What are you planning for your vacation this year? Are you going to do the regular stuff: pools, driving, sunburns, etc? Why not try something new?
Here’s a cool idea: come with me to Cambodia & make a vacation that you’ll never FORGET! I’m taking a small group with Saving Moses to help with our nightcare work in Phnom Penh. The cool stuff you’ll get to do includes:
experiencing a new & incredible culture,
meet babies & toddlers who will steal you heart,
do some cleaning, painting & renovating with our centers,
meet Jesus in the faces of desperate people
Let’s make your vacation this year something fresh, unique & possibly life changing!!
“Control” is a loaded word. It can evoke a visceral reaction in various individuals, in negative or positive ways. And as Americans, we cherish our freedom sometimes to the point of demonizing any form of control. We don’t want people to infringe on our rights, we want to speak freely without consequences and we want to the freedom to make decisions often without the complementary responsibilities.
If we are followers of Jesus, however, there’s an alarming verse that recently arrested my attention: 2Cor 5:14a, “For the love of Christ controls us, . . . ” When I read this, I tried to find some wiggle room in the Greek for the word “control”. But alas, I had no luck. I’m supposed to be controlled by Jesus’ love.
So if we identify as a follower of Jesus, this means that His love:
influences my conversations to make them edifying rather than snarky
priorities my resources to be less selfish & to consider others
applauds those random acts of kindness that run contrary to my fleshy instincts
filters my thoughts & emotions to remove unforgivness, judgment, condescension, etc
Let’s allow Jesus’ love to be the controlling & defining essential in our lives!
This is a picture my friend took last week when I was showing her how to do a Turkish get-up in the local coffee shop. The purposes of this exercise is to improve ability, strengthen the shoulder & probably make a person look super silly. I say this because whenever I do them, I feel not just a little goofy.
Sometimes, our spiritual development can feel to our flesh like a Turkish get-up. Growing spiritually doesn’t always make our flesh feel comfortable & svelte. But growing spiritually helps us to go through life’s ups & downs with more agility & this also helps to strengthen our core self, grounding us in prayer & the Bible.
Don’t minimize the importance of doing the daily disciplines of prayer & Bible time that foster spiritual growth!
Do you have mindless habits? All of us have things that we do without giving much thought to them, such as brushing our teeth, driving home, morning routines, etc. It can be really helpful to have these kind of routines, but sometimes they’re counterproductive.
For example, in Luke 10, Martha & Mary had Jesus come to their house for dinner. Based on Martha’s behavior in other stories in the Gospels, it seems like she fell into the routine of cooking, serving & being busy with getting stuff done. All of these things aren’t inherently wicked, but if we allow our routines to sabotage our fellowship with Jesus, then they become more of a hindrance than a help.
Let’s always remember that Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 to seek His kingdom first & we’ll have what we need! Let’s be sure our routines reinforce our intimacy with Jesus rather than distract us in mindless disconnect 🙂
At the end of last week, I returned from a whirlwind trip to Bangladesh for Saving Moses. In our short time there, we accomplished loads of stuff because I think that a person should do everything to maximize their time. Upon returning home, I find myself more than a little spent. I feel puny, my sleep is messed up, my emotions are everywhere & I can’t seem to quiet my brain.
Thankfully, I was able to join our entirely glorious Sunday School class yesterday where we took a deep dive into 2Samuel 7 – a chapter about David wanting to build a temple for God. The first verse of the chapter says that David had “rest on every side.” One of the ladies in our class observed how wonderful this would be to have rest everywhere in our lives! In our discussion, we camped on this idea for awhile & it was amazing!! As I thought about this, I felt the Holy Spirit say to me that this rest was available to me not only on the outside, but on the inside as well – rest on every side.
So let’s allow the Holy Spirit to give us rest, maybe more than any place, on the inside with our emotions, thoughts, desires, etc
Do things that you’re unfamiliar with make you scared? I don’t think this is an uncommon experience for most people. On the other side, I think that we should sometimes be scared of the familiar or at least uncomfortable. I say this for lots of reasons. Being familiar & comfortable can:
create an illusion of safety & stability
lull us into taking stuff for granted
tempt us to rely on our own wisdom rather than trusting God
Let’s be careful that staying familiar keeps us from following God, growing & looking forward!
I’m flying back to the US today from Bangladesh, so it feels like the day that never ends. When I get toward the end of these long journeys, I get really punchy & goofy. But I also try to keep things as simple as possible because my mental ability to do anything complicated gets close to non-existent. So “simple” is my operative word.
I think keeping stuff simple is generally a good rule of thumb. I remind myself that simple is loving God, loving people & loving myself. With all of our technology, communication abilities, etc, let’s never get so sophisticated & savvy as to forego the core basics that Jesus taught: love is the defining characteristic of anyone who follows Jesus!
“What’s wrong with her?” I was recently walking through the largest brothel in Bangledesh & noticed a lady sitting on a bench & she was crying. I immediately sat next to her & put my arm around her, feeling her sadness pouring out of her. Some people with me asked her in the Bengali language what was wrong & there was a brief dialogue where she said why she was crying in seemingly few words. I continued to hold this young lady, absorbing her pain & she began to cry heaps more.
She was crying because she was homesick for her parents who live in a different district & she had been working in this brothel for more than a year.
I could continue explaining more & more details of her life to help you, my reader, understand why she was crying.
But let’s be careful that we don’t qualify our love on understanding first. Indeed, I sincerely don’t think we begin to understand until we decide first to love.
If you truly want to begin understanding someone, decide that you will love them & you’ll find that you begin to understand them more & more!
It’s 3:45am & I’m in Bangledesh. Just when I thought I was safe to take out my ear plugs, the prayer call thing started up again. Maybe tonight is a special occasion for some city-wide prayer meeting via the Goliath loudspeakers blaring outside my window.
It’s one thing to struggle with changing time zones & getting decent sleep with the blaring city-wide prayer call. It’s another thing to think about the babies & toddlers I met yesterday whose moms work in the largest brothel in Bangledesh. When I asked these moms about where they keep their babies when they work, 7/10 said that their babies & toddlers are on the bed with them as they work because these moms have no other option for their babies. And many of these are at risk from being abused by their moms clients.
So these babies & toddlers are NOT SAFE. Enter nightcare with Saving Moses. In nightcare, we provide a safe place for the babies & toddlers of sex workers to sleep while their moms work. We have been doing nightcare in Cambodia for almost 5 years & I’m super keen / eager to open nightcare here in Bangledesh.
The moms of these babies desperately want to keep their babies safe so they’d can keep a “fresh mind.” This was a quote from one of the moms I interviewed. It unraveled me.
This morning I enjoyed some very tasty chai some where in rural Bangledesh. As my friends and I waited for the gentleman to make the chai, a crowd accumulated around us as we were definite novelties. A person could get jittery surrounding by curious strangers with no communication possibilities. Then add on that we were the only females in the group & a person could be intimidated, even scared.
But I’ve found that being friendly & fun can make these kinds of situations into loads for fun everyone! Furthermore, if a person doesn’t take themselves too seriously it’s even more entertaining for everyone!
Let’s be the difference in our world – full of light, love, joy & LIFE!!
There’s plenty of darkness in our world & lots of that darkness comes from letting hate & apathy into our hearts. For example, my friend was telling me about a brothel in Bangladesh where the underage workers are forced to take bovine steroids to force their bodies to develop & be more appealing to clients. Obviously, the steroids have very negative results on these girls’ bodies to say nothing about the babies born & toddlers raised in this environment. Truly, brothels like the one I described are dark & deplorable.
Enter nightcare with Saving Moses. In Cambodia, we have four nightcare centers where we look after the babies & toddlers of prostitutes while they work. These sex workers have no way to look after their babies or toddlers while they work, so our centers are essential to the nurture, upbringing & worldview for these lovely treasures! Jesus talks about caring for Him when we look after “the least of these” in Matthew 24.
Be sure to watch my blog over the next week as I visit Bangledesh to bring love & light to the least of these!
This is a picture of South Park in Colorado. My son & I are grabbing a day over Christmas break to get some skiing / snowboarding & today I decided to try a new route to get up to the mountains & man was it GORGEOUS!! The views on the drive were entirely enchanting, serene & ethereal – almost like driving in a picture!
I’m really glad that I tried this new route even though there were some icy patches & a few parts were a little touch & go.
Seems like this could be a good mindset for starting out 2017! Let’s be determined to try some new stuff, even if some parts might be a little tricky to navigate. I find that often the rewards of new things can be better than the risks! Let’s GO!!
I was climbing up a ladder at 2am today, attempting to replace the dying battery on the blasted chirping smoke alarm. Needless to say, this wasn’t my ideal middle of the night wake up experience & for that matter, I don’t think there’s any ideal middle of the night wake up experience!
So how do I relate this to Jesus?
Jesus keeps us safe in unexpected situations – I don’t normally plan for ladder climbing & balance at 2am
Jesus gives us wisdom when we can’t figure out what to do – groggy thinking at 2am
Jesus restores us when we feel depleted – getting back to sleep wasn’t impossible
Today, I took my kids skiing / snowboarding, my first time since I fell last ski season & got a concussion. So today is wonderful! Fun with my boys & fantastic runs!
Sometimes we have to get back on the horse & keep riding when we get bucked off, learning the appropriate lessons that go w the fall 🙂
Of course there’s a time to quit, but let’s do that when we’re succeeding & not when stuff is going poorly.
Keep on, keeping on!!
Looking at this picture, you would likely tell me to fix it & turn it around since it looks like Jesus is upside down. However, sometimes I think the Holy Spirit wants to turn us up on end so we be right side up, based on the Holy Spirit’s perspective. Some areas where we might need some adjusting could include:
Money: getting is never as blessed as giving
Time: sometimes I need to remember that prayer can be the key for productive rather than staying busy
Mercy: being judgmental appealing to our flesh, mercy wins with Jesus!
Leadership: serving is the model Jesus gave us if we’re going to be the Jesus-kind of leader
When my kids were younger, we used to sing a song about the wheels on the bus going round & round, the wipers on the bus going swish, swish, swish, . . . etc. you get the gist.
Let’s be certain that we allow Jesus to hold our daily lives together. Indeed, we would be wise to come to Jesus everyday for maintainable, schedule tuning, workload help & of course regular oil changes with the Holy Spirit!
Sometimes we think that forgetting something is bad, but sometimes being forgetful is good. It’s bad to forget the grocery list when I go shopping and it’s bad to forget my driver’s license when I try to catch a flight to another city. But it’s good to forget a rude comment that someone said to you or forget a hurtful thing that happened in the past. Indeed, sometimes it’s a divine gift to forget some things or to remember things in a selective way.
I can chose to remember the positive things from experiences and conversations, while letting the negative stuff fade into the background. Or I can chose to keep rehearsing the negative stuff from past conversations or experiences and let them overshadow the good stuff.
Seems like Paul had some good wisdom when he said in Philippians 3:13, “Forgetting what lies behind, I press forward for what lies ahead, . . . “
My husband was hospitalized several weeks ago for a stroke. This very alarming experience was something I’d prefer to keep on my un-bucket list. Nonetheless, I was intensely challenged to keep my eyes on Jesus during this crisis. Thankfully, it wasn’t difficult to see Jesus.
It seems to me that Jesus is not just willing to help in a crisis but more so, eager. In that experience, i found that I wasn’t strong, wise nor independent enough to hold it all together. But Jesus is. Learning to be weak & vulnerable with Jesus is helping me to grow closer & see Jesus more readily than I have in the past.
Jesus does ICU 🙂
One of my all time favorite platforms to recognize Jesus is in small groups, Bible studies & prayer groups. And it seems logical that this would be true based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:20 when He says, “Where two or three are gathered in My name, I am there in their midst.” Some of the things I love about these settings are:
Robust conversations about Jesus from various points of view. Different perspectives help me see & experience Jesus in fresh & new ways.
Prayer support in the group.
Recognizing Jesus words, presence, power, wisdom & loads more, like when Jesus walked along the Emmaus’ road & talked with His followers even though they didn’t recognize Him in those moments.
Seeing the Fruits of the Spirit in first person experience because there’s always some kind of conflict or rub whenever you bring people together 🙂
Let’s be sure to keep some fellowship with other followers of Jesus as part of our essentials routines!