Friday, November 8, 2013

"But unless we know the true character of God and realize the He's only good all the time, we, too, find ourselves grumbling and complaining.  It is absolutely essential to always remember that even when we don't get what we want or our circumstances seem to be difficult, God's intention is still good.  He will work something good in us through the difficulty we're facing if we will continue to view Him correctly and put our trust in Him."
-Joyce Meyer, God is Not Mad at You
When I read this the other morning I stopped still to hear the vibrations of the "true" bell that had just rung in me.  He is ONLY good, ALL the time.  

"Anxiety is a form of fear," said our professor this week. (Dr. Melvin Hanna)
What am I so afraid of, so often, then?
As I hear of a difficult situation -- impossible, actually, with no solution -- for loved ones far away...      well, OF COURSE I'm anxious!
But Joyce suggests that I need not worry, or even grumble just a little bit.

"...perfect love drives out fear... The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (I John 4:18)
So if I'm afraid... it means there's something missing... there is an incompletion or an imperfection of the level of love that I experience.  Only God's love is perfect and complete.  And He is both ALL- POWERFUL and ALL-LOVING.
So, where's the breakdown?
Why the anxiety?

Do I fear the bad decisions and self-destructive attitudes and behavior of my loved one?
Or do I fear that we've ruined our chances to make a difference in her life?  That it was all up to us and we couldn't handle it, and now there's no fixing it.
I fear that God has somehow dropped the ball and we are left alone to put the shattered pieces together, to get a life back on a track it seemingly was never on to begin with.

Hold the phone!
Making all things new -- even stony hearts and burnt bridges -- is strictly in God's realm of business.
I think I've found my problem.  
I've been trying to BE God.

Not so good, I know... but NOT doing that implies I must choose to perfectly trust the only perfect lover in the universe.  He specializes in "lost causes."

"And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezequiel 11:19 and 36:26)

Forgive me, God, for my unbelief in your character -- good and powerful -- and for my pride, thinking I need to do your job for you.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How were you created to live?

Some similar thoughts or encouragements have come from different sources lately:

Live this time to the fullest -- live it intensely.
Everything else (you're waiting for) will come later.

We are called to show God's image wherever we are.
We are called to be Christ's ambassadors in the place and time we live in.

Today is today.
Don't be weighted down by the past, nor burdened by the future; live today.

What is the chief aim of man?  To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

I was created to live JOYFULLY.

I can choose rest, relaxation, and enjoyment; not just, only, and always responsibilities.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

the Good News for your psyche

Something we learned, that impacted me deeply is the essence of THE LIE  (that everyone believes to some degree) is this:

1. I am not good enough/I am defective (or some other "I am" message that is contrary to what God says about me)
2. Therefore, God messed up when he made me.  Thus, he is not really good, not trustworthy, etc.
3. I can be fixed (or, I can fix myself) apart from God.

Can you identify some form of this lie in yourself?  Our beliefs are the basis for our actions, which form habits, which make up part of our character.  So if my beliefs (about myself, about God, about how to be "fixed") aren't true, my life will be built on lies... and these lies ultimately lead to death and total separation from God.  The stakes are high.
We have to start from the foundation -- changing the lies for truths.  Truths like:  I AM good enough.  God didn't mess up, even though I'm not perfect.  I don't have to keep striving to be accepted and loved, because I already am... and anyways, I would never reach that goal of perfection, would never be "fixed."

Therapy and the Gospel -- an excerpt
This is from the IVCF blog... I really like the topic since we're taking a counseling school with YWAM.  You can read the full article here:

"In his book, Tattoos on the Heart, Jesuit priest Gregory Boyle tells the story of a gangbanger named Willy who, when forced to sit in a car in stillness, discovers the breathtaking grace of the Good-Enough News:
I look at Willy and say, “You prayed, didn’t you?”
He doesn’t look at me. He’s still and quiet. “Yeah, I did.”
I start the car.
“Well, what did God say to you?” I ask him.
“Well, first He said, ‘Shut up and listen.’”
“So what d’ya do?”
“Come on, G,” he says, “What am I sposed ta do? I shut up and listened.”
I begin to drive him home to the barrio. I’ve never seen Willy like this. He’s quiet and humble—no need to convince me of anything or talk me out of something else.
“So, son, tell me something,” I ask. “How do you see God?”
“God?” he says, “That’s my dog right there.”
“And God?” I ask, “How does God see you?”
Willy doesn’t answer at first. So I turn and watch as he rests his head on the recliner, staring at the ceiling of my car. A tear falls down his cheek. Heart full, eyes overflowing. “God . . . thinks . . . I’m . . . firme.
To the homies, firme means, “could not be one bit better.”
Not only does God think we’re firme, it is God’s joy to have us marinate in that.
A therapy room is the place we bring all of our pretending and sadness and fear and frustration. And, ultimately, it’s the place we bring our not-good-enough selves. It’s the place we learn to be still again, so we can hear the voice calling us “Beloved.” So we can touch our guts and the beauty there and know we are blessedly good enough.
So we can marinate in it."  By Kelly Flanagan

Monday, October 14, 2013

Southward Swans

I saw a pair of swans flying southwest, near sunset.

To where do two wild swans fly?
Maybe they're heading south for the oncoming Chilean summer,
South to the lakes district
South to where the land stops, and becomes rivers interspersed with pieces of soil,
with chunks of mountain that humbled themselves to become islands, all
To earn the name of fjords.  South,
To where fewer of humanity have arrived
to settle, Building building building, constantly building
Even here in little Pichilemu, the building starts at 8 AM and is still
going on when I return at six

Two wild swans can become six
in the Lakes District
in the River Region
in Patagonia, where the colors bite like the cold;
on down to Tierra del Fuego, to Ushuaia, Argentina.
Overlooking the Antarctic, flying over
the fearsome Strait of Magellan, where
Two oceans meet
and become One.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Enjoying my mistakes??

My ankles are swollen and we couldn't travel to visit our friends today.

My husband can't be on a joint bank account with me because he's not a U.S. citizen or resident, and therefore doesn't have a social security number.

I got a letter from the U.S. Department of State saying that the authenticated, apostilled copy of my marriage certificate isn't valid to process my new passport with my name change.  We leave for Chile in 2 weeks and I currently don't have a passport.  Changing our tickets would cost $600.  Today is Saturday and no one is working at the passport agency, to answer my call.  The passport agency is 6 hours away.

I do not respond full of grace when my carefully crafted plans fall through.
I do not like it.  I do not like to accept it.  There MUST be a loophole for me.  I MUST be able to travel and do all that we've planned, without exception.

Just over a week ago, we missed our flight out of DFW.  "How, Emily?" you may ask.  "Were you on a tight schedule with a connecting flight?  Did you have some airline or airport-caused problems checking in?"
No.  We were eating when we should have been boarding, and arrived too late to the gate.  So we watched our plane take off without us.

There was nothing I could do.  I couldn't reason with the lady to get the airline to make an exception for us and not finishing closing the aircraft so that we could board.  All I could do was ask what our options were and then cry, frustrated, while my uber-calm husband laughed at my overreaction.

The thing is, just one week before missing the flight, I had a good reminder of my competitive personality and my lie that "everything is going to work out perfectly for me, always." As I prepared for, and then taught, on the "Competitive Personality Profile" for a seminar at a church in Tyler, TX, I remembered so many instances in which I always assumed that I would win.  I couldn't make a B in highschool civics.  I couldn't turn in a math worksheet incomplete in elementary school, so I cheated (going against my personal no-cheating policy).  Even when my first boyfriend relationship in college wasn't working out, I couldn't allow myself to "walk out on this," because if I started it, I'm gonna finish it.  Failure is not an option.  Imperfection = Failure.  [robot voice: Must Acheive. Perfection or Death. Do Not Display Weakness.]

Since I studied, and even taught, now God took advantage of a situation (missing a plane) as a learning moment.  Thanks, Dad.  "What will my daughter, Emily, do and think now?  Can she put into practice what she's been preaching?"

It took a while.  I had to go cry and pray in a bathroom stall, but then it started getting better.
I had to DECIDE to forgive myself for the dozen tiny decisions that led to missing our flight, and I had to recognize that I was not solely responsible for this: both of us had agreed upon what we would do (go find food before we boarded).  I also had to DECLARE my trust in God, even though things got out of my hands... I had to GIVE UP CONTROL, realizing that I'm not infallible, and learning to ENJOY MY MISTAKES (which still blows my mind).

At least I can tell the story now without feeling embarrassed.

(By the way, we got to NC 5 hours later than planned, but somehow didn't have to pay any fee, and they even gave us meal vouchers!  A Father's reward for his trusting children, wanting to grow?)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

year of changes

As we keep up with Formando Vidas in Colombia, I ask myself if this year in particular is one of changes for we Kiwi Housers (and now, I'm a former Kiwi), or if it's always like this, and I just notice it because of the distance.

I left the house in January, and got married. Two helpers entered the house in my place.  One child changed schools.  Two children moved in full-time.  The directors have been travelling a lot.  Bibi is about to take a 6-week vacation as well (to visit us -- and others -- in the U.S.)  There have been a lot of emotional challenges for several, children, teens, and adults.  Julio and I were planning to be back in Colombia by June, but we won't be for the rest of this year.  We're learning how to work as a team, and how to do a different kind of missions, together.  He's had unexpected health issues since February.

God permits, and sometimes orchestrates, change.  We decide how to live with it.
Change, typically, is difficult for me.  I think God enjoys throwing me a curve ball every now and then... not out of any evil intentions, but to see if I'll choose to trust him as "pitcher."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Texan animals, etc.

kangaroo rat!

Kermit, TX
Baby Horny Toad!

Tumbleweeds on the carport after a sand storm!

We've been in the Wild West, y'all!  Tomorrow it's off to "the valley" -- the southern tip of Texas.  Goodbye, oil rigs; Hello, humidity!