Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hello, Goodbye

I recently read a post from a lady in our hometown of Greeneville, Tennessee. What a blessing to read it and see how she has grown from a teenager in our church youth group, to a newly married, godly woman. With her permission it is copied below.

"My life has been a series of hellos and goodbyes. Jesus gives me blessings disguised as people, jobs, and activities…only to ask me to give them up. At times, the aftermath pain seems worse than the initial joy. But I have come to realize that while I thought I had to have that thing, I didn’t really know what I wanted. Jesus always knew what I needed and wanted better than I did! Whether it was a person, or a possession, or an experience, I found that true fulfillment came when I was driven to find it in the Lord instead of getting it from something material. 

I was sipping coffee with a friend on Thanksgiving eve and discussing with her what I considered to be my losses. I was dropping phrases left and right like, “I gave up” and “I lost” and “God denied my request…” Despite the obvious Cara-centered problem, I had allowed multiple idols to take the throne of my life. With their granted powers, they had overtaken my priorities, my passions, and consequently, my joy. 

She opened her Bible (so cleverly concealed in her large suitcase purse) and turned to Jonah 2:8. The Lord warns that when we focus on vain idols, we will throw away our hope of receiving from God. When I look to my blessings for my value, I am, in actuality, refusing the Love that I so desperately desire. Blessings do not love back; they simply point to the Ultimate Blessing. If I depend on my blessings to satisfy me, they become an idol to me, denying the supremacy of God. When my Savior, in His perfect omniscience, withholds something from me, He promises that I don’t need it. If having that “treasure” would have fulfilled His plan for my life, He would have given it to me. In abundance (see Psalm 84:11)! 

What appears to be a loss suddenly takes on a new light when compared with the gain that I have received in Him instead. With my idols gone, I find myself crawling back to my Savior, back where I belong. And in its place, I have gained something far more eternal and permanent than I could ever have received from the thing that I lost. The times when God said “No, my Child,” were painful, but in the long-run not nearly as agonizing as if He had granted me my desire. When He denies a request, He permits His divine plan to continue in motion, uninterrupted. As Beth Moore puts it, God’s ‘no’ is just making room for His ‘yes’. 

I imagine it like this. God has a box with my name on it. His omniscience and goodness determined before I was born the things with which He would fill my box to make my life complete. Every time I create my own idol and place it in my box, I am, literally, boxing out God’s plans for me. The more I try to stuff my own box, the more I crowd Him out. And the less I give way to Him, to that extent I will experience less of the fulfilled life He has for me.

Every time the Lord takes something away from me, He always has a replacement in mind. And it is ALWAYS better than what I was clinging to for dear life before. 

Because, usually, it is more of Him."

 Cara Michelle Cobble, 2009

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cultural Differences In Cooking

Even after all the years we've been in Africa I still shake my head at the way Africans do things. It always cracks me up when they remind ME of the crazy way I do things!!

Today while preparing dinner Pelegrino and Elisha were sitting at our dining room table with Bill studying the Bible. I was making a garlic-ginger paste for my new Indian recipes. Out came the blender, which made so much noise they had to take a break and just watch me. It was at this point that Pele asked Bill, "Do all American girls go to school to learn how to cook?" I've been told before by African women that there are way too many steps in our food preparation. I guess Pele was of the same mind because he thought there was no way an ordinary woman could learn to do this without a proper school. Little does he understand that my schooling came from the school of Trial and Error!

You know, actually going to a school to learn how to cook from scratch would be a great idea for the new missionary wife. I mean let's face it. Unless you've been blessed with a mother or grandmother who taught you how to cook we are clueless to what real "from scratch" cooking is.  I can well remember our first term in Kenya and my attempt at making re-fried beans from dried beans. I didn't realize I needed to clean them first. Weren't we surprised when our first bite showed it was full of BUGS!

Now I have an even better idea that is actually do-able... Maybe some of you older ladies can teach these new missionary wives how to cook! I know a godly lady in our church who often hosts a missionary family in her home during our church's Missions Conference. She happens to be a GREAT cook and could be such a blessing to these wives. Life can be so overwhelming when a new missionary family first arrives. There is so much to adjust to. If you add to that a wife who hasn't the faintest idea what to do with an open market, dried beans, and rice that is not done in a minute, well just picture her standing in the kitchen with tears rolling down her cheeks in despair while a hungry child pulls on her skirt! You think I'm exaggerating? Nope, I've been there!

I'd love to hear about any other missionary wife's story about learning to cook from scratch. I'd also enjoy hearing how you older ladies have lived out the Titus 2 woman by teaching your valuable cooking skills!