Friday, February 27, 2015

Community: The beautiful, the ugly, and the yet to be...

Play Group: August 2014
Wow! We are seven months in.

We are only seven months in.

This is a marathon, not a sprint. It's a four-year term. There have been some sweet moments of community-like this play group (but it sadly falls right in the midst of morning nap), and my Bible study ladies, our mentor sessions with the Metz's and my coffee dates with Abbey. And there have been some disappointments, the not quite clicking, the friends already preparing to leave, etc. This expat community stuff is not for the weak.

Or maybe weak is exactly what I need to be... humility and serving one another in love are two crucial components of community. I not only need to give, but receive. It was so beautifully said in this post:
"Community is not found- it is built, one brick of love at a time."
And the other beautiful thing is that God is still here. He is drawing me closer to His heart, refining me in this hard season, and allowing me to yearn for that glorious Someday. Someday there will be no more tears, no more goodbyes... and until then, we can love fiercely the ones He has placed in front of us. I don't want to quit engaging just because it's hard. He has brought dear friends into my life in the past, and He will do it again.

I don't know about you, but I want to know and be known, and so I'll build, one love brick at a time.

{linking up at the Grove: Community}

And so inspired by these posts:

6 People that Kill Community (oh, I'm guilty of playing a couple of these roles)
Cracks in Community
Love Like a Gangster

Monday, February 16, 2015

Lent: A Path through the Chaos

These are the words that are percolating in my heart as I prepare for Lent 2015: 
"Jan Richardson writing in her post, The Artful Ashes, shares what she discovered when she undertook a project where she learned to draw in charcoal: 'Taking up a new medium, entering a different way of working, diving or tiptoeing into a new approach: all of this can be complex, unsettling, disorienting. Launching into the unknown and untried confronts us with what is undeveloped within us. It compels us to see where we are not adept, where we still lack skill, where we possess little gracefulness. Yet what may seem like inadequacy-as I felt in my early attempts with charcoal- becomes fantastic fodder for the creative process, and for life. Allowing ourselves to be present to the messiness provides an amazing way to sort through what is essential and to clear a path through the chaos. 
(The Ashes) beckon us to consider what is most basic to us, what is elemental, what survives after all that is extraneous is burned away. With its images of ashes and wildness, Lent challenges us to reflect on what we have filled our lives with, and to see if there are habits, practices, possessions, and ways of being that have accumulated, encroached, invaded, accreted, layer upon layer, becoming a pattern of chaos that threatens to insulate us and dull us to the presence of God." from the app Lectio Divina- Lent

Monday, February 09, 2015

Hidden.

In this age of social media it is so easy and tempting to be seen. I can post an instagram of me and Elizabeth reading a book, or what I am chopping for dinner. I can share a funny quote from my kids. And I have total control over how I curate these moments. I can also rationalize that our family back in the states and our supporters want to be a part of our lives, albeit, virtually.

Up until this generation most of these moments were shared only by a mama and her kids- perhaps a friend who was over for a real-life playdate. And now these precious moments are broadcast all over the internet. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, or that I don't do my share of over-sharing. But this morning, Jesus started opening my eyes to the beauty and purpose of hidden-ness.

I'll be the first to admit that these tiny years, and life on the mission field, can be lonely {which makes the temptation to broadcast that much stronger}. My days revolve around nap-times and bed-times. And my energy for socializing is practically non-existent. And my other missionary mom friends have the same problems. And I sometimes wonder "what's the point?" What is God doing in these hidden years?

I think I found my answer in the story of David summarized in Psalm 78:70-72 (NKJV):
"He also chose David His servant, and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the ewes that had young He brought him, to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to  the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands."
God took David from the sheepfolds- from a hidden place of faithfulness, years of doing small things- in preparation for leading His people. Because of his hidden years and all God worked into him in those days, David had the integrity, faithfulness, and skills required in his next assignment.

You don't learn integrity in the spotlight. The spotlight only reveals integrity. Integrity is birthed in hidden faithfulness when no one is watching. Integrity is when your words, and actions line up, when people can count on you to do what you say you will do, and when you keep at it even when no one notices. Skillfulness is gained by habitual practice, repetition, dailiness, hard work and discipline.

David knew that being a shepherd is lonely business; there was no one around but sheep and God. And that was enough.

And so God is teaching me that the beauty of hidden-ness is the intimacy I can cultivate with Him and my flock in this season. And the purpose of hidden-ness is to produce in my character the things that are lacking. I'm sure there will still be pictures on instagram {don't worry, mom!}, but behind the scenes I'll be pursuing my Audience of One.

How do you deal with the loneliness of the little years? Please share!

Monday, February 02, 2015

A Tale of Two Mornings {a lesson in grace and second chances}

Some days the cup of coffee is just not big enough.  True, I shouldn't even be drinking coffee in my pregnant state- but let's face it- this is baby #4.

So, yesterday came screaming to life with the sound of our baby girl in the monitor. at 5am. I climb out of bed. Wrestle my mosquito net. Drag my feet down the hall. All the while grumbling in my heart. Crank-City.

Now, if Jesus sweetly wakes me at 5am- that's one thing. If a needy child wakes me- it's an entirely different, ugly thing.

I trudged through the morning; everyone in this house was aware that I was not happy. Eventually I got some time with Jesus and He gently revealed {again} that this is the real me.

He has filled me with His Spirit, and whatever good things are in this heart are all HIM. Anything ugly that flows forth is me: sin-sick and selfish.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
And so 5am rolled around again today and baby girl was ready to party. I had a choice: start the day like I did yesterday and let self run the show, or press in and let Him do my living. Praise the Lord for second chances, and for opportunities to try again after we have failed! He is so good to us.

Friend, do you have a weakness you would rather hide?? I've done that- and the hiding gets lonely. Let's boast in those weaknesses- so that His power may rest on us today!

Here's to early mornings and second chances! Praying grace upon grace for your Monday.


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