A new normal…..

Re blogging….What does normal look like to you?

Road to Hope

There are a few things that when we moved here almost 2 years ago that freaked me out. Now, they just seem so normal that I really don´t even think about them anymore. Like for example; guards with guns outside gas stations, banks and other places of business. They used to make me so nervous, but now it is reassuring to see them there. I know when we move back to Canada it will seem strange and not normal not to have the presence of armed guards everywhere we go.

Across from us there is a neighbourhood that has many police stationed outside a home there. It’s a comfort actually seeing them there so faithfully each day. They wave and say  “buenos días” when I walk past and if I don’t have the dog with me they wonder where he is. They are friendly.

And today it didn´t seem too strange that the watchman of…

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The lonely ones…

She stood there behind the locked metal mesh like gate, looking in at all the excitement going on inside the church. On the outside looking in. All of the sponsored children were receiving their school supplies. Somehow she saw me at the back of the room and waved frantically. I walked out to meet her, give her a hug. From the time I first met her, we had a connection. There was just something about her that drew me in. I saw her filth, her unkempt hair and neglect. But I saw in her eyes a hurt that ran deep and a longing just to be loved. Sadly, there are so many others like her in the schools in which we serve.

Some time ago, I heard a devotional on Luke 15:4 that reminded me of my young friend and resonated with me. I saw that scripture in a brand new way.

If a man has a hundred sheep and one of the gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety- nine others in the wilderness and go and search for the one that is lost until he finds it?

At some point in our lives all of us have felt lonely at some time. We all want to belong, be included.

I remember back when I was in the seventh grade, my family moved. That meant going to a new school and began what would become the worst two years of my life. You see, I was like my young friend, on the outside looking in. I didn’t belong. Everyone in that country school had grown up together and already had their cliques. I was the fat and ugly new girl with hand me down clothes that no one wanted to befriend. Then there were the stares. The whispers. The jeers. The memory of that time still stings a little if I allow myself to think on it too much. And if am to be honest that time has largely shaped who I am today, even though it was more than thirty years ago. I don’t know if there has been a time where I ever felt more alone.

In every crowd there are those who are lonely. In our schools, our churches, our women’s groups, youth groups and our workplace. Really, in pretty much every social setting, there are those who are excluded, those who go unnoticed. There are those who sit on the sidelines, not participating or joining in with the others. There are those who are not a part of the “in” crowd. Perhaps it is that new person at church sitting alone with no one making their way over to talk to them.  The hurting, and lonely,  longing to belong, longing inside just to fit in somewhere.

I love how in this particular illustration in the Bible, Jesus left the ninety nine. He left the sheep that he knew were ok. He left the sheep that were already a part of the flock and he went in search of the one who was missing.

What if we did that? What if we, like Jesus, intentionally sought out those who are lonely and those who always sit by themselves and find ways to include them? Draw them out of their shell? Maybe invite them over for a meal or go out for coffee or just sit with them. Get to know them. Who knows maybe the Lord will use us to be a balm for a soul’s hurting heart. And maybe we will even gain a new friend in the process.

Poverbs 18:24 There are friends who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

Peace be still…

Many years ago when our children were very small we took a family vacation out east to P.E.I. It was one of the best vacations ever! We slept in a lighthouse and it was such a cool experience. At one point on the trip we decided to take a boat excursion. We were not very far along on the journey when all of a sudden the dark clouds rolled in and a violent thunderstorm broke out. I remember the high waves and the boat being tossed about. Even though the top of the boat was covered, water still began to flood the inside. It did not help things when the captain of the ship said something like “This is terrible. I have never been in the boat during a storm as bad as this. We should be ok though” We were all just a little nervous to say the least. I remember my heart pounding a little faster and my stomach in turmoil. One of our sons was so scared that he peed his pants. Fear can really mess with us and bring havoc to our lives.

This real life storm reminded me of another real life storm that happened back in the time when Jesus walked on the earth.
As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So, they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat and it began to fill with water.
Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the water, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped and there was a great calm. Then he asked them “Why were you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:34-40

The disciples had Jesus in the boat with them and yet they still were afraid. Is it possible to have fear and faith at the same time? I don’t think so. I don’t think they can coincide at the same time. The thing that amazes me is that even though there was a massive storm and the disciples were afraid for their lives, Jesus slept. How can one sleep when the storm is raging all around? And even though there was great chaos, Jesus wasn’t concerned or worried by it at all. All he had to do was speak to the waves and all was calm again.
Psalm 4:8 In peace I will lay down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord will keep me safe.
Psalm 3:5 I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety for the Lord was watching over me.
Recently we asked the children in our Bible classes (in Honduras), what they were afraid of. They said things like rats, cockroaches, clowns, and gunshots. One girl said loneliness. And I think if we were honest with ourselves, there are things that we are afraid of too. I can be a bit insecure at times so for me it is things like the fear of being alone, the fear of not being good enough, the fear of not saying the right thing. Many people have the fear of public speaking. I am also afraid of rats. I have seen rats the size of cats here.
The bible says in Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid I will put my trust in you.

We can remember that no matter what we are afraid of or what storm we are going through that our Saviour is with us. He’s not going to leave us high and dry. He’s not going to leave us alone to face our fears by ourselves.

There are some practical things that we can do to increase our faith when we are feeling afraid or are in the midst of chaos. Reading and memorize scriptures, praise and worship and prayer…talking to God and remembering the good things he has done in our lives. And here’s a tip….write those scriptures down so you can go back and read them again and again when those times of fear come knocking at the door.

Isaiah 26:3,4 you will keep in in perfect peace, all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you. Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord is the eternal rock.