The Gospel: Solution to my “mid-life crisis”

I’ve been silent for a long time, too long probably. I’m sorry. I had kind of a running list in my head of things to write about, but I just haven’t been able to get myself to sit down and write. And now the list has faded a bit. I can’t quite remember everything that was on it.

It’s been kind of a strange season for me/us…mostly me. I’m only in my thirties, but you could probably call it a mid-life crisis. I even chopped off my hair and started wearing black skinny jeans.

I’ve had more conflicts and misunderstandings in the last two months than I care to remember, and somehow I’ve come to the conclusion that I must be the problem. I’ve begun to question where we’re at, lament the time that we’ll never get back, and mostly I’ve begun to feel like I just don’t know what to do with my life! I’ve wasted time feeling like I have nothing to offer; I have no degree, no innovative ideas, no charisma to influence others, no real talents, skills or gifts, and really not even any goodness in and of myself. Oh the self-pity! You know what happens when we start to feel sorry for ourselves? We get stuck! We accomplish nothing, and we end up alone because no one wants to be around someone throwing a pity party! …except Jesus, I guess, but we tend to forget that he’s there, so that’s not good.

I’m not sure exactly what it was that brought me to this point. Maybe it was a combination of things: cultural stress, the constant flow of seemingly perfect lives and accomplishments of others on social media, or let’s just be honest…it was probably just my very own sin and selfish nature that has this uncanny ability to make everything about ME! Ugh!

Gross.

The beauty of the gospel is that there is a way out, but it’s kind of a narrow and not so appealing road to travel. Seeing the error in our ways and choosing to make someone other than ourselves the center of our lives goes against everything society preaches; it is in complete contrast to our human nature. But the Christian gospel is one of grace, and when we encounter grace we realize that the giver of it is the only one worthy of being at the center of our lives.

So, you know what my problem has been? I’ve needed to be reminded of the gospel, even if I had to be the one to preach it to myself! Believing in the gospel is not just our means of salvation; it’s the primary answer to our sin issues! Yet, for some reason, I’ve found that often amongst Christians, talking about God or offering the gospel as an answer to a problem someone is facing, has become something that’s seen as either cheesy or offensive. Why is that? I mean, even I have to admit that I’ve gotten a bit perturbed with someone who’s come up to me when I’m having a hard time, puts their hand on my shoulder and begins a sentence with, “I know you’re going through a hard time, but Jesus…” Who else? Why is it that sometimes we don’t want to hear it when we need it most?

I think that at least for me it’s the reality of lingering unbelief that makes me furrow my brow when someone tries to encourage me with the truth of the gospel. There’s something about it that I’m questioning or not fully convinced of, and so instead of being encouraged, I’m unsettled by it. Does that make sense?!

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve been preaching the gospel to myself a lot lately, and it’s been so good for me because it’s helped AND it’s reminded me that it is the most important thing that I have to offer to the world. I don’t need to make something of myself, I just need to be obedient to share the good news of Jesus with others. That’s my purpose, and I really need to be a little more aggressive with the enemy when he tries to divert me from it.

 

Trying to find my balance…and the testing of my faith?

I started exercising regularly at the beginning of the New Year. It wasn’t really a resolution, but I’m proud to say that it’s almost March, and I’m still going strong. I’ve been consistent, even through days when I wasn’t at all motivated to get moving, and it’s helped me feel better physically and even emotionally.

The other day I was doing some exercises that required a fair amount of balance and coordination, two things of which I do not have much. I laughed as I slowly started to lean to one side and caught myself before falling. When it happened a second time, I got frustrated, and my furrowed brow didn’t help as I continued trying to perform the exercise and angrily declared my lack of balance to the walls.

You know, I don’t notice my lack of balance unless it’s being tested. I mean, I have no problem remaining on my feet as I walk around throughout the day, but ask me to walk across a balance beam and I probably won’t make it to the other side…or to do a standing quad stretch that requires being on one leg, and I’ll eventually tip over.

Balance – an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.

I learned something recently. Or maybe I already knew it, but it just suddenly became more of a revelation. I don’t see my lack of faith and trust in God either, until my faith is being tested. Sometimes it proves strong, but other times I come to the sobering realization that I’ve actually been relying on something other than Jesus to keep me upright and steady.

…Please tell me I’m not the only one.

This whole learning to trust God thing is way more consistent in my life than my workout regimen. Seriously. I’m sure if you look back in this blog, I’ve written about it several times, and I wonder if I’ll ever get it? …If at some point it will finally come naturally. Because, if I’m being truly honest, my natural tendency is to trust myself. Ask my husband. I like to be independent, rely on myself. In essence, I like to avoid the testing of my faith at any and all cost. I make it appear as though I’m trusting God, when in reality, I am trusting the systems I’ve created to make it so I don’t really have to trust him. And then when things go all haywire…I still get a little perturbed with my heavenly father.

And I thought I was rational!

Go ahead, shake your head. I am. I’ve also got my palm to my face.

Why is it so difficult?! God proves himself trustworthy in my life over and over and OVER again. What I know of God should make it easy to surrender my self-righteous independence and trust my life, my finances, my husband, my future, my step son, my family, my ministry, my hopes and dreams and everything else in his hands.

I’ve been kind of wrestling with this for a while now, and the following is something I said in a very emotional outburst the other day.

“God, I can trust you, but trusting you doesn’t mean that something bad won’t happen, and that’s what I’m afraid of!”

It kind of came out of nowhere, but it came straight from the heart. And unfortunately, it only reveals the true state of affairs within me. I struggle with constant fear that something bad is going to happen, and it’s embarrassing how quickly and easily I can come up with the worst-case scenario in any given situation. Would you believe I never really realized until now how paralyzing that’s been? I wonder how much I’ve missed out on trying to protect myself from pain and failure instead of trusting God to come through.

The kind of faith and trust that the bible demands of us, is one that remains, period. A trust that knows that bad things can happen and perseveres anyway because, without it, there is nothing to keep us standing upright in the midst of trials AND success.

So what’s the answer? Back in Sunday school and youth group, the answer was always Jesus. But that’s a little too passive. The answer is that I need to take responsibility to seek Jesus more and stop second-guessing who he says he is. I’ve been a Christian since I was six years old. I’ve worked in missions for nearly 12 years, and I STILL need a deeper understanding of who Jesus is, and that’s not his fault! Now, I know that my relationship with Jesus will be a lifetime thing, and I’ll never know all there is to know about him. But if deep down inside of me there remains an uncertainty that Jesus will be enough to keep me standing upright if the worst of my fears comes true, I need to repent and get to work.

Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!


This is not where I was going with this when I started writing. Like, not at all! However, God spoke to me a lot as I was writing, and I pray that you too are encouraged to seek Jesus more. He truly is the only thing that can hold us up in all of life’s circumstances, and we need to be fully convinced of that.

“But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.” Hebrews 10:39 [NLT]

Bloom where you’re planted

I just got home from my first solo trip to the local farmer’s market. It’s a good thing I’ve been exercising lately, because it was a little bit of a workout to walk the mile home in 80 degree weather with 11 pounds worth of fruits and veggies for the coming week. What a gift it is that produce is so inexpensive here in Chile! $1.50 for 2 pounds of avocado? Yes, please! And this is the best time of year, of course, because it’s summer and so many of my favorite fruit are in season.

When we lived in Valparaiso and before that in Viña del Mar, I went to the famer’s market alone all the time! It was actually something I enjoyed. I knew what to pay for different things and there were several venders who knew me, so I didn’t really have to worry about being taken advantage of when trying to make purchases. Here in Temuco, though, I’ve found myself relying on Pablo a lot. Maybe it’s because I never really had someone to rely on when I was single? But something about experiencing the unfamiliar all over again and the constant feeling of sticking out no matter how I dress or wear my hair has made me cower in this new city. I’ve even had a hard time learning how to get around by myself, and after six months here, I still have moments when I get disoriented.

Adjusting to a new place is never easy, especially where the stress of being in a different culture is involved. But, maybe if I’m honest, I’ve just been unwilling to let myself feel at home here. I never wanted to live in Temuco [seriously, I used to say things like “I never want to live in Temuco,” because nothing people told me about the city made it sound at all appealing], but life requires us to be here in order to take care of some important family matters. I’ve willingly been attending to those things and just going through the motions in other areas, all while really not wanting to be here. I know, I’m terrible! Now that my eyes have been opened to it, it’s actually embarrassing to share! Our being here was never about the place [so I thought]. You know how God calls people to a specific country? I never saw our being here as God calling us to Temuco; he called us to resolve a particular situation which only meant we needed to be in Temuco.

Then one day I felt something like a whisper saying, “bloom where you’re planted.” A few days later, a friend used the same phrase in a conversation. And a couple weeks after that I saw it written on a cute little ceramic dish in a store we happened to wander into. That’s when I decided to ask God if there was something he was trying to say…Oh I can be so stubborn sometimes! Isn’t it obvious?! We’re probably going to be in Temuco for a while. Years! Instead of fighting it, instead of grumbling about it…maybe I should take advantage of it, be thankful, at least try to thrive and make a life for myself and our family here?!

I guess that’s why I decided to go to the market by myself today. It’s time, and I’ve had a bit of an attitude adjustment. I don’t want to waste the opportunity that God has given us to make some sort of impact on this city for however long we’re going to be here! I also don’t want to miss out on the beauty this place has to offer because I’d formed an opinion about it before I ever gave it a chance. So, I guess now the question is, how? How do I bloom in Temuco? What are the conditions, the water and sunlight that will make me bloom in such a way that people are blessed by me and my family being here?

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This is our local famer’s market

Note: I think it’s easy to read this blog post and come to the wrong conclusion. Our time here has actually been pretty good, and we’ve had a lot of doors open to us that we have walked through, knowing we will be here for some time. However, I was genuinely unaware of how I was refusing to really dig my roots in because there was still a part of me that didn’t want to be here. Thankfully, that is no longer the case! 

2018 Photo Recap

Wow! What a year it’s been. 2018 was FULL of ups and downs, transition, growth, so many blessings and a whole lot of God’s faithfulness!

We spent half the year in Minnesota and moved back to Chile in July.

IMG_4204.jpgWe applied to extend Pablo’s tourist visa, and we were so happy to receive this approval notice that allowed us to spend an extra six months in the United States. Pablo’s English improved so much during that time, and we made a lot of memories with friends and family.

IMG_4147 (1)In January, Pablo and I braved the cold to spend an evening at Super Bowl Live in Minneapolis. There were so many fun activities and things to explore. Pablo even tried ice skating for the first time while we were there.

IMG_4212-1.jpgPablo definitely got a taste of our good old Minnesota winters.

IMG_5060Since we were able to stay in the states a little longer, I was able to complete a certification course to teach English overseas. I know this will be something that will open doors for us in the future.

KenadieWe were so excited to be around for the birth of our niece, Kenadie. She had us all wrapped around her little finger pretty quick!

IMG_4349 (2)We enjoyed every chance we got to make memories with friends and family. My nephew, Lincoln, and I had a blast participating in the superhero 5k.

IMG_4386And Pablo learned a little bit about shooting a rifle from our friend Grandpa Terry.

We are so thankful for the time we got to spend in Minnesota, and there are so many memories that don’t have pictures to go along with them!

IMG_4703This is Temuco, Chile, Pablo’s hometown. We made the difficult decision to move here as we felt God leading us to face some family matters and opening the doors for us to do so.

We’re thankful that we’ve been able to begin working with Youth with a Mission here in Temuco. I have been a little bit more involved as Pablo has been working here and there. I’ve had a few opportunities to teach in a some of our training programs, and I preached in a couple different churches as well. The most challenging of all was preparing to teach 1 & 2 Kings in the three month school of biblical studies, but it was so rewarding!

IMG_4791I also enjoyed helping a couple times with our children’s ministry. Here the kids are writing messages and drawing pictures for refugee children in Europe.

46329416_536713100125764_8359082801374429184_nIn November, our friend Deb came to visit. Deb was Pablo’s English teacher when we were in Virginia, and she became a dear friend during that time. It was so fun to have her with us! While she was here, we talked a lot about the possibility of starting an English program here in Chile.

IMG_4784 (1)This is Temuco’s best Taxi driver, though I suppose I might be a little biased. Pablo has been driving taxi to make a little extra money – not only for us but for his family as well. He has been working hard, and still makes time to help out with YWAM activities when he can. You might be surprised to know that Pablo’s English has come in handy a few times. He’s had english speaking tourists get in his taxi and rejoice when they realize their driver speaks english as well.

Thanksgiving is one of the hardest days to be away from Minnesota, but we were surprised by an invitation to have Thanksgiving dinner with an American pastor and his family!

We hope you all enjoyed the Christmas season! Pablo and I made the most of it as we made new memories together. We loved our little Christmas tree! Pablo embraced his creative side when I asked him to make salt dough ornaments with me. We received packages full of treats and notes from home that brought tears to our eyes. The Christmas Eve service at Church was beautiful, and on Christmas day we shared a special meal with some friends and video chatted with my family later on.

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It really has been a good year, and as we look toward 2019 we just feel so grateful for the way God has demonstrated his faithfulness to us! We know that this new year will come with its own challenges and new blessings, but no matter what, God’s faithfulness is steadfast.

We wish you a very happy New Year!

 

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P.S. We didn’t get to watch any full games this year, but this pretty much sums up how we felt about this year’s football season.

Knowing God

I’ve been helping with a three month Bible study course at our Youth with a Mission campus here in Temuco, and this week students studied the book of Romans. It’s an eloquently written letter to the first century church of Rome, but it’s full of some tough love. The purpose of that tough love, at least in part, was to unify the divided church. I imagine some of the original readers got angry as they read it. Maybe they threw it down in a fit of rage before even getting very far. Maybe some tried to justify themselves instead of humbly accepting the truth they read, and maybe others bowed their heads in shame as they realized the error of their ways. I don’t really know, I’m just…pondering.

There are several passages in Romans that are difficult to interpret, mostly because our modern day context is different from that of the original readers of the letter. The passages that would have angered them are not necessarily the same as those that raise questions for today’s readers. In fact, they didn’t like it because they pretty much knew exactly what Paul, the author, was talking about as he confronted them. We question it because we can’t really wrap our minds around what Paul was saying [unless we understand the original context, and even then we have a hard time with it].

I’m not really an expert though. I’m as much a student as those I’m walking along side these three months. I totally understood their dazed faces this week because I felt the same! We were all wrestling with what we believe to be true about the God we claim to know and love. And don’t read that like it’s a bad thing! We’re taking ownership of our relationship with God, we’re being forced to get real about the questions we’ve probably had for more than just this week, and the only place we have to go is back to God and the bible sitting open in front of us.

I’m studying to teach the books of 1&2 Kings in a little over a week and there are some tough questions that come up in those books too [they were originally just one, by the way], but you know what has actually been the most gripping thing about them?! God’s MERCY! Wow! Funny how people think the God of the old testament is somehow different than that of the new testament. “No, I don’t like the old testament! It’s violent…and God’s wrath…and what’s with all the blood and sacrifices?!” It makes me so sad, but I get it.

Without going into a long history lesson, the old testament is about God forming the nation of Israel, calling them to be a blessing to the nations and then demonstrating his mercy and covenant faithfulness as he lovingly pursues the people who constantly and intentionally turn their backs on him, giving them chance after chance after chance to change.

God’s MERCY! I can’t wrap my mind around that either! And somehow I think it’s a good thing because, look…

Sometimes we get stuck trying to make sense of things like God’s sovereignty and omniscience [the all-knowing nature of God] and we get mad because in our finite humanity we find it to be unfair. But we forget that if we truly tried to wrap our minds around his mercy and love, we would find them to be unfair as well because we don’t deserve them! And I love that about God! I love that I can’t fit him nicely into a little box, but I can know him, and knowing him makes me want to know him more! I can have a relationship with him. I can ask him my questions and he’s not threatened by them. And I can trust and worship him because he is not like me and, again, he is not so small that he fits nicely into a box.

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, How great Thou art
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

Carl Boberg