Friday, February 9, 2018

Wrestling with Dad

The other morning, Steven and Andrew were wrestling in bed. Andrew decided he had enough and wanted to go eat breakfast, but Steven had him in a tight bear hug. They play a game "Lockdown" where the other has to guess the password to get out of said situation. This is how the conversation played out:

Steven: Lockdown password.
Andrew: Let me go!
Steven: Lockdown password is "I love honey nut cheerios"
A: No. (kicking and squirming)
S: Just say it.
A: No. (more kicking and squirming)

And this went on for another 4 rounds while Andrew tried to fanagle out of Steven's grasp to no avail until Andrew finally gave in and said the lockdown password.

As I watched it play out, I had to smile and ask the Lord, 'Do I do that?' Do I fight with you because I want my way? Do I somehow think I am stronger than you or can outlast you? Yes, indeed I do.

Paul David Tripp asked a very pointed question in his book "New Morning Mercies" that cut me to the core this morning: Will you give way to the frustration that you are not getting your way or celebrate the grace that has included you in the most wonderful plan that was ever conceived?

In this journey of raising funds, prayer partners and preparing to leave, I have had a plan and I get annoyed with things, like sickness impede my ability to carry out my plan. I get frustrated when I don't get my way. God is more about the journey than the destination. He wants to teach me through this and I just want to get it done.

Jesus then followed up this little lesson for me with Psalm 73:28 "But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works."

May that be my ultimate desire, not what I want but the nearness of the Lord.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Not my plan...

If you’ve followed my blog at all in the past you know that I’m big into people’s stories. I am always amazed at how God uses our story to tell His ultimate story. He is at work, He has been at work and He will be at work long after my story is over, but I’m excited as we enter a new chapter that He is writing in our story for His glory and our good.

Ever since we got back from Ecuador, our hearts have been drawn to get back on the mission field full time. After Steven graduated from seminary in 2012, we tried. Oh how we tried. But the Lord closed doors and made us wait. I’m not sure about you, but patience is not a virtue that I have very much of. I drive fast, hate waiting in lines and multitask whenever possible. So asking me to wait was right there next to torture. But waiting doesn’t mean doing nothing. In the last 5 years, we have been able to watch friends come to know the Lord, minister to neighbors, watch 2 children grow and grow in our relationship with the Lord and each other. It may not have been what we expected to happen, but it has been worth it. 

About a year or so ago, we met up with a friend, Bob Hay who we met on our missionary journey with SIM. Since we came home from Ecuador, Bob has kept up with us, sent us our favorite coffee (Casi Cielo YUM!) and came to stay with us when he was in town. In our conversations with him about missions, we said that we would go anywhere and do anything. Bob responded with: “No you won’t. You can’t be a doctor in Timbuktu because you’re not qualified to do so. You need to see what the Lord has gifted, skilled and called you to do and then go do that.” Bob and his wife Amy asked us if we would like to do Life Focus with them - it’s something they do with long term missionaries to help them figure out how God has uniquely gifted them for missions. 

Bob and Amy were so faithful and patient with us as we took Meyer-Briggs, DIRT, and a whole lot of other tests to help us know ourselves better. We then went about writing mission statements, vision statements and describing ourselves in one word. (its tougher than you think!). 

In doing these things there emerged a tug from the Lord - to work in the SIM home office helping missionaries get on the field. Hmm… never saw that coming.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


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.