Abandoning My Comfort Zone

Five Minute Friday: ABANDON

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Possibly, now, more than ever, I feel as though I’m living with abandon. I’ve left the comforts of home and the closeness of friends and family to, prayerfully, see a gospel movement on the side of the world I now inhabit. This great dream I share with my church-planter-husband requires me to not just step out of my comfort zone, as this implies I could hop back in. Rather, commitment to foreign church planting demands a total abandonment of my comfort zone. Aside from dark chocolate on the couch or the warm embraces from my tribe of three, my comfort zone, for now, ceases to exist. Because, like it or not, I’m eaten up with this thing.

So I walk in the most comfortable shoes I own, which turn out not to be as airy as advertised, giving invitations to church along with an invitation for criticism and rejection. Either of these is not only possible but likely. As I get swept up in the going and doing, and telling and showing coupled with stress and sleeplessness, it’s also possible I’ll forget the why all this is worth it. I’ll need reminding, and I hope I can count on you.

It’s Jesus. The groom we’re waiting for. And it’s the greatest privilege of my life to ready His bride. It is my prayer, above all, I won’t forget Him, my first love, as some zealots have been said to have done. I hope, instead, I’ll be faithful, though I cringe, as I cross the threshold of my comfort zone. Living with abandon, I’ll cling only to the One who will never abandon me.

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Also, for those who don’t follow me on Instagram or Facebook, I will share with you now that we are relocating as a family to be closer to our church plant (which will be up and running in 3 weeks! EEEEK!). I know that the truths I’m learning and have shared with you above will be put to the test more than ever over the next few months. I appreciate your friendship and your prayers for our family and ministry. The fears and obstacles are great, but our God is greater.

Give the Gift of Purposeful Presence this Holiday Season

Five Minute Friday: NOW

Maybe it’s the recurring question when I encounter someone here in America that wasn’t expecting to see me wandering the aisles of Walmart or the halls of my home church. “When are you going back?” And part of me, though in no way does this make any sense, is surprised at the inquiry. I think, didn’t I just get here?

I’m constantly recounting memories made in Kathmandu and sharing them with the lovely people who have supported us prayerfully and financially during our absence. When I’m not looking back, I am speaking of future plans and hopeful ambitions. They are wished in the silent, stirred places of the soul that dream big and hope only in the mighty hands of Jesus to bring any of it to pass.

Glancing back and looking forward, I see all the great things the Lord has done and that I trust Him to do. But I also sense there’s something I’m missing in the now as I break my neck to glimpse the past and prayerfully gaze into the future.

In the now…My babies need me in the whiplash of cultural transition. It seems like typical nursery tantrums but I know it’s so much more.
In the now… I have friends who have gone through the unimaginable. Their hugs are tighter and their eyes more misty. I’ve been gone so long and missed so much. I haven’t been there for them, but I’m here now.
In the now… The pieces that were broken in our pulling away can be mended by purposeful presence.
In the now… are endless opportunities for ministry during a season where many look for the hope of this world.
In the now…. my daughter endlessly questions me about this holy thing, baby Jesus. What better time to tell her the greatest story ever told! Again and again and again.

In the now.…Jesus lives inside of me. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. Just like those times I’ve seen Him work on the other side of oceans, He wants to work in and through me today. He has special blessings in store for the now. But when I’m looking forward and backward and all around at any place or time but the here and now, I miss them.

I really don’t want to miss them. 

 

4 Purposeful Ways of Living in Transition [Rachel Bennett]

This post was originally featured as a guest post for Rachel Bennett at Love God, Live on Purpose. Even now, I am referring back to these truths as a guide during this time of transition back to America for a while. I hope these words, though simple, will bless and encourage you during whatever season you find yourself in. 

 


Even the word gives me a feeling of uneasiness. Transition has been almost a constant feature of the last few years of my life. We moved shortly after marriage, got new jobs and started training for ministry. We had a newborn babe thrown into the mix of constant traveling, fundraising for a country which would eventually deny us a visa. Consequently, we changed fields, made our international move, started language school and were met by a whole host of challenges.

In the better part of my adult life, I’ve felt unsettled. I vaguely remember a sense of security before where I, at least, felt like I had some kind of idea of what each day would hold and a general picture of what the future may have looked like. I’ve learned that even in these times of perceived security, a sudden event can instantly lurch me into a new season of life. The whiplash of such change is unwelcome and uncomfortable, however, these times of transition have proven to be catalysts for needed change in my life. I can’t always sense God’s hand at work in each moment, but I can see it clearly as I look back on all that He was brought to pass.

I don’t know what transition you may find yourself stuck in today. You may be between jobs, on the verge of a move, or encountering major change within your church or family. I’ve learned a lot during my seasons of unsettledness. I’d like to share with you 4 ways to live on purpose in times of transition, all of which can be found in Proverbs 4:23-27.

Guard your Heart
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
In times of transition, we must be careful what we allow to enter into our hearts and minds. We must be faithful to fill ourselves with the truths of God’s word so that when the hard edges of change scrape us down to our bare bones, we are grounded in godly wisdom. We take a break from the things and the people who fuel our negativity and hinder our service for God in the midst of change.

Cut Out Complaining
Put away from thee a forward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.
In times of transition, we must be mindful of the words that escape our lips. These words come from the hard places of the heart but can take on a life of their own once released, bringing destruction on ourselves and our loved ones.

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Keep your eyes on the prize
Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.
We must resist the temptation to compare our situations to the plight of others. There will always be someone who seems to have it better or worse than us. These glimpses into the lives of others are more accessible than ever and can leave us feeling either prideful or envious. We must trust that God is working uniquely within us and in the midst of our transition. We must not be distracted by lesser goals than pursuing Christ wholly with our lives. We remember our calling and press on to the prize. The prize is grand; it’s Jesus.

Make Progress Cautiously
Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
As we seek to move forward, we must measure all ambitions and decisions on the sure scale of Scripture. The Lord will never lead us to do that which conflicts with His will laid out for His children in the Bible. We must consider both the personal and peripheral repercussions of our decisions and how we might best glorify God with the opportunities given to us. We can move forward steadily but cautiously, trusting God to guide as we go.
In times of transition, we trust and wait for God to move towards positive change in our lives, for the greater good, and for His glory. Waiting is the hardest part, but there is purpose in the waiting.

As followers of Christ, we must steward the opportunity to serve Him in periods of uncertainty and change. Though our knees may wobble and our faith waver, we have an unfailing confidence in the person of Jesus Christ. No matter how long we wait and whatever the outcome, we know who is the Savior of our story and who wields the tools of change.

We find Him at the center of transition, and He meets us, at the end, too. Somewhere along the way, we find ourselves. Not surprisingly, and to our benefit, we find that we’ve changed.

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Baby, Give Your Best: Lessons in Generosity from a 4 Year Old

My 4 year old daughter has a sweet, giving spirit. She runs all over our house (and outside, for that matter) collecting all sorts of things, coloring, cutting, and pasting mashed-up masterpieces crafted by busy hands. I am walking the fine line of praising her for her creativity and generosity while challenging her to think about what the recipient of her gift might like. “Honey, I know you really like that paper scrap you tore from your pre-school workbook, but to our neighbor, that just looks like trash.”

Her eyes become big and wet with disappointment. Her lip quivers, and I want to take my words back, but I know they are true. “Let’s think about what she would like. We could paste that onto a butterfly, and I will teach you to write her name. I bet she would like that.” Of course, I know that either masterpiece will end up in the same place. Here, we call it the dustbin.

This morning, in obedience, she threw something in and spotted one of her handicrafts inside. She gave me the third degree about trashing something she worked so feverishly to create. We talk about what happens to paper scraps left in common spaces, and she finds it in her tiny heart to forgive me and promises she will keep her artwork upstairs from this day forward.

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We gather some supplies and remember the task at hand: revising this trash into a treasure worth gifting. I want her to believe that the work we do for others is valuable and that being thoughtful is an admirable trait. I don’t want to crush her creativity or squish her generous spirit. I love that she desires to make others smile and spend time creating something to offer to another. But giving hands offering scrappy seconds is not giving at all. We want to give our best. We want to give until it hurts. We want to share our bag of imported Reese cups, even if we’d rather lock them in the upstairs closet for a rainy day (bad example, I know, but chocolate is really important to me!). We drive across town for birthday gifts and sit in traffic instead of buying something cheap from the shop around the corner because we believe this. These small acts of thoughtfulness make big impressions.

I write down our neighbor’s name and send the budding artist upstairs to sit at her desk with the special markers we don’t use often and the paper bags from America we use to make puppets and to quick-ripen peaches. She painstakingly copies her Auntie’s name and puts about twelve too many hearts on her creation. The puppet’s face is smiling, and so is mine. My daughter is proud, and I am, too.

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It’s a few minutes shy of 8 am, and she is ready to walk over there and present her prize. I’m off to get her dressed for school, and we will go with dust-bin-destined art in hand to deliver this piece of her heart before her bus arrives to shuttle her to the place that overflows with paper scraps, scissors, and glue.

I’ll stay behind to clean up the debris of crazed crafting hands and smile, thinking of the baby who seems more like the child of Mother Theresa and Picasso than the flesh and blood of her Daddy and me. I bring the Reese cups downstairs, brew a cup of coffee -the good stuff- and invite a neighbor over to share.

As I sip the fresh brew and chat with a new friend, I think about giving my best to God. How so often my best, looks like nothing more than a mangled up mess of trash. It isn’t treasure in anyone’s eyes. But it is good and acceptable, pleasing to my Father for no other reason than He loves me. I seek only His approval, and knowing I already have it, I busy myself with the work He puts in my hands to do. I proudly give it back to Him, as unimpressive as it may seem, trusting He will find the good in it. Even if its creator is backwards at best, I’m hopeful that, by His grace, my offerings make a difference to someone in this world.

I trust that He will bring to light the things that bring Him glory and throw everything else in the dustbin where it belongs. I’ll try not to get my feelings hurt knowing He knows the value of all things, and it all belonged to Him in the first place anyway. I’ll practice thoughtful generosity because I remember that my doing unto others is a reflection of the God that works in and through me. Half-effort jobs and scrappy seconds just won’t cut it.

He reminds me of all the good gifts he’s buried me under and urges me to love others well out of my abundance. He says, “Baby, give your best.”

 

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Moments of Hope @ LoriSchumaker.com, Monday’s Musings @ What Joy is Mine, Glimpses Linkup @ Embracing Every Day, Literacy Musing Monday’s @ Mary-andering Creatively, Tuesday Talk @ Sweet Little Ones, RaRaLinkup @ Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story @ Jennifer Dukes Lee

The Hard Fought Battle for Contentment [The Mudroom]

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He stared at my back in the queen size bed we share. The inches between us loomed like a brick wall lined with barbed wire. I sobbed. He sighed. He must have felt as helpless as I did.

I suffered under a border blockade which prohibited the entry of petrol, propane, and essential goods in a country I never planned to live in. We faced winter with fewer than four hours of electricity to heat our home each day. It seemed I was at the mercy of an evolving government, the paper-thin houses, and my freezer-burned spirit. I was furious with my cozy Stateside friends who didn’t understand and my husband who couldn’t fix it.

In the morning, as I stood shivering, waiting for the shower to heat up, negative thoughts creeped in and claimed territory in my mind. I wished desperately for the rage to run right down the drain with the hot water. At the time, I wouldn’t have admitted that I was angry at God. I would have said I was overwhelmed and exhausted. I played the victim well because I believed I was absolutely powerless.

We had endured the hardships of an international move followed by natural disaster and economic crisis, but our marriage had now been threatened. Each night, we went to bed with cold hands and struggled to turn up the heat between life-long lovers wrapped up in ice cold sheets. Our intimacy had been killed by the chaos and cold that made up our days. The negative thoughts came around again to tell me what I already knew: I had lost all control.

Continue reading on The Mudroom…

 

linking up:

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