Unexpected blessing

Our morning didn’t exactly go as planned.  Living here you kind of get used to that I guess. Being flexible. Sometimes it’s good to take a deep breath and relax and not stress out when things don’t work out or when things take longer than we think they should. Sometimes there are things that are simply out of our control.

We were supposed to meet with a man who was going to take us on a tour of some potential schools for us to expand into with the Bible classes. When he didn’t show up, a quick phone call informed us he had been released from his position and actually he was not going to be coming. However, we did have a list of schools and with the help of google maps we were able to find one. Sort of. We needed the help of a few people on the street. It was a bit of a maze driving on narrow streets and sharp corners.

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After speaking with the sub director at this school about who we were, we found out that there was already a church going into that school once a week with Bible classes. Since our desire is to take the classes where there is no existing Biblical instruction we decided we would not be asking permission to go there.

Then something else we had planned fell apart.  But then we got to see our staff members Karina and Edwin’s precious two month old baby Gianna. We got to hold her. Highlight of the day! I am so glad that part of the day did not fall apart.

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Other than seeing the baby, the day kind of felt unproductive. If not discouraging. We were about to head to Manos church to help set up for the annual school supply hand out the next day, when….you guessed it. The car would not start. Dead. It wasn’t the battery either.  We knew at that point we would not be leaving anytime soon.

There were questions. Like…what are we going to do? How are we going to get home? How are we going to pay for this? Neither of us had much cash on us other than the money to pay our translator. Actually, truth be told I was kind of upset. I may or may not have said “I hate this car!” You see, we have had so many problems with our car lately. Including getting the transmission repaired. Not a cheap fix.  It feels like as soon as we turn around something else is breaking down or falling apart.  I was also tired, the weather was hot, and I was hungry and feeling a bit stressed and cranky.

Dale made a call to Pastor Victor who lives in that area. He knows a mechanic who lives near him.  Within five minutes the mechanic showed up with his employee..in a go-cart of all things! He popped open the hood of the car and seemed to know immediately what the issue was. He took a lot of parts out of our car and placed them on the ground. He made several trips back and forth to his house. Sometimes with the go-cart, sometimes on foot.

Two hours later he had everything all nicely put together in the car like a puzzle, and we were good to go.

He started to walk away from us, so Dale rolled down his window and asked him what we owed him.  The man shook his head and with a big almost toothless grin said “Nada.” He refused to take any money and shooed Dale’s hand away when he tried to put money into his hands.

I held myself together after that, but I felt like bawling. This man does not have a lot in the way of earthly possesions. There is no doubt in my mind that he actually needed the money that he declined. His daughter is one of our sponsored children and he lives in an impoverished area of the city that has no running water. He could have bought food for himself or his family.  Or water.  Whatever. He came at a moment’s notice to help us, spending two hours in the blazing hot sun, while he and his worker laboured over our car so it would start.  So we could get off the mountain and get to where we needed to be. Free of charge. Standing there with that big grin of his lighting up his face. He was happy.  It was humbling.  Not just because of his act of kindness that so richly blessed us. It truly was a gift. And one I felt so undeserving of. But also because in that moment I knew that God cared about our struggle.  We were not hidden from him. Stranded up there on the mountain top in the midst of our car troubles….He saw us.

Acts 20:35 MSG You’ll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said “You are more happier giving than getting…”

 

 

 

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When you think nothing will ever change..

I don’t know why I did not move that Sunday morning in the Spanish church when the Pastora asked those who needed healing to come forward for prayer.  How I wanted to.  Desperately. And yet I just stood there, stubborn feet planted on the floor.  Fear of disappointment perhaps. Not wanting to go alone.  The language barrier as I’m not entirely fluent. What if they can’t understand my Spanish? And maybe not truly believing healing will come for me. Although I definitely believe our God heals. I have prayed for others without a doubt in my heart believing healing will come. I’ve seen it in my own life when I was healed at six years old of epilepsy.  I’ve seen both my parents healed from cancer.

I am not sharing this because I am looking for sympathy. Honestly when it comes down to having a chronic or “invisible” illness I actually get kind of tired of explaining things.  However I  do want to share some honest thoughts that have been on my mind and heart lately.   I realize that I have a tendency to overshare what I am thinking in different situations. That being said, many people know how for years (10 plus)I have struggled with chronic illness. Sometimes I just get weary of asking for prayer when nothing ever seems to change.  It can feel hopeless.  There are times I feel hindered from doing what I know God has called me to do. I  don’t like disappointing people and feeling I can’t fully committ to something just incase I have one of my flu-like sick days. The reality is that those days are just so frequent and unpredictable.

God knows my heart in this. It’s no surprise to him that sometimes I get discouraged by unanswered prayer, and how I get tired of asking just to be healed and feel like giving up. So I stop asking. And yet at the same time I know I am not ever alone in this. He has been so faithful in my life and I know He is with me even in the midst of my doubts. However, I don’t believe for a moment that sickness is His will for my life. That is a lie that the enemy would have me to believe. In this post I just want to share what I believe God has been showing  me recently and I am trying to live out. One moment at a time.

I was doing my homework for a Beth Moore Bible study called the Quest when I read these verses in Matthew. They are popular verses but this time I saw how they applied to my life in my situation and how God was reminding me that it wasn’t a negative thing to keep asking for prayer for healing.  In a way, it kind of wrecked me. I mean really it is one of my hearts greatest desires to be completely whole and healthy.  It was almost  like God was saying “why do you want to give up?”  It’s ok to continue asking!! So of late, my prayer has been..”Lord, help my unbelief!”

Matthew 7:7 Keep on asking,  and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks finds. And to everyone who knocks the door will be opened.

In other words, be persistant, don’t  give up.

The theme this year of the Spanish church we attend is based on Romans 12:2 Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world but let God transform you into 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.”

Change the way you think. Change the way you live.

I got thinking about this verse. Just how do you transform how you think?  By reading the Bible and declaring it’s truth over your life. If there is a lie you are believing, find a scripture to combat that lie with.  Memorize it. Maybe write it on index card and post them where you can see them and be reminded daily. Even say them out loud and in your heart believe them to be true over your life.

So if I constantly have the thought pattern that that I am always going to be sick, and that it’s hopeless and if live with the expectation of being sick..NOTHING ever will change. I need to change my mind set and believe Him at His word. Believe that His plans for me are good. And that with Him ALL things are possible, even though Dr’s have said I just have to live with it. God has the final word.

In the devotional that I am doing on Youversion I read about how in Matthew 8 there was a man with leprosy who wanted to be healed. He told Jesus that if he was willing he could heal him and make him clean.  Jesus response to him was ” I am willing. Be healed!”  I don’t think there was ever an instance in the Bible where someone specifically asked Jesus to be healed where he turned them away and denied them. Although, I do know that His answer to us when we pray for certain things may not always be yes. Sometimes it is no, or wait. Sometimes we have to wait a very long time. I am reminded of Abraham and Sarah waiting til they were 100 and 90 to see the promise of a son. To think that Abraham never doubted that what God had promised would come to pass. Talk about believing for the impossible!

John 8:32 And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free

Matthew 21:22 And if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

We can remember that God is for us. (Romans 8:31) Nothing is impossible with God. (Luke 1:37) He is faithful to his promises. 2 Corinthians 1:20, Genesis 28:17. Romans 4:20,21 Hebrews 10:23. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.( Hebrews 13:8)

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

Remember, God can do more than what we ask or imagine!

Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.

So how about you? Are there lies that you are believing about yourself or your circumstances? Maybe for you it isn’t your health. Maybe it is something else. Finances? Job situation? Future?  I encourage you to find your Bible and look up verses that counter those lies with truth, write them down. Memorize them. And begin to change the way you think.

The power of our thoughts determines our destination—-Havilah Cunnington

 

 

 

The comparison trap..

I love the beginning of a new year. It’s the chance to turn the page, start over, make changes. At the beginning of this new year and new decade, I had a few goals in mind. One was to drink more water. A lot more actually. It is something so important, yet something I fail miserably at. I can go a couple days and not have anything to drink other than coffee. Terrible. Secondly, I want to memorize more scripture. Many years ago, when I was in youth group, there were a few of us that would meet weekly for a Bible survey course. Part of that program was to memorize one hundred Bible verses. I undoubtedly could recite most them now…but not where they are found. So I want to do more memorizing.  It’s not as easy as it was when I was younger!  Thirdly,  I want to cut way back on the amount of time I spend on social media sites. That’s a challenge. Especially when most of the time I have my phone with me and have the tendency to check it often. Particularly if I am bored or we are stuck in traffic. I am not doing so good with this one yet. Some habits are hard to break. But for my own emotional well being, I really believe I need to be more intentional about cutting back in this area.

This is actually something I have been pondering for quite sometime.  Sites like Instagram and Facebook are great for keeping in touch with people.  They really are. Especially for Dale and I living so far from our family and loved ones. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for missionaries years ago who left everything to go to a foreign land to do what they felt God called them to.  Back before the internet was a thing, and it was expensive and not always possible to call loved ones and snail mail was the only means of connection.  They would have felt so cut off from everything and everyone. So as far as staying connected goes, these sites are great! However, there is a dark side.   Sometimes seeing all the pictures and updates can be downright depressing.  Especially this Christmas seeing all the family Christmas photos and we were not with our family.  I struggle at times with anxiety and sometimes I feel like these social media sites only add to my anxiety, loneliness, self esteem, and add to the feeling of somehow just not quite measuring up. Feelings of inadequacy sometimes rise to the surface as I scroll through the filtered photos of  perfect filtered  lives.  Photos of perfect homes, perfect families, perfect vacations and all those healthy, delicious looking meals that never turn out quite like the photo.  There are many more things I could add.  All these posts of “filtered perfection” can be a real joy robber.  Can anyone else relate to any of this?

Earthly possesions dazzle our eyes and delude us into thinking that they can provide security and freedom from anxiety. Yet all the time they are the very source of all anxiety.—The cost of discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer

It is so easy to get sucked into the trap of comparison. Our self worth should not be coming from the approval of others. At the end of the day it’s not important how many likes or comments we receive, how many followers we have, or how we stack up against everyone else.  We are aways going to come up empty. It’s such a lie from the pit. God loves us more than we could possibly ever imagine. We are valued by Him. The Bible tells us we are made in His image. (Gen 1.27) We are remarkably and wonderously made.(Psalm 139:14) We are worth more than sparrows. ( Matthew 10:13) The hairs on our head are all numbered. (Matthew 10:30) He will not forget us.Our names are engraved on the palms of his hands. (Isaiah 49:15,16)

Galations 1:10 I’m obviously not trying to flatter you or water down my message to be popular with men, but my supreme passion is to please God. For if all I attempt to do is please people, I would not be a true servant of the Messiah.

Comparison is the thief of joy because it tends to highlight others best moments while reminding you of your worst. —-Grace Valentine..

Phil 4:11-13 NLT Not that I was ever in need , for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation , whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do all things Christ, who gives me strength.

Romans 12:2  TPT Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed but the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satsifying and perfect in His eyes.

Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.—Judy Garland.

In attempt to scale back in this area I am trying not to pick up my phone so often or better yet  leave it at home when we go out.  If I don’t have it charging on my nightstand I will be less inclined to pick it up in the middle of the night when I can sleep.  Less scrolling leads to less comparison and more opportunity to truly be present. I have a couple friends who are giving up social media for an entire year. Can you just imagine how many hours of their life they will be taking back?

What about you? Are there any changes you have made this year or want to make in this area?

 

 

When you just want to get even…

It was almost three in the morning and the party at the new neighbour’s house beside us was still going strong. In frustration I pulled the covers over my head and plugged one ear with my finger and pressed my head into the pillow.  I was so annoyed and desperately just wanted sleep.  I struggle on the best of nights with getting decent amount of  rest.  My husband Dale was out…oblivious to any noise. Once he takes his hearing aids out and his head hits the pillow he can sleep til morning.

The next day I mentioned to Dale I had a feeling our new neighbours might be partiers….and the next time they keep me up all night with their carousing, I was going to get up at 5am to do my laundry, when they were no doubt sleeping.  See how they like it. Our washing machine is outdoors and it is not exactly quiet. It makes a terrible racket. Since our house is flush against theirs and just a wall separates our outdoor laundry from their backyard, there is no doubt they would be able to hear it.  I was only half joking.  It is what I felt like doing in retaliation. I was frustrated and exhausted from the lack of sleep. Dale replied with a comment something like “oh…is that what Jesus would do?” There was a part of me wanted to say “It’s easy for you to say…You don’t hear anything. You just take your hearing aids out and go to sleep.”

I may have mentioned before that I follow a daily scripture writing plan. The following morning I sat down with my coffee,  Bible and notebook, and like always,  began to write the verses out for the day.  I kid you not….the selected verses for that particular day were so appropriate for how I was feeling in my heart.

The passage was Romans 12:16-21..But it was verses 17-19a that stuck out to me..”Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.   If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone..”  

Ouch!

Actually the Bible has a lot more to say about getting even. Here are a couple more verses.

I Thessalonians 5:15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and everyone else.

1 Peter3:9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.

Leviticus 19:18 Do not seek revenge or bear grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord.

Romans 12:20-21 MSG Our scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he is thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good. 

Then it was New Year’s eve. We were out at friends for dinner and the traditonal fireworks at midnight. We returned home around 2:30 am.  Once again the neighbours had a party which continued on for quite sometime after our arrival home..However in all fairness it was New Year’s eve….and even we were out way past our bedtime..lol

As much as I might feel like it, as much as I might be justified,  however annoyed I might be, I will not be getting even. I will not be waking up before it is light out just so I can pay them back.  I will however most likely be purchasing ear plugs! Also, I genuinely do want to get to know my neighbours!  That however is a bit of a challenge here as we all live behind the walls and gates that surround our houses and seldom actually see them. It’s going to take creativity on my part.  I think if I were to try and get even, I would then become the annoying neighbour that does her laundry at 5 in the morning.  It definitely would not be keeping the peace.  All hope of getting to know them would be lost.

I want to stand ready as Christ’s ambassador in my neighbourhood, wearing grace, flesh and skinny jeans. I want to belong just as I am. I want to get better at loving people, for every good and puzzling thing they are…Shannon Martin —The ministry of ordinary places.

 

 

 

When to be silent…

Someone lied to me. The moment I read the text I knew.  I so wanted to write back a quick reply in response. Call the person out on it.  I was frustrated and angry.  No one likes being lied to. Right?  I mean it hurts. However, I didn’t respond. Not this time. Everything in me wanted to though. I decided to just sleep on it and maybe deal with it in the morning.  Or another time.

Then this morning during my “quiet time” I was talking with God, telling him how I felt about the situation, begging him for wisdom, so that I would know the right thing to do, the right thing to say.  I prayed that he would make it very clear to me. Do I put this person in their place or do I let it go? If I say something it could open a whole new can of worms, cause more unrest and and even more contention, more division. But if I stay quiet, the person will think they are pulling the wool over my eyes, that I’m gullible, that I believe them and that I think all is fine…when it isn’t.

Then I opened my Bible.  I could not believe the verse that was right there at the top of the page. Now for the record I do not typically do that when I am looking for wisdom…open the Word and point a verse and expect to find my answer.  Although God can and does speak to us through his Word.

Proverbs 10: 19 Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. 

Wow! To me it was a very clear answer about what my response in this situation should be. Silence.

So today, ,I am choosing to let it go and leave it in His hands.  I know the truth and above  all….God knows the truth.

Proverbs 17:28 Even fools are thought to be wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem inteligent.