Friday, June 29, 2018

No Bargaining with God

The art of negotiation starts early.  We've all seen the toddler given a plate of food that does not include pasta or chicken nuggets.  He vacillates between refusing to take a single bite to avoiding the inevitable by simply playing with the food or entertaining everyone at the table.  Finally, he offers, "if I take two bites, can I be done?" His weary parents agree and his bargaining skills are set in motion.  He learns to bargain for everything from extra hours before bedtime to the family car on the weekend.

We all, to some degree, are artful negotiators.  We bargain with bosses, parents, spouses, the scale and even ourselves. And, if we are not careful, the idea of bargaining - "if I....then __________" - carries into our spiritual life.  In Thailand, the Buddhist monks adhere to a long list of rules and restraints in an effort to make themselves purer and to achieve enlightenment.  Even those who are not monks, work carefully to keep the spirits happy - believing if they do so, they will have good karma and a happy life.

It is not hard to develop the same type of mindset even as Christians. However, there are no works of righteousness that can either earn our salvation or guarantee us a trouble-free life.  We do not "bargain" for our salvation and we cannot bargain with God in order to control or manipulate our circumstances.


These are my thoughts from this week's prompt at Five Minute Friday - IF.  They include just a hint of some of the things that impacted me while I was on my trip to Thailand.  I hope to include more in the days (or weeks) ahead.  I want to thank each one who prayed for me while I was gone.  It is hard to believe the trip has come and gone but I pray God will daily continue teaching me from the experiences I had while there.  It can be hard to process it all at I'm looking for little nuggets of new truth each day! 

I did have the opportunity to help teach English to 11th-grade students at a Buddhist temple.  Of all the teaching activities we did, this was definitely the most fun.  So many laughs!!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Summer Devotional

June is almost over.  Summer-time schedules are in full swing.  That can make things busy but it can also make us a bit more unstructured, even lackadaisical, with our otherwise good habits.  So often, our time with the Lord can be lost in lazy mornings and on-the-go, fun-filled days. 

I wanted to take a minute to introduce a great resource to keep you focused and in the Word.  This devotional, written by Sarah Frazer (who is a missionary wife - soon to be headed to Honduras - and busy mom of five) is full of pretty pages filled with a plan to keep reading and then to thoughtfully consider the reading.  To meditate and glean truth - making your time in the Word more than a checked box on your to-do list.

It is on 40 days long - so you can start anytime.  And, although written for "busy moms"...all ladies will enjoy it.  And benefit.  Visit Sarah's blog in order to purchase.  Its only 10 dollars!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Quick Prayer Request

I did not really intend to "leave" posts for the days while I am in Thailand; however, on Wednesday, the 20th, we will be working in a Thai prison.  The missionaries have a ministry of teaching English, followed by a Bible study.  I do not know many details - how many women attend, etc. - but I was asked to have a lesson prepared and may have a chance to teach.  No doubt, there will be plenty of chances for me to step out of my comfort zone while I am away.  I'm sure I do not know all of them...but, for sure, ministering in a women's prison will not only be a first but will also be way out of any comfort zone I have. 

I am excited for the challenge.  But more anxious than excited.  And eager to see what God can teach me through this opportunity.  If you are reading this post on Wednesday, please pray especially for the women in prison, the ones attending Bible study and for our team as we work with them.

Friday, June 15, 2018

A Good Chuckle on Memory Lane

The day before my flight, I was in Target picking up a few (um, last minute) things.  It was the first day of summer break for our local public schools and, yes, kiddos were everywhere.  Two elementary-aged kids were running ahead of their dad and bumped into something.  Dad called to them, "Hey guys...calm down.  Remember...this is a store.  Not Romper Room."

Both kids stopped cold.  Huh?? was written all over their face!! It was priceless. The kids starting giggling and, yes, it was rather amusing.  The generation gap is alive and well.  Please tell me you remember Romper Room - where each tv episode began with the Pledge of Allegiance and when milk and cookies were served, everyone recited the Romper Room prayer: "God is great, God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. Amen."

But the absolute best part was eagerly waiting to see if your name would be called at the end of the show from the magic mirror!! Truly -  Barney, Paw Patrol, Mickey's Playhouse (I really have no idea what preschoolers are watching these days!).....they've got nothing on Romper Room!!

(I am still in Thailand.  Hopefully, when this posts there will be some pictures on my Instagram.  You can find the link on my sidebar.  If so, enjoy:)  If not, I will be updating photos as soon as I am able!  Thanks for continued prayers!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Would Anyone Even Notice?

I live outside of our nation's capital and, until last week, it has been many years - even decades - since this city had a champion sports team.  The Washington Capitals changed all that last Thursday evening when they won the Stanley Cup!  Apparently, it was a huge deal!  I say "apparently" because I missed it.  I am not a sports person.  I don't follow sports and I don't, actually, like sports.  However,  I know lots of folks do and having a winning team has been fun for many.  But, I missed it.

I did not even realize they had won until I was at the dentist on Friday morning.  Apparently, my dentist is a Caps fan.  And she was excited about the win!  She gave me the period-by-period replay - and I felt like I hadn't really missed a thing:)   I was grateful that, as the day went on and I was asked repeatedly, "what about those Caps??!!" I could at least acknowledge I knew what all the excitement was about!  (Nothing like intelligently engaging in conversation when you don't have a clue!) 

Later that afternoon, I began thinking:  what if "the big news" really had been something important?  Something of national significance had happened overnight?  How long would it take before I heard the news...or understood the impact?  Or....

What if the rapture had occurred?  Now, I know I would not have missed that.  I would be among those "missing"....having been caught up in the air!!  (What a day that will be!!?)  I would like to think enough Christians would be suddenly "gone" that it would make a tremendous impact on our country.  People from big cities to rural towns....millionaires, homeless folks and all types of people inbetween....well-educated and uneducated....with all skin colors, backgrounds and of all ages.  Surely, American would have to take notice.

But what about countries such as Thailand?  A country where 94% of the people are Buddhist and 5% are Muslims.  That's 99 percent - almost an entire country.  Will they even notice the rapture has occurred?  That thought truly unsettles me.  Is it really possible that whole countries could continue, completely unaffected, in the minutes and hours after the Lord returns to claim His children - and to take us to Heaven?

There are no easy answers to these types of questions.  But they are sobering and, hopefully, unsettling.  Unsettling enough to jar us from our comfort zones.  From our routines and schedules and, yes, our hurried paces.  To cause us to look for our way - our part - to be involved with spreading the gospel.  To remove our naivety and to see an entire world that needs to hear about Jesus.  And, to pray.  Remember to pray for the lost, for those who are able to go, and for your part to help others reach this lost world.

I have not yet set my feet on Thailand soil - although it's very close! - and this country and my opportunity to go there are already impacting my heart!!  Depending on when you read this post, I might be in-flight or I may have already arrived and hit the ground running!  I sincerely appreciate your prayers!!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Headed to the Clouds

"I'll fly away.....oh glory, I'll fly away" - so goes the song in my head.  Which, I'm pretty sure will be FMF just after the prompt is revealed - and on Thursday night.  Maybe it was not the best idea...because I know those lyrics are going to stay with me!!?!
on repeat all night.  This is my first attempt at joining

But, not far behind Kate, my day to fly away is coming quickly.  Not to glory....but to Thailand.  By way of Tokyo.  By way of Chicago.  Over 8,000 miles and more hours than I want to calculate.  It is a long trip but I am excited, a bit anxious but mostly eager to be there and to be involved.  I do not know who the earliest missionaries were to Thailand but Adoniram Judson traveled to Burma (Myanmar), Thailand's neighbor, in 1850.  Can you even begin to imagine that journey? 

The sacrifice was immense and, although in a much different way, missionaries today still sacrifice much to follow God's calling to a foreign field.  To begin ministries from scratch and faithfully serve in a new land.  I am blessed to spend the next couple weeks working alongside some of these missionaries.  To learn.  To encourage, and be encouraged.  To help and to try to be a blessing.  I sincerely thank the Lord for the opportunity.

I will be absent from the blog for a couple weeks.  If you stop by and nothing seems "new," it will mean I am still on the other side of the globe.  Take a moment and pray for all of us on this trip.  I would be grateful if you did.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the FMF writers.  Me.....I'm ready to fly away!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Life's Little Pleasures

It is full-on packing prep mode at my house - which, essentially, means that I as I think of yet one more "ah, I don't want to forget that" thing, I lay it out on the guestroom bed.  That bed is beginning to look, well - overpacked.  I also have been trying to save a bit room for fun extras!  Especially some things that will be a treat for the missionaries' children when we get there.  I have been trying to discover a few things that, perhaps, they might be missing from the United States and would be oh so happy to see in a visitor's suitcase:)

I'll admit - Thailand seems to be fairly well stocked in goodies...including all Western ones!  I did get to thinking, though, if I were away from home, what would be some of the things I might miss.  I'm sure I could live without these - but, oh, wouldn't they make a delightful surprise.  Here are my random, so glad I have easy access to you, favorites:

1 - Dark chocolate.  Definitely an indulgence even here at home.  I cannot (that is, I should not) eat dark chocolate every day.  But when I want the joy of chocolate - dark is the only way to go!!  The darker, the better.  Ahh.  Even when traveling in Belgium where chocolate seemed to be everywhere, it seemed there was one dark chocolate treat for every fifteen milk chocolate one.  Go figure.  I will admit, I already have a dark chocolate stash for my carry-on:)

2 - Double stuff Oreos.  Again, I rarely eat these at home.  In fact, I let my husband chose his favorite - which are always the original (with minimal stuffing) - and I never bother.  That is a waste of Oreo calories, in my opinion.  So, if ever I am stranded without Oreos....please send double stuffed!

3 - Tofu.  A bit more practical, maybe, but I do know when traveling, it can be harder - even harder than here at home - to find vegetarian dishes that are actually yummy.  Or even palatable.  You can usually find rice and/or noodles and I eat a lot (a lot!) of both when I travel....but, if someone were to unpack some tofu:)  I could create a real meal!

4 - Flatiron.  It's not only food that makes me happy.  It might just be me....but it seems everywhere I travel, humidity is crazy and humidity is not my friend.  Certainly not a friend to my hair.  Being able to tame the tresses every morning just speaks calm to my soul.  It's not vanity.  Just calm to my soul:)

5 - Essential oils, bug spray, and self-tanner.  Again, I could certainly live without them but, oh how much nicer life is when you aren't the only women with pasty white legs - attracting every mosquito within ten miles!  And the oils - more calm for your soul!!

6 - Trail mix.  Actually, if I am ever stranded on a desert island and you can only send one thing....forget the chocolate, the Oreos, and even the flatiron.  Just send trail mix.  Pure happiness in a bag!!

What would be a total treat for you??

Friday, June 1, 2018

When Will My Thoughts "Return" to Normal??

Hello June - and embracing all the summer vibes!!  My hydrangeas are "this close" to bursting into full bloom!  This is also the first FMF post for June - the prompt for today is RETURN.  Usually, my thoughts start heading in one direction right after I read the prompt, but this week my thoughts are all over the place!  With this upcoming trip, it seems just about everything sends my thoughts towards Thailand, missionaries and/or my travels.

For instance, after I read RETURN this morning, my mind became jumbled:

**When I return, what stories will I have to share?
   **When I return, will the jet lag be as difficult as last time?
      **Once I return, how will God have changed my heart - and used Thailand to impact me?

On and on, the jumbling continues.  Although questions that could have significant answers, they are for another day - and not a post for this FMF.  Then I thought of this true story:

I was browsing a young girl's story - shall I say, Tween Store - for a birthday gift.  The checkout line was a bit longish so I continued to browse although I had already chosen a few things.  The first problem at the checkout was a customer wanting to pay with a check.  A check!?!  Not kidding.  The clerk (who said she was the manager!), apologized for the delay but said she just was not sure how to process a check one uses checks!  I guess it would be funny if I wasn't old enough to remember when checks were the jam!  I remember excitedly choosing my check design - the one that represented "my style."  Oh me.

Back to the story.  After this customer, the next lady had a return.  A return of $223 worth of stuff!  There were seven items - but her receipt had only four items on it.  The customer was insistent that she bought all the that store, at one time, on that receipt.  The manager, who counted the items on the receipt no less than five times, seemed totally perplexed how to make the return.  Did not seem hard to me - you cannot return items you didn't purchase.  This challenge took over fifteen minutes to resolve.  And, yes, the manager just gave her store credit for all the extra items.

I was sure I could draw some deep and meaningful conclusion from this story.  But, apparently, it is just my rambling.  I think rambling is going to be a constant struggle for the next few weeks!  At least until I have everything neatly tucked into my suitcase.  Or suitcases.  I refuse to even think....what have I forgotten??

My five minutes are I will simply leave you with these verses I read just this morning.  With RETURN.  I love it when that happens!!  I pray they will be a blessing!

Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Isaiah 55:  6-7

Thank the Lord today for abundant pardon!!