Wednesday, October 30, 2013

balancing the ring...

Have you ever tried taking a photo like this?  For some reason I thought it would be easy.  I grabbed my Bible, took off my ring, and was ready to focus my camera.  It took me several tries to get this shot.  As I struggled to figure out how to make the ring stand up long enough to get the photo it reminded me of the importance of balance.

Relationships get out of balance at times.  You know what I person is doing all the work and the other seems to be checked out.  Or one person is ill and the other acts as caregiver. Or perhaps, it's the stage where kids are little and couple time is scarce.  We also get off kilter as careers are being built or as ministries are being established. It takes two people actively working to make a relationship successful. We've been spending time with couples lately.  From young couples preparing for marriage to mature couples struggling through a life trauma, the need for balance is fundamental.

I think the key to balance in marriage is found in the last part of Ecclesiastes 4:12
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  

God needs to be the third strand in the cord of our relationships.  Couples need His hand on the scale from time to time to stay in balance.  His intervention and grace can keep a marriage together when all seems lost.  

May we seek out balance in our homes, in our marriages, and in our lives.  May we look for ways to strengthen our bonds and put them into practice.  And may we keep God at the center of all our endeavors. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Week 2 Course 1

A few students from last week were missing but 5 new ones showed up.  That means 41 students are enrolled and we are busting out the seams of the classroom!  Tom taught on the development of Trust and it was such a great morning.  I loved seeing all the acronyms the students came up with for TRUST.  

My favorite was "Taking Relationships Under Serious/Spiritual Testing

We were also blessed this week by a Pathlight student who will be doing the video taping for the rest of the semester.  It is exciting to see different ministries coming together to help with the classes.  And we are thrilled that at least 11 different churches are now represented among the students.  Can you imagine what that means for the churches in Belize?! We pray that counselors are raised up that will help meet the needs of the church body and reach out into the surrounding communities as well.

Please pray with us that the students finish out the next four weeks strong.  Pray for Tom to be refreshed and renewed for each lesson.  Pray for each of the churches and ministries represented among the students. And pray for Belize Bible Center and all of the students attending courses there this fall. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

memories from a market in Kiev...

I vividly remember the day we were in this market.  I never got the nerve up to purchase meat from outdoor vendors.  I like to tell myself that meat comes from a supermarket already cleaned and nicely packaged!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

standing on the Rock...

He set my feet on a rock and gave me a safe place to stand. 
Psalm 40:2

There are days when I feel safe, secure, and stable in His hands.  And of course, there are days when I struggle.  I took this photo at the top of a 100 stair climb above a Hindu temple in Pune, India.  

While the rock itself was stable some of the steps were uneven.  Just as we began our ascent it lightly and briefly rained; causing the rock to feel slippery.  Upon entering the temple everyone had to take off their shoes. Which meant the only traction we had on those stairs were the soles of our bare feet.  With my head down I focused on firmly placing each foot squarely on the next stair persevering onward to reach the uppermost step. My reward was a panoramic view of the city; along with a sense of personal accomplishment for hanging in there to reach the top.

While reminiscing over photos from our time abroad this summer the above photo jumped out at me.  I was caught up in contemplating the journey onward and upward in Him. The path through the Refiner's fire has tricky spots to navigate.  Despite the fact that He is the firm foundation of our faith...there will be times when we struggle.  In these moments we need the Word to remind us that He is still there, watching over us, guiding us, directing us, even when we cannot see the whole picture.  

May we look to Him for the strength to take the next indicated step on the path.
And may we rest in the knowledge that He is indeed the Rock on which we stand.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Day 1 of Course 1...

On Saturday the Christian Counseling Course at Belize Bible Center started up again.  This class marks the beginning of the second group to start the two year program.  A handful of students were returning to pick up classes they missed during the first two years.  But the majority of them are brand new.  They represent different churches and different ethnic groups here in Belize.  Teachers, pastors, missionaries, homemakers, youth leaders, grandmothers, managers, children's workers, all came together because they want to grow and help others to grow and find healing as well. 

 36 students plus Tom and I were packed into the classroom of Belize Bible Center!

 Tom was excited to be teaching again!

And we are grateful for the provision of a camera so that we can now record the sessions...

It was great to see the small group participation and hear the lively discussions!

Pray with us that God will strengthen these students over the next six semesters and help them to finish out the entire course.  We look forward to seeing transformation in each of them and are excited for the future of Belize as each one reaches out to others in their various communities with the knowledge and insight they will gain! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

You know you're in Bangkok when...

I was going through my photos from my brief time in Bangkok with Spencer and I came across this gem:

The little figures on the sign cracked me up when I realized what they were for!!  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

behind the makeup...

Behind the makeup and the smile what is really there?  There are days when I have a smile on face but my heart is heavy.  Proverbs 13:14 assures me that I am not the only one who does this.

We are currently in the midst of a seminar on Aftercare for Survivors of Human Trafficking.  One of the myths about those who are being prostituted is that "they enjoy it or they wouldn't do it".  I cannot imagine anyone who would take delight in being used, violated, and demeaned day after day.  A woman being sexually exploited may be the one smiling and laughing to court her customers but that doesn't mean that she is not torn up and grieving her situation in life.

Even in laughter the heart may ache,
and rejoicing may end in grief. 
Proverbs 13:14

The clown in the photo is standing in front of the Eiffel Tower.  She seemed to be happy.  I sure was happy and absolutely filled with gratitude for each and every moment of our time in Paris.  I didn't ask this street performer if she was genuinely happy.  But, never again will I assume that a smile and a laugh are sign of a joy-filled life.  

May we let go of whatever mask we are wearing...
and may we find wholeness and compassion in Him.
And may those being exploited discover a way of escape
and find safety and comfort in His loving arms.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

from righteous anger to action!

Today Tom and I participated in Day 1 of a Three Day seminar on Aftercare for Survivors of Human Trafficking.  Our brains are filled and our hearts are motivated to glean from the expertise of others so that we might be more effective here in Belize.  

We are so grateful for all who feel called to learn and grow and help others as well.  It definitely takes a village working together to provide support and stability to those in need.  Keep us all in your prayers...we have two more long days ahead!!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

the power of friendship in marriage...

Good friendships are hard to find.
Good marriages seem even more rare these days.  

The word friendship makes me think of trust, mutual respect, and shared experiences.  A friend is someone you can be vulnerable with, someone who will tell you the truth and not just what you want to hear, and a friend is someone who will be there to support you when needed.  How many of us can say these things about our spouse?  I am so grateful that I can raise my hand and say, "yes" to that question.  

Tom and I found each other first as friends back in high school.  And second to our faith in God it has been our friendship that has carried us through some of the most difficult times in our relationship. Many times over the years though I was frustrated with Tom as husband; I still wanted to talk it over with Tom as my friend.  

Our 31 years of marital experience has led me to believe that a shared faith in God and a genuine friendship form the strongest foundation for marriage.  We've all seen couples who just don't even seem to like each other.  It is obvious by the way they speak to and/or about one another that they don't value each other as human beings.  Those types of couples are so difficult to be around.  But, a couple who truly values each other is a strong magnet that draws others towards them.  Those are the couples I want to learn from and spend time with.  

Becoming best friends in marriage is something that must be done intentionally. Wishing and hoping doesn't change the quality of a relationship but hard work does.  Perseverance, sacrifice, and prayer can all lay the ground work for a priceless friendship with your spouse.  I've heard about soul mates, twin flames, and such.  But to me, the most romantic, passionate, and endearing of all to be said about a married that they are best friends.  

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

reaping and sowing...

At Bible study today our leader, Verna, gave us this passage as the key verse.  As the discussion ensued many different topics came up, some heated, some thought provoking, but as we closed our time together Verna gently brought us back to the point.  "Each day is planting season.  Each day we plant something spiritually."  She gave us a few questions to ask ourselves and the ones that I am taking to heart tonight are:

What seeds did I plant today?
What weeds did I pull today?

The choices I make, the way I choose to live, are seeds that will either bring about blessings or negative consequences.  The principle of sowing and reaping shows up in the dailiness of life.  We might sow seemingly innocent thoughts and later find that we've reaped ingrained habits that prove hard to break.

May I always remember that everyday is planting season
 and may I be mindful of what kind of seed I am sowing.