Sunday, November 7, 2010

Step-by-Step... A Journey of Looking Back

I find it crazy how this amazing Journey with the Lord works. Sometimes I feel as though I am facing a red light or a stop sign and the pain in that awful time of waiting seems almost unbearable. I get impatient when the LORD does not answer me in my time. I try to fly through the yellow lights without yielding to what the LORD has for me. I do not heed His warnings to "slow down" and then I end up in a collision that pushes me down hard on my knees... the place where I am humble and realize my complete need for God in my life.

This Journey really is one of steps. I look back and I see that so clearly. Each step was made up of an act of obedience. Some steps were smaller than others, but just as necessary as the other ones. Some steps were harder than others and some grew my faith more than others. Some of the steps resulted in tears; some were tears of joy and others, tears of loss. Yet all of the steps required a heart of complete trust in my God and a fall to my knees in complete surrender. All of them led me straight into the arms of my Savior. And I am so thankful. I know that God is not a feeling, but when you do feel Him and His love for you even amidst the times of confusion... you realize your true worth. I am wrapped in the arms of the One who holds the world. He surely knows how to care for His own. And I am one of His own. Oh, how unworthy I am! Yet how grateful and how humbled to know that I am loved by the King...

Step by step by sometimes painstakingly slow step... Each step is for a purpose, each one perhaps for a reason that we do not understand. I understand that now. Looking back over the course of these years, I can see it. I can understand why the Lord led me in the ways that He did. I may not understand completely all of the reasons for everything, but I can see His faithfulness to me then and I rest in knowing that He is faithful always, that He will be faithful to me now.

And this, this is what I live for. This is WHO I live for. Sometimes I am just so blown away by this thought. I do not know exactly where in this life the Lord is leading me on this Journey... But I do know with a confident reassurance that the last step will leave me on the streets of gold, enjoying the presence of my Savior and my God all day, every day, for all of eternity. One step here on earth might be painful. It might be almost unbearingly hard. It may even seem impossible; it may BE impossible without God's supernatural strength and intervention. It may lead me to places that I never would have dreamed or imagined... And yet I know that at the end of it all, I will be able to fall at the feet of my God, and I will want to know that I lived this life doing all that I could for Him and for His Glory.

God has taken me to amazing, indescribable places in this Journey with Him. He has allowed me to meet the most precious, incredible people that anyone could ever have the pleasure of meeting. He has broken my heart in humility and humbleness through many circumstances... knowing that in order for Him to fulfill in my life what He knows is best, I must have a completely surrendered heart. Looking back and knowing all of this allows me to look forward to the future with a confidence that only comes from Christ.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
-Proverbs 3:5-6

May I never, ever, ever forget this truth. There are no winding roads with the Lord. There may be stop signs; there may be flashing yellow lights and "yield" signs; there may be intersections of temptation where I must decide to stay on the straight and narrow, without turning to the right or to the left. Yet I know that the path is straight for the one who trusts in the Lord and not in her own understanding, the one who acknowledges Him... I look back and I see this now. I may not understand every step, but I understand that they are all for a reason and that I can trust Him.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."
-Romans 8:28

Yes, yes! I understand this now. I may not understand all of Him and all of His ways, but if I could He would not be a God worth following... He is too awesome and magnificent and incredible for mere human thought. I may not understand why certain things happen in my life and in the lives of ones that I love, but I understand that God loves me and that He is working together a far greater plan than anything I could come up with on my own.

And for this, I am forever grateful. To Him be the glory forever and ever and ever and ever...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Oh, the depth...

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 'Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?' 'Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?' For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen."
-Romans 11:33-36

view from the Citadel in Haiti

In "Voices of the True Woman Movement", Nancy Leigh DeMoss shares her experience of riding in a jeep through the Rocky Mountains with her friends in Colorado. The climb was long and even scary at times, as they came real close to the edge of the mountain. At points, they would get out of the jeep and hike the steep trails. After many curves and narrow trails, they finally - finally - made it to the top of the mountain. There, they looked out over the breathtaking view that surrounded them and were awestruck by the beauty of God. Their effort was rewarded.

Nancy compares this to the verses in Romans above and how Paul must have been feeling. Nancy says, "In the first eleven chapters of Romans, Paul lays out the basic doctrines of our faith - the sinfulness of man, the amazing grace of God, the salvation that is possible for us through Jesus Christ. Then, in the remainder of the book - chapters 12 through 16 - Paul makes practical application of everything he has written before... And the doxology of Romans 11:33-36 serves as a bridge between the two." It is as if Paul pauses to think about all that the Holy Spirit has written through him, and he is struck speechless. He breaks out into praise to God - "How unsearchable... Who has known the mind of the Lord?... To Him be the glory forever! Amen."

I can relate to this feeling - this feeling of being speechless before the magnificence of God. You cannot describe it. You cannot give it to others to feel. You cannot put into words the beauty and the majesty and the magnificence of God when you have experienced even just a glimpse of it. In Haiti, we had the opportunity to hike up to the Citadel - an old army fortress from the early 1800's, built on a mountain top to fend off the attack of the French that they thought was coming. This fortress, built nearly 3,000 feet above sea level, is situated on the highest point that I had ever climbed to. It was an exhausting hike, yet when we reached the top and looked out over the vastness of the beauty of God in Haiti, I stood speechless. All I can do is say, "Wow, God. You are awesome. To You be the honor and glory forever and ever! Amen."

So when Paul reaches this point, he is struck speechless. He cannot describe the depth of the riches of God's wisdom and knowledge. God's ways are too great for us, as mere humans, to understand. Our minds are too small to wrap around it. Our eyes are too blind for us to see it. The ways of our awesome, limitless, powerful God - "Oh, the depth"!

So, what does this have to do with true womanhood and learning more of what it means to be a true woman of God? It all begins with, "Oh, the depth..."

We can go to the bottom of the deepest part of the depths of the ocean (the Marianas Trench, a chasm in the Pacific near the island of Guam), yet then we stop. We can dig our way through the deepest mine filled with gold (located near Johannesburg, South Africa, extending two full miles into the earth), but eventually the riches will end. We can go through life living on our own strength, but eventually it will be exhausted.

God's ways are not like that. His wisdom and His knowledge (Romans 11:33), His kindness and forbearance and patience (Romans 2:4), His glory (Romans 9:23), His mercy (Ephesians 2:4), His grace (Ephesians 1:7-8) - Oh, the depth of His riches!

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!"

This means that God knows everything and everything about everything. God knows about every difficult situation that we face, every family issue, every need, every challenge, every sin, every fear, every insecurity, everything about our past, present, and future and everything that we think we have hidden away in the depths of our hearts. God knows it all. We can see that as reason to shrink away from the Lord, or we can draw nearer to Him and allow Him to shine His light on the depths of our hearts and prune away our sin issues so that He can transform us - that we may live righteous lives before the Lord and please Him in everything we say and do.

God's ways are unfathomable, unknowable, unsearchable, and unable to understand. They are just too great. What does this have to do with becoming a true woman of God?

Nancy lists three reasons:

1) A true woman lives a God-centered life.

We live in a self-centered world. Yet a true woman of God lives a God-centered life even amidst all of the selfishness around her. She realizes that compared to the vastness and the magnificence of God that causes us to become speechless and our hearts to skip a beat, her problems and challenges are tiny. Standing at the top of the mountain in Haiti, my biggest challenge and hardship would be as small as the smallest ant on the ground - as I am standing nearly 3,000 feet above sea level. Looking out at the vastness of His creation and of the beauty of His awesome Hand, my problems no longer seem so huge. In light of the magnificent and powerful God that I serve, my problems are nothing. He does, after all, hold the whole world in His hands. A true woman of God is enthralled with Jesus Christ, her Lord and her Savior. Her life revolves around Him and only Him. Her life is centered around her Savior and her Lord.

2) A true woman trusts God.

Our world is filled with bad news and troubling times. Every corner we turn seems to be filled with some sort of tragedy, especially when the news of the world is blaring in our ears. We are a fearful people. Yet a true woman of God is not filled with fear. She simply trusts. She trusts the One who made her, the One who knows her heart more than anyone has the capacity to understand it, the One who created the universe, the One who holds the whole world in His hands. She trusts in the One who has control. She "can laugh at the days to come" (Proverbs 31:25) because she has nothing to fear. Her laughs are light-hearted and her smiles are genuine. Her life revolves around the One who holds the whole world in His hands and she knows that He is in control. His plans are good - for her life, for her distinct situations, for her troubling times, for her challenges, for her tragedies. He is in control. Nancy says, "And though many of us would never dare to speak such words aloud or even consciously think them, many of us are practicing athiests at times, living as if there's no God, or at least wondering if He has really messed things up this time." A true woman of God can give over her control, because she realizes that she really has no control at all - not over her next breath and not over the world around her. Nancy also says, "The true woman who trusts God doesn't have to strive. She doesn't have to be afraid. She can relinquish control. She doesn't have to manipulate and control the whole wide world (as if we could). She doesn't resent, or resist, or run from the cross. She embraces the cross with faith." A true woman of God realizes the depths of His riches... and she knows that she can trust Him.

3) A true woman says, "Yes, Lord."

A true woman of God pursues His passions for her life. She pursues the path that He has so strategically and perfectly set before her. She does not resent it; she pursues it with all her passion and all her energy. She may not understand it, but she follows anyway. Her faith is not a blind faith, but a faith that trusts in One she cannot see - because she sees His hand in her life and acknowledges it. She knows she does not have to understand. She does not have to analyze or question or try to figure out the depths of the Lord and of His Plan. She just follows Him joyfully and without hesitation. She never asks the question, "What will make me happy?" Always, she asks, "What will please You, Lord?" A true woman of God lives an intentional life, pursuing the Lord and obeying Him with all of her heart and soul. With every area of her life, she surrenders - "Yes, Lord" is the cry of the true woman's heart.

We may feel as though we are climbing the highest mountain in the world and we cannot yet see the peak of it. We question. We wonder. We cry out in exhaustion and pain as the last of our strength gives way. This - this is when we hit rock bottom and we must allow the Lord to pick us up and lift us up. For "those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

"In every situation and circumstance of your life, God is always doing a thousand different things that you cannot see and you do not know."
-John Piper

We must continue on by the grace and strength of God. One day, we will reach the top. We will look out over the vastness of the beauty of the awesome hand of God and we will look back on the path that we have taken and we will stand in awe, speechless at the sight of the providential and perfect hand of God in our lives. The depths of His riches are too great for our feeble minds to understand. Yet may our hearts cry out, "Oh, Lord, how great Thou art!" He knows what He is doing and He knows exactly how His perfect plan is going to unfold in your life and in mine.

Until then and for all those times when we feel so very far away from the summit - from the peak of the view of the splendor and vastness of the beauty of the awesome hand of God - may we remember...

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 'Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?'"
-Romans 11:33-34

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Ultimate Meaning...

...Of True Womanhood

In Nancy Leigh DeMoss's book, "Voices of the True Woman Movement", John Piper states his assumption that "wimpy theology makes wimpy women". What is a wimpy woman? John Piper goes on to say that "the opposite of a wimpy woman is not a brash, pushy, loud, controlling, sassy, uppity, arrogant" woman. The opposite of a wimpy woman is a woman who knows her Savior and stands for Him against all tides of the world. A woman who is not a wimpy woman is a woman who believes in Jesus Christ's saving grace and trusts Him with all of her heart... and, as a result, knows that there is a reason for every situation in her life - no matter how difficult - because she can trust her Savior.

"Wimpy theology simply does not give a woman a God that is big enough, strong enough, wise enough, and good enough to handle the realities of life in a way that magnifies the infinite worth of Jesus Christ." -John Piper

Wimply theology is placing the Almighty God in a box - not believing in His infinite power, His wisdom, or His greatness... or in His ultimate purpose for the world.

"God's ultimate purpose for the universe and for all of history and for your life is to display the glory of Christ in its highest expression, namely, in His dying to make a rebellious people His everlasting and supremely happy bride." -John Piper

Revelation 13:8 talks of, "...the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world."

So, before the foundation of the world it was the plan of God for Christ to be slain... so that we, as rebels of God, would become His Bride... and His glory would shine brightly.

So what does this have to do with womanhood? I am a woman and that was no mistake or incidental matter. God created me as a woman for a distinct purpose and unless I understand this I will never carry out God's purpose for me as a woman. Womanhood and manhood and their distinct differences were not an afterthought in the mind of God. Ephesians 5:31 and 32 says, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church."

Ever since the creation of human beings, God created us as man and woman - male and female. These distinct areas - manhood and womanhood - are designed to bring glory to Christ. It is like a mirror, although dim, of Christ and the Church (His Bride). This is what marriage is all about. "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." (Ephesians 5:22-24)

This is not a slave relationship. True marriage is a dim reflection of Christ and His Bride, the Church. We as women should never look at our role as women as being degrading. We were created as women for a purpose and when we find out what true womanhood really is, we will come to appreciate this role and have a desire to joyfully carry it out to bring Jesus Christ glory.

As a single woman, I cannot magnify Christ in this same way (as married women can). Yet, there are ways in which single women can magnify Christ that married women cannot. John Piper lists three:

1) A life of Christ-exalting singleness bears witness that the family of God grows not by propagation through sexual intercourse, but by regeneration through faith in Christ.

As a single woman, I can care for the lonely and the needy and spend myself for the Gospel in a different way than I would be able to if I was married and had my own biological children to care for... because Christ has met my need, I have no reason to wallow in self-pity in my singleness.

2) A life of Christ-exalting singleness bears witness that relationships in Christ are more permanent, and more precious, than relationships in families.

Again, I can more fully give myself to creating the family of God because I do not have my own biological children to give myself to and expend my energy on. In this way, I can honor Christ in a unique way.

3) A life of Christ-exalting singleness bears witness that marriage is temporary, and finally gives way to the relationship to which it was pointing all along: Christ and the church.

If I embrace my single womanhood and am joyfully content with just walking with Christ, I will be a great witness to the world of God as my Husband... and me, as His Bride.

John Piper closes the chapter with, "So whether you marry or single, do not settle for a wimpy theology. It is beneath you. God is too great. Christ is too glorious. True womanhood is too strategic. Don't waste it. Your womanhood - your true womanhood - was made for the glory of Jesus Christ."

Created by the Lord as women for a divine purpose, we cannot settle for anything less. We were created as women for the glory of Christ. If we were all the same, we would never be able to reflect the great picture of God as the Husband and us - the Church - as His Bride. We would never be able to bring glory to Christ in this way or have it bear witness to a watching world. I am a woman for a distinct purpose... and whether I marry or remain single, this life is all about bringing glory to the Lord Jesus Christ and what He has done for me on the Cross... He has bought me at a price and I am not my own. The Church - His rebel Bride - was bought at a high price, with the precious blood of Jesus.

We cannot take this lightly. May I live out the calling of true womanhood that the Lord has purposed for me.

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."
-1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Big Dream...?

While in Haiti, the Lord spoke to my heart in many ways. One day, He taught me something through a Haitian boy around my age who approached me the last day of Vacation Bible School. He told me about how his little brother had been going to Bible School and then went on to tell me of his Big Dream to one day go through seminary and become a pastor. He did not know how his Big Dream would come true because he does not have the money to make it happen... And yet this Big Dream was cultivated in his heart. The way he told me, "You see, I have a Big Dream to one day be a pastor" was with such conviction and passion that I knew he meant it. I knew that this Dream was rooted in his heart. I know that one day, with God's Provision, he would love to see this Dream through.

I was excited for him. I told him that his Dream was a great one... And then, he asked me a question that jolted me to the core. It is a question that has rocked my world. He asked me, simply and naturally, "So, what is your Big Dream?"

Looking back, I am not quite sure what I did at the moment he asked me that question. I am not sure what my face reflected when he asked me that and, although I cannot remember, I would not be surprised if I had asked him to repeat what he had just said. Although I have thought a lot about this question before, no one had really ever asked me it pointedly and on-the-spot like that. I had no time to think about what I should say because I certainly had not planned to answer a question like this at Vacation Bible School.

I searched my mind for something to say and I stuttered a reply, "I am not sure yet."

He looked at me with the most surprised expression and said, "You do not know?"

I was standing there sweating in the little white church building, with Haitian children swarming all around me, yelling and talking and singing and running - with our only light being the light from the bright Haitian sun streaming through the open windows and doors of the concrete building. I looked around me at the children, I looked above me on the small podium at my dad and my brother and the others on my Team and I reflected on the day of teaching the children of Jesus Christ being our only sure Foundation... all while I felt the sweet warmth of the little baby who had fallen asleep in my arms... and I looked back at this sincere Haitian boy and I said the first words that came to my mind and tumbled out of my mouth: "Something like this."

Although I do not yet know for sure what exactly it is that the Lord wants for my future (and the Lord has placed many dreams deep in this heart of mine), I sit here and wonder if that boy is praying for me - because the Lord has been showing me a few things about what His Big Dream may be for me. That boy did ask for my name and I know that the Lord is not limited by miles or by culture and I know that prayer is something that can unify us all... It brings an excitement to my heart to think of the people I have met in Haiti who have what they call their "Big Dream" to do great things for God.

And yet, they have no resources. They have no money, no savings, no retirement fund. Retirement is not even an option in the minds of these particular Haitians. All they want to do is serve their God with their lives, no matter how hard, no matter what little they have... They do not even know where their next meal is coming from, let alone the money they may need to pursue what it is the Lord has placed on their heart. They just trust the Lord... because if the Lord asks them to do something for His Kingdom, then He must provide.

What about me? It brings me back to the question that the Haitian boy asked me: "What is your Big Dream?" I echo Dr. Jerry Falwell: What would I attempt to do if I knew I could not fail?

If nothing stood in my way - such as a lack of finances, people and their negativity, discouragement from the Enemy, and all other obstacles - what would I do with my life for the Lord and for His Kingdom?

The truth is, nothing stands in my way but my own self - because if the Lord asks me to do something for Him, then there must be a way to do it. I may not see it, but I see the Hand of the One who asks me and I know that I can trust Him. That makes all the difference and that means everything.

The boy and his little brother

So, what is your "Big Dream"? What comes to your mind right away when that question is asked? It is something we must think hard about. We must never be afraid to Dream for His Kingdom... Big things will never happen if we put the Almighty God in a box.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
-Ephesians 3:20-21

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Many of you may have heard of Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Revive Our Hearts or maybe the True Woman Movement. I was one of many who asked for a copy of her book, "Voices of the True Woman Movement" so that I could write about it on my blog. As a young woman seeking to be the woman that the Lord asks me to be, I believe that a huge part of my Journey is learning about what it really means to be a woman of God. These posts are going to be a result of what I learn from the book... but more than that, of my seeking the Lord on who He asks me to be as a woman of the Lord. So, if you are a woman... please read, follow along, and post your comments!

Before I begin, I want to make it clear that when I talk of "the voice of God" I am not talking of an audible voice that tells us which way to turn or what option we should choose in a decision. I am talking of the inner convictions of the Holy Spirit. When we are transformed by Christ, so are our mind and our thoughts... our inner convictions. Everything that we need to know was already written down for us in God's Word. God reveals to us through His Word what is right... and also, what it means to be a woman of the Lord.

Introduction to "Voices of the True Woman Movement"

Many things call out for our attention as women. They tell us how to be beautiful, how to be satisfied, how to be fulfilled, how to live a wonderful life of beauty and wonder. They tell us we are "strong and beautiful", that we deserve to indulge ourselves in selfish pleasures once in a while, and frankly, that "Life is all about YOU!" These voices lead us to a dead-end. They leave us there lost, confused, and more unfulfilled than where we began.

And yet there is a voice calling out among these other voices. A voice that is so often gone unheard. A voice that is so often overlooked. A voice that is so often drowned out by the thousands of other seductive voices calling out for our attention every day. It is the Voice of Truth. His voice is not seductive. His voice is not selfish. His voice is not filled with lies that will lead us to a dead end and leave us there lost, confused, and more unfulfilled than where we began.

"The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic."
-Psalm 29:4

It is the voice of the LORD who tells us how we are to live as true women of God. He leads us in a life of selflessness, of finding true fulfillment in Him (the only place where true fulfillment exists), and in a life that reflects the beauty of the Lord Himself.

In the words of Elisabeth Elliot, "In order to learn what it means to be a woman, we must start with the One who made her."

What kinds of things call out for your attention in everyday life that distract you from hearing His voice? How can you instead drown out the thousands of other voices so that you will hear His voice, the only voice that is true?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Breaking Heart

So, I had told you all that I would be writing updates on here about the trip to Haiti. The only times we were able to connect to the internet down there was to write home to let our families know that we were safe and okay. That is why I was not able to update you all while we were in Haiti.

Even as I am back in America, I have put off writing to you all. Before leaving Haiti, I was scared to come back to America. I knew the culture shock that had rocked my world last year when I returned back to the States from being among poverty... and I knew it would shake me again. Being in Haiti, I felt so far away ~ so far away from the "things" of America that suffocate my heart, from the extravagant richness of the American culture that sometimes just simply pains my soul. The deep poverty of Haiti caused me to feel so very far away from America. I breathe in the dust-filled, dirty air of the streets of Haiti and I breathe deeply... and I breathe freedom. It is something that is hard to explain, but it is a freedom that my heart now knows.

It is deeply painful to go to a third-world country. God took me out of the extravagance of America to show me a very poor country and I believe part of the reason for His doing so was to break my heart a little more for the things that break His heart. That was my prayer and I prayed it almost fearfully, knowing that the Lord answers the prayers of a sincere heart... and my prayer was sincere. Yes, my Father answered the prayers of His daughter's aching heart.

It has been painful... heart-wrenching at times. It is painful to see an old lady sitting alongside the busy streets of Haiti, frail and so thin it looks as if she hasn't eaten in weeks... and the reality that she probably hasn't. Or when I see the protruding stomachs of some of the children because they are so malnourished. Or when I see a baby taking a bath in a tub filled with dirty water, as another baby sits naked on the dirt next to him. Or when I meet people who are so content and so joyfully obedient to the Lord and then later realize that these very people are hungry... Reality hits hard. And it puts me to shame.

This, this is how the majority of the world lives. The extravagance of America is not the majority. How I ever got so blessed as to have a sturdy roof over my head, a car of my own, food always in my refrigerator, a variety of clothes to choose from, more than one pair of shoes for my feet, and a job that provides more than I need... I do not quite understand. Yet I said it in Haiti and I say it again ~ I do not want to just go away from this experience with the simple understanding that I am so very blessed. I cannot just come back to America, sit back and sigh with relief as all of my blessings sit around me and say, "Yes, thank You God." No. No, that is wrong. To come back with just that would be selfishness. My Father says, "'Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite Me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after Me...I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.'" (Matthew 25:41-43, 45)

At Vacation Bible School, I taught the children about Christ being their only sure Foundation. I was sharing about how God gave everything to us and He wants us to give everything to Him... and I could not share the next line of what I had planned to say. "Everything that we have was given to us by God." Yes, it is true... But I could not say it. It just did not seem right for me to say to these children... because I have more than I need. These children have next to nothing. How could I stand before them and teach them that God wants them to give over everything, when they have next to nothing? How could I stand before them, "rich" compared to them, and tell them that everything that they have was given to them by God? How could I teach them these things when they were the ones who should be teaching me?

And they did teach me. They taught me so much about life and what really matters. These people have next to nothing... some have nothing at all. And yet some of these people are the ones who are stepping up in the churches to lead the people in Christ. These are the ones who have big Dreams to accomplish much for the Kingdom of God, not knowing how the Lord is going to provide but knowing that He is.

It is startling to think that these "things" that I have are actually sometimes a hindrance to my walk with the Lord and accomplishing what He has asked of me. The chilling thought has occurred to me that perhaps the only things I should really have are those things which are resources for furthering God's Kingdom. All other things are only extravagances that can suffocate my heart and cause me to lose focus of the Purpose the Lord has set out for me. If the sole Purpose of my life is to serve the Lord, then I have need for nothing else than what the Lord provides to accomplish His purposes and further His Kingdom.

It is a lot to process. I am responsible for the things that I have seen and felt and experienced and I cannot take that lightly. I do not take that lightly. This passion in my soul is firing up once again. It is hard. I think God gave me more of a glimpse of what it is like for full-time missionaries overseas... the challenges, the heartaches, the exhaustion, the discouragements, the pain, and the joy of knowing that I was exactly where the Lord wanted me to be in that moment.

And that is exactly where I want to stay, all the days of my life. Right where the Lord wants me, wherever that may be. Father, help me with this. I need You to help me with this. Your strength is what sustains me. I have come to the conclusion that You truly are all that I need... sadly, not always all that I desire, but always all that I need. I thank You for that... and I thank You for breaking my heart for the things that break Your heart a little more.

Monday, May 3, 2010

For God so loved the world...

"Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom." (Luke 23:42)

These words were spoken by a criminal... One of the criminals hanging beside Jesus on the Cross. Jesus' response to this criminal was not just relevant to the criminal, but to all of us.

"Jesus answered him, 'I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise.'" (John 23:43)

Jesus did not ask the criminal, "What criminal offenses have you committed?"

No, Jesus has beautiful eyes of love. He did not come to condemn the world, but to save the world (John 3:17). One of the last things He did before He died was save a criminal.

There is a beautiful, beautiful hope there for you and for me. It is a hope that screams against our thoughts of, "God could never save me out of this sin". It is a hope that pushes against our low expectations of who God is and just what He can do.

It is a hope that is for you, for me, for all of us.

I hear this hope scream out, "Nooo!" when we turn away from our Savior because we think that He could never save us from the wrong that we have done.

If we were to believe that Jesus could not save us from our sins, then we underestimate the power of Christ and His sacrifice for us on the Cross. Jesus came to save the world. He came to save you and He came to save me. It does not matter what wrong we have done. It does not matter how far we have walked in the opposite direction. It does not matter because Jesus came to save the world. He did not come to condemn us, but to save us.

That truth offers me hope that is found nowhere else. That truth offers me forgiveness and a clean start. That truth is found in Jesus Christ, and in Jesus Christ alone.

And tonight, I am rejoicing in that truth.

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

When we wonder if God could possibly forgive us for our sins, we must look to the Cross... to the criminal and to the One who died there to save that criminal and to save you and to save me.

Tonight, I am thankful for this criminal's story... The one who Jesus saved on the Cross. As they were both dying physically, Jesus promised the criminal eternal life in Heaven, in His Kingdom, in paradise that very day. And He offers it to each and every one of us... We are all criminals who have sinned against God and His perfect Law. That is why I am thankful for that criminal's story. I am thankful for my God. I am thankful Jesus saved the criminal and I am thankful that Jesus saved me.

Tonight, I am rejoicing in Him and in His truth and in His promises.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."
-John 3:17-18

And all because "For God so loved the world" ~ and He so loves you and me.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Bucket-Sized Faith

"Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17)

I have a story about faith... A faith story that is a piece of my journey. It includes an island over 8,000 miles away and a simple bucket.

In Chuuk, Micronesia most of us on the Team had buckets like these. These buckets held all of our bathroom needs. Here in America, most of us girls would consider this bucket to be a basic necessity... And the one thing that could never be ruined, lost, or misplaced.

The Lord knows my heart. He knows the depths of this heart and He knows just what it needs. He decided to test my faith with this simple bucket.

I was over 8,000 miles away from home. We had been on the main island of Chuuk for the past week and now our Team was splitting up and going to separate islands for the next week of camp. We had all of our things packed. I made sure the bucket was part of what I was taking with me. We sped across the water in the little motor boat... And eventually we ended up on a little island bordered by white beaches and surrounded by the beautiful blue ocean and distant islands dotting the horizon.

When we went into our "home" for the week and decided who would be staying in which room, somehow a piece of what I had brought for the week ended up in someone else's room. My bucket somehow got separated from my other things and misplaced among everyone else's things without any of our knowing where it had gotten to...

I had a decision to make when I realized that I had lost my bucket. Was I going to allow my faith to be so small that it fit inside the bucket or would I allow it to be bigger and to trust that God has a plan for everything? I don't know how, but the Lord gave me the grace and strength to choose to trust Him.

I was on an island over 8,000 miles away from home and everything that was known to me. I brushed my teeth with a bandana and a friend's toothpaste. I put my contacts in a friend's solution in swimming goggles. Somehow, the Lord continually provided and improvisation became my word for the week. Laughter came along with this word as I did what I had to do to live without my bucket.

It brings me to a probing and challenging question. Is my faith sometimes so small that I could place it in a simple bucket and cover it with a lid, as to keep it to myself? Or is my faith bigger than that, so big that I can live without my bucket and most definitely without the lid that covers it?

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1)

We may not be able to physically see God, but are we certain of Him? We may read about and hear about God's promises, but are we sure that He will carry them out? We may say we believe that we are saved and that we will spend eternity with Jesus, but do we have faith enough to be certain of this truth that the Lord tells us?

Or is our faith so compact and small that it fits inside a bucket? If we were to lose that bucket... Whatever that "bucket" may be in our lives right now ~ whether that be a relationship, a job, a bank account, a car, scholarship money, college applications, family, home... If we were to lose that bucket, would we still have our faith? Or is our faith only in that one object, and if that object is lost, would our faith be lost along with it?

I do not want a bucket-sized faith. I want a great faith, a radical faith, a deep and reckless and genuine faith... a faith to move mountains and not just stones... A faith to be sure of what I hope for and to be certain of what I do not see.

That faith is possible through Jesus Christ. The Lord continually reminds me of Philippians 4:13, "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." That is why I have the ability to do whatever He asks me to do. How do I get greater faith? "Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ." (Romans 10:17)

Jerry Falwell explains it in a great way when he says, "When you get the life of God in you, that's the foundation for faith. If you have God's life in your heart, you can trust Him and live as He requires."

I get greater faith by reading God's Word... When I read the words of God, I get to know God better. When I get to know God better, I realize that I am able to trust Him and take Him at His Word... That the best place to put my life is in His hands.

Sometimes these tests of our faith are hard and challenging and exhausting... But they turn into inspiring faith stories that, when looked back on as I have just done, grow my faith even more. To know that the Lord cares about me so much as to allow my faith to be tested so that it can grow is a great honor. It shows His love, though at first while I am being tested I may not realize it.

The Lord does not want us to have bucket-sized faith. Our lives will never be wrecked, they will never be changed, they will never be all that they were made to be if we choose to allow our faith to be so small.

May I place my faith in nothing but in You, Jesus. You are the only constant. You are the only One who never changes, and in this world where everything changes, including friendships and relationships, it is very comforting to know that You are my Rock and my constant. Thank You for all of your promises and truths. I do not understand why You have chosen to love me like this, but I do not need to understand. To understand would take away the deep meaning of the love that you have, a love that passes human understanding. Thank You, Father!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Enough is Enough

"The lyrics for the song 'Big House', which is probably our biggest song, were actually lyrics to a song that the kids in Haiti taught us to sing. If you're a kid living here, you most likely live in a hut with a mud floor and a tin roof. You've got 10 family members sleeping with you. You might even have to sleep in a chair or something. Then one day, you look down the street and see a house. You think, 'I wonder if that's what Heaven is like - a big house with everything we need: a room, a bed and all the food we can eat. Someday, I'll go there, to my Father's house.'"
~Audio Adrenaline

I read these words on the airplane on the way to California. I thought that it was a cool story behind the song and it made me smile to know that children in Haiti sing this song.

Then I took a tour of Los Angeles. I got to see the Walk of Fame, celebrity houses, houses that are famous for being in movies and on TV shows, papparazzi, the famous Hollywood sign, movies being recorded, huge buildings that cost millions of dollars to both build and buy. As I stood on the streets of Hollywood, I basically stood in the center and the capital of America.

I passed huge house after multi-million dollar house. The more I saw, the more my heart sank.

I saw the papparazzi flash their cameras at people... People just like me and you. I saw billions of dollars get put into huge houses with more rooms than one celebrity can possibly use. I saw millions of dollars get put into tours taken around Los Angeles to see these houses where these people live. They may not even live there, but they own them and that is enough to get us excited. I saw the Walk of Fame, where people pay $25,000 to get their name written inside of a star on a sidewalk.

It pains my heart. My heart aches for these people who are caught up in this life of fame and glory and may I add, dissatisfaction. They are constantly striving for more and more. When they reach the top, it is not high enough. I am saying this genuinely. I truly ache for these people who think that this is all there is to life ~ their world of fame and wealth. A little more fame, a little more wealth... Enough is never enough and I do believe that dissatisfaction encompasses the whole place.

It pains my heart. My heart aches for the people all around the world who live off of less than a dollar a day... Not out of choice, but because that is their only option. My heart aches for the over 462,000 orphans in Haiti who could live in the empty bedrooms of the houses of these celebrities in Hollywood. It aches for the over half of the 1.2 million children under five years old in Haiti who suffer from malnutrition, when Hollywood has enough to feed them all.

"I wonder if that is what Heaven is like - a big house with everything we need: a room, a bed and all the food we can eat. Someday, I'll go there, to my Father's house."

It is a cry from a Haitian child's heart.
It is the cry from children's hearts all around the world.
I had to ask myself, "Why?" Why do we strive for this life of fame and glory? Why are we so dissatisfied with ourselves and our lives that enough is never enough? We are never beautiful enough, smart enough, talented enough, athletic enough, rich enough, famous enough, good enough. Why? Who determines whether we are enough?

"I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
-Psalm 139:14

That is what God's Word has to say. Is that not enough? I do believe that it is enough.

My heart is aching. The quote that I read on the plane on the way to California swirled through my mind while I was there, on the ride home, and even now.

"You've got 10 family members sleeping with you. You might even have to sleep in a chair or something. Then one day, you look down the street and see a house. You think, 'I wonder if that's what Heaven is like - a big house with everything we need: a room, a bed and all the food we can eat. Someday, I'll go there, to my Father's house."
This is an injustice... And it pains my heart. Enough is enough.
P.S. I am so very thankful that I had this opportunity to go see these places. I believe that it is another part of this amazing Journey that the Lord is taking me on. I want to thank Emily's parents for flying me out there and giving me this opportunity. Otherwise, I don't think that I would have ever had the opportunity to go. So thank you so much!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

No Greater Love

"And this is the Good News, our God became one of us. And this is the Good News, the God of the Universe became a man to stand in the gap for us."

This past weekend I had the great opportunity to go to a youth conference called Planet Wisdom with Dutton, Mark Matlock, and Dawson McAllister. I have never before been shown the reality and gruesome details of Jesus' death like I have this weekend. It really changes everything.

We paint these pretty pictures of Jesus on the Cross, with a few drops of blood on His face from the crown of thorns. We create these beautiful stain glass windows with Jesus painted on them, His body whole on the Cross. We create these mindsets of Jesus not really having that much of a painful death. "Jesus died for you" ~ Yeah, I know. I have heard it all of my life. "Jesus loves you" ~ Yeah, I know. I have been told that more times than I can count.

The truth is, Jesus died for me ~ a painful and gruesome death. Crucifixions were not taken lightly. Jesus was not even recognizable as a human at that point. They - no, I took the whip with its pieces of sharpened bone that pulled at Jesus' flesh and ripped it out. It was my sin that He was dying for, my sin that caused Jesus to have to go to the Cross. It was as if I stood by and watched the scene in mockery. My sin is what drove the nails into Jesus' wrists and feet. It is as if I spit on Him and I mocked Him as He hung on that cross. It is as if I stood by as He was breathing shallowly and quickly, trying to get any breath that He could.

It as if I was right there and I heard Him say, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)

There is a detail about this story that captures my heart:
"Arriving at Golgotha, the place they call 'Skull Hill,' they offered Him a mild painkiller (a mixture of wine and myrrh), but when He tasted it He would not drink it." (Matthew 27:33-34, the Message)

"But when He tasted it He would not drink it"... But He was in so much pain... so much agony. Why would He not want to take a small painkiller? It is believed by some that Jesus did not want to take it because He had to experience the full extent of our sin.

He was put to so much shame. He was mocked and spit on and laughed at and whipped. He made Himself of no reputation among men. He was humble.

"He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not." (Isaiah 53:3)

No one knows sorrow the way that Jesus Christ knew sorrows. And "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). He understands. And He did it all for us.

There may be skeptics. I was skeptical of Jesus Christ's love for me at one time. But nothing - nothing - can take away the depth of Christ's love for me and for you (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing can take away what He went through on the Cross for each and every one of us that proves His love to us in such an incredible way.

As Dawson McAllister said, it is as if He looked at the pain of the cross, looked at us, looked back at the pain, and then back at us and said, "There is no way that I am turning back. No way." He made His decision while on the Cross. The question is, Have we made ours?

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." -Hebrews 12:2

All for us. All for you. All for me. There is no greater love.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Beautiful Sacrifices

Does God ever ask you to sacrifice something that is near and dear to your heart?

I am thinking of the story of Abraham and Isaac tonight. The Lord asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, who was so dear to his heart. It is through Isaac that the many descendants whom the Lord promised Abraham would come. It is easy to think that Abraham had no feelings, as if somehow those in "Bible times" are exempt from anything that we feel today.

No, I cannot imagine the anguish in Abraham's heart as he traveled for three days - without turning back - to this place where the Lord wanted him to sacrifice his son, Isaac. "On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance." (Genesis 22:4) I cannot imagine the hard time Abraham must have had when his son said to him, "Father?" (22:7) and questioned his father on where the sacrifice was. I cannot imagine how Abraham kept himself from doubting when he replied, "God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." (22:8) I cannot imagine for the life of me how Abraham must have felt as he took his son and tied him down to the altar and reached out his hand with the knife to slay his son.

All for the Lord. All for my God. All for Him, as His servant. He is who I am living for. I believe. I trust. I love. All for the Lord. All for my God.

I really do wonder what was going through Abraham's mind as his arm was in midair and the knife was perhaps just inches from slaying his son, with his own hand.

Whatever was going through Abraham's mind, his thoughts were pierced. "Abraham! Abraham!" (22:11) The Lord was speaking.

"Here I am," (22:11) Abraham replied. Here I am? Even still, Abraham was faithful and willing ~ a true example of a servant of the Lord.

"'Do not lay a hand on the boy,' He said. 'Do not do anything to Him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from Me your son, your only son.' Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns." (22:13) This is amazing. This is what makes my heart skip a beat.

It was the sacrifice that Abraham was looking for; the sacrifice that he told his son that the Lord would provide.

"He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son." (22:13)

It makes me wonder. It really makes me think and evaluate my life. What is near and dear to my heart? What am I not willing to give up? Where am I unfaithful and unwilling and untrue?

This past summer I thought that I was giving up my summer to go overseas to serve the Lord. I was terrified to give up my family, to give up what was comfortable, to give up my home, to give up my normal life. I gave it up and it was all returned to me tenfold and more. It was the best summer of my life.

Sometimes the Lord asks us to give up things that are most precious to us. It is then that our faithfulness to the Lord is tested most. It is then that our love and our obedience and our willingness is tested. It is then that our hearts go through the fire. It is painful at first. It is terrifying. It is heart-wrenching. It is good.

Greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done. I believe... I believe in You, God.

Friday, March 5, 2010

This Crazy Beautiful Journey

Summers... They always seem to hold such amazing moments. The first day of summer... There seems to be no day quite like it! A few months of endless possibilities seem to await me ~ sleeping in every day, spending all the time in the world with friends and family, having nothing to do, just being bored. That is what my summers were like even two years ago.

Yet last summer, things completely changed. I did not want the first day of summer to come because I was terrified of the Journey that the summer held. I was going over 8,000 miles away... On an airplane across the ocean, over the open waters, through time zones. I would have never dreamed that I would be doing this. And yet as I sat on the airplane and looked out the window over the ocean and the white caps, I was overtaken. I can still see it. I can see the islands far below me, small dots, places where I have never seen and yet places where the Lord was calling me. It was beautiful. The landing strip on the island that we stayed on was short... Rainy weather could be a hazard. It had been raining before this. We prayed and the plane landed safely.
I took my first step onto the island and I was overtaken ~ at first, by extreme heat. I was actually having a hard time breathing at first because of the stuffy heat... I even asked someone if it was going to be like this the whole time. Yes, God sure was pulling me out of my comfort zone. We walked through immigration and on through the small airport. It still feels like yesterday. There were a crowd of people waiting for us on the other side of the glass windows. I was wondering what God had gotten me into.

I had no idea what He was getting me into as they smiled at us, said hello, and gave us gifts of lei's.

I had no idea that I would never experience life the same way again.

And that is why I am excited. Summers hold a wonderful story. I don't know what it is about them, but they are just wonderful. There is something beautiful about the sun shining down on your face. There is something beautiful about the heat ~ at first it may be hard to get used to, but then you do and you realize the true beauty of the place and of the atmosphere.

I am so excited that the Lord is sending me back to an island country where the heat is extreme. It may sound crazy, and it is... But that is okay. I am okay with crazy. Crazy is where this whole change began. Crazy is what shapes this Journey into an adventure of a lifetime.

Jesus, thank You. Thank You for this wonderful Journey You are taking me on. It is sometimes very hard... And yet it is through the hard times that I realize how weak I am and how strong You are. Thank You for helping me to trust You and thank You so, so much for calling me even when I was sometimes unwilling and so afraid. Thank You for second chances and thank You for loving me.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


So, the Lord is doing it. He is doing what He has promised me He would do. Why does it sometimes take so long for me to have faith that He will do what He promises? Why am I so surprised when He answers my prayers? My faith seems shallow when I am surprised that such a huge God does the amazing things that He does.

Do you ever have "God, You are just awesome!" moments? I have had quite a few lately. Support for my brother and I's trip to Haiti has already been coming in. With each envelope that I receive, I smile. With each person I receive one from, I send up a quick, "Thank You, God!" It is just more confirmation to me that He is calling us to Haiti this summer ~ and I must trust that He is going to get us there. My faith would be shallow if I did not believe that such a huge God could provide what is needed in order for His Will to be carried out. Last year I did not trust God completely and it left me with not enough support, which caused me to have to pay in once I returned home from the trip. This year I want things to be different. If last year's trip really changed me the way that I believe it has, then this year I will approach things differently.

For all of you who helped H2O out on Sunday ~ we raised around $60 for Haiti! And that was just our first try! I want to thank all of you who bought a water bottle, who gave just because, and who stopped by our table to talk! It is such a blessing to see the Body of Christ working together. I want to thank each and every one of you who have given to our missions trip and who have given to people in Haiti through H2O. It really means so much more to me than you know. God provides through people like you so that we can go on this trip and I want to thank you... And God provides for people who need it through people like you who give it! May God bless you for it!

Sometimes I just get this overwhelming sense of awe... at God and who He is and what He is doing. I do not deserve any of it. I do nothing to deserve His Grace, to deserve His blessings, to deserve a relationship with Him. And that is why it is so beautiful ~ none of it is attained by works! None of it is deserved. Life is not fair and that is the beauty of grace. I do not deserve any of this.

Lord, I am captivated. Hold me here... forever. May I never forget; May I always be in this place where I am captivated by who You are and in who You are shaping me to be. I will never do enough to repay the great debt I owe You and I will never be enough to deserve Your love. And that is why I am captivated. Even though I am not enough, You still love me and save me and draw me into a relationship with You anyway... because YOU are enough! ♥

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Change of Heart

I am sitting here thinking and dreaming and wondering. Haiti has been on my mind and heart so much lately. I know that with the recent devastating earthquake, almost everyone's mind has been reverted to Haiti, even if only for a moment. However, there is a story behind this for me. I shared about it a little in previous posts, posts written about my previous missions trip to Chuuk, Micronesia. It is an interesting and bittersweet thing; an exciting and scary and wonderful piece of this amazing journey that the Lord is taking me on.

When I was in the airport in Chuuk, saying good-bye to the people who came to see us off, an interesting thing was going on inside of my heart. Yes, it was a true tug-of-war within my heart. The women and children stood in a line and handed us necklaces as our farewell gifts; Mahlie gave me mine. They asked me in anticipation, "Are you coming back next year?" All I could do was smile and say, "I want to." It was the honest truth, and yet I knew that what I wanted was not what the Lord wanted for me. There, in that small airport, on a small tropical island, the Lord was tugging at my heart and whispering into it: "Haiti, Haiti, Haiti". Haiti? I can still see the Chuukese children waving wildly from the window as I passed through security and turned around for one last moment with them, sealed with a smile. My next step was a hard one; it was one of letting go, of moving forward, of saying good-bye. I turned around and took that step.

As I sat in the small airport on one of the bright blue chairs, I began to cry. This could not be the end. God must lead me back to these people some day; perhaps I was misunderstanding God's true call. But I knew that it was no mistake and I knew that it was not a miscommunication. God was not calling me back to these children next year, to this tropical island in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, to this place where my heart fell in love with life and reckless faith ~ where my eyes were opened and where my life was changed.

It has been a long and hard and painful journey, but I have come to be okay with that. Somehow, amidst all of the times I have cried out to God to please send me back to Chuuk; to let me go to Chuuk, because I will go to Haiti too; to give me both; to let me live there again; to let me go back ~ Somehow, amidst all of this, the Lord has changed my heart. He has taught me so much of what it means to let go.

And for this, I am forever grateful. The Lord took this heart that was yearning for something else to yearn for Haiti. He turned my passions in a different direction and taught me how to fall in love with a country before I even lived there for a short time... because that is what I am going to do. I am going to live in Haiti for a short time on my next missions trip. A few months ago, I would have said this with remorse. Tonight, I am saying it with excitement.

The recent earthquake is not turning my heart away from this country. In fact, it is drawing me towards it. I feel as though there is a magnetic field between my heart and this country of Haiti, and I am being strongly drawn and attracted to it. This is only the working of the Lord, because He gave me a complete heart change for which I am thankful and excited about.

When I hear of Haiti as an "island country", it makes me smile. He is sending me back to an island. I cannot understand what the Lord is doing in my heart because it is just too big for me to grasp. I cannot fathom His great love for me because it is just too GREAT for me to wrap my mind around.

All I can say is thank You, Father... I cannot wait for the rest of this journey to unfold.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dreaming God's Way

So I don't think that I have ever written on my blog twice in the same night... but this is important. This is urgent. I did not realize it, but I let my heart stop dreaming...

My heart has forgotten how to remember and to dream in the right way. The Lord is taking me on an amazing journey and I am afraid that through the busyness of school, college classes, work, and everything in between I have forgotten. It saddens my heart beyond words. I just went back and read what I had posted when I returned from Chuuk and my heart filled with sadness and joy and my eyes filled with tears all at the same time.

The dangerous thing about this is that my heart is missing what is behind... it is yearning for it to return again and that is getting in the way of what the Lord wants for me right now.

These new eyes that the Lord has given me are hard to use. Sometimes I wish I could close them because life would be so much easier to live that way. I wouldn't know the things that I know. I wouldn't be at this place where I am continually being called out of my comfort zone. I wouldn't see America the way that I do and so my bitterness would not be so prone to rising up against my own country.

Yet it are these new eyes that are helping me to see Jesus more clearly... It are these new eyes that are helping me to know more of what it means to follow Him. It are these new eyes that are helping me to see the poor and the needy as people who need Jesus' love and as people who I want to bring it to. It are these new eyes that are helping me to fall more and more in love with Jesus and less and less in love with the things of this world.

It are these new eyes that are showing me what faith truly is.

These new eyes strain ahead even when it is easier to live in the past... They look ahead and press towards the goal that my Lord has laid out for me.

"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 3:13-14

The Lord has set out my present in just the way that He wants it... may I always remember what He has done for me in the past; may I always remember every piece of the Journey because it reminds me and gives me a deeper perspective of His great love for me... But may I strain toward what is ahead, pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. May I never forget what He has done and where He has taken me. May I never forget how to dream. May I always remember to strain ahead without looking back; to move forward with no hesitation.

May the future unfold beautifully...

It is an empty page to me, but to God it is a book of wonders written out by His own Hand.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This Journey...

So I have been doing a lot of thinking lately... about life, about my future, about God, about people, about America, about my journey. God has given me new passions and new visions and it is a very exciting life living with Him. Sometimes I just can't get over how blessed I am to be able to call this God my Friend and my Savior. It is very humbling.

When I allow my heart to dream, it seems that something always comes in and tries to discourage it. Something that has really been burning on my heart lately is this: "We need missionaries in America, too; you were born here for a reason and are meant to stay here." It is something that I have been told many times by people. It is something that could discourage many plans that the Lord may one day have for me if I were to follow this.

I do not believe that this quote is true for everyone. But am I meant to stay here? Well that is a question that the Lord must answer. However, this quote fuels a fire inside of my heart whenever I hear someone say it. If everyone were to follow that, ministries would not have been started that have effected other people in countries who have never even heard the Name of Jesus. Many people who are now saved would have never been saved.

When I hear the statistics that only 2% of U.S. missionaries go to unreached people groups, my heart aches. When I hear the statistics that 95% of Christian leaders live in the U.S., my heart is set ablaze. When I hear the statistics that nearly 2 billion people have no exposure to the Gospel, my heart races. When I hear the quote, "We need missionaries in America, too; you were meant to stay here" on top of these statistics, it is hard for me to not get angry.

I think of Abraham. His journey is amazing. It is filled with such faith and obedience. God called him to a distant land... and he followed. He did not say, "But Lord! You placed me here to stay here. If you wanted me over there, You would have placed me there in the first place!" No, Abraham knew that the part of his journey in the place where God had him was over... the Lord was calling him to a new place and into a new season of life.

I think of Paul. If he would have continued on being Saul on that journey to Damascus, many people would not be saved. It is amazing to think that Paul was once a man who persecuted and murdered Christians... and then we read about him in the same Bible as one of the greatest Christian missionaries. It is amazing to think that maybe I am one of his spiritual descendants... one of the ones who was saved as a result of someone who Paul witnessed to years ago. It is exciting and it is proof that sometimes the Lord calls us to places that we once never intended to go ~ places other than those which we now call home... places that one day we will call home.

Yes, I think of people like Abraham and Paul and great missionaries and I have to question this quote: "You were meant to stay here." It is as if those words are a big sigh of relief to the one who is afraid ~ of a new place other than the one that they know and are comfortable with, of difficulty, of a hard road, of going out of their comfort zone, of leaving this place that they call home. YES, that once described me and it does describe me many times... And yes, it is true for some to stay in America as missionaries (how would our fellow Americans know about Jesus?)... But it is not fair to claim that it is true for all.

I would love to live a life with this quote as my life quote, with this as my legacy:

"Lord, You placed me here for a reason. I am to witness to those around me now. Yet it is my complete desire to follow You to wherever it is that You lead me. Whether that be a long and hard journey like those of Abraham and Paul or whether it be that You keep me here, let it be so. I just want You. I just want what You want. I was born here for a reason and I was placed on this journey for a reason; but perhaps this is not where You will always have me be. Make my heart ready for wherever it is that You want me and wipe away all of my fears. Let it be so."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Real Problem

God has been teaching me lately that I must learn to love my own people. The Americans. The ones whom I came back to this summer and were bitter towards. The ones who have turned their many blessings into curses. The ones who are absorbed in material possessions. The ones who have kicked God out of public schools. The ones who live in this society of pleasure and possessions. The ones who turn this beautiful life into a rat-race of achieving the American dream. Yes, these are the ones. These are the people I am a part of. I am one of them.

I am the problem.

Perhaps it has taken me a while to realize that. Perhaps it has taken a lot of humbling from my bitterness to come to this conclusion. I now realize that this is true. I am an American. I was born in America for a reason. As much as I yearn to get out of this society and out of this culture at times, I am here. God has placed me here "for such a time as this" (Esther 4:14). Until He leads me to another country, I am an American. I must realize this because this is the truth.

So, if I am the problem, what am I doing to solve it? Bitterness does nothing but cause hatred towards others. Pride does nothing but cause me to fall. Humbleness and surrender and love, however... These are what change things. These are what cause American hearts to soften. These are what cause the homeless of America to have hope. These are what cause the depressed and lonely ones of my city to be held in arms of love and to be comforted. These are what cause the blind ones who have no hope for anything other than what the American dream has to offer them to see what great things are in store for those "who love God and who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). These are what pierce bitterness and pride. A heart of surrender is a heart willing to give up - hopeless plans, dreams, aspirations, and desires of our own - and to pick up His for us. A heart of surrender yields a life of fulfillment. It is only when God is leading my life and when HE is the center of my life that my life means anything at all. My life is nothing except what God makes it to be. It is all about Him.

Yes, I am the problem. I must learn to love the people that God has placed around me... the Americans. My people.

Yesterday I was driving down the road and saw two little girls running down the street after school, laughing. It made me smile; it made my heart smile! These are the ones who God has placed me with. These are the people I am a part of.

Lord, show me how to love. Show me how to have an open heart to You and to these people You have placed me with. You died for them just as much as You died for me. They can have as much hope as I have. They are just as much created by You as all of those in the poverty-stricken countries. The truth is, they are also poor... You are showing me that. Some materially, but most spiritually... And by Your Grace, I am rich with Your Salvation. Thank You, Jesus! May I have the obedience and humbleness to show them YOU and Your love. Amen!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Heart on Fire

My heart is on fire. What do I do with this passion? More than that, what do I do with this holy dissatisfaction? I am very, very dissatisfied. I am not satisfied with the normal life that society is offering to me. I am not satisfied with the way that many Christians are living. I want so much more than this. I was made for more than this. This normal, American life is not what I want. It is not what I need. I find it more discouraging than satisfying. I find it more boring than exciting. It is not appealing to me at all.

Something that is really firing up this passion are Christians. I am dissatisfied. I believe that Jesus asked much more of us than what we are giving. I believe that God made us for so much more than what we are living out.

When will we ever stand up? When will we ever get out of our comfortable seats and take a stand? When will we ever get out of our fancy homes and into the dark and dirty streets? When will we ever allow ourselves to mess up our "made up" American look and sit in the dirt with the least of these? When will we ever knock down the four walls of our beautiful cathedrals and welcome the "sinners" with open arms of love?

Even if it means that we are standing alone... and yet it should not be that way. We were never made to live this life alone. That is why God calls us the Body of Christ. Christians, if we are followers of God and ambassadors of Christ as we claim to be, then we must stand together! We must stand as one Body of Christ, as the Lord intended it and created it to be!

My heart is on fire. Something must be done. What do I do with this passion? I do not want to live the normal, mundane life that Americans live. If it means that the Lord sends me to another country where the normal is to have nothing, where the mundane is to go hungry... then Lord, lead me and give me strength! Or perhaps the Lord wants me to live here, in this society... Perhaps this passion can be used here. I am trying to learn to live life with open hands, with whatever it is that the Lord has for me.

Going to college out of high school, getting a successful career, getting married, having kids, buying a house, a car, saving for retirement, retiring, and dying... Is that really what the American society has to offer me? I must kindly refuse this... this is not what I was born for. This, my fellow Americans, is not what I want.

Lord, teach me more of what it means to follow You. Teach me more of what it means to see this world through Your eyes. Teach me more of what it means to live life with open hands. Teach me to follow You and to never run ahead of You. I never want to be able to look back and see Your face. Please, go ahead of me and lead me always...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Big Dreamer with a Bit of Fear...

So, it is a new year now... 2010 already! I do not believe that there are adequate words to describe the incredible journey that the Lord has taken me on this past year. I also do not believe that the journey began with the beginning of 2009 or that it closed with the end of 2009. This journey is a journey-of-a-lifetime... in every sense of the phrase! It is the most exciting endeavor I have ever pursued and I am very excited for what the Lord has for 2010! I know that there are going to be hard times, but overall I believe with all of my heart that it is going to be a good year.

Today at church my pastor's message really spoke to my heart. He was talking about how God is a God of vision. If He were not, we would not be here. The world would not be here. He would still be living in eternity, but He would not have created the world and He would not have created us. We must also have a vision - a dream! - for our lives. God didn't create us so that we could just exist. He created us to LIVE... to dream... to have vision and to carry out that vision by His strength. He created us to carry out His work. The most successful people in history have always been the ones who have had a goal, a plan, a vision, a dream... What about me?

Me... well, I am a big dreamer. I always have been and probably always will be. However, oftentimes I have been too scared to dream big. "Dream big?" the world says... "Why dream big? You need to think realistically!" Well, I believe that to dream big when serving such a faithful, possible, all-powerful God is to dream realistically. If I really believe that God is who He says He is - all-powerful, awesome, faithful - then wouldn't it be a contradiction to have little dreams and little faith while at the same time serving and following and living for God? I believe so.

Yet, there is something that easily gets in the way of that... Fear... it is an overwhelming sickness. No, more than that. It is a bondage. It is as if there are chains with "fear, fear, fear" written all over them that fasten and secure themselves tightly around hearts and souls all over the world. The fear to dream and to have big faith seems to want to quickly fasten its chains around my heart. That is how I started out the new year - fearful and afraid to dream big dreams and it left me miserable.

Thank You, Jesus, for releasing the chains!

I cannot go on living life in fear of dreaming big dreams, of living out large faith, of radically living for my King, of pursuing His life for me... To live in fear of these things suffocates and chokes my heart and I cannot live like that.

I believe with all of my heart that big dreams with big faith and an awesome God equal a life of excitement and fulfillment... a life greater than anything I could ever ask for or imagine! Great things are yet to come and great things are still to be done here!