Sunday, January 5, 2014

Chapters

This morning at church Jim was teaching from Matthew 25 and the parable of the talents.  We have been studying different parables since last summer and it's been great.  One of the advantages that we have of being a small church is being able to have discussions about what we are studying.  I personally have learned a lot through the parables lately and there is always such good application.  It's also been good just as a check seeing where my heart is and the attitude of my heart.  I don't think we ever reach that point of being content with where we are spiritually-there is always room to be taught, to learn and to grow.

Today, Jim used an example about chapters in life.  He didn't get into it, but for some reason it really stood out to me.  Chapters.  We know the term and we use it so often in describing many things-where we are in life, where we were, and where we may be in the future.

I thought about books.  Obviously we would think that when the word 'chapter' is being used.  I thought how the chapters of books so often parallel lives.  We tend to divide our lives into sections.  For some, there are the chapters of being single, a new chapter for when we are married, have children and then there are even chapters reserved for the future-perhaps retirement or a new adventure that we know is coming.  For Christians, we often hear people categorize their lives as a chapter or chapters before they came to know the Lord.  That was one chapter, then new chapters arise as they walk with the Lord, follow after Him and journey along the road where He leads them.

Think about an adventurous novel.  Think how when you read a book it is usually exciting at first-especially if you are fond of the author.  You grab a cup of tea, a warm blanket and find your little nook on the couch or snuggle up in your favorite chair and get ready to escape into the tales that await you.  (can you tell it's winter and cold here) You get excited because the scene is being set.  The characters are being named and identified.  Usually within the first few chapters we meet each of the characters and know the role they will have throughout the book.  We figure out how this person is connected with that person, what the purpose is in the main character heading out for some kind of adventure.  Enthusiasm builds and we find ourselves unable to put the book down because so much is going on and we don't want to be left hanging and wondering what is going to happen next.

More often then not, what happens next?  Well, I venture to say that many times we get to the middle of a novel.  We get to that section that is not thrilling to read.  It seems boring, we wonder why the author wasted time even putting all those sorted details in there.  Perhaps we think it was just to make the book a little bigger -we cannot see the importance of the middle portion of the book.  All these silly details of someone going to a shop, doing the ordinary, nothing that seems to have to do with much of anything.  Surely we think the author could have just skipped all that and just got to the end.

How many of  you have become bored reading a book once you get to the middle of it?  It's hard to keep your attention and you may even be tempted to skip over a few chapters in hopes to get back to the exciting parts.  And then........finally.......finally the author starts to get your attention again.  Things start happening, some surprises, some things that we sort of expected or hoped to happen we just didn't know how it was going to work itself out.  And what happens from this point forward is all leading up to the end-the final chapters.

So today I thought about life.  I thought about just like a book, our lives can be categorized into chapters.  We have the beginning chapters, middle and then of course the ending chapters.   But, I thought about ministry too.  I thought about how just like in life, we have chapters in our ministries whatever they may be.  For some, like Jim and me, our ministry is overseas.  We had the beginning chapters.  The newness of it all where we were so excited to start writing the story of what God was doing and how He was using us.  The things the Lord was teaching us as we embarked on this new chapter of our lives.  It was exciting too because others were just as excited.  Something new!  Excitement often times begets excitement.  We all have been in situations where exciting news is shared and we want to be able to share and talk about it also.

But what happens later on?  It's kind of like a book-you have the 'normalcy' of life.  The chapters of the ministry where it is slow, mundane, seemingly day after day the 'filler' pages.  The pages that aren't so interesting for others to read about.  The excitement others once had for you has now been replaced with something else, something newer.  You feel as though the chapters of your book are not important to anyone any more and they just lay aside the 'book' for another time.  Just as people get bored with reading a book when they get to the middle, they can get bored with people or ministries when it doesn't seem like anything exciting is taking place.

Yet, we know that just like with most books, there is a purpose for the 'middle chapters'  There is a reason, albeit sometimes only known to the author, for those middle pages.  There is a story to be told, there is a connection between the first chapters and the last chapters.  We may not see it, but that doesn't mean it isn't there.  There has to be a beginning, a middle and and end.

Even our bibles have the same set-up.  There is a beginning....Genesis.  There is an end....Revelation.  Yet, between those 'chapters' is so much more.  Can you imagine if the Holy Spirit didn't inspire all the rest of the bible?  All the lives and lessons we would miss out on because there weren't those 'middle' pages in between Creation and Christ coming again.  Would it have been enough?  Well, I suppose since it is God's Word it would have been enough-but we wouldn't have all those amazing verses underlined to help us through each day.  We wouldn't have the record of those whose lives we can so relate to to remind us of our loving and forgiving Savior.

I feel like we need to be reminded not to get bored with things, with people, with ministries.  We live in a world that moves so quickly.  I tell you I cannot even watch tv when I am home because it just moves so quickly that I cannot understand what is happening.  My brain doesn't process things that fast anymore!   Society wants to tell us to just get rid of the old and bring in the new.  Think about the phone system in the US-oh you have had your phone for 2 yrs already-that is way too long, you MUST get a new one!

So, what's the point of all this?  Well, I suppose it is that we try hard not to get bored with our ministries, with other people's ministries, with our friends, with life in general.  Change is good and we all need it when the time is right.  But, there is something to be said for steadfastness.  There is something to be said for faithfulness.  All of us are going to experience 'the middle chapters' in life.  We will experience them in our personal lives, in our jobs, in our ministries, in whatever things we are involved in.  I don't think any of us want to go through them alone.  None of us wants people to get bored with us and set us aside just because we may not be as exciting as we once were.  Let's all be willing to cheer one another on through the middle chapters.  Let's all be those who don't give up on whatever we are called to do just because the middle pages seem redundant and boring.

There is a new chapter coming for each of us.  God is the author of our lives and just as He planned a beginning, and the years in between, He is planning the final chapters.  We all know as His children that it is going to be a glorious chapter.  Sometimes I get so excited about the end that I want to forego the middle stuff and just get right to the chapter where I am home with my Jesus.  But, he wants us to know that even though we don't understand the middle chapters, they are there for a reason.  He has a purpose and a plan.  He has given us His Word that all things will work together for good-and that means even the ho-hum chapters we think we could do without.   Don't be in a hurry to skip chapters to get to the end.  I think in the end we will often times see that those middle chapters were the ones used to form us into the people God wants us to be :)



Friday, November 1, 2013

A Picture Speaks 1000 Words

Have you ever looked at a picture and there is something that speaks so loudly about it.  It isn't necessarily a great photograph but within the photo there is great meaning.

This happened recently when I saw this one.
At first it looked like a great photo from Venice.  The architecture there is phenomenal.  It is truly a city like none other.  In the years I have lived in Italy I have been privileged to go many times with friends and visitors longing to see this picturesque city by the water for the first time.  It never ceases to amaze me.  Each time we go I find something different, some little area yet to be explored.  A street, a store, even a new gelateria!   
On this occasion, Sandy and I had ventured off for the day to explore Venice for the second time in a matter of weeks.  There is nothing like a brisk autumn day with nothing pressing on your calendar 'to do' list so you take the train into Venice for a few hours.  

To me, this picture speaks volumes.  We've heard it said many times before that 'a picture speaks a thousand words'.  In this photo, one would never know that just around the corner are crowds of people, hustling and bustling about the city.  People young and old taking in the sights, others just wanting to get to their apartments so they can make the family lunch.  Laundry is strung about on makeshift clotheslines-taking advantage of the fresh air and sunshine.  Restaurant waiters are busy trying to lure in customers for a meal, tourists trying to get one last bargain, children crying because they are tired of walking.  And yet, you would never know it looking at this still photo.

This photo became so personal.  A part of me looks at it and weeps and the other part rests at peace knowing that midst the clamor and busyness one can find solitude and rest.   Weeping perhaps because you are not a part of the noise, not a part of the laughter and excitement that is found around the corner.

This past year of my life has been that way.  All around me there were exciting things happening.  People moving to new cities, new countries, new bible studies starting up, people stepping out in faith to do a new work.  You hear of new growth in churches, new people attending, events going on around you that you are no longer a part of.  It has been a year of trying to rejoice for those rejoicing all the while weeping because it is not happening for you or the place you are in.  Just like in this picture-it was like to the left and to the right there was noise, there was excitement and there you are in the middle of it all asking why.  Not asking why for the others, but asking why not for yourselves.  

A time of learning who God is in the stillness.  Who He is when it is just you and Him.  Is He enough?  

This picture also spoke to me about the need to keep walking forward and not looking back.   Our walk, our  journey with the Lord continues on.  Step by step we go forward.  As Paul says, we press on towards the goal, not looking back.  I love the depth of this photo.  You can clearly see the the steps walked to get where I am going and yet there is still more in front of me.  I love how there seems to be this darkness and gloomy grey on the stones and yet up ahead there is the light where the sun is shining.  The further I would walk, the more light would appear.  

Just like in this picture-we keep walking.  We keep moving in the direction the Lord has mapped out for us.  Noise and excitement are wonderful, but there are those times in our lives where God wants us to walk in solitude.  He wants to work something in us that is so personal and unique that it is between us and Him.  He teaches us His character.  He reminds us that though He had crowds following Him most of His ministry life, He was often alone.  During difficult moments and great temptation He was often alone.  No one wanted to journey with Him in those times.  No one could stay awake and pray with Him.  But, it was in those times that He was so intimate with His Father.  He cried out to Him and was heard.  He journeyed on.  

There came a time that day that when once again I was in the midst of the crowd.  The hustle and bustle was all around me once again.  The noise, the smells, the familiarity of the sites and the people were crowded around me.

How personal this picture is.   What a promise from the Lord.  Don't be afraid to be alone.  Don't get anxious about what is going around you or frustrated about what is not going on where you are.  God has a plan, He has a purpose and reason for those quiet times, for those alone times.  Take advantage of them because they may not last.  Take in those moments when it is just you and your Savior and you cannot hear or see the crowds to your left or right.    

Forget what is behind and continue to press on!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Prayer and Praise

Thank you to everyone who partners with us here in Padova.  We are heading into our 5th year here and excited about the things that are going on.  It's been many years of praying and waiting and to be honest even questioning at times.  This past year was especially difficult with health issues, heartaches and waiting for God to do what He has promised.  It's in those times that it becomes easy to be discouraged and yet the Lord continually gave great comfort and strength with each new trial.  He has been faithful to remind us of what He spoke to our hearts years ago and brings blessings when we least expect them.

We had a wonderful time at the annual Missions Conf in Austria.  Always a time of refreshment and encouragement with others and the teachings are a wonderful reminder to keep our eyes on the Lord and His Word and not to be distracted.  I go away feeling like so many of the messages were hand picked just for me  :)  

Tonight we have 4 girls arriving-3 are living in Austria and 1 just finished SOS in Austria and has a week before going back to the states.  We are thrilled they will be with us for the sole purpose of walking around the city and praying.  I love the promise the Lord gave to Joshua-'every place the sole of your foot touches will be yours'.  This is our mission this next week.  Walk and pray.  The university students will be arriving towards the end of the month and we want to cover them in prayer.  Our university has over 65,000 students and for the past 4 years many have been praying for them and us and how to minister to them.



We have also been looking for a building to rent for our church.  We have been meeting at a Community Center for the past years and though we greatly appreciate the fact that it is free of charge, it is not in a location that is easily accessible to those walking or taking public transportation.   We have been searching for a place closer to the city center and within walking distance for the students.  Last week Jim went to meet with different owners/realtors of several properties.  He found the one that seems to fit all of our needs and then some.  
This storefront is in a great location-easy to walk to, has parking and within walking distance to the train station.  The brick building above is for sale by a different owner.  It was actually a school.  What's great about that is we have been praying with Greg and Alice about having a Christian nursery/preschool one day. Alice is taking an exam this week that would give her the qualification to teach.  We would like to rent the bottom part and use it for church, English classes, guitar lessons, etc and then be in prayer to see about getting the top part.   

Marla is interviewing for a job in Milano this coming Friday.  She would get her own apartment and be very close to the train station and city center.  She's also excited because there are plenty of Sushi restaurants in the area :)

So, how can you be praying for us and CC Padova?  Let me tell  you :)

*Jim's health.  He needs an angiogram to check his arteries-pray the doctor will give him the referral he needs.
*Margie's back-I found a surgeon about an hour away.  I am going to make an appointment for him to examine my back but need to have the doctor in our town refer me so I don't have to pay. Patience as I await test results I had done last week.
*Home fellowship group about 45 min from us to start up soon
*Greg and Alice to be able to buy a car for their growing family
*That the finances needed for a years worth of rent on the storefront building would be provided.  
*A great week of prayer with Rebecca, Michele, Laura and Briana as we walk around Padova.
*Marla to get the job in Milano
*An abundance of God's grace, wisdom and love as we serve here in Padova. 
*Chris Brown-a faithful servant who travels an hour to Padova each week to reach out to the university students.  Also for Aoife (Ifa) who will be serving with him this year.  She is a sweet gal from Ireland who was in Padova last year.
*Finances for Jim to be able to go to the states for a visit

A couple pictures from the conference

Celebrating Marla's 25th


Monday, July 22, 2013

Jim Part 2

Hello again!

First, thank you all again for the sweet comments, prayers and abundance of love!  God is truly showing Himself to us through each of you.  As odd as it may sound, it has blessed our hearts to read the comments here and on FB and know that you are each an extension of His love and comfort.  Besides the normal stress of having Jim in the hospital and not knowing exactly what is happening with him it has been hard to be by ourselves (Marla and me) and not have a friend to just cry with and pray with.  I may say this often but please don't ever take for granted the Christian friends you have around you to pray with, laugh with, cry with, etc.   You never know when your world will turn upside down and you no longer have them around.  Maybe I have been so spoiled with the lovely friends I do have and so going through this rough time makes me ache all the more for you!!!!  It's hard for our two daughters back in the states because they can't see their Dad and love on him and give him, Marla and me hugs too and we can't give any to them.

So, with that, I can tell you that as of 3pm today Jim is HOME!!!!  You may think we are thrilled and excited, and we are, but there is the other part.  The part of the unknown, the fear and what could happen.  He was released because the two machines that are needed to do the gastro test and also the stress test are not functioning properly right now. Whether that translates to they are really both surprisingly broken at the same time or summer is here and we are very short staffed so there aren't a lot of people to operate the equipment and you are no longer an emergency.....talk about having to trust the Lord and not lean on our own understanding.  Such a test of faith. Jim's resting now.  He is not allowed to do much except rest.  No walking and not much exercise until he has the stress test.  He is on blood thinners so help with the blood flow to the heart.  Marla and I have decided that we won't be out of the house at the same time just to make sure one of us is with him at all times.  We may be overly cautious but we don't want to take any chances.  A week ago today I wasn't sure what was happening and it scared me enough that we don't want to risk him being alone.  I met his doctor today and she told me what he can and can't eat.  He is on a strict diet of 1500 calories a day....lol....I think this is a shock to him.  Marla is so great and a big help-she is already planning on filling her Pinterest with heart healthy meals :)  No fat, no sugar, no fried foods....life is going to be changing for the good :)

Thank you again for taking the time to write, send your love and to pray.  It means the world to us.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Update on Jim

I decided to take to the blog to let everyone who is interested know what happened and what is happening with Jim.  To try and write on Facebook is just too long.

First, I really apologize to those who have written asking what is going on. Besides family,  I let a few people know the day of and figured that between the three of them everyone who is close to us would find out.  I wasn't in the mood to write on Facebook, answer emails, messages, etc.  I wasn't trying to be mean or evasive but to be honest, other people weren't the first things on my mind.  My husband and his health were and still are.  So, if I haven't returned an email or responded to a message please bare with us and try to place yourselves where we are right now.  We have been in 'waiting and testing mode'.

On Monday we were out in Padova with my sister and her family.  We had lunch and then the some of us went in one direction while the guys went in another.  I happened to see that Jim and Jim (my sister's hubby is also Jim) were sitting down again.  I just figured they were bored and not wanting to walk anymore.  We met up about 1/2 later and started walking towards the car.  Not long after my Jim had to stop because he wasn't feeling well.  He rested and then attempted to continue walking but couldn't.  We sat down on a bench and my sister and her Jim went to get our car.  By this time Jim's neck was hurting and he couldn't move his head.  Come to find out the reason the guys were sitting in the first place was because his eyesight got blurry and he thought he was going blind.  Then, his chest starting hurting and he said it was like 300 lbs sitting on his chest.  His fingers and toes started to itch too.  It was scary time for us and even Jim was pretty scared.  I was so thankful for my sister being there and her husband so they could be in charge of the events and keep us all calm.

So the ambulance came and took him to the hospital and the EKG didn't show he had a heart attack.  His oxygen level was very low (86) so they had to give him oxygen.  He has been in the hospital being tested and his latest EKG yesterday was hard to get a reading on a part of his heart so they are pretty sure he has blockage in his arteries.  They will run more tests on Monday,  and hopefully we will get more results.  They want to do the angioplasty after they have exhausted the other tests-why, I don't really know.  I understand it is invasive but at the same time it would be good to just know so that we can have him back  home

We feel extremely blessed and thankful that God gave him this warning sign.  He had been experiencing chest pains a couple weeks ago but you know how easy it is to put things off and not think about the seriousness of them.  Looking back, I think of how tired he has been in the past weeks, even months.  We have been keeping busy and pretty active walking around, doing a lot so we just passed it off as being tired and of course age and being out of shape.  Now we know better to heed the warning signs in the future.

The good news is that if it is Coronary Artery Disease it is fixable.  His diet needs to change and depending on how much build up  there is will determine if he just needs medicine or a balloon inserted inside.

He has made good use out of his stay in the hospital so far-always the evangelist :)  The whole floor knows who he is and what he does-why he is here in Italy :)  The doctors and staff cannot believe he would leave beautiful San Diego for Padova!!  God so blessed him with a room that only has 2 beds.  This was a nice gift considering in Hungary there were 8 to a room and most of the rooms on his floor are 4-6 to a room.  He has me bringing in different things each day-his roommate went home yesterday and Jim gave him some audio tracts that Rob Nash gave him for evangelising.  The nurse came in the other morning and saw him reading his Bible and said "Bravo"!!!  She was so happy he was reading it :)  So, in the midst of all the scary stuff we see God's hand upon him and seeds being planted in places that we never would have thought of.

We appreciate so very much the outpour of love and prayers coming our way.  Please continue to write even if I don't respond immediately.  It really does bring joy to my heart and helps remind me that even though it feels so lonely at times, we are not alone.  I honestly cherish each message, email and fb post that you write. I feel like it is God's way of wrapping His arms around us and giving us hugs long distance.  I think I miss that a lot right now.  I know that if we were there we would get a lot of hugs and comfort :)  Some of you have written specific scriptures the Lord gave  you for us and even some have written from a devotional. Seriously, it makes me cry to know that God cares that much and uses the Body of Christ no matter how far away we are from one another to minister to us.  It's such a good reminder for us to be faithful and not to put off writing or sharing something if the Lord puts in on our hearts to do.  We never know what effect those words can have for someone.  I haven't slept more than 3-4 hours a night since Monday so exhaustion is setting in but God is faithful and step by step gives us the strength we need.  Your notes have truly given me strength and I pass it on to Jim every day.  He is so touched and thankful!

They are short staffed at the hospital so he gets to come home today for 24 hours.  This is a good sign meaning that he isn't considered an emergency any longer.  I will pick him up at 3pm today and then he goes back at 3pm tomorrow.  Pray I don't smother him and over-react at every little breath or sound that he makes :)

I will do my best to update as we know more.  Until then, cherish all that God has given you and never take anyone in your life for granted.  Life is precious and so are the people that the Lord has placed in our lives!

My Love

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Fungus Among Us

I know, I know, you are so intrigued by this title!  What in the world could I possibly have to share with you with such a title as this?!
Well, if you must know, it is exactly that-fungus!!  'I never knew Margie was a biologist or a medic' you might be saying to yourself right now-but let me assure you, though I dropped out of college, I am now very expertise when talking about fungi. And no, I am not using this post to give you countless insight on mushrooms nor share recipes that contain mushrooms.  Rather, I will talk about fungus-real live (ha ha yes it is live) fungus-growing fungus, fungus that doesn't go away rapidly, fungus that is extremely unsightly and a cause of great distress.
Now that you are completely off your seat with excitement let me begin my tale of the unknown fungus.

It started way back in February.  I had this little pin sized red dot on my leg.  Right above my ankle.  I thought nothing of it at first.  I thought perhaps it was from shaving, (which of course is rare in winter, however; it must have been some rare occasion,) or it could have been a spider bite since we live in a concrete apartment and spiders seem to love having their dwelling places all along the walls and baseboards of our home.  It didn't hurt or itch so I really didn't give it much thought.  If we are facebook friends, you may remember that I was extremely ill for at least 2 weeks in February.  I couldn't move, couldn't get out of bed, nor eat much at all.  It wasn't long after that episode that I noticed this little red dot became bigger and other dots started to appear around it.  Still, no itching, no pain, so being the person I am, I ignored it.  Well, it soon began to spread across my ankle and I decided to bring it to Jim's attention.  We thought it was probably a spider bite and being the man he is, he so eloquently advised me that there was a possibility that a spider not only bit me, but laid eggs in my leg....yes, not for the squeamish I tell ya!!!  We had some creams left over from Hungary-Jim had a really weird disease on his legs for two whole years!!!  Doctors could never figure it out but I remember he couldn't even wear shorts one summer because it looked so bad.  So, being resourceful and thrifty, I started to use the creams-any creams I could find in the cabinet I would experiment with and carefully rub them in my leg.

A friend came to visit in May and I decided to show her my leg and we took photos and sent them to a friend of hers who is a nurse in the states.  Still, noone could figure out what this was.  By now it was gross and I mean really gross.  Red, scabby, just disgusting!   We started putting some other cream on it and sure enough it seemed to be going away.  Hallelujah!!! Right in time for the summer months my yucky leg would once again be smooth and ready for some bronzing :)  But......remember my last blog post.....where oh where is Spring?  It was so cold! How cold was it?  So cold that one Sunday after church (end of May mind you) my feet were so cold I put on some woolie slipper socks that I picked up at a garage sale in CA last year and was wearing a lot this winter.  Sure enough,  I awoke on Sunday and BAM,,,,,just like that, my almost healed leg was red, inflammed, and the rash was back with a vengeance.  My heart sank.  What in the world was happening to my leg????

Of course, Jim wanted me to go to the doctor months ago and find out what this was and see if there was something they could prescribe to cure this ghastly rash.  I refused to go and decided it would just go away on its own.  I google searched every possible phrase that might result in a diagnosis and couldn't quite be sure what it was.  Google images can be quite interesting as you know-often I wanted to throw up and had to quickly turn the page because some photos were just too much to handle.  I did however start to see photos that might resemble what was going on with my leg.  The problem was, it was a bit embarrassing.  The name just sounds terrible and makes me think I was unclean-that some how I wasn't careful enough or clean enough and this came about because I failed to do something properly.  So,,,,what did I do?  Well, just  tried to ignore like I am so good at.  But, it came to the point where I couldn't take it anymore.  I showed Jim a picture from the internet and asked if it looked like my leg and he said yes.  Well folks, that meant I had ringworm!!! Ah, just to type it sounds so gross to me.  Worms, I had this vision of worms in my leg but obviously it is not that at all...which brings me to wonder who the heck named it that if it has nothing to do with worms anyway!!  Must have been a guy :)  Anyway, we were at some friends the other day and I slowly lifted my pant leg to show a couple friends what was going on and low and behold someone said oh yeah, that's ringworm!  I felt relieved that they said that and not only that they told me what it was but gave me a homeopathic cure.  Tea Tree Oil in case you are wondering.  They actually told me to use Tea Tree Oil and Grapefruit Extract but I couldn't afford both so I looked online and found that I could just use the one and that should have great results.  I went yesterday and picked up a little bottle for 13 euro!!!!  They must know we like it :)  Anyway, I am on my third dosage this afternoon and already I am seeing improvement!!  So, do you wonder why in life is she talking about this-and why is she sharing this gross stuff??????

Through all this, I learned a lesson.  Believe it or not, the Lord used it as an allegory.  How often we go about with things in our lives, something that starts out small and unnoticeable.  Not even visible to anyone around us.  We can cover it up and pretend it isn't there.  We can try to wish it away and even just hope that with time, it will cure itself and disappear.  We are embarrassed by a sin or a struggle we have in our lives.  On the outside, we look so normal.  We look like we have it all together and yet underneath the surface we are hiding something.  We are afraid that if we expose it to someone else they will judge us, they will think poorly of us and make us feel worse than we already feel.

Often times, there is a simple remedy to whatever is going on in our lives.  Whatever problems we may be facing, whatever secret sin we may be trying to cover up.  There is a remedy and more often than not, it is such a simple remedy but our pride and our fears keep us from being healed.    We don't want to expose the ugly and unsightly part of ourselves because we fear that in doing so people will avoid us or not want to be our friend any longer.  I felt this way with my leg.  If people heard I had this they would think I didn't wash my clothes properly or that my house somehow wasn't clean enough and therefore I got this fungus.  I thought if they knew then they wouldn't want to be around me because perhaps they too would catch it.

Are you going through a secret struggle right now?  Are you struggling with something right now?  Do you put on a happy smile and make everyone think you are doing ok but underneath you are so close to a breakdown?  Are you struggling with lonliness, anger, perhaps bulimia, cutting, or some other secret problem?  Are you embarrassed about it and feel like if you just give it time it will go away?  If you just keep covering it up with a plastic smile, with some breath mints or a long sleeved shirt it will be ok?

Dear friend, it won't go away on its own.  You need the salve.  You need the ointment of healing.  You need a friend that you can go to and expose what is underneath so that the healing process can begin.  Don't wait any longer.  Let today be the day that you allow the healing to begin.  Perhaps, as did the Tea Tree Oil, it burned just a bit, but the healing began.  There is balm in Gilead, there is healing-but you have to apply it.  You can no longer continue to ignore it and hope it goes away on its own-it won't.  You must begin now to take action!  Don't wait.  The longer you wait, the longer it becomes a part of you and the harder it will be to get the help needed.

Or, perhaps God is calling you to be that friend.  Perhaps the Lord wants you to be that healing ointment in another's life.  You are being asked to bear this person's burden without thinking badly about them.  Point them to the scriptures-to the One who heals, the One who forgives, the One who heals completely.  Hug them, love them!  Don't avoid the one who you see with cuts on her arm, the one who sits alone because they feel ashamed because of something in their past or something they are presently going through.  There are enough judgers and pharisees in the world.  What we need more of is down to earth Christians who are willing to come along side in love and be used by God to help the healing process begin in another's life!
Are you willing to be that person?

I decided to spare you all a picture of my leg and put the words to this beautiful hymn up instead :)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Spring Delayed....How Long Oh Lord

Remembering the words of the prophet Habakkuk-'how long, Lord, must I call out for help, but You do not listen'.  David, in Psalm 13 asks the Lord the same...How long oh Lord.  Will You hide your face from me, will You forget me?
Have you been there?  Have you cried out to the Lord over and over again and yet saw no change in the circumstance and began to feel that God is not listening?  If we are honest, I think most of us have been or even are in that place right now.
It seems my last 4 or so posts have been about winter passing and the expectation of Spring.  The long dreary Winter will give way to the beauty and the sweet aroma of Spring.  Yet, there are times that Spring is delayed and we cannot understand why.  Here is a picture a friend posted yesterday.  It is just an hour from us.  Keep in mind it was May 24th when this photo was taken.
Crazy isn't it!  Last year we were in the states for the month of May.  We were so happy to be there but we were happy to be here in Italy this May because it has been our favorite month since moving here.  The vineyards are starting to fill in with beautiful grape leaves, the flowers and their scent fill the air with loveliness and the sun shines gloriously morning and evening.
It would not be so this May.  For whatever reason, Spring has been delayed.  Oh, there were glimpses of it, days the windows and doors were wide open, laundry was seen hung out in every yard and terrace.  Boots, heavy coats and sweaters were carefully packed away not anticipating to be needed for another 6 months or so.  But, yesterday, the heavy coat was worn and the winter boots yanked out of their resting place to be put to use yet again.

There came a time yesterday in the midst of  begrudging  these cold temperatures, walking carefully as to avoid puddle after puddle, watching the downcast faces of a people who had not expected to be braving this kind of weather at the end of May, for an instant I thought  "Lord, are You speaking to me through this storm?  Are the winds and the rain for me?  Did You in Your tenderness allow Spring to be delayed so that You could speak to my heart?"  It was as if for a moment, the clouds were lifted up and the light of His glory shone upon my heart.  'But Lord,' my desperate heart cried,  'it's supposed to be Spring.  The calendar even says it is supposed to be Spring.  We endured the Winter and anticipated Spring.  You gave us glimpses of Spring but as quickly as it came You took it away.  It's not just raining, it is pouring, it is cold and dreary.  Why, oh why aren't You letting Spring come?  Why are You seeming to be messing with nature and the way that things are supposed to be?  Why God, why????"  And I believe that our intimate God, our gracious and patient King, sat and listened and He had a bottle for every tear that was falling and He, in a way that only He can, wrapped me in His arms and let me know it was going to be ok.
He reminded me that it indeed rains on the just and the unjust.  That He does not look at things the way man looks at them.  His ways are different than ours, His thoughts higher.

This morning when I awoke, the skies were blue.  By the time I sat to write this, grey covered the skies, the cats came running in to seek shelter as the sound of thunder echoed in the background, and once again, the heavy rains came down.  Perhaps with sadness, some will look after the rains and see their crop destroyed, their planters overturned and flower petals tossed violently across the lawn. All of their hard work seemingly to no avail.  'Why bother?', some may ask. Perhaps they will give up and stop planting.  Perhaps they will become so discouraged and think gardening or farming isn't for them.  But, we know that we will sweep up the mess, salvage what is left to be salvaged and start again to dig, to plow, to plant to water.  Why?  Because that is what the Lord tells us to do.  The labor and obedience is up to us.  The harvest is up to Him.  And, one day, we will reap.  It may not be here in the physical life.  We may never be able to enjoy a harvest this side of Heaven.  But, we are promised in His Word that we will indeed reap if we faint not.
Spring may be delayed, but our God is never delayed. He makes ALL things beautiful in His time!