A week and a half ago I got my first package since arriving back in Portugal. My friend Christine just published her first book and was kind enough to remember lil’ ol’ me in lil’ ol’ Portugal. I was elated & humbled that she sent me a copy to read and review. I headed straight out to a cafe to start reading it.
Now, if I’m honest, I was just reading along and enjoying it but thinking, “well…a lot of this isn’t going to apply to me. I love Christine, but she has never lived outside of America. She can’t know about or address the struggles that I face everyday.” And then I got to the chapter on facing fear and that hit home. That chapter is exactly what I needed to read right now. Through reading it I realized that I am struggling with fear and lots of self-pity right now. We just came back to Portugal after 6 months in the U.S. and while our time there was harder than we expected, it was still “easy” to be back in our home culture and near family. Pretty sure I was just jealous of Christine that she just lives in Virginia. I’ve been there…it’s not that different I wanted to scream, “but she’s never had to learn another language before she could even try church planting.” My list was just running on and on going over the challenges of living cross-culturally, but then God used this chapter to say, “enough”. I realized that yes, what Christine and I face on the outside day to day may look VERY different, but our insides, our hearts and minds, are really very similar. Here is a quote from her book that hit home for me,
“Certainly, church planting has been difficult and discouraging at many points along the way. There have been days when fear has gotten the best of me, when I have wanted to give up and go “home”, or when I have been bitter about the calling God has placed on our lives. But when I think about all the things I have seen God do-literally making something out of nothing-and how this adventure of faith has completely changed my worldview, I am overcome with joy at the privilege I have been given. A life that requires trusting God is an abundant life.”
I realize that I was probably very obnoxious in Texas because all I could talk about was Portugal and how much I loved it and how ready I was to get back. And a LOT of the reason for that was because God has rocked my world since moving here. I have grown so much closer to Him and it has been so great for our family togetherness that I am humbled that He found us worthy of this calling to move and serve here. I won’t lie, it can be HARD to live in a foreign country, but the hardest days are the days that push me to rely heavily on God and His promises. He is LITERALLY all we have here. And like she said, through all the trusting God we have to do, we are discovering a more abundant life. After reading the above statement, this is where I knew Christine and I were very similar though our “callings” might look very different. I don’t think either one of us would change a thing. I think both of us are glad about where God physically placed us because of the abundant blessings He poured out through that.
I knew I would enjoy Christine’s book just because I enjoy Christine. She is a wonderful writer. She is a transparent person (which I always appreciate). She has a great blog (http://www.gracecoversme.com/ ). But I ended up LOVING her book. And I honestly think it could apply to ALL women who are going out on some kind of limb with God. Why?! Because anytime we follow God somewhere that is outside of our comfort zone, our hearts and minds can “run away” from us with crazy thoughts and/or emotions. I love that Christine’s ENTIRE focus in her book is the heart and it’s response to challenges we face day to day. I mean, at our core, aren’t ALL of us women very similar heart wise? We long for approval, friendships, happy husbands, well rounded children, perfect homes, pats on the backs, rest, etc. I love that Christine uses her adventures in Church planting (her following God out on a limb) to address the ways she struggled and yet sought God in all of these areas. All women can use encouragement like this. I know I needed this encouragement at exactly the moment it arrived in the mail. I think God divinely sent it my way to wake me up and get me out of the funk I was stewing in.
My copy now has lots of dog-eared pages. It is full of sayings that literally did bring help and hope to my heart (just like her title says and her book intends). I could keep going but I’ll stop. I want to leave you with enough intrigue that you’ll go out and get a copy for yourself