Thursday, December 29, 2011

Feet Shod With The Gospel

The following post is an excerpt of one I wrote in May 2007, before my second trip to China. I remembered it this week as I pulled out my faithful mission trip companion, my "travel Bible." By God's grace, that sweet Bible and I have shared many more miles and trips together since I wrote about it that spring day 4 years ago.

In just a few days, I will be returning to Ethiopia with a God-assembled team of 8. There are no words to describe how excited I am, but the post below still seems to accurately capture my "pre-travel" emotions. Some things never change! Thankfully, our Great God never does, and His Word is as true as ever.

May 9, 2007

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Romans 10:14-15

It is a time of preparation. I have never had a blog during my times of preparing for mission trips before, so I've never really written about what I do. With just over a week until our departure for China, I have been working all along on some of the "nuts and bolts" of what needs to be done- making lists, preparing materials for some of the work we will be doing, emailing the missionaries and team members. To be honest, I have not posted much about this at all, simply because I'm not sure what I should post. (I'm a bit nervous about posting about our work specifically, as I don't want to unwittingly post any information that might jeopardize what our missionaries on the ground there are doing.)

Generally speaking, I will be doing some training in the International Fellowship there that our missionaries are part of, as part of their Sunday School program. We will be having a Mexican food party for some teen "MK's" (missionary kids") who are are hard at work for the Lord, and could really use some Rotel dip and tacos! We will be speaking to college students in a university setting, as well as in a coffee house. We will be speaking and ministering in a house church. We will be visiting a Buddhist monastery and prayer walking the area. My daughter and the other teens on the team will be performing some puppet shows in schools. Mostly we will be on the ground and available to do whatever the Holy Spirit directs. It's an exciting time!

But, if I'm honest, it's also (for me) a time when fear and anxiety begins to settle upon me. I've always been a pretty "tightly wound" person, but I have been plagued with fear and worry to an unparalleled degree during our years of short term missions. Things I have never worried about before can become areas of paralyzing fear for me, and even manifest themselves physically. I have recognized this as a ploy of the enemy, and have (by God's grace) been able to press through and go anyway, but nevertheless it remains a battle, from the moment I commit to a trip, throughout my entire time on the field, and even weeks after I return. God has been unspeakably faithful to me and has used this to draw me closer to Himself, further my understanding of Him and strengthen me according to His Word.

Today, I thought I'd post about what I do to prepare for a mission trip spiritually. The weeks leading up to this trip have been incredibly busy for me in every area. Socially, we have had more than our usual amount of obligations. Our ministry work in Awana has been quite time consuming. We have lost a dear friend. We are trying to finish our school work. My son has a birthday 2 days before we leave. Our house is in disarray as we are still working to put it on the market. Busy, busy, busy. And, I believe that is no accident. The enemy would love it if I would get totally distracted with the "mechanics" of my life right now and neglect the spiritual preparation needed for this trip. This would leave me completely vulnerable and could render me useless in China. I must guard against that.

This week I'm sharpening "my sword." I have a thinline Bible that I travel with. It's not the Bible I usually use for church or study, but thinner and easier to carry in my backpack. Since it's not the one I always use, I find that I can't easily flip through it and find passages as quickly as I can in my other Bibles. This week, I am having my daily quiet times in my "travel Bible," reacquainting myself with it. How I loved pulling it off of the shelf! It was like seeing a dear friend and travel companion. It's got sand and dirt in the creases- sand from Mexico, dirt from Ghana. Business cards from China (with the cell phone numbers of our missionary friends) fell out as I opened it up. A quote from an African pastor is written on the front page, "The devil sometimes strikes when you are not at work. Let us not become complacent," it says. Good reminder. I have a small heart sticker stuck inside the front cover, a reminder of a devotional I did with the kids on our Ghana team one summer when I gave them all a sticker to remind us that according to 2 Chronicles 16:9, "the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His." He sees my heart, He will strongly support me! What a promise! I must go boldly, clutching that promise.

Inside the back cover of this Bible I have Scripture references written for key Gospel passages. In my jet-lagged state, with the language barrier and the stress of being in another culture, sometimes it's hard to recall when I'm sharing with someone. I have found it a big help to have them written down and the scriptures highlighted. I also have the Roman Road scriptures listed in order on the first page of Romans with the corresponding verses highlighted. I have been reading back through these key passages and preaching the gospel to myself (which I wrote about here). Not only is this solidifying the Gospel in my heart and mind, it is causing me to operate in His power. The Gospel is power! What a covering!

Something else I have been doing, is praying through my 31 Days of Praise and 31 Days of Power books and highlighting Scriptures pertaining to God's attributes... His absolute goodness, sovereignty, love... There are moments of intense oppression on airplanes, layovers, late nights in my hotel room, and walking through heavily oppressed areas where I need those scriptures at my fingertips. Again, in the stress of the moment I might not be able to find these passages, but locating and marking some of them ahead of time and reading and meditating on them before I go is an immeasurable help. And this week I have been finding Scriptures I've marked and prayed through, that have been a lifeline for me in the past. God is using them to remind me of His past sufficiency and the promise of it in the days and weeks to come. He is so, so good.

So, this is a little of what I've been up to in my preparations. To those of you who are praying for us... thank you. I have tears in my eyes just now thinking about it. You have no idea what a lifeline those prayers are to me. No idea. Thank you, thank you. May the blessing return to you a hundred fold.


Update: I just realized I didn't include something I added to my travel Bible, something I find SO helpful: a list of the "attributes of God" taped inside the back cover. If When I start to freak out, bam. I read it. THAT's who my God is. That's Who sent me. That's Who lives in me. That's Who you're dealing with, enemy. Take courage, heart.

You can find some lists here, here, here, the Bible! (Psalm 145. Bam.)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

"Don't Blink." [I didn't.]

In just a few short days, my sweet girl will be leaving for college. College. How did this happen so soon? I have often heard it said, "Don't blink! It goes by quickly!" Well, I'm here to say... I didn't. I never blinked once. I practically propped my eyes open with toothpicks! And... it still went by fast!
Her senior year went by in a flurry of activity, as I knew it would. Everything, and I mean everything, was SO fun! I soaked up all the details right along with her! Senior activities, last season of basketball, dances, prom, senior trip... what a blessing it has all been.

So, why am I writing this post? Well, first of all because I haven't blogged in ages. Second of all, to mark this season of change, and thirdly, for a brain dump. I got up this morning, preparing to "take on the day," readying the house for a family party for my mom's birthday today, going about my morning routine and then I remembered a dream I had last night. In my dream I was outside, sitting in a type of courtyard, and thinking about her leaving. I dreamed I just began to sob, and sob, and sob. I thought to myself, "Huh. I haven't done this yet. This feels pretty great! I have needed to do this." And then, just as quickly, I told myself, "You DON'T have time for this. What if someone sees you? You're making a spectacle of yourself. Cry later." And I stopped. I know it must have been a dream because in "real life" I can't just stop. And then I look horrible and have a headache for hours. In my dream I simply stopped, got up, and went on with it. Interesting.

Anyway, I wouldn't change a thing. Not one thing! She is going to the college of her choice, which is HUGE. Having homeschooled her since Kindergarten, I must say that's been one of my biggest prayers for her, that she would get into the college of her choice. She's planning to major in Nursing. She has registered for some amazing classes, gotten into a beautiful dorm, for which she has the cutest dorm decor ever and an amazing roommate. She just got a fabulous "new-to-her" car and is beyond excited about the season ahead. Most importantly, she has been listening to the podcasts from the college ministry at a church in her college town, and is ready to plug in to the ministry there. She actually met some of the students at the Passion Conference this year. Isn't God amazing? He has provided ALL these things. To HIM be the glory!

In the meantime, I will be back home, being a "boy mom." One with a driver's permit, and one who is playing tackle football. Lots of testosterone at my house! Lots of opportunities to be on my knees in prayer!

I'm still not blinking! Well, except for blinking back tears...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crock Pot Doro Wat

I've posted before how much we enjoy Ethiopian cooking in our home. In fact, it's a weekly tradition! After we arrived home with our newly adopted 9-year-old son, we would make a point of taking him out for Ethiopian food, but it would be a $50-$75+ meal each time. On the heels of an adoption, and for a family of 5 living on one income, we quickly realized that was not an option very often! Additionally, it was important to me (and, I believe, for our son) for the distinct and wonderful smell of berebere and other Ethiopian spices to not simply remind him of Ethiopia or a restaurant... but of HOME. I have adapted many recipes but have only taken the time to post a couple. I have been terrible about blogging for the past couple of...years. The ones I have written about are here. I know there are many others making it better, but I've been asked how I do it, so I want to be sure and share. Sometimes I get more "gourmet" when I have time: freshly-chopped red onions, organic, fresh chicken marinated in lime juice, and cooking it in wine. But today I'm sharing what I make on a busy day. :)

As a busy mom, I utilize my crock pot multiple times per week. During the school year it is a huge time saver. In the summer there are just as many reasons to use it (not to mention "menu plan"!). So, why not for Ethiopian food?

Here is my Crock Pot Doro Wat. (In fact, my Ethiopian son just came in, lifted the lid of the crock pot and said "I don't think I can wait for dinner! I want some NOW!" :)


Crock Pot Doro Wat (Spicy Chicken Stew with Hard Boiled Egg)

1 bag boneless, skinless frozen chicken

1 bag frozen, chopped onion

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

4-6 tablespoons bere bere (if you're new or sensitive to spicy-ness, you may want to start with 2)

2 tablespoons margarine or butter

1 tablespoon cardamom

1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

1/2 tablespoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon black pepper

5-6 hardboiled eggs

sea salt to taste

Thaw the chicken, then stir all the ingredients together in the crock pot.
After about 5 hours on "low" setting, or whenever the chicken is cooked, use a fork to shred it into bite-sized pieces that will be easily picked up when eaten with injera.

Add a few hard boiled eggs which have been pierced with a fork. OR, you can slice them up. I don't want the whole thing to get too "eggy" so I just put them whole and we cut them when we serve it, or half them on our plates.
Today I added my version of Chickpea Paste ("But-etcha") My VERY simple version. I cooked some chickpeas over the weekend, but you can also use canned.
Once the chicken mixture is cooked, spoon some of the sauce into the chickpeas with a little water.
Use the Braun or the blender to mix it all up into a yummy and nutritious paste.

Tonight I also served it with "ayb" (cottage cheese... nice with spicy food, especially on a hot night) as well as some English peas. It turned out betam konjo!

Let me know how yours turns out, or post your modifications in the comments. I love learning how other people do it!


Monday, February 28, 2011

Calm in the Chaos

Minte and I watched a movie together... his long frame stretched out across the end of my bed, me leaning against the headboard with my legs tucked up under me, a cup of tea and my iPad on my lap. I watch things that stress me out now: war movies, "I-shouldn't-be-alive" documentaries, people catching wild hogs, fishing for Alaskan crab, or designing guns. Things my teen and pre-teen boys find interesting. I watch through my fingers or with one eye on a book about something more civilized... but I want to be with them. And watching their "stuff" with them gives us something to talk about and gives me a link into their world. I learned a long time ago that loving people is making what's important to them important to you. Which, in the case of pre-teen and teenaged boys involves things that shoot things, or save people, or explode.

This weekend it was an edited-for-television version of the movie, "The Guardian," about the US Coast Guard. I usually only watch movies where the pretty girl meets the pretty boy and they fall in love in a pretty story and live happily ever after... usually in Italy. This isn't that kind of movie. But I also realize that it came out in 2006, and this is 2011. So chances are you've seen it, and either from that or the movie poster at the left, you know that.

My first thought in this movie was WOW. I had no idea, really, what the Coast Guard involved. I realize this is as real a picture of the USCG as "Top Gun" was of the US Navy, but still. Wow. I have never really given thought to what the Coast Guard is required to do. So, thank you US Coast Guard! I never go in the ocean, and never on a small boat, but if I ever do I'll be so thankful for the USCG if I or anyone I love is ever in need of them. And I'll be thankful if they fish me out and I find myself looking into the face of someone who looks like Kevin Costner or Ashton Kutcher. But, [ahem] that's not the point of this post.

What inspired me to finally bust back onto my blog and post about a 5 year old non-pretty movie was a quote by Kevin Costner's character, Ben Randall, who is a seasoned Senior-something (I don't know my ranks) in the USCG, instructing Ashton Kutcher's character, Jake Fischer at the "A" School for new CG recruits. He tells him:

"The difference between you and the victim is the attitude with which you enter the water. You have to remain calm in the chaos."

And it hit me. That's what parenting teenagers is. That's what parenting a child who comes from hard places (like an adopted child) is.
As parents, we are the Coast Guard. We are helping our kids navigate and survive some difficult waters. Sometimes they get themselves into some choppy situations, or as in the case of some boaters, they are doing what is perfectly appropriate but storms just come upon them. We are the USCG, who flies in, enters their situation with them, gets in the water with them, swims with them... but with a different attitude. One of expertise, one of calm, one who sees the big picture. One with training, who's "been there done that."

What would happen if the Coast Guard swimmer jumped in and started freaking out along with the victim? Started flapping around grabbing at the victim, pulling him under, panicking? Then there would be more casualties. In fact, there is one scene where a husband and wife are drowning and the husband pushes his wife under to get to the basket first, to save himself. Can you imagine being in such a state that you would drown someone you love?

Unfortunately, I am prone to "flapping." I readily admit this! That's why this line in the movie stuck out to me this weekend. I must enter their lives as a calm influence amid the "chaos" of coming from a hard place to a new life across the sea (like my youngest), the teenage years (like my middle son), of graduating and launching into the world of college (like my daughter), ready to swim alongside them or offer them a line up if necessary. Not to flap around and panic about the waves. I have been trained for this. I have! I have a relationship with my Heavenly Father, who tells me all the things I need to know, I have the Holy Spirit living in me, ready to instruct me at any moment (and Whose fruit is self control), I need not panic, either inwardly or outwardly. I am the Coast Guard. I need to jump in, give a "thumbs up" and do what they need me to do.

"Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm."
Matthew 8:26