Forgotten?

Do you feel like God has forgotten you or that your prayers don’t go beyond the ceiling? If so, don’t be too quick to assume that God does not hear you, or even more, that God does not care.

Referring to Genesis 16, Oswald Chambers comments,

“Abram went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all of his self-sufficiency was destroyed. He grew past the point of relying on his own common sense. Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not a period of God’s displeasure.”

Don’t be misguided, there are no exceptions to the rule. God is more concerned with our holiness than He is our comfort. There will be no special treatment, none of us are above being pruned, weened, strengthened, and prepared?

In life’s moments of uncertainty when, for reasons unknown to you God seems silent, it is easy to assume the worst. But the Bible is full of examples of people who experienced God’s silence, yet we read on to discover that all the while God was consistently working on their behalf. Just like in Abraham’s situation, God has not forgotten you!

In those quiet times, how do you respond? The next time you are tempted to frantically question God, throw in the towel, or to bring about the answer through your own efforts, why not make a conscious effort to wait patiently trusting Him.

Kina Dutro

Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5 NASB 1977)

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How Can I…?

“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family. The Lord answered, “I will be with you…”

(Judges 6:15 NIV)

Has God ever asked you to do something that terrified you?

The Bible is full of stories about inadequate people who were asked to do extraordinary things. Moses was asked to defy Pharaoh and lead God’s people out of slavery. Joshua was called to march around a city trusting God that they would defeat it. Ezekiel was asked to speak to dead skeletons and they returned to life. Elijah was sent to challenge the prophets of Baal to a fiery battle. Young Mary was chosen to be the virgin mother of the Christ Child. Saul, the zealous Jew, was called to not only follow Jesus, but to share his message with the Gentiles. When I look at the long list of inadequate people who God has used to do extraordinary things it brings me comfort that God has a plan for me too.

When God called Gideon to save Israel, Gideon was not convinced that he was the right guy for the job. The Lord didn’t coax or coddle Gideon, but instead matter-of-factly reassured Gideon that he would not be alone. Our God is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Deut. 31:8)

During moments of uncertainty, we can trust that God will be with us. Let this fact, so readily supported in scripture, be a comfort to you as you follow God wherever He may lead you.

Unknown Peace

Contentment, an attribute that eludes most, is not found in the business of this world. While media of all types vías for our attention and feeds our restless nature, secretly we long for peace. But peace does not come easily in the midst of our hustle and bustle.

Where do we find peace? The Bible has the answer. Jesus, while preparing the disciples for his death, tells them about a peace that is unknown to the masses. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27 NLT)

God, in his goodness, has made a way for us to enjoy peace. We need only to keep our eyes focused on Him, knowing the He gives good gifts. Pastor and Bible teacher A.W. Pink put it like this,

“Contentment is only possible as we maintain the attitude of accepting everything that enters our lives as coming from the hand of him who is too wise to err and too loving to cause one of his children a needless tear.”

When life surrounds you with turmoil, look to Jesus and find peace in him.

KD

Don’t Miss the God Moments

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

(Genesis 1:1 NIV)

As I walked this morning, I almost missed the beauty of God’s creation! My mind was focused on all I needed to accomplish. While putting one foot in front of the other, I sent voice texts, researched choir music and made notes on my phone. Somehow in the noise, I heard that familiar voice speak to my heart, “In your business don’t forget to look up and see the beautiful day that I’ve created for you.”

At that moment I lifted my eyes from my cell phone and for the first time noticed….

It’s a beautiful October morning in Mexico. The air is cool and crisp. The birds are singing and the roosters are crowing in the distance. The clouds hang low over the mountain tops and the light shimmers on the pond. Fifteen ducks just landed on the water and are gently gliding and swimming across it.

The Old Testament states, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning..” (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV) In the morning all is still, tranquil and fresh. As each new day dawns, God’s light shines upon the world bidding us “Good Morning” and reminding us of His love. I am so thankful that He reminds me not to miss life’s moments of beauty.

Sometimes we move so fast! Our days are filled with business, todo list, activities and schedules to keep. As we rush through each day it is easy to get distracted with the things of life. I was so immersed in my thoughts that I didn’t even see the beauty around me! This morning as you start your day remember to notice the “God Moments”, the serene picturesque gifts that God offers us as a reminder of His love.

KD

Living more than 5,000 ft. above sea level is a PAIN.

Returning to the mountains of Mexico after being away always reeks havoc with my pain sensors. I’m not sure why I forget this, but every time I return home after being in lower altitudes it takes me about a week or two to acclimate. My skin and muscles feel like they are on fire and there is no escape. Sometimes the pain is so loud that I can’t hear myself think. That’s how life is when you battle fibromyalgia.

Your days are filled with unpredictable pain of various types and intensities which lasting for an undetermined amount of time. Sometimes it’s a low dull pain that you hardly notice. Well, you barely notice it until all is quiet, like when you lie down at night. At other times it’s a pain so intense that you can not function. And yet other times it’s like a fire shut up inside of you.

In the height of my experience with Fibro, I would wake up at night from the pain. Every part of my body that touched the mattress felt like pins and needles were poking into me, especially my ears. There are still moments that the pain is so intense that it wakes me. Tonight, is one of those times.

I don’t think the prophet Ezekiel had fibromyalgia but he described the feeling well when he was talking about trying not to talk about God. He described it like a fire shut up in his bones. (Jeremiah 20:9 NIV)

I suspect that the fire shut up inside his bones was a little bit more spiritual than mine. But my fire serves a spiritual purpose too. It reminds me that I am mere flesh and blood. It reminds me that I am fragility and that I need God.

The Psalmist said, “For he knows we are but dust and that our days are few and brief, like grass, like flowers, blown by the wind and gone forever.”

Psalm 103:14-16 Living Bible (TLB)

One day my body will turn back to dust and I will get an upgrade. My new body will no longer be problematic or painful and when that happens I will live in high altitude comfortably. Until then, I’ll let this burning sensation serve as a reminder for me to put my hope and trust in God.

KD

When it Rains it Pours…

I never expected the Hurricane which hit Puerto Rico recently to affect us here in Mexico, but as the old saying goes, “When it rains, it pours!”

It all started on a Thursday a couple of weeks ago when we checked online banking. It seemed odd that the check we deposited on Monday was not in the Hope House account. As strange as it might sound, sometimes our bank here in Mexico inadvertently deposits money into the wrong account! A quick look at our personal accounts did not show the deposit either. After living in Mexico for 15 years, I should not be shocked when things don’t go as planned, but sometimes the obstacles do become comical.

I mentioned the saying, “When it rains, it pours!” Well every time we try to go out of town the storm clouds become visible in the distance and the storm usually involves some type of banking delima. Last week’s trip was no different!

A quick call to the bank solved the mystery of the missing money. The intermediary bank responsible for cashing American Dollar checks happens to be located in Puerto Rico. After being almost wiped off the map with the latest hurricane, check exchange in Puerto Rico, as well as here in Mexico, has come to a screeching halt. Without a solution, workers at Hope House would not get paid the week before we left nor while we were out of town.

Upon arrival at the bank, our check was returned to us. Unfortunately, we were given little hope that check cashing would resume anytime this year With Puerto Rico mostly underwater, we needed to come up with a Plan B for how to get money from the United States to Mexico. After brainstorming, we came up with an idea. A wire transfer might be possible!

International wire transfers are tricky under normal conditions. First money is transferred from our bank in Tennessee to New York, and then money is transferred to the Mexican National Bank located in Mexico City. After that our local Mexican bank has to go online and manually retrieve the money. When they find it, they transfer it into their bank where it is finally deposited into an account of our choice. All of this process is uninsured and hinges on the provision that you supply your bank manager with the date, amount and wire transfer information. If you fail to provide said information your money just floats around in in the Mexican National Bank unaccounted for. If, however, you are willing to take the risk, in less than 48 hours and a charge of $50usd your money can travel across the continent through cyber space and arrive at its destination in Mexico. Fortunately, on a not so crutial day, we had already tested the unnerving system, just to see if it would work. I does! With that in mind, our plan seemed sound.

Now the only natural disasters which could stand in the way of our wire transfer were the recent earthquakes in Mexico City. Worried that we might need to come up with a Plan C, we asked the dreaded question, “Are the banks in Mexico City processing wire transfers?”

Luck was on our side! Somehow amidst the rubble lined streets of the capitol city, affectionately referred to as Mexico or simply D. F. , not only was the Mexico National Bank still in operation, but our bank’s headquarters was still operational as well.

A quick phone call to our treasurer in Tennessee and we were back in business. He promised to return to the bank later that day to begin the transfer process. That would give us the weekend and two days for the money to maneuver the labyrinth known as international wire transfers and arrive to its destination prior to us leaving town.

Late Monday afternoon we received the confirmation call from our bank. The money had arrived! So on Tuesday morning we sat out early to complete banking and some other errands prior to leaving town. I should have know better than to try and accomplish anything on a time schedule.

Mexico runs on its own time schedule and Tuesday was no different than any other day. When we arrived at the bank we were greeted with a smile and, “We’re sorry we can’t help you right now.” “You’re kidding,” I thought. “We have less than two hours before we are leaving town and they can not help us!” The only word that came to mind is…comical! The mainframe computers at the bank had been shut down from the main branch in Mexico. They were doing some routine maintenance and there was no way the bank workers could access the system. We could not check the account balance. We could not cash a check. We could not pay our phone bill. We could not pass Go nor collect $200. As I looked at my watch, I knew that there was no time to wait. The mainframe had been down for over an hour and no one had any idea of when it might be back up and running. Plan C would need to be initiated if we were going to head out of town on time.

We quickly decided on a plan and headed home. We arrived with a little over an hour to spare before we needed to leave. I was glad to have a few extra minutes at home to tidy up and make sure we had everything we needed. The last time we went out of town our car was broken into in the parking lot of a local shopping center while we had lunch at the food court. Since they stole 3 suitcases and 2 large bags full of clothes and toiletries, including my laptop and our daughter’s cell phone, it took a little more effort today to make sure we even owned the things necessary for the trip. With just 35 minutes remaining I decided to take something for my pounding headache. I quickly opened the large orange juice which Rodney had bought me when he stopped to pay the phone bill. As I twisted off the cap the entire bottle of juice flew up in the air and rained down all over me. As it did, I chuckled, and thought to myself, “When it rains, it pours…Orange Juice!”

KD

Lake Chapala, the largest natural lake in Mexico, ebbs and flows through the years.

Although Lake Chapala is technically the largest natural lake in Mexico, when we moved to Mexico in 2002 It was almost non-existent. The water was about a 1 mile out and all you could see was dirt with a thin mirage of water far out in the center. There were trees and shrubs growing where the water once stood. The lake bottom was littered with haphazard barbed wire fences. Locals had even built a baseball diamond beside the boardwalk. (Which was odd since everyone knows that soccer is the only sport in Mexico) Circuses would set up their tents out on the dry lake bed when they came to town and a few entrepreneurs established a horse riding business down there too. The lake water was dirty and polluted. There were some fisherman who dared to bring home a “fresh” catch, but most people would never consider eating anything that came from it.

We have seen pictures of the lake in the 1950’s. The water was up so high that it covered the main street. On its edges, the water came rolling in waves. It was hard to believe that the lively lake of the 1950’s had nearly disappeared.

Every year during rainy season the runoff water from the mountains fills the basin and every year during dry season the hot sun evaporates noticeable amounts of water. Daily you can see the shoreline move.

Over the 15 years we have been here, we have seen the lake change tremendously. I’m not sure what the real cause of its rejuvenation was, there are lots of superstitions and tall tales circulating, but one year the water began to rise. It came in and covered the trees and bushes. It covered the lonely spillway wall that stood lonesome near the abandoned pier. Then it covered the baseball field and came right up to the edge where the shore should have been. With it, came the waves.

In 2012, just 10 years after moving here, the lake had returned. When it did, the PanAmerican Games, being held in Guadalajara, decided to hold their water events on it. The city brought in truckloads of sand and made a beautiful beach. They even commissioned a larger than life statue of Christ to be placed out near the spillway. Fisherman Jesus is casting his net in search of lost souls. A fascinating sculpture!

Today the lake is not as high as it was in 2012. It has receded just enough that you can walk on foot to see the statue of Jesus and some poor families have built shacks at the waters edge. As the rains continue I’m curious to see how the lake’s water level has changed.

For now the sandy beaches are littered and unkemp, but never the less, each weekend folks come in hoards to escape the hustle and bustle and smog of the city and enjoy strolling the boardwalk with their families. There are vendors selling homemade ice cream, nuts and candies. And there is an open air souvenir market in the park beside the boardwalk. You will find lovers strolling hand in hand, children riding tricycles and grandparents enjoying the afternoon with their children and grandchildren. In Mexico everyone works Monday thru Saturday around 3pm. But Sunday is family day and everyone stops their work to enjoy time together.

Dry or full of murky water through the years the lake provides a great place for families to enjoy time together.