Friday, May 31, 2019

WHiM: Preparing for Furloughs

As I read "my missionaries" newsletters, I'm reminded that this is when many of them travel for furlough. They have needs for transportation while they're back in their passport country, and many will be exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually, as they hit the ground running.

You may think that "furlough" means vacation, but often it is more work than when they are "home" in the country that they work in. People from their sending churches and organizations expect to see them, and often it leaves them even more tired than when they arrived. With family members also wanting to see them, it can put Global Workers as a rope in the middle of a game of tug-of-war. That doesn't sound relaxing to me!

Let's take time to actually pray for their needs, and LISTEN to the Holy Spirit to see if He will use us as a catalyst to meet their needs.

Do we know someone with an extra car that they can borrow? Can we cover the cost of a week-long rental? Can we bless them with gift cards for gasoline, restaurants, coffee shops, or even airline miles to help take some of that financial burden while they are here? Can we share their needs with our Sunday School or church or small group to help meet a larger need? How can we be a part of the solution? Can we bless them with a get away for their immediate family, since furlough is SO MUCH WORK? Can we gift them tickets to someplace fun, or put them up in a hotel where they can be alone and away for respite time?

These are just a few ideas. Usually we think of spending time with the missionaries that we love, but can we love them enough to encourage them to take time away from us, and to take time to rest with the Father?

I pray that we can.

What have you done in the past? What has someone done for you (if you're a missionary, or former global worker)? What do you wish someone would do for you? Please share below, pass this along, and let us mobilize our churches to bless those who are so weary!

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. Hebrews 6:10

Women Helping in Missions

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Hope*Writer Challenge, Days 1-4

I sit at my desk and enjoy the view of God’s creation…green grass, birdfeeders full of brightly colored birds, flowers blooming. I could stay here all day and watch life take place at a snail’s pace in my backyard…sigh.

Stop it! I need to stop putting off what I want to do and get to the heart of the matter. I want to write. I need to write, and make it a priority like it used to be. I need to give it space to grow, and bloom, and not keep it hidden in the soil of my wish lists to do someday.
Someday is now.
Just like the other UFO’s (UnFinished Objects) I have in my creative pile that I need to complete, many of my words are buried under half-basted quilts and just-started paintings. I have journals with pages torn out, and photo albums undone. Never mind the boxes of photos that still need to be sorted! If I think about them I’ll never begin writing!
So today, I START. No matter what else is undone, my words will take hold here. Starting NOW.

Day 2: Morning (but the wrong topic... I looked at the challenge from earlier this year!)

I wake up early. Earlier than I need to. I’m exhausted as it is, having tossed and turned all night, despite medications that promise me a good nights’ sleep. It’s not often I get sick, but when I do, it’s a doozy.

Without saying a word I know I have no voice. My throat rages on fire.

I peek out the window to see evidence of morning. It will be a while before sun streams through my windows as there’s a hill in my backyard that blocks the eastern view—so I see dawn in the shade of hillside and trees. Still the birds come, they have no need of direct sunlight to make their way to the feeders. I’m not so easily coaxed to stay awake. It’s chilly for mid-May and I climb back in bed to the warmth of my cotton sheets and duvet. I snuggle down with my Bible seeking, something to meditate on as I savor these moments and give my body the rest it needs to heal. My eyes land in the Psalms.

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8

Yes, this. It’s not a coincidence that I’m sick as I’ve had a few weeks of busy schedules, good and bad stress, emotional strain. I’ve been around sick people, but usually I can self-care and nurture my system to keep from catching the germs-du-jour. I’ve neglected myself though, and haven’t done the things I usually would do, like doubling up on supplements, using my essential oils, meditating in the Word, or soaking in the bath. When you’re busy, things like that seem a luxury, when in reality—for me—they are a necessity.

I re-read the verse and savor each word, adding emphasis different places each time I read it. My tired soul is trusting in Him today. I will listen and hear from Him, stepping back and resting in the provision of His nurturing care. I may not go anywhere, but even this is the “way I should go.” I’m grateful for His timing, His clearing my schedule to rest in Him today.

He meets me right where I am, sickness and all, in the dawn of the day. I know I can trust in Him because of His steadfast love, every morning.
Day 2: Mantra
It’s barely 70* and I’m sitting on the shady back patio. There’s a breeze that rustles the tall trees to my south, and the birds are hitting the feeders hard for their afternoon meal. They call out from the trees, the fences, and the feeders. The fountain is full and it’s sound sets the backdrop for this peaceful scene. I breathe deep, letting go of my frustration and allowing God’s gift of peacefulness push into my frazzled soul, my foggy brain, my tired, sick body.

“More of You, Jesus... less of me.”
This has been my mantra for some time now, taught to me by an Ozark Christian College student as he led our youth group on a series exercises to focus on Jesus. It’s easily been 15 years ago. It has stood the test of time.
The breathing technique is just as important, using your breath to push out my negativity and create room to receive His Presence.
I use this often enough in daily life; when I can’t get to sleep, or my thought pattern is spiraling in a negative direction, when I’m not able to communicate clearly in conversation. When I need to feel His peace and presence. Just because.
Why haven’t I included it in my writing process? I don’t know. I meditate and pray. I worship. I invite Him to be a part of the process, but I haven’t used my mantra.
This changes now. Mantra and deep breathing becomes a part of my process. Just like stretching my muscles before a long walk, I’ll stretch my lungs and open my heart to hear what He wants to say—to give Him more of my mental and emotional space before writing.
What’s your process? Do you have physical or spiritual exercises that help prepare you for the task of writing? Please share in the comments.

Day 3: FLOW
A part of the challenge with Hopewriters
I peruse the group’s Facebook page, reading about the practices and discipline my fellow writers exhibit.
They rise early, hours before their children, to take advantage of the only time their house is still.
They send their kids and husbands out the door, then do hours of research, morning writing practices, and connect with their accountability partners.
They keep a journal with them, frantically scribbling notes whenever they get a writing prompt, whether it’s for the next post or their next book.
And then there’s me: I write. No set scene or time of day. I don’t have many distractions at home, and none that are much more than a momentary glitch. I write when the Spirit moves me to.
I used to be afraid to say that. Like it was near blasphemy to admit I could feel His prompts, but now I know that others feel it too. More than a few of us write this way, and dare I say, it may be normal?
Oh, we may not ever crank out books at a hare’s pace, we may not publish at all, but our words still have value. Our flow may be slow, and our priority is not likely to get 1000 words a day, but perhaps to get a handwritten note to a friend who is hurting.
And maybe other writers can do it all—that’s amazing! But when I’m Spirit led to write, I’m exhausted when I’m done, and rarely do I remember what I wrote about. It’s like I’ve written in my sleep, but I remember my dreams better! My writing flow comes from deep within me. I can’t quite put a finger on it.
It’s how I learned to write, even before I knew His voice. Now it’s hard for me to think of word counts and writing times and goals when my only goal ever was to be still, listen, and write for One. And I guess for me, that’s ok. That’s my flow.

Day 4: IDEA
I’m never short on ideas, and I’ve usually got some creative project on a back burner—but word crafting is different and ideas bubble up faster with less planning.
Where most of my life is fairly routine and well planned, my writing is mostly spontaneous and catches me off guard. I’ll be unloading groceries from the car and *BAM* a prompt will pop into mind, or perhaps while watching birds a scripture will linger that ministers deeply, and I’ve suddenly got a series of posts to write about.
But a good idea does not a good writer make.

I’ve been told I’ve got to limit my topics, or at least decide one area to write about. Ok. Maybe two. Instead my words cover many diverse topics, from being a parent of a missionary to being a workaholics wife, or sharing biblical inspiration. From cooking to home DIY and being middle-aged. From autoimmune issues to sending missionaries to the field. I think you’ve got the idea. My blog has been called Marina’s Kitchen Table because I wanted it to be a place we could sit and chat about anything, so that’s why I’ve been all over the place.
And the photography. Do my photos still work?
I’ve gotten better about not writing about every little thing, and better still at not posting everything I write, (believe it or not), but the idea of finding my niche and staying there scares me! What if my readers and followers like that I’m always writing about something different? What if they get a kick out of the fact that I write about my life? Can that be my niche? Is it ok to have a niche of many facets, showing the areas of my life from many different angles?
I’m sure someone from @hopewriters would suggest I do a survey and poll my readers what they want to read about most, and then take the top one and focus on it. That’s actually a good idea! It would be good too to see how many people are actually glancing at my blog, my Facebook pages, my side hustles.
I guess I know what my next post will be on...