Sanctified Tourist

Living holy and fit both spiritually and physically in today's culture.

Find out about a terrible spiritual struggle I had while I was living in Cambodia that I pray you can use as a parable for your own anxiety.


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When It’s Not a Cobra After All

One of the challenges of living in Cambodia six months out of the year is snakes.  They pop up when you least expect them.  During our first three months of living here, there were several snake sightings in the yard.  I never saw one myself, but the guys living in the dormitory across from my house always said the same thing, it was big…it was black…and it would run away by crawling up the bamboo plants next to the wall.   Beyond the wall of our house is a wild area, perfect for all kinds of critters.  I guess every once in a while the black snake decides to hunt on our side.

So here is the problem.  Two Khmer friends were living on the property, and described the snake by gestures…making their arm go up as if in a striking position.  It also appeared that they were describing a cobra hood.  So naturally I Googled cobras and discovered YES there are cobras in Cambodia.  Thus began the reign of terror in my mind.  One night I was so overcome by my own fears that I cried myself to sleep repeating scripture, Bible by my cheek.  It turns out that the experience I had with the cobra is a perfect metaphor for the anxiety I experience when I don’t trust God.

Find out about a terrible spiritual struggle I had while I was living in Cambodia that I pray you can use as a parable for your own anxiety.

There was a communication gap.

First of all, I never saw the snake myself.  I made hasty assumptions based on my own fear.  This is often the case when life circumstances look grim, I seem to find myself believing the worst.  I jump to conclusions.   The enemy knows me.  He tempts me to abandon ship when the ship is not really sinking.  He tempts me to yell out,  “Master, how can you sleep when the waves and wind are overtaking the boat?”

But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, you of little faith?”  Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea.  And there was a great calm.  Matthew 8:20

I seem to live in a cycle.  PANIC…CRY OUT FOR HELP…GREAT CALM.  Why can’t I ever just skip the first two parts and go straight to great calm?

The facts were less scary.

One day I was by myself inside my house (we have three houses within the walls of our complex), windows open, when the constant bark of our dog Quondo drew my attention to the yard.  I saw a dance going on between Quondo and the black snake.  Quondo would bark, and the snake would rise up as tall as the dog’s head.   Several things I noticed in my excitement:  Each time the snake would take a strike posture, it would quickly turn to flee, it was terrified, and most importantly, I noticed it was NOT a cobra.  But it was big.  So I started yelling for help.  Once Quondo killed the snake, with a little help from a friend with a shovel, I got a good look…a rat snake.

Find out about a terrible spiritual struggle I had while I was living in Cambodia that I pray you can use as a parable for your own anxiety.

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Y’all, I still didn’t like the idea of a snake on the property, but no one was going to die horribly.  I had wasted all those days filled with the possibility of  death when I never even considered that Jesus was in the boat.  To be honest, ALL of my anxious moments in life turn out exactly like this.  I find myself hearing Jesus say,  “Why are you fearful, you of little faith?”  My cheeks momentarily heat with shame, and then I enter into the calm of trusting Jesus.  I need to stop assuming the worse.

Snakes in the yard

There evidently is a whole family  of black snakes living on the other side of the wall because the incident above was not the last time I saw a big black snake.  There were several more sightings and more observations on my part.  The biggest surprise to myself was that my fear no longer crippled me.  The day of our big Christmas event arrived.  I went back to my house when I saw the snake drop down out of the tree in front of my house.  I saw the direction he was heading and ran to find Quondo or one of the guys in the house. Everyone was busy, even Quondo. Surprisingly I found myself okay with that.  I was living in the great calm that only can be experienced when Jesus changes a heart.  When someone, like me,  decides to start trusting, even though occasional snakes drop in.

I still don’t like snakes.

Just because I wasn’t overcome with anxiety over the prospect of a snake in the yard, that didn’t make me a snake lover…just watch me run!  In keeping with this analogy, I could say the same thing about things I stress about.  I am learning to trust in Jesus for my safety, but it doesn’t mean I am comfortable going through suffering.   I still don’t like it.  At all.  And that’s okay.  The point is that when the enemy presents a problem that seems like a cobra, I will remember this experience and try not to jump to a conclusion that will debilitate me.

Find out about a terrible spiritual struggle I had while I was living in Cambodia that I pray you can use as a parable for your own anxiety.

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Pictures:  +Quondo my hero.  She keeps the property safe from all intruders.  When we wake up in the morning we often are surprised  with the remains of an animal she has battled in the night.  ++My favorite place in the world,  the Montana ranch where my father grew up.  This is a view of Snake Butte at sunset.  The story goes that my great aunt was visiting from out of town one year when my father was a teenager, and she decided to go to the top of this butte to get some pictures.  What she found on top was a nest of rattlesnakes.  Legend has it that there were hundreds of them…anyway, there was a lot.  My father and grandfather blew them up with dynamite.  At least that’s the story.  Appropriate for my Cambodian snake tale wouldn’t you say?  The name Snake Butte stuck from then on.

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She told us of her poverty, and how she and her husband struggle to survive on their salaries. Unbelievably, She makes $30 a month as a Kindergarten teacher. How do you teach your children to be compassionate givers?


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You Might be Richer Than You Think

At church one Sunday here in Cambodia, a Christian Khmer woman encouraged us with how Matthew 6:25 has played out in her life, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear…” She told us of her poverty, and how she and her husband struggle to survive on their salaries. She makes $30 a month as a Kindergarten teacher…a month y’all, and he makes about the same as a Tuk Tuk driver.  It rains a lot here in Cambodia, but during a dry spell, all of the rain water in the cistern outside was gone.  She had no money to buy water for the family and she remembers standing over the cistern and praying for rain.

And it immediately started to rain.

As I sat there listening to her praise God for His unending love for her, I thought about how different her prayers are than mine…the prayer of the one who has instead of the one who has not. I already KNOW where my food, drink, and clothes are coming from.  I don’t beg God to send me the necessities of life because I have excess.

Instead of skimming over this beautiful verse in Matthew 6:25 because it doesn’t relate to my situation, maybe I should speak this verse as a prayer. To ask Father to lead me to the people who don’t have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear, and to help me be bold enough to be the answer to someone’s prayer.

She told us of her poverty, and how she and her husband struggle to survive on their salaries. Unbelievably, She makes $30 a month as a Kindergarten teacher. How do you teach your children to be compassionate givers?

Many times we compare ourselves to others who have more, instead of the other way around.  Even the working poor in America have it better than most who are suffering with poverty in other countries.  American homeless populations even have options like shelters and food banks, whereas the poor and displaced in some foreign countries have no options but starvation and death.  What do you do if you lost both hands in an electrical accident, your wife leaves you with the children, and you no longer have a way to make a living in a third world country?   This is a true example of a local beggar living here in our Cambodian city.

You can’t really say you are a friend of Jesus unless you are helping the poor.  Take for example the sheep and the goats, a story with a warning from Jesus.   (fact check: Matthew 25:31-48)  The goats didn’t seem to  “get” Jesus.  They missed the kindness characteristic of the Holy Spirit. (fact check: Galatians 5:22) Maybe they thought about helping, but never had any follow through. At any rate, Jesus says, “When you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.”

So how can you help your children develop a desire to give?  You must first develop that desire yourself, then go forth together.  Start by praying that God will consume you with a BIG  kind of love for others.  Have you read Love Does by Bob Goff yet?  Each chapter tells a story from Bob’s life, then ends with a spiritual application.  The beginning of each chapter starts with “I used to think…but now I know…”  Join me on the Sanctified Tourist’s Facebook page in January while I share quotes from this book to encourage and inspire you.

She told us of her poverty, and how she and her husband struggle to survive on their salaries. Unbelievably, She makes $30 a month as a Kindergarten teacher.   How do you teach your children to give to those in need.

Next, search the Internet for ideas on projects you can do with your children and grandchildren.  Here is an idea for a project from  Story of This Life.   Good literature can also help.   The King’s Christmas List  takes Matthew 25:31-48 and teaches children that every act of compassion is a gift for Jesus.  Maybe you could write your own family giving book using a photo book company.

I will leave you with this video that shows a little girl overcome with compassion for a homeless man outside the restaurant where she was eating, and then DOING something about it. click here  Father, lead me to the people who don’t have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear, and to help me be bold enough to be the answer to someone’s prayer. (Matthew 6:25)

She told us of her poverty, and how she and her husband struggle to survive on their salaries. Unbelievably, She makes $30 a month as a Kindergarten teacher. How do you teach your children to give to those in need.

Note:  all the scriptures I used today in my post were straight from Jesus)

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This trouble seems to go on and on. You are still waiting and waiting and waiting...and waiting. Wilderness hopelessness is a favorite lie of the enemy. Here is some perspective for you.


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Finding Perspective While Stuck in the Wilderness

As you rise the next hill your hopes are dashed once again, it’s just more wilderness for miles.  Your trouble seems to go on and on.  You are still waiting and waiting and waiting…and waiting for that relief to come, for that job to be less stressful, for that special someone to come along, for your health to improve,  for things to get better.

This trouble seems to go on and on. You are still waiting and waiting and waiting...and waiting. Wilderness hopelessness is a favorite lie of the enemy. Here is some perspective for you.

The same old scenery makes you antsy…makes you dissatisfied…makes you discouraged.  Wilderness hopelessness is a favorite lie of the enemy…whispering  that God has abandoned you to the scorpions and cactus.  Poor you!

Not so, the Word says.  You can still have a fulfilling, beautiful life while you wander.  The Holy Spirit led me to find these deeply meaningful verses for you, if you read them with the spiritual in mind.

Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands.  Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.  Deuteronomy 8:2-3 NLT 

Here are some noteworthy observations from this passage.

You are being led.

If you remember Israelite history, the people were never alone.  God went before them in a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night.  (fact check: Exodus 13:21-22) This is a profound truth for you to think about…God always kept Himself visible to His people.  All they had to do was look, and there He was.  It may look like you  are going in circles, but the leader is leading…the follower needs to follow.

You are being humbled and tested on purpose.

Somebody much bigger and smarter than you has your best interests at heart.  He promises that things are in the process of working out for your good if you love Him.  (fact check: Romans 8:28)  But now you are hungry…starving, longing for a bite of relief.  Just wait y’all, bread is on the way.

You are being taught how to eat.

There’s purpose to your hunger.  Sometimes you just need to hear that word…purpose.  The gnawing in your spiritual stomach is to teach you  that people do  not live by bread alone….that there is something sweeter for your soul than the physical….that time is not to be wasted with meaningless distractions, where a soul drops exhausted into bed each night, proud to have made it through one more day without dwelling too much on life. Y’all the bread of life is rich and satisfying.  This is how we truly live, by every word that comes from the mouth of God.   So breathe in the aroma of a freshly baked loaf, and cut yourself a slice.

 

This trouble seems to go on and on. You are still waiting and waiting and waiting...and waiting. Wilderness hopelessness is a favorite lie of the enemy. Here is some perspective for you.  
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God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family. This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.


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Will Wonders Never Cease? No, Never.

The literal answer to this age old expression is, “No, a thousand times NO!”  God’s wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, an answered prayer, a second chance, and the togetherness of a family.  God’s wonders take us to new heights if the one in the middle of the wondrous decides to catch the kite string and soar into the spiritual.

God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family.  This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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This summer, my husband and I saw many wondrous things in our month long road trip and I would love to share some of my best pictures with you.  Psalm 148 just seems to fit.

God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family. This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family. This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family.  This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family.  This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family.  This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family. This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family. This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family.  This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family. This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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This excerpt from The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones  captures the childlike simplicity of creation and its response to wonder.

And when God saw them He  was like a new dad.  “You look just like me,” He said.  “You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made!”  God loved them with all of His heart.  And they were lovely because He loved them.  And Adam and Eve joined in the song of the stars and the streams and the wind in the trees, the wonderful song of love to the one who made them. 

This post is just a reminder to join the song.

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Pictures:  1)  glacial ice seen on our Alaskan cruise, 2)  hummingbird perched on a branch near her nest in my California son’s yard, 3)  California beach, 4) Oregon coastline,  5) View from a train in Skagway Alaska, 6) More Alaskan beauty, 7) It was a surprise to find Washington Lake Wanapun in the middle of such barren country, 8) My family’s Montana ranch, my favorite place, 9)  Ranch sunset on our last day.  The sky was especially beautiful.  10)  Ranch sunrise  on our last day.  The sky was especially beautiful.

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Look y'all, this post is not being written to wag fingers at Halloween enthusiasts. I just want to lead you into deep theological waters so get out your paddles.


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Halloween—Sinister or Benevolent?

Look y'all, this post is not being written to wag fingers at Halloween enthusiasts. I just want to lead you into deep theological waters so get out your paddles.

My sister and I think this picture of us is hilarious.  She in her cute little angel costume, with her arm around our brother the devil, and me in my witch costume.  After we finished chuckling over the irony of our sibling roles  played out in this snapshot, we then wondered what our sweet, innocent mother was thinking to dress my brother and I in such dark costumes.  It’s culture y’all, plain and simple.

Culture is pervasive and persistent.  It seeps into our children and into our parenting.  It overrides common sense at times and puts its arm around our shoulders as if it is our best friend.  Look y’all, this post is not being written to wag fingers at Halloween enthusiasts.  I just want to lead you into deep theological waters so get out your paddles.

Here’s what has me thinking…God communicates with His people symbolically and figuratively through scripture…like Jesus being the Way,  the Door,  the Beginning and the End…all figurative language. So isn’t a costume a symbol too?  A representation of  reality?  Culture tends to forget that there is a spiritual realm teeming around us.  Could evil Halloween symbols be representing  real invisible entities?  Even if we don’t really mean for them to? Even if it is all in fun?

Parenting through such cultural obstacles is a daunting task.  Nothing is cut-and-dried when it comes to making spiritual decisions about your children that’s for sure.  I just wanted to invade your thoughts for a blink, a moment,  and remind you of what you already know, evil is real.

Look y'all, this post is not being written to wag fingers at Halloween enthusiasts. I just want to lead you into deep theological waters so get out your paddles.

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