Gathering Together and How We are Sometimes Like Snails

I just love the image below.  When I first took the picture, I thought look at all these HUGE snails!!

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But as I look closer, I notice that although they look similar these snails have subtle differences.  Also that they are gathering together.  And isn’t that like us as humans.  Often we gather with those that are most similar to us.

I have found recently that I am much more intentional about the time spent gathering with others.  I realize that in the hustle & bustle of daily life, I want to ensure that my “gathering times” have purpose and meaning.  That they add value to my family and my life.

Additionally, I intentionally plan some gatherings with those that might have a different perspective so that we might learn from one another.

I challenge you in the week ahead to gather with your brothers and sisters in Christ.  If you don’t have a church fellowship, I encourage you to be “quicker than a snail” in finding one.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”   – Hebrews 10:24-25

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.

The Street Chickens Have the Right Idea

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We pass these street chickens…well rooster & hen…while walking to school daily.  They are always together and are so different in appearance.  Yet they seem to make a point of spending time together.

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One day, it seemed they were enjoying a coffee date.  It got me thinking about God’s command in John 15:12 “to love one another as I have loved you”.

It seems the street chickens were getting it right.  Instead of rushing by heading off to the next event, they were taking time together….it appears, lingering over a coffee.  I don’t know about you, but I was convicted by not being intentional in my current friendships.  I also got to thinking about those that might need friendship yet I was too busy to see their need.

My challenge has been to reach out to those that I might not consider a friend (yet) and try to show them the love God commands.  It might be meeting for a coffee, inviting them for a meal, or just chatting on the phone for a few minutes.  How about you?

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Finding God’s Hand in the Everyday Stuff

I’m always amazed by creation.  The idea that God is so BIG and VAST and yet has the creativity and wisdom to deal in the minute details.  The color, the shape, the way the flower moves with the elements.  It is stunning really….

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This flower is a symbol to me.  A symbol of beauty, grace, and perfection in creation.  But then the storms come or we are rooted up and transplanted or we are cut down and used for entertainment by others.  And yet, God is there, he is with us and he sees.  He is able to take the broken and make it beautiful.

And then, I am grateful, that even in the midst of brokenness and imperfection, I am perfected in Christ.

31 Days of Finding God’s Hand in the Everyday Stuff

Welcome!  I plan to share with you posts of where I see God daily.  Take a look around…make space and get comfortable.

Day 1  https://godsgloryimages.wordpress.com/2014/10/01/31-days-of-finding-gods-hand-in-the-everyday-stuff/

Day 2  https://godsgloryimages.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/the-street-chickens-have-the-right-idea/

Day 3  https://godsgloryimages.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/hanging-in-the-sky-safe-or-scary/

Day 4  https://godsgloryimages.wordpress.com/2014/10/04/different-is-my-new-best-me/

Day 5  https://godsgloryimages.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/gathering-together-and-how-we-are-sometimes-like-snails/

Day 6  https://godsgloryimages.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/seeing-gods-love-in-your-surroundings/

Day 7  https://godsgloryimages.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/let-your-light-shine/

Day 8  https://godsgloryimages.wordpress.com/2014/10/08/bending-the-bar/

Day 9  https://godsgloryimages.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/strength-when-we-are-weak/

Day 10  https://godsgloryimages.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/when/

Day 11  https://godsgloryimages.wordpress.com/2014/10/11/broken-down-vs-what-we-could-be/

Day 12  https://godsgloryimages.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/the-junk-we-save/