Tag Archives: direction

Two Roads…Which is the Path of Wisdom?

The road divides. One path is paved with brick, the other with stone. There are lamps on each, about 50 yards ahead. Beyond that, darkness. Trees on either side and between indicate that you must choose now, for there is no indication that these roads rejoin one another. You have no map, and none of those around you have travelled either of these roads before. This is your journey, your choice – but where is the Wisdom you seek to guide you?

Exodus 28, 31, 35, and 36 speak of the wisdom granted to craftsmen that they might do quality work in the service of their God. The skills, talents, and experiences you possess have been granted by the One who knows the path He designed you for. You will draw upon what you know, but do not lean too hard on your understanding, as He has been known to flip human understanding on its head. Seek His companionship and counsel with all that you are, and He will add light to your way. (Proverbs 3:5-6, Deut 4:29, Psalms 119:105)

In Deut 4:1-6, Moses reminds the people that they have been given God’s commands, and their wisdom and understanding will come from following them. So, in light of Exodus 20, examine the two choices:
• Which will lead you to recognize God alone, and which will distract you from Him?
• Which will cause you to depend on, or spend time and energy serving, something other than God?
• Which will bring you opportunity to hallow His name among your peers and neighbors? Which will cause them to believe He is not enough for your needs, or theirs? Which will diminish the worth of His name in your eyes, or theirs?
• Which will honor your desire to give God His weekly Sabbath, and which will insist that you invest God’s Sabbath hours in another agenda?
• Which will lead you to honor your heritage, especially living parents? Which environment will lead your children to honor you as God commands? Which environment will lead to exasperating your children, causing their honor of you to be diminished?
• Which risks the death of another – whether their body, their spirit, their reputation, their relationship with God?
• Which risks the relationship with your spouse or chosen mate? Which will open you, or that person, to temptation? Which will best honor them and the role and responsibility granted by God to them in your life?
• Which risks your integrity? Which may lead you to take pay or pencils that are not your established right to have? Which may lead you to take time, resources, experiences, or honor from your loved ones?
• Which risks your honesty? Which may lead you to wear masks in different environments, either by command of your superiors or by your own need to hide or present an artificial self?
• Which risks your contentment? Which may lead you to become jealous of your peers and neighbors, or the stranger in the marketplace? Which may lead you to an unholy dissatisfaction with your environment, possessions, or relationships?

In summary, which choice will keep you on your face before God, honoring who He is without shame as He examines your every action, word, and motive? Which will keep you, His child, anxious to meet with Him daily, that you might hear His praise, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”?

He has never left your side, and never will. He has led others safely through the unfamiliar. He knows how you think, and how to tell you in the unique language of your heart, “this is the way, walk here.” (Isaiah 30:21, paraphrased) He also knows how to redirect your course if you choose the unfavorable path. The focus of your trust must be in Him, in the provision and protection He has already shown you.

If you remain uncertain, step slowly onto one path or the other, and trust Him to rearrange the pavement as He sees fit. He’s been known to do that, just ask Saul of Tarsus, aka Paul.

2013 March: Marching On

I couldn’t resist, really – if you know me, you know it’s true. A play on words cannot go unplayed.

For me, March came in with a bit of a roar, and went out quietly just before a cheer. Of course, we’re now more than a week into April, and the big news just hit three days ago, but we’ll get to that. In March, I had a incident pop up, complete with accompanying paperwork and doctor visits and interruptions. All is well, and I have just a couple of things to do (paperwork, doctor) to tie it off with a bow. Also in March, I picked up full time benefits at work such as health coverage and the earning of paid leave. The six month mark included a performance review which was good and will be followed by a raise (also good). The important point is that the clients I serve have grown measurably in the last six months, due to the stability of the team that serves them and my ability to contribute to everyone’s improved sign language communication. Let that be a lesson to those discouraged by the surrender of their interpreting goals – there is much more to be done with the ability to communicate in ASL than interpreting between two languages at the speed of another’s thoughts.

I finally (FINALLY!) finished the two baby blankets I had worked on for about a year…between moves and graduation and health and logistics and a few rounds of “how am I supposed to do that?!”. They were gifts of love, well received, and offer a few devotional insights such as reverse sometimes being the way forward. The seam ripper was the most used tool on one blanket. I borrowed a friend’s iron to complete the other. It’s good to have friends. Next in the hopper is a purse I promised a few years ago, a wrap I promised a few months ago, and a purse I’ve been promising myself for weeks. There were also about 4 “fix-it fairy” projects, the last of which I outsourced to someone with more experience & stronger equipment. I was reminded that I need to be more forthright with my expectations when delegating. The owner of the piece is happy, so I am also reminded that I need to let go of the perfection standard.

Delegating & standards were topics in the book I just finished reading, “Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours” by Roland Allen. I read it just after finishing C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity”. Both point out the importance of letting God be God. Our task is to represent Him well and introduce people to Him as the source of life and only hope for salvation. Once they begin their relationship with Him, He will take care of instructing them in necessary changes according to how He designed them and the plans and opportunities He laid out for them before they were born. It is not ours to insist on any more or less than what is clearly in scripture. How a church is organized or what quantity and style of jewelry one wears is a cultural issue, and God is big enough to work in the hearts of people from every culture. The key, said both authors, is exercising the faith that God will indeed lead new converts in paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake.

And now for the big news – really BIG: I am officially a missionary, working with Silent Blessings Deaf Ministries out of Anderson, Indiana. I will go to Anderson on April 23 to take a tour and do paperwork, get first assignment details, etc. It’s a 3 hour drive, but I have family living just 45 minutes away. My Provider has me well taken care of. I will continue working in my current job, serving people with intellectual & developmental disabilities, while I transition into full time reliance on missionary support. Funds submitted to Silent Blessings on my behalf will go into an account earmarked for my direct ministry work, such as a week of camp in Michigan this summer to facilitate Bible teaching through the new bilingual VBS curriculum. There’s more, so much more, and so many connections that show how God has prepared me for this place, and this place for me… I remain blessed & boggled.

Pray that I can reign in my spinning thoughts and focus on whatever task is at hand.  I’m like a kid in a candy store with a twenty dollar bill!

Long Story Short

Admittedly, 46 years of impressions, studies, goals, successes, failures, pep-talks, and restarts is a long (LONG) story. Likewise, compressing it all into one line conclusions and whether current status can be considered progress or regress is another challenge that leaves out far too many details to satisfy most. I find myself back-pedaling to explain, then running off on a tangent to share an exciting episode, and then trying to recover as I see my listener’s eyes glaze over with the universal question: “Huh?” Herein is my attempt to convey the important details of who I am, where, why, and what’s next. Continue reading Long Story Short

2013 February: Catching Up

If you’ve been following along, you know that my residence and income are stabilized, and I’m getting into the rhythms of my new environments. Looking around yesterday, I’m getting a bit excited about having my things brought up in the spring, and I can begin riding my bike to local establishments. Agreed, that may be a bit ambitious, but I still have time to dream before reality strikes.

I’m also getting excited about the next item on the major agenda, joining forces with a Deaf Ministry located in Indiana. Their goals and mine are the same: introducing deaf people to Jesus before they leave the planet or we do. Our targets are slightly different, but that means increased coverage. They’re seeking to reach children, I’m seeking to reach adults, yet Jesus is the savior for all. His message is unchanging, and His offer is for everyone. His faithfulness never expires and has no age limits for old or young. May we both, and the other targeted ministries, find success, as measured in the neighbors we will enjoy 300 years from now.

But first… isn’t there always a ‘but first’? It seems to be so in my experience… First, there are some items I need to get finished and off the to-do list. I referenced them a few months ago, and I’m finally getting them wrapped up. Still not as quickly as I’d prefer, but a checkmark’s a checkmark. I’m beginning to look into the possibility that sewing may be one of my potential income streams, though of course I’d need to streamline and speed up the process a bit. (That’s what I get for saying I’ll be a ‘tentmaking missionary’ like Paul) The reality of any produced item is that custom work takes more time and bulk work holds less unique value. There’s a devotional thought in that, and encouragement for those of us who are long-term renewal projects under our Lord’s craftsmanship.

In a few more weeks, I should be caught up and ready to switch gears, focusing on how I can begin to serve this ministry and make some real progress in finding and ministering to deaf people in my new location. That’s news to pray for.

Meanwhile, God continues to provide opportunities to plant a seed or two, here and there.  Today’s example: a not-so-wasted trip to Burger King and a television special.  Pray that these ‘coincidental meetings’ grow healthy fruit.

2012 December: My Provider has Provided

It’s nearly Christmas, I’m not even half ready, and I’m putting out a ministry report early… This report is about how God, and people, have ministered to me – how my Provider has provided…

In short review, the school bill turned out to be two bills, and a total beyond what I could pay with rent. My choice came down to keeping the job in North Indiana or moving to my parents’ home in Central Ohio (free rent & good cooking). Either choice had both good and not-so-desirable points. The one solution was to purchase and convert a box truck, but I was having difficulty finding one suitable, and my friends and family were having an impossible time of seeing value in that decision.

When you’re painted into a corner, talk to the Carpenter about a new door…

I told my employer and coworkers I would need to resign, but since our business is human services, I would hang in until the first week of January. Every time the decision was settled and I prepared to bid my friends farewell, someone would present another option – and that option would fall through. I got the paperwork to resign, and had it partially filled out, and there was another option, another waiting period. The director and I arranged to meet at 10am this morning, Wed, 12/19. The last option fell through on Sunday, and Monday, my coworker said “wait, there may be one more”.

Tuesday’s plan got completely scrambled – one critical thing got accomplished, shipping kitchen essentials to a deaf couple who lost their home to Hurricane Sandy. The rest of the day was a study in frustration, and I hadn’t heard from my coworker, with a decisive meeting looming. (cue the cliffhanger music) I went to bed befuddled and discouraged, no longer caring what the decision might be, but only that it would be securely made (and declared) by Him who knows the end of every path.

This morning, I woke with the strains of “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” running through my head. I am joyful when I take time to reflect on adoring God…I should do it more…and thus began (or resumed) our conversation.

My coworker arranged for me to meet the homeowner at 8:45 this morning (recall, resignation meeting with director is 10:00). I set the GPS for the address, and began driving through farmland between large houses. The address numbers went past what I was looking for, so I turned around (my car and I do this often). The numbers I sought were on a stone entryway with the hinges of an iron gate, and a long driveway lined with young trees leading to a stone and brick plantation house with a distinct center and wings on either side. I knocked softly, waiting for my coworker, and the door swung open to a friendly greeting and a foyer between two curved staircases. The view through the large windows along the back is inspiring, and I was told that the 2nd floor of the wing to the right would be mine – two bedrooms and a bath. The young man there now is the son of travelling evangelists, and will be moving out the end of the month. I will be moving in the first week of January.

She then told the story of how they came to own this house… Five years ago (when I was making earnest preparations to move for ministry training), her husband saw the empty house and decided on a whim to look it over. The following week, he brought his wife to look at it, and she believed that God was making arrangements for them to own this house, reason unknown. So they moved from where they had been for 16 years to where they now are and began renovations (he’s in the construction business). Perhaps my current need was their reason, she told me. Two daughters live in homes behind them, one on a farm with 25 horses and an open invitation for me to go riding. I plan to take them up on that offer, with joy!!

I’m not certain when the soundtrack in my mind switched over, but by the time I arrived at the office to meet with the director, I was singing an old chorus I grew up on:
“Living by faith in Jesus above…trusting, confiding in His great love…safe from all harm in His sheltering arm, I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.
I care not today what tomorrow may bring, shadows or sunshine or rain…the Lord I know ruleth o’er everything, and all of my worry is vain. Living by faith in Jesus above….trusting, confiding in His great love….safe from all harm in His sheltering arm, I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.”

It is December, and my Provider has provided, above what I would have asked or have thought.

p.s. – The meeting with the director included a short discussion on how capable a deaf person could be with our clients, if only given an opportunity. Pray that the opportunity is granted and expanded, as we have a couple of deaf clients in need of care and several deaf people in need of work.

Merry Christmas!