Sunday, October 26, 2014

Putting Myself On the Priority List....

  I moved down here to Ecuador over 9 months ago now (CRAZY!) and it's taken me until about two weeks ago to remember something I learned almost 7 years ago!  That is that you can't take care of anyone else unless you're first taking care of yourself!
  I use to be pretty fit and I took a lot of care to exercise and eat healthy every day.  Sadly over the past several years that hasn't been exactly true of my life and my body and my soul have paid the price for it!  Since moving to Saraguro, my teammates and I have put a lot of focus on taking care our ourselves spiritually and making sure that we are filling up on Christ so that we can be poured out for Him in our community!  This got me thinking about the other areas of my life where I need to "fill up" in order to be able to be "poured out".  And although exercising and eating healthy don't seem like things that would fit into that category at first glace, the more I thought about it (and actually started doing it) the more I've realized they most certainly do!
  Over the past two weeks I've made a more concerted effort to exercise five times a week and to cook a majority of my meals at home using the fresh veggies and fruits from our local farmers market.  I've also started drinking more water and going to bed early enough to be able to get at least 8 hours of sleep (although sometimes that just means me laying in bed quietly resting and not actually sleeping until I'm down to more like 6 hours).  These are all practical things....healthy ways to take care of myself....and I honestly can feel the difference they make in how I feel!
  I use to think, especially when I first moved to Ecuador, that I couldn't take the time to exercise or do any of those other things to focus on myself.  I moved here to share the message of the gospel and my focus was suppose to be Christ and others...not me!  Now I'm realizing it's okay to put myself on that list...in fact it's important!  When I take care of me, when I give myself some priority, I have more energy, feel better and can go longer...and that makes a huge impact on how I am able to minister!
  It's pretty easy to put yourself on the back burner in life and to take care of everyone else before yourself.  It's even possible to feel guilty for taking care of yourself, especially when you have a very relational "Job".  But no matter how true each of those things are, it's just as true and even more okay to take time for yourself!  God can use anything to glorify His name, but it's a lot easier to give Him your everything when you've put in the effort to take care of the body He's given you!  So here's to taking care of myself in order for God to use me to take care of others!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Lesson Of Being Inconvenienced....

  Today a young girl from our community was waiting for me outside our gate, hoping that I would play with her.  Instead of saying yes right then and there, I instead told her I would come play basketball with her tomorrow because today I was just too tired.  In my mind I had a totally valid excuse for saying this considering I had just gone to church, hung out with two of my friends and shopped at the market.  Yet, the second she walked away I started kicking myself because I know I could have done better!
  The truth is there are times when we are all busy and times when it's important to rest and recuperate, but when given the opportunity to love the one in front of you, it seems like it's always better to do so then to push it off for some other time.  This little girl just wanted a friend, someone to hang out with and make her feel important.  And basically I did the opposite of that and now I feel a bit ashamed!
  People think that being a missionary is all about these big things you get to do...hosting medical brigades, leading youth groups, bringing people to Christ. Those things are great, but what I am learning is that true missions is about learning to love the one in front of you.  It's taking the time to say "I see you" and "your important"...not because it's convenient for you, but because that's what God wants to say to His children and you are His mouth piece in this world.
  And so yeah, today I chose to place myself before another.  I decided it was more important to sit in my room and watch a movie, rather than spend an hour with a little girl who was just looking for a little love.  Tomorrow I will try to reconcile that, but for now I need to remember this feeling....this gnawing of knowing I could of done more and didn't...and hopefully next time I won't make the same mistake!  Lord help me to be a better ambassador for you!  Amen

Monday, October 13, 2014

Writers Block Over...

  For the past couple of weeks I have had what I guess you could classify as writers block.  Someone told me when I first started blogging years ago that you should write every day because only then will it get easier and you will always have something to say.  Well, I honestly can't say for certain if that's true or not considering that I've never been all that consistent of a blogger, but I can say that not writing for weeks really makes it hard to get back in the groove of things. 
   Plus I have to continually remind myself why I started writing in the first spot.  I didn't create this blog for followers (although I do like share what I've written with my friends).  I created it to help me process and remember all that I'm learning in life.  And who knows, maybe fifty years from now I will look back on this blog and be able to remember my "youth" in a deeper way because of all the things I have written here.  So It's back to business...
   I think the lesson of this year (and/or longer) has been learning to love people unconditionally and not allowing my attitude and actions towards others to be determined by the way that they treat me, but rather by the what Christ has done for me.  You'd think by now I would have that all figured out and be living a life that is so pleasing to the Lord that it shines brighter than the sun!  But...well...I'm sure you can guess that's not the reality!
  Instead, it seems the more that I examine my own life and try to be a better person, the more I realize how wrong I usually get things and how grumpy and stubborn I can get!  I want to be the kind of person that is known for her love and her joy, for being accepting and forgiving, and for thinking of other people better than myself.  Unfortunately I don't think I exemplify any of those things on a continual basis and thus I always feel like I'm hitting the reset button on a game I can't seem to figure out!
  The good thing is, realizing how much I screw it all up forces me to constantly come back to Christ, asking Him for forgiveness and begging Him to teach me how to be more like Him.  I don't think we can really be the kind of people that Honor God 100% of the time if we aren't letting God live and work through us.  It's really only by His strength that we can do it!  So maybe it's a good thing that I constantly trip over my own self-centeredness, since that's the very thing that helps me put God back at the center of my life!
  So what about you?  What lessons have you been learning lately?  How is God working in and through you?  Let's learn from each other!