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LIJ Episode Lives Videos

Weathering the Storm

For a lot of people, Japan is synonymous with sushi, samurai and earthquakes.  But that’s only a part of the story.  The typhoons that sweep across the islands of Japan can reek just as much havoc as anything else, and recently one of the biggest typhoons in years came smack through Tokyo.  The result was a city shut down in the wake.  But now that the storm is over and no one was seriously hurt, we are relieved.  But typhoons don’t always have a happy ending.

Happy endings don’t just happen by chance, and a happy family doesn’t just happen by chance either.  Our family may seem naturally happy, but it’s the fruit of hard work and a lot of perseverance — especially with four kids!  The bedrock of a happy home is a commitment between husband and wife to each other to build a strong marriage, to provide a healthy environment for their kids and to stay true to each other through the storms in life.  I’ve made this commitment to Ruth and ultimately to the God who made us.  Following the principles in the Bible has kept my home from falling apart, and made it a place where everyone flourishes.  

Have you ever watched professional golf — PGA tour?  Those guys are amazing.  I had the privilege of going to a tournament when I lived in the States.  I was even more impressed when I watched them in person.  They seem to play golf with such ease.  I was amazed.  But the truth of the matter is that they are so committed and so dedicated to their sport that they have reached a level that makes it look easy.  That is true mastery — when it appears easy or natural to other people.  It took them years of dedication and discipline to reach that place in life.  

Golf is only easy if you’re not keeping score…

Few of us need to aspire to be better golfers, but all of us need to aspire to be better spouses, parents, children and family members.  These relationships are something that everyone has (to some extent or another) and will make us or break us in life.  Do you have such a commitment with the loved ones around you?  Without it, you will never be able to build a home that weathers life’s typhoons — whether they’re real, emotional or psychological.    The healthy home is a shelter in life’s storms, not the source of them.  

There’s a story in the Bible of Jesus when he and his followers, the disciples, were crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat, and there a terrible storm arose.  Now I’ve been out on the Amazon River on a boat in the middle of a bad thunderstorm, and let me tell you, I was scared for my life.  The waves got big and started breaking over the boat.  You couldn’t see but a couple meters in front of you because of the buckets of rain coming down.  You didn’t know which way you were headed or worse — what was right in front of you.  One could only pray!  The disciples found themselves in a similar situation, scared for their life, and there was Jesus, asleep on the boat!  They woke Jesus up, and He immediately got up and He spoke to the storm — He said “Be quiet!  Be still!”  And it immediately became still.  The disciples’ jaws dropped to the floor.  Literally the Bible says “They were astonished.”  No one had ever done anything like that before.  You see, Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  

“The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” painted by Rembrandt in 1633.

Everyone needs peace in their life.  It’s one of the main traits humans naturally seek.  No one has to tell us to seek for it.  It’s programmed in us by God.  But true peace is not just when everything is good in life, that peace is only temporary, but true peace can look in the face of a storm and say “Be Quiet!  Be Still!” and bring peace into the storm.   

Do you find yourself reacting to life like the disicples: apprehensive, working hard to keep your boat above the waves in the midst of life’s storms?  You can live from a place of peace, but only when Peace itself travels inside the boat of your life.  Jesus is peace.  His Spirit is peace.  When  you commit your life to Him, to follow His ways, His Spirit lives inside of you and the source of all peace begins to change the storms around you.   You will find that there are always bigger storms than you can handle, but there is no storm too strong for Jesus.  

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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!    

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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!

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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
Lives Videos

Our Lives in Japan

High-speed trains.  Kanji.  Crowded cities.  Towering volcanoes.  Ancient traditions.  Cutting-edge technology.  Crazy work hours.  International business.  This is Japan.

American.  Brazilian.  Christian.  Modern musician.  Church-planters.  Coffee lovers.  Movie makers.  Multi-lingual.  Family of six.  This is us, the Reutters (pronounced “writers”).

Put these two things together, and you have a interesting combination of cultures — two opposites that compliment each other, that complete each other.  This isn’t just Japan, and this isn’t just about us.  This is about Life in Japan.