Friday, June 28, 2013

Eternal Hope

Eternal Hope
If you’re anything like me, you have struggled with fear over the future, especially fear over the eternal future. As a child, I was afraid of the coming of Christ. I would lie awake during late night thunderstorms, anxious, and terrified that Christ was returning! Even as a Christian adult, I have feared this event. It is like that country song with the lyrics, “Lord I want to go heaven, but I don’t want to go tonight!” That has been me, shamefully, and sometimes still is.
Lately, though, God is replacing the fear of the eternal future with expectant joy over it. I realize that part of my struggles to be satisfied in Christ alone, to derive my confidence and joy from Him and not others, is that I have not fully embraced the hope to which I have been called. He is calling me to live a Holy life, set-apart for His purposes, and though I have tried to do this, I have not always been successful.
I think the reason for my lack of success is that I have not completely “bought in” to the goodness of God. I can’t live a life of Holiness if I don’t fully embrace the eternal perspective. It is impossible to serve two masters! I will continue to live for my own flesh until I grasp God’s greatness.
I am beginning to “get it”, and I am setting out this summer to discover, dissect, and fully embrace the love Christ has for me. I want to derive my confidence from Jesus Christ. I want to receive my worth and value from Jesus Christ. I do not want my self-confidence to rest upon how people view me, even people who I highly respect. I do not want to feel a stinging pain when I don’t get the reaction from other people that I want, a reaction that my sinful flesh needs in order to feel affirmed and not rejected. This is an incorrect perspective and it is in fact, placing my pearls before swine- that is placing my value, a value that has been deemed priceless by the God of the Universe, into the hands of mere mortals who are, like me, tainted by sin.

We are called to edify and affirm one another, but not provide the price for our souls. No, that was already provided by Jesus Christ. He paid all. We cannot add to our value. What more is there to add? I am setting out this summer to explore how deep and how wide is the love of Christ and to base my hope and confidence upon this perfect love.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Okay, I am going to be perfectly candid here. I want to get married, preferably sooner rather than later. I want to have children, preferably naturally AND through adoption. Actually, for me, I would say that adopting is just as natural—OR EVEN MORE NATURAL as birthing to me, as it has been a desire of mine even longer than birthing a child has been. How do I combine this dream of mine with the rest of my life? Living overseas. Pursuing the m-issi-on field in a location and role The Father has not yet revealed to me? Having a career and an ambition to further my education? Being single? Enjoying my life? Serving The Father? And pr-aying that The Father will bring me His choice of a mate in His time?

Simple. My primary purpose and desire is to glorify The Father. I want to serve Him and do awesome things for His Kingdom. Or rather, I want Him to use me to do awesome things. I don’t want an ordinary life. I don’t want to live in the USA- as much as I love it and miss it. I don’t want to live in any one place for the rest of my earthly life. I want to serve The Father as a nomad of sorts. Doing Kingdom work that needs to be done and then moving on to the next good work that He prepared in advance for me to do. I believe He has called me to international ministry. I am excited. Part of ministry is family. I love my teaching job. I love the idea of getting another degree. I know The Father is using it all for His glory, BUT my higher desire is to be used for His glory in a future where I am blessed to exchange my independent endeavors for a family and glorifying The Father as a wife and mother (IN the international M-world!).

My point? Most single women (and probably men, but I’m not a man, so I don’t know how they think… except for what I’ve read, but I digress) want to get married. I want to get married, but I had to go through a lot of training to get ready. In fact, five years ago, I pr-ayed that The Father would not let me get married until I was COMPLETELY satisfied and content with Him. I asked Him to take me on a wild ride of an adventure and to… wait for it… to DISCIPLINE ME. Yes, I asked The Father to discipline me. And if you have known me on any intimate level over the last five years, I don’t have to tell you that he has been disciplining me left and right.

I’m not saying that I am disciplined… far from it. Rather, he has disciplined me as a tool of DISCIPLING me. From where I was standing five and six years ago? Wow. Not me wow—but The Father—Wow. He has freed me from so many lies of the enemy. Freed my spirit from shame and doubt, condemnation and fear. He brought me to the land I was most afraid of going to, in the most literal way. He charged me with the occupation I was most resistant to.

In the last five years, J-esus has largely freed me from the crippling emotional diseases and patterns of codependency, anxiety, depression, fear of adulthood, fear of intimate friendships, fear of sharing my faith (I also pr-ayed that The Father would give me a “Bold Faith” five years ago), self-hatred, fear of rejection, shame, bitterness, and anger. Wow— The Father. Wow. So, what’s my point?

My point is this… Was The Father merely preparing me to be a good wife like I asked him to do? I must give a resounding no. He was preparing me to be a a g-odly wife, a nurturing mother, a trusted friend, a loving teacher, an honoring daughter, a supportive sister, a doting aunt, a strong mentor, a humble disciple and discipler, a faithful Sunday School teacher, a passionate Pr-ayer Warrior, a spiritual parent… dare I say- a humble servant… and as much as I’ve grown, I’m not there yet. I finally see that He will be refining me until the day He takes me home! Yes! I don’t have to reach perfection. Did I mention that I struggled (sometimes still) with perfectionism?

He was not JUST preparing me to be a good wife. He was preparing me for so much more. He was sanctifying me in the very way I asked him to sanctify me (without the vocabulary), and I didn’t only ask Him to do it so I could be ready for marriage. I asked him to do it because though I was a believer, I was living under the cloud of depression that resulted from a lifetime of believing the lies of the enemy. I was not living victoriously. I was living as if I had no hope, when in fact, I had more than hope. I was living under the law.

So when He rescued me from that, he did not just rescue me so that I could be ready for a husband, though that (I hope) is in the future He has planned for me. He rescued me because that is what He does. He takes the dead— spiritually dead, and brings them to life when they accept JC as the one and only G-od, Savior of the World. He proved to me that I not only have a hope of life with him after earthly death, but I can have a life of surrender and peace while on this earth if I just let Him do the painful pruning now.

Is life peachy keen? No. Is there trouble? Absolutely. But I have peace that surpasses all understanding.

So am I completely satisfied in JC alone, just as I asked him to do in me five years ago in order to get me ready for marriage? Am I perfectly content? Most of the time, I am HIGHLY content with my life. Most of the time, I am HIGHLY satisfied. Usually, I accept that I will not be totally satisfied or content until I see JC face to face. By my old standard, I would never be ready for marriage because to be perfectly satisfied in my relationship with Christ is impossible here on Earth. My soul thirsts for JC, and The Father created me to know and be known by Him. Until I get to heaven, that goal will not be fully attained.

So why do I want to get married if I know it will not satisfy my deepest longings to know and be known by God? In the garden, He created marriage as a covenant between a man, a woman, and Himself to give us an earthly taste of that eternal union between The Father (JC+HS) and humans. AND I believe, to sanctify us and help us lose our selfishness and learn to love sacrificially.

And if I stay single for longer, He will continue to sanctify me and provide other relationships to have closeness.

Do I still want to get married? Absolutely- and even more than before. I no longer want to get married just to satisfy a longing to feel loved and cared for. I want to get married because The Father said “It is VERY good.” I believe Him. However, I am not just sitting around waiting for my life to begin. It began at the cross.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Tales From the 5th Grade Hallway

Tales Facts Smells Facts From the 5th Grade Hallway

There are diplomatic people in this world. People who think about the feelings and reactions of everyone around them. People who weigh their words wisely, who weigh their tone of voice carefully, people who care about how their words are perceived and who are careful to convey a positive, yet accurate message. People like Dale and Shannon, two fellow 5th grade teachers.

Then, there’s Matt, another 5th grade teacher. He’s a person who dutifully responds to every email with a witty comment (or snide remark as the case may be), who sends out mass emails with interesting yet disturbing facts for the staff to think about while they dine at their favorite Chinese hub (like the article about the people who fish old oil out of the gutters and sell it to cheap restaurants to re-use in the food they serve), and FYI’s on how to spot a fake China Yuan (dollar) by holding a black light to the top of the bill to find the water mark (or was the mark the sketched Hitler mustache on Chairman Mao’s upper lip?).

But Matt has a nurturing side too. He teaches his class responsibility the old fashion way. For example, the students wanted a class pet, so naturally, he let them have a turtle. They took great care of it… that is until Chinese New Year. It was the last day of school before break; I worked late; no one else was still at work. I walked into Matt’s class to turn off the computer and noticed the turtle in his tank, all alone. I took him home for the week. No one asked about him until I found a sign taped to my classroom door a few weeks later, which read:

“Turtle Abductor”

It had my picture under the caption. Oh no. I interfered. The turtle was supposed to die. Responsibility.

Another example: His class also has two hamsters (or is it three… or four now?) One morning, the girls in his class, frantically asked if they could hang a poster on my door. It read:

“Missing Hamster
Color: White
Name: Snowy”

Underneath of the description was a penciled sketch of something that looked like a balled up piece of paper (I guess that was supposed to be Snowy). They were posting these signs all around the 5th grade hallway. They finally found Snowy in a cubby in the corner of the teacher’s classroom next door. Thankfully they made those posters. The students might not have recognized him otherwise. Maybe they would have thought it was a loose rodent… wait…

Another time, a hamster died. No one cried. There was no funeral. In fact, the students put on rubber gloves and dissected him instead of going to recess. Wait… that was the next day. After he started to stink, they decided to get rid of him, but they did some science on him first.


I thought it couldn’t get any furrier in my co-teacher’s classroom until one day, I walked in and found a rabbit. Yes, a rabbit. A big, soft, brown, long-eared rabbit. A new addition to the zoo. Poor Matt. I can’t really call him my co-teacher anymore. Not until the rabbit’s gone- or potty trained.

I hear a Christmas song coming on… Five GOLD-EN RINGS, Four hamsters hopping, one turtle tapping, one rabbit reeking, and a bird—in-a-blue re-cy-cle-box.

Yes a bird.

Last week Matt’s students brought in a bird with a broken wing that they found during recess. He let them keep it in the classroom for protection for a day before letting him go free. Story has it, two days later, one of the kids cupped the bird in her hands like a scene from the end of an old movie, threw it up in the air and watched it fly… until it came crashing down into the bushes, at which time the kids shrugged at the lifeless bird and went back to class.

Oh the 5th grade hallway.

I’ve noticed another smell in the 5th grade hallway this month, other than the rabbit’s pee. It was my turn to take all the 5th grade classes to recess this week. Even on the field I could smell it, the smell of adolescents sweating grossness. Later in the day, I decided to make a public service announcement to each 5th grade class.

I walked in. The teacher said, “Okay boys and girls. Miss Lyons has something very important that she needs to talk to you about. Please listen to her. Giver her your attention.” Smiling, she said, “Go ahead Miss Lyons.” I said, looking at the eighteen ten year olds, “You stink. Wear deodorant.”

Hands go in the air. “My mom won’t let me. She won’t even let me wear perfume.” “What if my mom says no?” “Where can I buy deodorant?” “What IS deodorant?” To which I replied, “It’s something you wear, so that you won’t stink.”

And leave it to the homeroom teacher to diplomatically explain that they are at a certain age, where they will produce certain smells, and to the girls who were red in the face, she reassured them, “but it’s okay because boys will smell worse.”
 “Yea, smelly boys,” I said and wrinkled up my nose, winking at the girls. That’s my diplomacy. That’s as far as goes.

There are diplomatic people. There are purposefully vocal people, and then there are those people who just tell you that you stink. I strive to be that person.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Poisonous Cake

January 15, 2013—Thoughts
Only in China can I throw my oven into a bag on my way out the door for an interdisciplinary lesson on fractions: baking a cake while doubling the recipe. Only in China can I run to the market between classes to pick up last minute materials to bake the cake, be a few minutes late to that class, and have my two blond Danish boys, twins (my only two students in the class) sitting there, smiling ready to add fractions and bake a cake. “You brought the ooven today, Yes?”
Before I left the house, I remembered I needed to take measuring cups… but in China, they don’t use “cups.” Solution? Thankfully my blender has liters and cups. Measure a cup, poor it into a plastic cup, draw a line on the plastic cup with… let’s see… marker? No can’t find one… pen? No won’t work. Lipstick? Perfect. I drew a line on the cup with lipstick… then what about a half cup? Okay, I take an identical plastic cup and poor the liquid into it until both of the water lines are equal… and mark the next  line “1/2” with the lipstick… Rinse and repeat for ¼ cup. Problem solved. Throw them in my big purse/computer/lunch box/bag-cat lady bag, throw it over my shoulder, and grab the large, very large bag with the oven stuffed in it sideways, string the bag onto my wrist and with my free hand, take my coffee cup. Out the door. Success. I arrived at work to the minute on time (or a few late… I AM carrying an oven… I’ll just let your imagination create the picture for you. It is probably more amusing than reality).
Fast forward… boys bake. While they are in their next class, the cake is in the oven… ding! Time to cool… Now for a cooling rack… let’s see… ahh… 10 extra skinny chopstick style… sticks laid out on the desk, stacked like a tic tack toe board, cake pan on top. Problem solved.
Well on a more serious note, as usual for the last twenty years, I am trying to lose weight. Well… perhaps for the first time “trying” is the wrong word. I got a sponsor whose sole job is to help me stay abstinent from overeating- and after a month of playing with the idea, I finally see, and hate, yet almost accept that it’s sugar. It’s my Achilles heal… surprised? I didn’t thinks so. Yet, even though I am 100 pounds overweight, and I have been “trying” to lose weight for 20 years, somehow, I still didn’t realize I had a problem. I probably realized it, but to move past it, or at least seriously deal with it, I would have to do something that would be unspeakable, unbearable, impossible and possibly even… unethical? I would have to cut out sugar. Can you hear the horror music playing? I suppose I couldn’t face it because deep down and even on the surface, I was afraid I couldn’t do it. Worse, I didn’t want to. However, two days ago, I realized I have to. And only with God and my sponsor am I able to. Yes, I said it. I am able to. And… I ALMOST want to. Right now, I am sitting in my classroom during my lunch break, smelling the sweet aroma of the vanilla cake I helped the boys make from scratch. I’m wafting in the scent of sugary butter and soft floury murderous poison. I’m bitter sweet if you can’t tell. (No pun intended). See, I recognize that it is good. “All things are good—(and I think the Bible here is not being literal)… Yet all things are not beneficial.” Cake isn’t bad. You might be able to eat a piece of cake and be satisfied. So I say, eat cake. I’m happy for you, a bit envious even. However, as I poured the batter into the pan and reminisced about all the bowl licking I have done over the years, a peace filled me. A peace that came from the truth that resonated with me. Danish boy #1 said “Can’t you have just a taste?” “No” I said. “Just one lick?” “No, because if I have even a taste, I will not be able to stop until it is gone.” And that was enough. I smell it. It smells good, but I’m not really tempted right now to eat it because it would fill me with obsession. Obsession would lead me to gluttony. Gluttony is a sin, a terrible sin. The sin would lead me to guilt. Guilt would lead me to repentance. And I would repent. And I would struggle even harder to resist the next cake that comes along. 

Friday, August 24, 2012


How about a blog?

I am sitting in Korea at the airport for a two hour layover between Washington D.C. and Hong Kong. I’m in for another adventure!

I went to the doctor yesterday to get some medicine I needed and the doc’s office was supposed to electronically send my prescriptions to the pharmacy. I arrive at Rite Aid pharmacy ten minutes before closing to find out that my prescriptions were not sent there at all. My mom takes the liberty to call CVS to see if the doc’s office sent it there by mistake, God bless her! There was no record of anything being sent to any CVS for me at all. It’s closing time. Where is my medicine? I leave for China in twelve hours.

Morning comes. Momma kicks into high gear to track it down. She did that amazing thing mom’s do when their kids have an important event to attend, explaining why her child’s schedule is more critical than whatever they currently have on their plate and orchestrating a montage of individuals at just the necessary speed to accomplish the goal and send the child calmly onto the stage (In this case, it was turbo speed and my stage was a China-bound airplane). Thank you mom!

Problem solved. She got the medicine. Only instead of getting me to the airport by 11:30 am, 12 noon at the latest, she thought I said we needed to leave by 12 at the latest. It was  a rough conversation as I told her that if she wasn’t willing to speed, she needed to simply let me drive.  She moved impressively quick for momma. She said “If you get pulled over for speeding, it will take longer because you don’t have your license on you” to which I swiftly replied “No. It will be quick. I will tell them the truth that I left my license in China eight weeks ago and I just happen to be on my way back to retrieve it and will do so speedily if they will kindly leave me alone” to which we laughed as Ashton sat in the back seat eating a banana that once my mom smelled, commented “Ashton you must be eating a banana, one with black spots on it.” Interesting? Okay not so much. She got me to the airport in time. I arrived just after boarding began.

I didn’t feel the urge to sleep, probably because it was a mid day flight. It was almost 14 hours and I managed to watch six movies. Just as I dozed off for the first time, within forty minutes, we were landing.

On money matters, it was tight. Did I mention that for the first time in any of my traveling adventures, my carry on and personal item were actually weighed. I had to pay $200.00 with a bankcard that was already overdrawn (into my dwindling overdraft protection credit account) just to check an extra bag. I had three checked bags, one personal item and $-200.00. Thank you God for blessing me with a good job, so I can fix that soon!

I will take a taxi from Hong Kong Airport to some Chinese border and then another taxi to my apartment, which I don’t remember the entrance code for. Fortunately, Christina has watered my plants all summer… I hope and she can tell me what it is (If my phone isn’t dead).

That’s all for now.

Here’s to another year of Brittany’s Traveling Adventures!