December 16, 2014

Our Home for the Holidays [2014]

Can someone make it socially acceptable to keep Christmas decorations up all year long? There is just something about garland and glitter and those warm colors that make a house feel like a home. 

Also, super secret decor tip: Buy the cheap garland ropes and put them EVERYWHERE. It's a great way to make the house feel fully decorated. It's easy and economical and why did I never think of this before? 











How long do you keep your Christmas decor up? I tend to be a day-after-thanksgiving until January 1st girl, myself.

December 02, 2014

Perspective

And just like that, it's December. After an intense month of writing back in October, I took an unexpected month of silence in this space.  Maybe I had used up all my ideas. Or maybe it had something to do with us having family in town for the month of November. Maybe it was all the turkey. 

One thing that November taught me was this: perspective. That word has been rattling around in my brain for weeks now and it all started with a deep-down-in-the-heart-of-things prayer from one of our boys. 

Backstory: At the beginning of November, we took the boys home to Mexico for the weekend (they stay with their families most weekends) but as we crossed back into the US, we encountered an issue. Somehow, something had been messed up in the system and it showed that the boys had never enrolled in school (let my 4 hours a night of homework speak otherwise, thankyouverymuch) and so we had to get more papers and send them off to Washington be looked at. This meant that the boys could not cross back into Mexico again if they wanted to be able to come back to the states until the paperwork was processed and returned.  Almost a month later, we are still waiting.

The boys, for the most part, have kept their spirits up with this unexpected change, but they miss their families.  You can hear it in their prayers. When they pray and ask God to please make sure their families have food and that their baby brothers have warm clothes to wear, well, let's just say it's a heart-check.  I can't imagine truly worrying about these things for my family, especially as a child. They have lived a live very different from mine.

It's really opened my eyes (even more so!) to how much I waste or take for granted. I have been made more aware and purposeful in my thanking God for the food we have within reach at all times and the heaters that can be turned on at the ready. We are praying every night that their papers are returned soon.  They really want to go back home for Christmas break and we are praying for them that that will happen.

In the meantime, I'm trying to get these boys in the Christmas spirit, although they stand firm that Christmas doesn't arrive until the 25th -- pssh! -- and we are also celebrating Advent - a time of expectation and hope as Christmas approaches.  The boys are older, so we are using The Jesus Storybook Bible (Spanish and English edition) and following this reading prompt. Do you celebrate Advent? What does that look like for your family?

October 31, 2014

Everything you need to know about Mission Trips (and being On Mission every day!)

I’ve signed up for a Mission Trip. Now what?

First of all, get ready for a life-changing experience. God WILL change you. It may not be the way you think, but trust me. He will.

First things first.
Pray. And get others praying for you as well.
Don’t wait until the time of your trip to start. Start now. Ask for others to pray with you through the fundraising, through the preparations, during the trip and even after. Actually, especially after.

More often than not, Satan reserves his toughest attacks for our return home. Don't forget that!

Create a prayer calendar for people who commit to pray.
If you know a tentative schedule for your trip, write up a list of what you plan to be doing each day and let others know how to pray for you. Consider the time difference; if you go to Africa and you have someone commit to pray for you everyday at lunch, remind them that for you, that’s the middle of the night. Ask them to pray for good rest and for the next day’s activities. Or perhaps ask a few prayer warriors to get up and pray for you in the middle of the night while you're right in the middle of the day's activities.

Ask For Support
Honesty time - this one is the hardest for me! I hate asking others to help financially when it’s for me.

Even if you can afford the trip on your own, reserve a portion for others to be able to help with.
The reason for this is two fold:
  1. It will increase your faith and allow God to work by providing the funds.
  2. It involves more people. Through their sponsorship, they are now going as well. They are a part of the team. It allows for the experience to effect them as well.

Prepare
Go ahead and start reminding yourself that it’s a mission trip, not a vacation!
This is by far my most quoted statement when I lead mission teams. 

  • Be flexible. Allow God to move and don’t worry about a time-table so much. It’s better to be 5 minutes off schedule and to have given someone that extra attention than to stay on “track.”
  • Journal.  Bring it! And write in it. Every day if you can. Bring one small enough to carry around with you so that you can jot down names of people you meet and ways you can pray for them. That way, when you go back once you’re home, you will be able to refresh your memory with the details.
  • Start every day in the Word. 

And remember, when you start back home, there is still trip left!
The trip isn’t over.
It’s never over.
The location may change, but the goal is the same - to serve others and share the love of Jesus. It’s so easy to forget at home.

How to Deal with Guilt
This is something we talked a lot about when we were in India. Our trip leader said something that really resonated with me: He told us that guilt wasn’t from the Lord. Yes, it can seem unfair that He has blessed us with so much when there are people around the world with so little. But. But He has sent you to them to bless them with what He’s given you. And guess what? They’ve got something for you too.  Oftentimes, the removal of technology and restaurants and fancy new clothes allows for our hearts and minds to be free from envy and greed. It allows more room for faith. And that’s something they can give you.

Together, we can use the things God has given us to encourage and help one another. What more beautiful picture of how God works. If we are obedient with what we have, we all have something. Peace. Faith. Health.  But we have to obedient.

I once had a friend who was so inspired after our trip to Uganda that she made the decision that for every unecessary dollar she spent (trips to starbucks, dinners out, clothes she didn’t need, etc) she would commit that same amount to be put away for those in need. That's a huge commitment when you think about it.

How to Support Someone Else Going on a Mission Trip
Maybe you find yourself staying at home with your children while your husband travels for the sake of the gospel. Good for you! Thank you for making a way for them to go!  Maybe it’s your friend or relative who’s going. Pray daily. Invest yourself in it as well through prayer and maybe even fasting.  When they return, ask questions. Listen to what God taught them and pray for Him to help you experience it the way your spouse/friend did.

How to Live Missionally EVERY DAY.
Want some ideas of how to serve others in the name of Jesus daily?

Here are some ideas off the top of my head:

  • Buy a meal for someone -- the person in line behind you at the drive through, a new family in a restaurant, the homeless. Find a way to do it in Jesus’ name, whether that be praying for that person (always a good idea) and doing the act anonymously, creating a card letting them know why you’ve bought their meal, or outright telling them that the Lord told you to bless them today.
  • Show love in the small things -- smile at strangers. Ask how someone is and listen to their answer. Invest in conversations that we might otherwise rush through. Open doors for others. Do the unexpected.
  • Serve those who need a little serving -- do you know a widow? A family with an illness? A new mom? Write them a card. Send them flowers. Make a meal. Wash their dishes. Pray for them.

These are just a few ideas. The what isn't as important as the why. A lot of times, you’ll feel God telling you to do something in the moment. Do it! What’s important is that you obey.

I’ll never forget the time I clearly heard God tell me to buy milk for the family in front of me who’s foodstamps didn’t cover the type of milk they chose. I didn’t do it. And the Lord convicted me hard. I cried several times that day over the missed opportunity.  I don’t want to live like that - missing opportunities.

Let's start each day asking the Lord to open our eyes -- to be able to see what He sees. I want to see people the way He sees them, and for Him to give me opportunities to show them the love of God.


That’s being a missionary. That’s being a believer. 
That’s living Life On a Mission.


“31


this post has been adapted from a post I wrote in July 2013 as part of a Life on a Mission mini-series.
Click HERE to read the original.

October 30, 2014

There is no failure when it comes to the pursuit of God.

How many of us have asked the question, “How do I know what God is calling me to do?"

“How do I know if what I’m feeling led to is really from God or if it’s from me?  What if I don’t feel like I’m hearing anything? What if I kind of feel something but it doesn’t make sense, it’s not in my skill set, or I don’t know how to get started?”

I can’t tell you how many times I warred within myself and in prayer over whether or not a ministry or action step was something God had laid on my heart or whether it was something I just wanted to do.My answer to these questions is simple: “Say Yes.”

If you want to know where you can serve God, where He wants you, what He wants you to do, then start praying. Every day. He'll speak to your heart. The answer may sound like something way outside your realm of possibility or skill set, but just say yes.  Try it out.

And hey, if you get it wrong and it's not the direction/action He wants you to take, So what? At least you are pursing Him.


There is no failure in that.

“But what if I feel like God is telling me to do something I’ve never done before? I’m too young in my faith. I’m under-qualified.”

This I can tell you with certainty -- so are the rest of us. We’re all too young in our faith! We’re all unqualified. But Jesus, based on his track record, hardly ever utilized the (quote) qualified (unquote).

Trust me, there were tons of Pharisee’s He could have chosen for His work. They knew the Old Testament inside and out. They studied it daily. Their life goal was to keep it’s every command for crying out loud! But who did He choose to use? Little ‘ol uneducated fishermen. He chose to dine with tax collectors and to stand up for the prostitute.


“Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to share those who are powerful. For God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.”
(1 Corinthians 1:26-29) 


When you pray, ask God how you can be involved in His work daily. What comes to mind? Don’t dismiss it. 

Having a joyful spirit can turn a life around - I’ve seen it. Being obedient in investing in the lives of people - that’s life changing. Traveling to another city, state, or country to tell a stranger that you love them, but that Christ loves them more - it earth shaking, not only for the people God sends you to, but it will change YOUR life as well.

So do it. Sign up for that ministry at church. Buy a meal for a family in need. Sign up for that mission trip!

Here’s the thing, guys. God doesn’t need us. He wants us. He wants us to experience life alongside Him. He wants us to learn and grow and heal through that.


So SAY YES.



“31



This post has been adapted from my original post on July 25, 2013
Click HERE to read the original text.
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