My Sweet Evening
Good Morning, Afternoon, or Night. This morning I lay in bed, as I imagine many mothers do, unable to completely fall back to sleep after getting up and down with a child, a bathroom trip, and what I thought was a child getting up only to find they must have been talking in their sleep. I have found that God uses the early mornings for sweet moments with me. So, though a little weary, I was able to have a date with the Creator of the Universe before the sun even peeked its head up. I lay there sharing thoughts with the Father of my truly blessed evening last night. The minister’s wife at our “Momma-Church”, Sunnyside Christian Church has all of the other minister’s wives over about every 2 ½ – 3 months, and boy was I ready! Nathan kind of caught on to my excitement as I giddily announced at 5:42 p.m. that I would be leaving in 8 minutes. Then at 5:43, “I will be leaving in 7 minutes!” So off I went at 5:50 to Mrs. Ruth’s house for a sweet time of fellowship, and sweet is was! There ended up being only 5 of us total, but at the end of the evening I think we could all see how God used our small size to infuse BIG thoughts, feelings, and dreams. As we sat together our conversation quickly turned to mission work and our missionary friends. Mrs. Ruth’s daughter Anne and her family have returned from working in China for many years and are now in the midst of raising support for work in Italy. Carol and her family spent some years in Honduras as missionaries. My friend Sarah and I have both been on short-term mission trips. And so the sharing began. We talked of living situations whether scary, hot, strange, or admirable. We discussed the way people had to live and what determined their futures. We discussed the spiritual states of many we had encountered and others we knew of. We talked of those people that God so blessed us by letting us know them. We talked of the way God worked – because He so does, you know – in the hard and easy economic places and in the hard and harder spiritual places. We then shared how many times here, in the US, we take forgranted all of our physical blessings. Talk to any of these ladies, my friends, and you will realize this in a few short minutes. Yet, with all of these physical conveniences I think we all came to agree that it seemed so much easier to stay focused on our purpose, to “Go make disciples of all nations…” (Matt 28:19), when we were in the other countries; for, when there, we no longer had the distractions that we are surrounded by, and sometimes surround ourselves with, here in America. Through these thoughts I was reminded of an email a friend of mine sent out when she returned from a short trip to Africa. While there she began wondering what she had truly given up to know and serve Christ here in our country. In other countries people give up there livelihoods, their acceptance with their families, their freedom, and/or their lives. So what have we had to really give up besides maybe some bad habits? (I’m not down-sizing our salvation stories; we are truly saved from so much!) God helped her come to this conclusion: Those of us who are choosing day in and day out to lay down our lives, take up our crosses, and follow Him (Luke 9:23) here have in every way given up the “American Dream”. That dream that says go do what every you want. Go satisfy your every dream and desire, no matter what it takes. As a mom those childhood dreams can pop in your mind when you are exhausted at the end of the day and you’ve changed the last diaper and you think everyone’s in bed for the night and then a child awakens sick. Or when you, a single mom or dad, have worked all day, come home to a messy house and children who need the rest of you that’s left. Or when you, a dad, who is working one, two, three jobs to support your family and you get home and they all want to see Dad, hang on Dad, talk to Dad and though you want the same things, all you have the energy for is to sit. These dreams are not unwarranted. Quite frankly having these dreams got me through some tough times and situations when I was growing up. As I have grown in my faith, though, and matured in the knowledge of Christ and what He was and is about, I see so very clearly how there is a lot to be given up in His name where I’m at. It may not be nice, convenient facilities. It may not be food I can get down without cringing. It may not be living in fear of rats scurrying around in my house. It may not be that I can’t openly express my faith and what I believe. But what it may be, and I believe is, is the dreams that make me number one. For His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than ours (Isa 55:9). Whatever we may dream or scheme to accomplish, it will never compare to the greatness of our God’s. I don’t know if there is any great lesson to be learned from these thoughts but maybe some questions we can think about are: Where/With Whom do our dreams lie? What have you given up for the sake of Christ, to be called children of God? Have you ever thought about missions…about being a missionary? Do you realize that as often as God has called us to “Go Out” He has also called us to “Go Among” (go among those we currently live with)? Do you realize how great our futures are in the sight of the God who has planned them? Are you following His plan?Needless to say I have been refreshed, Friends, and I do pray that some of what I’ve shared has done the same for you.
posted by Anastasia at 7:23 AM 1 comments
One of my heroes of the faith is Mother Teresa. Ever since I became a Christian (age 13) I have been encouraged, challenged, and spurred on in Christ through her life and her recorded words. When I was in high school I did research on her and then had to dress the part and present my findings. So for a whole 15 minutes, I was a nun!
I find her so intriguing and kindred, if you will, because what she had opportunities to do, I long to do. Whenever I come across the passages in the Bible where Jesus is touching and healing the lepers or where he is engaging in the lives of the poor, my heart just screams out “Here I am Lord, use me!” Nevertheless, my husband (and I do believe it’s in his wisdom and love) has asked, unless pushed by the Spirit, for me to wait to do my work with the lepers, but I pray that God will not forget my dreams in this area (He won’t!) and that during this time He will prepare me for that day. And until then may my eyes, heart, mind, and arms be open to the poor and hurting around me now.
So here are some of my favorite quotes by M. Teresa. I’ve commented on a few; maybe you can record them in your journal and make comments about how they speak to you.
“Holiness does not consist in doing extraordinary things. It consists in accepting, with a smile, what Jesus sends us. It consists in accepting and following the will of God.”
-I hope you see me smile more and more! I hope to see you, my friends, do the same!
“We should go out to meet people. Meet the people who live afar and those who live very close by. Meet the materially poor or the spiritually poor.”
“To sometimes experience disgust is something quite natural. The virtue, which at times is of heroic proportions, consists in being able to overcome disgust, for the love of Jesus. This is the secret we discover in the lives of some saints: the ability to go beyond what is merely natural.”
-Being a mom sure helps you push through disgust on many levels :), but I have found that many times my “disgust” is not with the physical messes. I tend to shy away from someone’s spiritual state or her/his emotional state or their “differentness” than me. I have to really fight that voice that says “you’ve worked hard to get away from that place you grew up in, stay away”. There’s the rawness of my heart. I can go into a TB clinic in the Ukraine (which I did) and hug those patients till the sun goes down on any day of the week, but ask me to put my whole self back in the circumstances of how I grew up just to “meet people” and I stay on the side lines. It’s not a lack of love for them or my God, but my timidness (which God did not give us) and lack of faith (nor did he give that) that God could get me through emotions that may arrise through remembrances of my past and actually use me there. Hopefully I’ll be willing to get uncomfortable for God – to get past my disgust and “go beyond what is merely natural” for me.
“I in them, and Thou in Me…Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me…that the love wherewith Thou didst love Me may be in them, and I in them.” -John 17:23b, 26b
This past Sunday during communion I went searching in John (probably my favorite gospel, if you’re allowed to have a favorite) for a Word that would ready my heart for “remembrance”. I couldn’t help but wind my way back to the Vine and Branch speech; I love reading about how we are connected to Jesus and the ways in which He ensures our growth in Him! I then moved on to Jesus’ prayer time, and I couldn’t wait to get to the part where I am included. “I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in me through their word…” (John 17:20)
In my devotional time this past week I have been responding to questions about my “early years” (those of you who know that I’m 25 will get a kick out of that statement – well, now all of you know!). These questions have had me remember back and try and recognize GodSpots during that time. Well, I love doing this because I am always amazed at how my God, and yours, gets His hands dirty on our behalf. I lived in a mess of danger and chaos the first 5 years, and a few plus, of my life, but as I look back I see where God put His pure, holy, strong right hand right in the midst of a “fear factor” kind of situation and grabbed a hold of me. And guess what girls, He hasn’t let go yet! I get chills, tears, and a smile just thinking about it. Ooh, got goin’ on that, back to John chapter 17.
So Sunday, as I scanned that wonderful section of His remembrance of us, God shed light within my heart and mind on two verses, 17:23 and 26. In these verses Jesus speaks the Truth about how God sees us. Yes, God made us each individually unique and special to Him. He made Anastasia, He made ___________ (your name can go there!) and He knows us and our forms – even before we were thought of on this earth! But God also looks upon us with the same love and affection that He has when he gazes at His Son. If we are believers in Christ, we are as Christ is to Him. That means something.
I know for me, when I have watched another parent’s child that though I may love them, teach them, and nurture them in my own way, I do not look at them with the same heart and mind as I do my 3 boys. I tell ya, at night I’m exhausted and waiting for the slightest motion of a yawn from one of them so I can say “Bed time!”, but by the time I lay my head down on my pillow, if I’m coherent enough to have a thought, I’m thinking about seeing them for the first time in the morning. So, it is hard for me to understand how our great God who’s Son is perfect can look at me (us) and see the same image. Amazing! Nothing less than True Love right there!
I continue to meditate on those words now – right now actually. And I’m so thankful I read them on Sunday – a time in which I was able to commune all the more with my God because I caught a glimpse of how He sees me; hence, how He feels about meeting with me over His Son’s “body” and “blood”. I’m also so thankful that I am reading them now because it gives me strength in knowing who I am in Him.
Be blessed my sis’s in Christ, and remember in those times when you’re squinting to see anything good in the spiritual mirror to take a look through God’s lenses. His vision never fails!