Tag Archives: blessings

It takes a Village

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Recently I was sitting in a serious, important meeting and someone messed up a famous quote.  They said, “It takes a village to raise an idiot.”  Even as I type that, I get the giggles because misquotes just tickle my funny bone!  (I guess that’s one reason why my husband and I get along so well.  He’s a wealth of misquoted movie lines and love them all.)  The real quote is, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  And I really think this is true.

For example, I came home from our first day of school and spent some time decompressing on Facebook.  I sat there reading posts from my Momma friends who were sending their kids off to their first day of school.  They posted pictures of their precious off spring in clean uniforms and new backpacks.  They made a variety of comments about their emotions ranging from proud to sobbing to stunned disbelief that their child could be this old.

It all made me ponder how much work happens on both sides of the school room door to prepare a kid for this first day of school.  Parents have spent weeks stocking up on school supplies, labeling crayon boxes and lunch boxes, wrapping up summer plans with a final day at the State Fair, switching out summer closets for fall wardrobes, visiting school open houses and meeting teachers, etc.  All to prepare their child for their first day of school.

On the other side of the door, teachers have been hard at work for weeks already!  They have been working on lesson plans, browsing Teachers-Pay-Teachers and Scholastic.com for ideas, decorating their rooms, labeling desks and lockers with cute owl name cards, twisting their brains around impossible schedules to make sure they fit in all the required curriculum, taking work home with them over the weekends, etc.  All to prepare to receive your child in their classroom.

Parents naturally think of praying for their kids.  But add in an extra prayer for their teachers too.  They have already been hard at work for your kids.  They are investing their lives in your children.  Ask God to make it a worthy investment.  Especially if your child’s teacher in not a Believer, pray for your teachers.  Ask God to show you how to bless your child’s teacher.  Shine God’s light into their lives in exchange for the hours and hours that he or she will be pouring into your child’s life.

And BTW, I’m still not really blogging.  I’m still taking a break… OK, I’m really just saying this for me at this point.  No one really believes me anymore.

Nacho

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Our dog Nacho

Our dog Nacho

We have a dog named Nacho.  Before we even left for the mission field, back in 2004 we promised our kids that once we got through itineration, language school and two international moves that we would get a dog.  So once we landed in Mexico, we made plans to fulfill our promise.  We sent a message home to my parents to go to a breeder and pick out a dog for us.  We wanted a Shih Tzu.

So my parents went out to the farm where the breeder lives and picked out the cutest, most cuddly puppy they had.  Some friends of ours from Mexico were in town for a wedding, so we made plans for Nacho to travel back to Mexico with them.  They brought us this adorable little fur ball.

Nacho has traveled to Mexico, back to Minnesota, and on to Costa Rica with us.  Missionary kids have to give up a lot of things as we move country to country.  So we make an effort to keep Nacho as one of the “constants” in their lives.  Some missionary families have to leave their pets on the field and get a new pet in each new place where they live.  That works for some families but I don’t think that would work for our kids.

The other thing that Nacho is good for is as a built in alarm system.  He barks whenever anyone comes to our door.  He guards our yard, although the most dangerous thing that enters our yard are those yellow birds that he hates and the gardener with his evil “weed wacker.”  But he lets those on the outside of our gate know that a dog lives here and so they better beware.  He’s got an important job to do.

Nacho loved the snow in Minnesota

Nacho loved the snow in Minnesota

But one major pitfall of having a pet when you live the life of a global nomad is that you must constantly be searching for someone to watch your dog for you when you leave town for a night or a week or a year.  It’s a head ache!  When we were home on furlough this last time there was a lovely lady in our home church who offered to take Nacho for us whenever we left town to go speak at a church.  She said, “I don’t have any money to support a missionary, but this is something I can do to bless you.”  And that was HUGE for us!!  Just huge!  To know that we never had to worry about finding a dog sitter when we had to travel and that Nacho was being well cared for was indeed a huge blessing for our family.

So I would like to encourage all of you who love missions but don’t have the financial means to support a missionary.  Look for practical ways that you can bless a missionary and make their life back home a little less stressful.  It might be offering to take in their mail, shovel their snowy driveway, mow their lawn, or water their plants while they are away.  Or offering to be the emergency contact person for the school where their children attend (a few times we found ourselves stuck in traffic and couldn’t pick up our kids after school.  It helped having friends who could run up to the school and pick them up for us.)  Ask a missionary if they have someone to fold and stuff their newsletters a few times a year.  That’s a practical blessing for sure!

Or maybe you know that the family will be arriving in your state in the middle of winter and they will have NO snow clothing for the first few weeks.  This would be a great opportunity to ask your friends if the family could borrow jackets and boots and mittens for a few weeks.  You have no idea how fast kids grow and how hard it is to find winter coats in December!  Anyhow, look for practical ways that you can bless others.  Listen to what they are talking about and ask yourself if there is a need you can meet here.  It’s a huge blessing for us missionaries!

He’s My Father Too!

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I love having friends who challenge me and push me to think deep thoughts that I haven’t pondered yet.  For me, a good friend has plenty of conversation that leads me to Jesus.  I like hearing what is happening in the hearts of others.  Last week we got together with some really good friends of ours for dinner.  Of course the conversation turned to Jesus and the lessons we were learning from Him.

We were discussing how some missions families were struggling financially and some were blessed.  Our friend said, I think about it like this- we both have the same Father, right?  Well if my Father chooses to bless my Brother, then I can rest assured that my Father will also take care of me.  We don’t treat all our children the exact same way because they don’t need the exact same things.  We take care of our children in the way that we feel is best for each one on an individual basis.  If my Father is good to one of His Sons, then He will also be good to me because I’m his Son too.  But His goodness will look different in my life from how it is revealed in my Brother’s life.

ice cream2And it’s true.  As parents we don’t treat all our kids the same way.  When I was younger, my little sister was struggling with her weekly spelling tests.  My Dad motivated her by promising to take her out for ice cream if she got 100% on a test.  She studied hard each week to earn her weekly ice cream date with Dad, and I don’t think she ever missed another word again.  I, on the other hand, would not have been so highly motivated by ice cream.  I didn’t NEED ice cream to encourage me to study.  Our Father didn’t love me any less or my sister any more.  He just knew what each of us needed to become the best version of ourselves.  This is how our Heavenly Father treats His children as well.

I’ve been thinking about that all week.  Not that I had begrudged my Brother any of his blessings, but it changed my perspective about both blessings and trials.  Both come from the hand of God and both are given to serve a purpose.  I don’t always know God’s purposes for sending hardships, but neither do I know the purposes for blessings either.  God does what He sees as best for me.  I can rest assured that I lack nothing when God is my Father.  I have all I need because He is watching over me and treating me as a unique, beloved daughter.

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/light_seeker/7802339114/”>Viewminder</a&gt; / <a href=”http://foter.com/Amazing/”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-ND</a>

God’s Pet Peeve

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We’ve all heard that God sees all sin as equal.  Well that’s not exactly true.  Yes it’s all bad, but he calls some sins an abomination and there were only 10 Commandments- not every sin is mentioned in that list.  And there are some things that we accept as normal, part of our every day lives, but God doesn’t like them.

Does God have a pet peeve?  I think so.  Wanna know what I think it is?  Complaining.

Without throwing a bunch of scriptures at you, let me give you a few examples.  The Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years… and complained the whole stinking time.  Some of it was stuff that we would consider every-day, “normal” complaining.  The weather was hot.  There was sand in everything.  They were living in tents.  They ate the same foods every day with no variety.  The scenery was getting boring.  There was no water.  They were just complaining about the nitty gritty hardships of living and traveling in the desert.  Most of us would think of these as “normal”.  We would have posted these complaints on our facebook status and never considered them to be a sin, but we see that they angered God so much that he sent fire from Heaven to consume some of them!  Clearly even this kind of “normal” complaining makes God seriously angry.  He got sick of those guys!

We don’t think complaining is such a big deal because we are surrounded by it all the time.  Unless it’s directed at us, we hardly notice it.  But God is not indifferent to our complaining.  He takes it really seriously.  In Phil. 2:14 we are commanded “Do all things without complaining and contention.” And 1 Cor. 10:10 commands us not to “grumble as some of them (The Israelites) did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.”

When we complain, there is a deeper root of sin that is present.  Complaining is like the runners that spread the sin around.  Think about it this way.  We believe that God is sovereign.  We know that the Lord always has good reasons for sending hardships our way.  When we become discontent with how God is managing things, we show that we do not trust God.  We show that we don’t believe that He is in control or, even worse, we don’t believe that he is a Good God.  In our pride, we think that we know what is best for us, we can conceive of a better way of doing things, and we degrade God into a pitiful, weakling who doesn’t care about us as much as we care about ourselves.  “God knows that complaining is an expression of our pride, and not only pride in general, but more specifically, arrogance against God Himself.”  ALL OF THAT IS CALLED BLASPHEMY.  And that is why complaining is a sin- because it has its roots in blasphemy.

In the Old Testament, God sent fire to consume the complaining Israelites.  Under the New Covenant of Grace, God doesn’t burn us up with fire but He sends dryness into our souls.  Our spirits become a dry and barren, scorched land.  Ever tried to use a dry sponge to soak up a spill.  A dry sponge just pushes the mess along, only  a damped sponge can soak up the liquid.  Our spirits can get dry and unable to soak up God’s goodness, his Word, or his blessings.  We just don’t take it in.  Our complaining has dried out our spirit.

So how do you stop complaining?

First, Speak God’s words.  Start memorizing scriptures that confirm God’s goodness to you.  Repeat these good words rather than spewing your spirit sucking complaints.  Second, Be thankful in ALL circumstances.  Good and bad, God has sent these circumstances to you for a reason.  Thank God for everything.  Third, Do something good for someone less fortunate than you.  When you see the circumstances of homeless people or poor people or people living in a third world country you will realize all that you have.  You really are blessed!  Counting your blessings is the quickest way to saturate your spirit with the goodness that God shows to you every day.  Soak it up!!  The goodness is everywhere, every day.  Quench your thirsty soul with thankfulness.