Confession: These Stories Are Not Even Mine [Day 5: SHARE]

My husband spends a lot of time with a group of young men. He teaches them from the Bible and trains them to live as godly men as they help within the church. The long term goal is raising up some pastors who can lead the churches God allows us to plant. Really, he spends more time with these guys than he does with me — on a grump day, I resent that! When they’re in my home, I feed them and keep the coffee flowing. They call me “bauju” which means sister-in-law, and I kind of love it.

What I’ve realized as I try to share my “real life” stories with you is that most of them are not my own. And the ones that are are super boring. “Hey guys, one time I walked my kids to school and then did some shopping and made some food… then I did it again every day of the week.” Any of the stories of God giving us victory in our ministry or doing something miraculous in our family have happened mostly through God’s work accomplished through my better half. My prayer is that as our ministry grows, the Lord will grant me the desires of my heart to serve and disciple young ladies in the church.

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

In the meantime, what I’ve come to see and praise God for, is that I have a share in my husband’s service for the Lord. I may not be on the ground level where all the magic happens much of the time. Rather, I’m cheering him on, encouraging him in little ways, and throwing up desperate prayers in all the times I feel helpless. I’m The Legs He Stands On, and as such, I have a supporting role.

Truthfully, the stories we share, though, do not belong to me or to my husband. We’re small characters in the story God is patiently and faithfully writing, and we know this. Even still, we are part of His grand scheme to bring people back to Himself. Every small story of victory and each tale of trial belong to Him. We are not the heroes of our stories, and we are not in control of what’s on the last page.

Am I going to struggle to share 25 more stories of my life with you? Absolutely 100% YES. But, like in every other part of my life, I’m going to have to trust God as He changes the plans. I know He will give me the words I need to hear and the stories I need to share. Whether they’re mine or my husband’s stories, ultimately they all belong to the Lord.

I “make” God big in my life when I accept the support roles He gives me and trust Him, in all His wisdom, to write the stories of my life.

What stories is God writing in your life?

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!

 

 

Just One Thing? — Expectations and Overseas Life

A few weeks ago, as I prepared my heart for my parents to return back to America after visiting for two weeks, I asked my Instagram followers to do me a solid and use the new questions feature to distract me for a few moments. I got some great questions, some silly questions, and a few unsolicited compliments (yes, I agree my kids are gorgeous!). One friend commented that we seemed to be doing amazing, and I was happy to confirm that we are happy here and love the missions life with all its adventure and challenges. I thought I’d turn a few of them into blog posts as I train myself to make writing a habit again — like online, not just three pages a day in my journal.

“What was one thing that was hard to adjust to on the mission field?”

Wow! It felt like such a loaded request to just pick one thing that was hard to adjust to after moving overseas because literally every aspect of my life has changed as a result. This inquiry came from a young woman who attends a very missions driven church where she may also train for ministry one day, so I felt added pressure to encourage her and not freak her out — the ever present search for balance of transparency and gentle truth.

I’ve learned so much, but one of the biggest things has been to let go of my expectations about what doing ministry, making a home, and raising my kids would be like here. We have a unique set of circumstances and challenges, but God has a unique plan for our life and ministry.

I guess that sums up so much about all the feelings that bombarded me upon our arrival and the months following. On paper, it seemed our dreams were coming true. We were FINALLY on the field after years of preparation. But earthquakes and loneliness and the realities of setting up a home overseas all came to take away the beauty of dreams realized. Life overseas turned out to be just that — life, with all its hardships and disappointments in tow.

I didn’t realize at the time that I had painted a picture of what I thought our life here would be like. I would have a close friend, of course. My kids would play with neighborhood kids and learn the language quickly. We would find a good school for our daughter where she would thrive and grow beyond what we could give her at home. We’d enjoy setting up a new home and decorating it to our liking, and, oh yeah, it would be in the perfect location and even have a small yard.

What God has had for our family, however, has been so much different — and so much better. His plans for me have not met my expectations but have exceeded them. I cannot say that the portrait God painted for me instead has not been heavily crafted with pain and trial. It’s been harder — and sweeter — than I ever thought possible, as are most of the best things in life. The best thing God has given me is nothing I hoped for and everything I wasn’t wise enough to want.

It turns out, God is far less interested in making my dreams a reality and far more interested in working out His way in my life. God’s best for me, in any season, is to learn hard into Him and trust Him even when chaos seems to reign. All my dreams come untrue have brought me into the place I need to be — the place where I submit to every disappointing reality and joyous victory.

He hasn’t asked me to totally surrender all of my dreams but has, rather, loved me hard through every twist and transition. When the story changes, I know the author doesn’t, and it’s a good thing I’ve already seen Him write so many great narratives. As my heart becomes one with Christ, my desires will inevitably change. All I can expect, then, are wonderfully hard, beautifully messy works wrought by the hand of God which makes no mistakes.

Truly, we have a unique set of circumstances and challenges in this overseas life. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that our God has a unique plan. I just feel privileged to watch it unfold.

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.”

 

 

The Truth I need Reminded of when I’m just too Tired

Five Minute Friday: TIRED

I’m tired of inviting people to church who never come and sharing the Gospel with those who seem like they will never accept it.

I’m tired of giving my time and energy to preparing meals for children who say “eww” when I set it on the table — I know, we are working on that.

I’m tired of not feeling seen by my husband when I’m in over my head in a million different ways.

I’m just tired. Aren’t you?

Photo by Krista McPhee on Unsplash

Recently, I have been reading None Like Him by Jen Wilkin which outlines all the ways God is different than us and why that’s actually a really good thing. It has been so humbling for me to see in Him the abundant fulfillment of all my shortcomings. It is empowering to know that I am lifted above all my failures by the One who has not failed once. When I’m stressed by deadlines or timelines, He holds it all together unbound by time.

One way God is most definitely NOT like me is he doesn’t grow tired — EVER. He doesn’t get tired of my constant striving for perfection, endless complaints, and utter inability to remember anything for more than two seconds (I’m not kidding, my friend wished for me to receive brain power from the Lord for my birthday!). He rested when He was finished with Creation but not because He needed to; he rested to show us a pattern of how we ought to live. How humbling it is to need rest and time away form the affairs of life and the anxieties they bring! What a great gift it is that the Lord grants me that rest in the form of sleep, communion with Him, and moments of peace and prayer scattered throughout my day.

This need for rest shows me how much I’m not like God and how much I need Him. I’m literally going to sleep for a third of my life and rest another sizable fraction of it. And all that time, I have to trust that God is in control because He is. Because He is not bound by time, His power is unlimited, and He is not even capable of turning His back on me for even a moment.

He doesn’t need me because He doesn’t need anything. Yet, He loves me. He provides for me, and He walks with me as I stumble through this life of mine. And when my strength doesn’t feel like enough to meet the needs of the day ahead, I can smile because I know it’s not supposed to. I am made to tire out. I am made to need God and to rest in His provision.

Linking up with: Five Minute Friday