Monday, August 17, 2015
Where is home? Is it where your family lives? Where your work's located? How do you find the comfort of home? Do you feel out of place? Maybe you're looking in the wrong place.
Living in two cultures brings with it a sense of not belonging anywhere. Not only do I live in a foreign country, but I also live in a Quechua village. Three cultures and three languages colliding together to make the mix even more interesting. Feeling out of place is an understatement. Yet, somehow I am at home. When we arrive in the States, I feel at home. My language is spoken. My friends wear what I wear––well, once I get to a store and update my look. Then comes a new haircut. Yes, friends make sure I get where I need to go for this new look. I look the part, but am I at home? Yes! Why? How can I be at home in two places and still not fit into either place?
The answer is simple. I'm at home because I am where God wants me to be. I am in His will. "Home" is being in God's will.
Matthew 6:33 "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (NIV)
In God's will, we have a proper place of belonging––a home. One day we'll arrive in our forever home. Until then, we find a home in the center of God's will.
Are you in your proper place?
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
I am blessed with true friends. But, in an imperfect world--including the Christian world––we are hurt by friends. I've been hurt, and I guess maybe you have too.
There are many varieties of friends. Some stay forever, some just pass through your life for a season. All are a blessing or a lesson. Some tell you how to pack your bags while true friends ask how they can help pack your bags.
Which friend do you prefer––the teller or the asker? What if a friend insists on telling me how to pack my bags to return to Bolivia having never been there? Is that friend concerned about my needs or just opinionated––even in things they know nothing about? How do you react to such a friend? Maybe you have them! Maybe that person needs a true friend to learn how to become one. Can I be that friend? Can you?
"An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgement starts quarrels. Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions." Proverbs 18:1-2 (NIV)
I don't want to be unfriendly, do you? But we all have our opinions. If we daily become more like Jesus, can't we become extraordinary friends by seeking God's mind before speaking instead of blurting out our opinions?
I have friends who are extraordinary, and I've seen them do extraordinary things for God and me. They bless me, and they teach me how to be a true friend.
"A friend loves at all times..." Proverbs 17:17 (NIV) I am a recipient of that love and friendship. I see Jesus in those friends whenever I am with them. They are always willing to sacrifice for others, and they radiate with the love of God. Oh, to learn from them and have others see Jesus in my life as I see Him in theirs.
When we arrived in the States last May, we had an apartment waiting for us. An old friend offered it to us free of charge. He said it needed to be cleaned because the previous renters had abused it. We expected to do the work it needed and eventually furnish it with the necessary things to make it livable for our five-month stay.
Two of our extraordinary friends picked us up at the airport at midnight and drove us home. An hour later, we climbed the 20 plus stairs to the apartment we'd call home for the next five months. We were prepared to live with the basic needs for such a short time period––a bed, a shower, and a microwave for the few meals we'd be eating on our own.
We opened the door. A cute little lamp shed a soft glow around the room. A cinnamon scent filled the air. We walked into a cozy room filled with furniture, curtains, and even decorated with adorable wall hangings and twinkle lights. We searched for words––I am never speechless––but none passed our upturned lips. We walked around the apartment taking in the incredible scene of hard work by extraordinary friends. The couple with us (extraordinary friends also) allowed us to drink in the moment. Kitchen fully equipped––cupboards filled with food, dishes, silverware, and basic needs in the frig. Bathroom––everything we needed, even toothbrushes and cleaning supplies and creams, shampoos, and candles and lacy curtains. Bedroom––a bed with a beautiful comforter and curtains to match and oh, did I mention, dressers, lamps, and even an ironing board and iron. Plus wall hangings, so cute and handmade with love.
We returned to the living room and noticed one more detail previously missed. If you haven't shed a tear yet you will now, get your tissue. Above the couch, a wall hanging made of an old window frame, just adorable. But wait, there are photos hanging by clothespins on twine in each windowpane. They are photos of our grandkids, our kids, our animals, and even a few of our ministry. I felt warm, moist drops of joy fall over my cheeks. We were home!
Who does this sort of thing? Extraordinary friends! They are ordinary people who are extraordinary friends. I am learning to be a friend. I may be an ordinary person, but I want to become an extraordinary friend. I have the best example to follow. His name is Jesus. I see Him in the acts of my extraordinary friends.
What kind of friend are you? Will you strive to be an extraordinary friend?
Sunday, August 9, 2015
Spinning is a popular form of exercise almost everywhere now. Although, in my neighborhood spinning has a totally different connotation. When I hear the word spinning, I immediately visualize a gym with a spinning class. Don't you? But, in my neighborhood bicycles are not used for exercise per se. Yes, they are a means of exercise for my neighbors, but their main purpose provides transportation by spinning to and from their alfalfa fields before sunrise.
As I watch my neighbors spinning by my house in the early mornings, I sometimes long to take a spin with them. Not to help them cut alfalfa, but to stop my fruitless spinning and set my priorities on these people I came to serve instead of focusing on the 100 things on my to-do list for the day. When I step down from the merry-go-round of life, I find refreshment from being with God's people and enjoy His beauty around me. I focus on the reason God has me here in this place of service––to spread the Good News and sparkle for Him. It's not easy stepping off that merry-go-round. Some days I keep on spinning, and some days I wobble as I come to a halt––however, it is always possible to stop and sparkle. Remember, like this photo, you can spin and sparkle at the same time, but you may also fall down.
"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans." (Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)
Each day is a new opportunity for service. It's easy to allow each day's tasks (our plans) to keep us from God's checklist for the day. But, when we ask God to establish our plans (to-do list) and take control of our spinning, He will establish our to-do lists and prioritize our days. Everything will change when we commit our plans to Him. The spinning out of control will cease, and our days will be fruitful and calm. Try and see. The verse says He will––not He might. He keeps His promises.