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Thoughts on life by Teri McCarthy

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The Obedience of Standing Still

Posted by admin in January 26th, 2018 | 5 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

When we got our pup Mindy two years ago, our lives changed. Yes. For the better. Mindy brings us a lot of joy and laughter. She is a funny dog. Because of my previous experience of dog ownership, training of little Mindy is primarily my job. Potty training, leash training, stop licking training (haven’t got that one down yet), taking treats like a lady training and the all-important command of “stay.”

Hand out flat, voice firm and low, eye contact and then the command, “Stay!” pause, “Stay Mindy! Stay!” And I am very proud to say that she obeys. In fact, on those occasions when she is dying to go with us (she LOVES car rides), or we have the grandkids with us, or when we are leaving for church, I turn around with my back to the door facing our eager little puppy whose tail is wagging, whose tongue is flapping and ears all perked up ready to go and I say, “No Mindy. Stay. Stay.” And she sits down very disappointed, but compliant. Even though every fiber of her being wants to go with us and she longs to be with us and she hates being left out – she stays. She sits and she watches and she obeys. Honestly, it breaks my heart every time as I watch this little creature controlling herself because she longs to obey me–to please me. Even when she doesn’t understand why, she stays.

Yes. There is a spiritual lesson here.

When Daryl and I returned to the U.S. from Lithuania, we had no idea what we’d be facing. Several things hit us hard – deaths, broken relationships, being erased from our organization (that we’d given our lives to). We agreed the first semester back I wouldn’t apply to any jobs, but I’d work on getting our house back in order, spending time with family, and readjusting. But then I did start looking for work.

Then came the second semester. The first year. Second year. Now it’s going on the third year…July of 2018 it will be our third year back in the U.S.

In all my years of walking with God I have never experienced anything like this. Waiting. Stay. Staying. It feels as if God has put me out to pasture and forgotten me. I told a friend it’s like my file folder slipped behind Heaven’s filing cabinet and got lost. Is God mad at me?!? Did He forget about me?

Teri, have you applied to any jobs? Yep! 25. How about volunteering? Yep. Got turned down for that too. Not kidding.

Is this a testing of my faith? It is like nothing I have ever experienced before. I heard a sermon recently, “God doesn’t serve our purposes.” Okay. I agree. But I’d like to serve God’s purposes. I’m a doer! I’m a get-‘er-done kind of person. When God asks, “Whom shall I send?” My hand is the first raised and I jump up and down, “Here! Here I am! Send me!! I’ll go!”

So, is there such a thing as an “obedience of standing still?” Is there a time in our lives when God says, “Stay!” I believe that obedience is better than life. I believe that God alone holds my future in His hands. But the sense of being forgotten and lost to Him is oftentimes unbearable. And yet, where else can I go? Jesus alone holds the words of eternal life (John 6:68).

The bottom line is, do I trust the heart of God? Do I trust the God I read about in Scripture? Do I trust the God who led me to China, across the Soviet Union and into the classrooms of Afghanistan? Is God the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)? YES! He is. And I do believe. Even when the mountains fall down and the seas roar and all life is different than I ever imagined it would be, I declare, I shout, I cry out, “My God is faithful!! My God is trustworthy!! My God is good!!” And not to be overly dramatic, I have to join with Job and say, “Even if He slays me, yet will I trust Him.” ‘Cause I do. I trust God – this God that has seen me through peril and sword.

But waiting is hard and staying is difficult. Doing nothing is very hard work and takes more faith than those times when I have strongly sensed God’s good pleasure (Eric Liddell’s reference here).

Henri Nouwen writes on this topic in his book, Reaching Out, “God’s absence is so deeply felt that it leads to a new sense of His presence”(p. 127). Nouwen explains Jesus’ words on the Cross, “My God why have You forsaken me?” in this way, “Where God’s absence was most loudly expressed, His presence was most profoundly revealed.” God’s presence is profoundly revealed in His absence. (Thanks Anna Rice for sharing this with me at the precise time I needed it – another sign of God’s presence).

Nouwen encourages those who feel God’s absence, “In the patient waiting for the loved one, we discover how much He has filled our lives already.” And that He has done.

In my so-called captivity, I have seen many blessings. Our church is such a tremendous blessing. Each week I hear God’s Word preached with an anointing and with passion. I am so grateful. Our home is warm and comfortable and I am blessed each day in this house that God has given us. My stepdaughter and her family have brought me so much joy and comfort. Her two children, August and Lydia, fill me with a powerful love that sometimes I think my heart will burst! I have good health and good friends. I get to live my life vicariously through Daryl’s excellent work and ministry with ELF. I know God is near; I just don’t want to be put out to pasture! Not yet! There is still so much more I want to do. “In the patient waiting for the loved one, we discover how much He has filled our lives already.” Yes Henri, I agree. My walk with God has been an incredible journey. I am grateful. Big sigh.

And so, I wait. And if Jesus never does another thing for me or with me or through me, I rejoice because up to now, it has been an amazing walk with God full of miracles, His provision, and fulfilling joy. God has allowed me the privilege of seeing Him work in mighty and wonder-filled ways. It has been an honor to serve Him. And it is an honor to wait. Peace.

God Is In Control?

Posted by admin in January 1st, 2018 | 8 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

I love my church. And I love my pastor. I really appreciate our young pastor’s preaching and teaching. His sermon on Sunday focused on all the details that had to come together in order for Christ to be born in the appointed place at the appointed time to the appointed people. Miracles really–every single detail. But there was one thing our pastor said that I have been mulling over and over in my head: God’s will is always accomplished and God is in control of all things. This I’m not so sure about. And for all of you Twila Paris fans, please hear me out.

Every time a human being is murdered – God’s will is not being done. Each time a person chooses to lie – God’s will is not being done. When a woman is raped or a father is killed by a drunken driver – God’s will is not done. When a helpless baby is aborted or a spouse cheats or a man beats his wife or a child is molested – NONE of these are God’s will. In fact, countless times around the world in thousands upon thousands of lives, God’s will is not being […] Continue Reading…

Transgenderism: When Falsehood Looks Like Truth

Posted by admin in June 21st, 2017 | 1 comment 
Published in Uncategorized

Trans·gen·der – /transˈjendər,tranzˈjendər/ adjective: denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex.

I teach semantics. The first three weeks of class we look at definitions and try to answer these questions: How does society determine the meaning of words? How are lexicons formed or developed? This is a big deal, because if speakers of a common language don’t agree on a definition, communication is not only hindered, but it is a bit chaotic. For example, British English refers to the end of a pencil used to wipe out written words as a “rubber.” American English uses the word rubber to mean a condom. That’s a big difference. British English says a person is “pissed” when he/she is drunk; American English uses the word “pissed” to describe someone very, very angry. Again, that’s a big difference.

So, people communicating in the same language must have an agreed upon definition of a term in order for true communication to take place. In my classes these days we have to look at terms that are rapidly changing in society due to use or new concepts—words such as marriage, gender, euthanasia. […] Continue Reading…

Living Right-Side Up in An Upside-Down World

Posted by admin in January 31st, 2017 | 3 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

I just read an essay by Stephen Mattson, “History Will Judge Today’s Christians According to These 4 Questions.” Mattson lists the four questions he decided were the important issues the Church in America is miserably failing to answer. There’s an arrogance in Mr. Mattson’s approach and an assumption that he alone knows what is the high moral ground all Believers should take because of his superior intellect. BTW, he published his essay in Huffington Post – who by their own definition call themselves, “a left-leaning American online news aggregator…” After reading Mattson’s article, I had to ask myself the question, “How did a young Christian man from Moody Bible Institute come to this?”

Some days I feel dizzy. Not from hot flashes or sugar lows, but from some of the things I hear in person and see on social media. Do you ever wonder, “What in the world is going on?!?” How am I supposed to navigate in today’s swampy waters and alligator infested bayous? It’s tough. It’s disheartening. And sometimes it seems impossible.

Recently, I was talking to a family member about our family doctor and I said, “He’s an excellent Catholic…” Someone overhead the comment and yelled at […] Continue Reading…

The Misery of Being Misunderstood

Posted by admin in November 2nd, 2016 | 4 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

The more you try to explain, the worse it gets. Ever been there? The more you try to bridge the gap, the wider the gap becomes. One of my greatest struggles in this world is the angst I get if someone misjudges me. Makes.Me.Crazy. There is a hilarious episode of Everybody Loves Raymond titled “Somebody Hates Raymond.” The entire episode Ray is trying to figure out why this guy hates him so much and how Ray can clear the air and make things right. Doesn’t happen. The writers were able to hit on the average Joe’s struggle with rejection over misunderstanding. “If they only knew my heart!” Or, “If I could just explain, I know I could make him understand.” And the always useful, “If we could just sit down and talk…” But sometimes, for whatever reasons, there will be people in our lives that simply want to keep their negative opinions of us. Why? I have no idea. But it happens and I guess the upside of it all is that it happened to Jesus too…a lot. As Jesus Followers we are called by God to be conformed to the image of Christ and most of the time […] Continue Reading…

Road Signs

Posted by admin in October 6th, 2016 | 7 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

Am I the only person who likes road signs while driving? I like them because they tell me what is ahead and if I need a warning. Caution: curve ahead. Yield: there’s oncoming traffic. Slowdown: school crossing. Love those road signs. Need them.

There are some “road signs” in our Christian walk, but not always and not as many as I would like. In July 2015, Daryl and I moved back to the US after a dreamy and wonderful five-year existence in beautiful Lithuania. Loved my job. Loved my students. Loved my friends. Loved Lithuania. I truly felt God’s good pleasure (in the words of Eric Liddell). But we knew in our last year there that God was calling us back to the US. Promptings. Urgings. And some tangible evidence that we were needed back home. So we packed up our wonderful life in Lithuania and returned to the States with joyful expectations and a plan. Plans are funny. Plans are stupid.

On the night of our arrival back home in Kansas City, all of Daryl’s kids greeted us at the airport and all the grandkids were there too. It was a lovely sight and all felt as it should […] Continue Reading…

Heroes, Transitions, and Faith

Posted by admin in April 20th, 2015 | 4 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

Whenever I write a post for this blog, I always wish that it could be brilliant. I wish I could be a brilliant writer, but I’m not. I have this deep desire to write profound thoughts as well as thought-provoking ideas. I’m that land-locked penguin that wishes she was a swan. But that doesn’t stop me from trying.

Sadly, after five years here in lovely Lithuania, Daryl and I are moving back to the USA. But leaving Lithuania is not the only big change. After nearly 20 years of working with IICS (now called Global Scholars) neither Daryl nor I will be with the organization any longer. Our departure from Lithuania inadvertently becomes our departure from IICS.

Wow. Big change. Big transition.

Here’s a piece I put together for our colleagues and friends. My words, though not eloquent nor terribly weighty, do come from the heart.

Greetings from cloudy and very cold Vilnius! Spring in Lithuania is more of a state of mind than an actual season change. I hope and pray that you are flourishing in your walks with God, your host cultures, your classrooms, and of course your families! All of you—each of you—have been a tremendous […] Continue Reading…

Am I a Pharisee?

Posted by admin in March 1st, 2015 | 6 comments 
Published in freedom, obedience

Recently I received an email from a sister in Christ calling me a Pharisee. Hmmm…a Pharisee? The dictionary gives two definitions of Pharisee: 1) A Pharisee was a member of an ancient Jewish sect that emphasized strict interpretation and observance of the Mosaic law in both its oral and written form; 2) A hypocritically self-righteous person. I think my sister was probably referring to the second definition. And maybe she’s right. However, it is that first definition that I was really aiming for – in a New Testament kind of way. I think anyone who knows me, knows that I live in a black and white world. I am devoted to absolutes: right/wrong, good/evil, yes/no. I am teaching a semantics class this semester and I repeat again and again, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” Yup. Pretty black and white.

Sadly our world is often lived in the gray areas. Gray. Dismal. Unclear. And if you try to draw clear distinctions, as I am prone to do, then there is the question of being judgmental. Are we as followers of Christ ever directed by Scripture to be judgmental? And what is Christ referring to when He […] Continue Reading…

Walking About On My Own

Posted by admin in May 11th, 2013 | 5 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

I hate being a hateful person who hates people. A good friend of mine wrote to me today, “You know one of the reasons I want to be in heaven is I want to see what it feels like to have no sin in my life—I am not sure how we get rid of the hate and frustration…and I am sure my sin clouds my view of things. So I would love to know what it feels like to have no sin.”

It was the first time I’d ever thought of Heaven in those terms—as being sin-free living. To me Heaven always has meant seeing Jesus (yay), being healed of all of our diseases, getting along well with others, and being able to live in peace. But being completely free of sin hadn’t really entered my mind; not like that. I read my friend’s words and just started to weep. Yes. I want to be free from sin. I know I’m forgiven each time I ask God to cleanse me of my sin. And I know the Holy Spirit works in me to convict me of sin and help me to overcome it, but I can honestly say […] Continue Reading…

A Postcard from the Ledge

Posted by admin in December 4th, 2012 | 9 comments 
Published in faith, Lithuania, obedience

I love being in Lithuania. Especially on days like today when the sun is shining and there is fresh snow on the ground. A delicious 21 degrees Fahrenheit is for me a perfect temperature. But not all days are like this…some days it’s a struggle. Not because of Lithuania, but because of homesickness, missing family and friends. I often wonder what am I missing in the lives and events of those I love back home in America?

Obedience means different things to different people. For some it is raising a family; for others it is starting a small business or keeping financial records at an organization that provides humanitarian aid. For Daryl and me it has meant to travel 5,057 miles away from home to live as strangers in a foreign land. We are deaf—we have no idea what is being said around us. If someone was to call out, “FIRE”, we’d have no idea what was going on. We are illiterate: as academics it is a difficult struggle to not be able to read or write; not to comprehend something as simple as a label on a jar. We are mute: we can’t answer when people speak to […] Continue Reading…

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