Saturday, June 22, 2013

Back to Basics

Psalm 115:1-8
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
    for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

Why should the nations say,
    “Where is their God?”

Our God is in the heavens;
    he does all that he pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold,
    the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
    eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear;
    noses, but do not smell. 
 They have hands, but do not feel;
    feet, but do not walk;
    and they do not make a sound in their throat.
Those who make them become like them;
    so do all who trust in them.

Sometimes I forget the omnipotence of God. Sometimes I think He is not perceptive to my trouble or pain; sometimes I think my worries are nearer to me than Him.

I forget that God is powerful enough to do whatever He pleases to do.

I wonder if, when I worry, I am not like those who create and trust in idols. The one described in Psalm 115 has all tangible evidence of life. It is a physical entity that I can see, touch, think about. It's realistic... it has feet, a nose, hands, a mouth. How many times do I worry about situations that are very real to me: tangible, logical, realistic? A lot. And I feel justified because of its very real-ness.

But in comparison to God... the strength of God, the Mercy of God... these very realistic worries have no power. The "mouth", "eyes", "nose", "hands", "feet" become useless. It's almost comical, almost embarrassing, that I would be so engrossed with something so harmless. Like I was afraid of a rock on the ground because it was shaped like a cartoon spider.

Sadly, I still worry. And I give it power over my decisions, I allow it to manipulate how I view people and places around me. I reorganize my priorities in anticipation to foreseeable problems. On a spiritual level I become like those who make and trust in useless idols: I too become useless.

Trusting in God can be a hard thing. Embracing the idea that "God does whatever He pleases" in tandem with God being intimately involved with every aspect of my life still challenges me today. But it's a wonderful reminder that God is not only in charge of my life, He also thoroughly enjoys taking care of me.
The dead do not praise the Lord,
    nor do any who go down into silence.
But we will bless the Lord 
 from this time forth and forevermore.   
Psalm 115:17-18
God enjoys praise. And He delights in the one who praises Him. The second half of this Psalm affirms life, prosperity, and blessings. It ends with a wonderful statement about the relationship between a God who "does all that he pleases" and His people. I keep Psalm 115 (and so many others, they are all so good!) close to my heart because it reminds me of both God's power and His love. And that's way funner to think about than whatever worries once occupied my mind!

One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard:  
That You, O God, are strong,
and that You, O Lord, are loving. 
Psalm 62:11-12

Monday, June 17, 2013

If ever so humble...

... there's no place like home!

We are officially residents of the Pangani area in Nairobi, a neighboring district to Eastleigh. We live on the third floor of the complex, that is, up two flights of stairs from ground level. According to the Kenyan builders, that would make us residents of floor number two since the ground floor is technically floor number zero.

Our home is wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-ceiling concrete. Might conjure up mental images of a prison cell if you get to carried away with that definition. Luckily, our walls are painted a happy pastel yellow with earthy red floors to mimic sunshine and fresh earth. Plus, lighter colors give the illusion of bigger rooms. ;)

Our couches and bed frame were custom made by local craftsmen! One of many differences between here and the States is that there are very few furniture chains... if you want some you just find a street shop in the area and begin discussing design and price. We took the easy way out and purchased the same design from the same artisans as another couple who work with us. I must say though, our couches are significantly softer than theirs (Kenyans like it FIRM)!
This is my first "home to myself" as a wife. I catch myself scheming and planning how to decorate the place over time, colors and textures and pinterest ideas follow me through language class and into the night.

It took us a while (or maybe I should say it took me a while; Jeff has a busier schedule than I) to clean up the apartment and get unpacked. I still have a few areas, like the highest cabinets in our bedroom, to clean (*ahem* kinda waiting for hubby to do a spider and cockroach check up there first).

We wake up each day to the Muslim Call to Prayer at 5:30. It's strange to hear the melodious voice singing in a language I don't understand. I lie in bed and say my own prayers over us and the people we are working with in the calm dark mornings.

As the day progresses the children leave for school, men head off to their jobs, and the women begin their housework. By the time we come home in the afternoon, gangs of children are running through the courtyard, solemn groups of teenagers loiter in the corner, smoke rises up from some balconies smelling of seasoned goat meat, and radio music echoes throughout the complex. Even deep into the night there are voices, music, laughter, arguments, hammering, and shuffling of feet sounding off in charming discord.

We love it here. Things are new. Things are different. It makes for challenges and battles. It also fosters opportunity and growth. We thank God for this time. We thank God for our neighbors, for our language teacher, for the adult students attending ESL classes, and for our co-workers. And we thank God for YOU!