Dependence

This past Wednesday was Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the 40 days (excluding Sundays) of lent. Many people give up something (caffeine, sweets, etc) or add something (service) during this time. At our church, we are beginning an intentional time of prayer and fasting. In anticipation of our Daniel Fast earlier this year, I discovered that John Wesley (founder of Methodism) fasted 2 days a week, every week.

This is not a mourning type fasting as in the old testament.

Mark 2:18-22 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast? And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”

This is a discarding of our old selves. An emptying, so God can fill us. A release of control.

Ephesians 3:21-22 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Am I willing to let Him, and Him alone, make me happy? Am I willing to empty myself every day and pick up my cross? Am I willing?

Matthew 7:7-11 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Am I ready for His answer?

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Choices

Ok. I have to correct myself. This week was the hardest week so far. My free spirit, stabilizing force was gone. I fought the dreaded virus that my children had the week before. I did not lean into God as I should. I was definitely not the most loving and understanding parent. **sigh** If it weren’t for the support of friends and family, I would be crazy.

Well, Daddy is coming home today. The washing is two weeks behind. The house is not in the best shape (could be worse). So, I have been in the bedroom, listening to praise music, frantically folding clothes and putting them away. The kids kept running in and out with toys, etc.

At some point, I stopped what I was doing, took their hands, and we danced. Whoa. I felt this warmth flood over me. Lately, the little boys will walk up to something they are not supposed to have, hold out their hands, and say “don’t touch”. They usually get a high five or similar positive response. We talk about what a wise choice they made. The warmth I felt earlier was as if God was giving me a big high five and telling me what a good choice I made.

Mark 10:14 ESV. But when Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to Me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.

Luke 10:41-41 ESV. But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.

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Let good times roll!

Go

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This week has been one of the hardest for me since the boys have been home. Both little boys were sick. Bill had to get ready to leave for Honduras. After the boys got well, they were fussing and scrapping. Washing got behind. Mommy is tired. However, as I type this, the boys came up, pointed to the screen, and hollered “Daddy!”. Talk about cheering me up. Oops. Now one is in time out. Sigh.

Whew. Now, where was I? Oh, I was going to say that “going” for God is not always easy. On you or on those you leave behind. I am reading a book Bill gave me for Valentine’s Day. The name of it is Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. The premise is that Jesus is looking for followers, not fans. We are studying the book of John in our small group. We are in the midst of John 4, 5, and 6. Funny, Kyle mentions John 6 in his book. Where Jesus feeds the 5000 with a few loaves and fish. Lots of people stick around till they are hungry again. Then Jesus calls them out. Jesus has to be enough, not what we can get from Him. Following Him is not going to be easy, so we must count the cost (Luke 14:28).

This last week reminds me (and anticipation of next week) that following Jesus is not easy. What are the two Greatest Commandments? Love God and love neighbor. What is the Great Commission? Go! Even when the way is not easy. Even when it fights against every bit of your flesh to do it.

Wait. Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). God’s way is not easy in the human/physical sense, but in the spiritual sense. We have all the help we need if we abide in Him. The Holy Spirit is there to help us every step. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Amazingly enough, if we truly die to ourselves and follow Him, our needs will be met. Not wants, mind you. Needs. We will never hunger (John 6:35) or thirst (John 4:14) again.

Love, Lori


Lanterns

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Tomorrow is the Lantern Festival. Here is a description from the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California’s website:

The Lantern Festival ends the 15 day celebration of Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, and is celebrated the night of the first full moon of the lunar New Year.

The date of Chinese New Year changes and is different from the date of the New Year holiday in the United States. Chinese New Year is not based on the Western Gregorian calendar, but rather the Chinese calendar, which is a complex combination of the solar and lunar calendars.

During the 15 day celebration of the Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, people make a fresh start, and set the tone for the upcoming year. It is a time for reconciliation, to make peace and forgive old grudges. People are warm and friendly to one another, and many families, friends and neighbors exchange gifts. There are many practices that symbolize starting anew: homes and businesses are cleaned, and many people wear only new clothing on New Year’s Day. An essential part of the New Year celebration is to honor and respect deceased relatives and ancestors and family unity is a central theme of Chinese New Year. The holiday brings families together to celebrate with each other. This 15 day celebration ends with the Lantern Festival.

Since Chinese New Year, I have really been thinking about everyone who has helped us along this journey. I am a terrible thank you note writer. Terrible! I have thank you notes in my folder that have been there since December and many that remain unwritten. An embarrassing fact, but the truth.

However, we absolutely have not forgotten the kindness that has been bestowed on us. Prayers, gifts, support, food, etc. It was all appreciated. The entire 1st Grade class at our 7-year old’s school surprised us with a diaper and casserole shower. We have not needed to buy diapers yet!

Some of you will receive long overdue thank you notes. Some may not. Some supporters remain anonymous. This does not mean we are not extremely humbled and grateful. Especially now that we are a family of 5, my inadequacy is glaringly obvious. You are all lights in our life, lanterns if you will. We love you. Xie Xie!

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I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. Philippians 1:3 KJV