God’s Destination

In the world of missions and ministry, it is not entirely uncommon for someone to start down the road to a certain destination, only to find themselves somewhere else.  Many people begin raising support, talking to churches and gathering prayer warriors, but never end up where they first said they were going.  Many times it’s not anything wrong, it’s just a different path.  But so often the church and supporters don’t view this change in destination as a positive thing.  It’s often seen as a failure.

I’d like to encourage anyone who has ever been in that situation that you’re not a failure.   Or maybe you’re a supporter or on a missions committee that has seen someone move towards a destination but not ever make it.  I’d like to encourage you to look to see what else God is doing in this situation.  Of course there are exceptions but I’m writing to those who are truly seeking God’s face and His direction.  Sometimes that direction changes or leads us where we weren’t planning to be.

Paul, who is arguably the greatest missionary of all time, even experienced changes in his initial plans.  At the end of Romans we see him writing to the church, saying that he will visit on his way to Spain, he even asks for their financial support.  However, we have no conclusive evidence that he ever made it to Spain.  But no one I know thinks less of Paul because of this.

Between my years working in Papua New Guinea and arriving in Australia, I considered at least four other countries.  I could have chosen any of those places to work.  God could have directed my path elsewhere.  I could still be single but God blessed me with a wonderful husband and directed us to Perth, Australia.  In the future we might end up somewhere else entirely.  But as long as we’re seeking God, He’s opening the doors, we’re praying for His wisdom and following that direction, we can be assured that we are where we should be.  I am where I should be.

Even Paul might not have been able to complete his journey as intended.  But like Paul, God directs us where He wants us.  Be encouraged.  Changes in direction are not always a sign of weakness.  Changes in a destination are not always a failure.

Permission for Rest

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again.  I’m not good at resting.  My mind prefers to work and ticking off the boxes on my to-do list can seem to be the ultimate satisfying goal.  But my to-do list easily becomes my idol and expectations (usually self imposed) become more important than walking daily with Jesus.  Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 9.08.06 AM.pngI’m still trying to figure out what this means practically for me.  Finding that balance between productivity and trusting in the ultimate care of my gracious savior.  Struggling against the lie in my head that tells me I’m lazy or unworthy, when I know that I am a beloved child of God.  Coming to a place where rest is not guilt inducing but instead sweet and rejuvenating.

Please pray with me and know you’re not alone if you also struggle to find peace and rest.  Know that you’re not alone if a call to create margin in your life induces anxiety and worry.  Know that we were not created to bear the burden and weight of the world on our own shoulders.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Easter Around the World

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 10.43.36 AMIt’s been fun watching people celebrating Easter around the world.  From the comfort of my own home, I’ve watched videos and seen pictures from celebrations in Papua New Guinea, Japan, Bulgaria, Peru, different parts of the US and all up and down California.  The pictures included here are from some Easter traditions that I missed not being in PNG or California.  In Papua New Guinea a sunrise service is held and a cross is decorated with flowers that everyone brings.  It is beautiful!  And in Camarillo the sunrise beach service is always wonderful.  Such an amazing visual reminder of light overtaking darkness.  Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 10.54.18 AMMaybe we’ll have to start a sunrise service tradition here.  Easter was very low key, with a typical service pointing to Jesus and the resurrection but we enjoyed a wonderful relaxing afternoon.  We hope you made more family memories this year and enjoyed your Easter traditions new and old.  I’m thankful that Jesus is alive, although we remember it especially during Easter, it’s true every day of the year!

 

Anticipating the Resurrection

Today is our last day of waiting.  40 days of remembering, learning and anticipating.  Tomorrow Christians all over the world will celebrate Resurrection Sunday, the day that marks Christ rising from the dead.  Our God is not dead.  He’s alive.  Hallelujah!  Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 4.53.29 PMSo today we went to the park and sat, enjoyed the beautiful day and remembered.  We’ve read devotionals for the past 40 days, learning more about scripture and the final candle has now been blown out.  Palm Sunday marked the beginning of Holy Week as we anticipated the events that had to happen in order to fulfill the prophecies.  We celebrated with a Passover Seder, ate and drank and remembered.  We heard a beautiful sermon on Good Friday, Christ was dead, buried and in the tomb.  And now we wait.  Because tomorrow we know what happens but that doesn’t make it any less marvelous.  He is surely alive.  Hallelujah!

Tomorrow we will light all the candles, we will sing songs of His glorious resurrection and we will celebrate Christ overcoming death.  It was worth the wait.  Hallelujah!

Where’s the Matzah?

Growing up in California, Easter was always marked with the beginning of spring, pastel colors and new baby bunnies and little chicks.  Easter was filled with family and church celebrations, a special Easter outfit for Sunday was a must and supermarket shelves were filled with chocolate eggs, bright colored candies as well as all the makings for a passover meal.  This includes shelves of kosher wine and, of course, matzah bread.

In preparation for a Christian Seder* meal tonight, I went to the store to grab a few special ingredients.  Apples, walnuts and wine to make the charoset, horseradish for the maror, parsley for the karpas, chocolate prizes, a few other things and the special Matzah bread.  While we did find a whole section filled with chocolate goodies, bunnies and eggs, there was no Passover section.  And when I asked about the Matzah bread, the man had no idea what it was, and I was told to look in the specialty crackers by the deli.  Matzah was no where to be found.  There are many different substitutes, unleavened bread in flatbread form, I could make the bread, like I did when I was in Papua New Guinea, or we could use another form of cracker.  However, I am still surprised that Matzah isn’t easily available at this time of the year.

Sometimes I could almost forget that it is autumn here in the southern hemisphere.  The weather is still warm, there are new little goslings in the neighborhood park and it’s Easter after all.  I could almost forget that Australia and the US are different, even more than just the accents and kangaroos.  But then something simple happens and I realize that I am not in the US and there are things here that I can’t take for granted, like easily finding Matzah in the regular grocery store.

*Tonight we will celebrate a Christian Seder meal with a group of friends.  This will have many of the elements of a traditional Passover meal including being celebrated at sundown but instead of hoping for an unknown Messiah, we will acknowledge the Messiah Jesus Christ and take communion together.  I love the history and tradition that is woven into this beautiful meal.  It is a wonderful way to acknowledge our Christianity’s roots in Judaism, celebrate Holy Week and prepare for Good Friday.

Ryan Preaches on Palm Sunday

“Hosanna to the Son of David!  He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One!  Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Matthew 21:9Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 6.30.33 PMI’ve been looking forward to Palm Sunday all year.  Since I love Easter, I am disappointed when we miss or overlook all the amazing things leading up to Resurrection Sunday that anchor our faith in history and point us towards Jesus as he fulfills prophesy.  Palm Sunday does both and Ryan preached a great sermon reminding us of the impactful history of our faith and pointing us towards Jesus, not just as the one who fulfills prophecy but the one who died to save us and loves us so much that he weeps when we reject him.Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 6.28.28 PMAfter church in Brookton, we always share a morning tea, which is feeling more and more like a family gathering.  Today we had all sorts of treats that included leftover birthday cake, fairy bread, muffins, other goodies and the special Easter hot cross buns.  We prefer ours sans fruit so I just make them with lots of cinnamon:-)  Fellowship and treats are always a sweet way to spend a Sunday.screen-shot-2017-04-09-at-6-31-17-pm.png

Bible Study Routines

Post-it notes remind me of prayers.  When I started attending Ryan’s Bible study in Camarillo while we were dating, it was already a routine.  At the end of every study he brought out post-its and everyone wrote down a prayer request and then these were passed around.  You write a post-it and then you take someone else’s post-it.  It could be anonymous or you could put your name down but either way that request was prayed for over the week.  I know a few people who would put the post-its up on their bathroom mirror as a reminder to pray.Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 5.19.44 PM.pngOn Wednesdays Ryan now drives out to Brookton.  He teaches the Bible study and each week brings post-it notes so that everyone can share prayer requests.  Even though I don’t usually attend, I’ve started writing a prayer request to send with Ryan because I enjoy getting a prayer request back to pray for during the week.  I love being connected to this community through simple, weekly prayers.  Post-it notes have a lot of other uses but for me, they will probably always be connected to prayers.  I look forward to seeing what God will do through the prayers that will be written on these post-its.