The Junk We Save

I don’t know about you, but I have a junk drawer.  Often it is filled to the brim with papers that need time to attend to and things that need to find their more permanent place in our home.  Other times items are in the drawer because I’m not ready to throw them out yet.

I was on a walk the other day and saw a pile of junk.  Trash parts from broken down bicycles.  It was interesting to me, since I am not a bike mechanic, that I couldn’t see the value in this collection of junk.

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And yet, you may notice there is a green wire connecting the pieces.  What I know about Vietnam is that there is someone that will be coming along to collect these parts and deliver them to where they have value.  Where they can be repurposed and be used well.

And isn’t that just like us?

 “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

While we were a pile of rubbish (dirty, broken, not in any way useful) God loved us enough to see the potential.  To pick us up and deliver us to a place where we can be repurposed (born into a new life).  Thank you Jesus!

 

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Bending the Bar

I grew up in a part of the world where houses are stick built (i.e. from wood).  I now live in a part of the world where homes are built from poured concrete.  This means that within the concrete there needs to be something giving it support and directing it’s final form.

The other day I was walking and saw a construction worker bending and shaping bars.

IMG_0569 It was interesting to see him do these movements over and over.  Taking perfectly straight bars and bending them into the form that makes them most useful for this particular building.

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It got me to thinking…isn’t God just like that.  We might be perfectly acceptable to the world in the shape we are in and yet, to fulfill the purpose He has in mind, we are bent and reshaped.

IMG_0568We are changed into an image that is most useful for the plans the Master Builder has.  Friends I pray that you will allow the bending and changing to occur so that you will be all that God has designed for your life.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, Which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” – Ephesians 2:10

Different is My New Best Me

Has this ever happened to you….that you want to zig when others are zagging?  That you want to be free of the expectations that others (and especially you) put on yourself?  That although you look similar to those around you, you feel remarkably different on the inside?

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Our family is from the US, but at this time God has us planted in SE Asia.  It’s easy when we are surrounded by people with almond shaped eyes and varying shades of brown skin to tell, yep those blue eyed white folk are different.  And yet, after being here a few years, we are more different when we go back “home” for a visit than we are here.

Sure we look more the same on the outside when we are in the US, but inside we are forever changed.  We live for 10+ months each year thousands of miles from the nearest Target.  Clothing shops never carry our size or it has too many Xs on the tag for us to even consider it (vanity/pride here).  Grocery shopping involves the fruit stand, the veggie stand, the butcher + the grocery for dairy items.  We only speak a bit of the local language and a smattering of English is spoken here.

This time has been amazing, hard, good, hard, thrilling, hard…you get the idea.

But truly, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  Looking back, I wonder how my soul survived the push from the cul-de-sac life to have the best house, best car, kids with the best grades that performed the best in their particular sport, best marriage, best vacations, etc.  First world problems for sure.

Here where we are obviously different, it is easy to life counter-culture.  We can easily say, we value attending church vs. a soccer tournament on Sunday mornings and there won’t be a backlash from the community bought into my child “letting the team down” by making that choice.  We can choose to have family dinners around a table instead of dividing and conquering getting everyone to their separate activities.  We can ride a bicycle or walk to most of the places we want or need to go.  There is freedom from judgement of not conforming because our community is made up of people from many different nations and past experiences.

Additionally, in a developing nation, I am sensitive to spending $25 for one meal for our family of 4 when that same amount could feed a local family for a week or more.  Instead of living in a country club community in the preferred section of town away from homelessness, I step right outside my door and see poverty.  People working hard, long hours at work that the old me would have considered “less than” to provide for their family. (See below the garbage/recycling/repurposing truck where men physically sort EVERYTHING they pick up curbside).

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And you know what, I am grateful for that reality check.  I grateful for the reminder that it isn’t about the stuff, but making the best of what you have.  And you know what else I’ve noticed.  People that do that, are happy.

So I will continue to strive to be different than the “old me”.  I will die to myself and my rights until I am living the life that most pleases the God I serve.  Being different is my new best me!

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

Hanging in the sky….safe or scary?

Some days life putters along at a predictable pace.  For many of us, that means COFFEE, study, feeding humans, cleaning the kitchen, laundry (and more laundry), more feeding of humans.  For others it might be to grab a slice of toast & COFFEE as you run off to work, answer phone/email/directives from the boss, down a quick lunch (2 min vs. 1 hr), then back to work…you get the idea.

This routine is something that we find comfort in even if  we don’t enjoy what the routine is.  We know what to expect and we feel somewhat in control of our responses, if not our circumstances.

So imagine your surprise the day Jesus comes by and says, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)  You check your Google calendar and realize….that’s not on MY agenda for today.  But guess what, God calls us all to share the good news of the Gospel.period.full stop.  Sometimes he will disrupt our comfortable routine in order to get us focused on doing so.

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When your routine is interrupted you might feel like this praying mantis on the 20th floor balcony railing.  You wake up and wonder: How did I get here? What am I supposed to do now?  I’m scared and unprepared for this circumstance…

And there you are, humbled and calling out for help.

In that moment of brokenness and vulnerability, we are finally willing to accept the help of a Father that loves us more than we can imagine.  It is at this point we are able to let the words seep into our souls…

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” -Matthew 11:29

My takeaway from the praying mantis is to stop, assess where I am from a different perspective (maybe a high view of the situation) and make sure that my words & actions are moving me in the direction of the Father.  Because there, in His loving arms, I can feel safe not scared.