Favorite Books of 2015

love for readingI love this time of year. It’s a new start and all that jazz, but I love how everyone post about their favorite books of the previous year. Because I love to read, and am always looking for good book ideas.

I have read a lot of good books in this past year. Most of which have been biographies, especially missionary biographies. I have always been a sucker for these. When I was young, I read about the far off places and dreamed of someday going there. They inspired me and God used them to put a passion in my heart for missions. Nowadays, I read them for their source of encouragement.

Because in such tales, I find real people, going through real struggles for the sake of the Gospel. I find people just like me who sometimes have a hard time being in the place that God called them. People to whom difficult days come, and how God brings them through.

So my favorite reads of 2015 are (drum roll please!!! 🙂 )

  1. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi– this is the story of a young muslim man who in his search for the truth, finds Jesus, The Way, the Truth and the Life!
  2. In This Place and In Every Place by Kim Abernathy– These are sequels that detail the life and missionary call on a family to serve Christ in West Africa.
  3. Hiding in the Light: Why I risked everything to leave Islam and follow Jesus by Rifqa Bary– a true account of one women’s faith in Christ, that led her to walk away from Islam, leaving her family and friends behind to follow Jesus.
  4. In the Land of Blue Burqas and Farewell, Four Waters by Kate McCord– These are sequels that detail the life and missionary call of a single female missionary to Afghanistan.
  5. My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay– This was a captivating story of a young group of high school graduates who thought they were going on a summer mission trip to Indonesia, who in the end were running for their lives. I couldn’t put it down.
  6. Both Feet In: A journey to surrender, sacrifice ans service by Bud Fray– Biography of missionary couple to Africa, who truly hungered for God in every part of their lie and service there.
  7. Behind the Veils of Yemen by Audra Grace Shelby– True account of one missionary families call to take the Gospel to Yemen and all that God brought them through to get there.
  8. The Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a life of Love by Gloria Fruman– Great book of encouragement for any type of ministers wife. Gloria Fruman is a pastor’s wife, but also a missionary wife to Dubai.
  9. From Good to Grace: Letting go of the Goodness Gospel by Christine Hoover – The title pretty much sums this one up.Yet, as women, we have a tendency to do, and do more to somehow make ourselves better. The author shares from Scripture how God wants us to let go of this and cling to God’s grace.
  10. You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis and Lisa Chan– Actually I’m still reading this one, but it is so good. And to be honest it is not just for married folks. The truths of the Gospel shared in this book are for every relationship you have. So good, thus far.

I’ve found in the Christian journey, how important good books are. To keep one’s mind and thoughts fixed on Christ. There is so much in the world vying for our attention, so much that pulls us away and seeks to get our attention all on us. The list above, has encouraged me this past year…. what books do you have to add. I would love for you to help me add to by 2016 reading plan!

Blessings from Nepal!

Lessons learned from Nepal

lesson from god “When God is all you have, you realize that He is all you need…(unknown)”

I have learned a lot this past year living in Nepal.

I’ve learned what an earthquake feels like, and the huge difference between a tremor and the real deal.

I’ve learned that God is bigger than my fears, and that I can lie down and sleep in peace, knowing that my God is in control of all things.

I’ve realized that every big “boom” is not another quake, and that I don’t need to jump at every sound.

That I can live without electricity, even cooking gas if needed… but water is a must.

God has taught me that no one is promised tomorrow, so it is important to make sure I live for today.

I’ve learned how important the prayers of God’s saints are, and that it is through prayer, that true ministry takes place.

The Lord has shown me it is okay not to have all the answers, okay to say I don’t know.

He has illustrated vividly that though life is unpredictable, He is always faithful. Though nothing here is certain, His Word always is.

I’ve learned that though it is good and right to plan, truly God will determine my steps.

He’s taught me that this world truly is not my home, and reminded me afresh that we are pilgrims only passing through.

Living here, God has shown me more of my sin, my pride, my selfishness, my want for my way. And I’ve learned that I have a long way to go in becoming more and more like Christ.

He’s teaching me now and each day that I can’t worry about tomorrow, because today has enough trouble of its own. Showing me that I can’t worry about tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. Sufficient is His grace for today.

I’m learning that when I don’t understand, He does.

When things are hard, He’s there with me.

When I want to know “why”, it’s usually so I will rely not upon myself but upon the God who can raise the dead.

And though life isn’t always easy, He never said it would be.

He has shown me that when my strength is gone, His is perfect to carry me through.

And I’m learning that my true joy can only be found in Him.

He is sufficient, He is enough.

These are just a glimmer of the things God has taught me this year. How about you? What truth, what mysteries has God shown you.

I challenge you as God has challenged me to think on these things. To take time to “remember” what He has revealed to you. Then to look forward in anticipation to all that He has in store for you this next year!

Happy New Years from Nepal!

Christmas on this side of the world…..

christmas around the worldThe other day as I was riding a local bus through the streets of Nepal, I started humming, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…” when suddenly I stopped and laughed.

Because as I looked out my window, there was nothing the least bit Christmassy to see.

Being overseas at Christmas is not the easiest thing, in fact at times it can be the hardest.

This time last year, we had only been abroad for a few months, when we got the news that my husband’s mom had passed away. Within the day, my husband was on a plane headed for the States, while the kids and I were left here to have our first Christmas in Nepal, on our own.

That was hard.

And though this year,  nothing as tragic as that has occurred, there is a difficult aspect of Christmas in a foreign land. Especially in a foreign land, where only the small percent of Christian believers do celebrate. In our country, the biggest Hindu festivals, have come and gone. And Christmas doesn’t make the list.

But God is good. Because though it would be easy to be depressed, He has put a joy,His joy in my heart.

Reminding me once again, that the purpose of Christmas is to worship Him.

Yes, I miss all the Christmas goodies, I miss the lights and decorations, I miss hearing Christmas carols playing on the radio and I miss being surrounded by our extended family. (Though I do play Christmas music on the computer, and I do have lights and decorations in our home, though the lights work only when the electric is on 🙂 )

But wherever you find yourself in the world, you can celebrate Jesus.

This past Sunday, my husband preached on how hard the Christian life can be. But He reminded us all that from the time Jesus was born, nothing was easy for Him either. He was born in a stable, because there was no room. He slept in a feeding trough, because there was no bed. He was known as the Carpenter’s son, because people didn’t understand. Jesus was hated by the Pharisees, mocked by the people He came to save. He was nailed to a cross, and buried in a borrowed tomb.

This Christmas wherever we may find ourselves, let us remember why we celebrate.

Let us allow God to fill us with His joy. Knowing that no matter where we are, what we have or don’t have.. He is enough!

And let us let His abiding light shine in and through us, so that the whole world may see, that JESUS is the Light of the World and the One true God.

The Fingerprints of God

finger prints of godI love to look back and see what God saw all along.

Yet, when you are in the midst of “life”, it is hard to detect the hand of God.

As a young child, I vividly remember a missionary coming to our church sharing about her life in Argentina. I thought she looked funny in her “costume”. I thought she talked a little weird, sure. But, I was mesmerized with the idea that she was living in some far off place, telling people about Jesus. It seemed so exciting, and I knew someday I wanted to do just that.

In junior high, I began voice lessons, which I ended up taking for some 9 years. I didn’t know then why, but on Sunday as  I sang with our team in the English service, the Lord reminded me of His bigger picture.

When I was in college, I went through a dark time, where all I had was the Lord. And I learned that He was enough. A lesson I would need over and over again as the Lord led me onward, serving Him around the world.

In seminary, though I wanted to go straight to the mission field, God wanted me to have a partner first. Which led me to switch degrees and get my Masters in Christian Education rather than Masters in Missiology. Having to change degrees made me angry at the time, but overwhelms my heart now as I look back now at why. Having used this “degree” to serve kids on the mission field.

Two wonderful years in Korea, gave us a taste of life overseas, wetting our appetites for more. That has thus led us to where we are today, in Central Asia.

Two difficult years living in the states, two years of waiting on God, and not understanding why everything had to be so hard. Prepared us for the difficulties we face regularly now.

The truth we all know, is that nothing is wasted in God’s plan. No situation, no circumstance is only coincidence. No, every detail of every day of our lives is a small part of the big picture God wants to paint.

When I look back at my life, I stand amazed. Not because of anything I have accomplished.

I stand amazed at how amazing my God is.

Humbled and astonished that God could and would use the tiniest details of my days, to prepare me for right here, right now.

Sometimes, I wonder at what the next 10 years or so will be like. What they will entail.

I think, what is God using “now” to prepare me for “then.”

The truth is I don’t have a clue. Yet, I do know that whatever it is, it will be good.

And I know that what I’m learning now, God will use then.

Friend, wherever God has you right now, be all there.

Embrace that place, embrace those circumstances, embrace even the difficulties. For what you are going through now, where God has you now is all for His purposes.

You may not understand the why now.

However, one day you will look back, and you will see How Great is Our God!

Recently I was talking with our pastor. Who was saying how much he enjoys it when he can catch a glimpse of God’s bigger picture.

I couldn’t agree more.

So often we are caught up in the daily grind, and we miss it.

We miss God.

Yet, He is there. Molding us, shaping us, building us, growing, us, stretching us. So that He can use us even more later.

May the Lord give us eyes to see as He see’s .

So that we may rejoice in where He has us now. Knowing, believing that there is “more” to the story, just around the corner.

His fingerprints are everywhere, if we would just take a step back and look.

No where does He leave us. He goes before us, with us and behind us.

Maybe you’re in a place you don’t want to be… I’ve been there. Yet, I encourage you to hold on and hold fast to the Lord. Wait upon Him, and one day soon, you will look back and understand.

Maybe your starting a new journey. Change is hard, but God is with you. You are never alone. And never forget, He has prepared you for this day, your ready. Go and await His goodness.

You could be in the midst of your journey, like me. And you can look back and see His fingerprints. Enjoy this time, and allow Him to use your “now” to prepare you for the days ahead.

Wherever God has you, be all there.

And allow Him to teach you, to use you, to grow you and to encourage you.

Then one day soon, you will look back and you will see all that God has done for you. And you will know that He alone is the One true God, and the only One worthy of praise.

In His Presence

his presenceSaturday morning was a rush. I had hit snooze a few too many times. Rushed around crazily trying to get everyone dressed for church, and  get myself dressed.

I ran down stairs and made chocolate chip muffins for breakfast (because chocolate is always good, any time of day), and coffee…. lots of coffee.

After everyone had eaten, the dishes were washed, we got into the car, and headed to the church. Dodging, motorbikes, cars, people, and cows along the way.

I practiced with the children for our upcoming choir performance, and finally sat down for worship.

This was my husbands Saturday to preach. So for a change, I understood the message since it was in English, and God spoke to my heart. Reminding me of why He had sent us here. Reminding me that though some days are hard, it is all worth it.

And as we stood to sing and to pray, such amazing peace washed over my heart. Peace that truly passes all understanding.

It was then that I realized the beauty of being in His presence.

For it is in His presence we find joy. In His presence we find peace.

It is in His presence that all the rest of “life” slips away, and we are caught up in His amazing love.

It was a beautiful moment, but also a moment of conviction. For I realized that I had neglected His presence that morning in my rush to get to church. I understood the importance of being in His presence.

The Bible tells us to “Be still and know I am God, I will be exalted among the nations…” Just be still.

I’m learning that God doesn’t really need me. He can accomplish His works without my help.

But I’m finding that apart from Him, I truly can do nothing. It is me, who needs Him, every moment of every day.

The Lord is teaching me that in order to have joy, peace, love, strength… I must dwell in His presence.

As the service closed, and the business of the rest of the day loomed ahead, I had peace, I had joy. Both of which came from Him.

Sometimes living in such a different culture is hard. Many times, I lack understanding.

Yet, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Where are you today? Are you running on empty? Feeling frazzled, exhausted, worn. Believe me I know and I understand. I’ve been there.

But my advice to you and to myself is this…. Go, and get alone with the Lord. Dwell in His presence, draw your strength from Him. Allow Him to transform your mind, and fill your heart with peace.

Often we “think” we don’t have time to spend time with the Lord.

Yet, this is the lie of Satan. We dont’ have time, not to spend time with the Lord.

And we will run on empty, we will feel frazzled if we seek to live for Him and serve Him in our own strength, our own power.

Instead, we must go and sit at HIs feet. Draw near to Him and allow Him to draw near to us.

Only then will we find the joy, peace, love, hope, grace and strength for what lies ahead.

 

A Wife and Mom’s First Priority

beach-time-005I have been married now for 14 years and have three great kids, 13, 11, and 7.

The early years of marriage I stayed at home loving on my babies.

Then I became a home school mom, teaching my little ones their numbers and ABC’s.

Yet, all of these years I was also a pastor’s wife.

Then our family moved to Korea, and I became a missionary wife and home school mom.

Now living in Central Asia, I am once more the missionary wife, but this time my kids are in school. Giving me extra time for ministry and work in the field.

I have loved this added aspect of life, but in many ways have also missed my time at home with the kids.Missed having the house and dinner ready for my husband’s arrival.

The past year, our first year here, has been a whirlwind. The days have flown by, as we have been every so busy. And if I’m not careful it is easy to lose sight of what my first and most important ministry is.

Because more important than ministering to the people here, more important than “doing” ministry. Is ministering to my husband and kids.

After God, they are to come first.

The Lord has been teaching me this, and as I have prayed and asked Him to show me how to minister to my family. He has spoken to my heart and said, it is the basic, day-to-day things that show them they are important.

It is having an orderly (notice I didn’t say clean 🙂 ) home to come home to.

It is having cookies baked for the kids.

It is listening to my husband after he has had a long day.

Listening to my kids tell me about their days.

It is making sure they have a good, filling breakfast to start their day and a nutritious meal to end their day.

It is all these things and more, but it is the little things.

Someday’s this is not possible. Some days, we all arrive home at the same time, and I have to scramble to get dinner on the table.

Some days,  we over sleep and breakfast is cereal and bread.

Other days, are busy and we are all moving in different directions.

Yet, the majority of days should include all of the above.

Because as a wife, my first priority is to my husband.

As a mom, my first priority is to my kids.

I can not minister to others, while I neglect my family.

In order to minister well to others, I must first minister well to my family.

So to the stay at home mom, I’ve been there and I remember the days I felt discouraged. But I am here to encourage you to embrace the time you have with your family. And don’t despise the daily grind, look at it as a way to minister to your spouse and kids.

To the pastor’s wife/missionary wife… never forget that your first priority is your family. Serve first the Lord, then your family, and then others.

To all wives, God has designed it so that your ministry is first and foremost to your family. This is His perfect design. Let us then not grow weary, let us not think what we do is trivial, but let us embrace this God given ministry and serve our families well.

The days go fast, children grow quick… may we use each day to serve the ones God has given unto us, and may we use each day to serve the Lord through them.

 

God’s Bigger Plans

 

trusting godOn Wednesday I got to teach a group of ladies here in Nepal about the sovereignty of God. As I prepared to teach and taught, I was reminded of the greatness of our God. For God is sovereign over creation, plants, animals, the nations, kings and authorities. He is sovereign over every detail of our lives. And though we are told to plan,though we make choices each day. Ultimately it is God’s will that takes place.

I told this group of ladies that if they had told me when I was a teen that I would one day be sitting in a room with them, in Nepal teaching them about God’s sovereignty I would have said they were crazy. Because this was not my plan.

My plan as a young naïve teen was to be a big shot attorney, wearing stiletto hills, carrying a briefcase, living in NYC. My plan was to remain single and it certainly did not include children.

Yet, this was far from the plans God had envisioned for my life.

Now here I sit, on the other side of the world, living in Kathmandu, Nepal. Married for 14 years with 3 children.

Yet, He didn’t pluck me from college and deliver me here. It has been a journey. A journey of serving Him in Arkansas, Tennessee, Korea, and finally here in Nepal.

As I sat singing hymns in Nepali today, as I sat and listened to the prayer request of the ladies, and watched them bow with their faces to the ground to pray. I was overwhelmed.

See, my plans were far from sufficient.

My plans served only me.

But God’s plans are amazing, and they are all about service to Him.

Sometimes, the reality of what God has called me to do and the privilege it is to be here take my breath away.

Oh, it is certainly not always easy, and some days home sounds really good.

Yet, overall, I couldn’t have planned or dreamed that this is how God would ordain my days.

To think that He has saved me, called me and sent me out for His glory.  Humbled!

To look around and see so many who don’t know Him. Broken!

To get to be a part of what He is doing around the world. Amazing!

My plans fell so short of the greater plans God had, and I am so glad, so thankful that His plans and not mine were the ones to be fulfilled.

I don’t know where you are right now? But God does.

I don’t know what plans He has for your life? But I guarantee that if you wait upon Him and seek His plans, you will be amazed.

I don’t know what your life hold, but I do know who hold your life in His hands.

His plans, His ways, they are perfect.

And God is in control. He is sovereign over all, and His plans for you and for me… they will be fulfilled.

What a privilege, what a joy to get to be apart of this great adventure.