Short Term Missions: What I learned

willing-to-go

Churches all over the states are gearing up for short term mission trips both abroad and at home. 2017 may be your year to go. Does the thought of going on such a trip excite you or scare you? If you have never been abroad may I suggest you start with a short term mission trip on your own turf.

My friend Diane, who now lives in New Zealand, went as a missionary to Nepal for eight years, definitely not a short term assignment. Though I admired her for her obedience and dedication I have never desired to become a full time missionary in the traditional sense. She worked high up in the mountains of Nepal as a midwife come missionary and fell in love with the people of that country.

We are not all called to full time missionary work abroad but we are all called to “Go into all the world and preach the good news.” (Mark 16:15 NIV).  These days we have the opportunity to go on short term missionary trips at home or abroad. I have been on two short term missions abroad. First to Guatemala and the second to Haiti and this is what I learned from them.

A Privilege : It is an honor and a privilege to take the good news of God’s love to others whether abroad or in our home country.

Be Humble: Just because we have the good news does not make us superior, we were once in need of hearing about the saving grace of Jesus. We are redeemed not superior so get rid of the pride of thinking yourself better than the people you are ministering to.

Die to Self: You will be going as a team, there will be no place for elevated egos.  Listen to the leader of the group and follow his/her instructions. If you have a problem with a member of the team sort it out BEFORE you go otherwise it will become a problem during the trip. Strife and division among team members will be felt by the people of your host country.

Just Swallow: Depending on the country you go to you may be offered strange looking and/or smelling foods. Smile and swallow the food, don’t offend your host. Now if you are allergic to certain foods or have a medical condition preventing you or you just can’t bring yourself to eat it politely turn down their offer and DO NOT show any form of disgust on your face. They are giving to you out of their need not their surplus.

Photo Credit: Melissa Allison

Photo Credit: Melissa Allison

Servant Heart: You are not there to be waited on but rather to serve, this is NOT a vacation. You may get a day at the end of the mission trip to unwind but until then serve, serve, serve.

Pick up Your Stuff: Whether you are staying in a cheap hotel, a hostel, a camp site, or in homes clean up your mess, leave the bathrooms and bedrooms clean. You may go out daily to minister but remember others are watching how you conduct yourself and you are ministering to them by your actions.

Grateful Attitude: Learn how to say “Thank You” in the language of the country you are visiting. You may not have the pronunciation correct but it will bless the people of the country that you tried.

Chill Out: Learn to laugh with the people not at the people. Sure they will do things different to you but remember you are the foreigner not them. You are strange to them, the way you dress, look and talk may cause a giggle or two from the kids…laugh with them.

Love & Prayer: Ask the Lord to give you love for the people before you go. Pray for them daily whether this is your first or fiftieth mission trip. Love is universal, it doesn’t need words. Love well and pray daily.

Sleep: Sounds obvious advice but make sure you get enough sleep. Set a reasonable cut off time to end conversations with your roommate and not stay up into the small hours talking about the days activities. My Guatemala trip roommate Camille, and I talked and laughed so much we had difficulty getting up in the mornings and were often late running into group devotions.

Dry Well: Planning, preparing and fundraising for the trip takes up a lot of time and effort. In the busyness don’t neglect to nurture yourself in the Lord, all you get from a dry well is an empty bucket. Drink and refresh daily from His living water so that out of you will flow God’s love to the people.

Photography: Take loads of photos of the group and the scenery, but always ask permission before taking a photo of someone in the host country, not everyone wants to be photographed. Respect their answer no matter how cute a photo you think it would make on Facebook or other social media. Be wise what you post on social media, that photo of the cute little boy or girl may go further than your friends and end up in a child sex trafficking circle. You are there to do good to the people, not put their child in potential harms way.

I hope you will consider a short term mission trip this year. The people you minister to will be blessed and so will you.

Where have you been or where would you like to go on a short term mission trip? Share in the comment box.

Until next week

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

 

 

 

Fully Present in His Presence

chair-in-field-poster

“It’s five,” my husband said. I peaked out through half opened eyes and looked at the clock with its bright red numbers illuminated against a black background. Wishing the five was a three didn’t change the reading 05:00 that was being boldly displayed like a New York electronic billboard right there in my bedroom.

I only closed my eye lids for a brief second but when I opened them the clock somehow had jumped to 05:20. How does that happen? Time travel? Sleep is wonderful but not when you need to roll out instead of rolling over in bed.

I had planned on leaving the house at 05:30 and now I only had ten minutes to be up, ready and out. It would take me twenty minutes to my destination that would get me there with ten minutes to spare. I’m not that quick or bright eyed in the mornings and I did not want to arrive late, so for a brief moment I considered staying in bed.

It was the week of prayer and fasting at church and this was day two of five of early morning worship and prayer meetings. I had to make myself push back the covers and get up. It’s easy to say we are going to do something but a lot harder to actual do it especially when it is an ongoing commitment.

I pulled into the parking lot at 05.50 the first morning and I could not believe my eyes. So many cars already parked and more still arriving. The previous January time of prayer and fasting I had prayed from home…sometimes that was praying from bed, lol. Don’t judge me please, I’m keeping it real.

This year I decided I needed to be fully present and it seemed many others had made the same choice (I’m talking numbers in the hundreds). I was delighted to see so many people come to seek the Lord for themselves, family, their community, church and for Arkansas. I wondered if the number in attendance would dwindle over the week. It didn’t, rather it increased.

People are hungry for God, they want to know Him, to hear from Him and they are willing to obey Him. With grateful hearts for His mercy and love they want to worship Him.

The woman at the well had a one on one talk with Jesus about worship, you can read the account in John chapter 4. Jesus told her (Message Bible), “Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

We cannot fake worship, it’s not a case of fake it till you make it. It either comes from your inner most being or it doesn’t. Have you ever been in a worship service where you are singing the words but your heart and mind is somewhere else? I have and to be transparent it’s happened more than I would like to admit to myself.

I love to worship the Lord.  He is so worthy of praise and I know that when I’m not fully present in His presence I am missing out on the most precious intimate time with the Lord. So what is a girl to do? Confess of course. My confession usual sounds something like this, “Sorry Lord, I don’t seem to be with it this morning. I want to worship you in spirit and in truth. Help me to block out the distractions and concentrate on you.” It works every time because my prayer came from my heart.  He heard me and granted my request because He is also eager to spend time with me.

If you find it hard to express your love for Him to Him then tell Him. Don’t worry He is not going to have you doing something way off base from His Word. God loves you and wants to spend time with you.  He wants to fellowship with you and believe me you will never regret spending time in His presence.

” That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in worship.” John 4 Message Bible

Make a decision today to dedicate a time to come before the Lord daily in worship. No fancy words needed, no particular setting. Just you and the Lord doing a one on one. Put on some worship music if it will help, though not needed as you can sing your own love song from your heart. Just be yourself and offer up honest adoration. Be fully present in His presence.

Until next week

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

Helena

What helps you to be fully present in His presence? Share your thoughts in the comment box, let us be each other’s encourager.

Feel free to share this post with a friend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Woman/Book Winner

diamonds-poster

Every time I hear her mentioned I sigh! I’m happy for her but still I sigh. She’s a marvelous woman, everything she does turns out well.  She is talented, organized and kind. Always ready to help someone in need. She’s the woman many of us long to be like but some of us, if we are honest, wish she would go away.

I find I compare myself to her, holding her up as the gold standard, wanting to be That Woman but knowing that I am far from being her. I call her Miss Perfect. The list of her talents and accomplishments seem never ending.

I’m referring to the woman mentioned in the last chapter of Proverbs, aka The Proverbs 31 woman. She doesn’t even have a name but we all know her. The NIV titles the section Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character and the Message titled it Hymn To A Good Wife.

I read the long list of all that this noble and good wife does and that she does it all with a smile. I admire her but I don’t like her.  She is nothing like me and I feel inadequate in her presence. I would like to be her and see what perfection looks like for a day but we know that isn’t going to happen.

Then I remember we are not meant to be a carbon copy of her. We don’t have to beat ourselves over the head because we are not skilled in sewing or knitting or any other homemaker talents, not even cooking. I have never bought a field or planted a garden though I do have a friend who grows her own vegetables. Nope! I go to the grocery store like most people and as for cooking, well my husband loves to cook and I help with the prep and cleanup.

She is not there in Proverbs for us to compare our skill set to hers but rather it is the essence of who she is that should inspire us. Whenever I feel overwhelmed I like to break things down to a manageable size. Here is my Proverbs 31 woman in a nut shell.

She is a God fearing, hard working, trust worthy, generous, kind woman who has something worthwhile to say. 

Now that we have taken away the skills set and broken it down; You and I can be That Woman.  How you may ask? Two verses in this chapter comes to mind.

“She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.”

I love that she sees the value of her contribution. Sometimes as women we devalue our work as wives, mothers, and homemakers. No matter our home situation we all want to think what we do for our families is of value. There is only one you as there is only one me, what we do and how we do it is unique. No one else can care for our family the way we do.

” Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.

To live in the Fear-of-God does not mean we are to be fearful of Him. That does not make a good father and daughter relationship. We cannot live thinking he is going to punish us every time we failed to live up to the skills of our Proverbs 31 woman. If that was the case He would be beating me over the head several times a day.

To live in Fear-of-God is to hold him in awe, respecting His position as the one and only true God and that He is the creator and we are the created. To give Him praise, honor and rightful place as first in our hearts. It is accepting that we are nothing without Him and that He loves us like no other can…not even our parents. It is realizing He has good plans and that He wants us to be part of it.

So no more sighing or comparing ourselves to That Woman. The beauty of the Proverbs 31 woman is that she is for all women no matter their marital status. She is confident in God and she is confident in what He had placed in her hands to do.

We can honor God by living our everyday ordinary lives being the woman He has called us to be.  Doing the everyday ordinary things that He has placed in hands to do knowing there is worth in them.

And now….the winner of the Giveaway!

Thank you to all who took part in the book giveaway and welcome to all our new friends to Grace Lace and Polkadots. I hope you will continue to visit often and please always feel free to leave a comment and share the post with a friend. Just a heads up if you would like to receive Grace Lace and Polkadots directly into your inbox simply complete the Follow Blog via Email section, that way you will never miss a post.

Drum Roll please…..the winner of the signed copy of Here Comes the Bride by Sue Angel is: Kerri Conway Seigrist. Congratulations Kerri, I’ll PM you for your mailing address.

Until next week

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance.

 

 

 

Marriage is Tough! & A Book Giveaway

Summer Williams Photography

Summer Williams Photography

As young brides we walk down the aisle with rose tinted glasses seeing our future life as bright and beautiful with the man we love and because we love each other, it stands to reason we will be kind and considerate, showing love and respect ALWAYS!

Oh Boy! If only that was true.

Reality check!

Marriage is tough!

Marriage is not the dreamy easy life where we always agree with each other and on the rare occasions when we don’t agree do we smile and happily go along with his plan? No! Most of the time we both want our own way, coz after all our way is the right way. Right?

Instead of the rosy life we imagined we find ourselves in a battle of wills. Even if we have the best marriage ever we will still have times of emotional and mental struggle. Times when we more than just disagree. Times when it becomes a major issue that affects our relationship with our spouse. I have experienced those times and not just once.

We can go through the day and almost put the issue out of our mind until something or someone triggers it.  Even then we deal with it with various distractions. Come night time it’s a different story.  Our thoughts run rampant on a endless loop and with each loop we are wound tighter and tighter. We long for sleep but instead we toss and turn and wipe the quiet tears away from our eyes while our husband sleeps soundly oblivious to the turmoil inside us.

Communication

Over time our wants and dreams get buried under a piles of laundry, children, husband, work, grocery shopping and all of the to-do list that still needs doing. Somewhere in the busyness of family life we slowly lose ourselves if we have not learned to communicate. Instead we build up resentment and it seeps through in our negative language and attitude. We battle over anything and everything in a desperate need to be heard while never communicating the real issue.

Communication is more than just talking.  It involves listening by both the husband and the wife. Believe me ladies I talk from experience when I tell you he will not listen to what you have to say if you are yelling. He’ll either yell back, throw out a belittling remark or suddenly have something really important to do, but listening won’t be in the mix.

It has taken me a long time to learn that yelling does not work but you and I know when we are tired and frustrated, feeling more like an unpaid maid than a cherished member of the family, it’s hard not to let fly from time to time (preferable not in front of the children).

Somehow I lost the art of listening to what my husband was communicating.  I heard his words but their meaning got twisted by the time they reached my brain. It’s a bad place to be when you are not capable of communicating your own thoughts and at the same time twisting your husbands words in your mind.

1 Corinthians 13 the famous love chapter that is read at weddings more than probably any other chapter in the bible mentions in the Message Bible that love “Doesn’t fly off the handle.” Ouch!  and “Always looks for the best.” Double Ouch!! Guilty of both.

I had believed a lie from our enemy Satan that any thoughtful or constructive opinions I may have did not count to my husband or indeed to anyone else. Funny, but not funny, sad really how we can go from looking at our spouse as the best thing to ever happen to us to seeing him as the problem and barrier to our own happiness and peace of mind.

“Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.” Psalm 30:2 NIV

They are responsible for their own attitudes, words, actions and reactions and need to seek the Lord for healing just as we need to.

“Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you.”  Colossians 3:13 ERV

What I have learned is that forgiveness really works. It clears the air and lifts the weight from our stressed out weary hearts. It releases us to enjoy fellowship with our Heavenly Father and as we spend time in His loving presence we are strengthened and energized to love as He loves, seeing others and ourselves through His eyes.

Maybe you are reading this article and thinking “Lady, you don’t know my husband.”  You are right I don’t know your husband or your situation but God does. He will guide you and give you wisdom if you ask Him. He will heal your broken heart if you allow Him. If you need professional Christian counseling go, even if your husband is not willing to go with you. Don’t be too proud to get help.

Please note I am not a professional counselor I write only from personal experience.

Time for a Book Giveaway

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This week I am pleased to offer another book giveaway. A signed copy of Here Comes the Bride: The Bride of Your Husband The Bride of Christ by Sue Angel. Comparing marriage to the relation of Christ and the church, Sue Angel explores not only how you can become the wife that God intended you to be but also how you can enhance your walk with the heavenly Bridegroom.

 

 

How to enter: Enter a comment on this blog post and “Like” my Facebook page Grace Lace and Polkadots. Closes on Saturday January 14th at 10pm CST. Be sure to check back Monday January 16th 2017 to find out the winner. Who knows it could be you!

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance.

Helena

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planning 2017: Consider the Source

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The internet is choc-a-block with advice on how to get ahead in 2017. I understand we will not achieve our goals if we just float from one day to the next on cloud nine. Planning is important I get it.

We are asked to consider where we see ourselves this time next year, then five years and ten years time. Write down our goals and the steps that will help us to achieve them. The goals should be measurable, set a time frame but be realistic. Celebrate each goal achieved, even the small ones.

I don’t have a problem with goal setting or planning the steps to get there. I am concerned whose goals am I planning? Are they my goals or God’s goals? My one year, five year or ten year plan or God’s plans?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

We invite Jesus into our plans and that kind of sounds good and spiritual but wait! Why would we even think that we could plan a better future for ourselves than God can? We dream and plan and expect God to bless it as if He is some kind of genie in a bottle.

In James 4 Message Bible, we are reminded that we are “But a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing.”  When we stop and consider that the one who made the universe, the one who named all the stars, the one who created all living beings. The one who has no beginning or end, the one who sits outside of time and knows all things. The one who loves us dearly, the one who sacrificed His son for us…

…He invites us to take our place in His plan for us.

I want 2017 to be a year where I bow the knee to God’s plan for me. A year where I will dream His dreams and accomplish His goals for His glory, not mine!

How about you? Who’s plan will you choose?

“When we want, what God wants for the reasons He wants it. We can’t lose.”  Stephen Futick

May 2017 be your best year yet.

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance.

Encourage a friend by sharing this post with them. Be sure to come back next Monday, I’m doing a Book Giveaway!