general thoughts

How are you stepping?

I got a text this morning from a #village member. Because of the time change I got it early in the morning and did not see it until I woke. Attached to what they said to me personally was a photo of their devotional from the 9th. (The day they sent the text).

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They were saying they thought of me when they read it, and explained why. I read it and I wept.

It has been a difficult few days for me. I’m tired, my heart is weary, and I have felt anything but worthy of this time I have in Israel with My Father, My Savior, and the sweet Spirit. My heart is heavy with burdens of others in my village, in this world, things that He is working out in me.  I look around and see division, evil, the lost who are blinded, hurts and suffering. It makes me long for heaven. It makes me long for the Messiah to return triumphantly and end the drama of this world. But at the same time my prayer is He would delay so that more would come to know him as Savior.

I am grateful for this perspective, especially in this divided place that is Israel. It feels like a game of walking across the ice some days… Muslims, Jews, Christians, Palestinians, some who know the Savior as Lord, some who don’t. You can’t tell where anyone is in their heart. Unrest feels on the brink moment by moment in crowds of people.   I am continually amazed that our Father is NOT UNAWARE of ONE person. He knows each and every heart that walks this earth. He works. The Son intercedes and waits. The Spirit comforts, convicts, speaks truth. Not just here. But the whole. Entire. Planet.

Yet He speaks to me intimately. His child. Compassionate and Gracious (Ex 34). And I am humbled. That He holds my hand. That He shepherds me. That He chose and adopted me (Ephesians 1)  He does the work. I didn’t do a thing to earn it or make it happen.

And because of that I think, how can I NOT do what He asks? Follow Him. Be His. Whether it feels easy or hard. And while the view on the mountain top is beautiful and quiet and breathtaking….getting to the top of the mountain will take your breath away. It will exhaust you. It will be painful. Trust me, I have walked up hills here that do that. MOUNTAINS will really do that to you. Even if you walk circular paths up the mountain, you still get exhausted. Actually that way is further on the mileage meter. It is quite difficult to walk straight up a mountain. We forget that. Sometimes the path that feels like it is going no where is really just the path circling up or around to where He wants us to be. If we chose, we would try to race up the mountain which is dangerous and also stupid.

He knows best. So trust Him.

In the journey rest in walking with Him. Listen to the lessons He speaks. When done with the view continue to listen. Be prepared to do the work in the valley too. He doesn’t operate differently because of locality. It is often us who do. He is consistent and patient. We just need to pay attention to Him in it all.

Whether we are in the waiting that often feels painful and too quiet or rejoicing in what feels like an arrival or the end of the waiting…He is Aware. Psalm 139:2

As we take steps, stop, wait, run, crawl, or simply stand…We do it in Faith. Faith He imparts to us. 2 Corinthians 5:7

May our view wherever we are not be so telescopic, microscopic, or narrow we fail to see the view of right where He has us. Even in darkness He is our light… so that we can see. May we rejoice wherever He has us that He is there. We are never outside of His presence. He said so. John 8:12 Psalm 36:9 Psalm 139:11-12

So I say all this to say, no matter where we may be, may we see His hand. Not what He is doing next. Why He is doing what He is doing. But His hand that supports us. His hand that holds us. The hand of our Father. Our Shepherd who loves and cares for us. Who speaks our name and calls to us. Psalm 73:23 Psalm 139:10

May we quicken our pace with anticipation of what He has for us in our next steps. 

May we all Be His.


The story, with the back story, of the story of, well. Him.

The difficult thing about having a blog is somehow writing what you really are thinking, explaining it, and hoping that somehow it makes sense yet doesn't make anyone think poorly of you, get mad at you, or think you are crazy by the end of it. I want to write about my recent trip to New York, but in order to do that well I have to tell the backstory.  In any good story, there is always a back story to set the tone.  This back story doesn't exactly give me good feelings and probably won't give you warm fuzzies...but hang with me.  There is a reason I am saying all this. 

I have a bucket list.  I have mentioned it before on the blog perhaps.  For those of you who don't know it.... It was this:

Brooklyn Tabernacle Tuesday Prayer Service
Photo with Aubie (Yeah. I have taken plenty of photos of my people with Aubie..never one of myself WITH Him)
Grand Canyon
Go inside the Statue of Liberty 
Spend a night and day near water that is cobalt blue or crystal clear....preferrably in one of those huts with a glass window in the floor. 
Get my friends together for a weekend, so they can know each other and I can celebrate His goodness to me through them together. For once have them all in the same place and they can see how awesome they each are and hopefully like each other just a touch of how much I love them.
I recently added "Go to Acre" on my list since moving back to Auburn. 

I have checked off Acre. IMG_7808
 Aubie, IMG_7736
and this week particular week, Brooklyn Tabernacle and Liberty  were on my list to be checked off. 

When I was in college, Seminary or somewhere along the line I heard about Brooklyn Tabernacle Church,  but I never got to go on my trips to NYC.   Long stories, but I have been to the Statue of Liberty multiple times, but never got to go inside of the statue. So I decided in March that I would just make plans and dgo. If no one could go, I would just go alone.  I had enough Southwest points and booked so early that the ticket was free.  I asked several folks if they could go.  They couldn't so I went ahead with plans to get those items on my bucket list checked off. 

I was going to go on Tuesday morning and come back late Wednesday. Cheaper ticket, and only one hotel night.  I planned it for July 25-26.  My Birthday is July 24.  I thought it would be a good way to start off my 44th year (I turned 43....so this is my actual 44th year of life :) 

The hard part of the back story... My birthday was Monday.  I really don't like my birthday.  I haven't in a long time. Let me explain why, and hopefully you will understand where I am coming from... 

My Momma was one of those Betty Crocker meets Martha Stewart types.  I think because she enjoyed it and also out of necessity.  We didn't always have a lot of money to do a lot of things.  She did homecooking, sewed most of our dresses, made do with what we had.  Every birthday she would make our birthday cakes, themed with something we liked.  IMG_0230
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My cakes varied from Holly Hobbie to Big Bird and Cookie Monster to PacMan and somewhere along the line I decided I loved Great American Cookie Cake..all chocolate Icing please.  So that is how we went except the one year I was in trouble and didn't get a birthday (another story for another day). 

My 24th birthday my Mom was very sick, and we even got hospice on board that week and shopped for funeral arrangements.... We knew she wasn't doing well.  But she made sure that I got my cookie cake, even though she wasn't eating much, we gathered in her room and the Happy Birthday happened.  That was the last birthday I had with my Mom.  Mine was the last birthday she celebrated before she died 12 days later. 

So a lot of the time my birthday feels hard. And even lonely. 

The next year I was in Fort Worth and had just returned with the kids from camp...I didn't really know many people in FTW.  And pre facebook if people didn't know it was your birthday and you didn't mention it, they never knew.  From what I remember I asked a girl I kinda was getting to know if she wanted to go to dinner.  I don't even remember if I told her it was my birthday.  I do remember that week at camp getting emotional and bawling on one of the Fuge staff over it all...In God's kindness it was a good day overall dinner and hanging out with a future bestie. No cake or cards or gifts that I can recall.  But it was ok. 

The next four years I was working for Centrifuge so birthdays were work days and usually the whole camp knew.  One of those summers a couple sweet friends celebrated birthday week and another camp summer my birthday was actually my first full day in NY and I spent it running around town with my friend Buzz- ended with Phantom of the Opera and doughnuts in a hotel room with my team. My family sent cards and gave the shout outs but life just felt very different with location and folks always seeming to be different year to year.

When I moved to Auburn there were lunches with coworkers and dinner with my parents. Because of life stage and being single my birthday turned into inviting people "out to eat" or "come over to hang out at the house and we will have burgers" Because there isn't the typical husband and kids to make much of you when your calendar flips to turn you a year older. My last birthday in the US before I moved to Honduras I hijacked Sister Girl for a day in Birmingham followed by "Hey everybody let's get together at Laredos" and I got the cookie cake..because I wanted to eat it and I knew it would be there if I got it.  James actually got one too, she knew it was my birthday and wanted to make sure I had it.  I really just want my birthday to be about hanging out with my people...but if I didn't move to make it happen I usually ended up at home doing nothing. No celebration or hoo ha, quiet and yep. Alone-Ish. 

Don't get me wrong- there were small gatherings and ridiculousness like Sarah being obnoxious about it.  There have been yearly Happy Birthday Videos and the stellar cards (I still have that "The Office" Card Barbara.  Good call). I am grateful for my life and what I have.  But birthdays always feel hard.  

In Honduras there were teams who found out it was my birthday and blessed me with cards and rice krispy "cake" and my kids usually were completely obnoxious with the eggs and flour. But I always felt at a distance about my birthday, realizing for a lot of my kids a big deal wasn't made of them, so I was really ok with not a lot being made of mine. I don't like the singing Happy Birthday thing...I really just want to be with my people more than anything.   My 40th birthday was weird. Well intentioned but really not at all what I wanted. (I wanted pizza or Chinese. I got a random buffet at a Honduran restaurant that was really quite... no bueno). 
 
So coming back to the US felt weird after all that, back to what I thought I knew and comfortable with...but I have found to be so different. I anticipated Lots of time with friends. Birthday celebrations for and with my friends. Good convos about all the things I haven't gotten to talk about... this is what I have missed over the past 4 years. What I have found is disconnection and a lot of alone time, isolation. I feel like I came home from college and everyone has moved or moved on. I don't fit or feel at home in Auburn. I've found what has felt like loss and disappointment. Grateful for where I am. But really quite opposite of what I expected and hoped for in my return to "regular life."

So Birthday 2017 was different.  Quiet. Stuck in traffic in ATL due to a gas truck turnover is how my birthday officially started.  Went to work. No cake. No cards. No gifts.  Homecooked meal with my Halls and packing for NYC that night. .  Facebook greetings, some texts and the annual sing o gram video message from a #village fam. And as much as I tried to prepare myself for that particular day...it still was hard. Being single feels amplified on a birthday that felt like Monday did. It echoed loudly the empty feeling that 8 months in Auburn have felt like to me.

So Tuesday morning predawn I found myself driving to ATL to catch a flight to NY.  When I wasn't asleep on the flight I was crying.  I am sure if the lights were on in the plane they woulda wondered who died.  I felt alone and sort of forgotten...and on my way to a city with a billion people. By myself.  Not at all feeling what I thought I would feel this day when I booked the ticket 4 months before.

This is what is hard...how do you explain- you feel lonely without it sounding like a pity party and selfish?  How do you talk about real feelings when everyone has a hard time with the stage of life they find themselves?  Because I don't know how to bring it up, talk about it....for weeks, even with my closest friends I have said nothing.  I felt I lost the community I had before I went to Honduras, things have changed so much, and all this felt amplified on my birthday.  I felt deflated and defeated. Forgotten and alone on that plane.

So when I got to New York I checked in to my hotel room and headed to the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) to go see my suit of armor.  The short version of this story is that I took a photo of a suit of armor years ago on a NY trip...and the Lord used it to teach me about our armor- Ephesians 6.  It has a dent in it's breastplate on the front  that was intentionally left there when it was made. Basically He is our defense...our armor is battle tested and trustworthy.  Breastplate of Righteousness is His blood shed for us.  I will have to work on a blog post on that.  If I have done one before I can't find it.   IMG_7982
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I walked into armor hall and took a photo of the armor and of the sign (I previously did not take a photo of the details for the armor and have regretted it for years).  I walked off and decided to wander around the museum some more, but I felt like I needed to take time to go back to my armor.  I went back and actually read the info on the armor.  I realized it said that there is a dent in the back of the armor (this particular armor was fired at by a pistol and the dent would be left so show the future armor wearer that it was trustworthy).  I am not sure why It hit me like it did, but when I realized the armor had not just a dent in the front but in the back I wanted to lean on the glass case and cry.  I could only think "He not only goes with me... in front, He goes behind- He guards me in such a protected and sure way.  His death and victory over death and sin by His resurrection is the dent if you will that proves He is trust worthy.  What better guarantee can you find anywhere that is so trustworthy?


I took a photo of it and as I walked around the museum it was as if a light had come, the heaviness was lifted...and the loneliness I had felt so strongly broke.  As I went I was texting the random thoughts to my friend and photos of things I was struck by as beautiful.  He was just reminding me for the thousandth time that He is aware of me and my needs and I can trust Him.


That afternoon I went to a cathedral which is another story...but it felt empty after the Met. Irony of ironies... a church feeling devoid of Jesus. Lots of other things that really had nothing to do with the God I know.  I finished up there and headed to Brooklyn to eat dinner somewhere before prayer service at Brooklyn Tabernacle.  


I saw on my google map of Brooklyn Shake Shack so I went there.  I ordered and sat down in the bar window next to a lady who was cleaning up her spot while she waited on her food.  As I sat there I kept thinking I need to ask her if she lives around here.  She ended up asking if I could guard her spot when she went to get her food.  After I got mine I asked her if she lived around in Brooklyn.  Keep in mind I DON'T TALK TO STRANGERS.  It is weird, awkward, and I NEVER DO IT.  And here I am TALKING TO A STRANGER. IN BROOKLYN, NY.  For the Love. 


Turns out she lives in Long Island like over an hour away.  But she used to live in Brooklyn for years.  She said she went to church near the Shake Shack....yep Brooklyn Tabernacle.  She was a member way back in the day even before they were in the building they occupy now. So I laughed and said "Of COURSE YOU DO" in my head.  I ended up explaining that Prayer Service is on my bucket list.  She is on the Brooklyn Tabernacle prayer team (Of COURSE she is!) and drives in 3 times a week for Church, her prayer time in the prayer room, and Prayer service.  I talked about my life a bit and she was so excited that I was there.  She said She was going to take me, introduce me to people, and she would GET ME TO MEET THE PASTOR.  Dude.  Really? I feel like she was almost more excited to meet me, and hear my crazy life story.  She kept saying "The Lord is speaking to me so much through you right now!" Which just felt crazy, because I was just telling her what the Father has done in my life. 


So here I am thinking I am going to Brooklyn Tabernacle, alone, sitting in a room full of people, awkward and feeling isolated while surrounded by people.  And Instead the King of the Universe has sent me a friend that literally as we walked into the church is not only introducing me to folks, she is asking if I have any questions or need anything... 


Prayer service was great.  I loved the worship, the praying, the encouragement of being in a body of believers- sisters and brothers that just were there to praise the Lord and pray.  Brenda kept introducing me to everyone as "My missionary friend that lived in Honduras from Alabama" which just made me laugh.  It was a blessing to pray with her for prayer needs we were given, and the missionary couple residing in Africa that shared during the service.  After service Brenda bee lined me to Pastor Cymbala to introduce me.  It was all too crazy to be real.  But it was His plan.  


I found out the night before that BethAnn (A girl who used to live in Auburn) had moved to NYC in November and she was free to come meet me.  So she came during the service and met us right after.  Brenda was going "to be my personal uber so I didn't ride the train!" (which would have meant an extra 45 minutes each way to her.)  Because BethAnn was with me she said we would be ok and we headed out.   IMG_7903



BethAnn and I got to catch up about our crazy lives.  She had been in CA then moved to NYC and God just had to work out all kinds of details to get her to where she was that day.  It was awesome to get to spend time with her.  


I could go on to talk about how I got to talk to my bestie on the phone for a minute about how crazy it was that God was so sweet to me to send me a friend to go to prayer with...who was on the prayer team and I got to sit up front and meet the pastor.  I could talk about how I got to talk to my kid for awhile- she broke up with her boyfriend and I was so proud of her...who she is  growing as a child of God.  I could talk about my trip to Lady Liberty and going inside of her finally.  The phone convo I had with my bestie about what He is doing in both of us.  How I do not know my plans after Israel but I am trusting Him to show me.  I could talk about my time at the 9/11 Museum and Memorial. The lessons learned as I went to the transit museum, riding through the subway, sitting in Trinity Church as He spoke through Psalm 20 & 21 as I sat there and just "happened" to flip to that very page.   I could talk about the peace and safety that He had shown me the day before. How every where I went He overwhelmed me with the almost tangible reminder of His presence.  Of Him.   I could stumble through trying to explain how He just kept speaking to my heart about all the things that hurt so much. 


But those are hard things to talk about.  How do you explain things that are intangible but life changing that He does in your heart?  I still don't know. I just know that the Father showed up that day in The Met, made His presence known to me, showed me truth I needed to see again, and just kept pouring out his Mercy and Grace to me as I went through that day.  Wednesday I still didn't have all the words and thoughts processed as  I fumbled through a phone convo with my bestie on Liberty Island.  But that worked out  because when we talk only about a third of the words that are in my heart actually come out and she gets it... I found myself saying things that were true in my heart that I was just realizing as I said them.  Saying dangerous things that He is working out for my good and His glory.  I said something and her reply was "I didn't know you were considering that."  My response was- "Well, it's something that really just became real to me. So yes.  Sounds like I am."  Because this is how He works things out in us.  Sometimes in a non linear way.  But always very real. 


So here is what I want to say.  Life has been very difficult.  I have experienced a lot of circumstances and expectations that just were not in my head when I flew back to the US in November   A lot of alone, quiet days and nights.  A lot of heartache and loss I did not expect to experience.  I miss my kids.  I miss the ministry, talking about Jesus in multiple contexts (with my kids, with teams, with volunteers and some staff).  I expected to settle into my job, my church, get a house, and find those things that give stability in our day to day world. In coming back to the states I didn't have a handbook or any hints on how to leave a life behind and segue into a new one.  So I have just had to fumble through not knowing really how to process or talk about it all.  But what I have found is that in the hard and weird lesson, it has brought me closer to Him. 
 
I have found that in the times that feel unexplainable His presence is constant and His love unrelenting. When nothing else seems certain, He is. 


I share all of this because I think we all experience things that are hard.  We often don't know how to talk about them.  Sometimes we just talk about the hard things, then don't talk about the things that He works out in our hearts.  You may have followed along my journey and seen the bloggable moments.  The instagram pieces and twitter feed of what my life has looked like.  Those things are easy to share- the somewhat tangible moments that are events, places, or people.  But I felt like sharing those things that aren't. Because we all experience them in some way.  And He is in them.  


Does my heart still smart over the "Non Birthday," if you will? Yep
Does Auburn still feel like it is not home? Yep
Do I still feel like I don't fit in in most contexts as a single former missionary female? Yep
Do I know how to talk about it all without crying? Nope
Do I know that He is at work in my heart daily? Absolutely
Do I know that life is hard work, and will be tomorrow? Yep
Do I expect tomorrow to feel easier? Nope
Do I expect some days I cannot run, I cannot fight other than to just stand? Yes.
Do I know that He is with me? Yes
Do I know that He will be tomorrow? Absolutely
Do I know that He has to be enough? Yes
Do I know that life will be hard but heaven is coming and my hope is in Him? Yes
Do I know that all of this is worth it? Yes. 
Because He is in it.  Because He has said it.  Because, well, Just because Him. 

So I tell you this to say, wherever you are, trust Him. He is worthy.  He really does love you. Even when it feels so hard you just want to skip it.  He really is trustworthy.  


He calls us into battle and leads the way.  He doesn't just say "Hey you go there and do that! See ya on the other side"  No, He is with us.  
Because He defeated death...on the cross took our sin and shame, and in victory rose again,  we can trust whatever He says.  Whatever He calls us to.  Even when it feels hard.  His presence that is always there...if we just look, we will see Him.  And He makes it possible.  


I think of Moses multiple times arguing, if you will, with God about his abilities or what He needed to do...and God continually reminded or told him "I will be with you. I AM." Moses was repeatedly reminded by Yahweh that He was with Him, He would go with him. And He was, every step, every moment.  Why would we think that somehow he has changed His mind when He has said the same to us? 
 
He promises His presence to us.  In case you need proof, here is a list: 
Isaiah 57:15, Acts 17:28, Psalm 139: 7, Exodus 33:14, Psalm 16:11, Jeremiah 29:13, 1 John 4:12, John 15:9, Matthew 28:20, John 14:16 
Just to name a few.  ;)



So keep going.  Keep stepping.  Standing.  Running. Doing what He has called you to.  Trustworthy and True our King and Savior.  Our Father.  
Him. 
Be His.  
 
 PS- I DO talk to strangers...in many contexts and for various reasons.  When in leadership roles or with others I am all over it.  But typically when alone I don't so much unless there is a stirring in me to step outside of what feels comfortable...and usually good things come of it. 
Just wanted to clarify that point :) 

"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.