Archive for the 'community' Category

The Playground in Spring

(Some of my mom friends on the playground last spring)

Moving to this northern Russian city where the winter is so long and dark makes the coming of spring with it’s warmth quite thrilling. And it is not only the sun that brings this warmth, but the fact that the people who have lived all winter long closed in their cold communist cement block apartments begin emerging to stroll leisurely down the streets once more. Smiles and conversation begin blossoming in place of cold and brisk sidewalk passings.

Not only does the winter here starve us of sunlight, but it starves us of day-to-day community in many ways. As the ground and interactions warm, I am excited about the relational possibilities that spring will bring with it.

Once spring arrives, we resume our daily walks to the playground along with the many moms and little kids who live in our giant apartment complex. I see women and their children who have been living just yards up, down, or sideways from us, for the first time in months. New babies have been born, children have grown and moms have grown eager to relate to one another once again.

As I look forward to long mornings outside with my kids at the playground, I am also looking forward to the opportunity for relationship that is coming. Part of this eagerness is for my own desires for community and friendship, but another part is the great opportunity that this brings as I look to reach out to the women around me with the gospel and love of Christ. No matter where you go in the world, moms with little ones are eager to relate about the joys and challenges of motherhood. I have yet to meet a mom who feels like she has it all figured out. What a natural and great opportunity to share about the guidance, love, and wisdom that God provides to those who look to Him. Mothering little ones takes every single one of us to the end of ourselves. The question is when we reach that end, where do we look next? This stage of life, no matter where we are in the world, is such a unique time for ministry!

A good friend and leader here in our ministry recently was sharing with me how as her kids have gotten older it has become a bit harder to forge friendships and relationships with other moms in the community. People grow busier, kids start going out to play on their own while moms stay at home, and perhaps women even become a bit more set in their parenting ways and look less often for guidance. Hearing her share some such things made me all the more eager to take hold of this time with little ones and to pray that God will both allow me to make use of this time when it is natural to interact with so many moms on a daily basis, but also to pray that He will begin friendships and opportunities for influence that will last into those years when we no longer meet each morning around the sandbox.

Perhaps the contrast of literal seasons is a bit more profound where I am than where you are, but I am thrilled about this new time of friendship and ministry opportunity and wanted to encourage you moms of little ones as well to purposefully take hold of this unique season of life for the glory of God. Many times it can feel like this is such a difficult time to do any sort of “real” ministry, but I think in many ways we can structure our lives with our children in ways that will give us perhaps a greater influence than many other seasons. Young moms, let’s pray and be intentional with this season that we are blessed to find ourselves in!

Where do the moms in your community gather with their little ones? Are there any daily life routines in your host culture (or home culture if you’re in the US) that you might be able to take part in for the sake of growing relationships with the women in your community? Do you have any exciting or encouraging stories on this topic that you’d have a moment to share with us?

(Post by: Ashley)

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Your Coffee Time Reminder!

coffee time

Just a little over a day left to get ready to join us for coffee! Thank to everyone who has already joined in. Lots of you have been stopping by and checking it out… don’t be shy! Have fun introducing yourself and sharing a bit about your life with us in the comments of the previous post! I look forward to meeting you all soon!

~Ashley

(I’ll post the final “Coffee” post on Thrusday morning my time, which is Wednesday night in the US. That way everyone gets all of Wednesday to join if they want to.)

Let’s Meet For Coffee!

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I am very much looking forward to “meeting you for coffee” this week! Here are some things that I thought would be fun to talk about. Feel free to answer any or all of the questions listed, as well as to ask other questions of one another. You are welcome to share as much or as little as you’d like! The format of this time is as free as if we were sitting face to face at a nice cozy coffee shop with our favorite drink in hand.

Here are the questions:

-Please introduce us a little bit to your family! How many kids do you have? How old are they? How long have you been married?, etc.

-How did God call your family into ministry?  Where are you serving and what is your ministry about? Is ministry something that you’ve always felt God leading you toward, or do you find it surprising that God has you where he does? (And even if you’re not in vocational ministry, if you’re a Christian, you are a missionary, so please share what that looks like in your life!)

-What are some of the greatest joys and blessings in your life and calling right now?

-What are some of the greatest challenges?

-If you are serving overseas, what has it been like to learn to live and serve in another culture? Has it been easier or harder than you expected? What has been an unexpected joy? Has there been anything in particular that has been harder than you would have thought?

-Do you have a funny kid story or cross-cultural/language mishap story to share?

-What is one verse that God has used to encourage you recently and why?

-How can we pray for you today?

-Leave your blog address or email if you’d like! (If you do this, there is a chance that it might not post right away but will await moderation. I will approve it as soon as I am at my computer next.)

Again, don’t get overwhelmed by all of the questions! Just choose the ones you like and enjoy the opportunity to relate with other moms! Be as brief or as long as you’d like!  I hope you enjoy this time and that God blesses each of you through it. DON’T READ ANYONE’S COMMENTS UNTIL AFTER WEDNESDAY!

~Ashley

*(If you are confused as to how we’re going to “meet for coffee,” please check out the previous post!)

Coffee, anyone?

coffee

Do you love spending time with good friends over a nice cup of coffee or tea? I have a reason for asking this question, but I am not going to share that until next week. It’s a surprise! In the meantime, leave a simple “yes” in the comments if you enjoy sharing your life with friends this way!

Biblical and Cultural Community: Part 3

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The last posts on community has to do with evaluating our host cultures in light of our own worldviews, in order to hopefully encourage us towards a more Biblical and culturally relevant view and experience in community.

Here are some practical questions to think about as we try to evaluate this aspect of life and strive to become Biblical Christians who are cultural insiders:

In my host culture, what does it look like to be a part of the community? What are the expectations or normal practices of each member of the community? How am I doing at fitting in? Are there things as a believer that I should stand up for or against?

How does the body of Christ function in my culture? Is this what I am used to? If it is difficult for me, why is that?

What values are held most highly within the community? Time spent? Sharing meals? Respecting one another’s schedule? Helping one another?…. How can I bless people by knowing these values?

On the scale of breadth and depth with regards to relationships, what relationship values does my culture have? Do people have many friends continually coming in and out of their lives, or do people generally just have a few very close friends? How should I approach friendships taking into account both what the Bible teaches and how the culture functions?

What does it mean to be a friend in this culture? Does the word “friend” mean the same thing in this culture as it does to me? What do my friends and the people that I minister to need from me to feel loved and cared for?

If the community in my culture is very different than my understanding of community, what things must I do in order to become a more integrated part of the community? How should I organize my life and time in light of these differences? What values (as long as they are Biblical) do I know of that I can as God to help me grow in to become more of an insider?

What barriers are there that might make it difficult for me to become an insider? How should I be praying about this? What can I do?

In what ways does community in my culture look like community in the Bible? How can I personally, or how can my ministry encourage believers even more towards Biblical community?

I hope those might be helpful to you in some way! I am very much thinking through these things right now as our family prepares to move to a new city in Russia and as we hope to structure our lives from the beginning in a way that would allow us to be the best witness in our community as possible.

As always, I love it when you share your advice and personal experiences, so please feel invited to share any thoughts or other questions that would be helpful for us to think through!

Are you a bloggin’ momma?

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If you are a mom with a blog, than this post is for you! I personally am loving meeting each of you who stop by and provide blog links in you comments, and thought it would be fun to have a more accessible way for us to get to know each other. I know lots of you have been “clicking” each other’s blogs too!

You will notice the blogroll on the right column of this page where you can provide links to your blogs if you’d like. If you would like to be listed, please just leave your blog address in the comments of this post and I will add you to the blogroll.

Also, it doesn’t matter if you are an overseas missionary or not! I am sure you have lots of wisdom and great life experiences to share and it would be fun to get to know you, not to mention that the the US is just as much a mission field as anywhere else!

I would also of course love it if you wanted to link this site to yours if you think others would benefit from what is being discussed here. No obligation though.


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