Monday, December 24, 2007
The morning that children all over the world await arrived 8 hours ago in Europe.
Expectations are high. Excitement dances in the air. A bit of tension arises in kitchens all over the world. And a tree stands in homes decorated and delighted to be chosen as the tree to be admired through this blessed season.
And here, here in my little Wohnung, I too am feeling the stress, getting excited and have a Tannenbaum in the center of my living room. I live alone. I am here in this country alone. My children are all preparing for this season without me this year. It is our second time to be this far away from each other for this season. Last year I had a visitor. It was such a special time.
But this year. I am alone.
Being alone allows for a bit of sadness, a bit of crying, and even a bit of reminiscing that cannot go on while with family members, or while driving to be with childhood relationships. I try to look at this time as a time to refresh my mind, soul, and spirit on the purpose and reason we celebrate this season. Some moments - I have failed at this. I have wallowed in self-pity for a few hours, but thankfully those have come in small spurts. At this beginning of this week I was challenged by a dear friend and fellow blogger to read Philippians every day. That was such good preparation for yesterday, today, and tomorrow. (And here in Germany for Wednesday as well). I could relate to Paul being alone, feeling thankful for those that were sending support and for those there to encourage him, but most of all thankful to Jesus Christ and all He had done to change him and that God was continuing to change him and God WOULD ACCOMPLISH the change. (just relate not claim to be anything like)
So this morning I awoke refreshed and desiring to meditate on the simple and mystical birth of Christ. Are you aware that in Luke there is no mention of a stable in the scriptures that I can see. Yes, there is a reference to the manger and I can understand that fits in a stable. But I've been thinking about dwelling places lately and so the absence of mentioning a stable kind of stuck out at me in this passage.
I've never been to the Holy Land (I hope to go there someday). But from what I understand they have a spot that they claim as the place where Jesus was born. Interesting. On a night so long ago a lonely stable stood in Bethlehem. It sheltered the animals from the cold. No one would remember it to this day but for the fact that THE ALMIGHTY GOD lowered Himself from the heavens and in total humility entered the earthy, the dirty, the dingy, the tiny stable...
"although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Phil 2:6-8
...because there was no room for them in the inn.
May Christ dwell in me, and change me for now and ever more.
your mutating missionary
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
called vs. driven
A theme I often return to.
A called person doesn't necessarily have it all together, but they are leaning on the One who does.
A driven person thinks they pretty much have everything all figured out and can tell anyone at anytime what they are doing wrong and how they should be doing things.
It is a scary reality to realize that people that consider themselves incredibly holy can actually simply be driven.
It is also a scary reality that I can never determine who is called and who is driven.
I can only check my own heart and bend my knee and cry out to the One and Only God to keep me in His place. To remain called doesn't mean that I have it all together, it means that mistakes will litter my life, it means that His Grace is sufficient, it means that I am not alone - no matter what it looks like, or feels like, it means He is my defender, it means He will protect my reputation. And when I have done something that I really believed was the right thing to do...
Well, it means that He loves right where I am. It means that He knows my heart.
And I beg HIM to protect me from the driven and draw me to the called.
your mutating missionary
with a bit of a limp
Monday, December 10, 2007
When I think of discipline I used to think of the following:
#1 being disciplined in my life i.e. punctual, orderly, fit, etc.
#2 teaching children how to behave appropriately
#3 reading my Bible every day and praying every day at the same time
#4 the military...
I desired, craved, sought, yearned for discipline - I think it is true that we all would like to order our lives out of chaos, teach our children how to function well in this world, and we need the military to follow orders!!!!!These are not bad things - they are good and necessary for a well-oiled community.
However, over ten years ago God brought a classic book across my path. Reading the book Spiritual Disciplines I came away with a much broader understanding of the word discipline. As my dear friend, 'Beloved Daughter' (see Journey Friend USA)oh that reminds me... i need to take time to add a few on that list ... oops... i digress.... DANG IT WHERE IS MY DISCIPLINE???????
Anyhoo back to the topic at hand... herding the rabbits...herding the rabbits....
I just read her blogspot this morning on the topic 'redefining discipline'
Spiritual discipline is so much deeper and more exciting and has more mystery than what I originally defined it as!!!!!!!! Spiritual discipline calls us to order our worlds so that we can experience God in a way that otherwise we might miss.
My friend explains it well on her blogspot entitled 'Redefining Discipline'
I think it is interesting that she wrote this blogspot on December 3 and I had just begun to re-read my book written by Richard Foster entitled Spiritual Disciplines on December 1... - this isn't the first time that God has brought this friend and I to the same topic at about the same time. Not the first time, not the only spiritual friend...WOW Isn't God great at building community. He does it thousands of miles apart. Living in His Body is an adventure of the spiritual side of life. He spreads His oil in this body/community!!!!!
"Discipline in the Christian life does indeed require effort, but it is an effort to reveal rather than to conquer. God always calls. To hear God's call and allow that call to guide our actions requires discipline in order to prevent ourselves from remaining or becoming spiritually deaf. There are so many activities distracting us that a serious effort is necessary if we are to become and remain sensitive to the divine presence in our lives." Quoted from Compassion see more from journey friend USA
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Ahh - the freshness of childhood
(fish tank in Chinese Restaurant)
7:00 am on my side of the ocean and 'SallySue Sun' has not poked her nose up yet.
Last evening she drifted below the horizon before 5:00 pm. I drug myself away from ‘Rafa’ my new musical companion (piano I purchased here in Germany) and stepped out into the brisk evening air, lights twinkling and dangling from barren trees, and excitement in the Weinachtzeit German air. The end of 2007 rapidly approaches.
As is my natural tendency this time of year, my thoughts are roaming over 2007. When that begins to happen, I roam over 2006, 2000, 1994, 1990… the years cascade across my thoughts and tickle my memories. Sitting in my local Chinese restaurant (below my apartment) I enjoy my first Christmas gift (a meal from my neighbor i.e. owner of said restaurant.)
As is also my natural tendency at this time of year, I begin to re-read the books that have become my staples over the years. These books always seem to re-establish me, remind me of my focus, and basically kick me back into shape. Ordering Your Private World by Gordon McDonald, Spiritual Disciplines by Richard Foster, and A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy.
So… last evening as I sat with my mentor, Gordon McDonald (not to be confused with the heavier and weightier George McDonald read) over a Chinese meal, I am reminded of my failures. If one was to list them… - oh Dear Sweet Jesus let’s not go there…
And within that one incomplete phrase lie the message I relish.
Morning finally breaks across the mountains of the Black Forest and I peer from my bedroom window; a smile begins its birth. Now it is a full-fledged belly-laugh. If one was of the mindset to title a life, my choice for the title of my life would be Dancing with Failure.
Your mutating, mutating, mutating missionary…
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I'm excited that I am in a 'win/win' situation. With God that is true.
At present I am simply basking in the beauty of HIM. I never want to be anywhere but a whisper away from Him.
He is whispering, "Trust Me, dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness."
What does that look like? Hummm, well, right now it simply means enculturate, befriend, love, care, and pray.
My heart's desire: to be near Him and Him alone.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Praise God for separation.
The Greek word that is translated "separated" is aphorizo. If you look at that closely you will see the beginnings of a word we English speakers use often and enjoy admiring (especially in Texas). Horizon. It can actually be translated as 'off horizoned'.
When I think about the moment I fell on my face at 29 years old and told God I didn't care what it took, I just wanted to know HIM; I was picked up from one horizon and placed in a completely different horizon. I was off-horizoned...re-centered.
Let's look at it like this: you are on a boat in the ocean sitting in the lookout crow's nest. As far as you can see is horizon, a complete circle. But you realize that at that moment somewhere on the ocean is another boat, that sees a completely different horizon. Your center of horizon is where you are, but when you begin a journey with Christ, you are picked up from your horizon and placed in a completely different horizon. You still go to the same desk, you still teach the same children, you still wash the same clothes. But your horizon is different. You are separated. You are off-horizoned...re-centered.
And sometimes the pull to go back to the other center is strong. But HE will help us. How? Not by working at it. Instead by getting more of Him. And He becomes our center. We are re-centered, off-horizoned, separated into Him.
your mutating missionary
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I wonder how I will fare.
Will God find me preparing my heart, sharing my love for others and for Him?
Will He find me planting seeds of Good News?
Will He find me weeding away my issues tossing them aside --- once again! They just continue to pop up. Stubborn little suckers!
Am I blooming for Him?
And finally, can Christ find my hand in the harvest of anyone?
May I join Him in His harvest.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
what I find interesting is that I didn't even drink coffee until I was in my 30s.
I went out with a dear friend from High School after going through divorce. His parents and my mom were very good friends. And we were very good friends. He helped me during those years understand so many things. He was a chaplain at a hospital in Dallas. He would make sure I didn't have too tough of a time by myself without my children when they were with their dad every other weekend. I would talk about.... and he would listen. It was a nice healing time for me. A safe place to vent. He never took advantage of me and was always such a godly example for my kids and for me. I am glad we had that time together.
But, the one thing that I still remember about him is the way he introduced me to one of my favorite pastimes today.
After dinner one night he ordered a cup of coffee. He asked me if I wanted one and I said, "No, I really don't drink coffee."
He looked at me with these sad eyes and said in the most inviting manner, "How can I share a cup of coffee with you if you don't drink coffee?"
Now mind you, I had grown up with people drinking coffee around me all of my life. Everyone around me drank coffee. But no one had ever posed the thought to me quite like this before. What an invitation. It was warm and kind and fuzzy all in one.
Who would have thought that this invitation would allow me to share a cup of coffee over a foreign table in Slovenia... while discussing God , how he Has been my Lover, my Redeemer, my Friend. How He has given me the amazing ability to continue learning German and not give up. How He continually leads me into relationship with new people, under new roofs, or even under the sky.
Who would have thought that a cup of coffee would be the avenue to share Him with someone.
What a journey.
your mutating missionary
Friday, September 14, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Watching these girls, I recalled a lesson taught me years ago. It was in conjunction with slides, with sin, and with making life choices. It went something like this:
Where is the easiest, least painful place to stop on a slide?
Answer: At the top.
I have a dear friend that is making some life choices right now. You might say she is sliding down at a pretty robust speed. It is hard to watch. I remember times in my own life when the slide’s gotten the better of me.
God’s playground is immense, and we have oh so many fun things we can chose within His protective boundaries. Alas, when we push those boundaries – we get burned, we land on our rears, we scrap our legs, we fall…I know…been there, done that, and capable of doing it again. I too beg God to protect me from myself.
I find it interesting, that in kid-watching we learn so much.
Cautious child leaves the slide. Precarious child lands at the bottom. She then climbs the slide from a distasteful angle.
I’m thankful that He helps us up that angled slide. I’m praying that my friend not land too hard on her rump.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
1. seeing my daughter
2. watching friends win their baseball game with my daughter
3. praising and worshiping God with friends and my daughter on Saturday night in my home
4. sweet hands that are simply enlarged images of tiny fingers wrapped around my thumb 25 years ago - hummm my daughter's
5. talking for hours with no speaking at all
6. sharing a meal in silence
7. sharing a meal in laughter
8. sharing a meal at home
9. sharing a meal with friends and my daughter
10. walking through a gladiola blooming field with my daughter beside me, choosing the most vivid colors, cutting them with our own hands, bringing them home to my yellow nest, and enjoying the beauty of them in this little wohnung (apartment)
Yes, the common thread - my daughter.
I'm thankful that I have three + two children...
Children who are no longer children - but God-loving individuals, with minds of their own, and a faith that belongs to them. A faith found on their own. A faith in the one true God. Jehovah - Jirah...
the last week was a joy
your mutating missionary
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
A person who trusts no one can't be trusted. - Jerome Blattner
I have learned to use the word 'impossible' with the greatest caution. - Wernher von Braun
The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority. - Ralph W. Sockman
You might have them and read them.
Just found them interesting
btw: these two photos taken on my own little street here in ______, Deutschland.