Can God Trust Me With Disappointment?

When we think about things that God entrusts us with, we almost always think of blessings. In the parable of the talents, we look at the fact that the man entrusted his servants with money (Matthew 25:14-30), and in our minds that translates to things. Physical things we can hold in our hands. But what about spiritual things? What about things we don’t think of as having a value, or a physical shape.

entrusted with disappointment

I have been going through a season of intense discouragement. These seasons come into my life, and usually they follow this pattern: physical health problems, logistical issues regarding residency, and financial issues. This season hasn’t been any different. After watching my husband struggle through another difficult flare up of his Ulcerative Colitis, we experienced visa difficulties, and then had our major church tell us they couldn’t afford to financially support us after May. At this point, I have watched as God provided solutions to the first two problems, at least for a time, but the third one is still open ended. If I’m being honest, having a church, the main church that sent you out, tell you that you are one of the missionaries they will no longer be supporting is painful. It feels like a break up. You know that they are continuing to support other missionaries, but for some reason, you were expendable. That is what it feels like. I’m not saying it is that way. We trust that God is leading this church and their choices are purposeful, but it still feels lousy knowing you didn’t make the cut. When this church first came into our lives as missionaries, it felt like they were adopting us. It is strange, but in a way this has felt like anti-adoption.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” – James 1:2-4

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what [is] that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:2

Lately, there has been an extreme temptation for me to indulge in self pity over this entire situation, but then I realized something… well, actually the Holy Spirit helped me to realize something. This is a disappointment that came into my life, but it wasn’t random. There was a specific reason that God allowed this to happen. God is entrusting us with a disappointment. Over many little disappointments and discouragements in life, I have seen that God has been there, and that when I was finally willing to pass over my burdens to Him, He was more than willing to carry them for me. In Romans 12:2 we see that by testing (and the renewal of our mind) that we may discern the will of God, to know what is good, acceptable, and perfect. At one point I was praying for help to fight against the temptation to become angry and bitter about this anti-adoption process, and this thought came into my head, “He has entrusted you with this disappointment, now do what you know you should do.” Maybe my husband and I are better able to deal with this discouragement than others were, and if that is the reason God allowed it, I’m glad. I know that there have been plenty of points in my life when I wouldn’t have been ready to deal righteously with a situation like this, and God’s grace was there for me. If going through this pain means that God’s grace is available to someone else who needs it more desperately than I do right this moment, then it is worth it. Or perhaps this is a time of testing from God, to prepare us for things we can’t anticipate later on down the road. Whatever future struggles that come as a result of these events, they will be worth the knowledge of knowing that God Himself has entrusted this disappointment to our family.

Sincerely,

Kristin

A Heart Without A Home

Lately I have been discouraged. Many of my frustrations have revolved around Facebook. The online thought board is reflection of deeper issues. I have no home. Two things happened to me this week. First, there was a single event with a popular news personality. Yes, I got into a debate with someone that has the masses behind them, and they insulted me, repeatedly. That was fun. Secondly, there have been a series of events running through my newsfeed about racism. The anger and hatred have finally pierced my normally thick, peach skin.

a heart without a home

I Don’t Fit

As I look on the posts and news articles that flow over the ocean via the internet into my computer from my home country, I feel lost. My argument with the news personality really highlighted this, because normally I can somewhat relate to Christian culture in the US. But this news personality went on a sensationalist rant about an article that a university student had written. He called her article stupid, over and over. I rarely follow his links, but I thought I should read the original article to see what could possibly warrant that kind of attack on such a young person. I didn’t agree with the proposition of her article, which was that the government should pay for feminine products in pursuit of gender equality. However, in the article she raised an interesting point about homeless women not being able to afford tampons and pads, and I thought, that is interesting. Something that is interesting should not be called stupid, no matter how much you disagree with the rest of it. My comment said as much, and that the blogger had become a sensationalist after signing on with a popular news network. His response was dismissive and sensational (which is ironic) and his fans attacked me and called me stupid and unintelligent. They called me a hater. Normally I wouldn’t care. It wouldn’t bother me. But most of these people claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. Christians should not gather so quickly on a bandwagon in the name of politics to publicly shame a college girl, or a random online commenter (me in this case). Because I refuse to polarize people, there is no place for me in supposed Christian communities like these. I’m a misfit.

I Must Be A Liar

Then there is the issue of race. I’m white. Apparently that means I am racist. I did not have any control over where my ancestors were born, just like you did not. The amount of hatred aimed at white people by others is not helping the racist situation in the United States. It is only making it worse. Trying to shame people for being white is just as racist as trying to shame them for being any other race. This approach will never have a positive outcome. It was Martin Luther Kind Jr. that said, “Darkness can never drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” It is so true, but I’m not allowed to quote a black preacher because I’m white. However, it is also a principle that we see repeated in the Bible.

“If someone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” -1 John 4:20

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.” -Proverbs 10:12

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a hard word stirs up anger.” -Proverbs 15:1

So what do I suggest as an alternative to shaming every white person in the United States as a racist? I would say that we should follow the example of Jesus Christ. We love, and pray for those, yes even those that despise and hate us.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” -John 13:34-35

I am an immigrant living in another country and culture where I have no advantages and I struggle to communicate in a language that is not my own. I don’t consider myself to be racist, but that doesn’t matter. My children are white, and that does not inherently make them racist. But maybe they will be counted as the rare exception because they have not grown up in the US. Regardless of if they are considered racist or not, I teach them to love others and that other cultures are not wrong because their choices differ from ours. When they are mean or hateful to anyone, I teach them it is wrong, and there are consequences.

You may be a cynic and assume I am a liar. Or perhaps you and optimist and think that I deceive my own heart. In this situation even the optimist must condemn me of racism simply because I was born a white person in the United States. Either way I am an enigma that cannot exist.

Then there is the issue of nationalistic pride that exists in every other country, but let’s pretend that the United States is the only country that exists, just like we always do.

A Heart Without A Home

It has become clear to me over the lasts few years that I no longer have any place in the States, where I was born. I’m too defensive of other cultures for the nominal Christians, and too Christian and white for everyone else. Well, you may say, at least you have Europe, where you live. But I don’t fit here either. The truth is that I will never fit anywhere on this planet again.

Heaven is the only home I claim, and one day my heart will be home there as well, when I am gone from this world.

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin Spencer

In My Living Room

Hi friend! Sorry I haven’t blogged in a while. I was writing a book (more news about that later), and having many wonderful guests that blessed me beyond anything I could put into words.

in my living room

“But I am poor and needy; Yet the Lord thinks upon me. You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God.” -Psalm 40:17

In My Living Room

Today I want to talk about my living room. I’m sitting here right now, and I spend a lot of time here. As far as ministry goes, I am behind the scenes. When my husband is out caring about others and spending time with them, I am sitting here. I could also be cooking, cleaning, helping one of my kids with homework, walking them to or from school, or changing a diaper. But I’m still here, and I’m praying. I pray for my husband and the guys he is discipling. I pray for people to realize that Jesus loves them and accept His free gift of Salvation. I pray for the other saints spread all of the place that mention they need prayer. Once my children go to sleep, there are many things I do, but the most important thing I do is spend time with my Lord. We talk, or He talks and I listen, or I talk and He listens. I’m at home while my husband is out being about God’s business and sometimes I get lonely.

From the Outside

The other day a friend said to me, “I really feel sorry for you. All you do is clean, do laundry, cook, take care of the kids, and deal with drama.” They were not trying to be condescending at all, and I was not offended, but after a few hours I thought, “I don’t feel sorry for me.” Listen, I understand that from the outside it may look like I’m a lonely wife and my husband doesn’t help me as much as he should. That’s just not true, though. Sometimes I do get lonely, and I always miss my husband, but he is a great help when he is home, and I am honored and privileged that I am able to take care of our home and children to make my husband more available to others. Maybe my ministry looks sad or depressing to others, but it isn’t depressing to me. I know that this is what God asked me to do. He didn’t force me; He asked me and I said yes. I am raising three children to know and love God, not just in the happy moments, but in the rough ones too. My kids understand that it is a privilege to have this opportunity to live our lives for Jesus. I am also being watched by everyone around me as Jesus guides me through this. “Why are you here?” is a question I hear every time I meet someone new. As for the drama aspect, what ministry is drama free? Jesus’ wasn’t.

From the Inside

I may spend a lot of time in my living room, seemingly alone, but I’m not alone. God is with me, and when I am in my living room, and my children are peacefully and adorably sleeping, I hang out with God. I hear from Him so clearly in these moments. I’m not saying that my life is easy; it is not. If we are completely honest with ourselves we will admit that no life worth living is easy. For me, a life worth living means that I obey and follow God. I know a lot of people think that being in ministry means that you have to be busy all of the time, but that simply is not true. Being successful in ministry means that you obey God’s instructions; for me right now that means being at home, guarding our children as they sleep, while my husband is out sharing the love of Christ with others through his actions.

So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” -1 Samuel 15:22

God gives me opportunities to show others His love as well, but my main responsibility is to show His love to three little people that He entrusted to my husband and I.

One of the Lonelies

Last night was one of the lonely ones. I haven’t gotten to spend my time with my best friend lately (aka my hubby), and I was missing him. I cried and I thought about how the ache in my heart wouldn’t go away. Tonight, however, I didn’t feel that way at all. I felt overwhelmed by God’s presence. I thought, “Where were You last night, God?” and the reply came instantly, “I was right here.” No matter how I feel, God is with me; whether I am overwhelmed by His presence or not.

So if you are thinking about how I am sitting in my living room alone, night after night, I hope you won’t feel sorry me. I’m not sorry for me. I’m with God, I’m obeying His will for my life, and He is faithful to meet me in this place. I’m never alone.

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin

Things Missionaries Do: Thinking Creatively

God Will Make A Way

Before our furlough over the summer, we were starting to look at bigger flats (aka apartments) to live in. There are five of us, and with a living space of around 680 square feet, sometimes it can feel crowded. But God made it very clear when we got home in early September that we shouldn’t move. So we started asking God to help us make our place easier to live in. Through prayer, and many “Tiny House” pinterest boards, we started to see some small changes we could make that would yield significant rewards in space and use in our home. God even gave us some original ideas that have had Travis working tirelessly (or actually the opposite) in our friend’s man cave making space saving furniture.

Not (Just) A Bunch Of Weirdos

Have you ever visited the home of a missionary and thought, “Why do they do things that way?” I can confidently say on behalf of many missionaries, we don’t do things strangely without reason. There is a lot of time and thought that goes into everything we do in our homes. Missionaries need to think creatively. We have to be efficient with our time and money. We need to be able to comfortably smash as many people into our homes as we can. We also have to be able to host people in a way that they can get what they need without worrying about their small children spilling hot coffee on themselves. Many times we can’t afford new things so we buy used things and try to make them fit into our lives. If you want to be a missionary, you need to accept that your house isn’t going to be normal by any cultural standard. Our house would seem strange to an American, but to a Greek it isn’t quite right either.

Making A Home With Ministry In Mind

Our goals are to fill our home with love, to make people feel welcome when they are in it, and missed when they leave.

The kids room has to serve as a play room for visiting children while their parents spend time with us in the living room doing marriage counseling, or just hanging out. Our rug has to be clean at all times in case a friend with a crawling infant stops by. The rug is very important, because culturally it is important to Greeks. Our living room has to double as a guest bedroom. We have it so our television (which someone else purchased for us) is able to disappear. It is on a hinge that folds against the wall, because sometimes our house also serves as a place for bible studies or discipling sessions and we don’t want it to be a distraction.

We don’t have curtains because they are not that high on our priority list as far as finances for fabric. Things like that used to bother me, but I honestly don’t mind anymore.

I have learned how to repurpose clothes, to the point that people donate clothes to me, knowing I will take them apart and make something completely different out of them. If I’m being honest with myself, if I still lived in the US, I wouldn’t bother learning to repurpose clothes. I would still order them used online and alter them though. My mother taught me how to find the best deal possible, and that is a skill I still use on a daily basis.

missionary hack dryer and chair storage

Let me leave you with one more example of why missionaries tend to be strange and creative. In Greece many people do not have dryers. We are among that majority. In the winter it gets very cold and line drying can take days. We could lay a few clothes on our radiator, but then it doesn’t efficiently heat our room. So here is the solution my husband came up with after looking at this “portable closet” on a Tiny House Pinterest board. There is a hook on the wall to hang up an extra chair (the more seating the better in a missionary house), which also serves as a drying rack during the winter when it is opened.

I love our home, and I love our lives. Fitting as many people in our home and our hearts as we can is a blessing. In Greek there is a saying that I feel perfectly explains the role our home should play as Christians and especially missionaries, “όλοι οι καλοί χωράνε,” which means all the good [people] fit. In other words, what is a little crowding among friends.

Sincerely Adorned,

Kristin

Giving Up Rights To Your Husband

Giving Up Rights To Your Husband

While we were visiting the States, I felt a strong urging from the Lord to think about my husband, and what my life would be like if he wasn’t as present in my life. He surrounded me with women, and testimonies of women that were choosing to give up their rights to their husbands. There are seasons we go through in our lives as well as in our marriages. There have been seasons in my life where I felt like a single mother because my husband was working several jobs to provide for us. All of the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of our daughter were my sole responsibility and it was exhausting. Looking back I can see that I did not deal with that season in the best way. I was angry and resentful that my husband chose to be away from us, but that is the completely wrong way to feel about these kinds of situations. He was not choosing to be away from me and our child, he was providing so we would have a place to live and food on the table. Bitterness does not lend itself to common sense. Being angry at our spouse is counter productive and satan knows that. What better way to discourage our husbands than to fight with them when they do have time off?

Frustrated With The Situation

If I was looking at this from a worldy approach I might say something like, “Obviously it is counter productive to be angry at your husband, but it is fine to be frustrated with the situation.” But that isn’t how the bible tells us to deal with things. It doesn’t say, “And thou shall sit around and think about all the ways you wish your life was different.” It tells us to bring our thoughts into captivity. Let’s take a look at 2 Corinthians 10:4-5…

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Read more

Feeling Discouraged

There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t have the thought, “I am a missionary.” Maybe some people get used to it, but after three years I never really do. It’s a good thing though, because I am constantly reminded that God has blessed me with a unique opportunity to serve Him and die to myself every single day.

feeling discouraged

On the other hand I struggle with feeling discouraged, as we all do. But sometimes I feel especially overwhelmed by the fact that we are missionaries, and our calling is strange. Our specific calling doesn’t fit into any of the ordinary missionary journeys that many other missionaries take. We spend almost all of our time investing in relationships with people, which takes place in various forms. I spend a lot of time with other moms that have young children. I am very blessed to have both believers and unbelieving friends to spend time with. Recently I was able to lead a friend into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You would think something like that would validate our presence here, but it doesn’t. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am really full of joy to welcome another sister into the flock of believers of Jesus. But I have come to realize that the only thing that can validate my journey as a missionary is God. No matter what happens, God is the one that tells me what to do and where to go. Honestly, He is the one I answer to. Even though we have plenty of accountability and support from the pastoral staffs of our supporting churches (which is very important for all missionaries), God is truly the one that guides us. My husband does a lot of “unconventional” missionary tasks, like going to Jiu Jitsu, or spending time driving teenage boys back and forth to their soccer games (this is pretty much my favorite thing he does, these teens have such a special place in our hearts!).

But there have been many, many tears getting to the point of being able to rejoice in this strange place (geographically and ministry wise) God has us in.

I feel like I have gone through some kind of torturous missionary boot camp over the last three years. I have gone through some crazy things, just to list a few… my father had heart surgery and I wasn’t there, my brother (and only sibling) got married and I wasn’t there, we had a baby in a foreign country, enrolled our oldest child in school for the first time in a language we can barely understand, had visa issues, had a moped crash into our car, experienced my husband having serious health problems… the list goes on, but you get the idea. These last three years have been hard, and lately it has really started wearing me down. Well, on top of sometimes unbearable homesickness. I haven’t been back to the US in almost two years, which is the longest I have been away between visits.

All this to say, yes, sometimes it is too hard for me and I am completely discouraged. That comes out in different ways but this last week I have been a complete and total mess. Then something happened… I was working on our update and I thought about how much joy I get out of serving God in Greece. I know there isn’t any other place He wants me and my family to be right now, and that is comforting. Two years ago, when we were going through a particularly difficult trial God gave us this verse,

“For the upright will dwell in the land, and the blameless will remain in it;”

Proverbs 2:21

In so many ways I felt that was a promise for us, and a warning, not to try to justify our obedience to what He was instructing us to do. God told us just to be quiet, listen to His voice, and trust Him to take care of us. And guess what? He did! And He continues to.

So when I saw this verse today I thought, this perfectly sums up my life at this moment. The last three years have been far from easy, but,

“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.”

Psalm 126:5

I know that all the tears I have wept for this country and through all of our difficult times here, we reap joy. Today, in this moment, I am enjoying that. I’m not saying I’ll still be a rational person half an hour from now, but at this very second, I feel the joy of the Lord that comes from the tears only God has numbered.

The second, and last verse of this very short Psalm also gives me great hope:

“He who continually goes forth weeping,

Bearing seed for sowing,

Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,

Bringing his sheaves with him.”

And in case you are wondering how to deal with discouragement, I will tell you the three steps a very wise woman gave to me… Face it… Take it to the cross… Get over it. It sounds simple, and it can be, but sometimes I tend to over complicate it. God is so gracious and merciful to me!

May God bless you and sow joy from your tears.

Sincerely,

Kristin