Monthly Archives: April 2013

Seemingly insignificant decisions

I have a beautiful silver necklace that says, “for the glory of God” in Arabic. I wear it often. Many people complement me on it.

And then there’s today.

I chose this necklace because it went nicely with my outfit. Just a necklace, no big deal. Until I find myself standing in front of the first wave of security in Israel. Oops. Now I have to explain why I’m wearing this necklace and what it means. To multiple people. Who then wonder why I know Arabic. All because of a simple decision I made to wear a necklace.

But because of our little delay thanks to my pretty necklace, we then found ourselves on a shuttle next to a guy whose nephews attend the school where my husband used to teach. Wrap your head around that! So, in the Arab way, he insisted on taking us directly to our destination. No taxi needed. Score one for Arab hospitality.

Take that necklace haters.

Categories: weird things about living overseas | Tags: , | 1 Comment

The Yearning

Some early morning writing:

The Yearning

As the noise floods my mind,
From every direction, all the time
Your voice is still, quiet

So I sit in silent desperation
As the din overshadows my fractured heart
Hoping, waiting for you

In the darkness I reach,
But not far enough
I shout at the noise,
But not loud enough
I can’t do enough
Never enough

So, I wait,
Wait for you:
Your strong hands taking mine,
Leading me up, over the chaos
Your sweet voice in my ear
Drowning out the noise

I’m yearning,
I’m longing,
I’m desperate for you

Categories: spiritual growth | Tags: , | Leave a comment

My Inner Struggle

My heart was pierced this morning by a dead guy. you can read what I read below, but know that you may find yourself in thoughtful contemplation as to the state of your heart and soul.

How often do I say, “Things are good,” without taking stock of how things actually are? I’ve learned to rest in God. I know how to worship. But what about the other disciplines? I know there is “no condemnation,” but I also know that I am to “be holy.”

My mind is turning this beautiful spring morning with a question that has plagued me for years: How do I balance being with doing? How do I balance not condemning myself with true growth?

When I’m cleaning my house, sometimes I just lack adequate time to do things well. So, I give a cursory wipe on surfaces and hope it suffices. But then, after a bit, dust and other gross things start appearing in the corners of rooms. I am vehemently against this. So, I changed my strategy. As I clean, I now have a little mantra: clean the corners and the rest will be done as well. I think this is true of my mind and heart, too. When I am aware of the corners of my mind and submitting those dark places into the merciful hands of the Father, he shines a light, allowing it to be truly cleansed.

I still don’t have the balance between doing and being down, but I chose to allow the light of the Spirit to penetrate my dark places, teaching me about Himself and myself in the process.

April 15th
The relapse of concentration

But the high places were not taken away out of Israel; nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days. 2 Chron. 15:17.

Asa was incomplete in his external obedience, he was right in the main but not entirely right. Beware of the thing of which you say—‘Oh, that does not matter much.’ The fact that it does not matter much to you may mean that it matters a very great deal to God. Nothing is a light matter with a child of God. How much longer are some of us going to keep God trying to teach us one thing? He never loses patience. You say—‘I know I am right with God’; but still the “high places” remain, there is something over which you have not obeyed. Are you protesting that your heart is right with God, and yet is there something in your life about which He has caused you to doubt? Whenever there is doubt, quit immediately, no matter what it is. Nothing is a mere detail.

Are there some things in connection with your bodily life, your intellectual life, upon which you are not concentrating at all? You are all right in the main, but you are slipshod; there is a relapse on the line of concentration. You no more need a holiday from spiritual concentration than your heart needs a holiday from beating. You cannot have a moral holiday and remain moral, nor can you have a spiritual holiday and remain spiritual. God wants you to be entirely his, and this means that you have to watch to keep yourself fit. It takes a tremendous amount of time. Some of us expect to “clear the numberless ascensions” in about two minutes.

Categories: spiritual growth | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

They Can be Your Hero, Baby

Living in a different culture can be very interesting.  I learn about myself just as much as others.  For instance, why are pancakes okay for breakfast but cake isn’t?  Really, there’s not a lot of nutritional difference.

I now dwell in a land steeped in traditions, some of which are millennia old.  This means abiding by rules that I don’t always know or understand.  This can prove quite mind boggling as I work to determine what I can and can’t wear or what food items go together.  Thankfully, the mandate of hospitality means others should share their wealth of information and knowledge with me so as to preserve my life and reputation.  No one wants a dead or injured American on their hands.  And everyone loves to be a hero.  This is actually one of the things I love about the Middle East: everyone is quick to help others.  They all want to share their favorite recipes or their way of doing whatever it is you need to do.  It’s beautiful.  It’s community.

And so, their help is usually welcomed.  I am particularly grateful for a friend pulling me aside and showing me a better way to walk down the street so as to attract less attention.  And for another friend who taught me how to host properly.

Occasionally, though, this advice is ill-founded.  Awhile back my friend kept trying to save me from certain suffocation by moving all my plants to the balcony.  In this way, she was preventing “reverse photosynthesis” from removing all my oxygen.  No amount of scientific evidence would sway her belief.  And just last week, while at a coastal city, I ordered shrimp with banana-milk.  The waiter was very reticent to place my order as shrimp and milk don’t mix.  I thanked him for his concern and assured him I’d be fine.  And I was.

Life overseas is an interesting adventure of paradoxes and juxtapositions.  As I wade through the muddy waters of culture and tradition, I am faced with my own culture’s faults and fallacies.  I’ve learned to blend my own culture with my host culture, creating an entirely new me in the process.

And I’ve learned that at times, it’s okay to let others be your hero.  Even if you didn’t think you needed saving.  You never know what you might discover.

Categories: Changes, weird things about living overseas | Leave a comment

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