How to Embrace the Smallness of Your Life [Day 10: HOW]

We started our son in pre-school just before he turned three years old. While I don’t feel a compulsion to explain myself to the internet world, I believe we had valid reasons for sending him. The reasons were based mainly on culture and our desire for him to have time with other children — something he was not getting at church or around the neighborhood. In the long run, I’ve seen that it has been so good for him. There are days the mommy guilt creeps back in when I compare myself to some rockstar homeschool mom, but I recognize that God guides us to lead our families in different ways all for His glory.

I suffered an identity crisis when my kids were gone for several hours a day. I didn’t know how to fill my time. I was restless yet idle much of the time. I was wrecked by the insignificance of my existence and resented that no one needed me most of the waking hours of the day — which is funny because I had moments of resentment about being constantly needed in the newborn years. The heart is so fickle.

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

In the last year, God has done a work in my heart to train me to embrace the smallness of my life. I’ve learned to trust Him in every aspect and to use me in little ways as I seek to serve Him with the time He gives me each day. He has used the empty hours to make me fall in love with Him more than ever and revel in the life He has given me. While I could never present an exhaustive list which ensures this outcome, I do believe there are a few things we can do to truly embrace the unique lives and callings God gives each one of us.

Repent Sin

Realizing that that my longing for something that God had not granted me was a straight up sin was a big deal for me. I also had to take a hard look at myself and see that many of my ambitions were not God-given but were purely self-motivated. Recognizing the sin, I must repent over and over as I stumble each day. Moving forward, I must make choices that reflect heart change by the Spirit’s hand.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1).

Give Thanks

This is the anecdote for many of my problems. I must learn to be truly grateful for the opportunities and graces God gives to me. Every good thing comes from Him. I will see that He has done great things in my life if I pause to give thanks for each one of them. Even the trials of life or daily disappointments come from His hand, and I can trust He will use it for my good according to His infinite wisdom.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Say “No” to Self

I must surrender my dreams and desires each day to the Lord. I have to decide day by day to trust Him with my collection of concerns and cares. Dying to self, I make way for the Lord to work through me without interference from me. This is the “return” of the repentance. I turn from my sin of selfishness, eyes on Jesus all the way.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

Enjoy the Lord

One of my favorite Scriptures is Psalm 37:4 which admonishes believers to delight in the Lord. The promise attached is that He will give you the desires of your heart. I’ve come to understand over time, however, that this doesn’t mean He gives me everything I want. As I delight in my relationship with Him, loving and learning more of Him, He changes me. He changes my desires to mirror His and accomplishes His will in my life. One of the greatest purposes and privileges of a child of God is to know and enjoy the Savior. When my focus is on loving Jesus, service is an outflow of my full heart for Him.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life:
In thy presence is fulness of joy;
At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11).

I “make” God big when I embrace the small role He gives me to play in this big world and just enjoy being His.

 

 

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!

My Hope is in You, Lord [DAY 7: HOPE]

Our interns returned to America this past Wednesday. During their last service at our church, they had the opportunity to choose one last song to sing. They chose “My hope is in You, Lord” — in Nepali, of course. I tried not to make eye contact with my friend, and I noticed she looked tearful too. It was a sweet way to end their stay here, each of us proclaiming that our only true, lasting hope is in the Lord.

What a necessary reminder, too, it was to me personally — especially as we sent two of our friends back to America. My hope is not in having friends around to share our life with. It should not be in our team growing or our ministry taking off. It can’t be in my kids following the path I’d choose for them or my marriage standing on solid rock for the rest of our days together. In marriage, motherhood, and missional living, Jesus is the only thing I can confidently put my hope in.

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

The people in our ministry and those that hold the ropes back home may let us down. Our marriage may fall on hard times. Our kids will stray from what we have taught them… AND people come to stay a while and then have to go back where they came from! If I put my hope in these things, I can only be sure of one — the fall will be that much harder.

Putting my hope in Christ, I rest in the promise that no matter what happens He is with me and will sustain me. When people or circumstances leave me reeling, I have a constant source of comfort and strength in the Lord. Because of all He has done and all I can trust Him to do, my hope is secure.

My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.

He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.

In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.

Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.
Psalm 62:5-8

In Christ, my hope will never be misplaced.

I “make” God big in my life when I choose to put my hope in Him alone rather than in my circumstances or my relationships. 

What earthly things have you placed your hope in?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Awkward Encounters of the Worst Kind [Day 6: BELONG]

I stopped to visit a friend in the neighborhood on my way home from the bakery one day. It had been a while since I checked in with her, and I didn’t realize her husband had come home from his work assignment out of the city. I simultaneously called out her named and popped my head around the sheet she hangs in her door of her one room home during the day time. I was surprised to see her husband and two friends sitting down eating heaping plates of dal bhat.

My friend was on the opposite bed with her sleeping son and invited me to sit down where she had been sitting. As she went to make me a cup of tea, the interrogation began. They grilled me on all the usual topics and then some. It was embarrassing and exhausting. She could not come back into the room fast enough! When she arrived, I quickly sipped my tea and caught up with her as well as I could. I tried my best to avoid any more questions from the three amigos. What I had hoped would be a time of connection with a friend turned into a very frustrating encounter. I didn’t savor the last drop of milk tea. I slurped it down as fast as I could, and said something in my second language like, “Oh, look at the time.”

Photo by Dustin Smith

It’s moments like these that cut right to my heart. I think things like, I don’t belong here. I don’t understand this culture. I’m not a friend — I’m just a novelty. As much as I love living here, there are times when the reality of what it’s like to live in a culture not your own hits home. And it hurts. I feel small and forgotten.

I fall into the trap of thinking that this friend or this house or this level of language ability will finally make me feel like I belong. Maybe if our ministry takes off, and my schedule fills up with opportunities to teach and train, I will feel fulfilled. But in all these cases, my thinking is wrong. The truth is, if I ever make my home in this world, it stands on shaky soil. The US or any other place I reside should not have my heart. My heart should always be in heaven. I find my belonging in Christ alone.

That friend or that house or that coveted lifestyle can make me no promises, but my Lord Jesus has made a few. 

 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness (Psalm 107:9).

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst (John 6:35).

The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever (Psalm 22:26).

He alone can satisfy the longings of my soul. My home is in heaven with him. My heart will always feel the tension of my desire to serve Him on earth and dwell with Him in my forever home. This is true whether I’m in my home country or on foreign soil. Until He renders my service here complete and takes me to spend eternity with Him, I’ll continue to faithfully stumble my way through this life of ministry and all its awkward encounters. Trusting that His promises are true, I’ll find my belonging and satisfaction in Christ alone.

I “make” God big in my life when I find my belonging in Him alone. When I trust Him to satisfy my soul in the smallness of my life with the vastness of His love, I will find the contentment I am lacking. 

In what places have you searched for belonging and come up short?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

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!