Friday, December 7, 2007
After a great lunch with a long-time friend and partner in ministry, I was in my car headed to another conversation (this time over coffee) with another devoted friend. I noticed that my car seemed to lurch and "clunk" quite violently at a couple of stop signs . Finally, at a traffic light the loudest "thud" yet echoed up from my rear wheels, my car started pulling back as I tried to accelerate through a busy intersection, and then the terrible screeching started. I limped to the side of the road, turned on the flashers, and called my reliable father.
Half an hour later--we live in a different town--my dad pulled up and slowly drove the car to a garage. He had discovered a way to reverse after stopping that enabled any movement at all. The garage owner had worked on cars for our family before with great integrity and promised to look at my little car right away. Dad and I spent some time at a local shop, discussed what might be wrong with the brakes, and waited for the prognosis.
Now, I had already enjoyed a safe road-side experience instead of a side-of-the-interstate-in-Chicago-rush-hour moment that could have existed had the problem arisen last week. I was already thankful, but we were prepared for some fairly expensive and time-consuming work on the car. I was brainstorming how I might make the three-hour drive to a speaking engagement that I had planned for the weekend when the garage owner, a kind man named Ken, called back. A bolt was missing from my caliper. He replaced it. Only cosmetic damage to something on the interior structure of the brake disk. No charge.
Yep. No charge. After about 45 minutes of labor in the middle of a busy day, this man handed me the keys and wished me a Merry Christmas. After an alarming moment without an important bolt in the middle of an intersection, no permanent damage to me or the car. Behold a gift from my Father in Heaven!
From now on, as I drive in this car to appointments to share about my upcoming ministry to international students in Budapest, I will be reminded of the One who makes it all possible. He has called me. He has kept me safe. He has and will provide in His perfect time.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Currently, as I plug away with sharing this ministry to international students with those who might be interested and finding those God is challenging to join me, I've reached 32% of my monthly support need and 65% of the special, one-time need! These results are a reflection of God's care and ultimate purpose in world mission and in me.
Now, may more people choose to join in this important work in Budapest through prayer and giving! God's blessing to you all.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
After a surprised reunion and the soothing hiss of milk steaming, Dan asked about my new life venture regarding international missions. And the door opened: the joy of being called to a specific ministry with international students, the encouragement of believers as God challenges them to support me, the struggle of faith as December is fast-approaching and my financial totals are not, the faithfulness of the Father to catch me as I "step out on the water" (Matthew 14:22-33) all came gushing out at the counter of a coffee shop. And Dan was interested.
This kind man whom I had hoped to support over the past few years was eager to help me by introducing me to his church leaders!
Thrilled, I sat down for some quiet time with the One who provides moments like this. I felt rested, loved, and ready to go because of this whole trip including the visit to Java River. As I stood to go, Dan stopped me. Why? Because his pastor had walked in, and we needed to be introduced. Shortly thereafter, a date was set to speak to the church!
I left the coffee shop energized and beaming--not from the caffeine, but from the graciousness and provision of our God over a cup of coffee.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Well, I am indeed "on the road again" to Carthage. Not a cross-country road trip, but a significant time with friends, ministry partners, and prospective ministry partners gathered together to speak with me, see where God is working, and join Him there. I'll be gone until early next week but I'll never be too far from a computer or cell phone. Looking forward to it!
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Thank you so much to the Murphys, Murphys, and Murphys for all your friendship, hospitality, encouragement, and generosity! You are the dearest friends a girl could ask for.
The kids and coworkers at Illini West High School made me feel so welcome--and teary-eyed--as they gushed with stories of the new school year and all that I had missed. Hang in there, guys, in the midst of all this transition and hard work you are going through. Go Chargers!
My little ones in AWANA were wonderful as well as they sat attentively through my mission presentation. The faith of children and their acceptance of us adults is a beautiful gift that I will never take for granted but miss often now that I'm far away. (I can't believe that I didn't get any photos to share. Sorry! Maybe someone will email them my way.)
Carthage and Keokuk are special places to me. I pray that God will encourage and challenge the people of these communities with His love and purpose for their lives. And thanks again, everybody. You made my week. Sometimes I just need to go where everybody knows my name. Love to you.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Oh, how can it be?
Awesome and gentle,
The One God in Three.
Setting us free.
Gracious and beautiful
Weak little boy.
Creator and servant,
Restraint you employ.
Facing all hardships
And bringing all joy.
Emmanuel, with of God:
Defeated, then risen;
Amazing to see
One worthy of glory
Simple and marvelous,
One and Only
Jesus: the wondrous
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I gratefully cling to that concluding understatement.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's
law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Saturday, October 13, 2007
And yes, in my head I have been replaying the scene from The Office when Jim endures a car ride to this same tune. :)
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I love Autumn. I have been waiting for the crisp wind heralding its arrival for weeks now--ever since returning from balmy Orlando, I suspect. Creation is gorgeous throughout the year, but I am inspired by the changing colors, the need for sweaters, the appeal of steaming coffee. Okay, that last one exists year round, but anyway...
I haven't taken the time to write any original poetry noting the season, but I did document a neighborhood tree as it changed colors. I also spent quite a deal of time perusing the poetry of various writers to find suitable odes. Please enjoy the following with the warm beverage of your choice and toast the beautiful Fall.
Listen! the wind is rising,
and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings,
now for October eves!
The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.
Or this classic that I adore...
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
"The Road Not Taken"
Sunday, September 30, 2007
As Nolan went back to his chicken nuggets, I reflected a bit more on the rest of Jonah's story that is not typically included in the average Sunday school lesson. Though Jonah did go to Nineveh, as instructed, to pronounce judgement on it (and--in fact--bring repentance. That's what God can do!), he was cranky and self-righteous. He couldn't believe that God would forgive and bring new life to such a guilty people. He sulked on the outskirts of town under the shade of a vine provided by the Lord until it shriveled up. Jonah was not happy with this moment either.
In the face of this man with whom many of us could relate, God showed His heart in Jonah 4:10-11.
But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did
not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But
Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their
right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned
about that great city?
The story of Jonah and the journey through which God took him is fascinating and makes for a great lesson. But one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture comes after the popular narrative. God cares so deeply for and deals so gently with those He yearns to save. His perspective is not defensive or insecure, but omniscient. He sees them as not knowing their right hand from their left, lost, and desperately needing a savior. Such compassion is beautiful! This same God cares for me today, too. He asks me then to love others as He loves me-with compassion and grace.
Pretty profound for a Happy Meal.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Love to all.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Well, for now I will simply pray for former students now in college and future students spread all over the world. And--since I am an English teacher without an audience--I think I'll leave you with a little Whitman. No pop quiz or sentence diagrams from me, just this from Leaves of Grass:
O me! O life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill'd with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew'd,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring--What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here--that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
The teaching and fellowship as well as the bold outreach opportunities have been wonderful as we are learning to glorify God and prepare for the new version of "normal" life on international staff with CCCI.
I got here on Friday, September 7 and will be back at the 'rents' house on Sunday, September 16 to begin developing ministry partners. Thanks so much to those who have been with me since May!!
Love to you all. I can't wait to share what God is doing and how you too can join in!
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
First, my dear friend already at ICSB scoping out the living conditions has shared the dilemma of daily cooking and laundry. I'll leave her humorous linguistic moments for when I am in the same situation, but suffice it to say she is often feeling awkward or uncomfortable! Anyway, let's just say she's baking without temperature knobs, pilot lights, or thermometers, laundering without instructions or soap, and just hanging in there until underwear runs out. What a trooper she is. Kristen--don't let that culture stress wear you down. Remember, you love Hungary. :)
I read her blog shortly after having an experience that gave me the impression of a stereotypical Eastern Bloc country before 1990. I was at the local County Jail today...getting fingerprints for substitute teaching. No crime was committed, but I felt as though I was being booked. Actually, the officers who worked with me were very pleasant and spoke English fluently, so this experience is already much easier than Kristen's.
On my way in, I tried to walk through the metal detector and did not see the conveyor belt for belongings during my first two tries, much to the chagrin and frustration of the guard. Embarrassing, but could have been so much worse with a language barrier. Then, what was supposed to be a simple in/out procedure on the rad new digital equipment turned into 45 minutes of my life that are gone forever. First, my last name is not Looms. Secondly, I do not have black eyes. Thirdly and most significantly, my fingerprints are wearing off because of perpetual contact with paper. That's right. It took quite a while to get viable prints from me. Apparently, English teachers have an occupational hazard of which I was not aware. Well, after having my hand pressed to the glass time after time, being rejected by the inanimate machine, and feeling nervous standing in central booking for so long, I was finally able to follow one of the kind officers back through the maze of hallways to the lobby and freedom. Miscreants should be aware that crime does not pay. Booking alone will take entirely too much time out of one's day.
But seriously, thanks to the patient law enforcement officers who could have been so negative when I took up so much of their time but were so funny and kind instead. All of us will experience those awkward moments in life. It may be confusion at the DMV or in the infamously long lines of Walmart. Those "self-checkout" machines may beep incessantly at you or the washer may not clean your clothes after two hours. My advice, after experiencing a bit of inconvenience myself: laugh and remember that nothing lasts forever but God is always good. And you are not alone in feeling stupid. Some things are universal.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
I have been given a missionary teaching position at the International Christian School of Budapest in Hungary, and Campus Crusade for Christ is my sending agency. These two organizations work in concert. As you may know, the school year has started and I am still stateside. The reason is, I have one more round of trainings before I can raise my prayer/financial support and head out. Now for the clarification: CCC has asked that I wait until after training to start raising support--they have philosophical and practical help for this process.
I am eager for the arrival of this long-awaited training and a bit anxious for the ensuing flurry of activity before departure. I appreciate your prayers for my spiritual growth, relationship with my parents as we are back under one roof, and both temporary and long-term support raising. And I pray also for you:
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Friday, August 17, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
As a child, I moved a few times but mingled with the locals. Despite freshman fears, in college, I was given instant friendship and ministry as God put me into the student movement InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. As a new teacher in Western Illinois, I needed to start over in introducing myself to a community. After four years, I can say with gratitude that I had a place there with friends and purpose. Now though, as I prepare to launch into the new Hungarian phase of this life God has given me, that old hope emerges again. And with it, concern.
Will my odd sense of humor be misconstrued? Am I inconsiderately extroverted? I know that I am a conflicted poser when it comes to music, movies, and books, but will others see it as charming or idiotic? Can new friends see past my facade and appreciate the work God is doing on flawed me? Can I be known here?
The glorious answer?
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,before you were born I set you apart..." Jeremiah 1:5Now, the Lord said this to Jeremiah as he was called to be a prophet to the nations. My point is that the Almighty God sees and knows us before we were even...us. (That tense shift is purposeful, by the way.) We, too, are set apart as we believe in Him, and we are known by Him better than we know ourselves. And people get to know us, too.
Finally, and before you think my desire in this life ends with others thinking I am great, let me leave you with the most profound idea that goes beyond being known for who I am. I--the selfish, small-minded, dishonest, flawed person that I am--can know the perfect and holy God. What is this eternal life that Christians speak of in hushed tones? Not floating on a cloud playing a harp endlessly.
"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." John 17:3The One who knows us better than anyone else is so gracious that in a conceivable tidbit now and in all His glory later, we can know Him.
As I am thankful for faithful friends here, I hope to have meaningful friendships across the Atlantic. The God of the universe wants to be known, too, and has made it possible through His Son.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
First, God doesn't always take the shortest path. Exodus 13:17-18 shows us that though there was a quicker way to the Land of Milk and Honey--the land promised to the Israelites--it was not best for the people. I am really taking this lesson to heart as I wait at least four "extra" months before heading to Hungary. I wanted the shortest path, the quickest way to Budapest: raise support in a week, enjoy training in the summer, head out in August. Instead, I am waiting to raise support at the request of my missions agency, attending another training in September, then facing the wonderful and difficult task of Ministry Partner Development. God has other plans, better plans, though I can't see the benefits yet and may never see them in this life. This lesson links directly into the second lesson from the desert.
Second, God provides at just the right time. Exodus 16:4-5 explains God's care for the Children of Israel as well as His testing of them. As the Father led them into the desert--even as they wandered because of disobedience--He provided food each day in the form of manna or "what is it?" from the sky. They were to gather only enough for that day. Any more and it would rot before tomorrow. On Fridays, they were to gather enough for two days in order to have sustenance and rest for the Sabbath. Some people, accustomed to getting manna each day, did not gather twice as much, and they were hungry. There is much more to this lesson, but the bottom line is that if we trust and obey in the desert time, God will supply at just the right time. If I grasp for resources ahead of His plan or through the wrong means, it will "rot" or do me no good. If I take advantage of His provision and do not work as I should, I will "go hungry", not Hungary. (Okay, bad pun.)
The third lesson is that HOW God leads testifies to the world at large. This is not hard to believe since I spoke of this concept on July 16 from Joshua 1 and 2. Rehab and all of Jericho knew that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was the God of Heaven and earth because they had heard of what He had done for His people! In Numbers 14:14, news of the goodness of God and how He met with and cared for His people spread throughout the land. In the same way, how God chooses to execute His plan and meet my needs will spread and He will get glory for His good work. If I got the easy way, I probably--and unfortunately--would not speak of it as much.
Finally, I must not forget that God is watching over us through it all. I get to peek behind the curtain, if you will, and see the wizard. Through Scripture, I get the hindsight to see that God was with His people through it all. He has a marvelous plan that began before the creation of the world, continued through the desert times of Abraham, of Moses and the Israelites, of Jesus, was finished on the cross as God accepted Christ's righteousness for unrighteous people, and will be made known completely in glory when all things are brought under One Head. God has cared for and watched over His loved creation through it all. "The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it." 1 Thessalonians 5:24 I am not alone in these desert times. Thank you, Lord.
P.S. "Dad" is Wes, teaching pastor at Community Bible Fellowship
Monday, July 23, 2007
I will be diving into this faith-based and rocky process myself after a Campus Crusade training in September. I know these friends will then hold me up in prayer as we are all one Body.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves... Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12: 10, 15
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
"I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of
you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear
because of you. We have heard how the LORD dried up the
water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to
Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you
completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and
everyone's courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God
in heaven above and on the earth below. (emphasis mine)
Now, she and all of Jericho fear the Israelites, but the fear is in response to the power of this God who goes before His people. Imagine the result if Moses had claimed some bizarre magical power had enabled him to part the Red Sea. What if the Israelites had glorified themselves in battle and presumed to think that they could route the enemy? The last sentence in Joshua 11 would not have been uttered that day. May I never again take glory away from the only One who deserves it!
The purpose of God--that the whole world will be under Christ and worship the One True God--was brought closer to completion as this woman in the wall of Jericho heard of His works and recognized the authority of Jehovah. Do we live in such a way that the works of God are attributed to Him? Are His glories made public as we live with grateful and humble hearts? Oh that the world may hear and respond to the grace of God played out in our lives. May they hear of Him and worship.
As I continue in this new life He has called me to, may I be faithful to recognize His good works, His grace, His power. I suppose I could share my gratitude toward the Father on some sort of blog... :)
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
"The LORD be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant." Psalm 35:27
Thursday, July 5, 2007
While each session has been fascinating and helpful, this last topic has been pressed upon me by the Holy Spirit as I've been seeing obstacles or trials from a human point of view. I didn't even realize how little I was trusting in God with things I thought were human error. I haven't been heeding my own advice: seize eternity! View life from an eternal perspective, for that is the one that will last. God has done great things in the past and will continue to work out difficult situations; I must simply have faith in times of trial.
Nothing is outside the power of God. No one can change His best plans. Even the challenging moments--especially the challenging moments--are opportunities to see the power and faithfulness of God. He uses moments of suffering to produce perseverance; perseverance produces character, and character, hope. "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:5
And so the lessons from PFO that I have absorbed so far are focused on the Heavenly Father who is faithful to make the life to which he has called me work out and the trials I face become benefits. How thankful am I to be given such a gift: a front row seat to the marvelous works of God, a life outside my own comfort and control, a journey from which I hope never to stray.
Here are some of the lyrics from a song by Keith Getty and Margaret Becker called "Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer" that seems fitting.
Jesus draw me ever nearer
As I labour through the storm.
You have called me to this passage,
and I'll follow though I'm worn.
May this journey bring a blessing;
May I rise on wings of faith.
And at the end of my heart's testing,
With Your likeness let me wake.