Monday, July 28, 2014

"The Year of the Tough Books"

The Chinese have a different animal representing every year.  We've all heard "The Year of the Horse" or "The Year of the Tiger."  For me, this has been "The Year of the Tough Books"!  Let me explain....
God in His wisdom has led me through some of the "tough books" in the Bible this year for my quiet time with Him!  You know - those books full of genealogies and prophecies - the ones you were tempted to skim through for your required reading for your Old Testament Survey class in Bible College?  Okay, let's be honest, maybe some of us Bible College graduates DID skim through those books!  Perhaps it's just the season of life that I am currently in, perhaps I appreciate these books more now that I'm older.  Whatever the reason, I am here to tell you that I am thankful for the Old Testament books God has led me to read this year!
Looking back through my Bible reading journal, I am blessed to see all the nuggets God has given me from these books - books like 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles, Leviticus, Jeremiah, Ezekiel.  Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying - ALL the Bible is a blessing, but God has allowed these particular books of the Bible to be SPECIAL blessings to me this year!
Right now I am reading through Ezekiel.  Yesterday I read chapter 36 and today I was in chapter 37.  What a blessing to see God's heart for Israel!  It was a particular blessing to me to see God's heart in the matter of restoration - how He longs to draw not only Israel close to Himself, but us also!  I know the book of Ezekiel was written to Israel, but how precious to know that my Lord wants to include ME in the blessings and applications of those precious promises!  He is waiting to include ANY person in those same blessings and promises!
As I read these verses, I began to think about the ministry the Lord has allowed us to have here in Peru.  For the past 2 years, He has allowed us to work alongside hurting people.  It is not a ministry I would ever have imagined (or maybe even chosen), but what a joy and blessing to be used as a channel to bring healing and restoration to hurting people!  I will miss the Deaf of Callao.  And yet...I look forward to the ministry that God has for us in Iquitos.
My heart breaks when I think of all the hurting people there are around me - hurting for different reasons...a life of sin, a rebellious child, unsaved family members, offenses from a brother or sister in Christ...the list goes on and on.  How comforting it is to rest in God's promise of love and care!  How sweet to see God's heart and concern for the hurting!  How blessed to see God's desire for restoration!    How humbling to think that I can let God use me to bring healing to those around me!
Have there been some tough moments reading through these Old Testament books?  YES!!  Some days I struggle to understand as I read through the genealogies and the prophecies.  But this I can say...just when I start to give in to the despair of not understanding, the Lord gives me one verse or sometimes a whole chapter that is such a blessing and encouragement!  My heart rejoices when the Lord shows me these wonderful treasures from His Word.  It is exciting to see how these verses apply to my life and the situations I face every day.  I can honestly say that I am grateful the Lord has given me "The Year of the Tough Books" for my quiet time with Him!

Monday, July 21, 2014

"My Shadow"

One of my favorite poems is called "My Shadow" by Robert Louis Stevenson.  I remember a little girl sitting with her "Pama" (Grandma), listening to her read this poem.  I can still hear her voice as she read to me, and I can still hear my own giggles of delight!  

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow—
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an India-rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all.

He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

Now that I'm all grown up and have children of my own, I often think about this poem.  I took the liberty of changing the words to this favorite poem of mine.  You see, my children are like little shadows that go in and out with me...(Do you know how much fun cleaning a toilet can be?  If you don't think so (like me) - just ask my 5 year old who begged me this morning to let her clean the toilets!  Has a way of changing that "ho-hum" attitude, doesn't it?)

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And how God can use him someday, I can clearly see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him play before me, as with the chores I try to keep ahead!

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow –
Very much like proper children, which to a parent doesn’t see so slow;
For he sometimes acts more grown-up with his attitudes and all,
And he sometimes acts so sweet that I wish he’d stay so small!

He only has a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a teacher of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he’s eager to learn you can see;
I’d think it wonderful if he sticks to God as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found God’s shining dew on every verse looked up;
And my busy little shadow, like an energetic bumblebee,

Had crept up quietly behind me, waiting to sit upon my knee.

I am reminded of how shadows change and how fleeting they are....just like the time I have with my children.  Martha, Ian, and Phebe - my three little shadows!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Planning, Preparing, and Packing

Efata Baptist Church - Iquitos, Peru
Planning, Preparing, and Packing - that pretty much sums up what I've been doing lately!  With only about 7 weeks left until furlough, I've been trying to get some packing done every day!  Needless to say, my days have been busy!  I'm actually packing twice right now to save having to pack again later.  Packing twice????  Yes, I'm packing for furlough (suitcases, etc.) and I'm also packing up the house so that we'll be ready to move when we get back from furlough.  MOVE?!?!?  Yes, the Lord is moving us to Iquitos, Peru.  We are excited about all that the Lord has for us there.  This city is special to me because when I first started praying about marrying Matt (already knowing he was coming to Peru as a missionary to the Deaf), the Lord directed my attention to this city, and I started praying for this city.  Now I get to live there!  Iquitos is considered to be the world's largest city that is inaccessible by road!  You can only get there by plane or by boat.  Isn't that exciting?!?
Not only are we packing, but we are preparing for furlough and for our ministry in Iquitos.  I've also been busy with school plans for the kids.  I've been trying to get things in order and gather all the school materials I will be needing from now until our next furlough.  I get so wrapped up in my plans sometimes, that I plan myself right into oblivion!  Am I the only Mom who does that?  The kids are doing well.  They are loving school (Martha's in 1st grade and Ian's in K4) and especially loving having a baby sister!  I'm not sure Phebe always appreciates their displays of affection, but I am grateful that Martha and Ian love Phebe!  As I am writing this, Martha and Ian are lying on the floor next to Phebe.  They are telling her stories, making weird noises and laughing hysterically at every reaction of Phebe!
Matt's Birthday Cake
We also recently celebrated Matt's birthday.  We had a family celebration, then about a week after his birthday, the Deaf came to the house to for another celebration!  They brought him a cake and a agenda book.  We had each one of them sign it on the inside.  What a special treasure!  I think it's safe to say he had a great birthday!

Iquitos, Peru