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.

Freestocks.org
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!

Contentment is Counter-Cultural [Day 22: HELP]

I’m taking a break from #Write31Days this evening, but I have a new post that went live on the Velvet Ashes blog today. I think it’s a message many of us need to hear whether we are living and serving overseas or honoring the Lord daily in our hometowns.

When it comes to contentment, I so desperately need GOD’s help to guard my mind and my heart. I need Him to help me say “no” to the things that aren’t necessarily bad but aren’t good for me either. I can’t peacefully live the quiet life He has called me to without fully resting in His provision.  

I hope you enjoy this post, and I hope you will poke around the VA page for a while. It has been a huge blessing to me. I’m currently leading a Connection Group, and I would recommend joining one to any lady serving overseas in any capacity.

Contentment is Counter-Cultural

I’m getting pretty fed up with Instagram lately. I chose to make my account private so I have to approve all follow requests. I would estimate that around 80% of my requests are phony. Generally, they are fitness gurus who want me on their team changing my lifestyle — oh, and selling stuff. If it’s not them, it’s got to be some hipster blogger who certainly has no interest in my account of life in Nepal but has every intention of influencing me to boost my lifestyle to boost her bottom line.

Discontentment sells. It sells in America. It sells in my host-country of Nepal, and it sells all over the world. Our hearts are fragile, and we are easily influenced. “Get a better body in 8 weeks,” or “Transform your home with 1 can of paint” — no matter the tagline, the message is the same: your life and the person behind your social media feed is not acceptable as is. I fall for it just about every time. Discontentment fuels economies and fills bank accounts, but it does nothing for the soul…

Read More at Velvet Ashes

 

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.

Whose I am is What Matters Most [Day 19: WHO]

The biggest holiday in this country is happening right now. It’s strange how lifeless our neighborhood is during the day. At night, some festive gatherings take place and the volume takes it up a few notches. Most shops are closed and many people have gone out to the villages to celebrate with their family. My kids get their longest break from school at this time (they only got 8 days for summer break!). They will be home for a whole two weeks. I’m enjoying having them home, but it is sort of a shift in mindset and mode for me. With few people around to connect with and even less to do, I feel somewhat lost and limited.

Keeping up the house with these tornadoes home all day has been challenging. Every time I clean up a mess, two more are made! My routines have been completely undone, and I started this break with an empty fridge and pantry — total rookie move. I can ride the waves of these emotions of failing my family and not being useful in ministry at this time. This is what I would typically do, but thankfully, I’ve really had a shift in understanding of these matters in the last year.

It’s a major trap of the enemy to make us slaves to our own roles and callings. He tells us that we are what we do, but the Scripture tells us something completely different.

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

Galatians 4:4-9

The Gospel tells me who I am. I am a beloved daughter of the King of the world. He bestows the fulness of His love and His richest blessings on me… on purpose! I’m not a slave to the law or to my roles or callings. What I do does not define who I am. Who I am is unchanging because He who holds me is unchanging. He’s not counting the dirty dishes in the sink or how many times I’ve lost my temper with my kids today. Yet, He delights when I walk in repentance as a child who messes up but truly desires to please her Father.

Productivity or pursuit of perfection in my life can put me right back into bondage, but I am made to be free. I can be free not because of anything I’ve done but because of what Christ has done. All because I am known of God and loved by God.  I want to say I’m never going back, but I know the vulnerability of my heart to fall into this snare again and again. I’ll keep telling myself — and Satan too — that I belong to Christ, and I am not a slave to anyone or anything.

My house may be a wreck, my kids may be a bit wild, and I may not get any “real” ministry done this week. but one thing sets my heart straight: I am treasured by God.

How does your identity as a child of God change how you leave each day?

Talk to me in the comment section below!