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Monthly Archives: April 2013

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40

I got to chat with one of my favorite friends last night on facebook. She asked me how many days now. How many days until I’m home sitting in her house eating tacos and drinking coffee. (First tacos. Then coffee. Or vice-versa. But not tacos with coffee. Just to be clear.)

I knew it was two days less than six weeks. So I did the math. It took a minute. Math has never been my strong point.

Forty. I realized last night that I have forty days left.

So I typed it out for her and we both said how spiritual that sounds. And Third Day started singing in my head, and now I can’t get it out.

I did a quick google on the significance of forty, and learned some interesting things. For example, forty is the only number word in which the letters are presented alphabetically. How cool is that? Also, how crazy is it that someone figured that out?

But I was thinking more along the lines of 40 days in the Bible. Like how Jesus was in the desert, fasting for 40 days. Or how it rained on Noah and his family in the ark for 40 days and 40 nights.

So I narrowed my search a bit and found this list that reminded me of so many different times the number shows up all through Scripture. I learned that God used the number to represent periods of judgment or testing.

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But I was kind of looking for stories that took forty days to unfold.

Then I saw Exodus 24 on the list and learned that it took God forty days to give Moses the plans for His tabernacle. Moses was up on top of a mountain alone with God for 40 days, learning how to build God’s home for, you guessed it, the 40 years it would take them to get to the Promised Land.

So, I was thinking, what if these next 40 days are like my mountain time alone with God? No, I’m not gonna’ go find Maria and camp out on top of an Alp until June 6. (As awesome as that would be.)

But what if God wants to get me alone and teach me more of Him for the next 40 days? What if He just wants me to shut up and listen to Him in the quiet of rightnow before I get back to my life on the other side of the world?

What if, for the next forty days, I just shut up and look for what He might be using to prepare me for whatever’s next. What if I give up the platform-building and the seeking fame as a writer and the doing my best to present myself as a social-media performer? And what if I just listen. For forty straight days?

It’s a little bit scary because what if my blog falls apart in my focus switch? Or what if you all get bored with whatever it is that shows up here in this little land called briannaRwasson(dot)com?

I’m gonna’ try it anyway.

And, while I realize that you are probably not at the end of some across-the-world journey that has a mere 40 days left, I invite you to join me in the quiet. Forty days of zero fame-seeking, platform-building, plan-making or jumping ahead of God trying to figure out on my own what’s best for this thing called my life. And I’m going to just listen.

I’ve started by looking for what might be hiding inside a certain Psalm I’ve been recently intrigued with. I’m going to ask Him to show me all its treasures. Gonna’ beg Him to help me know Him so well I can’t help but be madly in love with Him.  Pray for Him to prepare me for whatever waits for me at home.

And I’ll check in here time and again. I hope you will too.  It’s kind of weird because I don’t know exactly what it will look like. If you subscribe, though, you won’t miss any updates.

Happy 40 days, my friends.

Is More of a Good Thing Really Better?

I’m writing devotions this week at Everyday With God. We’re taking on the idea of God’s definition of “more” and “better” and chewing on it a bit. This one went live today, and it’s one of my new favorites, so I thought I’d share it here too . . . It’s based on the story of the woman Jesus met at the well in the middle of the day at lunchtime in Samaria. Check out the story in John 4.

I wasn’t sure when I grabbed it off the buffet table that morning at my daughter’s class party. I decided to try.

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Sesame-seed-topped feta-cheese-filled Turkish doughiness from Ismael’s mom. She’s from Turkey.

I’d never tasted anything like it. And I would likely never taste anything like it again. So I enjoyed every bite of that unknown deliciousness. Savored the foreign flavor while it was mine to be had. Before it was gone from my life forever.

The party activities began soon after, but there was plenty of Turkish amazingness left for me to eat another.

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When I took inventory of my appetite, though, I knew I was full. Still, I could make room for just one more piece of the amazing.

But this was something I needed to conquer.

I could not let the temptation to overeat sneak in and steal the true satisfied that has nothing to do with feta-cheese or Turkish doughiness.

It’s a physical temptation that has become spiritual too. As in, I don’t need more, but I crave the flavor of amazing. I love to fill my gut with awesome. I cannot get enough when something is good.

So I sat there convincing myself I didn’t need more of the Turkish awesomeness. Like a cartoon with a little me on one shoulder, clad in white, halo shining. The devil version of myself on the opposite shoulder trying to justify the one little piece I did not need.

I would have experienced no immediate consequence had I taken another piece. No lightning strike for not heeding God’s wisdom that told me more was not better.

That one portion of His great is way better than two portions of just good.

But it was the principle at stake. The chiseling away, one tiny piece at a time, of the foundation of wisdom concerning my appetite for what is good.

You see, my taste is flawed. My taste for what is excellent. What’s worth chasing after. What’s worth filling myself with. Body, mind, spirit, time.

So often I let the pull of the momentary good pull me away from the focus of what is worthy. What is better. The truly amazing that God wants to give me. Wants me to chow down abundantly.

It’s the real and living water Jesus offered the woman at the well. Better than pretend-intimacy with men and their empty promises. More filling than the satisfaction of knowing she’d landed herself a man with a name.  Longer-lasting than the few nights she shared with each one of them.

Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again . . . (v13)

She’d been drinking from the wrong well. Kept coming back to the water that did not quench her true thirst.

How often I am that woman. I keep looking for more of what will not satisfy rather than taking the only thing that I will never need more of, whether a piece of Turkish amazing or something else.

The real and living water of Jesus Christ.

Is there something that pretends to be better for you? How do you deal with it when it calls out your name?

When Terror Hits Home and You’re Not There

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Last summer when America went crazy for chicken (or at least about it) as Dan Cathy proclaimed his belief in the Biblical definition of marriage, I read about it on facebook. I watched through the eyes of a foreigner as friends fought with words and took action both for and against the stand of Chick-fil-A.

I read in July about a man with a gun in a Colorado movie theater. And my heart broke for the fear of those nearby. For the horror of those affected. I watched from afar, an onlooker glad for the non-option of taking my kids to the movies last summer, living in this foreign-speaking land in which we only knew a few words.

In mid-December, when a shooter walked into an Oregon mall and started shooting, I was checking up on facebook and noticed my cousin’s status. She lives in Oregon. So I did a quick search and found news of a man in a Christmas-shopper-filled mall walking in and shooting three people, including himself.

Two days later I was sitting on my couch when I first learned a 20-year-old man had wreaked havoc at an elementary school in Connecticut, killing 27 people. Again, it was facebook that informed me of the horror.

I cried.

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When my kids saw me crying I realized the blessing of the built-in filter through which they could learn the news. No picture-filled newscasts. No background screaming and crying as news anchors interview parents or friends or teachers.

Then I read status after story after blog post and more about the fear such news evoked in my friends at home in the States. Afraid to send their kids to school. Not sure whether homeschooling might be an option.

Being 4284.8 miles away from home gives me a different, almost detached perspective on national tragedies.

I have to choose my news sources. Have to seek it out. Often I can’t find more than a few sources to choose from, so I read what I can find. Of course we get German news, but we understand little, so we mostly avoid it.

As such, I find myself in a unique position.

I see my friends react from inside the fray of the ever-so-close terror, and my heart reels  as I watch somewhat objectively from these thousands of miles away.

I understand the fear. I used to live inside it.

It’s the kind that holes you up, leaves you lifeless and shaking, pretending for your kids that everything is fine. Begging God to protect you, to protect them, from the evil that seems to be exponentially multiplying, getting closer by the day. Lurking just behind the gun laws and the new alert systems and the border patrols.

I know that fear well.

And I am tempted to let it back in when I see my friend’s status Monday night asking for prayer for a friend running in Boston whose safety is yet unknown. It prompts me to search twitter then CNN.com.

Yes, fear knocks loudly when I read about bombs that take lives and limbs and the joy of the finish from both runners and loved-ones alike during America’s iconic marathon in Boston.

Suddenly those less-than eight weeks left here in the Land of the Deutsch sound less appealing, and I wonder if we should just stay here.

Do I really want to return to that place where people get shot just for going to a movie? Or Christmas shopping? Or school? Where bombs blow up people just cheering on their dad who’s running the race of his lifetime?

I am tempted all day to re-think my excitement. What if we just stayed here? Maybe we could avoid the terror that might happen when we get home.

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Then the bobbling buoy of truth takes an above-the-water swing, and I grab it long enough to remember. It’s the truth about fear and afraid of which I cannot lose sight.

There is a certain kind of afraid that will actually lead us into more life rather than keep us from it. It’s called the fear of God.

With all that I am, I remember that God is worth fearing because He is good. He Himself is real life. And if I bank on that truth, I will only live.

He is good enough to know what’s best. Good enough to not let me go where He is not.

I can say boldly that somehow, even in the middle of that summertime movie theater, that elementary school hallway in Newtown, Connecticut. Yes, even in the midst of that Boston street yesterday — God is still good. He is still worth fearing.

He is so good that He grieves with the victims. Stands by and listens as they yell at Him for letting such a horrible thing happen. So good He will wait and keep loving. Keep grieving.

I don’t know why He let it happen. But this I do know: God is good. And He is worth all of my trust because He is Who He is.

So I will trust Him enough to follow Him back to the States just as I have trusted Him enough to bring me here to this foreign land. I will take Him for Who He is and trust that He somehow knows best. That He sees what I cannot.

Because I know Him, I know He can be trusted. Even in the midst of the terror-ridden races and the fear-laden newscasts.

I do not understand. And I do not like it.

But I have nothing to fear.

Because God is still good.

Maybe you don’t get it from deep inside the fear. If that’s the case, might I suggest reading this short little book called Life Unafraid. Perhaps it will give you some needed courage to really, truly live. Or maybe just remind you of a truth you’d forgotten from long ago. You’ll find it in the top right-hand corner of this page. Or you can click right here. Type in your email, and I’ll send you the link to the book.

Is God Really That Good?

I read Psalm 84 seven days in a row. Let it ruminate in my mind. Plant itself deep in my soul.

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.

(vv 1,5,10)

As the words settled in, I found myself wondering what a pilgrim heart looks like. And what is it about God that makes one day with Him better than thousands somewhere else?

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I was preparing for some devotions I was writing for the devotional blog Everyday With God. We’re talking about God’s definition of better this month, and I want to invite you to join us.

Then come back tomorrow for some more thoughts and some discussion on God’s definition of better and more.

See you tomorrow…

For When Here Feels Less Than Awesome

Fridays are awesome. Especially when you hang out at Lisa-Jo’s. Because a whole bunch of people write for 5 minutes about one specific topic and then share it with the world and magic happens.

Today’s word = HERE.

I like it. So I wrote for (sorry — it was a little more than) 5 minutes. And here’s the magic that ensued…

**Before you read, you should know I am currently nearing the end of a one-year expatriate adventure in the beautiful land of Bavaria, Germany. A detail that will help as you read about my here.

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Here.

I see today’s prompt and my mind starts flying. So much about here I could linger about.

I think of Jon Acuff’s great post a few weeks ago and his statement that “Now is awesome.” I remember the feeling those three words inflicted that day when I read them. The guilty I used for beating myself up.

Because I’m counting down days and can’t wait to get home where it’s summertime and English-speaking and I can sleep in my big huge bed and fill up my big huge refrigerator and drive down the street in my white minivan to go visit my friends I have not hugged in so many months.

“But don’t miss here for the longing of there.”

I know it. I’ve heard. I have tried to live inside this truth. The here and now will never be again.

But still. Sometimes I just want to be through the here and now and move on to the next one.

Don’t get me wrong. I love that I’m here. Would not change it for the world. I will miss so much about it, too. Especially my two foreverlong friends.

And the time around the table at dinner when the phone doesn’t ring and none of us has a distraction pulling us away from our togetherness.

I will actually miss the walking. And the bus rides probably too.

But I can’t stop feeling like I did when my kids were little and I so badly wanted to soak it all up for everything it was worth. Because, you know, they would only be toddlers for such a short time. And I didn’t want to miss it.

Then the truth would hit that my daughter had pooped in her pants or thrown up all over the bed. Or one of them would scream on the way out of Target because I didn’t let her put her own coat on. (Yes. I used to be a terrible mom.)

And, well, the here and now during those moments of rage or disgust or downright icky were less than awesome.

The real truth about here? It’s awesome, yes. But sometimes it’s hard and the hope of what’s next is better than the amazing of right here.

So I’ve decided to give myself a break and be okay with being ready to go home in less than 8 weeks.

And you know what? It’s helping me find the awesome of here before it’s gone forever.

The Unspeakable of Flossenburg Concentration Camp

I want to write for their memory. The honor of those who lived such terror. Victims of Hitler’s rage and insanity.

Sixty million people lost their lives because of him.

That’s New York City more than eight times.

But to try with my words feels trite. Not enough. Because it’s all so unspeakable.

Truly UNspeakable.

PicMonkey Collage

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat were their thoughts when they looked out the windows? What did they see? Could they dream of the freedom I feel when I look out a window on a sunshiney day? I cannot imagine…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe SS forced the prisoners to stand in the courtyard for roll call, many times for hours on end. Often they made them watch as they executed someone in the gallows there. Then they had to walk by as they were dismissed.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA bowl, cup and utensil of one of the prisoners. Most of them tied these around their necks so nobody would steal them. For, they did not get any food if they had nothing to put it in.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABoots worn in the Death Marches at the end of the war. The Nazis marched the prisoners who could walk deeper into the country to try to kill them off before they could be liberated.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is where the Nazi administration stayed. Max Koegel was the last one in charge there. He killed himself the day after he was captured. All I could think as I looked up at those windows was “What the heck were you thinking?” Truly unthinkable.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf these walls could talk, I am honestly not sure I could handle what they would say.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“The men and women who gave their lives for people’s freedom and justice.” (My very broken German translation.)

The building in the background is where Dietrich Bonhoeffer and five other men who tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944 were martyred on April 9, 1945. It was eleven days before the camp was liberated by the Allies.

You can read more about Flossenburg Concentration Camp here.

*I imagine I will write more someday, but for now, I will only remember. And I will hope that as I do I will honor those who died. And live differently for their memory.