Tag Archives: stress

I’m supposed to be on Vacation!

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I’m supposed to be on vacation for one week before the week of Teacher Orientation.  One week.  We are done with teams for the year.  We have no more traveling planned for this week.  I only wanted to brush up on my Spanish subjunctive tense, devour a few books on my Kindle, and knock off a few Sudokus a day.  I’m supposed to be on vacation.

Photo credit: BrittneyBush / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: BrittneyBush / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

So if you read my blog yesterday, you will know that I started my day with bad news.  Now that it’s official, I can tell you that our 2nd grade teacher quit… two weeks before the first day of school.  I’m the Vice Principal, so of course she sent the email to me.  I saw a month’s worth of work unravel before my eyes.  I’m supposed to be on vacation.  I’m not supposed to be madly searching for a new teacher just days before the school year starts.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time in prayer and a lot of time hovering around my cell phone, email, and Facebook just communicating with those who needed to know and those who could help get the word out.  I could do nothing else.  It’s not like there are a bunch of American teachers just waiting around in Costa Rica, longing to be hired.  And anyone that we hire needs to move to a foreign country basically by the end of the week, two weeks at the latest.  How many of YOU could do that?  I certainly could not.  So you can see how limited my pool of teacher choices is.  So much for being on vacation.

Eight Facebook friends reposted my desperate plea for a new teacher.  And I posted the need on a prayer group board for our home church.  A friend of a friend of a friend connected me to a name.  My parents both wrote with a recommendation of their own.  Another teacher offered to ask a friend of hers if she was interested.  One of our sweet newly graduated students wrote offering to substitute until we found another teacher.  We were all beating the bushes simultaneously.

At dinner time I did a quick phone interview with one potential candidate and received a resume from another.  In the morning (today) I will have a meeting with our Head Director the Principal and myself.  We will discuss the situation and read the resume together.  They will probably want to do a Skype interview right on the spot.  None of us are supposed to be in the office this week.  We are all on vacation.

How will this drama end?  I’ll be sure to let you know when I come to the end of the story.  I am sure that God has a plan.  I am confident that God has the right person in place for this job.  I am totally convinced that we are seeing a miracle unfold even as I write these words.  It’s just excrutiatingly stressful to see the birth of something new even though it didn’t take God by surprise and neither is He stressed out by this contraction of my best laid plans.  I just have to remember to keep breathing.  Breathe, breathe, breathe and think about vacation.

Bad News, Good News

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Good Morning fellow blog readers.  Sorry I’m a little late this morning.  I had fully intended to wake up and write you a lovely blog about my weekend in the cloud forest, then I opened my email and the sky fell on my head.  Bad news.  I got sick to my stomach.  My hands started shaking.  I lost my appetite for my breakfast.  I hate bad news.

My husband commiserated with me for a moment, then patted my arm and said, “It will all work out, you’ll see.”  And he was out the door.  Me, I shot off two messages asking for prayer from dear friends and family, and I ran off to find Jesus.  I felt like a little girl running off in tears to find her Father.  I needed to bury my head in his chest, feel his strong arms around my shoulders, and just cry.  Jesus, I breathed his name.

Opening my devotional and asking him to speak to me, I read this:

“Expect to encounter adversity in your life… stop trying to find a way that circumvents difficulties (and wasn’t my mind just spinning as I grasped for a solution to my bad news?  Wasn’t I just doing this?!)  The main problem with an easy life is that it masks your need for Me… Anticipate coming face to face with impossibilities:  situations totally beyond your ability to handle (at this I smiled as a tear eeked out of the corner of my eyes). This awareness of your inadequacy is not something you should try to evade.  It is precisely where I want you- the best place to encounter Me in My Glory and Power.  When you see armies of problems marching toward you, cry out to Me!  Allow Me to fight for you.  Watch Me working on your behalf, as you rest in the shadow of My Almighty Presence.”

Ok, God.  I throw up my hands, powerless to fix this problem.  I got nuthin’.  I trust that you have a plan for this, that you saw this coming before I woke up this morning and opened my email.  I’m going to trust you.  I don’t have any other options.  I’ve used up all my resources in this area, and I’m broke. I come to you empty handed.  I can offer nothing to fix this problem.  It’s all on You.  I need a miracle.

Stress

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It may just be me being hormonal or maybe it’s because I’ve eaten fast food 3 times this week, but today I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster.  There were some really great things that happened, and there were some super stressful things that made me want to scream and curl up into fetal position for a few days.  Most days I’m pretty flexible with the way that Latinos change their plans at a moment’s notice.  I just roll with the punches, but today the punches knocked me off my feet.

For my 5th grade class and my 9th grade Bible class, I have had my units all planned out for the last 6 weeks. I planned to wrap everything up this week since finals are the next week.  But my week is being whittled away!  Today my schedule changed HOURLY!  The kids kept asking me what subject we were doing next and I would tell them, “I planned to do such and such, but it depends on who walks in the door during the next 40 minutes!”  The demands on my flexibility were pushing me to my breaking point.

So another thing that was running in the background of my mind was the fact that I was on the schedule to lead the teachers’ devotional tomorrow morning.  I have long since quit going to that Thursday morning obligation because it’s just too much to ask me to get 5 people out the door and on the campus before 7am.  It’s just too much.  But I was ready to teach and braced for the effort of herding my people out the door early.  The devo was supposed to be during a special breakfast time to close out the year with the teachers.  Right on the schedule it said “desayuno compartido” (shared breakfast) next to my name, so I assumed that I would be sharing my devotional while we are sharing breakfast together.

Mid way through the morning the principal approached me with the devotional schedule in her hand.  “I just wanted to check that you saw this.”  She said, pointing to my name on the sheet.

“Yes,” I said, “I’m ready.” I was confused that the expression on her face was not one of relief.  She arched her eyebrows and puckered her lips into a tense smile.  Uh-oh, something’s not right.

“So you are prepared?  I was concerned because you didn’t mention anything yesterday in our meeting (which was another stressor from the day before).”

“Yes, I’m ready to share a devotional.”

“You see that it says ‘shared breakfast’ next to your name?”

“Yes, I will share the devotional while we have our breakfast.”  Her expression of worry had not changed yet.  I felt like I was missing something.  Even though I was understanding her words completely, I was missing some hidden meaning.  I prodded, “We ARE eating together, right?”

“Oh yes, do you need any help with that?”

“What?”

“Do you need me to bring anything?” she asked me.  Now I was totally confused.

“Ummm, If you want to, I suppose that’s fine.  What were you thinking?”

She informed me that normally they do a full Costa Rican style breakfast with beans and rice, fruit drinks, and eggs.  Then a sinking feeling settled into my stomach.  I asked point-blank, “Am I supposed to make breakfast for everyone?”

“YES!  That’s why it says ‘shared breakfast’ next to your name!”

“OMG!  I didn’t know that!  I thought I was sharing a devotional while we ate a breakfast that the school provided for us!” In my mind I continued:  You mean I’m supposed to cook AND teach BEFORE I teach all day long and then go home to make dinner for 25 people on the missions team that we are also hosting at this time?  Shall I kill you now or AFTER breakfast?  “OK, well since I obviously didn’t understand that, I’m only going to bring a box of donuts and maybe someone can help make coffee too.  How’s that?”  I felt I was being generous.  Her lips pursed again.  “Or… maybe we could put a sign up list in the office and see if other people will bring stuff too.”  Hmmm…

I finally just apologized for not understanding and informed her that I can’t possibly provide breakfast.  I felt the angry, frustrated tears burning in my eyes and my throat constricted as I forced myself not to cry.  This was my last straw… for that hour.  More straws were coming, falling on me like rain.

An hour later the school secretary sheepishly came to my classroom and said, “I heard what [the principal] said to you.  Um, I am going this afternoon to buy the food for the breakfast.  I ALWAYS do this.  You were never expected to make the breakfast.  Did you think you were going to have to pay for this on your own?  Oh no, I have money from the school for this.  I will take care of all of it.  Just don’t forget that you have to do the devotional.”  Believe me, I was NOT going to forget THAT!

I can’t remember the last time I felt so much relief.  However this was a cultural thing.  The principal would never admit to my face that she had been wrong- totally flat-out wrong.  No, and neither would the secretary admit that the principal was wrong.  I didn’t get an apology for the hour of heart palpitations that I suffered.  I just privately savored my relief.

Later that afternoon, I found myself standing in a space no bigger than 5 feet square shoulder to shoulder with 13 other people and only 4 chairs.  I was in the waiting room at my son’s orthodontist’s office.   The air in our cubicle was stale, pre-breathed air.  Everyone was trying not to make eye contact with each other, and trying to wait patiently.  Because my children and I were the last ones to arrive, I knew that even through we had a 4:30 appointment, there were 13 other people ahead of us who were also waiting on appointments long passed.

We waited 10 minutes before I decided, “Screw this!  I’ve had too long of a day to sit her for another 2 hours.”  My patience was shot!  We left without even informing the receptionist who was hiding somewhere in the back office so she wouldn’t have to stare at a room full of long-suffering strangers.  At that point I gave myself permission to say, “NO.  I have been imposed upon one too many times today.  I’m going home now.” We stopped at McDonalds for dinner… for the third time this week.

The Worry of the Christmas Season

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Christmas season is a busy time.  I was looking at the calendar yesterday and feeling the panic rising up in my mind.  So much to do!  I’m worried that I will forget to do something.  The season becomes stressful and we wish we had more time.

The business of our life leaves little room for the source of our life.  God gives us time, but who has time for God?  Here are some thoughts to help you manage the feelings of stress and business during the holidays.  I hope they help you to slow down and savor the moments you have with your family and friends.

I don’t take credit for these thoughts.  They come from “One Thousand Gifts”, by Ann Voskamp either as a direct quote where indicated or a summary of ideas:

When asked what was his most profound regret, the pastor answered, “Being in a hurry.  Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me.  I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry.  But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing .  Through all that haste I thought I was making up time.  It turns out that I was throwing it away.”

In a world addicted to speed, we race for more and snag on time and leak empty.  The longer we keep running, the longer the gash, and we drain, bleed away.  Hurry always empties a soul.

“Time is a relentless river.  It rages on, a respecter of no one.  And this, this is the only way to slow time:  When I fully enter time’s swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, I can slow the torrent be being all here.  I only live the full life when I live fully in the moment…I slow and enter.  And time slows.  Weigh down this moment in time with attention full, and the whole of time’s river slows, slows, slows… Wherever you are, be all there.

We can only interact with God in the present.  Though He exists in the past, present and future, WE can only be with him in the present and he calls himself the Great I AM.  When I am present, I meet I AM, the very presence of a present God.  In his embrace, time loses all sense of speed and stress and space and stands so still and holy.

And now this is taken from Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young

Trust me and refuse to worry, for I am your Strength and Song.  You are feeling wobbly this morning, looking at difficult times looming ahead, measuring them against your won strength.  However, they are not today’s tasks- or even tomorrow’s.  So leave them in the future and come home to the present, where you will find Me waiting for you.  Since I am your Strength, I can empower you to handle each task as it comes.  Because I am your Song, I can give you Joy as you work alongside Me.

Keep bringing your mind back to the present moment.  Among all my creatures, only humans can anticipate future events.  This ability is a blessing, but it becomes a curse whenever it is misused.  If you use your magnificent mind to worry about tomorrow, you cloak yourself in dark unbelief.  However, when the hope of heaven fills your thoughts, the light of my presence envelops you.  Though heaven is future, it is also present tense.  As you walk in the light with Me, you have one foot on earth and one foot in heaven.

Your future is in My hands; I release it to you day by day, moment by moment.  Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow.  I want you to live this day abundantly, seeing all there is to see, doing all there is to do.  Don’t be distracted by future concerns.  Leave them to Me!  Each day of life is a glorious gift, but so few people know how to live within the confines of today.  Much of their energy for abundant living spills over the time line into tomorrow’s worries or past regrets.  Their remaining energy is sufficient only for limping through the day, not for living it to the full.  I am training you to keep your focus on my presence in the present.  This is how to receive abundant Life, which flows freely form my Throne of Grace.”

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Keep your thoughts in the present and don’t worry about the future.  Be fully present in all you do this season.  Look your loved ones fully in the face when they talk to you and give them your full attention.  Don’t worry about completing all the things on your To-Do list.  Just breathe, and don’t worry.  “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6: 34

Stop trying to control your future

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Happy Monday morning everyone.  This was from my devotionals last week and I’ve been mulling it over in my mind for several days… trying to apply it to my own life.  If you’re a planner, if you’re a worrier, if you rehearse speeches in your head then this might speak to you as much as it did to me.  Be blessed.  Jesus loves you!

Trust me enough to let things happen without striving to predict or control them.  Relax, and refresh yourself in the Light of My everlasting Love.  My Love-Light never dims, yet you are often unaware of My radiant Presence.  When you project yourself into the future, rehearsing what you will do or say, you are seeking to be self-sufficient: to be adequate without My help.  This is a subtle sin- so common that it usually slips by unnoticed.

“The alternative is to live fully in the present, depending on Me each moment.  Rather than fearing your inadequacy, rejoice in My abundant supply.  Train your mind to seek My help continually, even when you feel competent to handle something by yourself.  Don’t divide your life into things you can do by yourself and things that require My help.  Instead, learn to rely on Me in every situation.  This discipline will enable you to enjoy life more and to face each day confidently.”

~Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

When Teachers Cry

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“Oh my word, my brain is fried!”

This year I have committed to teach 5th grade at my kids’ school.  They needed a 5th grade teacher and I needed the tuition discounts that my 3 kids would receive.  (School is not cheap in Costa Rica!)  So it’s a win-win for everyone… if it doesn’t kill me first.

This last week has been a true baptism by fire for me as I have jumped right into both learning this new school (their systems, procedures, etc.), cleaning and setting up my classroom, reading curriculum and writing lesson plans, AND participating in the new student orientation that was happening this week at the same time.  As an example of how chaotic this week has been for me, I worked two full 8 hour days before anyone told me that I needed to punch-in every day.  Oops.  Not only that, but no one ever told me when I was required to be at school this week, so I just showed up around 9:30 the first day.  The minute I walked in the principal caught me and said, “Where have you been?  You’re two hours late!  Here, take these families on a tour of the school.”  Well, as you image, my blood pressure just went through the roof.

What we have here is a classic culture clash wrapped in a high learning curve which usually accompanies starting a new job where there is NO training whatsoever.  I am learning just as much about my responsibilities as a teacher as I am about how a Costa Rican organization is run.  The minute I walked in the door on the first day of orientation I realized we had a break down in expectations.  The American in me automatically attributed the miscommunication to poor leadership, and the Costa Rican principal at the head of the school bureaucracy attributed the fault to someone further down the chain of command who failed to send out an email to me.  The whole debacle was quickly swept under the rug so no one “lost face” by being embarrassed or having to apologize, while I fumed about it all day long.  This culture clash left me with whiplash!  I came home with a full-body migraine, I just discovered that there IS such a thing.

So the part of this week that I have actually enjoyed is starting to get to know my fellow teachers.  Some of them I’ve seen around the school when I was just a parent, and some of them are new like me.  We are learning the ropes together.  I tend to be very proactive and aggressive about searching out information and asking questions, so my fellow newbies are riding my coat tails as I quickly scout out what we all need to know.  But I like the moments when we can all release a little tension and laugh together or be honest about how nerve-racking this whole experience is.

One teacher is moving from second grade to high school.  She has told me several times how terrified she is.  I have been shocked at how honest she has been with me about feeling inadequate and nervous.  It makes me feel so much better that I’m not the only one thinking, “what did I get myself into?”  Another teacher is a veteran here at the school, but she admitted that this last week she hasn’t been sleeping well at night.  The day I talked to her she told me she had a migraine from the stress of this week.  A third teacher has maintained her deer-in-the-headlights look for the last 4 days.  She told me she keeps walking around in circles in her classroom and not accomplishing anything.  She’s overwhelmed and tired already.

I have heard of teachers spending the night before the first day of school throwing up all night long.  Nerves.  

Why do teachers do this year after year if the tension and stress is so high?  Because they love teaching.  And I keep reminding myself that I DO love this.  I love teaching, and I’m good at this.  I’ve been giving myself little pep-talks all week long.  “You can do this.  This is what you’ve been wanting to do for years.  You are good at teaching.  You know how to do this.”  And ultimately my motivation is to do my best to honor God with my work.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me… and I’m going to need a lot of your strength, Lord.

Laughter is Good Medicine

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  • Hurray! We have officially survived team season 2012.  Our last team left on Saturday.  This year we hosted 8 teams (some of them back to back, some of them at the same time) between May and August.  Now that the stress is done, it’s time to laugh hard and release some steam. 
This is a copy of an email that my family sent to me (if you don’t see the pictures, just give it a minute to load the page).  I am not responsible for any of the content in these newspapers, nor am I responsible if you pee your pants laughing.  Just to let you know, I cackled at some of these headlines.  You know, missionaries have a sense of humor too… well some of them do.  Laughter is good medicine.

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No Place for Plastic Saints

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This is an excerpt from Margaret Register’s book No Place for Plastic Saints: Earthquakes, Chicken Feet and Candid Confessions of a Missionary Wife.  A longer excerpt is posted on Tortilla Press.  When I first read this, I laughed till I cried!  I need the “Been there, done that” T-shirt.

Our first day of language school, Guadalajara, Mexico. April 1968:

“!@##$%%^&**()())_,” said the teacher. Ten of us scared white Americans, with one brown, confident Mexican, were crowded around a table in a small narrow room. Nothing adorned the long, side walls except the plaster, painted white, over adobe bricks. At one end of the room, a window opened to a courtyard. At the other end, a door opened to the patio. The climate was perfect year-round. But our room smelled like sweat. And glistened with tears.

“!@##$%%^&**()())_,” the teacher uttered again as she passed out workbooks.

“!@##$%%^&**()())_,” she said as she opened a workbook and motioned to the drawings of two men walking toward each other, shaking hands, then walking away from each other.

“!@##$%%^&**()())_ ,” she said as she pointed to her mouth and then to our mouths.

She turned to the student on her right, “!@##$%%^&**()())_.”

She gestured to him, “!@##$%%^&**()())_.” He repeated it, haltingly, “..#..#..**)…)_.”  She nodded brusquely.

Next student, “!@##$%%^&**()())_.” He stuttered, “## … $$$ …%%%.”

All the way around the table. “!@##$%%^&**()())_.” Each of us tried and failed miserably to repeat the gibberish.

“!@##$%%^&**()())_ mañana,” she said as she handed each family unit a reel-to-reel tape.

Finally, lunchtime came. Joe went to get Christy from her first grade class; I went upstairs to get Timmy from the nursery. By the time I was back downstairs, Joe had spread our quilt on the grass in front of the main building. All around us the other twenty families were doing the same thing in the open-air cafeteria.

A stubby, stocky toddler named Ralphie went running past, diaper so soaked that it dragged the ground. From our left, I overheard, “I can’t do it.” A deeper voice said, “Yes, you can, Honey, you can learn it.”

We opened our lunch basket: a can of tuna, crackers, and pork ’n beans, again, along with our thermos with purified water, and some bananas.

An hour later, we were all back in our classrooms. Another lady came and motioned to a student to follow her. We learned that she was the accent coach and grammar dragon imported from Costa Rica. Each of us had half an hour a day with her. Repeating, incorrectly, whatever she said. She would hold our jaw, all scrunchy, and make us repeat the word again. She would point to a word with a d in the middle and make us say it like a th. She would roll her r’s and try to get us to do it. Then she would roll her eyes and sigh.

By 5:00 we were exhausted. My jaw hurt from trying to hold it differently. Why didn’t they explain in English what we were “repeating”? We felt so silly mouthing meaningless babble. We felt like children. Worse than children. A three-year-old Mexican knew more Spanish than we did.

We struggled through the second day, the second week. Grown men cried silently, red-eyed, wiping tears with a fist. Grown women cried openly, sobbing as they jumped up and ran out into the patio. We could not learn this. It was impossible.

An upperclassman told us, “Just as a baby repeats what he hears, with no concept of what it means, you have to do the same. You’ll see, it’ll come together.”

Little by little by little we began to recognize one word. Then another. Then one more.

One evening when we arrived home, Joe wanted to show off his Spanish by telling the maid (whose services were included in the rent of the apartment) that he was hungry. But in Spanish you say, “I have hunger.” Hunger is hambre, man is hombre. Joe told her, “I am hombre.” She looked startled, so he just repeated it, louder, “Yo soy hombre.” “I am a man!”

I was proud of my new Spanish, too, as I hurried down our driveway in my housecoat just as a vendor arrived selling jugs of purified water. In Spanish, he asked, “Do you want water?” “No, I want a son,” I replied in Spanish. His eyes flew open and he hurried away, thinking he was being solicited by a crazy gringa, one who didn’t know how to say she was searching for her son.

April 24, 1969, the day of our graduation banquet, we dressed in our finest: Joe in his suit from his Southeastern College quartet days, me in a blue satin sheath dress, a hand-me-down from the rich family in the Beckley church. Joe was class president and graduated at the head of our class. I was close behind him, and we were proud that we could communicate now in Spanish.

Of course, I needed to have my hair and nails done, so that morning I went for my $2.00 do. As my hair was being “teased,” a stylish lady breezed in, talking ninety to nothing. I did not understand one word. She stayed briefly, and when she left, I asked my beautician, “Was she speaking Spanish?” “Oh, , she is from Chile.”

We were leaving for Chile the next day.

(Excerpt from Margaret Register’s book No Place for Plastic Saints: Earthquakes, Chicken Feet and Candid Confessions of a Missionary Wife)

What have I signed up for?

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Excerpt from the Live Dead Prayer Journal.  Day 6 written by Jennifer Brogden, Sudan.

“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep.  Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field,’Come along now and sit down to eat’?  Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’?  Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?  So you also, when you have don’e everting you were told to do, should say. ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done’ our duty.'” Luke 17:7-10

Looking back, I had a handful of expectations that I thought were pretty realistic:  I expected [Sudan] to be hot, hard, dusty and dry, resistant;  I expected God to be faithful to His Word.  Most of my expectations were met without delay.  Daily temperatures over 105 degrees Fahrenheit for months on end, tears in my first Arabic lesson, huge walls of dust ushering in mere minutes of rainfall… and God was faithful to His Word.

He just wasn’t faithful in the way I expected Him to be.

I found it discouraging that language teachers weren’t interested in saying the sinner’s prayer after two years of life on life with them.  Neighbors were kind and hospitable but not ready for a Bible study.  Thoughts of Why am I here? and This isn’t what I signed up for started rapping in my brain.

…Everything in Sudan was exactly like I expected it to be.  Hot, slow, difficult, daily battles in the spirit realm, conflicts within and without.  Why was life such a struggle?  Why couldn’t I be content and satisfied?

Because I’d forgotten that it was my part just to obey, that Jesus is my just reward- that He can do as He sees fit with me, my family, and the work in Sudan.  Jesus makes every night without power and every delay over visas and permits worth it.  And only Jesus makes it worth it.

I didn’t expect God to bring me all this way to change what He saw in me.  But He has.  I needed Sudan more than Sudan needed me, and I didn’t expect that.  I thought God was bringing me to Sudan to change Sudan.  I did not realize that His primary purpose was to expose all the junk in my heart and change me!  I’m so grateful that in the “less” of ministry, as I thought it should be, I got more than I expected.

What do you expect dying to self will feel like?  Do you think it will be pleasant?  Painless?  Problem free?  What do you expect it to feel like when you live dead?  Do you expect people to understand, support you, praise you, clap for you?  Do you expect the devil to cheer and every demon in hell to yield to your noble aspirations?  Do you expect to be welcomed or affirmed by your peers and understood by your parents?  Do you expect people to get in line to support you financially?  Do you expect that your plans will be changed, your timing delayed, and your will continually crossed?  Do you expect to surrender once in an air-conditioned church, kneeling on a carpeted altar with a handy box of Kleenex perkily waiting to be plucked… and then from that point on to sail without contrary winds into God’s sheltered will?  Or do you expect God to wring the self out of you in a painful and lengthy process using circumstances and shattered expectations- and then surprise you with how good it feels to have His image stamped deeply into yours.

Click here if you’re interested in ordering the Live/Dead Prayer Journal or just browsing their website and learning more about their ministry to unreached people in East Africa.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop

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Within the last few months I have had two separate conversations with two separate girlfriends about this topic:  Waiting for the second shoe to drop.  Both of my friends grew up in families where the men were either abusive or absent.  Both of my friends are now in loving relationships with wonderful men- one married, one almost engaged.  And both of them have told me that in the beginning of their relationship they found themselves picking fights with their man and doing crazy stuff just to drive him nuts.

One girlfriend said, “I couldn’t understand why I was acting this way, but I just kept pushing him and pushing him.  It was like I was trying to see how far I could go before he abandoned me.  I needed to know where his breaking point was.”

My other girlfriend told me that it took her years to build up trust in her husband, and in God.  She kept thinking, “Things are going too good… when is God going to drop the other shoe on me?  When is this guy going to walk out on me?”  She learned to trust the stability of God by learning to trust the stability of her godly husband.

Both men took the time and effort to prove their worth to the women they loved.  One guy said, “I’m not like the men in your family!  I’m not going to walk out on you.”  And that was that.  A solid promise that brought peace to the inner turmoil of her mind and heart.  She could stop waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I don’t know if there is a psychological term for “waiting for the other shoe to drop” but on some level most of us deal with this kind of fear.  Whether we believe in God or not, there remains a fear that the bubble will indeed burst someday.  Our past experience has taught us that no one is perfectly happy, or that happiness doesn’t last, or that when you are at the peak of your happiness that’s when disaster will target you.

At the root of fear is always a lie.  This fear is rooted in the lie that says, “God has it out for you.”  God doesn’t want you to be too happy.  If you’re too happy, you’ll draw the attention of a spiteful God who will focus his revenge on you in order to take you down a notch.  But it’s a lie.

God has told us that He is FOR us not AGAINST us.  He has come to give us LIFE ABUNDANTLY.  And he has our best interests at his heart, always.  “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11  This is the truth.  These are the promises of God with which you fight the lies of your great Enemy.  God doesn’t lie.

He’s on your side, so you can just exhale, Baby!  God is for you all the way!  There is no other shoe waiting to drop.  Happiness doesn’t have to be short lived, peace does not have to be temporary.  Joy is meant to be deep and satisfying. You can trust God, he’s not out to squash you like a bug.  He has good plans for you, Good Things.