(Belated) Merry Christmas!
We hope everyone reading this had a wonderful Christmas this year! We miss you dearly, and send our love from Japan.
It’s 12:07 A.M. …
…and I’m behind my keyboard, fingers clicking away. My inspiration to write is fairly akin to nature’s calling, with hopefully at least a marginal difference in end result.
I’ve been learning a lot lately and thought to myself this evening, “I should document this!” with the hope it doesn’t just go in one ear and out the other. So, starting this month I’m going to make an effort to report my process and what I’m learning on a monthly basis. Hopefully I won’t have to eat those words come next month!
But, given it being smack-dab between Christmas and New Year’s, I thought a brief update is due! Without further ado…
Our 2019 update, in a nutshell
- As of today I’ve been in Japan 103 days. Danielle, 84.
- We’re happy, spirits high, and we still love each other a lot!
- We’ve completed our first quarter of language school, and have obtained the proficiency level of a wee child.
- Danielle goes by Mari ( マリー ) in language school. I regularly slip up, calling her Danielle, which causes visible confusion across the classroom.
- We’re making new friends. This was one of our few instructions from our overseers as we left for Japan! (If any of you are reading this, we think you’re awesome! あなたは良い友達です！)
Looking back on the year, I can’t believe all that happened…
I grew a pony tail, started learning Judo and participated in a tournament. We lost a loved one, but also got to spend more time than we had in many years with other loved ones. Danielle graduated from the University of Washington. We said goodbye to two of our loved pets and most of our stuff, again. We moved back to Redding for the summer, and then to a new country. Started learning a new language and building a new life here…
It’s been a wonderful year. We have so much to be thankful for, but what makes our life rich is those we get to spend it with.
Your friendship, kind words, encouragement, etc. means so much to us.
Here’s to a new decade!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.Romans 15:13
What I’m learning No.1 – 12/2019
I’m really excited about doing these. My hope is honestly to process and share what I’m learning. If this were to help someone else, that of course would make me happy too! Over the last couple years our friends AJ and Robyn have been super consistent in asking me what I’m learning. So consistent it became a challenge to dig something up (Err… What am I learning…?)! But, I think that has become a great source of inspiration for this now, so thanks Bakers!
1. Leaders see themselves as caretakers of their people
Simon Sinek, the man with one of the most viewed Ted Talks of all time (How great leaders inspire action) dropped this nugget on me.
Biblically, shepherds are used to metaphorically illustrate God (or Jesus as the good shepherd) but also in instruction to us in relation to those under our care.
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;1 Peter 5:2 (bold mine)
For a pastoral people (actual shepherds), I’m sure this was clear as glass. But taking this truth out of the pasture really lit it up to me in a new way I could appreciate more. A good reminder, for sure.
2. “Catch them when they’re good”
Dr. Ivan Jospeh, Vice Provost, Student Affairs at Dalhousie University and six-time Coach of the Year shared this about building self-confidence in others.
I’m a fixer. I’ve been fixing things my whole life, from helping my dad as a young boy in the garage to my now profession as a Software Engineer. I find what is broken, and I change it. But, how I “fix” things just doesn’t translate to people.
Dr. Ivan Joseph points out that highlighting times when things are done “right”, as opposed to focusing and correcting failures, causes improvement to drastically increase. It “revolutionized the way we as coaches interacted with our students athletes.”
3. There are 3 essentials to friendship: positivity, consistency, vulnerability
I used to think relationships were easy. And, maybe they were during that time. These days though, it feels as though I am regularly reminded of just how complex of social creatures we humans are. Shasta Nelson helps set things straight in her Ted Talk. I’m looking forward to picking up her book soon.
Positivity: We want the reward of friendship: smiles, laughter, joy, kindness, acts of service, gratitude, empathy, affirmation, all those things that leave us feeling accepted.
Consistency: “If we never see them, it’s not a friendship.” This is where we get to know each other, learn consistent behavior. This is where trust happens, where we learn how to predict how others respond.
Vulnerability: Where we let people in. Not just insecurities and shame, but history, dreams, whats going well, asking for what we need from someone else.
4. The closer we are to the front-line, the less our differences matter
I don’t recall where I heard this but, as a new missionary this really stuck out to me. We’ve heard a similar message come from Kris Vallotton for as long as we’ve been around Bethel. He says something along the lines of “in denominational-ism people gather when they agree, and divide when they disagree. But in apostleships people gather around fathers and family.” The heart behind this is unity, something that I specifically feel is essential for Christians to be continually moving towards.
This will sound a bit rough, but I think squabbles over small differences to be a luxury only available when we’ve got nothing more pressing in front of us.
I personally hold many specific theological stands that separate me from many a denomination, as every single person likely does; but if they prevent us from loving God, loving people, and sharing about Jesus they’re just in the way. Those common goals should be enough for us to band together, and work as a team.
5. Favor: can cause conflict, is supposed to be used to benefit others
Obviously, I can’t communicate these ideas better than Bill. Watch the clip!
Mary was “highly favored” but the first thing she had to face was her husband in quite the unique predicament. “Everything about favor eventually shows. It was a legitimate miracle of God, yet it caused conflict for her.”
Not only can favor be a source of issues with others, be it jealousy or whatever, it also has a specific purpose: to be used to benefit those around you (or those under your influence.).
Most of the time when I hear “favor”, it comes hand in hand with provision/prosperity for one’s self. Many are looking for such miracles and increase in their own life, which isn’t a bad thing at all. But, I find it important to remember that…
We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.1 John 3:16 (bold mine)
Surely, as we are to lay down our lives for our brethren, the things that come our way by the Favor of the Lord should also be subject to being a benefit to those around us.
Phew!… Well, that is my 5 things I’m learning for this month! If you read through them all, I hope you enjoyed them. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on them as well.