Friday, January 31, 2014

an impromptu trip

by Alanna

My husband and I just got back last night from an impromptu trip to Tegucigalpa (the capital city, about a 3 1/2 hour bus drive from our home in Catacamas). In Honduran style, we didn't find out we were leaving until the night before. The purpose of the trip was to get our permanent residency status here (we've already overstayed our 3-month visa by quite a while).

We drove to Tegucigalpa with one of the teachers from school.  Made a stop at his house to drop things off, and then at a Pulperia for Yonas and I to get food for the drive. We pulled just off the highway twice more, for the teacher to buy beans and then milk and cheese in bag (to carry as gifts to his sister in the capital). We were only slightly slowed down by the normal Honduran things- potholes, a herd of cows, the police barricades. Off the highway twice more for coffee- first unsuccessfully as they were out, and second at a small red table by the roadside. There we enjoyed sweet coffee and bread, and Yonas tried a greenish-gray drink in a bag called Jugo de Cana (Cane Juice). The drive through this country is so incredibly beautiful- all mountainous and green.

In Tegucigalpa the traffic is crazy! Stoplights might help with the general chaos, but one unreversable problem is that there seems to have been no planning involved when the city was built. The word "haphazard" doesn't do justice in describing the "layout" of the streets. In our one night and day there, we had Wendy's, Subway, and Pizza Hut- all rare treats that don't exist in Catacamas. We also got a free night's hotel stay, free breakfast, and a TV to watch a soccer game. Getting our residency status was fast, although they did question about our visas being so over expired. In Honduras, fast is incredible and efficiency seems to be rare.

Sometimes I'm tempted to complain here, and it's so foolish. Here is so much beauty. This country we live in, the love we have for each other, the kids and coworkers at school. The fact that we hold U.S. passports. The mercy of Jesus who makes all things new. Every day is beauty because everyday is a gift from Him, each breath grace. I'm thankful to recognize that grace these past few days in a different place. It helps me to be thankful for what we have.

Friday, January 17, 2014

when you feel small

by Alanna

 Being a Christian is an uphill battle, when we choose to engage in the fight. I’ve found that in some ways it’s easier to sit on the sidelines. Whatever lies and forces of darkness assail me, they seem to give me a respite when I’m not interceding for others or seeking God’s face. Then I don’t battle, but I don’t grow either. Satan doesn’t mind stagnancy I think. When I pray, I feel supported by God and comforted by Him, but I also feel ten times attacked. Lately I’ve grown weary, wanting to see answers to prayer, wanting to see God move. I pray for things that I can’t accomplish. I’m so needy for Him. My hands are tied and I’m incapable of changing these situations, other people’s hearts or my own. Where else can I go? He alone has the words of eternal life; He alone has the resurrecting power. I’ve felt small these days, dependent on Him. He heals the sick, casts out demons, raises the dead.  He can save; He can conquer sin in us and those we love. Last week my heart searched for answers, and I asked God Why is this battle so hard sometimes? If we are being conformed to the image of Christ, why don’t I see more noticeable victories? I read this in the book “Knowing God” by J.I. Packer and decided to quote it at length here, because I think I believe it now. 

“This is what all the work of grace aims at- an ever deeper knowledge of God, and an ever closer fellowship with Him. Grace is God drawing us sinners closer and closer to Himself.”

(Yes! This is what I want. To be drawn closer and closer to Him.)

“How does God in grace prosecute this purpose? Not by shielding us from assault by the world, the flesh and the devil, nor by protecting us from burdensome and frustrating circumstances, nor yet by shielding us from troubles created by our own temperament and psychology; but rather by exposing us to all these things, so as to overwhelm us with a sense of our inadequacy, and to drive us to cling to him more closely. This is the ultimate reason, from our standpoint, why God fills our lives with troubles and perplexities of one sort and another: it is to ensure that we shall learn to hold Him fast. The reason why the Bible spends so much of its time reiterating that God is a strong rock, a firm defense, and a sure refuge and help for the weak, is that God spends so much of his time bringing home to us that we are weak, both mentally and morally….God wants us to feel that our way through life is rough and perplexing, so that we may learn thankfully to lean on Him. Therefore He takes steps to drive us out of self-confidence to trust in Himself.” (The Knowledge of God, J.I. Packer, p. 250)

Praise God, who drives self-confidence out of me. He is my refuge and my sure defense. With this in mind I battle, interceding for those I love, and when forces come against me, He is my shield. When we feel small, may we find in Him all our adequacy. He is so good to us!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

life is hard

By Mary

It feels a little silly using this post title since it's been a wonderful first couple weeks of the new year for our family. (And my mom is flying out tomorrow to stay with us!! Helping with the end of my pregnancy and baby number 2. I'm just a leeetle bit excited)

I'm not sure when the thought first really started sticking in my head...I think I read something along those lines, probably in some half-read blog post in the last month or so. And it came back to my mind last week, a bunch of us talking with my friend about her upcoming third son--less than 18 months older than her second son. And just how having little kids/babies is a tough stage of motherhood. But it was the older ladies' perspective that really made me think--one talked about teenagers--"bigger kids, bigger problems. And young adults are hard too because then you have no control!" But she so loves the kind of relationships she can have with her adult children.

And I thought how true it is hard. It's not just the stage you're in or the people in your life. It's not what you have, or have not. Not singleness or marriage or your job or unemployment or toddlers or teens or not enough time or too much time on your hands.  It's not any one factor of your life that is hard. Life is just hard, imperfect and broken. The next thing won't always be easier, or better, even if its what you want. So lets enjoy today for what it is and live it fully as we wait for our King to come again.