Psalm 73.

Lately, I’ve been having many days where I just feel like life is not fair. My mantra yesterday was a mix of “Life is just not fair!” and “God is just being mean.”

There are many reasons I’ve felt this way, but the one that sticks out the most is how frequently it seems that people who are NOT following the Lord seem to get… everything. They seem to have it so easy and things that come so hard for us or take forever for us, they get in an instant. We pray and pray and live Godly lives and… nothing. It’s not even that the things we ask God for are selfish; they’re things we either genuinely need or things that God has told us are good to desire. And yet… nothing.

Yesterday was one of those days where it just seemed like none of it was fair. I cried and cried and went to bed exhausted with those little red dots by my eyes because I had cried so much. Brian finally left me alone and said above all, I needed to work it out with God. But, that was honestly the last thing I wanted to do.

Right before bed, though, I opened my Bible and started reading in Psalms where I left off the night before. I made it two whole chapters before the third one finally hit home. It was like I had written all my thoughts of the last few weeks down and God was reading them back to me. But, He had added stuff onto the end that made all my jumbled thoughts and feelings finally make sense.

It’s long, but it’s good and if nothing else, I need to type it out as a reminder for myself. Here is Psalm 73 in the New Living, with the spots highlighted that hit me the hardest:

“Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure. But as for me, I came so close to the edge of the cliff! My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. They seem to live such a painless life; their bodies are so healthy and strong. They aren’t troubled like other people or plagued with problems like everyone else. They wear pride like a jeweled necklace, and their clothing is woven of cruelty. These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for! They scoff and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others. They boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth. And so the people are dismayed and confused, drinking in all their words. ‘Does God realize what is going on?’ they ask. ‘Is the Most High even aware of what is happening?’ Look at the arrogant people – enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply. Was it for nothing that I kept my heart pure and kept myself from doing wrong? All I get is trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain. If I had really spoken this way, I would have been a traitor to your people. So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! Then one day I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I thought about the destiny of the wicked. Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. In an instant they are destroyed, swept away by terrors. Their present life is only a dream that is gone when they awake. When you arise, O Lord, you will make them vanish from this life. Then I realized how bitter I had become, how pained I had been by all I had seen. I was so foolish and ignorant – I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you are holding my right hand. You will keep on guiding me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. But those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you. But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.”

I don’t know about you, but it never ceases to amaze me when God makes His Word literally come alive and show Himself to be 100% relevant. I may not have all the answers I wanted, but at least I know I’ve never been alone in this struggle.

Swimsuit Rant.

Summer is upon us. Well, upon some of us. It’s winter here, so I’m not really talking about me. Summer is upon some of YOU, then. Anyway. It’s late. I’m moving on now. With summer (or YOUR summer…) comes one of my biggest pet peeves. This is my blog…I decided with my political rant last year that I can rant about what I want and if you guys don’t like it, you can start your own blog. 

Anywho. My current rant: Christian girls in bikinis. Facebook is currently filled with pictures of Christian girls hanging out in pools, on boats, on beaches – all scantily clad in bikinis. These are the same girls that would freak out if you saw them in their underwear and yet, they are willing to post pictures on the internet of themselves hanging out with friends wearing swimwear that I can guarantee covers less than most suitable pairs of undies. These are the same, single girls who complain about getting no respect from guys, who complain about guys treating them as objects, and who are constantly going through boyfriends and never getting married. Hmm. Why are they confused again? Whatever happened to modesty? I don’t like bathing suits to begin with – never have, even when I had the body for them. I just always felt like they were SO revealing. Now, bathing suits have gotten smaller and smaller and yet somehow, Christian girls look at them and go, “Now hey, here’s something I’ll wear to the beach next week.” What?? I don’t get it.

I know the Bible doesn’t specifically say what our dress code as women should be, but Scripture does talk about our beauty being from the inside and NOT to be jewelry and fancy hair. It also talks about God looking at the inside of a person, not the outside. Our body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. If you think about what that alone means, you’d realize that the Temple was ornately adorned, well taken care of, and treated with the utmost respect and purity. We’re also told to be different from the world – to be IN it, but not OF it. None of these things are new. I just feel like none of it matters anymore. “Inner beauty” is always tossed aside like something the Amish believe, but not something the modern Christian needs to worry about. In fact, if you tell a teenage girl that she’s beautiful on the inside, you’re liable to get slapped anymore. Telling young girls to respect their bodies is nigh unto telling them they’re too young to use the computer.

But, it’s SO frustrating. It’s even worse when you know the girls are youth leaders or children’s teachers in church. Here are girls that are supposed to be leading the next generation to follow the Lord and yet, on weekends, they’re out with their guy friends, dressed like sluts, taking inappropriate pictures and posting them on the internet, and then complaining about not having a true relationship that lasts longer than a Mento. Oh, it truly, truly bothers me.

Even when I was in Bible school, they would have talks with the girls about how they dressed. The main reason they discussed it with us so much was because men are so incredibly visual that even the most innocent of fashionable outfits can cause problems for them. A lot of the girls just plain refused to understand and still dressed questionably, even to class. Our professors always hated it when girls wore short skirts, sat in the back up on the platform, so they had to look up to them… you get the idea. Not cool. Yet, it didn’t seem to affect so many of them. They were more worried about their own appearance than safe-guarding the minds of their Christian brothers.

So… that’s it. I wish I had a solution. I think the only real solution is the Holy Spirit doing some major convicting. In cultural training, we talked about how it’s not up to us to convict of sin because you never know what sins are more urgent to be convicted of. What may appear to us to be something that needs to be changed right away might be lower on the list of things God wants to fix immediately because, like I said earlier, God looks at the heart, not the outside. So, as much as I’d like SO many of these girls to alter their outward appearance during these summer months, it’s not up to me. Maybe there’s other issues God has to fix first and how somebody dresses is further down the list. Thankfully, that’s up to Him, not me.

Now if only I can just let it go… and block these people from Brian’s facebook so he doesn’t look at his friends in skimpy bikinis…

Feliz Cumpleanos!

bsday6

My favoritest husband ever turns 25 today! He’s been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I could NOT imagine life without him! So, here’s to Brian. He…

  • is the second oldest of four boys.
  • grew up in South Dakota, but is proud that he did not grow up on a ranch!
  • won multiple awards for his carpentry skills and placed in college-level for his carpentry knowledge, while still in high school.
  • worked as a manager at Subway, which is where he met his now best friend who led him to the Lord when they were 16 years old.
  • was a youth leader and a kind of intern at his church after accepting the Lord.
  • was kicked out of the house by his parents when he announced he was going to Bible school and not a trade school.
  • moved to Bible school with everything he owned in the trunk of his car and began a new life… which included ME two months later. 🙂
  • asked me to marry him after a terrifying week with my father explaining all the reasons why Brian thought we should be together.
  • worked three jobs while going through his last year of Bible school just to ensure that we had a nice wedding and a stable life waiting for us after the ceremony.
  • worked as hard as possible during our first year of marriage so we could own a house a year later.
  • was never content just being a working man; was constantly looking for opportunities to serve the Lord full-time, but wanted to be sure he led us as a family in the right direction.
  • led his youngest brother to the Lord in 2006 ~ one of the happiest days of his life.
  • was an amazing godfather to our little goddaughter Luxona for the first two years of her life.
  • was willing to sell everything, live with my parents, and move to a foreign country as a missionary, without first “trying out” like everyone wanted him to.
  • is doing his absolute best to learn Spanish, regardless of how hard or how many people laugh at him.
  • is one of the hardest, most dedicated, most faithful workers I’ve ever met in my life.
  • has the biggest servant’s heart of anybody I know.
  • is my best friend, my hero, my husband.

I love you, Brian. Happy Birthday.

The World.

globe

One of the things I’ve noticed with my students is their lack of world geography. This is actually a common issue with Peruvians, but I’ve noticed it more so with my students than should be normal. See, one of my kids has never been to a “normal” school and the last few years, he’s only had school two hours a day, four days a week. His education is quite behind. Speaking English is relatively new for him as well (just within the last two years) and he’s never had like WORLD history, WORLD geography… nothing. He’s really behind in some respects.
 
So, we got back from our August break and I decided to make the classroom more of a geographical theme. Granted, I’m no artist, so it amounted to sheets of construction paper that I made look like flags from different countries (true flags, I didn’t just make them up!) and then arrows around the room with cities/countries and the mileage from here to there. Nothing too spectacular, but it changed the room up a bit.
classroom2
classroom3
 
I also got an idea to do an “Around the World in 80 Days” theme. Every morning for our quick devotions before prayer, I’ve decided to high-light a different country or people group around the world and tell their need for Christ and then show the kids on my giant blow-up globe where they’re located. I thought this would be good for them; turns out, it’s good for me as well. Here’s some of the stuff I’ve learned from my research so far:
 
  • The Azeris people are located in Iran and Azerbaijan and there has been no known church planting for at least the past two years. There are only a handful of believers (somewhere less than 50) in Azerbaijan and no known Christian population within this people group in Iran.
  • The Bhutan people are the only people left in the world to follow the tantric Vajrayana form of Mahayana Buddhism. They have 10,000 monuments and 2,000 monasteries in their small country that is just south of Tibet. There are less then 3,000 Christians among the 700,000 people; there is still discrimination towards anyone who is not Buddhist and there are no missionaries in this country.
  • The Baluch people live in Pakistan, but are farmers or nomadic shepherds up in the hard to reach areas of the country. They have been isolated for many years because of the terrain, the climate, and their reputation as bandits. As of 2004, only three known believers lived among them. Lately, they’ve been using the “Jesus” film to reach the Baluch people since their illiteracy rate is very high.
  • The Euskaldunak people live in the Pyranees Mountains in France and Spain, over by the coast. They either live in the mountains and raise sheep or live by the coast and are fishermen. They have one of the oldest languages known to man (with many words for tools still incorporating the word for “stone” in them) and the language is not related to any other known language on earth. They’ve only had a small amount of independence since 1980. The famous city of Pamplona (where the bull-fights take place every year) is in their region and St. Ignatius of Loyola (the founder of the Jesuits) is from there (not from Loyola; he disguised his true identity). They have strange religions that include worshiping inside circles of nine large stones. Currently, 50% of the population believe in “a” god and the other 50% are either atheistic or agnostic, with more young people becoming agnostic.
 
Interesting, huh? It’s facts like this that has made me want to be a missionary my whole life. I hope I can inspire these missionary kids to be the next generation of missionaries that might someday reach some of these people groups for Christ!

Just because.

You ever had a day when you just wanted to write and you didn’t care if it didn’t make sense or who read it or if it was even read at all? I’ve felt like that a lot lately. I just want to write, but I haven’t been inspired or had the time, so I haven’t. But today, sitting here in class, I just feel like writing… and I don’t care what it’s about, just as long as I get to do it.
 
It’s winter here in Peru and MAN has it gotten cold. Granted, it’s not like freezing or anything, but it sure feels chilly. It’s quite damp, which doesn’t help. I’m wearing two sweaters today and I still feel like sitting under a blanket with hot cocoa. My classroom has no heat and there plenty of gaps around the windows and doors, so it’s just plain chilly in here. Oh well. Gives me an excuse to drink tea and wear layers. 🙂
 
Brian’s birthday is next week. I want so badly to surprise him with a gift or a cake or something. But, I have no way of going outside of the campus without him and I have no oven to bake with. I’m so disappointed. I’ve thought about making him something… but same problem. I can’t get out of here to get supplies even. I don’t know how to make his birthday special with such limited resources and so little time now. Any suggestions from cyberspace??? I was hoping to have an oven by now so I could make him a cheesecake, as usual, but we haven’t been able to yet. Bummer. And it’s a big birthday: 25. I’d like to celebrate at least a little. Maybe I’ll just sing Happy Birthday to him in the 4 Spanish versions, the English one, and the French one. Yeah, that’d make him happy.
 
My dad is also arriving on Brian and I’s birthday. Seems like just a few weeks ago we were talking with my parents trying to figure out when he should come. Now, he’s actually coming! It’ll be nice showing him around where we live. He was here in 2006, but things have changed. I’m totally going to enjoy showing off my Spanish skills. I finally have an ability my dad does not! That is HUGE and a first for me. I’m looking forward to showing someone we know our new house and I’m looking forward to Brian being able to drive us all around. The only thing I wish is that my mother could’ve come, too. I honestly can’t even remember the last time my mom and I chatted on Skype and I miss her so much. We used to talk every day. Now, we just email every day. Not the same.
 
Brian’s leaving for Iquitos again in October. Right now, October seems so far away, but from past experience, I know that’s not true. I’m so bummed. I hate having him gone. I didn’t realize how much I hate having him gone until he was gone this last time. In October, there’s a chance he’ll be gone for three whole weeks. I’m just not sure I can do three weeks. Two about killed me. I think that it would be easier if I was back in the States because at least then I’d have family around, a car, I could get out and do my shopping by myself… But here, I’m kind of stuck at the campus and at the liberty of other people while Brian is gone. It’s kind of hard. So, we’ll see. I don’t feel safe when Brian’s gone, either, to be honest. I mean, around campus I’m safe. But, at night, I don’t feel safe. Or when I’m out shopping, I don’t feel safe. And…I just miss him. He’s my best friend; I feel lost when he’s gone.
 
My boys are doing well in school. However, I worry about the younger one’s chances of college. The first six years of his schooling, we have no record of. I don’t know what to do about that. Even now, he’s doing okay in school, but I feel like he needs more actual teaching and less just reading, but I can’t add anything to his schedule or he’d be here til 5 every day! His English needs so much more work, but how do you work on it when the only place he speaks English is in school? His parents don’t know English at all, so they can’t help him with his homework. He’s kind of on his own. I do my best, but sometimes I just feel so unqualified.
 
Brian has decided we’re going to get a motorcycle. Actually, it truly was a joint decision. We can’t afford a car, but we really do need the freedom to get out on our own without having to wait and borrow a car every time we want to go somewhere. Getting a motorcycle license down here is really easy and Brian feels safe driving everywhere except downtown, which is fine; we don’t go downtown Lima that often anyway. I’m not a huge fan of motorcycles, but I trust Brian and we really need transportation, so it’ll work out in the end.
 
Speaking of driving… man, do I miss it. I miss driving myself. I miss having my own vehicule. I missing taking myself places and getting completely away by myself. I miss being able to tell Brian, “No, I want to drive this time!” Oh well. One of those luxuries that are worth giving up.
 
We are finally not eating in the cafeteria for every meal (Praise God!). As much as Peruvian food is pretty good, eating school cafeteria food for every meal but breakfast gets really old. She has to cook for large numbers of people so her budget is small, which makes the ingredients cheap, which makes the food just not so great. And I hated not knowing what the meals were, so we’d be really hungry, get to the cafeteria, and it’d be something we just can’t stomach (like the lining of a cow’s stomach…). Disappointing. Now, I get to cook all our dinners at home! I’m so happy. Last night we had soup for one of the first times since getting here. We’ve had soup, but we haven’t really enjoyed it (they tend to use random animal parts in the soups), so this was wonderrrrrful! Now I just have to get back into the swing of planning meals and figuring out how to cook entire meals on one small cookstove until we finally get an oven. Good times.
hike3

Reflection.

I was reading another blog and there was a question there they were asking everybody. “When you were 16, what did you want to be when you grew up?” Got me thinking. I’ve been rather contemplative lately, especially with my birthday around the corner. So, here ya go.

I was such a nerd as a 16 year old. Actually, I believe I was pulling out of my nerdy-ness, but I probably still ranked pretty high. I got my license and my first job – at a sports store (world’s BEST job for a high school girl, let me tell you! 😉 ). I was a junior in high school and looking into colleges and life after high school. I kept fluctuating between Bible school and regular college. I knew I wanted to move away; I kept thinking Florida would be nice. I had big dreams of doing something cool. I believe my 10 year plan went something like this at the time:

  • Graduate in 2001 and head swiftly off to a cool university, somewhere in the south.
  • Graduate in 4 fast years and move to Wisconsin.
  • Live in WI with my very cool (and slightly wealthy) aunt and uncle, in their basement apartment, until I could afford something on my own.
  • Have a very nice job, own my own basset hound, travel, and just enjoy being single for awhile.
  • Marry by age 24.
  • Have my first kid by 25.

Yup. Looked so good at the time. Then, I went to college. In Canada. Further north than Vermont. If that’s possible. Learned French…of all languages. Spent two years in and around Montreal. Had one horrible boyfriend who broke my heart and every last shred of self-confidence I had until I got engaged to Brian. Headed off to Wisconsin (finally! almost on my way to “the plan”) and went to Bible school. Met another boy. Broke my heart again. Oh, why did I believe so many airy promises?? Fell further down the self-loathing slide. Met my love. Best year ever…hands down… no questions asked. I would repeat my last year of college in a heartbeat. Moved to Pennsylvania (not exactly “south”) while waiting for my man to finish school so we could finally be together 24/7. Married and moved South…to South Dakota. Lived for two years and then moved a bunch more times and now I really AM South! So far south, the equator is north. But wow. Not exactly “the plan.” I did get to own a weiner dog for 2 years. That’s kind of close to a basset.

So here I am. The 10th year from when I was 16 begins next week. In some ways, I feel like I’m doing quite well. In others, I feel behind. Probably the biggest thing I deal with lately is just wanting to be a mom. I’ve been published, I’m a missionary, I’m happily married, I speak Spanish and French… the only thing I ever dreamed of on top of all that is to be a mother. So, here we go. One more year; we’ll see if God blesses us this year with a child of our own.

Sixteen seems so long ago. Heck, 20 seems so long ago. I never would’ve dreamed I’d be living in Peru when I turned 26. Well. Such is life. Can’t say it’s boring.

August 2009
S M T W T F S
« Jul   Sep »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  
%d bloggers like this: