December 17, 2012
I’ve been silent on this blog for a while, but of course, I am always thinking. I have had a lot of people around the last few months, lots of changes in church and more to consider than normal. Thoughts that don’t always seem blog appropriate.
One of the recent Sundays at church, I thought about the lyrics to “Silent Night”. I’ve been sleeping a lot this month (my, how it’s flown!), trying to catch up, making Christmas preparations, reflecting, going to parties. Then, feeling guilty about resting. Typical.
I’m convinced that rest is one of our biggest Christian benefits. We don’t often take enough advantage of this gift.
The lyric “sleep in heavenly peace” is the one that struck me. Jesus was able to sleep, even in poverty, even with Herod out to kill him, even with the wise men around him, adorning him with gifts.
The enemy fights against this peace with everything. This time of year, the devil wants us to get stressed about gift giving, food and so many other things that don’t matter.
May you rest this season. And if you want an opportunity to further reflect on Christmas lyrics, I recommend this website. Merry Christmas!
August 11, 2012
At the end of a sermon last Sunday, I referenced James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
I couldn’t believe I took the time to preach on patience, but I have found that I’ve waited for so many things in my life far more than I ever expected. The amount of time it took me to find this call to be a missionary is one of them. One of the most beautiful (and frustrating) things about it is that it encompasses my entire life.
I then thought about friends in the 4 or so years before I became a missionary doing the same: choosing to leave their jobs to raise support. In my mind, it always seemed like such a step down. I’m not going to lie, it is a financial step down. But, there are major reasons, it is a huge step up:
1. God exalts you to all you’re meant to be. I am using every talent, every bit of time, everything in this “job”. I am fulfilled by it in ways that teaching didn’t touch. God cares about me so much more than what I do 9-5. He is there all the hours of the day, even when I’m asleep.
2. I get to prioritise other, more eternal things over money. I learn what it is to make time for relationships and art. I also get to see God come through in my finances. And the further I go, the more I get to trust Him. And, it works.
3. I find that I am more confident and more myself, which lets me know that God does want me to lack nothing.
These principles don’t only apply to career missionaries or ministers. If you do work a 9-5, God sees you more than what your boss, your family and even your dearest friends see. He sees you as a whole person, and He’s going to work on you to help you get there because He cares deeply about you.
Thank you, God for caring this much about me. I love and appreciate all that you’ve done and will continue to do through me.
July 15, 2012
At some point, I will blog about the outreach we had the past 2 weeks with Friends International, but for tonight, I have a poem to offer:
A different kind of advancement
is the one in your character
you’re not allowed to see
It comes with no promotion, raise,
or any guarantee,
Except the one that this life on earth
falls very short when compared
to the height of eternity.
May 27, 2012
It was a real honour to serve our European pastors last week. We had 80 people from around Europe attend the conference here in Edinburgh. I got to make the design for the conference (slides, banners, etc.).
For all of the tea/coffee breaks, we used the mugs at our fabulous venue Destiny Church. No styrofoam! I believe this was a God move because Costco didn’t have any styrofoam cups when we went shopping and Destiny wrote us an email asking if we could keep from piling too much rubbish in their bins (we collected the rubbish from the tables, which resulted in us only using 2 small bags of rubbish each day). I was more than happy to offer to wash mugs (they have an industrial dishwasher, and I had two volunteers each day, so it wasn’t a major task).
We had a lovely woman in our church make cakes for the entire conference. We had lemon cranberry coconut cake, apple cinnamon sugar cake, devonshire apple cake, carrot cake, and banana bread. I know this was a real blessing to our pastors. Not a single crumb was left.
On Wednesday, Nathan had the idea to cater potatoes, so we went to the Tattie Shop in Bruntsfield (just across the road from my flat). I had three conversations with the owner Kevin. We overcame time, oven space, and other obstacles and fed 80 people for £120. We made our own fillings: tuna, baked beans from cans, and cheese.
The last two days, we catered sandwiches from a social enterprise called Crescent Kitchen. The sandwiches were really well done, there was a low delivery charge, and no VAT (tax). I would happily work with either of these fine companies again.
Pastors are a funny lot to serve. First, they take ages to come get their food because they are busy praying for one another. Second, even though the whole point was to serve them, they kept asking if they could help.
I got to participate in almost all of the meetings myself. One of the best moments was one of the nights our worship leader at church who is Scottish encouraged us by quoting Matthew 19:29: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”
I definitely received the joy of serving this past week. I was a little tired Friday afternoon, but nowhere near as exhausted as I expected to be, which made it so evident to me that I received much more than I gave.
May 27, 2012
I have had a lot of success recently working on church art. It’s hugely encouraging to use my skills to bless my church here in Scotland.
April 16, 2012
It was a Saturday morning; I was walking to the train station to catch a 7 a.m. train to an arts conference. I love art and prove it by rising early to attend a conference.
I hadn’t had much sleep the night before as I’d stayed up late doing some part-time editing the evening before. Some of my lowest moments and most negative thoughts come when I’m tired. There have been times I’ve left events late at night and had to walk home alone in dark hours. As soon as I leave the composure of people, I’m fighting back tears.
Early morning negativity is the sneakiest. I usually wake up with a goal I want to accomplish that day in mind or excitement over a friend I will see. This particular day, I should have been excited about art and the people I’d meet, but the thoughts came:
“Bet you’ll talk to another single man you’ll find attractive but won’t want to date you. Then, you’ll feel rejected and miserable.”
“You’ve heard most of these speakers today. This whole trip will be a waste of time and money. You’ll be bored.”
You know that feeling that rises just when you’re about to cry? The tears were about to flood over and the rain wasn’t helping.
What else can I think about right now? I started slowly by breathing a bit. I am listening to good music right now on this iPhone I have: what an incredible gift music is. There are people I’m looking forward to seeing at the conference. I haven’t seen them in months. It will be great to reconnect. I can’t believe it’s been a year since the last arts conference. I have been in the UK long enough to go to a 2nd Annual Something.
And the thought that lifted the clouds and got me on the train, sleeping peacefully. “I am going to go to this arts conference and encourage EVERYONE I see. Artists need encouragement. I will let God use me to speak whatever He wants me to speak to whomever He puts in front of me.”
Going to something to give rather than receive is a bit countercultural. It’s so easy to fall into a consumer mentality when you’ve bought your entrance, especially when there are seminars, bands and speakers–you think they are there solely to entertain YOU. Even those at the very top need a response.
I did exactly what I set out to do. And, just as the Bible says, “it is more blessed to give than receive.” What amazes me is that the moment you give, you get the joy of the person you’re talking to reflected back to you.
“That is so inspiring! I think you’ve just helped me determine my next step,” a lady doing the same job as I am at a church in England said when I suggested she take a graphic design course.
I spoke of connections I knew to help a woman find part-time internet work. I shared my writing experiences at the workshop I attended and learned the freedom of not feeling “pigeonholed” as a writer. I had uplifting chats with artists, musicians and speakers.
I made it home happy. This moment, which could have ended in a sour day, turned into a milestone. When the negativity tries to overshadow something I’ve planned and am anxious about, I rise up again with the holy “no.”
As a result, I feel more free to ask time of people I want to see and admire. I’ve recently played an open mic in Glasgow, which is probably the best one I’ve ever played and sat in a popular, busy coffee shop near my flat for an hour playing music on a Saturday.
Saying “no” to the wrong stuff empowers you to say “yes” where it’s more beneficial.
March 26, 2012
March 8, 2012
Here’s just one reason: it changes my perspective.
Today, I found my first gray hair. How timely is it that I read this verse just yesterday and discussed it with a friend?
“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” – Proverbs 16:31
People who don’t read the Bible are mistaken about gray hair. People tell you it comes from stress and not taking care of yourself.
I hope this means I’ll live ever more wisely.
February 21, 2012
I have been writing so much lately, I thought it would be a good idea to have a blog just for writing/art. This blog will still be updated with experiences in my life and other thoughts about being a missionary, but the other blog will focus on the writing/art side.
Take a look: http://nicolelovesart.wordpress.com
February 13, 2012
When you are full,
it is easy to share.