God’s Grace To Me in Plan B

Five Minute Friday: PLACE

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This place was Plan B.

Plan A was a dream given, and we had hopes to see it fulfilled. Plan A ended abruptly with denied entrance to set destination, and plan B erupted just as quickly. I didn’t choose it. I didn’t even want it. When we parked it in plan B, this new place we knew next to nothing about, I felt just about as hopeless as when we didn’t have a plan at all. I had to face that I was here to stay. I knew I had to learn to love this place lest we all wind up miserable and longing for home.

I’ve had to work at being happy, learning a language, and making friends. I’ve had to learn to love all the peculiarities that make this lovely culture what it is. I’ve had to swallow my pride countless times and wipe tears off shame flushed cheeks more than I care to recall. It’s tempting to think about how Plan A could have unfolded and what life would have been like in that place that seemed to have slightly less unknowns. But, in time,  I’ve come to know this place. I’ve come to love this place. This is my place, and these are my people. Praise God, the faithful One.

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Refuse to Ride the Crazy Train

Sometimes it all feels like a little too much. One week, we are riding the high of a baptism and high attendance. The next week, not one of our faithfuls are there, and we are wondering what we did to scare them all off. To say church planting is an emotional roller coaster is an understatement. Unless, maybe, we’re comparing it to the recurring dream I have where I’m riding the Vortex at Kings Island Amusement Park, and my restraint won’t stay down leaving me tethered only by my frail arms to this life I’d like to keep living. Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

I have written before about the burden church planters carry being a heavy one. Undoubtedly, the dream of a church planting family is to see souls saved, lives changed, and men and women called into the ministry. When I get a taste of this sweet success followed closely by bitter disappointment,  it’s tempting to stop trying all together. To say to my family, “Pack it up, guys, we’re going home!” Because it’s so stinking easy to jump right from a joyous peak to the depths of despair when I am looking only at the present situations at hand.

Philippians 4:6-7 provides some advice for handling these moments before I take that plunge…

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

It has been said by some that the Bible is just a collection of ‘Dos and Do Nots.’ In the case of this excerpt of scriptural wisdom, that is true. I, for one, am grateful for this guide printed in plain terms for me. Certainly, it’s for my benefit.

DO NOT be anxious.
DO be thankful for what He has done.
DO ask God for more.
DO trust Him to do the rest.

 

I wish the rest meant this whole country receiving the Gospel. However, the rest is a Christ-centered, God given perspective that mirrors more of His heart than my vain ambitions and gets me off this crazy train of emotions. To me, this seems potentially more challenging than evangelizing a nation because my emotions tend to run the show. The possibility passes my understanding, but it’s true that Christ wants to give me peace as I follow Him. Rather than being an unwilling passenger, I can be an active participant in the continual renewing of my mind that leads to that peaceful place where Jesus works, and I just stand in awe of Him. Everything beyond that is just bonus.

What kind of emotional ups and downs are you riding today?

Share with me in the comment section below how God is working in your life.

 

That Time I Forgot about My #1 Goal in Life

I’ve got the Monday mom feels.

Daddy’s working late nights. My menu is half-planned and, what I’ve got written is certainly subject to change. I have a stubborn potty trainer and his sister who got her hair cut yesterday and wants her bangs “this way” (perfectly flat against her forehead). If I have to tell her to stop touching her hair one more time, you might find me with a crazed look in my eyes and my husband’s trimmer in my hands.

Meanwhile…

My guy works at the church, spending time with fellas he is training in ministry. In my mind, anyway, I think he is having a blast. And I’m just here watching who knows what number episode of Peppa Pig of the day while pretending to eat a plastic chicken drumstick for my son’s amusement. I’m not sitting here because my to-do list isn’t long enough to demand I do something useful; I just don’t know where to start. Running errands, lugging my 40 pound “baby” around the city in the summer heat doesn’t sound like a peaceful way to spend the day. Text hubby to say I might not make it to the market. I hope this pretend lunch will stick with me ’til dinner time.

Another day passes, and I’m left wondering, “What did I even do today?” I get dinner on my table for my family and the visiting interns. I’m happy to see my husband knee deep in his dreams of ministry, but I wonder if and when my time will come. It’s hard to glimpse the dream and grasp my place in it in the monotony of day to day life. I’ll pick up some materials for Sunday school this week and plan a lesson in my second language. If the stars align, I’ll have lunch with a friend. I’ll see the bottom of the laundry basket for a brief moment and wonder if this will be my greatest accomplishment this week. I sigh, disappointed and unfulfilled.

Then I remember the goal.

 

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ (Philippians 3;7-8).

I wrote this 3 years ago on Women Behind the Scenes, so I guess you could say I’m still learning…

Not only am I to make Christ my end goal, but I am also to make all other goals, aspirations, desires, and all things of absolutely no importance to me in comparison to the best prize. The end goal of every day of my life and every decision that I make should reflect a heart that desires only one thing, the ultimate reward-the One who paid it all for me.

Keeping the goal in mind, I see God here, working in the mommy moments and there in the office with my husband and his tribe. I pray God is glorified and that our ministry be not hindered by my selfishness. Looking inward at my unhealthy desires and unmet needs keeps me from looking upward. Looking outward at all the things I need or that need to be done keeps me from looking upward. Looking upward keeps me from losing heart as I remember the goal.

Jesus is my reward for an undone to-do list and a heart given over to Him.

 

Abandoning My Comfort Zone

Five Minute Friday: ABANDON

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Possibly, now, more than ever, I feel as though I’m living with abandon. I’ve left the comforts of home and the closeness of friends and family to, prayerfully, see a gospel movement on the side of the world I now inhabit. This great dream I share with my church-planter-husband requires me to not just step out of my comfort zone, as this implies I could hop back in. Rather, commitment to foreign church planting demands a total abandonment of my comfort zone. Aside from dark chocolate on the couch or the warm embraces from my tribe of three, my comfort zone, for now, ceases to exist. Because, like it or not, I’m eaten up with this thing.

So I walk in the most comfortable shoes I own, which turn out not to be as airy as advertised, giving invitations to church along with an invitation for criticism and rejection. Either of these is not only possible but likely. As I get swept up in the going and doing, and telling and showing coupled with stress and sleeplessness, it’s also possible I’ll forget the why all this is worth it. I’ll need reminding, and I hope I can count on you.

It’s Jesus. The groom we’re waiting for. And it’s the greatest privilege of my life to ready His bride. It is my prayer, above all, I won’t forget Him, my first love, as some zealots have been said to have done. I hope, instead, I’ll be faithful, though I cringe, as I cross the threshold of my comfort zone. Living with abandon, I’ll cling only to the One who will never abandon me.

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Also, for those who don’t follow me on Instagram or Facebook, I will share with you now that we are relocating as a family to be closer to our church plant (which will be up and running in 3 weeks! EEEEK!). I know that the truths I’m learning and have shared with you above will be put to the test more than ever over the next few months. I appreciate your friendship and your prayers for our family and ministry. The fears and obstacles are great, but our God is greater.

A Letter to 17 Year Old Me

As I approach my 27th birthday, I look back on the last ten years and marvel over all I have learned and how I have grown. My 27 year-old-self looks just about nothing like the youth of years past, and not just because I have 3 babies under my belt and the stretch marks that come with them. I have changed because God has been gracious to work His way in my life beyond any dream I had ever conjured in the days I scribbled names in notebooks and browsed the internet for potential careers.

I’ve matured, married (quit college), and become a mom and missionary. But mostly, I’ve been molded by the hands that created me which so graciously continue their work on me. In the bending, in the being re-made again and again, I’ve learned a few things. If I could go back and give my teeny bopper self (you can say things like that when you’re my age, y’know) some words of wisdom, I have a few things I would say. I hope you’ll be touched and challenged by this “Letter to My-17-Year-Old-Self.” Please share it with a young gal you know who might benefit from this perspective!

Dear Young(er) Me,

I’m writing you from ten years down the road you’re walking now. Life hasn’t been easy but it has been blessed. I write you this to encourage you to keep the faith and following God. I have some things I want to share with you. I know I can’t change anything but maybe some looker on will see some wisdom in these simple lessons.

Make plans, but only tentatively, knowing the Lord will likely change them. I promise, you’ll be glad He did. Make progress and strive for change, but allow God to do the heavy lifting. You have big dreams in your heart, but they’re too big for you. Even when the dreams are good and the work is fulfilling, they’re heavy and can be a burden. You need Jesus. As much as you want to, you can’t do everything and you sure can’t save the world. Thankfully, He’s already done that job.

Devote yourself, first, to God before any other relationships or commitments. Trust God to build your tribe, adding and taking as He sees fit for your personal growth and peripheral influence. Know that devotion to Christ, though admirable, is not always inclusive and inviting to those that prefer to remain on the fringes. It’s OK to be weird or a little radical in your pursuit of God, though you may lose some friends along the way. God will bring the people into your life that will encourage and build you up as you seek to please Him. And the seasons in between, you will learn of the sweetness and love of Christ in a way you would never have otherwise. And you’ll be thankful for these times that left you vulnerable and aching for the Vine.

Continue reading at Where My Heart Goes

Thanks for reading,