Monday, August 29, 2016

Three Realities of Being Nobody

Have you ever received advice that you found both helpful and discouraging? Have you ever lost something that you thought you needed only to discover a wise Father took it away? That’s been my morning. I woke up today realizing I had not attached list of people committed to purchase my book to the proposal I’m preparing. I wanted to show my perspective publisher that I’m already selling, and I’m committed to the process. So I opened Word and began hunting. I looked through folders and documents, and ran several searches not just in documents, but my recycle bin and the whole computer. Nothing! I panicked. The thought of recreating this list overwhelmed me. At this point I had wasted far too much time on the computer and spent too little time with God. I grabbed my Bible, and headed to the porch for breakfast with the Bread of Life.

As I read through scripture and prayed, the Spirit prompted me to seek advice. So I messaged an acquaintance from a writer’s conference. This gentleman is not only a published author, but had a long career as an editor for a major publishing house. I asked, “How helpful is a list of commitments to purchase? Is it worth reconstructing the list?”

“Yes if it’s at least a 1000.” A thousand?! I don’t think I can even name a thousand people let alone get them to pledge to buy my book. On the up side I don’t need to bother retyping my puny list of 100ish. God spared me from making a fool of myself by attaching it to my proposal. The more progress I seem to make the more I hear the Devil roar, “You’re Nobody!”

I listened to a pod cast interview of a popular blogger this week. She told how after a series of trials she poured out 60,000 words in a weekend. She also has seven children still living under her roof. It’s taken me months to type a mere 30,000 words and I live in an empty nest!. “You’re Nobody!” I hear my arch nemesis roar.

I prefer to think I’m somebody with no present platform, somebody in the process of writing a book. Somebody who matters to God and as a result I am part of His kingdom plan. While it’s true that most people on the plant don’t know I exist I am still somebody to a small few. When Satan roars at you, “You’re Nobody!” here are three things to remember.
  1. Everybody who’s somebody started out as nobody. Jesus was born in a barn. I like Job’s perspective, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return. The Lord gives and the Lord has taken away: Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21. John the Baptist told his followers who were becoming jealous of the crowds that left them to follow the Messiah, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.” John 3:27. Platform is a gift from God or a curse if those who have it are careless.

    2. Nobodies are often unaware they’re somebody. Take Ruth and Naomi for example. In the ancient social ladder widows and barren woman were below the bottom rung. Yet these two women, widowed and barren, played a vital role in God’s plan of redemption.

    3.  There are no nobodies in God’s economy. Talk about someone who’s good with names, God even knows how many hairs are on our heads. From God’s prospective we are all whoevers and if we call on Him to save us then we are His children, chosen and beloved.

 I am somebody. Somebody blessed by the assurance that I am God’s workmanship and He has a divine to do list just for me. I am somebody who will, by God’s grace, complete those good works. The Lord rebukes you, Satan! I am somebody! Somebody who counts! And I am loved! And dear reader, so are you! 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

RIP - For the Soul Who Lives

April 14, 2016 marked the first decade since my dad's departure. The year he passed away Good Friday fell on the 14th. My mother lamented it marked the 46th anniversary of their first date. "He had to work hard to persuade me to go. I was a good Catholic girl back then. I told him I couldn't go because it was Good Friday. "Every Friday's a good Friday for a party!" he told me." Ironically that Good Friday fell on April 15th. It really was the 46th anniversary of their first date!

The past three weeks had been a roller-coaster of hospital stays and medical procedures for my dad. This meant that my already busy life as a pastors wife the weeks before Easter had the added stress of visiting my dad and concern for his health. Those of you who have experienced having a loved one in the hospital for extended periods know exactly how stressful it can be. We flew our oldest daughter home in case this would be her last visit with Grandpa. It was.

She and I spent the afternoon with him while my middle daughter took my mom for a much needed breather. While they ate a meal together in the hospital cafeteria, Rachel and I sang hymns to my dad. He had been hallucinating so bad that the doctor had him sedated.  We hoped the songs would touch his soul, calm him, and most of all turn his heart to the Savior he had rejected for so long. In fervent, silent intercession I pleaded with God for his soul. I begged to sing hymns he would know the words to. My insight to how God partially answered that prayer came the next day.

That evening towards the end of the Good Friday service, my aunt and uncle came in. I quietly headed over to them, then we three headed for the door. My dad was dying. After the service my husband and the kids joined me. We were all together around his bed holding hands, weeping. My mom (she is not a follower of Christ) gave him permission to go, to let go of the pain of this life but what pain would he find on the other side? Eternity is long and hell is far more painful than anything this life throws our way.

I love to hear the testimonies of those who diligently pray for years for their unsaved parents and their parents finally come to Christ. I praise God with them for the mercy and kindness of God. That is not my testimony. My testimony praises God in the painful doubt. My hope in God's mercy will not be fully realized until I too pass away. Then I will either find my dad made a death bed plea for forgiveness or Jesus will wipe my tears away. I found myself with Abraham that night in Genesis chapter 25. Where after fervent intercession for his nephew Lot he stands on the hill and sees the destruction of Sodom. There is no Biblical evidence he ever saw Lot again. So there I sat testifying with Abraham, "Shall not the Judge of the whole earth do right?" (Genesis 25:18).

The next day my uncle and I took on the hard task of telling my grandmother that her son had died. Shock held off tears. She couldn't believe her 67 year old son had died before her. We began planning a family memorial. My dad did not want a funeral but as a family we chose to have a family dinner and celebrate his life together the next day, Easter. When I asked my grandma if she had a request for a song that my girls could sing she chose In the Garden. "We sang that at Max's funeral," she told us. Max my grandpa died when I was a teen. Only my dad got to go since we lived on the opposite side of the country. The last song Rachel and I had sung for my dad was In the Garden and the last time he heard it before the day of his death was at his own father's funeral. Yes, God is merciful. He gave Rachel and I just the right song to sing to my dad. Did my father repent upon hearing it? I can only hope but this I do know God's mercy endures forever!

Let's remember God is love and the fact that any are saved is evidence of that. You see no one deserves to go to heaven. So in that reality my soul shall rest in peace.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Going on the Go: 4 Things to Know About Foreign Facilities

In January I enjoyed the privilege of being sent by my church as part of a five-person team to Ethiopia for ten days. What a blast to experience such a beautiful country and culture! One factor that leads to this positive experience came when I got up the courage and humility to ask the right question."Kay, what kind of restroom facilities should I expect?' Kay Bascom, a former missionary who lived in Ethiopia for many years, took no offense. Her answers enabled me to relax and prepare for the journey. Since the first challenge in the great commission says, "Go," this blog springs from my desire to enable you to do just that, to know how to go when you go to the ends of the earth. Whether short term or long term, you'll need to go at some point in your travels. I pray this will help.

1. Be Flexible
 Remember Gumby, the claymation cartoon from the early '60s? For those who don't, Gumby was an animated green stick of gum who never got caught in trouble because he could twist and roll out of every bad situation. Sue, a life long Air Force dependent (wife and brat), lives for mission. "Semper Gumby! Always flexible." is her battle cry for the Kingdom of God. She and her husband often spend their vacation time on short term assignments all over the world. They've led several teams over the years. The one thing that Sue despises is whiny westerners. "You have to use what's available. The whole world doesn't live like America. If we go to help let's not complain about how they live. That doesn't help anyone." So in third world countries don't expect modern plumbing and porcelain thrones. Kay told me you may just find a simple hole in the ground and guess what. That works! When it comes to squatty potties, as my friend Rebbeca calls them, enjoy the relief of simply relieving yourself.

2. Bring Your Own TP
Next Kay advised, "Make sure you bring some TP with you. You'll need it." So I bought lots of kleenex travel packs. The slim style in a sturdy plastic flip format worked well. Then I made sure I always had one on my person. I used them all and even gave Jane, my fellow traveler, a pack when she forgot hers. It happens. Pray if you forget, that someone you're with will be equipped and generous. Plan to be equipped and generous because a job's not finished until the paperwork is done.

3. Handiwipes are Handy
"You may want to bring hand wipes too," Kay encouraged. So I brought travel size handi wipes. These also proved helpful as many places do not have a sink to wash your hands in. Trust me, if you lose your balance in a squatty potty an antibacterial handiwipe will be your new best friend. Don't ask me how I know. I brought one travel pack of ten days. I found that insufficient and had to get a couple from my husband. Remember the whole equipped and generous thing. I suggest a travel pack for every week in the country and keep them with you. I scratched my ankle and the water tank was empty in our building. I was glad I could wash the scrap off. Plus, you never know when the smiling face of a child or a public table or toilet seat may need a little wiping.

4. Don't Plug the Potty
This tidbit came from Jane, my traveling companion. She spent twelve years living in third world countries: six in Ghana and six in Nepal. "Chances are if you see a waste paper basket in the bathroom it's for your TP.  I know that sounds gross to us but that's how they do it because often their plumbing can't handle the paper." If I found a toilet already plugged up I used the wastebasket for paper and the standing water supply to flush the receptacle manually. Many restrooms will have a bucket of water with a pitcher or a large jug for this purpose. Do use it, please. I also found myself peeking into wastebaskets to see if I should trash or flush my paper, when in Rome...

Before I left on the trip, friends would ask how they could pray specifically for me. Handling my colitis concerned me most so that's what I would tell them. That's why I asked Kay about restrooms in Ethiopia. Humility freed me and provided me with both helpful information and well-informed prayer warriors. Through those means, God took me on a wonderful trip and opened my eyes to the diversity and beauty of His creation. So GO into all the world with the Gospel and go feeling free to go because now you know!
This was my favorite bathroom in Ethiopia. Jane and I raved about it and called it "The PLACE!"

Lord, please send laborers into Your harvest. Make them well informed and flexible. Give them a love for people who live differently and a love for learning how to live as others do. Please, use this to prepare others to GO! Amen.

For those who've been in third world countries do you think this is helpful? What other advice would you give?