A Dog, A Fishhook and The God Who Speaks

2014-06-02 09.46.09Many people might discount a miracle that saved an animal’s life. But I believe Scripture indicates that God has interest in, compassion for, and often purposes for all of creation.

Before God made Eve to be Adam’s perfect match, He brought each of the animals to him. One by one, He allowed Adam to name in the animals (Genesis 2:20), sparking a unique symbiotic relationship between man and beast before sin entered the world. But, when man sinned, the curse fell on all of creation (Romans 8:19-21), and after the flood, God declared that the fear of man would fall upon animals (Genesis 9:2). Sin broke more than God’s relationship with man; it damaged all of creation.

Over five years ago, I was emerging for the second time from the bowels of anorexia. My husband was on his third deployment with the Army and our marriage was on the rocks. We’d bought a house in Washington State, near his duty station, but far from family. I felt discouraged, lonely, anxious, hopeless and angry. But then God made me Brave.

I’m blessed to be sharing this testimony at My Story of Grace today. Please finish reading this post over there …

Nature Sings of God’s Handiwork

by: Billie Jo Youman’s

Do you see God’s handiwork as you look around our world? It is there! His attributes, like a fingerprint, appear throughout the universe. Learning to see God in the world around us brings amazing possibilities because the natural reveals the spiritual.

How about this for a worship reminder: the universe actually sings all the time! We notice the birds and sometimes the wind, but there is continual praise. Enjoy this video that allows us to sing alongside creation …

Read the rest of this lovely post on The Bottom Line. 

Learn to Love the Skin You’re In … by Amelia

Another thought-provoking article by a wonderful writer, Amelia, at The Bottom Line:

We can’t change our skin like snakes do; so, learning to be comfortable in our own skin is vital. We have to love ourselves, or else others will find it hard to do it for us. The message about “loving our bodies” is worn out. Yet, people aren’t convinced. Maybe it’s because the message about “skinny being the only sexy,” is louder.

Numerous people struggle to love their bodies—a large percentage of them are teenagers. An article on Huffington Post states, “About 40 percent of 10 and 11-year-old girls in the U.K. want to lose weight. That number rises to 54 percent in 12 and 13-year-old girls and to a stunning 63 percent among 14 and 15-year-olds.” While boys are less concerned about body image, they’re not all exempt.

Finish this post here … 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hitler’s Third Reich: A Wake Up Call To America

flag-650x400What does the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich have to do with America’s current sociopolitical climate?

An interest in German martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, has resurged, perhaps because of parallels with Christians in the current United States. Bonhoeffer’s biography crystallizes the spiritual nature of Hitler’s rise to power. Here are a few ingredients trending in current culture that have a troubling precedent in Hitler’s rise to totalitarianism …

Read the rest of this article by Emily Tomko here:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hitler’s Third Reich: A Wake Up Call to America

Chastened by God

Okay, maybe that sounds a little strong, but as I read Billie Jo’s post on The Bottom Line, I felt chastened by God. The best part though, is that the chastening proves how personal God is. He’s always aware of my heart, always speaking, always knowing.

Proof positive, here’s a direct quote from my journal on Monday:

“Beloved One, do not count my snow a curse–not even an inconvenience. Surrender to it. Drink its beauty. It will not last forever–like another, rarely seen facet of my personality, how I interact with my children. Recall Eden? The edict of rest, the imposed seasons from the very beginning? Isn’t the accumulation amazing? Even I am thrilled and pleased with how the tiniest freckles of winter can quickly swallow the landscape, disguising stumps and veiling steps and holes. Give me thanks in all things, my daughter!”

And then … I read this:
Exchange Winter Weariness for Crystal Treasures

An Interview with Kate McCord, Author of “Farewell Four Waters”

On Wednesday, I reviewed a wonderful book, Farewell Four Waters. Today, I offer you one better–an interview with the author! Friends, meet Kate McCord!

In your book, Farewell Four Waters, you explain that the story is not exactly and exclusively your own, but rather a composite of true stories that together create a very entertaining, yet truthful novel. That said, your own love for the Afghan people comes through clearly in the character of Marie. Where did that passion come from? Why Afghanistan as opposed to another country, another people, a different culture?

I was first introduced to Afghanistan on the Risk board. That’s an old board game. Later, I read Kipling and developed a whole set up perceptions and mis-perceptions about the country. In ’79, the Russians invaded and I paid a little attention. But it wasn’t until 2000 that I really started to get to know Afghanistan and the people who call that country home. In November, 2000 I picked up a book about Afghanistan at an airport in Europe. By the time I landed in the States, I was fascinated. Over the winter of 2000-2001, I read everything I could find about the country. The Taliban were in control and the stories were heartbreaking. I began praying for the people. Still, Afghans were just stories and pictures, but in 2004, I met Afghans face to face, drank their tea and shared their laughter and tears. That’s when everything changed for me. Now, I know so many precious Afghans. I’ve celebrated their births, engagements and weddings. I’ve sat beside the dying and in houses of mourning. I’ve shared life and along the way, fell in love.

Marie has many opportunities to share her Christian faith in the story. I love how she does it, unashamedly saying, “I belong to the Honorable Jesus Messiah”. Her declaration of faith always seemed to be well received. Did you ever have difficulty being honest about your faith? How did you learn to be a witness for Christ in such a hostile culture?

At first, I didn’t know what to say or how. I really struggled with that. I asked others what they said, I prayed and I tried out approaches with my Afghan friends. I looked for what made sense and was welcome. Along the way, I stumbled a lot, but Afghans are gracious and a gentle, “I’m sorry, forgive me if I offended” helped us all. Often, Afghans said those very words to me when they thought they’d spoken too harshly. I found that most Afghans believe in God and respect Jesus. Almost everyone already assumed I was a Christian, so it was really a matter of explaining that I’m not just a cultural Christian, but a Christ-follower. Afghans loved it that I knew my Book, prayed and tried to live a holy life. Many still wanted me to convert to Islam, but they respected my faith and practice. Mostly, people who were hostile to me hated my foreignness and my independence as a woman, not my faith. If anything, my faith helped me.

How did you go about learning the language? Did you study Dari before you went to Afghanistan or did you learn it in country?

I studied some Farsi before I want to Afghanistan. That’s the language of Iran. I also had some recordings in Dari that I practiced with, but mostly I learned the language from my Afghan neighbors and coworkers. I also had language tutors, made recordings and reviewed them in my room. I tried to commit a couple of hours a day, just to language learning and used every aspect of my life as the context. It was exhausting, but it paid off. I not only learned language, but I developed some wonderful friendships and I learned how to live there. I still miss speaking in Dari. It’s a such a beautiful, rich, poetic language.

I understand that you live in the United States currently. Do you want to return to Afghanistan ever—either as an aid worker or in any other capacity? Do you stay in touch with friends there?

I would love to return to Afghanistan! I miss my friends terribly. Email and the phone just aren’t enough. Still, I doubt I’ll go. I don’t want to do anything to put my Afghan and foreign friends in danger.

What do you think is the best way Christians who read your book can pray for or personally minister to the Muslims they know?

I think the first is in our own hearts. We need to see Muslims as God sees them; with His love and compassion. From that understanding, we can pray for God to reveal His love and truth to those we know personally and those we see or hear about. It’s God’s love that really changes people. When we’re able to see Muslims as precious individuals, we can to look for ways to express God’s love to them through our own lives. That could be as simple as a smile and a friendly hello or something deeper like a conversation and an invitation to tea. If we’re already in relationship with people, we can deepen our understanding of who they are. That comes through asking open-ending questions and genuinely listening as they share their lives with us. Along the way, we can be real about our own faith; who is God to us? How have we experienced Him? Why is He significant to us? When we invite others to be real with us and are real ourselves, heart-level conversations happen.

Oh friends, I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. Will you join me in praying for Afghanistan, for the people there to know the height and depth of the love of Christ? Let’s also pray for Kate McCord. Father, fill her with joy and peace, passion and purpose as she serves you exactly where she is right now. 

A New Kind of Balance

balance-875412-mIn the 2012 Olympics, Gabby Douglas, a USA gymnast, slipped on the balance beam, her favorite event, and forfeited any medal in the competition. It was hard to believe, since just days before she had performed beautifully in qualifications.

In the competitive sport of gymnastics, there isn’t real balance. There is pass or fail. For Douglas, it wasn’t enough that she’d performed well previously; past scores did not balance out poor performance and eliminate her loses. She would either make it to the other side or fall, keep her feet on the straight and narrow or crash gracelessly to the ground. There’s not much freedom, no margin for error.

In the beginning stages of recovery, as I clawed my way out of the depths of an eating disorder, finding balance felt much like being on the balance beam.

To finish reading this post, please visit FINDINGbalance