Friday, December 18, 2009

Kadda, Sig and me (Whitney's puppies)

I am amazed when huge flies appear late in the season. I don't like what that implies about their life cycle and where they grew and feasted as a maggot to get so huge. I am not a fan of maggots. I am not a fan of flies. I know God created them for a purpose, but is "annoying" really a necessary purpose in our lives?

Last night my dog went kind of crazy. I came to bed late. Deanna had gone to bed earlier than normal, and I lost track of time.

When I came to bed, my dog decided it wasn't bed time. This is not normal behavior for him. I could not figure out what he was doing. He'd climb half way up on my bed (which we don't allow) to get my attention.

I asked him if he needed to go outside, and he took off like shot, out of my room and uncharacteristically, barked when he got near the door. He ran outside for a couple seconds then was ready to come back in.

I let him in and returned to the warm flannel sheets.

He did the same thing. I told him to "get down" and "go to bed."

He got down and went to Deanna's side of the bed. I fussed at him again. He laid down and started to growl.

He got back up and headed down the hall, and barked.

I was convinced we had a prowler. There seemed no other logical explanation for his behavior. I made a lap through the house turning on every perimeter light and checking for figures moving about.


I went back to bed.

He did it again.

Now I'm thinking, there is no storm which might elicit this kind of behavior, maybe Deanna is sick and the dog is aware. I feel her forehead, and she stirs... that doesn't seem to be it.

We get up and walk through the house again.

Lights on.

Lights off.

I see no one. I hear nothing. This dog has lost his mind.

I return to bed, again. I am really getting annoyed. I told him sternly, "Dakota, go to bed!" (his bed is right below me)

He circles around and lays down.

I try to sleep.

Then it occurs to me.

I am a little slow.

Each time he got upset, that stupid big fly was buzzing my head and his. He was just as annoyed and stirred up as I was.

It is amazing how we sometimes fail to connect the dots of the obvious in our lives. Things that should not elicit much response, find us overreacting. Things that require our attention, find us ignoring them.

I pulled out my rifle and walked through the house... for a housefly!

That's an overreaction!

How many times do I bring a big gun to deal with a grain of sand?

Being Spirit led allows us to work from a frame of understanding that we will not have, otherwise. Learning to walk with the Spirit is important. It allows us to take a hammer when a hammer is needed, and to use a trowel, when a trowel is needed.

An interesting lesson for me.

Now I need to find that fly, so that WE can sleep tonight!


Monday, December 14, 2009

The day is drawing near when we will migrate back to our old stomping grounds to be with family! We cannot wait. Our hearts are already there. This opportunity is something we do not take for granted. We are enthused to be able to spend time loving on those who are so important to us, but we are lucky to see once a year.

I do love Christmas decorations.

When I was little, my mom went to great lengths to make our home festive. I looked forward to each season, because she would put up appropriate decor to reflect the time of year. Christmas was/is my favorite.

I still enjoy seeing what others do to reflect the celebratory time of year. In Venezuela, I saw decorations in many places. I did not hear much Christmas music to accompany those holly boughs and ribbon, but certainly people were joyous.

One church I walked into had decorations I considered to be a bit gaudy. However, they worked beautifully in that environment, and I was thankful to see them take the time to decorate.

One pastors home was filled with garland and other festive trimmings. I had been in other Latin homes at Christmas, but had not seen such attention paid to the season. It was very tastefully done.

In Peru, a couple of years ago, it all seemed very commercial (sound familiar?). The decorations usually carried the name of a major drink distributor. They were still beautiful, but I've had enough of commercial Christmas.

When we arrive with our family, we will take the time to decorate. Though I am not the best example of it, my mother has left a great legacy. My brother works hard to put up lights and other glowing reflections of the season. He paid close attention when my father hung them on the exterior of our home. He carries on the tradition with using the same colors (blue and green) and when it was possible, the same lights. I love it!

We use red lights in my home. Deanna LOVES red lights. It seems we hang one more strand of lights on our tree every year. We cannot have any un-illuminated recesses in our evergreen reminder of the tree our Savior spilled Himself on.

This past Saturday night, the youth pastors from our church invited all of the youth Sunday School teachers and their spouses out for a special "thank you," celebration.

We collected at a local eatery and shared a meal over much laughter. It was a great time. When the meal was over, we headed to our church where we awaited another treat.

When it arrived, we went out and boarded into a white, stretch Hummer limo. We toured the city and looked at Christmas lights/decorations for the next two hours while we drank sparkling cider and listened to Carols. What a great way to say "thank you!"

I won't soon forget this experience. We were able to celebrate the coming of His Season (sad to say this is the only time that many even think on Him) with those we did not know well, but got to experience significant fellowship with.

One home had their lights set to a radio station of Carols. Thousands of little glowing bulbs came on and off based on the rhythms in the music. It was amaaaaazing!

Deanna, Lauren, Weston and I were among those celebrating this night. We had a great time, and it was a wonderful reminder of how we need to share the love of our Savior. We need to be beacons of His precious gift. We need to be able to reflect Him into the lives of others in unique and significant ways.

There is something about lights! They capture and transport us to another place, another time, perhaps a simpler time. A time when family drew together to love and contemplate this powerful gift He has given us!

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given." Isaiah 9:6

Christmas lights are an amazing reminder of His Light. His glory is revealed in the hearts and lives of His own, both this time of year, and throughout, as we surrender our lives to be who He wants us to be!

Have a great week!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yeah, I'm home!!!

What an amazing experience I had in Venezuela!!! The beauty of the people there is second to none. I spent my time with pastors and church leaders from around the state of Portuguesa, primarily. They are deep in the Word, have a passion for Jesus and reaching the lost. I have seldom seen such spiritual depth and breadth.

The men I served with have been tools in the hand of the Mighty God. The far reaching impact of Christ's work through them and others from our church is very evident.

I have traveled through many countries, and seen many believers interact. I am not sure I have ever felt as loved and readily accepted as I did in Venezuela.

The country is beautiful and very hot. It was 95 to 100 degrees F, most every day. I came home last night to over 70 degrees colder! Most may want to turn around and go back because of temperatures alone. I would go back because of the way these people love on my Savior, and as a result, love on each other.

When the body of Christ live and thrive in relationship with Him, they also tend to do so with one another. It is by this evidence and fruit, that many are drawn to our Lord. Those who are not believers, see the difference and a desire rises within them to be involved in a love like this.

The petty quarrels and arguments that we often allow to separate us, also keep the unbelievers separated from Him.

It is our unity in Christ as a body, that opens the eyes to a different life and a different approach to love. It's why Christ plead for it, when He went before His Father in Heaven (John 17).

I made many new friends, who were already my brothers and sisters in Him. I am not sure I have ever felt so instantly, unconditionally loved and cared for, as I did by these people.

It was a valuable lesson for me.

Love on people, and let them know why. It's not a difficult concept, but one that gets diluted by assertions from personal agendas. Anytime self gets in the way, the Way to the Master becomes clouded.

Because of all we hear about their political leader, it is easy to make assumptions about an entire people group.

Clearly, those would be dead wrong.

These beautiful people are a shining example of how we are to love.

To be honest, at times I found myself being reluctant to open myself up to them. I feared being viewed as a source of potential funding for projects unknown. There is a certain relevance to that thought. People from the USA are seen as wealthy in most every other nation.

Though I am not, I am, by their standards.

In general, I do not believe this was the motive of those I got to know. There are always exceptions, but the purity and genuineness of their pursuit of me as a person, eclipsed this buried thought stream.

It is interesting to note that it costs more to buy four bottles of water than a tank of gas. Around 9 cents/gallon is the cost to them (in US currency). Can you imagine?

Turning 50 has caused some pretty serious introspection, on my part. I want to follow my Savior's heart with the remainder of my life. My own desires war within me.

I have learned a great deal by visiting these people. I need to be more like them... more like Him.

Generalizations should not be made about those we do not know or have not met. God loves them, and I need to as well.