Thursday, December 13, 2012

Not of this world

Photo Credit:  Rachel Stout

Sitting on the shore looking out at the water, I often see beautiful green sea turtles.  They pop their heads up every so often for a breath of fresh air, then dive down again returning to their world.

What a strange existence they live.  They are primarily sea creatures, but must breathe air to live. They come to land only occasionally to rest or reproduce.  I tried to think of another land animal that was dependent on life support outside it's habitat and couldn't think of one.  (Marine mammals are the same way. They never step foot - or flipper - on land, and yet their very life depends on crossing over into the land of the air-breathers.)

Why would God create an animal that was so dependent on a world outside their own. Maybe that is a picture of what our spiritual life should be.  Maybe it could remind us that we are not of this world and that our life support is outside our natural habitat.  We need to remain close to the "surface" of the Kingdom in order to get our life-giving breath.

Of course this is not a perfect analogy, but I'm a simple girl, and these are my simple observations:

1.  Green sea turtles are hatched on land.  They are not of the sea, but live in the sea. When they emerge from the nest, they are drawn to the water by light, usually the moon reflecting off the sea. We too are born again in the Kingdom of God.  We venture back into the world, but are called not to be of it.  (The most dangerous time in a turtles life is the short journey from the nest to the sea.)

2.  Green sea turtles must breathe air to survive.  A turtle at rest can hold their breath for 4-7 hours, but when stressed or if caught in a net, they may drowned in just a few minutes if they can't reach the surface.  We too depend on our contact with Jesus in order to live without being overcome by the world.  When we're stressed, our contact needs to be constant.

3.  Hawaii's green sea turtles' greatest predator is the shark.  The turtles venture out of the water to rest and retreat from them.  The beach is a safe haven.  The Kingdom is a safe haven for us as well.  We need to take time in the sun to rest and recuperate.  Then we can return to the water refreshed.

This isn't anything too deep.  It's just something I was thinking about while watching one of God's beautiful creatures.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Psalm 96:11 NLT


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

November Happenings - Opportunities to Love

I love November.  It's a month full of anticipation.  It really starts with our Halloween event at church.  We fill the parking lot with game booths and fun for the neighborhood kids.  The laughter and candy flow freely!  This year we had our first ever Blessing Booth.  We invited our guests to come and receive a blessing over them and their families.  We offered prayer for those who wanted it.  I really had no idea how it would be received, but was pleasantly surprised that several families took us up on it!  It stretched me out of my comfort zone and that's always good!

Then, at midnight our monthly 24 hour prayer started.  We were able to take those prayer requests from the community into our vigil.  It was such a wonderful honor.  The prayers for those around us were much more real with faces to put to the words.

Being in this house has been great.  I love being close to the happenings at church.  Our family has expanded to include everyone on the block.  My son, Andrew is often missing from our house.  At first I wondered where he was, but soon realized he was just hanging out at the other houses.  My once shy and reserved kid has now come out of his cocoon and has become a social butterfly.  He's even been seen talking to adults at church - of is own initiative.  I am amazed.

Thanksgiving was a community event.  We started the day meeting at a rocky outcropping that overlooks Kailua.  A small group of us have been meeting there to pray over Kailua. (Sunrise picture at the top of the page.) We gathered our churches together for a sunrise Thanksgiving service.  Three churches joined in unity to praise and thank The Lord of Heaven!  It was glorious.  The weather was perfect (although heavy rain was predicted) and all where blessed.

Next on the agenda was our annual Turkey Bowl football game.  What started out as a couple of families playing ball with their kids has turned into a 20 on 20 flag football free for all!  So much fun.

After a couple of hours at home to start the cooking, we headed off to Mark's folks house.  We had a wonderful visit with his parents.  Mark's dad is home-bound and often unresponsive but was having a good day.  We brought pie to share and the girls shared songs with Rebecca playing guitar.  Hearing Grandpa James singing hymns with all his heart brought me to tears.  A precious family time.  We don't know how many of those days we'll have so we tried to savor it.

Then it was time to head back home again to cook in earnest before the house filled with family and friends.  I resisted the urge to get stressed about the time and decided that we'd eat when it was ready!  Sometimes you can't see how much you've grown until you realize you are in a situation that previously would  have made you crazy...  Everyone pitched in and soon the table was set and the food was prepared.  We spread tables out under the new lanai roof.  It was beautiful.  Conversation and laughter filled the air.  We shared our blessings from the last year.  Several of us shared how becoming a part of this community was the high light.  God inhabits the praises of His people, and we felt Him that night.

And now the Christmas tree is up and the house is decorated.  It's so different from when we lived in this house before.  I had to find new places to decorate.  Simplicity.  That's what I'm going for.

The anticipation continues.  We anticipate the Christmas season.  We anticipate the coming new year.  But more than that, I find myself anticipating what the Lord will do among us in this community.  We don't have any grand programs or events on the agenda.  We are just learning to be a family with those around us, extending and receiving grace.  The wonderful missionary to Mozambique, Heidi Baker, says it so beautifully, "Love the one in front of you."  Simple.  That's my plan and I'm sticking with it!