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Friday, March 25, 2011

one weird woman


So I don’t know about the rest of the world, but the woman who wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair has always seemed really weird to me.

If I’m really honest it always makes me kind of uncomfortable to read how she kissed and put perfume on His feet. When I try to picture the story in real life (like I try to do with most of the Word) I just picture her being a really weird girl. To be a little more specific than “weird”, I guess I picture someone who may be a little too emotional or maybe not mentally ‘on this planet’. For my culture what she did is super weird, and I know it was even WEIRDER for her culture.

And all that together just makes me cringe when I read the story…

Well usually it does…

Last night we were spiritually attacked by darkness and so when we got home we were trying to recover by reading scripture and listening to praise music. I was just searching the Word for truth to fight off the enemy that was trying to pick at my thoughts and emotions, just desperate to hear God speak to me some comfort and peace.

He showed me so many verses about the promises and truths He has for us, as His children. But what stirred my spirit and made me jump into His arms was the story of this weird girl in Luke 7:36-50:

“Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.” And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” “A moneylender has two debtors: on owed five-hundred denarii and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little loves little.’ Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Jesus was so personal with this weird girl!

Thanks for sticking with me through that lengthy passage.

Ok I want you to get on your creative side for a minute and really stick with me through this next part. Imagine Jesus, in the flesh, using His earthly voice, with His earthly feet right in front of you, using His breath (ahh, just to think of Him breathing next to me is overwhelming!) to have a conversation about forgiveness with the snobby man next to you. Then suddenly He turns to you and speaks with His voice, which spoke the world and all it holds into motion, “Your sins have been forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

HOW INCREDIBLE!

If we are believers, Jesus has already personally spoken this same phrase to our sin-sick souls. Which is beautiful and overwhelming by itself, but could you imagine Him being beside you and speaking this to you???

It makes me want to get on my knees and grab whatever is next to me… maybe my hair… to wipe His feet, kiss them, and find whatever is most precious to me and pour it out on Him just to prove to Him that it’s all for Him.

It makes me want to get weird. Such a weird that, no matter what culture I’m in I look absolutely insane because of my love for Him and faith in Him. I long to hear Him verbally speak these words to me, but I hold it precious in my heart that He spiritually has already spoke this to my soul.

One day when I leave this world to join Him I will walk beside Him, listen intently to Him, and pour my love on Him just as I strive to do now on earth… but without the flesh, sin, or any darkness being able to block any part of me from Him.

It's probably obvious already, but I will go ahead and throw it out there - I'm learning to be vulnerable with Him.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

trapped



Last night I wasn’t feeling well. I got pretty bus-sick on the way home from a friend’s house, and I had a really bad headache. Kolby was supposed to have some African friends over, so I decided to go straight to bed and let him have all the fun. Two Africans came over to practice their English and once they left Kolby went to bed too.

I woke up this morning because I had an overwhelming urge to use the bathroom (just pee, don’t be gross!). I got up to open the bedroom door and it wouldn’t open. I tugged on it… tried to “unlock it” with the key… and it just wouldn’t open. Kolby gets up and oh-so-lovingly says “Let me try it.” So I move out of the way and let him jiggle, pull on, and beat up the door a little bit.

Not surprisingly for my personality, the panic set in pretty fast.

We have two cell phones, but mine is out of minutes (which means I can’t call out, but I can receive calls) and Kolby’s phone was in the living room.

yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

So as Kolby is taking apart the door handle I’m thinking of how bad I have to pee.

I decided to try to do something about it on my own. So I opened the door/window that leads to outside in our room that has a very tiny patio on it (maybe 1 ½ X 6 feet) and just started yelling. I wasn’t sure whether to yell Greek or English so I kept switching back and forth.

“Yasas!” “Hello!” “Signome!” “Excuse me!” “Is ANYBODY out here?”

We were trapped! No phone to call with, no one could hear us, and there wasn’t even a ladder of some kind to get down from our apartment on the 3rd floor!

One dumb door had us completely trapped.

Kolby quickly gave up on the door (it’s seriously an intense door), so I began yelling again. Thankfully an African man from the bottom floor stuck his head out of a window and told us he spoke English. So I explained the situation and he said that he would call the police. After 3 or 4 minutes he poked his head back out and said that the police would be there in 5 minutes.

So we sit.

And wait.

And wait.

And 30 minutes later they still weren’t here.

Kolby tries to encourage me by telling me “The police are probably on Greek time.” But by this point I’m actually in a little pain. “I have GOT to PEE!” I kept telling my husband. He told me to lean out the window/door. Pshh whatever.

So I did lean out the window… but not to pee. I kept yelling and yelling until this little Greek boy popped his head out a window and said “Yasoo!” Thankfully his parents popped their heads out right behind his greeting and I was able to start explaining again. Unfortunately they didn’t know English, so they woke up a sister who was living there and she began speaking broken English with us. We simply wanted them to call the police to get us some help, but they were determined that they could find a friend to do it or that we weren’t jiggling the door just right. Don’t get me wrong, they were extremely friendly and wanted to help out any way they could! But for some reason they just wouldn’t call the stinking police!

By this point I’ve for real got to pee. I mean that’s the whole reason I woke up! It had been an hour since I first realized we were locked in our room and I just couldn’t hold it any longer. Kolby told me that he was sure help would come soon and if I was going to pee then I had better go ahead and pee before they got here.

So I grabbed a Ziploc bag.

And the urge to pee was finally gone.

Don’t judge me! J

After probably 20 minutes of trying to explain our situation to them, giving them our phone number, giving them our address, and convincing them to call the police, we got a phone call from a Greek who spoke clear English. Praise God I had my phone in the room with us so we could receive a call! He told me that he had a friend who could help if we could give him the key to our apartment.

Our hearts sunk. “We don’t have a key to the apartment with us, it’s in the living room! We are stuck in here and…”

OH WAIT!

Last night I was feeling so sick, I didn’t put my things away like I usually do. I walked straight in and crashed on the bed… with my purse right beside the bed!!!

“Yes! We have keys to the apartment!”

So we threw the keys outside so that the Greeks could rescue us. They only had to do minor damage to the main door to be able to get inside our apartment, but they fixed that up once they released us from the bedroom.

We weren’t expecting to have to pay to be released, but ya know it happens. So Kolby made an ATM run while I tried to entertain an old Greek man who spoke no English. I was just happy to be free so even in the awkward pauses I told him “Efharisto!” (Thank you!).

This morning is definitely not what I would call “fun”, but it is incredible to see God provide even in crazy times like these. He let a lovely family be right at the window when we needed them to be, He made sure I brought my purse into my room last night so that the apt. keys would be in the bedroom, and He gave us a new appreciation for being able to do normal things… like peeing in a bathroom.

Hope this story makes you smile today and reminds you of His goodness even when things are just going wrong. J

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fringes - dwelling on the edge and longing for more!


This week I’ve been studying 1 John. Not for a real purpose, but because I like to flip around in the Bible and pick something random to read. Not quite my husband’s style of doing things, but he’s been reading the Bible a good while longer than I have. So there’s my excuse for randomness. Maybe it’s a personality thing…

God has shown me so much through this book! From the addictions I have, to my desire for simply understanding the gospel and what it means for my life, 1 John is loaded with truth to keep me going! I keep re-reading it just soaking in the beautiful blend of justice, mercy, grace, and love. Things that in our human minds could easily contradict and oppose each other seem to perfectly mesh together with God and His will.

“We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are of God and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:18-20

He wanted me to snuggle down on His “fringes” this afternoon.

This passage tells me that I only see, hear, and feel the fringes of God’s eternal plan and purpose. What Jesus did for me is so overwhelming to dwell on, but even when I’m dwelling on this I can’t grab hold of what that really meant for the whole world when Christ died for us to bring glory to God. I can only see a little bit of what that means and take it with me through every day. I share what I can share and trust that God is moving supernaturally to open hearts and to give some understanding. The perfect blending I already mentioned seems to jump off the page at me with these verses. Verse 18 tells me that because I’m so human and sinful, Jesus has to “keep” me. And it’s only by Jesus that I can even see the fringes of my Holy Father!

Job is the stirring example when it comes to clinging to, while still not fully grasping, these “fringes”…

“He stretches out the north over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. He wraps up the waters in His clouds and the cloud does not burst under them… Behold these are the fringes of His ways; And how faint a word we hear of Him! But His mighty thunder, who can understand?” Job 26:7-8 & 14

This is what I’m hearing…

“Yeah, I’m letting you see the fringes of what I am and what I can do… but that’s nothing. Because the real thunder Job is talking about (the powerful, supernatural, mind blowing, deeper than reality THUNDER that is all around you) is something you wouldn’t be able to BEGIN to understand.”

I have a hard enough time understanding the fringes.

But I long to cling to Him and to know the wonders that He can show me. I long to sense His Spirit all throughout my days. I crave His goodness to be, not only on me, but pouring out of me.

These fringes keep me asking for more.

What fringes is He showing you? How does that keep you coming back for more? What does it make you long for in Him that only He can give you?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFxQ-aT_wQY

(inspired when i first heard this song a few weeks ago by shane&shane)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Living in hope and being fulfilled!

Why is it so easy to forget how to be fulfilled… even when we’re living in light?

Obsessions & Addictions

Comfy names for things of this world…

Names we’re numb to…

Names we make excuses for…


I’m guilty. Actually, extremely guilty.

I have an obsession for more clothes and accessories.

I have an addiction to the internet (specifically Facebook).

The more I get, the more I want. The more I look, the more discontent I become. I begin to feel “weird” and, instead of turning to my Father for rescuing, I turn to more stores and computers.

The rationalization in my head starts twisting and turning telling my heart “it’s just a bad day… you should get a new pair of pants because you know shopping always gets you in a better mood. Your brain is full of too many thoughts, you deserve some down time on the computer.”

And so I listen to my flesh and go with it.

But even though I feel great the first few seconds… I begin to feel awful again. I just got happy for a second. I wasn’t fulfilled. I long for something more than happiness.

Then I pass my gypsy friend Gabriella who has worn the same clothes for the past 7 weeks that I’ve been here in Greece.

I go to English night and teach to 6 little souls who get so excited when I pull out the chocolate or art supplies, one may think they came simply for the hot chocolate and crafts every Tuesday. Things they surely don’t get elsewhere.

I go to game night and (with my husband standing beside me) talk to an African man who tells me how bad he misses his wife but he has to stay a few more years to work here so they can have a better life together.

I’m so foolish. I’m so blessed. I am figuring out that the only way I, or any of the beautiful people I just mentioned, can be fulfilled is with Him. Abiding in Him is the answer. Dwelling on His Word, crying out to Him, and turning from our pride are the only ways to stay in tune with His fulfilling music. He has freedom from sin and He promises to give that.

Check this out…

“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but we also ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” Romans 8:20-25

Although I can’t even begin to fully understand each of these verses, I know that it not only sums up what my pitiful words are trying to say, but pushes it even further. This is what hope is about. Fully clinging to the Father for EVERYTHING and letting go of this world COMPLETELY.

Pray for me today. Because I’m not writing this to tell the world I have it all figured out… I’m writing this because I need rescuing from sin and my Father wants to do it if I will let Him (which means I need prayer)!

Leave me some encouragement and tell me how the Father is working in your life.

Monday, March 14, 2011

"Auntie Paige"



So… I miss my precious nieces. I miss lots of other children back in the states too (like my little brother Zach, Macy Todd and other fun kids). But something in my heart is just longing to have a silly sleepover with my girls.

~~~Wednesday, Natalie Sheigh, and Rebecca Lynn~~~

I think about them wayyy to often to not write about them, so here it goes…

Wednesday is 10 (almost 11) and is just such a good friend to her “Auntie Paige”. In the states we have girl talks all the time about boys, parents, crazy girls, Jesus, and Disney channel. We like to stay up late reading the Word and watching chick flicks together. When Kolby teases us we like to whine until he stops. Ramen noodles and Chocolate Silk (soymilk) quickly vanish when in our presence. Wenz never wants to stay the night with us until she actually gets to our house. Then she never wants to leave and so the stay is usually extended to a week. J

Natalie Sheigh is 6 (almost 7… it makes me want to cry!) and is such a silly sidekick for her Uncle Kolby. Nat likes to joke and never seems to actually be on this planet when she opens that little mouth of hers to explain something. Every morning when asked how she slept Nat replies, “I didn’t sleep at all. I was awake all night.” Even though we just had to shake her to wake her out of the deep sleep she was just in. We still aren’t sure if she is joking or if she really thinks this. We like to dance outside, play “Nail Salon”, and our favorite foods together are strawberries, yogurt, and quesadillas. These are staples that MUST be in the house when Nat comes over or she will “starve” even if there is plenty of other good food in the house.

Rebecca Lynn is the precious baby. She is a beautiful baby girl… simply gorgeous like her sisters. She is about a year and a half now, and it stinks that we are missing out on 6 months of her life. We’re convinced she’ll be talking some and running around by the time we get back. We’re missing a lot out of Rebecca Lynn’s little life right now, but we know we’ll get the chance to join her in on our sleepovers one day.

So in a tiny tiny nut shell… that’s my girls. I miss them a lot. But I know that God has us here for a purpose. And even more than that I can see how He has given us gifts of new children to love on and play with here.


Just to name a few precious gifts that I’m clinging to here in Greece…

  • Futball at Aristotle Square with the Afghani boys, where I get to school some little kids and get schooled by the bigger kids.
  • English night with Afghani girls and boys where they fuss at each other over any little thing, but are always quick to return a smile or a high five for me
  • Conversations with the Africans at Game night when they tell me of the children they had to leave in Burkina-Faso. The look in their eyes just cries of the love they have for their children
  • Mentor night where I get to see silly Chloe gracefully eat her dinner and lug my laundry detergent around the house
  • Masutees (grocery store) where I usually get to see the ten year old gypsy girl named Gabriella who wears big glasses and always shakes my hand

I am so thankful that God has not given me replacements, but given me new friends and beautiful experiences which help to numb the hurt that comes with missing my nieces.

Today dwell on these verses and remember how our Father in heaven always loves you even when you feel “far” from Him or "distanced" from Him in your sin and shame:

“Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” – Luke 11:11-13

He is always near to us. Cry out to Him in prayer, seek Him today, and He will fill you up.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

the foot, running, and a crepe.


Well yesterday started off good!

But things got crazy after soccer (and after I wrote that blog). Kolby, my husband, started telling me his ankle was hurting really bad. So we put some ice on it, elevated it, made him pop some pain pills… and it just got worse. So we called up a friend who could take us to the hospital to get things checked out. Thankfully, his foot isn’t broke, but he did tear some soft tissue on the top of his foot that is causing his whole foot to be in a lot of pain. The doctor was really hospitable and the visit was super cheap so we were thankful for things not being as crazy as they could be. He wrote up a prescription and told Kolby to stay off of his foot for two weeks. So, that means crutches. Where to find those, I will have to do some exploring I guess…

Last night after the hospital visit this woman explored the town for an open pharmacy so her wonderful husband could get some medicinal relief. I found an open one pretty close to our apartment and immediately began praising God. But once I showed the pharmacist the slip of paper he said “It is finished.” I took that in English as “We don’t have any more.” But in my heart I took that as “Jesus said that right when things seemed pretty bad.” So I kind of panicked a little and ran around Navarino and Egnatia for a while asking random Greeks if they knew of an open pharmacy… to which they all responded “It is difficult tonight to find one, I’m sorry.” I finally decided to go back to the original pharmacy I had gone to and ask if they would have the medicine in the morning. He told me no.

BUT he said “If you hurry, there is another pharmacy 100 meters away from here… that will close in 15 minutes… maybe they will have the medicine” and proceeded to give me directions.

Of course, I don’t know anything about meters (should have listened in math) so I’m running to find this pharmacy before it closes.

Now I am aware that 100 meters isn’t that far away and I probably didn’t have to run.

The Greek night life was definitely staring at me like I was crazy (as if they don’t already stare at us…) but I decided I didn’t care and I was going to keep trucking. Fortunately I found the open one that had the medicine, but unfortunately he couldn’t take the medicine until 5:30AM (he had taken a lot of ibuprofen). Yeah… he didn’t sleep at all last night. So now he is snoozing away in the bedroom while I’m trying to be quiet and clean up around our little apartment.

Maybe I’m trying to say that Kolby isn’t the only one recovering from yesterday. J Last night I rewarded myself for all that running with a crepe.

It’s crazy days like these that constantly take me back to the Word. Specifically to the verses I’ve chosen to “theme” this blog…

“O Israel hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is loving-kindness, and with Him is abundant redemption. And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” –Psalm 130:7-8

I didn’t deserve to find that pharmacy last night. Kolby didn’t deserve it either. We are simply sinful people who don’t deserve anything at all except death. But God is so loving to us “beasts” that not only has He given us life eternally, but He also gives us little things every day that we don’t deserve. We are praising Him today for giving us the medicine like He did last night.

Today, what can you praise Him for giving you that you don’t deserve? Share with me J

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tasting His Goodness!


Today was fun! We played "football" (that's soccer... for all you Americans reading this :P) at Aristotle Square (Aristotelus) like we do every Saturday afternoon. Many Afghani boys came today and they brought some new children to play who called themselves Philistines. After some research we think that they are refugees from the Gaza Strip whose people group is the "philistinia". Don't go posting that on Wikipedia though... not 100% sure about all that. But anyways, we had a great time being silly and running around trying to take the ball from them. The kids are so precious. Even if it is their culture to yell... we just shush them and continue enjoying their silly personalities. Kolby's team won today. Mine lost.

That's all I have to say about that.

The weather is starting to warm up here. I can't remember ever being cold for such a long time! I come from SOUTH Georgia where we get maybe 6 weeks total of weather below 45F. So I'm very excited about this 54F going on outside right now! Can't wait to break my flip flops out again! My toes feel restrained and are rebelling on me! Basically, I would like to use the weathering warming up as an excuse to say that's why my team lost... we got too hot.

But that's not true... :)

Today the verses I'm dwelling on are a pretty good sized chunk, but I still wanted to share.

"When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, the I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works." - Psalm 73:21-28

Sometimes when I'm reading the Word I can't help but wonder "Woa, did the person writing this wayyyy back then know how specifically and intimately this would connect with me, today, years and years later?" And ya know, I don't think they did. But how cool is it to know that God did! And I believe He had not only me, but all of His children in mind as He guided people in writing His Word. But today these are the ones that popped out at me, and man did they grip me!

I was so lost and hungry searching for life before redemption... like a "beast" before God. But He took "hold of my right hand" and guides me with His "counsel". He knows that my "heart and flesh" will fail, but He will be near to me and be my "refuge" so that I can tell the world about "all His works." I love how clearly I can see the message He's telling me here... We were like beasts before Him and the only reason we are different now is because of His guidance. So we must share this with people around us who are beastly! How beautiful! He even gave us a hands-on example of how to treat these beasts. The same way He treated us.

I wouldn't call the children we played football with today "beasts". But I do love them enough to share with them that they need rescuing.

Soak up the word today and praise God for rescuing you! And share that with others around you! Desire nothing on earth besides Him today.

Friday, March 11, 2011

If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?

This is my first post, of my first blog. So bear with me if things get out of control... or boring. 

I love life here in Greece, even if it is very temporary. People are so hungry for life. They are loud and always looking for fun! They love spending time with their families and (gasp!) they love themselves. They are extremely helpful despite the language barrier to foreigners like my husband and I. And amazingly, they know how to sit back and just enjoy the day (as long as they have a frappe nearby). Some things that this girl just isn't usually great at! I love learning from other cultures and Greece is definitely a place where one has to be open to learning.  
But I do find some things that they lack. 
Unconditional love, peace, joy, hope, faithfulness and goodness just aren't apparent here. People here seem to care more for the stray dogs than the children begging for money. But then again, where do you find people with these deep characteristics? In other European countries? In America?  On street corners? At work? In churches? No. You don't find these things that last for eternity really anywhere anymore. At least I haven't. So what does that mean? Are we destined to continue in this whirlwind of life? Just wishing we could make it through the day and not even having the strength to think about how others will make it through their days? 

I think we absolutely are doomed.

 If we don't wait for the Lord and hope in His word.

If you are a believer, I want to challenge you to read Psalm 130, the theme verse of this blog, and meditate on  it.
If you aren't a believer, I still want you to read Psalm 130. It's a beautiful picture of the forgiveness of sins and redemption with the Lord. 

 I want to hear what God is showing you through these verses, so leave me some comments.