Wednesday, July 08, 2015

HOW MOMS MAKE DISCIPLES IN ALL NATIONS





I have had the honor of getting to write an article for the July issue of Global Missiology. This journal has worked with many groundbreaking thinkers that are pushing forward the conversation of missions and I'm thrilled to be a part of this edition.

I was asked to write an article peeling back the realities of a mom's role in the Great Commission. As a believer, a mom of 5 kids still has an integral role in the working out of Jesus' words to go to the nations and teach them to obey. This is a passion of mine because too often I see moms who are frustrated, bitter, resentful, and about to impale something. Hopefully we can bring some balance and health back to the expectations for moms. 

I attempted to begin the conversation HERE.











Monday, June 29, 2015

Guest Blogging at Overseas Mama: Language Learning Reminds me of Middle School

I had the honor of guest blogging today at  Overseas Mama today. Language learning as an overseas worker will throw you back to the middle school emotions of insecurity, fear, and general daily discomfort. Basically it makes you feel 14 again.

They've got some other great resources there too, so stay awhile.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

God gives us WAY more than we can handle

This morning I found myself simultaneously cooking 4 meals. Lunch for the husband and 2 kids, dinner for seven, chocolate granola bars for tomorrow's sale, lunch for our 20 person church. At one moment, my son asked me a question about his math problem and my daughter couldn't remember how to spell cylinder. While none of these things are monstrously stressful, the overwhelming few minutes of multi-tasking led me to a common motherhood mantra:


"God doesn't give me more than I can bear."

I whispered this "truth" to myself a few times as I stirred the peanut butter. Then I caught myself. I was comforting my mind with what feels like to be a Biblical truth but in fact is just a cute saying. While it might give me comfort in a moment, the truth is that it's not actually in the Bible. And if it's not in the Bible, I probably shouldn't be holding onto it with tight-fisted hope.

My hypothesis is that people are thinking of the verse that says,

"God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear." (excerpt from 1 Cor. 10:13)

There is an important difference between the reading of these two verses.  The second verse is a glorious promise that we will never be crushed by temptation. God is faithful and will always provide a way of escape. He never leaves his children strangled by temptation.

In contrast, if we give into the idea that God doesn't give us more than we can bear, then when things get overwhelming we will look to eliminate tasks or people rather than introduce the strength of the Lord.  We will throw our arms up in the air to surrender and decide that never again are we having people over for dinner on a Tuesday night. Inadequacy and stress will capture our minds and we will forge our own defeat. At this point it's
important to frame inadequacy not as a defeat, but rather a rally call for the Lord to resume control.

Motherhood is a prime time to feel relentlessly self-sufficient. Rarely in a day does someone come up from behind you and offer to fold that laundry while you sip tea. Most of our day is wrapped in self-sufficient tasks that require us to man up. While our tasks require independence, the placement of our heart requires just the opposite. Our hearts need to lean into dependence on a Redeemer who has already claimed victory over every ridiculous sin our minds can think of.

God absolutely gives me more than I can handle. He gives us 5 children, homeschooling, cooking, working, being a wife, tragedies, broken arms, cultural missteps, frustrating land lords, and people who cut in line.

Feeling like we are sinking reveals that we have been swimming on our own for too long. The Lord wants to give us WAY more than we can handle so that we can see him show off, not just just show up. We need to treat God as not just our superhero that swoops down to save us in the nick of time. Instead, God is a King who has sent out an edict that says, "Don't worry, I've got this."

And that's a promise worth holding onto.





Thursday, May 07, 2015

Being Pile-Driven by a Blind Masseuse



When you look at the price and decide that a $10 hour long massage sounds heavenly, you need to be prepared for the very earthly aspect of blind massage. There is no diffusing jasmine and new-age pan flute lulling you into pampered bliss. As you walk inside, you are greeted by young men forming loogies and old women yelling about their boils. There's no spa to it. You get a massage because your muscles are broken. That is all.

The first indication that this will not be relaxing is the fact that everyone is dressed in a white overcoat and are referred to as doctors. Most of the hour is spent with them commentating on much improvement your body needs. I once had a blind massage man who kept squeezing my arms and telling me it was obvious that I didn't exercise.

These amazing men and women have either complete blindness or severe sight loss and a very heavy hand.

After you lay down and situate your face in that bed hole the game begins. I explained to the doctor that I had tweaked my neck the night before and she replied, "Well, this is going to take at least an hour."

She took her sledge hammer thumbs and started working on my neck. It was so painful that my hands went numb. I tried avoiding unconsciousness by reminding myself to buy eggs on the way home. I couldn't let my pain eek out because I wanted my neck fixed. She was pushing so hard on the back of my neck that I inadvertently started humming as she violated my vocal cords.

The pain on the left side of my neck started to ease as I began to rhythmically breathe loudly like I was some sort of race horse anticipating the starting gun. My palms were sweating and I realized that I had been chewing on the bed sheet that was pressed against my face as I lay in the bed hole. Sometimes there is brief yelping as if you've stuck your foot in boiling hot tar.

At one point, I channeled my inner "Rudy" so as to not roll off the bed and run out screaming of the room. If Rudy could play football for Notre Dame, I could endure the rest of my massage.

It was now time for my lower back. She employed both her elbows and was poking me with her index finger as she made her way down each side of my spine. I'm pretty sure I felt my non-funcionting right kidney start working right there on the bed.

Then comes the rub/pound combination. This is how most Chinese massages end. They rub your back as if to console you. Then she does the traditional chop chop to your spine, pats you twice like you're in the locker room and tells you, "You're good!" Then you're on your way. Well, you're on your way if you are still able to use your legs to support your body weight. It took me about 2 minutes to get blood moving back into my legs. I took a dizzy exit to the cashier, paid my $10, and walked out pain free!


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Our Corners

Corners.

They're inherently defined, small, and cozy.

Sometimes they're dusty, war torn, and full of last week's hash browns.

I've struggled with this blog corner for some time now (allowing the last post date to be the screaming confessor of this). I've struggled because it doesn't feel big enough or viral enough to keep writing. If I could just come up with some ultimate "Let it Go" parody that would go viral...again. Or if I could write something witty about how moms need to stop worrying about perfection, but start worrying about eating GMOs, then someone somewhere would say I'm awesome.

And if I'm honest, I spend many wasted minutes of my day trying to figure out how to get others to think I'm awesome.

Or at least interesting.

Or even just ridiculous.

I've been craving adjectives.

These last few months I've spent looking to my left and to my right. Really looking into my people and I've come to see that I've bought into the lie that I NEED to be noticed by the masses in order to have value. Andy Crouch at Christianity Today is spot on when he says that in the West we have evolved into a 'fame culture.' A culture where ministry success is weighted according to high attendance and large Twitter followings. We've created a place where name dropping and conference hoarding have become the litmus test for whether or not we are accepted into certain communities.

This is a shame.

A shame because there are shy, introverted, non-social media people who are crushing it for Jesus. But somehow it doesn't seem like enough unless you document it along the way. No longer is getting honor from the Lord enough. We need a collective pat on the back in order to feel validated in our ministries and lives.

This makes the philosophical part of me panic. Once we as a Christian culture start taking our cues on success from numbers and popularity, we begin making hasty decisions. When we feel like we've gotta hurry up or get left behind, there becomes very little room for long-suffering and endurance. Anonymity and service look like traits belonging to the outed kid on the dodgeball team. But over and over again, this is what Jesus was doing.

He was picking up the towel to scrap the junk off the disciples' feet.

He was turning his head and healing unpopular, outcasted women.

He picked a rag tag group of men to call friends.

And yet here we are as a culture.

I don't know what this will mean for writing here. For me, I'm turning off the comments and the followers tab. It's a self-imposed fence to keep out my ego.

We've each been given a corner. Big people, little people, angry people, flighty people, hurting people, dying people. People who need my adjective to be: humble, fierce person of prayer, gracious, loyal, full of faith.

I am to be faithful to my little corner. You are to be faithful to yours.

 Let's let that be enough for today.





Tuesday, May 13, 2014

6 reasons women give so they don't have to move overseas

One of the things I treasure about living overseas is that people often ask us questions about moving their families overseas. We take our role in this Goliath-sized decision as an honor and take it pretty seriously.

Many of the people we get to talk with are just finishing up college and weighing the options laid out before them. Fortunately or unfortunately, most of these conversations are happening with women. (More on why men are shoving their fingers in their ears when it comes to moving overseas in a later post.)

Here are 6 reasons I've heard as to why, "I just need to hear God more clearly," is code for, "Moving overseas scares the marrow in my bones and so therefore I'll just keep praying so that one day I can have a job in America and not have to get on that plane after all."






1.  God hasn’t called me.

At some point in modern Christendom, we've decided that we cannot hear God unless he visits us as a Siri-spirit and guides us audibly down every alley and stop sign we meet along the way. Certainly he speaks audibly to us at times, but he has also given us two wonderful megaphones to magnify his desires for us. One is Scripture and the other is community. 

If you are on board with the Great Commission, you need to know that God's will is that the nations be reached. With that, we can know 100% that God's will is for people to go overseas. There is confidence in this that if it isn't clear to us what the Lord's will is, serving overseas is. My hope is that more believers would default to going overseas and instead be "called" to stay in America. Unfortunately, the default is to staying in America.


2.  I want to have a husband first. Or, I want to let my kids get a little older and then we'll move.

I find myself often reminding young women that God never promises you a husband. This is a great video addressing singleness on mission.

About the kids things, actually, it is easier for them to acculturate when they don't know any differently. When kids are raised overseas, they don't miss things like 4th of July parades and choir practice because they've never had experience with those things. When you take an older child, sit them down one day, and tell them that you're moving 7,000 miles away from their soccer team, drama club, and best friend, things actually get a lot harder. They play a constant comparison with their new culture. Older kids can move overseas and flourish, but if you are waiting to move until they get a little older, I would say don't wait and move before they have roots established in America. 

3. I just want to get established for a few years and get some work experience.

You will never feel financially stable enough to move overseas, get married, have kids, or die. You just have to do it and then spend lots of time in prayer.



4. My parents will freak out. 

Yes they will. Expect this. They have dreams of bouncing a bubbly 2-year grandson on their knees and baking mud cakes with their grand daughters. You will be taking that from them. They will worry about your health, your safety, and your sanity. 

Parents are going to need time to let you go. Line up all the details you have and let them know you have a plan. Pray with them. Introduce them to someone who has just gotten back from where you are going. Show them how to cook a meal from your new country. At the end of the day, your parents simply want to know you are going to be ok. 


5. I'll do it for a few years and then I'll come back and get a "real" job.

I have some rather large rants in, "Redefining Home," about the lack of long term commitment to be overseas. Reaching the nations isn't an adventure or a hobby. It's a word from our Father in which he promises to be faithful. 

Living overseas is a real job concerning real people. They aren't projects or statistics. They are people. 

Enough on that. 


6.  I could never do that. That kind of life is for people stronger, braver, smarter, and godlier than me. 

If you've ever met me in real life, you wouldn't still be saying this. That aside, most of the men and women living overseas were at times seized in fear and doubt. 

Moses was confident in one thing as he looked at leading the Israelites. He was confident that he couldn't do it. Lead the people, stand up to Pharaoh, cross a river! All God had to do was remind Moses who he was. "I am your God."

He's our God too. He will remain faithful to his children when we do crazy things like pack up our family and move to a foreign culture, language, and people. It's when we forget who God actually is that we allow fear to continue to call the shots. 


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

4 things I learned by leaving social media for Lent

I’m not a normal subscriber to fasting for Lent. I’ve done it a few times, tossing out a token chocolate fast for good measure. This year, I decided to give up Facebook and Instagram for these 40 days. I had been feeling the strangle of social media for several months and decided there needed to be an untangling. A colon cleansing of sorts. 

I was thinking this through and trying to avoid it altogether when I was skyping with my best friend and she told me she was going to give up social media for Lent. I almost feigned a bad Skype connection so that I didn’t have to admit to her that I was thinking of doing the same thing. Now I had that blasted thing called accountability.

I learned a lot about my character and about owning my own junk these past 40 days. Blaming social media was replaced by naming my own misshaped desires and insufficient heart.





1. Social Media isn’t evil, but my heart can be.

    While social media can become a vacuum for productivity, sometimes we forget just where the problem lies. 
      
      With us.
     
      Squarely with us.
      
      If I am choosing to scrape through Facebook instead of making dinner, then I’m choosing indulgence over responsibility.

      Jeremiah 17 reminds us that, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desparately sick…

      A sick heart needs healing, not to my ignoring it by bandaging it with social media trivialities. But again, it’s not social media's fault. The apple wasn’t at fault in the garden. It was Eve’s deciding that God wasn’t enough that was her heart’s deception. I think there’s similar danger in our social media addictions. 

   2. Social media has exposed my desire to be known

One of the most vulnerable things I’ve learned was just how much I crave being known by people. I’ve struggled a lot with loneliness these last two years. Living overseas is isolating. But giving up social media made me realize that most of my loneliness was not a craving for community, but rather a craving for people to pay attention to me. I wanted someone to notice that I wasn’t at that birthday party and be sad because of it. This was especially apparent for the first week of the fast. I replaced my Facebook "quick looks," with email "quick looks."

It’s been good to separate loneliness from attention craving. I now understand that when I start to sense loneliness, I need to be sure it’s labeled correctly for my own heart’s sake.


3.   Social media reminds us of our need for community

I was grieved several times when I missed big events in my friends’ lives. I had several friends who would periodically send me emails to update me on things like: this person’s dad just had a heart attack; our adoption was denied; our adoption went through; I leave for South Sudan today. I missed getting to tell them I was praying for them or ask them how that doctor’s appointment went.

As long as it does not become an unhealthy dependency, our need for people is from the Lord. I Cor. 12 tells us that, “For in one Spirit we were ALL baptized into ONE body…” One functioning, synchronized body of Christ.

My natural disposition is to do it by myself.

My natural disposition is to get stressed out, overwhelmed, and void of joy.

I should not be surprised at the cause and effect.

I need community and I’m thankful to the Lord that we have social media that allows me to see that first birthday party of the friend’s daughter whom I’ve yet to hold. While social media can take us tempt us to avoid face to face interactions, it also allows to remain connected that is unprecedented in history.

4.   When we categorize social media as merely a time drain, we strip it’s ability for good.

We Americans like categories. Democrat/Republican; liberal/conservative; pro-life/pro-choice. When we slip social media into the “waste of time” file, we discount all the good things that can be done with it. Plenty of organizations are using it for advocacy and raising money for great causes. I’ve seen families decide to adopt because of a video they saw or article they read off Facebook. I’ve learned how to be better mom through blogs and articles found online. Redeeming social media is key-using it to move forward Christianly things in a progressive and gracious manner. God knew we’d have this push and pull with social media as we sit here in 2014. Let’s let it revolutionize the world instead of feeding our gluttonous hearts.



The pile of nastiness that can be dumped in and around our hearts can be overwhelming. But I know that tomorrow morning, new mercies are offered to me by the most generous of all Fathers. Thank you Jesus that I don’t have to muster up these heart changes on my own.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

MTV music video is done. Oh buddy.

I've been on a social media fast for Lent. I've also put a hold on blogging for awhile.

I'll probably write on my thoughts on that soon.

But, I break my blogging break to bring you our Chinese music video debut. If you missed the details about the filming, here they are...in all their blackmailing material glory.




Since the release of this video, we've had friends text and tell us they've seen it in their hotels and on the bus. As you watch, notice the lack of close ups on my fingers as I play the piano. It might be because they had to bring in a piano teacher to show me how to position my hands. It might also be that once I learned how to position my hands, I just pretended to type my name like it was a keyboard.


Yes, I still have the dress.


For a single that's put out by someone with actual musical talent (unlike me), check out this new single:





It will bless your soul.










Saturday, January 04, 2014

Little Blogging Break

I'm taking a blogging break. I could take your hand and walk you down a romantic diatribe of why I need to step back for a bit. Here's the bottom of it:

I'm tired.

I have an uneasy feeling that 2014 is going to be a year of me coming to terms with my weaknesses. One of my disillusionments is that I can do anything I want to. I've bought into the American mantra and now I'm tired.

I don't have a theme or a word for this year. Only a task: Lose Control.

I am hoping that my brain will find its functionality in the next few months and I'll pick up writing again. I need writing, so I'm praying that the Lord would refresh my soul in the next few months and I'll be back at it soon enough.

We also started watching Downton Abbey. That's not helping me with setting healthy margin in my life.

I just jumped into the instagram game. Thank you 21st century. I'm going to try and still post pics there if you want to follow along, you can find me here:  cvaughn

Until then...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My First Magazine Article Published!

Hey guys!

My first magazine article was published today and I'm pumped. This whole magazine article thing could get addictive. You sit down, write, edit, and only self-doubt for a page or two of a Word document. It's bliss.





This online publication is fantastically encouraging, especially to women who are involved in overseas work. It's clean, beautiful, and symmetrically laid out. I have issues with symmetry.

I wrote about how the neediness of Mary Magdalene makes me panic. Here's the first little bit:


Mary Magdalene freaks me out. Her underlying, desperate neediness with Jesus can be unnerving. When I read her stories I picture a pasty, scrawny seventh-grader pathetically eager to join the kickball game at recess.


The rest can be found here. 


Check it out and while you're at it, browse the rest of the site. It really is that good. 
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