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.”

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Minimalism

Less is More

I’ve been thinking a lot this past year about when we (finally) get our own place in the States.  What will I need to furnish it appropriate to our needs, both present and future?  I thought I’d go to Pinterest and get a bunch of ideas.  Oh, there are so many wonderful ideas, so much of it expensive and time consuming!

Then on September 24, during my Bible reading, I came across Matthew 6:19-21.  The past two years I’ve been reading a chronological Bible – two years and I’m not yet to the end.  But I regress.  That’s another story for another day.

Anyway, Matthew 6:19-21 in the New Living Translation reads, “Don’t store up treasures here on Earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in Heaven were moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

It seemed to me as if God was whispering (maybe yelling?) the word “minimalism” to me.  The past three months I’ve been focusing on what that means to me, and what it doesn’t mean to me.

By nature, I’m a clutter bug.  If the papers are to be put away, there must be an easy way to accomplish that task.  If the folded and hung laundry is to be put away properly, I need a place to do that, a place which is easily accessible.  You get the idea.  If a task seems overwhelming for whatever reason, I opt out of it.

A great part of minimalism is having what you need, and not a whole lot more.  Remembering that whatever I own will require maintenance, which uses a lot of time that could be better spent elsewhere, I asked myself, “How many pairs of slacks do I really need?”  Turns out, it’s not too many.  I figure two pair of nice, well-fitting black slacks should do it.  Same goes for skirts and shorts.  What about jeans?  I upped that to three or four, because they only get washed together because of the possibility of fading.  Then, several blouses to add color, a few sweaters in a variety of colors, and I’m pretty much finished.  My husband gave me a dress and some amazing Thai Silk fabric to sew into a skirt and blouse.  I do have a couple of nice suits, one a slack suit and the other a skirt suit. It should all fit on less than 3 feet of closet rod.  Nearly everything is machine washable too.  Easy to care for with minimal time spent.  Of course, my new tendency toward minimalism can’t be forced on my husband, but I can pursue it for myself.

I got to thinking next about bedding and other linens.  Is it truly necessary to have more than two complete sets of bedding for any bed in the house?  I think not.  What about towels?  Two sets for each person I can sleep in my home seems reasonable to me.  I do love to have LOTS of washcloths though.  Living in the tropics for over a decade had me using a clean cloth for every face wash or shower.  They just got so disgusting, not drying out well between uses.  The same applies to kitchen towels and cloths.  You see, I’m not a total minimalist, just trying to head that way.

Another place that can get overwhelming quite quickly is the kitchen.  How many place settings do I really need?  There are so many types of appliances available!  How about something that does several different jobs?  I like that idea!  I need to remember I don’t need appliances for every task, especially the ones I never do!

I think it’s going to be interesting to get into all the “stuff” we shipped back from Thailand and has been in storage more than nine months now.  What if a bunch of it is just stuff I can’t or won’t use?  I know I really miss some of it: my serge/overlock sewing machine, my keyboard, pictures, my fantastic high-capacity printer, the good vacuum cleaner which has been in storage these past 11 years.  It just might make me sick to see how much “junk” I had shipped over the Pacific Ocean, needing to toss even more as I unpack it all here!

One area I need to work on is my love for crochet thread, yarn, and fabric.  Much of it is used to generate income.  That’s legitimate.  The rest, not so much.  With that, I’ll share part of the prayer I wrote down in my journal on Sunday, 24 September 2017:

Father, guide me as we work to establish a home of our own once again.  Let us be more minimalist.  Keep me away from crochet thread, fabric, and yarn unless I have a specific use for it.  Keep us away from too many clothes, too many kitchen things, too many trinkets.

What are your thoughts on minimalism?

 

 

 

My Online Shop is Up and Running!

13062157_10153639979811849_5165504760692843204_nGo check out what’s up at Cindy’s Creative Gifts! You can search for me on Facebook, and order from the “shop” link on the left side of the page. We won’t call the page “perfect,” but I’m learning a little more about how to do this day by day.  Look for my colorful doily when you search. Global shipping is included!

Cindy’s Creative Gifts

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One of the things I'm doing to earn a bit of cash so we can survive until jobs are found, is to sell the crochet things I make.  Check out my Facebook page, Cindy's Creative Gifts.  There's lots of pretty doilies and coasters at a pretty reasonable cost.  LOTS more doilies should be going up Friday and Saturday (the 5th and 6th) as I just need to take pictures and post them.

I've not figured out a shopping cart yet, but if you pm me with your email address and with what products you want, I'll send you a PayPal invoice, and the business day after PayPal tells me you paid I'll get it in the mail.  The price you see is all–inclusive – nothing else is added in 🙂  So, enjoy shopping for Mother's Day, and don't forget your mother-in-law, your daughters, your daughters-in-law who are also moms!

God bless you as you help support us in our repatriation adventure!

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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?

 

Repatriation Part 8

Hugs from the kids

Tonight, we leave for Phuket International Airport at 9 p.m. for our 2 a.m. flight tomorrow morning.  14 more hours in our neighborhood.  We’ve been here nine years, one month, and nine days.  This is “home.”  The stuff we’re leaving behind is selling quickly, the sofa gets picked up 4 hours before we leave – so a couple of lawn chairs for us to finish out our time here.

Yesterday was difficult.  It was our last church service with our beloved church family here.  Pastor Levi and his team are perfect for the church here.  We feel so blessed to have them come.  There are three cell groups nearby that will be joining in.  It will be good!

The most difficult part was saying good-bye to the children.  Those of you who know us well know that we were missionaries in Riverside, California with Child Evangelism Fellowship© for 11 years.  You know we also served as volunteers with AWANA Clubs in two churches in the Greater Riverside Area.  Children are near and dear to our hearts.  Every week, two of the children pray at church before they collect the offering.  These kids want to serve!  So, we let them!  The church has been a shining example of 1 Timothy 4:12 – “1Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”  When the adults started drifting away from the Wednesday evening meal/prayer/Bible study meeting, the children continued to come, learning the Scriptures and growing in their faith.  They continued to share, every single one of them, something they were thankful to God for, every single week.  Two of the older girls – seventh and eighth graders – helped with translation from time to time.  It’s exciting to see how they’ve grown!

Dana “just happened” to be preaching from 1 Timothy 4 yesterday morning.  If you know how Calvary Chapel teaching usually works, the pastor teaches through a book of the Bible chapter by chapter, verse by verse.  Sometimes a chapter is broken into two or three parts, sometimes two chapters, or more, can be combined. And yesterday it worked out to 1 Timothy 4.  The church, including many of the new members, were charged to continue a focus on the children.  There are not many “second generation” Christians in Thailand.  These children are the first in their families to come to faith.  They are the foundation of continued growth here in Tha Chat Chai.  Pray for them.

The picture I chose to use for this blog was taken at the most difficult part of our day yesterday.  Pastor Levi and most of the adults had gathered around us and prayed for us.  Then the kids.  The hugs.  The tears.

Even if we never make it back to visit Tha Chat Chai, we KNOW we will see our beloved Thai family again.  What a comfort as we end one chapter in our lives and begin the next.

Repatriation, Part 7

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So, it’s March 9th  here in Thailand, four more sleeps, hopefully a nap Monday afternoon, then off to Phuket International Airport at about 9:30 p.m.  These days are flying, but they’re also dragging.  So much to do, so overwhelming.

Tomorrow morning, in about 27 hours, the sea container guys come to collect our packed stuff.  You see most of it in the picture, minus four more buckets and the keyboard and a couple of pictures.  We still have stuff to sell, a bunch of kitchen things, the wardrobes, shelving, the sofa, THE MOTORCYCLE!  Some things will be going to the thrift shop that takes the funds to help train women in skills so they can support their families.  I think that trip will happen on Saturday morning.

We’re feeling a bit overwhelmed right now.  Such mixed emotions!  Excited to be closer to family, so sad to be leaving our home these past 9 years and all those in our neighborhood and church, leaving the country we’ve called home for 10.5 years.  Reverse culture shock, here we come!

One thing I learned very early in our stay here in Thailand is where my TRUE CITIZENSHIP is.  I’ve come to the realization that I live in Thailand, my earthly citizenship is in the U.S. – the proof of which is my passport, but my TRUE CITIZENSHIP IS IN HEAVEN.  I’m praying that I don’t lose that perspective once we repatriate.

So, a 30 minute break to check email, write a little blog post, then back to work.  My physical body is beginning to rebel, especially my knees.  Not sure why they’re acting up so much.  Must be all the junk I’ve been eating these past few days causing inflammation.  I really need to get back to the strict vegan + salmon + sea fish diet, adding in ½ of a burger each week.  (The beef in the burger seems to give me more energy – could be just a mental lift, or could actually be doing something – who knows why?!)

God bless you, my friends, and say a quick prayer for us as God brings us to your remembrance.