Spring: A Time for Renewal

 

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Spring is my favorite season in Japan.  It is a time for me to take stock, reflect on future goals and whip my house into shape before the heat of summer.  It is also a time for cherry blossoms.

When we came to Japan in 1999, we arrived the first week in March. It was cold, dark and rainy.  I thought everything was so ugly.  I remember wondering how I was going to live in such a dreary country.

The end of March, I went to Hokkaido to visit a friend.  It snowed everyday I was there.  It was so beautiful, even if it was cold!  I dreaded returning to our part of Japan.  I flew back on April 3rd. When I exited the airport, it was warm and sunny.  Then I gasped!!! There was a long row of cherry trees in full bloom!  It was so beautiful!!  I have never forgotten that first lingering look of the beautiful blossoms.  It was a special gift to me from the Lord.  Every spring I am reminded of that special gift.

Since that time, I have learned to appreciate much about Japan and see the beauty that I missed during that first month.  I enjoy my life here and there are things I appreciate about each season.  BUT every year, spring takes my breath away!!!!

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For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.  Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”  ~Isaiah 55:12-13

Another Perspective…

IMG_0890bI am a US citizen who lives in Japan. After our last furlough, I had a one-way ticket to return to Japan from Chicago-Ohare. I was not permitted to check in online. When I arrived at the airport, I was not permitted to check in at the kiosk. When I approached the counter, I was greeted with several questions. I showed my new visa in my passport and was allowed to proceed to my flight. It was clear that if I didn’t have that visa with a one-way ticket that I would have been “banned” from the flight. When I arrived in Japan, I was fingerprinted and photographed for their database. I may have lots of privileges living in Japan, but I do not have any rights. I am a foreigner. I carry an “alien registration” in my wallet and can be asked to show it at any time by anyone.  I have had to show it to get a cell phone, open a bank account, etc.  I don’t mind doing this, because I know that Japan doesn’t have to allow me to live in their country.  I am grateful that they do!

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“For our [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:” ~Philippians 3:20

 

Downtown

When I was a child, my mother used to take my brother and me downtown Pittsburgh to see the store windows decorated for Christmas.  It was enchanting.  Perhaps that is why I like to go downtown at Christmas time.  At one point in our city here, there were lots of holiday lights.  Every year there seems to be less and less.  It is disappointing, but it is still a fun evening.  Here are few pictures from our fair city dressed for the holidays.

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Another tradition we have had is viewing Christmas lights.  The location is not always the same, but the event is enjoyable none the less.  This beautiful display is at an orchid garden in our city.

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As you can see, we may live on the other side of the world in a country where Christmas is not a national holiday, but there are still touches from home.

 

 

Hanging On

If you are a regular reader here, you will notice that I have been MIA.  There are lots of reasons for that.  I never wanted to be one of those bloggers that just disappears.  I’m sure many of you may have thought that was the case.  I’ve given the blog lots of thought even though I haven’t been posting.  I thought about changing the name, sort of a rebrand…but couldn’t think of anything other than what I am.  I thought about doing another 31 days series, but we are already into October.  All of that to say, at present I won’t be making any major changes, except that I hope to post a little more often.  I’m making some changes with regards to my schedule so that I can get some order back into my life.  I’ve been doing some painting, wallpapering, etc.  That’s sort of fun, especially when I see the results!  Lots of things are going on, but I miss being here.  Thank you for sticking with me.  Hope to see you again soon!

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Culture Shock and the Fruits of the Spirit

Dealing with cultural issues…If you are living in a country that is not your own, you will deal with these from time to time.  These issues can be very irritating. I describe them as pebbles in your shoe: small, but terribly annoying, even painful.

Let me give you a little background information. This is our second term in this country. We spent 3 years in another city, 3 years stateside and we are finishing our 4th year in this city. There are some things that contribute to the irritations that I face. One is my age. No matter how willing I am, I find that change becomes more difficult the older that I become. A second factor is that I am the “new kid on the block.” My husband’s parents and brother’s family are nearby. My hubby is a missionary kid from this country. It is his home. My husband’s parents have been here over 35 years. His brother’s family has been here over 20 years. They are all very comfortable here, but I am in the adjustment period. I struggle with this very difficult language. I can sit in a meeting for 2 hours and understand very little. Each city in this country is different. Each has some unique twists in the culture and even has its own slang language. I’m not saying this to make you feel sorry for me, just to help you know where I am coming from.

Last Tuesday, we had the ladies Bible study. My hubby teaches it. I was quite clueless for most of it, so had my own little study. The Lord has ministered to my culture shocked soul in the past from the fruits of the Spirit. That day, He did it again. I have a study Bible that I love. The notes are thorough and often instruct me. Such was the case that day.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”~Galatians 5:2-23

Joy-“…the sense of well being experienced by one who knows all is well between himself and the Lord (I Pet. 1:8). Joy is not the result of favorable circumstances, and even occurs when those circumstances are the most painful and severe (John 16:20-22). Joy is a gift from God, and as such, believers are not to manufacture it but to delight in the blessing they already possess (Rom. 14:17; Phil. 4:4).”

Peace-“The inner calm that results from confidence in one’s saving relationship with Christ. The verb form denotes binding together and is reflected in the expression ‘having it all together.’ Like joy, peace is not related to one’s circumstances.”

Longsuffering-“…the willingness to accept irritating or painful situations (Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12; I Tim. 1:15-16).”

Gentleness(meekness)-“It is a humble and gentle attitude that is patiently submissive in every offense, while having no desire for revenge or retribution.” Three necessary attitudes are mentioned: submission to the will of God (Col. 3:12), teachability (James 1:21), and consideration of others (Eph. 4:2).

These fruits are something we acquire as we grow in our knowledge of God (2 Pet. 1:2). I am so thankful that I don’t have to conjure up these fruits. All I have to do is continue in God’s Word and He will give me these fruits.

I will close with something that a friend wrote in a farewell card to me over 10 years ago.

“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
~Psalm 61:2

“He who communes with God is always at home.” ~C.H. Spurgeon

~Notes are taken from the MacArthur Study Bible

~Repost