Injustice

This is a word that I still ponder. Not that I ponder the meaning; I ponder the solution. Many people wring their hands and say how can a supposedly good and just God let injustice run rampant in the world? I don’t know. I usually come back to the idea that humans have free will, and God does not interfere with it. Therefore, humans do things that are wrong, things that cause injustice.

Can all my rights fix their wrongs? Probably not in this life. But how can I lessen the effect of injustice in the world?

Great question, and it’s one that I’m still trying to answer.

We discussed something very basic in our church’s Lenten Bible study the other night – the fact that one of the things that made Jesus’ walk on earth so incredible is that he respected everyone and cast no one aside.

I could not pour enough money into trying to fix world hunger, or all of my efforts to equip all students with necessary supplies, but if I have not love, what good are my efforts? What injustice does it really undo or assuage?

I think the biggest impact I can have on the world’s injustice is loving everyone and excluding no one.

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”

I Corinthians 13:1-3 NASB

 

March 7 | Confession

Confession

There are many definitions for “confession,” but the most prevailing one, at least in my mind, is that of telling God about my sins with a repentant spirit. It’s the part of prayer that I don’t exactly rush to get to, and sometimes I feel shame knowing what I have to confess. However, I think this might be the most important part of prayer, not because God just can’t wait to condemn us for our sins (nope! Romans 8:1), but because it really opens up our hearts to receive. Receive what? Grace, mercy, forgiveness, gifts, love… the list goes on and on.

For me, worship is the place where God breaks down my stubbornness and I’m able to confess and therefore really take hold of what He has for that particular moment. There’s something about lyrics to songs, or verses in hymns, or even a certain chord progression that cuts to my core.

And that’s how God made me to operate, and it’s beautiful. From a very young age I had an affinity for music. My mom tells me that at eight months I could rock to the beat (I think this could be an exaggeration…). At 7 I started taking piano lessons. I grew to be a pretty good pianist, picking up organ, guitar, and clarinet along the way.

At the center, I always prefer acoustic piano, guitar, or cello to anything else. And simple, biblically and theologically sound words. It gets to me every time. I’m encouraged every time. The wall around my heart falls every time, and I let Him in, my confessions falling at His feet.

 

Scripture readings for the week:

March 4 | Restored

Restored

I have no better explanation of “restored” than the result of work that Jesus did on the cross: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21 NASB). There is nothing on Earth that compares to this single act of love, compassion, and selflessness. When I think about it, turn it over in my head, envision what He went through, it wrecks me every time.

“Death in His Grave,” John Mark McMillan
Though the earth cried
Out for blood
Satisfied her hunger was
Billows calmed on raging seas
For the souls of men she craved
Sun and moon from balcony
Turned their head in disbelief
Their precious love would taste
The sting
Disfigured and disdained

On Friday a thief
On Sunday a king
Laid down in grief
But woke with the keys
Of hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The man Jesus Christ laid
Death in his grave

So three days in darkness slept
The morning sun
Of righteousness
But rose to shame
The throws of death
And overturn his rule
Now daughters
And the sons of men
Would pay not their dues again
The debt of blood
They owed was rent
When the day rolled anew

On Friday a thief
On Sunday a king
Laid down in grief
But woke holding keys
To hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The man Jesus Christ laid
Death in his grave

On Friday a thief
On Sunday a king
Laid down in grief
But woke with the keys
Of hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The man Jesus Christ laid
Death in his grave

He has cheated hell
And seated us above the fall
In desperate places he paid our
Wages one time once and for all

A challenge for every day of the week

I have to say… I quite content right now as a stay-at-home wife/nanny/tutor/seamstress/entrepreneur????/short-term missionary/volunteer “Sunday school” teacher/dog trainer… I think some of the best jobs are ones whose titles you really can’t pinpoint to a couple words.

Even with Husband Man being gone for almost three weeks (he comes home in two days, wheeeee!!) I’ve managed to keep myself quite busy. I’ve been working out 4+ days a week, hanging out with friends, sewing like a mofo, grocery shopping, cleaning….

The other day in my whirlwind of such exciting domestic activities, I got a call from a private school organization here in El Paso asking if I were interested in a part-time Spanish teaching position through the end of the school year, with a  possibility of full-time employment next year. Ehhhh. For once, I didn’t feel pressure to jump on a teaching opportunity. Besides, I’m already committed to the family I’m nannying for, committed to the trip to Honduras, and I love spending so much time with Aaron when he’s home.

Truth is, I am content. I’m truly excited for the next few months, as they’ll be super busy and challenging! I think for me, being challenged is a requirement for contentment. I feel challenged in my workouts, in training my dog (I got a Gentle Leader and it’s working well so far!), in creating something for someone when they send me a picture and say, Hey! Can you make something like this?

Just yesterday I made a messenger bag, and while I didn’t have a pattern for a smallish messenger bag, I had one for a purse with a long strap. So, with my super-awesome mathematical skills, I used proportions to make the pattern bigger and guess what? It totally worked! I may make one like this for myself….

I also finished my first legit quilt this week, with squares cut with my fancy-schmancy rotary cutter, batting, and actual quilting stitching on top! That took patience… and then I had to miter corners. Phew. However, I believe this is just one of many quilts I will make in my life.

Anyway. Today I had this idea of a shop I’d like to open someday before I die. Call it a bullet on my “Bucket List”, whatever… but a shop like the pottery shops where you can take your mom, grandma, BFF, whoever, and paint pottery. Except mine would be a sewing shop, where you can make a project in one sitting, or have your daughter’s ninth birthday party, or take a class, or buy a coffee (an in-house cafe would be essential!), or purchase supplies for a project… wouldn’t that be fun?? Maybe someday, after we are done traveling and serving around the world, and our children are grown and have given us beautiful grandbabies, and we’ve purchased that $590,000 property in the New Mexican valley, and opened our animal rescue….. and my husband would work next door in his used bookstore…. someday. 🙂

Committed…

…to a  life of following the Lord wherever He leads.

…to selling our possessions and going across continents and oceans.

…to giving generously of our finances in order to further His kingdom and show our obedience.

…to raising and educating our children to love people in a foreign land if we are so called.

…to adopting children from a foreign land if we are so called.

…to being content with what we have.

…to being thankful when we have what we need, even if it’s not in excess.

…to storing our treasures in heaven, because then our hearts will follow.

…to literally dying for the Truth.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I won’t say that we know for sure that we’ve received “the call”. What I will say is that we are willing to put aside the American dream-life that we’ve been planning for our family so that we can pick up and move halfway around the world. I won’t say that we know that we will be ministering to Muslims… but we are willing to take the Gospel there because there is a huge harvest waiting to be brought in. There are so many people in so many places who have little to no access for the Gospel.

I feel the way we are living life right now is in the center of God’s will. It’s seriously is the best place to be… physically, emotionally, spiritually, matrimonially. We are giving generously and sacrificially… we are content with what we’ve been blessed with… and we are working hard to pay off our debt.

We know that having some savings is important, but we’re not interested in building so much wealth that we don’t know what to do with it. What is the point of being a millionaire, really? Sure, your kids have a great inheritance and you can enjoy whatever material pleasures you want… but I only want to accumulate wealth so that I can bless others. I’m not saying this to sound “holier-than-thou” or whatever.. it’s just where my heart is right now.

Waiting to have children is really hard for me. I admit it. I go in stages of either being really happy for people or really jealous of people when I hear of their pregnancies. I’m in a continual stage of surrender. I know that our time will come someday, and I am committed to caring for whatever children God gives us, whether biological or adoptive. We’ve talked about having both… we’ve also talked about adopting all of our children. Really, I want to prepare my heart for whatever happens.

We’re committed to living dead. John 12:24: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains alone.” We must die to self, to selfish desires, fabricated plans, everything, in order to follow Christ fully.

Being a servant

I look at my recent posts and I’m surprised, and not surprised, that I’ve posted about once a week. What is that?! Usually I have a lot more to say.

But as it stands, I’ve been learning a big lesson on how to be a servant. I can thank my current job for that.

I know I’ve been called to my job right now for a reason. I know positive changes are being made. But the only way to gain real respect and trust is to be a servant. I try to compliment “my” teachers (I say “my”, since I’m kind of a boss… or something.) If someone shows frustration, I try to get to the bottom of it and fix the problem.

Pastor Lee’s sermons recently from The Sermon on the Mount really have me thinking about what it’s like to be a servant.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9

As a peacemaker, amateur as I may be, I’m supposed to be bringing God’s peace into situations, and living it out in my life. I should not sacrifice integrity for peacemaking, but I think I’m good at not doing that. I’m the kind of person where if I know I’ve wronged someone, or even think I might have wronged someone, I have to make it right otherwise I can’t sleep at night. (I didn’t always used to be like this! Ask my family…)

At work I’ve really been focusing on having a good attitude, not getting stressed over anything, even if it’s big, and being consistent. I think the last thing there is key to gaining respect… being consistent. People can then see my commitment, that I’m all in.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I was jumping up and down when I was offered this promotion. In fact, my heart sank. But I know I’m there for a reason, and slowly things are improving. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to use my God-given gift of teaching… I have been dealing quite a lot with educational issues. I’ve also been able to continue teaching some students. And I can guarantee you that when I have my own classroom again, I won’t be nervous to talk to parents!

On a different note, if you want your faith to be stretched, your soul to be refined, or you want to learn how to be a servant… get married. Aaron and I have been doing very well lately with communication. In the midst of things happening in marriages around us, we are thankful for what we have. Couple that with being apart for two years (five total in our relationship) and you have a strong bond! I get emotional with him, he gets impatient with me, but we work through it and talk it out. Communicating our fears and weaknesses is one of the hardest things to do, I think.

And I don’t mean that when you get married you become that person’s slave. You serve them with your attitude, your listening abilities, your willingness to work through things, your blatant refusal to be selfish. If you want to add in some dishes or laundry, you can do that too. 🙂 In a true relationship of mutual servanthood, it won’t go unnoticed.

It will flood into other areas of your life, too. Before you know it, you’re being a servant to your friends and family… by praying for them, listening to them, offering a shoulder to cry on or a sounding board for venting… it’s pretty cool how it all works out!

I just love the Beatitudes… (and I did not know this but Wikipedia taught me that “Beatitudes” comes from the Latin adjective beatus which means blissful, happy, or fortunate.)

Matthew 5

 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
4 Blessed are those who mourn, 
   for they will be comforted. 
5 Blessed are the meek, 
   for they will inherit the earth. 
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
   for they will be filled. 
7 Blessed are the merciful, 
   for they will be shown mercy. 
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, 
   for they will see God. 
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, 
   for they will be called children of God. 
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, 
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 

12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,

for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Friendships drenched in mercy.

I am still mulling over grace and mercy and how God lavishes it upon us. I’ve also been reading Refine Us whenever they post blogs, and I am just enthralled by the possibilities of grace and mercy in my marriage.

Really, I’m excited about it in relationships in general.

I tend to love the body of Christ when all is working well and people are being Jesus. I tend to get frustrated and feel hopeless when Christ-followers have fallen off the turnip truck. However, grace and mercy bring us back.

I’ve been thinking about my best friend, Amelia. We’re now 1500 miles apart. We’ve been friends for about three years, and really upped the status after Aaron left for the military. We’ve been through a lot, and grown a lot. We’ve argued (which I think is essential for any relationship, because otherwise, someone’s not speaking up) and we’ve resolved. We have a nearly five-year age gap, but there are things that keep us in common water, like knitting, and general awesomeness.

I’m stubborn. I don’t like to open up to people about my issues, especially girls. I, just like every other female on the face of the planet, has been “burned” in friendships before. So I was pretty guarded with Amelia. Then, probably about six to nine months ago, decided to just let it go and be vulnerable. She knows pretty much everything about me, even the ugly stuff. She was one of the first people I shared my [our] testimony with.

I was thinking about her because of this idea of mercy… that when a friend confides in you, you should be merciful and not judge. Lord knows there have been plenty of times when she could have said, “Well, I told you so,” or “Don’t you know your sin has consequences?” I’ve said these things before, and there have been times she could probably read them on my face. (My face tells no lies… I am the worst liar ever.)

I love that mercy makes me a better friend. Not only is Amelia benefiting from my loving best-friend arms (or ears here in Texas), but I am blessed by a friendship that goes beyond age, occupation, marital status, or geography. 

The Lord really does knit together our friendships, if we keep them close to Him. This is one I never want to let go. It keeps me on my toes. Although I now have my husband, who is by default the best friend, I have a close girl friend to keep me accountable to my vulnerability. We also have to be willing to hear a hard word. That’s one of the biggest reasons I don’t like to open up… I don’t want to be told that maybe I should take a look at myself in the mirror.

We say that we “just don’t want to get hurt” and that “opening up to someone is hard”. Yeah, it is. But can you imagine if Paul and Timothy never had that open and honest relationship? Part of the New Testament never would have been written! 

I pray that God will continue to nudge me towards mercy and steer me away from judgment.