Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Epiphany of Pride

If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.  But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith--that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.  Philippians 3:4-10
 So, I had a serious "Ah-hah" moment this week.  It was sobering, but at the same time, freeing.  Someone (who has lived here for a long time) asked me if I liked living here.  I hesitated in my answer...and then answered..."more or less."  He asked what I didn't like.  I gave a few lame answers.  Later, I was reflecting on that conversation and realized that I can think of MANY superficial reasons for not always liking living here.  In fact, I could provide a few deeper reasons for not always liking living here.  However...(and here is the "ah-hah")...the primary reason for my dislike is:  PRIDE.

Yup, pride.  In the United States, I considered myself to be a competent adult.  I could hold my own in conversation.  I had a house that I considered "pretty" and I was proud of that.  I 'belonged' there.  Like Paul , in the Scripture passage that started this blog...I had a lot of reasons for 'confidence in the flesh'.

And now, with two and half years behind me here in Nicaragua...I am 'conversational' (on good days) but not fluent in Spanish.  Thus, I am not able to 'hold my own' in a conversation.  My house (while more than sufficient for meeting our needs) is not "my style" and I struggle with its appearance.  I don't always feel that I really belong here...I am a foreigner.  Friendships are still young.

Somewhat related,  expressing these struggles feels like spinning a broken record.  How many more times can I sheepishly apologize for my "ugly Spanish"?  Yet, even this exposes my pride.

So, I find myself at the foot of the cross (which is a good place to find oneself).  I, like Paul, have 'suffered the loss of all things' (competency, belonging, a pretty house....) and I MUST 'consider them rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.'

Challenging at best; but certainly necessary in this, my journey of faith.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The First Day, Our Third Year

Today began the first day of a new school year here in Nicaragua.  This will be our third school year!  It is hard to believe sometimes.  This year we have made a few changes!  Noah will be homeschooling full-time.  I know...WOW! However, due to some serious confusion over two languages and some potential learning challenges...homeschooling is the optimal option for Noah right now.  [Perhaps, he will learn that putting adjectives after nouns only works in Spanish, not English!]  In addition to homeschooling Noah full-time, Andrew and Ella will attend school (NCA Nejapa) in the mornings and homeschool in the afternoon...focusing on English reading and writing, math, American History, as well as having good ol' family time!  We are excited for the extra time as a family and hope to use the time well!

Today was a good start--Noah and I worked through his lessons successfully and even spent some time in Noah's favorite subject---Art Class.  Here is what he and I was his idea and design...I just helped with the logistics.

A Cat--made mostly from things found in Nature.
 Andrew and Ella reported back that their days went well.  Of course, I need to be strategic in asking "how was your day?" by asking for 'one good thing and one hard thing.'  This way, I get some positive along with the negative.  Third and Fifth grades are for sure going to be more challenging...for all of us.  I spent about an hour with Ella reading and translating her Social Studies...and it was only about the movement of the Earth, the role of the Sun and the Seasons.  I even got a bit nauseous trying to be the rotating Earth around the Sun.  Pitiful, I know!!!  However, we did enjoy sitting in rocking chairs on the porch while we studied...and that time is precious! one is down...and we are thankful to God for the strength He gave us to navigate today...and thankful for the mercy He promises anew each morning.

Here are the kids in the traditional "first day of school" photos. (Andrew and Ella were fortunate to have gym class on Monday...and so, as Ella says, it is kinda like wearing your pajamas to school.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Surviving Sanctification***

It started out as a few termites and within a few hours our bed, rugs, desk, floors, walls were swarming with these critters.  The only words that I had were not words I cared to utter with my children present.  An occasional bug here or there is tolerable; however, swarms of termites ON THE BED feels like more than I can tolerate.

Since it was late in the day on Sunday, we couldn't call we slept downstairs.  On Monday, the kids and I moved as much as we could move from the upstairs to the downstairs to prepare for the "fumigation."  It is now Tuesday afternoon, the contents of the upstairs are still strewn all over the downstairs and I just found a few more fumigation-resistant termites on our bed.  I think that we will be sleeping downstairs again tonight.

On that Monday morning, before I started the work of clearing out the upstairs, I sat down with the book, My Utmost for His Highest.  I started reading the previous day's devotional.  The title was: "Becoming the Filth of the World."  Actually, I don't think that I actually finished reading the whole thing because I got caught on the sentence:  "Or you can say, 'I don't care if I am treated like 'the filth of the world' as long as the gospel is proclaimed."

I realized as I was sitting there reading that surviving the sanctifying work of the Gospel in my own life (whether that comes from the trial of termites, some other insect plague, or whatever else) is the proclamation of the Gospel.

***Sanctification is: "not perfection but a growing consistency and fervor of obedience."  ~John Piper