2018: Week #21: Resilience

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In our roles as pastors to missionaries we participate in the on-boarding of new staff.  The month of May has been busy with on-line training. Live/classroom training occurs this summer.

Our topic for this week. Resilience. “Ability to recover readily from illness, depression,2018-05-21 09.12.10.1jpg adversity, or the like; buoyancy; elasticity.” After a reading from Gordon McDonald’s book, A Resilient Life: You Can Move Ahead No Matter What (Thomas Nelson 2006), and an on-line quiz, we asked for reflection.

Buoyancy. Elasticity. Bouncing back when everything is smashed to smithereens. Based on a relationship with Jesus, resilience takes effort. Work.

Resilience. How resilient are you? In looking at your life, where do you need to increase resilience? In what ways do you think it is possible to strengthen your resilience?

Reflection questions. Good for new staff. And. For all of us.

 

 

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2018: Week #20: Capturing & Recapturing

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2018-05-18 10.14.51.1jpgThis 20th week of 2018. A week of capturing memories. Imprints on the mind and heart. The marriage of a nephew and his bride. Beautiful. Sweet. Full of hope.

A week of capturing family memories. Grandchildren. In-laws. Poolside fun. Breakfast table conversations. Dodging raindrops. Tiny purple boxes filled with chocolate for each wedding guest.

And. A week of recapturing memories. Sisters together from the far corners of the earth. A bit of reminiscing. Tears. Mostly laughter. Lots of laughter.

Memories recaptured. Continuing through a string of emails between we four sisters and our brother. These old and new memories which link us forever.

We all have them. Memories. Some we would rather not recall. Others we recapture readily. And then. We are always creating new memories.

In our ministry as pastors to missionaries the memory bank Brian and I have is filled with relationships, places and experiences that were not there just a few short years ago. From the sight of God’s work in a Greek church plant, to a shelter for displaced Ukrainians, to a Lebanese children’s camp, to a Czech center for Roma, to a Hungarian art gallery and coffee shop, to a Quebec language school, and on and on.

Of course. Each of these memories involves our colleagues. Now our deep-seated friends. Memories around their dinner tables. Walking through their cities and places of ministry. Hearing their dreams. And heartaches. All gifts of capturing and recapturing.

And. This week we were with some of those friends. Debriefing their ministries and lives. Gathered at our National Office. Filling our hearts with new memories.

Assuredly. A week of memories. First with family. Then with friends and colleagues. Memories captured and recaptured. God’s gracious hand…

2018: Week #19: Peering

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2018-03-12 12.17.57Just at eye level, in the stark white door, was the perfect peep hole. There. In the Budapest apartment. I peered into the hall. Through that splendid peep hole.

But. All was distorted. Peering through that peep hole I wondered if I would actually be able to recognize a friend who might come to the door.

Peering through such distortion feels a bit like trying to understand life at times. I am not sure why loved ones hurt each other. Or. Why we trip over significant communication. Understanding can be limited. Distorted. Foggy.

And then. Comprehending what God is doing in our lives and the world is sometimes hazy at best. Our understanding of God himself, of heaven, of eternity, is no better. Equal to peering through that peep hole. Distorted. Colored by our humanity. Our limitations.

But. There will come a day when we will see clearly. Distortion wiped away. Peep holes will be a thing of the past.

Sweet joy. “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!” I Corinthians 13:12

2018: Week #18: Frustration

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Snow gone. Trees budding. Time to pay attention to the peeling deck. Spending an2018-05-05 17.54.54 afternoon with a power washer, Brian was making progress. Until. Until he discovered mold. Rot. Punky wood.

Frustration. The task of redoing the deck had just turned into a major project of rebuilding the deck.

Time to summon energy and will to get the job done. The spoiled and rotten wood had to be replaced. There was no choice. But. That did not lessen the frustration.

I suppose you could say there are all kinds of lessons to be found in the story of our deck. Everything from the importance of digging out the rot of sin to the priority of a job well done to the value of building into others’ lives.

However. In this last week. At our house. The operative word was frustration. Non-threatening frustration. But, frustration nonetheless.

Yet. Life does bring threatening frustration. Resentment. Disappointment. Grievance. What then? It isn’t always possible to summon energy and will. The Old Testament prophet Samuel handled his threatening frustration by letting it spill out. To God. “Samuel was angry when he heard this. He prayed his anger and disappointment all through the night.” I Samuel 15:11 

Those prayers of Samuel’s were not sanitized. They were painful. And real. Taken to a safe and holy God. And. The next morning Samuel got up. Maybe still frustrated. But, with direction on how to care for the situation.

So. Therein lies the lesson for me. As with all of life, it is best to take the feelings and the situation to my God. Praying all through the night if necessary.

 

2018: Week #17: Windows

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2018-03-12 12.24.21The apartment was beautiful. Incredibly large windows. Tall, tall ceilings. And, pretty wood floors. Move in ready for our friends transitioning from Prague to Budapest. Perfect.

However. There. Across the courtyard. The opposite. A building full of…nothing. Hollow windows. Vacant doorways. Empty. Abandoned. No life.

Windows tell it all.

Shuttered. Drawn. Closing out the world.

Empty. Broken. No life. Or.

Open wide. Drawing in the light. Welcoming.

What is true for a building is true for a life.

“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!”  Matthew 6:22-23, The Message

2018: Week #16: Breakfast

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2017-09-14 01.50.18.2jpgEggs and bacon. Yogurt and granola. Fruit. Pancakes. Oatmeal. Breakfast. Served with strong coffee, or Turkish tea, the meal can be savored. Or, at times, eaten on the run.

Known as “the most important meal of the day,” we have enjoyed this fare in bustling airports. Quaint coffee shops. Spacious dining rooms. Quiet roadside stops. In homes from Poland to Greece, and back again.

Hearts and lives of those to whom we minister are often shared over that second cup of breakfast coffee. Morning musings. Reflections. Ponderings. Rising to the surface in the early hours of the day. We savor the sharing. Praying for wisdom and godly responses. For that is why we do what we do. Giving Jesus encouragement to His workers. The shalom and wholeness of His invitation.

The invitation: ” ‘Now come and have some breakfast!’ Jesus said.” 

On the shoreline Jesus offered breakfast to the disciples. Those men who had tripped over themselves while following Him. Those who had been called from their every day work to walk, learn, and pursue Him. Three years passed. An amazing life of miracles. Teaching. Comradery. And now. Suddenly it was done.

So there they were, as told in John 21, fishing. For what else could they do in the confusion of those post-resurrection days? And. Then. Jesus came to them. Still guiding them. This time in their fishing. “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat…”  

And. More importantly. After the fishing miracle of a loaded net. Jesus invites. ” ‘Now come and have some breakfast!’ ” There. On the shore. The Sea of Galilee. Jesus offered breakfast. There is peace in His invitation. Shalom. A wholeness of healing. As if to say, “There will be time for a second cup of coffee…and more.”

Wholeness. Peace. Extended over breakfast, the most important meal of the day.

 

2018: Week #15: Sherbrooke

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Tucked into a cozy apartment in Sherbrooke, Quebec is a marvelous family of five and

Sherbrooke

Photo credit: J.D. deClet

one gigantic dog by the name of Hobbs. The deClet family made the move to this beautiful city to learn French, the language of Quebec. And. In just a few months will join their ministry teammates in Montreal.

With warmth and goodwill the walls of this snug apartment were stretched this week. Stretched to make room for the ReachGlobal Montreal City Team, plus the two of us as pastors to missionaries. Six more adults piled into the living room. With the lovable Hobbs.

We ate together. Laughed together. Opened Scripture. Talked about team. Gave encouragement. Offered transparency. Asked questions. Talked some more about team. And. Prayed together.

The work of building a solid team. Important. Good. Sometimes hard. Vital.

Two days. Adding to the team foundation. In Sherbrooke. We were blessed.

 

 

2018: Week #14: Coins in White Envelopes

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2018-04-06 10.47.57One shallow drawer in our home holds a collection of memories. Memories in the form of coins and paper bills. Tucked into white envelopes.

Traveling from country to country on our circuit of missionary care, we inevitably come home with pieces of currency. Kuna. Hryvnia. Lei. Lev. Euro. Forint. Zloty. Koruna. Collected. In white envelopes.

Sweet memories spill out with the coins and the paper bills. Hungarian forint. I can see it now. We were in Gellért Espresso with James and Julie. Sharing life. And. Relaxing in the home of Mark and Jen over bowls of delicious soup.

Czech koruna. Prague. Walking from the train station, up the hill to the home of Ritch and Susan. And. Dinner with Curt and Vicky, topped off with one of Curt’s marvelous cakes.

Ukrainian hryvnia. In a quaint restaurant with Jamie. And. Rowing on a Kiev lake with Pam and Julian.

Euro in Athens. A stop at the bakery with Stefanos and Manon. And. Communion in the Kypseli church plant, followed by lunch in the home of Angela.

With each coin. There is another memory. With a brush of the fingers sights and sounds return. Small bits of experiences in the palm of the hand. Mirroring realities of the heart.

House churches. Communion. Gatherings. Worship. Disciples. Schools. Mentoring. Conversations. So much. Just behind the eyelids. Deep in the heart. Remembered with coins found in white envelopes.

In this week which began with the celebration of Christ’s resurrection these gospel memories rise. So many people we love. In so many places. Gospel carriers. We walk with them. Supporting. Encouraging. Collecting memories.

Coins in white envelopes.

 

 

 

 

2018: Week #13: Kahlig

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Standing in the doorway of the airplane, I attempted to pick up my hand luggage andRain take a step.

On the tarmac. In the rain.

My foot did not find the step. I landed hard. So very hard.

Passengers were waiting. I was in the way. Lying there with my face pressed against the step.

Someone bent down to help me.

Although Brian was soon there, it was Kahlig who was just behind me. Who stopped. Who reached both arms down to help me. Who supported me while I stood. Who entered the transport bus with me. And with Brian. Who helped with luggage. Who would not leave our sides until his path led left and ours led right.

Kahlig offered his kindness to me, to us, with the words, “for humankind.” 

This Holy Week Kahlig has been in my heart and mind. I would that he would know the One who sacrificed His life for humankind. The One whose kindness leads to our repentance.

 

2018: Week #12: Chasing God’s Dreams

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2018-03-19 14.58.25.1jpgCaught by surprise, our eyes filled with tears as our sweet friend opened her heart to tell us of her childhood resolution to chase God’s dream for her life. We were part of the resolution. The dream.

A dream ignited at the tender age of eight. Precipitated by the account of another who had followed God’s dream to Cameroon. Kindled thirty years ago by Brian’s question to a body of believers,“Will you go?” Her answer then, and to this day, “Yes!”

One might wonder at the validity of such a youthful decision. But she knew. And she knows. Chasing God’s dream has taken her around the world. His dream for her ever growing. Pouring out, into, and over others’ lives. We never knew!

Until last week. In a far away land. At a corner table. In a cozy restaurant. Our lives meshed once again. And the story was told. Our lives and our obedience. Connecting with her life and her obedience. Then and now.

Our sweet, short visit ended. But our thankful hearts continue to ponder her written thoughts to us: “I’m so grateful the Father gave me the opportunity to share your impact on my life this side of eternity! Thank you for being faithful vessels! I am a life that was changed! And now, by his grace, many more through me!”