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These past few weeks have been tough.  Actually, these past few years have been tough. I want to try to explain what has been so difficult about these past few weeks and how I think I am realizing this is my new normal.

Have you ever heard of that phrase, “My new normal”? I stumbled upon a book by that title when we were getting ready to move to Africa. I remember having a conversation with one of my closest friends about what our new normal would be like when I moved to Kenya. So, I swallowed my tears, took a big breath, and did what a good missionary girl should do. I said goodbye to everything that seems and feels “right” and comfortable, and embraced my new normal. Right? Well, I’ve done okay for a while, but here is the difficulty, at RVA. Your new normal has the potential to change with every term. A new job, new staff, new students, new home…you just never know. There is this feeling of, “Aha, I think I’ve got this licked,” which can quickly change to “Nope, we need you to do this instead.” Ouch! Really?  You know how it feels when you get a band aid on and the throbbing feeling just goes away, and then you do something that causes the band aid to get ripped off again? It’s miserable.

One thing that has caused that feeling is that at the end of the school term we have said goodbye to two of our dorm guys whose families are going home for furlough for a year. Lord willing we will see them next year.  With graduation, you say goodbye to the seniors who will attend colleges all over the world. These are students you have really come to know and love. It is hard to say goodbye! Have I mentioned that?  Because this break is 7 weeks, many of the RVA staff have flown back to the U.S. and have left approximately 15 out of 100 families here. RVA is usually bustling with people with hardly a quiet moment. Right now the quiet is almost eerie! To top it off, today our family said goodbye to some of our closest friends. They are moving into a new ministry on another continent.  How do you work through all of this?

I know I am being quite dramatic, but this is how I feel.  Writing about it seems to help. These feelings have been rumbling around in my heart and needed out.  I am learning what it truly means to lean hard into Jesus. He is unmovable and unshakeable; my consistent stability in this continually morphing life I live.  During my morning run I was listening to Chuck Miller, a wonderful godly man whose ministry is to train people in spiritual leadership.  He was using an analogy of a pitcher, cup, saucer, and plate as a way of viewing how to do ministry. The pitcher represents God, the cup us, the saucer is the people we influence in our ministry and the plate represents the activities. In his analogy the pitcher (God) endlessly flows into the cup, then the cup overflows and fills the saucer, which then pours out onto the plate.  But so often in ministry, I go straight to the plate (the activity), bypassing the saucer. I am constantly trying to figure out new and cool ways to do things!

Chuck Miller’s teaching on this has really impacted me. He also mentions that we often do ministry out of a paper cup. Paper cups are easy to tear and puncture. So, instead of having the overflow from the pitcher pouring out of us, we are just a leak. God’s power is more of a trickle, rather than an out pour. This idea makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t want that.  Yes, ministry at RVA is unique. It brings challenges on so many levels relationally, emotionally and spiritually, however, if I keep my focus on the pitcher (God) and continue to allow Him to overflow out of me into the saucer, the things I do are no longer the priority, but rather the people in my life. I believe that my new “normal” is recognizing that His overflow is pouring into a saucer made up of people that constantly come and go.

Dr. SuessI Corinthians 4:20: “For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power!” Today, what are you “talking about?” What are you holding on to, that you just keep talking about and not allowing God’s power to live out in you? Me? I have been talking a lot about my kids, their struggles, and our difficulties. But today, I am praying and believing that God’s power will gush out of me and pour directly into His saucer.  Ephesians 3:16: “I pray that His glorious UNLIMITED resources will EMPOWER you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you STRONG!”

 

5 Responses to ““Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened!””

  1. Randy Adams Says:

    Jennifer,
    Thank you for your honesty and transparency in your post. Praying for the peace of God in your life and that of your family as you minister on the field. Thank you for the sacrifices that you all make. We love you all. Randy Adams and First Bible Baptist of Blue Springs

  2. Wilma Davis Says:

    Jennifer and family, Know for sure that we are praying for you. You have been on my mind and in my prayers, more than usual, this term. I can understand how hard it must be and you are certainly one of God’s warriors or He would not have selected you to do this work. One day the goodbyes will all be over.

  3. Cheryl Licht Says:

    Hi everyone: I still can’t get over the fact that you’re in Africa and in Kenya to boot. WOW! Everytime I see pictures of all your boys I think about when I use to watch Brandon. I can’t imagine God’s love coming in trickles or His mighty works. He pours and floods our hearts with His spirit and this is where the love comes. I thank Jesus everyday for his sacrafice for his merciful unconditional love. He is Amazing and I want you all to know that you are all in my thoughts too. I love you guys. Cheryl

  4. Stacy Kester-Pearson Says:

    Jenny;
    Your life’s work, or personal mission, has always been that of a messenger and I like to think nurturer for God. Those of us who have been touched by you move on but Never Forget and Never Stop Loving You and what you shared about The Lord. You are with us always as we are with you! When it gets difficult and possibly lonely know that new relationships are always waiting to be developed while your older relationships move on to share and model the blessings God taught you to share with them. You are a special person and have a very unique gift! I hope you and your beautiful family will soon be blessed with more new friends/lives to touch. Stac

  5. Dee Roach Says:

    Jennifer, as I read the Pitcher, cup and saucer symbolism I couldn’t help but recall the purpose of the saucer when I was growing up on the farm. The coffee would be literally boiling in those huge pots, and, of course, not having time to allow the coffee to cool to get back out into the field, the farmer might pour the coffee into the saucer to cool slightly. May you sip the cool refreshment of remembrances of His gifts of love through friendships and your encouragement to them and right back at ‘yah! Incidentally, as I recall the farmer slurped from the saucer so go ahead and slurp His blessings. We love you. Mom and Dad Colossians 1:27b

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