Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's time again. The most wonderful time of the year!

That is still how we see it, right?

Despite the shopping lists and the overbooked calendars and the credit card bills and the cooking that needs to be done, it's still the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it?

Living outside of the US this year for the holidays is both a blessing and it brings a bit of sadness.

On the one hand, we would love to be spending the holidays with the fam, toting around our funny, goof-ball of a two year old and our brand new baby girl to all the get-togethers. I'd be lying if I said that we weren't going to miss the turkey and dressing and sweet potato casserole and PECAN PIE! Oh, how I will miss you pecan pie.......

But on the other hand, it's kinda peaceful here. The only sign of Christmas I've seen was when we went to the mall and let me just tell you, it's a shock to the senses when you walk in from 90 degree heat into a Winter Wonderland complete with giant Christmas tree, snow flakes galore, and Santa all decked out, waiting to hear the Christmas wishes of boys and girls. There just something weird about that....

Anyway, it's nice to be away from the hustle and bustle that the Christmas season has become in the US. I see so many FB statuses of long lines and empty shelves and stress and exhaustion... and it's only November!

No thanks.

But then again, Richard and I made a decision back a couple of years ago when we became parents to do things differently, no matter where we were on the globe. We just didn't feel right about what Christmas had turned into in the US, even among Believers. It just all seemed very.... wrong.

To take this season as a license to gorge ourselves on gifts and decorations and STUFF all in the name of "celebrating the holidays" just didn't mesh with what we found in the Bible.

Not the having fun part. Not the spending time with loved ones part. Not the enjoying part.

The gorging part.

So we decided to do things differently. Not because we're awesomely spiritual people. Not because we don't like to get new things or to give our kids new things. Not because we think Christmas trees are of the devil or that if you hang stockings and tell your kids that Santa is coming then they will grow up to be cult leaders.

But because we realized that while these things can be fun, there are things that are best. Things eternal.

So here are some things we've chosen to do differently. No guilt trip here, just some ideas to ponder and challenge you to ask, "Do I even remember what I got for Christmas last year? Do my kids even play with the toys we are still paying off? Do I need new Christmas decorations when I have 17 boxes full in our storage building? What are we teaching our kids about eternity through this season?"

  • We don't really do the whole decorating-every-square-inch-of-the-house. First off, it's costly. And secondly, most of the items are "Made in China" where child labor is a huge problem. Last year, we had a simple Christmas tree that fit on our TV stand with some ornaments, a wreath on the door and some yummy Christmas smelling candles. We played a lot of Christmas music and it was simple and fun and inexpensive.
  • We don't tell Elliott that "Santa is coming". We don't think Santa is evil and we don't cover Elliott's eyes when we pass by Santa at the mall. Right now he is only 2.5 years old so he doesn't really care or take notice, but if and when he does ask about Santa, we'll be happy to tell him about him and what the story is. But we don't emphasize "believing" in Santa. Personally growing up, we always had presents from "Santa" under the tree and it was fun. For our kids, though, we just realize that it's a dead end road... nothing eternal to teach unless you go back to the TRUE story of Saint Nicholas. That's a good idea!
  • We don't buy Elliott a ton of presents. In fact, I think for his first Christmas (which we spent in the Amazon), we bought him two presents... neither of which he played with. Last year, I don't know that we got him anything ourselves because we knew the Grandparents would be buying him things. This year, we will probably go with the saying, "Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read"... I think that's very practical and a good way to teach balance between wants and needs.
  • In terms of gift GIVING, we are making an effort each year to give gifts in honor of our family members to organizations and ministries making an eternal impact in the world. There are SO many great organizations out there. Here are a couple of ideas from what we've done:
Last year, we bought our family members chickens. Yep. Chickens. We did it through Heifer International and it was something lasting. Heifer is a ministry that provides livestock to impoverished communities to help provide food as well as income for the families.
Check out Heifer International here: http://www.heifer.org

For Elliott, we decided to sponsor a child through Amazima Ministries. So for the last twelve months (and for many months to come), we've helped provide food and education for a 9 year old little girl in Uganda. Better than any toy that he would play with for approximately 3.2 seconds before preferring his drumsticks, pots, and pans anyway.  
Check out Amazima Ministries here: http://www.amazima.org

For Elliott's first birthday (but you could do this for Christmas), we asked people not to buy gifts, but to instead buy gift cards or make a cash donation to a needy family from our church. I have no doubt that there are families right in your neighborhood or church family that have real needs right now... things like food and clothing, not the newest electronic gadget or toy. Ask your Pastor or small group leader... I bet they can think of someone!
There are literally hundreds of other ministry opportunities that your family can get involved with and missionaries around the globe working to spread the Gospel. Search them out! Find little ways and big ways to give back and make a lasting impact for Christmas this year.

I don't know that I have ever heard someone regret giving generously. I know we never have.

"No one ever became poor by giving." -Anne Frank

People have, however, become poor by gorging.

Next year, you'll remember what you gave and so will your kids. And eternity might just be changed because of it. 

Some great blog posts about transforming your Christmas:

Quit Spending Money You Don't Have Just Because It's Christmas-Sheesh!- Brant Hansen

Here's a Money Tip: Be Reckless- Brant Handsen

The Christmas Conundrum- Jen Hatmaker

Some more great ministries to give to:

Buy coffee for a cause! Seeds Coffee Co. seeks to have an eternal impact from the plowing of the coffee fields to the steaming brew in your mug. Check out this awesome ministry... who doesn't love a good great cup of coffee??

Help send a Panamanian Indian to summer camp! Our good missionary friends in Panama, David and Marianella Bueno, have a vision to send 100 Panamanian Indian kiddos to summer camp where they will get the chance to swim in a real pool, meet new friends, eat good food, and most importantly hear from the Word of God. For just $40, you can pay for a life changing week for one of these kids and be part of impacting them for eternity. How's that for making a kid smile for Christmas??
For more info, contact David and Marianella at mariaydavid@hotmail.com

Help reach uncontacted people groups with the Gospel! Several weeks ago, God laid on our hearts the desire to start a program to support the efforts of the Indian nationals in Brazil to reach their own people with the Gospel in areas that foreigners have no access. That's when Project Javari was formed.For just $20 a month, you can support an Indian national who is being discipled and trained to 
carry the Gospel to his own people group. In fact, next month, three of these Indian men will be traveling by canoe to share the Gospel with their people for the very first time. If you want more information on how to be a part of this effort, e-mail Richard at b.r.whittemore@gmail.com.

Help build a school in Haiti! Blogger Jen Hatmaker has teamed up with Help One Now and Pure Charity to build a school in Yaveh Shamma, an orphanage in Petionville, Haiti, to benefit the 30 orphans and 120 vulnerable children that currently attend a tent school. Click here to find out how you could get involved: https://www.helponenow.org/legacyproject/

(I see this picture circling Facebook, and maybe we're becoming desensitized. Maybe it's becoming cliche. I don't care. It makes me physically sick to my stomach when I picture Elliott's little bitty face and arms stretched out like that. God have mercy on us.)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Marcos' Testimony

A few weeks ago, many of you will remember reading about my trip to the jungle to get a program started. This program is a national missionary support program that helps get funds to young men who want to reach their own families with the Gospel, most of whom have NEVER heard the Gospel. These young men also live in an area with many, many uncontacted people groups. They speak similar languages and have similar cultures as these young men that are being discipled by Marcos.

I have known Marcos for a few years now and have heard his testimony a couple of times. I had always heard the version that started at his redemption in Christ. It was December 24, 1999 when Eli Ticuna took the Gospel to him in his village. I had always assumed (which we all know is a bad idea) that Marcos had a "standard" Javari childhood. I had never really thought about the fact that he had family members that were a huge part of his upbringing. Well, that changed the other night as I heard Marcos' testimony from the early years. It has humbled me even more. As I share his testimony below, please know that I cannot make this up. This is something ONLY the Sovereign God of the universe could orchestrate for His glory. Here it is. Put yourself in his shoes - what would you do?

Marcos was born in a Mayoruna village, within their culture and beliefs. He also happened to be born as a twin. He and a twin brother were both born into a culture were twins are considered demonic. Even though he was a twin, his family loved him and hid the fact that there were 2 of them.
It wasn't long, however, before it was discovered that an "evil" set of twins was living among the village. You see, in most of these tribes, a twin represents an evil that cannot be overcome without the death of one or both of the children. Most tribes believe these are not actually babies but evil spirits that cause most of the bad that befalls the tribe. (By the way, as an intermission here, there is a reason why these beliefs are held strongly--his name is satan.) So, once it was discovered that Marcos was a twin, the chief made the proclamation that there had to be a death. By the time this all took place Marcos was a 9-10 year old boy. This is were the story takes a very sad turn.

Marcos father, intent on saving his sons, put himself up to die for them (sound familiar?). Marcos did not realize what was going on because his mother hid it from him. Soon he found out that there was going to be a murder in the village. Without going into too much detail, Marcos, as a young boy, watched his people burn his father and twin brother alive. His fathers departing words were, "I love you and my spirit will always be with you." He watched his father and twin brother be burned alive. Do you realize that? This young boy watched his family die because a chief said it had to happen because of their belief system.

After that, his mother saved his life by getting him out of the village so he would not have to try and defend himself. He grew up for several years in a Brazilian town, and at the age of 18, now a man able to defend himself, Marcos returned. Just a short while after that is when the Lord sent Eli to give the Gospel to him. Because he had lived in a Brazilian town, he spoke good portuguese and readily accepted the Gospel. After that, he was discipled and spent 4 years at a Brazilian seminary.

Now, Marcos sole passion in life is to get the Gospel to the people of the Javari. He has started a discipleship program and is teaching several different tribes the Gospel. He has learned 3 other languages to teach them in their OWN language. In less than one month, 2 young Matis men (one is the son of a Witchdoctor) will be traveling with Marcos to give the Gospel for the first time to their people.

This is what Marcos says, "After I returned, the drug traffickers had given us a lot of things, especially guns. Many people thought that I would kill chief Jose because he had killed my dad. At this point he was about 100 years old. But because of the forgiveness that Christ had shown me, I was able to forget my anger and hate, I was able to look at him like a dad. Many indians are not brave when it comes to dealing with authority, but authority needs the Gospel too! I am ready to die for the Gospel of Jesus. If that time comes, I will not have any difficulty."

People, this is a man that watched his father and brother BURNED alive over a STUPID belief, and he understands that this man was just a sinner acting as a sinner and does NOT harbor hate in his heart towards him.

Marcos passion is Christ, he is teaching the young men who Christ is and how to follow him. He is simply doing what the Lord has called him to do. He watched his earthly father give his life for him, and then the Lord brought someone to share how his heavenly Father did the same - and now his whole life revolves around getting that news to people like the chief that murdered his father.

If you would like more information on how to support Marcos and his ministry, please email me at B.r.whittemore@gmail.com

(Marcos is on the far left.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

When Dreams Become Realities

I don't know how many times it happens in a lifetime, or even if it happens more than once or even once at all for everyone.

But, in the midst of the change and tears and fears and doubts and anger and stubbornness and discontentment and the hard over the last almost three months here, something happened.

Something beautiful.

For the longest I couldn't see it. I was too busy sulking in my selfish desire for what was and what will be that I didn't even realize that all the things I had prayed for were actually coming to pass here in the now.

I think part of the reason that this beautiful transformation escaped my sight was because it hasn't looked like I imagined it would when I prayed.

What I mean is, in my prayers it looked easy.

When I asked God to change me, to make me like Him, to bring me to the place where He wanted me, I pictured peace and ease. Isn't that what Jesus said, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light"?

I wanted the end product without the process. And in the process I have found that there is no such thing.

Today, I hold in my arms a tiny, big piece of that dream. Her name is Raegan Piper Grey and she is more perfect than I could ever have dreamed.

And I think back at the process of bringing her into this world with the nausea and the sleeplessness and the tired exhaustion and the aches and pains and emotions and fears and longing for family to walk this with me but knowing they were thousands of miles away.

I think back on those nine months now and remember that it seemed like an eternity. Days seemed like weeks sometimes when factored in with all of the other life changes going on.

At times it was hard.

But somehow now as I hold this baby girl, I see that without that long, difficult process, there is no beautiful end result. And I find myself thankful for process that leaves me with a scar to remind me of this journey that was necessary to bring this life into the world.

And I realize it's in the process that we find God is true to His promises.

The past three months have been a roller coaster of emotions as we walk this dream of a journey that God placed in our hearts over five years ago now.

Now as I look back at the process that brought us here, I bow my head and lift my hands in awe that the Creator God would count us worthy of this calling. Would take the time to work out in our lives a beautiful masterpiece of His will and, what's more, He would care enough to make it hard.

If it were easy, we would never see Him.

But just as gold is refined in the fire and diamonds are made by pressure, we are made more like Him as we engage in what is uncomfortable and trying and even downright painful at times. It's in that process that not only are dreams given, but they are made into reality as we walk by faith, trusting His pathway though we can't see the next step.

This time last year I remember sharing with so many the desire of our heart to have another baby, to be in Brazil, to begin the process of getting permanent residency so we could work freely with the beautiful people God has given us a burning passion for. Back then it seemed so distant if not an impossible goal.

I sit here now, in Brazil with our baby girl as Richard is driving to register her birth so that we can begin our permanent residency process and my heart rejoices for the journey that we have been on and I humbly ask Him to continue to make us more like Him.

Even when it isn't easy.

"Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing." James 1.2-4


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Alone in the City: Day Eight (Election Edition)

Being out of the country during election season was quite the blessing. No commercials, no campaign ads, no daily banter. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.... sweet peace.

Yesterday being election day, however, I wanted to keep up with what was going on. But there is a two hour time difference here so by midnight my time I was spent and off to bed I went, knowing that me staying up til 3am to find out the results would not, in fact, make any difference whatsoever in the outcome but me losing more sleep would make for a long day today.

Being 8.5 months pregnant, there are only about a million and one middle-of-the-night bathroom wake-ups so about 2:45 I woke up to go and thought I'd check Facebook for the results.

It was very clear right away that Obama had won the gold.

What was my reaction? I turned over and immediately fell back to sleep. (Cut be a break, the sun comes up at 4:45 am here!)

When I woke up again this morning, I began to feel the tinge of disappointment. But it wasn't actually disappointment that Obama won and Romney lost. It was a disappointment with the response of Believers to the outcome. Hear me out.

Some of the status updates I've seen have been so gloom and doom, so hopeless and depressing.

I can't help but think that last night as America awaited the results, Jesus was in fact NOT pacing the floors of Heaven, updating his FB and Twitter feeds every 30 seconds and watching FOX News to see the latest poll closings.

He knew this would be the outcome a while back.... like, before He created the world. And what's even more is He planned it that way.

While we sit back thinking that if more people would have just voted, things could have been different, Jesus sits comfortably at the right hand of God knowing that is actually not true. He controlled the polls yesterday, not us.

As much as we like to think we have a say in things, the fact of the matter is, we don't. And most of us like to say that we know God is sovereign and in control.... until His sovereignty and control look a little bit different than what we thought they should looke like.

Jesus isn't disappointed with the election results. In fact, I think He's waiting for His Body to step up and be the hands and feet we were called to be. And He's giving us all the opportunity in the world.

So here's what I say:

Instead of fearing the next four years, praise the Lord that He is in control and that we aren't!

It's time for us, as believers, to stop standing up for these big-time events like Chick-fil-a rallies and Presidential elections and start working out our roles as Believers in the day-to-day.

Don't want to see more abortions? Romney wouldn't eliminate abortion. So, instead, if you're really passionate about it like we all like to say during election season, get in touch with your local crisis pregnancy center and donate your time like my friend Shannon Conner did after the last election. She says:

"Another positive (for me) about this Obama administration is...I can't stand his views on abortion! So instead of being mad about it for 4-years (or 4 more) I started volunteering at Sav-a-Life in my community and have met some wonderful godly women who can pray the house down if they have to!"

Can't volunteer? I bet you can give sacrificially to provide diapers, formula, clothing, and other essentials to new moms who have made the scary choice to keep their babies, despite pressure to do otherwise. Don't have a crisis pregnancy center? Start one! Or at least get on your knees and beg God to lay it on someone's heart to do so.


Upset about the unemployment rate? Romney wouldn't eliminate unemployment. Get in touch with your local homeless shelter and start volunteering to serve. Search out families in your area who have lost their homes and take them in. Start regularly donating to the local food bank. Participate in fundraisers to fund these organizations.

Before we moved to Brazil, I had met a homeless lady in downtown Chattanooga on night as Richard and I walked back to our car after dinner and a movie. Her name was Angela. God laid it on my heart to begin meeting with her one day a week for Bible study and we did just that for about six months. I assure you that she impacted my life much more than I impacted hers! Was it hard? Yes. Were there days I didn't want to do it? Yes. Was it totally worth the time and money we invested in her? Absolutely!


Upset about public school underfunding? Romney wouldn't fix our problems in the schools. Instead, find out if your local schools have tutoring programs that you can volunteer for. If there are children in your neighborhood who come home to an empty house every afternoon, invite them over for snacks and games. See if you can donate school supplies to kids in need during the year.

My friend Shannon also says:

"I really don't care for how the administration wants people to be dependant on the government so I'm going to check out volunteering at a youth detention center and hopefully inspire at least one person to pull themselves up and better their life and NOT depend on the government for a handout. I can't save the world but I'm just looking for one."

I know of a couple who sold their big house in the suburbs and moved to the inner city to reach at-risk youth. Sound radical? Sounds like Jesus to me.

Upset about the Health Care crisis? Romney wouldn't make it all better. Start making healthier life choices and living simpler to save money and improve your health, decreasing the need for health care and preparing for the future. Take up an exercise routine. Participate in walk/run fundraisers for cancer, diabetes, March of Dimes, etc. Eat real foods. Research medicines before just taking them because the doctor prescribed it. Look for natural alternatives.

We live in a society that has quickly put their faith in a health system that doesn't have us as its best interest. Start taking charge of what you do to your own body!


Just don't like Obama for his lack of principles, lies, and corruption? Let's not forget Romney is a politician, too. And a Mormon.... doesn't stand for our core beliefs either. So make it a point to pray for him. Every single day. How much did we pray for Obama over the last four years? Do we not think God is big enough to change him? If we really do think God is that big, let's pray like it.

In other words, stop fearing and dreading and being depressed. Do something!

Live simpler to give more to what REALLY matters: spreading the Gospel around the world. Sponsor a child. Volunteer at a school, homeless shelter, or pregnancy center. Pray for our leaders and teach our children to pray for our leaders. Adopt. Foster a child. Simplify your life so you can serve and give more. Start a program for at-risk youth. Write encouraging e-mails and letters to people you know are struggling. Buy groceries for the family whose husband just lost his job. Cook meals for the sick. Visit the nursing homes.

Give. Go. Serve. Do. Pray.

The people I know who are doing these things, don't have much time on their hands to complain about what isn't happening....

Let's take this election result as a hint from God that it's about time we step up our game.

The world isn't going to know us by who we vote for, they are going know us by how we love.

"By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13.35

Monday, November 5, 2012

Alone in the City: Day Six

"I just feel like I don't have any control at all!"

I said it with anger, through tears while Richard listened patiently.

Then he calmly said the words that were oh so true, but not what I wanted to hear: "Maybe that's the point."

"Of course that's the point, but I don't want that. I want to be able to control something in my life!" That's what I told God. The irony of the arrogance doesn't escape me. I see it for what it is, but I know God sees it in my heart anyway. May as well just say it.

The more I ask God to show me my heart, the uglier things get.

Today, I spent most of the day working on our ministry stuff and was confronted with more arrogance and irony in my heart.

We recently transitioned mission boards and somewhere in the transition we lost some supporters along the way for one reason or another.

And I worry.

I worry as I adjust the spreadsheet to reflect the new numbers and it's less than what it was before. Money has always been a struggle for me. I don't like crunching numbers, paying bills... I don't even like to know what's in our account. It's a source of stress.

And that's wrong.

The irony is found in the fact that I know that God has never NOT provided a need. Even now I sit here with food in my belly, internet at my fingertips, a glass of clean water next to me, and even a list of people who have said in just the last few days, "Let me know if you need anything!"

Meanwhile, in the Jungle, babies are dying from dirty water, malaria, and yellow fever. Tribes remain hopeless because the Gospel hasn't arrived and they watch as their people die daily from preventable disease. Indigenous missionaries long to go into the depths of the Jungle to reach their own people, but the funds aren't there. Marcos (who you can read about here, here, and here) supports himself, his wife, their 2 year old son and 11 Indian students on $250 a month.

Here, we still have more money coming in each month than 98% of the world will see in a year.

And I have the audacity to ask God to let me have control of something in my life. What a mess I would make!

My American heart is so scarred from a culture of excess and greed and I ask God to forgive me, deliver me. I want to see clearly.

"Create in me a clean heart, oh God. And renew a right spirit within me..." (Psalm 51.10)

I pray this, knowing that it will hurt.  After all, "pressure creates diamonds and fire refines the gold" (Tripp Lee).

But it would be oh so very worth it to have the faith of these Christian Indians in the Jung|e who daily fall before a holy God, begging Him, not for money or things or even security and certainly NOT to have control, but for strength to endure so that their families can know the Truth.

God forgive my faithless, arrogant, selfish, prideful heart.

Make me more like the very people You have called me to.

Alone in the City: Days Four and Five

Sorry, no deep spiritual revelations in my heart these two days. Just this:

And these:

God gave me the chance to visit Porto de Galinhas (google it, I think you'll like what you see...) here in Brazil Friday-Sunday. I didn't want to go at first because I am an introvert (an introverted missionary sounds like quite the oxymoron, but that's an entirely different blog post) and had no idea what to expect spending an entire weekend with people I didn't know, in a place I didn't know, speaking a language I barely know.
Summary? I'm so glad I went. Brazilians are some of the absolute nicest people on the planet and made me feel like we had been friends forever.
Plus, I got to sleep in an air conditioned room. Bonus.
I'm finding in my ripe old age of 26 that sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is just rest.
Rest in God. Rest in His blessings. Rest in the opportunities.
And that's just what I did and while I sit here alone again in our apartment, I feel refreshed and renewed both spiritually and physically.
"Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11.28
Thank you God for rest.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Alone in the City: Day Three

God is beautiful everywhere.

This simple yet profound thought came to my mind tonight as I looked up at the halfway moon in the cloudless sky, driving back from the most beautiful beach Brazil has to offer.

And I felt very, very small.

But it wasn’t a condescending kind of small, like I was useless or worthless. It was a feeling of peace, knowing that I am small, and that’s good.

It’s safe to be small when your God is so big.

There’s a message that my own husband has taught several times that I came to my mind tonight. (For the record, it’s not fun when the Holy Spirit uses your spouse’s messages to speak to you… it’s a blow to the pride.)

It comes from John chapter 6. To keep it short and sweet, Jesus pretty much lays it all out for the religious elite. He knew their hearts and ignored their empty words, stating they wanted to follow him when in fact all they wanted was what He had to offer.

In verses 26-27, Jesus calls them out, “I assure you: you are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Don’t work for the food that perishes, but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal of approval on Him.”

In short, they didn’t want Jesus for Jesus, they wanted Jesus for His stuff.

Tonight, as I looked up at the moon, I was reminded that God doesn’t in fact need me. It’s not as if when I entered the world, He said, “Finally! She’s here!”

He is beautifully at work and His creation sings His praises and I am very small, nearly invisible.

And He says, “I have chosen you. I don’t need to use you, I want to. And that is good.”

But so often I find myself not wanting Jesus for who He is, but rather for what it brings me. Even the good things—peace, joy, love, hope—I want these more than I want Jesus. And that’s where the problem comes.

The missionary life is often deceitfully intriguing to the outside world. Stories of adventures and conversions and living in a far off place fill our minds as pictures of poverty and redemption fill our eyes. And it’s easy to love God there. It’s easy to be passionate and faithful in the excitement.

It’s the mundane that’ll getcha.

“Can you want me in the mundane?” He asks. “Do you want Me for Me, or do you want Me for what I can give you?”

The answer is hard, but I humbly acknowledge that most times I want Him for what He can give. I want the adventure and the passion and the influence. I fumble when life is just changing diapers and washing dishes and cleaning up messes and living the day to day. I am discontent there in the ordinary.

I fail most in the commonplace.

And He says to me, “I am beautiful there, too. You don’t see it because you don’t want Me. You want what I can give you.”

Tonight, I felt very small—just as I should. And I ask Him to help me desire Him for who He is and not for what I desire that He give me.

He is God in Heaven, and here am I on earth.

God, help me want you in the ordinary.




Thursday, November 1, 2012

Alone in the City: Day Two

"If you aren't content with me here, what makes you think you will be content with me somewhere else?"

I've heard the Spirit speak that to my soul too many times before.

Discontent. Always look back, looking forward, wanting more, never appreciating the moment.
"But godliness with contentment is a great gain." (1 Timothy 6.6HCSB)
These words speak loudly to me.
Godliness--with contentment--is great gain. What good is godliness without contentment? Without it, my heart is only seeking godliness for the sake of gain (1 Timothy 6.5)
"Am I enough?"
He asks me this. And my reply is, "Yes! Of course You are enough!"
"Then why are you discontent?"
My discontentment speaks much louder than my empty words, stating He is sufficient but living as though He isn't. Always longing for more--even "good" things. But missing the point--that He is enough. His plan is perfect. Not my preconceived notions of what He has for me.
We all like Philippians 4.13--I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.
It's inspirational, warm, powerful.
But what about the preceeding verses that lead to Paul's bold statement? Those are hard.
"I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.................. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4.11-13 HCSB)
Contentment. No matter the circumstances--I can be content because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
And if the Apostle Paul had to learn this, why do I think it will come naturally for me?
"I don't know how to learn this," I say, frustrated that I still struggle, fight, fail. Shouldn't this battle be won?
"How do I learn?!" I ask Him boldy.
"I'm teaching you now," He says.
I learn through the hard.
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