Spend it All!

Every day comes with its own currency. Every New Year we celebrate new beginnings, but in reality, there are new beginnings for us every day:

Lamentations 3:22,23 NKJ Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

Every morning is a fresh start – because of God’s mercy I made it and woke up this morning! With this new day, this new year, comes a new currency to spend. How I live life today is the only real currency I have – I had better spend it wisely.

2 Corinthians 12:15 NKJ “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls…”

I’ve been in the mall before and seen items that caught my eye. If something is nice enough to make me stop, I’ll check the price tag and see if it is worth the money I have in my pocket. Most of the time it’s not unless it’s on the clearance rack. You know the clearance racks that are in the back of the store where the for sale items are? The rack of clothes that are on “final” clearance: 60% off of the 60% off! When I leave a store having only paid $6 for a pair of jeans that originally were $40 – I am satisfied. Never pay full price on anything!

But the currency of daily life never comes cheap or on clearance. We always pay full price for today’s items – for loving God, loving our families, and this world that is so lost! The great tragedy is ending a day with currency left in our pockets.

Did I love God as much as I could?

Did I love my family and friends without condition?

Did I love this world enough to spread the Father’s love to them?

This year, I want to spend! I want to spend every day’s currency fully and not save a penny of it. I want to spend until I can’t spend any more each and every day. Because today is all I have to spend and I am determined to spend it all!

Living in the Shadows

I have been looking forward to today! This year, 2014, has been a challenge. I remember on New Year’s Eve 2013, I was full of anticipation for the coming year – and now a full year later I look back with amazement simply because I made it through! My final Bible reading for the year brought me to the end of Proverbs 31:

Proverbs 31:25 NIV “She [a wife of noble character] is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”

For some months I have silently lived in dread of what “might happen” or what will happen “when the other shoe will drop.” That kind of unspoken fear wound me up in knots. The past few days, however, God has been untying the knots and giving me the assurance that even if the other shoe drops He can fill my mouth with laughter. Not only if/when something happens but in the face of the unknown – what will happen in 2015 – He can make me laugh.

It’s not logical, it doesn’t fit into the “norm” to laugh at uncertainty – but I had to ask myself, “What’s the alternative? Living in dread and fear?”

Fear isn’t a pleasant feeling and when you combine that with dread, a gloomy shadow is cast over everything you do. I’m tired of living in the shadows – I think it’s time to laugh.

Happy New Year!

End of year musing

My Bible reading brought me to Proverbs 31 today which extensively covers “the Proverbs 31 woman.”. I’m always very challenged when I read these verses. Most of the time when reading them, I’ll think “Wow, whoever that lady was…she was amazing.”

At our wedding, just before I walked up the aisle, my husband read Proverbs 31:10-31. I thought at the time, “What a declaration of faith!” At that time of my life I felt far from the reality of those verses and thought they were more of a poem, an aspiration, a far-off hope that was virtually unattainable.

Some of the challenging phrases of that passage that I read once again this morning were:

– She selects wool and flax…

– She is like merchant ships…

– She gets up while it is still night…

– She considers a field and buys it…

The majority of this list (and it is long, these are just a few points) centers around this woman’s capacity to take care of her family and plan for the future. As a young bride I was hoping to be the one taken care of but God had higher hopes for me than I had for myself!

This passage challenged me fresh and new today. It dawned on me that I actually could be like this woman who “considers a field and buys it” and from the proceeds she plants a vineyard.

Society says what is mine is mine and not ours. God says, what’s mine is used for us – and I love that. God’s idea of success excels by far my ideas and with Him I’m able to do much more than I could do by myself.

This coming year, for the first time ever, I think I might just “consider a field and buy it” and from the proceeds of that field I might just plant a vineyard. Who knows?

Tomorrow is my last reading for the year and the end of the Proverbs 31 list waits for me – I’m excited for what He may say through it to me!

 

Great Joy and Great Sorrow

It’s been a year. A year full of activity. It was the first full year we pastored here at TCI in Lake Worth, a year of transition and change for this great church. A year of personal tragedy as my younger brother passed away suddenly. A year of challenge when my husband was hospitalized for five days. A year of love when our daughter got married. A year ending with great joy at the birth of our first grandson.

The emotional energy I spent this year has left me somewhat drained. The good, the bad, and the ugly have taken their toll and I find myself in need of a freshening up spiritually.

My brother’s death is never far from my mind as it was also a year of firsts without him. Our daughter got married just six weeks after he passed; such happiness on the heels of such sorrow.

I think of my mother who passed away in 2009, wishing she would’ve seen the wedding, been with us at the hospital when our grandson was born.

The brevity of life, it’s sorrows and joys, seems to have been the theme for this year. The lesson I’ve learned is to soak in all the joy. Retain it. Savor it. In a moment all we may have are memories.

So come 2015! I’m ready for a year of refreshing. I’m ready for a year of renewal. I’m ready to embrace the joy and bear any sorrow.

Help us to be moved with what moves God’s heart

I’ve spent much of this week doing admin and lessons for the children’s work here. I have felt inundated and overwhelmed with paperwork – but the reports are now done for a while and all accounts balanced and the children are being fed. I slept better when all those reports were done.

During the latter part of this year, I feel pressed to work harder than ever with those who teach the children. Until now, I have had to concentrate on everything from the cooking to the security concerns at the site. While what we have done with the teaching of the children has been good, it is time to “up the ante,” as it were, and work on our lessons and curriculum that we’re teaching the children.

Because of the high rate of illiteracy that we have among our volunteers, this presents us with a special challenge. I have initiated an additional meeting with those who voluntarily teach the children and use the time to go over the lessons with them personally. I’ve found that the ladies are learning as much as the children are! Little things that we from the West wouldn’t even think twice about (for example talking directly to the children and asking them questions about the lessons we teach) are new concepts here. I feel like a salmon swimming upstream; but like those amazing fish, I am pretty determined to work til we see some good results.

We are using a translator to not only translate from the front as we teach, but also to translate our written lessons into Chewa (the local language). In so doing, we will be able to build a curriculum, slowly but surely, that will work with and for our people.

In addition to the special emphasis that we’re placing on teaching the kids, we are going to receive a team from Links International from the 18th to the 20th of August who will teach our ladies on community health and child education. They will be teaching the ladies each afternoon during the days they are here.

My greatest challenge now is not so much the actual work of the cooking and feeding, but the growth of the teaching team. Please pray that God brings literate people to sow into the lives of the children!

At the same time, I feel pressed to trust the Lord for even more. Now that this initial site is operating well, I am stirred to trust God for us to begin feeding more. There is so much need – could we not feed 10,000 in this city? Could we not touch more kids?

The need is not just financial in order to get that done – it’s logistical. But the same way that God has helped us feed this initial 800, He can give us what we need to feed the next 800!

I look at the children here and think my children could have been born into this. How I would’ve appreciated someone coming to help! I look at our little Andreya (D for short!) and think how God plucked her out of similar circumstances and gave her precious life to us to raise and love. Oh that we could adopt more than 1 or 2 or 3 – that we had the energy and wherewithall to help them all.

God help us to be moved by what moves Him.