Month: October 2015

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 31

It is funny how quick we are to forget.  Even 30 days later, I’ve forgotten some of the lessons I’ve been learning this month.

As I reflect on October, I’m in process of…

  1. Identifying my own selfishness.
  2. Being challenged to find my voice.
  3. Finding my identity in Christ alone…apart from demographics, family and career.
  4. Learning to find joy in spite of my circumstances.
  5. Leaning into my friendships more now than ever.
  6. Trusting God when I don’t understand.
  7. Embrace versus fight brokenness.
  8. Becoming a mom in six months.
  9. Clinging to truth.
  10. Standing firm, above all else.
  11. Renewing my thoughts and my mind.
  12. Finally growing up.
  13. Accepting things as they are and finding gratitude/positivity.
  14. Learning that love is a choice.
  15. Focusing on the positive while not ignoring reality.
  16. Embracing faith.
  17. Seeing God’s goodness.
  18. Choosing patience.
  19. Seeking authenticity.
  20. Finally writing.
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31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 30

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Life is better with dogs.  I begin and end my day with these furry friends.  Did I ever imagine I would have four dogs?  No.  But now I can’t imagine our home without them.  In fact, it takes a lot of self-control for me not to add to our pack, seeing that there are several street dogs in this city.

What have these four taught me in their short years with us?

With Sam (far left), I have learned loyalty, patience, kindness and faithfulness.  When we first brought him home, I thought he would only bring craziness.  But now he is a wise and comforting soul.  He’s the one who makes friends with all other dogs he meets.  He allows neighborhood children to pull on him or ride him.  He is our protector.  Though he rarely barks, when he does, we take notice!  Though never a fighter, when other dogs seem to be a threat to us or the others, he will stand in intervention.  He leaves the room if there is ever tension, reminding us, peace and harmony is priority.

With Sophie (second from left), I have learned diligence.  She is our hunter.  She has brought in birds, caught geckos, rodents and more.  She is our most intelligent and curious.  Though, she is neurotic as well.  Yet, she has a sweet side.  She must be active each day and is the one who tells me when it’s time for our daily walk.  She leads the way each time, never to be outrun by her male counterparts.  She always looks out for me, circling back to be sure I’m with the group.  She is my Lassie.

With Bear, I have learned unconditional love.  He has a special place in our hearts as the puppy we kept from Sophie’s litter. He has a big heart and you can see it in his eyes. He has a easily frightened side to him so he’s a bit jumpy.  This characteristic keeps him nearby at all times.  Thus he’s also a whiner if he alone.  He has taught me trust and companionship.

With Woolly, I have learned scrappiness.  He survived a year on the streets.  He is intelligent and a survivor.  He is independent and willful.  Sound familiar?  He is a quick learner.  He adapted within weeks to learning all the tricks the others learned over years.  He knew obedience equals treats.  He is sneaky, finding ways to break rules unnoticed.  Yet with all his street-smarts, he is extremely loving and craves attention.

These are the dogs who have made me.  Life would not be the same without them.

Happy Birthday to the brothers, Bear and Woolly (far right)!

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 29

Weary.  Burdened.  Fatigued.  Exhausted.

I’ve seen it in the faces around me, heard it over the phone while talking to friends.  This epidemic afflicts all of us.

Why is it so difficult to care for ourselves?  To set limits?  To rest?

Among Webster’s definitions of rest, two stand out: “(1) freedom from activity or labor; (2) peace of mind or spirit.”  Notice, without slowing down, it is more difficult to have peace of mind.

It seems so rare these days to find ideal examples of people who rest well.  In fact, many of us would like to think that we strive to live a balanced life.  I’ve heard others say they have no interest in balance (i.e rest).  But at what cost?

When we’re so driven, to the point of endless fatigue, what suffers?  Sleep?  Self-care?  Marriage?  Time with children? Creativity?  Opportunities for meaningful conversations and connections?  Friendships?  Time with God?

Why do the most meaningful things seem to be the first to go?  Why is it unacceptable to say “no” to work so as to make time for loved ones?  And what makes us deceive ourselves and others as we say, “It’s just for a season”?

Jesus invites us: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  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 11:28-29)

Do you want rest for your soul?  We must come to Him to find it.  Lay down our goals, our work, our to-do list and be reminded in the still quiet that we are not God.  There is rest knowing that He is in control.  He longs to relieve us of our fatigue, weariness, exhaustion and burdens.

Will you come to rest?

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 28

Do you ever have a day when nothing goes right? When you feel burdened from the start and then one thing after another seems to add up?  Today is one of those days.
First, we wake up to no electricity–which means no running water, no internet or charge for devices to work from home.  As Chris goes outside to start the generator, he discovers it has been stolen.  I’m in the process of making breakfast when for the first time in the pregnancy, I vomit multiple times.  To make the best of the situation, I enjoy the beautiful day with a walk with the dogs only to be ogled by the men working and mocked by the neighborhood children.
For fear of the food spoiling, I don’t open the refrigerator though I’m ravenous.  Trying to find other things to do, I attempt to hand wash the dishes without water.  I try to ignore the unflushed toilets only to find our small refrigerator is leaking water onto the nearby rug, filling the room with mildew stench once again.  It’s not even noon.
Still no power.  A friend is arriving this afternoon.  I still need a shower.  Chris assures me we have enough water though it likely will be cold.  I hop in only to have the water come to a complete stop after only rinsing the shampoo.  The rain has started and is now pouring through the roof and rushing under the back door, as I juggle trash cans and towels to fight off the attack before my friend arrives.
One dog won’t eat his dinner while the other has just vomited his own.  Still no power.
Fortunately, today’s Scripture reading for me was Romans 5:3-5.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Today was my lesson in endurance…and character.  Otherwise, I’m pretty sure I would have lost my mind.

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 26

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I not only wonder about Abraham’s marriage, I also wonder about his friends.

He didn’t live in a land of smartphones.  I’m guessing when he up and left his home, his friends were the ones traveling in his caravan–most likely servants or family members.  Sure, he had Lot but I imagine Abraham did most of the heavy lifting in that relationship, bailing him out time and again.

When you move, whether to a new city or country, it is always a test of friendships.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve now been away from Los Angeles for almost six years.  What amazes me is the friendships that have stood this test of time.  Friends who have stayed with me through distance and time zones, who have reached out and stayed connected.  I recently read, “Friends are the family you choose.”  So true.  Through life’s transitions, some friendships are best for a season, others for a lifetime.  Either way, they are both significant parts of the journey.

Today my mom celebrate’s her 77th birthday.  I am blessed to say she is family who I chose to be my friend.  She has been a support along my life’s journey.  I treasure the memories she has created with me over the years.  She remembers the little details for everyone, I mean, everyone in her life.  She remembers the life-altering dates that have blurred for me.  For over thirty years, she sends a card to me for the day I decided to follow Jesus.  Even now, she sends our baby weekly “birthday” emails.  I hope I can be the friend and mom that she has been to me.

“Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” (Job 12:12)

Thanks, Mom!

  • Who can you depend on?  Who do you lean on for support?

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 27

“True freedom comes when we learn to choose what we did not choose.” (Jacque Phillipe)

Of course, we all want to experience true freedom and rarely would we admit that we have chosen otherwise.  It’s amazing how our lives become so routine that we often go through the motions, not putting much thought into time or choices.  We may be too busy, thus no time to think beyond what’s next.  We may have too much time but numb our minds with texting, posting, updating, gaming or watching tv.

As I’ve reflected on Abraham’s story this month, I’m reminded of the culture he lived in where there weren’t options or choices for life paths like we’ve become accustomed to today.  Life was pretty much set as one path.  I doubt there was too much overthinking, “Am I missing something better? Am I choosing the right thing?”

Yet today it’s just the opposite.  So many options, so little time.  It’s easy to think there’s something better and surely others are doing it.  The grass is greener.  We keep looking, keep reaching.  Rarely at peace with where we are today, in this moment.

This week I’ve been particularly provoked by the above quote.  Freedom is a choice.  When we keep looking “over the fence,” we think we’re stuck.  We see our life as the “lesser” and we tell ourselves others’ have “better.”  Instead of looking at our current path as if “it’s something we didn’t choose,” freedom comes in choosing it now.

When will we choose freedom?

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  (Jesus)

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 25

Truth : “the real facts about something : the things that are true.”  (Webster)

We are so busy focusing on what others define as true that we don’t take time to look at the truth about ourselves.

For this, I am the worst of sinners.  If anyone (well, my husband mostly) dares to identify the truth in me (mainly my flaws), well, then the claws may come out.

If we have no problem identifying what we see as true in others, why is it so difficult to accept it ourselves?

Bonhoeffer says “It can never be good, however, to deceive yourself about the truth, for if we deceive ourselves about the truth of our own life, we will certainly also deceive ourselves about the truth of God.  And it’s certainly never godly to close our eyes—which God gave us that we can see our neighbors and their needs—when they have to see sadness and horror.  It is certainly never right, therefore to avoid the things that frighten and depress us.”

Sometimes what is within us might be the most frightening of all.

So we mask, we dull, we suppress.  More texting, more social media, more work, more drinking, more spending, more eating, more ignoring, more socializing, more sexing, more isolation…more.  Ignore the news, ignore the homeless, ignore the beggar.  If we don’t look, we don’t see.  If we don’t see, we aren’t responsible.

If I stay busy, or just close my eyes, I chose to avoid what is true about me.  Worse yet, I ignore what God has spoken.  I miss my responsibility to reflect Him in the sadness and horror.

As the prophet Isaiah says in chapter 61:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;[a]
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;[b]
to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn…

May I see truth.  May I not chose to close my eyes.