Tag Archives: Christianity

Change is good.

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I just spent the last few minutes scrolling through old blog posts. After not much scrolling, I was several years back (that’s what happens when you stop blogging for a year), reading words that seemed familiar, but not me. Isn’t it strange how much a person can change in a short period of time? Maybe it’s just strange to me! But only a couple short years ago, I was not the same person. I felt helpless to change the things in my life that I didn’t like, helpless to confront things in my past that were affecting my present, and helpless to improve the relationships in my life that I knew were not in a healthy place. I don’t know that I had a victim mentality, but I certainly didn’t see myself as capable of changing my world.

Several years ago, a precious friend very gently pointed out something in my belief system that was not at all Scriptural. I was shocked to realize that she was right. Not only that, I started seeing other things in my heart and mind that it simply had never occurred to me to question. Things that I was taught as a child by a teacher I thought I should respect, and just filed away in the drawer of beliefs that I held as my own. Nathan and I began talking about some of these things, and soon became overwhelmed by the sheer number of issues that we held positions on without knowing if they were consistent with God’s heart or not! Many of these things were taught to us by someone that we once trusted, but now realize is way off base. Where would we starting weeding through the years of faulty philosophy? Thus began a very long season of praying “God I just want YOU. I want to know YOU for Who you really are, not for who I’ve been told that you are. I want to know you for myself, not just know *about* you from others’ perspectives. I want TRUTH, not religion. Whatever the cost, weed out the lies I’m believing and replace them with you.”

It has been a slow process. I appreciate so much that God has never flung open the doors of my heart, grabbing at false beliefs and lies left and right. He gently brings up one thing at a time. It’s as if He reaches into that filing cabinet, pulling out one piece of paper, and placing it before me. I typically respond with “what? I’ve always had that one. It can’t possibly be wrong.” He smiles and says “let’s just talk about it.” Slowly but surely, He addresses things that are skewing my view of Him and His heart. Slowly but surely, I am seeing Him as more loving. Less angry. More hilarious. Less boring. More interested in a relationship with me. Less interested in a perfect performance. More concerned with my heart and less impressed with a flawless outward appearance.

For-the-Lord...

In the midst of these realizations, I began praying for change in my physical world as well. After years of living on very little and learning to trust God for every single bill to be paid (He never once left us hanging! Often coming through right down to the penny…) I felt that He had more for us. That this was a season of learning, and it had fulfilled it’s purpose.

Enter Jamberry. It was a whim. A company created by three sisters just for fun and maybe some play money. My sister signed up, and encouraged me to do the same. It never occurred to me that my life was about to change. It seemed like a small investment that could possibly yield enough to give our grocery budget some wiggle room. But a few months later, Nathan and I looked at our bank account and said “we have to stop accepting financial support for our mission work!” Jamberry has been our sole source of income since that day in Feb of 2014. That was just the first of many changes. God has used that little business to open our eyes to worlds of needs, dreams, possibilities, and gifts we didn’t know we possessed. I try REALLY hard to not push the business opportunity on people, but I so desperately want to see if change everyone’s lives the way it has mine! It has been such a God-send on so many levels.

I could write an entirely separate post about the changes that I’ve seen in myself, my family, my finances, my dreams, my passions, and my future in the last year alone. But my FAVORITE of all the changes is my understanding of God and how He feels about me. I feel like He has just begun to give me a glimpse of His heart. The more I see, the more desperate I am to see more. I used to be one who was nervous about change. I was comfortable in my home town, native language, ministry that I understood and felt equipped to handle, and a god who fit neatly in a nice square box that I could tuck in my pocket and access whenever it was convenient. I now see that God likes to change things up to bring us to a new place of reliance on Him alone.

Change is good. I believe and hope that I am standing on the edge of a massive change. And I say bring it. My prayer remains “just give me YOU, God! Change what needs changing.”

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When joy becomes a choice

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Sometimes joy doesn’t come naturally.  Sometimes you are awakened 6 times in the night by teething and feverish children, and morning comes far too quickly and the sunlight feels harsh instead of… well, sunny.  Sometimes you are so tired that you attempt to make coffee in your French Press… without putting any coffee in it.  Sometimes you sneak off to the bathroom with your coffee cup, turn on the fan, and just hope it takes the kids a few minutes to figure out that you are simply escaping to a moment of silence and solitude.  What?  Don’t tell me you’ve never done that!

These last few weeks have been rough.  The kind of month that plays a mean game of tug-o-war with your last nerve.  Car accidents (no one was hurt, thank God), losing my wallet in the back of a taxi, being home alone with 4 littles for more than half of the last month, very important relationships suffering heavy strain, and now, the latest development in our saga, the disappearance of money from our lockbox. A lot of money.  We are mystified about that last one.  This all could not really have come at a worse time of year.  November is when I historically start getting very homesick.  The realization has set in: we’re spending our 4th yr in a row in Mexico for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I think I did better when it was one year here, one year at home in Colorado with my family. It seemed less traumatic.  At any rate, I’m trying to line up activities, traditions, outings with the orphans, fun food, new crafts, and all manner of things to make these next 2 months more joy-full and less homesick.

Then the unexpected happens.  One thing after another.  Just when I think I’m recovering emotionally and psychologically from one blow, here comes a new one.  I admit, once I had a moment of silence today (I will neither confirm nor deny my whereabouts in the house when this moment occurred), I whispered through a choked back tear, “really God??? Why? Why right now?”

I just remembered the lyrics of a song that says “When you can’t see His hand, trust His heart.”  I don’t doubt for a moment that God is in control.  I don’t doubt that He is orchestrating every day of our lives, no matter how chaotic they seem to us at times.  I know this.  I’ve seen enough miracles in my relatively short life (especially in the last 8 yrs on the mission field) to readily acknowledge that God is real.  God is big.  God is intimately involved in our lives.  He cares about the details.  He is concerned with what concerns us.  I know!  But sometimes I don’t feel it.

People-to-people  relationships can be like that sometimes too, right?  Sometimes you have to remind yourself of what you know to be true, whether or not it *feels* true at the moment.  You have to choose to believe the best of your spouse, whether you feel like it or not.  Maybe you have to choose to believe that person didn’t *mean* to hurt you with the thoughtless words or actions.  Don’t assume that a lack of communication from a friend or family member is the same as a lack of love.  Assume the best.  Choose to love.

Today I’m choosing faith.  I choose to believe that God is doing something through all these weird things going on lately.

I choose to open my eyes to the blessings surrounding me.  The paintings of oddly formed butterflies on my fridge, the play-dough models of horses (I admit, I thought it was supposed to be a dragon), the perfect white calla-lily growing out in the yard, the stifled giggles and whispers escaping from my little girls’ room after the lights have been turned out for the night, the perfect aroma of coffee, the sparkle in William’s eyes… beauty.   Abundant blessings that I too often ignore for the busy-ness or refuse to acknowledge because I am *so* occupied with my pity-party.

I choose GRACE.  I choose to be a conduit that God can use to love on my kids.  I will not refuse the grace that He is attempting to give me for each moment by dwelling on the thoughts that steal my peace.

Tonight, I’m choosing joy.  Not because my situation is fantastic, or my finances stellar, or my marriage perfect, or my children well-behaved with nicely trimmed finger nails… but because I can.  Because over and over again in Scripture, joy is related to being in God’s presence.  THAT’S what I want.  That’s what I *can* do something about.  I’m learning to live my life in His presence.  I’ll letcha know when I have figured out how to do this perfectly (don’t hold your breath).  For now, I’m loving this journey.  And I’m banking on the promise Jesus gave in John 15 when He said “abide in me… your joy will be complete!”  That sounds good to me.  Complete joy.  Count me in.

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:2-3

A small collection of the blessings I noticed today

A small collection of the blessings I noticed today

The JOY of it all

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I can’t get over this day.  I have always loved it SO much!  Even as an adult, after 31 Easters, I have a hard time going to bed the night before Easter.  No matter how many times I read the words “He is not here… He is risen, just as He said!”  I still get goose-bumps!  I mean, it’s a cool story right??  But the implications of the story are so far beyond cool.  He conquered death!!  Dying to pay the penalty for our sins is pretty incredible, all on it’s own.  But the fact that even death couldn’t keep Him!  The incredible joy of knowing that we get to share in that victory with Him… it’s indescribable!

I’ve watched THIS VIDEO at least 5 times today… good luck sitting still and not feeling the thrill of His resurrection!

We claim the victory He won on Calvary… Celebrate the King of Glory!  Rise up!  People of the Lord, Rise up!

How it’s “supposed” to be

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Isn’t it amazing how many things in life are “supposed to be” a certain way? Home-making, marriage, pregnancy, church, Christianity, missions, family… the list could go on forever. Allow me to tackle just a few on the list.

Family is “supposed to be” a great big happy thing! Right? No one ever disagrees, no one owes anyone else money, everyone is interested in each other’s lives (but of course not overly-nosey), we all support and encourage each other in our dreams and endeavors, in-laws are just another extension of immediate family, and we all spend every holiday together. Blissfully playing games and eating way too much yummy food. Does that describe your family? I’ve had a few discussions with several friends recently. We all seem to be suffering from the same disillusioned thought: “family isn’t supposed to be like this…” And yet no one has ever known a family that is exactly what it’s “supposed to be.” I guess this is related to un-met expectations on many levels. But I’ve found that many times, dealing with what is “supposed to be” is not usually dealing with your own expectations, but someone else’s. The first two examples of this that pop into my mind are 1.) Christianity and 2.) Missions.

I would imagine that if you gathered 20 people in a room and took a poll regarding Christianity, you’d have 20 different opinions on what a Christian is supposed to look like. Only God knows what combination of those opinions is truly correct. If you are a Christian, you are responsible to be and act like and look exactly like the person that God has laid on *your* heart. No one else’s. If you feel that it’s wrong for *you* to wear makeup or cut your hair short or wear jeans, then by all means. Avoid it like the plague. But for you to presume to tell anyone else that’s it’s wrong for *them* to wear makeup, cut their hair or wear jeans, means that you are attempting to take God’s position in the conviction department. I really don’t think He appreciates that. He’s good at His job, and doesn’t require an assistant.

As for missions. I think it’s ironic that of all the times I’ve heard “missionaries are supposed to…” it has never come from another missionary. Generally it’s from someone who has not been-there-done-that and has no idea what full-time mission work is like! Why can’t missionaries (and their modes of operations) be as different as the people themselves? I really don’t believe that God uses cookie cutters. If you feel God calling you to be involved in missions, that doesn’t necessarily mean that He is asking you to move 3,000 miles from home and start a church from scratch. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have to go through your denomination’s seminary and then language school for 5 yrs before being allowed to actually be a missionary. We serve a creative God who is perfectly capable of calling you to a specific task that He has already perfectly equipped you for. Your call to missions might mean a prison ministry in your home-town, or a home-based Bible study, or AWANAS with your kids. For us, it means (for now anyway) working with indigenous people in Southern Mexico. I think God has called all Christians to be involved in missions somehow. Either in your home town or in another country. Either doing it yourself, supporting someone else, or both. What I know for sure is that I should be honored to be called where I am, not apologizing for it. I’m working on that. I tend to apologize to people here because I’m “new” here, am not fluent in any language other than my own, and very rarely go on jungle trips with Nathan. Well, that last part *does* bother me and we are trying to find an affordable travel trailer so that we can all go. But for the rest of it, I need to stop apologizing. It is what it is, and I’m doing the best I can with the tools God has given me. I’m going to try and stop apologizing to everyone back home as well. I feel like I am so often saying “sorry I have to answer God’s call on my life”… isn’t that so backwards though? I should be thrilled and honored to answer any call from Him, and not half so concerned about what people think of it. Of course I would love it if everyone I knew was encouraging and supportive and tried to understand where we’re coming from. As if leaving my family, friends, church, Starbucks, Old Navy and beloved US of A behind isn’t hard enough, being told that we shouldn’t even be going is very disheartening! I’ve determined to stop letting that rob me of the joy of serving my God in the situation He currently has me in. I know several of you are in the same boat. Some of you have endured outright persecution for doing your best to follow God’s direction in your life. Hang in there! Know that the Lord sees your heart and understands the hard part of obedience.

I’ve ranted long enough! My mission field awaits. It’s calling me from the living room where 1 daughter needs to be fed. Another is in the bathroom needing assistance. The third (my sweet first-born) is attempting to assist me in putting clean dishes away and it sounds as though a few items have hit the floor. I pray that you will receive a fresh vision of your mission field today, wherever it is! Sometimes we just need someone to say “that looks hard… can I pray for you?” Let me be that person for you today! I would love for you to tell me how I can pray for you in your field.