Destination or Journey?

Sigh…

It’s August 1 and what a month July was…

1. I kicked it off with my Residence Card in hand from the Japanese Government

2. And the following week, I woke to an email with the news that someone who I loved with all my heart is in the arms of Jesus

3. That same week I boarded a train that ended up being a ‘rapid service’ one and not a ‘local’ so I ended up rapidly flying past my stop and arriving 45 minutes late for my engagement

train

4. The following week I began training for my job as an English Instructor which proved to be more challenging than I anticipated

5. The week that followed I woke to an email with a sonogram attached of my nephew!!! Yes, I’m going to be an aunt!!!

6. And then in that same week, I taught my first set of one-on-one English lessons and also decided to stretch myself just a little further outside my comfort zone by committing to teach a weekly English class to a group of adults ranging from 50 – 83. After teaching that class, I boarded a train that was a ‘local’ one instead of ‘rapid service’ so I stopped at every station along the way and arrived home 45 minutes later than I should have

No doubt I’m living and learning… in so many ways…

7. Finally, to end this month, earlier this week I was introduced to someone who has a heart for women in the sex industry and when he pulled out his iPhone to share the scripture that was laid on his heart around it, I braced myself because I knew it would hit me and sure enough tears began to flow as he read:

“But then I will win her back once again.
    I will lead her into the desert
    and speak tenderly to her there.
 I will return her vineyards to her
    and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.
She will give herself to me there,
    as she did long ago when she was young,
    when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.
 When that day comes,” says the Lord,
    “you will call me ‘my husband’
    instead of ‘my master.’ ~Hosea 2:14-16

God highlighted these verses to me about two years ago before the week-long retreat I was off to attend to complete my Holy Yoga Instructor Training. And He has used them over and over since then…

His Word is so active. It breathes life into me when I need it most…

hosea 2

I still can’t believe I’m in Japan… obviously, the last month has been full. And I’m not sure what all is to come…

But that’s where the biggest lesson is for me…

I learned awhile ago that it’s not about the destination, but the journey… but now, I’m learning that it’s not really about the journey, either…

It’s all about the One who is by my side through it all…

And I’m discovering that that right there is the abundance of life that He promised.

train couple

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  John 10:10

Christmas Cake in July

I hate being evaluated, being watched. I detest it. I also do not like role-playing.

Role-playing isn’t natural, and being evaluated and watched makes it hard for me to be natural… to be free.

Last week, I began training for my job as a one-to-one English Teacher. And this may sound over-dramatic (probably is), but in the role-playing and evaluation portion, I felt like I was in a lion’s den. Seriously, the level of anxiety I felt was so intense and so horribly uncomfortable.

And what I’ve heard in times past was heard again, “Just relax, Michele. You’re too hard on yourself. You’re over-thinking.”

And maybe I am.

But I don’t know anything else.

At the same time, I’m embracing the ambition in me. I don’t want to reject it because it’s how He created me, to seek excellence in what I do and that’s not a bad thing.

What I’m finding is that in seeking excellence, I am seeking Him because I can’t do it on my own.

A short summary of my time in Japan: I can’t do ANYTHING on my own.

I have never been more aware of my need for Him in every aspect of my life as now.

When I’m at the grocery trying to make sense of things, when I’m in the midst of training for my new position trying to make sense of things, when my building manager stops me on my way out and goes on and on in Japanese and I’m trying to make sense of things…

Jesus, help!

I need Him… every hour I need Him.

During training, we were advised on several topics that should not be discussed during lessons. And age was one with the disclaimer of how especially sensitive this topic can be regarding women…

According to Wikipedia: In Japan, women had traditionally been expected to marry at a young age and those who were unmarried after the age of 25 were sometimes scornfully referred to as Christmas cakes (unsold after the 25th).

So shortly after realizing I was a Christmas cake, I went to the restroom and looked in the mirror to see a gray hair sticking out plain as day.

Really???

It  was actually quite funny to me… so I hope you are laughing about it, too.

And the bottom line is that I so want to be a strong and patient little Christmas cake.

But I’m not going to lie. It’s been really hard lately.

And this one I don’t even attempt to make sense of…

In this case, I rest. I rest in His goodness. I rest in what my Father spoke to me months ago in Mozambique as I tried to make sense of it:

I’m not holding out on you. I’m just not ready to share you… I am jealous for you.

Oh Jesus, thank you. I need you. Every second of every day. I need you.

“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

Matthew 6:6 MSG

This is not Christmas cake, but it is the dessert I enjoyed with this beautiful friend to end my week!
Obviously, not Christmas cake but next best thing… delicious desserts enjoyed with beautiful friends to end my week!!

Knight in Shining Armor

Nearly five years ago, he arrived on the scene. And not too early, nor too late, but just in time. He saved the day, helping me navigate the decisions that had to be made and rescuing me from the mess I was in.

I first met his wife while we were both volunteering in the nursery at church and I knew from the moment that I met her that her love was pure and limitless.

So, as a couple, that made for a whole lot of that love.

God totally brought us together in His perfect timing and this precious couple became a steady, loving presence in my life.

gparents

Man, I love how God works. How He intersects our lives just when they need to cross. And I truly don’t know what I would have done over the last five years without them.

I even call them Grandpa and Grandma. What an honor and privilege that went beyond the title. They filled this role in my life, but more importantly, my heart, where there was a definite void.

He is so faithful to fulfill our every need.

And in a land far from home, I received an email yesterday morning with the news that Grandpa is no longer with us.

He went home. He is with Jesus.

As I mourn this loss, it uncovers the depths of my gratitude for Grandpa. I learned so much about God’s grace through his heart. He poured out his love and concern over me in a way that had me constantly wondering what I did to deserve it and also trying to figure out how on earth I could pay him back time and time again…

But grace doesn’t expect anything in return, nor did he. Grace simply gives… and gives… and never stops… because that’s what grace does. Grace doesn’t know anything else.

And Grandpa knew no other way.

He was my knight in shining armor. The grace he came armed with rescued me. And from that point on, my heart was never the same. I will forever be grateful for the love he expressed to me in countless ways on this side of heaven.

And I’m grateful that Grace always rescue me.

gpa

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. -2 Corinthians 5:6-8

Love this.

…There is a vast difference between devotion to a person and devotion to principles or to a cause. Our Lord never proclaimed a cause— He proclaimed personal devotion to Himself. To be a disciple is to be a devoted bondservant motivated by love for the Lord Jesus. Many of us who call ourselves Christians are not truly devoted to Jesus Christ. No one on earth has this passionate love for the Lord Jesus unless the Holy Spirit has given it to him. We may admire, respect, and revere Him, but we cannot love Him on our own. The only One who truly loves the Lord Jesus is the Holy Spirit, and it is He who has “poured out in our hearts” the very “love of God” (Romans 5:5). Whenever the Holy Spirit sees an opportunity to glorify Jesus through you, He will take your entire being and set you ablaze with glowing devotion to Jesus Christ.

The Christian life is a life characterized by true and spontaneous creativity. Consequently, a disciple is subject to the same charge that was leveled against Jesus Christ, namely, the charge of inconsistency. But Jesus Christ was always consistent in His relationship to God, and a Christian must be consistent in his relationship to the life of the Son of God in him, not consistent to strict, unyielding doctrines…

Taken from Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest