Freedom, Fruitfulness, and…Fertilizer — August 9, 2016

Freedom, Fruitfulness, and…Fertilizer

2 days into my first week of “freedom” from language school, and I am laughing at myself.

Reality checks are always fun, right?

I had been feeling pretty anxious about this transition in our life and ministry. I wanted to stay busy. I wanted to keep learning, growing. I wanted to be fruitful.

HAHA. Oh, Amber, you’re too funny.

The first day I succumbed to a sinus infection after a week long battle with a cold the doctor says just comes with the territory of Nepal (thanks for your help, doc, I see why they pay you the big bucks). In true sickly stay-at-home-mom fashion I let my overly healthy toddler climb over my head while watching Baby Einstein on repeat until nap time finally graced us, and I joined the babe in sweet slumber. Judging from the snot+tear accumulation on his face versus the joy/elation/relief/um…drool…on mine, I was way more pumped about it than he was.

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I figured I would get out after our naps, but the beating in my brain and the heat unabated by the drizzle of rain that broke through for a moment breathed a seemingly audible, “Yeah, right.” Maybe that was just my sigh.

I got language practice, sure. I got to talk to plumbers about the septic system that was rather non-skillfully pieced back together after the landslide last year. They assumed I didn’t understand Nepali when I answered their question regarding the location of our main line (in Nepali) with an I don’t know (diddly squat about plumbing). In any language.

Today was immensely better in terms of intensity of pain in my temples but not so much in terms of things accomplished, though I did whine enough to the plumbers that they agreed to come a day earlier than promised, so that’s something. Also something I would NEVER do in English or in America, for that matter.. When in Nepal, I guess.

I’ve collapsed in bed alone at 7:30 after coaxing my children to sleep and watched the videos my husband wouldn’t watch with me on YouTube if he were here in the bed with me. I’m missing him tonight, and feeling like I’m also missing out (he went to India without me, please give him a guilt trip about this. I don’t think I’m allowed).

I’m guessing this feeling won’t be foreign to me as I navigate home and ministry as a helper to my husband here. As I stumble over syllables and mispronounce my neighbor’s name for the 13th time since this morning. Humbled doesn’t even cover what I feel like at the end of these two days where nearly everything in my home was either lost or broken and every family member had something decent to complain about (and they did).

Oh, and the whole house smelled like a day old diaper. Thankfully, my nose is all blocked up. My 4 year old tells me it’s rotten as I search for my last candle which turns up broken. No one will ‘fess up.

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God, you gave me these draining, disappointing days, and I know you will use them to grow me, teach me, and make me fruitful, though I can’t imagine how. My trials are so small when placed on a scale I didn’t forge from my Facebook feed. If I would have been less of a baby about sweat stains and sunburns, I could have glimpsed just how minuscule they are compared to those I decided not to face today.

So, the transition wasn’t smooth, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be redeemed. Fruitful days will follow because that’s just who You are, a good and gracious Master. Working through the sighs of a stressed out servant is not beyond your capabilities. I’ll try to remember that if carrying a cross was not beneath You, humbling at the hands of an overflowing toilet and a champion sleep refuser is something I can certainly deal with. Especially knowing the price paid for the peace that resides within me somewhere beneath the junk I’ve covered it with.

After all, blessed blooms of hard-fought-for fruit is often fertilized by a whole lot of…well…

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How is the Lord humbling you now and preparing you for future fruitfulness?
I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!

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Maintaining a Heart of Thanksgiving in Circumstances I Can’t Change — November 26, 2015

Maintaining a Heart of Thanksgiving in Circumstances I Can’t Change

I have failed to always maintain a heart of thanksgiving when I am in the midst of circumstances I wish I could change.

When the windows of heaven are open, and the blessings are heaping upon my lap, it is natural to have joy and to be thankful. But my flesh fights thankfulness when my world unravels and my meticulous schedule is thrown through the shredder. When my plans don’t come to fruition and the peace in my heart begins to dissipate, the anxious thoughts and relentless questions threaten to drown out His voice that offers to fill me again.

The following command sure seems impossible in the midst of these all too familiar feelings…

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (Philippians 4:4-6)

God expects me to REJOICE when my life is turned upside down? I’m supposed to pray away these terrorizing thoughts and be thankful instead? Nope. Can’t do it.

But… Something inside of me tells me God doesn’t ask the impossible. It sounds like a Sunday school answer but sometimes the most profound things are the most simple. God doesn’t ask the impossible…because He makes everything possible. He doesn’t require of me anything I can’t do in His power.

He wants me to bring my cares and concerns to Him in the circumstances I cannot change. He wants me to cry out to Him and beg Him to extend His grace and mercy into my life, to give me wisdom, patience, and peace. 

But He wants me to do so with a thankful heart. A heart that says, You brought me to this hard place, but You have never left me. Thank you for giving me a reason to know you more and fall into a deeper trust of You. I ask you to change my circumstances, but thank You for working in my life according to Your will.

This year, much like a few years ago, I have to choose thankfulness in the midst of less than desirable situations. But the choice is easy when I follow the instructions that come with the command and tap into His limitless grace.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (7)

So thankful my heart is in his hands! That’s one thing in my life I can’t change and wouldn’t want to if I could! And upon closer inspection, along with his limitless grace comes limitless gifts, and I have SO much to be thankful for!

[I’ve enjoyed gathering around the table with my friends in the Lord and in ministry and dwelling on the many blessings we enjoy.]

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Have you had to choose thankfulness in some seasons of life?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

 

 

My Struggle with Honesty — November 23, 2015

My Struggle with Honesty

I have failed to find the balance between honestly sharing my heart and being just a little too real.

Do my friends really want to know the answer to the question, “How are you?” and “How’s it going?” Do they want to know that we had the 201st earthquake in a few short months? Do they want to know that the blockade continues and the grocery stores are out of milk?

Or does it just sound like I am complaining?

Would inquiring minds rather hear that we are healthy, fine, and happy and everything is great? That the mission field is everything we dreamed it would be…

We are healthy, fine, and happy which is an amazing testimony of His abundant grace in our lives.

But should I only share about the date nights, baptism services, language victories, and funny things my children do?

Surely my faithful friends can handle me sharing even the less than perfect parts of my life. But who are they again? It is no one’s particular fault that the challenge of schedules and time differences has shaken the foundations of even the strongest relationships.

Even if they can handle it, are they interested? Can they relate or understand in any way? If I try to tell the truth but point out God’s graces in my life will I seem like a phony trying too hard to seem super spiritual? These are the questions that keep me from opening up. From trusting trustworthy friends with the feelings I don’t always understand myself.

I’m thankful for my husband who always has a listening ear and tries to empathize. He does a pretty good job, but there’s One who does better. I never have to worry about what God thinks of my thoughts and fears. If I don’t tell Him, He knows them anyway!

I confess to Him, cry to Him, confide in Him. He is completely trustworthy, faithful, and kind. He brought me to this place with all these problems, knowing we would face what we have, prepared to give me just what I need.

I’m not sure I ever valued the friendship I have with the Lord until I longed so for a friend that always understood and always loved. One with whom I have a concrete contract..He will NEVER leave me. Never forsake me.

And when the enemy tries to get me to believe that no one cares or understands, He sends some imploring soul my way to minister to my heart who asks questions and wants real answers. Who takes my concerns to the Lord on my behalf. These people are tangible reminders of His constant providence and presence in my life. Friends in the flesh. And I feel silly for ever fearing these things at all. Thank you to so many of you that have ministered His grace to me in this way.

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Has fear kept you from confiding in your close friends?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

 

 

 

 

30 Day Challenge: Introduction — October 29, 2015

30 Day Challenge: Introduction

I will be writing one blog post a day during the month of November. Since arriving here in Kathmandu, Nepal, I have experienced and learned so much. For 30 days, I will be sharing these experiences, some life-changing, others not so much, with you. Each post will begin with one of the following:

  • I have found…
  • I have feared…
  • I have failed…

I invite you to see through my eyes the life I never dreamed I’d have.

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