Confession: These Stories Are Not Even Mine [Day 5: SHARE]

My husband spends a lot of time with a group of young men. He teaches them from the Bible and trains them to live as godly men as they help within the church. The long term goal is raising up some pastors who can lead the churches God allows us to plant. Really, he spends more time with these guys than he does with me — on a grump day, I resent that! When they’re in my home, I feed them and keep the coffee flowing. They call me “bauju” which means sister-in-law, and I kind of love it.

What I’ve realized as I try to share my “real life” stories with you is that most of them are not my own. And the ones that are are super boring. “Hey guys, one time I walked my kids to school and then did some shopping and made some food… then I did it again every day of the week.” Any of the stories of God giving us victory in our ministry or doing something miraculous in our family have happened mostly through God’s work accomplished through my better half. My prayer is that as our ministry grows, the Lord will grant me the desires of my heart to serve and disciple young ladies in the church.

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

In the meantime, what I’ve come to see and praise God for, is that I have a share in my husband’s service for the Lord. I may not be on the ground level where all the magic happens much of the time. Rather, I’m cheering him on, encouraging him in little ways, and throwing up desperate prayers in all the times I feel helpless. I’m The Legs He Stands On, and as such, I have a supporting role.

Truthfully, the stories we share, though, do not belong to me or to my husband. We’re small characters in the story God is patiently and faithfully writing, and we know this. Even still, we are part of His grand scheme to bring people back to Himself. Every small story of victory and each tale of trial belong to Him. We are not the heroes of our stories, and we are not in control of what’s on the last page.

Am I going to struggle to share 25 more stories of my life with you? Absolutely 100% YES. But, like in every other part of my life, I’m going to have to trust God as He changes the plans. I know He will give me the words I need to hear and the stories I need to share. Whether they’re mine or my husband’s stories, ultimately they all belong to the Lord.

I “make” God big in my life when I accept the support roles He gives me and trust Him, in all His wisdom, to write the stories of my life.

What stories is God writing in your life?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

When I can’t Remember Why [Day 4: WHY]

“Why” is a question I find myself answering a lot. My kids often ask why we can’t just hop over to America and visit with our grandparents. Taxi drivers and shopkeepers inquire about why we would live in this country when many of them would give anything to live in America. Others, disapprovingly ask why we are trying to change the culture of this beautiful country. When the smallness of my life seems to contrast with what might be if I lived and served on the other side of the world, I ask myself why we put ourselves through all that we do.

The following is from a post I wrote earlier this year, and it’s worth reminding myself all these months later.

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

I agreed to serve Jesus because He gave His all for me, and I am compelled to do all I can to magnify His great love. 

I agreed to work alongside my husband as we cross-cultures to share Christ because I trust him completely and believe in him wholeheartedly.

I agreed to learn a language and culture because there are millions of people that haven’t heard the Gospel in their heart language, and I may have the opportunity to change that — even if only for a few.

I agreed to raise my children away from the comforts of our home and our family because Jesus is worthy, and I want them to know that more than any other lesson I could teach them.

Jesus is worthy. Because of that I will agree to keep serving Him every day of this little life He gives me. I trust that one day — whether here or in heaven — the impact of that decision will far exceed my expectations. I’ll see our BIG God was at work in amazing ways in my little life. All because I agreed to all the little things He asked me to do. It all seems like small potatoes compared to what he’s done for me.

I “make” God big in my little life when I combat the frailty of my heart with God’s truth. I remind myself that the life He has called me to is worth agreeing to while I trust Him to work His way in it.

What is your “WHY” that keeps you following Jesus?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

Putting my Fears in God’s Hands [Day 2: AFRAID]

For the first year of our service overseas, I was afraid to visit the local shops. It was all so overwhelming to me. I look back now and laugh because I probably could have gotten most of what I needed by pointing and speaking English. Back then I thought  I had to speak Nepali 100% of the time. The problem at that time was I barely knew any!

I was afraid to seem ignorant or to overpay due to my ignorance. But mainly I was afraid to have to talk to anyone. God had given us a heart for the souls of these people but not a manual on how to connect with them. While I longed to establish friendships and the sense of belonging they provide, I could not get over my fears. We did most of our shopping at the supermarket, and if we needed anything locally I would send my son’s nanny.

My language has improved over the years, but my confidence to connect with local people ebbs and flows. I’ve carved out a shopping route in several different directions from my son’s school. I walk and talk my whole way home most days. I have a few friends I visit and drink way too many cups of chai with. The fears of feeling awkward, ignorant, or misunderstood are ever-present but thankfully, so is the Lord and His ability to transcend all barriers and bridge all gaps. When my fears are realized and my feelings are hurt, the comfort floods in faster than the fears ever could. He reminds me that the work of crossing cultures and connecting with people is worthy work because He is worthy, and I am never a step away from the love that casts out fear (1 Jn. 4:18).

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

One day, a shopkeeper called me over to ask me some questions about our beliefs. I was so thankful that God provided strength to overcome my fears and insecurities to stop and chat with her on several other occasions. Each moment I had handed my fears over to the Lord lead to a wide open door to share the Gospel. While I did not see tremendous growth in her understanding of the Gospel that day, I trust that the Lord will work in her heart and give her more opportunities to learn of Him. I pray that the door will remain open to continue to share with her and with others as I fling my fears into His care (1 Pet. 5:7).

And when I stop to buy yogurt a few shops over, I will forever feel giddy when I ask the sweet lady there how she is doing and she replies, “I’m blessed now by seeing you!” And to think I would have missed all these wonderful blessings if I had continued to allow my fears to trump my faith. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is surrender.

I “make” God big when I surrender my fears to Him, allowing Him to provide the strength and courage I need to love and minister to others.

What fears has God allowed you to overcome in service to Him?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

Simple Stories for His Glory [Day 1: STORY]

My brother just returned to America after a one-week stay in Kathmandu. Whenever anyone visits, I find it so amusing to be able to see “my” world through fresh eyes. When I would stress about what we were going to do for the day, he would reassure me that it was all fascinating to him. He wanted to walk around and do life the way we would normally to do it to get a glimpse of how we usually went about our days in this foreign city. We visited my markets, my gym, hosted guests, attended church and walked my son to school and participated in our daughter’s cultural program. It was all so ordinary, a far cry from a typical tourist trip. But he soaked up every moment, and I vicariously did the same.

Photo by Dustin Smith

In regards to my writing, I’ve been challenged to share more stories of my life overseas and our ministry here. While it all seems so small and ordinary to me, I believe sharing how God works even in the smallness of my life may be an encouragement to someone else underwhelmed by the significance of their own existence. Certainly, God works in big ways around the world, but He also shows Himself mighty in ordinary life in ordinary places using — you guessed it — ordinary people.

So, I’m going to show up for the next 30 days to share with you how God weaves significance into the smallness of my life, and how He uses our imperfect family to shine Gospel truth into dark places. Walking through local markets, circled up with our faithful church members, or just goofing around the house with our kids, I’m thrilled to share with you how God is teaching me to make Him big in the smallness of my life and encourage you in your efforts to do the same.

I “make” God big when I share stories of how He works mightily even in the smallness of my little life. 

How has God shown Himself big in your life?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

Just One Thing? — Expectations and Overseas Life

A few weeks ago, as I prepared my heart for my parents to return back to America after visiting for two weeks, I asked my Instagram followers to do me a solid and use the new questions feature to distract me for a few moments. I got some great questions, some silly questions, and a few unsolicited compliments (yes, I agree my kids are gorgeous!). One friend commented that we seemed to be doing amazing, and I was happy to confirm that we are happy here and love the missions life with all its adventure and challenges. I thought I’d turn a few of them into blog posts as I train myself to make writing a habit again — like online, not just three pages a day in my journal.

“What was one thing that was hard to adjust to on the mission field?”

Wow! It felt like such a loaded request to just pick one thing that was hard to adjust to after moving overseas because literally every aspect of my life has changed as a result. This inquiry came from a young woman who attends a very missions driven church where she may also train for ministry one day, so I felt added pressure to encourage her and not freak her out — the ever present search for balance of transparency and gentle truth.

I’ve learned so much, but one of the biggest things has been to let go of my expectations about what doing ministry, making a home, and raising my kids would be like here. We have a unique set of circumstances and challenges, but God has a unique plan for our life and ministry.

I guess that sums up so much about all the feelings that bombarded me upon our arrival and the months following. On paper, it seemed our dreams were coming true. We were FINALLY on the field after years of preparation. But earthquakes and loneliness and the realities of setting up a home overseas all came to take away the beauty of dreams realized. Life overseas turned out to be just that — life, with all its hardships and disappointments in tow.

I didn’t realize at the time that I had painted a picture of what I thought our life here would be like. I would have a close friend, of course. My kids would play with neighborhood kids and learn the language quickly. We would find a good school for our daughter where she would thrive and grow beyond what we could give her at home. We’d enjoy setting up a new home and decorating it to our liking, and, oh yeah, it would be in the perfect location and even have a small yard.

What God has had for our family, however, has been so much different — and so much better. His plans for me have not met my expectations but have exceeded them. I cannot say that the portrait God painted for me instead has not been heavily crafted with pain and trial. It’s been harder — and sweeter — than I ever thought possible, as are most of the best things in life. The best thing God has given me is nothing I hoped for and everything I wasn’t wise enough to want.

It turns out, God is far less interested in making my dreams a reality and far more interested in working out His way in my life. God’s best for me, in any season, is to learn hard into Him and trust Him even when chaos seems to reign. All my dreams come untrue have brought me into the place I need to be — the place where I submit to every disappointing reality and joyous victory.

He hasn’t asked me to totally surrender all of my dreams but has, rather, loved me hard through every twist and transition. When the story changes, I know the author doesn’t, and it’s a good thing I’ve already seen Him write so many great narratives. As my heart becomes one with Christ, my desires will inevitably change. All I can expect, then, are wonderfully hard, beautifully messy works wrought by the hand of God which makes no mistakes.

Truly, we have a unique set of circumstances and challenges in this overseas life. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that our God has a unique plan. I just feel privileged to watch it unfold.