Monday, December 12, 2011

Luke 2:25-35 - Simeon Meets Jesus

Waiting - Who likes waiting?!?!?!? I remember when I was in college having to wait in line for everything!!!! Oh, the agony of standing in line to register for classes and not knowing if a space would still be available by the time you reached the table. I use to say that my social security number, and waiting in line were two of the most important things I learned while attending college!!!

As much as we dislike waiting, we actually can learn so much through the process. We live in a "I want it, and I want it now" society, but that is not the way God works. Read through His word and you will realize that when God calls His servants there is a time of waiting, or preparing before the call/promise is fulfilled.

The other day as I spent time with God, I was reading in Luke chapter 2. Yes, at this time of year, I usually find my way to this very familiar passage. But this year my eyes fell on a group of verses that usually don't get a lot of mention during the Christmas season - Luke 2:25-35. I have read these verses many times through the years, and was amazed again when I read them last week.

God gave Simeon a promise - he would see the Messiah before he died. But when God gave the promise, Simeon didn't know when it would be fulfilled. The Bible doesn't say, but I imagine Simeon went to the temple regularly, maybe even daily, to worship God. In his faithfulness to worshiping and serving God, he was in the right place at the right time to receive God's promise - seeing Jesus!

The Bible also doesn't say how long Simeon had to faithfully wait. I wonder if some days he thought it was all pointless because it was taking so long to receive the promise. Yet, he continued to go the temple and to worship God. He remained faithful to God even in the waiting. What if Simeon had woken up that morning and decided he was too tired to go to the temple again?!?!? Or what if he decided there was something more exciting for him to do that day instead of visiting the temple? Simeon would have missed meeting Jesus. He would have missed receiving God's promise! What an example of faithfulness for us to follow. Simeon faithfully waited for God to bring His call to reality, in His perfect timing.

"Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass." 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Even my DADDY gives "happies!"

God continues to blow my mind at how He knows every desire, need, and want of my heart. No, He doesn't always give me everything I ask for, or want. But there are times, for no other reason than to show off for me, He gives me a little "happy" to remind me that He knows every thought in the deep places of my heart.

Just last week I began to have a crazy desire. One of the soft drinks I have always loved is IBC Cream Soda. There is just something about cream sodas that bring a smile to my face and my heart. Now, I recognize that cream soda has absolutely no eternal value, but it is one of those things that I just really enjoy on this earth. I haven't really thought about cream sodas in a long time, but as I said, last week I began to have a real craving for it.

In the past two years of living in Tokyo, I have found several drinks that I enjoy, Diet Dr. Pepper, Ginger Ale, 7Up, Sprite, etc. but have never seen cream soda. I had just accepted that this would have to be one of those treats I would only be able to enjoy in America. Well, over this past weekend I went to one of our local convenience stores and saw a new Pepsi drink on the shelf. No, it wasn't cream soda, but it looked an awful lot like it. So, I decided to buy a bottle and see how it would taste. I was so surprised to find that it is VERY close to the taste of cream soda!!!! A sweet joy filled my heart as I drank that bottle of Pepsi "Caribbean Gold" because I knew that DADDY had heard my desire and gave me a little "happy."

As much as I was filled with joy over this little gift from God's hand, I was again reminded that the things He gives is not what really gives me this joy. No, it is God Himself that brings peace and joy to my heart. Nothing can substitute for His presence; nothing AT ALL!!!!! Yet, He still chooses to give me presents in addition to His presence.

God thank you for being a Good Father. A Father who knows how to give good gifts His children. But most importantly, You are a Father who gives all of Himself to us. You are my All in All!!!!!

Now, I wonder if something can be done about finding Cool-Whip here in Tokyo!!! Too much to ask? Well, we will see!!!!!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Saturday, March 26

Well, it has been a few days since I last posted an update. There has not been any real new news to share until this morning. We received word early this morning that we are being allowed to return to Tokyo on a voluntary basis. Since it is only 8:30AM on a Saturday morning here, I have not yet spoken with other missionaries about they are deciding to do. Our leadership has spoken at length with an expert in the field of "all things nuclear" (he has even been a source used by Fox News, and CNN over the past couple of weeks) about our situation. They also contacted him last week before making the decision to evacuate. At that time he was 100% in agreement that we should leave based on the information that was given at that time. New information has been gained over the past week, and he agrees that it is safe for us to return to Tokyo.

I don't know specifics of when our return will actually happen, but I do know that I am ready to get back. I have received emails from a volunteer agency I have worked with in the past. This group will be preparing supplies to send up north. Our own IMB missionaries who are currently in Kyoto and Osaka have worked together to prepare rice and other essential supplies, and a few men are taking these things to the areas in greatest need. Those of us in Fukuoka do not have personal vehicles so our ability to help is more limited, but thankfully nothing limits our prayers (except ourselves) and those have been going out in mass supply!!!!!

So, that is the latest from my corner of the world. God is good, He is faithful, and He is answering prayers!!!! Don't miss an opportunity today to tell someone of the deeds He has done!!!!

"When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterwards you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And being with you, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever...it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds." Psalm 73:21-28

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tuesday, March 22

Yesterday was a fun and interesting day! We headed out in the morning to begin exploring our "new" city. As we were walking down the sidewalk some ladies in kimono approached us and asked if we would like to give a donation to the relief effort. For our donation we would receive a Japanese sweet treat and a cup of tea ceremony green tea (it is different from the green tea you buy in a vending machine). Now try to get this picture in your head, four Americans walking up to a tent filled with Japanese ladies who are learning to perform a proper tea ceremony, and several tv cameras with reporters and sound microphones. They begin recording our every move; from placing our donations in the box, to sitting down on the benches, to eating and drinking. I SO wanted to take some pictures, but with tv cameras in our faces it would not have been appropriate. So, there we sat with straight backs, big smiles on our faces, trying to be sure to drink the tea in the correct way. Yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to drink the green tea for a tea ceremony. There is a proper way to hold the cup, and then you must turn it one way, take a sip, then turn it back. Again, all of this is happening while the cameras are rolling!!!! Then the report walks over to our missionary host and begins asking her questions in Japanese. She shares with him that the three of us have left Tokyo because of the possible danger there. Well, now it becomes like flies attracted to spilt honey. When we were finished with our sweet and tea we stepped out from the tent and another reporter began asking me if I felt the quake and if I was ok. When I told here about what I felt her expression changed to real concern that I was alright. After we returned home a couple of the neighbors called our host couple to tell them they had seen us on the local evening news!

As we were walking through a small park, Nancy had the opportunity to talk with a Japanese mom and her son in English. Nancy shared a manga with them and asked the mom to please read it and get in touch if she had questions or wanted to know more about the story. The manga is actually the book of Luke put into manga form (comic book). So, even just walking the streets God's Word was shared yesterday.

Our leadership is planning to meet again Friday to discuss "what now," for the mission personnel. Thank you for your continued prayers for everyone (American and Japanese) involved in this situation.

A verse that has ministered to my heart since Sunday is Colossians 1:17. "He (Christ) is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." When we feel like the world around us is falling apart we should remember that Christ holds all things together. How comforting to know this fact about our Savior. No matter what we are walking through or dealing with, our God is in control and His hands are big enough to hold all the pieces firmly together!

Off to see what God's adventure for us today will be......

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Monday, March 21

It is a rainy Monday morning here in Fukuoka. We will be heading out into our "new" city today to learn how to get around. All of the m's are now safely in new locations. We are all now from Kyoto, south and west to Fukuoka. Please pray that as we settle into our new locations we will adjust quickly so we can also begin to minister to our new neighbors.

Yesterday we had a sweet time of worship together at home. It was good to dig into God's Word and hear how He is speaking to each of us. Nancy asked if we needed the over head light on so we could read better, and I immediately thought, "No, we need to conserve the electricity." Even after a week, a mindset/habit was formed. We went out to eat lunch and then to the grocery to pick up a few "comfort food" items. It was comforting to see shelves fully stocked with food. And the prices are lower here. Confirmation once again that Tokyo really is the most expensive city.

I still have moments when it feels as though the ground is moving. I stop and think, "Is that another one?" It is all in my mind, but it still feels so incredibly real.

The following verses and song were on my heart this morning during my time with DADDY. I wanted to share them because no matter what a follower of Christ is walking through, these can bring His peace and comfort.

"I (The LORD) said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:9b-10

The sky is gray and the light is far
The sea is a rage within my heart
I turn my sight to the crashing waves
I cry in the night just to be saved

'Cause I need eyes to be my guide
I need a voice that's louder than mine
I need hope and I need You
'Cause I can't do this alone

Grace, I call Your name
Oh, won't Your smile fall over me
I'm cracked and dry on hands and knees
Oh sweet grace, rain down on me, I need You, grace

I pray for dawn, a new day to live
I pray for mercy, only Jesus gives
Though darkness falls and a million cry
I believe over all there's a greater light shining for us

'Cause I need eyes to be my guide
I need a voice that's louder than mine
I need hope and I need You
'Cause I can't do this alone

I need You, grace
I call You, grace
I need You, grace
Amazing grace
I need You, grace

"Grace," Phil Wickham

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sunday, March 20 - Now Coming to You From Fukuoka!

Well, we have safely arrived in Fukuoka, Japan! Yesterday was a good day, just very long! We left Tokyo around 11:30am and traveled south/west for about 7 hours to Kyoto. We were in one of two vans traveling together. In Kyoto, myself and the three other singles were dropped off at the Kyoto train station so we could catch the bullet train to Fukuoka. This was my first time traveling by bullet train, and was a little sad it was at night because I couldn't see much of the view. Oh well, being an American tourist isn't the purpose of this trip now is it? So, the train ride was a little less than 3 hours, and we arrived in Fukuoka around 10:00pm. By the time we got to the home where we are now staying it was close to 11:00pm, and I was in the bed a little past midnight. As I said, it was a good day, just very long.

Most of the m's are located in the Osaka area. The four singles and one other family have relocated here to Fukuoka. Again, we do not know how long we will be here. We are all praying that it won't be long!!!!

We did get word that the family from Sendai was able to get on one of the buses provided by the US Government, and should have arrived in Tokyo late Saturday night. This family and another couple will depart Tokyo this morning (Sunday), and head to Osaka to join the other m's there. We are all so thankful they were able to get on the bus from Sendai.

As we traveled yesterday, we stopped a couple of times to rest and fill the vans with gas. It felt a little strange to walk into the convenience stores and see the shelves fully stocked. I haven't seen that in a week. Of course, the further away from Tokyo that we got, the more life was "normal."

Our M host told us on the drive to her house last night, that a beach is not far from their home! I am looking forward to some time with DADDY while I am here, listening to His voice on the water, and feeling His touch in the wind. Yes, I am out of Tokyo, but this is far from over. I realized as I crawled into bed last night, just how tired I was. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. Now, please don't read more into that statement than I am intending to share - I really am great!!!!! It is just that I realized what a toll the events of the last week really did take on me. Last night was the first night in 8 nights that I did not sleep fully dressed. We were having so many aftershocks that I just felt better prepared that way. When I stepped in the shower this morning, I was not worried that another tremor/quake would happen at that moment. Now, these are SO minor compared to what so many people are living with each day. Please do not think I am complaining at all. I am deeply humbled and grateful to have the provisions I do, and to be with a company that takes SUCH good care of it's people! I really am blessed beyond what I deserve!

We will have worship this morning with our hosts here in their home. I am looking forward to worshipping our amazing God with them today. We will have a few days to just catch our breath, and then we will see what each day "holds" after that.

Please continue your prayers for me, the other m's, our Japanese friends who many of us left as we were evactuated, and the many people still suffering in the worst hit areas. Also, a bit of info about the work going on at the nuclear site. I have been told my several friends that the Japanese man in charge of getting the electrical lines reconnected at the nuclear plant is a Christian. We have not officially confirmed this information, but again I have heard it from different/unconnected friends. As I have said many times before, God is at work in this country!

Well, guess I better close for now. Be His witness today in the place He has planted you!

This is the song God has put on my heart today:
"Oh Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder; Thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, My Savior, God to Thee. 'How great Thou art. How great Thou art.' Then sings my soul, My Savior, God to Thee. 'How great Thou art. How great Thou art.'

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing; Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in; That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin. Then sings my soul, My Savior, God to Thee. 'How great Thou art. How great Thou art.' Then sings my soul, My Savior, God to Thee. 'How great Thou art. How great Thou art.'

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation, and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart. Then I shall bow, in humble adoration, and then proclaim: 'My God, how great Thou art!' Then sings my soul, My Savior, God to Thee. 'How great Thou art. How great Thou art.' "

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Friday, 3/18

Well, as I have mentioned in a previous post, each morning brings new news! This morning the first call of the day was to inform me that we were being told to evacuate Tokyo by tomorrow (Saturday). Honestly, that was not the news I wanted to hear. I am sure many of you are thinking, "I would want to get out of there as fast as I could." That couldn't be further from what I am thinking right now. But we are people who live under authority, so when my leaders say "go," I go.

I did have a bag mostly packed yesterday before I went to bed last night. But today it has been packed and repacked a few times. Each time, a few more things are taken out. I have to keep telling myself that this is not permanent. I will return. I am not leaving these "things" with so many memories attached forever. But then I stop and realize, does it really matter if I were leaving them for the last time? I have gone through the apartment and taken all non-replaceable photos out of their frames and packed them in my bag. Other than that I only have clothes, important papers/documents, and basic toiletries packed. Any of you who know me well know this process has not been easy. I have thought several times over the past couple of days that it was just two years ago during this time that I was coming to the end of two months of packing up, giving away, or throwing out all of my earthly belongings in order to sell and move out of my house. I wonder if I will ever learn God's lesson about storing up treasures here on this earth!!!!!!

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

OK, I guess in this case I could add to the list in these verses, "where you have to walk away from them because of a natural disaster." I said to another missionary yesterday that this experience has left an impression on me as far as shopping. The next time I am walking through one of my favorite shops I hope I stop and ask myself, "Do you really need that teacup? Will it really matter if you end up having to walk away from it?" Oh how I desire to not be so attached to earthly belongings. "Lord, I am trying to learn. Please continue to be patient with me."

So, we are heading to Fukuoka, Japan tomorrow sometime before noon. We will travel by van from Tokyo to Kyoto, then most likely take a bullet train from there on to Fukuoka. The couple driving the van will stay with IMB personnel in Kyoto while the four singles will travel by train. We will be staying with two mission families until leadership decides it is safe to return. The van ride will include 6 adults and one cat, plus our luggage (one bag per person), and will probably be 5+ hours. Not exactly sure on that, but have heard the bullet train between Tokyo and Kyoto is about 3 hours, so I added a couple since we will NOT be on the bullet train tomorrow. Now, doesn't that sound like a fun van ride to you?!?!?!?! I am thankful to have a van to travel in, so not really complaining.

Trying to look at this journey as the "glass half full." I will be seeing a part of Japan I have not seen, nor would I have probably ever gone. I have been trying to visit Kyoto ever since I arrived, so at least I will be able to say I stepped foot in Kyoto. Won't really get to see the "sights," but for now that is ok. I have also thought it would be really neat to go to the Japan Sea side of Japan so I could put my toes in the Sea of Japan. So far in my life I have stepped in the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico, and the mouth of the Amazon. One more body of water would be cool. Well, Fukuoka is on the Sea of Japan side of the country. Maybe I will get to put my toes in that water after all. Oooo, just realized, might need to paint those toes first. hahahahaha!!! I have also wanted to ride the bullet train. Yes, I have lived in Japan for almost 2 years and have not ridden the bullet train. BTW, it is expensive to buy a ticket for the train. It is basically like buying a plane ticket. But with this journey, looks like I might get to ride the bullet train too. I hope if you are reading this post you also know my heart well. I realize that in light of the events taking place in the northern part of Japan, these things I have just listed are so trivial. Again, just trying to keep a sense of humor and looking at "the bright side" of this situation.

Guess I better go. Need to do some more cleaning and packing before it too much more of this day goes away. Again, for those of you who know me well, you know that I am not the Queen of Neat Freaks. In fact on the cabinet just inside my front door, I have a plaque that reads, "Welcome to my loose interpretation of clean." :) So, got a bit to do before laying my head on the pillow tonight. No worries, it will get done before I leave.

Thanks again for your prayers. As I have mentioned on my FaceBook posts, I really do have God's peace that passes all human understanding. I believe that is in large part because of your faithful prayers for me and the people of this country. Please don't stop praying. I heard yesterday that there has been another new believer!!!! Praise the LORD! God IS being glorified in this nation of the rising sun!!!! Again, wouldn't it be amazing to one day see Japan as The Land of the Risen Son?!?!?!

Signing off from Tokyo. Catch up after reaching Fukuoka!!!!!