Archive for March, 2015

March 21, 2015

Mercy, not sacrifice

by mendibpng

car

I have been thinking a lot about the word “mercy” because this week I took several Spiritual Gifts inventories online. It turns out, that was my top categories in all of the inventories. (By the way, if you are interested in taking one, I thought this free one was the most detailed/helpful.)

I looked it up online at Meriam-Webster and the definitions were

: kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly

: kindness or help given to people who are in a very bad or desperate situation

: a good or lucky fact or situation

The gift of mercy does resound with me because I gravitate towards righting injustice, caring for those who are downtrodden, and showing compassion to those who are left in the gutter. (A note here, this gifting can quickly lead to compassion fatigue, but that is a post for another time!)

As our return to Papua New Guinea fast approaches, I have begun praying for a renewed sense of what God wants for me over there. In December of this year, I clearly heard Him tell me that we would return and He would provide for all of our needs. But the question I have now is…what does He want for me? So far, my roles of wife, mother and team leader (a job I share with Ben) keep me busy. But I don’t want to end up tired and burned out again because I was seeking my own list of tasks without pursing what God has for me.

I usually like to write posts AFTER I’ve figured things out, because that makes me feel less insecure and more justified in writing. Credibility is something I value…but as I said in my last post maybe it’s not as important as being authentic.

I have loved the book “The Emotionally Healthy Church,” by Peter Scazzero for many years now, and end up re-reading it once a year. This year, I came across his wife Geri’s book called “The Emotionally Healthy Woman.” While her husband was pastoring a church that they planted, she quit. Her book explains the things she had to quit in order to become a more healthy person. I haven’t progressed in the book because I got stuck on chapter three, where she says,

“Quit dying to the wrong things”

I’ve never asked myself that question, ie, “what am I dying to that I shouldn’t be?” quite so succinctly. When Ben and I joined the Bible Translation movement over 15 years ago, God spoke to me personally. I asked Him to speak to me clearly because I didn’t want to wake up one day overseas and blame my husband for dragging me over there. He did. I left relationships, material things and cultural comforts and traded them for new relationships, a labor intensive lifestyle, culture stress/conflicts and a ministry where we could see God’s Word directly impacting people’s lives. As I often say, it’s hard, but good. Painful, but purposeful. There are some days when the sacrifices feel like they are too much. Then there are the days when we feel encouraged by the stories we hear or by prayer times we have with our PNG colleagues who face constant injustice and hardship and we know we are in the right place.

So, as we prepare to go again for our third term, I’m asking Him again, “what do you want of me?” and adding to it, “what am I sacrificing that I shouldn’t be?” and “Am I really ready to say my goodbyes and pack up my family again for another term overseas?”

So, back to my spiritual gift of mercy…the ideas of mercy and sacrifice are actually together in the Bible, but for some reason I never linked them, even though the following verse is one I memorized as a small child. I don’t understand how they fit together (if you do have some insight for me please comment, because I really want to know!) I can’t have mercy without sacrificing some part of myself, either in some material way or an emotional one…but maybe the key is in “acknowledgement of God.” So once again I’m asking for His wisdom, rather than seeking my own.

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6 (NIV)

Advertisements
March 14, 2015

Watch what God will do… (part 2)

by bzephyr

IMG_9797cropColorTwo months ago, we invited you to watch what God would do as we trusted him to provide the resources for us to follow his calling to return to Papua New Guinea in the ministry of Bible translation there. We were receiving 66% of our required monthly ministry budget at the end of December, and we have to be at 100% before we can go back.

Praise the Lord with us for his continuing provision!

At the end of January, we were receiving 82% of our required monthly budget.
At the end of February, were were at 85%.

And listen to this… 82 days ago, we started keeping a record of the new ways that God would use his people to provide for our needs. There are 59 items now on that list, which is exactly 5 per week (not even counting the many ways that people continue to faithfully partner with us month after month and year after year).

Please pray with us, too, that we will receive the significant one-time needs in order to go back. One of those needs is our return airfare for the seven of us to fly seven legs from Chicago to our remote village in Papua New Guinea, with some needed stops along the way. Thank you for partnering with us in God’s ministry of Bible translation.

March 5, 2015

On putting on my Mandy face…

by mendibpng

IMG_0002 sm
Just before leaving for a missions conference last Thursday, I emailed a friend last week that I had to go “put my missionary face on…” and she replied, “put your Mandy face on!” I had to smile at that, because she was right. Even if I try to put on a façade, the real me will eventually seep out. As a Third Culture Kid (TCK), it is much easier for me to go straight to a deep conversation, rather than making small talk (which I’m not very good at!) I always have the fear that I’m over-sharing and that I’ve scared someone off because of the things I share. But, it’s how I operate and I can’t seem to help myself. I found myself voicing these insecurities during the missions conference a few times to another adult TCK who assured me that this is what is good, and necessary. I’m thankful for people in my life who ‘get’ the whole roller coaster of emotions that go along with what to share and how far to go….

When Ben and I speak in groups, whether small or large, it is always a goal of ours to be authentic. Sometimes that means admitting some of the things we struggle with. Other times it means sharing where we feel like we have failed in our work, in our marriage, or as parents. The life we live can seem glamorous at times, and although we find a lot of joy and purpose in it, it can be really hard and full of struggles at times, in some cases even traumatic.

Letting our true selves hang out has a lot of benefits, like connecting with those who want to have a grasp of our situation and know us well (I call them the ‘unshockable’ people!) Also, some of the themes in our struggles are the same whether you are overseas or living in the First World, like parenting, marriage and cross cultural conflicts. It gives a level of safety, where you wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to have a meaningful conversation.

Opening up has risks. Sometimes well meaning people think they assume they know you after having only a small glimpse of your life. Other times, they might give unsolicited advice that isn’t always helpful (and although I want to have a loving response–it’s extremely awkward to find an appropriate one!) I am all for a word of timely advice! I’m just talking about the kind of advice which isn’t so helpful.

Also, a side note here: as someone who has struggled with boundaries my whole life, in the area of vulnerability, I have found Henri Nouwen’s advice in my favorite book by him “The Inner Voice of Love” to be really helpful,

You must decide for yourself to whom and when you give access to your interior life. For years you have permitted others to walk in and out of your life according to their needs and desires. Thus you were no longer master in your own house, and you felt increasingly used. So, too, you quickly became tired, irritated, angry and resentful…

and

It is important for you to control your own drawbridge. There must be times when you keep your bridge drawn and have the opportunity to be alone or only with those to whom you feel close. Never allow yourself to become public property where anyone can walk in and out at will. You might think that you are being generous in giving access to anyone who wants to enter or leave but you will soon find yourself losing your soul.

As I speak with people and feel my insecurities invading, I try to remember to pray “Lord, let me be who You want me to be today. Let me only speak Your words.” If I choose this, He always comes through for me, and He is my place of safety every time. I suspect this is going to be a lesson I come back to often because I am a fallen & sinful person…I am always going to feel the pull to ‘put my missionary face on,’ as I was going to do last week before my friend encouraged me to be me.

All this to say, I had the opportunity again yesterday to ask myself, “how much am I willing to let others, even strangers, see my deepest struggles?” Almost as soon as that thought appears, I fall back to, “if my life is not my own, and it really belongs to Jesus, then all it really matters is what He thinks of me.” And if me being transparent opens the doors for people to extend grace (and care) to themselves and especially to my fellow overseas workers, then that is well worth it. Authenticity, transparency….this is where I want to live.

And to my brave brothers and sisters who have gone before me in living authentically, thank you. You are the hands at feet of Christ to me.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: