words

Words – A Letter of Hope

Dear Friend

I’ve never been more aware of the power of words.

Living in a foreign country….Learning a new language….Being a wife and a new mommy….Trying to keep in touch with friends and family I have not seen for years….Praying….Reading….Writing this blog.

Words matter!  That includes the words we read and listen to as well as the ones we speak and write, the new words we learn and the old ones we teach, the words that were spoken to us in the past, and the words we’re speaking into the future.

Sometimes we stutter and stumble, and other times we speak too fast, too much, too soon.

Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. – Proverbs 17:28

Life is not a draft that can be edited.  Once uttered, a word cannot be deleted.  Interestingly, public speaking is one of the top three fears among people in general, probably because we fear the judgment of the masses regarding what we say.

On the other hand, while fearing to speak before crowds, we seem to have no fear at all in our daily communication with others when we complain, nag, judge, gossip, and vent our opinions seeking “disciples” of our words and thoughts..

We’re all guilty!  And I’m not pointing a finger, I’m raising my hand in confession.  As a writer and poet, it’s especially hard NOT to speak when words always bubble up in my head.  I’m learning that the harder I try to explain myself, the more I feel misunderstood. 

I’m also finding that unless I’m willing to be sensitive to the “language” of the people around me, I will be limited to superficial relationships because effective listening requires proper understanding.

Words only have power because they communicate a message. To be effective, words have to be bundled together with honesty and sincerity.  It doesn’t help to be “men pleasers” by saying what you think people want to hear because you will probably be wrong anyhow (and I’m still learning this every day).  The truth only hurts once, but lies hurt forever.

And the truth truly spoken in love doesn’t hurt half as much as a lie.

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.  Proverbs 15:1

There is hope because words can encourage, inspire, and change lives, especially when the words spoken are not your own but the Word of God.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. – Romans 12:2

Our minds can only be renewed if “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

At the end of the day, our words reflect what’s going on in our minds and in our hearts.  Perhaps if we would choose the words we read and listen to more carefully, they would begin to transform our minds and hearts.

If my words don’t speak life and carry hope, there is no point in writing.

If your words don’t speak truth and carry love, there is no point in speaking.

My prayer is that you will count your words today and that your words will count.

Love

Dorette

Parenthood & Faith

Parenthood & Faith

I’m only two months into ‘parenthood’ and I’m already surprised how much I have learned about the Father’s heart for us.  In order to be good parents and guide these small human beings through this life, we first need to be guided.

If our walk with God is real, it will provide footsteps for our children to follow.  Footsteps of faith will lead them closer, as we also grow closer, to Our Heavenly Father.  Parenthood and faith are journeys, and every journey starts with a single step.

  • Both journeys begin at birth.

Without a birth, it’s impossible to be a parent. Without being “born again” it’s impossible to be a true believer.”Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” – John 3:3

Being reborn is not the “repeat after me prayer” you prayed once in third grade.  Birth is a memorable, breath-taking, life-changing experience.

  • And your life will change.

It’s impossible to stay the same if you learn to love someone else more than you love yourself.  The change might be hard and slow.  The chipping away of selfishness and pride doesn’t come easy.  However, if a true encounter with love doesn’t change your life, nothing will.

  • It’s all about love.

Love is so much more than that wonderful feeling of holding a newborn in your arms.  Love is God and God is love: this is the basic equation for life.  Without Him, we are simply not capable of loving.  We have a lot to learn about love, and if we desire to learn, both parenthood and faith make great Teachers.

  • Do it by the Book.

It’s one thing to be religious, to know your Bible and theology, and to follow rules and regulations. It’s something else to have faith, to trust in the Unseen, and to have hope in God. It is possible to know all about something without experiencing it.  It is also possible to experience something without knowing everything about it.

In the same way, we can read many books, blogs and articles about parenthood and even more about faith without actually experiencing one or the other. In a relationship, it is not about head knowledge…it’s about the one-on-one experience.

  • Every relationships is unique.

The most foolish thing we can do in regards to personal experiences is to compare. There is no perfect formula to achieving a good relationship. Developing a personal relationship is like a journey on which you either grow closer to your companion or further apart. You also have to make an investment of time to secure a relationship.

In the wise words of Dr Anthony P Witham: “Children spell love T-I-M-E”

It’s also true about our relationship with God. We must choose to take time for Him.  We have to choose to make Him our top priority.  Our Heavenly Father doesn’t force His love on us.

  • We have the freedom to choose

Just as we want our children to make good decisions as they get older, we need to make a decision every day to keep on choosing to follow Christ. Parenthood and faith are not about one great decision but rather choices and decisions we make every day. 

  • Sometimes we will make bad decisions.

This is also how we learn. Very few bad decisions are fatal. Our children will surely grow up regardless of our mistakes.  God is a loving Father who does not reject us because of our failures and mistakes. If we’re not too proud to admit our shortcomings and confess our sins, He pours out His love, forgiveness, and healing.

  • Sacrifices will be part of the journey.

In order to hold our children, or to hold on to our faith, we have to let go of many earthly things. Our reward will be little arms hugging our necks and treasures in heaven as we live this life in the Light of the greatest Sacrifice of all!

Perhaps Our Father gave us children because we need to be reminded on a daily basis that we need to become like children….

“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

….And that we are His children.

“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26 KJV

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” Luke 11:13 KJV

fifty shades

Black, White.. or Fifty Shades of Grey

Dear Friend,

We live in a time where the lines are getting blurred a little bit more each day, making it hard to choose a side and stay on it.

It’s impossible to stand up for something without resistance, because the gravity of society is real.  You need supernatural strength to swim against the stream, and it’s so much easier to float, to simply go with the most popular opinion or to say nothing…to shut your eyes and pretend that you’re not seeing anything… to close your fists and convince yourself that you do not have to do anything.

Because if you stand up for something you believe in or if you stand up against something you know is wrong, you’re “judged” as being “judgmental”.

If you pursue something with all your heart, even those leaning in the same direction are often quick to call you a “radical” or “freak”.

If you choose a side – any side for that matter – it will be easy to find hundreds of articles on the internet to back you up as “research”, and those of the opposing view will likewise have an equal stash of “research” to support their side of the matter.

If you add up the time you spend doing this “research”, you will realize how much time is wasted sitting on the side-line rather than engaging in the real battle.

And because we’re spending so much time in grey areas, we’re trying to justify grey as a color in it’s own right although deep down we know it’s simply a mixture of black and white.

If something that was white becomes grey – no matter what shade – it’s easy to make it black. On the other hand, making it white again is not so easy.

I could as well have said, “hot”, “cold” or any degree of “lukewarm”.  It’s the same concept.

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot:  I would thou wert cold or hot. So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” – Revelation 3:15-20 KJV

There is no time to experiment with “different shades of grey”, trying to see how far we can deviate from the perfect “white” of the Light of the World and still claim to be living in it.  If we take the time to even think about whether we should read a book or watch a movie that we know is so far from God’s will for our lives, we’re playing with fire.  Our eyes and ears are the windows to our souls.

Our only Hope is standing at the door knocking, and we cannot let Him in halfway. It’s all or nothing….hot or cold….black or white.

We’re called to live holy lives and to be light…to be white.  And yes, we need His light to shine into our own dark places first before we can become guides for the blind.  Otherwise, our sinful nature which is easily tempted with black ideas and willing to experiment with the dark side will rule and reign, making us feel more comfortable living in the grey areas where our sins are not revealed.

Today I would like to challenge you to make a choice and take a stand to throw the door wide open and let Him all in!  He alone is able to wash us and make us whiter than snow and change us into His glorious image.

Wanderlust

Wanderlust

“A strong desire to travel.”

It all starts with a simple idea involving a map, perhaps a fantasy of “seeing the world”, a Google search, and a passport application.

Perhaps a dream of living overseas or working on a cruise ship is spun from reading travel blogs and magazines or photos of exotic or far-away places…

Because the mere “desire” to travel will never satisfy, the dream (usually) begins to transform into reality through saving, planning, and packing.

It becomes real with the first stamp in your passport and the thrill of crossing a border or flying over the Atlantic Ocean.

You can finally taste, smell, and hear the “reality” as you “arrive” at your destination and walk along the streets amidst the locals who are speaking an unfamiliar language and eating foods that are very foreign to your taste buds.  You become immersed in the culture and are surrounded by new sights and sounds and may even feel the climate and temperature difference on your skin.

Fourteen stamps later and the possibilities become greater, not less. The feeling only becomes stronger the more you feed it, like any other addiction.  Some addictions are simply more socially acceptable than others, perhaps even admired.

Is it true that “not all those who wander are lost”?  Or, have we gone astray by thinking that it’s okay to wander and even lust, as long as the lust is after wandering?

Isn’t it ironic that we could actually end up “going to the nations” not to preach the gospel or make disciples for Christ but to satisfy our lust to wander?  After all, it’s really not that difficult to save enough money for tickets to “go”.  Somehow, we all hope to “find ourselves” by getting lost rather than seeking others who are lost.

If I have learned anything from my own travels and life in Asia for the past two years, it is that one is more likely to “lose oneself” in another country, especially if one’s life is not built on a solid foundation.  Even the heart of the wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, was “turned away after other gods” due to compromise with the ways of other peoples and nations. [1 Kings 11:4]

It is often not the desire to do evil, but curiosity, that gets us into trouble; and I’m guessing that the majority of people struck by “wanderlust” are curious and inquisitive, as one speaking from personal experience.

However, about a year ago, I had a change of heart.  I began to desire more for “the world to see” than “to see the world”.  Nevertheless, I would still find it difficult to resist a fully-paid plane ticket to another new destination.

I believe some desires can be God-given as long as they are driven by purpose and not by pleasure;  after all, the Kingdom of God is NEVER just about us.

I’m not telling you that I think it would be better to stay at home if you feel the “wanderlust” tugging at your heart, because being too comfortable where you are might be just as destructive as traveling to collect stamps in your passport.

I suggest praying about it and going with a purpose, on a mission, an outreach, or even as a volunteer. Go, as long as you can, and if you feel called to do so.  Then, consider staying, serving, learning the language and loving the locals, keeping in mind that the world needs open hands much more than it needs open minds.

You might even be surprised to find more joy in purpose than you could ever find through pleasure-seeking.

And remember, at the end of the day, “we are strangers before [God], and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.”  [1 Chronicles 29:15 KJV]

Or as C.S Lewis put it:

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

dirty diapers of life

The Dirty Diapers of Life

In six weeks, a new-born baby probably dirties at least 300 diapers.

Because we’ve decided to use cloth diapers, every diaper changed also needs to be washed.  In other words, I’m spending quite a lot of time handling dirty diapers (just in case you might be wondering where the inspiration for this post came from).

Washing dirty diapers is not the most glamorous duty; however, I know that it is economical as well as better for the environment without contributing the extra 2,788 disposable nappies per baby per year to the total trash accumulated on the planet.  Still, somehow, it doesn’t exactly feel like I’m “saving the planet” while I’m sitting in the backyard scrubbing dirty diapers.

It’s humbling, to say the least, and, somehow, I can’t imagine anyone posting on Facebook: “Just washed seven dirty diapers again today…feeling awesome!”  However, I would like to share a few ideas why I think we’re missing out on life by not sharing our “dirty diaper” stories.

LIFE is not a series of memorable moments where we are all cleaned-up and dressed-up, neat and pretty, smiling at the camera.  It is also full of ordinary “dirty diaper moments” that we would rather avoid, hide, throw away, or forget.  We also choose to edit out the really stinky parts of life where sin has defiled us.

LOVE is not all moon light, roses and the fresh smell of baby powder.  It is all about the willingness to get up at three o’clock in the morning to change a dirty diaper – even if you are dead tired.  Love is unconditional and ready to meet the need.

HOPE does not ignore the dirty and smelly parts of life, praying that it will somehow stay covered up or disappear.  To hope is to know that something will change even if we have to confront it with soap and a bucket of water, trusting that the stains will come out and the garment will be made clean again.

CLEANSING requires us to cry out to God for help, knowing that our lives are messy so we need changing.  We can’t clean ourselves any more than a newborn baby can change his own diaper.  We need a power greater than bleach to take the stains of sin away and make us whiter than snow.  It takes the blood of Jesus.

Psalm 51:5-7 KJV “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow…”

By not being honest about our messy lives, not admitting that we are sinners saved by grace, we pretend that we only have “neat and pretty camera days” which is a false reality.  We also make others feel ashamed and reluctant to share their “dirty diaper” stories.

We try to hide instead of sharing…cover up instead of confessing…and deceive ourselves rather than receiving forgiveness while missing out on the refreshing that comes from being washed and made clean.  How wonderful it is to be washed by the blood of Jesus, to be loved by our Heavenly Father, to be changed, and to be renewed on a daily basis.

We cannot share the gospel with others without first admitting that we need to be washed, and washed, and washed…again and again.