Learning to live and love in another culture is learning to breath grace. This phrase – breath grace – is so lovely. Deep breath; Jesus provides the breath and the grace. Go ahead – do it! Close your eyes and take a deep breath in; as you inhale just imagine the grace of Jesus flowing into you.
In order to breath grace into another culture, you have to have that grace from and of Jesus flowing through you. Remembering that it’s not right, it’s not wrong…it’s just different. After fours weeks of focusing on how different our lives will be in South Africa and how we must search ourselves, we feel weary yet excited. We are encouraged and ready. We are energized and preparing to prepare even more. A plan to be formed and worked. Yet we know that this plan HAS to be God’s plan.
Today in the beauty of the North Carolina mountains, we took some time away from it all and focused on breathing grace. Walking along the trail with the cool breeze blowing through the trees – slippery from the morning rains; leaves covering the ground – yet the trail was there. No doubt which way to go – follow the path head of you.
Beautiful colors – created by the Creator. How creative and artistic is the Creator! Red, orange, and yellow fluttering to the ground around us.
The path was long and curvy – often switching back on itself. Breathing grace along the way; blessed that the path wasn’t straight up; each curve or switchback allow us to use less energy and to breath deeper. The overhanging limbs protecting us from the occasional rain drop.
Halfway through – a little treasure found; easy to overlook in its hiding place between the rocks and roots of a giant tree. BELIEVE – there it is – The grace!
*in who we are in Christ
*that He has a wonderful plan that is better than we can even imagine
*our Jehovah Jireh will provide all of our provisions in His timing
*that His grace is sufficient – all we really need!
Continue walking upward – breathing in grace that He provides. The reminders so evident throughout His creation if we just look. Sometimes the path seems dark and dreary then as we get over the top the world opens up and a picture is painted. Vibrant, beautiful, amazing colors everywhere – even with the rain and the clouds; the creation praises the Creator with its magnificence.
And at the top – breath grace! Remembering that no matter how curvy or steep the path seems to be, we are just called to be obedient and follow it. Thankful that He is writing His story with us and painting our picture with vibrant colors. Breath grace – that’s really all we need.
Week #2 of cross cultural training is done! It hasn’t necessarily been an easy week. Actually, in some ways, it has been down right difficult! Eyes have been opened and hearts broken in learning all that we DO NOT know. And we didn’t even know that we didn’t know! So what do we do now? Where do we go from here?
We keep moving forward – ready to learn! Eyes opened, heart prepared, and feet ready to learn whatever God needs to teach us during this time. Here are just a few of the “take-away” thoughts for me. Let me know what you think.
So I knew that God was already working but I love this. God is already in South Africa. He is already working. I am so grateful for that. So grateful that He is allowing us to come alongside some amazing South Africans and serve with them.
Here’s another….to effectively share the Gospel you have to know if the culture is guilt, shame, or fear culture. WHAT!?!? What does that even mean? Check out this video. See the similarities and the differences in the way the Gospel is presented. I am awe-struck that God reaches people right where they are.
Then we got to folk religion, animism, and spiritual warfare. Talk about being overwhelmed. Grateful that He provides this armor to put on and take up!!
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:14-18
Then came words like ethnocentrism, cultural relativism, and worldview. Monday we start with contextualization. But seriously….this is some amazing stuff! Definitely makes me grateful that no matter our situation or circumstances – good or bad – God is still writing His story. I have so much to learn that I’m not even sure where I am in this story – but I know God controls it! Blessed that He is using us in just a small way to write His story in South Africa.
On a less serious note, the last two days have been spent discovering a beautiful part of God’s amazing creation. We have explored and hike two different areas of the beautiful North Carolina mountains.
We would LOVE for you to be part of His story in South Africa. We need 23 people/families to partner with us at $50 per month! If you would like to be one of those 23, please click below to start your monthly partnership. Use designation code 400.144.
Well, it is time to do some homework now…..not really but it will be done by Monday!
Well, week #1 of pre-field training at The Center for Intercultural Training is complete. Overwhelmed, tired, brain dead, exhausted, excited, amazed, blessed….just a few of the things that we are feeling.
- Overwhelmed with all that we DON’T know
- Tired from early mornings – it has been a long, long time since all five of us have had to get up and out of the house by 8am for 5 days in a row
- Brain dead from all the wonderful information that is being poured into us.
- Excited to be taking another step toward GOING to South Africa
- Amazed at the great teachers who are so willing to share their knowledge about living cross culturally with us; they are also sharing life with us which is also amazing
- Blessed to be in the beautiful North Carolina mountains during this time; blessed with the cool weather; blessed with the amazing new friendships that are blooming; blessed to be able to share this time with a group of people who are in the same situation we are; blessed to live in community with these people if only for a short time; blessed by amazing young ladies who are willing to invest their time with the girls.
You might be wondering what we are learning. Well, we are learning about culture. We have been stretched beyond ourselves. I have to admit that until this week I have never really thought about culture. Culture has always been around; however, I just didn’t feel like it was really relevant. I really thought that it was just the clothing that people wore, the food they ate, and their behaviors. I mean, I knew that we all lived in a certain culture. And my culture varies from the culture that we will be moving into. But, this week, culture threw me for a loop. Now my thought process related to culture are swimming around in the swirling sea without even a life vest to save me. Now, I do not blame culture for this confusion. I am not resistant to the fact that culture is so much more than I imagined. It is the lack of forethought that has brought me to this point.
First, who knew that culture was in the garden with Adam and Eve. I mean I guess it only makes sense but it’s just not something that has ever crossed my mind. Culture has been around a LONG time. And culture was affected by the fall of man. It’s not cultures fault that it was spread throughout this earth in so many different ways. Cultural differences are result of sin. Wow…can you see why I have been overwhelmed.
Today we played a culture game. We were divided into four groups. Each group had a certain culture they had to role play. Then we mixed it up with other cultures. It was so tiring….so frustrating….so fun to be mixed into a group with a culture that you didn’t understand. Differences in culture are……
“Not right, Not wrong….just differently. Definitely not weird and sometimes better.”
I know that there are things that I will not understand. Words, although English, will get jumbled and used incorrectly. I might value something differently than my new South African friends. Will my “Americanism” be so strong and overpowering that they won’t see Christ in me. I certainly pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to walk alongside me as culture challenges me.
It is probably difficulty for some of you to follow my randomness….after all, we all process things differently. That is something else we learned. Amazing….Ron and I are total opposites Mindstyles…..okay, you probably already knew that.
Remember, you can help us Go to South Africa by partnering with you monthly. We are at 77%…so close! We would love to have you partnering with us. Just click the link below and use designation code 400.144 to start you monthly partnership today.
I have been waiting to blog for the last few months – thinking…I need to wait until something is happening to write a blog. After all, right now we are waiting to GO! Waiting on partnerships to come through. Waiting on God’s timing. Waiting! Waiting! Waiting!
But…wow! The things that we have learned in the waiting.
1. Waiting is HARD! I don’t mean that it is a little hard. I mean it is gut-wrenching, crying for no reason, what do we do hard. I have been known to say something silly like…”I would rather go through six more years of seminary than one year of support raising and waiting.” Is that statement really true…NO!!I loved our years on the seminary campus. I love the people that are like family to us now. But those were soul-baring, out-of-my comfort zone years. But this past year…..well, I think you get the picture!
2. It is a small, small world! Are you singing that song now? I know that you are! It is a small world. We speak at churches, Sunday school classes, life-groups, with individuals and families…almost everywhere we go we hear stories about mission trips to Africa or missionaries that someone knows. It is a small world…but we will probably not meet a missionary serving in Kenya while we are in South Africa. We might…God does do some crazy things sometimes! While we probably do not know that African friend and probably will not work alongside them on a daily basis, we still love hearing about God’s mission. No, our travel will not be postponed because of the Ebola outbreak (at least, not right now). That is West Africa. We are going to South Africa. On the other hand, we have met friends who have been to Cape Town – even several who have been to Fish Hoek. We have met South Africans who now live in Atlanta. They are encouraging to us. They are willing to help us make contact with South Africans before we are even there. Friends are being formed even right now!!
3. Friendships are so important! Okay, this is not really new knowledge. However, it has definitely been reinforced. During this time of waiting, we have been able to reconnect with friends that we know will always be supportive of our crazy life. They are even willing to help us during this time of crazy waiting. They walk alongside us. Listen to our crying. Laugh at craziness. Tell others about our craziness…and even make our craziness sound normal and exciting!
4. God is good all the time…and all the time God is good! Everyone that we have talked to about raising support and this time of waiting has said, “You will be surprised….” We are surprised! We are amazed…at who God has planned for our team, at how God has worked out partnerships, at how He has shown us His love and provisions.
5. Prayer is the most important part of waiting! While we go through hills and valleys during this time, we stand firm in the knowledge that He is listening. Even when it seems that He has been silent for a long time…longer than we want…when we feel discouragement, we know that going to God is prayer is the answer. Prayer opens the door. It is the comfort zone when we are so far out of our comfort zone we don’t even know where our comfort zone is anymore! Prayer shows us who and how God is going to place on our team! So, you should know, if God plans on you to be on our team…if you have felt even the slightest tug toward partnering with us…we are praying for you! You should probably just go ahead and step into the deep with us because God isn’t going to let go :)
I admit that I might be a little stubborn. Sometimes it takes a while for me to finally realized what God is trying to teach me during a certain season. This season of waiting has been no different. Just when I think that I have learned the lesson…I somehow forget. Thankfully, God is a patient and gentle and full of grace. He leads me back…to the exact spot that He wants me.
Now this isn’t a complete list. But in the waiting, these are the top 5 on my heart at the moment. Here’s a few additions that I may – or may not – expand on at a later date:
*I love to dance
*Selling everything you own – except for what you can fit into two suitcases and a carry-on – is fun!
*Spiritual warfare is real! Okay, this is another thing that I know but have been reminded of in the
*When summer is winter and winter is summer, it doesn’t really matter when you start your homeschool
year. It is going to be confusing that first year – and maybe for the rest of your life :)
*I don’t really hate healthcare as much as I thought I did.
*I love to paint
*The beach is my happy place. Again, something that I have known but all the beautiful pics of Fish Hoek
beach have reminded me.
There are times when God just really shows out. When you recognize that you are sitting on top of the mountain with Him – right there by your side. When you can feel His presence in each and every move you make. When you know that you are walking in His will and that is the best place on this earth.
I spent the weekend with an AMAZING group of women. We gathered on the mountain top for one purpose – to show His love to a group of young ladies who may very well change their world for Jesus! We served together, laughed together, cried (okay, cried a lot) together, prayed together. The presence of God was so evident that you could feel Him moving through the group.
Now….I know that mountain top experience and feeling can not last forever. The Lord brings us to the mountain top and sits with us. He also carries us when we are in the valley. Thankful to have spent this time on the mountain.
While I was on the mountain top, the Man was sharing our journey with many! He did an incredible job organizing, planning, and participating in a local church’s global missions weekend. God is faithful, and He will make sure that the Man’s time proves productive!
Where are we in raising our support – 61% of one-time and 23% of monthly! Ready to be on the mountain in South Africa. Waiting on His perfect timing!
Sometimes it is so evident that Satan is at work. Those times when the finances going out are greater than the ones coming in. Then the bake sale to raise money for the youth trip is a total bust. Times when you cry until it feels like you are dehydrated. The Man can’t focus to on his packing then his plane gets delayed. It’s raining. Lil Sis gets sick. As you drive away from the airport, one of the lights on the dash for the car comes on and you don’t know what it means…….
During those times when you know that Satan is at work….it is during those times that you know that the Lord has something amazing in His plans. And His plans will defeat any schemes of the devil.
Despite all those things that could discourage, I continue to count; knowing that His blessings are abundant even during – or maybe especially during – times like these!
1467. warm blankets to snuggle under on the coldest night that we have experienced in 4 years
1468. this pile delivered and stacked on the back porch
1469. the Man coming to lunch with us
1470. times when you cry so hard that you feel emptied; the Lord fills that emptiness
1471. financial frustrations that are teaching me to completely depend on our Jehovah Jireh
1472. friends who are willing to taxi the girls around to different events
1473. that same friend who listens with her heart and prays diligently
1474. these boxes of donations and gifts that have to be packed into two suitcases without exceeding the airline weight limits
1475. getting all of that into two suitcases
1476. a wonderful ticket agent that lets one suitcase that weighed 50.5 lbs through without the Man having to re-arrange everything
1477. hugs that warm the heart
1478. Lil Sis’ attempt to go with the Man to South Africa
1479. banana chocolate chip bread that Lil Sis has become an expert at making
1480. jolly rancher lollipops
1481. rainy weather that causes us to slow down and hang out
1482. the Man making all his connections even when he has to sprint through one airport
1483. Lil Sis’ fever, sore throat, and body aches resolving without the need for a doctor’s visit
1484. Middle Sis’ unselfish moments of agreement to stay home with Lil Sis
1485. learning to allow others to help; even when my pride gets in the way
1486. the Man arriving safely in South Africa
1487. this view that the team is getting to see each day
1488. the first picture of the Man in South Africa; enjoying his time at one of the Extreme Response Christmas parties
1489. family and friend support while it’s just me and the girls
1490. church family who helps me with the car; fills up the anti-freeze and the oil; no problems!
1491. Prayers from friends and family
1492. fun painting with the youth
1493. the bake sale that did not raise any money for the youth but provided snacks for several different events
It is cold in Georgia. I know that my more northern friends are laughing – particularly the ones in Canada, Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska. But I have adjusted to the mild and short southern Louisiana winters. This cold front – with temperatures in the 20-30’s – I was not prepared for.
My weatherman prediction – this is going to be a very, very cold winter. The key for me is simple. While the weather is cold, the only way to survive is the warmth of Jesus.
Counting keeps Him there – in the forefront; never far away; providing blessing. So I continue counting; even when I use the Joy Dare scavenger hunt to find the blessings….
3 gifts eaten
1437. chocolate left over from trick or treaters that did not come to our little home in the woods
1438. chicken noodle soup that is easy on a queasy stomach
1439. dinner on the stove to be eaten when the hunters come in after dark
1441. Following God’s path and amazing gifts
1442. Small country churches
1443. Unexpected mommy’s grand adventures
1444. A bushel of apple
1445. Yummy treats made with that bushel of apples
1446. these two working in the kitchen together to make a yummy treat
1447. 11 year old girls who sometimes want to be teenagers and sometimes want to play silly little girl games all day
1448. The flexibility that allows sleep overs on school nights
1448. Jesus Calling
1449. Hot, soapy dishwater that soothes the ache
1450. women and girls dedicated to serving and blessing others during a VN weekend
1451. Big Sis being reminded that God is enough
1452. tears that wipe the soul clean and bring forgiveness and healing
1453. terrifying images on the news of the devastation in the Philippines.
1454. prayers for our partners in Manila and throughout
1455. safe travel of them in and out of the most devastated area of Bohol
1456. fun night with Memaw and Pop at the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular
1457. Pop’s healing after surgery
1458. prayers being lifted up from our home to a home that is struggling to remain whole
1459. Billy Graham’s last sermon; The Cross
1460. conversations with friends who question the cross but want to understand after watching
1461. an accidentally late night phone call from a far away friend that did the heart good
1462. a warm wood burning stove on a cold day
1463. learning – daily – to count on the Lord for all our provisions
1464. almond joy creamer :)
1464.laying awake late in the night/early in the morning with worry; turning the worry and anxiety over to the Lord; even when I have to do it daily, I know He will carry me
1465. fall gone; winter is here!!
1466. the meaning of “yada”
On the road again…..
Traveling back to Tennessee. Tired and weary; wondering what God was up to. We crossed into Tennessee as the sun began to set. Together – 5 of us – piled up together in a hotel room.
We set the clocks back – because in this neck of the woods daylight savings time is over. One extra hour of sleep, barely, found in that hotel room. Dawn broke and we headed to a small country church….wondering what God was going to do with this!
We pull in – up the wrong side of the drive – laughing, wondering what God is going to do with this. The pastor, this sweet gentleman with deep laugh lines, jumps out of his car. Eager to greet us! Eager for us to share with his flock.
Then a great friend – the one who overwhelmed us with our first visit to Tennessee – drives up. The one who opened this second door for us to walk through was there to show support. So blessed for this guy who is willing to go above and beyond to help us on this journey!
Prayers – singing – this small country church demonstrated “The Great Commission.” So Beautiful. Two baptisms that touched my heart. Then – the Man up front; so beautifully sharing our journey.
Not many people; but it is not about the numbers. It’s about what God is going to do. And He did show up. Only about 30 in attendance; but that is 30 more that now know about the vision and our journey. And then…during the very special luncheon; prepared just for us….we were presented with a love offering. And overwhelming gift and a promise to pray about more. God knew what He was going to do…..it was our job to just be obedient.
This obedience thing….it doesn’t come easy. Actually, it is just hard. Hard to walk through that door and not know what is on the other side.
The ultimate obedience…found on the cross!
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Philippians 2:8
Further down the road…a beautiful fall day in Tennessee and Georgia. Signs on the side of the road remind me of obedience. Curvy roads throughout the mountains. It is hard to see around the curve; yet we continued to follow the road. The road signs direct us down the road….we are thankful that the Lord is shows us His signs to direct our paths. We might have trouble recognize them…but they are there.
You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. Deuteronomy 30:8
Following the path that the God has already gone down. He knows the curves; the twists and turns, that we will encounter. He is prepared for them.
The curves of this back road from Tennessee to Georgia took us on a spontaneous adventure; a “Mama’s Grand Adventure.” That’s what the girls call these unexpected field trips that we find ourselves on. A side adventure to the site of the 1996 Olympic site of kayaking. Again…we are on the road again…and by following God’s lead, we experienced His amazing creation that is fall in the North Georgia/Tennessee Mountains
1413. A multicultural worship service that speaks to my heart
1414. Flag bearers carrying 80+ flags to represent the 80 + different countries
1415. Prayers of healing over Pop before his surgery
1416. A little glimpse of heaven as people sing songs of praise in several different languages
1417. Hard eucharisteo: Lil Sis’ rash that won’t go away
1418. An afternoon of major cleaning in Lil Sis’ room
1419. Hard eucharisteo: a hard conversation about getting rid of our little feline friends because of the rash
1420. Crazy nagging headache that lingers all day
1421. Our Great Physician, Pop’s successful surgery
1422. Dinner with Extreme Response friends
1423. New heaters for cold nights
1424. A car battery dieing, still under warranty
1425. The Man and Big Sis’ time in the woods
1426. time to help some old friends pack and move
1427. “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5
1428. Kids in a circle taking a moment to encourage each other.
1429. Figuring out that Lil Sis’ rash probably isn’t from our feline friends and isn’t contagious and will go away on its own
1430. Accepting that the same rash will linger for 6-8 weeks and we can only treat the symptoms
1431. The love between Lil Sis and her feline friends
1432. CHOCOLATE! (I know that I have probably listed it before, but no one can be too grateful for the gift of chocolate!)
1433. porch sitting under colorful trees
1434. two boxes full of Christmas items for the Man to take to the Extreme Response Christmas parties in South Africa
1436. the beginning of a month when people really count their blessing; 28 days of Thanksgiving!
And when people count – when we take the time to recognize ALL OF THE AMAZING GIFTS that we are given daily, we are happier; more content; and more easily recognize even more gifts that He gives us each and every day!
Counting in the everyday. This is where we find the most awesome gifts.
1390. gifts re-read; Revelation, this time reading out loud with the girls and the Man
1391. re-reading gifts 1-1389; such an amazing blessing
1392. the third player in this game
1393. spontaneous, homeschool flexibility that allows for a RAD day; Read-All-Day Day!
1394. a group of youth gathered together to learned worship songs.
1395. the sound of those same voices lifted high to their Savior
1396. a musically talented dad who is willing to spend time teaching these musically talented children
1397. the end of volleyball season
1398. beef stew in the crockpot on a fall day in Georgia
1399. a fall day in Georgia
1400. itchy rash on Lil Sis that we can’t get rid of
1401. warm socks on a cool day
1402. a lower electric bill
1403. silly girls surrounding my kitchen table
1404. the imagination of girls
1405. a dishwasher; we haven’t had a dishwasher in four years so this one is extra-special :)
1406. a man with a chainsaw
1407. a blessed conversation with a wonderful woman at church regarding the need to expand outside the walls to become more multi-racial and multi-cultural
1408. knowing that their are some of the same heart and mind; taking Him to every tribe, tongue, and nation
1409. His amazing creation; even the smallest things
1410. the hugs of sweet kids in children’s church
1411. extra blankets on the bed each night
1412. plans for several paint parties in the upcoming weeks