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LIJ Episode Lives Videos

Work Hard — Play Hard

Have you ever heard the phrase “Work Hard, Play Hard?” It could refer to many things, but to me this speaks about one of the key principles of a purposeful, well-balanced life. I’ve discovered that my best times of rest come after my best times of work. The harder I work, the more I enjoy my subsequent rest. The two moderate and strengthen the other.

Whenever our life is out of balance, our body gives us warning signs. The warning signs of being overworked are stress, sickness, weariness, lack of joy, lack of social life, failing relationships and an overall low enjoyment of life. When we’ve rested too much, we experience the warning signs of laziness, boredom, lack of drive, lack of money, lack of purpose and lethargy. The solution to too much of one thing is to purposefully add the other. As we do that, we find enjoyment come to both areas of life: work and rest.

We have been working so hard — Ruth, the kids and me — so this vacation was the perfect break from all the work. In fact, we enjoyed it so very much, precisely because we have been working so hard. It recharged our batteries for the start of 2020.

Now we are already talking about what our next big adventure will be. We have a lot of work coming up, and we’re excited to tackle it. But it’s also great to have something on the horizon — a focal point to help us through an especially busy season. Do you have any big plans, goals or trips you’re looking forward to? Where do you find yourself on the balance of work vs rest? That balance is key for a healthy lifestyle.

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LIJ Episode Lives Videos

Vacation in Thailand

Some of life’s most precious moments happen when we travel. I can remember as a kid skiing in the beautiful Rocky Mountains with my family. We had an absolute blast, tearing down the slopes in Colorado. But on the way home a huge blizzard assaulted us on the interstate and stranded us in Kansas. The snow was blowing so hard that we had to pull off of the interstate because we couldn’t see past the hood of the car. We followed a big 18-wheeler off an otherwise invisible exit and found a hotel that still had vacant rooms available that you accessed from the outside. We were fortunate to have a room at all. The blizzard was so bad that in the morning we woke up to snow inside the room! The wind had blown it under the door to form a drift inside our room! There’s a memory I’ll never forget.

And then of course there was my first trip to Brazil. My parents had moved as missionaries to live along the Amazon River and it so happened to be right next to where Ruth’s parents lived, where Ruth grew up. On that trip I heard God clearly speak to me about becoming a missionary. It’s also the time I got unofficially engaged to Ruth. Talk about a memorable trip! Glad I didn’t miss that one.

Trips have a way of impacting us in big ways because we leave behind the normal, everyday life and brave a new world — one where much is unknown and we need to be flexible. We don’t travel because it’s easy — in fact, traveling is anything but easy. We travel to encounter new cultures, new places and new people. We travel to gain new experiences. We travel to open our eyes to the bigger picture; the good and the bad. We have an opportunity to grow: to grow as individuals, to grow as a family, and to grow closer with God. Why do you travel?

Traveling with the whole family is completely different than traveling as a couple or alone. The logistics immediately get more complicated and the woes of travel compound quickly, especially with little kids. We have done very few vacations like these because, quite frankly, with little kids the trips are a lot of work, take a lot of time and can be quite costly (multiply your costs by a factor of 6). At least once during our travels we swear that we will never do this again! (That’s usually at the point where everyone is tired and hungry and there’s no immediate end in sight.)

But once we arrive at our destination and everyone settles down and rests and eats, things immediately turn around. More than any other trip in recent memory, we were able to completely relax and enjoy the resort, Thailand and time together as a family. In this case, traveling together with Ruth’s parents really helped with the kids and we were able to get a better deal per person due to a larger group rate. So there are perks to traveling together as well. Ruth did a great job researching where and when to go to make the most of our time and money. And she had been setting aside money for a long time now to be able to do it without being a strain on our finances.

Now I am looking forward to our next big family adventure. And we don’t have to travel very far to have it.

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LIJ Episode Lives Videos

Winter Break Begins

It’s the end of 2019 and the beginning of winter break in Japan! Even though winter break goes by fast, this year we have Ruth’s parents visiting from Brazil. The kids are off school and are having a great time in the last episode of 2019 and the first of the new year. Happy New Year from the Reutters!

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LIJ Episode Lives Videos

Celebrating Christmas in Japan

Celebrating the world’s biggest holiday of Christmas in Japan is quite an interesting experience — first of all, Christmas is not even a nation holiday here. That means that people work as normal and even our kids went to school! For foreigners in Japan, this is a big shock. The rest of the world is celebrating, and it’s life as normal in Japan. This can be hard to deal with as you see pictures and videos of your close family and friends celebrating across the world. A time that should be one of great joy and celebration only exasperates the feeling of missing out that we as humans avoid as much as possible.

So this year we decided to celebrate Christmas bigger than ever, as you can see in this episode of Life in Japan. All in all, it was the best Christmas yet here in Japan, and we’ve lived here over 5 years now! The more you prepare, work and anticipate, the greater the celebration when it comes.

If you feel like you’re missing out — missing out on life and happiness, missing out on romance, missing out on family — then know that’s exactly why Jesus came. He came to seek and save those who are missing out, those who are lost. He came to make us whole in Him. Jesus name means “I am God who saves” and another title of Jesus is “Emmanuel” or “God with us.” He cares so much that He came to us in the form of a little baby boy so we would never have to miss out again.

Think about that — never miss out again! Not miss out on a wonderful relationship that God our Heavenly Father desires, not miss out on experiencing the joy of family the way He designed and purposed it. And not miss out on fulfilling, healthy relationships with the people God puts in our heart. This is the message of Christmas: let those who have missed out never miss out again. Receiving the greatest gift of Christmas, Jesus Christ, is the way to the greatest joy and purpose. Following Him leads to a fulfilling life of love and purpose, and that’s a great reason to celebrate!

Merry Christmas from the Reutters and Happy New Year!

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LIJ Episode Lives Videos

Christmas Advent

The days leading up to Christmas (Christmas Advent) are some of the most special days of the year. There are many traditions for us that make this time special: Christmas trees and decorations, Christmas cookies and holiday carols, year-end newsletters and a never-ending onslaught of year-end deals and sales. Welcome to the busy end of the year!

But for some the end of the year is especially difficult. It only reminds them of loved ones who are no longer here, or of broken relationships and families torn apart. For many who find themselves alone, Christmas is not a time of celebration, but of difficult retrospect. An endless strain of “what if’s” that fill the mind.

But the only difference between a great story and a bad story is where the story ends. The best stories have heartbreak, discord, love and loss. There’s betrayal and unmet expectations. Ironically, it’s the exact same ingredients of a bad story. Except bad stories end there — in the despair and heartbreak. In the bleak-midwinter hopelessness. It’s like watching a movie that ends before it gets good. Movies that do that flop. Everyone is cheering for a happy ending. And that’s exactly what Christmas is. A happy ending. A happy ending and a glorious new beginning!

This is the season we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ whose name means “God saves.” Through Jesus, God saves us from our bad ending of despair and heartbreak, of loneliness and brokenness. Another name of Jesus is Emmanuel — “God with us.” God not only saves, but he entered into our mess, into our bad, lonely story and came to be with us in it, heal us of it and lead us out of it. That’s salvation.

God brings us and puts us into a family — that’s part of His salvation plan!

You can rejoice this Christmas, even if you are alone and heartbroken, even if you made a mess of life or have fallen victim to it, because with the coming of Jesus into your life, your bad story won’t end there. It is being worked into a masterpiece story. All it takes is to call out to him — “Jesus, come save me! Enter into my life! I will follow you!” — and watch as the miracle of Christmas turns your life and story around, just as it has in the lives of millions and billions since the very first Christmas nearly 2,000 years ago.