See Yourself in Stories of Missional Living[day 16: read]

I love a good missionary biography and not just because I am a missionary myself. I liked them way back in the day before I met Jesus and surrendered to serve Him with my life. There was always something exciting and adventurous to me about tales of faraway places, foreign tongues, and run-ins with all types of creeping things. I kind of glossed over the parts about God’s sanctifying and redemptive work because I didn’t have spiritual eyes to see the wonder of these things yet.

Now that I am on the mission field, I am less wowed by the things that used to blow my pre-adolescent mind. In fact, today I had a stray cat run into my house and made eye-contact with a gecko who had made a home in the box of Cheerios atop the fridge. I spoke my second language imperfectly all day and spent time with a new friend. This place is now my home and doesn’t seem exotic or as foreign as it once did. Life here is just that now — life.

I read stories of missionaries a bit differently now. I see myself in their tales — in dreams that turn out differently and hearts that experience major overhaul at the hand of the Holy Spirit. I walk with them through true faith crises brought about by cultural clashes and coming face to face with all kinds of spiritual darkness. I feel solidarity with people who fight to love Jesus in a world that hates Him.

I don’t see superheroes like some of you may think of when you consider those who have answered the call to missions. They’re just people struggling to love their families, figure out communication and a new way of living, and take opportunities to tell the old story. I glimpse a gracious God who grants the heart’s deepest desires and allows His servants to celebrate small successes in ministry, never knowing the scope of what He has done through their measly offerings.

Missional living isn’t about where we are; it’s about who we serve. It’s not even about who we are but what God is able to do despite our imperfections. It is a willingness to say “I can’t, but He can” and take the small steps of faith to follow Him into hard places and love people who may be difficult to love. It’s about sinners that have been saved and given a great job to do.

When we celebrate small, we see what a great privilege it is to live missionally for the Savior. We praise Him for each opportunity He gives to speak of His goodness and each trial that brings us into a more intimate relationship with Him. We find mission fields in our front yards and in the car pick-up at our children’s schools and say “yes” where we are and to who God puts in our lives. We run the race and tire, but we are carried. We fail but, we are forgiven.

A life changed in Nepal. God is faithful.

I challenge you to read stories of what God has done and is doing around the world. I hope you will read them with fresh eyes. Ditch the notion that those living missionally are super special people. Missionaries are just like you — they are super-loved by God. They make tons of mistakes, but they celebrate big when God gives small victories in their lives and ministries. I urge you to see yourself in their stories.

Consider your own biography of missional living. What has God called upon you to say “yes” to? Who has he put in your life to minister to and to share of His goodness? How has God used you already? What big, missional dreams has He placed in your heart for the future? What is He at work redeeming in your life now? How do you sense His mighty hand at work in your life?

You can have your own thrilling adventure in missional living when you choose to celebrate small and trust God will use it to bring about big. Read some missionary biographies and you’ll see — He’s quite good at that.

How are you living missionally?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

How I Invite Him in for the Good of my Kids [day 13: invite]

Five Minute Friday: INVITE

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I have befriended a woman in my neighborhood who has a daughter just a year older than Jo. Naturally, I want to get together with my friend so I bring her along to spend time with her “friend”– I use the term loosely in this case. The problem is, for whatever reason, she just has little to no interest in being friends with this little lady. She’s sweet as can be but they just haven’t hit it off. We keep getting together, and every time the girls giggle a little more and sit a little closer. We are getting there.

In some ways, I want to force my daughter into a relationship with Jesus, too. I want so badly for her to trust Christ and surrender her life to Him. But she’s still young and lacking understanding. I can’t invite Jesus into her heart — that’s something only she can do — but I can invite Him into our lives. I invite him to our table where we break bread and talk about our days. I can invite him on our walks when the words of our hearts seem to flow out more naturally. I invite Him to the foot of the bed where we read books and pray in His name each night before bed. I invite Him into crinkled covers when she slides next to me in the morning as I read my Bible.

I can’t make her know Him, but I can help her know about Him. As I invite Him into our daily lives, I give her opportunity to crack open the door of her heart just a little bit more. As I celebrate small, I praise Him for each opportunity He gives to talk about His goodness, to lean on Him as a family during hardship, and to thank Him for the big and little ways He shows up in our days.

I trust that a relationship that arises naturally out of a true appreciation of who He is and what He has done for her will be real and rooted. Truly, it is not something a mother can force on a child. I’m still going to keep trying in the case of our neighborhood friend though.

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How can you invite Jesus into your daily life?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

The Hardest and Best Words a Mom Can Say [day 12: write]

I would be lying if I said that I’ve kept up with memories and scrapbooks as my kids have gotten older. I didn’t finish the baby book I started with my first and didn’t even pretend to try after my second was born. I did, however, scrape some Shutterfly coupons and a bit of cash together to make photo books for both the birth-weeks and the first months of my babies’ lives. In these books, I spilled love over the pages to my children. Photos of an exhausted, swollen post-birth mommy are scattered throughout. I cringe at the sight of them, but I hope when my babies sit with these photos they just see the joy on my face to finally hold my precious babies.

On the last pages of these photo books, I wrote letters to them. They were overly lofty and sentimental, but I couldn’t help but dream big for the tiny bundles I held in my arms. There’s something about a newborn baby that inspires hope in the hearts of all that are privileged to look upon. As I gazed into their eyes and breathed in that non-duplicatable newborn smell, I prayed over them. I asked God to help me be the mom they needed and to allow them to do big things for Him. I even asked Him to start preparing a mate for them to serve the Lord alongside — crazy I know! I wrote these prayers into their photo books, and I’ve read them aloud many times since.

I love reading these over again just to remind myself to hope and dream and beg God to use their lives for His glory. I love watching their little faces light up, delighted that mommy’s heart overflowed in words this way when they were waking me up all hours of the night. It’s good for me to remember that my dreams for them had nothing to do with the ease of potty training or straight A report cards or proficiency in sports or art. It had everything to do with teaching them to love Jesus and surrender their lives to Him.

But first– mommy has to surrender their lives to Him. That is the hard part. But why should it be? He is nothing if He is not trustworthy. And I trust Him with every other area of my life. It’s just too much pressure; I want them to turn out great! I want them to achieve my dreams for them — and that’s where I go wrong. My dreams.  I would never say, “My will be done” with my lips, but what does my life say to Him? What does it say to Him when I lie awake at night wondering how I can fix the things that are hurting them? Or when I want to keep them at home and away from the things that are confusing about life in a foreign country? It says, “My will be done.”

I’m mom, and I love these kids fiercely, but they are not mine. They were graciously gifted to me by a loving Father. They are mine for a time, and I am painfully aware that that time is fleeting and my influence is limited. When I celebrate small, I see surrender as the starting line. I know He dreams bigger and better dreams for my children than I ever could. He knows them better than I ever will and works from the inside out to accomplish His will in their lives. If I truly want them to be fully His, I must fully surrender them as mine. I have to place them into His hands, trusting that His will supersedes my best-laid plans. With open hands that ache at the letting go, I allow Him to take the lead in their lives. I say, “Thy will be done.”

 

Do you need to surrender your children to the Lord?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

4 Things to Remember in the Trenches of Motherhood [Day 11: remember]

My mother-in-law keeps a small notebook with her around the holidays to help her remember what she needs to pick up and for whom. She’s got 4 kids and 6 grandbabies in 4 countries — it’s complicated! She calls this pad of paper her “brain.” Since I am maybe the most forgetful person I know, I’ve been pondering my need to keep a small notebook with me at all times for all purposes. It’s the mom life, I suppose. Kids just do something to our brains. I keep seeing that ad for what babies do to a mom’s muscles resembling a smashed egg. They do that and more to our mental capacity — it’s cracked, scrambled, and fried!

My big dreams become a blur in the distance as my mind becomes tired and taxed by the chaos each day can bring. There is always a laundry list of things to remember and more things to do — yet they never seem to get done. Kids in the mix seem to further complicate matters me from getting done x, y, or z I think needs to be accomplished today or the world will stop spinning. Then they bring sickness, learning issues, general misbehavior, and at least 14 lbs of legos and dump them into my lap. Overwhelm isn’t even a strong enough word for these moments. Sometimes, childhood can seem like a pit we’ll never climb out of — but that’s not true. We are always on the up and up, inching towards adulthood and more independence for all. In these little years — which we not so lovingly refer to as the trenches at times — there are a few things we moms need to remember.

Remember Who Gave Them to You

God made you their mama. YOU. He knows what your weaknesses are. He wants you to depend on Him as you seek to glorify Him in motherhood. He desires that you would purposefully praise out of a place of peace only He provides. None of our junk scares or surprises Him. When we acknowledge our weaknesses and fall upon His grace, we give Him room to work miracles in the everyday messes of life with kids. God knows I put my phone in the fridge the other day, and He still trusts me with children. That in and of itself is a miracle!

Remember What You Love about Them

It’s not snot and temper tantrums, that’s for sure. Go back to that hospital bed where you marveled at their eyelashes and the peculiar way their toes curled. Take out your summer snapshots of tangled hair over wild eyes and the soundtrack of the laugh you’d stand on your head to hear when they were small. It’s all still there. It may be covered by the snot and tantrums, but it’s there. Squish, tickle, play and pray it out again.

Remember Who Loves them More

It has always comforted me to think that God loves my babies more than I do because it seems almost impossible. But God has a way of making the impossible possible, and I know it rings no more true than in the case of His care for my children. When my worries finally fall away and I drift into a state of slumber, He watches them. When they board the bus that delivers them to school, He goes with them. And when I can’t see into their heart to glimpse the root of behavior, he does. PS, mama — he sees your heart, too, and He loves you more than you’ll ever know.

Remember to Celebrate Small

There are a million moments between milestones. We can dismiss them as nothing more than ways to pass the time or we can see them as opportunities to invest in the lives our children. We can nudge them towards the Savior and watch with joyous anticipation of the day He swoops them right up into His arms. Each day, we can praise Him for the softening of their hearts and increase in understanding. They’re becoming who they will be today — even amidst snot and tantrums (I’m told they grow out of that). They are learning, they are growing, and they are giving us thousands of reasons to praise their Maker if we choose to celebrate small — snot and all.

What do you need to remember most as your raise your children?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

It Helps to have a Plan [Day 9: plan]

This past week, focusing on celebrating small in my marriage has been really convicting for me. It seems I have A LOT of work to do to re-train myself to purposefully praise, embody true love, treasure all parts of our story, cherish my spouse, and safeguard my marriage. If I’m honest, it all seems a little overwhelming to me which is a shame because the whole point of celebrating small in my marriage is defying discouragement and finding joy in each leg of our journey together.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to be able to combat overwhelm if I have a plan. So here is my plan to celebrate small.

P: Praise God for the sanctifying work He does in marriage.
L: Love each other through failures and disappointments.
A: Ask God to reveal His hand at work in my marriage.
N: Nurture harmony by dreaming big and celebrating small as one.

When our big dreams become nothing but a blur in the distance, we go back to the blueprint. We trust the Lord will work out the details as we follow Him. The beauty of following this plan is that it benefits us today by allowing us to increase in boldness and strength for the journey and — whether we realize it or not — it gets us closer to those big dreams of ours.

 

What does your plan look like?

Talk to me in the comment section below!