31 October 2009

God's gentle provision

'And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.' Philippians 4:19

Something that has really been impressed on my (Heather's) heart this month is provision. Jim and I sometimes look back to three and four years ago and remember the smaller paychecks and we are reminded of God's perfect provision. We remember the car we were still paying off, the portion of the house we were paying off, the school loans, and the higher insurance premiums we paid during pregnancies. And we can say wow... God just made it work and provided for us.

That sort of hindsight perspective is one thing, but day to day abundance right before us is another.

This month has been one of building up my faith in God's provision. A very good thing as we prepare to be fully supported by the generosity of others! I don't believe that we are lucky, or just know the right people, or that we are in the right place at the right time, but God KNEW what we needed this month and made the way clear for us.

We were almost out of bread early in the month, and I received an email from another MOPS mom that she had about 60 loaves of bread that a grocery store didn't have room for and she was offering them to families in the community. We were able to get two loaves, along with some English muffins. One of Jim's favorite treats are English muffins! God not only provided for something practical, but he knows Jim's heart... er, stomach... and comforted that as well.

When the seasons changed this month, I looked in Joel's closet and realized I wasn't as prepared as I thought with warmer clothing for the winter for him. A wonderful family we have known for the past year moved out of town somewhat quickly this month, and amidst all the busyness in their lives, they gave us a large bag full of clothes for that their little boy had grown out of. The pajamas and jackets along with shirts and pants were exactly what we needed for Joel, and will take care of him for quite a bit longer... we'll be using many of the things in Kenya. A quiet, perfect provision for a mother's heart and for a little boy.

And then just today, Jim left for hunting with his dad (the provision of an elk to be determined...) and so Grandma, the kids and I were enjoying a morning in the kitchen making cupcakes and having a good time. Faith slipped off her chair and hit her chin on the counter. The resulting cut sent us to the local clinic where the doctor had to be called in from his weekend with his family to help us. Faith needed five stitches to close the cut, she did very well, and is mending fine. We happen to be in between insurance coverage right now, and while that was not the thought in the forefront of my mind (Faith was hurt!), it was back there, lurking with the dread of another bill arriving in the mail. The doctor on call happened to be a member of Jim's parent's church, someone who is missions-minded, and is aware of our big move next summer and just said "Hey- you've got a lot going on right now. Don't worry about it." Talk about PROVISION. In a place away from home, on a weekend, with a hurt little girl, God was ALL AROUND us, making every step clear.

I am grateful that aside from the reading, bible classes, and practical preparations for the mission field, God uses my everyday life to prepare and teach me as well. I don't have to fit it into my schedule, I just have to see it.

13 October 2009

Maasai Jim

It's homecoming week at Woodland Park High School. Like many schools, they have "spirit week" complete with a dress-up theme each day. This is our fourth homecoming with Jim as a sponsor, and keeping with tradition, we figured out a last-minute way to get Jim dressed up for "International Day".

All the fabric I bought in Kenya six years ago came in handy! Jim is wearing a Maasai "shuka" (aka. our picnic blanket) like a Maasai warrior or elder would wear. He is wearing a t-shirt and jeans underneath, which is not authentic, but fulfills the high school dress code! Here's a picture I took six years ago: we'll have to collect some accessories for Jim on this next trip!

10 October 2009

What We've Gotten Used To

On one of our family fishing trips last month, I (Heather) took along the book Revolution in World Missions that we received from the mission organization Gospel for Asia. In it the founder of GFA, K. P. Yohannan, tells his story and of his call to missions.

K. P. was born and raised in India, traveled around Asia and even to Germany in his young adult years, but nothing prepared him for coming to the United States for school in the 70's. Chapter four is entitled "I Walked in a Daze", and tells of his first impressions of our country.
"Americans are more than just unaware of their affluence-- they almost seem to despise it at times... I stared in amazement at how they treated their beautiful clothes and shoes. The richness of the fabrics and colors was beyond anything I had ever seen.

As I would do many times-- almost daily-- in the weeks ahead, I compared their clothing to that of the native missionary evangelists whom I had left only a few weeks before. Many of them walk barefoot between villages or work in flimsy sandals. Their threadbare cotton garments would not be acceptable as cleaning rags in the United States. Then I discovered most Americans have closets full of clothing they wear only occasionally-- and I remembered the years I traveled and worked with only the clothes on my back. And I had lived the normal lifestyle of most village evangelists."

Then K.P. quotes economist Robert Heilbroner's stunning description of what we as Americans would relinquish if we were to live like the poor in developing countries. As ONE BILLION hungry people do on this earth.

"We begin by invading the house of our imaginary American family to strip it of its furniture. Everything goes: beds, chairs, tables, television sets, lamps. We will leave the family with a few old blankets, a kitchen table, a wooden chair. Along with the bureaus go the clothes. Each member of the family may keep in his wardrobe his oldest suit or dress, a shirt or blouse. We will permit a pair of shoes for the head of the family, but none for the wife or children.

We move to the kitchen. The appliances have already been taken out, so we turn to the cupboards... The box of matches may stay, a small bag of flour, some sugar and salt. A few moldy potatoes, already in the garbage can, must be rescued, for they will provide much of tonight's meal. We will leave a handful of onions and a dish of dried beans. All The rest we take away: the meat, the fresh vegetables, the canned goods, the crackers, the candy.

Now we have stripped the house: the bathroom has been dismantled the running water shut off, the electric wires taken out. Next we take away the house. The family can move to the tool shed... Communications must go next. No more newspapers, magazines, books-- not that they are missed, since we must take away out family's literacy as well. Instead, in our shantytown we will allow one radio..."

Every time I read something like this, I don't really feel guilty, but I feel sad, I feel lost, I feel far from my identity as a child of God. I feel worldly. I have bought the lies that come with our affluence. We need this, that would make life easier, those things would no doubt bring happiness. Sometimes I make excuses: We bought the cheapest house on the market in Woodland Park five years ago, most people we know have more square footage, more furniture, better windows, more gadgets. Hey... we just gave away our TV and DVD player. That means we are living simply and remembering the rest of the world, right? Not really. I find myself thinking of what we need to buy before we leave for Kenya. We always can think of a home improvement project to do. There's always a good reason it seems like to put our money toward improving our image.

I don't think that moving to the shed is what these words are telling us to do (we'd like to keep our kids in our custody) but maybe re-evaluating our definition of NEED is a good place to start.