I didn’t grow up wanting to be involved in missions.

Standard

I didn’t grow up wanting to be involved in missions.

I never had any intention of looking into that line of ministry.

I knew I wasn’t equipped to do that sort of thing.

I remember missionary families visiting the church my family attended when I was ten or twelve. They were only in the states for a week, and it was mostly because they needed prayers or financial assistance.

They would give a talk on Sunday morning, we’d donate our collection that week to them, and they’d be gone. It didn’t feel very real to me.

As I progressed through my teens and into early adulthood, my view of missionary work remained fairly constant. I had no real encounters with anyone who made me change my mind.

Flash forward to last year. A really dear friend of mine made the life-altering decision to venture into the mission field after college graduation. I knew her heart was there after several conversations on the topic, but I was blown away by the intense dedication she had to reach the lost.

She recently made a whirlwind trip back home for a family affair, but she shared with our church some very interesting things.

1) The percentage of unreached people in other parts of the world is RIDICULOUS. We take the gospel for granted. It’s a luxury. This pamphlet offers statistics about the unreached people in just one part of the world. It  is truly eye-opening.

2) Our hearts need to break for the lost. We should feel just as devastated that someone doesn’t know the hope of Jesus as we are that the Heat lost the NBA finals.

3) Sometimes the most influential relationship is the one we try the least to form. One of the greatest breakthroughs she shared was with her language tutor. They are together often, but my friend’s goal has not specifically been to share the gospel with this lady. It has just popped up into normal conversations they have.

It’s easy to become disconnected from the other side of the world when we are sitting in our cushy, air-conditioned living room. It’s time we became a little more involved in changing the world for Christ.

Creating Adventure

Standard

The new year is upon us. A chance for us to start over with a blank slate and get some work done. The opportunities are endless, and often we have grand schemes for what we are going to do with our time.

 

adventure

 

(Photo Credit)

Many bloggers I follow do something called One Word. It’s where they pick a word to be their theme for the year. I have never done this in previous years, but I thought it would be interesting to try it out this time. So, hubby and I sat down over dinner the other night and picked the word: adventure.

The word adventure really highlights the way I’m going to try and live this year. We have several big things happening for us personally, like buying a house and moving. I also think adventure can be found in the smaller moments as well.

I’ve been trying to come up with a list of different ideas to create adventure. Here are a few:

  • Create adventure by driving to a new place.
  • Create adventure by visiting an antique store on a Saturday.
  • Create adventure by hiking a trail in another town.
  • Create adventure by hosting a dinner party.
  • Create adventure by playing dress-up and watching old movies.
  • Create adventure by reading aloud classic literature in funny voices.
  • Create adventure by going on a progressive dinner date with friends.
  • Create adventure by purchasing art supplies and hosting an art day with neighborhood kids.

The list could really go on and on. Once it started, it was hard to stop adding to it.

Adventure doesn’t have to be some big, extravagant three-week trip to the Arctic Circle. Adventure can be the way you shape your life. It can be found in everyday encounters with clerks, baristas, and spouses.

Question: How do you create adventure? 

 

When Too Much To Do Overwhelms You

Standard

Sometimes, life gets incredibly busy. We have soccer games, staff meetings, project deadlines, family dinners, and much more. Our brains are forced to juggle it all. It’s easy to understand how we could forget a few things every now and then.

todolist

(Photo Credit)

Feeling overwhelmed is not an enjoyable experience. We feel there is an insurmountable task list, but at the same time we don’t know where to start.

I often feel this way when I’m teaching. There might be two or three lessons we need to cover, but then we also have to do the spelling bee, go to the computer lab, and finish our read-aloud. Some days it feels like I’m drowning.

During the course of this first semester, I’ve discovered there are three things I can do when I feel overwhelmed.

1. Make a to-do list with everything on it. I often keep a sticky note on my desk with a running list of things to do. I put even the smallest, silliest tasks on the list. If I get a moment to sit down, then I have the list in front of me. This helps on especially stressful days when I can’t quite figure out where to start. I’ll just pick one thing from the list and check it off. Then, the moment carries, and I move on to the next item.

2. Accept that things might get done out of order. Some days, there are certain absolutes to accomplish. For example, we might have two assessments to complete. I have to be willing to rearrange the schedule so these things get done. You probably have similar circumstances. You might have to meet a client for coffee, so you move around your morning appointments. Change will happen, but it’s so much easier if you are flexible and ready to work with it.

3.Think big picture. Is the task you haven’t completed yet going to affect a big project deadline or an evaluation of your work? If so, then it’s one you need to hustle toward finishing. Those tasks are often the ones that keep you late at the office, so they are hard to get excited about starting. However, in the big picture, you will feel more satisfied for having checked it off the list.

It’s easy to run around pretending to be busy when things get stressful, but we’re not doing ourselves any favors by “acting” productive. We have to get some things knocked out, so we can enjoy the non-work areas of our lives. Just think how much better you can enjoy a coffee date with your spouse or friend when there’s nothing to do hanging over your head.

Question: How do you fight through overwhelming circumstances? 

Dear America

Standard

Dear America,

It’s one week until Christmas. Parents frantically race around trying to find last-minute gifts. Children snuggle in their beds with visions of sugar plums and so on and so forth and what have you. Feliz Navidad makes its final rounds.

You know as well as I do…we have made ourselves too busy this year. It’s easy to do so. One of the main prefaces of the season is spending time with others, but we have done so to the detriment of our hearts.

We equate busyness with productivity. If our time is consumed with wrapping presents, baking cookies, and singing Christmas carols, then maybe we don’t have to spend time reflecting.

The fun of Christmas is certainly not bad or evil, but we have a knack for taking something meant for good and refusing to let it stay there.

The whole point of the season is centered around a sweet, smiling baby boy born in a barn. His arrival signified the beginning of a new time. He brought hope into the world. Our Christmas would not mean anything without him.

This season, may you carve out a space in your heart for light to fill.

We Want to Go Home

Standard

How many times have you felt hopeless? Counting each passing second until something happens. Maybe you are waiting to hear back from the doctor’s office about some test results. Or, you are dating person after person wondering when you are going to find your future spouse. You could be expecting a call about a job offer.

home(Photo Credit)

There are moments when we identify with the father in the parable. We spend our time looking out the window, hoping to see a glimpse of someone or something heading down our path. We want to have the moment when we see someone top the hill, so we can take off running toward them and squeeze them with everything we have in us. We want our waiting to pay off.

In Jesus’s parable, the immense despair turns into a demonstration of pure love. The crux of this story is the embrace between the father and his returning son. The intimate beauty we see when the dad refuses to shame or punish his son for his actions. We read the story and want the same grace to be shown to us. We desire the idea of our sins being forgiven with no questions asked. We long for a moment where our past no longer defines us. We want to go home.

Coming Home

Standard

My brother studied abroad in Germany one summer. None of my siblings or I had ever been far from home by ourselves, so my parents were understandably on edge. They circled his return date on the calendar and checked it every day to see how much longer until he returned.

cominghome(Photo credit)

Finally, the day arrived, and my sister and I created some cute and tacky ‘Welcome Back’ signs to carry with us to the airport. We pulled in to the parking lot a good thirty minutes before arrival and watched the planes taxi about on the different runways.

The electronic board in the center of the airport notified us his plane was in and ready for passengers to depart. We huddled together and threw up our signs. He walked out of the terminal and smiled. He was exhausted from his journey, but he was glad to be home. We took turns hugging his neck and left to celebrate over pizza.

My idea of the prodigal son story was reshaped after this encounter. I had never before experienced greeting someone who was coming home from a long journey, especially a close family member.

Unlike the son in the story, my brother went away on good terms and knew he’d return in a matter of weeks. It didn’t stop our family from missing him and awaiting his arrival. How much more so did the father in the story anticipate and long for his son to come back?              

I can only imagine the weight of sorrow the father in the story felt. He had no calendar to which he could point and countdown the passing days. Each day took longer than the previous one to complete.

When you’re waiting on something to happen, sometimes your mind plays tricks on you. It makes you think time is passing quickly, but at the same time it feels as if it’s going slowly. The father was hopeless.

How many times have you felt this way?

I Bet Our Baristas Would Be Happier…

Standard

What if we were thankful for our blessings 365 days instead of just on Thanksgiving?

It would change our interactions at the coffee shop. Instead of snapping at the barista for messing up our order and making us late to work, we’d be grateful to be standing, happy to be alive, thankful for the job we’re about to go to, and maybe even happy for the fact the person on the other side of the counter has a job to help feed his or her family. Being thankful everyday would greatly shift our perspective.

Think about this: The very basis for a time of thanksgiving was created when the Pilgrims wanted to celebrate surviving a harsh winter and the year’s harvest. I was reading some information to my fifth graders the other day about this, and I believe the article said only about twenty of the original people from the Mayflower were still alive at the celebration dinner.

Can you imagine? After sailing to a new world, setting up Plymouth colony, building shelter, and establishing a new way of life, the Pilgrims had earned their time of thanksgiving. They had literally started with nothing.

You and I are great at reflecting during the holidays. All of the pretty lights, saxophone-driven music, and family gatherings do that to us I suppose.

But, what if Thanksgiving is more about getting us to say “I’m thankful” for only one day? What if the whole point is to launch a whole new attitude toward life?

I bet our baristas would be a lot happier…