general thoughts

"T-Minus 60 days" or "What in the World?"

I check in on Delta to go to Israel in 60 days.  What has felt so far away is suddenly feeling really close. 

The surety I seem to have most days doesn't seem very sure at this moment.  My job will be ending and I will be headed to a country I have never been for 3 months.  Trusting the Father to once again provide what I need.  He always has, but once again I will be in a position to not be able to "do" anything about it. 

I recently asked for people to share on FB the word they thought of when they think of me, or the verses they think of or pray for me.  It's for a quilt project that somewhere in the future I will get done... The answers were humbling. 

Capture

The thing is, I don't feel like any of those things right now. I am thankful that any of you may see anything good in me...It is just Him.  Really is, because I really can be a jerk.  I am saying this so that you guys will know...the good things you may see  come with struggle and uncertainty in my heart a lot of days.  I want to put my head on my desk and say "what was I thinking?" I want to fast forward this crazy life straight on to heaven.  I want to have the "surety" of a house, a family in those 4 walls, a job I go to everyday that I really do love (I don't hate my current job...but it's not my long term joy. haha).  

But feelings aren't what we go by.  Feelings will fail you.  Everytime.  

His word.  His word is what we go by.  His Truth.  His certainty.  His plan.  His promise. 

And what He promises is His presence. His love. His grace.  Christ's salvation. 

I just have to surrender control to receive it.  Because the more I try to think I am in control the more out of control life feels.  In order to have peace I have to surrender control, and let Him work. 

I've been reading several books and the theme the past few days has just been pointing back to him.  We look for home- it's in Him.  We look for all these things to make us FEEL better...it's Him. John Owen's described our human dilemma pretty well.  Our indwelling fleshly self/sin wars with God and what He has that is good:

"Keep a constant, humbling sense of the secret aversion to spirituality that lies in our nature.  To see it's effects is a powerful inducement to walk humbly with God.  The fact that, after all the self- disclosures God has made to us, all the kindness we have received from him, all the good he has done us in all things there should be such a heart of unkindness and unbelief still abiding in us as to hate communion with him ought to cast us into the dust and fill us with shame and self loathing all our days! 

What have we found in God in any of our approaches to him, that it should be thus with us? What iniquity have we found in Him? Has he been wilderness to us or a land of darkness (Jeremiah 2:31)" 

(And the best part!!-)

"Did we ever lose anything by drawing near to Him? Have we not rather received all the rest and peace that we have ever had in this way? Is He not the fountain and spring of all our mercies, of everything desirable? Has he not made us welcome at our coming? Have we not received from him more than heart can conceive or tongue express?"

He goes on to say- then why do we not approach Him? Trust Him? Why do we think our ways are better?

He is so good to us, and we doubt Him.  We try to create circumstances that seem better than His... 

And yet He loves us.  He gives to us. 

"Christianity means we get Mercy, God gets Glory, We get Joy, God gets Praise, We get Hope, God gets Honor" John Piper

What a deal! God sets up the universe in such a way that His Glory Praise and Honor would be a function from Him giving us Mercy, Joy, and Hope! 

I'll sum this up by saying this: " The Holy Spirit won't lead you where the Father doesn't want you to be and where the Son won't get glory if you stay." Jackie Hill Perry (Thanks Bu for the #truth tweet) 

So I am going to put my head on my desk and say "Holy Spirit lead where the Father wants me to be and the Son will get glory."  And ask Him to enable me to do so.  For His Glory, Praise, and Honor. And not listen to the feelings that my heart are screaming at me today... 

May we Be His.  Wherever that is.  Wherever we are.  Wherever He is taking us. His. 

 


collision

This was a blog post I evidently worked on during a week or two in the US after my first 4 months in Honduras. 

 

There are moments in life where things seem to collide.  Some call it coincidence.  Some call it Karma.  Some call it fate.  I call it the hand or plan of God. 

There are times when there is an undeniable theme in our lives.  Sometimes it is sweet things like grace. Provision. Love.  Sometimes it is Sin. Forgiveness (when you don't want to forgive). Patience. Longsuffering.  We love those lessons that seem like a balm.  But not the ones James speaks about that build up things in us due to trials or because of our sin.  Those we can live without, right?

I shared with you guys about the Cross Centered Life.  It is still a theme.  One that I am learning more about daily.  How to cling to the cross in a new way that is freeing.  Freeing from the junk that distracts my heart and screams that it (or me) are more important.  Freedom from legalism.  From the way that we too often live in- the world's way. 

I found my book "Embracing Obscurity" when I came home and started reading it again yesterday.  I didn't take it to Honduras because I thought surely I wouldn't need to finish that book in Honduras.  There is nothing but obscurity to embrace there.  Oh. So not true.

Since before I left Honduras last week the Holy Spirit has been whispering truths to my heart and shining his Holy Spirit life on sin and just simply the ugly things I have clung to.  And this week with the Cross Centered Life continually before me, comments from friends that love me enough to be honest and not leave me like I am and in reading Embracing Obscurity I realize God is slowly wrecking me.  Breaking me down so He can put me back together whole. 

I am learning I have a long way to go as far as dying to self goes.  So very far.  I would glady hear and obey God's call to go to Let's say "AFrica" than to just let the guy beside me have the right of way when I am impatient and in a hurry. (EO Example)  I am not afraid to do the mundane.  The behind the scenes work. But when it comes to someone infringing on my space, my stuff, my way sometimes I bow up like a small kitten staring down a great dane. Selfishness and Pride. I chose who is "worthy" of my time and sharing His love with. I am a jerk and a hoarder of good things. 

It is not comfortable. It is not easy. I try to hide how I really feel, but He knows. And He loves me and calls me to more, to change. To be like Him. 

 

Note from June 2017- This is clearly not done...but it seems like something I want to share. Because I still struggle with it.  I am still humbled by seeing how He worked in my life then, how He still does.  How He loves me when I feel unlovable and completely selfish.  But that is His nature.  To love and work out His best in our lives.  For His Glory. So yes, Holy Spirit do that.  


For lack of a blog title... Him. And What's next. Maybe.

4 years ago today I had just started my 3rd week of what would be 3 ½ years of living in Honduras. 7 months ago this week I returned to the US from that life. My anticipation was to return back to the US to settle into normal US life…pay off my car, work on getting out of debt, saving up money, buying a small piece of land and build a little home. I looked forward to lunches with folks, long dinners with people catching up and hearing what the Lord was doing in their worlds. Times back at Auburn Women’s basketball and Softball, times at Stone Mountain with my littles, freezing to death in the air conditioning, and just in general doing what I want because I am not working 21 days in a row with a day off, no car and little money.

I found some of that. But I found my reality would be very different from the expectation (Isn’t it usually?) What I thought was the dream the Lord was handing back to me, long shelved, to build my little house didn’t come to fruition. As time went by I lost the desire. The reality of it didn’t fit my life’s reality. The job I was hired to do transitioned into part of the job I did back at the Arbor years ago. The stress of work radically shifted to a different flavor. Trying to rent a small house for August fell through, twice. Trying to rent my old house, up for sale again for almost a year didn’t happen. I felt the doors closing to what I thought life would be.

The friends I hung out with, now over 4 years ago, have changed. They have moved, moved on to other things, changed churches, had life shifts. Dinners and lunches didn’t happen like I thought. Settling into my life from over 4 years ago didn’t happen. I have changed, life has changed. My expectations weren’t fulfilled like I thought they would.

So I find myself feeling unsettled and uncertain. Asking the Lord over and over again in February and March….what do you want me to do? The only thing that felt certain was the job I am in now will end, and when it does my time at the Arbor will once again end. And I am ok with that. In a venting moment one day after work I said “I would be happy to just go and clean hotel rooms at this point.” To which my friend replied “You can volunteer to do that in Isreal for 3-6 months!” As time went by that just seemed to make sense. In my heart as I prayed I kept thinking and hearing “August” So I made plans for what is next…Isreal.

Application filled out, sent in, approved. Plane ticket looked up….$850 which is half of what it normally is…purchased. Isreal for 3 months.

Isreal.

Somewhere I have never really “wanted” to go. Last December I thought it would be nice to go with my friend Wayne and his tour group. But I had a car to pay off and a new job with no vacation time. And now I am going for 3 months. The irony of my life, headed again to a country that has never been on my radar. Details very unknown (to a planner like me there is a certain amount of anxiety in that.

And I don’t know what is after that. Praying He shows me (He will, but praying He shows me in the timeline I desire. Haha) Praying it will be my dream job of missions/evangelism in a church body. Serving. Talking about Him. Seeing Him at work through people. Seeing lives transformed by Him.

People keep telling me how ________________ my life is. (Crazy, flexible, obedient, cool…pick the word). It is. My life is crazy. If I sit and think about it too long I almost start to hyperventilate.

I have no home. No husband. No boyfriend. No kids. Soon to be no job. In a lot of ways unattached and feeling out of sorts most days. I don’t get to carry the labels that most folks have that define them. I find it hard to chit chat about my life because some days I don’t know what to say about it other than “I am just doing what He says, leads, tells me to do…and no it doesn’t really make sense most days.” And that is hard to chit chat. I don’t have kids to discuss and find common ground with others. I go to work and go home most days. I try to stay home and not spend money on things I don’t need just because I am bored and filling time. I read a lot. I’ve taken up adult color by number…it’s calming kind of like Legos, and I don’t have to think about it. I spend a lot of time with Him. In a lot of ways my life is boring, sprinkled with the random that day to day life holds. But it is where He has me and time and again He tells me to wait. To chill. To be content in Him. To find Him in the struggle of what isn’t.

So for those of you who this is news to, I am sorry. I don’t know how to once again, like over 4 years ago, say I am off to some new unknown. I don’t know how to make sense of that. I don’t know how to say “Will you pray for me? Will you support me? Will you walk along side me?” When I can only say I am going to Israel for 3 months to volunteer at a Messianic Jewish community that has a hotel, conference center and a biblical garden. And I have no idea what I will be doing but serving. And most of the time I can’t even spell Israel correctly.

But what I do know is He is clearly with me. He has continually said over the past month…ME. Just Me. Seek Me. Be with Me. Find Your Home In Me. Find Your Satisfaction In Me. Look to Me. Surrender to Me. Give Me Everything. Die to What You Think You Want or Need and Get What I Have For You. I Am With You. I Am.

And that feels really hard. It feels lonely. But it doesn’t feel alone. Over this past week I have had time to spend with my village in Texas and in Ohio. And repeatedly I weep at the thought I am blessed to live the life I get to live. To get to fall more in love with the Love of My Life. The one I never have to worry will ever leave me. Even though some days it hurts because I long to be with Him. To see Him face to face. To cease the struggle that is this world that is so easily distracted and distracting from the truth. From Him. Spinning to grasp everything but what matters, and do the things that are far from eternal. I weep at the thought that I cannot imagine life any other way. Even in the hard and the not making sense and the longing for the hope that is heaven, eternity with Him…there is a rest in my heart that cannot let go, because I cannot let go of Him. And He will never let go of me.

I’ve been reading about the life of William Wilberforce this week. It is much like the movie Amazing Grace depicts and so much different. Did you know that it took over 40 years for the abolition of slavery to finally pass? That it was voted on 3 days before his death, and they were finalizing the details as He died? So often we look at the tasks of our life and want them to be finished, to get tied up and done in a hurry. We get so frustrated and irritated that it takes longer than we think. But I am reminded again and again that life is a race…and not a sprint type race, but a marathon. And we are called to run in such a way to win the prize, the work being done by Christ, but we are called to work it out in our lives with His guidance. It is not easy, but it is worth it. To do what He has called us to, even if it takes over 40 years to see what we think is the fruit.

I look back over my life and see few things that I’ve been in for more than 4 years. I told Bufanda that my life is like a Hashbrown order at Waffle House- scattered, chunked, smothered, covered…depends on the day. But I guess at the end of it there is something good…I see His hand in every step of the crazy map of my life thus far. And what I thought would look more settled and straightline isn’t happening. So I surrender what I thought it would be back to Him (don’t we all do this over and over in some way in each of our lives?)

I am thankful for those who remind me we run this life thing together. My Coveys in the seemingly last quarter of an adoption journey of their little one. My Millers who are almost to the end of adopting their second little girlie. My Taylors who after years of struggle and waiting brought home their little one. My old folks at work who remind me about how God takes care of our needs. Punctuated by “every day.” Coming from an 89 year old one tends to take that statement with a good bit of credibility. The truth of his word that over and over again calls us to sacrifice. To love. Because He says, because it is best. Because it is worth it…because it makes us more like Him.

So I am grateful for those of you still along for the journey. For those of you who put up with the random that is my life. For letting me ramble about the often lack of clarity that my world looks like in the details. To those of you who pray for me, I would humbly ask that you would continue to do so. To those of you who wish to join me financially again for the next out of country adventure, thank you. To those of you who simply follow along and ask the Lord to keep doing what He does in my life, I’m grateful.

I love you. I pray for you. I cherish you. I love to see how the Lord is working out things in your lives. How you love Him. How you reflect Him. You make me want to be like the Jesus I see in you.

So let’s be after Him. Let’s be His. Because He is the one thing that is no doubt worth it all.


Love shows Up

I recently went to surprise my friend for her 40th birthday. I had planned the trip 4 months before. Because of winter storm jalepeno or whatever it was called, I moved my flight up because of a possible ice snow whatever situation in Atlanta. I had been caught in an ice situation the week before so I didn’t want to relive flying 1000+ miles out of the way to get there.

So I left work earlier than anticipated and flew to Ohio. My flight was delayed, no big. Picked up my rental car- a sweet NEW rental car. Google maps led me astray and on a crazy route until I corrected it… I was on my way to the restaurant she told me she was meeting up with some college friends. But then she wasn’t there.

So I killed some time going to WalMart to pick up necessary items- Dr. Pepper and some yogurt (late night snack). All the while hoping she would be at the restaurant (There were two and I was guessing on the location) and also hoping she drove her car so I would know without going in and looking I found them. I saw her car, parked and even saw her through the window! So I went in to surprise her. I anticipated after the shock wore off a bit they would invite me to stay but I had decided to go to her house and wait. I didn’t know them, and it was their party and I didn’t want to mess with it.

I went in and surprised her- I said Hey and she freaked out and said “What!? Why are you here!!?” I said “It’s your birthday week, why wouldn’t I be!? And I love you!” And basically left and drove to her house.

On the way to her house I started to think about her and her friends and praying for their time together. That it would be encouraging, the gospel would be spoken, and lives would be changed because of it. I also started thinking about why I decided to stop at the restaurant. Well, it was on the way home. And it was way more fun…she never would expect me to show up at TGIFridays on a Thursday night. And I didn't want to sit and wait at home for her without seeing her first. But mostly because it wasn't what she expected. 

My motivation for coming her birthday week was really just to help her however I could and tell her I love her. And it occurred to me that is just what love does- it shows up. I told her that the next night. I just wanted her to know that I loved her, and the Father loves her. And love just shows up. Over the next couple days we had several conversations and it came up in conversations with others about God’s presence and who He is. And How he shows up.  He is present. And rarely it's how we expect it. 

On the way home from Atlanta after my delayed/cancelled flight I was thinking about what “Love showing up” really means. It often costs more than we think it will. In my plan to come I knew her husband was taking her out overnight Sunday night. I kept the kids and had plans to do some things Monday so she wouldn’t have to deal with them before my flight out that afternoon. As Sunday night went, my throat started hurting more and more and by Monday morning I really felt terrible. I could have backed out and texted her and said I can’t do it. But I had committed to it. And love honors commitments. It’s what love does.

I couldn’t help but think of the cost as I left on my delayed flight to Chicago. In Chicago my flight was delayed then cancelled. I could have slept in the airport for 7 hours and caught a flight out but I felt terrible so I got a hotel to spend the night. Then flew out the next morning- missed work and finally got home at 3:30. And then had to drive to Montgomery 30 minutes after I got home then and back to Auburn. Still not feeling so good. So it cost more money (hotel and lost work time), time and energy than I anticipated.

As I drove from Atlanta to Auburn then to Montgomery and back to Auburn I just kept coming to what it means for Love showing up. Love to be present. And how much the Father shows His presence to us. I can’t help but think of the cost it required- Christ coming to the earth, His life, His death, His Victory over death and sin in his resurrected life. That the Holy Spirit has come to us, he is given to us day by day and moment by moment. That Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and intercedes for us. The cost for all of this, and continues to take.

Sometimes in our preconceived notions we seek to love people. And to love people well, like Jesus. But then things get difficult or hard or messy or cost too much we want to back out. To say it’s not worth it. And I am so very grateful that our Father in heaven didn’t say it’s too hard, it’s not worth it. He didn’t say it and he is still not saying it. Every single day and moment in ways that we don’t always see or even imagine He is still pursuing us.   I am thankful for the way He reveals His presence to me.   Like a bird art display in the Chicago Midway airport, a song on my ipod that reminds me of who He is, the truth he brings. Conversations about my R2D2 carry on that lead to conversations about Him. The way that He provides, humors, and delights. The way he gives us desires of our hearts, because when he placed those desires in our hearts, of course He will fulfill them. Because I asked Him to give me his desires. The way He consistently shows Himself. Because He is love. And love shows up. Even when we don’t always expect it. And usually not in the way we think He will.

I am grateful. I am blessed. I am humbled. Because of His love I have life. I have hope. I have His continual presence. I have just what I need. Because of Him.  

Ephesians 3: 14- 19 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Be His.


staring into space

I´ve been staring at this computer screen trying to think of what to say.  So much time has passed (sorry it´s been so long) that it is difficult to start with the was and the current what´s happenin.  

So let me summarize:

I was home in the US for 5 weeks.  I spent a few in Auburn and a couple in Ohio and the last in Auburn.  It was a good time to do the biannual trip to Stone Mountain with the nieces and Laura.  And I was blessed to be able to speak at all 4 services at Vineyard Grace Fellowship in Ohio.  I spoke on five words- Grace, Love, Hope, Fight, and Glory.  It is God´s word as I am learning and also teaching my girls.  It was amazing to see how God spoke very deliberately to me and to so many in that body.  I was overwhelmed with the kindness and the prayers of that body. 

I am grateful to say that finally all my medical bills have been taken care of.  So many people have assisted in getting bills forgiven and a few remaining I just had to pay.  Close to $20,000 was forgiven or taken care of.  I am grateful to each of my doctors and EAMC for the work they have done to take care of ME  AND the bills! 

Some highlights of time home-

  • CFA, Steak n Shake, and about a thousand other yummy american foods, Greek yogurt and Dr. Peppers 
  • First class seat on the way back to Honduras! I was blessed with a buddy pass which is cheaper than a regular ticket and I fly space available and if that space is available it´s first class.  Such a sweet blessing. 
  • Auburn Softball regional playoffs.  I missed the supers because I was back here but I watched most games online.  War Eagle.  Such great competitors.  Such fun games to watch.  Never quit. 
  • Dinners with all my people (missed a few :(  )  So good just to spend time with my people. 
  • Emmaus serving with Jamie and Bruce.  Such good times when serving the body. 
  • We thought we would miss the laser light show at Stone mountain because we only were there Friday night but we didn´t.  They had some group there showing it and we basically got a private showing.  We yelled and danced and sang and didn´t worry anyone would get mad.  It was a sweet time.  

 

Coming back to Emmanuel was sweet, after a time in the US I begin to wonder what in the world to do with my time between meeting with people.  Too many of you have daily jobs that just get in the way with hanging out with me! haha  

The big girls (the bigs) have settled into a new routine with currently only me and Elvia supervising them.  Katja is in Denmark for 2 months, til the end of July, so that also makes the office fun.  It´s mostly me alone each day in the office.  I have taken to answering the phone and trying my best to figure out what they are saying and what they actually want! Often what they start off saying is nothing of what they actually need or want!  Since Elisabeth left to go back to college and the office volunteer isn´t here I am covering sponsorship which means some emails, lots of questions about kids and their gifts when teams come in or a container arrives.  I think I MIGHT be a little bored when Katja and Sarah come back. haha

My roommate Catherine moved out, she is getting married next month so she will be at Emmanuel part time.  So I moved rooms.  I will be painting my quieter cooler room when I get some paint and time.  Will also be working on acquiring new art since almost everything was Catherine´s we had in the house! We also got a new refrigerator before she left.  So it´s big and shiny.  It´s small things like that to make it seem like Christmas in the summer.  

I began rewarding my kids with points in our yard.  I grew tired of fighting with them over their school uniform. So now when kids have their skirt, shirt, and tennis shoes they get a point.  On non school days if they have appropriate clothes then they get a point.  The first 2 weeks we had almost half earn enough points for a reward- brownies, soda, a couple of candy canes and when I get enough word search books they will receive them first.  They were so excited just for that.  I got hugs and ¨thank you for everythings¨ from quite a few that afternoon as they left our little party to go home. The 2 weeks we are currently in I have instituted a debit column and an "other things¨ column for extra points.  I had a big talk with them about yelling, running, and playing in the dining room yesterday and a few have already earned debits today.  I think they are getting the point (get it...the point.  haha) 

I told them after this 2 weeks we will be doing points for a month.  I can´t get enough prizes for every 2 weeks at the rate of 45 or more every two weeks.  It is thankfully working well and I find myself fighting less each day about their clothes.  Praise the Lord! 

Teams started coming Memorial day and will be almost every day until mid August and then a 2 week break and then all month of September.  It´s fun to have the last few teams come I haven´t met because I was out last june and to have teams return that are like friends visiting.  I am excited my DAD is coming July 9!!!! and Carrie and the VGF crew are coming August 9.  It´s a sweet pre and post birthday gift to me. 

Prayer requests:

Health of our staff and volunteers (and visiting teams)

wisdom with decisions I have to make in day to day things (I´m wearing hats that feel bigger right now with staff being gone)

Future staff that may come- We have had several go back to college or go to the US to get married etc.  So we could use some more! 

Endurance and encouragement for our staff- we are running with a short crew right now and we just need some extra energy

Financial support- I am still in need of funds for my furlough account 

I am so grateful for my supporters- those of you who pray for me!! and those who send finances.  I can only remain here as long as funds continue to come.  I have begun praying for funds over and above so I can continue to hammer away my remaining debt so I can be super cheap to live here! I know my God can do miracles and help get rid of what remains! 

 

Some photos:

IMG_0030 Stone Mountain photo with my Ansley 

IMG_0073my sermon notes sort of

IMG_0089Me and Ellie at one of the hottest ever softball games.  But such fun! War Eagle. 

IMG_0124Me in the back of Katjas gator on a ladder throwing a pipe with a rope to try to get a croc off the roof.  Not OSHA approved. 

IMG_0196
My girls like to play games when we have free time. There are quite a few card sharks now...phase 10 and skip bo are our current favorites. 

IMG_9890mandatory nap time happened while in ohio and the Cat got involved a couple of times.  

IMG_0136

When we do the three man swing I get to climb up this pole to run the rope to set it up.  This day I ¨got¨ to do it twice because the rope fell off my shorts. The things I do for our kids...haha
IMG_0259 On any given day I bring home 1 to 10 shoes to glue.  Thankful they are now asking to get them glued and not just throwing them out!  They call my house the shoe repair store.  

 

Grateful for each of you.  Please keep praying.  be His. 



 

 


my story

For those interested in the back story... :)

Andi’s Story

 

 

 

I grew up in Montgomery, Alabama with an older brother and two younger sisters.  Our family went to church 3 out of 4 Sundays.  

When I was 10 our family joined a new church plant in Montgomery.  The pastor asked me if I knew the Lord as my Savior.  I replied “No” but I wanted to know Him as Savior.  I was just waiting for someone to ask me.  The pastor came over a few weeks later, shared Christ with my brother and me.  That night lying in my bed I asked the Lord to forgive my sins, come into my heart, and be Lord.  I remember vividly seeing Christ coming out of the tomb for me in my mind’s eye so I have no doubt that was the night I became a Christian.

For the next three years my life with God was one of rules- the “do’s and don’ts”  and my prayers were bargains with God.  “if you let me get this, I will pray everyday for the next month!”  The summer I turned 14 at a youth camp I realized that God wanted a relationship with me.  That I am the hands and feet of Christ and he wants me to be like Him, more than doing the “right”thing. 

Very soon after my arrival home from camp I realized my home was not like everyone else’s at camp.  My mother wasn’t the sweet mom who loved the Lord like the other mom’s that were at camp.   My mother loved me, there is no doubt, and she knew the Lord as Savior, but she had issues with anger and bitterness.

Church became my refuge. When I was 16 God brought me to a place of forgiveness with my mother.  All the things she did that were “wrong” or hurt me, I handed over to Him.  It didn’t change her, but it changed me.  I was becoming more like her but God changed my heart.

My plan was to go to Auburn for Social Work then to Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth.  My parents told me I had to stay at Auburn in Montgomery for one year and live at home.  My heart was so set on getting out of the house as soon as that year was up!  But God had other plans.  My youth minister asked me to take on several roles with the youth group for the 2nd year of college so I stayed. I stayed for 4 years.  During that time I had the opportunity to go to California with Campus Crusade for Christ.  I think during that time my mother began to see that all the things I kept saying about my relationship with the Lord were not just words, but really was who I was.

Soon after my return from California my mom found out she had cancer.  She had surgery and chemo and we didn’t talk much about it. I went to Auburn my 5th year, had a wonderful time.  I graduated in 97 with a Social Work degree and moved to Montgomery.  My plan was to stay home for a year then head to Texas.  God had other plans.

October of the year I graduated we found out my mom’s cancer was back- it was in her lungs, hip, ribs, shoulder, and had almost disintegrated one of her vertebrate away.  She ended up in the hospital for 40 days right after Thanksgiving until after new years.  I moved back home to be with my then 14 year old sister and help out mom and dad.  It was one of the hardest things to do but God knew what he was doing. 

I was blessed to go home from work on certain days to take mom food she would eat, help out around the house, and sit with her in her room.  As time went by her condition got worse and Dad came to me to ask about Hospice and “shopping” for funeral arrangements.  I will never forget the quiet strength my Dad had as he took care of my mom, learned about all the “mom” stuff she typically did and trying to take care of  his youngest 14 year old girly daughter.  My Dad has always been my hero, even more so now.

My mom died August 1998 the night my family left on the way to Michigan for my brother’s wedding.  When we returned home we had a funeral.  But what could have been such a overwhelmingly sad occasion became a time to talk about the Goodness of the Lord.  So many people had stories to share about how different my mom had become since her first illness.  They shared stories about how she would talk on and on about what her kids were doing and how proud she was of us in the middle of the grocery store.  (This from a mom who typically was brief and moved on instead of chit chatting!)  Her death became a spotlight on the strength of the Lord and how he had brought our family closer.  And I know only because of Him could I go through everything that happened that year.  He was and is my constant companion. 

I did move to Texas in January the following year.  I spent 5 years in Texas and finished Seminary with 2 degrees. A Masters in Ministry Based Evangelism and a Masters in Christian Education.  The time I spent in Texas was a tremendous blessing and I consider Ft. Worth another “home.”  I was able to lead worship for a youth group and spend 4 summers working for Lifeway on staff with Centrifuge Camps.  When I got closer to graduation my plan was to stay in TX at an organization called Cornerstone, which worked with homeless families, but again God had different plans.  He called me back to Alabama.  My dad had remarried to a lady whose husband died the same year as mom.  He now lives in Opelika. 

I found a job at the hospital in Auburn doing discharge planning- Social Work.. I worked there almost 4 years.  The Lord led me to membership at local church and volunteer Missions Coordinator for almost 4 years.  I left the hospital to lead the Children as Childrens Minister at my church.  After a time in that position I felt the Lord led me to resign my position there. I had no job for almost 2 months but every bill was paid and in the midst my car was paid off and my mortgage was paid for 3 months.  It was confirmation I was being obedient to what He said. Even when I didn’t see His plan.

 I remained as Missions coordinator for a time and while I had been at that church I was blessed to take teams to Ecuador, the Gulf Coast, NOLA, New York City, locally on different events, and begin a partnership with a community in Uganda including sponsoring over 300 children and lead 6 teams there. And I was blessed to spend Christmas week in China and even have the opportunity to share God’s Word with a house church 2 days before Christmas.  This in the midst of my “regular” jobs.  What a blessing.  

I was offered a job at a Nursing home to work as Admissions Coordinator in 2009.  It was a blessing to see the transformation of that facility from a place of extreme darkness to one of light. 

The Lord told me after I began working at there that I would leave that job by a certain date.  I stayed several months later and was finally obedient and resigned my job there.  It was one of the most difficult decisions ever.  I loved that job and didn’t want to leave.  I cashed out my retirement account and finally began pursuing moving overseas. (I never saw myself overseas full time!) I thought I would end up in Uganda at a Christian university that relocated down the street from the church we had been working in but that wasn’t what He had planned.

A year after I had resigned my job someone mentioned to me Orphanage Emmanuel.  She had been talking to me about Emmanuel with me for almost 10 years.  She mentioned that the volunteer coordinator was leaving and the Lord clearly said “listen.”  I applied the next month to be a volunteer at OE, sold all my belongings, and moved to a country I had never been to. With no plans to leave it until He tells me.      

So you can say the story is still being written…God is the ultimate writer of glorious and amazing stories, because ultimately our stories are all about Him….

 


when all you need is an emoji

For any of you who know me well you know that I love words.  Like letters, texts, emails, scripture. I LOVE the word. That's God's word...the Bible.  But I really do love words from people. It's a love language to be encouraged and affirmed especially in print.  The words remain there when the doubts come. I would keep explaining this but I am going to go with the idea that you get me...

I have written many a time about my #village.  The people that have my back.  Those people that kind of are my core people.  But know that my core is kinda really big.  I love my village people.  They get me.  I can say stuff and not have to explain that the sarcastic thing I might have just said was just being funny or whatever.  They get that sometimes when I talk about the Lord and what He is doing in me, around me, on my behalf, or even just when i see Him basically anywhere I may just start crying.  Especially if it is in front of people who have my back. My friends, my church, my people.  And I am grateful for each and every one of you peeps. 

But there are days that just a simple emoji works for communication.  My friend Bufanda and I were chatting via imessage last night and she said she was out of practice so she was going to try harder today.  I joked we could only talk in code today and emojis.  (It didn't happen because I just needed to say WORDS today) but we had a good time with it.  

As I communicated with a couple of people today I realized that sometimes an emoji is just something else that the Lord uses in my life to show Himself.  I got a message from my friend James and she said she was praying for me this morning and missed me and such.  Emojis Included praying hands (some argue its 2 people high fiving, but I am gonna go with praying hands) As the convo continued I included hearts (blue ones because I feel those are very different than red, and blue hearts communicate agape love :) fist bumps and thumbs ups.  Fist bumps also communicate love to me.  A symbol of agreement. 

And then later in the day Bu was messaging me and I had to tell her I couldn't talk to her any more because even her emojis were kinda making me get emotional.  I tend to have a soft heart toward the things of the Lord and Holy Spirit some days and when that happens I feel like I have to just go pray.  And sometimes leaving what you are doing to go pray and just sit with the Father to soak up His goodness doesn't work.  So I told her I had to peace out.  Seems that sometimes all I need is an emoji....and the Father is laughing that an emoji sometimes just makes me want to be with Him. 

He is funny about how He works. Was praying last night asking Him things and then this morning John Pipers morning devotional email pretty much flat out straight responded to one of my questions.  You cannot tell me that He isn't intimately aware of our questions and doubts and in His way will respond to them.  Thankfully today for me they were in black and white. He knows some days I need the words in front of me! 

I will be honest in saying that since shortly after Christmas it's kind of been a rough patch for my heart.  It's not any issues with my girls, or staff, or anyone.  But it's just those times you have that your heart struggles to understand and in this world we still get stuck in our flesh it's just hard.  So it's been good to be encouraged by you guys in the emojis, the photos from home, the words of random whatever.  It makes me feel not so far away, and sometimes not so stupid that I feel I'm always doing something dumb! So thanks for being in the club with me.  

I am continually reminded of how you guys are in my corner and I am thankful.  Each month when my report comes there is always someone different sending funds to me and it just makes me smile.  Consistent givers give me a base and the random givers ALWAYS fill in what I think is lacking.  And then there are the Christmas cards I got this week! And the emails or texts people send to say they felt led to pray.  Even when they don't know what is going on, the prayers are always on point.  (Side note, my phone with my US number died so I am only getting my Honduran number stuff.  If you want my Honduran number you can still imessage me for free.  comment and I will send it.  If you've called or texted my US number I can't see it right now) 

I guess I am rambling on about words.  using more words to just clutter up this page.  But what I am saying is thank you.  I thank the Lord for His consistency with me in His words and His love you show me so frequently.  

Grateful.

Blessed. 

Be His. 

 


....lack of a blog title.


I've spoken on it in the blog before and I probably will again at some point. Isolation and feeling disconnected are a struggle for me here. I am surrounded by people and some days I feel like I haven't spoken to anyone in forever. Conversations that don't revolve around my kids. My work. But maybe just Jesus. And laughin about stupid stuff.

I have one friend that we "meet" every week to do bible study on the phone and last week I bailed out on her. I was tired and not feeling so great and I felt I had little to offer in anyway that would be remotely beneficial or encouraging and I didn't feel like I could even pray so I bailed. And I've regretted it ever since.

I failed to let the truth of God's word speak to my heart through a sister who isn't afraid to speak it. I failed to be honest in my struggle and it's only made the struggle harder this past week. I sit to read my bible and my brain cannot focus. My prayers seem to run into my metal ceiling after starting "I just don't know how to do this. I don't know what to say...."
I don't know how to even begin to explain to anyone how this feels here. To interrupt sports practices and games and vacations with a text that sounds needy and selfish. Even to ask for prayer. I signed up for this. I should have known it was coming. The Bible says it. I should've been prepared.
Yet my Father pursues me. A text with truth is echoed on a webpage I read. The chapter in the book I'm reading on God being our banner and He fights for us, in us, is echoed in another webpage. A tweet. A bracelet on one of my kids arms.

But there are realities that I need to face. A balance I must find. My friends and family at home cannot understand what life is here. I cannot expect them too. And I'm trying to figure out the balance between sharing my life and just suckin it up and walking through my life with Him. How to not have my feelings hurt that I am missing out on life in the states because I am here. How to not feel like life is passing by because I am not doing those fun things I see everyone posting on Facebook. How to not be jealous that almost everyone in America gets a a 2 day break from work every 5 days and not 1 day every 20.
So I start drawing lines that feel safe. Stop looking at Facebook (it annoys me anyway only showing me 40 people I know and some only barely). Comparison can be a killer. And right now it's eating my lunch.
So I won't be on Facebook. I won't see the funny. The photos. The prayer requests. The messages through FB. If you want me to know em please go old school. Email me or iMessage me. :)
I feel like I'm going back to snail mail and actual books. And maybe even a real conversation. Where someone can hear the hesitation in my voice and know what I'm thinking. Can hear the smile about what He is doing even when I feel like my heart has been squished flat. Life that has the only comparisons that I want to make are to becoming more like Him. And understanding quiet isn't always such a bad thing.
And the lines that He draws for me are always safe because they draw me to Him. Even if they are scary. So I ask Him to pursue me. Even if it feels painful and scary. And I'll continue to share the journey because you are my village and it's what we do. Just won't be doin it on Facebook.


first world probz-parking

Let me set the stage for this little story.  I am on my way to a local church (not my own) to share with a sunday school class about Emmanuel and what I do.  I pull into a less than half full parking lot.  There was a red Jeep Cherokee in front of me.  See photo below.

IMG_5335

 

He pulled into that area where the silver car is in this photo.

IMG_5336
 The space to the left was empty.  The space in front of it was empty and there were two girls standing in that spot talking.  Oh and It is raining.  I noticed as I began to pull into that spot and pull through up to the further on spot that the jeep was putting his reverse lights on.  Mind you that car is completely over that triangle and in no way in the spot that I was pulling into or through.  I heard a car horn honk.  I thought they were just honking at the girls.  

I pull up and park.  Next thing I know the guy in the Jeep Cherokee pulls up in front of me...stops.  Rolls down his window. in the rain mind  you. And then says "I was going to park there!" and he said something else as he shook his head in disgust and seeming amazement as he drove away and parked somewhere else. 

My first thought- I had no idea dude.  If I did I woulda totally let you park here.  Theres about 40 other spots for me to park in.  Second thought- wow.  It's not that important.  I am just going to CHURCH.  Third Thought- wonder where He stands with Jesus.  Maybe he's going inside to find a relationship with Him.  

As I got out of the car I could hear him talking with someone about how rude I was for taking his spot.  Part of me hoped that he was going in the building where I was going so I could say something to him about it.  I wasn't bothered at all.  Just very surprised that somehow he decided the spot next to where he parked had his name on it.  And that he got so upset.  And i just wondered why he didn't just pull up behind me in that spot where the blue car is in that photo. 

So moral of the story- even people going to church, and sometimes maybe especially people going to church need a little understanding and lovin.  And college ministers- (I don't want to call anyone out by name here...) I have a trip I can arrange for your college students to help them adjust their worldview a little bit so maybe parking spots won't be such a big deal.  If I coulda I woulda gladly given the spot back and gone on about my business.

My Dad said maybe that kid had been watching Fried Green Tomatoes.  I am still laughing.  Merry Christmas Christmas eve yall.  


circle of life

I have seen more spiders catch and drag away insects since I have been here than my entire life.  3 total thus far, prior to Honduras I have never seen it in real life.  The last murder I saw on the floor of the bathroom.  Saw a bug moving across the floor then all the sudden stop.  Then I noticed the tiny spider that had it in it’s mouth. Circle of life and all I guess.Debating leaving the light off when I go to the bathroom.  Not sure if I would rather chance stepping on a bug or see it scatter.  The insects aren’t really bad but they tend to be around once the lights are off.

 

(This was actually 2 weeks ago):

I have been learning my own lesson on how God loves me this past week.  I shared last week’s message about God’s love to my girls with you.  Then Saturday happened.  Circumstances here that were difficult and what if’s came up on a subject in my life and I was having a really difficult time sorting through it.  I found that I did not Trust God with that thing.  It was a rough realization…I don’t trust the Lord.  If I don’t trust Him with that…I don’t trust Him. 

As I spent time in prayer and reading my bible the Holy Spirit worked as He does and one thing led to another.  And then it lead to this verse:

 

Which then led to this verse: Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who LOVED ME and Gave Himself up for me. “

 

He Loves Me.

There it is. 

And it overwhelmed me. 

 

And a foot note in my bible led me to Romans 8:37 “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through HIM who LOVED US…nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

I cannot explain the sudden realization I had after I read this.  Reading for what seemed like the first time ever that God loves ME.  I have said it before to others and written it many times, but it seems that this is the first time I saw it in black and white.  And I am working on 40 years of living right now.  I just need to pause for a second as I type this just to let that settle in again.

 

That lesson lead into the next week’s lesson about Trust.  Continually seeing how my understanding of God’s love ties completely in with Love.  Repeatedly the Lord led me back to words and places about trust.  Through texts from friends about their church service, their youth group bible study, their own bible study, photos of pages from books.  I cannot deny that the Lord was saying something.  Something like “Trust me Child.  When are you going to realize I love you?”

 

(This is actually present week):

I am working on week three on this.  Tie those lessons in with new lessons that are difficult for me.  Pausing to think about why I get frustrated some days over some things.  Lessons about serving.  About patience.  About the Holy Spirit doing the work in and through me.  I’d share examples and give you an idea, but I am just not feeling the need to out myself on how ridiculous I can be yet.  Maybe later. 

 

I found out John West went to be with the Lord last week.  Many of you may not know him, but he was our Missions Director at Lakeview.  He has helped to send, and take, and encouraged and assisted numerous individuals through the years serve overseas long term and short term.  He was the one that replied to an email he was copied on to me.  That email helped me find CMC which is my missionary sending organization.  He didn’t have to send me an email.  He was only copied on a reply from another staff member emailing me back.  But he did.  And he suggested CMC.  That was Thursday.  He was off Friday.  He had a massive stroke on Saturday.  If he had not sent that email I don’t know that I would have found CMC and my journey to Honduras would have probably taken longer and undoubtedly would have been a little more difficult.  I am grateful to John for that one thing.  Plus numerous others as we see the legacy he left at Lakeview in regards to missions.  I was able to watch about 30 minutes of his funeral service (the internet just to slow to handle more).  It was a blessing to worship with my church family at home as we celebrate John going home. 

 

And Oh my goodness at that Auburn Texas A&M game.  Got to watch the play by play graphic on my phone for the last 4 minutes.  I wanted to holler but my sick voice wouldn’t do it.  And there were only 4 danish girls in the house so I had to wait til an American came home to share my joy and astonishment.  Then the LSU game.  Goodness.  I think I am just going to stay off my phone from here on out.  I can’t handle it.  Plus I didn’t have time to make any dip…

 

I have some more to say, but this blog has become draw out so I will save it for later.  God is continually at work here.  If in no one else I know He is at work in me.  Some days painfully so.  But at the end of the day I would rather have it no other way. 

 

Grateful for your prayers.  Your partnership.  Many days I long to be with you guys.  To sit and just talk.  Many days I long for heaven.  The beauty of this place sometimes stirs my heart for my eternal home.  The difficulty of this place sometimes stirs my heart for my eternal home.  But today I am blessed.  Just blessed to be here.  Glory to God for each moment.