Seemingly Insignificant to the world….but esteemed by God

esteemed-by-godThis morning as I was reading through all the genealogies mentioned in I Chronicles, I couldn’t get passed the fact that God took the time to mention each and every name. Not only did He mention such names, He knew each person and saw every detail of their lives. Those who were gatekeepers, those who kept the utensils and were in charge of the furniture… He knew them each by name.

And though in the eyes of the world. the duties they had, the work they performed was seemingly insignificant. This same work was esteemed by God.

Too often in life, I believe we fall into Satan’s trap that says I have to, do something big for God, I have to be someone world known. We believe the lie that to please God we must do.

Yet, God isn’t pleased with us because of what we do. He is pleased with us because of whose we are!

The reality is God doesn’t need us to do anything for Him, yet He gives us the privilege to be apart of what He is doing.

Yet, the same one who is faithful to care for her husband and kids is just as valuable in the eyes of the Lord as the one who faithfully starts many churches or serves the orphans.

Because what is seemingly insignificant to the world is esteemed and valued by God.

What matters not is not what you do, so much as your faithfulness to be about what God has called you to.

If He has called you to serve Him by being a stay at home mom, you are esteemed by Him.

If He has called you to help clean the church, you are esteemed by Him.

If He has called you to be teacher, nurse, doctor, shopkeeper, writer… you are esteemed by Him.

If He has called you to serve Him as pastor, missionary or evangelist, you are esteemed by Him.

In whatever He has called you to, though it may not seem a big deal to the rest of the world… your faithfulness to do what He has said is of great value to Him.

You are a daughter of the King! When you were His enemy, when you served the god of this world, He rescued You in His great mercy and allowed you to see your need of Him.

Now He has adopted you as His own, you are His and He is pleased with you not because of what you do. He is pleased with you because you are His child!

Relish in this today! What a gracious and loving Father we serve!

Swimming against the stream….

vbs 2016 9“But mom, everyone is doing it. I will feel so left out if I’m the only one not doing it.” This is what I heard this morning as I was getting my 8-year-old daughter ready for school.

And thus it begins…. temptations, wanting to fit in, having to teach my kids that sometimes as Christians we have to be set apart.

This all began about a month ago when the locals began wearing their green and yellow bangles and attired their hands with beautiful henna designs. Lauren’s friend brought her a whole bag full of bangles and multiple people offered to draw on her hand.

It has been a battle ever since. Not because there is anything wrong with bangles (I have many of my own) and not because having a henna design is wrong. But Hindu devotees here celebrate this month as the month of Lord Shiva and observe the tradition of wearing green bangles, henna tattoos and necklaces. So for this month, for this time, we are avoiding such things.

And we’ve had this discussion multiple times over the past few weeks of why she doesn’t need to wear her bangles or do these things right now… because she is Christian not Hindu.

But to an 8-year-old who just doesn’t understand it is hard. To an 8-year-old who doesn’t want to be left out it is difficult.

I keep telling her that this will not be the last time that she will feel left out due to being a Christian. The easy thing is to go with the crowd. The easy thing is to let others dictate who you are.

The hard thing is to swim against the stream, the be set apart, to take a stand for what you believe.

Difficult lessons for all ages, all stages of life. But especially a little girl.

So as I wiped away her tears, I hugged her and explained one more time that being a Christian isn’t always easy, but that as a Christian we are to be different and try to live our lives in a way that points others to Jesus.

She still wasn’t happy about it, and my heart hurts for her as she goes to school today and feels left out. Sometimes even being a parent is hard. It sure would be easy for me to just give in…. but that isn’t what I’m called to do either.

Standing for truth can be hard. Doing what is right harder still. Going against the flow, well yea it’s just plain difficult.

But this is what God has called each of us to. It comes in different forms every day…  but we each have to decide who we will love more… ourselves or our God!

(By the way, I’m planning to take my daughter later to do something special so we can continue this discussion – because this her first experience with this will certainly not be her last)

Parenting in this broken world…..

kidsEveryday I check the news from my home away from home. Living on the other side of the world from where I grew up,leads me to try to keep up with life on the other side.Yet, each day as I check the news and read report after report of attacks on the police, terrorism around the world, and politics, I walk away feeling defeated.

My heart quakes and breaks over my children 8, 12, and 13 growing up in this world. I want to hide them away and keep them protected from it all. Yet, the reality is this is the world they will grow up in. I can’t hide them away, so instead I have to prepare them to stand for truth, hold tight to the Lord and pray that God will use them for His glory.

I’ve told my husband before that in one sense I’m thankful they are presently growing up here. For though this nation is anything but Christian, it isn’t trying to pretend it is either. My kids are respected for their beliefs far more here than they probably would be there.

Yet, one day we will leave this place and they will be faced with the realities of a nation once under God, yet now so far from Him. And should they travel to another place to serve God, they will be met with hostility for believing in the One True God.

The reality is, things on this earth will most likely not get better, they will most likely get worse. It seems it does each and every day.

But God….

God is our rock. He is our strength and He guides our way.

Today the kids and I read about the Israelites following God in the wilderness. Following the cloud by day and the fire by night. Staying camped as long as the cloud remained and journeying on if the cloud/fire moved. My kids know all about waiting on God, as our family has had to do this numerous times. They know that following God is not always easy or fun. They understand the challenges that come with allowing God to direct your steps.

They know this because they have been through this as a family.

Yet, it is my desire that the lessons they have learned will become personal as they begin having to make choices on their own.

My prayer that they will hold fast the Lord and rely upon His strength, so they can be like the house built upon the rock that did not fall down. And not rely upon themselves, thus becoming like the house built upon the sand.

Friend, you and I are raising our children in a dark time in history. Everyday the news broadcast one tragedy after another. The Truths nations use to stand upon, have slipped away, and have been replaced with tolerance for any and all things.

And as much as we’d like to hide our children from this, the reality is this will not help them. Because one day all too soon, they will go out into this world and have to make decisions on their own. It is our job to prepare them now for then. Our duty to instill in them God’s Word and believe that it will not return void.

There is no promise that they will remain in God’s Word or remain faithful to Him. Yet, it is our responsibility to train them up in God’s Ways and trust the rest to the One who loves them more than we do.

So let us commit together to pray diligently for them, to teach them diligently and to realize the great ministry we have been given as parents.

 

Parenting and the holiness of God…..

kidsWe have all heard it said, “God is more interested in our holiness than our happiness.” And personally I have indeed found this to be true. So often God allows difficult times, trials and problems to arise in our lives. Not because He doesn’t love us, not because He wants to be mean and just cause us problems. But because He is more interested in us becoming more like Christ, than in us being happy right now.

As I thought about this concept and applied it to parenting, the Lord showed me some similar guidelines and truths.

  1. I love my kids and want what is best for them, just as God loves me and wants what is best for me. However, my best for them  may not be their idea of “best.” Just as God’s idea of “best” is often different from my idea. And though they may get angry when their idea is not mine, in the long run they will understand. Just as we eventually we can look back and see what God was doing in our lives.
  2. I want my kids to understand that anything worth having in life takes work and is often not easy. But that God desires that in everything we do whether in word or deed, we do it as unto Him. God has given us every spiritual gift in Christ, and we have access to His throne of grace daily. Yet, God isn’t a genie who just gives us what we want, we have to work and do our part in seeking Him, in walking with Him and in being filled with the Spirit.
  3. I want my kids to be happy, but even more I want them to right with God. Nowadays there is a common phenomenon of giving our kids our very best, making sure they are keeping up with their friends so they aren’t left out, and being concerned that they are happy. Yet, I’m convinced that a child who grows up this way will be confronted with the real world one day too soon and will not know how to handle the obstacles thrown their way. Sure, I can make it easy for my kids, and make sure they are happy. But will they be holy?
  4. I want my kids to look to God. I’m like any typical mom and don’t want to see my kids hurt. In fact if I’m not careful I want to fight their battles for them, I want to fix their problems. Yet, if I do these things, they learn nothing of dependence upon God. Sometimes God will lead me to step in and do this, but first and foremost I want my kids to look to Him.
  5. I want my kids to desire Christ and love Him most. There is a real battle going on in our kids lives. A battle between what they have been taught is right and what the world says is best. If we are not careful the world will be their desire and they will love this world more than God. So I must find the balance by limiting what they can and cant’ do, what they can and can’t watch. Why? Because the enemy is just waiting to steer them away from God.

The list could go on, and yet I’m learning that this is what is most important that my kids know and learn. This doesn’t mean it is easy or that my kids are always happy with me. In fact, many times they aren’t happy. Like today, my kids envisioned a day of rest and relaxation, but this was interrupted when they found out that before playing, before relaxation, homework and studying was to take place. My husband and I’s idea of best collided with their idea of best… but even now that the work is done and free time is being enjoyed, they can see what we saw.

I have a looong way to go from being parent of the year, and by the world’s standards, I’m positive I would never receive such award. Yet, it is my desire that my kids grow up loving God with all their hearts, soul, mind and strength and loving others as they love themselves.

When God is your refuge and strong tower…

refugeThis past week my oldest son went with his class on a school trip to Lumbini, Nepal. What was supposed to take 4 1/2 hours took 7 for them to arrive,but what was worse was the 11 hours it took them to get home.

For my son the trip was amazing. He got to see all kinds of “cool” things, as well as fish with his hands. But for this mom back in Kathmandu, this trip put me out of my comfort zone.Because I had to trust God with one of my most valuable possessions (and can I say that is just sometimes harder than you realize).

But the worst was last night… well it started yesterday afternoon when I got a phone call from my son. He was calling to let me know that their arrival time was going to be later than the anticipated 6 pm. Because they were stuck in traffic, sitting still. Apparently there had been a landslide and the road was blocked with debris.

Well as you can imagine, the thought of a landslide happening on the very road my son’s bus was on was a hard pill to swallow. Sending me to my knees in prayer. All evening I read the Psalms and prayed for the safe arrival of the group. I prayed that God would surround that bus with His protection and get them safely home.

As the hours ticked by, I prayed. But something happened as I prayed, the peace of God overwhelmed my heart. As I confessed my fear,my lack of trust, my worry.. God filled those places with His peace.

He became my refuge, my strong tower, my rock that safe place I could run to, cling to and hold fast to as I waited out the storm.

Finally around 10:30 he called to say they were almost to the school and asked his dad to come get him. (Happy dance!!!)

When he walked in the door, the first words out of his mouth were, “God really protected us today.” Then he proceeded to let me know that not only had there been one landslide,there had been two, one in front of them, and one behind them. But God had kept them safe. Worse still was the story he told us about a bus going up the hill, who’s breaks went out. He told us the bus came flying backwards down the hill, missing them only by a little bit.

These were things I was glad I didn’t know earlier, but proved to my anxious heart once again… that God had not only heard my prayers, He had answered them. He had surrounded that bus with His angels and brought them safely home.

Living in a foreign country is hard, allowing your teenage son, to go on school trips to places you have never been is harder still.

But God is faithful. Even when I am not. Even when I fail, lack faith and allow fear to reign. He is faithful to allow me to rest in the safety of His wings.

Whatever you may be experiencing today, run to Him. When others fail, He never does. When others don’t understand, He’s there. When you can do nothing in your own power, He is all-powerful.

It is easy to tell others to just trust God when they are in the storms. Harder though is to follow that “good” advice when you find yourself in such place.

Yet, each time, God shows up and shows out, when I let go and trust Him to do what only He can do.

Blessings from Nepal!!

 

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.

 

Learning to “Remember”

rememberIt has been almost a year now since the Lord gave us clear directions to come to Nepal. In a year’s time, He has raised up support, helped us set up a non-profit organization, and established us here in this new land. It has been a fast and furious ride, yet amazing to be apart of.

Yet, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of ministry here, it is easy to forget. Easy to be so busy “doing”, that I fail to “remember.”

As I was reading Deuteronomy this morning, the Lord spoke clearly to my heart.

See, before Joshua led the Israelites into the promised land, Moses had some specific instructions for them. Yet, one repeated theme was this, “When the Lord brings you into the promised land, remember…., remember and teach these things to your children. Remember!

The older I get, the more forgetful I have become. It seems I must have a list to remember anything. If I don’t write it down, you might as well as forget having it accomplished.

The same I suppose is true of all of us… this tendency to forget.

When trials and problems rise, do we remember that we serve the same God who has brought us through the stormy water before? Do we remember that He is always faithful to care for us, or do we fret and worry thinking that maybe this time, our problem is too big for God?

When we get busy doing things for God, do we remember “who” we are serving?

Do we remember the Lord’s past faithfulness to us, and do we teach it to our children? Do they know the stories of how God has worked amazingly in our lives?

The Israelites were to teach these things to their children, to write them on the walls, to hang them about their necks… they were to teach them at all times of all days, no matter what.

I’m convinced that God knows our wayward hearts, He knows our forgetfulness, thus we are instructed to remember.

To be honest, since the Lord has established us here. We have been busy doing the ministry He appointed us to. And if I’m not careful, it is easy to forget all He has done to get us here.

My days are packed full of service,but if I don’t prioritize, I fail to spend time with the One whom I came to serve. If I don’t make time, I fail to teach these things to my children , reminding them of our great, big God.

I could be wrong, but I believe that a lot of ministers and servants of the Lord grow weary in their call because they fail to remember the One they serve. They fail to remember why they serve. They fail to teach these things to their children, and  fail to remember these things themselves.

It is a privilege indeed to be called and used of the Lord. A privilege I don’t take lightly. Yet, I must, we all must never forget who we serve, and why we do what we do.

We must never forget that it truly is all about Jesus!

Then when problems come (and they will), we will be quick to remember the Lord’s faithfulness.

Then when life get’s busy (and it will), we will make sure we have spent time with the One we serve.

And as we watch our children grow, we will be faithful to remind them of the Lord and His faithfulness, so that as they grow older, they too will remember all that the Lord has done.

How about you? Do you have a tendency to forget the faithfulness of our Lord? Or have you disciplined yourself to be faithful to remember all He has done.

I will be the first to say this doesn’t just happen. We must work at it. Daily, we must pray and thank God for all He has done. Daily, we must set aside time to teach these things to our children. Daily, when problems arise, we must remind ourselves who we serve.

But, as we do, the Lord whom we seek to remember, will indeed be found!