Momming Makes me a Better Minister of the Gospel

Five Minute Friday: MOM

I’m a wife. I’m a missionary. I’m an expat. I’m a language learner. I’m a home maker and round-the-clock short order cook. I’m a friend, sister, daughter managing long term relationships. Sometimes, I’m a writer, but I haven’t done much of that work lately. I play many roles and wear lots of hats. I juggle too many things and try to excel at all of them. But there’s one job, one role that seems to supersede the rest: MOM.

It’s certainly the most demanding. The work entailed by these other job titles ebbs and flows. Some days, that work doesn’t get done, and not much changes. But from the moment my eyes open to the time I FINALLY crash into bed, I do the work of “mom.” Mom gets juice and kisses boo-boos and doles out discipline when necessary. Mom helps with homework, ties shoes, and answers calls from the bottom of the stairs where a toddler is too tired to climb. There are days when I want to call in sick or take a mental health day but moms are not afforded that luxury.

Compared to some of my other duties, sometimes “momming” feels like lesser work. Potty training is certainly less glamorous than being at the forefront of a gospel revival. There’s a reason these things don’t get covered in our monthly prayer letter. But this calling, which sometimes appears to be a distraction from the greater work, is part of this great work. It’s the part that refines me the most. It’s the part that points out the dark places where sin resides and controls, morphing my best intentions into resentment embodied in half-hearted helpings of cereal for dinner. In both the mundane and mentally taxing moments of motherhood, Jesus teaches me about Himself. The more I know about Him, the more I can share of His goodness in my home and out and about.

IF we ever make it out.

Taxi Cab Confessions: What is Easter, anyway?

I sat in the backseat of a taxi with my two small children this past week in route to the Fun Park to run them out in hopes that they would succumb to the afternoon nap and I could, consequently, have a few sweet minutes of peace to myself. That plan only succeeded in the case of one child. He’s the one who keeps me either chasing him or cleaning up his messes all day, so I was thrilled, but the one who stayed awake so sweetly asked me to exercise with her. She is a total slave driver, so my dreams of sipping coffee and reading crashed somewhere between cardio boot camp 1 and 2.

Back to the taxi. Sweating as I attempted to keep my squirmy worms on their bottoms with hands off all that does not belong to them, I attempted to keep up my end of the conversation with our courier. He asked the general questions. “Where are you from? What are you doing here? What do you do for work?” as well as the other less common but still frequent, “Why do you like Nepal? Do you not like to live in America?” In other words, “What’s wrong with you?” I love this because it’s a wide open door for me to share the gospel. “Well, I’m glad you asked because my husband is a preacher! He teaches the Bible. Do you know what the Bible is?”

Bumping along the roads of Kathmandu, this conversation, though incessantly interrupted, carried on. I found out he lived in the area of our church plant, and I invited him to come to our Easter service where we would be talking about Jesus’ death and resurrection. I’m not sure why I was shocked that He had never heard of Easter. It is not a holiday that is widely celebrated here. You don’t even see Easter eggs or bunnies no matter how hard you look (unless you count the bunnies at the pet shop my children make me stop to see EVERY DAY).

This is the reality of many around the world. Not a hardened heart to the gospel message (though that is the case for many and most) but a total ignorance of the message of the Cross. And not a blissful ignorance, either. There is an innate sense of our wrongness. No matter how much we are taught the message that man is inherently good or capable of doing great things, ultimately we know that there is sin and darkness inside and something needs to be done about it. So we work and do good the best we know how, but that sense doesn’t go away. It keeps us up at night. It keeps us restless, searching for a peace to replace the hopelessness that comes with the reality of our total inability to remedy our despicable state.

He told me that he is unhappy. That he does not like living in his home country and is disappointed in the current status of his place of dwelling and its inhabitants. He thought the answer might lie in the bustling streets of Delhi or the heaven he has heard of since his youth: America (oh, and by the way, could I help him get there?). I shared with him that I have traveled to many places and lived in a few. I’ve seen problems all over the world because every man is a sinner. I told him that America is a pretty terrible place, and though I love it as my home, I see its flaws in plain view. He didn’t believe me.

He didn’t come to church on Easter either. I hope he will come some day. I pray that his eyes and ears will be open to hear the truth that’s hard to face: he is the problem. I had to reckon with that a long time ago (and I am reminded of it at least daily). I pray that he will realize that though the specific sin that resides within is thirty-something years old, this standard sickness has been around since the beginning. But, praise God, the solution has been around even longer.

I’m not sure I’ll recognize him if he finds his way to darken the doors of our church. I only saw the back of his head and his curious brown eyes observing me in his rearview mirror. I wished him a happy new year (it’s 2074 here, you guys!) and did my best to keep a hold on both my kiddos as they bounded off to Zippy Playland with my dreams of a lazy afternoon still in tact.

 

 

 

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.

A Letter to 17 Year Old Me

As I approach my 27th birthday, I look back on the last ten years and marvel over all I have learned and how I have grown. My 27 year-old-self looks just about nothing like the youth of years past, and not just because I have 3 babies under my belt and the stretch marks that come with them. I have changed because God has been gracious to work His way in my life beyond any dream I had ever conjured in the days I scribbled names in notebooks and browsed the internet for potential careers.

I’ve matured, married (quit college), and become a mom and missionary. But mostly, I’ve been molded by the hands that created me which so graciously continue their work on me. In the bending, in the being re-made again and again, I’ve learned a few things. If I could go back and give my teeny bopper self (you can say things like that when you’re my age, y’know) some words of wisdom, I have a few things I would say. I hope you’ll be touched and challenged by this “Letter to My-17-Year-Old-Self.” Please share it with a young gal you know who might benefit from this perspective!

Dear Young(er) Me,

I’m writing you from ten years down the road you’re walking now. Life hasn’t been easy but it has been blessed. I write you this to encourage you to keep the faith and following God. I have some things I want to share with you. I know I can’t change anything but maybe some looker on will see some wisdom in these simple lessons.

Make plans, but only tentatively, knowing the Lord will likely change them. I promise, you’ll be glad He did. Make progress and strive for change, but allow God to do the heavy lifting. You have big dreams in your heart, but they’re too big for you. Even when the dreams are good and the work is fulfilling, they’re heavy and can be a burden. You need Jesus. As much as you want to, you can’t do everything and you sure can’t save the world. Thankfully, He’s already done that job.

Devote yourself, first, to God before any other relationships or commitments. Trust God to build your tribe, adding and taking as He sees fit for your personal growth and peripheral influence. Know that devotion to Christ, though admirable, is not always inclusive and inviting to those that prefer to remain on the fringes. It’s OK to be weird or a little radical in your pursuit of God, though you may lose some friends along the way. God will bring the people into your life that will encourage and build you up as you seek to please Him. And the seasons in between, you will learn of the sweetness and love of Christ in a way you would never have otherwise. And you’ll be thankful for these times that left you vulnerable and aching for the Vine.

Continue reading at Where My Heart Goes

Thanks for reading,

 

The Good, the Bad, and the Busy + my word for 2017!

Busy Times

“Busy” just doesn’t describe the whirlwind that has been my life since arriving in the US. We’ve been busy with good things: visiting family and friends, teaching the Bible, allowing our kids to experience some fun “American” things, presenting the need at churches new and old, fundraising for Camp Refuge, and sharing about all that God has done in our lives over the past two years. But busy is still busy. And, sometimes, busy steals my joy. When my joy is taken from my hands, I see the good things in a warped way. Distorted images of the good things coupled with whispers from the Enemy about how things should be or how I am supposed to feel twist the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart into something I don’t recognize and don’t wish to claim. And, certainly, something that is not pleasing or acceptable in the sight of God.

But all the same, He has met me here in the busy and among towering grocery displays where I’m overwhelmed by choices and the confrontation with all the things I don’t have but think I may need. He’s met me in the awkward moments chatting with a long-lost friend to whom I’m explaining the complexities of my foreign life and finally realizing how alone I felt over there. He’s met me while turning prune-y in the tub, listening via headphones to a stranger read the Bible aloud because I just can’t keep my eyes open or focus long enough to let the word of God soak into my heart any other way.

I may be exhausted, but I am refreshed by the truth that God is not exhausted by me. He is not observing my head-spinning behaviors amid a seam-split schedule and shaking His head. When I turn my eyes away from the crazy and to Him, He doesn’t ask why it took me so long. He welcomes me back with a smile, and, though I feel a gentle conviction for neglecting my time with Him, there’s only peace and love where I thought there might be guilt and shame. But then I remember, that’s just not like Him.

My Word for 2017

The word I’ve chosen for 2017 is expand, and though it would certainly be relevant, I’m not just referring to my dress size since dwelling in the land of donuts and drive-thrus. I want to expand my knowledge and view of God. I desperately want to know Him more and grasp even the most basic understanding of His heart for me and for the world. I want to expand the reaches of my tiny tribe and the testimony of these lives changed by the hand of the Lord. I want to see the gospel reach into the streets of Kapan, Kathmandu and see families changed by the Gospel. I want to see the family of God expand day after busy day and week after weary week. I can trust He will be faithful to meet me there in desires met and others unfulfilled, ever expanding my love for Him as I consider His quiet and powerful ways of winning my heart. He may never be as demanding as a scribbled-over calendar with names and dates and tasks to be done. But in the going and the doing, I sense His presence. Without guilt and shame, I’ll turn my heart to Him again and see all the ways He’s shown Himself to me when I was too busy to notice.

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, (Ephesians 1:17-19).

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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, Mommy Moments Blog Hop @ Life of Faith,