The Most Comforting Words [Day 8: COMFORT]

We were knee-deep in language study and had learned by now what “culture shock” really means. We had been through crisis after crisis in our first few months on the field including (but not limited to) two major earthquakes and countless aftershocks, a landslide at our home, gas and power shortages, and a terrifying accident involving our daughter. We had seen God move in amazing ways and had found Him only to be a source of comfort and hope. Yet, chatting in the car one day after language school, one nagging thought was spoken out loud. “I can’t imagine living through another year of this before we go back to America.”

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

As much as our hearts were here, looking ahead everything just seemed impossible and heavy. I was relieved my husband had expressed the same sentiment because, to be honest, I was feeling completely guilty over having such thoughts. The Lord blessed us over that remaining year and gave us a great visit back that recharged our hearts. Truthfully, though, we could have done more time and would have survived — even thrived — because of one vital truth.

And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. Deut. 31:8-9

The same words that Moses spoke over the hearts of God’s chosen people before they walked into a dark valley are the same words that bring us comfort when walking into uncertain times. When I look into the future, I can become discouraged and think there’s just no way I can walk through that. God has preserved these words of comfort for us because the truths about our Comforter have not changed in all these years.

Comfort for the future

He will go before me, making a way for me to live and prosper in His peace. He will not fail me or forsake me. EVER. He will provide all I need to live for His glory.

Comfort for today

He will be with me today. Truly His presence is the only provision I need for this day and every day.

As I look too far into the future and sense that familiar panic begin to percolate, I can rest knowing His provision and presence are enough to get me from today until eternity. When I control my mind by the Spirit’s power to fret not about tomorrow but focus on God’s calming presence today, wild thoughts are reined in. God’s command to refrain from fear is not impossible because with God ALL THINGS are possible.

We have a couple years left until our “break,” but this time around, I’m not really counting. I’ve learned that His grace is sufficient for today and all the days I have left.

I “make” God big in my life when I comfort myself with the truth of His word and when I rest in His presence with me every day.

How has God’s presence calmed you during difficult times?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

When I can’t Remember Why [Day 4: WHY]

“Why” is a question I find myself answering a lot. My kids often ask why we can’t just hop over to America and visit with our grandparents. Taxi drivers and shopkeepers inquire about why we would live in this country when many of them would give anything to live in America. Others, disapprovingly ask why we are trying to change the culture of this beautiful country. When the smallness of my life seems to contrast with what might be if I lived and served on the other side of the world, I ask myself why we put ourselves through all that we do.

The following is from a post I wrote earlier this year, and it’s worth reminding myself all these months later.

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

I agreed to serve Jesus because He gave His all for me, and I am compelled to do all I can to magnify His great love. 

I agreed to work alongside my husband as we cross-cultures to share Christ because I trust him completely and believe in him wholeheartedly.

I agreed to learn a language and culture because there are millions of people that haven’t heard the Gospel in their heart language, and I may have the opportunity to change that — even if only for a few.

I agreed to raise my children away from the comforts of our home and our family because Jesus is worthy, and I want them to know that more than any other lesson I could teach them.

Jesus is worthy. Because of that I will agree to keep serving Him every day of this little life He gives me. I trust that one day — whether here or in heaven — the impact of that decision will far exceed my expectations. I’ll see our BIG God was at work in amazing ways in my little life. All because I agreed to all the little things He asked me to do. It all seems like small potatoes compared to what he’s done for me.

I “make” God big in my little life when I combat the frailty of my heart with God’s truth. I remind myself that the life He has called me to is worth agreeing to while I trust Him to work His way in it.

What is your “WHY” that keeps you following Jesus?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

Putting my Fears in God’s Hands [Day 2: AFRAID]

For the first year of our service overseas, I was afraid to visit the local shops. It was all so overwhelming to me. I look back now and laugh because I probably could have gotten most of what I needed by pointing and speaking English. Back then I thought  I had to speak Nepali 100% of the time. The problem at that time was I barely knew any!

I was afraid to seem ignorant or to overpay due to my ignorance. But mainly I was afraid to have to talk to anyone. God had given us a heart for the souls of these people but not a manual on how to connect with them. While I longed to establish friendships and the sense of belonging they provide, I could not get over my fears. We did most of our shopping at the supermarket, and if we needed anything locally I would send my son’s nanny.

My language has improved over the years, but my confidence to connect with local people ebbs and flows. I’ve carved out a shopping route in several different directions from my son’s school. I walk and talk my whole way home most days. I have a few friends I visit and drink way too many cups of chai with. The fears of feeling awkward, ignorant, or misunderstood are ever-present but thankfully, so is the Lord and His ability to transcend all barriers and bridge all gaps. When my fears are realized and my feelings are hurt, the comfort floods in faster than the fears ever could. He reminds me that the work of crossing cultures and connecting with people is worthy work because He is worthy, and I am never a step away from the love that casts out fear (1 Jn. 4:18).

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

One day, a shopkeeper called me over to ask me some questions about our beliefs. I was so thankful that God provided strength to overcome my fears and insecurities to stop and chat with her on several other occasions. Each moment I had handed my fears over to the Lord lead to a wide open door to share the Gospel. While I did not see tremendous growth in her understanding of the Gospel that day, I trust that the Lord will work in her heart and give her more opportunities to learn of Him. I pray that the door will remain open to continue to share with her and with others as I fling my fears into His care (1 Pet. 5:7).

And when I stop to buy yogurt a few shops over, I will forever feel giddy when I ask the sweet lady there how she is doing and she replies, “I’m blessed now by seeing you!” And to think I would have missed all these wonderful blessings if I had continued to allow my fears to trump my faith. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is surrender.

I “make” God big when I surrender my fears to Him, allowing Him to provide the strength and courage I need to love and minister to others.

What fears has God allowed you to overcome in service to Him?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

Courage to Live a Quiet Life

We don’t travel to the post office in the middle of the city much, but when we do, I can count on a few greeting cards for the last few holidays (significant or not) from two of our supporting churches who regularly send us notes of encouragement. More often than not, there is also a postmarked gift of love all the way from Middletown, Ohio. I smile while I read over the small, formerly blank card scripted in perfect penmanship with nothing but Scriptures to encourage my soul. There are very few words other than an “I love you” or “God bless you” — the sweet woman of God lets the Word of God speak for itself. I am always amazed at how spot on some of the chosen passages are for what I am currently dealing with in life or ministry.

I picture this precious silver-haired lady who spent what should have been her child-free moments when her own were at school caring for me as a baby and long into my childhood. She always reminded me when I complained about any particular set of circumstances that, “Some days are like that.” Her TV tray always had an open Bible, notebooks, and note cards at the ready except for when she loaned it to me to color on while putting the time in potty-training. I didn’t know then how special these things were.

I’ve been thinking lately how, all my life, the women I have admired the most were those quietly serving Jesus in their corner of the world without fanfare or even recognition most of the time. I saw the depth of their character ooze out in small bits of Sunday school lessons and crockpot hospitality. I was encouraged by faithfulness exemplified in folded arms cradling feverish babies and stolen opportunities for sharing the Good News. I greatly admire the Nancy Leigh DeMosses and the Katie Majors of the world who steward large ministries in incredible ways, but there is something particularly moving about the unrecognized saints quietly doing the Lord’s work wherever their daily paths take them.

My desires to love big and serve God with my life are clearly not wrong desires, but I so often long for them on a scale that may be beyond what God has for me. Can I be content with my quiet life while also preparing my heart for whatever else He has for me?

These desires are from God, and I must allow Him to be Lord over them just like the rest of my life. Whether He ever extends the borders of my sphere of influence is completely subject to His divine discretion. He will enable me to complete each tiny task or insurmountable agenda through His power alone, and I must train myself to be thankful for each and every good work He springs up in my life.

As I advance in age, I hope I lose any ambition to be something other than smitten with the Savior. I pray I’ll have the courage to quietly tend to the work He has given me to do no matter how insignificant it may seem when stacked against what someone else may be doing. And I hope if there is some younger gal looking into my less-than-mind-blowing life, she will be inspired to glorify God in her own quietly faithful way.

We can teach and clean and care and serve until God takes us home to begin our full-time worship. Because we know and trust Him, we can be sure He will tell us, “Well done” for our faithfulness on a small scale. When He does, all we will be able to say is, “You’ve done great things.”

 

 

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.