have to believe and trust that if God gave me this open door then even if I did not choose the best available that He can still turn it out for good. That He will take my wrong choice and still fulfill a heart's desire. I have to remember that my girls will be thrilled by the gift itself and that's all that matters.

Satan you may have succeeded in the past with your scheme but you failed this time. I will not be putty in your hands; I will not be robbed; I will not give you the victory.

Not today, not again.

After that I closed my journal, and continued on with my work. The matter was done and the victory was won. The despair that I had felt fled, and the joy and excitement returned. It was an exhausting morning to say the least. A roller coaster of emotions and a hard fought battle for my mind. But I know it will all be worth it. The proof will reveal itself in 5 months and I can't wait!

"Where the mind goes, the man follows" - Joyce Meyer

Missing Person

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

My husband has issued a missing person report. It reads as follows:

MISSING: My wife of almost 19 years is missing. I'm not sure how it happened, or exactly when, but she is no longer here. The woman who could organize, create, structure, and multi-task has vanished. Have you seen her? I could see the signs that she was fading and tried to help her, but it was useless. I miss her and the way she used to be. She's gone and I hope she'll come back soon.

No, he's not kidding. The woman he used to know is no longer. Even I can't explain what has happened to me, but I know that something has. I can no longer function as I used to. Now too much stress, too much activity, or too much of anything causes me to shutdown. I could say it's the move to a different culture, or I could say it's the reality of life that I haven't been used to in 2 1/2 years, but I don't want to make excuses. Life is what it is. All I know is I can't handle it the way I once did.

What happened to the woman who jetted off with her two children to a foreign country for a week? Where is the woman who juggled a preschool ministry, a women's conference, and a family all at once? I look in the mirror and don't recognize that face anymore. Instead, I lock myself out of the house, only to realize 4 hours later that the key was in the door the entire time, or bathe myself with the shampoo rather than the soap just because.

A phase of life? A mid-life crisis? Who's to say? All I know is a once strong woman is now a fragile shell -- a missing person indeed.