Tag Archives: Calling

Happiness within the Call

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From the time my sister was in college until just a few years ago she has worked at various positions with Senior Citizens.  She loves old people.  (We always joke that I get the kids and she gets the old people.)  She can hug someone over 100-years old (very gently) any time she wants!

But there was a time when the company she was working for was under lousy management and working there become stressful.  Fortunately another position opened within the Christian university that we both attended.  It paid more and offered a fresh environment with a challenge.  She worked there for about 5 years, and though she enjoyed her job, she missed her old people.  Always missed them.

We talked about it.  After all these years, I think she finally realized that working with Seniors is what she was MADE  to do.  It was her Calling.  She would only feel fulfilled in her work if she was working with old people.  So when all the doors suddenly opened up for her to return to her old company as PART OF the management- to really do some good and affect some changes- she jumped at the opportunity.  We all encouraged her to follow her calling.

This last week my sister wrote this on her Facebook page:

Two moving moments today at work:
1) Having a grey-haired, 60-something adult child tear-up while I was counseling him about getting though his parents’ move.

2) Having an 80-something resident make ME tear-up. He lived at Augustana back when I worked there before and was one of my favs. He said to me, “Back in 2003, you did one of the kindest things that anyone has ever done for me. When we took a trip to Lakewood Cemetery, you offered to visit my wife’s grave with me. I’ve never forgotten that and it will be the last thing I think of before I close my eyes for the last time.” UGH! Tears!

I have thought many, many times about my purpose in life.  Personally, I feel most fulfilled being a missionary.  I feel that this was what I was MADE to be.  My sister feels that working with Seniors is what she was MADE to do.  Isn’t it a wonderful thing when you find the purpose and meaning for your life?  I think there are a lot of people out there still working in jobs they don’t love and wondering if they missed their occupational calling in life.  That’s sad.

Even though no one calls her a “Minister”, what my sister does IS ministry.  She ministers to old people and to their families who are struggling with the transition that their loved ones are going through.  She treats her job as sacred and sees it as a chance to share the love of God with people.  And THAT is how you handle a Calling.  When you KNOW that this is what God wants you to do with your life, you treat it as sacred.

Not Called?

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I thought this quote was just so powerful that I wanted to share it on my blog.  Just think about this:

“Not called,” did you say? Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go bid their brothers and sisters and servants and masters not to come there. And then look Christ in the face, whose mercy you have professed to obey, and tell Him whether you will join the march to publish His mercy to the world.   -William Booth

As we have traveled around raising our funds to be missionaries, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard a variation of this comment, “I totally admire the sacrifices you are making to do this, I know I could never do that myself.  Maybe if I had a Calling, but I don’t.”  I think the first part of the sentence is more truthful than the later part.  The real reason more people don’t take soul winning more seriously is that it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient.

May people who claim to be Jesus Followers are like the rich young man who asked Jesus, “I’ve followed all the commandments to the letter, so what ELSE must I do to follow you.”   Then Jesus disappointed him by saying, “Sell everything you have and give it to the poor.  Then come and follow me.”  The rich guy was sorely disappointed because he had a lot of nice things.

God will always push us to our limits to show us the idolatry in our lives.  He pushed Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac (though he didn’t make him go through with it in the end) to test his fatherly love.  He pushed Joseph out of his family and into slavery, separating him from a doting, spoiling father.  He pushed Saul (Paul) to the ground outside of the city of Damascus, breaking his vicious pride.  He pushed Peter to the point of denying his relationship with Jesus, then brought him around again to “If you love me, then feed my Sheep”.

You want to follow Jesus?  Prepare to be uncomfortable.  But I assure you that any discomfort you feel in you walk with Jesus is nothing compared to the discomfort- no agony- being experienced by those lost souls in Hell.  Kind of puts it all in perspective doesn’t it?  Let Jesus push you to your limits and beyond.  You may be surprised at where you find yourself going once you acknowledge your Call.

 

Sick Day

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Well, I don’t have a blog written for today.  We have been battling Strep throat here in our household since Friday.  So I haven’t had the time or energy to write anything new.  My husband suggested that I repost one of my favorites from earlier in the year, and I think I will do just that.  So without further ado:  here’s “Pea Green Envy”.  (Originally posted Jan. 22, 2012)

So today I was having one of my “what the heck am I doing with my life?” moments.  I was capsized by jealousy and envy.  The “praise of men” was looking very tempting to me.  I have many friends who are very successful by the world’s standards, and so often I feel like I’m just lucky that everyone in my family is wearing clean underwear today!  I’m a mom.  I’m a wife.  Yeah, I’m a missionary too, but all those things just feel so insignificant compared to what my friends have already accomplished.  This jealousy was really eroding my self esteem- big time!  I was pea green with envy.

I decided to go for a walk with my ipod and try to talk with God about this.  This jealousy and envy made it hard to think clearly.  So I asked God to affirm me, to encourage me, to lift me up. But I felt God tell me to lift HIM up instead.  So I scrolled through my ipod menu to a favorite playlist and I started to worship God as I walked along.  Suddenly I started to see things from a new perspective.  The green haze of envy began to clear and I saw things as God wanted me to see them.

It doesn’t matter what others are doing with their lives- I am lifting Jesus up.  I’m being obedient to what God has called me to do right here and right now- I’m lifting Jesus up.  The focus really shouldn’t be on my accomplishments anyways, I’m just here to glorify God.  My obedience glorifies Him.  My worship lifts Him up.  That is my purpose in life- to lift Him up.  So I guess I AM fulfilling my purpose, I am doing what I was made to do. It’s not about building a name for myself, it’s about building up the name of Jesus.  That’s how God measures my success- by how much I lift Him up.

Scratching the Itch

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This week I’m going to walk you through a bit of our personal story about how my family and I ended up on the mission field.  I hope you enjoy our story and find encouragement and inspiration for your own journey.

I grew up in a Christian home.  As a matter of fact, when I was in 4th grade, my Dad was hired as the Youth Pastor at our church.  As a preacher’s kid, I was in the church every time the doors were opened.  But my favorite times, by far, were Sunday nights when missionaries would come with their tables spread with snake skins and bobbles from far away lands.  I love their costumes and slide shows.  I loved their stories and their altar calls.  I can’t tell you the number of times I have responded to the plea of “who will go?”  My little heart was like a hand waving desperately from the back of the room, “ooh-ooh pick me!  pick me!!” I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could be called by God to go somewhere- anywhere.

I had Sunday School teachers and girls’ club leaders who read aloud exciting missionary stories of miracles and dangerous escapes and prayers answered and visions and angels and spiritual show-downs in witch doctor infested jungles.  Oh the adventures!  The thrilling adventures kept me coming back for more.  I searched the library for missionary biographies.  I collected the little picture prayer cards that the missionaries left in the back of the church lobby.  I studied maps and located the countries that I was interested in.  (I was the weird girl who lined her bedroom walls with maps instead of boy band posters.)  I couldn’t get enough of the world!

Time progressed and in Junior High we started studying languages.  I chose French.  Four years later I was a true Francophile.  I was convinced that someday I would live in Paris.  I was sure of it.  My teacher said I had a pretty accent.

The years still continued to slide along evenly, yet too slowly for my tastes.  When the Berlin Wall fell, I remember standing in front of a newspaper stand near our home in a suburb of Chicago and looking with disbelief at the first photos of people embracing across the span of that horrid barrier.  I remember thinking, “I should be there!  I was born too late.  I should be there by now.”  My Europe was changing without me.  And I didn’t even have a drivers’ license yet, let alone a passport.

College came.  I fell in love with a Youth Ministries Major.  I schemed and plotted and maneuvered until he caught me.  🙂  The only problem was, Josh was kind of a home-body and I had the itch to travel.  Before we got married I looked at him and made him promise something.  I said, “Promise me someday we’ll do missions.”  Of course he confessed later that he just wanted to get married, so he said Yes.  But God heard.

For 8 years we worked as youth pastors at the same church where my Dad had been youth pastor.  Life was coming full circle for me, but I longed for what was outside of my circle.  Every other year we took our youth group kids on a missions trip overseas.  This trip was the highlight of my year, and I would beg, borrow and steal to make it happen.  Once it meant I weaned my nursing baby earlier than I wanted to just so I could go on a missions trip.  I was serious about this!  In 8 years, we visited Panama, England, Thailand, and Mexico in addition to a personal trip to the Czech Republic just because I’d always wanted to go to Prague.  For me, those trips were scratching the missions itch.  For Josh, each one was a stretching exercise.  In each country he would ask himself, “Could I live here?” and each time, the answer was No.

To be continued tomorrow…

Hindsight… does this dream make my butt look big?

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Leap of Faith

“Staring in the water like Aesop’s foolish dog

Can’t help but reflect on what is was I almost lost

What I thought I wanted, what I got instead

Leaves me broken and grateful.”

~Sara Groves, What I thought I wanted

I had a dream of living in Europe.  I studied 4 years of French.  I seriously thought God was going to call me to Europe as a missionary.  Europe suits me, and I have the wardrobe for it already!  I love the history, the architecture, the art, the cool youth culture.  I just love Europe.  I kept waiting for the Call from the Lord.  It never came.

When I was 17 I was supposed to be attending my high school graduation.  Instead I was spending a month in Europe with my family on a sort of family missions trip.  We spent 3 weeks in Brussels, Belgium working with missionary friends and then tacked on a week in Paris just for family vacation.  I never considered missing my graduation ceremony to be a hardship in the light of Paris!  I was born for that city!

While we were in Belgium we toured Continental Bible College, where I considered studying for at least a year.  As I walked through the buildings with the tour guide, I prayed in my heart.  I asked God, “Well, what do you think?” and clear as the voice of the tour guide I heard God say to me, “He’s not here.”  I knew immediately that he meant my future husband.  I said, “I didn’t ask you about that,” and we didn’t talk about it again.  I went home and applied to North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, my hometown.  I met Josh a few months later and two years later we got married.  What I thought I wanted pales in comparison with what I got instead.

Fast forward to 2003.  We were on a missions trip with our youth group kids.  We knew this would be our last trip.  We had already felt God starting to stir our hearts, change was on the horizon.  But we didn’t know what it was going to look like.  Sitting on a bench on the campus of the University of Mexico UNAM we felt God speaking to our hearts.  “This door is open.  Will you come here and work for me?” he asked.

I thought about my Europe.  I said, “Mexico??  But God, I took FRENCH!  Remember?   Is this one of those times when I say yes to what you want and then you give me what I really want instead?”

No.  Then he took me to the altar of my heart.  He reminded me of all the times I had knelt before him and said, “Lord, send me!!  I’ll go ANYWHERE!  Just send me SOMEWHERE!”

And he asked me again, “Did you really mean anywhere?”

“Yes, Lord.  I will go anywhere you send me.”  I humbly replied.  Europe slipped from my fingers.  And I had the sensation of falling backwards off a cliff and landing safely in God’s hands.  That free fall, stomach in the throat, adrenalin rush that you get just as you jump was me putting my trust in God, knowing that he was going to catch me.  Faith.  A leap of Faith.

Last year I had a very vivid dream.  The Lord was speaking to me.  In my dream the Lord and I were hovering over a globe of the world.  He showed me Europe.  I saw and felt and experienced in one moment everything I love about Europe.  Then the globe spun and I was over Latin America.  The same thing happened, in one moment I saw and felt and experienced everything I love about Latin America.  Then the globe was pulled back a little.  Looking at the whole world, God gave me a choice.  “Knowing what you now know, do you want Europe or Latin America?”  I was being given a choice, a permanent, real choice.

I hovered over the globe for longer than I thought it would take to make this decision. In my dream I cried over the agony of this choice.  Finally I said, “I can’t bear the thought of leaving Latin America.  I love it more than I ever thought I would.  I choose Latin America.”  As soon as I made my choice, the globe was removed from me and I felt that my decision was made final.  I would not be given this choice again.  But oh the peace that flooded my heart!  I knew I would be happy with this decision.

Something deep inside of me resonated like a bell.  There is a part of me that was made to respond to Latin America, and it thrills me to hear it ring like a bell in my heart.  What I thought I wanted was completely different from what I got instead.  And I am happy.  So happy.