From Stir-Crazy to Strengthened by Stillness: Learning to Just Be

Day 5, Five Minute Prompt: SILENCE

The silence makes sirens go off in my head.

Be still makes me squirm.

I want TO DO.
I want TO GO.
I want TO BE HEARD.

In the silence, I hear whispers of “You’re not good enough.”
In the stillness, I feel muscles twitch with restlessness: “You’re not doing enough.” But this restlessness is only a distraction from living out the Golden Rule and The Great Commission. It keeps me sulking and self-seeking.

In the silence I can soak up His grace. In the stillness I can breathe Jesus in and rest knowing that the work Has already been done. I can DO, GO, and BE HEARD because I fell face first at the feet of Jesus and acknowledged my need of Him before I set upon my mission.

This is my theme and my philosophy of ministry. This is how change happens. Not by my hands or by my words. It happens in the silence and in the stillness. It happens with Jesus.

As I silently seek Him through the Word written long ago, and as I sit under the instruction of faithful servants, I move forward to do unto others.

But first I just have to Be.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:21-23).

Do you struggle with the silence?
How has God changed you in the stillness?

Talk to me in the comment section!

Other posts about silence and listening: Uncovering Stillness- The Very Cranky MummyThe Irony of BarbieSavior on SheLoves Magazine

Everyone Needs Someone to Walk With

Day 1, Five Minute Prompt: WALK

“Do you need a friend?” I hear them say to one another as they travel down dusty streets.

The sweet people of my host culture can’t stand to see someone walking alone. They aren’t as eager to walk with the red-headed foreigner lady, I’ve noticed, however.

I thought by now I would have found a friend with whom I’d walk this road of culture and language learning. I guess I’ll just have to keep going until I do.

As I go along, I’ll find others who walk alone and say, “Do you need a friend?”

If we’re honest, we all do.

And if you’re like me, you sometimes feel like you’re standing alone, watching others walk happily hand-in-hand (friends actually do that here). You’re pining for the kind of intimate friendship it seems like everyone else already has.

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I’ve shared before how I love…

what the Word says about friends…
  • friendly (Prov. 18:24)
  • love at all times (Prov. 17:17)
  • comfort and edify (1 Thess. 5:11)
  • encourage to love and live better (Heb. 10:24-25)
  • live selflessly and sacrificially (John 15:13)

I may not be invited on a lot of long walks with close friends. But the more I extend my hand to those who walk alone, the more I will be invited along the way. The deeper my relationships will run, and the more influence I will have for Christ in this country.

Who do you see walking alone today?
How can you apply the Golden Rule to your relationships?

Talk to me in the comment section!

 

Giving the Creator Room to Make a Masterpiece

My husband slipped me a note during the meeting designated for Sunday school teachers and youth workers. This otherwise insignificant act would set a chain of events that would domino me into some of the hardest days of my life.

“Should we announce that we are going to India [as missionaries] tonight?”

“Up to you, babe,” I replied in attempt to mask my panic.

“Are you 100% in?” (Quite a weighty question for note-passing, right?)

I quickly scrawled, “YES.”

I had previously been on a missions trip to Africa, and we made plans to serve somewhere on that continent. When I thought about missions, I saw black faces decorated with tribal paint. I prayed more fervently for the work there, decorated my home in souvenirs, and dreamed of returning someday.

We had a friend whose heart for India was contagious, and the Lord wrecked our plans with this viral compassion. He dreamed for the church that would send us to plant 8 missionary families in India. We would be one of them.

We made a trip shortly after the loss of our second child, and God gave me such a great peace about where we had been and where He was taking us. I didn’t know it would all unravel soon. I didn’t know that I would have to change the focus of my gospel-passions again. I just knew Who sent us and Who was going with us. That was enough.

I write this in Nepal, totally humbled by the work He has done and undone to bring us here and see His work accomplished. The stain of goodness left by His fingerprints hints at the masterpiece that is to come. It’s made up of brokenness and jumbled up plans, but it is good because the Artist that made it makes no mistakes.

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I can trust Him as the brush strokes glide across the canvas I’ve given Him to work with. Whenever I start to gain a sense of how the final product will appear, the hand at work spins in another direction. I feel frustrated, as if I’m crossing my eyes and backing away from a picture, trying to see what I am supposed to see.

Other times, the brush is dipped in pain and hardship, and I’d rather see the pretty pots of sunshine and warmth spill onto the page. But because I have grown to know the heart of the One who wields the tools of change, I know that the finished work will require nothing but a deep sigh as I gaze into the depths of its beauty.

For now, I’ll hold my breath and my tongue as I watch the Artist in action. It is quite the sight to behold.

How may you yield to the Master Creator today?
What hints do you see of the masterpiece to come?

Talk to me in the comment section!

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College: Where my Dreams Went to Die

I bounced into the second row of my first college class, ready to take on the world. How would God move in my life at college? How would He show up, mold me, and move me to action? How would this campus differ from my presence? I know, I know. I was a dreamer.

Three semesters later, I sat in the Dean’s office to share my intentions for discontinuing my education at this institution. I was in no way displeased with the quality of academia. I wasn’t leaving because I had a difficult time choosing a major due to my interest in all subject matter. I was leaving because the young man I told that I would follow Him anywhere was asking me to go. Like now.

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I had a ring on my finger and a passion in my heart. I longed to travel the globe with him, leaving gospel-changed lives in our wake. Our happy bubble was threatened only by criticism and resistance to the plans we had forged in naive faith caught up in a whirlwind of love.

I thought back to a class with a professor convinced of the power of prayer. I had never heard someone talk so confidently of the ways of God which remained a mystery to me.

He encouraged the freshmen to hand God an empty sheet of paper with our name signed at the bottom, surrendering our rights to make decisions based solely on our dreamed up desires and fairytale futures.

I wondered if my name might be signed “Dr. Amber _______ (insert last name of studly husband here),” but I took the last name of the only boy I’d ever loved (who is a total stud, by the way). He had signed a covenant contract to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

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I was pleased at the prospect of sitting sideline and seeing him achieve this dream. I soon realized, however, that my cooperation was imperative to the mission. And my cooperation required a yielding of my right to further my education.

Salutatorian of my, albeit small, graduating class and recipient of several college scholarships, I fought this in my heart. Why would God gift me in ways He wouldn’t use?

But there was sweet peace in surrendering to this part of my story.

I now have a two year degree, am married to a man of God, and have two beautiful children. I’ve learned a second language and serve the sweetest people in a spiritually impoverished country.

On graduation day, it hurt to see my roommates walk to receive their diplomas. Videos aired during the ceremony and were shared on social media. I was surprised to see a few photos of me scroll across the large screens while I watched from my new basement dwelling with a baby in my lap.

That time was not wasted. It was there that I learned to surrender my will.

It took me away from that wonderful place, from my friends and my education, but it brought me here. And here is a pretty great place to be.

What might God be calling you to surrender today?

Share with me in the comment section below so I may pray with you!

Whereas ye know not what [shall be] on the morrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye [ought] to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that (James 4:14-15).

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Five Year Olds Speak Boldly about Race

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“I know why her name is Nicky Brown, mom,” I stated confidently.

“Oh yeah?” she inquired.

“Yeah, because her skin is brown.”

I thought for sure I was on to something. Of course, I wasn’t. I didn’t understand the complexity of race in American culture or the history that hadn’t yet been covered in my kindergarten classroom. The beauty of five year young innocence is things are really that simple.

This morning, my kids were dancing to Nepali music videos in the living room. Their daddy and I laughed and commented on how they dance just like the heroes in the Youtube clips.

Keeping up the cultural theme, speaking Nepali, Daddy asked our kurtha surwal clad daughter who is running her fifth year if she was Nepali.

She quickly replied, “Yes,” then, “No. Because my face isn’t black!” Raising her arms, she added, “And neither are my hands!” (which were the only parts of her showing in this ethnic outfit).

Simple.

I didn’t care about the color of my little kindergartner friend’s skin. We liked to sit together, color, and giggle. A lot.

My daughter isn’t oblivious to the fact that she is a fluorescent fish in a school of brown swimmers. She knows she’s different and that her classmates think she’s a little goofy. After all, she’s the only one who eats a peanut butter sandwich instead of dal bhat every day.

But she loves her classmates. She comes home babbling about her new best friend every day and the drama of Saisha not loving her anymore, but if she apologizes she can come spend the night.

Simple. And beautiful.

I hope her thoughts on race remain this way. That she will continue seeing different colors, appreciating different cultures, and loving the people represented by each.

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Linking up with:

This post is part of Five Minute Friday where many writers join together each week to write for freely Five Minutes on the same prompt and encourage each other along the way. This week, our prompt is FIVE. Join the fun!

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Key:

*running her fifth year- closer to 5 years old than 4; how Nepalis describe age
*kurtha surwal- traditional dress consisting of shirt dress and what we Americans call hammer pants
*heroes- movie/music video stars
*dal bhat- lentils and rice, generally eaten twice a day by Nepali families
*Saisha- my daughters BFF who actually does love her