A Life of Surrender

As I ponder my last post, I want to express to you that I am nobody. Please, as you read my words on surrender and choosing “here”, do not put me on a pedestal. I don’t belong there.  I am just a normal average girl that struggles the same as every other girl. Maybe more.

Don’t think for one second that my sacrifice is any harder than yours. It’s not.

Jim Elliot said it best, “Missionaries are very human folks just doing what they’re asked. Simply a bunch of nobodies trying to exalt Somebody.

And since I view every Christian believer as a missionary, wherever they happen to live, we are just a bunch of nobodies trying to exalt our beloved Somebody, aren’t we?

The truth is, we all, each one of us, if we are living a life surrendered to His will, have our own crosses to bear.  Our own sacrifices to make.  They all look different, but they all feel very much the same.  And most of those sacrifices, no matter where we live on the globe are mostly made up of those small moments woven in and throughout our days.

Surrender is usually dying to self on a daily basis and most often found in the mundane.” Jennie Allen, Anything

Following the Lord and doing what He asks of you isn’t always easy.  It is a long obedience, one of many mundane moments.  It isn’t all lights and fame and excitement.  It’s a lot of little moments of choosing to live for the unseen. Moments that can be downright difficult. But ones that can be equally beautiful.

Someone asked me, “What does a life of sacrifice look like? What exactly does living in surrender mean?”

I think a life of surrender means being so in love with our Savior that we willingly fling up our hands and tell Him we are willing to do whatever He asks of us, no matter what that means.  And, doing it every day, again and again. 

 Therefore I urge your brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2

Offering the life He has given us back to Him, to be used however He wishes.  Even if that means small things.  Things like making your husband’s favorite dinner, or chatting with the lady in line in front of you at the grocery store, or rubbing your son’s back when you are so tired and all you can think about is crawling into bed.

It means starting out each day with the precious Savior with open hands and saying, How can I serve You today? 

It means living with Heaven in view and being about kingdom work, even in the midst of car repairs, haircuts, and Little League. It’s seeing your life and the people in it through HIS eyes. And using the gifts he has given you, “your thing”, to serve as you look towards Heaven.

What if heaven and God and forever became our normal? Wouldn’t that change everything?”- Jennie Allen, Anything

It is being willing, because of love, to pray this prayer of Betty Scott Stam,

Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life.  I give myself, my life, my all utterly to Thee to be Thine forever.  Fill me and seal me with Your Holy Spirit.  Use me as Thou wilt, send me where Thou wilt, work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever.

And trusting Him with the outcome.


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Photo credit: My wonderful and talented hubby, Dave.

Choosing Here

As we haul bags into a stuffy taxi to make our way to the airport, he leans over at my frowning face with a smile and says, “You know, I think maybe going on vacation isn’t good for you. It’s too hard for you to go back.” He’s right.  As I mentally prepare myself for the “going back” it is always hard.  I sip my last Decaf Venti Iced Nonfat Vanilla Latte {say that fast!} that I ordered in English as I think over my life.

I’ve always known what I would be leaving, moving overseas.  I knew the first time, the time when we filled the big yellow bags to the brim and smiled in front of them, full of energy and excitement saying goodbye to family, friends, and the life we knew.  We were off to begin our adventure, the excitement of new things, the allure of the unknown.

But now, six years later, I know what I am choosing to come back to.  I know how the dog yelps non-stop day after day after day, crowding out my sleep, wearing me down like Chinese water torture.  I know the feeling of sweat dripping constantly down that spot where cleavage would be if I had cleavage.  I know that sinking feeling when the electricity goes off again, and it’s anybody’s guess as to when it might come back on.  I know the smell of the garbage piles on the side of the road, the ickiness of full sewers, and the constant noise of a city too packed onto it’s tiny island frame.

 I know.

And yes, there are the moments where I dream of pulling a Wonderwoman dive out of the taxi and crawling back under the fresh white duvet cover with the remote and watching Cake Boss until I fall asleep.

But then.

Then I remember the why. This life is short, and I want to live it surrendered, not comfortable.

Jennie Allen, in her book, Anything, says, “If we believe that this life is temporary, that belief alone changes how we live it.” I want this temporary life to be one that I can’t live on my own, one that I need His strength for each and every day.  Living in this way brings joy deep down in my soul. My sweet Jesus gave it all for me on the cross. He loves me so intently and He has given me the chance to offer back to Him a life of sacrifice.

And the truth is my life, the messy one, where I have to rely on Him to get me through, is more beautiful than any sea view, any candlelit dinner, or any afternoon spent journaling at Starbucks.  The messy life I have, the one HE chose for me, is far more beautiful than any comfortable relaxing moment I can imagine, because He is in it.

And, now, knowing exactly what I am in for, I choose it all again. 

 

Thanks for visiting! I invite you to subscribe to Grace Full Mama here!

Pic taken by my hubby, Dave. A  big thank you to Mandy from Biblical Homemaking for the cute clothes I am wearing in the pic.
*I understand that Starbucks may be a hot button issue for some of you, but as I live out of the country, I thank you for your grace in respecting my choice to drink some coffee from home.*

Linking up here: The Better Mom, Women Living Well, A Holy Experience, Denise in Bloom, Time Warp Wife, and Raising Homemakers

Restoration

During one of our long 8-hour power outages, I moved slowly in the blackness feeling for the front door to push it shut and click the lock.  Unbeknownst to me, the cat was caught between the door and the screen, and there he stayed sandwiched the whole night through {poor thing}.

I opened the door in the morning to find a frustrated feline along with the remains of a screen door scattered everywhere and a huge gaping hole proclaiming my mistake. And each day since, the gash is there announcing to me and all visitors that I need someone to come and fix it. Someone to come and pick up the pieces, fit a new screen, and fill the hole.

I am feeling a bit like that screen door.  Things long held secret coming into light bring pain and leave me feeling like bits of me are scattered everywhere. I have a vast hole, and although mine is hidden away and not as easily seen, I am in need of Someone to come and fix it.  I need Him to pick up the pieces and fill it.

Thankfully, that is the business He is in.  Restoration.

I know that He has it all under control, that He isn’t surprised, and He makes all things new. And it is right there in that word, Restoration.  I can’t be restored by striving for it, trying to fit the pieces back together, fitting in my own screen door. I can, however, be made new by resting in Him, resting in His plan for my life, resting knowing that He works ALL things together for good.

And so I rest.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

How about you?  Are bits of you scattered everywhere and you need Him to fill the hole? Maybe you could whisper a comment and we could lift each other up in prayer to the Master Fix-it Man? Will you join me in His work of Restoration?

 ”He whose heart is kind beyond all measure, gives unto each day what He deems best, Lovingly it’s part of pain and pleasure, Mingling toil with peace and rest.” – Lina Sandell
 
Linking up with Women Living Well Wednesdays!

Ideas for Short-Cut Hospitality and a Giveaway!

Today I am sharing some simple tips and ideas for short-cut hospitality, especially for those of us who are worn out as part of Karen Ehman’s, A Life That Says Welcome book study!

I hope that you will come on over and join in the fun.  There is also a Target gift card giveaway as well as a link-up swap and share for everyone to join!

Here is a little about Karen:

Through her daily blog, writing ventures and many speaking events, Karen’s passion is to provide women with creative inspiration and doable ideas to help them live their priorities and love their lives. She is the Director of the Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker team and is a contributor to Focus on the Family’s magazine Thriving Family.

A popular presenter at Hearts at Home moms’ conferences, Karen is also the author of five books including The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized, A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart and Home to Others and the recently released best-selling ebook Untangling Christmas: Your Go-To Guide for a Hassle-Free Holiday.

She has been a guest on national media shows including The 700 Club, At Home Live, Engaging Women, The Harvest Show, Moody Midday Connection and Focus on the Family. The mother of three, she and her college sweetheart Todd just celebrated their silver anniversary.

So, come join me me for some fun and fellowship!

When Cheese Sandwiches Make You Cry

I wrapped up homeschool and prepared lunch as the kids got things ready to head over to the MAF school to join classes for the afternoon. Hannah asked what was on the lunch menu and I answered, “Cheese sandwiches, apples, and Pringles.”  She gasped, “With sliced bread, real mayonnaise, and real cheese?” I nodded yes and the room erupted with whoops and hollers.

And I burst into tears.

What for me, as a child, was a mundane, boring lunch, was for my children the equivalent to a trip to Disneyland.  Really.  On our island, it is rare to have real cheese, good tasting mayonnaise, sliced bread, and the right flavor of Pringles all on the same day.  It didn’t matter that the electricity had been off for the last four hours, or that it would be off for another four.  They were thrilled and thought a cheese sandwich was the greatest thing, well, since sliced bread.

 I looked at their faces, my precious ones, and saw so many things. Thankfulness at precious souls that are thankful for the little things. But something else too.

Pain. Mine, not theirs.

They don’t know what they are missing.  They don’t know most American kids think cheese sandwiches are mundane at best.  They don’t know their own culture.  And my heart breaks.  What of all the little things they will never know?

My mind drifted to the story my MK {missionary kid} hubby told of returning to the US on furlough from Brazil and beginning first grade.  He told how he was given a test of pictures of men dressed up.  He stared at the paper, confused.  He had no idea what they were. The teacher collected the papers, laughed, and asked incredulously, “You didn’t answer the questions.  Don’t you know this is a fireman, a policeman, and a baker?” He was crushed and embarrassed, and the memory still stings.

And the sobs began again, for that little boy and for my own.

They call them “Third Culture Kids” because they will never fully fit into their home culture, but will never fully fit into the country where they live. They are an in-between species, a category unto themselves. What have I done to them?

Sure, there are lots of things they get to do, have seen, that others never will.  My mind searches as I think through all the blessings of their life. Jungle treks, ministry trips, exciting places and foods.

But what of the struggles they have had to face? Are facing? Living away from grandparents, being the entertainment and focus wherever they go, waking up every morning to the sound of the mosque, having so few American friends that really understand, the constant struggle of communicating in another language, the list goes on and on.

My mama heart cries for what they miss.

See the glass as half full, some will say. Yes, I know. And on a good day, one without physical pain and with electricity, I could. But today I am stripped bare and all I can do is to cling.

Cling desperately to Him.

 Life here, my third culture life, is a constant cycle: stripping of myself, choosing to cling to Him, rinse, and repeat. Because, really, I have no other choice.   And I’m thankful.

 Some days, choosing to cling means that all I can do is see the cup that is placed before me.  Not the one that could have been, not the one I think I want.  But the one that is there, right there, that has been lovingly given to me to drink.

My cup.

I see the cup that has been placed before me, and I drink. I cling. And, I will bring praise.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25-26

You will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock. Isaiah 26:3-4

This is my battle song {doing battle with fear and self-pity….join me?}

This is my prayer in the desert
When all that’s within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who provides
This is my prayer in the fire
And weakness or trial or pain
There is faith proved more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the faith
I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and he is here…..
All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

{Additional Scripture: Psalm 103:1, Ephesians 3:20, Psalm 77:13-14, John 15:4, Philippians 4:6}

What is your cheese sandwich moment? What is your cup, the one before you?

Linking up here:

Mama NEVER Said There’d Be Days Like This

**This is a post from 2 years ago from my previous blog, reposted here. Praising the Lord that we have not found any more giant snakes near us in the recent days.**

Now…..enjoy….or not.

For as long as I can remember I have had a debilitating fear of snakes. The kind of fear that makes you cry, your hands shake, and even, on occasion, throw up. To some this fear may seem silly or irrational, but to me, it is all too real.

But I had no idea how real it was going to get…..

At first, we began finding these little baby pythons in the yard, on the back stairs, and even on the laundry basket. Let’s just say I didn’t handle it well. Picture me puffy-eyed, red-faced, on the floor of the bathroom crying to Dave about how I just couldn’t stay here anymore. We had to move, and quick. Every time I thought about these evil, evil things I would erupt into sobs once more.

Eventually I did pull myself together somewhat and managed to carry on (I even managed to leave the bathroom floor), although I wouldn’t go into the backyard for many, many days. I squirmed with fear every time I thought about these horrible things, and prayed that I would never, ever, ever see one again.

After all, here I am sacrificing comfort, missing family, and dripping with sweat every day all for the Lord, right?! Surely the Lord would answer my desperate pleas for a life free from any more snakes! Right?! Ahem.

In the end, they caught 22 baby pythons between our backyard and our neighbor’s backyard (which by the way, they found far more in the neighbors’ backyard, and my dear friend and co-worker handled the snakes far better than I did).

Life returned to normal (relatively), and slowly the threat of finding snakes faded into the distance. I still would not go outside in the dark, or ever walk in any kind of tall grass. But overall, I was able to carry on with life.

And then, just when life was returning to normal, last Wednesday I heard our Indonesian neighbor boy yell for my son, Britton, to come see the snake he found. Oh great, I thought, another baby python….here we go again.

 But nothing could prepare me for what it was they found…..

This, literally feet from my house. Tears spring to my eyes and my hands are shaking just posting these pictures. My greatest all-time fear, right near my own house! It is difficult to even believe it.

Have we moved yet? No. We are still living in our same house, right in the middle of all the slithery action. Am I camping out on the bathroom floor? No, although I did have another melt down, the kind where it turns into the ugly cry. And I do mean the UGLY cry.

Yet, in it all, the Lord has given me great peace. Throughout my day, I keep singing the song from Rich Mullins,

Hold Me Jesus
Cause I’m shaking like a leaf,
You have been King of my glory,
Won’t you be my prince of peace.

 That snake was big, really big. And I am shaking like a leaf.

However, the God I serve is bigger than that snake, and bigger than my fear. I have had to come to the end of myself and my own fears and realize that I serve the God who made that huge, disgusting creature (although I’m sure I don’t know why).

I raise my shaking hand and slip in into His and know that He is with me. It is very humbling, and very freeing all at the same time. The Lord doesn’t promise us a life free from trials, but He does promise us He will be there through all of them.

I have never held tighter to His mighty hand, and I have no intention of letting go. And the good news is, neither does He.

Snow Day in the Tropics

Here in Indonesia {right on the equator}, there is no chance of a snow day for my kiddos.  So, what do we do instead? We have torrential rain days!  When it rains really hard and everything floods, we head outside to play in the tropical rain and the muddy water! This is a picture of our neighbor’s back yard, completely flooded.

  Just one way we “bloom where we are planted!”

Instead of making lemonade from lemons, we make snow from muddy water!

How do you bloom where you are planted?

Say Yes!- Priorities

It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about.  What’s hard is figuring out what you are willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.“- Shauna Niequist

We’ve talked about saying yes. Ruth shared her family mission statement, and I talked about family as our primary ministry.

Let’s take it a step further.

1.Find some time to be alone and quiet for a few minutes and pray.

2.Get a piece of paper and write VISION at the top.

3. Write down all the things the Lord brings to mind regarding a vision for your life and  home.  Look back on your family mission statement.  Kat at Inspired to Action has a great tool to use as well. This will be your “vision board”.

Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.”Psalm 39:4

Here is mine for this year:

4. Take an honest look at your commitments, schedule, and time management.  How do these things line up with your vision board? What changes do you need to make?

Head over to The Better Mom to read the rest of the post today and read my list of priorities!  See you there!

Weaving

I weave among the cars and motorcycles in this city, my home of four years, but still so completely foreign to me. I do my best to get around trying not to hit or be hit. Tension reigns as I maneuver my little automobile amongst the chaos of pedestrians, food carts, and other vehicles.

All around me, people. I groan. I grow frustrated. As a motorcycle cuts in front of me without looking, I let out an exasperated huff and honk my horn loudly. I am angry at the people I am here to love.

I return home, hot and sweaty, the smell of the city on my clothes. I weave among the chess pieces scattered on the floor, remains of an art project across the table, clothes folded but yet to be put away. I groan, and feel that frustration rise again. My head feels hot and the anger rises in my head and heart. I let out another exasperated huff, and stomp around to clean the mess. Yet again, anger directed at the people I am here to love.

As I retreat for a moment to sit in a dark and chilly room, and I ponder.

How could I get angry again?

How could I try and fail again? Why can’t I even love those He has called me to love? The ones that I have uprooted and travelled all the way around the world to serve and the ones that came from my own womb?

And the answer comes, gently. Have you still not gotten it? When will you stop striving?

Rest in Me and allow me to weave all that you need into your precious heart so that you may love and live in Me, and I will do all things well. You can do nothing without Me.

Allow Me to weave the love into your heart, allow Me to weave the patience, the understanding, the long-suffering.

Let Me.

I close my eyes, and drink His words in.

I am so tired. I fail so often. And yet, on He weaves.

Thanks for visiting! I invite you to subscribe to Grace Full Mama here.

Photo Credit, BinaryApe.

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