Time for something completely different — a look behind the scenes of how we produce Life in Japan! I’ve always been a huge fan of technology (A.K.A. nerd). In this episode some of that leeks out as I talk about how everything from cameras to computers come together for each episode of Life in Japan.
If you’ve ever made a video, then you have an idea of the amount of time, energy and focus that is required to actually make one. Dedication and passion are required to keep consistently producing and it’s a discipline that few can truly appreciate. Even though I’ve been producing movies and music for years, I have learned so much in the last two years due to the amount that I have been producing.
While there are certainly days I feel like I’m crazy for all this, I feel so richly rewarded to know that we are being a blessing for everyone who’s watching on YouTube, listening to our music and coming to Paz Coffee Shop and Paz Church. And our whole point of living in Japan is to bring the love of Jesus in all kinds of ways and styles. Thank you for watching and being a part of this journey of our Life in Japan!
Today the 2020 Olympic Games begin! Or, at least, they would have until corona happened. This year has been a year of learning to adapt and adjust, to make do with what we have and to make the best of every situation. The olympics aren’t happening now and things look very different than they did just 6 months ago. But one thing hasn’t changed in 2020: the weekends are still a time of resting from everyday work and recharging our batteries. It’s just the things we do that has changed a bit.
What refreshes or renews you is different from person to person — some like to sleep in (like Ruth), others like playing games, going places, hanging out with friends or just reading a good book. All of these things are good, but one of the things that 2020 has proved to us is the importance of healthy relationships with God and others. Any substitute for these things will result in an unbalanced life that quickly topples with all life’s current challenges.
For us, church has always been a big part of our weekends. Rarely do we miss a Sunday at church, but when we do, the rest of the week just feels “off.” It’s one of those habits that I recommend to anyone wanting to establish healthy weekly life patterns. It’s been proven that the most powerful tool that a psychologist has to help their patient is not their knowledge but their relationship with the patient. In the same way, our relationships to others in the church allow us to flourish even when life around us is hard. It’s in those healthy relationships that we discover more clearly who God is and how He loves us. Do you have this in your life? If not, I couldn’t recommend it more! Find a good church near you and start attending, if even online at first. See how it lifts your weekend up and sets you up for a good week.
The way you define “living well” depends greatly on your cultural background and personal likes and preferences. For some, living well could mean a life of travel and adventure. For others, it could be a meaningful relationship and fulfilling work. Yet for others it could be a life of seclusion, peace and quiet. And then there are some who think if they get famous and/or rich, they will be living the good life.
Whatever lifestyle you were pursuing, 2020 just threw a wrench into that pursuit! The world shutdown like never before (at least in modern history). And many places that were shutdown and coming out of lockdown are now entering into a second shutdown. We’re just not out of the woods yet. It seems like a good time to take a step back and reevaluate things.
A good life at home has never been so important. It’s hard enough to deal with all of the drama of society today, if you have to deal with too much drama at home as well, it’s enough to take people, marriages and families to the breaking point (which unfortunately is exactly what is happening for many families). Therefore I believe with all of my heart that those who experience truly good living in 2020 are those who have their home lives in order and work at living at peace with those closest to them.
This is why the Bible is so precious to me — it’s my manual for operation, my standard to live by, my measuring stick for the morals that I hold and teach. It is not a book of rules — furthest thing from it! It is a way to live in which we experience the fullest, richest life that God designed us to have. It is the best return for your time and effort and the rewards are not just for this life now, but will go on for all eternity. It is the way of peace and love, a way of healthy, fruitful living that is not the easiest way to live, but certainly the most rewarding in the long run.
God is the one who made us, and He made marriage and the family to be a reflection of His very own nature. The devil likes to take that and break that. The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus comes so we can have life in abundance. Our families can stand strong when we do it God’s way, by His Word and with His own power (His very own Holy Spirit). God has not left us alone, He has not abandoned us. He is for us, He is with us, and He is with you. Try calling out to Him for help. It starts with a simple prayer “Jesus help me!” And watch what happens next… the merciful presence of God in your life, in your family, in your marriage that can lead to a good life that you never thought was possible — for 2020 or any other year for that matter!
It finally happened — we had our first one-day camping excursion in Japan! We’ve been planning this for a long time, but then came society shutdown of 2020 and everything changed :). Now that we’re in July, enough of the restrictions have been removed to allow us to go camping nearby. And we had a blast — and did all this for cheap! We enjoyed the sights of Mount Fuji, local wildlife, fun parks and of course the staple of any camping excursion: the campfire. We even got hit with a rainstorm in the night that really kept things lively. We ended up pulling out of the campsite early because of the rain, but it didn’t damper our time. We had an epic one day trip!
So now we can’t wait to do it again — but July has done nothing but rain. In fact other parts of Japan have been hit so hard that major flooding has happened. Our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected — we know what it feels like to (almost) lose everything. We were threatened with flooding just last year during the massive typhoon that brought so much damage to our area.
This year has certainly been a difficult year for many reasons, and never before has it been so apparent our need for God, his love, his protection, his care and his peace in our heart. The love of God given through Jesus allows us have peace in the storm and special moments together give us a glimpse of what eternity with Jesus will be like — away from pain and destruction, away from fear and viruses, where we can get lost in the moment. God gives us glimpses of eternity in everyday life, but it’s easy to miss if we’re not looking for it. Where are those moments for you? Is it out camping? Out in nature? Is it while driving or walking? Is it while putting on some great music or reading a good book? Singing your child to sleep? There are many ways this can be triggered, but it all points to the eternal purpose we have in God.
Have you ever tried to learn a foreign language? If English is not your mother tongue and you’re reading this — congratulations!! That’s a major accomplishment! Learning another language broadens a person’s perspective more than perhaps just about anything else out there. And there’s nothing easy about it.
It took me about a year of full-time study of the Portuguese language before I had enough of a foundation to learn the rest by studying and using it on my own. The more I immersed myself in Portuguese with Brazilian friends, the better I did in Portuguese. When I moved to Japan I knew I was in for the same thing — only greater.
But that “greater” was even bigger than I thought. Coming from English, a language that is a mix of romantic, Germanic and Scandinavian languages, there was little in common. Kanji is new. The grammar is completely different. Verb tenses are different. Pronunciation is miles apart from English. Even English words, when used in Japanese, can take on a completely different sound. (How about “Kurisumasu” or “Sutahbukusu?” — Christmas and Starbucks!)
But as with anything, if you keep at it and never give up, even if the progress is little, there is progress. Future gains become bigger and bigger, and when things click into place, other things follow behind in a quicker fashion. This is the curve of learning any new skill. Lots of effort with little to show. But keep at it long enough and the curve turns around and with less effort, greater strides are made. That gets you to an intermediate level, where the curve begins all over again.
So if you’re working on a new skill — whether it’s learning a language, an instrument, a new skill or even starting to learn the Bible or a new culture — keep at it! Before you know it, you’re going to hit that curve that propels you to an intermediate level and be so glad you did.