Waiting Well when God Pauses My Plans [Day 17: PAUSE]

“How’s it looking at the camp?” I ask my husband again after visiting the property.

“Same old, same old.” Still no change.

God gave us a dream to start a camp, and then he provided the money to buy property and begin building a building on it. The process started a few years ago, and we really thought the first phase would be done by now. Various holdups and letdowns have occurred along the way. We were always told things would speed up after rainy season or after we got some sort of approval. Rainy season came and went without much progress and rejections came more frequently than approvals. It seems God has paused our plans on-and-off over the years — and even completely demolished them when we were denied visas to the country we planned to minister in for the rest of our lives.

Even in the day-to-day, things happen that put a hold on my plans. In the last several months, I’ve had one minor health problem after another that required many visits to the hospital and a surgery. But even more annoying than that, it required a lot of waiting. My plans and desires were put on hold while I had to sort out these mild but persisting medical issues.

It’s frustrating and brings out the worst in me — impatience, anger, and the like. Waiting isn’t something many people do well, and unfortunately, I am no exception. He’s still working on me, building my faith and showing me truly where my hope belongs. The waiting is where I find Him leading me into a deeper intimacy with Him. I want to honor this gracious gift He gives me by waiting well.

Two Ways I can Wait Well
  • I can wait well by training my eyes to look upward by worshiping Christ and dwelling on His goodness. God can use the seemingly stagnant times of my life to cause me to fall more even love with Him. I can know Him more and worship Him for everything about Him. Everything I know about Him tells me He won’t keep me waiting forever, and as long as I wait He will be with me.
  • I can wait well by training my eyes to look outward as I seek opportunities to minister to others. In the waiting, it is easy to sulk in self-pity or self-indulgence as I feel sorry for myself. However, God can use the pain of waiting to soften my heart to others if I allow Him. I can be more sensitive to the needs of others and apply myself to meeting them in any way I am able — even in the waiting.

I can honor the Lord in my times of waiting. The camp may take 5 more years and I may spend countless hours in our local hospital, but by His grace, I can wait well.

I “make” God big in my life when I honor Him by looking upward and outward in times of waiting.

Has God brought you into a season of waiting?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

How Do You Inspire Others? [Day 9: INSPIRE]

A generous commenter on this blog the other day said that he supposed I could “find the holiness in tying a shoelace.” I’m not sure about that because I buy my kids velcro shoes so we can get out the door faster. But I have seen God work in the smallest places and have become sensitive to all the ways He is working in my life. At other times during our overseas ministry, I have woken from sleep with a heavy heart, lacking that sense of holiness in common days lived for the Lord. I look ahead at my day, and it feels so empty. I know this feeling is not unique to overseas ministry or to my life.

A look at instagram will tell you that we are all after a little inspiration. Would you be surprised if I told you the Bible actually instructs that we inspire one another? Hebrews 10:24 stresses the importance of believers provoking or stirring up good works in one another. We are to inspire one another to live in faithfulness to God in service to others.

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

This takes thought and discipline. Our fallen nature wires us to always do what’s best for number one. This passage teaches that we must thoughtfully consider how we may inspire others. John Piper says, “The aim of our lives is not just loving and doing good deeds but helping stir up others to love and good deeds.” This is something we can feel good about putting on our to-do list each day. As we live in service to others, we inspire others to do the same. As we serve those we rub shoulders with, we glorify God as we go. We know this is the ultimate goal.

In a nation with a Christian minority, Christian fellowship is harder to come by. Perhaps I could pass off this passage most days of the week due to my lack of daily contact with the Christian community. However, what better way can I stir up love and good deeds within another person than to introduce them to Jesus? How many opportunities I have to do so if I choose to see and act upon them.

Verse 23 of the same passage tells me how I can live this out in the day-to-day. Thankfully, it has nothing to do with how loving or good I am but completely depends upon God’s faithfulness.

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

Helping kids put on shoes or passing plates of heaping rice in circled up fellowship, I can inspire those around me to love and good deeds. I do this daily drawing from the deep well of God’s abounding love towards me. Suddenly, my life feels a little less small.

I “make” God big in my life when I depend on His faithfulness to inspire good works in others. Only through His grace do I have the capability to love and do good deeds beyond common morality. He inspires true Christian service. 

How can you inspire others to love and good works for Christ?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Create a Habit of Celebrating Small [Day 3: create]

It only took me about 28 years, but I’ve finally started to make my bed every morning. I pick up all the clothes scattered around the floor, open the curtains, and turn on the oil diffuser. It takes me 5 minutes at most but is a great start to my day. I’ve heard it takes at least 21 days to create a habit. and I’m fairly certain I’ve made my bed that many days. A lot the time, it gets unmade by one of the resident monsters that live in my house (see below).

Similarly, celebrating small — praising God in the small things of everyday life — is a habit that must be cultivated. At least for me, this is something that does not come naturally. Finding the joy in each and every day is like finding a needle in a haystack some days when my temper is as high as the temperatures in Kathmandu. When my heart dreams big and longs for more fulfilling days, praising Him for anything other than His innate goodness seems pretty much impossible. Retraining myself to think praisefully –to celebrate small– is a task ongoing. I’ve found there some questions I can ask myself to help me see so that I may rewire this mind set to default negative.

  1. How did God show up today?
  2. How did God speak to me today?
  3. Did He answer a prayer or give hope in a situation?
  4. Did He allow me to get one step closer to a big dream?
  5. Did God use me in the life of another person — or someone else in my life?

These are just starter questions. The point is to create a habit of seeing God in our daily lives and praising Him for the little victories He graciously gives us each day. Remembering the end goal isn’t everything, we can magnify God in the mundane and praise Him with each painstakingly small step of progress towards our big dreams.

Thinking this way is maybe the only better start to each day than a freshly made bed. I’m so glad I’ve created this habit.

 

How will you create a habit of celebrating small?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

Baby, Give Your Best: Lessons in Generosity from a 4 Year Old

My 4 year old daughter has a sweet, giving spirit. She runs all over our house (and outside, for that matter) collecting all sorts of things, coloring, cutting, and pasting mashed-up masterpieces crafted by busy hands. I am walking the fine line of praising her for her creativity and generosity while challenging her to think about what the recipient of her gift might like. “Honey, I know you really like that paper scrap you tore from your pre-school workbook, but to our neighbor, that just looks like trash.”

Her eyes become big and wet with disappointment. Her lip quivers, and I want to take my words back, but I know they are true. “Let’s think about what she would like. We could paste that onto a butterfly, and I will teach you to write her name. I bet she would like that.” Of course, I know that either masterpiece will end up in the same place. Here, we call it the dustbin.

This morning, in obedience, she threw something in and spotted one of her handicrafts inside. She gave me the third degree about trashing something she worked so feverishly to create. We talk about what happens to paper scraps left in common spaces, and she finds it in her tiny heart to forgive me and promises she will keep her artwork upstairs from this day forward.

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We gather some supplies and remember the task at hand: revising this trash into a treasure worth gifting. I want her to believe that the work we do for others is valuable and that being thoughtful is an admirable trait. I don’t want to crush her creativity or squish her generous spirit. I love that she desires to make others smile and spend time creating something to offer to another. But giving hands offering scrappy seconds is not giving at all. We want to give our best. We want to give until it hurts. We want to share our bag of imported Reese cups, even if we’d rather lock them in the upstairs closet for a rainy day (bad example, I know, but chocolate is really important to me!). We drive across town for birthday gifts and sit in traffic instead of buying something cheap from the shop around the corner because we believe this. These small acts of thoughtfulness make big impressions.

I write down our neighbor’s name and send the budding artist upstairs to sit at her desk with the special markers we don’t use often and the paper bags from America we use to make puppets and to quick-ripen peaches. She painstakingly copies her Auntie’s name and puts about twelve too many hearts on her creation. The puppet’s face is smiling, and so is mine. My daughter is proud, and I am, too.

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It’s a few minutes shy of 8 am, and she is ready to walk over there and present her prize. I’m off to get her dressed for school, and we will go with dust-bin-destined art in hand to deliver this piece of her heart before her bus arrives to shuttle her to the place that overflows with paper scraps, scissors, and glue.

I’ll stay behind to clean up the debris of crazed crafting hands and smile, thinking of the baby who seems more like the child of Mother Theresa and Picasso than the flesh and blood of her Daddy and me. I bring the Reese cups downstairs, brew a cup of coffee -the good stuff- and invite a neighbor over to share.

As I sip the fresh brew and chat with a new friend, I think about giving my best to God. How so often my best, looks like nothing more than a mangled up mess of trash. It isn’t treasure in anyone’s eyes. But it is good and acceptable, pleasing to my Father for no other reason than He loves me. I seek only His approval, and knowing I already have it, I busy myself with the work He puts in my hands to do. I proudly give it back to Him, as unimpressive as it may seem, trusting He will find the good in it. Even if its creator is backwards at best, I’m hopeful that, by His grace, my offerings make a difference to someone in this world.

I trust that He will bring to light the things that bring Him glory and throw everything else in the dustbin where it belongs. I’ll try not to get my feelings hurt knowing He knows the value of all things, and it all belonged to Him in the first place anyway. I’ll practice thoughtful generosity because I remember that my doing unto others is a reflection of the God that works in and through me. Half-effort jobs and scrappy seconds just won’t cut it.

He reminds me of all the good gifts he’s buried me under and urges me to love others well out of my abundance. He says, “Baby, give your best.”

 

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Moments of Hope @ LoriSchumaker.com, Monday’s Musings @ What Joy is Mine, Glimpses Linkup @ Embracing Every Day, Literacy Musing Monday’s @ Mary-andering Creatively, Tuesday Talk @ Sweet Little Ones, RaRaLinkup @ Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story @ Jennifer Dukes Lee