Building Boys to be Men

      No Comments on Building Boys to be Men

A nine year old boy and his six year old brother made 34 chocolate cream pies in the last month. They wanted to give money for their church’s special fall project. Their total profit was $415. They tithed on that amount and gave $306 to the special project. Above and beyond that they gave their $70 in tips to support a friend and missionary from their church.

How does a mom with these two young boys, a baby, and three foster teenagers do it?

The boys WANTED a way to earn money for the church project. Mom came up with the idea and prayed that God would make their efforts successful. The boys did all the work. They made the grocery list, ordered online, made the pies, and delivered them!

A few nights it was getting quite late and they still had a few pies that needed to be finished for the next day’s delivery. Mom offered to finish for them. They said they wanted to do it all, even though it meant getting to bed late.

I asked their mom why she was willing to do this. (Anyone who has ever seen two active boys in the kitchen knows it is easier to do it yourself.) She said she had just finished a study called Building Boys. The study provides answers to a world that tells boys they can be girls if they want to be. Parents and teachers need to focus on what it means to be a boy and that God created them specifically as boys that will become men. This project helped to drive those concepts home. They got a taste of the value of hard work, selflessness, sacrifice and radical generosity.

I just had a crow a bit about my sister and my nephews. What a wonderful, positive experience this was for them. They will never forget the lessons they learned last month. And it provides a strong stepping stone to more experiences to develop true manhood in those two little boys.

My sister based this experience on the series, “Building Boys” by Audrey Broggi (2018) for SearchTheScriptures.org. You may play the four audio or video sessions and download the outlines and study guides at: Building Boys

You might like to follow her on Facebook at: Mothering from the Heart


These are some other good resources on this topic.

 

My Drawers

      No Comments on My Drawers

Most of my life I have been able to compartmentalize my life. I think it is a natural bent that helps me concentrate well on whatever is at hand.

When I was practicing nursing, I called it “going clinical.” It helped me not to be overcome with the pain and grief and anxiety of my patients and their family. It worked well for that.

In our early years of marriage and ministry, we had to say, “Goodbye,” fairly often. By putting the people who were far away in a ‘drawer,’ I was not bothered too deeply or too often with homesickness. From time to time, I would open the ‘drawer’ and think about them, write to them, and pray for them. Most of the time, however, they were not on my mind very much.

As you can see, this was an advantage for these times and situations in my life. What you can’t see, unless you function like me, is that there are down sides to this.

I have always kept a prayer list, sometimes written down, and sometimes memorized. But if someone or a situation did not make it to my prayer list, I may not consciously think about them for a long time. This is not good for family or good friendships. I’ve worked hard in recent years to not be so black and white, in or out of my ‘drawer.’

In the past few weeks I became sharply aware of a situation I had shoved into a ‘drawer’ that really needed to be dealt with. Three very close friends, individually, asked me probing questions that made me ‘open this drawer.’ The first time, tears welled up in my eyes, I only said a few key words that she would understand what it was about, and quickly changed the subject. It wasn’t hard, we were interrupted and that was that.

The second friend was not satisfied with no explanation. I explained more about why this situation was so painful and voiced my frustration. I had come to realize that I did not cause this difficulty and I could not fix it for those involved. I told that to my friend and she said that would help her with a situation she is currently facing. Again, dealing with the situation was averted!

This last weekend a third friend asked probing questions about what was shoved into this ‘drawer.’ She has a very penetrating way of asking questions. She wasn’t concerned with the others involved. She was concerned for me and how I was reacting. I felt grief and hurt well up and begin to overflow. Then I felt anger. I literally ‘felt’ the anger. I realized that my voice was distorted.  She asked a point blank question about what I was going to do about it. I said that if it were up to me, I would never have any more to do with this situation. She shrugged her shoulders and we went back to my house and listened to some beautiful music my husband was enjoying.

So how’s my ‘drawer’ now?
My third friend’s shrug kept coming to mind. She knew that at that time, I couldn’t be convinced to do anything about it. God wouldn’t let me shut that ‘drawer’ again. In any unguarded moment, it flooded back with tears and light.

I don’t believe God means for me to open myself to more hurt in this case, but that doesn’t mean closing into the darkness of my ‘drawer,’ the people involved. By keeping the ‘drawer’ closed, I was not letting God’s light in. In the darkness, bad attitudes, thoughts, and poison were growing.

Is that the end of it? No! I realize that God cares about everyone involved in this case. But, as His daughter, He is very concerned about me. I have opened that ‘drawer’ to God. I am allowing Him to show me the truth about it. I’m allowing Him to show me how to forgive and how to show grace. I want my life to shine as His light in this dark situation. There will probably be more tears and prayers, but I don’t think I’ll ever have such darkness in there again.

Do you have some ‘drawers’ in your life that have not seen God’s light for a long time? Why not open it and let God begin to redeem that darkness for His purposes?

 

Thanksgiving 2018

      No Comments on Thanksgiving 2018

Here I was, not very thankful we had invited 8 other people to come for Thanksgiving dinner on the 5th day after our 25 hour plane flight from the US.

I slept well the first night and hoped that would help me have an easy case of jet lag. That was not to be the case. We went for a walk each morning to ease the stiff joints and aches and pains from traveling. We fell asleep at odd times in the next couple days after interrupted nights’ sleep. One afternoon I described my thinking as, “Slogging through thick mud. I eventually got there, but wasn’t sure it was worth the effort.” We managed to get to the store, get what we needed, cook ahead what we could, and got some help to clean the house.

So Thursday morning I woke in a grumpy mood. I was still exhausted and dreading all that needed to be done yet. I was sure I’d make a mess of things. I was convinced I didn’t have good ideas about how to seat everyone, how to ready the kitchen, etc. My poor husband bore the brunt of my insecurities.

But by mid afternoon, all was done that could be done until everyone arrived. I showered and rested.

Then our friends began to arrive. Each one with part of the meal. Each one ready to pitch in and do anything that needed done. None of my fears materialized!

Our friends decided to push the two tables together and crowd closer. Our kitchen counter was a smorgasbord of delicious treats! There were funny stories, good memories shared, and most of all, we all felt included.

After dessert, we gathered in the living room. We sang songs of thanksgiving and praise to God. Then we each took turns telling what we had to be thankful for in the past year. So many had encountered hard times, but felt God’s grace and help and comfort. New jobs had succeeded, a new church was being established, peace where fear had been before, a growing trust that God is good and will meet needs.

Being away from our family at Thanksgiving can be such a lonely and depressing time. Our family is so scattered. Even if we could be with one, we’d be very far from others. But as I looked around the room, I realized in a fresh and real way, that God has given us ‘family’ here in Malaysia. It is not the same as being with our own parents and children, brothers and sisters. But it is just as dear! I felt embraced and loved. I sensed a very real closeness that crosses barriers of race, nationality, and traditions. It is a love that doesn’t change when we have a bad day or feel cross. It is a love that helps us trust God when we fear.

Psalm 68: 5-6 was the theme of the night.

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; . . .”

Standing on Holy Ground

      No Comments on Standing on Holy Ground

Young couples today often ask, “Why should we marry? Our parents’ marriages are not happy. Our friends are divorcing after just a few years. Can ours last? And if it does, will it be happy?”

In the wedding ceremony we promise to love one another till death parts us. We have no idea what we will face as a couple and as individuals during the rest of our life. We have no idea how we will each change. But we determine to face all of it together.

God wants us to make that decision, to love each other for our lifetime. Making those vows publicly, He knows, will help us keep them when life gets hard. We promise to love, that is an act of our wills, not just feelings of love. There will be days we don’t like each other, but that doesn’t change our commitment to love.

God offers us another help, if we love and honor Him. He will be intimately involved in each of our lives and in our relationship. If we will listen to Him, He will help us keep our marriage strong. He prompts us to be kind and thoughtful to our mate. He shows us other, better, ways to think about those things we come to know and dislike about our spouse. He urges, even commands us to forgive, and then helps us to forgive.

Diane Zeigler wrote a beautiful song about this. She is remembering their wedding day, the birth of their baby, and later, after things had happened that could have torn them apart, but didn’t. It was standing on Holy Ground (accepting God’s involvement in their lives) that helped them keep their vows.

Holy Ground, by Diane Zeigler
There you were,
Standing up in front of all your friends
Wearing a flower in your pocket
And there I was
Taking my place beside you, all in white
Wearing my grandmother’s locket.
We said . . .

Here we stand on a holy ground
And the strongest wind will never blow us down
There are no human hands
That ever could break this vow
For we stand on a holy ground

There you were
Watching me all the while in disbelief
The moment had finally come
And there I was
Suffering the longest night with no relief
Is it a daughter or a son?
And we said . . .

Here we stand on a holy ground
And the strongest wind will never blow us down
There are no human hands
That ever could break this vow
For we stand on a holy ground

But look at me and see me now
With my weary eyes
A promise is the sweetest sound
But those words leave our lips
Before we know how far they’ll fly

Here you are
I see you standing right in front of me
I know how far you could run
And still you walk with me
Into the open fields of family
And we can see how far we have come

Here we stand on a holy ground
And the strongest wind will never blow us down
There are no human hands
That ever could break this vow
For we stand on a holy ground.

It is worth it to marry God’s way. Young people today can have good and enduring marriages if they plant their marriage on holy ground.

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 136

Changing Gears

      No Comments on Changing Gears

Changing gears is how I describe the week or two before leaving the US for Malaysia or leaving Malaysia for the US. It is also part of the week of jet lag after arrival. I like being in both places. There are things I miss in each country while being in the other. There are different rhythms of life in each country. I don’t dislike either one. But they are different. It takes a week or so to say, “Goodbye” to one life and to say, “Hello,” to the other.

It is still hard to say, “Good bye,” to good friends. I know we are just a phone call from them, but half a world from a hug

So what do I do when I’m leaving?

  • I soak up every opportunity to be with friends and family when I can be with them. It means careful planning, but the sacrifices are more than compensated.
  • I never miss the opportunity for hugs and saying, ‘I love you.’
  • I take lots of photos to jog my memories.

Then what do I do when I arrive?

  • I rest to get over jet lag and to give myself time to embrace what’s new.
  • I use email, Facebook, and other media to keep in touch with friends and family.
  • I pray for my friends both near and far as often as they come to mind.
  • I rejoice in new friends and opportunities I would never have if I stayed put where I was.
  • And I never wallow in loneliness. I sometimes cry a little, but life is too short to spend in regrets.

But no matter what I do to ease the ‘changing gears,’ there is always the ache in my heart that will never stop until I reach our heavenly home. All the pain of separations will end then, because there will be no good byes and no more tears. In that moment it will all be worth it!

While I was writing this, I realized I’m changing other gears.

Even harder than changing countries is changing ministry. In laying down Peter’s Wife, I’m laying down a ministry that I have loved. I know it hasn’t reached a lot of women, but they have been very special to me. For the handful who have written back, I’ve felt it was worth the time and effort. It was first for Peter’s Wife that I learned to build web sites. It was a monthly reminder that there are women on the field who need a touch from someone who understands their struggles.

I have to see this change as a way to reach out to more women, not just those who live and work outside their home culture. I want to reach young women who would like to hear from someone who has been where they are. I’d like to reach out to women in the ‘sandwich’ generation between children and aging parents. I’d like to be a voice of reason in an age of unbridled media sound bites. I would love this new endeavor to take off, but even if it only reaches a few, I believe it’s what I’m supposed to do at this time.