Tag Archives: encouraging others


noun – mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, esp. in a difficult situation1aWakeUp

For over 20 years now, I have sung a song familiar to most of us. But last night while singing it in Spanish, I gained fresh insight to its words.

During the first years of language learning, I relished the moments when our worship leader sang a song that I originally knew in English. Finally, I could truly worship because I actually understood WHAT I was singing. Even now, I understand phrases here and there when singing a Spanish worship song I didn’t previously know, but the overall power of the song is often lost in translation.

Last night we sang the oldie “Trading My Sorrows” in a Spanish translation.  Through the verses and chorus, we worshiped and declared we would trade the troubles of this world– shame, sorrows, pain, and sickness– for the joy of the Lord.

Then we came to the bridge of the song, and I was struck by the power of the translation. Oftentimes, a song is not translated word for word because culturally the meanings aren’t the same. That rule applied to one simple phrase of the song. In that moment, what I had normally sang in English gained new power when I sang it in Spanish.

After singing how weeping lasts through the night and joy comes in the morning, the song followed with this line: “Despierta! Hay gozo aquí!”  Doesn’t mean much if you don’t speak Spanish, but when translated into English, WHOA!  As the words rang in my ears, it was as if God’s stood beside me and translated it: “Wake up! There’s joy here!”

Let’s back up a moment. Earlier that day, a phone call occurred that threw my mind into a  tailspin. I had gone to church that evening filled with anxious thoughts and worries about a decision that I needed to make. I was in turmoil over the logistics of the future that loomed out in front of me. More importantly, everything was out of my control. Questions swirled in my mind. How, God, is this gonna work?!  When will I know the plan? When are You going to show me the answer? What should I do? Who can I call to help me fix the situation? Why, God, are you making me live in this uncertainty!?

But through that one phrase in the song, God reminded me to look for the joy in the moment– the uncertainty– I was facing. So I started looking for it. Here’s what I discovered:

  • God has a plan even when I can’t see it. There’s joy here as I sit back in peace and watch Him work the plan with perfect timing.
  • In the recent past God has worked in my life and blessed me in unimaginable ways. There’s joy here as I REST knowing he WILL do it again.
  • I don’t have to figure I out all on my own. There’s joy here knowing that the doors that need to open will be opened by him not me. There’s joy here because God gives wisdom FREELY when I ask (James 1).
  • God is in control. There’s joy here because even when I can’t control things, the One who created the world is in charge and he WILL “work out the plans for my life” (Psalms 138:8).

There’s joy in every uncertainty, trouble, sickness, and shame that I face. I just have to wake-up and look for it.

My friend,  what trouble looms over you today?  What uncertainty are you facing? What shame veils your purpose in Christ?  Is there an illness that’s threatening to steal our days?

Wake-up! There’s joy where you are today! There’s no need to endure the night because choosing to focus on the joy of our affliction forces the night to surrender to the  power of morning!

Plaster your walls, bathroom mirrors, and refrigerator with God’s promises that relate to your specific situation. Drown your brain in worship music that keeps you in tune with His heart.  Write down every way that your situation is a chance to grow in your relationship with God – then re-read it again and again. Cry out for help each moment you feel the night sneaking back in.

And feel your heart lighten, your mind rest, and the muscles in your neck relax. The sun’s coming up over the horizon, and we truly are learning to trade our sorrows for His joy. Now that’s waking-up!

What’s your go-to way to wake-up in the middle of a tough life moment?

Wednesday Reads: nourish edition

51kWRL6adLL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_verb  – provide with the food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition

When we decided to follow the call of missions and sell everything we own and move to Ecuador, I only had trouble parting with one personal item: my kitchen table. I couldn’t verbalize the attachment that I had to it, but every time I thought of sending it off in the back of someone’s truck, I got sad. Eventually, the table did find a new home and I let it go freely but still not understanding exactly why I wanted to keep it.

After reading Shauna Niequist’s book Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table,   I discovered the answer to my deep kitchen table longing. She phrased it something like this:

I can’t imagine life without a table between us. The table is the life raft, the center point, the home base of who we are together.

That’s exactly it. So much of life was hustle-bustle, get out the door, rush in the door, do homework, clean room, get ready for bed, except for those few minutes we spent around the table. Even more so, were the moments that we spent with friends around the table sharing tacos, or broccoli cheese soup, fried chicken and mashed potatoes, or even pancakes and syrup. Those were the strings that tied my heart to that kitchen table.

Cooking and sitting around the table has become an everyday three-times-a-day occurrence in my household now. Obviously, since life moves a little slower here, we get to enjoy this luxury. My cooking skills have improved, and now I even delight in making new dishes that my family raves about, or preparing old stand-bys that always please. And in those moments, I feel just as Shauna describes in her book: sitting around the table is  “feeding someone with honesty and intimacy and love, about making your home a place where people are fiercely protected, even just for a few hours, from the crush and cruelty of the day.”

Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes also comes with recipes as the title suggests. Shauna shares her insight for when and how to create a dinner party with a emphasis on people, not the presentation. How comforting! It’s the food that everyone remembers not the beautiful centerpiece or delicately laid china settings.

I loved Shauna’s down-to-earth, sweet-friend-conversation style of writing. From the first page, I wanted to be able to sit around her kitchen table and bask in the love and acceptance she so clearly offers to friends and family. Each chapter was an essay on a life event that related to food and faith, with the food mentioned becoming the end of chapter recipe. The recipes were at times “fancy” but her writing and passion makes me want to try my hand at fancy Steak au Poivre with Cognac Pan Sauce. And I also can’t wait to make her Mini Mac and Cheese side dish – a comfort food for all. There’s recipes for a simple White Chicken Chili to Mango Chicken Curry.

While the recipes offer both a challenge and comfort to my culinary dreams, the simple basis of the book is what melted my book lover’s heart and re-emphasized how I’ve served my friends and family all along, for “…entertaining isn’t a sport or competition. It’s an act of love, if you let it be.” That’s the way I want to live life around my table. I pray that it always may be set first with love. Thanks Shauna for the well-written reminder.