Removing the Mask

I often wonder if the words I write would be sometimes better left unsaid. It is difficult to pull back the curtain of my mind and expose vulnerable places of my personsonality; who I am, what I think, my dislikes and struggles. It is especially difficult when those thoughts may not fit who you think I am or should be. (I was thinking of my confession last week of not liking to snuggle up with dirty children.) It is not always easy to be transparent with you. Sometimes I must force myself to actually post what I write. But I do it both for me and for you. 
For me, it allows me the opportunity to be real, to show that God often stretches us and asks us to do things that don’t always come easy. Sharing is a good exercise in humility. For you, my writing serves to prove that, although a missionary, I am human like you, no Super Woman here, just a woman, following God, with struggles and doubts and days filled with much of the same things as yours. So sharing keeps both of us from thinking to highly of me, and that is a good thing. 
Sometimes I feel the need to say things because I’ve seen a number of pastors and missionaries that present a very staunch pious facade for the outside world to see, when in fact they are as ordinary as the next person; people with similar struggles, difficulties, and weaknesses. It is good that you know we are human. 
As I write, my prayer is that you are drawn closer to Jesus. If you see Him, or are inspired to think about Him or seek Him in some way, then I am thankful for the opportunity to give you a glimpse behind the mask.
With Psalms 19:14 as my mantra, I pray that my words and thoughts would bring God glory. In the end, that is what really counts. 
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer.”

Psalms 19:14

Clean Freak

I’ve worked with children the better part of my life, but I never have liked to touch dirty kids. Green snot running down their face mixed with food and dirt. Brown sticky hands from the lollipop they ate a couple hours ago.
I used to carry a giant container of wet wipes and some hand sanitizer with me wherever I went, just to knock down the dirt a little before lovin’ on ‘um. 
Call me crazy, but I have never liked dirt. 
I have a friend who has no trouble scooping up the little rascals, hugging and kissing them. It’s like she can’t see the layer of dirt nor the lice crawling on their heads. But not me. I cringe and wrinkle up my nose. I guess God tried to help me get over that, because my youngest daughter had allergies really bad when she was little. Before she started taking allergy shots, she had green snot running down her face for the better part of 5 years. I’m not saying I don’t love kids, nor love on them. All Im saying is that I just feel the need to clean them up a little bit before I’m ready to snuggle. 
But God is working on me. Recently my daughters were telling a story about one of our mission trips to Honduras. They were talking about me holding all the little street orphans and them being covered in dirt and snot and how I didn’t even notice. So I guess I have gotten a little better over the years. 
One thing for sure, It’s a good thing God doesn’t wait for us to get cleaned up before coming to Him! He loves us and loves on us just the way we are. 
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Happy Birthday Me

I turn 46 this week. Forty-six! It’s a number that I haven’t given much thought. I mean, you think about turning the BIG numbers like 40 and 50. But 46 is just one of those middle numbers as the decades march by. Except when you are staring it eye to eye, and then 46 seems a little closer to 50 than 45 does. Even so, I’ve never been one of those women too embarrassed to tell her age. By God’s grace, I am a year older, and I am thankful for it! 
Age is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact the bible is full of promises of long life for those who walk in God’s ways. Not just long life, but God promises fruitful, abundant life. So if life is God’s gift, why not thank Him and tell of His goodness from the rooftops. 

“The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. – Psalm 92:12-15

Are you willing to sacrifice?

How easy it is to get caught up in claiming our rights. Unfortunately we never realize that things we often claim as rights, are nothing more than gifts. Gifts graciously bestowed upon us by a loving God.
The Apostle Paul said that whatever gain he had, he counted it as loss, compared to knowing Christ. He willingly gave up everything inorder to know Christ and follow Him in obedience.
Are we as determined as the Apostle Paul? Are we willing to give up anything in order to really know Christ? …Comfort, Money, Convenience, Time, Friendships… So often we cling tightly to these gifts, claiming them as our right, unwilling to release them. When God desires that nothing would impede us from our knowledge of Him.
Is there something that is standing between you and your knowledge of Christ? Are you willing to count it as loss, to sacrifice it in order to know Christ more?

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. – Philippians 3:7-11

The Refiner’s Fire: Beauty from Ashes

Lately I’ve been experiencing a different kind of Refiner’s Fire. Its the sound of a beating drum and it is exhausting. For five days now I have felt as if my head is submerged in water. My ears are stopped up and nothing I do makes them better. I am tired of hearing the echoing of my rhythmic heart pounding in my left ear. Yet I am profoundly grateful that my heart is beating and my ears can hear, even if the sounds from without are muffled and the sounds from within are magnified.
There is a dull pain that makes a cross shape, on my forehead, shooting in my eyes and down my nose. I know it will be a while before this pain subsides, but the ache is persistent and also wearing on me. My teeth hurt, the top ones, nearest the surgery. Oh how I desire to feel better.
I am recovering from sinus surgery and I don’t heal quickly. This is the part of recovery that is most taxing, remaining patient when my mind is ready to get up and go, but my body is healing at a turtles pace. I can’t escape the pain and I so want to feel better. It’s not particularly an excruciating pain, just dull and persistent.
Why I heal so slowly, I do not know. Perhaps to teach me patience. Perhaps to remind me that I am not in control of everything or that the world doesn’t revolve on my time table. Perhaps it’s to help me be more sympathetic to those who are sick, frustrated or hurting. I’m not sure the reason, but I do know that this is just part of it. We have our good moments and our bad. Those moments which are enjoyable and those we would rather not experience all make up a part of this thing called life. And the Apostle Paul reminds us in the book of Romans, “…we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) And to those who mourn, we are reminded in Isaiah that God can make beauty from the ashes of our difficult circumstances. (Isaiah 61:3)
What fire are you experiencing that you need to trust God with today?

The Refiner’s Fire: Being Changed from the Inside Out. 

“In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.” – Psalm 18:6

After we lost our baby girl I must have spent over a year reading the same passage of scripture. (Psalm 18) Through agony, in prayer, God shone His truth on different verses and I was changed through the insight He gave me. It was a long painstaking process.
Through suffering I realized that difficulty is not meant to conquer us, instead it can serve to draw us closer to God and to make us stronger. When we walk through The Refiner’s Fire, if we truly seek God and put Him first, something profound happens. As a result of experiencing intense pain and emotion and then taking those hurts to God, He can help you reevaluate life, thus determining what is truly important. During dark seasons, God can help change our perspective.
As you walk through The Refiner’s Fire allow God to remold you. Don’t be easily persuaded to respond as you always have. Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Cling with all your might to God and allow Him to burn up all that is not of Him. As He removes the dross (Proverbs 25:4) from your lives, He will purify you and give you the insight of how to rebuild family, life, marriage.
Will you be changed from the inside out?