Monday, December 31

we are kind of crazy

saturday night, we got up at 3 am (so i guess really sunday morning) to watch the patriots play football.

last night, jason and i stayed up till the wee hours of the morning playing cards because neither one of us wanted to forfeit.

it's been fun though. i really like vacation time.

on another note, we got some goodies from my parents via some friends visiting bethlehem. 2 lbs. of cheddar cheese and five packages of freeze dried bacon, plus other little goodies. i'm trying not to eat all of the cheese in one day. we had scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese and bacon for breakfast this morning and it was divine.

Thursday, December 27

blessings and provisions

so i don't really understand why i always stress out about money, but i do. and every time that i am convinced that we didn't plan well enough or save enough or raise enough or whatever, God provides for us in a way that is beyond what i ever thought.

the last few weeks have been pretty tough financially. we realized how much stuff we are going to have to get for our baby, and while some of it will be gifts, some of it won't and it will be expensive. plus, having another member of the family will cost more money that we were expecting to be spending when we so carefully constructed our budget last year. our car keeps having problems that are getting progressively more expensive to fix. my phone is broken and cell phones are ridiculously over-priced here. the holiday season came with presents to buy and parties to throw and attend. so, i was getting pretty stressed out.

a few days ago, i had a small breakdown. i was so annoyed with God. i guess i thought that we had planned pretty well. and we had worked pretty hard to raise the support we need, budgeted wisely, saved where we could, spent where we needed to and we were running out. we were not to the point of wondering where our next meal was going to come from, but i felt like it was getting close to that. our savings was almost dry. we didn't have money to pay to fix our car, and while our mechanic was being so gracious by fixing it and saying we could pay him when we could, i had no idea when we would be able to pay him. we had already spent a good chunk of our emergency fund on things like buying a car and insurance and visas, so we didn't have money saved to pay for the delivery of our baby. and i was just sure that none of this would be provided. or at least not in the way that i thought was the best way. i always have this entitlement attitude, like i am "missionary" so whenever i am stressed, God should just snap his fingers to take care of the problem. and they way i saw it, His fingers were not snapping fast enough.

lucky for me, God is patient. i know, and always do know, that He will take care of us. He always has. last year when we were in a financial crunch, the same thing happened. i'm sure next year will be the same. and the year after that. every time that i feel like God is maybe forgetting about us or not keeping his end of the deal, He blesses us beyond what i was even asking for. we have received more money that i was even asking God to provide right now. our car is paid for. our savings is replenished. we got christmas money that can buy a lot baby stuff. we can continue saving for things like a plane ticket home this summer since immediate needs are now taken care of.

i wish that i wasn't so stubborn or hard headed or whatever and would just learn to really know that God will never leave us and will always take care of us. it sure would save me a lot of stress. as i've been pregnant, i've stated to think more and more about the father-child relationship that we have with Him. when our daughter is born, i will do every thing in my power to take care of her and to protect and provide for her. lucky for me, my heavenly Father has way more power to protect and provide for me than i could ever even think of having. not just financially either. that is the hardship that i've have been facing, but there have been so many times this year that He has provided emotionally or spiritually just when i have needed it and just when i felt like i was on my own.

so that's just some thoughts that i've been thinking a lot lately. i serve an amazing God. i serve a God who loves me more than i can know and who will always be with me. even when i forget his goodness, even when i get mad at him for really dumb reasons, even when i have such little faith, he chooses to bless me and to show me love. He is my Father and i am his child.

Sunday, December 23

Merry Christmas from Bethlehem

Bethlehem is decorated and ready for Christmas. Tourists are coming every day to see the birthplace of Jesus. Children are out of school for the holidays and are enjoying window shopping and Christmas candy. Christmas carols are played from shops and can be heard all evening long as you drive through town. Santa, or Baba Noel (Father Christmas), is all around, passing out candy and trinkets to children. Families are together as people have time off of work, school, and university. It is a very happy season, as people are enjoying themselves and seem to forget for a moment about the hardships of their lives.
This has been an especially busy holiday season in Bethlehem this year because the Muslim feast of Eid il Adha and Christmas fall at almost exactly the same time of year. Eid il Adha is a feast of sacrifice, where Muslim families sacrifice a goat to ask forgiveness for their sins. Each family also must provide a goat to a poorer family, as an example of sacrificial giving. The feast comes at the end of the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that is used as a way to win favor with Allah. Wednesday was the first day of the feast and it ends on Saturday.
It is very interesting to see how this year everyone in Bethlehem is celebrating the forgiveness of their sins. The Christian families are using this time to remember the birth of Jesus and how his coming to earth provided us with a way to be saved. The Muslim families are using this time to celebrate the forgiveness of their sins through the sacrifice that they performed. However, this forgiveness is temporary, as it must be granted year after year. What an opportunity we as followers of Jesus have been given to use this season to share the unconditional love and forgiveness that God offers each of us through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Please pray for the people of Bethlehem this Christmas.

Pray for the tourists who come and see the lives of the Palestinians. Pray that they will see that there is a Church here that needs to be loved and encouraged. Pray that they will see that there are Muslims who need to know the love of Jesus.

Pray for the Christians who live here. Pray that they will be encouraged during this season. Pray that they will be lights to their Muslim neighbors.

Pray for the Muslims who live here. Pray that they will know the love of Jesus and that they will turn to him for forgiveness and unconditional acceptance. Pray that seeds of hope will be planted in their hearts as they see and participate in the Christmas celebrations.

Pray for all who live in this land. Pray that the peace that Jesus brought with his birth will be known in the hearts of all who come to Bethlehem this Christmas.