…small town life

When I first moved to Cairo the small town life was fascinating to me.  I think it was a new novelty to me then, people waving to me even though I didn’t know them and the whole calling me “Miss. Stacy” thing.  It is not something I always think about now but there are definetly days I shake my head in amusement over experiences like going to the grocery store for a couple items and finally leaving an hour later not because it was a big store (its not!) but because of all the people I run in to talk to.  The grocery store really is a time to catch up with people.  It is a really nice feeling being known and Cairo is like that.  I am a person that really enjoys things, places etc that are personal so it shouldn’t have been surprising that I would like it.  Sometimes we do not know ourselves as well as we think we do, thankfully there is somebody that does.

Lately I’ve had a number of fun small town moments.

Last week my/our (Jesse and mine!) cat Jewel was having a bad reaction to flea medication.  She was shaking like I had never seen a cat shake.  There is  a retired teacher in town that takes in stray animals and works to find them homes.  She knows everything related to pets in the area.  So, at 9:30 at night we went to her house to ask her opinion.  She ushered us right in.  She led us to a vet we could go to.  I went back to her house a couple days later to let her know Jewel was doing wonderfully.  It is good to know who to go to for what.

I was in  small nearby town this morning at the florist.  On a side note, the small downtown area kind of looks like the one on Runaway Bride.  😉  Anyway I discovered this secondhand store and I asked what the process was in selling old clothes.  The lady upfront told me to talk to Judy.  So, I went back and Judy introduced herself, the lady who was helping her and told me it was her sister Barbara up front.  She asked me what my name was, who I was, talked to me about what the florist was up to!  I walked out just chuckling to myself.

Today at the local ice cream joint, The Dairy Hut, I didn’t have enough cash and the lady said, “You come here enough, just bring it by later.”  How nice.

We were sitting on the steps of the Catholic Church and a neighbor down the road stopped by to check up on us.  He had heard from Sara’s grandma that we were all moving out of town.  No, we reassured him, just Sara and Kristy are moving right now.  He felt much better about that.

I came here entirely not sure about this small town business and now I call this place home.  For a while this was only a place I would be for a little while and now I want to commit to it while I do live here.  Amazing.

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…time in Romans 4:13-16

 

As we are told in Romans 4:13-16…

“For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of FAITH.  For it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.  For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.  THAT IS WHY IT DEPENDS ON FAITH, in order that the promise may rest of GRACE and be guaranteed to all his offspring-not only the adherentof the law but ALSO TO THE ONE WHO SHARES THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM, WHO IS THE FATHER OF US ALL….”

Faith is righteousness.  Righteousness comes from faith, from the act of believing.  “Abraham believed God (and this) was counted to him as righteousness.”  We do not earn righteousness.  We believe.  Then, we receive righteousness.  Today I was thinking, what if we just had in our minds that our job for the day, for every day, was to believe?  That is it.  Believe God.  Believe what he said, embrace it and live it.  This is what I’ve been asking for!   In Romans 4 it says that one thing that we receive from faith is righteousness.  I would dare to believe that everything we need will be provided for us when we believe God.  When we take a footstep of faith.  Every example of faith in our faith family lineup in  Hebrews 11 came from taking steps, even one step of faith.

We are even heirs, who receive an inheritance, by faith, actually it says it depends on faith.  That is ones who share the faith of Abraham.  We have a heritage of righteousness stemmed from faith!  It is in our bloodline!

I opened up Romans 4 this afternoon and maybe read for twenty minutes.  Although I’ve read this chapter many times it washed over me in a yet another new way today.  Isn’t that amazing?  Verses I had read before came alive in a new way, it became clearer to me.  I see that as I seek the Word, I may not understand it right away, but as I keep seeking it, and ultimately my Father, I find Him in the Word.  This Word really is living and unlike any other thing written.  It really did come by way of the Holy Spirit and that is still what brings life to a mere word on a page for me…

…Life is NOW

I am thankful that I trust in you more.  I know you above anyone else can help me, love me, teach me, and guide me.  Nothing, absolutely nothing is too difficult for you.  I need not fear because you are always with me.  No feeling,worry, fear, or doubt is too much FOR YOU.   So, I might as well give them to you!  I know that I really do not want to hold on to them.  I do not like them one bit.  (As I typed that it just reminded me of Dr. Suess!)  YOU Lord are the Solid Rock I stand on and all other ground, such as people’s words, books, even best intentions, are shifting sand compared to you.  I can be content in you through all circumstances.  I see that life is not about waiting for WHEN we can rest, or when there is not conflict but it is about always meeting you right in the middle of all those things.  Life is about every moment, the conversations, the frustrations, everyday, one day at a time.  Life is right now.  Too often I have the perspective that it’s about getting through the difficult things to the gold at the end of the rainbow…  But really when you think about that cliche, isn’t the rainbow beautiful enough?  We can find the abiding peace and rest admidst everything.  I believe even Paul said something similar to this, didn’t he?

…tonight

             Tonight I found myself again setting up lawn chairs, camping chairs etc in a circle in the most shady place we could find in our side yard.  I had the thought that it felt like we had just done this.  That was a year ago.  Tonight was our night of welcoming in our four youthworks staff for the summer.  This is my fourth summer of doing so!  The Youthworks arrival as well as the heat that usually joins them marks the beginning of summer for us.  It is in times like tonight that I truly experience the passing of seasons remaining in a place.  Tonight I saw this as a privelage. 

             We asked them their stories of how they came to be with us.  I enjoy listening to their stories while they have no idea that each of their stories will become part of the larger Cairo story, with all the people that God has brought into this place, and then the Cairo story fits into the larger God story that we have probably only heard whispers of so far.  Oh, if only the trees could talk and share what they’ve seen and heard over the years…

               Tonight we also had another new guest.  As of last Thursday night we had two young men, with the promise of others joining them, who bought a building on our main street in which they have decided to build a coffeeshop (They hope to have movie nights, bring music in with the connections they have, they are not into making a lot of money and they are vegetarians who hope to have heath food there as wells as records, books and internet.  Yes, very interesting.).  Yes, a coffeeshop in Cairo!  This has brought nothing but amusement, excitement and intrigue to me since I found out on Friday.  This has been a small prayer of mine since I arrived in Cairo four years ago, especially for a place to hang out.  Now, they have bought a building that we had spent much time praying about last summer.  Hmmm.  They have come from Florida and this has been a dream of one of theirs for a while, to find a river town where they could open a place like this.  His story is now added to the mix too.

             We talked about dreams (in came about talking about the coffeeshop) in a place where so many have never been taught to dream, or perhaps the dreams that come so natural as children have been crushed.  That has been on my mind because I know I used to day dream all the time as a child and I am ready to dream with God now!   Even talking about dreams in Cairo brought hope to me.

               Tonight I was thankful for the built in encouragement that God has arranged for us long term missionaries each summer with the arrival of Youthworks.  Again, I sensed excitement, the promise of new things, new adventures and new people.   I sensed that all is right because God is in charge and He is the one arranging everything.  This is refreshing to this sometimes weary soul.

…memoir of the Kingdom

It has been awhile since I’ve “chatted with you” via my blog.  I’ve been writing, but more personal stuff that I don’t have the boldness to share right now!  I’ve actually had more of a desire to write, and to write as a way to spend time with my Father, in different types of expression.  Ever since I was a child I knew I wanted to write.  I would write little poems, stories and create whole lives for my dolls through stories.  What fun it was!  I’ve decided to go back to that place.  As a child we were most like who God made us to be, without as much of the world’s limitations or guidelines imprinted on us as we do as adults.  Well, I want to live in God’s Kingdom here on Earth and not by the rules of the Kingdom of this World!   It is God I serve and not man.   So, back I go to being a child, a daughter of my most High King!  😉  Simplicity.  Adoration.   Joy.  Playfulness.  Love.   Adventure.

I am going a writing conference out in California this week.  For it, there was a writing contest that I entered, basically as a way to force myself to write a story.  I am going to (gulp!) be a little bold and by faith post this story here.   Now, This story is in no way a completed work and it is one I hope to develop more in the future.  What has fascinated me is this verse in Luke 12:32, the idea of being sheep, and being in the Kingdom which is how this story came to be.  There are so many verses on being sheep and being in His pasture!  It is a children’s story, but aren’t we all His children? 😉  My writing, as well as this story, are also in honor of my mother who also loved to write.  Since my mother died when I was 11 I never thought about honoring her until last week.  As I was thinking about Mother’s Day I asked the Lord how I could honor my mother and I heard WRITE.  I praise the Lord for my mother who chose to give me life, who chose to have a child, even when all the doctors told her not to.

So, in honor of my mother, Karen Mary Ciha is “The Memoir of the Kingdom”…

It was a day like every other day.  It was a day of great joy and celebration because each day was that kind of day in the Kingdom of Good Pasture.

The light shone wondrous across Good Pasture.  There was more than enough lush green grass for the sheep to graze in.  This grass was not of the type that would wither, it was grass that would remain forever.  They fed on it and were filled.  The harvest was abundant for the trees of the Pasture.  They bore much fruit of every kind, more fruit then the sheep could ever desire.  On the west end of the pasture there was a cool stream and many of the sheep took their afternoon naps along its banks.  There was always enough room for all.

The obedient sheep spent their time resting in the golden rays from the Sun, being loved by Good Shepherd, loving Him back and also loving each other.  They knew their need for Good Shepherd and his acceptance for them.  There was such peace and freedom in this relationship, that there was no comparison.  This was their life, simple as it was, and they would never seek to be anywhere else.  Most certainly they would never choose to go back to where they had once been.  They fully claimed their identity as Good Pasture citizens and that was that.

As was said these sheep of the Good Pasture had not always been in this Kingdom.  Back in their old pasture they had heard this still, silent Voice call to them, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” At first they did not know what to do about the Voice.  They had never heard it before.  They had many questions.  Where was it coming from?  What kingdom was it talking about?  They had meetings about the Voice.  They tried to figure out the Voice by their own understanding.  They brought in all of their most intelligent sheep, the ones that had studied the most about the pasture.  They each had their own opinion.  Many said to ignore the Voice.  Others said the Voice was a figment of their own imaginations.  As a whole flock they could not get the Voice out of their minds.

Then the lambs of the flock began to have dreams at night of following the Voice.  The dreams were so vivid, so real and most of all wonderful.  They told of a beautiful place where there was always enough to eat.  In the pasture where the sheep lived they could never be content.  They tried.  They worked hard to keep finding grass where they could graze.  They were worried most of the time and happiness seemed to last only so long.  When the Voice said, “Fear Not”, the sheep realized there was a place without fear.

The sheep decided to listen to their lambs.  They could not go on living in this pasture when there was a possibility of something better.  The sheep went by the way of Sharon.  The journey was not always easy.  At times they were tired, and at times they wanted to give up. There were wolves they had to escape and they always did by staying together.  There was a hunger for yet something more within these sheep that kept them going.  The Voice never left them.  They came to long for this Voice more than knowing the right way or even knowing where they were headed.  This flock was not the same flock as when they had left.

When they finally approached Good Pasture they found Good Shepherd calling to them.  They found out it was HIS VOICE all along.  He had been calling and waiting for them the whole time!

This wonderful Kingdom was given to these tender, humble sheep as the Good Shepherd had promised.  The sheep kept sharing with their lambs throughout all generations the story of their journey to Good Pasture.  As the sun is setting over the land you can often hear this story ringing across the pasture as mothers share with their little lambs, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

…God answered.

We have been allowed to have a student prayer meeting every Monday after school at the school I volunteer at.  We’re amazed by this!  The doors keep opening in places we never thought would be possible.  It truly is for His Glory, and His Glory alone.  We’ve invited students who have shown an active interest in the Lord, prayer and worship.  Its unlike any other children’s program we’ve done.  Its wonderful.  There has not been any dicipline issues, pressuring kids to come, coming up with curriculum etc.   This has been very freeing for me, not feeling that I had to perform in a sense or keep the kids entertained.   We’ve basically sat and prayed.   We’ve sung the Word.  We’ve only been able to do it a couple times so far (pray for this) but the times that we’ve done it have been incredible.  The kids truly want to be there and to pray.  They have been comfortable with praying and have even stepped in new ways such as praying what it says in the passage we’re focusing on.   Its powerful having the kids praying for their own school and for the things they see right before their own eyes.  I see the Lord leading their prayers as they’ve prayed the same things I’ve prayed for, such as raising up the younger ones to pray once they, the sixth graders, are gone.  I see how much better it is to embrace what the Spirit is doing rather than trying to create something yourself…

Last week we asked the kids what they wanted to pray for regarding their school.  They said FORGIVENESS.  That struck me as really important but I wouldn’t have thought to pray about that!  As we prayed I saw how much forgiveness is needed between students and adults at the school.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  -Eph 4:32

On Wednesday of that week I was on my way out of the school when my friend, a sixth grade teacher, stopped me.  She told me how disrespectful the kids had been and she had just rewarded the six kids in her class that were listening to her and that it would only be the six that would be able to come to her “surprize birthday party” the next day.  I was very disappointed to hear that the two boys that were at the prayer meeting were part of the class that got in trouble. 

The next day the teacher woke up sensing that God did not want her to punish the kids any longer.  She knew she had had some difficult things going on and that she had taken some of her frustruation out on punishing the kids which was not right.  They had already punished the kids enough.  So, that morning when she came to school she told her class that and asked for their forgiveness!  That is an amazing show of humility for a teacher to admit where she had been wrong.  The kids in turn asked for forgivness for how they acted.  That is even more amazing.  They were all forgiven.  They all got to come to the surprize party that really was not a surprize because they could not keep it a secret!  They were so adorable though in their excitement, their teacher was asked all day if it was time for the party (that she wasn’t suppose to know about!) , or time to go get their grapefruits (yes, one student brought grapefruits for a treat!).  As I was walking up the school one girl yelled out my name that I was there, as if it was time to start the party, when there was still an hour….    There are many times I just have to chuckle!

On Monday we didn’t know that situation that would be in need of forgiveness.  You led the students.  We prayed.  You answered.  This is the only way I want to live.   Thank you Jesus.

…i want to be found praising my Savior.

Everytime that I walk by this lady’s room at the nursing home I hear old time gospel music playing.  It is a really refreshing difference from the sounds of  TV’s being played in almost all the other rooms.

Sometimes I just glance in and see her sitting in her chair with the most contented look on her face singing along, praising her Savior.

I love that look.

Last Monday I went into her room to say hello.  She remarked how she just can’t help but get happy inside as she sings to Jesus.  She told me how she had been listening to that tape over and over.  I found out that on Sunday she would be 99.  She looked me straight in the eyes and said that she would not want to live over again, with all the pain in the world, how she had prayed so hard and she would be ready to go home!  Her parents had been Christians and they had made sure her soul was saved, knowing that was the most important thing, beyond any treasure on this earth.

This couple moment encounter really stopped my train of thought on that particular day.  Jesus touched me through her.  At 99 she is a true witness for the Lord.  This woman really knows her Savior.  He is why she lives.  This is how I want to be her age.  This is how I want to be NOW.!  I want to be found sitting praising my Savior no matter what day it is…