10 Different Homes in 10 Different Cities?

No, I am not wealthy and do not own 10 different homes in 10 different cities, I wish 🙂 But then where to have them? I love so many places I have visited and so many cultures I have interacted with. But this is not about where to have homes. It is about a comment someone made to me, an observation shared with me.

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Many years ago a chaplain at a treatment center told me, “Matt you are the kind of person who could have ten different homes in ten different cities and you would thrive not just be okay.” When he said that to me, I had the blank look of ‘I don’t get it’ on my face because at the time I was numb to life and only knew I was confused, but that comment from him stuck in my head.

Fast forward to now and I understand what he was getting at. God wires each of us uniquely for what he is calling us to do. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are his craftsmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works….” It seems from birth, relating with diverse people has been an interest of mine.  People different from me have always been a fascination of learning for me. When the chaplain observed me at that treatment center, he observed me interacting with the various groups and being at ease with them all.

That has benefited me in my ministry and work with other cultures. My home city of Lincoln is now VERY diverse. Our public school system has children from over 100 different languages. A big reason for that is refugee resettlement. Lincoln is a designated refugee resettlement city. We also have international students and immigrants. Yes Lincoln, the city in the middle of nowhere, is very diverse. On any given day, I might interact with several different cultures.

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from my birthday 10 years ago with friends from Belgium, Brazil, Congo, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea, Ukraine, and Vietnam

For example, one Friday, I taught my morning class for moms from Mexico, Guatemala, Burma, Iraq, and Syria. Then I went to have coffee with friends from South Korea. Then I had a ministry appointment with someone from Vietnam. In the evening I had dinner with friends from Brazil.

That is how God wired me. Each of us is given talents and abilities and is wired differently to express God’s love. For me when I reach out to refugees, I feel what Mother Teresa said about working with the poor when she said in them she sees the face of Jesus in distressing disguise. I feel a connection to what Jesus said when he said, For God so loved the world….”

So I guess what I am getting at is that for those of us who call ourselves Christian, let’s try to remember that we have been given abilities from God to reach out and show his love to those around us. God is the craftsman and we are his craftsmanship. God has gifted us to feel at home in what he has called us to do.

How has God gifted you?

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Fell Asleep and Missed the Opportunity

It is a bit humorous for me to remember it. It was late August of 1991 and late in the afternoon that day. I had spent the night before driving from Lincoln to Minneapolis a 430 mile drive . It was also the night before registration day at school. Early in the morning, I went to register for my classes and buy my textbooks for the semester. Other students invited me to a Minnesota Twins versus Seattle Mariner baseball game. I had never been to a professional baseball game before, so I jumped on the chance and went with them.

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To say I was tired is an understatement. I was exhausted. I had driven six hours the night before and had little sleep. Registration was crazy and hectic. There was no online back registration back then. But it was my first ever professional baseball game, so it didn’t matter whether I was a Twins fan or not. It was just exciting for me to be there.

We sat in the hard plastic shell seats which were about as comfortable as sitting in a classroom chair all day. Even though I drank a large coke for the caffeine to stay awake, I fell asleep in the hard plastic chair about halfway through the game partly because it was a scoreless boring game up to that point and mostly because I was EXHAUSTED.

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Suddenly the crowd broke out in a roaring cheer so loud that it woke me up. Kirby Puckett had just hit the game winning home run to break the 0 to 0 tie at the end of the game to give Minnesota the win. I missed it. I missed the only score of the game and the game winning score no less because I had fallen asleep.

The disciples, Jesus’s closest followers, fell asleep shortly after Jesus asked them to watch and pray while he prayed the night he was arrested.

Sadly sometimes I have fallen asleep while praying.

I don’t want to miss opportunities to share the love of Jesus because I am not awake spiritually. My time in this life is growing shorter by the day. We only have a certain allotted number of days in this life.

I love the bible verse Galatians 6:10:

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

My desire is to show the love of Jesus through my actions and to take each opportunity God gives me. I don’t want to ‘fall asleep’ spiritually. What may seem small to us, can seem HUGE to others. I don’t want to miss an opportunity to show the love of Jesus. There is so much suffering in this world and so many people who are searching for someone to show them they care.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Doctor- ‘You are now a healthy man’ Reaction-‘What Do I Do Now?”

It was in April 1996 that I heard these words from my doctor, “Matt, you are now a healthy man. It’s a miracle you didn’t die.”

So the natural first reaction is:

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Jump for Joy, right?

Well I did celebrate at first. Who wouldn’t after going through what I went through from 1993 to that day in April 1996. The tests, the doctors appointments, the symptoms, the complete changing of my life would all be behind me.

But then another thought hit me, “Oh No!!!! What do I do now?”

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I had a similar reaction to the character Stella Abbott had in the new show Life Sentence. She had cancer for eight years and then she found out she was cured after getting married thinking it would only be for six months or so until she died. She had the “Oh No!!! Now what do I do” reaction.

I didn’t have cancer. It was autoimmune issue number 2 for me. First it was asthma. The second? Nothing serious unless it is not diagnosed until it is too late (in my case it almost was) my thyroid stopped working. By the time they found it, I was about to go into heart, liver, and kidney failure. I had lost memory. I had left the school where I was studying for the ministry in April 1994. When I came back to my home city, I thought it was to die because of the decline I was experiencing. I was working part-time delivering pizza just to scratch out almost survival living. I had left everything behind and then came those words, “Matt you are now a healthy man.”

An illness can be an intrusive interruption of life. When we are sick for a prolonged period of time, no matter what the illness is, and then hear we will be okay, yes there is a relief, but there is also the rebuilding of one’s life to start on. For me it meant transferring to a school in a city one hour away, continuing to work, and trusting God to make sense of it all for me as I started to pick up the pieces with his help.

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I was literally trusting in the truth of what is written in Romans 8:28:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

There were the one hour drives to class, four hours of being in class, and one hour drives back home. There were different tries of new jobs. It was through my first three trips to Romania that God led me to teach ESL, but that is a story for another day.

I thank God for the people he put in my life during that time. One such friend passed away a few years ago and is with the Lord now. Joel and his wife Marlys were a huge blessing. One day my car broke down as I was driving to my class. I called Joel hoping to get a ride back to my city. He came and towed my car back to my city. There were others God put in my life too, but if I list them all the post will be way too long.

Here is the ‘plot twist’ so to speak in the story of my life. I am not happy I went through those years; one year getting sick, two years being sick, one year recovering, two more years to finish my education, but I am grateful for what those years did for me. Going through suffering, the doubt, and regrouping not knowing how it would work out, has given me a lot of empathy for my refugee and immigrant friends God has called me to help. I hope to be as good of a friend to them as Joel and Marlys were to me.

If you are experiencing an “Oh no” moment, hang on because God has a hold of you.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

10 Different Homes in 10 Different Cities?

This is a post I shared when i first returned to blogging last year at this time. I wanted to share it again. 🙂

No, I am not wealthy and do not own 10 different homes in 10 different cities, I wish 🙂 But then where to have them? I love so many places I have visited and so many cultures I have interacted with. But this is not about where to have homes. It is about a comment someone made to me, an observation shared with me.

berchtesgaden-alpine-watzmann-berchtesgaden-national-park-957002.jpeg

Many years ago a chaplain at a treatment center told me, “Matt you are the kind of person who could have ten different homes in ten different cities and you would thrive not just be okay.” When he said that to me, I had the blank look of ‘I don’t get it’ on my face because at the time I was numb to life and only knew I was confused, but that comment from him stuck in my head.

Fast forward to now and I understand what he was getting at. God wires each of us uniquely for what he is calling us to do. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are his craftsmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works….” It seems from birth, relating with diverse people has been an interest of mine.  People different from me have always been a fascination of learning for me. When the chaplain observed me at that treatment center, he observed me interacting with the various groups and being at ease with them all.

That has benefited me in my ministry and work with other cultures. My home city of Lincoln is now VERY diverse. Our public school system has children from over 100 different languages. A big reason for that is refugee resettlement. Lincoln is a designated refugee resettlement city. We also have international students and immigrants. Yes Lincoln, the city in the middle of nowhere, is very diverse. On any given day, I might interact with several different cultures.

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from my birthday 10 years ago with friends from Belgium, Brazil, Congo, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea, Ukraine, and Vietnam

For example, one Friday last fall, I taught my morning class for moms from Mexico, Guatemala, Burma, Iraq, and Syria. Then I went to have coffee with friends from South Korea. Then I had a ministry appointment with someone from Vietnam. In the evening I had dinner with friends from Brazil.

That is how God wired me. Each of us is given talents and abilities and is wired differently to express God’s love. For me when I reach out to refugees, I feel what Mother Teresa said about working with the poor when she said in them she sees the face of Jesus in distressing disguise. I feel a connection to what Jesus said when he said, For God so loved the world….”

So I guess what I am getting at is that for those of us who call ourselves Christian, let’s try to remember that we have been given abilities from God to reach out and show his love to those around us. God is the craftsman and we are his craftsmanship. God has gifted us to feel at home in what he has called us to do.

How has God gifted you?

Do We Take All of the Times God Says Yes for Granted?

I read a couple of blog posts this week that I enjoyed about answers to prayer, one about an answer of no and one about an answer of wait. For me an answer of no is a temporary disappointment that I get over to move on. Wait is an answer more difficult to deal with because then I wonder when.

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

The post about no was by jesskidding of jesskidding17.wordpress.com titled The Season of ‘No’. In the post she discusses how she has to say no to her two year old. It is a humorous intro to God saying no.

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The post about wait was by Becoming His Tapestry at becominghistapestry.com titled Say Something….AnythingPlease. She discusses not giving up on God. It is an excellent post to read.

I enjoyed reading both of the posts. They caused me to think about my responses to God’s answers of no and wait. Then I thought about something else. There are hundreds perhaps thousands of yes answers that I take for granted. I would like to encourage us to think about the every day yeses that we can too easily take for granted.

What got me to thinking about the every day yeses we take for granted was actually jesskidding’s post. When I read it, I thought about all of the yeses she gives her child every day as do all moms such as yes you can have a hug, yes I will tuck you in, yes we can read a book etc. Moms say yes so many times to their children, but kids can tend to focus on being told no.

Then I thought about all of the yeses God says to us at times without us even asking. Yes, I am always with you. Yes, you can be with me forever in heaven because of Jesus. Yes, you can have friends at church. Yes, you can have air to breathe. The yeses are endless when it comes to God, but we focus on the nos and the waits. I think we tend to take all of the wonderful yeses for granted.

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Have you ever wondered how God feels about us taking him for granted? One time Jesus healed 10 people who has leprosy but only one returned after showing himself to the priest for confirmation to thank Jesus. The man was a Samaritan who Jews considered foreigners. Jesus’s response was in Luke 17:

“Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

A good way to not take the yeses for granted is to take time to thank God and appreciate him. In the morning, I like to start my day listening to worship music and praying. One thing I try to do is thank God for the classes I teach, the opportunities he gives me etc. I think taking time to do so in the mornings has helped me with the depression that accompanies the chronic illnesses I live with.

But there are way too many other things I forget or neglect to thank him for. This blog post of mine is an expression of me feeling convicted that I need to thank God for more of the wonderful ways he cares for me.

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I don’t want to take the every day yeses for granted. God says yes to us every day in numerous ways.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Soap Opera Like Story Reveals That God Sees Us

Think soap operas or other TV dramas have bizarre plots? Consider some found in the bible.

Imagine the plight of a woman who is pregnant by her employer having to leave her home out of fear for herself and her unborn child because of being mistreated by her employer’s wife whose idea it was in the first place for her husband to make the woman become pregnant. Sounds like a soap opera or telenovela, but it actually happened and involved people we admire in the bible.

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Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Abraham and Sarah were not able to have a child and grew tired of waiting for God to fulfill his promise of a son, so Sarah came up with the idea of Abraham sleeping with Sarah’s servant Hagar. Hagar got pregnant, but instead of being grateful, Sarah became jealous and mistreated her. To make matters worse, Abraham consented to letting Sarah treat Hagar however she wished. Really sounds like a soap opera now.

It is recorded in Genesis 16.

Hagar ran away, but God came to her through the Angel of the Lord and promised to greatly increase her descendants. In response, Hagar called God, El Roi– The God who sees. It is the only time in the bible this title is used. It was used in a time of desperation for a pregnant woman. God saw her.

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Yes God said some unflattering things about her soon to be born son such as he would be a wild donkey of a man always fighting, but that is my focus here.

The point of this post is that God sees us. When we are mistreated by others, God sees us. If we struggle with chronic illness, depression, anxiety, family drama, or any difficult circumstance, God see us.

Do you have struggles? God Sees You.

God See Us.  🙂

We are never overlooked, God sees us.

 

 

 

 

Music Mondays- Need You Now by Plumb

“How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this”?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.”

I love the lyrics to the chorus for Need You Now by Plumb. Life isn’t always easy and in fact can be a struggle for many reasons. These lyrics describe how I have felt at times looking to God in the midst of a difficult time.

For me the past several years it has been about going to doctors in search of answers and relief. It has also been about seeking to serve Jesus by sharing his love at times wondering how I was going to make it.

Jesus promised something in John 16:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Notice before the promise he makes to us, he says- “In this world you will have trouble.” Coming to faith in Jesus and following him is not a wave of a magic wand and all troubles disappear. We continue to have troubles. The difference is the encouragement and promise Jesus made.

He said to take heart because he has overcome the world. That is the reason we can take heart in any situation-Jesus is greater than any situation.

So when, not if, we have struggles such as illness, financial, family, loss, whatever problem, he is greater than our problem and he has promised to always be with us in Matthew 28:

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We will have times that we can only cry out to ask God to please take something off our shoulders, but we need to trust him about whether is is best to lift it off our shoulders or to give us the strength to continue with the burden. It is the reality of living for Jesus in this life.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Exhale by Plumb

I love the lyrics that begin Exhale by Plumb:

“It’s okay to not be okay
This is a safe place
This is a safe place
Don’t be afraid
Don’t be ashamed
There’s still hope here
There’s still hope here”

The opening lyrics remind me of what Jesus said in Matthew 11:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Jesus invites all people to come to him and he promises to give us rest. He promises healing for our souls.

Plumb goes on to sing about the love to be found in God’s arms and the healing he brings to our lives. I love how she sings about breathe in God’s love and exhale.

For anyone who struggles with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, family problems, effects of being abused, chronic illness that can also affect us mentally and emotionally, the message of this song is powerfully wonderful.

As someone who has been dealing with Fibromyalgia along with a few other chronic issues, I know first hand how draining it can be mentally and emotionally to live with a chronic condition there is no cure for. I am so thankful to experience the presence of Jesus in my life. I can’t imagine life without him.

The arms of Jesus are a safe place. He will not mistreat us. He will bring healing into our lives. He has all power to bring healing into our lives but he is gentle.

I hope this song blesses you as much as or more than it blessed me. Thank you for reading. God Bless.

It Has Been 1 Year Since…..

It has been 1 year since I started writing in my blog consistently. I actually started this blog in 2009, but due to foggy brain from Celiacs Disease, my writing was sporadic at best. When I renewed my efforts for this blog, I had about 30 followers. It has grown to over 340 since last year. I am grateful for those who follow, read, like and comment on my posts.

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The name for my blog pretty much lets people know what it is about. My desire is to share about my life following Jesus though my blog. 1 year ago the post that started me on the adventure of writing almost daily was Rainy Day Writing for an Audience of One. It was about how I write for Jesus hoping it blesses others.

It has been a blessing for me to discover blogs from all over the world. I enjoy posts by bloggers from South Africa, Venezuela, Uganda, Canada, The Bahamas, the UK, and Poland to mention a few places. Connecting with other bloggers has expanded my horizons.

I look forward to another year of blogging, interacting with other bloggers, and discovering new bloggers. I will continue to share my life seeking to follow Jesus, my experiences with other cultures, my experiences teaching, my life with autoimmune issues. My focus on writing for an audience of one in hopes it blesses others will remain the same.

Thank you for reading my posts, following my blog, and for your blog posts that help keep my life interesting.

God Bless

What Squirrels Teach Us About Perception

There is a blogger I follow Sunshiny SA, Kavitha. She lives in South Africa and sometimes shares photos of the scenic views there and the wildlife in Africa. She had a recent post with pictures of lions etc about Kruger National Park.

So I wanted to share a photo of wildlife here in Lincoln Nebraska. 🙂

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We don’t have much wildlife here actually. Squirrels are the most common. Occasionally one might see a raccoon or a possum. On rare occasions a few deer might wander into the city.

The squirrels are harmless and will dart away quickly if someone approaches them. They scamper about the ground and in the trees. They are such a common sight that they don’t really register in my mind. However, there have been a few times that friends from other countries who are new to my city have expressed fear about the squirrels.

It is all a matter of perception. My perception of the squirrels is that of someone that has seen them all over the place all of my life. I realize they are afraid of me and do not attack. The will run to the nearest tree to climb up it quickly if I approach or if a dog chases them. But for someone who has never seen them before, I guess they might be frightening.

Perception is an interesting thing. Especially trying to understand things from the perception of Jesus compared to ours.

Death is our greatest fear. For Jesus, death is nothing. It is a been there, done that, and defeated it thing.

Think of any problems we might have. For us, they can be monumental and impossible. For Jesus, they are temporary problems in our lives that he already knows the outcome. He knows what will happen, how he will use them in our lives to help us grow, and how he will help us overcome them.

One thing that causes me to have anxiety is going to the doctor. My blood pressure is always higher at the doctor’s office. My perception is like that of my friends from other countries who are at first afraid of the squirrels. For Jesus, The Great Physician, doctor’s offices are nothing to be afraid of. Jesus already knows the outcome of my appointments before I go, but still I have anxiety.

Being in an international airport is relaxing for me though. For others, flying and being in an international airport trying to find their gate causes anxiety.

Perceptions of the same thing will vary from person to person. I am most interested in the perception of Jesus because he is the one who has all power and controls my eternal destiny.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.