All Good Things

I have found that anything that pushes me to lean on Christ is a good thing.

Including this cold I’ve had for the last 3 weeks. Insecurities in parenting. Field-brought fears. Insufficient funds. Insufficient goods. Loss and deterioration of friendships.

I’ve shared many of these difficult scenarios, attempting to point out the good, but the best thing in all: they force me into dependence on Christ.

Those “I’m done” moments give Him the opportunity to work without the obstruction of my hands on the reins.

“I can’t do it anymore” allows me to accept His will as he completes it in my life.

The times I just can’t face the day, I can fall in His arms as He breathes life into my weakened bones propelling me on in service to Him.

And the days I want to hide in the comforting cloak of quiet, He shines His Light in the darkest corners of my heart. He speaks to me in that still small voice that somehow drowns out the lies in my head demanding I give them a home. He provides the peace I can’t find in my most desperate search in a calm and quiet heart.

And when I feel as though I’ve totally failed Him, I know He is pleased with me because I am washed with the spill of sacrifice supplied on a blood stained hill.

I am free of guilt and pressure to perform. I am free from fear and doubt. I am free to rest and trust fully in Him. The fires that fuel me to this realization are all good things. Seeing my need for him, in any form it comes, is a blessing.

For every burden, I have a Buffer who is the giver of all good things.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Cor. 12:9).

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Have you been forced into dependence on Him through trials?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

When Old Friends Become New Fears

I have feared things I never thought I would fear.

Turns out, seeing things you are generally comfortable with outside of the context you are used to seeing them, can suddenly make you fearful of the once familiar.

Dogs. I thought I loved dogs. We agreed we would not get one due to the inconvenience this purchase poses to a missionary, but I have never disliked them. In fact, I had puppy wallpaper in my bedroom when I was a child. Now, dogs are everywhere but not in the cute and comforting wall-paper way. Sleeping on the side of the road. Begging outside of shops. Running in wild packs. Mangy, matted, stinky, probably disease-ridden mutts. There is no way to know if a dog you encounter is a “nice or mean doggy” as we caution Jolynn. When I see a pack, I don’t completely panic but I do tense up and hold my breath just a little bit. This might explain why I don’t sleep well listening to them howl all night long.

Monkeys. I thought monkeys were something you see in a zoo or out on a safari. NOT IN YOUR FRONT YARD. Yet I’ve seen them there on two separate occasions and up on my wall and around my neighborhood on countless others. When seen up close, you realize how big they are. The one I saw feet from my front door was comparable to my big-for-her-age three-year-old on all fours. On a walk-around of the Buddhist temple during my parent’s visit, we were surrounded by hungry monkeys taking advantage of the Buddhist holiday celebrations we didn’t realize we had walked into. The food offerings were drawing them out of their places of hiding in the trees and all around us. Stepping out of the way, I nearly crushed an infant, whose mother showed me her disapproval by a swift but firm swipe at the offending foot. I’ll check the calendar next time.

Cats. Ew…Cats. I am not necessarily afraid of cats, but I definitely don’t like them. They are often mangy and matted like their canine counterparts, uncared for and most often unseen. These aren’t your grandma’s house cats! One night, we woke up to the worst sound I have ever heard. I made Paul check to see what it was because it literally sounded like there was a baby dying on our front porch. He found two cats wailing and whining for who knows what reason. After several half-asleep attempts to get them to “scat,” he threw a brick. Problem solved.

Crows. Do we even have them in America? Maybe I have vague recollections of hearing them caw from afar, but I would definitely remember if they swooped at my head as they have done here. They are the reason we don’t have patio furniture and were afraid to have guests for a while. Nothing says “Welcome to our home” like a crow attacking you. We tried a BB gun, rat poison, and countless other counter-attacks but ended up waiting it out until daddy crow’s baby grew up and he was no longer on the defensive. I still get the sunken stomach every time I hear that familiar call or see those wretched creatures which I’m guessing are a result of the fall and not representative of God’s creation which when He observed was declared good.

So, if I act strangely around your house pets or friendly outdoor guests, I hope you will remember this post and still be my friend. And maybe hold my hand as we walk inside.

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Have you found yourself afraid of familiar things in a new context?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

10 Great Things about My Life in Nepal

I have failed to always recognize the GREAT things about living in Nepal.

A few months ago, a neighbor friend asked me why I wanted to live in Nepal. She reminded me that we have power problems, water problems, and a whole host of other problems not unique to this country but not like its more developed counterparts. And this was before the blockade of goods.

Though exciting, this place wouldn’t be considered to be the most glamorous or comfortable place to live.

I told this friend that I have a tank full of water, and I have a back-up power system. We’re good. But even when these things fail (and they do), among the problems there are some pretty amazing things about living here, that make all the mess bearable.

  1. Some days, I can see the HIMALAYAS from my doorstep.
  2. A place world-tourists spend time is just a few miles away. I’ve walked there!
  3. My children have seen animals most only see in a zoo in our front yard! Kinda scary…kinda cool.
  4. Within a few hours are several great vacation destinations. I haven’t been to any because we are crazy busy, but we love that too! One day…
  5. Our money goes a long way here. We can live, go on dates and family outings, and even do ministry on the cheap!
  6. The Nepali people are kind, hospital, resourceful. We have learned so much about being flexible and content from these amazing people!
  7. Nepali people LOVE children! My kids have aunties and uncles all over this city!
  8. The different people groups here mean we have LOTS of ethnic foods to choose from! And everything we have eaten has been delicious!
  9. We love Nepali style! The women wear modest but beautiful, colorful clothing. Paul loves the mens shoes! Kids wear whatever crazy combinations they can come up with which Jo is totally into. And I just try not to go shopping too often because I want to buy all the things.
  10. There are populations of Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims here. We have a wonderful opportunity to share the love of Christ and so much culture and customs to learn from these different people.

I could go on! We are forever getting to try new foods, learn new customs, make new friends, and learn new parts of this beautiful language. Every day is a new adventure with new discoveries to be made. Though this country certainly delivers its fair share of challenges to this new-to-the field family, truly, we live in a wonderful place!

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Is there a good mix of challenging and wonderful aspects of where God has called your family?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

 

Not Enough? Too Much?

I have feared that I am not enough.

Strong enough.
Spiritual enough.
Faithful enough.

And that I am too much.

Too fearful.
Too selfish.
Too needy.

I worry how my involvement will taint the ministry that could be done here. But I comfort myself that, aside from and because of Christ and His work on the cross, God has never required perfect specimens to carry out His mission. In fact, He is often brought glory by showing Himself mighty in the fragile pictures of imperfection rather than in the most qualified characters.

I doubt that Mary felt qualified to mother the most High God. She had no marriage or parenting experience. There is no indication that she was some spiritual giant. She was fearful of this unexpected pregnancy and the repercussions it created in her community.

She was overwhelmed at the thought of this immense responsibility. Like me, she was not enough in many ways, and too much in others. But there’s something so beautiful about how the angel exhorts her.

Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with GodAnd, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JesusHe shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end (Luke 1:30-33).

She wasn’t chosen because she was the prime example of a virtuous woman. For reasons not disclosed, the Lord favored her. He entrusted her with this great responsibility because He would bestow upon her all the grace and gifts necessary to bring it to pass.

I can’t imagine all of the fear she must have had watching this boy grow. Thinking she would, perhaps, mess up God’s great plan. No doubt she wept and worried over her role therein. But she never stopped receiving favor from the Lord.

As she was reminded, “With God nothing shall be impossible” (v38). He assured her that His will would come to pass despite her disbelief. God was not and is not limited by human imperfection. He delights in using His creation to carry out His will.

Like Mary, I must only have a submissive spirit. I must say, as she did, “Be it unto me according to thy word.” I must have a heart of surrender and hard-working hands. Fruitful unto good works but dependent on Him to help me bear them.

Like Mary, I can have joy as I see the Lord work His will in my life and in the world around me through my trust of and obedience to Him.

And Mary said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed” (v42).

Like Mary, I can see God glorified in my life and will, therefore, be blessed.

Have you dealt with this fear of not being enough or being too much?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

The Myth of “Me” Time

I have found that “me” time, deemed necessary by some, is most often unattainable.

Read any mommy blog (except the ones suggesting swaddling and smelling your babies at all times), and you’ll see this concept. But in reality…

My day starts with a 3 year old smacking me or “whispering”. “Mom, is it 6 time yet?” It never is. After several attempts at getting this early bird to stay in her room until the appointed time, I drag myself out of bed regretting that I didn’t shower before she got up, as I promised myself I would.

Breakfast or toast. The propane crisis has made me lazy in terms of food preparation. We coax our feisty gal to eat before bouncing off to the next activity.

The morning goes on much like this with a near-1-year-old thrown in about an hour later. Feeding, bathing, bed-making,.. The nanny comes, and my kids are so excited. I feel a little jealous but thankful that we have found someone so wonderful.

We walk a mile, get a taxi, and I fall asleep on the way to meet our tutor at a coffee shop where we study for 3 hours before walking home. At the door I am greeted by Paul’s evening tutor, a reminder that it’s me and the kids from here on out. I visualize myself putting my “game face” on, whatever that is.

The nanny asks if she can leave. Can I say no? She gives the kids hugs and kisses, and I reluctantly let her go.

Keep the kids busy. Limit screen time. Prepare and serve dinner. Get the kids to bed at a decent hour. Keep the peace.

I collapse on the couch at 7:15. A little behind schedule but feeling pretty proud to have pulled it off myself without having to send out an SOS. Paul takes his tutor home while I clean up the kitchen. He returns, ready for a snack.

For a second I thought I might have a minute to myself. Maybe finish that cold cup of coffee and that blog post I started reading 4 days ago.

Snack fixed. Blankets pulled out. Date night on the couch has commenced. This only lasts for a half hour until we can’t keep our eyes open a moment longer.

I lament that I didn’t have the instagram worthy Bible study/coffee time that seems like it would be so refreshing. Listening to the audio Bible in the shower was nice. Maybe tomorrow I will at least get to read at the breakfast table.

Another day in the books. Another day closer to beginning our ministry here. As the selfish ache reminds me it’s there, I remind myself…

My heart isn’t knit closer to my husband in “me” moments. My children don’t feel my love surround them in “me’ moments. Memories and ministries are not composed of “me” moments. Some day, I will have lots of “me” moments and I will long for the days I had so many things keeping me from them. 

IMG_0717Have you felt dissatisfied by your lack of personal time?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!