My Country Quest

Follow along our journey back to the land. This is where we will record our thoughts, musings and dealings with terrible dragons right here for your viewing pleasure.

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Location: Missouri, United States

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Everything and More

I'm trying to figure out, in my mind, something that cannot be understood by this dung heap, though God does give me glimpses here and there.

It is the unfailing grace and love of God
towards wicked, depraved, sinful man.

How could God call David, a fornicator by todays standards, a "man after God's own heart"? Because He is Jehovah Tsidknu, God our righteousness! David did not lean on his own righteousness. God WAS his righteousness. He knew it, and made no pretenses about being anything other than a fallen, wicked, sinful, un-worthy man. David had no righteousness in himself. He didn't need any. God was that in his stead.

How could He love with an everlasting love Israel, who were hell-bent on disobeying and whining? An adulterous and stiff-necked people? Because He is Jehovah Jireh, God our Provider! He provided for them when their disobedience brought them into a place of want!!! He provided the love He sought from them by turning their hearts back towards Himself and forgiving AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN.

How could He love me, who has never done anything lovely, never done anything worth loving when examined in the light of God's holy righteousness? Because He IS LOVE. He doesn't need us to bring anything lovely to Him in order for us to be lovely. HE IS LOVE. He brings it with him when He comes. lol I am humbled right down to the floor, my face in the dust, at His mercy, His lovingkindness, His righteousness, His GRACE.

Jesus is like the dinner guest who brings the meal with him and washes dishes when he leaves.

He is like the car you have given to you that comes with a mechanic in the trunk and a lifetime "BUY IT FREE" card from O'Reily's Automotive.

He is like the rain that sends umbrellas and flower seeds down first.

He is like roses that grow bandaids alongside the thorns.

He is the Doctor that never charges, heals everytime, and makes house calls.

He is wonderful. And yes, He does ask things of us. He asks us to "be perfect like I am perfect" for goodness sake. Who can do that? We can. Because the perfection He is requiring of us, HE GIVES US day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment.

He is no imposition.

He brings with Him - free for the taking - everything that He asks me to give Him. Like the Daddy who gives his daughter $5 to buy a Father's Day gift. Just to see her eyes sparkle as she pulls the wrapped box from behind her back.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

1st Encounter

Oh I am so excited!!! We just did our very first "Jesus Thing" in our little neighborhood. There are 8 families that live on our country road. Only 2 are families with a mom and dad living together, at least 2 have a history of incarceration, only 2 couple are married and the other "couples" rotate on a continual basis, with the women being the home owners. It's quite lively here!
So anyhow, the man that lives right next door introduced us to his "wife" about 2 weeks ago. A different "wife" that he lived with the whole time we've know him. Now this newest "wife" had 2 children which he introduced as "his". It's confusing. The children and I smiled politely and wondered what happened to the "old wife"! The boys said laughingly that he must have traded up or something. Then a slience fell over us = a sadness, that this is probably exactly what had happened and we began to pray for Joy (the old wife) hoping she is safe and well wherever she is. Then we began to add the neighbor and his newest wife and children to our prayers at night. Which brings us to this morning!
Abby is learning how to make muffins. She made her first batch this morning with no help from me whatsoever. They were pretty good! Except she broiled the first batch instead of setting the oven on bake. lol Those were crunchy! So there were a few muffins left over and she decided to bring them to the neighbor and invite the children over to play this weekend. It was 10:30. We knocked. He was asleep and came to the door sans shirt, apologizing for the dogs barking at our feet, etc. etc. He was surprised to see us, and when Abby told him the reason for the visit he teared up and explained that his wife and the children didn't live with him at the moment. It seems that her probation officer didn't fancy her leaving the county without his permission and so she was now under house arrest at her previous residence.
We don't know the whole situation, don't need to. It became startling clear to us, a fact which we knew but didn't know what to do about, that this man needs Jesus. Not because his life is full of "sin" and depravity, not becuase he was asleep at 10:30 and isn't working at the moment, not because his house trailer is falling in around him and he sleeps with dogs inside and who knows what else, not because his pickup truck is full of beer cans. But because his heart is broken. Abby articulated this to me better than any theologian ever could.
"Oh mama!" she said when the door closed. "He really needs Jesus doesn't he? I mean, his heart is broken and that kind of heart can only get fixed by Jesus can't it Mama?"
Yes daughter. That's the kind Jesus loves the most.
So we resolved to make a weekly trip to one neighbor on our road with either muffins or cookies, or an invitation for supper with us. This is what Jesus would have done isn't it? We've been listening to the book of Matthew and Mark and a bit of John too, and what stuck me was how unassuming Jesus was. He didn't blast through the door with fire and brimstone and beat anyone over the head with "the Gospel". He WAS the gospel. He lived it, from providing wine at a wedding feast, to healing the hurt and broken. I might not be able to heal anyone, but we can be a balm to the hurting - the hands and feet of Jesus, ministers to the ones the rest of the world has cast aside as useless.
Help us Lord. They need You. Help us be your hands and feet.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Peas & Ponderings

I just came inside from planting peas. There's an interesting thing about peas. No matter how many you plant, there is never enough to put up for next year. At least not around here. I could make a meal of peas with real butter.... mmmhhmmm!!!

The dirt was still cool to my fingertips as I pressed down and tucked in the shriveled little pea seeds. I thought of how it is when we plant seeds of faith in cold ground. Seeds of hope in sterile soil. Seeds of future in the cool chill of memories past. It never ceases to amaze me just how awesome it is to take something SO small and insignificant (have you ever tried to eat a pea seed?) and turn it into some delicious.

It's like that with God of course. Taking the ugly shriveled up messes that our lives are and tucking them into the cool earth of humanity and SOMEHOW turning it into a miracle. Right before our eyes.

I am a walking miracle. Maybe I have a limp now, maybe my head isn't held up quite so high, but I'm a miracle. You know why? Not because of anything I've done with my life. It's quite a wreck actually. You've heard of the Midas Touch? Well... I seem to have been endued with the "Muddy Touch" : everything I touch turns to mud. lol I am a miracle because the God of the Universe, My Jesus, El Shaddai Himself has come down and embedded in me the miracle of faith - the tiny seed of mustard that is growing into a plant that gives shade. That seed of righteousness that can only come to fruition through the fiery trials of this life.

I echo the words of Mary when she said to the angel, "Be it unto me even as thou wilt." Be it as You would have it Lord. Today and for all of my tomorrows, Be it unto me even as thou wilt. And that's the miracle my friends. That seed of faith - that gift from God - has taken root and is growing. Quite miraculous.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Broken Pieces, Beautiful Love

It's amazing to me that Jesus, my very own Jesus, can take the broken pieces of my life - the ruined pieces - the pieces that are useless to anyone else but Him - and make something beautiful out of them. I don't know what He is creating yet, nor how soon I will get to see the whole picture or even glimpses of His master plan for my life, but I see Him working on it.
And I know it's a masterpiece.
So if some of the things you read on here trouble you, or if you think I'm headed in a wrong direction on something and you are tempted to pity my "falling": By all means, share your heart with me. Let's talk. Iron sharpens iron. But know that my heart - the very soul of myself - is seeking to serve and follow Jesus like I never have before. Know that. Trust that I am following the Master. Sometimes His footprints are faint and I have to seek them out, sometimes there is a flashing marquee pointing the way for me. But I'm following close. Closer than I ever knew possible. And for the first time in my life I am EXCITED about what God has in store for me. I no longer fear the future (well, at least not much! lol) I no longer feel the need to micro-manage every detail of my life to make sure I am "right with God". I just live. I just love Him. It is so wonderful.
I didn't know loving Jesus could be this good. I really didn't. And if you don't have a clue as to what I'm talking about - pray for it. SEEK HIM. He's right there. His hand is held out, beckoning to you like a bridegroom does His bride.

"My lover said to me, `Rise up, my beloved, my fair one, and come away. For the winter is past, and the rain is over and gone. The flowers are springing up, and the time of singing birds has come, even the cooing of turtledoves. The fig trees are budding, and the grapevines are in blossom. How delicious they smell! Yes, spring is here! Arise, my beloved, my fair one, and come away.' "
~Song of Songs 2:10-13 NLT

Thursday, March 08, 2007

De-Dragoning Me

"Divorce is like death." all the books say. The radio personalities, the pastors, the counselors, the well-meaning friends, the professionals. But it's not. It's worse. It's sortof like walking around a funeral parlor for the rest of your life. The person (in this case the marriage) never gets buried. Yeah, you have a piece of paper that says something neat and tidy like "Dissolution of Marriage effective on this date blah blah blah." But it never really ends. You have given some of the best years of your life to someone who has cast them aside like a McDonald's BigMac wrapper. Those years don't come back.

And the pain of it all is so very real. The failure. The shame. The FAILURE is the worst for me, signaling a VERY real issue I have with PRIDE. I used to say that "Agreeing to a divorce is like saying I don't believe in God anymore. God can do anything. Even save my marriage." The tricky part for me was excepting that He might not. He wants to, His word tells me that, but there is human will involved. No matter how I'd like to lean on the Sovereignty of God for my agenda and say the HE WILL change someone's heart the way I think He should, it just might not happen. God is sovereign. People are not always obedient to the Sovereign. I didn't want to accept that, and I felt I had to take anything that was offered in order not to thwart God's will.

It's ugly. All this is messy, so very UNTIDY. See, I'm the type that likes to make lists. I rarely get to everything on them, occasionally I even lose them and don't get one thing crossed off, but I like to make them. Boy can I make a pretty, neat and tidy, impressive list! Then there is reality. lol

This divorce business was NOT on my list. Shawn had a vasectomy reversal about 18 months ago, trusting God with our family size. I had a LIST!!!! I wanted more children, I wanted a happy husband, I wanted cheerful, well-adjusted, happy and godly children!!! I wanted my house perfectly in order every minute of the day. I wanted to be the perfect "Debi Pearlite" wife and have a husband who adored me...... lol

Do you see a trend here?

I do.

PRIDE goeth before a fall. God is revealing so much pride in my life. And he is methodically "De-dragoning" me, stripping away the layers of self to reveal JESUS more fully. 'Cause He's in there. Down deep. I talk to him everyday so I know He's there. Now if only other's could see Him in me. I hope I am smaller when the experience is over.

Listen to Me Good

Here is an expert from a book I'm reading for my midwifery studies. Margaret Charles Smith worked for more than 30 years as a midwife to the poorest women in her county, black and white, generally without pay of any kind. Serving God through her gifting as midwife. She generally ahd to work another job too to support herself and her sons - picking cotton, hoeing fields. She remembered the slave days, and they weren't that long ago. Certainly they did not end in Alabama with the Emmancipation Proclaimation. An excellent read for first-person historical narrative - even if you have no interest in midwifery. And a perfect example of community and service as Jesus taught.

Listen to me good now, when the Lord frees your soul, you can't hold it. You got to get out, if you don't do any more than talk to the bushes and posts and things. You don't have a private religion when the Lord frees your soul. You have been forgiven of your sins. He gives you a clean heart. Some folks go to church right today to see how I can outdress you. See So-and-So, and wasn't that dress a mess she had on. Well. That ain't no way to be. You supposed to let your heart go out for the person that doesn't have it. If you could, talk to some more people. Let's do such-and-such for So-and-So. That's what God wants. That's God right there. Right there in that. He loves His children. But some folks go to church just to see if they can outdress you. They work hard and get some fine clothes and just go to church and twist, twist, twist so's you can see it. I just want to be clean and decent. I don't want to be looking like I come out the cotton patch. That's what God wants. Dress? He don't want it. Finery? He don't want it. He wants the pure in heart. Shall see God. That's right. Them's what see God.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Spiritual Elitism vs. Simple Obedience

Spiritual Elitism vs. Simple Obedience
I am living, and so are you, in a world where we take for granted that the denim-skirted-matching-homemade-jumper-clean-cut family sitting next to us in church is born again. It's infuriating to me that we view modesty and apparel as a thermometer for the condition of one's soul. Not SO. The more I see it, the more frustrated I become and the more willing I am to cast off any of the trappings of this life. Denim skirt included. Because I was a Pharisee of the Pharisees.. goodness, I still am. Listen to me rail. Sorry. But I do know that I want CHRIST. Nothing more, nothing less. And I'm willing to accept and obey Him however He wants me to. Please forgive me my rantings. I am disgusted with myself.
Now I am being told in no uncertain terms that for ME (please read that part friends) for me, wearing a skirt all the time was something I was doing to gain favor in God's eyes and mans. A badge of honor. A piece of respectibility. Something that raised my merit, my worthiness. I was trying to convince everyone around me that I WAS a godly woman. And I was trying to do it with the outward apparel. lol Funny, the scripture that says NOT to focus on outward apparel is the one I never cited in respect to clothing!!!

Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; ~1 Peter 3:3

I wanted to believe that I had pursued God, obeyed His every word right down to the clothes I wore. I NEEDED to believe that I had found every little thing I could find to obey and had done so to the best of my ability. And the clothes and hair was the easiest part and the one that "showed".

The energy I was putting into "looking" like God wanted me to look (or so I thought) should have been put to better use. Specifically, as outlined in the following verse:

But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. ~1 Peter 3:4

These Scriptures tell me that what I wear within the realm of modesty shouldn't amount to a hill of beans to me or anyone else. Because it certainly doesn't to God. On the same subject, I just finished reading the book about Amy Carmichael "A Chance To Die" written by Elizabeth Elliot. She was strictly chastized by her sending missions department for adopting native clothing. Not only did it call to question her respectability (no corset for goodness sake!) but also her obedience to authority as a woman AND a missionary. She found no scriptural reasons to maintain Victorian fashion in the heat of India, nor did she find it to be in any way beneficial to her calling there as a missionary. Quite the contrary.

There, as here, there was a stigma attached to English dress. They stood out, were easily identified as "missionaries" and thus the lost they were trying desperately to reach closed their hearts to them. BECAUSE OF THEIR DRESS. They perceived that the missionaries held themselves loftily above them. And many many of them did. This perception closed many doors to the gospel. And many of the doors were closed by "acceptable and Christian attire" that the missionaries wore.
Of course I'm not trying to simplify the issue of reaching native cultures by delegating all of the problems to fashion. Not at all. There were a great many things that hindered the Gospel message then as they do today, the simplest of which is choice of apparel.

What I am saying is that Amy was not afraid to break ranks, to be radical, to slip quietly and unobtrusively into the midst of the lowest of lowlies. She could NOT have done this dressed in over 20 pounds of English costume. Practically or theologically, it would have been wrong and unfruitful for her to have tried. In fact she did. It was quite a long time before she switched over her entire wardrobe to the sari.

But when she did. Look out world!! What blessings and miracles began to flow through her fingers into the hands of the outcasts!!! Obviously, her change of clothes didn't effect this change. Her change of heart did. Her change of "I have an agenda." to "I will obey." changed everything.
And I want to see miracles and reach the lost in my little circle as well. Just as radically as Amy Carmichael or Elizabeth Elliot, or Mary Magdalen, or any of the other women in history who served in their communities through their simple acts of kindness and obedience to the Holy Spirit's leading and His Word.
Let me not be guilty of keeping tradition at the cost of keeping the commandments of God.
Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the
commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God,
ye hold the tradition of men, [as] the washing of pots and cups:
and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them,
Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep
your own tradition. ~Mark 7:7-9

Jesus, Friend of Sinners

DISCLAIMER: I’m going to preface this little essay by making a couple of disclaimers. One) I’m not preaching to you. I’m talking to myself, or rather, regurgitating what Jesus has been telling me lately. So if you take offense at me personally, dig deeper. Get out the Scriptures, pray, seek God. Then feel free to throw tomatoes if you want to. I’m a really good spaghetti sauce maker. ;) Two) I am realizing the amazing ability God has of custom-creating an educational program for each one of us. So if this course I’ve been assigned doesn’t fit your needs, please show grace and allow it to be as it the Lord intended it: for ME. Now… with no further ado…

Jesus said, “Be ye holy, even as I am holy.” If holiness was illustrated in the life of Christ, and none of us will argue his holiness, what did Jesus do while he was here? While he was in the flesh? He was known as the “friend of sinners”. He was ridiculed for that, cast out by the religiously pious leaders of his community, frowned upon. Tongues clicked as He walked by, heads shook. Only the lowly and destitute, the really AWFUL people saw Him for what He was and loved Him. For He was and IS the bodily, flesh and blood epitome of GRACE and LOVE. And that was something the church of Jesus’ day had failed miserably to show them. I am of the opinion that many of us, I at least, have failed in that endeavor as well. I am resolved to be right where Jesus would be if He were walking the earth today. Among the lowly. The cast-offs. The lost and undone. Jesus was holiness in the flesh. And I want to be holy - to keep that command to be holy. So I have to look deep into what holy IS. It’s not what I thought.

In all of my “well-doing” as home school mom, Proverbs 31 Wife-Wanna-Be, I forgot the most important call on my life. To show God’s love and grace to anyone and everyone who would hear it. And I’m ashamed to admit that I was so busy trying to create perfect, cookie-cutter children, molding their flesh and not their hearts, that I didn’t show these things to them either. I delegated “ministry” to men. I sat back on my laurels and consoled myself that making myself, my appearance, appear holy I could be a witness. No. I was wrong. Dead wrong. And I’ll tell you why.

The harder I tried to “look holy” or set-apart, look like a “light” , etc. the more I lose credibility with the world as a bringer of light. Either I’m a light or I’m not. Why am I trying so hard to “look” like something? The world isn’t fooled. Doesn’t matter at all whether I’m a candle, an incandescent light bulb or a florescent tube. If I am in Christ and have His light, then I’ll shine. I will attract the bugs. (sorry, couldn’t resist) The package doesn’t matter unless it dims my light. And I don’t think pants dim my light. In our culture, often I am finding, dresses do with regard to drawing sinners to myself so I can share that light.

When I ask an unbeliever (or someone who we judge to be an unbeliever based on their lack of church attendance) why they don’t want what “I” have. I am finding that many of them already have Jesus. They just don’t want the church. They don’t want the hypocrisy, the fake, the money hungry, the power-plays. Good for them. Jesus and His first disciples didn’t want the modern church either. They don’t want to see a woman in a dress and head covering yelling at her children (not that anyone I know does that) or ignoring and belittling her husband and then have that same woman try to pretend to be “holy“. No amount of calico, long skirts or batiste headgear can cover up the hypocrisy. Often, I am finding, people aren’t rejecting Christianity. Not at all. They are rejecting the church as it exists today. And I was doing more harm than good by trying to stand out, be a “silent witness”. Bunk. Where is that in Scripture???

See, here’s the problem with trying to “look holy”.

People don’t buy it. It’s just too hard of a sell. No one is that “pure”. That “untouched” by the world. No one. Jesus surely wore the clothing of His day, as did the women he was in contact with. Modesty was an issue then, there was prostitution then, and homosexuality, and cross-dressers and pimps. It wasn’t any prettier of a world that Jesus walked into then it is today. Yet he spent all of his time on matters of the heart. Not the flesh. I find it interesting that Jesus didn’t give one sermon on how to dress. Specifically. No. He didn’t. Modesty yes, pants vs. skirts? NO.

The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man,neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so [are] abomination unto the LORD thy God.
~Deuteronomy 22:5

When I quoted this Scripture (the only one I could find actually) for the “dresses only” argument…BOY! Forgive me LORD!!! I was so WRONG!!!! It is talking about men dressing as women! And women dressing as men! Transvestites!!! Because traditionally in Hebrew culture, men wore skirts. There are roughly a dozen references to men’s skirts. So according to this argument … logically, I am sinning by wearing a skirt!!! And even if one interprets it as is commonly done, then, it could be said that it is part of the old covenant. So do we really want to go there? I can’t even pretend to never eat pork again… goodness. What would I do without bacon? J Can’t obey one without obeying them all can we? (see James 2:10) I think, if it were important to Jesus, He would have told us. Don’t you? He had bigger fish to fry. People were going to hell. Not because of their clothes for goodness sake, nor even of their lifestyle. But because of their HEARTS being far from Him. And I have bigger fish to fry too, since I’ve been hit upside the head with the frying pan (lol).

So there you have it, MY MYTH #1 debunked. I don’t have to wear anything specifically, as long as it is modest, because Jesus judges my heart if He judges anything, not my denim skirt. Don’t panic, my dear dresses-only friends. I honor and accept and respect your position. And I would not for a second try to influence your conviction on the matter. That is the HOly Spirit's job. Not mine. I’m just sharing MY journey here. Not yours. I’m not pointing fingers. Truly. And don’t expect to see me in Levi’s anytime soon. I was raised Pentecostal for pity’s sake. lol But I no longer have an illogical and unproven reason for guilt over wearing them if I choose to. And I am toying with the possibility that they (dresses) may even hinder my ability to share the light if I wear them for the reasons I was wearing them for.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Grace-ful Musings

Just some poems I wrote down about grace and this wonderful world I am waking up to. Of course none of them are very good, but I thought I'd share. Often I can express myself better through a bit of rhyme. ;o)

all about grace i thought i knew
and rode the wind that the holy spirit blew
but i find i sat just on the edge
and the grace that i live now is new
if i answer when god calls
run into his arms to him give my all
he will carry all my hopes
and give them back in a boat that floats
He loves me ~ won't think he loves me not
petals on a daisy ~ a drink when it's hot
He's the one who loves me ~ not the one who loves me not
accept those tears
embrace the fears
jump headlong
into the years
for what comes
is no surprise
to the one
for me who died
"rest in Me" i hear Him say
yet He won't tell me
anything but today!
but then isn't that just it?
a life with christ must be
the life of complete