This Christmas

This Christmas

by:Joan Meyler

“Oh, Ms.Joan, it co’lmaa” “Christmas breeze da blow” “Ms. Joan yu want a blanket fu yu bed?” These are some of the phrases I hear as the weather tries to make up its mind.
With rainy season over, the temperature fluctuating between mid 70’s and mid 80’s, cloudy and sunny days, it’s anybody’s guess what each day will be like. Welcome to “winter” in Belize.

The school term ended on November 14th and end of term exams followed close on its heels.  December saw students fervently preparing for Christmas pageants and fundraising turkey dinners prior to the end of the term in mid-month. The requests began at the end of the school term, “Gran, when are we putting up the tree?” My host’s grand-daughter implored every few days.

Finally, one day I opened the door to a smiling face which almost outshone the lights on the Christmas tree. The end of term and ensuing days made for a quiet time for me, so I busied myself in other ways. One of which was to assist with the National Resource Center for Inclusive Education’s (NARCIE)Christmas party. I made individualized Christmas ornaments for each participant.  All 38 special needs participant were very happy to receive their very own ornament.

The party was exciting. There was a horse-drawn carriage and a bouncy house both of which tested the children’s patience as they all wanted to bounce and ride at the same time. Musical chairs was hilarious! I danced my way around the chairs with the children until the end when I was left standing and they sitting laughing at me.

May the hope, peace, joy and love that this season represents be manifest in your life.

 

As for Me and My House

As for Me and My House

by: Joan Meyler

I have been thinking about Mrs. Lot recently.  You know, Lot’s wife who turned into a pillar of salt? Her. The same one. Like us. She didn’t know the twists and turns her life would take.

As a child her every need was catered to. Decisions made for her. Her parents even selected her husband. They chose a man of good reputation, handsome, a man from a wealthy family and with the ability of creating yet more wealth, ensuring her every want would be met.

In due time, they got married. What a celebration that must have been! Weeks of singing, dancing, feasting. A wedding to be envied!

After the celebrations, life began anew for Mr. and Mrs Lot. Alone together, they came face to face with themselves and each other. Two strangers who thought they knew the other. Afraid of the vulnerability demanded in the union called marriage, they retreated into the design society had created; no, demanded.  Was it the one God intended? Was there the unity, vulnerability, unconditional love demanded when “two become one”? Or did they live together, each pursuing their own needs, wants, desires under the guise of making a better life?

Like Mr. and Mrs. Lot, there comes a time of decision making.  The decision made is reflective on how the life has been lived up to that point. Loving unconditionally, there is only one decision. Conditional love demands that the ego be satisfied.  The spirit is left out of that decision.  Yet it is the most vital part of any decision making. The ego is never satisfied always wanting more, setting more conditions.

As we contemplate this season of waiting, deciding, will you, me, be like Mrs. Lot, unable to release that which cannot co-exist with the direction God is taking us? Or will we grasp the Spirit’s hand as we are led into becoming God’s unconditional love in expression?

May His kingdom be manifest in you.

Ask and You Shall Receive

Ask and You Shall Receive

by: Joan Meyler

Did you play the game “Mother, May I” when you were a child? In this game you asked permission to move toward a goal. Sometimes the permission was granted; at others it was not.  Eventually the goal was achieved.  This simple children’s game laid the foundation of our asking and built faith in our believing that we will receive that we which we asked for.

Matthew 7:7, Luke 11: 9, James 1:5 and many other scriptures tell us to ask and we shall receive, thus reinforcing God’s willingness to answer our questions and supply our needs. Sometimes in our asking we ask amiss, not understanding what we are asking for or not recognizing when we have received the answers we seek. Take for example the prayer of Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:10). There has been many books written about this simple prayer and many of us have prayed this prayer.  But what are we asking for?  What do we know about Jabez that we should want to emulate him?

The Bible tells us a little about Jabez:

  • born in a situation of desperation and dysfunction
  • developed a relationship with God
  • defied what society expected of him

Jabez was a wealthy man when he asked God to expand his territory. Surely he did not need more money, land, etc. Just what territory was he talking about? When I think of “territory” I think of a physical location with some sort of border. Yet this was not what I think Jabez was asking God for.  I believe God has a plan for our lives and uses our experiences to guide us and grow our faith and trust. It must have been the same with Jabez; who the Bible tells us was a righteous man.

It is my belief that Jabez was asking God to enlarge his capacity to receive wisdom, revelation and direction from the Holy Spirit as well as how to use this outpouring in ministry to God’s people. He wanted God’s promises to be fulfilled and he wanted to be a part more of that than he had been.

As I think about this revelation, I ask myself “What the ministry am I doing that I want expanded? And for what purpose, my ego or God’s work?

What about you? God has a distinct purpose for you. Do you want God’s plan for your life? Why not pray that God will bless you indeed as you walk into the fulfillment of that purpose through ministering to His people!

Character of God on Display

Character of God on Display

by: Joan Meyler

Are you a fruit inspector? I was at the market recently purchasing fruit to supplement my lunch. As I browsed the display of oranges, melons, kiwi, apples, etc. my thoughts drifted to the times my sister and I have spent visiting “pick your own” farms where we wandered through groves of oranges or peaches or strawberry – whatever fruit was in season – selecting what we thought were the plumpest, juiciest fruit we could find. Sometimes our selections were perfect. At other times, they just appeared to be perfect until a bite was taken. It was then that we discussed the expertise fruit inspectors must have to know just when a fruit is ready. We also talked of how tired we were after fruit picking but how satisfying it was to know that we had selected what we thought was the best to be had.

Fruit in hand, I made my way back to the office and the lunch awaiting me.  The sound of footsteps behind me and the words, “Hi, are you on your lunch break?” caused me to turn and look into the face of Iyo, my nine-year-old shadow. I met Iyo at a school I visited, and we quickly became friends. Iyo is always hungry although he refuses to admit it.  He is also always in need of a hug although he is not always clean.  As I look into his smiling face, a phrase I recently read came to mind; “the fruit of the spirit is God’s character on display”.  The joy I see in Iyo’s eyes and the peace in his smile prompts me to ask myself, “How am I as a Christian displaying God’s character?”

Like the fruit in the bag I carried, the fruit of the Holy Spirit resides in me.  It is a result of God’s presence in my life.  Does the fruit inspector walking beside me see the changes my relationship with God has made in my life and is it making a difference in his?

This child has accepted me, a stranger in his midst, unconditionally. He has needs, yet he asks nothing of me.  As we walk down the street back to my office, I am thankful for the peace, joy and love God has shown me through this nine-year-old child.

May I encourage you to cultivate the fruit God has entrusted you with.

Love (1 John 3:18); Joy (Nehemiah 8:10); Peace (Philippians 4:6-8)

Forbearance (Colossians 1:11); Kindness (2 Timothy 2:24).

Goodness (3 John 11); Faithfulness (1 Corinthians 4:2).

Gentleness (Philippians 4:5); Self-Control (Titus 2:11-12)

Can You Hear Me?

Can You Hear Me?

by: Joan Meyler

 

The fingers of dawn barely fold back the shadows when “whooo, whooo”, calls me awake.  I’m not ready”, I respond nestling deeper into the folds of sleep still clouding my mind.

“But you must,” chirps the lizard in the corner where ceiling meets wall over the window.   Having done its dirty work, the owl flys away, “Whoo, whoo, whoo,” trailing in the stillness behind it.  I’m now fully awake.  Yet I lay there in the silence, listening.

As I lay listening, I hear the wind with its gentle breeze greet the day and birds sing their greeting one to another.  In the silence the sound of the Creator’s handiwork praised Him for its existence.  My thoughts turned to those who desperately search for someone who would listen to them.  Not just hear with the intent to respond, but truly listen to the heart’s cry; words that are silently shouted while the heart breaks from a desperate need.

It is easy to become lost in a world of sound.  The noise which surrounds us becomes familiar.  We miss it when it’s not there, the sounds of silence seem deafening.  But what about the whispers of God?  Do we become so used to the screams of the world that we can no longer hear the Shepard’s voice?  (John 10: 27, Romans 10:17)

I am learning to listen.  Not just to hear sound and respond to it, but to be alert and ready to hear with discernment, with intensity.   I don’t want to miss what I need to hear.   How about you?

 

 

A Firm Foundation

A Firm Foundation

 

by: Joan Meyler

For the past month I have been driving pass a house under construction.  I watched as the land was cleared, the foundation marked, and concrete poured. All appeared as it should to my eyes. One day I had company as I drove my usual route.  Seeing the beginning of this house, my companion comment, “that’s a low foundation, three bricks high is not enough”.

“It looks okay to me,” I replied. “Why do you think it should be higher?”

He responded, “It rains very heavily in this area. The foundation needs to be at least twice as high to avoid flooding”.

That got me thinking. . . As children we depend on our parents to guide us (Proverbs 22:6), eventually we get to the place where we make our own decisions. Sometimes our decisions are well thought-out and wise sometimes not. Some of our habits even trap us in destructive behaviors (Romans 3:23) and we find ourselves in need of a place of refuge.  During those times of difficulty, in the dark experiences of life, what do we rely on? How is the foundation on which we are building our life? Is it able to withstand the challenges we face?

The 91st Psalm tells us of God’s willingness to protect, provide, support and deliver us. Without a belief in God and the faith which comes from our relationship with Him, we become blown and battered by the winds of life. These winds may cause cracks in our foundation (ability to stand firm, untroubled by life’s challenges) however as these cracks become filled with faith our relationship with God deepens into one of trust. The storms no longer threaten to flood our lives as we find ourselves firmly planted and supported by that impenetrable rock.