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.

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Repatriation, Part 5

packing-up

 

Well, January 25th it got more real.  I transferred about 265 USD, a 10% deposit, to the sea crate company, with a packing date set as March 10.  I’ve been sorting, tossing, giving, selling, and packing stuff, but now I have paid for the deadline.  March 10.  We will fly out just after midnight on March 14th, arriving at LAX about 10 a.m. the same date.  So much to do!  Closing up house is hard!  We were hoping for 2 cubic meters, it’s looking like 4.  No more than that!  1 bedroom apartments are 400-600 square feet, and 4 cubic meters of stuff is a LOT.

We need to find a buyer for our truck, but don’t want to give it up until the 12th of March.  It’s a great vehicle for hauling people, and would make a great church bus.  Pray it sells at the right time and for a good price.  We also have a 200cc motorcycle to sell.  We need one or the other of them until nearly the end, preferably the truck so we can bring the kids to church one last Sunday.  We will hopefully get around 5,000 USD, maybe a little more, for the two of them, our seed money to begin life anew in the States.  We have a few other things too, but nothing of major value.  Enough to pay for groceries until we leave.  Maybe gasoline too.  These are smaller things, like three air conditioning units and the washer and some cabinetry and bookshelves and the two desks and the sofa.  Our little plug-in kitchen appliances that won’t work in the States because they’re 220 electricity.  Garage sale stuff, but they don’t have garage sales here.

I need to figure out how I’m going to pack a couple of pictures for transport.  It’s the small stuff that can get my brain going in circles.  I ordered and had delivered a 15 dollar roll of bubble wrap.  It’s four times, maybe more, than what I expected.  Maybe on our final Sunday we can have a bubble-wrap-popping party with the kids after church.  Admit it, no matter how old you are, popping bubble wrap is FUN!

The dog and cat are real sensitive to the changes going on.  They know something’s up and are clingy.  We have a good home lined up for our cat, but for the dog we’re having a bit of a challenge.  One lady wants Gordon, but one of her other dogs is so aggressive toward him.  Gordon does all the submissive behaviors, but Leo still goes nuts.  Not such a good fit. After leaving our dear Thai friends, leaving our pets is the most difficult.  Sometimes I find myself crying over the pets and our friends at odd times, and there’s still about 4 weeks to go.  I’m gonna be a mess!

BUT there’s the joy in the prospect of being nearer to our grandchildren, children, and other family members!  Now, to find positions that pay (aka, jobs) so we don’t have to camp out with them indefinitely, LOL!  First Dana needs to find what God has in store for him, and then I can begin looking for a position in earnest.  Dana wants to continue in some kind of pastoral role, maybe chaplaincy.  I’ve seen a couple of Children’s Minister positions that I’m qualified for and would suit me well.  Not too good, though, if we get positions at different churches.  I could substitute teach in the public school system, maybe even snag a contract position for the 2018/19 school year.  Right now, today, at this moment, I’m tired and think it would be too wearying.  But God knows, and will give the strength to do whatever He’s called me to.

Mostly pray for us.  There are lots of needs, a lot of mine are for spiritual and emotional stability as I continue this adventure.

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/

THE TICKETS ARE BOUGHT!

asiana-a380-copy

We did it! Yesterday, the 7th of February, we bought the tickets to take us to LAX. Asiana Air now has an A380 for the leg over the Pacific Ocean. The flights in the A380 are sooooo smooth – and quiet! We’ll be arriving at LAX on March 14th, 9:40 a.m. 35 more days, 31 until the sea container guys come to pick up 4 cubic meters of our stuff. Couldn’t sleep last night – such a mix of emotions, believe it or not. Excited to be reconnecting with friends and family, especially the grandchildren; sad to be leaving our dear friends (and pets) here.

Pray for the stress we’ll be going through these next few months – not only leaving our home of over 9 years, but finding jobs in our early 60s and settling back in.

We have enough in our account to cover the airfare (reimbursement will come the 7th of March), and we were able to fully pay for Dana’s cataract surgery – not sure how the money’s stretched that far, but it has. The next big expense on the agenda is payment to the shipping container company. That’s 2,500 USD – OUCH! Still cheaper than replacing the stuff we’re shipping with them . . . we’ve tried to keep it as low as we can. We need that amount to come in by the end of this month so we can pay the shipping guys without going into debt.  17% interest is a killer!  The contract has been signed with the shipping guys, so we can’t back out of it.

Once we’re back on U.S. soil, we’ll need increased support for March – June, to pay for increased rent and basic furniture and electric appliances as we set up house from scratch once again and find employment. Hopefully for the last time. We’re feeling our age, and getting older is NOT for sissies, that’s for sure!

If you would like to consider helping with our final expenses, we would greatly appreciate it. Over the course of the next 5 months (February – June) it seems to be about 11,500 above-and-beyond what we already normally receive, 2,300 more per month. Crazy, I know! This would enable us to pay our daughter back for the car they found for us and repatriate debt-free, able to help the family members we’re returning to help. It would also enable us to be in ministry positions that might not be able to provide as well as work in the public sector might. 23 people/families/Bible Study groups committing to 100 a month for the next five months would accomplish the goal.

Here’s a link to our mission facilitator’s page for us:
http://ssmfi.org/missionary/dana-and-cindy-bratton/

God bless you as you pray for and support us in this adventure!

Repatriation, Part 4

the-purpose-of-life

Last October, I really pared down my schedule and began to focus on Life Objectives.  Call them whatever you want, but this is what one system called them, and it seems to fit.  I had been sensing that God was getting ready to show us a next step to take, not really knowing what it would be.  By the end of November, I wrote down what I believe God was showing me.  Three or four weeks later, it became clear to both Dana and I that this change would be repatriation to the States in the Spring of 2017.  I share this because I know that it will be easy to conveniently “forget” some of this, especially as I need to seek employment/income producing ventures when we return to the States.

I know it would (probably) be easy for me to get substitute teaching work in the public school system, wherever God calls Dana to serve.  It would probably be not too difficult to get a contract teaching middle school science in the 2018/2019 school year and beyond.  Who in their right mind, having an education in science, would do that?!  I would, and I did, for several years before heading to Thailand.  But, as I look at those things, I wonder how they truly fit in with my life objectives/purposes.  The overarching purpose is to know God and to make Him known.  Would the public school system be only for money to bay the bills?  Is it REALLY what God is calling me to do?  Would I find fulfillment in His calling on my life, our would the 50-60 hour work weeks physically so exhaust me that I just wouldn’t have enough energy left in this nearly-60-year-old body to do much, if any, ministry at all?  So, I share this.  Pray for me and Dana as we begin this adventure of job searching at the ages of 59 and 60.  To be honest, we never expected to have to do this again!

I’ve written a little devotional booklet, trying to get it ready for e-book publication.  It’s based on lessons I taught the Thai ladies here.  There are several more topics I have the basic notes for, so maybe a little series of 5 or 6 booklets.  I want to see if this might be a way I can make God known.  I’ve figured out how to center vertically using Office 365, now to remember what I’ve learned.  I’d spent hours trying to get this to happen.  I got an e-cover and a print cover designed on little to no budget – thank you Fiverr!  Pray that God guides in this part of the adventure.  The last thing that is now left is to confirm my formatting, and try to get it up on Kindle Direct Publishing and “market” it. (BTW, if this would interest you, follow this blog and I’ll get you on an email list, as soon as I figure out how to do that LOL!)

I love to crochet and sew, and enjoy knitting too.  These may be ways I can help support us, by selling products and also by giving lessons on how to do these things.  I need to hear clearly from God on this too.

I want to invest in lives in VERY significant ways, building up disciples of Christ and leaders that will serve long after I’m gone.  (Morbid, but my 45th birthday marked a paradigm shift to wanting to leave a legacy of godliness.)  Trust me, I’m not ready to go yet!

I’ve seen “job openings” (hate to use that term when it comes to ministry) for children’s ministers.  Those descriptions excite me!  Investing into the lives of not only the children, but also their leaders, helping them become better equipped and skilled for children’s ministry.  I think this would be a good fit for me.  I’ve also seen a missions pastor position – a great position for Dana and I to fill as a team.  Neither one of us has the full skill set for the position, but the two of us together do!  We have simple tastes, so probably one salary would work for us.  Pray as we look into these things. Pray that we won’t become discouraged.

This is the skeleton of what I came up as I sought God out back in October.  This is a scary thing for me to make public.  But, I need to make known the things I’ve been shown.  I need to be held accountable to stay true to these objectives/purposes and strategies.  I need to make sure that, if I make any changes, these changes are done with much thought and prayer and counsel. What follows is list form, so quick to read.  Let me know what you think!

 

Life Objectives

Since I am not traditionally employed, I choose to have four fundamental objectives; one spiritual, one health related, one relational, and one addressing future financial stability.

  • Spiritual Objective: To know God and to make Him known
  • Health Related Objective: To be as healthy as I can be
  • Relational Objective: To be an emotionally stable wife, mother, grandmother, and friend
  • Financial Objective: To be debt-free and able to retire in Fall of 2024, without burdening friends and family

 

Life Objective Strategies

Spiritual Objective:  To know God and to make Him known

  • To Know God
    • Quiet Time
    • Prayer
    • Journaling
      • God’s messages to me (use for blogging and writing?)
    • Attend Conferences if possible
    • Read Books, Articles, and Blogs
  • To Make God Known
    • Blogging?
    • Writing?
    • Discipleship/Teaching
    • Evangelism
    • Hospitality
    • Music
    • Giving
    • Encouraging

Health Related Objective:  To be as healthy as possible

  • Diet
Consistent with vitamins and supplements

 

Decrease Increase
Weight – 135# Nuts – almonds, cashews, walnuts
No turkey, chicken or pork Veggies
Shellfish only once a month Fruit
Cheese only twice a month Olive, coconut, and sesame oils
Tuna only once a month Fish
Baked goods (cake) only once a week Legumes
Beef only once a week Water
Soda only once a week Low fat dairy – yoghurt, keifer, sour cream
As little sugar as possible  
  • Exercise
    • Walking – work up to 10,000 steps/5 miles a day
    • Planking
    • Low-impact aerobics
    • Find something for my flabby thighs and triceps

Relational Objective:  To be an emotionally stable wife, mother, grandmother, and friend

Two key tools to help me accomplish this is a really, really good calendar and a super-complete address book

  • Wife Role
  • Mother Role
  • Grandmother Role
  • Daughter Role
  • Sibling Role
  • Extended Relative Role
  • Friend Role

Financial Objective:  To be debt-free and able to retire in Fall of 2022, without burdening friends and family

  • Pay off student loan
  • Build up $15,000 (3+ months expenses) savings account
  • Active Income
    • Crochet – product and teaching
    • Sewing – product and teaching
    • Tutoring – English, reading, basic math
  • (Relatively) Passive Income
    • Books?
    • Blog?

Pray for me as I embark on this adventure, as we repatriate and I need to fulfill what, after much prayer and thought, even a bit of fasting (something I don’t normally do), I believe God has placed in my heart.

 

p.s. Once again I snitched the picture from Google Images.  Seems to fit.

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

 

Repatriation, Part 3

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In early January I whined in a Facebook Status Update about having to leave most, if not all, of my crafting stuff here in Thailand when we repatriated to the States in mid-March. I guess I was hoping for sympathy or prayer or both. Mostly, I guess, it was a public processing of an inner turmoil. My crocheting, knitting, and sewing are how I relax and make gifts for friends and family and I also sell a bit. It’s like a three-way multitasking event that doesn’t feel like multitasking. For me it’s fun and produces something that STAYS done, quite the opposite of general housekeeping and laundry.
Anyway, a few people have commented and several have private messaged me about how I need to be more like Abraham – he left his country at God’s call, not knowing exactly where he was going to settle. We’re in that same situation – leaving our home here in Thailand and not being really sure about where we will be living when we get to Southern California. We have a general idea, but not an exact location. That will depend on where we’re able to find work. We do know it will be relatively near Riverside and Desert Hot Springs where the family members who need or will need us to a greater degree than the others live.
This morning I decided to look at Abraham’s Call in Genesis. See what I was not remembering correctly, so that I could “get my act together,” to totally be chastised and disciplined by God about my poor attitude. But, instead, I saw something else. Take a look at Genesis 12:1-9. I’m using the ESV version because I can copy and paste digitally.
The Call of Abram
1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.
2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan,
6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.
7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.
8 From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD.
9 And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.
I noticed that third phrase in verse 5, “. . . and all their possessions they had gathered . . .” Now I’m just like most Americans, prone to hoarding. And believe me, there’s been a LOT of “decluttering” going on around here. And, granted, when Abraham traveled from Ur to Canaan, he didn’t have to pay exorbitant shipping fees. But he got to take his whole household and all their possessions. I have no idea what those possessions were, but I do know that Abraham was a wealthy man.
There are two things I take away from this. The first thing is that, while I ought not to be taking “clutter” back to the States, my basic yarn and crochet thread are legitimate. They are my recreation, the way I create, in order to give as gifts and to sell. (By the way, the picture with this post is an example of the crochet work I do.) The second thing is kind of a rebuke to some of us. Do we hold our missionaries and other ministers to a higher standard than God does? I do know that when we first entered full-time ministry we were expected to dress to the 9’s, all on about 25% of what people in most professions had for income. I was condemned for praying for a proper white blouse to go with an amazing suit I had just been given. Be careful of what you expect of others if you’re not willing to walk that exact same path with them. But I now feel free to bring some of my supplies with me. If I had to replace it in the States, it would be well over 2,000 USD. The shipping will cost about 200 USD, one tenth of the replacement cost.
Just a couple of thoughts, maybe they’re correct, maybe they’re not.