Build A Windmill?

Yesterday morning before other bloggers joined for blogger chat, I had a short conversation with Pastor Chuck of lakeside4jesus.wordpress.com. We talked about the Chinese government blowing up and destroying church buildings recently and yet how the church continues to grow in China. We talked about how throughout history various rulers have tried to stop Christianity, but to no avail.

I shared with him about how Holy Spirit is always at work but we can’t see him. yet we know when he is around. I mentioned that Holy Spirit like the wind cannot be stopped. A person can make a private barrier to refuse the work of Holy Spirit in their own lives, but Holy Spirit cannot be stopped just like the wind cannot be stopped.

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Pastor Chuck made a great comment- “If there is wind, it is better to build a windmill to work with the wind.”

God is always at work. He cannot be stopped by any force of humankind. Chuck’s comment is a fun reminder that it is better to let God work in our lives and cooperate with his work.

Our Blogger Chats each Saturday are fun and encouraging. It only began because of the shutdown and a prompting from Holy Spirit. If you want to join sometime, leave a comment.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Faithful by Sarah Reeves

Even when I cannot see, You are moving
Even when I cannot hear, You are singing over me
Even when I can’t hold on, You won’t let me go
You are faithful, You are faithful

I love the lyrics to Faithful by Sarah Reeves. So many times in my life I thought I could not hold on, but Jesus never lets go of us. He is always with us. He will never leave us.

Singing over me? Where do we get that from? In Zephaniah 3 we read:

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing”

Jesus rejoices over us with singing. Have you ever seen a mother sing over her child? God is our father who sings over us. That is how precious we are to God.

When we can’t see the way out of a situation, a problem, a trial, God is at work. He knows the outcome because he is there and with us now at the same time. I experienced that recently. Last summer was dismal for me and put me behind financially, but God was at work. First my dear Vietnamese friends helped their old teacher. Then three weeks ago I received an extra missionary support check. Last week I received anonymous letters with money. Now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

God is faithful. He is faithful even when we are not. Whatever we face in life, he is with us.

Struggle with depression/anxiety? Jesus is there for you.

Struggle with chronic illness? Jesus is there for you/

Financial problems? Jesus is there for you.

Uncertain about the future? Jesus knows your future and is already there. He is there for you now and in your future at the same time.

In the worst moment we can think of which is death, Jesus will be there for us waiting to welcome us into heaven if we have accepted him as our Savior.

He is faithful!!

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

1 Grateful Person Tag

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How often do you lift up your arms to heaven just to say to God- Thank you? This has been on my mind for a while. I have been thinking about if I show enough gratitude to God. This week I have been thanking him for the meaning and purpose he has given my life.

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Jesus expressed his dismay over the lack of gratitude by 9 lepers he healed in Luke 17:

“Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

“When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.”

“One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan”

“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.”

Of the ten, 1 was a Samaritan. We can assume the others were Jews from the response of Jesus when he said-“except this foreigner?”

Perhaps the other felt entitled to being healed. Perhaps they were excited to get back to their families. We don’t know why they failed to come back and at least say thank you.

Samaritans were outcasts even when healthy. That might explain why the Samaritan felt overwhelmed with gratitude to throw himself at the feet of Jesus to thank him.

Imagine being healed of a disease that meant being totally ostracized from family and society. One would think that gratitude and a thank you would not be difficult to express, but only one person returned to thank Jesus.

When I think about what Jesus did for me, it is overwhelming. First of all, he died for me. No way did I deserve that. He has completely changed me and my life. He has blessed me with a ministry of showing his love to refugee and immigrants from all over the world.

He gives me strength to teach and spend time in ministry even though I live with chronic illness. On my bad days, I can feel his presence.

So today I would like to introduce the 1 Grateful Person Tag. Here are the rules:

The 1 Grateful Person Tag is based on Luke 19 and the account of Jesus with the 1 out ten lepers he healed who came back thank him. Let us aspire to be like the 1 who thanked Jesus and not the 9 who did not.

1- Share what you are grateful to Jesus for.

2-Share a passage from the bible about gratitude that means something to you.

3- Tag whoever you wish to.

4- Please share a link to my original post. 1 Grateful Person

5- Use any picture in your post that expresses gratitude.

6. Share the intro

I am tagging:

Dawn of drawingclosertochrist.com

Jenny of progressinbloom.com

Beverley of becomingtheoilandthewine.com

Herry of herrychiccounsels.com

Amanda of wildandwingingit.home.blog

Gail of gaillovesgod.blog

Yonnie of yonnieinhiscare.wordpress.com

Elisha of africaboy.home.blog

Joy of joycottage.blog

All Children Are A Blessing

In my classroom in the evening, there are two world maps. It is so fitting the maps are in my classroom where I teach English for people from diverse countries. I asked my student from Vietnam to take this picture for me last night.

For me it represents what my life is about, which is to share the love of Jesus with refugees and immigrants from all over the world. I teach adults, but I am also aware of the struggles their children face.

In the mornings, I teach English for moms from other countries in the elementary school where their children go. I interact with children in the hallway. It has been my practice to try to bless them in various ways in the mornings. Sadly, they are aware of the harmful things being said in our public discourse. That is a huge motivation for me to speak words of affirmation to them or just to joke a little with them.

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Monday morning I saw two sisters from Guatemala as we were entering the school. I greeted them in Spanish as I always do. One of them took my hand to walk into the school together. I greet the Hispanic children in Spanish because I want them to feel good about their language and culture. Sometimes I tease them in Spanish about how I think they want a lot of homework. I always wish them a good day in school in Spanish.

Monday morning I was talking with one of the 5th grade teachers outside her classroom as she was watching her students put on their coats to go outside for recess. A boy in her class came up and bowed to me, pointed at his teacher and said, “She is a great teacher.” Then he looked at me and said, “You are a great teacher.” He came here a few months ago as a refugee from Syria. I asked him his name and where he was from and then I greeted him in Arabic. He was surprised.

My interactions with the children in the school always reminds me of when Jesus blessed the children in Matthew 19:

“Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.”

“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there”.

Children are important to Jesus. Children need affirmation, blessings, and encouragement. It concerns me that at an age that the only things they should be concerned about are spelling quizzes, recess, and hoping for snow days, the children I see every morning are exposed negativity in our culture. They hear it when the news is on.They hear comments out in public. Children pick up on a lot more than we realize.

So I will continue with my practice of joking with them. speaking blessings to them, and giving high fives in the hallway. All children all precious to Jesus and all children are a blessing.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Reflections from Teaching A Citizenship Class

I started teaching a U.S. Citizenship class a few weeks ago. My students come from various countries and hope to become U.S. Citizens. It intrigues me that I could go live in another country, say France for example, live there, learn the language and culture. maybe even take a citizenship test to become a citizen, but I would never really be considered French. Yet people come from other countries and become Americans, and many experience the “American Dream”.

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Whenever I go to a Citizenship ceremony, I am grateful for my friends becoming a citizen because I know what it means to them and for their lives such as being finished with immigration services, being able to register to vote, and being able to get a U.S. passport.

It also makes me think about something else. There is an eternal citizenship that is not based on knowing a language, a person’s ethnicity or race or any other consideration other than coming to know a person.

Philippians 3:20 says:

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ”

When we come to know Jesus, we are automatically granted citizenship in heaven. It is one of the numerous blessings Jesus pours out on those who come to know him as their Savior. At that moment, even though we are still in this life, we become aliens or strangers in this world looking forward to realizing our eternal home as we see in Hebrews 11:

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

We also become representatives of our eternal home hoping to bring others with us as we see in 2 Corinthians 5:

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God”.

I am genuinely interested in seeing the lives of my refugee and immigrant friends improve here in America. I rejoice with them at important occasions such as when they become citizens. My hope is that by helping them achieve their dream, I also show the love of Jesus in the process and it leads to them receiving citizenship in heaven too.

Thank you for reading. God Bless. 🙂

Rest Sweet Rest

Yesterday afternoon I was tired as in FATIGUED. I finished teaching my afternoon Citizenship class at 3pm and did not need to be at the college until 7pm. So instead of going to a coffee shop, I came home.

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I turned on my laptop, logged into youtube, and started a play list of some of my favorite worship songs. I sat back in my chair and listened to songs like It Is Well by Kristene Di Marco and So Will I by Hillsong and more.I just sat in my chair listening to worship songs for a few hours dozing off here and there for brief periods of 10 or 15 minutes of sleep. It was SO refreshing.

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Side note- my furniture is not this fancy 🙂

As someone who lives with chronic illness, I value rest when I can get it. Physical rest has spiritual, mental, and emotional benefits.

God knows we need rest. Elijah was a great prophet, so much so that he did not die but was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire. Yet Elijah had his moments such as when he was running for his life, got tired and feel asleep under a tree. The Angel of the Lord came to him woke up up, fed him. But look what happened after he ate: We see it in 1st Kings 19:

“All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”  He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.”

After he ate and drank, he lay down again. In other words- He went back to sleep. The Angel of the Lord came back and fed him again.

The past five years as chronic illness has come more the the forefront in my life, I have come to value rest more and more. I have learned the importance of taking care of of the physical, so it does not interfere with my ministry.

So if you are feeling frazzled, weary, or overwhelmed. try seeking out time to rest in the presence of Jesus.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time/Burned Eggs In Brazil

June and July of 2015 were my best summer ever. I spent most of those months in Rio do Sul a small city in Santa Cantarina Brazil teaching English in a university.

For most of my time there, I stayed solo in the apartment of some missionary friends who were traveling elsewhere in Brazil. I took care of my breakfast and the university took care of my lunch and dinner. Most mornings I ate fresh fruit with yogurt, but one morning I decided I wanted some eggs.

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I started cooking the eggs and then checked my Facebook. I had a message from a friend who was applying to Medical School. She wanted me to look over her essay for the application. There was only one small grammar mistake. Her essay was excellent. The process took about 45 minutes. When we finished, I remembered something- THE EGGS.

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The pan I was cooking in was a non-stick pan with a white coating inside. But if you burn eggs for 45 minutes, the non-stick part doesn’t work so well. I soaked the pan several times and scrubbed it. I went to a few stores to try to find another pan.just like it to no avail. Finally, after scrubbing it several times, I got it cleaned.

When I talked with the missionaries about my adventure with the pan, the wife told me she bought it at a garage sale in the U.S. for a few dollars. We had a good laugh.

We needlessly worry at times. Sometimes it is because we try to do things on our own not knowing fully what to do. Sometimes it is because we do not want to look bad or be a failure. There can be many reasons we worry.

Worry is different than having an anxiety disorder. I want to make that clear. People who have anxiety disorders have anxiety because of a physiological cause. It is important to seek help.

Worry is really trying to keep control over something fearing possible outcomes. We worry needlessly many times. Jesus talked about worry in Matthew 6:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

We are more valuable to God than anything else in all of creation. If we worry, we are basically not trusting in God’s love for us, his ability, or his desire to help us.

God loves us so much that Jesus came to die for us, so we can have eternal life. As the bible says in 1 John 4:

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love”

Love is what can drive our fear and calm our worry. If we struggle with worry, what we need is to spend time in the presence of Jesus basking in his love for us.

Think about it. Jesus already knows all of our mistakes, sins, failures, problems, and loves us. He invites us to come to him. We don’t need to hide anything from him and we can’t anyway. He knows it all, loves us, and invites us to come to him for help.

Now I wonder who wants me to come cook for them after they read my story time today? Vote in the comments from these candidates 🙂

Dawn of drawingclosertochrist.com

Jenny of progressinbloom.com

deandra of Imago Dei at deandrahurst.com

Sherita of plantingseedsingodsgrowinggarden.wordpress.com

Rene of hearttokens.home.blog

Herry of herrychiccounsels.com

Beverly of becomingtheoilandthewine.com

Thank you for reading. God Bless

Wonderful Weekend, BUT, Then Monday Came

It was a wonderful weekend of visiting people. teaching people, going to church, and lunches. Sunday evening I had plans for Monday morning to get up and get some things done. I had Monday morning off due to fall break at the school where my morning class meets. I planned to go to an In Service, get started on some writing, and run some errands. But then reality interrupted.

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I began the taper down part of my Prednisone prescription Sunday. I had a tapering dosage of 5 days of 3 tablets, 5 days of 2 tablets and 5 days of 1 tablets. 3 tablets is like rocket fuel at time. Tapering down can sometimes mean a let down as far as energy, which for a Spoonie, can lead to more than just feeling tired.

The term Spoonie comes from a young woman who used spoons as an example to explain limited energy while living with chronic illness. You can click on the highlighted Spoonie to read her article.

So Monday I woke up or should I say my eyes opened temporarily. I was down for the count. I had slept 11 hours and was still exhausted. I ended up staying in bed until 11am. When I finally got out of bed, I just sat for quite a while.

I turned on some worship music and gave what was left of the day to Jesus. I checked my blog, checked out post by other bloggers, and drank some coffee.

I prayed over my evening class and went to the college. In my evening class, I have a young woman who is in a wheelchair due to a condition similar to Cerebral Palsy. She has such joy just being able to be in a class. She is a Christian. She gave her presentation and did well. It is my privilege to help her with accommodations she needs to be in class.

A blogger I follow, retrospectivelily.com, wrote about her experience getting accommodations in college for her disability. The post is Disability Chat. Each evening I see my student in class, Lily’s article comes to mind.

So Monday I may not have accomplished much, but I was grateful to be there for my students in the evening. Tuesday was better. Hopefully today will be better still. My post is not much of an inspiration today, but I am mindful of a quote Big Sky Buckeye shared by Charles Kingsley:

Make it a rule, and pray to God to help you to keep it, never to lie down at night without being able to say, “I have made at least one human being a little wiser, a little happier, or a little better this day.”

Monday may have been a wash for most of the day for me, but at least I made the young woman in class a little happier, wiser, and better that day.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When God Gives Confirmation

A little over a year go, I began to share in my blog about living with depression and anxiety which for me were symptoms of living with chronic illness. It felt a bit risky at the time, but I found that many people responded to my posts whether through comments, likes etc.

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Yesterday a woman I respect a great deal for her work with children who have been traumatized, responded to me sharing a few posts on her Facebook Wall. She had given me permission. I let her know that I share from a Christian perspective. She responded that we should seek to bring Christ into mental health issues. After I posted a few links on her Facebook wall:

Jesus Understands Trauma

World Mental Health Day-October 10

She responded with this message:

“Matt, Thank you for sharing these blogs. I pray others read it as you candidly shared your personal experience in a very relatable way. We are all searching to be heard & understood. Especially searching for our deepest desire: Jesus. Some might not believe or understand His healing power & gift of Salvation is waiting for them in the most deepest hurts, mental health, medical problems & any sin. He indeed experienced trauma. Stories like yours lead people to the Lord because you spoke biblical truth & love in despite how hurtful your trauma was you looked Him & found healing & peace.”

To receive such a message from a woman who is a Christian and also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor meant a lot to me. I felt it gave me confirmation to continue to share.

My desire is to share with others the comfort Jesus has given me whether it is regarding depression/anxiety or about living with chronic illness. I always think about the truth of 2 Corinthians 1:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Her message was confirmation for me to continue to share about how God has helped and is helping me to press on with my ministry and life living with chronic illness and also with depression/anxiety. After my day Friday with friends, and also with the extra support from my home church, seeing my colleagues message Saturday, I feel God is telling me to continue.

On another note, a few of my followers on this blog recently went to my short stories blog- Encounters with the Ancients. I am thinking about making one of my short stories into a book. I would like HONEST feedback from my followers on this blog. I would like to ask you to read a story I wrote a year and a half ago- Jessica’s Encounter at the Harbor Coffee Shop.. What I want HONEST feedback about is if a book version would be of interest.

Thank you for reading. God bless.

Here We Go Again

I was feeling good after finishing a 15 day treatment of Prednisone for bronchitis. I thought okay the coast is clear for a while. I started to feel a little of something starting up and went to the doctor in hopes of changing my asthma medicine to prevent problems. I got there and, well, something was noticed.

This is how I normally look. I tend to keep my tan on my face all year. I get that from my father who always had a tanned face. The problem with that is sometimes what would be obvious for other people is not so easily noticed on me. But Monday when I went to the doctor I looked like this.

I had a pink rash on my nose and cheeks. The PA didn’t notice until she looked more closely because it doesn’t show as much on me. When she looked closer she said, :”That is a sign of inflammation.” So instead of walking out with a prescription for a different inhaler, I walked out with a prescription for 15 more days of Prednisone. Yippee.

So here we go again. By the time I finish this 15 days, it will total to 35 days out of 40.

But Jesus is giving me strength. I have not missed teaching a class the whole time. I have been able to also be there for my weekend groups,. visit people in their homes, so in other words- Jesus has given me the strength to keep going with teaching and ministry.

Fortunately, Thursday and Friday will be fall break for my morning class, so I can sleep in, get more rest, and be ready to go. I hope. Anyone living with chronic illness can tell you that one never knows how one will be day to day.

The one thing I know for sure is that Jesus is with me to give me strength. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.