<![CDATA[The SCOTTS IN CROATIA - Blog]]>Tue, 02 Feb 2016 07:41:40 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[woven beauty]]>Tue, 19 Jan 2016 17:40:39 GMThttp://thescottsinfrance.weebly.com/blog/woven-beauty
The room was filled with women.  I was looking in at all of these amazing women who had gathered together and was in awe of a God who works in ways we can never expect or imagine.  He's been working long before this event, in these women's lives, and I was witnessing how God was using each of these women to build each other up, give life to each other, and support one another.  They were gathered for our event called "Valuing Life", which is a community activity designed to give women the opportunities to share their community projects/ideas/business proposals/how they started a small business/research, etc... all centered on the theme of "valuing life".  The formula is simple; 6 women share up to 7 minutes on their topic, and each presentation is followed by a short Q&A.  That is the first part of the night.  The second part of the night, we invite the presenters to display their products or ideas and be available for questions.  

I live in a culture where this type of thing is hard to find, sadly. People are capable and have really great ideas, but are often hesitant to move forward. So being part of this group of women supporting and encouraging one another, was truly an amazing experience. I saw the way God had woven together the lives of these 28 women, and it was beautiful when they were all united in their unique splendor.  

So, be praying for women who need an event like this!  A
nd today, I pray that you may be faithful to whatever God is calling you to do, even if you don't understand how God is moving or weaving.  God moves and reveals himself to us, through Christ, not because he had to, but chose to, and Ephesians tells us, it is because of his good will that he does so.  So, may God's goodness flow from you today to another, may your light shine brighter than the darkness around you, and when God weaves threads together, may you stop and revel in the beauty of it.  
<![CDATA[Share a meal]]>Fri, 08 Jan 2016 11:05:46 GMThttp://thescottsinfrance.weebly.com/blog/share-a-mealI’ve begun reading a book called “A Meal with Jesus”, a recommendation from a Worship Ordination class I recently finished.  It is talking about how the book of Luke describes the method in which Jesus came was eating and drinking (Luke 7:34), and not only were these meals not just a metaphor for the Kingdom and an important part of Jesus’ ministry, they were a reality through Jesus’ own feasting.  It has caused me to reflect on important meals in my life, and how they have been not just meals, but acts of building community, deepening friendships, extending grace, giving or receiving hospitality, being changed by the other, serving the other, and more.  I wanted to write these meals down, so I don’t forget them, and as a reminder and a challenge for me, and maybe for others.  Don’t stop having meals with each other in this busy culture you live in.  Invite people into your homes, even if it seems you have little to offer, or it seems the house is a mess.  Let the act of grace speak louder than our worries of shame or insecurity or privacy.  Through these meals, may God fill us up, and may we fill each other’s lives with the hope, grace, community, mission, salvation and promise that Jesus brings. 
  • The time in seminary where all of a sudden we had 12 people in our home, and yet it happened to be dinner time.  I looked in my cupboards, and I didn’t have very much food, let alone anything glamorous, but I had just gone to the free food day for students, and so I found bags of pasta, meat and sauce. 
  • Or the time we shared morning coffee and breakfast Sunday mornings with those in our community and this turned into a house church. 
  • Or the time we invited other seminary students to our home for Fondue night and sat around the pot of hot cheese in our little apt which was now busting at the seams with laughter, shared experiences, life stories, and full cheesy bellies.
  • The time we were new to France and asked to be in a community lunch rotation after church.  Once a month we had up to 20 people in our home, and we made a 5 course meal to bless our church community.  And in return, when we were in their homes and not allowed to help, we were blessed by their hospitality.  These meals lasted sometimes 7 hours.  We ate lunch, then cheese course, then rested, then served dessert and coffee, then rested some more.  These were long, beautiful days.
  • Being invited into a new friend’s home in Croatia, where they proceeded to make a feast for us, of grilled meat, fish, potatoes, vegetables, and other Croatian delights.  They said they wanted us to know that while we were far from our family, they could be our family.  It meant so much to us at that time to be shown that kind of hospitality.
  • The time in the French garden, where we dined with our French neighbors who were also our friends.  We laughed, spoke in French, and were blessed by our friend’s culinary knowledge and sweet company.
  • The ecumenical meal at the Croatian monastery served to us after a time of worship and prayer.
  • The Thanksgiving meal where Croatians, a Romanian and Americans come together, and a sense of family is felt and all differences are forgotten in this moment of meal sharing and being together. 
  • The brunch meal I have in my home for my two friends with wee ones.  I share my home and food, and they bring their beautiful babes and remind us of God’s precious gift of life. 
May your home be open today, or tomorrow, or next week, to a new family in your community or church, to a refugee or a refugee family, to a hurting friend or a couple who has gone through a loss. Invite a student who is away from their family or invite someone over for coffee or tea.  In both cultures I've lived in, connection happens over the table, and I’m guessing that this is something universal and worldwide, which is maybe why Jesus knew what Jesus was doing – that the table wasn’t just a place of receiving nourishment, but a rich symbol of friendship, intimacy and unity.  ]]>
<![CDATA[Member Care]]>Tue, 11 Aug 2015 12:56:03 GMThttp://thescottsinfrance.weebly.com/blog/member-carePicture
Yep, I’m the one that seemingly does awkward things, things that always look better in my head than in real life.  Standing up at a conference and yelling “Member Care” at the top of my lungs, with my arms raised in the air, was no exception.  During the long 5 seconds of silence where you could hear a pin drop, I had a moment to ponder if I had regretted what I did, and you know what?  I didn’t.  I can’t help it - Member Care is something I’m passionate about!  It may have begun years ago when I took a “Self-Care in Mission” class in Seminary.  In that class, one of our assignments was to interview an individual or couple who had been on the field for a long time.  I knew right away who I wanted to call, an amazing couple I deeply respected.  I ended up hearing so many amazing, yet heartbreaking, things about their story.  And while some things have naturally changed since they’ve been on the field, like the introduction of modern technology, which has drastically helped us all feel more connected than we used to, it seems that much of what they experienced in the way of Member Care is not that different than what current missionaries experience today.  

The most basic idea of Member Care is about an environment and structure that fosters care-givers being cared for in holistic ways.  The idea of Member Care, though, is not that it would only benefit the care-giver for the sake of receiving and absorbing care, but that this care would directly impact others and their ministry by increasing the care-giver's capacity to live out their calling and mission to serve others and sustain through the hard times.  

We attended a Member Care conference this summer on Resiliency, and this conference filled us up with more energy, insight, tools and vocabulary to return to our context feeling energized and ready to serve.  Among many things, the host team provided knowledge, experience, space, suggestions, patience and compassion for us weary travelers. They welcomed us with big, hospitable arms, and were attentive to our needs.  We felt heard, challenged, encouraged, inspired, prayed for, and much more.  If I could choose a few nuggets to share with you, they would be:

  • The importance of recognizing, voicing and hearing expectations: for yourself, in marriage, on a team, in ministry, at church, in meetings, etc… and being willing to hang in there for the conversation about whether they are realistic or not.  This can help reduce the amount of tension and stress that many of us experience.
  • The importance of journeying with and learning from others who are in the same boat as you.  At the conference we had the privilege to walk through one intense week with amazing people who are serving in Europe and Asia.  Being with people who are going through what you’re going through helps you feel less alone.  It helps foster a sense of community, in which we can know how to pray for and strengthen one another. 
  • It's good, no, it's essential, to grow in self-awareness.  Discover how you’re wired, who you work well with, what is life-giving for you, what is life-draining, etc…  But don’t stop there!   Be open to being stretched, and discover how this new perspective on yourself helps you integrate better in ministry, or be a leader, partner, team player, parent, etc… 
  • We all have low periods in ministry when things seem relentlessly hard.  Some periods are long, and some even longer.  I was reminded at the conference that even though these times are hard, we learn from them, and they don’t last forever.   
  • The importance of balance in cross-cultural ministry: from self-care and serving others, to various types of relationships, to family and ministry, to open house and quiet time, to giving grace and setting boundaries, etc… 

And while all of these were amazing takeaways, I was reminded that the core of Member Care is our connection with God.  Every day at the conference we began and ended our days with a time called our “Spiritual Rhythm”, and it centered us on what is most important; God.  

Well, there you go, from the girl who yelled “Member Care”.  I hope you can find, wherever you are in ministry, a time and a place to regroup, reassess, rest or do the work that’s needed, grieve, process, grow, and return to your context feeling more alive, more focused, and more excited than you were before!    

<![CDATA[Another's world]]>Wed, 01 Jul 2015 12:40:02 GMThttp://thescottsinfrance.weebly.com/blog/anothers-worldWe leave on Saturday to attend a Resiliency Conference.  It is designed to give us: space to process, an environment that will foster mutual sharing and learning, and tools to work toward resiliency in our cross-cultural context.  

We have experienced our fair share of struggles in the last 5+ years, but I love the journey of growth God has us on.  I’ve seen how God continues to work in us, not with the purpose of stopping with us, but in order to enable us to serve out of our healthiest places.  Recently I was reflecting on a part of a final paper I turned in for my most recent Ordination class.  It was the idea that to have true empathy means moving from being a “taker” to being a “giver”.  

In the beginning, I was under culture stress as I learned to navigate the new system around me.  No doubt I was self-protective during that time and probably a taker most of the time. 
 I recently saw “culture stress” defined this way: getting your needs met in new ways.  The hard part of culture stress is that we are creatures of habit, so we’ve learned to get our needs met in certain ways, in certain environments, and when we move abroad we have to learn new ways of getting our needs met, and this process is not always easy.  I will admit that at times in these 5 years I have felt defeated.  But I look back on those times now and have been so grateful for them, because they have led me to God, which often happens when we see the truth behind the myth; the myth being that we are completely self-sufficient creatures, and the truth being that we need to continue to surrender everything to Him.  And in those times God has taught me powerful things: that my identity comes from the risen Christ, and that God has created me to be fearless in Him, and this has enabled me to understand how to move from just surviving to thriving.

And empathy, which is both the result of truly entering another's world and a catalyst for developing a true sense of belonging has helped with bouncing back during times of stress.  One can make a conscious effort to leave their own world and be in someone else’s, but still have the danger of stopping and observing from the periphery.  So, truly entering someone's world means we now see the world through a new lens that can only come knowing.   Knowing others leads to a new understanding, but this understanding is not from my perspective in my world, but from within another’s world.  We are seeing what others are feeling from their perspective.  This beautiful step of understanding from their perspective gives birth to being moved by their stories, by their friendship, by their prayers, by their love, and opens ourselves up to be changed.

I still struggle quite a bit, at times, at being a giver. I’m trying to figure out the balance of healthy self-care which is necessary to fill me up and enable me to have something to give, not out of nothing-ness, which leads to resentment or burnout, but out of a fullness in Christ.  I am learning and growing, and I hope I always will be.   

So, as we leave this Saturday, please pray with us as we learn new tools and new “take-aways” that we can apply to our context that will help us build resiliency.  We also have a goal of being able to host or help develop a Resiliency Conference in the future, so please be praying for this to develop!  

*And don’t forget to pray for grandparents who will watch two youthful and energetic children while we’re gone! 

<![CDATA[Sacred downtime]]>Mon, 01 Jun 2015 14:29:47 GMThttp://thescottsinfrance.weebly.com/blog/sacred-downtimeI wrote a devotional the other day on the concept of taking sacred downtime, and I wanted to share it with you.  If you're like me, you are probably in serious need of some sacred downtime.  And if you're not like me, but you live in the modern world, or better yet you are in full-time ministry in the modern world or serving in a cross-cultural context in this modern world, chances are you are in need of some sacred downtime, so I hope this connects with you... 

Lately I’ve been noticing that when I get so busy, I don’t drink enough water.  What reminds me of this is that I get thirsty.  You know, "they" say that when you’re thirsty, you are already dehydrated.  So, by the time I gulp down a big glass of water, I’m doing something good for my body, but it is sort of out of desperation, and my body is still thirsty shortly after.  I’m behind.  I should be drinking so that I don’t get thirsty.  Taking any kind of downtime, let alone sacred downtime, is sort of like this for me.  I feel by the time I finally take that time, I’m in a place where I have already desperately needed it, and my thirst is not quite quenched.  Some of you have gotten better at this the longer you’ve served or the longer you've been in ministry.  Or maybe you’ve gone in phases where you've had some seasons where you are regularly taking the time you need with God, and yet in other seasons, it has felt quite dry.  Recently I had the privilege of caring for a Homiletics professor in my home, and he told me about the wonderful preacher Barbara Brown Taylor.  She is a priest, professor, theologian and one of the United States' best known preachers.  I recently listened to one of her sermons on sacred downtime, and it got me thinking just how important this time really is, and just how little we take it. 

She teaches on this topic in one of her Spirituality classes, and the goal is to help the students to understand the answers to these questions: 

Who are we when we are not doing anything?

What does God want to tell us during this time?

She helps them understand the necessity of taking downtime, or rather helps them realize quite quickly the absence of it in their crazy busy lives.  She starts by asking them to do an assignment: 3 - 20 minute periods of complete silence and to write about what happens, what they thought about, what they learned, etc… 

She goes on to say that there is a difference between downtime and the sacred art of stopping, and that it is like the difference between going to a mall and a sanctuary.  When you have downtime at a mall, there is still the hustle and bustle around you, where on the other hand, could there be a place you might call a sanctuary, a place where you can hold still long enough to hear your heart beat?  

This past Fall, I went to a nearby park for 1/2 a day to have an uninterrupted chunk of sacred downtime.  I knew I needed it; I was already very thirsty.  What happened was that God quenched my thirst.  I felt his presence.  I felt him calling me deeper into the woods; I looked around in complete silence and just appreciated His creation.  He even provided an opportunity for me to pray with a hurting woman that day in the park.  When we make space for sacred downtime, God gets busy with us, as Barbara Brown Taylor says.  One of the reasons we need to have longer periods of sacred downtime, especially since we are probably taking it so rarely, is that we need to give ourselves ample time to get rid of all the noise.  It’s a cleansing time or a cleaning out of all the distractions, or like Henry Nouwen calls it, a time where God tears down all the walls we've erected.  

Barbara Brown Taylor says if it is LIFE that we want, not just for us, but for those who share life with us, we will find and recognize the importance of taking sacred downtime. 

Many of you already realize how important this time is, and you make time for it regularly, but maybe some of you are like me, and you struggle to find that time, and are constantly thirsty.  Let the first eight verses in Psalm 63 be our prayer today, and a reminder to make time to be still, to give that time to Him, to hear God's voice and allow God to renew us from within.

Psalm 63:1-8

O God, you are my God, I seek you,

    my soul thirsts for you;

my flesh faints for you,

    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,

    beholding your power and glory.

3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,

    my lips will praise you.

4 So I will bless you as long as I live;

    I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

5 My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,

    and my mouth praises you with joyful lips

6 when I think of you on my bed,

    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;

7 for you have been my help,

    and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.

8 My soul clings to you;

    your right hand upholds me.