I just spent my first Christmas away from my family and friends. In another country. I wasn't sure how it would be...I definitely missed my dear family and friends and the traditions we always had fun doing. I knew this year would be very different. And yet, as my aunt reminded me, "You're being showered with gifts one could never purchase anywhere!" So true. I treasure these moments.
My kids in small group decorated little paper ornaments Christmas Eve. We went over Christmas vocabulary. When I got to the nativity scene, I asked who was the baby in the manger. Yoyo, a bright 10-year-old with a deep voice, excitedly piped up:
And yet so profound.
Then little Kevin came running up to me after 8 AM class and gave me a big hug. He's one of three boys from an orphanage. My heart hurts for him. He's without parents and he's broken and sad inside. He needs Christ to come take those pieces and make him new, whole. I pray that our week together will be a seed planted in him that will bear fruit for eternity.
I thank God for this opportunity to see Yoyo's face break into a huge smile as he proclaimed that Jesus is God. I thank God for the opportunity to hug little orphan Kevin and ruffle his hair. I thank God for hearing Mickey, our taxi driver friend, ask why we celebrate Christmas and if it's all about Jesus.
That's a bit of what my Christmas was like.
And I begin to see anew that what my aunt said is true. When Christmas is all about Christ, rejoicing in Him, and sharing Him with others, you are showered with precious gifts that you could never ever buy.
So when I miss my parents and siblings, when I wish I could teach Sunday school at my church in the States, when I wish I could go on adventures with dear friends, I remind myself that He's worth it.
Want to make friends in a new country? Be prepared. This isn't always easy. Sometimes you meet someone on the train and instantly, you're buddies. Sometimes you try and try and nothing happens. Many things factor in - you're a foreigner, you're different, your first language isn't the same as everyone else around you. Not only all that but your perspective, worldview, and beliefs are almost guaranteed to be different. Then there's the fact that you've been shaped by your own culture all these years, so yeah, cultural differences are big as well.
All this...and I still live abroad. Better yet, I choose this life! Sure, there's been plenty of disappointments, confusions, misunderstandings, letdowns, frustrations and bad days. But Jesus uses all of those - and more - to mold me more like Himself. It's in that day getting lost all morning or those 60 minutes spent trying to communicate with the clerk about …
Does summer always seem to fly by for you? It's hard to believe that it's already mid April and school will be letting out soon. For me, summertime always seems to speed by and the next thing I know, autumn is around the corner. So this summer, I want to encourage you to take advantage of the extra free time that often comes along with the season. While it's wonderful to be able to do things you enjoy like swimming, painting, or reading, don't let your activities rule your summer. Take some time to share God's love in a powerful way by serving others. You have the time, so get involved! The following is a list of opportunities to consider:
~ get involved in Vacation Bible School ~ help out in your local church ~ go on a mission trip (if you're looking for a longer term mission trip for 11 months, check out VOICE Missions!) ~ visit the elderly in a nursing home ~ help family and friends - clean the house, babysit, prepare a picnic ~ do random acts of kindnes…
Happy Valentine’s Day, lovely ladies! - Since there is no avoiding the dangling red and pink heart decorations today, I thought I should just go ahead and write about them. - Write about our hearts, that is. It doesn’t matter whether you are in a relationship or not – trusting God with your heart will always be of utmost importance. - For the record, never doubt God’s sense of humor. I’m really writing to myself, because this last week has been very difficult for me to trust God. My emotions skyrocketed for no particular reason, and I paid way too much attention to them, per usual. - What makes it difficult for you to trust God with your heart – with your dreams and hopes and future, and even the confused and hurting pieces? - Is it your dreams themselves – ones you don’t want to give up; ones you’re afraid to let go? Is it your rollercoaster emotions? Distrust of trust? Not knowing if God is really trustworthy? Fear of being hurt, again? - It has been, and still is, all those things for me. - I’m …