Friday, September 27, 2013

Notes From My Daughter - The Needy Pride

My Daughter
Occasional notes from my 19 year old daughter. I never know what to expect when she writes, but it's usually a pleasant surprise.  Read on!

Pride: "I need answers from God before I go anywhere. Why is He doing this like that? He needs to follow my way because it's well thought out and benefits me. God needs to follow my timeline. God needs to let me succeed before I tell the world about Him. God needs to be patient, and trust that I'll live whole-heartedly for Him when I'm 40. God needs to be for me only, forget the rest of his Kingdom that He wants to invite to Heaven. God needs me!”

"When you argue against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on"- C.S Lewis

I know it doesn't sound pretty, but there’s no way to get around the truth: God doesn't need you. He doesn't need to listen to you, He doesn't need to adhere to your ultimatums, He doesn't need to follow your direction, and He surely does not need to fit into any boxes. He is God. The one who made the very being that you are. He's been around before time began. He is the author of time itself, and your life is but a vapor in that time line.

The Inspiration for C.S Lewis' book "God in the Dock" was a metaphor that He used to describe the relationship between humans and God. The metaphor suggested that modern human beings, rather than seeing themselves as standing before God in judgment, prefer to place God on trial while acting as His judge. But how can we judge our creator when we are his creation?

"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master"-Jesus, Matthew 10:24

In context, Jesus was letting the disciples know what their job description was as they were recently hired and trained to do God's work. He was preparing his disciples for the upcoming persecutions they would face, eradicating fear before it could become a problem (this same verse will be used to address another face of pride, stay tuned). This statement is true in its specific context, and in its general context. No matter how amazing the disciple/servant is, they would never be who they were without the development they received UNDER their teacher/master.

If I ever told my mother I was better than her, before she could slap some sense into me, I would probably hear her say something like, "I carried you for 9 months! Are you insane?" Without my mom there would be no me. No matter how amazing I think I am, or others think I am, I wouldn't have been anything without her.

The best example of someone who lived this out is Jesus Himself. In Isaiah 52:13-53 (and many other chapters), Jesus is described as a sin bearing servant of God. We often talk about Jesus' suffering, but I think we forget how much God has suffered and why Jesus even did what He did. Jesus' motivation was twofold: He came to do His father’s mission, and He came to save us (only because of his Father’s love for us, not because we’re all that and then some.)

Throughout the Old Testament we see God's immense love for humankind. One of the best images to me is actually in Genesis. After God declared Adam and Eve's punishment, God did something we often look over:

"Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin and clothed them." Genesis 3:21

God's anger is always righteous, that’s something pride won't tell you. His love is also abundant and overwhelming; something that pride won't let you see. God still cares when we mess up, and there’s nothing we can do to earn that. He loves us BECAUSE HE WANTS TO, and He loves us in the way that we need love. God wants us, but doesn't need us. We need God, but sadly we don't seem to want Him. We instead chose our own will, and exclude God totally, or minimize Him to fit our vision.

The thing about God's love is His will always includes a way for Him to love us. We are never a second thought, or forgotten. We are always considered!
Interestingly enough, if we look at why God wanted Jesus to die, the only reason is us. Despite everything we already did the lack of evidence that we would ever love Him back, the lies, the adultery, and choosing worthless things over Him He still decided to follow through on His word and make a way for us to love Him back. God relentlessly wants us.

[Insert a Praise Break Here because if that doesn't make you get up and have joy in your Heart that you just can't put into words than I don't know what will. Resume reading when you can.]

He wants us with an everlasting love. God is love Himself, if anyone knows how to love, it's Him, and if anyone knows you it's Him. We are created by Love! And it's not because of anything we've done. God does not work on a debt system, this life is not a game of "I owe you". It is an experience of "I love you."

We see this love in the little details like God clothing us, in the discipline of God correcting us, and in the embrace of God holding us. He gives us love in abundance, and goes above and beyond our needs.

God does not need you, but you most assuredly do need God - all the time, for everything. His breath of life is what keeps you awake. The fact that He doesn't need you is what makes grace so amazing. WE MESSED UP, we still mess up and what we need is His love to live and He says "Here it is."

When you actually love God back with your all, when you trust Him enough to let Him know you’re frustrated while keeping in mind his sovereignty, pride is not a problem. It's time to expose the face behind the mask of comfort and really see how much our sin cost us, even if that makes us uncomfortable. Let's strive to consistently walk in Christ, no matter what the circumstance may be. He doesn't need us at any time, but He loves us eternally from beginning to end.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dating and Courting

Often times I see discussions around dating and courting, pitting them against each other. However, based on my own experience I think there's some overlap.

My young adult daughter came home recently from a "Real Talk" event at her church where they were discussing dating and courting. She came away a bit confused and used me as a sounding board to help clarify her thoughts. Then I saw this article today which gives one family's take on courting.

Dating in its simplest form is meeting people and participating in an activity together. This can be eating out, going to the movies, or taking a walk around a lake; this can also be in a group setting or as a couple.

Courting seems more intentional in that you may do the same activities that you would do on a date but you know already that you intend to spend the rest of your life with this person. Courtship also seems to have ingrained cultural norms associated with it, while dating seems more free form and distinctly American.  

I did not come from a culture that practices courting, but dating also seemed a bit foreign to me.

So how did this good Christian girl from an overprotective family (i.e. no dating, etc) find the one for her or the man of her dreams (if I'm being overly romantic)?

First and foremost, know you. Know who you are, know why you believe what you believe, know your boundaries and physical limitations.  College was a great time for me to explore; I was on the Track Team and the men and women practiced together.  There were lots of opportunities for interaction and just getting to know the opposite sex better. I had mostly positive encounters, but I was oh so stupid in some of my explorations. It was through these explorations I learned what I was all about and what I wanted if I ever got married. It was also through some of these situations I realized that it was best to know before- hand where I drew the line when I was with anyone. I guess this was dating, but I never viewed it as such.
Christians have an aversion to dating (and rightly so) especially if prolonged dating of one individual leads to physical intimacy before its time. Also if dating is a series of relationships with no long term commitment, then in my opinion it's best to preserve your soul and save yourself the heartache. When I think about my time in college, I have some regrets. Each time my heart was disappointed, I literally had to start over again. I wasn't actively dating, I simply talked and connected with males through normal daily activities. I didn't view it as dating, so it wasn't so hard to meet people. In college my sole motivation was to have a boyfriend, since it seemed everyone had one. I wanted a boy who was a friend, not a mate. I also had some unrealistic expectations based on reading one too many romance novels.
Enjoy life and remain open. I met my husband at church, but it's not as idyllic as it sounds. The timing of him showing up at our church was after a series of unfortunate events that occurred with another newcomer to our church who was also from Jamaica. My husband was fighting an uphill battle from the start. Anyhow, he fought the battle and won. Initially when I met him, I wasn't thinking husband, but I liked him and there was something gentle and genuinely different about him. I liked being around him, I liked talking to him, and I had a good time with him. Yes, we talked about spiritual things but we also talked about any and everything else. No, our parents never went out with us, but I included him in family activities as often as I could. His parents were overseas, but when they visited I met them (and they loved me from the beginning! :)) He initially proposed the idea of marriage and wanting to spend the rest of his life with me.
Courtship and commitment - though I've never used the word courtship to describe any of our two years together I would venture to say that we were courting. When he asked for my hand in marriage he met with my dad, as custom dictates and is the proper thing to do (my husband is highly principled). Once we were engaged, we spent a lot of time together - alone and in large groups. Of course we were physically tempted, but we never gave in to that temptation probably because it was a strong NO NO for both of us. We did not push the envelope. Planning the wedding was a lot of fun, especially because he was the primary planner. But more importantly I could see his commitment to me and us, in all of his actions.

In my life, it was not an either or proposition. At a certain point in time, courting encompassed dating. We were young adults and we used God’s word, our families and ourselves to keep us accountable. For my children, I would not want to go out on a regular basis with them and their potential mates. I would want to know this person and therefore would provide opportunities to get to do so. I would also hope that any child of mine would value their parent's input in this important decision. I would not want any of my children to marry without me having some thought or insight in to the person they would be spending the rest of their lives with

“There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a young woman. Proverbs 30:18-19

What’s your take on courting and/or dating? Are they mutually exclusive or do they overlap? What was your experience?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Thoughts on Moving - Finding a Church Home

Of all the things that mattered when moving, I thought finding a church would be one of the more important things and relatively easy. Church represented a commonality of beliefs, fellowship, friendship and fun. If I found the perfect church, my move would be more acceptable to me.

Well it didn't quite unfold as I had envisioned and along the way I learned some things that I never thought of before.

Culture matters - Prior churches that we had attended had a majority demographic that looked like me. Therefore the music and the style of preaching was one I could easily embrace. Moving to the valley where you got happy if you saw a brown skinned person walking down the street, church was a culture shock. I rationalized this by telling myself my feelings didn't matter as long as I felt the love and the preaching was sound, but it was hard, very hard to overcome. People think differently, and while diversity of thought is good, having to explain or second guess the way things are done is unsettling.

Sweet fellowship - we were chatting with some friends who had made a big move similar to ours to a southern state. We asked about finding a church, and I'll always remember the wife's answer. She said of finding their first church - "The fellowship not sweet." That statement gets to the heart of the matter because where ever you go you have to feel fitly joined. You want to feel accepted and welcomed. After that you want to feel natural participating in activities for the church. It shouldn't feel stilted or forced.

Eventually, we found a church home, though I've also learned there is no perfect church (BTW, I knew this intellectually, but having to visit different churches reinforces this.) This was an area where we kept rethinking our thinking until we found somewhere that we are comfortable worshiping with others.

What has been your experience in finding a church after moving?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Notes From My Daughter - The Many Faces of Pride

My daughter

Occasional notes from my 19 year old daughter. I never know what to expect when she writes, but it's usually a pleasant surprise.  Read on!

As told through C.S Lewis quotes :)
As you might be able to tell through the subtitle; I have a deep fond love for C.S Lewis. I sometimes refer to him as one of my best friends, and my mentor. He's one of those people that I highly look forward to meeting in heaven (after God, Jesus, Paul, Samuel, and some other folks).
However, currently a new friend has been trying to make their way into my life, and as is typical of me my initial reaction was to resist. Though naturally resistant, I still try to give people the benefit of the doubt because I know my judgment is often faulty. This would usually be the time where I would become more accepting, but instead I became more rejecting and ran far away as fast as I could and hid so this pushy "friend" would never find me.
This friend was humility, and I have to say from the surface no one would want to befriend them. Humility literally has Death written in bold letters on its forehead. That's scary. But the heart of humility holds life. Life that we cannot gain on our own but only through the grace of God.
In the new testament we begin to understand that we don't understand much about God's love (and everything in the old testament points towards this truth). What is life in this world, is usually death spiritually and what is life in the spirit requires us to die to ourselves. Through Jesus' life we begin to see that there is no fear in death, physically or spiritually because there's a road beyond that God paves for you when you trust in him. Still that doesn't change the fact that many of us aren't eager to die. Fortunately we take or cue from scripture and not from feelings:
In Matthew 16 we see Jesus' example of desiring God's will above anything else (and he continues this pattern until God's will is completed and perfected in Him):
"21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? "
Jesus' humility pushes him towards obedience, (which I would define as a God driven action that has an immediate and eternal impact), and allows Him to complete the purpose that God lovingly designed Him for. Peter's actions however, drive us to meet one of the many faces of pride - Righteous/Justified Pride.
If humility has death written on its forehead, then pride has comfort written on its forehead. Or in the words of my articulate mentor:
"The human spirit will not even begin to try to surrender self-will as long as all seems to be well with it. Now error and sin both have this property, that the deeper they are the less their victim suspects their existence; they are masked evil. Pain is unmasked, unmistakable evil; every man knows something is wrong when he is being hurt" -C.S Lewis
Humility brings us the necessary dosage of pain, pain that will eventually yield fruit. The irony of life is that what we seek in comfort is peace, but comfort actually yields death.
Righteous Pride: "But Peter wasn't comfortable, he was a disciple, he went through a lot, he was just trying to have God's back. He was trying to do a good deed."
When you look to yourself for answers, you're choosing the comfortable route because you will never really tell yourself the whole truth because you don't know the whole truth. You are one person, with one perspective on minor situations that relate to you. Yes, Peter was trying to do the right thing, but people with good intentions are led by the devil all the time. Life isn't about being a good or bad person because all of us by default have been born into bad ways. We're all wrong! (So please stop trying to compare yourself to others and playing the "I can do anything better than you" game) Peter wasn't doing Jesus any favors, in fact Jesus refers to him as a stumbling block in that moment. Peter wasn't led by God but by his feelings.
Life is about God. So if you want to do something look at Him.
Righteous Pride: "But I don't want to just sit and look at God, I want to karate chop some demons, be a big evangelism star, and CONQUER THE WORLD……..for Jesus."
The truth is you can never win others for Christ if you are not even focused on him. We are made to bring God praise, not to bring ourselves praise in the name of God. If you can't learn to listen to God, then pride will start to seem like the loudest and most logical voice.

The irony is comfort is a result of stagnation, and stagnation is rooted in death only, no fruit of life will ever be produced from comfort. However humility is rooted in life, and though it has a stage of death it is resurrected and soon results in an abundant life. A life that constantly and continually grows, producing fruit. A life that produces more seeds than what was originally sowed into the ground. Matthew 13:31 gives us a great visual:
31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
The kingdom of heaven can be developed in your heart and shared in your life if you humbly come before God and allow his will to have precedence over everything. I invite you to run to humility and befriend it. Even if you think there's no way you are proud, humility will show you.

We all deal with sin, we all deal with pride, we're all wrong. There is one way, one truth, and one life, his name is Jesus; but there are many faces of pride that we must leave in order to truly live in Him and have Him live in us. We need to constantly gaze at our Father as he teaches us about his love which fulfills all our needs and desires. Run with Christ towards humility, die to yourself and live in his love.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. - 1 John 1:8

Pride or humility? Is this a constant struggle for you?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Book Review - Until I Say Goodbye

Wow! What a book - Until I say Goodbye by Susan Spencer - Wendel; what a story; what a great attitude.

Susan Spencer-Wendel was diagnosed with ALS which is an incurable disease and she chose to live her last year with joy. She didn't complain, but chose to accept her situation and viewed things from an optimistic vantage point. This allowed her to write one of the more uplifting books I've read in a long time.

ALS, a terminal illness also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, has no cure. The body fails but the mind remains strong as muscles slowly atrophy. There is no cure because no one has figured out how to bring dead muscles back to life.

In June 2011, Susan Spencer-Wendel learned she had ALS. She was forty-four years old with a devoted husband and three young children. She had one year of health remaining. This book chronicles her joyous adventure until her passing. Indeed it was joyous as she had many opportunities to be sad and go crazy. As a writer, it was daunting when her left hand withered away and for a year she was in denial. With her one good thumb she typed the book on her iPhone using the Notes feature; that was the only thing she could do. She didn't want people feeling sorry for her, though they did and she made a point of not wallowing in self pity. She had strong friendships and relationships in her life that nurtured her through the disease. Her goal was to create memories with the memorable people in her life. Those people were her husband, children, sister, parents and best friend. Many of the experiences were trips with each trip holding significance for her and the person.

She also talked about some of the day to day realities of losing all of your bodily functions - falling often, slurred words, and having your husband wipe you when do a stinking pickle. She has a beautiful way with words.

Her life was not picture perfect and many of the experiences did not go as she envisioned. She wanted to return the family Bible to her new found family in Cyprus. After many twists and turns and connecting with family members, once she finally got to Cyprus the Bible simply belonged to her father's ex-wife. It had no history. But she was alive and could laugh about it.

"I am the master of my mind; I have a choice about how I feel," this is what allowed her to press on and let go of the indignities that go with a terminal illness. She reinvented, accepted, and moved on.

We all deal with difficult situations, things and people. If we look around, there is a beauty everywhere. If we look up, we know that God has allowed us to live and if we let Him, he will show us how to navigate the trials. As a Christian I am often amazed at how much we can learn from people who aren't Christ-followers. According to her, she wasn't a believer, yet she chose to live out a Biblical truth....count it all joy (James 1:2-3).

Monday, September 9, 2013

Happy New Year!


School finally started today for the Little One, and yes it's a very late start, but I'll take it. We met with the teachers for the annual back to school night. After I met the teacher, I was tense. I don't know that it was entirely her fault, but something about the presentation and my state of mind combined for an anxious feeling. It's fifth grade and to hear them tell it, we're entering the big leagues now. I had to remember that this was my fourth time doing 5th grade.

Then I had to pray for peace because the last thing I needed to do was to start the school year in an anxious state. As I prayed this verse came to mind - "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
So I prayed for peace and while I was at it, I also prayed for:

A wonderful school year
             Strong intellect
                            Good work ethic

Pray isn't just for the big things, it is even more effective for what we would consider the little things. As I prayed scripture and recalled God's promises, that anxious feeling slowly disappeared, and I knew we would be all right this school year. God promises to give good things to this children and he tells us to ask. The mere act of asking inspires hope because I know God hears and answers.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Have a wonderful school year. Are you experiencing any new beginnings?

Thoughts on Moving - Relationships

Moving is one of those things that clarifies the relationships in your life.

With friends, though the distance was great the conversations were just as rich. Some friends didn't care to talk as much via phone, and some started to call more. For me being away from a rich sisterhood made me do what I could to maintain the relationships. Most were maintained, but some fell by the wayside and that was OK; moving away made me value the friendships I had.

Extended family was already dispersed, but now I was much farther away. I made the observation that I found myself calling more when I was away than when I was near. In a strange way I was more connected with my family from a far.  However it's not the same as being within striking distance particularly on big holidays when we're used to having extended family around. Again, moving forced me to realize the treasure we share when family gets together.

My family
Moving solidified the relationship between my husband, my children and I. With my husband it became quite clear that as long as we had each other we could tackle anything. I saw the children go through adjustment pains and sometimes it was hard to watch. When my son left for college he lived in NY, when he came home for Christmas that first year, home was CA. "So this is where we live now?" he said, as he realized that no close friends were around. He had to hang out with us and that might have been a bit tricky - but we all got to know each other because we had no one else. Younger children are more malleable, but for the older ones it was a bit more challenging as they were in the self discovery phase of their lives. I've learned that when moving with children it is wise to consider their ages to determine their future adjustment.

Overall, moving has been a growth experience for me. It has allowed me to broaden my perspective, learn about other cultures, embrace new things, and become more self reflective. I've become more comfortable with who I am and the skin I'm in. God has used this move to shape my character with so many experiences along the way, and I'm grateful for that.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

Are you better for moving?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Thoughts on Moving - Lonely Days

Once we got settled in, there were many lonely days. The big girls were in HS and it was me and the Little One at home, every day. I remember when I had her, my dad said, "You never thought you would have another one." When we were moving he said, "Thank God you have her because she can keep you company." Truer words were never spoken.

I remember in particular one day just driving around and feeling melancholy. The Little One was in her car seat and as usual I was talking and she was responding. In her profound five-year-old wisdom she said, "Mummy you need to find a school for me and then find a job so you can have someone else to talk to besides me." I guess she too sensed my loneliness and perhaps she was lonely too.

The first order of business was finding a school for her.

Sticker shock - I was not paying what amounted to college tuition for a daycare/private school and I was not working yet.  After doing the rounds I decided to "homeschool" her. My goal was to teach her how to read, so I signed up with the local groups and went to weekly events. We found a Mommy and Me class that we went to once a week. The first day at Mommy and Me, she was so happy to see other little people and she was not shy; she knew all the songs already and sang them loudly. Over time I was able to connect with another parent outside of the class. Eventually I found a private Christian school for her that fit all of my requirements - she was happy from day one. It took longer than I anticipated but through her school, I was able to meet other parents and over time forge friendships.

Prior to school, I spent many days at the park. It became like a dance:
Go to a park; Little One plays well with another little kid; exchange phone numbers; call and never hear back from them or just never hear back from them again.  We kept going to the park though because it was important for the Little One to be outside and playing.

I tried Meetup and other social networking groups. The premise of these groups is good, but though you have common interests, folks just may not be your cup of tea. What I ended up doing was using the information from the group as a way for my family and me to explore and get to know the area.

My husband sensed my loneliness and did what he could. One day a co-worker gave him a coupon for a local gym and he brought it home for me.  He suggested I join, as it would be a good way for me to meet people - so I did.  Another time I felt I was going stir crazy so we took a weekend trip to San Diego, just because.

In all of this what I realized is that though I was lonely, I was not alone. I had my husband and children and they were a nice cushion to fall on. I had to figure out certain things but at least we all had each other.

“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 41:10

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart
and free me from my anguish. Psalms 25:16-17

Have you ever felt alone, especially after a major change?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thoughts on Moving - New Things

There were so many new things to take in on the west coast.

The weather - I came out in August for a couple of days and moved permanently on October 1st. The first thing that struck me was the heat; it was a dry heat - very hot but no humidity and it was what I typically knew as fall. That initially felt strange to me though I've gotten used to it.

The look and feel - when you move from one place to the next it takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the new norm. Houses looked different than what I was used to. I noticed houses had no basements and most were ranches. The exterior many times was brick or cement, but not vinyl siding. Many neighborhoods had tract homes which was not a concept I was familiar with on the east coast. Of course, you can always tell the moneyed neighborhoods - nicer, larger and more unique houses.

Random celebrity sightings - this is a strange thing to me. But I've seen celebrities in Ross and Ralphs, and I've seen some at red carpet events (another new thing for me). Every time I spot a celebrity I always feel like I know them and then I realize they’re familiar because I've watched them on TV, but I don’t really know them. They're just regular people, for the most part, who happen to make a living by being seen on TV or in the movies. Some crave publicity and some just want to go about their business.

Cultures - until I moved to the west coast, I didn't realize how pervasive certain cultures were and I didn't understand the implications. My only exposure to Mexican culture prior to moving was the George Lopez show. There is a huge Mexican culture out here and I'd have to say the best Mexican food is out here (though I'm not a big fan of Mexican food.) There's also a broad mix of Persian, Armenian, African (Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia) and other Latin American cultures. The huge difference for me was that in NY, I had a good idea where each of these cultures lived; out here there were intermingled and everywhere. For example there is no designated West Indian community, thus making it hard to connect with something familiar.

Nature - in my experience a drive from the airport does not present the best view of a place. The drive from LAX to the valley looks gritty and grungy. But as you drive further away, you start to notice the mountains and the air gets cleaner. If you get to the coast you can see the Pacific Ocean. The first time I drove on Pacific Coast Highway it reminded me of a very pretty postcard. Closer to home, I have an orange tree in my backyard, and where I live there are random citrus and fruit trees everywhere. I find gardening relaxing, and because of the climate certain flowers and produce thrives over here. The dirt is different - it's more compact. But once you work the soil and plant, even a bad gardener can have a green thumb out here. The weather is perfect for enjoying the outdoors most of the year.

This was a new chapter of our lives, and I was open to all the possibilities. In a literal sense, God had brought us to the desert, but there was no turning back. We learned to rely on Him even more in this new adventure, and saw Him deliver on the promises of His word.

Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19

Are you looking forward to new things or holding on to the past?