Monthly Archives: November 2013

Advice from one missionary to another

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Recently I read some wise words from a veteran missionary to those out on the itineration trail raising their funds.  I won’t use the author’s name because he’s serving in what we call a “sensitive region” or a country that doesn’t want missionaries… go ahead and read between those lines.  So I will only say that these are not my words, but I totally agree with them and wanted to share them here.  I hope this wise advice finds fertile soil in some missionary’s heart.

A Warning to the Itinerant:

Missionaries are given the immense privilege of representing God’s heart to both the nations and the church. When we return from our fields of obedience we are invited into pulpits – grand and humble – to speak on behalf of both the lost and the Lord. We are feted and lauded – which can lead to pride. We observe shallowness and performance – which can lead to a critical spirit. The more we travel and speak, the more we must beware our own hearts. I sat down this weekend and wrote out some warnings to myself:

– I do not deserve the pulpit, I have not ‘earned’ it.
– I am not better than the ones I preach to.
– I cannot presume God’s favor or anointing
– I cannot live in sin and call others to holiness
– My life has to match my exhortations
– I can’t rely on old sermons. I am responsible to give God’s flock fresh bread. If a sermon is to be re-used, it must be fresh to my soul.
– I cannot allow any whisper of entitlement into my heart. I am not owed praise, respect, attention, or any financial offering.
– I cannot think my looks, height, posture, style, or natural ability is important, nor that natural gifts can in any way impart divine life to the hearer.
– I cannot waste God’s time or money with half-hearted preparation, reflection, passion, or effort.
– The flock must see and feel that I love them, and more importantly that I love Jesus.
– My spirit must be gentle even if my words are hard.
– I must have true humility and lowliness. Nothing is as proud or as rank as false humility, whether to the individual or before the congregation.
– I must care more about what God thinks than man, and must obey His promptings and speak as His oracle.
– If I do not ascend to the pulpit clothed and endued with the Holy Spirit, I am immediately exposed as naked and foolish before God, and it will not be long until I am exposed as a fraud before all men.
– I must have a holy terror of speaking in my own strength or from my own wisdom. I must have a heavenly horror of speaking what is false, exaggerated, or misleading. I must be terrified of speaking one word without the covering and impetus of the Spirit.

I noted with sadness this weekend that even if all is said in the right spirit and under God’s authority, some ears remain deaf, and others hear selectively. We cannot control our hearers, nor are we responsible for how they hear. We are responsible for what and how we speak. It is incumbent on us to speak the words of God in the way and spirit He requires. This is a fearful and awesome privilege. God help us. God watch over our hearts and lips.

 

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Soul Care

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I have not blogged for a couple of weeks now.  I’m just breathing in and out every day, doing my job, taking care of responsibilities.  I’ve been focusing on Soul Care issues with any spare strength I find.  Boundaries- I’m pushing back those boundary lines that have crept too close to the center, giving myself space to breathe.  One of those boundaries is pulling away from social media for who knows how long- until I feel more like myself and less like a conglomeration of acquaintances who share a page in cyberspace.  I had already been toying with the idea of not blogging so much because it was starting to feel like homework.  I need to go back to the place where writing brought me joy and for me, that means less structure and more spontaneity.

Another boundary I’ve decided to resurrect is to read more real books.  Reading articles and news headlines on line has not been renewing my mind enough to be refreshing.  I have been spending my weekends curled up in a comfy chair with a good book, ignoring the world as much as I can.  I still have to do ministry things on the weekends and take my kids to birthday parties and go to church, but I’ve decided not to feel guilty about guarding my weekends and doing what I enjoy for once.

And finally, I have been making space in my schedule to have those coffee dates with friends that I have neglected the last few months.  Even though I don’t have much to give them, just being with them, hearing their life updates, and enjoying their friendship has brought me joy.  I need to do that more often.  A friend of mine came into town as she traveled from Thailand to Dallas to Costa Rica and home to Argentina.  I dropped everything and told my husband, “Find your own dinner and take care of the kids.  Don’t call my cell phone asking when I’m going to come home.  I’m going to be with my friend for as long as I possibly can.”  And it was a magical 5 hours of talking and laughing long after the coffee and dessert was gone.  (Waiters here never bring the bill until you ask for it, they just expect that you’ll sit as long as you want after you’ve eaten.  It’s all about relationships in Latin America.)  I needed that time with her.

So here I am, just living each day one by one.  I wake up every morning and ask the Lord for the strength to get through today, for the wisdom that I will need to do my job, for the Lord to bless the work of my hands.  Having boundaries and knowing what my soul needs to be energized are part of my Soul Care plan.  You’ll see me around the blogger-sphere more sporadically for a while.  Thank you for all your loyal readership over the last 2 years.  Let’s bump into each other again soon.

P.S.  I do have a blog going up tomorrow too.  So come back then.

Depression is a hand on the throat

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Depression is a hand on the throat, around the throat, squeezing the air out of your body.   It’s a heavy, wet blanket wrapped around your head, air molecules dodging water droplets.  Breathing comes in jagged waves- gasping for air, for life, for a life saving hand as your head goes down under again.  Depression is that 20 second pause after a fall when you look up at the clear blue sky, perfectly blue, achingly blue and you wonder how you got down here.  You wonder why your ribs are crushing your lungs.  It’s the split second before you gasp and choke and suck in air like shards of glass.  It’s getting the wind knocked out of you, over and over and over again, eyes to the sky and the blue pressing down on my chest.

There are moments where it takes all my energy just to keep breathing.  I close my eyes against the dazzling blue and try to remember why I like breathing.

If there was a reason, I could find it.  If there was a problem, I could fix it.  If there was something out of place, I could readjust.  But that’s the intangible, untouchable nature of boxing with shadows.  Nothing is lost.  Nothing is wrong.  Nothing is unjust or wicked or fraudulent or negligent.  All is right in my little world, just not inside of me.  If depression is a vapor, a fog; then anger is a liquid.  Hot tears.

“See Honey, I’m just slicing an onion.  It’s just a strong onion that’s making mommy cry.”  My hand with the knife moves automatically.  Really, I wouldn’t mind just eating cereal for the third meal of the day.

My eyes don’t need to look around me, for I can sense the shame collecting in piles of clutter.  And I have forgotten which mounds of laundry are clean and which are dirty.  And the crumbs under the dinning room table sigh at me and feel overwhelming tonight.  And the dog has taken up a forbidden position on the couch pillows, yet I just can’t muster the energy to scold him, or to pet him for that matter.

Days slip through my fingers faster than my dry eyes can make fresh tears.  I coil and uncoil myself around a pillow, back to bed now up again, night and day, dusk and dawn.  The most significant moment of the day is when I close my eyes and feel the globe spinning, sucking the air out of my lungs again, and I sleep.