Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sometimes we have this idea that God is supposed to make sure we have enough. Enough food, enough clothes, enough friends, enough family, enough of everything...

But what we measure is enough, and what God measures...are sometimes imcompatable in our minds. But that's why He's God, and I'm not.

I was reminded today in very small ways. Today, my husband needed the car. His back has been sore, and we've both been grumpy as it makes life harder. So, instead of driving to school like I did on Monday, I took the bus.

As I got ready, I forgot to ask my husband for money. My usual 20 euros for week (bus, a night of tapas and coffee for the week) was gone. I had had to use it for gas, as we've used the car due to my husbands back, and for parking fees, as my husbands get the picture.

So I get to the bus, panicked, realizing I have no money. I have maybe a euro in small coins. I find two bus cards and pray hard that one has at least one ride left, because at school I can bum a couple of euros off a classmate...or catch a ride home....and lo and behold, 5 euros are on a buscard....enough for today, tomorrow and Friday.

While at school, bored, I look at my computer, and there had been a 4 car pileup on the expressway at the same hour I would have been driving. My husband's bad back prevented me from getting behind the wheel.

And, after class ended, my friend Edit said, "Let's have coffee" and when I said "Sure, but I don't have any money..." she bought. Together we enjoyed a nice moment, and walked down the hill and when I stopped in the office where I needed to resolve a problem, all was taken care of in 30 seconds.

God is faithful. Even when we least expect it. And even though I didn't have money in my pocket, it was all for a plan. Maybe I should stop complaining about not having any money today...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I'm coming home is a song that has felt very relevant to me this year.

Below are the key lyrics.

I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the World I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home, I’m coming home
Tell the World that I’m coming...(home)

I've never been a massive fan of P.Diddy, but this one seems to wrap up what I've felt most of this year.....and today, as we return back home to Granada after some much needed time away, I'm excited to return to our friends and family in Grana'.

Its a hodgepodge group, Spaniards, expats, people who follow Jesus and those who aren't yet, men and women, atheletes and couch potatoes, but they are our group of people, and we are coming home.

More than ever, this place is our home, and its a good thing. We are looking forward to this school year as we, "come home."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

And so we continue with our theraputic time of listening to music, watching yet more MASH, and recharging our batteries, emotional, physical and creative for the coming school year.

One of the things that's stuck with me this summer is the intense power of words, and on the contrary, the lack therof. Something that was said to us this summer was, "You guys are survivors." And that person probably has no idea that by saying and writing us that, how much those four small words have encouraged, sustained and kept us sane.

You see here, the war, is a spiritual war. We remind ourselves weekly, sometimes almost daily, that we don't wrestle against flesh and blood, but against spiritual powers and princes of this world.

But in the same thought, we also get weary of fighting the war against the war. In a MASH episode, Hawkeye starts having serious nightmares, waking up screaming, and starts walking in his sleep. His fellow comrades and doctors have a discussion behind his back, and one thing Radar O'Riley states is, "Its because he's losing the war against the war." When pressed to explain, he goes on to say that one character paints and has a horse, another works hard and has some pets, etc.

Last night as I heard those words, I cried. I realized that's one element of my stress this summer. I've been so focussed on the war, I've wearied in fighting the war against the war. I too, must keep sane. I too must immerse myself in the Word for me, and not just teaching or preaching, or giving it out to others. I too must find time to just write, not just to exhort others, but to express myself and do what I need to do to recharge.

Andrew's better at this. He knows when to stop, watch some movies, read a book to fall alseep by, find good music, and let go for a bit, so that when you go back to it all, you aren't so weary.

We have a few brief days left, and its taken me this long to figure this out again. So, we've closed our door for a few days, taken down the shingle, and hope to disconnect just a little bit more until we are ready.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Andrew and I big fans of the show M.A.S.H. For those unfamiliar, I will sum up rapidly, said television show was taped in the 70's and 80's about the Mobile Army Surgical Unit 4077 that was placed during the Korean Conflict. You can read more about it here...M.A.S.H.

Essentially, it was the first sit-com to deal with a more realistic plot, following the ups and downs of this MASH unit, both hysterical and realistic. The comedy is darkly believable, the depressing moments resonate strangely with both Andrew and I. Even though he and I don't perform actually surgery on patients in a war zone, the homesickness, the boredom, the loneliness, the depth of relationships formed in a short time, and the sadness of certain situations always seem to resound in our souls.

So several summers, we pull out our dvd's and have long extended marathons. I call it our therapy.

We are working our way now through the early season, and one of the episodes particularly struck a chord with me this year.

The chaplain, Father Mulchahey, is a good solid character, always there to lend a hand in surgery, write a letter, listen, give some spiritual advise, etc. But at one point, he expresses his frustration by saying, "Sometimes, I feel like I don't ever see results". He goes on to explain that the doctors and nurses see patients come in battered and broken, torn apart and they get to put them back together. He says he deals with the spiritual, and never seems to see anything come outta it.

During the episode, the docs come across a patient on the brink of death. The docs have done all they can, they don't know why the solider isn't getting better. They ask the padre to pray, and almost instantly, the patient wakes up and speaks. They turn to the Padre and say thanks. Befuddled he says, "it doesn't work that way..." but you can see his joy and gratification in that he was useful.

It feels that way here. Sometimes you work and work and work and pray and work and work, and you never feel like you get any gratification. But a couple of weeks ago, I had the same thing happen, right after I watched that episode of MASH.

Andrew and I are teaching classes and the man who is subcontracting us out, owes us a lot of money. He thought he was going to be able to pay us right before vacation, i.e. the month of August, but he wasn't able to. I called him a few days before vacation and he felt so bad on the phone that he couldn't pay us until he get paid. A thousand apologies...and I said, No pasa nada...and we hung up.

As I started to think about it, I realized I had a moment, an opportunity. In a metaphorical sense, the patient was dying, and I was given a moment in time to pray. I felt I should write Jose a note, and he had asked for some information anyway.

I gave him the info and then I wrote him this...translation below.

Quería decirte que no pasa nada, tranquilo en sobre todo, el dinero. Te digo porque. No estoy seguro en lo que crees, pero Andrew y yo creemos en un Dios que es Todopoderoso, pero ademas, se ocupa en cuidarnos. El tiene todo bajo de su control, y a veces olvidamos esto. Yo estoy muy seguro que a veces cosas así pasa, para que podamos esperar y orar a Dios, acordándole nuestras necesidades.

Así que, tengo fe en que Dios controla hasta las detalles mas pequeñas en nuestras vidas. Oremos que lo mas antes posible, habrá un milagro sorprendente en este caso.

Confiamos que tu estas haciendo todo lo que sea posible. Tranquilo! Y nos vemos pronto, estoy seguro!

I wanted to let you know that "no pasa nada" relax, especially about the money. I'll tell you why. I am not really sure about what you believe, but Andrew and I believe in a God who is all powerful, but as well, a God who takes care of us. He has everything under control, and sometimes we forget this. I am very certain that sometimes things like this happen, so that we can have faith, and pray, reminding God of our needs.

So, I have faith that God controls everything including the smallest details of our lives. We will pray that as soon as possible, there will be a surprising miracle in this case.

We trust that you are doing everything possible. Relax! We will see each other soon, I'm sure of it.

And off it went. I had no idea that the next morning, as I rode the bus, I would receive this powerful response.


Me he levantado temprano,
vengo a trabajar como cada mañana a la 8:00
Pero hoy….al abrir el correo electrónico…me he encontrado una palabras maravillosas,
Que habla sobre Dios, la Fe…y que él nos cuida…

Cuánta razón llevas…!!!

Es cierto… estas palabras me ha hecho esta mañana, reflexionar…parar
Y pensar, en el ritmo que llevo a diario…
Le damostanta importancia al dinero y al trabajo… que no pensamos en las cosas bellas
Que nos brinda la vida…

Gracias por tos palabras me ha alegrado la mañana…y me da fuerzas para seguir…

Sois unas personas maravillosas


I woke up early and went into work like every morning at 8am. But today, when I opened my email, I found these incredible words that spoke of God, faith, and how He takes care of us.


It is so true, this morning, your words caused me to stop, reflect and think about our daily rythmn in life.
How we give so much importance to money and work, and that we don't think about these beautiful things that toast (or shine) our lives.
Thank you for your words which have made me happy this morning and have given me strength to continue. THANKS>

You are wonderful people.

And as I got this little email, I realized that I had actually hoped for and prayed for the wrong miracle, and our surprising God, had given me the miracle that He really wanted. Instead of the money, a temporal thing, He didn't give it to us. He instead opened an eternal door, a door of witness, and opportunity. One that we've been praying for, one that's vital and important and crucial. The reason we are here, not to pay the bills, but to see His Kingdom come.

And I was reminded again yesterday morning after not sleeping all night, tossing and turning as my chronic kidney condition flared up. As I struggled over the pain, again, I tried to laid my concerns again at his feet. And in my email I got this...

Luke 12:27-31 (New Living Translation)
27 "Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
 29 "And don't be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don't worry about such things. 30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need."

As Andrew and I rest this month after a most busy school year, I hope this will be our mediation. Seek His Kingdom, the rest will follow.

Summer. A time for renewal, rest, and some writing. So, the series of articles that follows will be some of my reflections, travels, thoughts, and yearnings for the year to come.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Love your God with your Soul

Passage for tonight…Deut 6:1-7

“Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, 2 so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. 3 O Israel, you should listen and [a]be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
 4 “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

So how do we love God with our souls?
There are five distinct ways...

1.      1. Rejoice. This isn’t being happy. This is having joy in our hope.   
           2.Grief-in a physical manifestation, not just “feeling” grief over the lost, the suffering, the hurt, the deep overwhelming and propelling  desire to see God’s redemption in the spiritual and physical world.  Being propelled by your grief to reach out and use our souls to love.
           3.Self control with our bodies. Sex. Eating. Drinking. Exercise. Sunshine. Sleep. Sabbath. Music, friendship, conversation, drama, movies, avoiding pornography and trashy love novels, Internet, coffee, relationships, family.
           4. Worship-physical, emotional, involving not only mind, not only emotions, but our very beings. Not just singing, or dancing, or raising of hands. Service, hospitality, giving, driving someone home after a long day, visiting the sick, the poor, etc, etc, etc.
5.     5.  Losing our lives…I'm not talking always about  being a martyr in our strict definitions, but by dying to our selves by giving away our lives to him. We think of martyrs as the ones killed violently for their faith, but martyrs are all Christians who slowly give their lives away to God by doing all the aforementioned so that others may hear His story, not just living to live, breathing to breathe.

Its not just having a prayer life and doing devos. Its not just fasting and going to church. Its not just praying before lunch and dinner. Its not just coming to English worship and bible study. It’s the bread and wine of heaven. It’s the water that never lets you thirst again. It's worshipping God with your whole soul.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I feel like the summertime for me is always a return to creativity. Often, during the school year, my energies are poured into my students, my relationships with people that are only here for a short time, and more importantly, my marriage and family.

After that energy is spent, I'm spent. And all I can bring myself to do is write a bit, poke around on Facebook, and maybe take a few pictures that are fun and entertaining (sometimes only to myself!).

So, today, I've cracked out the paint, the crayons and the pastels, and determined to do something, anything, to engage my creative self, even if it just means taking a piece of art off my own wall and copying it into "my version".

Halfway through, it barely looks like the original, but its mine. I really don't do well at drawing or painting, but I do it for me. I do it to process, to think about something else besides work, and to find a few moments of getting my fingers dirty to see what my heart tells me.

Today, I am sad. I am sad, missing people who are forever gone from this life, like Penny, like my grandfather, my grandmother. People who put their indelible drawings on my own life. Like whenever my keys dangle outta my pocket, the image of my Granddad comes to mind. Like when I drink a cold coke on a hot day, I remember sitting in the summer hut with Penny in Africa. Like when I feel angry over sin, I remember my Gramma Soen's righteous wrath.

I feel sad to say goodbye. Goodbye to the Erasmus students that have been here almost a year and wormed their way into our hearts. Sad to say goodbye to our pastors and family who are movning to Valencia to take another pastorate. Sad even to say goodbye to friends who will return in two months. Sad.

Unfortunately, we as protestant evangelical modern Christians don't permit ourselves a sad day. I should end this blog post today saying, But we have hope, faith, happiness....even though its true, there are some days we lack all three, and we pray and search the scriptures and end up with the depressing but powerful verses..

"2 Remember what happened to Lot’s wife!33 If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it." Luke 17:32-33

May we not cling to our faith, or what we believe we believe in. May we not turn back to the past longing for what might have been. Instead, as we color in the lines God keeps giving us, may we look forward to Him, latch onto him, and let our lives go, so we might be saved.

Friday, May 13, 2011

This week both Andrew and I went to a flamenco benefit concert for Japan, and ironically enough, there was an earthquake that rocked Southern Spain just 24 hours before the concert.

A sizable town called Lorca, its located about 200 kilometers or 130 miles east of Granada, in the province of Murcia. A brief google search yields the info that at least two evangelical churches exist in the town of about 91.000 people. 13 Catholic churches exist.

There were two major earthquakes in a period of about 2 hours, and than about 30 aftershocks. The nine people who died were outside due to the first earthquake and squashed by falling debris. Two of the nine women were pregnant.

The 13 Catholic churches suffered such damage that no one can enter them. Crumbled, shaken, semi destroyed. Is this the church ....on whom Christ's rock will stand? Wow. The images are startling, as many of these churches have stood for hundreds of years through thousands of tiny earthquakes and the one day this week during a quiet afternoon when everyone was having a coffee in the spring air...BAM. If the earthquakes had occured just one hour later, the death could would have been much higher, as dozens of kids were scheduled to meet in the churches to have their catechism classes.

So, as I stood in a moment of silence with over 60 people in the majestic Isabel La Catolica Theater last night, I cried. Not only for the thousands upon thousands who perished in Japan just two months ago (only that long ago?) but for the city that weeps in Spain this weekend.

And then we listened to, cried, and actively participated in a concert that was one of incredible things I've been to.

Flamenco is active. The singer feels and mourns and rejoices and the guitar weeps with it. The dancer emotes and dances away the sadness, and the audience gives their encouragement verbally. The clappers watch ever move the lead singer makes, in order to clap the emotion portrayed. The other musicians, flute, bass, cajon, or whatever they are echo the passion portrayed by the lead artist. The audience responds and in turn gives energy to the musicians.

It's a symbiotic relationship, one that echos our very lives. Even though Japan is on the other side of the globe, we weep. Even though Lorca is still 2 hours away, we still feel the anguish. We pray, we love, we send what little money we can, and we weep.

Strangely enough, in all the sadness, Andrew and I have begun the climb to healing. Easter was important, it marked a moment in which we both have experience emotional healing. We feel stronger, and can last through the day. We feel the creativity returning and we know personally, just like the woman with the issue of blood, that with ..."his stripes we are healed." We know too, that we are healed to give healing, and even though all we did was go to a concert, we hope that somehow, we have become part of that healing, even from so far away.

Betrayed, lied to, and deceived.
Pain and sadness
Lowest of the low.
Miry pits, of clay and water and depression.

He too was betrayed, lied to, and deceived with that horrible kiss.
He too grieved over death.
He felt inexplicable pain and sadness. Separated from the Father.
Sunk to Sheol.

And with these wounds. Healed. Free. To go and help heal others, so that they may know Him.

May you know His healing personally.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I took Andrew to "work"today. He's currently in the midst of English classes that he's giving to a photographer, one of the best here in Granada, in exchange for photography classes. So, once a week, I actually kiss my man goodbye as he takes the bus, or drive him to the other side of town, and come back home and get to be alone in my house. I know that sounds funny, but since Andrew works out of the home, and I go to work, this is a rare moment that I'm savoring this morning.

On the way home, I drove slowly, loving the moment of "commute"from La Chana to Zaidin, where Andrew and I live. Its only like 5 miles, and with traffic, took me about 15 minutes. Today however, is one of those incredibly clear spring mornings, when the sun rises over the Sierra Nevada and the snow glistens on the peak, La Veleta. All I could say was, I live here...and enjoy the moment.

Why do we live here? For the last two or three years, our live has been rather topsy-tuvy, but as the dust has settled, we've had things brought into focus, especially for me the last several months and weeks. Last spring all we could do was come back to Granada and try to lick our wounds. Last summer we continued with whatever God put in front of us, with not a whole lot of long term vision. We just taught classes, and spent some time relaxing.

This fall, I started a new project and thought things were going to take off. By Christmas, I was exhausted, and suffered with bladdar stones. It was not a Christmas to remember. Since then, my load has been greatly reduced and I've been enjoying a slower moment in my life, while Andrew picks up more and more students, and walks through more and more doors.

To refocus, a dear friend in Ireland recommended a book to me, and this week I"ve devoured it. It's called The Tangible Kingdom, and talks about a real, nitty gritty way of doing this thing we've labeled ministry. It talks about day to day activities, but with a purpose, to live our lives and show God's love in whatever that means.

So for us, what does that look like? It means going to a barbeque at a friends house, and meeting whomever is there, including the English guy that's looking for meaning, and so he and his girlfriend have left home to live in a far off land (especially for the English).

It means Andrew going to study photography at a little studio near the hospitals of Granada. It means teaching English to bratty Spanish kids, and teaching them its not only words and grammar and pronunciation, but Culture, and ideas, and philosphy of life instead.

It means having people in our home, for lunch, coffee and dinner. It means having couchsurfers stay with us and having four hour conversations about life, culture, language, and happiness late into the night. It means running into our neighbors and letting them gift us with grapefruit. It means marching with 2000 men, women and children, Catholic, Protestant, and Moslem, on a Sunday morning in solidarity to raise money for the poor.

And it means being Jesus in a place that's got a poor view of God, Jesus and the Church. Instead of seeing Christ as a statute, we want them to see God amoung us. Instead of seeing the Church as an institution, we want to see the Kingdom of God lived out in a community that sacrifices and serves. Instead of seeing ourselves as the marginilized evangelical Christians in Spain, we want the world to see us as real people, who love God and others with all our heart soul and mind.

If you ever want a change of pace, come stay with us, see what this is all about. We welcome your visit. Come, join us.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

This weekend Andrew and I wandered down to a town called La Linea, a town across the way from Gibraltar. A friend of ours, one of "our" students that was here 3 years ago, got married.

The youth from our church had retreat this weekend, so many were unable to go. We went as representatives to a beautiful wedding, but I get ahead of myself.

Tamary, the bride, had been in Granada for just one year. Her dad would come and visit every chance he got, and he was so dynamic, so fun, we just adopted him as one of our own. He would come to every event he could, and joyfully stood and worshipped. They came with us on church retreat, and rejoiced with us as we baptized new believers.

10 months after that great retreat, Tamary's dad was brutally stabbed while walking away from the doctor's office. A case of mistaken identity. A senseless death.

We had always wanted to go and visit the family, but we were unable to do so. Our own family drama was unfolding.

Finally, we were able to go to the wedding. It cost money, gas, hotel, gift to the bride and groom. Sigh. But, it was honestly worth every penny.

We tried to find the little church in this maze of a little ugly town by the port. We couldn't. We were lost. We prayed and suddenly we pulled up next to a young guy dressed smartly. We told him we were trying to find our way to a wedding, could he help us? He said, "Tamary's wedding? Follow me. I'm going there." We laughed as he turned about 20 times as we followed him. We could have never found the place.

We got there early with all these people miling about, waiting. Andrew sent me inside to find a place to sit, and he waited for the brideg and groom. I was inside when I heard a joyful yell, and we turned and there they were, walking down the aisle to get married.

I've not been at such an enthusiastic or happy wedding in a very long time. They laughed, sang, and prayed and said their vows in nervous happiness. There were giggles as it was a "live" event and it was so good. I've cried like that in a while at a wedding. The bride sang to her new husband, and we all cried and laughed and rejoiced.

Then we drove to the reception and we seriously partied. Food, drinks, dancing, we drug ourselves away at 2 in the am, sad that it was over. We left shortly before the bride and groom did, exhausted with happiness and joy.

This wedding, was a perfect picture, of what we long for the next life. That nervous waiting, the beautiful gowns and suits and hair and shoes and shawls and hats and makeup. The roar of happiness when the bridegroom comes. The tears and happy moments and the dancing until your feet hurt. The food and the joy, the sighing and the conversations. Can you wait? After yesterday, I can barely wait.

There's an old charismatic song that rang through my head, it says, "be ready when the bridegroom comes..." I hope I am just as ready as all those men and women were yesterday at the wedding. They were so excited, I want to be that and more. And no matter how beautiful the bride was yesterday, her beauty pales in comparison to this strange thing called the Church. "be ready when the bridegroom comes..." Am I?

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Today we officially enter the Lent Season. I grew up Protestant, and so distinctly Protestant that somehow I missed the whole, what is Lent season, until after I went to Bible College. I even sneaked through a course on Western Civilization without having it properly explained to me.

After I went to Bible college, I started work for an incredibly pagan man in the catering business. I became a server first and then ended up working in the office when they realized I had more than half a brain like a lot of the servers that were working for their next pot fix.

I worked for them for almost 8 months when Ash Wednesday rolled around. Since we always had tons of food (catering) we could eat lunch free. That Wednesday our mostly Mexican chefs served us fish and only fish.

I didn't realize what it was until one of my office collegues said, its Ash Wednesday and had to explain to me that today, we eat fish and we will eat fish every Friday until Easter. I found it strangely ironic that it took working for a man far away from God and even religon for me to find out what Lent is.

Yesterday was Fat Tuesday, and I had never really realized what that was, until good ol' Wikipedia said, WE EAT FAT! and tomorrow we don't. Gleefully I made crepes (pancakes or crepes are traditionally eats I was informed)...and as I stood over my crepe pans, the whole idea of Christ's suffering crept into my brain.

I find standing over the stove a nice place to meditate, and as I meditated on the ancient words of Isaiah, "By His stripes, we are healed", I began to wonder again what that meant.

On my blog I always speak honestly, but today, I will speak clearly. With various events in the last two years, I have been wounded. Andrew and I have both been in different ways. People have disappointed us, we have had a lot of mud slung at us, we've watched someone painfully die, and we've seen how friends and family have not known what to do with us in our grief and pain. After a year and a day of grieving, the worst is behind us, but our wounds are still visible. Our bodies are weak and tired, and Andrew and I have gone between stomach flu and bad coughs and colds for the last three weeks.

When the woman came to see Jesus at Simon's house, Jesus had been greatly offended by his hosts. He hadn't been greeted properly, his feet hadn't been washed, and no one had anointed his head with oil. This is the equivalent of not answering the door when its rung, not shaking our friends hands or hugging them, and not showing them the bathroom when asked. Jesus was brought into Simon's house to be offended, and not to be shown good ol' Middle Eastern hospitality, which I've experienced and is by far the best in the world.

Jesus' wounds, his stripes, are usually thought of in the phyiscal sense, because it really did happen. He really did experience those stripes and wounds. But what if, those physical wounds were just a visual for us of the physcological and mental wounds he received far before that. He was called a glutton and a drunkard. A man that visited sinners. A man that let a woman touch him who was a sinner. A man who healed people that weren't Jews, who didn't deserve to know or even meet or even touch the Messiah like the woman with blood.

All these wounds, Jesus experienced. And when I experience the same, like He did, He heals me.

I stood over my stove crying over my crepes. When I am wounded, I identify with Jesus. I take up my cross. I follow Him. And then, He heals me, to do it all over again.

May this Lent Season help us identify with Him, and find healing. May we not focus on His suffering without realizing the redemption it brings.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Perhaps it seems to a regular reader of this blog is that all I ever write about is suffering and death. I have begun to feel like a broken record myself on this topic, but I want you to know that my desire is for my audience to understand the everlasting hope I have in an afterlife.

Yesterday our little church in Granada said goodbye to one of its pillars, a woman named Isabel. Isabel was only 78, in Spanish standards of life expectancy, is fairly young. However, for most of a decade she had suffered with various aliments, mostly heart related. Right as Andrew and I started to attend and particapate in this little church, she had a heart valve replacement, and we all thought that we would lose her. However, God gave her six more years, and she lived those to the fullest. She saw her daughter married,and both of her married daughters had children, all boys!

Finally, after her daughter had a baby last December, Isabel began to slowly fade, and for the last two months she has been in and out of hospital. This past Sunday night, Miguel, our pastor, asked us to drive him to the hospital, and when I saw him the next morning, he told me how he and Ana, Isabel's daughter, had commended Isabel to the Lord. At six in the am, Isabel passed through the veil and saw her Savior face to face for the first time.

In the Spanish tradition, we bured her on Tuesday morning, and about 15 or so from our church went, along with her family, neighbors and a few other friends from another church here in Granada. Here they bury quickly, usually in niches rather than in the ground. Her burial was no exception.

However, what was said and done before we committed her body to the niche was the exepction. We had a wonderful, glorious service in the small chapel. Her daughter Sonia sang, To God be the Glory in Spanish, and together we prayed publicly for the family, and thanked God for her life. We sang song that said...

Yo te busco,
Recibe mi adoración

Te anhelo, Te necesito, Te amo mas que a mi ser.

I look for you, Recive my worship
I long for you, I need you, I love you with all my being.

When Isabel was alive and could still come to church, she would always sit in the front and worship with tears flowing down her face. When we would have time for spontaneous prayers, she would always cry out to God for miracles, thank Him for the miracles she experienced, and worship him. It was always so wonderful to have her kiss my cheek and call me "guapa" after the service. She was always such an encouragement.

Even the hospital she continued to evangelize and preach to the doctors, nurses, orderlies and even the cleaning ladies...until she could no longer speak. And when her job was done, she slowly faded into the next life.

May we all experience and enjoy such a prayer life, a life of worship and a life of utter expectation such as Isabel.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

More pictures of the Medina farm.

Some pictures after being on the Medina farm for a party last Saturday.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Two distinct musings today, perhaps not related...

Last Sunday I listened in Sunday school as we talked about Proverbs. One of the point made is that in the OT times, the heart was not the emotional center, but rather the mental center of the body.

So when the proverb states, "guard your heart..." its actually speaking about guarding your mind. Hmph. How many times have we heard this proverb misused, usually in the context of some woman talking about not loving a man too quickly, or vice versa.

Perhaps this would be better thought of in this context, "Guard your mind, for it is the wellspring of life." Wow, to me this makes more sense. I was watching some sci fi type show, I think something to do with zombies, and they showed how the brain stem acts when the person is alive. It vibrates with electricity, thousands of connections made per second...when the brain is dead, i.e. has no more activity, we pronounce the person dead, even though the body may continue to breathe for a time, eventually it cannot sustain itself.

So, my question is, how do I guard my mind? Do I let it go where it wanders, or do I bring it back into submission, thus creating a well for my life to draw upon?

Another thought this week has to do with Revelation 7. This is a most glorious and beautiful picture of worship before God's throne. As my mind thought on this, I saw this for the first time. (Bold phrase my emphasis)

9 After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. 10 And they were shouting with a mighty shout,
“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne
and from the Lamb!”

11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God.

My eyes had never seen this before. The saints and the angels started it all off standing. Hmmm...we don't usually picture Revelation this way when it comes to worship, we usually see it as everyone face down before God.

However, God sanctifies us and gives us the priviledge of standing. Wow. And the text states that the angels start out standing, but I"m unsure as to if the entire multitude or just the angels fall to the ground. Wow. What an honor. A year ago, when my mother in law passed away, her funeral was a very powerful one. During one point, as the choir sang, all we could do was stand and honor our God. It was the first time I realized that our act of worsip was to stand in His powerful presence. It was a moment I will never, ever forget.

My last question. When was the last time you and I stood and honored God? When did we last realize He saved and sanctified us so that we could stand in His presence, and not have to shield our eyes from His glory? Wow.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Today marks one year since my mother-in-law walked through the veil, and joined those saints who have gone before her. She breathed her last sometime in the middle of the night, and all I could think when I saw her earth shell, was, "A new Body." For one earth year, she has enjoyed this new earth body.

I wish we could share some cinnamon rolls together, you and me, and her too, and we could talk about these things, but this is of course for the next life. Yes, there will be cinnamon rolls, and they'll be so much more amazing than the ones I'm baking today.

This last year a friend convinced me into signing up onto which is a site that sends you a passage of Scripture and a bit of a devotional (sometimes) daily. Sometimes it has all I've been able to chew on and meditate for the day, as I couldn't seem to have the energy to sit and read my Bible.

Today, of all days, this passage was sent to my email box.

Listen to today's call.


Here's something for you to look forward to!

1 Corinthians 15:51-58

51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

"Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?"

56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Only the Lord knows how much we need His word. May this be our eternal hope today and the rest of our days.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Today I received an email from a pastor in Ok. looking for an evangelical church here in Granada. I realized everyone has been directed to an almost four year old blog post I wrote regarding the church my husband and I attend here in Granada. So, I've decided to write a new post and give you all a little more information.

We attend a Baptist church here in Granada, one that belongs to the Baptist Union in Spain. It is located in Granada on Calle Angel Barrios and Calle Arabial, right across the street from the Parque Garcia Lorca.

Services in the School year are at 12 pm and 6 pm. Sunday school is at 11am. Wednesday evening prayer meeting is at 7 pm, and once monthly there is an English worship service. When I know this years dates, I'll post them here.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to comment on my blog, or email me at jambilee at gmail.

Hope this helps you! If you will email me, I'll send you my phone numbers and we'll chat! Most Sundays and Wednesday evenings you can find Andrew and I there in attendance, and we'll get you connected to all the good stuff that happens in the community that we belong to.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Andrew and I wandered with my uncle Peter today to a little village outside of Granada. We went with the intent of visiting a family, and when we finished 7 hours later, they had become our family.

Antonio and his wife and daughter and brothers and sisters and wifes and husbands and kids and parents all invited us for migas, a traditional Andaluz dish that is flour fried in olive oil with sausage, onions, peppers, garlic, you get the drift. This gypsy family says they make it when it rains, and they can't work the fields of olives, asparagus, almonds or whatever harvest season it is. It takes two full hours to make such a delicacy, and that's why they only do it when it rains.

We ate until our bellies burst, and laughed until we cried. Then talk turned to music, and guitars suddenly appeared, the small children were summoned, and summoned and then pulled out from underneath the bed they were hiding, and then they sang for us.

And boy did they sing. Rocio, whose name means Dewdrop, sang her heart out, until all our hearts burst simultaneously with her joy. We became again like children, clapping and laughing and tapping our feet until we couldn't hardly contain it.

Then Antonio summoned his daughter, and together they sang until we laughed and cried and burst all over again. Finally, Antonio sang about the Blind Man who asked, "Who is this man, that heals the blind and saves sins?" And we were swept away and worshiped together.

The guitars were put away, the children shuffled away to play again, but we didn't lose that moment, as a battered, paperback Bible was found and opened, and the questions began to pour from their lips as they peppered Peter with question after questions. Simple, yet deeply profound queries such as, "God created light, and then the sun and moon. But the light He created, what is that?" And, "What does chapter 19 in Judges mean? Why did God want us to know about these men that were drawn and quartered after sleeping with the wrong woman?" And, "What does the phrase mean, "sons of God" and "giants in the land?"

And after Peter satisfied their questions with his simple, yet deep answers, they turned to Andrew and I and said, "Tell us something, a story, a testimony of yours." Andrew powerfully talked about his parents and how they went to a tiny village in Africa and faithfully translated the New Testament and how peoples lives were forever changed. He talked about the priest that died, and as he died, he let his religion die with him, so that the next generation would learn about Jesus rather than the spirits. And when the spirits were asked to the nature of his death, they responded with, "we killed him because he wouldn't allow the religion to continue". Everyone hair stood up on on end, and they praised God for moving in a tiny tribe in a corner of they earth they could hardly imagine.

And I told them how I was privileged to meet those humble people, how the old ladies told me I was fat, and they laughed as I explained it meant I was beautiful!

And as we laughed, and then cried as Peter explained he wouldn't always be living in Granada, but God was calling him to different places in the world. They all were deeply moved to tears, but said, God's will be done.

AS we left, I knew we had become family. There was far more shared today than some bread crumbs and sausage and asparagus, there was the holy communion of the saints, and it was so good. Better than any gourmet meal and wine. Humble the food was, even humbler were those who prepared it, and in their humility, we became family that will always be.

This is why I'm here, and today, I found healing as we wandered to a little, insignificant place, but in my mind, I will never forget where I find peace this week.