I’m sorry it’s been a little while since I last wrote. Life has been busy and sometimes I feel like it is just flying by. I try to be intentional about savoring the moment and remembering what is truly important, but it is not easy. Please know that I do think of you every morning, praying for you and missing you very much.
As you may know, Rick and I just got back from a 2 week trip to Italy. We had an amazing time seeing 10 different areas of the country – I was so impressed with all the history that is preserved there in man-made structures erected long before there was the technology of machinery to help build them, and in the art that we saw in various churches and museums – painters and sculptors so gifted and skilled, evidence of God’s creative nature alive in His creation. My favorite part of Italy though was the coast, both at the Cinque Terre and the Amalfi coast – with God Himself as the artist. My favorite part of the trip was getting to spend so much time with my love of 30+ years and enjoying it together.
This was Rick’s third trip to Italy but it was my first time there. I was surprised at how familiar everything felt. It reminded me so much of Jordan – the olive, lemon, and fig trees; the grape vines; the dark haired, dark skinned locals so expressive in their communication; the way of life there with apartment living, public transportation, local specialty markets and small restaurants run by families.
And yet, I also felt “other” as I often did in Jordan especially early on in the 15 years we were there. In Italy, I didn’t speak the language, I didn’t quite fit in with the way I dressed or behaved, I was not aware of the social cues and norms of Italian culture. It got me thinking about a blog post I started in March of 2018 and never finished about being countercultural, so I decided to finally share it with you.
Western culture puts a premium on performance and productivity, impatient with a relaxed pace and with waiting. The Kingdom of Heaven culture accepts the invitation to be still and know that He is God.
Our culture is uncomfortable with silence. Kingdom culture cherishes and invites silence.
Our culture is obsessed with “new” – the latest fashion, new models, new upgrades. Kingdom culture says “be content with what you have”
Our culture promotes a sense of entitlement – “I deserve this” and “how can I benefit?”. Kingdom culture encourages gratitude and a giving spirit.
Our culture encourages an attitude of defensiveness and blame-shifting. Kingdom culture encourages admitting mistakes and taking ownership of one’s role in a disagreement.
Our culture has a “know-it-all” attitude. Kingdom culture has a posture of learning.
Our culture seeks to avoid and stop pain, using alcohol, drugs, food, and distraction to mask it. Kingdom culture says “what can I learn through this pain?” and fosters a dependence on God and on others.
Our culture promotes photoshopping and putting your best foot forward, hiding imperfections and failures. Kingdom culture is transparent, honest and humble.
So even though it is uncomfortable to feel “other” and to not “fit in” wherever I am in the world, I take comfort in the fact that I am supposed to feel “not of this world” and it’s a good discomfort. Ultimately my citizenship is in heaven.
But Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe
Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.Philippians 3:19-20Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven