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LIJ Episode Lives Videos

Is it over yet?

There are seasons in life that we would rather rush through. Junior high school was like that for me. I couldn’t wait to get through it. School days seemed so long with so little time to do the things that I loved. I loathed going to school (loathe is the opposite of love). I had been home schooled until 7th grade when I entered private school. Home schooling was great because I worked hard and got all my homework done by noon, when I was then free to do the things I loved: music, play sports, be creative, play games and the list goes on. But in school, it didn’t matter how hard you worked, you were there most of the day. When I finally made it to college, I loved it — it felt like homeschooling! You didn’t spend nearly as much time in class, which meant that if I worked hard, you had time for the things you loved.

This season of everyone being stuck at home kind of reminds me of junior high school. It doesn’t matter how hard you work, you just have to do your part and wait it out. Waiting can be hard. But as I look back, I needed junior high school. It taught me the disciplines that were necessary to succeed in life. I wouldn’t have been ready for high school or even college without going through that phase in life. I think that what we are going through right now with the quarantines and the states of emergencies is preparing us for something greater on the other side. Something we wouldn’t have been ready for had we just rushed into it without the proper preparations.

This time has taught us how to love each other better, it has turned our attention back to the family and brought us closer to each other. It has forced us to establish habits in our lives, marriage and family that sets a better foundation for the future. We are closely involved in our children’s formation — their character is being formed each and every day. We ourselves are becoming better people as we have to force ourselves to stay healthy.

The title of this week’s Life in Japan video is “Is it over yet?” And although we often feel this way, the truth is that we don’t want to rush out of this season, because with each and every day we become more and more of who God has purposed us to be.

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LIJ Episode Lives

Conquer the Moment

History is changing before our eyes so fast that it’s hard to keep up. Every part of society is scrambling to figure out what to do next — from governments and corporations down to churches and families. Everyone in every nation has been effected to some extent or another. And moving forward no one really knows just how much things will be different. This can cause a lot of stress and fear. Or it can be seen for what it is: one of the greatest opportunities in history.

It’s not just about surviving the times — although that’s certainly important. It’s about seeing the opportunities and conquering the moment. It’s about evaluating the times and seizing the day. Things that never worked before are working now, and things that once were extremely successful are barely getting by. And possibly one of the biggest shifts in society during this time has happened with the family.

Family members, once dispersed across a large area in many different activities and schedules are now centralized at home once again. Kids at home with their parents. Parents at home working, kids at home doing schoolwork. It can be a recipe for disaster, or the greatest opportunity of a whole generation. It all depends on your perspective of the situation and approach.

There’s an opportunity to discover the joy of being together as a family. There’s an opportunity to have meals together at a dinner table and talk to each other. There’s an opportunity for parents and children to get involved in each others’ lives again and connect in a a meaningful way.

No one really knows how long life will be like this, but we shouldn’t be just counting the days until things go back to “normal,” but take advantage of each and every day God’s giving us to focus on what really matters. It’s time to conquer the moment.

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LIJ Episode Lives Update

Being Happy

What things make you happy? When you landed the new job you wanted? When you moved into your dream house or when you got into the college that you wanted? Maybe you started that relationship with the person of your dreams? Or maybe you’re one of the lucky people out there who have won the lottery. Or you finally reached retirement. We as humans have a funny way of getting excited and happy about things that ironically cause us much heartache, stress and insomnia in the future.

A good job is a blessing, but even the best jobs will cause stress at some point. And even the best relationships have difficulties — a bad relationship is full of them. And sometimes the things that make us sad: a heart-wrenching breakup, losing a job or even just being quarantined, can actually end up being good for us in the end. Ironic, isn’t it?

My point is this: true happiness is not found in the circumstances of life. These things are fleeting moments that come and go — good moments and bad ones. True happiness is mental state of being thankful for the people and blessings already in our lives today. When you are thankful and content, you are happy.

This doesn’t mean you don’t long for better things in your life. Desiring these things is a powerful force to better yourself, but it means you don’t waste energy focusing on what life would be like if you had those things.

For example, today we all sat down and had lunch together: Ruth made her famous pizza! I was so happy! We talked about our dream house: a big place where we can have people over and each person has space for their things. A nice kitchen and garden for mommy and a nice studio for daddy. A big yard for the kids to play in and have a dog. They are already praying that God gives us the right place! But we don’t focus on what we don’t have. We are thankful for where we do live — we have a beautiful view, a great location, wonderful neighbors, a quite street, a nice little garden, and the list goes on.

Most of all, each and every person in our family knows the love of God personally. They know that not only do daddy and mommy love them, but most importantly God loves them and calls them his children. Do you know that? Knowing the love of the Heavenly Father in Jesus Christ is the key to having lasting, meaningful happiness (which we call joy) that goes beyond any circumstance. But you don’t have to wait until you’re a Christian to start becoming happy — you can become happier by just finding one thing in your life that you’re thankful for and start to thank Jesus for it. Just see what it does to your attitude. We call this worship, and it can change your life.

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LIJ Episode Lives Videos

TGIF

This Friday — Good Friday — marks our 50th episode of Life in Japan! It’s hard to believe we’ve reached the milestone of 50 episodes, but here we are, and what better way to celebrate than on Good Friday, the day we remember the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross 2,000 years ago to restore our relationship with the Heavenly Father and bring us life, joy, peace and so many other blessings. We would not be the happy people we are today without God’s love, the love of Jesus, in us.

The message of Good Friday and Easter weekend is one that resounds throughout the ages, and it never loses its power. With everything in today’s world out of whack, only the power of God operating in us can bring things back together as they should be. Is your life perfect? Then you don’t need God. But if you’re like me, you realize that you are far from perfect. It’s not our strength that God is attracted to — it’s our weakness. Because when we realize we are weak, He is there to be strong for us. And in God, anything is possible. God bless you this Easter Weekend! May the love of God abound to you more and more.

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LIJ Episode Lives Videos

Amazing Kansai

When life serves you lemons, make lemonade. That’s exactly what we did with the shutdown of schools and many public areas and attractions here in Japan due to Corona virus. After the initial shutdown went into affect, the prices of hotels (especially in Kansai) dropped very low. While there was a lot of things understandably closed due to the virus, there were many things that were still open and safe under the proper precautions. So we ventured out on a surprise trip to Kansai to learn more about this beautiful country where we live.

Kansai is an area to the west south-west of Tokyo that is known for its bustling metropolis of Osaka, beautiful spaces of Nara where you can feed the deer, or the ancient city of Kyoto that’s full of history. Home to Nintendo, Universal Studios Japan and tons of historical Japanese historical buildings, Kansai is a must-visit place to visit in Japan if you want to learn all about this beautiful country. Although most spaces were closed, we were still able to see a lot in the few days we had. Enjoy the latest episode of Life in Japan.

Since our return from Kansai, America too has since clamped down hard to try to stop Corona in its tracks, taking further measures by closing restaurants and keeping people quarantined as much as possible. Meetings at larger than 10 people are highly discouraged. My father said he has never seen anything like it. Japan reacted a number of weeks earlier by cancelling schools and encouraging people to work from home as much as possible. In the case of Japan, we are still able to get together and travel, but everything is done with health in mind. Our meetings are being live-streamed and done online. Another advantage in Japan is that there is a minimal amount of physical contact (shaking hands, hugging and kissing are not social norms). Our prayers are with all of the people and countries fighting a common enemy so that life can move on.