Sunday, July 17, 2016

Blacksmith or Bully......



I've been bothered recently.

This started a few days ago. I was with a friend, and we were searching for something....a rental property to be exact.

We were sitting in my mom van, and she said...'oh, we haven't prayed together yet. Let's pray."
so I pulled my van over and we prayed. (We ended up driving a block, and seeing a sign that led us to the man, who rented us a house...but that's a story for another time)

Now, I pray a lot, don't get me wrong....but it's usually just a running conversation in my head with Jesus. I forget, frequently to invite other's into the ongoing back and forth of our gabfest. Its not wrong. I could just do it better.

And I told her that. I can do this better. And then I told her that I appreciate the fact that I was spiritually growing with her beside me, and it wasn't anything harsh that was said, to make me re-examine my christianity, just two believers, journeying together. I felt grateful in that moment.


As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.    Proverbs 27:17

This verse has bothered me for years. I don't believe that I have ever heard it used in the tone and intent of what it should be.

The truth is, I have only heard this verse, come out of the mouths of  christian bully's. The "I think you are doing something wrong...and I don't like it, so I am going to tell you what you are doing wrong...and finish it with the phrase.....iron sharpens iron," guy.


If someone finished a sentence with that phrase, I dismiss everything said previously. I think it is obvious that you are not looking out to grow my relationship with God, but to elevate yourself, the blacksmith of judgement.

But,
This verse is still in the Bible....I can't ignore it. And so, I call my Mallory.

And she hits the nail on the head.......more of a carpenter joke, I guess.

In order to sharpen iron, you need to be a blacksmith. There is a skill involved and it takes time, and training and steadfastness , and the ability to deal with a lot of heat.


In order to become a Master Blacksmith, it takes at least 10 years or more.
First you need to become and apprentice for four or more years. Then your work is judged. If it is deemed good enough, you become a journeyman, and you travel to study and learn with different blacksmiths. This can last from two to five years.....and then your work is judged again. Only then, if you are approved, do you become a blacksmith. After running your own shop, or working in a large organization, you can then apply to be Master Blacksmith. The guild may require you to submit a large project for judgement before you receive the title.

Sharpening iron takes skill. If we let anyone do it....it would just be excessive friction with two pieces of iron being slammed together.....not making much of anything except a lot of  ear-splitting  noise, and unusable product.

1 Corinthians 13:1

If I speak in the tongue of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

Do you see the correlation?

I am not saying that we are not to correct other brothers and sisters....but I think it needs to be done in a way that is skilled and loving.

He giveth more grace. Do you?

So, are you a Blacksmith, or a Bully?




Sunday, July 10, 2016

When God closes a Door, He Opens A Dodge Caravan Door

It is easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle, than to be a Canadian buying a vehicle in Mexico.
And yet, God does the un-doable.

Its been a few weeks of trying to figure out a way of getting a vehicle here, and finally about a week ago, I got the go word and we figured out a plan.

Now that being said, it is still difficult. Things about importing American cars, and imported cars are more expensive and I can't buy and license an American car, because I'm Canadian....anyway, now we were looking to buy...cash in hand.

Two weeks ago, I started doing my research, what would be the best thing to have here....and I came to two vehicles....a Dodge Caravan or a Ford SUV.

(I really wanted the SUV) And luckily enough last week, we found one, only it needed some work done. The seller told us every day that it would be completed in a day or two, which took us up to yesterday. Still no vehicle. My friend Lorena and I were at the dealership waiting....parked outside the dealership waiting.......they kept pushing back the hour.

At 5pm, we were standing in the office while the man was on the phone about the Ford Escape. (I was excited about this)

"Listen, Lorena, what's the deal? People are praying, my whole extended family is at a gathering, praying for this car."

"Well," she said, "We haven't prayed together yet."

And with that we stepped outside the office, and prayed, for God's will, His timing and His confirmation.

And we got our answer. They hadn't even started the work on the car I was waiting for.

We got back in the car. My spirit was restless, not hopeless. We discussed going to see another vehicle, that I knew would be too expensive.......And then Lorena turned the corner.

Sitting in front of us, was a Dodge Caravan. (Lord Jesus, I really don't want a mini-van...I'm not a mom.) Hanging from the mirror...a small wooden cross.

We pulled over and began talking with the owner. He had purchased this vehicle for his family. He treated this van like family. He loved this van. Brand new tires. Amazing upkeep. His pride and joy. Well, after taking it for a drive, I was pretty convinced that this was the 'one'. (Did I mention that I didn't want a mini-van?)

We got our mechanic to check it out. He recommended this buy. We then sat in the mini van, while the man recalled stories of his family in the van.
We went into the house and sat with this man and his wife, and visited as we did the paperwork. We shared our hearts, and teased him about his true love, the van. A hug and a cheek kiss and we were on our way. (I've never hugged anyone I've purchased a car from, before)

I may not have wanted a mini-van, but I can see God's hand. God wanted a mini-van. We discussed it on the way home, God and I. I relented, and He softened my heart. I knew it was His best for me.
And so we drove home, God and I,  blaring the  90's pop music, with the windows open and the wind in our hair.
Me and God, in our mom van.
May it be filled with young women of God.




Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Living on the Edge.

Here I sit. Yup, in my jammies. Doing emails, looking for houses online, waiting for some responses....drinking my 3-in-1, because if you know me, you know that I can't make coffee. Well, I can't make it and have it taste good.

As I have been forging new friendships down here, it seems to be an interesting dance, that we Christian's do. Slowly, asking......speaking a code of.....'what do you really believe?'

A new friend....who is more like me....blunt is another word for it.....asked me, "Do you think grace is there to let us do what we want?"

Hmmmm. Loaded question. Short answer, no. But short answers don't seem to be good enough.
I knew her and her heart well enough to answer....."I believe like you do. I am very conservative in my beliefs."

I went on to elaborate on today's 'grey areas of Christianity'....blackening my stance....or maybe I should say whitening.

It makes me sad, that we have come to a place, where everything is acceptable, because 'God wants me to be happy.' Or, I 'deserve' to be happy.  I don't remember reading that in the Bible. I do remember reading:

I am allowed to do anything- but not everything is good for you. I'm allowed to do anything- but not everything is beneficial.            1 Corinthians 10:23

Now that being said, I do believe that the more conservative of us, have done a crappy job of extending grace instead of legalism.....but I think currently, we just don't know what to do. If we open our mouths we are ostracized or criticized....if we keep our mouths closed.....it implies consent.

And yet, the further we travel on this journey....the closer we get to the edge. One wrong step and we are gone....swept up in a world of....'because there's grace, I can do what I want.'

Grace doesn't allow us to do what we want to do, Grace frees us to do what we are called to do.

When I started driving here, it was no problem.....very easy....after Cambodia.....Mexico driving is NBD. But the one thing that I still don't understand is this:



As you climb the 700 feet to the mission house, there are times when the road is winding and very close to the edge of a steep drop.
And yet, people choose to park along the drop. When driving up them....you make a turn, and there the parked cars are, not allowing you much time to change course. Now add oncoming traffic, (you will notice the car driving ahead is in the wrong lane.)

Not a horrible place to park for yourself....if you are careful. If you don't have a bad day and go to close to the edge to slip down.

Also, when you park there, you make it more difficult for those navigating around you......possibly creating unsafe conditions for them.


So, are you picking up what I'm putting down? Are you getting my mail?

When we live so close to the edge, the easier it is to fall. The more grey we add to our white.....the darker it gets. (Again, I'm not saying that we throw the baby out with the bath water...but live with wisdom)

Also....incase you haven't yet, made the connection......the closer you live to the edge....the more you affect people around you....who are on the same journey.....especially new drivers.

A question that we have stopped asking is this: What is God's best for you? Not.....what do I deserve.....
I used to ask youth groups.....if you could choose...which do you think you would want....God's good for you....God's better for you.....or God's best for you?
I know which one God would choose.
What about you?
So, where are you endeavouring to drive? Are you living near the edge....or as close to the mountain as possible? Where will you end up if an accident comes.......just banged up....or over the edge?

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Joy and Sorrow

Mexico

Here I sit.
The sun has gone down as I sit here in the coolness of the evening. I like that about Mexico...the difference in temperature.

I've been here for 3 and a half weeks. It seems longer. This is such a different experience for me this time. In all my travels in all of my life, I did have apprehension, fear, loneliness.....and so far, so good. I feel that I'm beginning to live abundantly. I love that. I'm seeing God's hand in so many things.
Has it been perfect? No...nothing is, this side of heaven....but it's good. I feel like God has set me up to succeed here...or maybe my definition of success has finally changed. Both are probably true.

This afternoon, I received a message from a church friend. She recently met a friend of mine. I say a friend, but I haven't seen her in such a long time...a few years in fact.
When I was at the pregnancy centre, we travelled the same circles. And I loved her. I don't think she knew that....but I did. She was a force to be reckoned with. God gave her a mission and she took that very seriously.
I remember once, when I sat with them during a service in their church.....everyone was going forward for communion, and she told me to come along. "But, I'm not Catholic," I said, and she whispered...that it was okay, just come for a blessing...and so I went....cared for and sandwiched between her and her husband.
A good memory.
Apparently she is palliative. Going home for her last days. She is not old.
And I wonder about this.....why certain people get to go early....while the rest of us wait. I wonder why she, who could have many more years, does not. Like my dad.....gone early. I know that it is a wonder that we will always have, here on earth...
And a bit later today...after texts flying back and forth for the past 36 hours....a friend delivers a beautiful baby.....God's new promise to this world. New life...

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. 1 Corinthians 13:12


The ebb and flow of lives coming and going is so unexplainable, so hard for humankind to understand.  Joy and sorrow, mixed together.....you can't have one without the other.

I've spent the past year learning that. I recognized my lack of joy these past years....it was because I didn't want to feel the sorrow....I didn't realize they were connected.

And so tonight, I feel both. Joy for new life, and sorrow for this dear family who may soon lose a loved one.
God will have to raise someone up to fill her shoes, and they are big shoes to fill.
And God also has a plan for this little lamb that has just entered humanity.

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5






Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hey You!!!......You NEED to Read This!!!

I've been trying to figure out how to write this.....how to say what I'm gonna say. Trying to figure out my target audience, trying to choose my words or my word pictures carefully.

I had a conversation this week about the Bible, and it's contents. Are some of the stories real or are they just parables to show us the character of God. (You know who you are and we still love each other)

Personally I believe that you can only know someones character by their actions. You know? I mean I can say that I am trying to lose weight, but in eating 7 donuts in a row....my actions cancel out my words.....that was just an example, by the way.....I didn't eat 7 donuts.

I still believe in a God of Miracles. I believe in a personal God. I believe, my friends, that if you let Him, if you trust Him in it, He will get it done for you.

And let me clarify....that I am not a super christian....I'm just a girlie, who needs the help.

And with this in mind, let me share with you something that happened to me last week.

As I have been preparing to go to Mexico for a term, I have been praying about some documentation that I was wanting. It basically is a prescreen that allows me to go in and out of the USA, bypassing lines and wait times.
The average person waits after the initial document submission approximately 4-6 weeks. After you get conditionally approved, it takes another several weeks, if not months, depending on where you live to schedule and go to an interview. I was near an interview port last week.....and looking online, their next available interview opening was on June 6th.


A lot of you know my relationship with God is a close one....like, we argue (okay I argue), we fight (ok, I fight), we discuss and dialogue and talk and listen (Okay He mostly listens, but I try)

About 3 weeks ago, I applied for this documentation. I was nervous to do so, as I live no where near a port or border town. I was thinking that this would take forever.
And then I said the words......"Okay, God, I'm gonna let you deal with this. If you think I need this card, or it would be good for me to get, it's your deal. I'm going to choose not to stress over it. (I lied a little there, I did stress over it, but I kept reminding myself to smarten up)

 Last week, I had the privilege of a quick trip to Ontario, the place of ports and border towns. Okay Lord, let's see what you can do.

The first morning I woke up in Ontario, I checked the status on my application.......approved pending interview!! Wow, Lord.....is that you or a fluke?
I started looking online for an interview time, and like I said, the places that I could go.....were booking into June. Huh. Okay, maybe a fluke.

Later that day we drove to Sarnia (a border town). We got to our destination, aka Donna's house, and I told her about my dilemma. Here I sit in Sarnia, and can't get an interview booking until June.

She told me that she knew someone who worked at customs and she quickly messaged him for information. His response was to give me a phone number to call, but it wasn't likely that I would get what I needed. And he was right......I called, I was politely blown off, and I continued on with my day.

A little while later, Donna's friend messaged and asked how it went, and we confirmed the blow off. A few minutes later, he called with instructions.
"Be at this office tomorrow before 10:30am, and ask for Supervisor *******. You will get an interview."

Wow.....okay Lord......this must be you....right?

That evening I was nervous about my interview. I've heard that these things can take up to two hours. I kept handing it back to the Lord.......wondering what would come of everything.

The next morning by 9:30 am, I stood bright and shiny with my happy, grateful, inquisitive face on....in front of a customs employee. (Just a note....she wasn't bright and shiny and happy)

I asked for who I was to ask for.....and saw the two employees talking about me....I may have actually noticed a sneer. My customs agent came back and continually rebuked me.....about how this isn't normal....'we don't normally do this'.....'this is highly irregular'......
I very quickly changed my happy shiny face to my humble and grateful face......and the only words to come out of my mouth with each question she asked....'yes ma'am.'

In my mind, I was wondering....if this was just at the front desk, I can only imagine what the interview would be like........I possibly should have taken some imodium before I had come.

She finally responded by telling me that my card would be received in 7-10 business days.
At first I didn't understand.......when was my interview......when would I have to face the firing squad and survive to deserve the card......

But she sent me on my way, said that I was done.

HUH? What? Something that takes months......I got in 3 weeks? An hour long interview took 5 minutes at a front desk?

Fluke? I think not. God? Most definitely.

Why am I sharing this story? Why does this matter to you? Because, He is the same God that you have...or could have. He doesn't play favourites.....He doesn't love me more than He loves you.

He is the same God of the Bible....the same God who parted the Red Sea......and put a guy in a belly of a whale......who sent the flood....and the rainbow.

He's the same God who sent His son to die for you and me....and raised Him back to life.

He's the same God who got me my papers and got you your..........

He wants what's best for you. Give Him a shot.

He's that guy.






Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Unredeemed.

This late night writing is becoming a habit. Huh...I should try sleeping more and thinking less. Oh well.

Today I worked on a short video for my childhood church, on what I've been doing, who God has called me to stand up for.....where He has called me to go.

I've been doing lots of research lately about human trafficking...and I thought that I was getting used to the numbers, the stats, etc...and then I read this one...which I have posted and tweeted....

"The Average lifespan of a (human trafficking) victim is 3-7 years. (found dead from attack, abuse, AID's, other STD's, malnutrition, overdose or suicide)        arkofhopeforchildren.org

We read a lot of stats.....we get used to a lot of numbers....this one scared me. I don't know how up to date it is......or where it originates from....but the reality is....I am not surprised by it....okay, I am surprised by it.....but it makes sense. It really does.


And so, when the day is filled with research or preparation or pondering.....I go to this song.... 



Unredeemed.......Selah

The cruelest word, the coldest heart
The deepest wound, the endless dark
The lonely ache, the burning tears
The bitter nights, the wasted years

Life breaks and falls apart
But we know these are

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled, it may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered
Is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see, it will not be unredeemed

For every choice that led to shame
And all the love that never came
For every vow that someone broke
And every life that gave up hope

We live in the shadow of the fall

But the cross says these are all

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled, it may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered
Is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see, it will not be unredeemed

Oh, He will wipe every tear
Will not be, be unredeemed

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled, it may be unrestored
But you never know the miracle the Father has in store
Just watch and see, it will not be

Just watch and see, it will not be unredeemed

And I am so thankful....that it will not be...unredeemed.
G'night.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Bigger Picture of Sex.

The look of Love in his eyes.......
I believe in the bigger picture. I agree, that most of the time, we are too close to the picture of our own lives to see it, but I believe in it.
I also believe that you need one or two people in your life, who understand your values, and your insecurities, who, are able to step back and look at the bigger picture for you. I am thankful that I have those people. Not everyone does.

I've been thinking a lot about sex lately.....insert funny, middle aged single girl joke here. Laugh it off...now....focus......alright; now that we have that out of our system.........

It started a week or so ago, when the Valentine's Day Movie on tv was "Pretty Woman". At first, I was a bit startled.....then it got under my skin. Pretty Woman? Really? 

Do you think that prostitution is every girl's dream job? Do you think that girls out there currently selling themselves for money or out of fear or coercion, have true job satisfaction?

Do we wonder why 20 million people world wide are victims of Human Trafficking? Do we wonder why 68% of young men and 18% of young women look at porn weekly?

If you are continuing to wonder....let me tell you.....WE ROMANTICIZE PROSTITUTION. WE ROMANTICIZE SEXUAL AGGRESSION. 

88% of scenes in porn films include sexually aggression. Is this the sex ed we want for our kids? (http://www.covenanteyes.com/2013/02/19/pornography-statistics)

I went to a movie with a friend on Monday.....How to be Single....and it was funny, for the most part, I enjoyed it. But I also have the ability to look at the bigger picture of it all, and understand that these standards of casual sex, and drinking so much so we don't know who we are sleeping with, are unhealthy, and unrealistic....when trying to care for, and protect your heart....your soul. 

We live in a society that believes that "50 Shades of Grey" is romance. Shortly after the book came out, I read a review on it, written by a social worker. The SW concluded, that if this had been written in someone's case file, it could in some instances be considered abuse. 

Playboy did an interview with John Mayer...here is a piece of it:
December 1, 2012
Playboy: Masturbation for you is as good as sex?
Mayer: Absolutely, because during sex, I’m just going to run a filmstrip. I’m still masturbating. That’s what you do when you’re 30, 31, 32. This is my problem now: Rather than meet somebody new, I would rather go home and replay the amazing experiences I’ve already had.
Playboy: You’d rather jerk off to an ex-girlfriend than meet someone new?
Mayer: Yeah. What that explains is that I’m more comfortable in my imagination than I am in actual human discovery. The best days of my life are when I’ve dreamed about a sexual encounter with someone I’ve already been with. When that happens, I cannot lay off myself.
So, let me get this straight. You'd rather jack off.....than be with a girl? Hmmmm....things to think about. 
I am frustrated by this society that is normalizing these behaviours. We are continually allowing the boundary lines to get pushed further and further...and our own consciences to get quieter and quieter. 
Society continually sings that 'we are here for a good time, not a long time.' And that's fine...for you...but what about the generations to come. 
Don't you get the fact that when we as 'normal' people allow things to happen.....the deviants of this world...the men who sleep with babies, or the mother who sells her daughter or son for sex at nights to get money,  or the father who was sleeping with his 6 year old daughter every night in Cambodia.......they push their lines too? Do you not see the bigger picture here?
Come on people.....step up. Draw your lines in the sand. Say no. Have sex? Sure go for it......romanticizing abuse and sexual slavery......enough already. 

You saw the Picture up top.....here's the bigger picture.
The look of love in his eyes....was actually for your steak.