To Not Know But Be Known

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt without heavy editing and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “unknown.”

It seems that we humans like to have things explained. We want to know the why of things. I recently lost one of my beautiful koi to unknown causes. I just went out one morning to the small pond in my front yard, and the water level was extremely low, and one of the two remaining koi I have was dead.

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There didn’t appear to be any reason whatsoever.

My husband has had ulcerative colitis for almost 30 years. They don’t know why. The origin is unknown.

I have another friend who collapsed one morning and was taken to the ER. They have no idea why it happened.

It’s very frustrating to be on the questioning end of the unknown. No amount of researching or exploring seems to be able to answer our questions.

It’s frustrating with the sudden death of animals, and it’s frustrating with medical situations. We don’t like to settle for not knowing, but sometimes, we just have to. But thanks be to God, we can also accept being completely known by Him.

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Wait For It

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for 5 minutes on a one-word prompt and see what happens. Today’s word is “Wait.” 

out to canaanMy 17-year-old daughter, my husband, and I are reading aloud each night from Jan Karon’s wonderful Mitford series. We’re right now on Out to Canaan and one of the big themes in this particular book is “wait.”

Under nefarious circumstances, several different real estate investment firms from Florida are trying to swoop in and buy up properties in the small, North Carolina town of Mitford. All these properties are meaningful to the town’s beloved Episcopal priest, Father Timothy Kavanagh.

When the mansion of a wealthy deceased parishioner, dear to the town—and Father Tim—needs to be sold and an investment company wants to come in and build a spa, Father Tim says he wants to wait 30 days before making a decision on the way-under-value offer.

When the local bakery owned by a dear friend is for sale because she thinks she needs to move to Tennessee, and she’s unsettled about the whole thing, Father Tim advises her to wait on an offer that is way below her asking price, but the only offer that’s come in.

And then, to top it all off, when his very own parsonage goes on the market because he is retiring—in a year!—a full-price, cash offer causes him great concern, especially when they want an answer immediately. He says he wants no action taken for 10 days.

At this point in the book—we’re on chapter 18—we know what happens with 2 of the 3, but we’re still waiting to hear about the 3rd. I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I’ll just say, waiting is not easy, especially when you’re being pressed for action. Sometimes we just want to jump at what’s right in front of us. But waiting, especially when God is asking us to, is always the best thing to do.

IMG_1858Think about Abraham and Sarah. They got anxious about seeing God’s promise fulfilled, so they took things into their own hands. That did not end up well. (See Genesis 16 for the full story.)

Waiting is hard. There’s no doubt about it. But waiting on God is always good.

On that note, I highly recommend Rebecca Brewster Stevenson’s wonderful book Wait: Thoughts and Practice in Waiting on God. 

 

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Getting Out the Word of God

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes (I cheated a little today) on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “active.”

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 ESV).

IMG_1848For more than 30 years, my husband has worked for a ministry called The JESUS Film Project. The movie “JESUS,” taken from the book of Luke, is dubbed into all the major languages of the world, and lots of minor languages as well. The thinking is simple: No one should have to learn another language to understand that God loves them.

For many years the ministry has worked alongside Wycliffe Bible Translators to get Luke translated first so that the movie can then be dubbed into that language and the people can hear and see the story of Jesus in their heart language. (Learn more about it here.)

Lately, I have had the privilege of working in two areas that are helping people hear and understand the Word of God. The first is called her.Bible. This is a project that seeks to record an audio Bible with diverse women’s voices. The producer of this project realized that there was a silent space when it came to audio Bibles in women’s voices. her.Bible has produced the entire New Testament and the books of IMG_1847Proverbs, Ruth and Esther in the Old Testament. They are now seeking funding to be able to continue recording the rest of the Old Testament. My role is to make sure that the recordings are word perfect to the New Living Translation of the Bible. Check out her.Bible here.

The other work I’ve been doing is with a Christian meditation app called Abide. It is the #1 Christian meditation app and has been helping thousands and thousands of people worldwide to meditate on God’s Word, hiding it in their hearts and growing in their faith because of it. I am writing daily meditations and bedtime stories to help people get peaceful sleep, and helping in the editing and planning processes. Oh, and they also have a YouTube channel!

IMG_1849The app is free for the shorter versions of the meditations, and costs less than 11 cents a day for the full version. Learn more about it here and by checking it out in the Google Play or Apple app stores.

The Word of God is active. It is living. It does not return void. Everything that we can do to get His Word into the hands, hearts and ears of people is worth the investment of time and money. The JESUS Film Project has an app, Abide is an app, and her.Bible is working on an app. Won’t you go and check them out? Have questions? Put them in the comments.

 

 

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The Life Giving Lake

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for 5 minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “deep.”

I walked to the edge of the lake and stuck my toes in the water. It was surprisingly warm. I figured it must be shallow because everyone knows that deep waters are cold. And mysterious. And dark.

So I began to walk further in, exploring, a little hesitant, not knowing exactly what I’d encountered, but figuring I had heard enough about this particular lake to have some idea of what I was getting myself into.

Boy was I wrong.

I knew nothing about this vast, unsearchable body of water. I didn’t know that it would beckon me to go deeper.

I didn’t know that it would encompass me, overwhelm me, yet buoy me and keep me safe.

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I didn’t know that I would never, ever be able to fathom its depths. That I would never know everything there was to know about it.

But I could see myself reflected in its depths.

And I would be drawn back to it time and time again. In fact, I would never want to leave. And I never had to. I could live there, in fact, I had to live there.

What I didn’t know is that life was in its depths. And after all, it wasn’t dark beneath the surface. It was surprisingly, amazingly, overwhelmingly, bright.

 

1, 2, 3, Go!

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just five minutes on a one-word prompt without heavy editing and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “start.”

My 20-month-old grandson has a little plastic slide that he likes to climb on and sort of slide down. I say “sort of” because he likes to put his sticky little feet down and therefore stop himself before he actually gets to the bottom. But when he is at the top, he will look at me expectantly and say something that sounds like “1, 2, 3, go!” because that’s what he has heard me say when he’s up there.

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Then he’ll push himself down, get to the bottom and say “weady?” and jump off the end onto the carpet. He feels quite proud of himself for his accomplishment. Every time.

Jesus encouraged people to have childlike faith, and I would submit that having childlike enthusiasm would be a good idea as well.

How many times have you just sat on the couch and thought, “I should just get up and take a walk” or clean the house, or make dinner, or take a shower. The list of things we procrastinate on goes on and on.

So next time you find yourself procrastinating, say out loud, “1, 2, 3, go!” and then actually get up and get started. You can’t accomplish what you never set out to do. That may sound obvious, but it’s not always easy.

Nike had it right. Just do it. Let’s get this party started.

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From Risk to Resilience: A Book Review

 

I am a privileged white woman living in one of the most affluent countries in the world. I never had to walk more than a few yards from anywhere in my house to get fresh water. I never wondered where my next meal would come from. I never worried that my parents would sell me or my siblings because they were trying to survive.

frontI never had to worry if I would be given in marriage when I was still a child so that my parents could get a dowry for me. Education? Free. Transportation to that education? Free. It never even crossed my mind that I would have to quit school to work to help my parents with living expenses. I always had an abundance.

War never came through my town. I never had to rely on the kindness of strangers in a new place where we had to flee because it was unsafe where we were. I never had to fear rape or death at the hands of invading soldiers.

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In From Risk to Resilience: How Empowering Young Women Can Change Everything, Jenny Rae Armstrong opened my eyes to things I had never thought of before. Things that are everyday realities for a too-large percentage of girls around the world. And I thank her for it.

Jenny Rae is a friend of mine through the Redbud Writers Guild, of which we’re both members. So I know that she is a foster mom to a bunch of teenage boys. I know that she’s not just talking about this stuff. She’s walking it. She lived overseas for many years as a child. She still visits African countries and meets with the people and cares for their needs. This isn’t just lip service. Jenny Rae has done her research and her book will not only touch your heart for the plight of our global sisters, it will spur you into action.

Did you ever think that contributing to a clean water project could help ensure a young girls’ future? I hadn’t either, until Jenny Rae pointed out that if girls in Africa, who have the majority of the responsibility for bringing clean water, sometimes from extremely long distances, into their homes, could have access right near where they live, then they would not have to spend so much time in that job. They could actually go to school and have time to study for tests. They could possibly get into universities and further their education, thus setting themselves up for greater economic success.

Clean water near their homes = less time spent toting water and more time studying. It’s not rocket science.

Did you know that when you send your used clothing to well-meaning organizations that ship it overseas to needy countries that you are taking away the livelihood of those who work in those countries to make clothing or materials used for clothing? I had never thought of that before.

There are so many other ways that the lives of girls could be improved, and Jenny gives us a look into some of those ways. Even right here in my own city, there are ways that I can help. I can’t do everything, but I can do something.

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MercyHouseGlobal.org

For many years I have supported Mercy House Global through their Earring of the Month Club. Two times a year I send a contribution and every month, I get a pair of handcrafted earrings from different countries where the ministry is teaching women trades so they can support their families. This past Christmas, I decided to shop at the Mercy House Global online store so that I could continue to help support these women around the world, some of whom have been rescued from sex trafficking.

What is that old saying? Give someone a fish and they have food for a day; teach someone to fish and they have food for a lifetime?

What I appreciate about Jenny’s book is not only the practical steps she gives, but the fact that she acknowledges that all the injustice and hurt and bad things that are happening in the world will not be solved without hearts being changed by Jesus. But that doesn’t get us off the hook for helping where we can.

In From Risk to Resilience, you will read statistics and be apprised of facts, but you will also be introduced to some of the girls who have been affected by cultural norms in their countries that are literally killing them. Shame for how their bodies naturally work; savagery in the hands of men sometimes more than twice their age; responsibilities that should never have to be placed on the shoulders of ones so young.

We take so much for granted in the western world. Yes, I have been leered at and catcalled. I have been afraid when I have gone places by myself. I have felt the unwanted attention of men when I’m just going about my life. But I will never endure what thousands upon thousands of women around the world assume is normal.

In her epilogue, Jenny says this:

So consider this your invitation to jump into the fray and fight for shalom for girls. Every voice, every heart, every set of hands is needed. Gather your people, gather your resources, and resist until the powers, principalities, and dominant forces of this world have been trampled under your feet. Don’t just fight to win; fight because we bear the name of Christ and surrendering to sin is not an option, no matter how hard and hopeless the battle may seem at times.

I have an almost 17-year-old daughter. I can’t even imagine being at a point where I would consider selling her to an older man so that I could make ends meet, or so that I could ensure she was provided for because I couldn’t do it. My heart breaks for the mothers and fathers around the world who have felt that they had no other choice.

Read this book. Share this message. Do it for the girls. Do it for yourself.

We Are Family

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a 1-word prompt without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “hospitality.”

Once upon a time I took a spiritual gifts test which determined that I had the gifts of administration and hospitality. Being fairly young in my journey with Jesus, I didn’t completely know what that meant, but I did know that I was pretty organized and good at keeping things going, and that I liked to be with people.

Is that all there was to it?

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As the years have gone by, my home has become one in which people like to gather. It’s not huge, it’s not fancy, it’s not even all that clean (I had a friend describe it as clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy), but people are welcome and they know it.

Every Christmas we have a huge gathering of friends for Christmas dinner. At last count we were at 50-something, I think. I have people call and say, “We don’t have plans, can we come to your place?” Even when the number seems overwhelming, nobody is turned away. Most of us have moved far from our family of origin, so our friends have become that family to us.

Every time that I think about maybe scaling back and tightening our circle, I look around at the faces and there’s not a one I would consider losing. How do you purposefully cut off a hand or a foot?

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And so we continue setting tables on the back porch, thankful for the mild December weather in Florida, and rejoice in the bounty of our friendships.

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