Maintaining a Heart of Thanksgiving in Circumstances I Can’t Change

I have failed to always maintain a heart of thanksgiving when I am in the midst of circumstances I wish I could change.

When the windows of heaven are open, and the blessings are heaping upon my lap, it is natural to have joy and to be thankful. But my flesh fights thankfulness when my world unravels and my meticulous schedule is thrown through the shredder. When my plans don’t come to fruition and the peace in my heart begins to dissipate, the anxious thoughts and relentless questions threaten to drown out His voice that offers to fill me again.

The following command sure seems impossible in the midst of these all too familiar feelings…

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (Philippians 4:4-6)

God expects me to REJOICE when my life is turned upside down? I’m supposed to pray away these terrorizing thoughts and be thankful instead? Nope. Can’t do it.

But… Something inside of me tells me God doesn’t ask the impossible. It sounds like a Sunday school answer but sometimes the most profound things are the most simple. God doesn’t ask the impossible…because He makes everything possible. He doesn’t require of me anything I can’t do in His power.

He wants me to bring my cares and concerns to Him in the circumstances I cannot change. He wants me to cry out to Him and beg Him to extend His grace and mercy into my life, to give me wisdom, patience, and peace. 

But He wants me to do so with a thankful heart. A heart that says, You brought me to this hard place, but You have never left me. Thank you for giving me a reason to know you more and fall into a deeper trust of You. I ask you to change my circumstances, but thank You for working in my life according to Your will.

This year, much like a few years ago, I have to choose thankfulness in the midst of less than desirable situations. But the choice is easy when I follow the instructions that come with the command and tap into His limitless grace.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (7)

So thankful my heart is in his hands! That’s one thing in my life I can’t change and wouldn’t want to if I could! And upon closer inspection, along with his limitless grace comes limitless gifts, and I have SO much to be thankful for!

[I’ve enjoyed gathering around the table with my friends in the Lord and in ministry and dwelling on the many blessings we enjoy.]

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Have you had to choose thankfulness in some seasons of life?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

 

 

Faithfulness in Little Things

I have found that, though I’ve followed the Lord by doing the big thing of moving with my family across the world in service to Him, my days are comprised of little things in which still faithfulness is required.

It seems like a little thing

… to serve breakfast to my family and to sit together around the table, but these moments help us have a peaceful start to the day.

…to spend time with the Lord, but the days that I carve out time to do this, I am able to focus my mind and heart on Him going forward.

…to say goodbye to my babies as I go off to language school, but my reluctant willingness to do so will result in our learning and my children’s learning of the Nepali language.

…to go back to school after all these years and devote myself to language study, but eventually all these brain draining moments will accumulate into fluency in this foreign tongue.

…to discuss my husband’s ministry dreams over a cup of coffee, but my encouragement of his God-given aspirations may give him the boost he needs to make them come true.

…to be faithful to church even when I don’t understand a lick and my kids keep me out of half the service, but I am teaching them that church attendance is important and that comfort and ease doesn’t reign in our lives.

…to lovingly care for my children after a long day of study, but my time with them is fleeting and precious and I must take advantage of it to pump them full of the Christ’s love.

…to embrace and encourage my husband after an intense work day and to serve him in whatever way he needs, but this may sometimes be the only thing that keeps him going.

…to make the effort to bridge the cultural and language barriers in order to form relationships, but these actions just may lead to open doors for the gospel.

It is my prayer that, in all these little things and the many more my days are made of, the Lord will find me faithful. I believe and hope that these little things will grow over time into big and beautiful works of the Master’s hand, and I am so thrilled and thankful to have my hand in His as He weaves all them all together.

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? (Luke 16:10-11).

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Two of my favorite “little things”

Have you found fulfillment in faithfulness to the little things God has given you to do for Him?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

 

 

 

My Family: My Greatest Gospel Testimony

I have found that my marriage and family may be my greatest gospel testimony.

Many have commented on how happy Paul and I are together, noting that we obviously enjoy being together, laughing, playing, and sharing our thoughts and ideas. In this culture, women are taught to reverence their husbands to an extent that they become an idol in their lives. Behavior like ours would often be considered foolish and disrespectful.

However, many long for a marriage with mutual love and respect. What they don’t understand is what they see in us is not what Western movies are made of. We don’t live in a romantic comedy and we don’t sleep on a bed of money.

We live in real life. And real life is hard! Loving people is messy! What they see in us is Christ working in and through us and spilling over into our marriage.

Certainly, there are lost people with marriages that survive the test of time, and I don’t know what those are like. But I am thankful for His presence and the sanctification we have undergone as we have walked this road together. I don’t want to know what our marriage would look like  without Him.

We teach our children that Jesus loves them sin and all. We pray that Christ will change their life and that they will become proclaimers of the gospel. We teach them that serving God is more important than anything else in our lives.

Children here are taught to please the gods so they can receive success and prosperity in return. To do good deeds so they can be blessed in the afterlife.

Their parents work hard to give them the best life possible. They send them to the best school they can afford 6 days a week, make sure they learn English and get good grades so they can attend a good college, make a lot of money, and maybe get out of Nepal.

The focus is on self, success, and gain. Ours is on Christ and His kingdom. 

Though we may not be successful by worldly standards, He has met our every need. He has given us peace and joy in our marriage and family.He has allowed us to confront sin, forgive, and grow. He has given us grace upon grace to give back to each other. And it shows.

I pray that we don’t waste the opportunities that the testimony of His grace in our live gives us. That through His power, we can have a marriage and family that brings Him glory. I hope above all that my children receive Christ and go on to have God-honoring marriages and families of their own.

I dream of the impact families that love the Lord and give all for Him could make in this world!

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Have you been able to reap fruit for Christ because of the testimony of your marriage or family?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

 

 

 

 

My Struggle with Honesty

I have failed to find the balance between honestly sharing my heart and being just a little too real.

Do my friends really want to know the answer to the question, “How are you?” and “How’s it going?” Do they want to know that we had the 201st earthquake in a few short months? Do they want to know that the blockade continues and the grocery stores are out of milk?

Or does it just sound like I am complaining?

Would inquiring minds rather hear that we are healthy, fine, and happy and everything is great? That the mission field is everything we dreamed it would be…

We are healthy, fine, and happy which is an amazing testimony of His abundant grace in our lives.

But should I only share about the date nights, baptism services, language victories, and funny things my children do?

Surely my faithful friends can handle me sharing even the less than perfect parts of my life. But who are they again? It is no one’s particular fault that the challenge of schedules and time differences has shaken the foundations of even the strongest relationships.

Even if they can handle it, are they interested? Can they relate or understand in any way? If I try to tell the truth but point out God’s graces in my life will I seem like a phony trying too hard to seem super spiritual? These are the questions that keep me from opening up. From trusting trustworthy friends with the feelings I don’t always understand myself.

I’m thankful for my husband who always has a listening ear and tries to empathize. He does a pretty good job, but there’s One who does better. I never have to worry about what God thinks of my thoughts and fears. If I don’t tell Him, He knows them anyway!

I confess to Him, cry to Him, confide in Him. He is completely trustworthy, faithful, and kind. He brought me to this place with all these problems, knowing we would face what we have, prepared to give me just what I need.

I’m not sure I ever valued the friendship I have with the Lord until I longed so for a friend that always understood and always loved. One with whom I have a concrete contract..He will NEVER leave me. Never forsake me.

And when the enemy tries to get me to believe that no one cares or understands, He sends some imploring soul my way to minister to my heart who asks questions and wants real answers. Who takes my concerns to the Lord on my behalf. These people are tangible reminders of His constant providence and presence in my life. Friends in the flesh. And I feel silly for ever fearing these things at all. Thank you to so many of you that have ministered His grace to me in this way.

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Has fear kept you from confiding in your close friends?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

 

 

 

 

Humility in Language Learning and What it Teaches Me About Christ

I have found language learning to be the most humbling experience of my life.

How does language learning humble me? Let me count the ways…

  1. It once dawned on me that I only understood what people were saying to my 4 month old son.
  2. We are now speaking fairly well, but a lady in our neighborhood consistently says “Here comes the people who don’t speak Nepali” (in Nepali) when we walk by. We understand, and we don’t say otherwise. Many others in the neighborhood compliment us on how well we have done in a short amount of time, but her comments are the ones that hang around!
  3. Many people will answer me in English despite me only speaking Nepali and repeatedly asking them to do the same. It feels like I am making a fool of myself for no reason.
  4. I know how to express some seemingly complex thoughts but will go to express something that seems so basic in English and I haven’t the first clue how to form the sentence in a sensible manner.
  5. One person will teach me to say something one way, and I will speak to another person who looks at me like I have two heads and teaches me another way. Not only do I feel pretty silly, but I am also confused and can’t remember either way to say it.
  6. When I don’t understand cultural things that are happening around me, I can’t always ask the questions I need to gain the information I need to act appropriately.
  7. There were many times I didn’t understand what the 5 and 6 year olds at church were trying to communicate with me.
  8. I say things I would never say in English. For instance, “I eat coffee. I do mistakes. I do rest. I do thought,” etc. I try to wrap my mind around the fact that “I used to have to…” and “I should have…” are used interchangeably. After several exhausting exchanges, I accepted that I never will. There are many examples of these discrepancies.

Through this process, I am blown away by God’s goodness in humbling himself and coming to earth as a man. The author of all languages had to “goo-goo” and “ga-ga” just like everyone else. His mother had to correct him when He said “me” instead of “I” like I do daily with my daughter. He had to point at things HE CREATED and ask what they were! As I am humbled by this experience for the sake of the gospel, I am gaining such a beautiful appreciation of what Christ did for me…and all He had at the end of that road was DEATH!

It is only reasonable that I can humble myself to language learning in order to proclaim this truth to those that have never heard. Because of what He did for me at the end of my road is eternal life and casting the crowns He allowed me to glean at the feet that were nailed to the cross so I could.

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Have you experienced something that made you greater value the humility of Christ?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!