Thursday, December 8, 2016

Sacrifice

Driving down Northwest Highway yesterday, Andrew and I saw a homeless man cloaked in a white bed sheet panhandling. I had packed Andrew an apple and some pretzels as a snack for the way home, so I rolled down my window and asked the gentleman if he would like an apple. His contagious smile and sparkling eyes caught me off guard. He said yes and thank you. I quickly asked his name, told him ours and told him we would be praying for him. As we drove away, Andrew says to me, “But mom, I’m hungry.” This coming from my 3-year-old who never stops eating. He had just eaten breakfast, was eating a snack in the car and would get yet another snack at Bible study... but he was hungry. We talked about sacrifice and how that apple was Mr. Chris’ breakfast and how God has blessed us to be a blessing.

It made me begin to think of our human concept of sacrifice. When we give to charity, we don’t dig too deep to actually feel it. We pat ourselves on the back when we give a few extra dollars to the missionary, above and beyond our tithe. This, to us is sacrifice - to give a little out of our overflowing abundance.

What was Jesus’ view of sacrifice? “Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!” Ephesians 2:6-8

He sacrificed his throne to save you - to save me! And what does he call us to do? “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationship with one another, have the same mindset of Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:3-5

This feels like a gut punch to my soul. I want to value others interests before my own. I want to give when it hurts (money and time!), not only when it’s convenient. When Jesus asks me to give up my apple, I want to do it willingly and not be so focused on my own interests. But all too often I sacrifice just enough to look good or make myself feel better.

I am reminded of Andrew’s favorite Bible story: Feeding the 5,000. His Bible story book points out that the boy didn’t keep part of his lunch for himself, he gave the whole thing. That little boy offered up all he had to Jesus without expecting anything in return. It wasn’t about how much he had, it was about his heart being ready to give it all for Jesus to use. Oh, that I would have that same spirit of giving this Christmas season.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Looking back...

Crazy adventures in Ecuador, reverse culture shock, traveling and marrying the love of my life... that's what I've been reminiscing over the last 30 minutes. I haven't looked at my Over a Cup of Coffee blog in YEARS, but was reminded when a new missionary moving to Loja was looking at it.

From 2008 to 2009 my days were filled with stories... stories of how the Lord moved, how people's lives were change, and about all my cultural and language mishaps. It's so neat to look back and see how the Lord used me but even more how the Lord changed me during that time.

Now that my days are mostly filled with diapers, dishes and play dates, I don't have the same wild adventure stories, but I do still get to see the Lord move. I get to see Jesus forming and shaping my son as he grows and learns (He said "Jesus" the other day - I screamed in excitement and scared him so much that now he doesn't want to say it anymore!) I still get to come in contact with people who desperately need Jesus; it just may be a mama instead of a crazy college kid. And I still get the opportunity to speak words of truth to believers who need encouragement.

As my time in Ecuador came to a close, I remember thinking 'If the last two years have been "mission work" I can do that anywhere. It's just taking the time to make friends and love people toward the Gospel of Jesus Christ." I pray that my life is JUST that - whether in Ecuador, Dallas or Timbuktu may every day be spent sharing the love of Jesus with those who need to know him, whether that be to my son, my neighbor or a stranger.

It was fun reading through past stories of bus ridessalsa dancing, and my absolute FAVORITE STORY that still makes me laugh when I think about it. Do I miss those days living in beautiful Loja? You better believe it. My view is a little different these days, and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world! I'm doing the same thing today as I did 7 years ago, sharing the love of Jesus with whoever he puts in my path.

* All the links are to the stories on my old blog that I was reading through today. Feel free to read them and reminisce with me if you like!

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Whistle

When you heard the whistle, you moved. It didn't matter if you were three blocks away or two doors down, when my mom whistled we all knew it was time to go home. I remember being at the park, hearing the whistle and telling my friend I had to go. She said, "Why don't you just stay a little longer and tell her you didn't hear it?" My response: "Because she'll know I was lying... we can always hear the whistle."

Thinking about that makes me chuckle a little now that I have my own little guy. I find myself telling him often: "Listen and obey." Even at 16 months, I see the wheels in his little head turning - 'To obey or to do what I want...' No one had to teach him to be disobedient or selfish, but I do need to teach him how to be obedient. Just like my mom had to teach me to come home when I heard the whistle.

This is what the Lord has been teaching me lately... to listen and obey. So often when I hear his gentle voice say, Go I wait around pretending like I didn't hear. When I feel a nudge from the Spirit to pray over someone, to speak the truth of the Gospel or give an encouraging word, I hesitate. Like my son Andrew, I want to do what I want. I don't want to be called out of my comfort zone to what could be an awkward situation. I don't want to risk rejection or humiliation. I want to cuddle up with familiarity and safety.

But we have not been called to safety and comfort (though I find myself longing for it daily). As believers in Christ, he has called us to adventure, danger and a fight for people's souls.

I want to be as in tune to the Spirit of God as I was to my mom's whistle. When I hear it, it means it's time to move.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Didn't realize it could get this messy...

When you look down at your hand, see something yellow and think to yourself, 'I think that's poop', you're a mom. I've wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. Baby was my first word, I mothered my dolly, and bossed around my sister. I honestly thought I knew what I was getting into. I had no idea.
Andrew James was born on September 20 and since that day my life has been flipped on its head. I've cried more and felt more inadequate than I've ever in my life. At the same time, I never thought I'd be so overjoyed at a smile or several hours of sleep in a row. 
I've also never felt so close to the Lord as I have during the past 2 months. As he has cried, I've cried out to the Lord for help, answers, healing... and honestly most days I felt like my prayers were hitting the ceiling. It just didn't seem fair that so many people I know have these perfect little ones who sleep and don't have ear-piercing wails while I end up with the kid who cries more than sleeps. 
Last week when he got sick, I was sucking boogers, giving medicine and doing everything I could think of to help my small one. But all he saw was how much he hated getting his nose unplugged, how nasty the medicine was and how mean his mom was. My heart was broken for my child. I wanted to take all his hurt, sickness and pain on myself. I just kept whispering in his ear, "Mama loves you." 
It was during one of his wailings that the Lord spoke so clearly to me about my own pain over the last several months. My prayer life has increased 100 fold. When he is crying and we are making our laps around the living room, I prayed for him, our family, our friends and those who don't know the Lord. When he's up at 2am, I prayed for my friends who wish they had little ones to hold and comfort at 2am. When I wanted to give him back, I cried out to the Lord and he answered me; not with the healing that I so desperately wanted, but instead with the closeness I so desperately needed. As I wailed, he held me close and said, "Daddy loves you." 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Everything I needed to know about life, I learned from my mom


She was the first voice you ever heard. The pain it caused her to know you is beyond words, but as she looked at your face, she smiled and said, “It was all worth it.” Most likely you don’t remember this moment and neither do I. But it is a moment she will never forget.
From that point on, she was the one you ran to when you got hurt and who dried your eyes when you cried. She had no problem saying no to the things she knew would hurt you in the end and loved you when you were 17 years old and completely unloveable. 
There is truly no one like a mother. 
Instead of writing all the things I did to torture my mom, I want to remember all the wonderful times that we had together that will be forever seared into my memory. 
I feel like many of these things happened in the car. We would be driving to the store and my mom would say, “Jamie Lin, we are in a hurry. Can you pray for a parking spot?” We would pray and then when we found the spot she would say, “Now let’s thank Jesus for that spot.” My mom taught me how to pray.
As a child, I loved to sing. I would make up songs and sing them to Jesus as we drove along. One day I looked at my mom and said, “When I sing to Jesus, it makes me cry.” My mom taught me how to sing.
One time we say an ambulance and as was costumery, we prayed that Jesus would be with that person in the accident and asked that God would use this to draw them to himself. After we said Amen, my mom began to ask me if I knew where I was going when I died. Since I didn’t know, my mom shared with me the love of Jesus for mankind and how he wanted to be with me but my rotten sin got in the way so he came to earth to die on the cross to pay for my sins. That day I placed my trust in Jesus as my ultimate sacrifice. My mom shared with me the gospel of Jesus Christ.
My mom would take every opportunity to talk to people about Jesus and to love them with the gospel. She lived life with people, rubbed shoulders with them and was never afraid of getting dirty. My mom taught me the cost of discipleship and how sometimes it’s messy.
I could go on and on about how my mom taught me how to serve, how to cook, how to laugh, how to dance in the kitchen AND how to do a killer belly flop that has won more than one belly-flop contest, but I’ll save that for another day. 
My mom brought me into this world, but more than that, she taught me how to live in it without being of it. 
As I draw nearer to motherhood I pray that one day I can be half the mother my mom has been to me. If my children feel HALF as loved by me as I do by my mom, we’ll be doing good.
Thanks mom for investing in my life. You’ve made all the difference.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Honoring her because she honored Jesus...

It’s been a year. It’s been a year since I’ve seen her round face and strong dimples. It’s been a year since I’ve heard her sweet, gentle voice call my name.

As I sat on the plane, headed to her house, all I wanted to do was crawl up on her bed and tell her all the things that she missed this year. My first year of marriage to the most wonderful man, my new job and our new apartment. She missed multiple shoe shopping expeditions and candy runs... mostly because I didn’t do them since she wasn’t here. The plan this weekend was to do all the things that we would have done if she were here: buy a pair of shoes... preferably on sale. (If they are cheap enough, she’d tell me to buy two!) Go to the candy store and buy one of every kind that I like because life is too short to just choose ONE. Go to the dollar store and buy a good pen... or maybe a few pens and figure out which one is the best. Buy a bowl or a plate or a cup. Really whatever is pretty. It doesn’t have to match what I already have because it’s more about it being beautiful than matching. Watch a good cooking show and maybe go get a taco at 10:00 at night just because the craving came to me. The plan was to eat good food and not feel guilty about the calories, because let’s be honest: calories at Gramma’s house don’t count. Finally, I wanted to read about the goodness of the Lord and pour over his psalms highlighting places where he talks about heaven and healing because she has journals upon journals that do the same.

Yet, there are some things that are impossible to do. Drive all the way into downtown because we missed our exit due to excessive talking and laughing. Fall asleep next to her on her bed while we watch some crazy action movie. Recount old memories or days gone by. Watch back to back dollar movies to fill an entire afternoon.


Let’s just say I tried to do all of these things to no avail. I TRIED to go buy a pair of shoes, but couldn’t find one that I really liked. I TRIED to go buy 20 pieces of different kids of candy, but the Target we always went to has since gotten rid of that section of the store. I TRIED to go buy a pretty bowl, but Ross had a line with literally 100 people in it (and I would have had to find the FIND OF THE CENTURY to get me to stand in it). I walked away from Saturday a bit sad that I couldn't honor Grammee this way. But then mom put it all into perspective: if I could hear from Grammee right now, she would tell me to store up my treasures in heaven because at the end of life, they are just shoes gaining dust in a closet.

I guess it boils down to this: I always want to remember. I vividly remember the talks we would have about boys and how I shouldn’t keep secrets from my mom. I remember peeking into her room and she would be pouring over Scripture. I remember that she would get on facebook just to keep in touch with her grandkids. The woman I remember, I never want to forget, because I hope one day to be just like that woman.


Thank you Grammee for showing me how to walk with Jesus... miss you Grams.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Stuck

Do you ever get stuck? You find yourself sinking slowly in the muck and mire of mediocrity. The more you try to struggle and MAKE yourself care about things that are outside yourself, the less you actually care and the more stuck you feel. It's not like anything is that bad. In fact, nothing is truly bad, it's all just... fine. When people ask you, "How are you?" Your response is "fine" and you mean it. Things aren't great and aren't bad, there just FINE - and there you are, stuck.
I found myself in just this position the other day. Honestly, I thought to myself, I would rather things be AWFUL than mediocre. My walk with the Lord had gotten to a place that I didn't like. You guessed it, fine. When things have been difficult in life, I have clung to the Lord for dear life because I had no other choice. When I was lost, I needed the good Shepherd. When I was broken, I went to see the perfect Doctor. I have so many memories of trying desperately to learn Spanish or having to plead with the Lord to move my lips to make sense out of the Spanish Bible study I was trying to lead. Dependance comes easy when I was in a new Ecuadorian culture and environment or when I get myself to a place that I literally cannot take even a baby step without falling on my face. But what do I do when I'm living in Dallas, work at a place that I've been for two years and find myself comfortable? I trust myself and life quickly becomes insignificant.
On Sunday, I cried out to the Lord and said, "I don't like FINE!" As we sat together, the Lord opened my eyes to something I had forgotten: to be thankful. These things that seemed ordinary just five minutes before became fountains of praise as I thanked the Lord for the ability to work at a place where I can share the gospel, pray for my amazing co-workers and see the love of Jesus lived out. It just wouldn't stop... how could I take for granted a group of amazing girlfriends who encourage me in my walk with Jesus and love to dig into the Word with me? Where would I be without our amazing Home Group who have stepped into our lives and let us into theirs? This time of praise could not end without thanking the Lord for an amazing partner in ministry. A man who rubs my feet when I'm sick, laughs with me until I cry, and shares adventure with me.

I walked away from this time with the Lord with a renewed sense of gratitude for life and ministry, but still wanting my walk with the Lord to be transformed. Like my friend Rhonda told me yesterday, "When you ask the Lord for something that he already wants to give you, he is MORE than happy to grant your request!" I went to church on Sunday waiting to truly hear from the Lord and that I did. Matt made this statement about the church at Ephesus: They didn't know how to pretend yet. They didn't know how to "play church" and "play fine." If they were lost and confused, they said so. If they were struggling, they made it obvious. As the church, we learn how to pretend. In doing so do ourselves and those around us a disservice. The Ephesians hid behind doctrine and lost their love and affection for Christ. Matt's question was this: Have you lost your affection for Jesus?
I'm choosing not to pretend - my answer is yes. I know how to study and how to dig into his Word (though I haven't been doing it much), but I have forgotten how much I truly LOVE Jesus. So I asked him to change that - to stir up my affection for Him.

In the past 3 days, this is what he has done: He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. (Psalm 40:2)

He has renewed my outlook on life and reignited my affections. Thank you Jesus!