Friday, July 14, 2017

Moments of Intention

Sometimes it seems I am simply going through the motions: I read my Bible, but can't concentrate with the many interruptions. Does it really make a difference? I think so. (Matthew 6:23) It is the heart that chooses to read God's Word, despite distractions, that God desires. The moments of prayer throughout the day- they seem to lack intimacy; yet at the same time, they reveal an awareness of the Presence of God in my life.

As a mom of two toddlers, I am busy full time. Some days its seems my time is ruled by the immediate necessities that crop up having babies: picking up toys, cleaning messes, dealing with attitudes, playing cop/umpire, and so forth. Yet, even those days I have moments.

Being a mom makes serving God manifest in different ways. I must still be first and foremost, a daughter of the King. The children may seem to need my constant attention in this physical world, and yet, there are moments at my disposal throughout the day.

A moment when I can choose to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs and quote verses while swinging the boys.

A moment to read God's Word instead of reaching for my phone when my children lay down to nap or in that rare occasion they play quietly together on the floor.

A moment to pray while rocking Zachary or when sneaking in that trip to the bathroom.

A moment to teach when I read Jude his story Bible, explaining the pictures, and talking about choosing God's way.

A moment to greet my husband when he comes in the door; to teach my children to greet daddy enthusiastically at the door as well.

A moment to choose to show love and grace to my son when he spills crackers all over the floor.

My life is defined by moments, because those moments reveal my heart.  When I only seem have moments at my own disposal, what do I do with those moments? I must be intentional: ever, only, all for my King.

"Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established." Proverbs 16:3

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Things You Might See in Georgia part 1

Well, we've been in Tbilisi 7 weeks now. Everyone is asking how it is going, what it is like, and so forth. Sorry for the delay, as I'm finding unpacking/moving in to be a difficult task with two toddlers.

Tbilisi, Georgia is very modern. We are learning you can find just about anything, if you happen to be at the right time and in the right place; or you can find something "close." But there are definite differences to what modern means here and what it means in the States. (I had hoped for pictures, but just haven't gotten that far, so please try to imagine.) For example, here are a few things about roads/cars:

- Cars park on the sidewalks, people walk on the streets. (Really wish I had a picture of this!!!)

- Driving is seriously aggressive. I've seen taxi cars pull in front of a nice neat line waiting to turn left, and turn left in front of them, cutting them off, and laugh while doing it. People park everywhere, and if you take too long to park in one spot, a little car may pull in behind you and steal it. Most annoying trait is that they will pull out, needle their nose in, then stop instead of merging.

- They love to honk their horns, and there seems to be a horn-honking language/communication sometimes.

- Cars park so tightly, a rear camera is more necessity than luxury; if your car needs towed, they will have to (and do) use a crane to extract it.

- Georgians don't look before crossing a street; they just cross and the expect the cars to stop. (Even major roads!)

- Washing your car in your driveway is a ticket-able offence. Car wash locations MUST be used. (They recycle the water; though I'm not sure why, as Tbilisi is on a river.)

- Street signs are not always present at crossroads.

- Lights go from green to yellow to red, then back to yellow again before turning green.

- Almost all parking in the city requires a parking permit of 50 lari a year, but the vehicle registration/tag last as long as the car is owned/runs and costs about 200 lari.

- Not having the registration in the vehicle is a jail-able offence.

- It's hard to know what lane to drive in (and some of the Georgians make their own lane.) The right lane has buses and taxis stopping plus cars waiting to turn right (no right on red here). The left lane has taxis stopping plus cars waiting to turn left. The middle lane seems to have cars that don't know where they're going or which lane they want to be in!

- Georgians will stop their car in the middle of the road, put their hazard/flashing lights on, and that means they can park there. It's not technically legal, but it is very commonly done.

I think that's enough for now... more later!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

God's Expected End

Though I did not receive Christ as my personal Savior until my teen years, I somehow always knew God wanted me to be a missionary. God had called me to be a missionary to orphans in Mexico- I always knew it. That's where I belonged. I learned Spanish. I learned to work with children. I received the college education I needed. I loved Hispanic people, food, and culture. Mexico is where I felt at home. 

Knowing that, I went to Mexico twice on mission trips. My parents, however, were very wise. They wanted me to have a well-rounded missions education and required me to go to other countries as well, which was good for me. Yet, I always knew I'd be back to Mexico. Then, the last time I visited Mexico, the Lord clearly shut the doors to ministry there. One after another. God left me with no doubt. He no longer wanted me in Mexico.

Confused, I came home from the trip and talked to my mom. What do I do? All my life, Mexican orphans had been my aim. Not anymore.

Very wisely, my mom explained that perhaps God wanted to use Mexico as training ground and to keep me focused through life. (Perhaps that is exactly what God did. I can be a very un-focused, flighty person, moving from one idea to the next. I needed a goal like that to keep me on track through my teen and early adult years.) Since I did not know what step to take next, I just kept doing what I had been doing before- serving the Lord in a way that I knew He would be pleased. I worked in children's ministries, music ministries, and served my family as best I could.

9 months later, I met a man going to the country of Georgia as a church planting missionary.... and well, you've read the rest. (or you can read "our love story" here) Up until now, I just took this at face value- God had used Mexico as my training/focus. Yet, here in Georgia, I've learned of the significance of God using this particular country to prepare me for the current field I'm in.

When one of the current missionary wives here heard I knew Spanish, she told me this would help me a lot. Many Georgian words are very similar to Spanish words. The culture is very similar. Bible and Biblical words are borrowed from the Spanish/Latin as well. Even the music resembles Hispanic style. Driving... now that is definitely as crazy as Mexicans. 

Of course, we are all familiar with Romans 8:28. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." And, Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Yet how many times do we get to look back upon our lives and see all the puzzle pieces fit together? I get to see God's "expected end" for His good and glory through my life. So cool. Our God is truly great!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sometimes, Losing is Victory

The last mile of the marathon is always the hardest. You're worn out. Your body is stressed. You're hungry. You're yearning to reach the finish line, and feel like you should be there already. Your mind and every part of you is screaming that you are just... done. Yet, you press on to the finish, determined to win.

We are definitely feeling this effect as we finish up deputation. This last conference has been hard for us. It is unique, in that it is bilingual, meaning everything is translated to or from Spanish and English. Yet, that also means the meetings are twice as long. It's a full morning and evening schedule. 8am-1:00pm, 5:30-10pm. We're tired, not sleeping well, and stressed. One of the babies was sick all night (thankfully, just something that didn't agree, and not the flu!), I have a cold.

Yet, God is in the midst.

During this conference, we had a precious growing time in our marriage. An issue came up that generally means an explosive fight for most marriages. There wasn't really a right or wrong- but very definite and hard-felt opinions. Even before we talked, I knew Michael's stand. Honestly, I knew he wouldn't change his mind, and I didn't want him to, as that would change who he is and what he stands for. No; I knew I was "fighting" a loosing battle, yet I knew that was right. Biblically, Michael is my spiritual leader, and I chose on our wedding day to bow to his decisions for our family.

We DID discuss the issue, but because both of our hearts were in the right place (our relationship is more important than anything else), no argument ensued. Peace reigned. In fact, what commenced was a sweet time of fellowship, pouring our hearts out together. Renewing our commitment, recharging our relationship, and reviving our love strengthened our marriage; rather than an argument driving us apart.

Truly God's way is the right way!
Praise the Lord for His mercy and grace. Indeed, "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me..." (Psalm 138:8) Amen!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

When God Works

When God spoke, the world came to be.
His voice calmed a wild and stormy sea.
When God formed with His word the sky and land,
With His hand He made a man.

When God said, the rivers parted ways.
He willed, and He changed the length of days.
When God pleased, He lit an altar's fire.
Holy men He did inspire.

When God planned, gates of hell could not prevail;
His Son came, enduring shame and nail.
When God's pow'r rose Jesus from the grave,
He proved mankind He'd save.

When God moves, convicting hearts of sin,
If asked, He will cleanse it deep within.
When God hears, He will answer in His love,
Bringing glory to the Lord.

When God works, He makes darkness into light.
Gives the blind man sight.
When God works, He takes a soul from hell
And gives eternal life!

© Barbara Hinson, April 2017

please do not copy without crediting the author!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Called to be a Witness

Sitting in missions conferences all over the USA for the last two years, I've heard lots of sermons. I've met lots of people who want their loved ones saved. Yet, when the Saturday door knocking time comes, two Believers (usually the pastor and a faithful deacon) show up. Where's those folks who had such fire for reaching the lost? Where are the people who want to see their friends and loved ones saved?

Recently the Lord has been impressing on me the necessity of the urgency of the gospel and the incredible selfishness of excuses. I've mingled with others on a Sunday morning, or during the meal before the conference speaker gets up to preach, and I know I'm not alone. I've had, and heard many excuses. I get you. I'm right with you, but when we write them out, they really don't hold.

----I work at a very taxing job, and I can't use work time to witness. 
----My neighbor just scowls and complains about everything I do; I gave up trying to be nice. 
----My schedule is just too full.
----No one reads tracts anymore.

And my favorite:
----“I know missionaries and pastors are called to tell people the gospel. I’m called to just live a good Christian life, showing people what Christians are like.”  Yes, I’ve heard it too. Some are “called” by God specifically to share the gospel. Others are called to be a “lifestyle” witness. Unfortunately, this is NOT in the Bible.

Every Christian is called to share about sin, death, Christ, and the cross.

In the military, soldiers are often “volunteered” for undesirable, difficult, and even dangerous tasks. Why then, are they said to have volunteered? They didn’t ask for the mission- they were told. Well, you say, they’re in the military; that’s their job. I answer you: that’s it precisely. When they signed the dotted line for Uncle Sam, they “volunteered” for any job that they were asked to do.

This too, Christian, is your task. See, you may not have “volunteered” to speak out about Christ. Perhaps you’re shy, or afraid, or busy, or…. whatever. Yet, when you accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, (as you MUST do to be saved, Romans 10:9,13) you signed the proverbial dotted line. You gave your life to Christ. It is no longer yours to do as you please. You must “please Him who has chosen [you] to be a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:4)

So, your Commanding Officer is now the Lord Christ. He didn’t say, if your personality works with it, or, if you can tell your neighbor without them being offended by it, or, if you have time to knock on doors, then preach the gospel. No, Christ said “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) “And ye shall be witnesses unto me… unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Go. Witness. This is the command to every Believer.

So, that whole “lifestyle witness” excuse is out.
What is a witness anyway? A witness is: "a testimony; one who gives evidence; one who has personal knowledge of something." Dictionary definition aside, what is a witness? A witness is someone who goes to court to testify what they know or have personally seen. Their job is to verify the words of the defendant or prosecutor so the jury can make a knowledgeable decision, hopefully based on truth.

Christian, how can you “testify” if you don’t open your mouth? A testimony is not a testimony if it is never told. A witness cannot truly be a witness if they say nothing.

Am I saying your good Christian lifestyle is unnecessary? By no means! James the apostle wrote a book to Believers to explain how to live. We DO need to live in such a way that becomes the name of Christ- that makes Him be glorified. Going back to our original example, a soldier wears a certain uniform, they have a particular lifestyle, and they have very specific rules and protocols to follow. It’s hard to mistake a military soldier.

Christians too ought to live different from the world. We ought to be ready to “give an answer to every one that asketh of you a reason of the hope that lies within you.” (1 Peter 3:15) However, this ALONE is not enough. The gospel requires urgency. People are dying every day. We cannot just pray that they will ask us about Christ before they have a fatal crash on the interstate!
Christ says “go!” Christ says “witness!”

Even if you don’t know what to say, you can read a tract to someone. You can use a wordless book- that’s what I do. You can tell someone that there is good news for them today and give them a tract or Bible verse about salvation. You can tell them what God did for you and invite them to read God’s Word with you. Whatever you do, open your mouth. Share. DON’T BE SILENT! It’s urgent! And yes, Christian, you are called to do it.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Take Time to Blow Some Bubbles

Readers, we are so excited. As you can read about here, we are so grateful to God as we prepare to leave for the country of Georgia! It has been a long, almost three years. God is faithful and good, and we have learned so much of Him along the way.

However, I wanted to share something with you about the little people this time, as I haven't written about them in a while, and they are such an integral part of our lives. So, I want to encourage other moms who have toddlers on road trips - and especially missionaries on deputation or furlough - with some ideas and pictures of what we do. Jude is so much fun, and he makes friends fast. He's a great asset to sharing the gospel. He loves to "GO," in whatever context. He is very, very, VERY busy! Toddlers are a challenge in a hotel room, but, though I may feel like it some days, it is not impossible. Here are some tips and experiences, not in any particular order:

I try to have games and toys in his reach, and mine, in the car. They start out in a bucket, but no matter what I do, they end up all over the back seat. I try to swap things up every once in a while, so he doesn't always have the same toys. And, every once in a while, he gets a new toy, in this case, sunglasses. He sits between our seats, in the back (in easy reach!) so the sun can bother him when it's rising or setting in front of the windshield.
Baths. Lots of baths! We make it fun. If your toddler likes the spray feel, you can leave the shower on while they're in the tub. (Be sure to have tub plugs on hand, as most hotels don't have working ones.) Here, we couldn't play in the pool, so we brought the pool to us.
Take full advantage of the room. We are Choice Privilege members, so we get a nice hotel and very nice room when we earn enough points. Here, we had a big window seat. Talk about entertainment! Perfect for our little guy, and brother loved to watch. 2 for 1 deal!
I had enough! I needed more ideas for a rainy day in a hotel room, and I was just plain wore out! What next? A tent. The table/desk in the room just needed the blanket off the bed. All I had to do was sit in it with him. He did the play-by-play. (Another tip: office chairs make great rocking chairs in a pinch!)
  Don't forget about daddy. Yes, Michael has a ton of things to do each day: calling churches, making appointments, doing paperwork.... but he has to take breaks too. And the boys love it.
Basket ball with the laundry basket and a glow-in-the-dark balloon ball. Oh yeah! Cheap entertainment, I know. So are glow sticks at Dollar Tree.
Right now we have a four door sedan and two babies, for a month long trip. No, we don't carry a pack and play. Jude has a sleeping bag- Zachary, well, you can see. We put him where we can (yes, that's a drawer- he doesn't sit up yet). They have blankets that are always there. Beds, not so much.
Of course, Jude had to try it out...
 Don't be afraid to let your kids move around at restaurants. (Dare I write this???!!!) Yes, be the parent, and you know your kids best- don't let them be obnoxious. But if there's a door for little people, as there was at the original Chick-fil-a/Truett's Grill, by all means, let them play with it. Many times we get meals during offtimes, so the fast food or restaurant is pretty much empty. We let Jude walk around, so long as we can see him and he is behaving. He likes to push his wheeled highchair around. It lets him get his energy out. You know your kids, so do whatever you need for them; but don't buckle the belt too tightly. They've been sitting in a car for HOURS.
 Find parks and/or play places. Chick-fil-a has great play places. Sometimes a children's museum does too. Most towns have a park. Some of the churches you visit have a play area outside as well, (or a nursery with "new" toys). Get out of the room however you can do it!
 Let the toddlers be the "big kid" for a day. -Read to brother. -Help with the trash. -Pick out clothes to wear.
 Do something different! Swap up the schedule some. Eat ice cream for lunch, just because you can. Play on the bed just this once. Drink "coffee cocoa" in a big people's cup (kids' version of coffee- hot chocolate).Get a few minutes of break thanks to "Baby Einstein."
 Go for a walk. If you don't have a sidewalk, walk the hotel or church halls. Find a Walmart or mall just to cruise. Let the toddler push- he's the one with endless energy.

These are just a few ideas. Maybe some of them will work for you. Do you have ideas? Feel free to post a comment for others to read. My boys are a challenge, but they're teaching me to take the time to blow some bubbles.