Friday, December 27, 2013

The Summer of My Contentment

(This is an excerpt from our August, 2013 newsletter.) Does God sometimes work in themes in your life? This summer’s theme has been the summer, not of my discontent, but of my contentment. What is contentment? The author of the classic The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment defines contentment this way: “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” Wow! Are you there? I know I’m certainly not. But oh, doesn’t that sound wonderful? In the book of Philippians Paul tells us that he has learned to be content in every circumstance. I love the word “learned” in that statement. Paul had to learn contentment and so do we. It is a process of our sanctification. I think that I have learned more about contentment by discerning my discontentment. What do I complain about? Am I jealous of what others have or can do? What puts me in a bad mood? Where am I fixing my eyes? Usually these are very telling indicators. I love the name for housewife in Spanish, ama de casa. ‘Ama de’ means love of, therefore ama de casa means “love of house.” An ama de casa is a huge part of my identity yet, I often find myself most discontent while I am in my house. Each house that we’ve lived in over the years has had flaws that I fixed my eyes on. I literally dreamt of changing it, making it better, the way I wanted it. It’s crazy, here we are missionaries and we live in the nicest house we have ever lived in with a view to die for. Do I want to change things? Of course! But now when I find myself having jealous, covetous, complaining thoughts I do my best to take those thoughts captive and replace them with thankfulness. I am learning Godly contentment. It’s not time to change my house, it’s time to change me. In 1 Timothy 6:6 Paul encourages Timothy that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Paul seems to be saying to Timothy, “Pursue it, get it, don’t let go of it. It is worth more than you can imagine.” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Paul’s instruction to Timothy state, “…and he writes to the young man Timothy and says: the first thing you have to learn is to be independent of circumstances and conditions—‘Godliness with contentment.’” This was eye opening to me. I have always let my circumstances and my conditions dictate my contentment. I didn’t want to live like that anymore. I’m learning that I will never be content until I find my true contentment from God. In this my summer of contentment I have found that changing my mind about my house was easier than I thought. It is my home, and not my house, that I love as an ama de casa. It is now discontentment with my body that I struggle with. Most of you know about my bad back and you may even know about my bad feet. In fact you know about them because I’ve told you about them. Complaining? In the past couple of years I’ve had a lot of additional aches and pains that limit my ability to be the ama de casa that I want to be. “I am only 45 years old,” I keep telling God, “Why am I hurting so much while others my age don’t?” Jealousy? In the late evening I have been known to say, “I’m done being mom. I’m going to bed.” Moody? My discontentment alarms are going off everywhere. Pain can be a constant companion and reminder of discontentment. I therefore have to all the more, with thanksgiving in my heart, set my eyes on things above and not on my condition, not on my circumstances. It is the contentment of knowing that I am a new creation in Christ Jesus and that God has given me everything I need for life of Godliness. Godly contentment, on this I must fix my eyes.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mariah's Class Trip: How God Made It Happen

One day this past spring Mariah asked her daddy, “Daddy, the last couple of weeks my history teacher and the kids in my class have been talking about a class trip this summer. I haven’t mentioned it because I know it probably can’t happen, but if it could happen, would you let me go?” For weeks David and I fretted over this opportunity for Mariah, knowing that at that time it would be next to impossible financially. About a month later Mariah came to us again, “Mommy, Daddy, remember the class trip I told you about? Now my friends in class are saying that they want to raise funds for a plane ticket for me to be able to go.” Wow! What was God up to? As we discussed it more both Dave and I felt that, if she did go, I would have to accompany her; We just didn't feel comfortable sending her alone. Round-trip tickets were running around $600 apiece. If I did go, that would mean I wouldn't be home for over a week, putting David and Ben in a difficult situation. At this point we just didn't feel like it would be a wise decision. But God wasn't done surprising us yet. We found out that a dear friend of Mariah’s, whom we trust greatly, was coming to Honduras for a month and would be returning back to the states at exactly the time Mariah needed to be going to the states. Perhaps I wouldn't have to go. We found out that Hannah, Mariah's friend, was flying on American. We have someone close to us whom we asked if he would be able to purchase Mariah a ticket to the states using his American Airlines points. He graciously agreed. In the process of reserving Mariah a seat, he realized that Mariah, as well as Ben, had to get their passports renewed. You have no idea what a huge brick wall this could become when dealing with the American embassy in Honduras. Dave was able to make an emergency appointment at the embassy. After weeks of finding the right documentation, dealing with missing birth certificates, and jumping through hoops our family loaded up the truck and took a long road trip to Tegucigalpa, Honduras where we were graciously hosted by a lovely Honduran family. The next morning we were at the American embassy where, praise God, things went very well and we left with their passports approved and on order. In the meantime another special family had invited Mariah to spend some time with them while she was in the states and they generously purchased Mariah’s plane ticket to the class trip. Mariah is there as I write,(written in late July, 2013 posted in August, 2013) meeting her online teachers and classmates face to face for the first time. She is so excited and we are excited for her. I must not forget the final phase of her travels: Her teachers and classmates raised $600 for her return ticket and some extra spending money! Her Grandma pitched in some spending money too! God clearly wanted Mariah to go on this trip. We had no choice but to trust Him as we placed our baby girl in His hands and His will. Mariah is spreading her wings while firmly protected under His wings.