Sunday’s Inspiration

Dear Jesus,

It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.

These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.

The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?

Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.

Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.

Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.

This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.

Hopefully,
Your Children

– Max Lucado, in response to this week’s school shooting in America
Read the above and more from Christian Post  here

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“God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. Its a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. . .

When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. . . .

Why?  Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return.”

– Lamentations 3, The Message

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May this Sunday find you resting from worry, waiting  in hope for Messiah, and tasting the reality of Immanuel.

Struggling with something in particular? Experiencing anything deeply good? We’d love to hear about it.  You can comment here. 

Sunday’s Inspiration

Helen H. Lemmel’s chorus in her well known hymn gives us pause today.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

The first part of chapter 12 of Hebrews as heard through the voice of the Message Bible speaks of where we place our gaze, too:

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

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Does your soul need some adrenaline today? I am sure you are not the only one. Let us keep our eyes on the story of Jesus. May we know His grace in a deeper way.

As a way to build community that matters here, take a moment and leave a comment letting us know of something you are struggling with or something we can pray for you about. As you are leaving your comment you can take a look at some of the things others are saying and pray for them.

Peace to you.

(Photo credit: Dave Forney at The Forney Flyer)

When Your Missionary Teen Struggles

Today’s guest post comes from missionary mom Colleen Mitchell. Here, Colleen talks honestly about the struggle of watching a teenager battle isolation overseas.

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I have often written about how one of my greatest struggles in living life as a missionary is a battle with loneliness. After nearly a year in our current mission, I find that some hard growing up over the last couple of years has helped me to accept the burden of loneliness that comes with this life. But I’m facing a new struggle this time around, one that pains my heart worse than my own loneliness ever did. It is watching my teenage son adjust to the reality of life in this place, battle the unavoidable loneliness it brings.

In our past mission posts, I was always a mom to little guys, little enough that being with their mom and dad was all they needed to be content. This time around, we headed into the field with a much different dynamic. Our five boys are now fourteen, eleven, nine, seven and five. The middle two boys tend to pair into a nice friendship (when they’re not trying to kill each other) and the two youngest boys form such an adventurous little pair that we’ve affectionately labeled them our little hobbits.

My oldest is the one who is left without a built-in companion among his brothers. He also happens to be my most reserved kid when it comes to meeting new people and trying new things. Not so much an introvert, but a thinker and a reader who is a little slow to jump in.

This child has spent most of his life surrounded by a large and exuberantly loving extended family, a lively faith community and lots of like-minded families. Friends were built in to his life without much effort required. As he headed toward his teen years, we encouraged his participation in activities that allowed him to initiate new friendships and relate to a variety of people.

And just when he’d hit a social groove that I firmly believe would have carried him through his teen years with rewarding friendships, we made the decision to head back into the mission field. And I sometimes struggle with the cost this young man has had to pay. 

Making friends in a different culture is more than challenging. It seems impossible at times. And the majority of his life-long friends at home have gone on with lives that now seem exactly as they are, a world away.

I try to remember that fourteen was probably going to be hard and fraught with social issues wherever he found himself. I try to remember that there is much good to be learned in a slow, intentional and somewhat lonely life. But, this Mama Bear wants all to be well for her cubs. And watching this man-cub’s transition has been hard.

I find my heart constantly crying out for him, begging God to give him a friend at his side. I remind myself that if this life was God’s calling for our family, then it is God’s calling for this child as well, part of God’s plan for his life. And I cling to the notion that His plan is undoubtedly for this young man’s welfare and not for his woe.

He is noble and strong in this walk. He is learning. He is growing. Now for my mother’s heart to find the courage to let her son be the man he is meant to be.

Maybe that is the real challenge here.

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Do you have teens living abroad with you? How have you helped them make the adjustment to life in a foreign culture? What are some ways to help them find friendships? 

Colleen Mitchell is a wife, mother to five sons walking this side of heaven and one already home, and foreign missionary serving in the Chirripo mountains of Costa Rica. She has heeded her mother’s command to use her words when she needs to express something and blogs her missionary heart at Blessed Are The Feet.  She is actively engaged in the work of her family’s non-profit foundation St.Bryce Missions (www.saintbryce.org) and in founding the Mercy Covers initiative, a micro-enterprise cooperative for women reaching out to orphans and trafficking victims through its work.

Sunday’s Inspiration

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?

Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me— watch how I do it.

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

– Jesus, The Message, Matthew 11

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The Middle Mile

“To most of us, the most important parts of a journey are the start and finish. But the part of a trip that really tests the traveler is neither the beginning nor the end but the middle mile.

Anybody can be enthusiastic at the start. The long road invites you, you are fresh and ready to go. It is easy to sing then.

And it is easy to be exuberant at the finish. You may be footsore and weary but you have arrived, the goal is reached, the crown is won. It is not difficult to be happy then.

But on that dreary middle mile when the glory of the start has died away and you are too far from the goal to be inspired by it, on the tedious middle mile when life settles down to its regular routine and monotony–there is the stretch that tires out the traveler. If you can sing along the middle mile, you’ve learned one of life’s most difficult lessons.  It proves, as nothing else can, that character. And it gets least attention from the world because there is nothing very dramatic about it.

It’s a hard mile, for it’s too far to go back and a long way to go on. But if you can keep a song within and a smile without on this dreariest stretch of life, if you can learn to transform it into a paradise of its own, you have mastered the greatest secret of victorious living, the problem of the middle mile.”

-Vance Havner, as found in The Family Book of Christian Values

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As a way to build community that matters here, take a moment and leave a comment letting us know of something you are struggling with or something we can pray for you about. Happy Sunday, friends.

Sunday Inspiration. Sunday Prayer.

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life– your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering.

Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

– The Message, Romans 12

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So, today, on this Sunday, how can our community pray for you? Leave a comment with a prayer request, and we’ll intentionally lift you up this week. If you would, read the prayer request from the person who commented right above yours. Either pray for them on your own, or write them a short prayer in the comment that you leave. This is a practical way we can all offer spiritual encouragement to each other, even, literally, separated by the continents.

Welcome to A Life Overseas {Vlog}

The day is here!

We’ve been working behind the scenes and our first official post will hit the online space tomorrow, November 15th. But, before we get into the actual articles from our amazing team of international writers, I wanted to take a minute to personally welcome you to this site which is written by global workers, for global workers.

We’ll be having new content 3-4 times every week, so be sure to subscribe today for posts to get sent right to your inbox. It’s a free and easy way to connect with the faith community of missionaries. You can simply enter your email address below:



Take a minute today, too, to connect with us on Facebook by liking our page (HERE or on the sidebar) or by following us on twitter at @alifeoverseas . Feel free to browse around the authors’ sites, too, and get to know their work and online voices, as well.

Whether you are thinking about living internationally, or whether you have logged years of experience already, thank you for being here and thank you for the work you are doing to impact the world for good and for the Kingdom.

Let the conversation begin.

– Laura Parker, co-founder, former missionary to SE Asia

 

Meet the Editors

Angie and I have never met in real life. Instead, our journey was formed in blog comments and facebook posts. Our friendship begun via computers and twitter handles. She was in Bolivia, and I was living in SE Asia. She was the encouraging missionary with years under her belt saying, “You can do this,” while I was the one with only months under mine claiming publicly that I very-much-couldn’t.

I received many emails and messages and comments on my own blog, particularly during the times I vomited hopelessness or admitted to cussing in the front yard,  but Angie became this source of constant encouragement to me, half a globe away. Her words always rang true, always pointed up, always spoke life. She faithfully left comment after comment after comment, reminding me that I wasn’t crazy. And that it would get better. And that living overseas would teach me lessons I couldn’t learn otherwise.

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And several months ago, I had a precious friend at our house for dinner in Asia, and somehow, Angie Washington’s name surfaced. And my new friend exclaimed, “Wait, I know her!” To which I replied incredulously, “Like, in real life?!”

And my friend had spent a summer with Angie and her family in Bolivia, and I held my breath a little as I asked the question that I think is in the back of everyone’s mind when they’re about to meet in real life someone they’ve only known via words on a screen:

“Is she like, legit?”

And my friend couldn’t stop raving, and I knew then that words on screen matched words in real life for Angie Washington {Of course, I figured that was the case}. And I understood clearly that I wanted to stay connected with this particular blog-friend on a regular basis– regardless of latitude. She was too precious not to keep rubbing shoulders, or online words, with.

And so a few months later, when I was thinking of the concept of this site and the need for it in the lives of missionaries on the field, I immediately thought of Angie. Not only is she a stellar and honest writer, but she consistently points people heavenward with encouragement and challenge– exactly the kind of person we need at the helm of this community. I’m hopeful that she’ll be able to do for some of you what she did for me during some of my darkest days on the field.

Laura Parker, October 2012

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Laura Parker. Co-Founder, Editor. As a child, Laura wanted to be Amy Carmichael, and in college, she wanted to be an English teacher living in an African hut. When her first attempt at overseas missions became an epic failure, lasting three months instead of several years, she began to think that foreign ministry was perhaps more difficult than the books made it out to be. This was a truth made clear during her second stint living overseas, this time with three small children, in SouthEast Asia. As a freelance writer and avid blogger, Laura wrote gritty and honest about her time in the field, building a community of missionaries, hungry for authenticity about  the difficulties of living overseas. In addition to writing for her personal blog, LauraParkerBlog, Laura has also been a freelance writer and photographer for Compassion International. She has been published in RELEVANT Magazine, MomSense magazine, a Deeper Story, {In}Courage, SheLoves and other online websites. Currently, she works with a counter-trafficking NGO. You can find her at her personal site, LauraParkerBlog and can follow her on twitter at @LauraParkerBlog.

 

Angie Washington. Co-Founder, Editor. Angie has been living the adventure with her husband and their five kids in Bolivia for over a decade. Together they have started: multiple bible schools, an international office for equipping Latin leaders through media and conferences, a local church, a K-12 Christian school, and an orphanage. She has a personal blog called “The @“. Her blog topics range from street art to adoption to cooking with gas. Through her writing she hopes to push people to love God, love people and enjoy life. Straddling hemispheres creates a continual need for her to rely on Christ… and coffee! When not writing, chilling with the fam or doing missionary stuff she collects cactus plants, takes pretty pictures and hangs out with her friends.