Rejoice With Us!

Our House

Today’s theme is gratefulness. I want to record all of God’s goodness to us in the most detail I can.

God led us to our home.  A home we had initially rejected as we did internet research, but nevertheless the home for us.  Just the leading to the place was extraordinary.

We looked at one place that was well within our budget. It was somewhat redone (kind of a poor “flip” job), but no laundry area, air conditioning in the main living area and the secondary bedroom, but not the master bedroom (what’s with that?!).  A “soggy” place in the secondary bedroom floor, not a good sign.  A bit on the small side.  Kind of a messy park.  Park rent $490 a month.  Rather disappointing.

We had seen another mobile home for sale in the park across the street, #84.  We decided to drive by it and see it with our own eyes.  We saw that the owner was home, so we knocked on the door.  The new owner answered (the home should have been taken off the internet sites), but said that the home two doors down (#86) was for sale and to check it out.  So, we wandered down the street.

Two vehicles were in the carport, a golf cart was blocking access to the front door, but flyers were out in the little box attached to the “For Sale” sign.  As I reached in to get a flyer, a woman came out the front door.  We later learned that she thought I was the neighbor from across the street, to whom I bear resemblance.  She asked if we wanted to see the house.  “Of course!” we replied.  So, in we went.

Elke introduced herself and her husband, Bryne.  Just inside the front door is what Elke called the “boot room.”  That’s the term Canadians use for mud room.  It contained a rack for shoes, a chair to sit on to take off, change, or put on shoes, a little table, and a place for umbrellas, coats, sweaters, and the like.  Nice.  No need for shoes to gather around the foot of our chairs!  This is a continual problem with us.

Next, we entered a small living room/breakfast nook area.  I noticed the beautiful wood or wood laminate flooring that would be found throughout most of the home.  I’ve always loved wood floors; I grew up with narrow slat hardwood floors, and they were so beautiful, especially after Mom had deep cleaned and waxed them!  This room also has a reclining leather love seat, end table, and recliner.  This room has become Dana’s office.

We then entered the kitchen, the only room in the house with tile flooring.  Elke explained that, although all the house had been redone, the only thing that had been redone in the kitchen was the appliances.  Only the dishwasher is more than a couple of years old.  The stove is for someone who loves cooking, and Elke loves cooking!  The top of it is a solid cast-iron grill.  I’ve long “petted” stoves like this, liking them but never in my wildest dreams thinking I would actually have one.  There’s a small chest deep-freeze, perfect for the way I like to cook – making large batches and freezing portions for two servings that just need baked or microwaved for us.  Some fresh paint, new window treatments, and possibly cabinet and drawer face replacement, maybe new roll flooring, and it will be AMAZING! Just a little bit for me to do at some point to make the house “mine.”  Nothing urgent!

This mobile had originally been a two-bedroom place, but Elke and Bryne have transformed the second bedroom, adjacent to the small living room/breakfast nook, into a semi-formal dining room.  Once again, the closet and built-ins from the bedroom could be refaced, but it’s absolutely perfect!  The table can seat up to 8, maybe 10.

The sliding glass door that lead from this second-bedroom-now-dining-room has been removed, providing direct access to the enclosed sun room, which is now a living room.  Another large opening has been made between the dining room and the living room adding to the open look while still maintaining the integrity of the structure. I think that larger living room is about 12’x40’. There is a PIANO, another little table for office work or eating, a grandfather clock, and TWO sofas that turn into beds.  (My thought is to switch places with the old-school sofa bed and the reclining love seat, thus providing two separate sleeping areas for family.)  This room will be perfect for a home Bible study and/or prayer group and family gatherings.  WOW!

At the far end of this room is an enclosed porch – not too pretty, but not too much work to make beautiful.  Like everything else we had seen, it is structurally sound.  This area, about 12’x12’ or 12’x15’, will make a PERFECT sewing/craft/office room for me, and the door can be closed to block the view of how most sewing and craft rooms look much of the time.  Some paint, some better lighting and more electric outlets, a window air conditioning unit, and a big craft table at a good height, and a proper office chair is all it needs! Roll laminate flooring would be nice instead of the indoor/outdoor carpet that’s in there now.  Carpet and sewing pins can be dangerous to bare feet!  Again, nothing is urgent.

We came back around through the living room and dining room, and proceed through the hallway toward the bathroom and bedroom.  The washer and dryer are in an alcove in the hallway, then the bathroom.  It’s large and has a wonderful, new shower installed last year, along with a new toilet, sink and plumbing fixtures.  We also learned that the shower head is pressurized and will maintain constant temperature even when the toilet is flushed or laundry is started.  A small, but very appreciated, feature.  Also, the water heater is only two years old, as is the central heating system.  The evaporative cooler, aka swamper, is the same age.  Bryne said that on the 108* days we had in October 2017, he had it down to 68*F.  Nice!  And, very rarely is an air conditioner required here in the dry, dry desert.

The bedroom is somewhat small, but has a wonderfully large closet.  There’s room for our Southern California clothes to hang year ‘round, plus additional for the little bit of cold-weather clothing we have for our trips to Medford, Vancouver, and Virgin in the winter.  There is a window air conditioning unit in the bedroom.  Good thinking since the house does not have central air and sometimes it’s nice to chill a bedroom down just before bedtime.  The mattress is new, queen size like all the bedding we own.  Oh!  I don’t think that I’ve stated yet that all the furnishings, except a couple of Elke’s favorite pots and her good dishes and Bryne’s tools, came with the house!

We went out the back door, opposite the laundry area, to find ample storage for whatever we want to store.  We brought a lot of stuff with us from Thailand, but not that much!  As Elke was showing one of the locked storage closets, she pointed out the brand-new golf cart charger, because the golf cart comes with the home.  The carport extends the length of the mobile (60 feet, I think) and is paved and in excellent condition.  Alongside the carport are some plants, two of which are rosemary bushes.  How I love fresh rosemary!  We walked around the back of the home into a small yard area, also accessible through the sewing room.  It contains some pretty plants, a couple of chairs and a little table.  Walking back up the other side of the home, the outside wall of the sewing room, large living room, and mud room, there are five citrus trees, all bearing:  Blood orange, Clementine orange, Meyer lemon, Kumquat, and Grapefruit.  WOW!  We snagged a couple of kumquats – DELICIOUS! Elke says those kumquats make excellent marmalade.

Having made a complete circuit, we found ourselves back on the front porch.  It’s small, but has a little bistro set-up, a small bistro table and a couple of chairs along with a good-sized umbrella.  Good for sitting at in the evenings and spying on whoever goes up and down the street.  I like to spy on people 😉

This home meets all our needs (hard flooring, in-unit laundry, the ability to sleep our family when they come visit, a place for me to sew and craft and an office) and goes far beyond.

Now, for some of the even more interesting parts of this story.  Elke and Bryne had just returned, less than 10 minutes before, from a multiple-day trip to Mexico for dental work.  And, after hearing how lackadaisical their real estate agent is, if they had not been home, we probably wouldn’t have been able to see the home for a good, long time.  As we talked about faith, we learned they too are Christians.  As we spoke of our church, we found that they attend the same church, just the early service, the same time we attend Sunday School.  Also, their being snowbirds from the Edmonton, Canada area means they aren’t there all year ‘round.  And we’ve only been regular attenders there since October or so, so it’s no big surprise that we’ve not met them yet.

We gave an offer, which was accepted.  I emptied out my 403b account to get the cash to fully pay for the home; we didn’t want to incur any debt. We then applied for residency in the mobile home park.  On Saturday, 27 January, the paperwork was received from Vista Grande Spa telling us we were approved as residents.  On Monday, 29 January a call came to confirm that it really was me requesting the disbursement from my 403b account.  That check arrived in about a week.  Elke requested the paperwork to prove the title on the mobile home is clear, so it was possible to accomplish the transfer to our name well before Bryne and Elkie returned to Canada.  Things like this are a real relief to me.  Government paperwork drives me nuts!  We moved in the first week of April.  And the park rent is only $440 per month, includes water, sewer and trash, and it’s rent-controlled.  I think that means rent can only increase in conjunction with the cost of living figures from the government.

After 13 months of not having a home of our own, we are getting settled.  I never, in my wildest dreams, expected to be able to own our home again.  I never, in my wildest dreams, considered that our monthly rent would be under $1,000 per month.  I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for what God has provided us.

Then, Sunday, 14 January just added a bit of icing to the cake, so to speak. We were asked to share, during the service, the testimony of how God has provided a home for us. The church has just completed 8 days of prayer, and one of the things prayed over was our housing situation.

We’ve been in our home two and a half months now.  It really feels like home!  On Thursday, 7 June we hosted our first home Bible study, and it’s wonderful to see God encouraging others and us as Dana leads us through the book of Mark and we pray for each other. We thought it would mostly reach the park residents, but some from our church come and some of our friends from the Gideon’s are also coming.  I’m really enjoying that stove and oven, making snacks for each week.

When we follow God’s leading, He will provide everything we need, and BEYOND what we can even imagine possible.  Why do we ever doubt His love and watch-care for us.

 

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His Glory

Solar Eclipse Chicago Trubine

He is the God who made the world and everything in it.  Since He is Lord of Heaven and Earth, He doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve His needs – for He has no needs.  He Himself gives life and breath to everything, and He satisfies every need.

Acts 17:24,25 (NLT)

What a paradigm shift!  I serve Christ not because He needs me to – as if He’d die or fail miserably if I do not – but out of love (imperfect as my love is) and gratitude.

I’ve been taught this, I know this, I often – I would hope – serve Christ with this motivation.  But I know it’s not all the time.  Pride nearly always sneaks in there, often in the form of a martyr attitude: “If I don’t do this, no one else will, and God’s name will be blasphemed; God’s glory will be diminished.”  As if His glory can ever be diminished!

What can be diminished, however, is the reflection of His glory in my life.

My given name, Cynthia, can refer to the Greek goddess of the moon.  And, as the moon reflects the light of the sun, so should my life reflect the Light of Christ, the Son of God.

So many facets exist in that analogy.  The moon cycles trough phases.  At full moon, it shines so bright, especially when it’s at perigee!  Then it wanes into the new moon, when Earth does not receive any of its reflected sunlight.  Yet, the moon is closer to the sun.  Then is when the moon’s gravity, in conjunction with the sun’s gravity, draws the tides even higher, closer to the sun.

The new moon can represent times when I’m closer to Christ, but this closeness is not directly visible to others.  Yet the effect may be still drawing others toward Christ, whether that tugging is perceived or not.  Most people don’t pay much attention to the tides, but they still occur and influence life.

After the new moon, the phases wax back to full moon, where it shines bright once again.

There are times when the moon would be expected to shine bright in the new moon phase, yet it does not: a lunar eclipse, when Earth is directly between the sun and the moon, and the moon doesn’t receive light directly from the sun.  I imagine this as those times when I “walk through the shadow of the valley of death.”  The fallenness of creation disrupts my direct line of sight to my Savior.

As with lunar eclipses, people gather and watch for the outcome.  They watch with baited breath, hoping for the moon to reappear, a glorious outcome.  In many cultures, there is great rejoicing when the moon emerges from totality.  So it is when I emerge vicorious from a very difficult season of life.  Others rejoice when the difficulty has finally been overcome.  Christ is once again brightly reflected in my life.

I see the sources of the eclipses in my own life coming from two distinct sources.  The undesirable source would be sin in my life.  Choosing the world and its cares above the glory of Christ.  This eclipse ends when I repent and my direct line of sight to Christ is restored.

The other source of eclipse is the darkness of the enemy, the prince of this world, forcing his way between Christ and me with the express purpose of extinguishing the light of His glory.  How foolish the enemy is!  Does the sun go out during a lunar eclipse?  Of course not!  Its glory is just as bright as ever!  Its reflection off the moon is impeded.  It is similar when the enemy seeks to extinguish the glory of Christ.  His glory never fades, only the reflection of that glory in my life may fade.  Some would call this spiritual oppression.

When this second type of eclipse occurs in my life, it may look the same as an eclipse caused by sin to all those observing it, but the cause is not the same.

When the moon is in total eclipse, it reflects a reddish light – light that has been distorted by the world’s atmosphere, and this light is quite obvious to all those observing the eclipse.

Here is a possible outcome of my struggles:  When I’m walking through the valley of the shadow of death, others may be able to see and comprehend that they have a distorted view of God.  The sun hasn’t changed, the moon hasn’t changed, but the perspective of those observing the eclipse has been altered.  Maybe it’s during the times when my life is hard that others get a glimpse of their own misperceptions and afterwards choose to bask in the undistorted Light of Christ themselves.  This makes the struggle worth it.

There are also solar eclipses.  The moon is in its new moon phase, directly between the sun and Earth.  These eclipses are far more glorious than lunar eclipses.

As a solar eclipse progresses, the observers experience a darkening of the skies, as if night is coming.  It gets darker and darker.  The disk of the moon can be seen moving further and further over the disk of the sun.  Then it happens: Totality!  The corona of the sun can be seen shining ever so brightly, a crown!  The existence of the moon is momentarily forgotten . . . all that exists is the corona, the glorious crown.  What a beautiful sight!

And so, it might be in my life.  Those times when I might be so aligned with Christ, closer to Him than to worldly pleasures, my back turned to everything that is NOT Christ.  Then the crown of His glory shines forth in such brilliance!  And my existence is momentarily forgotten because of the dazzling display of His glory.  THAT is what I live for.

 

 

Image from the Chicago Tribune.

Love is Messy

Love is messy

Galatians 1:10 (NLT) – Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God.  If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

Although Paul wrote this in direct reference to preaching the Gospel and exactly what the Gospel is, and relating to the falling away of the church at Galatia, application can still be made to any what which Christ has called me to serve.

We lost any expressed approval/respect we may have had with at least two people dear to me the day we left for Thailand as full-time missionaries.

Then, when Dana’s as-of-yet-undiagnosed dementia took a turn for the worse this past spring, summer, and fall I also lost the expressed approval/respect of three additional people dear to me when I wouldn’t abandon and divorce Dana and pursue my own personal financial well-being.

At this time, I serve God mostly by honoring my marriage vows and serving Dana.

It strikes me odd that, when it was generally believed that Dana was mentally ill, it would have been OK to have thoughts about divorcing or abandoning my spouse, even in Christian circles.  Even one person who expressed the opinion that I was acting in a crazy matter stated, “God forbid, if there really is something wrong with his (physical) brain (i.e., tumor or dementia), I’ll eat my words!”  Now there’s been a diagnosis of non-Alzheimer’s dementia, a dementia that first affects a person’s ability to logically reason. But I’ve not heard one word or read one text, email, or message to that effect.  I don’t even need to hear words of apology; I’d just like to see a change in attitude.

It also strikes me odd that the church cries out against divorce and for honoring marriage vows, yet many in the church approve of and may even encourage abandonment and even divorce in the case of severe illness and in the case of nearly all mental illnesses.

Here’s what I have learned over the past forty-two years of marriage:  Love, marriage, and commitment is not always kittens, sunshine, and skipping through the meadow.  Often it can be quite the opposite: The roaring lion – the enemy – seeking to devour, to tear apart Christian marriages, which are to represent God’s eternal covenant with the church; The valley of the shadow of death, walking through difficult, sometimes even dangerous, passages of our pilgrimages here on Earth, yet fearing no evil because God is with us; Trudging knee-deep through the mud and mire that this life sometimes is, through no fault of our own.

It is in those dark times when we are knee-deep in the messiness of this life, being attacked from every side, that true love can shine forth like a diamond: walking the path together, encouraging and strengthening and wrapping our arms around the other without condemning them in their struggle; Working out in real-time that love, that commitment, to serve the other’s need; Taking upon ourselves a portion of the heavy burden the other is carrying, the burden that is crushing them to the point of annihilation; Holding the other up when they are weary so together we can take one more step forward.  It’s in these times that an example of God’s love for us can be seen and He can be glorified in our lives.

As I walk this journey of dementia with the one I love, my husband of forty-two years, I know I won’t win the approval of many people.  I cannot expect that.  In fact, I expect the disapproval of most, if not everyone.  But that is not the calling of God on my life.  The calling of God on my life right now is to honor Him, to “do” my “I do’s.”

A Call to Repentance

25 April 2017

Warning:  This is not my normal type of blog!

God got me up more than an hour before my alarm this morning, having planted an exceptional hunger for His Word in my heart.  I’ve learned over the years to just get up, wash my face, get a cup of coffee, and dig into whatever is next in my Bible reading plan.

For the past year and a half, I’ve been reading through a chronological NLT (New Living Translation) Bible.  This translation seems mostly accurate, at least according to the Bible training I have undergone, and is very story-like and easy to read.  At the end of 16 months, I’ve made it all the way up to June 24.  I decided a while back that the chronology was what I was desiring more than “making it through” the whole Bible in a year.  I want to take my time and catch what God is speaking to my heart rather than rush through and “just gitter-done.”  I write all this to say I believe this is a very important message for me today, and it might be an important message to you, too.  I’ll just give you the (slightly revised – mostly more organized and with names confirmed) notes about what God showed me this morning.

Isaiah 8:5-8      Then the LORD spoke to me again and said, “My care for the people of Judah is like the gently flowing waters of Shiloah, but they have rejected it.  They are rejoicing over what will happen to King Rezin and King Pekah.  Therefore, the Lord will overwhelm them with a mighty flood from the Euphrates River – the King of Assyria and all his glory.  This flood will overthrow all its channels and sweep into Judah until it is chin deep.  It will spread its wings, submerging your land from one end to the other, O Immanuel.”  (NLT)

My personal take-away:  Do NOT rejoice when God brings judgment on evil men and women.

Before I go any farther, let me state a caveat:  I don’t pretend to understand politics and world events, try as I may.  God brought to mind a few events I know of as illustrations, using the few facts I believe are reasonably certain, to apply this Scripture to my life, and to the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

How often do we, God’s children, rejoice when God brings judgment on evil men and women today?  When Saddam Hussein was executed by American forces?  When Osama Ben Laden was assassinated by Seal Team Six?  When President Trump sent the MOAB missiles into Syria, an attack against Syria’s President Assad, just this past month?

By God’s standards, all there of these men are evil men, doing evil things.  It may be possible that God used America to bring about His judgment upon these three men and their political kingdoms, rooted in the same evil.

Yet, I am reminded of a few things:

  1. The title of John Edwards’ famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”
  2. 2 Peter 3:9b tells me, “He [God] does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (NLT)
  3. “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” (attribution uncertain)

A bit further down in Isaiah 8, verse 11 says, “The LORD has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does.”  (NLT)  Further down in verse 20, “Look to God’s instructions and teachings!  People who contradict His Word are completely in the dark.”  (NLT)

So, today I will choose to repent, to confess as sin and turn away from doing again, the times I took joy in seeing evil men – and women – brought to justice.  I will choose instead to begin praying for their salvation and their transformation into godly men and women.

Who will join me?

 

This Week’s Adventures

life-is-an-adventure

I realize I’ve not posted in a week, maybe a little more.  It surely wasn’t due to my laziness!  Planning and packing for our repatriation and getting my little book (Living Boldly: Acknowledging and Overcoming Fear) published on Kindle Direct Publishing has taken most of my “spare time.”

The packing is going well.  Hopefully there will be a little “garage sale” this weekend.  Of course, we have no garage and this really isn’t a Thai thing, but it’s time to dispose of some of the bigger things and appliances now.

The book publishing adventure is surely an adventure.  I’ve found that there are two misspelled words in the text, and there’s a goof-up on my cover – never noticed it!  I’m going to have to get the graphic artist to fix it for me.  It should be quick, and then I’ll have to figure out how to fix both of those things.  This has surely been a learning experience for me.  THEN to figure out how to get everything sized so that it can be available as a printed product.  That may take a while with everything else going on.  Check it out at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06WW81JGX/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487894561&sr=8-1&keywords=Cindy+Bratton.

Funny thing as I was getting ready to click the publish button on this.  A wave of fear hit me.  “What if no one likes it? What if there’s something that’s not quite right theologically?  What if . . .”  That’s the topic of the book!  So, I remembered where this fear came from (not God!) and hit that publish button anyway.   To be honest, it’s a bit odd to begin thinking of myself as a published author.  I really believe that God has led me down this path, and I’m excited to see what He will be doing with it.  I believe He has given me insight into how to simply apply the Word to my everyday life in order to impact those around me, those in my sphere of influence.  I just want others to be able to be encouraged to do the same.;

My posting on this blog may be a bit sporadic over the next several weeks.  A lot is going on, a lot of it physical too.  Selling/giving away most of our earthly possessions; packing up 4 cubic meters to ship on a boat; flying to Los Angeles from Phuket; recovering from jet lag; a day at Knott’s Berry Farm with family; a day at Disneyland Anaheim with family; a road trip from Southern California to Vancouver, WA to catch up with family, then back again; finding employment/ministry positions and an apartment; settling in to life in the States again.  God is good!  He will take us through it all!  I’m excited, but also a bit exhausted just thinking of it all.  Overall, I’m excited to embark on this next step of our journey.

Living Boldly: Fear for Your Personal Well-being

personal-safety

The Twelve Spies

A synopsis of Numbers 13:1-7, 17-24

After crossing the desert on their way from Egypt to Canaan, the land that God had promised Abraham their ancestor, the Hebrews, under the guidance of Moses, were ready to enter the land.  God instructed Moses to send spies to check out the land.  One man from each of the twelve tribes was chosen to go in.  All twelve returned telling of a land flowing with milk and honey and they brought back huge clusters of grapes.  But ten of the twelve included reports of huge giants in the land, men so large that the Hebrews seemed like grasshoppers, and as a result, fear for everyone’s personal safety and well-being was sown that day.

The Rich Young Ruler

A synopsis of Mark 10:17-30

 A man approached Jesus one day.  This man asked him what he must do to inherit eternal life with God forever in Heaven.  Jesus reminded him of the Ten Commandments, to which this man replied that he had kept them all, from the time he was a youth.  Then Jesus instructed him to sell all that he had and give the proceeds to the poor.  Disheartened, the man went away because he had so many possessions.

 

We, too can have a fear that others will physically hurt us.  Those spies believed that the giants in Canaan, the land that God had promised them, were going to slaughter them.  We can often feel the same way.

In 1990, I had such a fear.  We were new missionaries at the time, and there was an area of town known for its gangs and was considered a very unsafe area.  I had a horrendous fear that someone would want me to go teach a Good News Club© in that area.  I had three children of my own that would go with me.  I feared for our physical safety.  What was I to do?  Well, back I went to 2 Timothy 1:7.  If someone wanted me to teach a club in that area, then God would provide the protection we would need to get it done.  By the way, I was never asked to teach a club in that area.  I was just borrowing trouble!  Matthew 6:34 is very appropriate for this too: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

We might fear we will not have enough resources for the present or the future.  This is how the rich young ruler must have felt.  Fearful that, if he gave all he had to the poor, he wouldn’t have enough to eat, a place to stay, clothes to wear.  I felt that way as we prepared to enter full-time ministry with Child Evangelism Fellowship in 1989, and again as we prepared to leave for missionary work in Thailand in 2006.  And, yet again, this fear rears its ugly head as I begin considering repatriation to the States.

I’ve already shared the first story, about preparing to serve with Child Evangelism Fellowship.  Seventeen years later, I had a well-paying teaching job.  I was teaching middle school science.  Most of the time I loved my work.  The times I didn’t love it was when the middle schoolers behaved poorly and wore me out.  Outside of my student loan and our mortgage, we were debt free.  I loved our church and the people in it.  I especially loved singing in a top-notch choir.  But on December 26, 2004, the Boxing Day Tsunami struck throughout the Indian Ocean region and my husband went to assist with relief.  He came back home with a heavy burden for Thailand.  The end result was heading to Thailand on August 6, 2006 to minister to the Thai who had been affected by the Tsunami.

My husband and I, then in our late 40s, had finally begun to contribute to retirement accounts about two years previously.  That would end when I left my teaching position, leaving us to depend on the floundering U.S. Social Security system for our retirement income – and God!  We thought our son and his family would live in our home, paying the mortgage, but after a year, that wasn’t working out for them.  We lost the house and all the equity in it.  Then the “what ifs” began again:

What if, when we repatriate, we don’t have a place to live?

What if, when we retire, we don’t have enough to pay our bills and still eat?

What if? What if? What if?

Now, as we are entering our 60s, these “what ifs” jump to the front of my mind again. BUT GOD has promised in Mathew 6:33, 34 that, if I will but seek Him first, He WILL provide all our needs.  I don’t have to fear for the future if I am fully following Him.

We sometimes fear that we might get hurt if we do one thing or another.  Sometimes being a homemaker can cause me to fear for my physical safety.

What if I fall off the step ladder while changing the light bulb or painting the wall or hanging the picture?

What if the oil pops and burns me while I’m cooking a meal?

What if the 220V electric zaps me when I plug in or unplug the toaster?

Growing up in the U.S. with 110V electricity flowing through the general house wiring, we were taught to greatly fear the 220V electricity that powers electric stoves and ovens, electric clothes dryers, and air conditioners.  If we needed to unplug such an appliance, we’d not only turn off that particular circuit breaker, but probably the main breaker to the whole house.

Living overseas, I’ve had to give up that fear.  Can you imagine cutting the power every time you plug in and unplug the toaster?  Remember, power to the wifi router would also be cut, along with the power to the alarm clock and all those appliances with clocks, such as the microwave and DVD player.  You get the idea.  And again, cutting the power to plug in and unplug the blow dryer, the curling iron, the phone charger, the power supply to the laptop, the iron . . . the list can go on and on.  And the inconvenience is not only to you, but to your whole household.  This particular fear of personal hurt could be quite debilitating.

You might ask if people really live in fear of these daily uses of electricity.  The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”  Come live where I live and observe how people live in my neighborhood.  It seems to be either total fear of or total disregard for the 220V electricity.

We sometimes fear that we might get sick if we do, or don’t do, something.

“Germaphobia” (not used here as a medical diagnosis) is rampant in the U.S.  I see it more now that I’ve lived and not just visited overseas.  It seems as if every cleaning product is anti-bacterial and anti-microbial.  Kitchen counters are bleached in one way or another multiple times a day.  The same goes for every bathroom fixture.  Hard flooring is disinfected daily.  Many little children are disallowed from playing outside in the grass and dirt and mud most of the time.  If they do get to play on the grass, Mom is there with a pack of disinfectant wipes scrubbing their hands and faces every fifteen minutes or so.  Then comes the time for the child to enter kindergarten.

As a former kindergarten teacher, I can share my personal experience.  This is not a scientifically controlled study, just my personal observation.  I observed two basic types of student health in kindergarteners:  Those with the occasional sniffles and little to no fever, and those who were absent from school much of the time.  It was the children who often played in the grass, dirt, and mud who missed less school!  Why?  It is my understanding that they had been exposed to germs little by little and had built up personal immunity over time.

As adults, I see a similar phenomenon.  Teams will come to assist us in ministry here.  They come with multiple packs of disinfectant wipes.  They brush their teeth with bottled water.  They insist on expensive little bottles of (sometimes imported) drinking water.  They must be wondering if the large, very inexpensive, bottles of purified water have been purified enough.  They refuse to enjoy ice in their drinks, and refuse uncooked vegetables and fruit.  Some places this is necessary.  Where we serve, it is not.  The one piece of advice we give them – wear mosquito repellant 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is totally disregarded.  Where we are, the problem is not malaria, although many will take daily anti-malaria pills; the problem is the four strains of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever which is carried by the aedes aegypti mosquito.  That same mosquito carries Yellow Fever (not a problem here) and the Zika virus.

So, what are we to do?

Recognize fear for what it is: fear.

Second, look back at 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  (KJV) Focus on the term “sound mind.”

Third, I think we need to examine these particular fears.  There may be things we can do to prevent some of this.

Has God enabled me to save a reasonable amount for my retirement?  By all means, do it.

Make sure that step-ladder is fully open and stable before climbing on it to change a light bulb or hang a picture.

Plug things in properly, with dry hands, and unplug properly, with dry hands and not yanking on the cord.

Wash your hands properly when you should be.  Wipe down the counters and keep the bathroom clean.  Sweep and mop your floors regularly.

When traveling, especially overseas, research what is truly needful, and when locals strongly advise something, follow their suggestions.

Remember that “sound mind” that God has given you?  Use it.  Then, don’t live in fear.

 

Photo snitched from http://www.theonlinemom.com/best-apps-personal-safety/

Living Boldly: Fear of Others

fear-of-others

Fear of Others

Moses’ Call

a synopsis of Exodus 2:11-3:22; 4:10-17

 

Moses, a Hebrew man who had been miraculously spared from slaughter by the Pharaoh when he was an infant, grew up in Pharaoh’s household.  He knew that he was a Hebrew who had been rescued and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, and when he saw that a Hebrew slave was being beaten by an Egyptian, he became angry and killed that Egyptian.  He thought no one had seen him, but the next day saw two Hebrews struggling.  He asked why they would strike their companion.  The one was quite bold, asking who did Moses think he was? Was he going to kill him too, just as he had killed the Egyptian the day before?  It wasn’t long before Pharaoh heard of it and set out to kill Moses, his adopted grandson.  So, Moses left Pharaoh’s court and went to the desert land of Midian.  There he met his wife and began a family.

Forty years later the Pharaoh, and the burden upon the Hebrew slaves became far greater than it had been before.  They cried out to God for deliverance.  And God had a plan.

God spoke to Moses as he was leading his flock in the wilderness.  God told Moses that he had seen the affliction of the Hebrews in Egypt, and was going to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians and take them to their promised land, the land that He had given to Abraham long, long before.  He told Moses to go to Pharaoh and demand the release of the Hebrew slaves.

Moses made excuse after excuse to God, giving Him reasons why he shouldn’t be the one to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  First, he replied that he was no one special; why would Pharaoh listen to him?  My guess is that he was afraid to have an audience with Pharaoh because of the Egyptians he had killed all those decades ago.

Then he was afraid that the people of Israel would not believe that God had truly sent him to deliver them.  Probably intertwined with this was the fear of being mocked for his position.

Then he was afraid of his ability to speak.  Maybe he had a speech impediment.  Even after God promised to be right there by him, he still begged for someone else to be given the task.  So, God gave Moses his brother, Aaron, to be his spokesman.

Moses’ fear kept him from fully experiencing the amazing plan that God wanted to work through him.

We can have some of these same fears today.  We think, we might even know, others are smarter than we are. We fear we will perceived as stupid. But if God has called us to a task, we must realize that we know and understand things in unique ways that can help others.

We can be afraid that others have more wealth than we do, which in the eyes of many, seem to give them a greater level of credibility.  That’s always been something in our lives.  Most people in the States have far more wealth than we do.

We can be fearful that our skill set is not great enough, that others have better abilities than we do.  We don’t want to appear incompetent.  But we have skills that others don’t.  And, if we are following God’s call on our lives, He will provide for the deficiencies.

But what is the underlying fear of these three things?  It is the fear of what others will think of us.  This is probably the most debilitating fear in this category.  I don’t want to be looked down upon because I said or did something that someone considers inappropriate.  So I just don’t do anything.  This is not procrastination; this is debilitating fear.  On a personal note, this is a fear I must fight as I pursue this project of writing about fear and overcoming it.

So, what is to be done?

First, recognize fear for what it is: fear.

Then I must overcome that fear, the most difficult part of this process.  What is a Scripture passage that can help me overcome the fear of what others and what they think of me?

In 2 Timothy 1:3-7, the Apostle Paul reminded Timothy of his faith, his God-given gifts, and the calling God had placed on his life. Paul exhorted Timothy to stir these things up, to use them boldly.  And then in verse 7, Paul reminds Timothy that, “. . . God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (ESV).  The King James Version of the Bible uses “a sound mind” in the place of “self-control.”

It is, in that simple verse, the reminder that, as I live in faith, exercise my God-given gifts, and walk in the calling God has placed on my life, any fear I experience does NOT come from God.  I shouldn’t live in that fear.  I must press on and fulfill the calling God has on my life.  Is it easy? Not usually!  Nevertheless, God calls me to press on.

Note: Image from http://www.quick-good-fortune.com/Stress-Relief-Solution-to-Difficult-Situations.html