Monday, May 21, 2012


It’s a funny thing, how temperamental we humans are.  Or maybe it's just me.  It seems like I'm never completely content with what I have.  I'm always looking ahead to the next and greatest thing to come.  The grass is always greener, right?  There’s something about practicing contentment in the moment that seems elusive to our sinful states of nature here on earth.  And I just wish I was better at practicing it on a daily basis.

So here I sit, half-grumbling about making a copy of every. single. page of my passport.  I’m worrying about how and when my visa for Tanzania will come through.  I’m filling out visa applications (5 copies, in fact), getting notarized copies of my teaching license, finding certified copies of my birth certificate.  Filling out medical forms (always fun!).  Applying for an international driving permit for the interim while I work on getting my Tanzanian license in-country.  Converting my height into centimeters and the miles into kilometers.  And then mulling over whether to apply for a visa to Kenya (for our branch missions conference in July) from the States (where I have to send my passport to DC), or wait till I get to Tanzania.  Assuming, of course, the office is open and the power is working on the day I go in Dar.

And then, it hits me.  My perspective is all wrong.  Yes, I have to copy every single page of my passport… but that’s because God’s allowed me to go to so many places!  Between my resident visas for Tanzania and my entry stamps for Kenya, Germany, Colombia, and the States… God has put me in awe of Him the past year.  And while all the travel hasn’t always been easy, restful, nor stabilizing (just ask the poor people I’ve processed with along the way!), I’ve certainly gotten to see some cities (and continents) I never dreamed I’d experience.  I've started my masters.  Got to be part of my brother's wedding.  All amazing things.

So, as this thought crossed my mind, I decided to turn everything upside-down and see what amazing things God is doing – and has already done! 

  • Yes, I had to get ten extra copies of my passport picture made AGAIN today.  But this time, they actually turned out decent (well, for passport photos).  And I’m pretty sure they’ll be accepted.
  • Yes, I have to get all these forms filled out for my visa.  And yes, this stuff is stressful.  But… I’m doing all this because I have the opportunity to live and serve in a place that many people never get to go.  I get to teach great kids and support families who are working to get the gospel into the language that people in Tanzania grew up speaking.  (And when I compare it to the paperwork my friends have dealt with for the process of adoption, I know I have no right to complain...)
  • And ultimately, this is just one more step in the process of living in this place we call earth, which will someday pass away.  I’m thankful my citizenship process for heaven is a bit less complicated!
  • Yes, I need to get a bunch of shots… and soon.  But the thing is, I have access to them.  These shots and vaccines are available to help keep me from getting sick.  And for that, I am thankful.
  • I have to get a visa for Kenya… because, well, it means I get to hang out with some great people, be refreshed and encouraged, and worship and learn with others in my own English language before embarking on a three-month learning tour of the Swahili language at a campsite in the middle of Tanzania.
  • And yes, I have to get forms notarized – but I have a friendly neighbor who is willing to do it.
  • Yes, I have to fill out a TON of paperwork for my visa.  But I’m doing this only because God just provided my funding for serving overseas and allowed me to be cleared to go.  Because He brought a team of amazing people behind and around me that are allowing this all to happen.  As if He can’t work out this detail, too.

And so, as I sit here, “lifting my eyes unto the hills,” and feeling my stress levels drop (if even just for a moment!), verses come to mind of God’s perfect peace.  That He, in fact, asks and commands us to take hold of this upside-down perspective of joyful life on a daily basis.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thes 5:16-18

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.  But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.  So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.  – Phil 2:14-18

Praying that I’ll be better at keeping my mind focused on him in the midst of everything... and trusting Him to take care of the things I don't have control over along the way.  And thankful for all He’s doing every. single. day!

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