Often I believe the lie that I have done nothing for the Kingdom of God, say, in a given day or week or even month. This month that Ben has been gone is no exception.
Because my character is ambitious and performance-based, I classify everything in my head as “ministry” and “missions worthy”, and the things that do not. Then I judge my investment in the Gospel accordingly. And I judge God’s pleasure in me accordingly.
This is false thinking. This is not God’s will for my life. At the same time, old habits are hard to kick. Renewing the mind is not a one-and-done process for this achiever-girl.
I recognize that God does not classify me and my days as ministry/worthy/high-capacity and non-ministry/selfish/non-worthy/low-capacity. I recognize that this is a lie, and I am committed to transform my mind to have the mind of Christ.
I recognize that God longs most for my obedience, both in the so-called mundane and in the so-called spectacular.God requires that I, as His child,
- Deny myself
- Tune into the Holy Spirit’s leading
- Take up my cross
- Follow Jesus, no matter where it leads me
The results are up to Him. The classification of my work is up to Him. He knows my heart. And ultimately, whatever I do, I should work at it heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord I will receive the inheritance as my reward. I am serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24, my version mixed with ESV).
It has been a mixed month with Ben gone. Today I was sitting at Dylan’s Christmas performance, scrolling through pictures from the month. As I looked at them, I realized what a varied life we lead. I realized that I can’t see the forest for just the trees. As we soon approach the 10 year mark, this life still continues to be a marathon, not a sprint. The seasons have changed, and I’m no longer the in-the-trenches 25-year-old youth leader, which I still often mourn. Kiddos and the home and Josiah Venture Ukraine demand far more of my time and strength than I’m sometimes willing to admit or desire to give.
Pray for a better understanding of my role in God’s eyes. Pray that I would stop putting a rank or label on the things that I do, and that I’d find great joy in any and every task that comes my way. Below are some examples, in no particular order or rank, of things that do come our way in a given month. These just happen to be what I took photos of in the month when Ben was gone.
A four-hour “Worship and Prayer Night” organized by a network of youth pastors representing charismatic, pentecostal, evangelical free and baptist denominations. Five different youth ministries took turns leading us in worship and prayer to our Lord, who gives unity in all things.
“Pizza Master Class” at a pizzeria for Romek’s name day (like a birthday, but not).
We continue our Polish and Ukrainian traditions by introducing them to a few of our own. This is our Thanksgiving 2016 crowd. Very thankful for them in our lives.
The Lumineers show in Warsaw, Poland on November 17th. It was possibly the best concert I’ve ever seen, not only because I knew every song, but because the venue was SO small. The main singer even gave me “five”.
Dylan performed in the garden. Here he is wearing a mushroom hat. It is not our first mushroom hat, nor will it be our last.
Another birthday party for Polish friends. It is so interesting to observe how different cultures celebrate.
Christmas Cookie Party! Olya and I invited the girls from our English Camp 2016 small groups…two could come. For that we are thankful and ask God to do more in their lives.
While Dylan is a mushroom, Marissa is a leaf. She was quite disappointed by the drab “costume” she had. I’ll see what I can whip up for next year. She literally made me go into a craft store yesterday, looking for a crown of leaves craft.
Getting excited and decorating for Christmas, advent, the whole thing. These couches reminded me of Willy Wonka, which I also love.
Girl JV Ukraine Team Time. This time it was to celebrate the soon-to-be-bride, Heather Anderson.
Right before Ben left we spent a day in Rivne, celebrating Skelya Church’s 15-year anniversary. If it weren’t for this church, who knows what JV Ukraine would be.
This was the first year I was able to attend a women’s leadership retreat with my church, New Life. Where would I be without this body of believers?
Pic 1: Pressing on in Polish language study
Pic 2: Pressing on with Whole30 healthy eating. I am currently on day 46.
Exploring a new city – Warsaw. This was a romantic 48-hour get-away that Ben and I had planned almost a year ago, which had to be transformed into a friend hangout 48-hours with my teammate Christy Owen.
Pic 1: Trying to figure out Christmas presents for an “off year” (a year we celebrate Christmas not in the USA).
Pic 2: Breaking up bickering between the two children. This Scuttle coloring page has been the source of drama and many tears because Dylan is a messy colorer and because Marissa is stingy with her workbooks.
Pic 1: Dealing with sick kids is stressful and no fun.
Pic 2: Having to help Marissa learn cursive and all the leaf names in another language is also no fun, just in a different way.
This seems like a good photo to end the month with…icy roads, snowy days, slippery nights, bumps and even crashes along the way. You never know what is around the next turn, so God asks us to hold on loosely to tomorrow. More than that, He reassures us that tomorrow will have enough problems of its own, so embrace today, and trust that He will provide. In my frustrations and lie-believing and idol-worshipping and self-absorbing, I am choosing joy in it all. He has always been faithful, no matter what the day or month brings.