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  • Writer's pictureSteph

Unexpected Peace and Joy

It's been a busy year since I last posted! Good news is: there is much more JOY in my life these days. We hired a wonderful person to come 3X a week to watch Joel while I teach at AMI International School. I have been loving teaching! It has been rewarding to see the kids fostering a love of reading and even fighting to read out loud in front of the class. Thank you for all your prayers and for those who reached out after I shared honestly about my biggest struggle becoming a missionary.

But yes, back to being busy - between now and the last post we have: 1. Launched a school 2. Hosted two short term mission teams 3. Hosted two visits from our families 4. Traveled to Guatemala City/Antigua 2X (5 hours away) 5. Had one of our interns unexpectedly leave early which was heartbreaking. 6. At this very moment, Jon is actually in Georgia speaking at a church and I have been single-parenting for the last 3 days. It's been a tremendous season that God has literally CARRIED us through, but every night we are pretty exhausted. We also haven’t had a lot of time for forward planning and have been flying by the seat of our pants for most things. But over the last few weeks God has really encouraged rest and restoration in my life which is what I want to share.

We have been so busy, we nearly forgot about Lent season. This is totally embarassing since we are missionaries leading a church. Lent is the 40 days before Easter where Christians prepare their heart for celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ. The goal is to draw into closer intimacy with God. Typically, Christians may spend more time in prayer, worship and reading the Bible and may fast food or digital media. I made a commitment to spend more time in prayer and reading the word as well as fasting my normal media habits (social media, Netflix, Youtube).

Fasting social media has been difficult for me, because it‘s such an unconscious habit to check Instagram and facebook. The first few days, I cheated, A LOT. Then I got the idea to buy a few books on my Kindle and ended up reading TOO much. I also spent many days trying to frantically catch up on the To-Do lists and trying and failing to get ahead of the workload. My thinking was "I should use the time I got back from fasting media to do more productive things". However, I missed the point that the purpose of fasting was to draw closer to God. Only after some unexpected things that caused me to lose headway on my to-do list, I started to get really serious about spending more time in prayer, reading my Bible and listening to sermons. And what a tremendous change it has made in my outlook, patience, and peace in my heart! It has been a revelation to feel God speaking to me again and the Holy Spirit bringing more joy and peace into my life. Over and over again He has reminded me that the purpose of my life is not to do, achieve, grow, minister, mother, and solve problems, but instead it is to worship Him and through that there is fruit!

John 15:4 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” I’ve been so busy with ministry, kids, life, to-do lists that I’ve been neglecting my walk with God and it honestly wasn’t evident to me until I SLOWED down and made some small practical changes in my life.

Interestingly enough, my revived relationship with God has coincided with Elijah and Joel getting sick so I have been home A LOT this last week (and Jon isnt here, so I’m even more immobile). Normally this would have driven me crazy to be locked in the house for so long but I find myself enjoying (mostly) the time I’ve gotten to spend with God while holding Joel to sleep, while the kids are in bed watching shows, or while I cook exorbitant amounts of soup. And yes the to-do list continues to pile up, but I find God calling me to a time of rest, to devoting myself to Him and worshipping him. If I hadn’t been so focused on changing my habits, I probably would have spent much of this time stuck in the house, perusing social media, trying to work but not getting much done, and binging media which may have left my feeling satisfied initially, but empty in the long run. I certainly wouldn’t feel the abundance of peace and joy that I am enjoying at the moment. I've learned that sometimes God sends us roadblocks - maybe in the form of minor illness or changing of plans to remind us to SLOW down and rest in Him.

Across the world, many are locked in their homes due to illness or concerns about coronavirus. I encourage you to use this time well and possibly see it as an opportunity to deepen your relationship with God, your family or others. Life is more about relationships than to-do lists. You will never regret spending more time in the Word or the people God has placed in your life (that you may be locked in the house)! Perhaps there is some unexpected joy and peace waiting for you, like there was for me.

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Mar 12, 2020

Amen!! Glad to hear that adjusting to life and God’s calling in Guatemala is bringing you joy! I also struggled with reading (or rather listening to audible) more than devoting time to God this lent season, but am encouraged that every day is a new day and that focus and discipline is as simple as taking things one day at a time. Praying for you, Jon, and the kids! Miss you guys!


Eric Han
Mar 09, 2020

Thanks for sharing Steph! Will continue to pray that you'll find a consistent JOY that burns quietly but brightly that will be more than enough to carry you through some of these busy times. Will pray for the kids to get healthy as well.


Jimmy and CK Lee
Mar 09, 2020

I love your advice - to use this time well and possibly see it as an opportunity to deepen your relationship with God, your family or others. Thank you for sharing your own experiences. Will continue to remember you, your family and ministries in our prayers.

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