"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How long wicked grumblers?

My husband reminded us this morning of God's words to the Israelites "How long will this wicked community grumble against me?"

He had provided a miracle of manna for them and they complained.

How is it possible that I can grumble at the Lord when He so obviously and extravagantly provides for me. And, yet I do. I did this morning.
I was so anxious today about the details of moving into our "manna" house, that I felt like I had had way too many cups of coffee... this today was my form of grumbling.

Essentially my morning was filled with worry about the "how", the "when" and the "what if"... Oh, my grumbling heart.

I appreciated my husband's words, but they came as a bit of a slap. They were on target. They were spoken in truth and in love. And they were spoken by God to me.

What would my life look like if I trusted my Father truly, if I lived a life according to the all familiar Philipians 4 passage...
Rejoice in the Lord...

What would it look like if I LIVED rejoicing. The Lord is near.

Who would I be if I lived aware of His nearness. Do not worry about anything.

I can hardly imagine living in this freedom. No worry. Don't worry!? How?... Ahh, but here is the rub... I know how! I have been clearly told how... but in everything, with Thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.

Ahh... there is the answer. He tells me to just talk to Him. Tell my good, trustworthy, faithful, kind Father about it and thank Him.

And the peace of Christ will guard your heart and mind.

The Peace of God Almighty as a guard, a fortress, a wall around my heart and my mind. What an amazing promise!

As the day continued there was some victory in this. But the battle for victory was more painful than it need be, I think. I fought a few times... rejected worry, chose thankfulness and talked with my Father asking Him for help. I have won the great prize of peace. I am sitting in it right now as I write. But, I know the key is to live in it. The key is to remain in Him, isn't it?

I can remain. I can rejoice. I can look for His presence. I can be thankful. I can ask Him and trust His answers.
Oh, Lord, lead me forward in truth. How long will I grumble against you? Forgive me.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Do you trust me now?

The Lord has always provided for me. 
Truly, through the years, I have had the privilege to see Him provide everything from finances, to visas, to refrigerators, cars, ...even babies! Even more importantly, I have-- time and time again-- seen Him provide His presence in the most needed moments. 
I have always been provided for.

Just recently, though, it seems that His provisions comes a bit "later" than I have grown accustom to. He seems to be saying "no" more and "wait" a lot more often these days. 

Lately, it feels like He brings me right up to the edge of the water, waits for me to put my toe in the water and then...
...He opens the "red sea"! 

But, my toe needs to touch the water first, it seems. His whispers into my soul have been, "Do you trust me now?". ...and "how about now?" ..."and now". 

These whispers are certainly not unkind; but, instead, just asking gently for my trust. "Do you know I love you, Stephanie?"

Just yesterday, as we were coming upon another move into the unknown (another 'where will we be living next week and where will we live in a month' moment), I finally bowed my head in complete surrender. 

It isn't that I haven't been attempting and even finding daily surrender to the Lord; but, this was a full face-plant kind of surrender. I said with deep, difficult sincerity, "I trust you, Lord" and "it is well with my soul". 

And, blam, we now have a house to live in right here in town for the remainder of our stateside time. Hmm... Now, of course, there is no formula to this! I can't say the magic words and blam I will have exactly what I want or need... it is a heart thing. 

It is a relational thing. It is a daughter-dad thing.

My heart had to give in and give up, to trust a loving, kind and good Father and His plan... His timing. Trust is not about words. It is not something you can muster. I guess this time my toe finally went into the water because He just opened the "red sea" (a very small "red sea", I would admit; but, a red sea in my life none-the-less)...
Thank you, Lord. You are faithful.

Where do you live?

Where do you live is a common question we ask each other in our day to day interactions.

"Do you live around here?", the cashier at 7-11 asks me as he recognizes me and my coffee order for the third week in a row. The lady at the park, with the super cute 4 year old, asks me "Do you live nearby?". In church, after introducing myself to the couple behind me, they ask the question, "Where do you live?"

This question has been a difficult one for me these many years. How do I answer it this very simple question. Where did I used to live? Where have I ever lived? Where was I born? Where do I live this week or where will I live next week? Where did I live last month? Where do I want to live? ....all a bit easier to deal with.

Often when someone asks, I must I get a funny smirk on my face, because they usually sense that the question is oddly hard for me.

...Well, I say, I am from California... actually I am from Indiana, but have lived in California most of my life. Well, not really, I say, most of my adult life I have lived overseas... well except for the few years in between when I lived in California again... Well, first we lived in Kazakhstan--- that is near Russia, you know, and for the last few years I have lived in Turkey, but I don't live there any more, but all my stuff is there. So, technically I am homeless, but I am not living in my car or anything like that (I chuckle at this point and the person who is listening to me usually doesn't). I have lived in ... for a while now and am living right now in ..., but headed to Big Bear for the foreseeable future. I am really anxious to move to the UK, ...yes the UK, I know it is crazy! (and at that point I usually get the inclination it is time to change the subject by asking about their lives--- that usually works!)

But, honestly, when the guy at 7-11 asks me, I usually just pick a spot or even easier: I live nearby.

Do you live around here, I ask?

The lessons of "home" and "homelessness" have proved to be a constant struggle for me. I want so naturally to be settled, to be home. I remember when we first began to read the Kazakh language, reading in Kazakh the verses that describe our lives as "in Christ". In the Kazakh, that "in" is the exact same word (and meaning) as we would use when saying "I live IN Indiana". It is a directional word, it is concrete. "I live in Oregon"... I live in Kazakhstan... I live in Christ.

Imagine knowing your home "in Christ" as surely as you know your home in Long Beach. His word tells me that "he is my dwelling place... he has been my home" (Ps. 90), by I still find my search for home outside of Him alone. So, what if I answered that infamous question, "Where do you live?" I live in Christ...

Actually, the thought makes me smile as I wonder at how the 7-11 cashier would respond to that answer...

Lord, make this response the response of my heart!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Two Fragile Hearts

We have known that our kids have not exactly been “themselves” for a while. We have seen the stress of the ambiguity wearing on each of us.
There are moments when theoretical stress turns into real, every day emotions. This happened yesterday!
I noticed that the room they are staying in was messy and needed to be picked up. In a joking manner, I made the off handed comment regarding my sweet girl's doll, “Maybe it is time I take the doll away if you can’t keep her stuff picked up.” The quick comment was said in response to the “tornado” room I was looking at; but, her response was immediately very intense!
She burst into weeping tears and pleaded (while gripping her doll) that I not take away her doll.
Of course, my next response was to grab her into my arms, apologize for my off handedness regarding her dolly and to hold her as she cried. I knew instantly that the tears were not only about this doll, but the other dolls/stuffed animals that she misses.
Many very important and special things have been “taken away” these last 10 months (friends, home, team, and stuff).
I asked her if I was right in my guess and she wept that much harder with a resounding “yes!”. I can certainly relate! It has been almost 10 months now of a nomadic lifestyle for our family.
My husband and I both have been fighting off the general malaise that comes with the daily stress of this transition. Maybe I should have entitled this “four fragile hearts!”
There is a beautiful stability that comes with “home” and our stuff, isn’t there?
We feel secure in our homes.
When God allows us to be in a homeless, nomadic state it does remind us that He is our home and that things are temporary; but, these lessons are deeply difficult none-the-less.
So, we continue to ask God to fill our hearts with faith, peace, and stability in Him alone. While asking that He fills our hearts with contentment in Him alone, we also ask fervently that he would eventually allow us to re-unite with our stuff (packed away and ready to ship to Wales from Turkey) and allow us to have a “home” again. I find this balance of surrendered prayer and persevering prayer a difficult one.

Why "Koodaigirl"?

My long-term, overseas life started in 1997. We lived in Kazakstan, Central Asia. The word "koodai*" is the Kazakh word for God. I have been calling myself "koodaigirl" for many years.
Kazakh script  photo source

Koodaigirl is "God's girl" in a language I learned to love.  
His girl. His deeply loved daughter.
Although I was not aware of my roots, my Divine family heritage, until age 15, I have always been "His alone".

His Word tells me that before the foundation of the world, before creation, I was chosen to be His, to be in Him and like Him. 
I was created to be in relationship with my good and perfect Father. I belong to Him.
Belonging is a nice concept. It is a concept that feels warm and right to my soul. The more I learn about my Father- His goodness, kindness, wisdom, strength and love-- the more the concept of belonging to Him is a wonderfully comforting thought!


Now, the trick is living my every day... my practical washing the laundry, schooling the children and cleaning the dishes every day... as His.
I desire to "live as loved".  I desire to live my life as His alone, for Him alone and in His strength. This is where the knowledge and the real living are separated from each other like the one canyon precipice from another. I long for koodaigirl (God's girl) to define me.  I long for my belonging to God Almighty to inform my every activity, every thought, my every motivation.

May it be so, Lord, in Your strength alone! May I live my life as Your girl.

*Koodai is pronounced: Koo (like too)- dai (like die). Too-die-girl
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