He Wants My Heart [Day 25: CAPTURE]

I’m not sure what I thought would happen when we moved to the mission field or stated a church. I guess all the talking about big dreaming and doing great things had wrapped up my soul in delusions and fantasies. When reality hit that life here is just like life anywhere else — work, struggle, joy, and pain — I felt a nagging sense of disillusionment. Wasn’t I supposed to feel more on fire for God than ever before? Shouldn’t we be well on our way to building a ministry that will knock our supporters’ socks off? Life looked more like mundane faithfulness as we gave ourselves to a language that didn’t seem to stick, trained toddlers who seemed allergic to obedience, and made a life in what felt like an unlivable place at the time.

I may have had expectations about our beginnings on the field. I may not have anticipated the growing pains and the disappointment that were waiting here to greet me in Arrivals next to tourists who would have their fun and go home. But God didn’t have expectations of me — because He knows me. He knew what I would face and how I would handle it, and it did not shock Him. He knew it would take me way too long to understand the things He was teaching me, but He would remain patient in His teaching.

Photo by Lumitar on Unsplash

What I didn’t realize then is that God was — and is — interested first in capturing my heart. Personal and ministry growth will happen as I give myself back to God in passionate pursuit of His heart. Once I realize truly how much He loves me and how much He desires my true devotion, it is my great joy and honor to throw all I’ve got at His holy feet.

These days, I am more involved in seeking the heart of Jesus than I have ever been in my life. This doesn’t mean I am not concerned with the things of life like serving my family, keeping a home, and participating in ministry. But it does mean that I do all those things differently. I do them considering first that I am loved and accepted as I am. Remembering that I am engaged in a thrilling romance with a partner who can’t be displeased. My heart is wholly captured, and my purest and truest response is to serve from the deepest places that love fills.

I’ll never be disappointed or disillusioned by my intimacy with Christ. Life and ministry will have their joyous victories and their crushing defeats, but Jesus plays only one note. He just plain loves me. Before cross-cultural commitments, ministry engagements, or family mission statements, He wants my heart.

I finally know Him well enough to gladly give it to Him.

I “make” God big in my life when I first seek His heart and a relationship with Him before trying to change the world for Him. He really just wants my heart!

What has drawn your heart away from seeking Christ?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Labor is Brief, Joy is Forever [Day 24: BRIEF]

Waiting for a Baby

I am glued to my phone right now waiting on news about my new nephew being born in Japan. These last few weeks seem to be ticking by as we await the arrival of this new bundle of joy. Though I won’t get to see him until he is significantly grown, I am anxious to get to see what he looks like and be assured he is healthy through FaceTime chats and Facebook messenger. And I’m just his Aunt — Imagine how his mother must feel!

In some ways, the nearly 4 years since I had my last baby feels like a lifetime ago. So much has happened since then in our life and ministry. I mean, I’ve learned a language and set up a life on the other side of the world. Not to mention that that baby is in pre-school now and breaking my heart with how grown up he is getting. When I pause to think, however, I remember what that feels like to wait for a baby. There is fear mixed with wonder, joy mingled with anxiety. There is dread about the coming day and dreams about the future. When labor begins, there is pain and a narrowed focus. It’s time to get serious about bringing this baby into the world.

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Waiting for Eternity

The Scriptures compare this temporal life to childbirth (Romans 8:22). We are waiting with mixed feelings of fear and wonder, joy and anxiety. There is sometimes dread about the days we have to endure on this earth, but we certainly have much to dream about. Even the awe-inspiring plump-red cheeks of a newborn baby is nothing in comparison to what awaits us in glory. What a thought!

Just as birth entails pain and requires a narrowed focus, so do our lives waiting for Jesus to return. There is immeasurable hardship because of sin’s stain on the world. We will have to endure what feels like a never-ending slew of suffering, but we do not carry these griefs as those who have no hope. We know that our ultimate treasure and our hope is other-wordly. We must narrow our focus with eternity in mind. Laboring in the here and now, we rejoice in the abundant blessings that are to come. We endure the pain of today with the promise of endless, joy-filled tomorrows spent in the presence of God.

In the end, it’s all worth it.

There will be times where the labor feels light and what is required of us is little. Other times, the groaning will be great and we get by only by the strength of God. Sometimes, we will forget about the glory that is coming and only suffer with gritted teeth and white knuckled perseverance because faithfulness means something even when we forget what.

There’s so much good coming, friends. Though we have pain in the here and now, God brings blessings here too. The laboring is painful and intense, but we have respites by His grace. In the end, when we are looking back from glory on what life and labor once was, it will seem distant. It will seem brief — just a blip on the radar on the way to eternity.

All our troubles of that time will be long forgotten. Just like my sister-in-law’s will be when she holds her newborn sometime in the next few days. If you need me until then, I’ll have my face in my phone.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

I “make” God big in my life when I set my focus on my eternal future as I labor for Him in the here and now. 

What helps you keep your focus on eternity?

Talk to me in the comment section below.

God’s Amazing Work in Common Life [Day 23: COMMON]

Strange, yet normal

As we went to bed last night, we looked outside to see why it seemed so much brighter in our room than usual. Little did we know — it was a full moon! As we peered outside for a few lingering moments, we could see that there was a small crowd gathered around the Hindu temple that lies just outside of our gate. Candles added to the glow of the night, and we marveled at how common yet still strange of an occurrence this seemed to us.

We spend a few moments talking about how odd it is that so much of life here seems normal to us. We had just walked by that temple an hour earlier with our kids on our nightly walk. There was no one there at the time. It is just a feature of our neighborhood now. It is only during heavy holiday seasons where the bells ring constantly and the fires burn all night that I take much thought. This thing that is so common to me must seem so exotic or strange to anyone else that lives in the location they’ve always called home. And I totally get that. I do try to pray each time I pass this place of worship, and we take the opportunity to share the Gospel with our children again when they acquire about that place is for.

Because this feels like home to me now. Shopping at the local market instead of a large grocer is normal and mundane. Watching my selected cut of chicken get chopped before my very eyes is commonplace. Tip-toeing around potholes, muddy puddles, and street-dog droppings while I walk my son to school is every day life. Words exchanged between neighbors from rooftop to rooftop is just a thing that happens sometimes.

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography
Common, yet significant

The significance of all of it doesn’t strike me often. Yet, in my heart I know that God has brought us to this specific place to live this common life. Though it doesn’t feel exotic anymore, I know it is special. I have confidence that God is working through the common, everyday things to mold me for His service. He will use chit-chat that bores and the fixtures of our surroundings to change me and glorify Himself. When I think this way, this common life of mine doesn’t seem so ordinary anymore.

God uniquely works in each of His children’s lives. He shapes us into who we are and places us where we need to be. In His infinite wisdom, He reigns over even the most common parts of our days. There is nothing common about the mysterious ways He works through the events of our lives for His ultimate glory.

No matter how normal it all becomes to me over the years, none of it really is. King Jesus makes all things glorious.

I “make” God big in my life when I choose to see Him working through the commonness of my days. He delights in my recognition of the miracles He works in my mundane life.

In what common places do you see God uniquely working?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Faithfulness in Little Things *Revisited* [Day 21: START]

My days start and end with little things. In the middle are a bunch more little things. I have choices to make to serve God faithfully despite what may be the disappointing details of a monotonous day. My husband may call me and ask me to do something I have no interest in doing in order to help him or our ministry. The phone may ring with a needy friend on the other side who needs more than a few minutes of my time again. I may get a message from my son’s school that I need to bring him another pair of underoos because this potty-training thing is so much harder than we all thought it would be. I’m on the other side of the world. Before coming here, it felt like such a big mission. Now, in the daily-grind, it can feel so small.

Revisiting Little Things from 2015

In 2015, I wrote a post called Faithfulness in Little Things. It’s funny now how some of those things seem like big things. Faithfulness in attending language school every day has allowed me to share the Gospel, teach groups of women, and disciple young ladies in my second language. Spending time daily with the Lord each day has grown my faith in Him and my understanding of the Gospel. Loving and encourage my husband through learning a language and planting a church has allowed him to remain faithful to the Lord and his work here and helped our marriage to flourish.

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash
The Little Things of 2018 and Beyond

It seems that missionaries often get praised for their “sacrifice” to follow the Lord to foreign lands with Gospel dreams in their hearts. But faithfulness to the call is not the be-all and end-all to a life lived for Christ. We are called to faithfulness in all aspects of our lives from the most mundane tasks to extreme acts of faith. The truth is, my days are made up of little things. The big thing of moving my family to the mission field was just the beginning. Now, my life is made up of children’s school schedules, homework, dinner-prep, and connecting with local people for a few minutes at a time. There are some moments that feel like “real ministry. Other moments seem counterproductive to what think I ought to be doing.

Faithfulness today makes fruitfulness tomorrow. Little today means a little more tomorrow. God sees my struggle to be faithful in the little things. He will show up in big ways to help me stay the course. Loving babies and laundering clothes may not feel like holy work, but it can be. May the little acts of faith and patient endurance in my life add up to the things dreams are made of. I pray the Lord smiles on my little heaps of faithfulness as He bestows on me greater opportunities to stretch my faith. I desire to serve Him in bigger ways, but He may only ever require an endless string of little things. I pray I will be faithful in that, too.

From start to finish, and all the moments in between, I want to be faithful in all the little things. I trust that when I look back a few years from now just like I did today, I will see that they were actually pretty big.

Me and My Three Audiences [Day 20: AUDIENCE]

I sit with my friend in her one-room home, and I take in all that she does from how she makes her tea to her preferences on dressing her son. I take note of what she watches on TV and what she says when she answers the phone. Much of what I have learned about my host culture has come through observing the behavior of others in this way. I play audience to everyone I meet here in attempt to understand, imitate, and appreciate their culture.

They don’t mind giving it right back. She asks me a laundry list of questions, mostly about why we do things differently than they do in regards to our children or dietary habits. She watches how I discipline my kids and inquires about my choice of fingernail polish. It used to bother me, feeling picked apart, but I know that she is seeking to understand my culture. I also know, that because our family lives somewhat counter-culturally, her whys will lead me to opportunities to talk about Christ’s difference in our life. She — and by God’s grace, many others — is my audience.

In all these encounters, I have a great opportunity to showcase Christ. I don’t live my life performing for Him because I know He is perfectly pleased with me because of the blood sacrifice. However, I do wish to honor that sacrifice in my daily interactions. Ultimately, He is the audience I am acutely aware is with me and watching at all times. I want to acquaint each member of my audience with Him so they may also have the wonderful gift of His presence in their lives.

Photos by Kelly Rockhold Photography

Three Audiences of My Life

I am someone’s audience

This can be something healthy like learning culture or it can be entirely something else. I recently unfollowed a bunch of accounts on Instagram. While I can’t necessarily recall why I started following theses accounts in the first place, I realized that few of them were feeding me as they should but were rather tempting me towards unhealthy comparison and envy. I had willingly become a part of their audience without concern for what this decision would do for my heart. This lesson is not applicable only to my online life but to my daily life as well. I must be mindful of who and what I allow to influence me.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23).

Other people are a part of my audience

Generally, it’s just two little people, but it still holds true — there are people watching me. This may include people in our ministry, in our neighborhood, or in my little corner of the internet world. While I do not seek the approval of others, I desire to live a life that uplifts the name of Christ and blesses others. I do not perform for my audience, but in the Spirit I try to model who I am made to be in Jesus.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

I should seek only to please one audience

I hesitated to write about this because the whole “Audience of One” thing seems so cliche, but there’s a reason it has caught on. The temptation to perform for others or present our lives to be a certain way is real and ever-present — especially in the digital age. I don’t perform for others, but I don’t perform for God either. That is, I don’t work to please Him. I know because I’m covered in the blood, He is already pleased with me. Instead, I seek to honor that great sacrifice by living in a way that glorifies Him and celebrates my standing with Him.

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24).

I’m watching. They’re watching. But most importantly, HE is watching.

I “make” God big in my life when I seek to honor Him in all my interactions.

What can you tell me about your audiences?

Talk to me in the comment section below!