Stamps in the Passport

passport

When I think of a passport, I think of adventure!

I taught an object lesson to children last spring and summer about tools we will need as we follow Jesus.  One of the tools was a passport.  I told the children that when we give our lives to Jesus, we submit the passport of our lives to Him and He gets to choose how he stamps it.  Some of us may never get an international stamp, while some of us may get a book filled with global adventures!  It’s not ours to choose.  It’s His.

I’ve shared before that my heart has been to be a goer.  I suppose that in being a goer, I wouldn’t get a variety of stamps, but maybe the same one every time I renewed my visa or returned from a furlough.  God has chosen – at least in this season of life – that I am a mobilizer instead of a goer.  I’m learning that there might be as much adventure in mobilizing as there could be in going!

I’m working on two trips right now – one to a place very familiar and one to a place I never thought I’d go.  In all my preparations today, I was overwhelmed by the kindness of God.  He knows my heart.  He knows how He gifted me for the kingdom.  He knows the desires of my heart, because He is the one who planted them there.

That little object lesson is becoming more and more real in my life.  The global adventure that God gives us when we surrender our hearts and plans to Him is His alone to choose.  The adventure that He is writing for me is more exciting than I could have imagined!

Have you surrendered your passport to the Lord and His plans for your life?  What adventures has He already taken you on?

 

Christ the Lord is Risen Yesterday – Alleluia!

He is STILL risen!

It’s the day after Easter! Do we wait until next year to celebrate the risen Savior?! He is restoring His kingdom thru His people today! He had some words to say after the resurrection and before the ascension. Luke shares a few in Acts 1:8 –

“But you will recieve power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

If “He is Risen!” is the cry of our hearts and voices on Easter Sunday, then shouldn’t that hope and truth change the way we live life the other 364 days of the year?

Christ didn’t defeat the grave so that we can show off our Easter pastels and collect candy-filled eggs!  Christ defeated the grave so that we could walk in fullness of life and the hope that the grave is not the end!

One of the songs on repeat on my iPod right now is a little ditty by Rend Collective.  “Build Your Kingdom Here” is an anthem for revival and it helps set my heart aright amid the things that distract me from the mission.  The very reason the Lord leaves us in this world is because He intends to build His kingdom here – on earth as it is in heaven.

 

Aldi: a Lesson in Cultural Exegesis

Have you ever shopped at Aldi?

aldi grocery

It’s a lifeline for our family.  We stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables at a fraction of the price of even the big-box grocery retailers!  I find myself toting my own grocery bags and a quarter about once a week.

A thought occurred to me last week: Aldi is a lesson in cultural exegesis.

Allow me to explain.

There is a rhythm and a system to success at Aldi.  Most of this is a mystery to outsiders.

– There is an entranace and an exit.  And I don’t mean like they have at the big-box place.  There is truly one was IN and one way OUT.

– You must bring a quarter if you want to use a shopping cart.

– There’s a traffic flow.  Each Aldi has one and you might get the stink-eye if you and your six kids take your cart against the flow.

– Unload your cart, but the cashier will load your purchases into the cart already waiting at the check out line.  Once your purchase is complete, you will pull your original cart up to receive the next customer’s purchases.

– Either bring your own bags or pick up boxes throughout your shopping.  You can buy plastic or paper bags at check out, but you have to know where to find those.

– Cash or debit card only.  No checks.  No credit cards.

– …and a plethora of other tiny details – too numerous to list.

The rhythm to shopping at Aldi is learned.  This rhythm or learned behavior can even vary from location to location in the same city.

In the same way, exploring and intentionally engaging a new culture requires learning new behaviors and rhythms; discovering the unspoken rules, assumptions, language/slang and traditions.  Success may be assumed, only to hit a brick wall because you haven’t collected a vital cultural key for success in relationships – much like only carrying a checkbook will hamper your grocery shopping success at Aldi.  You might do everything else right, but if you miss one very crucial detail, you won’t be leaving with your groceries.

 

 

Gotcha and Squeaky Shoes in China

Last week we celebrated “Gotcha Day” for our first adoption.  April 3, 2006 – in a hotel room in Guangzhou, China – we “got” our daughter Amy.  I know that the term “gotcha” is repulsive to some in the adoption community, but it fits our family.  We always played that little “I’m gonna gitcha” game with our little ones, so the day we “got” Amy signifies the day that we “gotcha” and won’t ever let her go.

When I remember that day – and the two weeks our family was in China – I have beautiful and sentimental memories of the time there.  God ignited something in our hearts during that trip and we are different people because of it!

But, I gotta shoot it straight with ya: it was not all sunshine and roses.

I was looking thru pictures on my computer and came to this one:

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I did not find it at all funny at the time, but it is the single most descriptive picture from our two weeks in China.  Exhausted mom sets scared and angry toddler down in the park.  Toddler begins to throw the mother of all fits – while outfitted in Chinese squeaky shoes {insert screaming, stomping and squeaking}.  Loving big sister – once again – wonders how she will ever be able to help her new little sister.  What you cannot see in this picture is the gathering crowd of Chinese people that wondered what the white woman was doing to the Chinese child and why on earth I wasn’t just picking her up!

And so was the story of our time in China.

I’m happy to report that:

  • I am no longer exhausted.
  • Amy prefers to walk 100% of the time now.
  • Amy no longer owns squeaky shoes.
  • Big sister and little sister have a great relationship.
  • Chinese people still tend to stop and stare, but I’m pretty sure it’s because they are simply admiring my beautiful, large family.

God has done some amazing things in my own heart in the past 8 years.  Those two weeks in China (and several months home with a new little one) did not define my life – but they have most certainly shaped my life.

I am so thankful that God takes me to the edge of my sufficiency – and often beyond – in order to remind me of my need for Him and the power of the Spirit.  I long to mature to the point of gratitude in the moment…  My faith is so weak.  I am thankful that the Spirit brings me there much sooner than I used to allow Him to.

At times, I think I must have looked an awful lot like a toddler in squeaky shoes in China: circumstances beyond my control and my response was to stomp and scream and cry.  The crowd saw my immature response.  My loving Father knew He was simply pushing me to grow a little more; to trust what I do not understand.

I’m growing up.  I don’t need to be carried.  The squeaky shoes no longer fit.  I sure am thankful that my Abba Daddy is there to grab my hand, though.  He knows I can walk.  Right beside Him.