Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Rock and my Redeemer

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, oh Lord my Rock and my Redeemer."  Psalm 19:14



I have known this verse since for as long as I can remember - it is as easily recitable as John 3:16 to me!  .An amazing woman and pastor's wife, Charm Fields, has had us recite this for as long as I can remember.  When I first learned it, it was like a wonderful prayer.  Many times as I repeated it, I wasn't even paying attention to the words.  But there have been times that it has come back to my mind in the moments I needed it - the way all of God's word does as we take time to memorize and pray through it.

Today I was getting ready for the day and it came to mind as I was praying.  But something strange happened.  Usually as I get to the end - the "Lord my Rock and my Redeemer" part, I kinda mumble through it.  After all, the asking of God to change and reshape our hearts and words is the important part, right?  You could easily insert any name of God there (in my mind), it just happened to be what the Psalmist thought at that moment.

But as I was praying, the end part became a really important, very clear part of the verse.  It was the part that God wanted me to think on.  He is my Rock and my Redeemer!  There is nothing small or insignificant about that!  Because he is my Rock, he is my strength - the one I lean on, stand on, the one that is firm and unchanging - so unlike me.  He is the where my strength comes from.

And he is my Redeemer.  He has ransomed me, rescued me, saved me.  He took my sins and bought life for me with his blood.  Nothing else can replace that - and nothing else has too!  His redemption of me is a permanent thing.

It is because he is these two particular things that I CAN have thoughts and words that are pleasing to him.  It's not a prayer to "try harder" (which is what I so often find myself doing) but rather to live in the truth that the old me is dead and the new me (because of his redemption and because he is unchanging) has words that give life!  These words are of joy, peace, encouragement, hope, and meaning rather than cutting down and causing death and harm.  Because of him my heart is new is the things that flow from it are also life giving and life sustaining.

I'm not a seminary grad.  I don't have fancy letters after my name.  Sometimes I think, "I should have known this before!"  But I am thankful for the things he shows me new everyday - even from "old" things.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

solar powered

I'm pretty sure I'm solar powered.  When the sun is gone, it is cold and damp, and the landscape seems colorless, I feel the same way.  Everything affects me differently in these times.  Oh, I love a good, powerful thunderstorm - as long as it doesn't last for weeks or months. Then bring on the sunshine!  I start to feel like I can do anything, like the world really does have some good people in it, and like there is something to smile about.  And I know most people feel this way, but (ask my husband) I am extreme in it.  I have researched the places in the world where the sun shines the most so that I know where to live!  ;)  (I can't tell you the percentage of days that South Sudan has sunshine, but it's a good bet that they have more than upstate NY!)

Please be in prayer for us as we head south again this week to speak at some churches, meet more people, and soak up the sunshine.  We have a lot more support to raise, and we are praying that this trip helps us on that path and we meet some more people to join us in this adventure.  But we  also are praying that God would refresh and rejuvenate us in every way - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  Would you join us?  Thanks! 

Friday, April 19, 2013

white canvas



I am kind of a control freak.  Yes, I know - I am sure that comes as a surprise to you.  ;)   Well, believe it or not, it still surprises me from time to time!  The tightness that I like to try to hold the reigns in my life is astounding to me at times.  And when things don't happen the way I envision them, it totally throws me off.

Today was a day that I talked, yelled, cried, prayed, and finally surrendered (again) to God.  But this was a different way.  Today I realized that I had to give up my vision of what the future looks like.  I feel confident that God has us working with WHM in South Sudan.  But how that plays out, what it looks like, when, who is with us, and the little details are things that I have come to accept (at least in this moment) that I don't know.  And probably won't until they are happening.  I have had so many paintings  in my head - dreams of how things will look, the time frame, reasons about why those things are "right."  But today, for the first time, I surrendered those paintings.  My gallery, if you will, is nothing but a white wall right now.

I don't really like white walls.

I love color - splashes of bright designs.  Patterns and warmth and designs and artsy stuff.  White walls - well, they seem so plain and boring and lifeless to me.  Clean, yes (well, they wouldn't be in my house), but still still plain.  So to offer up my future, my dreams to God as a white washed canvas is super scary to me.  What if he leaves it that way?

Yet I know that he is the great artist.  Look at this world - the nature, the people, the colors, the vibrant life that is all around us.  Even in the brokenness that is overflowing all around us, he is there and breaking through in abundance.  And if he applies all that color to the world around me, I have to believe he will apply that to me, my hopes, and my dreams.

One brush stroke at a time.  That's where this whole surrendering thing will remain hard.  See, I am a person who loves to cast vision and dream.  So when he makes a blue streak and then stops, I will start to jump to every possibility that could mean.  I will imagine and dream,  and then decide which of my scenarios is the most probable and which is the best according to me.  Then I will start filling in the canvas myself.  Then I'll get angry because God is not having things play out the way I have painted them, and he will have to remind me again that he is the artist.

Don't get me wrong - dreaming and hoping is ok.  But it is important for us - especially people like me who take an idea and run with it - to make sure that these dreams and ideas are actually coming from God.  And even more important for me to keep communicating with God and not get angry because he is not making my own picture come to fruition my way.

 I am not The Artist.  

Saturday, April 13, 2013

puzzlin'...

I am slightly obsessed with doing puzzles.  Usually this happens each winter when I want to hibernate and start to get bored.  But for some reason this season I have continued doing them even with nice(ish) weather.  And it's not just a puzzle here and there.  Anna and I went to the dollar store a few different times and bought a bunch of simple 500 piece puzzles.  And they are mostly all done.

As I was finishing one today and feeling so accomplished, it dawned on me that is probably why I am having puzzle overload lately...it is one of the only things in my life I have any control over right now; one of the only things that I can can "complete" and get done.

Support raising continues to be one of the hardest things we have ever done (and we have been in some crazy churches!)  The worst part is that there are days where we wake up and wonder, "What exactly are we supposed to be doing today?"  We can put in days of work in a mailing, or calling people, planning parties, having face-to-faces, etc - yet we really have no control over what the outcome of any of those things are.

At least when you are doing a "normal" job you can make goals, have plans to reach them, then start checking off that list.  No matter how many things I "accomplish" and how many checks I make, I never know if any of it mattered that day.

Doing my puzzle I can see the end result.  I know each piece being put in is like a check on my list and it will make a compete thing that will be done as fast as I can do it.

As fast as I can do it...and there's the problem.

I am a stinky wait-er.  And it is even worse when I am not sure why I am waiting - when there is no clear or logical reason to be sitting and waiting.  I want to do something.  I want to be in control of how things play out.  The fact that He has called me to a place like Africa must really be making God chuckle sometimes.

It's not about me doing it.  It's about me obeying and taking whatever steps he says and waiting on him to make it happen. AND IT IS SO FRUSTRATING!!  But I am trying, and he is teaching me.  My prayers for the miraculous to happen and for us to get to Africa ASAP will not stop, but each day we are trying to say, "Help me enjoy this day, this journey."  Some days we are better at it than others - this week we were terrible at it!  

Thanks for your prayers of encouragement, miracles, faith, and hope! (And patience...I guess.)  ;)