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A matter of perspective

It’s been a little random here at the Wright House.

Monday a fence was installed in the back yard for our Little Girl Maisie. It’s a beautiful thing and will give her a place to run some of that amazing energy contained in her small frame.

I came in to prepare supper and the pan I reached for under the sink was full of water. Other things stored there were also full.  The floor of the lower cabinet was soaked and sloping, the pressed wood giving way to the weight of pots and pans.  I began to pull things out. This is not the first time for a leak under the sink.  And each time it just about pushes me over the edge a little bit more.

Sweet William called for help, and his good brother responded to our S.O.S.  Still it would be a few days of all things stored underneath now sitting on table tops and counters. And the fan runs insistently under the cabinet.  Cooking will be minimal and clean up a pain.

In addition to that, I’ve been dealing with something I can’t quite explain, like low-grade anxiety. Several factors and life situations could be contributing.  One more was added with the kitchen situation. When lots of big and little things pile up, I begin to feel weighed down, drowning in it all, looking for a life preserver.

Times like this I go back and read old journals to find out what was happening last year, two years ago or more.  I suppose I am hoping to find some pattern or perhaps a different angle that will help me.

This morning I went to an earlier year and read the months of May to July.  I came upon an entry that brought me to tears just like it did that very year.

I was troubled and weighed down- again – with heartbreak and illness bearing down on my soul. Feelings were raw  Seclusion was my established self-protection. I wondered what, why, how long.

My journal entry recorded that I received an email from a sweet young friend who was serving the Lord with her husband in a far away land.  She wrote that she had been awakened in the middle of the night several times to pray for us.

Her night was my day, the time when I carried my sorrow, cried my tears, and wondered where my God was. She counted it a privilege to be awakened and to pray for someone on the other side of the globe. Her words of encouragement and precious Scripture promises brought more tears, but this time they were tears of wonder and thanksgiving that the Father whom we both serve united us through His Spirit, prayer and email.

And why is it that a God who cannot be contained in the highest of heavens or the depths of the earth would be concerned about me and my piddling problems? Why does He focus on this blue and green planet, so small in the universe? I don’t know how or why, and yet I know I am dear to His heart.

While I was wondering where He was in my pain those few years ago, He was waking my friend in the middle of the night to pray for me. And her email arrived at just the time I was in my deep despair, the very time I needed to hear from someone, somewhere.

So often I need a change in perspective. Looking at life differently. Seeing the big picture along with the small details.

Today’s challenges and problems can engulf my vision until I have no sight for the beauty around me, for the kindness of friends and a brother-in-law who comes when we are needy, for the bounty of good things God supplies in various and wonderous ways.

I ask for forgiveness and eyes to see, for wisdom to understand that God’s heart is always for me even when circumstances seem to be against me. Perhaps I will learn one of these days that no matter what I face today, my Lord will be a strong tower of defense, a shelter in my storm, a light at the end of my tunnel, a breath of fresh air in my devastation.

He is a good God. He knows when I cry and He brings relief.  He is not far away or unconcerned. He is near and faithfully working all things – All Things – for my good and for His glory.

May it be so that He is glorified in it all.

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How then shall we give?

Please welcome my friend Debbie Moore to Strengthened by Grace once again.  Her son’s mission experience is a story worth telling.  Take time to savor this narrative.  And maybe grab a tissue.  Most of all, expect your heart to be touched.

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35

Unshaven and eighteen pounds lighter, our son Jonathan met us with a smile at the airport in Nashville, Tennessee, after having spent four months serving the poorest of the poor in Sierra Leone, a small, war-torn country in West Africa.

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It was December 17, 2011, and our family had planned our annual outing to the Opryland Hotel to enjoy its iconic Christmas lights and to do Christmas shopping together. At Jonathan’s request, our first stop was to shop for children and fellow servants in Kroo Bay, a shanty town in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, where he had served and learned so much about the privilege of abundance.

It was an afternoon our family shall never forget as we learned about the abject poverty in Sierra Leone. In Kroo Bay one in four children dies before the age of five. While there, Jonathan had participated in a funeral for a precious five-year-old boy, one who had befriended him while he was there.

The life expectancy in Kroo Bay is 37 years due to poor sanitation and disease, and 100 percent of the adults are unemployed. Every Saturday a Mercy Ship comes into port to give each child one hard-boiled egg and a tablespoon of peanut butter paste, which may be the only nutritional food he or she receives for the week.

We were deeply humbled at the thought of purchasing gifts from our abundance to help meet needs of God’s children across the world, people our son had so grown to love.

Our next stop was the Opryland Hotel in the land of affluence and indulgence.

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As we walked through the crowds of tourists and visitors, Jonathan suddenly became quiet and introspective.

Just imagine catching contaminated rainwater with which to bathe one day and viewing free-flowing waterfalls and dancing fountains the next; eating a hard-boiled egg for breakfast one morning and having the privilege to order a mouth-watering steak for the price a family of six sustains itself for a month; rubbing shoulders with families dressed in designer fashions who live in Pottery Barn houses after leaving families clad in tattered and mismatched clothing who have no home.

Our family began to see Christmas through the eyes of the poor and felt shame for our glamoured lives of waste and pursuit of more. As we replaced our traditional family gift-giving with those for poverty-imprisoned children, we experienced an unspeakable joy in our hearts that Christmas season.

What would hinder us from giving sacrificially instead of receiving this Christmas season?  Like the wise men who presented gifts to the Christ Child, could we offer gifts to the less fortunate in His name?  

Poverty abounds even in our own country. Let us teach our children through example that it is indeed more blessed to give than to receive – a priceless lesson that could be passed from generation to generation, that we may truly exalt the Giver of life and all good gifts through every blessing we enjoy.