A “Thank You” That Means Something

Day 11, Five Minute Prompt: THANKS

The Didi at the coffee shop giggles and mocks me when I thank her for my caramel latte. The taxi driver shrugs his shoulders when I hop out of his taxi with a cheerful Dhanyavaad and the handful of bills he required. Even my neighbors visibly signal their dislike for my habit of voicing gratitude. After all, aren’t neighbors supposed to look after each other?

Saying “thank you” for every little tiny thing is largely an aspect of American culture. Many times A few times, I have laughed at myself for thanking the officer who so generously gave me a speeding ticket.

In my excessive expressing of gratitude, however, the phrase has lost its meaning. I thank my husband for passing the milk, but so rarely do I say “Thank you for paying the electricity bill” (which is no small feat here) or “Thank you for helping our daughter learn to read.”

Even less do I say, “Thank you for making time for our family, or “Thank you for your faithfulness to me.” Every day, meaningless thanks roll off my tongue but the taste of these words is new and strange.

img_1863

I think of the times I have felt overworked and under appreciated after a 12 hour shift with life-sucking toddlers. Arms around my waist and a “thank you” whispered in my ear turn me from stiff and sour to putty in his hands. I leave the work undone to melt into my husband’s side and wind down the day with too many words exchanged on a juice-splattered sofa.

Living the Golden Rule, I express gratitude for the sacrifices he makes. He is constantly balancing the pressures of work/ministry/family. I see his shoulders relax. As a man who relentlessly strives to excel in all areas, he needs reassurance that he’s the only one that thinks he’s dropping the ball.

Sure, he has responsibilities, and he is man enough to do them without a pat on the back. We are family, and appreciation goes without saying. But why should it?

Has “Thank You” lost its meaning in your marriage?
In what special way can you express gratitude to your spouse today?

Talk to me in the comment section!

Money Matters and Pink Nightmares

Day 2, Five Minute Prompt: PAINT

Channeling my inner Joanna Gaines, I chose the perfect neutral for the interior walls of my new home on the mission field. I was feeling pretty good about it until the sun streamed in, revealing that my Magnolia dreams had turned into a bubble-gum-pink nightmare.

I furiously pushed the stroller that held my three month old back to the missionary’s house that hosted us. Hot tears streamed down my face as I hurled harsh words at the version of my husband that lives in my head. He had tried to convince me it would look fine after sunset, but who wants to live in a house that only looks good in the dark?

shutters-924979_960_720

I would later find out that pink is a popular choice here, and I wouldn’t even be mad when the church building we leased turned up blush from top to bottom. But right now, all I could think of was my decor dreams that suffered an untimely death.

The walls were re-painted the next day. The painters we had hired weren’t as upset with me as my husband was, but they weren’t too pleased about having to do all the work a second time.

When the work was done, my husband accidentally overpaid them by 10,000 rupees (100 USD). They were miles away before anyone was the wiser, but they came back immediately to return the difference.

They didn’t know it, but this act of integrity would help shape a right perspective of these people we came to love and kill my spoiled-brat attitude. I would still have stress dreams about curtains, and our home would be wrecked by an earthquake 10 days later, but my faith that God was working in the details was restored that day.

I strive to be honest in my dealings with others. In a cash society, mindfulness in money exchanging is particularly important. Budding relationships and my gospel testimony in this community are at stake. Money matters.

money-1034447_960_720

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another:

for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law (Romans 13:8).

How we treat others in our financial dealings is important.
In what way can you apply the Golden Rule to money matters today?

Talk to me in the comment section!

 

Everyone Needs Someone to Walk With

Day 1, Five Minute Prompt: WALK

“Do you need a friend?” I hear them say to one another as they travel down dusty streets.

The sweet people of my host culture can’t stand to see someone walking alone. They aren’t as eager to walk with the red-headed foreigner lady, I’ve noticed, however.

I thought by now I would have found a friend with whom I’d walk this road of culture and language learning. I guess I’ll just have to keep going until I do.

As I go along, I’ll find others who walk alone and say, “Do you need a friend?”

If we’re honest, we all do.

And if you’re like me, you sometimes feel like you’re standing alone, watching others walk happily hand-in-hand (friends actually do that here). You’re pining for the kind of intimate friendship it seems like everyone else already has.

hands-63743_1920

I’ve shared before how I love…

what the Word says about friends…
  • friendly (Prov. 18:24)
  • love at all times (Prov. 17:17)
  • comfort and edify (1 Thess. 5:11)
  • encourage to love and live better (Heb. 10:24-25)
  • live selflessly and sacrificially (John 15:13)

I may not be invited on a lot of long walks with close friends. But the more I extend my hand to those who walk alone, the more I will be invited along the way. The deeper my relationships will run, and the more influence I will have for Christ in this country.

Who do you see walking alone today?
How can you apply the Golden Rule to your relationships?

Talk to me in the comment section!

 

Giving the Creator Room to Make a Masterpiece

My husband slipped me a note during the meeting designated for Sunday school teachers and youth workers. This otherwise insignificant act would set a chain of events that would domino me into some of the hardest days of my life.

“Should we announce that we are going to India [as missionaries] tonight?”

“Up to you, babe,” I replied in attempt to mask my panic.

“Are you 100% in?” (Quite a weighty question for note-passing, right?)

I quickly scrawled, “YES.”

I had previously been on a missions trip to Africa, and we made plans to serve somewhere on that continent. When I thought about missions, I saw black faces decorated with tribal paint. I prayed more fervently for the work there, decorated my home in souvenirs, and dreamed of returning someday.

We had a friend whose heart for India was contagious, and the Lord wrecked our plans with this viral compassion. He dreamed for the church that would send us to plant 8 missionary families in India. We would be one of them.

We made a trip shortly after the loss of our second child, and God gave me such a great peace about where we had been and where He was taking us. I didn’t know it would all unravel soon. I didn’t know that I would have to change the focus of my gospel-passions again. I just knew Who sent us and Who was going with us. That was enough.

I write this in Nepal, totally humbled by the work He has done and undone to bring us here and see His work accomplished. The stain of goodness left by His fingerprints hints at the masterpiece that is to come. It’s made up of brokenness and jumbled up plans, but it is good because the Artist that made it makes no mistakes.

paint-brushes-984434_960_720

I can trust Him as the brush strokes glide across the canvas I’ve given Him to work with. Whenever I start to gain a sense of how the final product will appear, the hand at work spins in another direction. I feel frustrated, as if I’m crossing my eyes and backing away from a picture, trying to see what I am supposed to see.

Other times, the brush is dipped in pain and hardship, and I’d rather see the pretty pots of sunshine and warmth spill onto the page. But because I have grown to know the heart of the One who wields the tools of change, I know that the finished work will require nothing but a deep sigh as I gaze into the depths of its beauty.

For now, I’ll hold my breath and my tongue as I watch the Artist in action. It is quite the sight to behold.

How may you yield to the Master Creator today?
What hints do you see of the masterpiece to come?

Talk to me in the comment section!

/

College: Where my Dreams Went to Die

I bounced into the second row of my first college class, ready to take on the world. How would God move in my life at college? How would He show up, mold me, and move me to action? How would this campus differ from my presence? I know, I know. I was a dreamer.

Three semesters later, I sat in the Dean’s office to share my intentions for discontinuing my education at this institution. I was in no way displeased with the quality of academia. I wasn’t leaving because I had a difficult time choosing a major due to my interest in all subject matter. I was leaving because the young man I told that I would follow Him anywhere was asking me to go. Like now.

university-1607734_960_720

I had a ring on my finger and a passion in my heart. I longed to travel the globe with him, leaving gospel-changed lives in our wake. Our happy bubble was threatened only by criticism and resistance to the plans we had forged in naive faith caught up in a whirlwind of love.

I thought back to a class with a professor convinced of the power of prayer. I had never heard someone talk so confidently of the ways of God which remained a mystery to me.

He encouraged the freshmen to hand God an empty sheet of paper with our name signed at the bottom, surrendering our rights to make decisions based solely on our dreamed up desires and fairytale futures.

I wondered if my name might be signed “Dr. Amber _______ (insert last name of studly husband here),” but I took the last name of the only boy I’d ever loved (who is a total stud, by the way). He had signed a covenant contract to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

1936703_239322480510_4983789_n

I was pleased at the prospect of sitting sideline and seeing him achieve this dream. I soon realized, however, that my cooperation was imperative to the mission. And my cooperation required a yielding of my right to further my education.

Salutatorian of my, albeit small, graduating class and recipient of several college scholarships, I fought this in my heart. Why would God gift me in ways He wouldn’t use?

But there was sweet peace in surrendering to this part of my story.

I now have a two year degree, am married to a man of God, and have two beautiful children. I’ve learned a second language and serve the sweetest people in a spiritually impoverished country.

On graduation day, it hurt to see my roommates walk to receive their diplomas. Videos aired during the ceremony and were shared on social media. I was surprised to see a few photos of me scroll across the large screens while I watched from my new basement dwelling with a baby in my lap.

That time was not wasted. It was there that I learned to surrender my will.

It took me away from that wonderful place, from my friends and my education, but it brought me here. And here is a pretty great place to be.

What might God be calling you to surrender today?

Share with me in the comment section below so I may pray with you!

Whereas ye know not what [shall be] on the morrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye [ought] to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that (James 4:14-15).

PicMonkey Sample

Linking up with: