Autumn Memories

I received a card in the mail yesterday from a friend in Ohio. When I opened it I got the sweetest surprise. Two Autumn leaves, one brown and one red, fell out. I just smiled at her insightfulness. I have always missed Tennessee Autumn! The brilliant colors are forever etched in my memory. I imagined the beautiful red, orange, yellow and brown leaves of the Smokey Mountains. Oh how I long to behold their beauty.

Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. I remember the crisp mornings, bonfires and roasted marshmallows, picnics by the river with roasted hotdogs, friends and laughter, hay rides, scare crows and carved pumpkins, bobbing for apples, pumpkin pies, & hot cocoa. Nostalgic memories float through my mind & for a moment I allow them.

And then I remember the words of Jesus “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” It has been many years since I have enjoyed a Tennessee Autumn. And although I have fond memories, I have no regrets. Walking with Jesus has by far been the best “season” of my life.

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Roadside Breakfast

Roadside Breakfast

While driving down the Mexican highway I noticed a car pulled over to the side of the road. A few feet from the car was a small billow of smoke rising up into the sky. As we passed I saw an elderly man and woman sitting on makeshift stools beside a small campfire preparing their morning meal. (I smile and think to myself how much I enjoy living here.)

Over the last week I have thought many times about this scene. One so common in Mexico and absolutely unheard of in America. I can’t even count the times I’ve seen brick layers on their lunch break make a small fire to warm their lunch or in the winter months to warm their hands.

At first this sight was strange and unusual to me. But not now. It is a friendly reminder of the warm culture. People who are not in a hurry. People who would rather build a fire and eat a piece of roasted chicken or enjoy the warmth of the fire while heating up a pot of beans and some tortillas than drive through a fast food window. People who would eagerly share half their meal with you or me if we would take the time to visit while they were eating.

As I reminisce, I realize the admiration I have for this culture where: people are more important than things, and time is not money, rather something you fill. And although I enjoy living here immensely, I can’t fathom packing a lunch for our 15 hour road trip which would require such time consuming preparation…..

I am intrigued by their ways and continue thinking of that couple, sitting on the road side and I can’t help but wonder what they were heating over the fire that day.

Nit Picking

Lice
Just the thought of them not only makes you cringe but quite possible makes your scalp itch too.

As a Special Education teacher, I was always relieved that my duties did not include “lice check”.

As a young missionary I was horrified as other missionaries talked nonchalantly about having had them.

As a Mom, I cried when my nine month old baby contracted them. And then cried again over the next 2 years when she got them several more times.

Honestly I can say that I don’t like lice. (I mean who does?)

But after 11 years on the mission field I was not surprised when I came home to fine the babysitter matter of factly picking nits and lice out of one of the girls hair. Seems living here, lice is just one of the many nuances that one learns to deal with.

The Apostle Paul says in Philippians ” I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

And I too am learning his secret of being content in any & every circumstance. So instead of crying I just knelt down & joined in the nit picking and then went find the bottle of lice shampoo that we always keep in the bathroom cabinet.

Travel Bug

I’ve always had a travel bug. I like to fly & take road trips. I guess it started when I was young, traveling around the United States with my Mom. Seeing the White House, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, visiting the Smithsonian, the Statue of Liberty, the St. Louis Arch, Mt. Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, Devil’s Tower, Old Faithful, the Grand Teton Mountains, the Petrified Forest and the San Fransisco Bridge.

By the age of 10 I had traveled coast to coast and enjoyed the beaches of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico. I remember that trip vividly, camping at night, driving during the day from one town to another. It was a magical experience for a little girl.

When I turned 18 I got the chance to experience Europe, the Eiffel Tower and the White Cliffs of Dover. I bought a unique watch in Switzerland, ate spaghetti in Italy, and walked along the pebble beaches of the Mediterranean Sea, in France.

At 24, I walked through the Parthenon in Athens, Greece & then witnessed the amazing blue sky and white buildings on the island of Santorini. I walked the streets of Ephesus and imagined what it was like in the Apostle Paul’s day.

Later that year I went as a missionary to Hong Kong. I lived in the mountains across from the Temple of 10,000 Buddhas. I walked knee deep in the rain to teach English. Later I stood on the border of China with a knot in my stomach as I watched the clock countdown marking Hong Kong’s return to Communist rule.

At 28 I climbed the pyramid ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and two years later moved the the mountains of Jalisco near Lake Chapala, the largest natural lake in Mexico, as a full time missionary.

At 40, I traveled south and met people from all over Central and South America. This trip was special because it was the first time I have traveled without the need of a translator. When traveling in Europe, or even Hong Kong, the common language was always English, but not on this trip….this time I could communicate in Spanish! (And-Oh what doors this new skill opened!)

And although I say I have a travel bug…..(which I do), that is NOT what inspires my travels. Instead it is this deep desire to see the Great Comission fulfilled. So when I am asked “Why go?” I remember Jesus’ command in the book of Mark, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 15:16) Keeping that command before me, my only reasonable response is to GO.

Humility

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I ran across this photo this week from our trip to Honduras and a few days later I stumbled across this journal entry also written while in Honduras. So it seemed appropriate that this week I would share this with you………..

As I study the History of the Christian Church I am humbled and overwhelmed with my insignificance. Who am I that YOU would call me to Your great work & who am I, so small that I could actually make a difference for Your kingdom?

We sat, surrounded by 3 pastors, a handful of church servants and Theadosa. Theadosa a spunky woman with a twinkle in her eye, not only my sister in Christ, but we also share the same birthday, which seemed to speak of God’s providence to us both.

Ten years ago she began the small feeding program in San Juan. She named it “God will provide”, in faith that if she began this work, God would provided for the children in her village. We listened to how the program began & how God has sustained it and yet we heard the desperation in her voice as she struggles to help her people. We see the hope in her eyes that God has brought us here to help.

And all I can think is, Who am I? Who am I God, that you would bring me here? Who am I, that I could help make a difference in their lives? Who am I, but a breath? Here today and tomorrow gone.
And yet Here Am I! Here I am…ready and willing to be a vessel for the love of God and the provision of God to reach this place, these people.

Oh the needs- oh the poverty- & yet they possess something that we Americans are looking for.
Peace, Joy and Happiness resides within them and bubbles up into a quick smile and a hearty laugh.
Oh how I have so much to learn from these precious people!
Thank you God for bringing me here!
I am continually humbled that You call me Yours & that You have purposed to use me for Your Glory.
May You Jesus be lifted up in all that I do…in all that I am!
This is my hope! This is my desire! That every moment of my life will be used to glorify You!

The Master’s Feet

Do not assume that because we choose not to live in crisis, that our problems are less than yours, our needs smaller, our troubles non-existent, our calm demeanor is only because our burden is so much more than we can bear, that we have already laid it down at The Master’s Feet.
KD