🌿Restoration of the heart🌿

In the United States, Valentine’s Day is followed by a one week break from school in celebration of President’s Day (third Monday of February). This year, the break comes earlier, overlapping with Valentine’s Day, and it would have been extra special.

However due to the stay-at-home order, gatherings at schools and churches have not been permitted since last March. Currently the area of activity is limited to 150 mile radius, and if we were to travel further out, we need to self-quarantine for 10 days. So we spent our winter breaks and holidays at home without going out or a break from the daily monotony. With my heart being left somewhat restless, I watched seasonal merchandises in stores come and go, and was surprised by the passage of time that brought the seasons to a full circle once again.
Yet in this “remote life”, I am now able to participate in seminars in Japan over ZOOM, hop on a virtual bicycle to visit a town I’ve never been to before, and chat with people from all over the world at the Clubhouse. The world and my weight have drastically changed since Amazon and Door Dash have enabled us to live in convenience.
We get used to the status quo, even gaining some free time, and our life’s routine is protected, though it was initially disconcerting. Still, we find that our hearts are slow to recover and stress remains. How are we to restore our relationship with God, our family, and people we haven’t been able to see?
Now, this has become the task on hand, as we look towards the restart of the world.
To restore is to repair or to recover. As you know, it also means to return something to its rightful owner, or to replace it to its place of origin.
The other day, I found a Valentine’s Day’s special sale, and got my husband a mug cup with the word “RESTORE” written in the bottom for his birthday.

This is a word my husband picked for this year’s theme, but since it was the Valentine’s Day’s special sale, the person who receive this order might have wondered if it’s alluding to a restoration of marriage? or maybe it’s a mug cup of remorse??
What I hoped to remind him by placing this word at the bottom of the cup were:
  • To always cherish the time with God, and return to the bosom of God.
  • To pray together for the restoration of this world and our hearts.
  • To return this cup to the kitchen when he is done drinking.
In this pandemic, as the values held by the Church and the World are rapidly changing, our hearts are tossed around and shaken by things unseen. It is easy to forget the importance of reconfirming our identities in order for our hearts to be restored.
As if I’m acquainted well enough with God’s love for me, that I should now move on to gaining the Bible and other book knowledge, praying, receiving blessings through participating various conferences, and getting involved with the work, which would win the approval of others. And to think these, would be far more important and meaningful than to receive that “I am loved”.
Not knowing where to take my invisible anxiety and loneliness, I have tried self-restoration and aimless attempts at stress release.
In the past, after an incident, I started experiencing extreme nervousness and anxiety for public speaking, going out alone, and getting on an airplane. The trigger was “What if”.
I became anxious with imagined situations that haven’t happened, and feelings invoked by words people haven’t uttered. One moment I beat myself up, and the next jump to a possible solution to resolve the issue. My mind raced to figure out how to achieve my own ideals and others’ expectations, and urged me on to actions by something other than overflowing joy or gratitude. I became hypersensitive to words and actions of people around me, and as my heart reacted acutely to them, it soon affected me physically.
Even in the midst of all these, God was ever near to watch over me:
“Wont you rest with me?”
“You are my beloved child. In you I am delighted.”
“Now, shall we go together?”
“You are alright. I am with you.”
In the stillness, God has given me timely words.
It might be difficult to restore the tired and wounded heart, just by going somewhere away from our daily lives to forget our troubles and empty our minds. But how important it is to return to God, who created my heart and body, to rest in his hands, to listen to his voice, and to have Him be the core of my heart.
We are not as strong as we or other people think we are, so the experience of our past failures and hurts, no matter how old, can at any moment threaten to become a trigger to swap our identities. Yet it is the privilege of the saved to be able to realize the presence of Christ, who is with us, every single time. So in such a moment, I try to look through this list, like a child who is trying not to forget anything while packing.

Who are we really List

  1. I am a child of God. (John 1:12)
  2. I am a new creation. ( 2 Corinthians 5:17)
  3. I am a friend of Jesus. (John 15:15)
  4. I am created by God to do good. (Ephesians 2:10)
  5. I am free in Christ. ( Galatians 5: 1)
  6. I am chosen and loved. ( 1 Thessalonians 1:4)
  7. I am the light of the world. ( Matthew 5:14)
  8. I am not ruled by fear. (2 Timothy 1:7)
  9. I am forgiven. ( Colossians 2:13)
  10. I am God’s possession. (Titus 2:14)
  11. I am free from the desires of the flesh. (Galatians5:24)
  12. I am a light in the world. ( Matthew5:14-15)
  13. I am secure in him. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
  14. I am loved by God. (1 John 4: 10)

Even when our hearts are shaken by “what ifs”, and our traumas and the anxieties of unknown future try to overpower us, let us remember our identities and have our hearts restored, sine it is so clearly written in the Bible.

🌿 Who is the true me?

🌿 Who is with me here, right now? 

🌿 Who will process what I’m going through alongside me?

I was able to gain unspeakable peace in my heart by knowing these.

Valentine’s Day is not just a day to communicate our feelings to the loved ones. I believe it is also a day to commemorate the significant people who have poured love into us, and the love of many people. As we look back on our identities of God’s beloved, I hope our wounded hearts recover, get filled with love, and then be restored to freely share with people around us from the overflow of that love.
In the coming month, may we truly enjoy the journey, in which God walks with us. 🌿

 

Makiko Nakao
Wife of Santa Clara Valley Japanese Christian Church’s pastor
Mother of three daughters who were born in 🇯🇵🇨🇦🇺🇸
Hobby: Observations of her husband, aimless change over of her home decor.
Stay-at-home-mom blogger https://violetteivory.wordpress.com/ (Japanese Only)
Preparing for a silent retreat cafe, as she operates an imaginary cafe.

Returnee Support Worship Playlist

As part of our 30th anniversary project, we have been publishing “Returnee Support Worship Playlist” since January. This is a monthly Youtube playlist based on the songs that encouraged the returnees before and after returning Japan, and the themes that have been on their mind.

■■Here is the Worship Playlist for January and February.■■

January Worship Playlist
http://bit.ly/ReturneeWorship1
Worship Playlist from EC20 Beyond

February Worship Playlist
http://bit.ly/ReturneeWorship2
One of the struggles that returnees must overcome is the question, “Is God with me?” You cannot feel the presence of God that you experienced abroad. There are days when you feel lonely because you are the only Christian in your environment, and there are days when your family and friends don’t understand you and you think, “No one understands how I feel.” However, God is the God of Immanuel, the God who is with us. He knows every thought you have, and not only does He know, but He understands and comforts you.
“You have written my wanderings. Please store my tears in your sackcloth. Or are they not written in your book?” Psalm 56:8
God knows all your loneliness, sorrow, and burdens, and it doesn’t matter if you are overseas or in Japan. God is sending you many comforting messages through the Bible. I pray that you will read His Word, turn it to your faith, and be encouraged through the praises in this playlist. God will not forsake you. As the Bible says, He is “the God of Immanuel.”
by Erika Grace Mine (JCFN Associate Staff)

February Event Info

We would like to start posting online events from now on.

 

Japan
◎Vochalu〜V.ochaLUNCH (Tokyo)
Time: every Thursday 12:00〜13:00
Facebook group page
Zoom ID
No pre sign up required

◎Nagoya SG “Returnee Cafe: ReCafe” (Aichi)
Time: Wednesday February 3rd 19:00〜20:30
Zoom
Contact: E-mail

◎Vochaho〜JCFN Japan prayer meeting V.OCHAHOP (Tokyo)
Time: Saturday February 13th 10:00〜11:00
Facebook group page
Zoom ID
No pre sign up required

◎ANRK〜All Nations Returnees in Kansai (Kansai)
Time: Saturday February 13th 14:00〜16:00
Speakers: Mao & Setsu Shimizu
Zoom
Facebook event page
Pre sign up is required (at Facebook event page)

Inspa〜Inspireunion (Tokai)
Time: Saturday February 20th 9:30〜11:30
Speaker: Kenichi Shibusawa
Zoom
Facebook event page
Contact: E-mail
Pre sign up is required (at Facebook event page or via e-mail)

◎GiFT+〜Growing in Fellowship Tokyo (Tokyo)
Time: Saturday February 20th 10:00〜12:00
Panel Discussion on dating and marriage!
Zoom
Facebook event page
Pre sign up is required (Sign up form

 

【North America】
◎APU Friday Japanese Outreach (Azusa, CA)
Time: Friday February 12th 19:00〜
Zoom
Contact: Facebook ministry page
No pre sign up required

◎JxJ (Seattle, WA)
Time: Saturday February 27th
Zoom
Contact: Facebook ministry page
Pre sign up is required (at Facebook event page)

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JCFN 日本
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