Sunday, February 23, 2014

Seeing Change

The above is a simple time lapse video of my pregnancy from start to finish. As you can see from the first half, it took me awhile to really start showing and to look like I was pregnant! (And I got lots of comments about it throughout the pregnancy. I knew I was smaller than most people were expecting me to be!) But by the end, there was no mistaking it - there was a baby in there that needed to come out.

Watching this video gets me thinking about the concept of change and growth. In pregnancy, it's hard to really notice a change in a woman's body from day to day, because the baby's growth is so subtle and slow. But when you compare the beginning to the end, the growth is major! All of those little changes over time add up to a major change, and the contrast is evident.

This is also true for our spiritual life. Not every day is a huge turning point or an extreme jump in one direction. Most of the time, walking with God is about small steps that we take every day to draw closer to Him. We may not be able to notice the growth every day, but there are times when we can look back and see the major change God's been working in our life and how different we are today than we were weeks, months or years earlier.

Sometimes change goes in a negative direction, too. We may not notice the small steps we are taking away from God each day, but then we look at our life and see how far we've slipped over time. This kind of slow change can be insidious and dangerous.

May we make small choices and take small steps each day toward God, so that we allow Him to work the BIG changes in our life!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What is love?

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:11,12 (NIV) 

This time of year, everything is red or pink and heart-shaped. All the magazine covers tell us “5 Tips to Win Back Your Man’s Heart” or “Take Her on the Date of a Lifetime.” Love is everywhere, or at least packaged definitions of love are everywhere. "If you really loved him, you’d buy him that expensive watch", says that magazine ad. Others say, "if you really loved her, she’d open a little felt box of diamonds on a ski vacation!" 

 And while the bible can’t tell you if you can pull that dress off for your big date tonight, it does answer the burning question behind all of this steamy advice: what is love? In the 1 John passage above, the question is answered for us. When Jesus died on the cross for the sins of His enemies, He gave us the best example of what love truly is: sacrifice. I may know how to love my wife, even when I screw up, but how do I love others with the sacrificial love Christ showed on the cross? 

 E.M. Bounds was a pastor around the time of the Civil War. He wrote a lot about prayer. He said this:
“Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still. He will never talk well and with real success to men for God who has not learned well how to talk to God for men.” 

Spending time in prayer for those around us is a wonderful way to show the love of Christ. We know that when God’s people pray, God moves powerfully among them. There are also many small decisions we can make in a day to show love to those around us. We can leave work early to have a family game night or send someone an encouraging email. When we sacrifice our most precious resources for other, like time and attention, we show others how important they are to us and to God.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Explaining Backwards

As you can imagine with Ellie around now, life has been upside down. We love it and wouldn't have it any other way, but we haven't been updating the blog as much as we would like. But as we jump back into the language learning adventure, I had a quick observation to share.

I have started working with a new language helper recently on an exchange basis (an hour of English for an hour of German). Most of our language helpers and tutors have been paid up to this point, which usually saves some time because we don't have to do an hour of English along with the hour of German.

Now I am starting to do more exchanges and it is really helpful. My helper doesn't speak that much English. During our English times, I end up going back to German to explain a specific concept or answer a question about how something functions. This is good practice and helpful. It is interesting to look back at English through the lens of my newly adopted language.

However, sometimes it is just purely difficult to explain English grammar. This is because of the way we learn languages as children. We absorb them in a very natural context and the rules of grammar become like air to us. We breath it everyday but rarely stop to think about how it functions. So going back and explaining how these rules function is an interesting challenge. They say you never really understand something until you can easily explain it to someone else. I think explaining things with new tools makes it even more fun and interesting!

Photo credit: gracey from