At the Center

We sang this song at church tonight. So simple and yet so real.

Jesus at the center of it all
Jesus at the center of it all
From beginning to the end
It will always be, it’s always been You Jesus
Jesus

Jesus at the center of it all
Jesus at the center of it all
From beginning to the end
It will always be, it’s always been You Jesus
Jesus

Nothing else matters, nothing in this world will do
Jesus You’re the center, and everything revolves around You
Jesus You

So Jesus be the center of my life
Jesus be the center of my life
From beginning to the end
It will always be, it’s always been You Jesus
Oh Jesus

Nothing else matters, nothing in this world will do
Jesus You’re the center, and everything revolves around You
Jesus You

From my heart to the Heavens
Jesus be the center
It’s all about You
Yes it’s all about You

Nothing else matters, nothing in this world will do
Jesus You’re the center, and everything revolves around You
Jesus You

Jesus at the center of it all
Jesus at the center of it all
From beginning to the end
It will always be, it’s always been you Jesus

Advertisements

Thanksgiving.. in May

Can I be honest about something? Okay, here goes.. I’m a complainer. I wish I wasn’t and I’m constantly trying to stop, but I’m a complainer.

I think it comes from being a very emotional being. I tend to feel emotions on a grander scale than some and one of the ways I cope with that is to vocalize what I’m feeling. Often.

So whether I’m hot or tired or have a headache, I vocalize it. If someone just cut me off, I complain about bad drivers. Don’t even get me started on those who lack respect for other people’s time. Seriously, you don’t want to get me started on that..

But here’s the thing, I’m also a grateful person. I thank God continuously throughout the day for my friends, for laughter, for this ministry that I get to be a part of. I thank Him when I find a good parking spot or get the perfect picture.

I also try to say thank you to others as many times a day as I can. Whether I’m thanking Ya for cooking me dinner, the security guard for letting me into my neighborhood or the person who let me merge into their lane, I try to vocalize it as much as possible. It keeps me balanced.

Recently though, I found myself in a rut. I realized that I was seeing the negative side of life a lot more than the positive side. And as someone who has struggled with pretty bad depression in the past, I can see the signs pretty boldly.

So in an effort to spend less time complaining and more time being thankful, I’ve started writing down the things I’m thankful for. It’s made a difference and I wanted to share some of the things I’ve written down.

  • camp fires
  • thunder that rolls
  • cool nights following really hot days
  • my little sister, Tamara
  • hot showers, especially after village trips
  • compliments that feel really genuine
  • the camera on my iPhone
  • feeling home
  • communion
  • flip-flops
  • my dogs: Gracie, Shadowfax, Isaac, Max, Joey
  • Aon, Ya, P’Dtun
  • books
  • God’s Word and the ability to compare different versions
  • my truck, Suzy
  • air conditioning
  • language translation mishaps that make me laugh
  • elephants
  • rain on a tin roof
  • familiar songs
  • my parents
  • care packages
  • the Internet

The list goes on and I am going to keep adding to it until I reach at least 500, at least. You should try it too, because who doesn’t want to celebrate Thanksgiving all year long? 🙂

Selfish and Blessed

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about getting back into blogging. It’s been so long since my last post and I’ve lost all my readers, and yet, I miss it. So here I am, I’m back! And hopefully someone out there will read this. 🙂

I like to journal. I don’t do it as often as I’d like, but I do it when I can. And often, I write things down on random pieces of paper or napkins because I don’t have my actual journal with me at the moment when words are bursting out of me. It’s a bad habit because I never get around to copying those words into my journal and I end up having a bunch of folded papers stuck in different journals or books.

Today I found one of those pieces paper stuck in a notebook and the words that I’d written, well they made me smile. Because apparently what I was feeling on Friday, September 14 2012 at 11:15pm is still relevant today on Wednesday, May 7 2014 at 9:41pm.

“Some days I wake up selfish.
This life I live requires too much sacrifice.
Don’t I deserve a normal life, with normal things, like my friends have?

Other days I wake up blessed.
I’m such a lucky person to be experiencing such a unique and wonderful life.
What did I do to deserve such beauty?

My mind is fickled.”

Amen, 2012 me, Amen!

Freedom

Many of you have heard me talk over the years about our work on the Thailand/Burma border, about the need for Jesus there and the many people who have been rescued. Life Impact International is a ministry that we have partnered with. Empower International has helped this ministry from their first days and we believe so strongly in what God has called them to do. Please watch this video about what is happening here in Thailand and please pray for Life Impact, Empower International and the many other ministries working to free children from slavery and horrific lives.

Clean Feet

Every couple of months we host a Women’s Day at our church in Mae Toh, Thailand. It’s a time of fellowship and learning and our March event had the theme of Servanthood. After days of praying about what to teach, I felt led to John 13:1-17, the story of Jesus washing his disciples feet during their last supper together. Immediately upon reading the story, I tried to think of something different to teach on. The problem I was having is that I knew that if I taught this story, I would want to end it with our own foot washing ceremony.

Why is that a problem?

In Thai culture, feet are considered the dirtiest and lowliest part of the body. Sure, we all think feet are dirty, but it’s taken to a different level here. In the Buddhist culture, the whole lower part of the body is considered dirty, with feet being the dirtiest. So much so that pants, underwear and socks cannot be washed in the same tub/machine as shirts, jackets, bras, etc. After taking a shower, separate towels are used to dry the upper and lower body. In public, feet cannot be pointed at anyone and you would never ever touch someone’s feet.

As an American, this is a much bigger culture adjustment than I thought it would be. I never realized until I came to Thailand that I moved stuff and pointed with my feet. Even just crossing my legs became a problem because when doing so, my feet were often pointing at someone. Needless to say, it was a huge adjustment and still comes into play at times!

For me to ask a bunch of women to not only wash someone else’s feet, but to allow someone to wash theirs, was a big deal.

So I went to Aon and Ya and asked them what they thought. Their initial reactions were not very encouraging and I decided that if they thought it was a bad idea, I wasn’t going to do it. I spent the next three days trying to come up with something else to teach on and came up with zero ideas. God just kept leading me back to the passage in John 13.

I sat down with Aon and Ya again and after talking a bit, found out that they didn’t really understand what the foot washing was all about. So we had a bible lesson and I taught them.

We talked about how people in Jesus’ time walked all day in sandals in the dirt and their feet would be very dirty and smelly by the end of the day. They pointed out how that was the same in Thailand and they understood why the feet needed to be washed upon entering a house.

So I moved on to the symbolism in the foot washing, how it is a picture of what Jesus did for us on the cross. In the same way that Jesus took off his outer clothing and washed the disciples feet, he laid aside his God nature to serve us, all the way to dying on the cross for us.

Verse 8 says “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” Literally, unless we allow God to come in and clean all of our sin out of our lives, we cannot be with Jesus. This is done when we accept Jesus into our hearts and become Christians.

Verse 10 says “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean.” This is telling that we only need to accept Jesus one time. That’s it. He will come into our hearts and live with us forever!

However, we still live in a sinful world and we are still affected by sin every single day. The foot washing is a symbol of Jesus cleaning the dirt from the world off of our hearts on a daily basis. We must allow Jesus to wash us daily!

Then I talked about how this story is not only a picture of what Jesus did for us on the cross, it is also a picture of a lifestyle that Jesus wants us to have, a lifestyle of serving each other in love.

In verse 14 Jesus doesn’t say “Now that I’ve washed your feet, you should wash my feet.” He says “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”

The world’s definition of love is that we give in order to get. Now that I’ve given you something, you have to give me something in return. God teaches us that love should be given freely and sacrificially!. We must give of ourselves without expecting anything in return.

In verse 16 Jesus is telling the disciples that if even he, God, can live a lifestyle of serving in love, than they should also. And in turn, we need to.

Verse 17 tells us that if we do these things, we will be blessed. This literally means that if we follow the example of Jesus in this story, our futures will be happy and fulfilled. Who wouldn’t want that?!

If you seek happiness as your goal, it will always elude you. But if you turn away from this and instead depend personally on Christ and serve others, happiness will always find you!

By the time I got to the end of the lesson, I was on fire and astonished to find that Aon and Ya were really excited too! The both told me that I HAD to teach this lesson to the women and then we HAD to wash each other’s feet.

At this point, I just sat back and laughed. Why did I ever doubt God’s leading? He obviously knows much better than me what the women need to hear. And yet I felt the need to step in and think I knew better. Lord, when will I ever learn?!

So I took this lesson to Mae Toh and taught it to the women there. They were engaged and interested, and I was excited to teach it. When I got to the end, I told them that I wanted them to wash each other’s feet. Instead of complaining and looking like they’d rather be anywhere else, like I’d expected, they were excited. They grabbed the soap, towels and tubs I brought and jumped right into it.

There was laughter and a few tears and a time of serving that ended up being more special than I could have imagined. And of course their focus was not on the feet, but on serving each other in love.

They ended the foot washing by praying for each other, prayers that they would be better servants and learn to love those around them with a Christ-like love.

What a wonderful, blessed day it was!

Foot Washing@MT

A Garden of Blessings

Image

I love my garden. Those of you who have seen it may say that it’s a bit cluttered, but I love it. It makes me smile on a regular basis.

Why? Well whenever I see a flower blooming, I’m reminded of God’s blessings in my life. And believe me, my life is chock full of blessings!

So I take care of my garden of blessings, water it every day and take pictures way too often. 🙂 Here’s some I took today:

IMG_2645

 

IMG_2654

 

IMG_2641 IMG_2669 IMG_2664 IMG_2644 IMG_2662 IMG_2666 IMG_2670

Provision

Upon hearing that I’m a missionary, people are always curious about my finances. They ask, as sensitively as they can, how I can afford to be on the mission field. When I mention raising support, people tend to cringe and almost always ask if I hate it. 

As shocking as it seems, I love raising support! I encourage every missionary to raise support instead of relying on themselves to provide finances. There are two reasons why I believe so strongly in the idea of raising support from individuals and churches.

First, I love to see how God provides. I believe that God has called me into mission work. I believe that it is His will that I am in Thailand working with Empower International. I believe that God doesn’t want me to be poor, but instead wants me prosper and not be lacking in any area of my life. And I believe that God always, ALWAYS provides when we are in His will! God is not lacking finances or anything else, so of course He will provide all that I need. The fun part, is seeing where His provision comes from. 

I have been doing full time mission work for over ten years and there hasn’t been a single day during that time where I haven’t had food, water or anything else that I needed. God always provides. Occasionally an unexpected financial need will arise that I know I cannot afford under normal circumstances. But, without fail, the money always arrives, often before I even have a chance to start wondering where it will come from. 

Last year my computer died and I admit, I stressed a little bit. My computer is my link to my family and friends in other parts of the world. It’s where I store and edit all the photos I take. I use it to write ministry newsletters and plan events. I use it to process all the accounting for the ministry. It’s a part of my daily life so I sat down and prayed. God knows how important my computer is to my life and ministry, so He provided. Within a week, a friend had donated enough money for me to buy a new computer!

Some people think that God doesn’t care about the small things in life but I believe He does. God wants me to be happy and He provided my dogs because they bring me joy on a daily basis. This month my dog, Gracie, got sick. After taking her to the vet I found out that she needed emergency surgery to save her life and it was going to cost a few hundred dollars. Normally I wouldn’t have that much money that wasn’t already budgeted for something else, but this month I did. This month my support came in and there was a few hundred extra dollars. I wasn’t sure what it was for but I put it in savings, knowing that God knew what it was for. And I was able to provide medical care to save Gracie’s life, plus extra to bless the people who helped save her. God cares about my dogs and wants me to continue to have the joy in my life that they provide.

Seeing God’s provision in my life is exciting and fun! 

Second, I love the relationships that are built through support raising. Some times being on the other side of the world is hard. It gets lonely and I fear that the longer I am gone, the more I am forgotten. The phrase “Out of sight, out of mind” definitely rings true, it’s part of human nature. But there is a bond that is formed when someone believes in me and loves me enough to give me their hard earned money. There is SO much joy and thankfulness in my heart when people give towards my life and ministry. There are no words to describe the love I feel towards my supporters, I just want to bring them all to Thailand so that I can hug them on a daily basis!

A few days ago a new supporter emailed me about monthly giving. He said that he didn’t want to set up automatic donations because he wanted a reminder to say extra prayers for me on the 15th of every month. This made me happy. Not because of the monthly donations but because I know that his family will not forget me. Our friendship will continue and I can count on his family when I need extra prayers.

My supporters are the first people to request time with me on my trips to America. And I love it! Relationships are so important and these are holy, God-filled friendships that will continue no matter how long I am gone. 

Those are the two main reasons that I love raising financial support. God always provides!!!!