The Lie I’ve Believed about my Little Life [Day 3: BELIEVE]

I have regularly been meeting with a young lady to study the Bible over the last year. I’ve had the privilege of seeing her grow in her understanding of the word of God as we have contrasted the truth with worldly teaching. Our meetings are simple — open Bibles and translated materials at my husband’s desk which I steal for an hour. Occasionally, we will have a cup of tea or a salty snack from the cart down the road. There’s nothing fancy about our meetings, but God always meets us there. We’ve had her and other young people from the church for countless meals and get-togethers at the house. She helps me wash dishes as we wait for the coffee to brew.

I’ve never thought of my role in her life as being very significant. But, one evening, while texting with her after helping her handle an uncomfortable situation, she said something that completely changed my perspective. She said, “I’m so happy. I finally have a family.” Cue the tears! What seemed small to me was such a big thing to the person I shared it with. God had worked in her life through our time together and bonded us in ways only He could.

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

Sometimes I think my life and all its roles are just too small for God to show up in. I errantly believe that because I am just a ministry-wife/SAHM that God is not interested all aspects of my life and relationships. Though I do grasp the truth He loves me and is after my heart, I find it difficult to accept that He would show His great power at work in my little life. Homework helping and meal-planning, discipline and discipleship just seem like small boxes for the King of the world to tick off.

When I ask God to show me all that He has done, I see that He has completed miraculous wonders amid the monotony of my less-than-noteworthy life. While it may make for a yawn-inducing biography in the opinion of some, God has done great things. He has allowed our family to take young people into our spiritual care and disciple them in the word of God. He has made us mentors, friends, and guardians of two small souls in our home.

May I never be too timid to invite Him into the smallness of my life. May I always be aware of His presence each moment and the grace that flows through them. My prayer is that I’ll grow in understanding and persevere in believing that God is invested both in having a relationship with me and in using me in big and small works for His glory.

I “make” God big in my life when I believe He is who He says He is and that He will do what He has promised He will do even in my little life.

What lies have you believed about God’s work in your life?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Cold Coffee Confessions

It’s no secret that I’ve gone silent on my blog for quite some time. I’ve been thankfully and happily busy in life with my crazy clan and our adventurous interns/downstairs neighbors. As we host these two, I think back often on the time I spent being  downstairs neighbors to a family of seven some time ago in that musty, unfinished basement (that we loved!) on Spot Road, and I am trying to be half of the considerate and sweet friend my neighbor was to me.

While I haven’t been showing up here often to share with you what in the world is going on on my side of the world, I will tell you that God has been faithful. We have experienced both great victories and defeats like I never imagined would touch us. The events of our days and subsequent emotions are often hard to put into words that I want to bring before the world — or the few people that read my little blog, but you know what I mean.

If we were friends sitting down to a cup of coffee — preferably, iced because it is a billion degrees in my home as I write this — I would tell you that often sleep eludes me, and I lie awake wondering what the Master weaver could be working in our lives and ministries because it seems like nothing more than a blundered mess of good intentions and well-laid plans. I’d tell you how exhausting it is to plan and revise, dream and doubt, serve and surrender day after day after day.

I’d reveal to you that I have baked chocolate chip cookies when I knew of no other way to encourage my husband and offered them to him with a weak smile that said, “I know it doesn’t help, but I tried.” We’ve whispered, “I love yous” and held pinkies as he shifted gears in our Maruti sazuki jam-packed with our growing children and a few too many members of our growing church body. We’ve lost each other countless times amidst all that is marriage and ministry mingled together but have — by God’s grace — made our way back to each other every time.

I would tell you that the highs and lows of ministry are sometimes more than I can bear, and that the lines between work and life often get blurred. I would tell you that the mama bear comes out fierce and strong, and sometimes I am ashamed at the ways I don’t trust God with my children. I would tell you the million-and-one ways I’ve messed everything up yet God has redeemed every bit of it. At this point, I would hope you wouldn’t walk away in shock of all that I’ve revealed to you, and I would regret that I let it all out.

But if that’s what’s left at the end of this conversation on this imaginary coffee-date, then we have really missed it. I’ve said all that to only say that God is faithful — again. To encourage you and me that this life of service to God is worth it. To remind us that our Redeemer is still at work in our lives. I know this because in all the ways I’ve failed to live up to His standard in marriage, motherhood, and missional living, He has done a work in each of those areas. When I’m sailing through life and everything makes sense, He is good and He is faithful. When I’m struggling to pull myself out from under my sheets and just feed my kids, He is good and faithful. And all these things I struggle to juggle, He has given me to hold. They are gifts that sometimes make me want to pull my hair out, but they are precious just the same!

Don’t abandon your coffee, friend. I imagine you have your stories, too. I hope you’ll see in them that while things haven’t been perfect, they have had purpose. And, if you’re willing to admit you’ve failed, that He has been faithful.

Life is good, friend, and I am happy to share it with you.

To Have and To Hold [Day 7: hold]

My husband and I had a hard time getting used to sleeping in the same bed. The first night we slept as husband and wife, I woke up on the opposite side than the one I fell asleep on without memory of how I got there. We would recount stories of what the other spoke out loud while they were in a REM cycle each morning. Of course, it didn’t take too long to get used to, and we were certain that it was worth it. I had that star-struck-love thing where I really did wake up grateful that he was there and so supremely blessed to be his wife after all this time of waiting.

We said the traditional vows which included the words “to have and to hold from this day forward.” It was a pledge in the true sense of the word to respect our vows and cherish each other. The have is the keeping, the showing up every day in our marriage. The hold is something else entirely. It is not careless as it knows the value of what is in its clutch. And it is careful not too cling too tightly lest the great prize be broken.

I can have the have without having the hold — this is how starry-eyed lovers become considerate roommates. When I celebrate small, I praise God for the precious gift of a partner to navigate life with. I see God’s loving kindness in a man who truly tries to understand me and comforts me on the days where the enemy delivers some serious blows. I don’t ask from him what I can only receive from the One who knows me best. I trust him, assuming the best of him and supporting the dreams and desires of his heart.

The hold doesn’t look around at all the other things it could have instead of what is in its possession because it can’t break its gaze with the precious gem in its grip. It admires, seeing all of the fabulous features and none of the flaws. When I celebrate small, I don’t ponder what I could have or what I may be able to get. Envy doesn’t come easy when I gratefully gaze at what I’ve got.

When I see my husband for the gift he is from a good Father, I wake up grateful again. He’s not just a person who steals the sheets and sets his alarm more early than I’d like. He’s a man who has chosen to live his life with me in it, who trusts me to care for his children, and allows me to share in his big dreams coming true. It is an honor. I will cherish it –and him — forever.

How can you cherish your spouse today?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

Stewardship of Speaking

Five Minute Friday: SPEAK

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“You speak our language?” they ask in amazement. “I do,” I respond as humbly as I can despite how proud I am of myself and thankful I am to finally live in this reality.

And with this hard-fought-for ability comes a great responsibility. My words in any language have always had weight as I have spoken with believers and unbelievers alike. There is always an opportunity to speak truth and love, but there is equal opportunity to spew condescension or judgment. With all my heart, I hope to steward these opportunities wisely for the glory of God.

Such conversations often move quickly to the whys of our living here and what we are hoping to do. Question after question rolls out in my direction in effort to know more about me, but what I  really desire the person on the other end of the conversation to know about is JESUS. On the days I am feeling confident and not overly bogged down by the previous events of the day, I try to steer in that direction. I wish I did this each and every time because the result is generally sweet, something certainly to be savored. Occasionally, my sudden shift to spiritual things is not welcomed, and I sense this in sharp vocal tones and stiff body language. I thank God for the opportunity to speak of Him and trust Him to multiply the fraction of truth I have presented and build upon the fragile foundation I have created in simple words spoken in foreign tongue.

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Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,

Ephesians 6:19-20

Encouraged and Empowered by Hospitality

We had planned a quiet day at home: fallen leaves swirling around the backyard we shared, our daughter playing on a borrowed swing set. We would leave this home soon. I cherished another day looking out French doors across the vast green where chickens and barefoot toddlers roamed wild, but Thanksgiving Day in this fashion just seemed wrong. Visa decisions and an international move loomed as we prayerfully anticipated our son’s upcoming birth, trying also not to relive the day we met his brother whose home was made in heaven.

We joined our church family to lift words of spontaneous praise to the Giver of all good gifts. My hand swooped across my belly as I relished the swishing that indicated a child thriving within. Dark clouds had been dominating the light of joy which made brief, infrequent shifts in the daily climate. Grieved over this storm I hadn’t chosen to weather, I silently asked forgiveness and begged for peace. Certainly, these are among God’s greatest gifts.

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Minutes later, a mom of nine, with whom I’d previously only shared pregnancy horrors and birth stories, approached me, and said, “We would like to have your family over for Thanksgiving dinner. “ She proposed this so matter-of-factly like her house wasn’t full enough and she didn’t have a sufficient amount of work to do.

Shocked and relieved, I scribbled down her number, promising to call her after discussing the plan with my husband. But what was there to discuss? We had a clear calendar, an empty fridge, and restless souls.

I entered her home round belly first and toddler on my hip. I wish this memory included me bringing along some tasty treat to add to the spread. We had little to offer aside from ourselves, broken and weary as we were.

No one seemed surprised that we were there which says much about our holiday host. She embraced me with butter-covered hands, pulling me against an apron adorned with flour. Her hair was plastered to her brow, evidence of the labor of the day. I basked in the beautiful glow communicating a persisting joy I hadn’t possessed in quite some time.

There was a sense of belonging in this place which was more like the set of a sitcom throwback than a modern monument to perfected homemaking. I waddled over to a well-loved La-Z-Boy and settled to watch football while the oldest siblings took my eager toddler to bounce around a super-sized trampoline. I exhaled my worries and breathed in the enticing aromas of the equally sizable supper to come..

We feasted on fresh-baked rolls, sweet potato casserole, and new-found friendship. We savored the sweetness of spoken memories and a family founded in Christ. We ate until we were full, and we wasted the day away in the comforting silence of satisfaction punctuated by stories, laughs, and the occasional temper tantrum of a tired two year old.

It seemed, the forecast within my weary ministry/momma heart was changing. I sensed sunlight peeking through the clouds. And with it, a realization: I had vowed to carry my light to the edges of this earth but had allowed the fierce winds of sorrow to blow it out. How could I shine for Christ in the darkest of places when I carried a flameless candle in my own home? I pondered these things while I walked around the track at the park in attempt to prod my son out of my protruding belly. My induction attempts were unsuccessful, but the change in thinking as I walked ’round and ’round were well worth the waddling.

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Our home grew to include ten tiny toes a few days after this life-giving holiday celebration and the days of healing that followed. Our daughter stayed at our new friends’ home, jumped on the trampoline all day, and went to sleep in a room full of giggling girls.

I can never repay her for what she unknowingly did for me those days, how she awakened my weary soul to see all that there truly was to be thankful for. I can, however, extend grace born out of gratitude for the sacrifice made to make us daughters of God. This gratitude moves me across the world with my little light in a depth of darkness that makes my knees knock together, begging God for added souls to our spiritual family.

Kindness blew away the swirling storm and replaced it with sunshine in my soul. I was encouraged and empowered, ready to share the warmth of this kind of genuine love for the Lord and for the least of these —like me— around the world. I take lessons learned from beautiful friends like this one, open my heart and prop wide my front door to the hurting and whole alike. The forecast looks as promising as a Thanksgiving spread.

 

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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,