Monday, April 29, 2013

Modern Day Samaritan

I love it when things that you've heard before become fresh and new.  Sometimes that's what it takes to challenge us, when the 'lights go on' in our head and in our hearts, and a great way for sparks to become motivation and motivation to become a flame.

This morning Steve shared thoughts with our family on the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).  He challenged us to think in current terms and that who we are to behave like the 'Samaritan' to is whoever is the most uncomfortable one for us to reach out to in love.  He suggested, for example, that since our family has become wired to see the needs of the poor, that relating to the homeless on the streets of South Asia might be more second nature to us than noticing the hurt and pain of the rich.  That we might walk right on by a rich man on the 'side of the road' because we'd think that he had the means to look after himself.

I've been pondering this today and wondering who some modern day 'neighbors' might be to others. Maybe it's:

-That neighbor who doesn't respect our space and is just too loud?
-The person who just rudely cut us off in traffic or bumped our cart in the grocery store?
-The homosexual couple down the street?
-The foreigner, probably of a different religion, who just doesn't seem to understand the way we do things in 'our' country?
-The rebellious teen with the, "Get out of my way!" attitude?
-The friend who has hurt us?
-Or just that person who just drives you absolutely crazy?  The one who you without thinking say, "I hate (insert name)," about?

Who is YOUR 'neighbor' and who might you be being asked to show the love of Christ to today?  Or will you walk on by........?

And then what did the Samaritan do?  He had compassion. He ministered to him through his own time, effort, resources, and energy.  He thought past the initial crisis towards the future.  He took responsibility for the hurting stranger on the road.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

You're more beautiful than you think.

There's a video that's gone viral on the internet this week that is definitely worth looking at!  It's an amazing example of how we are so much more critical of ourselves than the people around us are.  It shows how we buy into lies whispered into our hearts about ourselves, how we particularly as women see ourselves as less valuable, desirable, and beautiful than we really are.

I've always had a pretty good self-image over all.  My parents and key others around me have always made me feel special and loved.  But as I've gotten older (wonder if I'm actually considered middle aged yet?) and especially when my metabolism changed and I started putting on weight for the first time in my life, there have been plenty of times when I've been overly critical of what's in the mirror. There have even been times of hints of self-hatred.

This is NOT good!  I found, like it's mentioned in the video, that it began to affect relationships around me.  Isn't that weird? Me feeling bad about me reflected off of me and made things worse for those who love me?

A few years back a lady showed up on a team at FS that I found myself really admiring.  She was just beautiful and I enjoyed being around her.  Since I couldn't remember all of the names in her group I thought of her as, "That really cute lady."

A couple of days later I realized something.  When I picked her features apart she was really pretty average. She was near my age, a little chubby, and not supermodel material at all.  But the essence of who she was that radiated out of her was just stunning.  THAT'S what people saw.

It taught me a lot about what I truly wanted to be.  As my mom has always said, "Beautiful from the inside out."

Lately I've been learning to identify lies that I believe that govern the way I act, think, and live; so right away this video made me think about lies that we believe.  And where lies come from.  Do we believe the Father of Lies or the Creator of Life when we consider ourselves?  One wants to destroy us and our effectiveness as a light to the world around, and One wants to give us life to the fullest.  One planned us in our mother's womb and calls us 'fearfully and wonderfully made!'

So if you haven't seen the video-----watch it!  If you have, watch it again and be reminded that you are beautiful from the inside out.  That there is only one and only YOU.......!

And let your light shine!!!

(If the video below doesn't show up on your media device click here for link:  Dove Real Beauty Sketches )

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Where the Spirit is...

Those who have known me a long time will know that there are few things that I enjoy more than singing praise.  It's been a bit challenging the past few years, however, as my lungs haven't enjoyed living in the intense smog of our other home.

This photo will give you a bit of an idea of what it is like.  This is the sun.  It's not sunset or hidden in the clouds.  It's just the sun in the afternoon of a normal day-----behind the smog.  Let's just say you don't ever have to worry about sunburn in the city!

One of our kids commented the other day that it's amazing seeing the stars in the New Zealand night sky.  And how they've realized that there are children growing up in the urban environment above who have never seen the stars before!!!  

Well, all of this is hard on the lungs.  After we arrived in NZ I could literally still taste the smog as I expelled the stuff from my chest for the next couple of weeks.  But now after eight months of breathing the clean air of NZ something in my chest and head has changed again.  I've lost a slight wheeze I had while exercising.  And best of all I can suddenly sing with a freedom I forgot that I had!!! While I'm happy to make that sacrifice again later of loosing a bit of my voice, I'm rejoicing in the new found freedom right now. 

The air that we breathe makes a difference.  Life giving air.

I find it interesting that after Je3us left this earth that the Helper who came is The Spirit.  Something unseen around us that gives life.  Like air.

I keep meditating on this:  

"For the L0rd is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the L0rd is there is freedom."  
2 Cor. 3:17

Freedom.  I want that!  I want to BE all about that.  

I want to breathe His Spirit like air.  I want, like air, for Him to fill every empty space.  Breathing in, breathing out.  Purifying.  Restoring. Giving life, energy, strength.

I want to be as dependent on Him as air so that I breathe in His Presence like it's second nature without conscious thought; not gasping desperately as a last resort as I'm fading away.

I want His Spirit to be the vehicle that delivers what I say, like air over my vocal chords, so that what I breathe out is Him to the world around me.

I know that this isn't an overnight process.  It will take time, like breathing smog out of my lungs. I've been at it for quite a while, yet it will realistically take a lifetime. At times it won't be pretty as I expel things that shouldn't have been breathed in in the first place--the 'smog' of a sinful world and the natural state of my soul in it.  But with practice I will soon breathe more freely, more deeply, and more fluently of His Spirit.  And find more and more freedom!

And unquenchable JOY!!!!
(Doesn't this photo just make you smile?)

The song on my heart today: (click here to hear!)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What We Can Handle

Has someone ever told you, "It's OK.  G0d won't give you more than you can handle"?  I've heard that often and I want to say something about that statement:

It's a lie.

It's something said in hard times when people want to be encouraging and don't know what else to say.

The truth is, however, that it's a concept of misquoted Scripture.  I Cor. 10:13 says, "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And G0d is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."  It's saying that we won't be given more temptation than we can handle.  Not more life experience, blows, tragedy, heartbreak, questions without answers, etc.  And truly terrible stuff happens all the time to really awesome people.

"G0d won't give you more than you can handle," is a statement that invokes guilt.  Because if I'm not coping with something that He's allowed, then I'm somehow to blame.  I'm not good enough, faithful enough, strong enough-----or something.

I recently read 2 Corinthians and was caught up in the vivid picture of humanity that I'd never noticed before there.  Things like:

"We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it."  (1:8) 

"And who is adequate for such a task as this?" (2:16)

"Our hearts ache..." (6:16)

"...there was no rest for us. We faced conflict from every direction, with battles on the outside and fear on the inside." (7:5)

Really?  Wow!  If Paul can feel that way it's OK for me to be human, too!

It takes courage and makes us face realities that aren't easy to ask the hard 'Why G0d?' questions.

"It is easy to spout trite Christian platitudes designed to make people feel better with bumper-sticker theology.  But insipid axioms do little in the face of the actual brokenness of the world." 
-Nate Pyle

Steve arrived back in NZ early Sunday morning (Yay!!!).  Later that day he told me a story that's been haunting my mind since.  

FS has a drop in center in the most heavily used part of the sex lanes.  It's a place of fellowship where women still in the trade can come in, hang out, maybe get their nails painted, but the concept is to create relationship and to tell them about the freedom available to them through FS if they choose.  Since there are more and more girls from Nepal in the area, a young women who speaks Nepalese now works there to communicate with them.  

A couple of weeks ago, a girl of about 16 quietly slipped into the center and sat just inside the door watching.  She finally started asking questions and when the Nepalese speaker referred to her Faith, the girl started singing Chr1stian songs in her mother tongue. Turns out that the girl who was raised in a Chr1stian home had been snatched off the street and trafficked when she was 12.  For the past four years she's been literally locked in a brothel and raped every day, a number of times a day.  Only recently has her madam allowed her to occasionally leave the room and that day she had told the madam she needed to go purchase something and came to the drop in center that she had heard about from another girl instead.  

But after that, for now, she had to go back to the brothel.

What do you do with that?  How can things like that happen to a girl who loves Him?  You certainly wouldn't tell her that she 'won't be given more than she can handle,' would you?!

We all, in varying circumstances and degrees, are definitely taken at some point beyond what we can handle.  But there's hope!  The beginning of 2 Corinthians says:

"In fact, we expected to die.  But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on G0d, who raises the dead. "  (vs.9)

I don't understand why He does many things or allows what He does.  I certainly don't have the answers.  But I know that when we are beyond what we can handle ourselves, THAT'S the place where we truly find Him and 'rely' on Him like never before.  And ONLY on Him.  

And we GROW.............!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


I've met a lot of people in my life. And while I very much enjoy that, there's something precious about spending time with someone who already knows you.  Who you don't have to explain everything about your life to, who knows your likes and dislikes, your passions, your fears, your family.  Someone who already knows that you tend to walk into lampposts or stumble over curbs when you're distracted.  Who knows that you sometimes snort when you laugh and what you look like without mascara after you cry.

It's a beautiful thing to be KNOWN.

I got to see a close friend of many years from Fiji a couple of months ago.  We hadn't seen each other in at least 4 years or communicated much at all in that time, yet the few precious hours together flew. We know many things about each other and have been through many things together. 

I didn't realize how much in my somewhat transient life I missed really being KNOWN.

What an amazing thing it is that we have a Creator who not only made us but takes the time to KNOW us.  And how much that is an expression of His incredible love.

When Hagar was being persecuted by Sarai for simply doing what her mistress had asked her to do, she ran away to the wilderness.  She was met there in a very personal way with a very special message and ended up giving the L0rd a new name, "You are the G0d who sees me......." (Gen. 16:13)

One of my favorite verses!  To be really SEEN.  KNOWN.

The link to the video below is an amazing tribute to Him who sees us, knows us, loves............

To be known is to be loved and to love is to be known!