Thursday, November 10, 2011

Glimpses of Joy

These past couple of days I've been noticing a little change going on within me.  And I'm thrilled!  Now, its a small change, but change nonetheless.  I've found my mood lightening a bit and have sensed/felt glimpses of joy!  Can I get a hearty "hallelujah!"?

So, this is a pretty big deal as I have been in quite a rough spot since we arrived in Portugal.  It has just been hard.  Plain hard.  We left a life of transition and landed in another one, but this time in a foreign country in which we don't know the language, don't have our friends and family here with us, and don't have the resources that we are used to having.  On top of all that, the house in which we were so excited to get into was/is cold and unfurnished.  Our downstairs neighbor smokes and as we all know, smoke rises.  Our bathroom got this horrible "chemical" smell that we could not figure out.  And did I mention I am 7 months pregnant?  ;) The list goes on.  Hard.  It has been hard.  

So, its been hard on me and my spirit.  BUT, God has been faithful.  My times with Him have been rich.  He was been with me, giving me words of encouragement and grace for each day.  Helping me to get through my days with hope for better to come.  

And one day, recently, I woke up, went about my day and noticed those "down" feelings weren't quite as heavy anymore.  I was experiencing a bit of joy in the midst of hard times.  You see, not much has changed externally.  We still live in a mostly unfurnished house, it is still cold (but not as much--**more on this in a minute!!!), we still don't know the language nor have our family and friends with us YET I've felt glimpses of joy.  Where did they come from?  Prayers.  Yup.  Your prayers, my prayers.  Tears.  God is so faithful.  

"The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16).

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted 

   and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18)

 "I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; 
   he heard my cry for mercy. " (Psalm 116:1)

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.  

They are new every morning;
great is (His) your faithfulness. (Lam. 3:22)

You make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

**Our team leaders lent us a couple of space heaters and our land lord brought us two more heaters and taught us how to use them.  What a HUGE blessing! I never knew how much my mood was being affected by the sheer simple fact that I was cold!  I just have never experienced that before.  I turn on the space heater in the bathroom and a smile comes to my face.  Really!  I feel stress melting off me and I can relax a bit.  I am thankful.

So, thank you to all who pray.  Pray for me, my family and others who are in need.  God is hearing and answering, and I am so very thankful.  Please continue!

I see glimpses of joy and get excited at what's to come.  :)

Warmest blessings,

Thursday, November 3, 2011

So, what's the deal with our attachment to "stuff"?

Well, I've been thinking about this question quite a bit these past few weeks.  Now, don't worry, I promise to write up a post with pics of our "house in recent progress" here soon.  Bear with me though now as I process "out loud" a bit via this post.

I know that as Americans (is it just us?), for whatever reason, we love "stuff".  I remember back when we first started our journey of moving overseas two and a half years ago and doing multiple phases of "purging" our stuff.  We had lots of stuff.  Some of high value (maybe not monetarily but in other ways) and tons of low value.   I was amazed at how many times we "went through" our stuff and either gave away or sold the things we didn't need--so many times!

Of course, I know that our situation is was not the norm, most people don't get rid of almost all their possessions but I do know people go through seasons of cleaning out their houses, getting rid of stuff they don't use anymore and just overall, simplifying.  And it is a great feeling to be free from gobs of clutter and have an organized home, I've been there.

But, that is not what I am talking about necessarily.  I'm thinking along even more basic lines.  Again, I know this is not most people's "norm" but bear with me here.  I'm thinking about living with just your basic needs met and not much more.  We recently moved into our house here (its been about a week now) and  it has been super hard not having "stuff"! And I'm talking your basics here, couches, tables, chairs, furniture in general.  Not to mention the things that give a house its "homey" touch, decor and such.  We have beds--Praise God!  Borrowed linens--so thankful for our teammates.  And we have a fridge, stove, microwave, and a small kitchen table--SO thankful to be able to cook meals for my family!

But, what is it in me that desires those things? Couches, tables, lamps, rugs, decorations.  (I even found myself desiring the familiar "junk drawer" the other day!)  Is it because that is what I am used to?  All my life I've had all those things.  The people around me had those things.  But then the thought comes to mind that even with what "little" I do have right now, I have more than so many other people in this world.  And I think, truly, I have all I need: shelter, food, family.  Am I satisfied with that?  Shouldn't I be?  Honestly?  No, I'm not.   I feel bad saying that but deep down inside I long for a home I can call a "home."  One with furniture and all the  cozy, warm things that fill it.

God promises to supply us with all we need.  He has done that for me and I am ever so grateful.  I am thankful too though, that he is a lavish God who loves to give good gifts to His children (Matt. 7:11).

 And so, I land on that--being ever so aware and thankful that He has provided for my needs yet also expectant for the way He will provide for my desire to have a home I can call a "home."  What ever that turns out to look like.  He likes to give good gifts to His children.  :)

Thanks for letting me process.
Janice :)