Friday, July 26, 2013

Purity and Peace

"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us."- 1 John 1:8 "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you do not fall!"- 1 Corinthians 10:12 These are the verses that came to mind when reading Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest today. He encourages us to examine our hearts and let Jesus convict us of our sin. How is this encouraging? Because I know that even with the darkest sin that may lurk in my heart, Christ cleanses me and "it is well with my soul". Here is what he says... "Matthew 15:19, 'Out of the heart proceed...' We begin by trusting our ignorance and calling it innocence, by trusting our innocence and calling it purity; and when we hear these rugged statements of Our Lord's, we shrink and say- But I have never felt any of those awful things in my heart. We resent what Jesus Christ reveals. Either Jesus Christ is the supreme Authority on the human heart, or He is not worth paying any attention to. Am I prepared to trust His penetration, or do I prefer to trust my innocent ignorance?... I am likely to come to a place where I find with a shuddering awakening that what Jesus Christ said is true, and I shall be appalled at the possibility of evil and wrong in me....when I am undressed before God, I find that Jesus Christ is right in His diagnosis. The only thing that safeguards is the Redemption of Jesus Christ. If I will hand myself over to Him, I need never experience the terrible possibilities that are in my heart. Purity is too deep down for me to get to naturally: but when the Holy Spirit comes in, He brings into the center of my personal life the very Spirit that was manifested in the life of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, which is unsullied purity."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Surprising Years

Tomorrow I turn 29. Happy birthday to me! As I reflect on the past 9 years of my life, I am reminded of the many..."surprises". My first surprise was going from a single, i-don't-want-to-get-married-or-have-kids, there are plans for my life and i know exactly what they are to being married, and quickly changing some of my career "plans". I have been surprised by blessings, when along came two beautiful babies that - I was surprised to discover- I love so much I couldn't imagine life without them! I was surprised again by God when my choice of missionary service to Him changed to three different continents- definitely not by my choice, or in my book of "plans" for my life. So far - I have moved 4 times, finished a 4 year college degree, finished a 2 year Bible training program, watched my husband go through 2 post-graduate strenuous degrees (which took 6 years),and am now learning a new language and new culture, living in a new continent. I have done things I said I would NEVER do....such as homeschool my kids! I have been surprised by trials: learning that I am not a healthily robust creature, I have actual physical weaknesses that limit what I can do, such as fibromyalgia! The biggest surprise though has not been an accomplishment, a failure, or a change of plans. No, the biggest surprise has been just how little I actually know, how little I am in control, and how much my God knows, and how much He is in control. The biggest surprise is that He could take a Southern, proud, independent, feisty girl like me (flawed in so many ways) and show me just how much I desperately need Him, moment by moment. Without Him, I would be a real mess. With Him, I am still a mess, but a sanctified one! I love what the Lord has done in my life these past 9 years, and I look forward with anticipation to what my last year as a 20-something holds.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Bowl of Butter

In view of what is going on here in Argentina these past few days, this post seems rather silly. I wrote it before all this happened. So as you read this bit of humor, please keep the more serious situation at hand in your prayers. Please pray for the people in La Plata who have lost homes, possessions, electricity, food, etc. Pray for Christians to rally together to show the Gospel-love of our Savior. And now, a short story. Last night I told my sweet six year-old daughter that tomorrow, we would have Tea together. “Tea at 5, Mommy?!” “Yes Mia, Tea at 5:00!” It’s a tradition here, everyone has “tea” in the afternoon around 5:00…tea is usually a cup of coffee (or tea) and a sweet bread, like a facture- a sweet croissant with a jelly on top. Transitioning to another culture hasn’t been the easiest thing in the world for my two children, and Joe and I thought this would be a good thing for us to do together. So this morning I woke up to an excited Mia, already eagerly dressed in her tea-clothes. The sky was grey all morning, I waited for what was coming. Yup…right around lunch time it started to rain. And rain. And rain. And rain. Staying true to my word, and avoiding breaking my daughter’s heart, we bundled up for going to Tea. Layers of sweaters and scarves on our heads, we headed bravely out into the cold, very wet, rain to walk to the café together. It would have been easier if we had an umbrella- of course when you are looking for one thing in particular, it is very hard to find! We arrived to the café not too badly soaked, and sat down. I felt rather proud and independent, taking my daughter to tea in a country I have lived in barely three weeks, where I do not speak the language, all by myself! I opened the menu and browsed the front page that listed coffees and pastries. I ordered Te con Leche for Mia, and a café for myself. Feeling generous, I decided to order us a sweetbread treat as well. Listed right beneath the facture and medialuna options (sweet croissants) was what looked like a variety option. I called the waitress over and ordered the Manteca and Dulche de Leche….expecting two different cookies/breads to arrive with our hot beverages. Five minutes later she comes out with a tray and sets down on our table tea, coffee, and a bowl of butter. What?! Yes, a bowl of butter. An entire half stick of butter! (Mental note Manteca = Butter.) And, accompanying the bowl of butter, was a bowl of dulche de leche sauce. Mia and I burst out laughing, “Look Mia, Mommy ordered us some butter to go with our tea!” Another reason why language school is an important necessity- so I can take my daughter to tea, and order something more useful than a bowl of butter! At least now, I will never forget what Manteca means in Spanish. Please pray for us as we begin the process of language school- pray that God would give our minds sharpness and understanding, quick learning, and a good nanny for our kids.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Nearer my God to Thee

One block down the street from our quaint little house is a Catholic Church. As the bells ring out on Sundays, our streets become full of people coming to worship- on foot, bike, motorcycles (motors), and cars. With my windows open, I can hear the reverent worship of the choir, what sounds to me like, "Nearer my God to Thee". When I think upon it, this seems ironic to me since the rules and additions to the Gospel burden one down and draws one further from intimacy with the Father. I was reading in Ephesians today and was reminded that "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast." This weekend we have been hosting a sweet couple from our home church, and we took them to see La Plata and Buenos Aires. In La Plata is a gorgeous Catholic Cathedral which we got to visit yesterday. Inside was awe-inspiring, with the huge domed ceilings, paintings, stain-glassed windows, and statues of saints lining the walls. Last night though, Mia was troubled. "Mommy, why did we have to go inside that place with all those statues that the people pray to like gods? It's so silly and sad. Why do they pray to Mary like she is God?" Her little spirit was troubled at the sight that we just thought was beautiful. She saw past the beauty to the heart of the matter. "Well Mia, that is one of the reasons we are here. To tell these people that salvation is through faith alone, that what Jesus did was enough!" When inspected more closely, the awe-inspiring, God-focused beauty that sometimes surrounds you is no more than a man-centered theology of "I can do it". What beautiful things are in your life that are really covering up a deeper, "Look what I can do; I must try harder" mentality?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Something Spanish...

It has officially been one week since we touched ground in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As I logged in to write this post, the header on my page was in Spanish (actually, Castallano) I could not read it! Joe is sitting next to me watching a really important cultural event- soccer, or, excuse me- football. Of course, it too is in Castallano. Today I walked to the main street of our little town, City Bell, and bought some pintura (paint) at the hardware store to paint our coffee table. I forgot to tell them I didn't want something about two hours later I walked back to buy paint-thinner. On the way home I stopped at one of the many local bakery's and bought fresh rolls for our dinner tonight. Joe thought they were amazing. Today was a big day for us. We spent the whole day by ourselves as a family, with no guide, translator, etc., and made it! We walked to a remis station where we got a ride to Walmart, bought a bunch of stuff, and got another remis home! And all that without getting lost or shedding a tear. Big day! Some things I have learned in our short week here so far- a jug on top of a car means it is For Sale; everybody disappears everyday at siesta time, and all the stores close as well; restaurants don't open for dinner until at least 8pm; mosquitoes thrive here, even in winter; our neighbor has dogs, and they like to bark...a lot; green fuzzy Caterpillars are poisonous, don't touch, they sting; people are very friendly and everything is buy paint at the hardware store you cannot simply walk in and pick it out and buy it. First you take a number, then you carry on a conversation with the store associate who comes to help you, then you let them get everything for you. You always say hello and goodbye, "hola" and "chau". And anyone you know you greet with a kiss. Tomorrow is a very special day, as we have been invited over for our first ever Argentine Asado. We are very excited! We are also excited to learn Castallano so we can actually understand what our sweet neighbor is saying to us, and vice versa! Ministry is really hard when you cannot converse with people, which is why we are so pumped to learn the language and culture of the people here. It is comforting to know that God knows no linguistic or cultural bounds. He knows ALL our hearts and loves us all the same- He is not biased. Praise the Lord! Pictures coming soon...