Sunday, July 26, 2015

Missing Those Arrows

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
Psalm 127:4,5

I am happy with the arrows the Lord has given me.  One in Northern Ireland, one in India, one in Guatemala and one soon to go to Thailand.  And then one arrow still being whittled and carved into straightness.  And, oh! how I'm thankful for the beautiful arrows which have entered our family through marriage!

Yet, lately I have really been feeling the loss of the arrows that I did not put into my quiver.  After bearing four children, I listened to the worldly culture and the church culture and chose to put an end to Don's and my childbearing.  My husband was not wanting to quit, but I yielded to my own fleshly fears and to the pressures of others.   Let's face it, having babies and nurturing them is hard work!!  Yet, I have had to seek forgiveness for my lack of belief.

If God would have granted us more arrows, where would they have gone?  Perhaps they would have been helpers to their older siblings in other lands.  They could be helping the needy around home.  There is an elderly woman or two that I could be sending children to help.  My husband could have a 'young helper' on his construction projects.  Perhaps they would be an encouragement to other young people in our church.  At Operation Save America, I kept thinking of how some extra arrows would be good in the battle for life.  Not to mention countries afar that may need a missionary.  

I'm not intending to wallow in regrets, but I believe the mourning is appropriate for a time.  It's probably a bigger loss than I even realize.  That said, I believe and see God working out His alternate plan in my life.  He's giving me other children to watch out for and to influence.  He is showing me ways to use my extra time in ways that glorify Him.  I'm thankful for His mercy and grace.  But, perhaps on judgment day, the glory I gave up in missing those arrows will be revealed to me and those tears will have to be wiped from my eyes.

Until then, I choose to rejoice in God's grace, praise God for the arrows I have, pray for the grandchild arrows I've been given, love and serve other's children that are in my life, and continue to use my gifts and time for the Kingdom.  I rejoice that with our present children/grandchildren, we have been able to propagate over a dozen times!  And Mikah and Ariana haven't even begun to help us out yet! :-)  The work of Christ must be multiplied by the lost being saved, but also by believers training up a godly seed.   What a mighty God we serve.  I mess up and fail, but He does all things well!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Understanding Anger

I recently listened to a message by Tim Keller on anger.  It was so helpful to me as I knew I wasn't satisfied with some Christian's beliefs that anger is always wrong.  This message brought clarity and definition.   Here is a link for the message in it's entirety.
This post will just be notes that were significant to me from the message.

In Mark 3:5, we see Jesus becoming angry and sorrowful at the stubborn hearts of the people.  Thus He reaches out and heals the man's hand.

Here we see anger that is appropriate and that is used for good.

We often feel anger is not Christian.  Therefore we may try to cover it up.  We may say we are depressed or worried when really we are angry.  But, there is no emotion that is wrong in itself.  Our emotions can go bad, but they are not essentially wrong.  Like concern is good....but it's gone bad when it gets to worry.

The Bible even says to "Be angry".   This indicates that there are times when it's wrong not to be angry and that anger can be required.

There is a sinful anger.  This can take the form of :

1) Bitterness
2)Blowing up with rage, brawling, slander
3)Clamming up

Blowing up tears other people up.  Clamming up tears you up.

When we are angry, we are either attacking something or defending something.  It is important to ask, "What are we attacking?"  and "What are we defending?"  Don't attack or defend the wrong thing.  We need to be aggressive to the problem, not to people.  Anger is to be used and directed in a constructive manner.  Redirect your anger toward the problem.

Keller used the example of a father who is so looking forward to a quiet time when he gets home from work, and his children know it.  His children get rowdy and disruptive of his quiet time.  If he gets angry at them and tries to make them feel really bad by demeaning them then he is using his anger in a wrong way.  He should direct his anger toward any sin of insensitivity  that they may have and instruct them in how to act.

Bitterness is wrong and can be defined as wanting evil things to happen to others to punish them for their errors.  Bitterness imprisons you and contradicts the behavior of Christ toward us.

God is angry without ill will.  This doesn't mean He doesn't bring judgement, but He most loves to bring people to restoration with Him and to bless them.

Living without bitterness and improper anger is not easy.  Obedience is hard.   Disobedience is impossible.

Forgiveness is powerful and is a natural byproduct of being forgiven.

Some won't accept forgiveness from God because their pride wants to earn their forgiveness.  It is a gift!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Marriage is So, So Much More Than Gray

This week we went to a Marriage Matters Retreat in NE Ohio.  It is a marriage seminar put on by the Bible Methodist Connection.  There were 28 couples there.  It was held in a lovely hotel nestled in the rolling hills of Amish country.

The first half, we heard sessions on the colorful and deliberate differences between men and women - just as God created them; and on forgiveness.  Some of the differences are soft blue, soft yellow, dove gray.....and others are significantly brighter in neon green or cobalt blue!
 We learned how the strong, dark strokes of sin and offense can hurt and wound us, but there is an appropriate way to repent and to bring healing.  We must be humble, specific and open about how we have wronged our spouse....this lightens and brightens the darkness bringing out rich shades that are deep and meaningful to us.  Because of this, the dark strokes become a strengthening bond in deep purple and embracing, fiery orange.  Fierce and strong are the ties that bind.  Full of passion and energized through obedience to God's design.

We had a Q&A session which tackled tough issues both in our own lives and in the lives of friends and family.  From how to find time for our family in the midst of ministry, and how to have fun on a budget to what to tell a friend whose husband is caught up in pornography or infidelity with women.  These wounds can simmer in black heat with bubbles of red in the midst.  The four couple panel offered such wonderful wisdom.  They gave a challenge to wives in such situations to take a stand for help ....demand counseling or to separate themselves from the damaging situation.  A challenge to friends to stand with the offended one and to offer help.  Even God can't forgive until there is repentance.   We were told that anything can be forgiven.....but not everything should be tolerated.

Then Henry and Jan Miller shared how it has been to walk together for over 45 years.  They've had their struggles with Henry from an Amish background and Jan from a conservative holiness.  Now in their  mid 60's, we were stirred to tears as they passionately shared of their love for each other.  They told of a recent walk they had in the woods  and he pulled her under a tree and said, "This is our kissing tree."  As they kissed, they tried to take selfies of the two of them kissing.  :-) They said the pictures didn't turn out too good, but the kissing did!  Henry told about some nerve problems in his hands where he can't button his shirts or hook his pants..  and how Jan helps him.  Someone in the crowd had the audacity to call out, "She's your 'hooker'!".  Henry immediately said she's done that for him and made us all roll in laughter.  Henry exhorted the men to not be insensitive if their wife has a weight problem.  Don't make jokes, don't give suggestions....just love her.  Both of them spoke directly from the podium to their spouse how passionately they loved each other and how fulfilled they were by the other....Henry emphasizing how Jan was the most beautiful woman in the world to him, and the most beautiful woman in the room.   God was all over those moments, and it was like a gorgeous sunset that had unbelievably rich colors swirled together that can only be imagined, not described....and that kind of a love can only be built through the test of time and faithfulness to God's ways.  A determination to treasure and to love exquisitely.

Finally, we had a group renewal of our marriage vows.  Henry and Jan sang a love song they had written for each other.  The couples all stood and faced each other holding hands as we spoke vows again.  To be honest, it was about as hard on my introvert personality as my wedding day was, but it was sweet.  I didn't want to take my eyes off of Don, but for a moment, my eye caught the look on the couple's face next to us and it was so beautiful, I had to glance across the room at others and see the dedication and enjoyment coming from eyes/countenances across the room!  Oh, my!  So much more than gray!!  This wasn't young, virgin love as beautiful as that is.  It was love that had been tested and tried by a few years to many years of love and had chosen to give, sacrifice and to continue to commit.

Through these sessions, I was humbled and reminded how much WORK it is to have a beautiful marriage.  I was challenged and struck with how deep and meaningful it could be if we're vulnerable and pay the price.  Praise God for the extravagant color spectrum He has put into marriage!  Don't settle for less.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sumgum and Shopping

Yesterday, we arose early and drove to where there is a Hindu holy site where the Ganges River and another two rivers meet.  Hindu followers will come at sunrise and wash in the river.  They will buy flowers and candles and ;put those on the river.
 This is a platform that they put where the rivers meet (Sangum) so people can buy their flowers and dip in the river.  It's a shallow area.
 You can see the two different colors of the river here.
 More platforms with a man in the cold water beyond.
 Vendors in the area to take advantage of the many visitors.  In January and February, there are hundreds of thousands.  Andrew says India really only has one
 Aren't these two guys adorable?
Yesterday, Morgan and I had some time together.  We went out for coffee and then some shopping.  Have I said I LOVE shopping here?  That's only because I don't do it all the time probably.  As Morgan has said, you have to go to many little shops to get all your shopping done.  But, I love the narrow streets full of rickshaws, animals, bicyclists, pedestrians....We went to a kitchen shop.  It was one aisle where you could only sqeeeeze by someone else.  Goods hanging from the ceiling and packed into every nook and cranny there is.  The lady asks what we want.  We tell her and she sends her son here and there and in the back of the store getting what we need....laying it out for us and then starting over if it isn't just right.   Then we go to a clothing shop.  The clothing and fabric is folded neatly on shelves on the wall.  At the base of the shelves is a platform that the shopkeeper stands on. In front of the platform is a row of benches  which we, the customers sit on.  We then point at different pieces/colors we want to see.  He pulls the items down, unfolds them and lays them out on the platform for us to look at and handle.  If we say no, he tosses them in a pile to the side to refold and put back on the shelf.  We say,  "too fancy"...."sleeves too short"  ....."too much blue in that green" ....."too expensive"...."I want a fuller skirt"....and all those picky things that people who can be choosy say!!  Of course, Morgan helps put things in Hindi when the English of the shopkeeper wears out!  And usually that's very quickly!

Today we are packing to go back home.  Our flight leaves Allahabad this afternoon.  We will spend half the night in the Delhi airport and fly out of there around 3:30am.  It has been a wonderful trip, and we appreciate your prayers for good travels home!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Country Visit and High Tea

We did some shopping Friday afternoon.  Here are some pictures from that:

 Ariana had some henna painting done....

In the evening, A&M's Hindu landlord invited us over for high tea at 5pm.  His house is directly in front of Morgan's.  None of us had been to a high tea before so we weren't sure what to expect!  This couple has a very beautiful home.  Sharma is a retired gun maker and had his own shop in Allahabad.  As we were brought into the dining room, there were at least 8 bowl of different snacks waiting for us at the table!  As we ate, Sharma's wife or servants would bring more things out of the kitchen and put them on our plates!  Sharma's family was planning on eating their supper that night around 8pm.  We decided that this high tea WAS our supper!  We had samosas, curry, a type of falafel, Indian snack mix, potato chips, cucumber and onion sandwiches....very good!  Don shared with Sharma about the time Bro. Helm was burdened for us prayed for us the day we had a car accident.  Sharma said something like "The man of God was sent for you!"
Then Sharma told us he had a karaoke machine, and wondered if we wanted to do some singing!  We agreed and we all went into the living room which is a sunken living room and one entire wall is glass.  First he and his wife sang a song in Hindi for us.  They have beautiful voices and did very well.  Don looked through the list of songs and there weren't hardly any Christian ones of course. He found "Morning has Broken" and he sang that.  Sharma was SO impressed.  He said Don sounded like a professional and it was perfect.  He had him sing it again and recorded it so he could play it for his son!  There were other songs sung like a Christmas Carol, Amazing Grace and Don sang "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Ole Oak Tree" for fun.  It was an enjoyable time and probably important in building a relationship with this dear family.

Saturday, we went to a tributary of the Ganges River.  It isn't too far from Morgan's neighborhood.  We took rickshaws and their scooter part of the distance then walked the rest....Andrew did bring the scooter all the way to help the little ones and anyone else as it was at least a mile walk there and back.  It was beautiful to be out in the quiet open after being in the city.  And so quaint to see the little huts with the threshing wheels and animals around.  On the way back, I rode on the scooter with Andrew, Justice and Josiah.  It was exciting!

 You can see the threshing wheel in this picture below.
 Dung bricks

We had dinner out on Saturday night.  We're all sitting on cushions on the floor.  They served southern Indian food.  There were pancakes with different seasonings and curries to put on top.    

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Life in India for the Streets

I would like to give what we see Andrew and Morgan doing in India.  Sharing Jesus with others is similar whether at home or abroad, but when abroad, there are many other things to consider.  They still spend 2 hours a day learning language.  I've heard them carrying on Hindi conversations on a basic level with various ones while here so they are learning!  Below is a picture of their new language teacher.  He has talked to us several times this week, and Don and I have been impressed with his knowledge of the Word and of God.  Today we found out that he is Ravi Zacharias' first cousin!

 Learning the culture is another big job they have.  How do you handle employees who try to ask for too much money?  What is the legal process for transportation, taxes, visitors (yes we have to be registered).  At the college, they found differences in how genders were permitted to relate to one another and how professors were expected to relate to students.  What do parents expect from babysitters?   What is the proper way to connect with different levels of the culture?  The Streets live around those who are wealthy...but right behind their house, are families living in these conditions......
 If they want to befriend the  upper class in their area, it is recommended they only connect to the poor and needy in a different neighborhood.  Of course, the leading of the Spirit trumps all....but they are learning the sensitivities.

While we've been here, the Streets sat down for tea with electricians who were working at their house.  They visited in their living room with their new landlord who in return invited them over for tea.  There have been some very meaningful spiritual conversations with their Hindu housemaid. They are connecting with other American missionaries in the area ....some to glean from their experiences and some for fellowship.  Andrew also attends and contributes to church planting meetings here in India.  His heart's desire is to train church planters for the harvest in India and beyond.  He also spends time researching a possible business to do in India to help with the visa situation.  All this plus being a big help around the house!
 Being here drives home to me the big task it is to raise a family of three small boys very far from extended family, adjust to a new culture, and to learn a new language.  They've dealt with heat, a difficult government process to do ANYTHING, rats in their home, culture shock, loneliness, difficult baby delivery, misunderstanding......and more.   But suffering these things is part of our suffering with Christ, and He gives strength and blesses beyond our comprehension.   The above picture is a picture of Andrew and Morgan taking off tonight from their home for an overnight date while we get to watch the boys!  They need the time to refresh and recharge.

You've Got it All in Allahabad

In America, some like it in the suburbs and some insist on the city and others cannot get the farmin' out of their blood.  But, in can have it all!!  The Streets are experiencing it all in this city of several million!

There are cows to milk if they would so choose at the end of their drive....

 There are manses around the corner...
 A Hindu worship center open to all....
 Andrew's favorite tire pumping station on a nearby corner.....
 You can still have your trash burn pile....
 A friendly neighbor who tells me not to let my grandsons play in the Hindi...but her motions made it clear....
 A toothless grandma.....
 Public transportation at your beck and call....
 My grandsons are not lacking for the education a farm offers.  Pigs, goats and cattle abound on the nearby streets.
   Not to mention fresh, home grown produce on about every corner.
Makes America seem a bit compartmentalized!  But, if you get into the social expectations in India, the real compartmentalization begins!