Categories
LIJ Episode Lives Videos

Unsung Heroes of Everyday Life

We had a great summer break this year.  Dad and Mom Reutter came from America to spend time together with us.  We did a lot of fun things as a family, many of which we put on our YouTube channel “Life in Japan.”  These videos have taken off like no other videos before them, racking up tens of thousands of views within days of posting!  We have been amazed to see the response, especially here in Japan, because over 90% of our views come from Japan.  My mother-in-law is big on sharing our family time with other people and recently asked us if we had been doing that.  I laughed as I thought to myself, “More than ever!”  

Dad and Mom Reutter visiting us in Japan

When your kids are in school most of the year, and you live a half a world away from your parents, you want to make the most of your holidays.  Our summer break this year felt like squeezing a year’s worth of memories into a one-month period!  Day trips to the beach, outings to the zoo, shopping in the city and  escapes from the city to be in nature.  All of these things are fun, and make for good memories to share with the world through the social media and YouTube.  It’s what everyone does, right?  We share the highlights with the world and keep the outtakes to ourselves.   

But these moments seem to come in one door and immediately head out another. The Japanese talk about the transient beauty of the Sakura blossom.  It is only in bloom for a moment, and then quickly blows away.  The moment is breathtaking, but then soon gone.  Trips are great — but when they’re over you’re left with the bill to pay and work to do.  Those who enjoy drinking do so for a night, but pay for it the next day in hangovers, nausea and lost time and energy.  Those who escape through gambling enjoy the rush of the game for a moment, but endure the pain of the loss from then on.  Why do we sabotage ourselves in living for a moment in time, when we could be living for something that really, truly improves our life in all of the normal moments?  

I am super thankful for the time I had with family this summer.  We worked hard to make this happen — and it was totally worth it.  These times together are important.  But as summer break comes to an end, I am more thankful than ever for the under-valued hero of everyday life: good routine.  Every parent who has kids at home is glad for the return of school and routine!  

Healthy routines encourage growth and expand potential.  The practice of healthy routines build habits that in turn become character.  Character can be defined as  our default state that requires no additional energy to perform.  A person with a character of honesty exerts no additional will-power to be honest, just as a person with a deceptive character exerts no additional will-power to lie, but finds it a huge feat to be honest.  A person whose character is ever expanding and deepening is like a garden full of all kinds of fruits and vegetables.  There’s always something ripe and ready to enjoy!  When we sow good character over time, we reap a good destiny.  

Click to watch our videos from Summer Break this year!

Moments are fleeting — a welcome break from the normal.  But as our normal is shaped and formed into a life-giving destiny, then we begin to live the good life.  Moments are no longer what we live for.  We live for building something of worth in our day-to-day lives.  Ironically, once we do that, we find our lives filled with meaningful moments that, as soon as one happens, another one is on the way.  It is not a fatalistic world-view, but a hope-filled one.  Our life is not about a couple fleeting moments, but about building the destiny for which God made us.  Building that destiny is the beauty of everyday life and routine, and it’s God’s great joy to guide us along that journey.  Here’s to the unsung hero of everyday life: good routine!    

Categories
LIJ Episode Lives Update Videos

Japanese Spring Break

In Japan, Spring Break is more than just a short time off of school for students. It’s the change of the school year, a time for graduation, moving up to the next level; a time to start new jobs and new endeavors. It’s the time that winter ends and spring begins marked by the blooming of the Sakura. In fact, this April 1st marks the very beginning of not only a new year, but a new era in Japan, the 令和 Reiwa Era! Yes, the old Emperor is retiring and his son is taking his place. The years in Japan are marked by the year of their Emperor. Welcome to year 1!

And this Spring Break meant that Becca and Anna passed the 3rd grade and are moving on to the 4th grade. Not only did they pass, but they continue to improve and are becoming quite the good students. Sarah will move into her last year of Kindergarten before elementary school, and Joshua only has one year left before starting Kindergarten himself. Wow how time flies! So before it flies away, we’re making memories while they’re still kids. We took time off with our Paz team to enjoy some R&R in the mountain town of Karuizawa — a place where people like to go to escape the heat of Tokyo in the summer. Of course since we are catching it at the beginning of Spring, we were glad just to have warm enough temperatures to enjoy the outdoors!

Nobody I know works harder or with more passion and determination than the Paz team here in Japan, so this precious time off was exactly what we needed. There are lots of things that don’t make it into a video like this — the amazing Onsen (Japanese Bath) we went to, some of the sights of a the lava flow park or even a number of the great meetings and times together we had, but this gives you a taste of what it’s like. Enjoy the video below!

Categories
LIJ Episode Lives

Paz Coffee Shop Grand Opening

Warm.  Inviting.  Refreshing.  Relaxing.  Welcoming.  Renewing.  These are all words to describe the atmosphere that we have created at Paz Coffee Shop.  Our team has been working hard for the opening of this special place, and on September 15 we opened the doors wide-open to this new expression of God’s love towards Japan.  Yes- there are many ways to express God’s love in Jesus towards people, but the expression that we felt works best in the Japanese context is that of a coffee shop.

All the visitors to Paz Coffee Shop made the Grand Opening truly grand!

A coffee shop is a place to enjoy a cup of your favorite drink with great company in a friendly environment.  It is a place to enjoy music and get away from the busy rush of the day.  It is a place for the community to connect and for relationships to be forged and built.  It’s a place to for you and your kids to enjoy.  It’s the perfect atmosphere to host our Paz Church meetings on Sundays and other special concerts and community events.  Yes, this is a place we envision multiplying to all kinds of stations and key points across Japan with some of the best and most inspiring people we know.  Welcome to Paz Coffee shop.  Welcome home.  

Categories
LIJ Episode Lives Update Videos

Furlough: A Summer Homecoming

Every two years our family embarks on an exciting, unique adventure.  This adventure takes us across the world to visit people and places near and dear to our hearts.  These places — especially these people — mean so much to us — they’re the very reason we can live in Japan and share God’s love here.  This adventure is called furlough, and it’s a chance for our family of 6 to check in and catch up with our loved ones.  

While furlough may seem long to some, and to others it seems like a vacation, it is much more than all of that.  For in the short amount of six weeks, the kids catch up with 2 years of Grandpa/Grandma time, we speak at a different church each weekend, we travel all over the country to make important visits, we update our legal and banking matters, we raise more support and all while dealing with jet lag.  Yes, furlough is far from normal — and the change of pace that is very refreshing at first becomes an impulse propelling us back towards Japan for the next phase of life.  In our newest video, you get a sense of the beauty, excitement, business and adventure that is furlough in our next video.  Enjoy!

We now come back to a very exciting time here in Japan for us as our church is opening a new coffee shop — a place for the community to come, enjoy the BEST coffee around and connect with people full of God’s love.  In fact, upon arriving here in Japan, I (Nate) went off to serve in a weekend retreat our church hosts called “Encounter with God.”  It was such a powerful time and so many of the people who participated felt God’s presence and love like never before.  We are more excited than ever to be a part of God’s move here in Japan!  

Encounter with God Japan — Wow!  What a weekend!

Now we are looking forward to this next week and weekend when we will have the grand opening of our brand new coffee shop.  This coffee shop will be open during the week and serve the best speciality coffees as well as have an all-you-can-drink special blend coffee — a first (as far as we know) for Japan!  Then on Sundays we will hold our church services in the coffee shop itself.  It certainly serves two amazing purposes!  If you live anywhere nearby or here visiting, please stop by!

Categories
LIJ Episode Lives Videos

Sarah’s Summer Festivals

It’s summertime in Japan — which means summer festivals with dancing and fireworks (Matsuri 祭り), Yukatas (the traditional Japanese summer wear 浴衣) and fun Japanese food. This year was Sarah’s first year to dance, and she was so excited! To add to the excitement Sarah turned 5 years old the week before, so we invited her Japanese classmates to come to our house for an American birthday party — and they all came! We shattered the record of people in our house at once, you’ve just got to see the video below!

And this last picture I just had to include — it was only 3 years ago that Becca & Anna were dancing in this summer festival, and now it’s Sarah’s turn! Wow time flies — but they all look beautiful together!